Technical Difficulties

Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

To veterans of Elder Tale Online from before the Apocalypse, the sea-cave dungeon called 'Golden Grotto' is a familiar hunting ground. A nautical-themed dungeon, the cave housed pirates, enormous crustaceans, colorful flying jellyfish, and -- most crucially -- the game's earliest optional boss fight. A crack in the wall at the end of a dead-end tunnel, when fitted with the [Colorful Fragment] junk item, opens to a short passage with partly-metal cave walls and luminescent markings... and a sudden drop at the end.

The drop intersects with a waterfall and an underground river, carrying the Adventurers into a hidden cavern within the dungeon. The chamber is round, dominated by a disc-shaped platform of the same ancient metal previously spotted on the walls. Waterfalls pour into the chamber from every side, creating a current that pushes people in the water inexorably towards the central platform. (Diving under it is essentially a death sentence, and one that was the subject of many a meme before the Apocalypse.)

On the platform itself is the boss: Triskeles of the Gilded Grasp. A twelve-foot-tall, three-legged mechanical death-pillar, Triskeles bears a dozen red eyes around a hexagonal central body from which it extends mechanical arms and spell-slinging weapons. It is well-known for its high-damage but very predictable attack pattern, often catching newer players by surprise for how harshly it punishes people who are caught out of position. Some veterans called it a rite of passage. Most just liked the potentially generous drop table.

Right now, the party is gathered at the very edge of the platform, having traversed the first part of the Golden Grotto dungeon and entered the arena, courtesy of Att Syne and his possession of the necessary key item. He's going over the mechanics aloud while Triskeles holds a many-faceted crystal prism above its body and continually rotates and reassembles it like a devilishly complicated Rubik's Cube. It's ignoring them right now.

"...but it's pretty straightforward," Att is saying. "We designate the leg pointed at us right now --" He gestures at the big robot leg, with plenty of curved metal plating and strategic pointy bits. "-- as the forward leg. Front-liners engage there, with the back-line spreading out and putting their damage on the eyes that turn this way. Once we stagger it, we disable the leg, then maneuver to stay on this side of it as it throws out the big area spells. Eventually the central eye will get revealed, and then we can really hurt it."

"So!" Att looks at the assembled Adventurers, clapping his hands, his staff tucked under one arm. "With that out of the way... if you've got any more last-second prep, now's the time."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"Good old Trisket.  So why come out for this one?  Or is it looking for a specific loot drop or are we trying to see how it changed after the Apocolypse?  I'm actually curious about this one...I mean it's not like we have a large number of COMPLETE noobs," Or maybe they did...?

"Oh yeah, for people on the backline, it's easier to burn down the eyes if you focus on them one at a time.  Their hitboxes are weird sometimes so AOE isn't always effective.  Typically my group just burned eyes starting with the active ones on the side we're at, and from highest to lowest."

U.L.P. seems pretty calm about the whole affair, after all this was just a test of reaction time, and now that he could directly control his avatar it should be easy. There is a pause, "Assuming that hasn't changed." he looks at Att, "Do we know if anyone's run it recently?"
Shin Heno
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

     There's something about a new player with a mop of brown hair, a long white scarf, and a pair of glasses that just screams 'I'm a Protagonist.' Maybe it's the cheerful smile on his face as he examines the crack in the wall, as he watches the Colorful Fragment get slotted in, as the door swings open and he pokes it lightly on his way through. Maybe it's the way he carries himself - leaning forward, looking at everything in what might be wonder, a clear and obvious newbie who has never seen this place before despite it being one of Those Dungeons everybody has run. Maybe it's the fact that he's got no armor or weapons visible on him, which is obviously either a massive degree of overconfidence or a huge mistake.

     Or maybe it's the way he introduces himself to the people he hasn't met as "I'm Shin Heno. I'm a Hero of Justice."

     Nobody says things like that if they aren't rocking tremendous I'm A Protagonist energy. *Nobody*.

     Shin bounces back and forth on his heels, like a boxer ready to go. "So what kinda last-second prep do you usually do for this sort of thing? Is there something I should eat, or some kind of potion, or something like that?"

     "Or should I just get ready to start hitting it?"
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"I used to solo this." Kasai mutters a little bit, as he looks over the boss, listening to the fight description by Att Syne, "But I was able to ignore the mechanics at the time, so it's good to have a refresher."

With the situation at hand, Kasai has had to adapt his tactics and learn to work with others, two things he was never particularly fond of when he was playing the game in the offline mode, or the pre-Apocalypse days.

"If we're not back line, but we're also very squishy, where should we be attacking for now?" The cait sith asks, "So I know where to position myself."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Some might be excited for this, but Proteus has seen the Golden Grotto more than enough times to be satisfied with it. Perheps there is a measure of asperity that comes with the Imp's presence, but she is present nonetheless, keeping her expression neutral as she looks through the familiar environment. "... Well, this room hasn't changed." She says with a measure of cryptic intent, though most here probably know to what she is referring to.

She half-listens to the process. She's been through this fight a large number of times. "We're either in for an easy time or a rude surprise." Proteus says, folding her arms. "I'm as ready as I can be given the situation, though." She tilts her head as ULP brings up the obvious concern, and nods. "I haven't heard anything. Most people are too afraid to do more than run the Tower, the dungeons have been mostly untouched according to my sources."

She hangs back, watching the complex mechanical monstrosity warily, her body tensing visibly as she waits for the go signal.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Kauchemar snickers, which sounds like a brief whinney, as ULP uses the pet name for the boss. Which is followed by a brief sing-songing of " ~Trisket, attack it, or go in a casket~"

It's about what you would expect from a Bard, poking a little fun before plunging into the dangers of a boss battle.

"I recall this twonky ol' tripod of a boss. Not particularly harsh, but it will punish you big time if you don't keep up with what's going on." As she's mainly going to be at the back of the fight tossing spells and such the Nightmare calls her Binder Shield to help defend herself while doing so, the possessed circle of metal appearing out of a summoning circle to float passively at her side.

It's followed by a bit of a shrug to ULP. "While none of us a newbies, a little nostalgia refresher never hurt. If nothing else, it's an excersize in working together."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    It's been a long time since Miyako checked out this dungeon. Months, at least. Half the way here, she's been strumming her guitar and singing old sea songs, generally enjoying the nautical ambience. (She did manage to put it away once the party got into the actual combat areas, though.) "Solo? Really?" she asks Kasai. "But yeah, I haven't heard anything either. Most of the old big combat guilds are up in the Tower. Heck, I heard they're hitting a floor boss tonight."

    She shrugs and gives her naginata a twirl. "So who ran this one last, then?" She mulls it for a minute, then shrugs again. "Yeah, this is more of a "why not?" sort of thing."
Shin Heno
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

     "Did you just not have any friends?" Shin asks Kasai at the 'I used to solo this'. There's an air of innocence to the question - after all, dude projects newbie real, real hard - but maybe not. His eyes are closed. Hard to read someone with closed eyes and a bright smile on their face.
Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"I'm hoping to get some Elemental Machine salvage for a personal project I'm working on," Att tells U.L.P. in a bit of an aside. "Besides that, if we're back to being low-level grinders, we ought to go through the motions, right?"

Att passes his staff into his left hand, tucking back his shoulder cape a little with the bottom of it to reveal the straight sword at his hip. He glances at Shin. "Potions and stuff, yeah, or --" He points at Kasai. "-- good questions that it wouldn't've occurred to the party leader to cover. Wait until I engage the foreleg, and then follow up after I've established aggro. It should only take a couple seconds. You'll have to watch out for the arms yourself, though."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

U.L.P. nods towards Att, "Fair enough.  Mmm...should run around all these old dungeons and see what their drops actually do these days.  Never know when you find something interesting...or old field quests that nobody ever actually picked up."

Shin and Kasai's exchange causes U.L.P. to cover his mouth to hide his laugh.  With a fake cough, he pats Shin on the shoulder, "Mostly it's watching out for attacks.  They're slow, but will murder you if you're not quick enough."

"Guess we're doing it live then, Proteus.  That in and of itself might make it entertaining.  It's one thing to do this on a computer, another to do it physically," he says trying to make the Imp less dour.  Kauchemar's song causes the Bard to frown.  "Can you be at least...I don't know...fourty percent less yandere?"

Miyako gets a nod from U.L.P., "Really?  From what I heard they barely handled the last floor.  Might have wanted to try and improve themselves before pushing...but oh well.  It's not like we're on a timer."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"Yeah," Miyako answers, "personally I'm in no hurry." She smiles lightly and considers for a moment, then hmms. "Actually."

    A flick of the menu swaps out her naginata for the guitar again. "We got any buff/debuff specialists today? If not, I'm going in Bard style. I've got a few of those worth singing."
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"I...Had friends." Kasai replies, after a moment of hesitation. He did! Technically. Kind of. People he knew.

It's hard to project an air of aloof loner badass when you're basically the same level as everybody else and don't have any of your gear. Moving on to another subject quickly, he looks to the others in the group, "I'm ready to go when you are. Just give the word, tank." a
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"That would be me, so just worry about damage!" U.L.P. says towards Miyako.
Shin Heno
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

     Shin laughs. It's not a malicious laugh, at least. He doesn't really seem like he has much in the way of malice.

     He gives a two-fingered salute to Att. "Alright, well. Ready when you are, I guess!"
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"To disrupt and disable is totally my jam," Kauchemar replies to Miyako with a wink. "But that's mainly directed at the enemy. If you want to pump things up on the other side of that, be my guest."
Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"Alright." Att turns to face the boss. He draws his sword with his right hand, his left clutching his quarterstaff firmly. "Let's go. Three!" He counts down. "Two! One!"

Att Syne runs in, clearing the intervening space in an arte-fueled charge. He hits the foreleg with a flash of purplish energy, leaving a crackling effect over the surface. Triskeles' nearest eyes light up with an audible 'BWOM' sound effect, and his mechanical voice echoes through the chamber, just as always:


(No one ever listens, obviously.)

Triskeles responds to Att's charge by immediately kicking out with the leading leg, an attack that hammers against his quarterstaff with a briefly-visible dome-shaped shield intercepting it. Above the boss, the crystal puzzle it was messing with descends, sinking into the top of its body and attaching to it like a dome settling on the top of the pillar. It connects with a flash of crimson energy, and the eyes on the central pillar that is its body rotate, three red lights brightening suddenly to indicate their activation.

Now that the eyes are on, beams of fiery energy scatter seemingly at random from them, turning that third of the arena into a game of deadly hopscotch. Blocking them with a weapon or shield or just evading them entirely is feasible. It isn't a terribly complicated attack, but it just keeps going, a rain of sizzling chip damage only ended by destroying the offending optics!
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Proteus actually chuckles at Kauchemar's little singsong. "I remember that. It's almost nostalgic." There is a grunt in Att's direction though. "I wonder if we're ever going to stop being low level." She asides to Att. "The new progression scaling is ridiculous."

She nods to ULP. "Doing it live indeed." She grimaces. "Just... watch yourself, everyone. If this thing breaks from pattern you need to be prepared to react appropriately. I doubt the damage output has /decreased/ at all." She glances over and chuckles again. "Do you think Kauchemar is being yandere? I wonder who she's taking a shine to, then. Someone who needs a little more nightmare in their life, hmm?"

She looks to Kasai, then. "You still can if you'll let them. I mean, we have Haseo, you don't HAVE to be even edgier than /the Terror of Death/, you know. Relax a bit. Smile." She curves her sharklike teeth up in a shadowy cheshire-like grin. It might not be all that comforting.

She turns to the boss. "I can handle some damage problems. Let's do this. Hope you're ready for an experience, Shin. This used to be a rite of passage for newbies. Let's see how you handle it. I'm confident."

Three. Two. One. PULL! Att runs in and does what Att does best: Unorthodox tanking strategies. In the meantime, Proteus leaps into the boss arena before it gets locked down, trying to bob and weave through the beams. Unfortunately, she miscalculates the pattern and gets blasted, a scorching damage-mark searing across her as she is sent stagging back and almost reels into another and another, one of the common newbie traps of the constant bombardment. "Gggh!" She hisses, her fingers flicking out as she tries to marshall a response: ( U ( U ( U

A series of sizzling bolts blast towards the offending eye, trying to knock it offline so she can get a moment to breathe and reorient.
Shin Heno
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

     Att runs forward.

     Some kind of stone thing appears in Shin's hand. It's some sort of big...belt buckle?...with a bright red jewel in the middle. Shin snaps the buckle onto his waist, and a belt just grows around it.

     His right hand goes down to five o'clock. His left hand snaps back against his side, balled into a fist. The right hand rises upwards until it's at one o'clock.


     The right hand snaps down across the belt. The left hand goes up past his right cheek.

                        0 01 0
                      1 /----\ 0
                     0 /      \ 0
   ARMOR BEETLE    ====|  /\  |====  CODE: ALGOL
DEFENSE OF DESTINY ====|  \/  |====    COMPILE
                     0 \      / 1
                      1 \----/ 1
                        0 10 0

     Bright lights envelop Shin completely. They obscure his form, brilliant and white, blazing in the cave. At the center of them all is the red, pulsating gem, casting an unpleasant glow. The yellow lasers just sort of *miss*, like the lights are a safe pixel that the newbie just happened to stand on by accident.

     The lights die.

     What's there isn't the cheerful-looking newbie anymore.

     Sleek. Black. Chitinous. Armored. Gone is the skinny youth, gone is the scarred fists, gone is the happy smile. The white scarf is dyed a bloody red. Bulbous beetle eyes pulse crimson as the thing steps forward. A yellow mandible-crest emerges from the forehead, and black mandible-blades extend from the wrists and ankles.

     "Masked Ranger, Algol."

     An armor-plated hand rises to the face. "The Demon Star will light your way back to Hell."

     'Algol' goes running forward, straight in. There's a whirling motion as his feet crash against the front leg, as the blades extending backwards from his wrists snap across metal armor, with long, red trails in their wake. The red scarf flutters as 'Algol' rolls to the side to avoid another strike, as he hops backwards to avoid a sweeping blow, as he jumps over another attack.

     A black-armored hand presses against the belt.

     The belt talks.

                                 CODE: RAGE                                

     Violent, glowing red circuitry seeps from the belt down the leg. The chitin takes on a nightmarish hue as 'Algol' jumps upwards, flips forward, and smashes one foot into the leg. It doesn't end there, though - he doesn't fall. He just keeps hammering away with both feet, hanging in the air by sheer leg-power, by sheer force of the attack, like a fighting game character.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    Miyako shrugs, fiddling with her guitar, playing a few quick chords as the group heads into the boss room. It's only then that she realizes that someone else was telling her /they/ would take care of the buffs. So she swipes at the menu to switch back to her naginata, the machine-voice booming in the background, half ignored...

    ...and just as her weapon materializes and falls into her hand, the eye-beam strikes her, tossing her back and into a wall. "Gyeah!" she shouts as she flies through the air, her wings futilely attempting to slow or redirect her flight, a swath of red polygons slashing across her chest. "Frell!"

    After a moment, she picks herself up, the glow of the wounds fading somewhat. "Right, frak this," she mutters, and starts inscribing a series of runes to draw shadows up and around the naginata-blade.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

U.L.P. gets ready when Att calls for the offensive to begin.  He draws the bow, and on the string he starts plucking it quickly, giving it a good vibration and actually stringing together a song.  His voice carries with the notes, aiming to draw on the magic around them...and then channels it back out across the field.

"Snap click crank wirr whizz wham boom
Wheels humsing adventurer doom
Crack thoom snap bam bim bangy zoom
Ah, adventurer firebloom, crimson foom!
Stop eyefires of the wicked
Defuse, pop! Defib, slup! Breakdown!"

As the song goes out, he aims to wrap the party in a protective barrier and make that nasty attack easier to avoid going forward.  Once out, an arrow shoots out, aiming to provide cover for the attackers.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    Kauchemar taps a hoof in time with the countdown, as much as to get herself into the groove for the fight to come. She's ready to go, bolting on the 'One!' count almost immeadiately after Att himself. The ghostly shield hovers along with her, but if the fight opens up as she remembers, she's not going to want to use it, just yet. The nightmare were fang is quite nimble on her hooves as it is, speed being one of her defining traits.

    Sure enough, 'Trisket' follows through on routine pattern, taking a swipe at the first Adventurer to trigger it and then activating some of it's eyes to scatterblast a portion of the arena. The portion she's actually running through... but that seems to have been the intent, as she strums her lute and literally dances a weaving path through the bursts of energy raining down.

o/~ Turn up the music, Let's get out on the floor
I like to move it, Come and give me some more
Watch me getting physical, Out of control... There's people watching me, I never miss a beat!
Steel the night, kill the lights, feel it under your skin
Time is right, keep it tight, 'Cause its pulling you in
Pump it up you can't stop Cause it feels like an overdose! o/~

    Emerging herself on the opposite side of the area being bombarded Kauchemar turns on a hoof to point herself, and her instrument up at the offending optical apetures. Arcane sparks continue to fly across the strings as she strums, collecting at the head of the instrument until it erupts forth, and sends a pulsating beam like a magical laser blasting back at one of the active eyes assaulting them.

o/~ Evacuate the dance-floor! I'm infected by the sound!
Stop this beat is killing me! Hey little DJ let the music take me underground
Evacuate the dance-floor! I'm infected by the sound!
Stop this beat is killing me! Hey little DJ come burn this place right down to the ground! o/~
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Kasai nods to Proteus, and responds with a bit of a smile. He's been trying to be as nice as he can, with folks. Especially since he has a guild and folks that have been trying to be his friends. It's not something he's really used to.

The team seems to be pretty decently balanced, and Kasai is going to do his best to fill the role that he signed up for. So he drops into stealth once the fight is ready to begin, and moves to engage once Att Syne strikes.

He's already behind the massive boss, and has his dual blades, not the hidden ones, drawn from behind his back. He moves in on one of the other two legs, lancing out with multiple strikes, aiming to land several hits in the span of only a second, blinding speed being his signature. Lightning strikes, and then he vanishes, moving before the boss can strike at him, waiting for his next chance to move in and land more hits.
Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

The searing bombardment, as an immediate attack goes, is pretty brutal. Triskeles has a damage output far above what this low-level dungeon would normally call for, but the reward for being able to predict and react to the mechanics is well worth the risk... or it was, when the worst penalty for death was some durability loss and a walk back through the dungeon. Now...

Well, let's see how the fight goes.

Att Syne functions as the party's tank, timing his counterstrokes between the stomping, stabbing motions of the huge forward leg. He focuses entirely on personal defense and keeping the leg's attention, using his weird combination of magical barriers and physical prowess to mitigate where heavy armor and a shield would otherwise be required. This leaves the rest of the party open to doing the actual damage. It doesn't matter how hard you tank if you can't make that HP bar approach zero!

Miyako bounces off a wall and consequently almost immediately gets swept into one of the many small waterfalls, pushed down by the current towards the underground lake the platform hovers just above. Some slow-fall shenanigans keep her out of the majority of the water and out of the drink entirely, but it remains somewhat disorienting -- a problem when this entire boss is predicated around the song-and-dance routine of its attack patterns. Proteus finds a similar difficulty in underestimating the bombardment, but she at least attacks back, magical bolts seeking the eyes and slamming into the topmost of the active cluster. It isn't quite enough -- and then song-fueled beam attacks pile on damage from a different angle, and the gem-like eye explodes into fragments!

Kauchemar gets treated to a particularly good view of the boss wobbling on its tripod-like legs, and sees the shadow of the Assassin Kasai leaping into action behind it. Attacking the rear legs unsteadies it even more, leaving glowing red marks where lightning-fast strikes connected, but leaves Kasai out of position for the elemental phase. If his timing is right, though...

The unending flurry of Justice delivered to the front leg is punishment enough. Algol knocks the leg out from under the monster, causing it to teeter and then fall straight down, the underbelly of the pillar-like construct hitting the floor and making the whole platform shake. The dome-like object on top of it starts flashing --

("Ten seconds!" Att yells. He switches to full offense immediately, piling on damage while it's stunned.)

-- and then, ten seconds later, brightens to a crimson shine. Behind it, a Kasai can see a vertical slice appear in the pillar between the eyes. That's where the expanding wedges of rolling bursts of elemental energy start to come from. They start overlapped directly behind it, an eruption of earth spikes conjured out of nowhere along with a transmutation turning the air into an expanding ball of flame. An instant later, they repeat, the fire sweeping counter-clockwise around it and the earth-blasts going clockwise, moving in wide arcs with a set duration and trigger time.

Get moving!!
Shin Heno
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

     'Algol' flips backwards from his assault as Att shouts the timer. He lands in the Iron Man pose, one hand on the ground, one leg spread, the other in a crouch. Black-armored head tilts upwards; ominous, glowing red bug-eyes stare into the machine's own.

     Earth spikes come blasting out of nowhere. 'Algol'...

     Parries them aside.

     Open-palm strikes turn spikes into crumbling nothing as they attempt to get past him. Shockwaves ripple out from his palms, breaking the flow of flame around him. It's the kind of thing only someone who doesn't know they're not supposed to be able to do that could do, the kind of aggressively stupid newbie thing that shouldn't work, and in a game, wouldn't.

     But this isn't just a game anymore, is it?

     Feet whip around to cut through fire and air. It's a ballet of motion, a dance on the razor's edge. There's no templates here; the monster might be predictable, but the world is not, and the world belongs to the adventurers.

     This, as 'Algol' has espoused so often, is their world.

     The rules belong to them.

     A final knee comes smashing through the last rock blast. 'Algol' emerges directly in front of the boss. The left hand snaps across the belt.

                            CODE: SHOOTING STAR                            

     'Algol' holds up one hand. The mandible-blade on the forearm suddenly snaps forward, locking into place. A second mandible-blade pops out on the other side. It looks an awful lot like a bow.

     The right hand grabs the air around it.

     Red energy gathers in the open left palm.

     The right hand lets go.


     The sonic boom from the red light's release is catastrophic. It ripples through the room, disrupting stone and shaking dust, quaking the air and the ceiling alike. Stalactites threaten to fall onto the arena. The waves stir.

     But more importantly is the red streak, the red shooting star, fired straight into the monster's vulnerable parts.

     A heart-seeking arrow of Justice indeed.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Proteus nods back, but there's no time for pleasantries now. The situation is far more dire now after the Black Wave, since the group is more or less literally putting their lives on the line. They might be 'gifted' with immortality, but... The depths of death have not been plumbed, and Proteus has no desire to find out personally.

At least... not yet.

The first eye explodes, and Proteus gets that desperate breather. She straightens and resets herself, looking on the horrible machine in order to try to figure out what to do next. Kasai and Att solve that by invoking the knockdown mechanic. Att calls out, and Proteus immediately piles on, her hands weaving: + < V S M

Proteus goes on full offense, unleashing a meaty Fireball strike on the fallen thing, moments before a massive Earth Pillar erupts, a fist on the end angling to smash right into the heated metal with brutal bludgeoning force.

Of course, a moment later the template spam comes in. With a yell, Proteus focuses. This time, she's not going to be taken off guard. > S

A splash of water erupts beneath her feet and she skids and slides back and forth, practically surfing along the platform while the elemental blasts rip past her. Even so, her gaze keeps going back to a specific part of the boss, her expression thoughtfully intent...
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

The clockwork monster starts to open up, releasing...

Well, fire and earth!  The only thing they could do is evade, but there was something U.L.P. noticed.  With things how they are /now/ he wondered...and had a dangerous idea.  He runs with the rest of the group, but as they move towards the final zone, he swings his arrow around himself.  It drags along the ground picking up ambient mana and the darkness that Spriggans naturally produce.

He comes up, squinting his was a long shot, but maybe...!

His tracking should be spot on, all he has to do is wait.  Explosions rock either side of him.  Literally, U.L.P. is in the safe pixel, as he fires his shot right into the machinery.  He could feel the spell release from the arrow strike, the inside would fill with vines.  Surely to damage the inside, or maybe something more!

Hmm... "It works here too, we can use our abilities in ways we could never in the game.  I wonder if the NPCs know that too?"
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    Kauchemar does indeed have dare I say the perfect view, as the combination of attacks and the assassin catman's subversive strikes to the rear limbs cause the thing to drop down to the arena floor with an audible vibration rolling through the platform. She stops playing and dismisses her instrument, needing one hand to pull a deceptively simple looking scroll out of her inventory. She doesn't bother opening it (not that there's time) but she doesn't need to, just grip it tightly to draw from it's powers.

    Her eyes briefly flash with supernatural energy, crackling like tiny purple flames that almost look like fiery spectacle frames around her eyes. It's only split-seconds of peering at what's to come, but it's just enough to see the cross-elemental attack activating and which way it's going to rotate with them.

    It's all the nightmare needs to put her speed to use once more, circling around the boss ahead of and away from it's dual tech rotating blasts to get around them before they reach the point of overlapping. With the little bit of foresight she's able to reach a spot past where the assaults will end with a fair amount of time to put into launching a counterattack of her own.

"o/~ Time to drop some hot beats like they're bombs! o/~" With the chant and a quick arcane gesturing she conjures a large discharge of fire, flinging the fiery force at the exposed weak point as fast as she can before it can retract and recover.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Kasai spots the mechanic coming up, he's out of position, but he's fast enough to get out of the way.

He basically vanishes out of view, reappearing out of range of the strike. And then once it has passed, he does it again. He loves his ninja vanish move. It's probably his favorite tactic. Back in position behind the boss, he goes to tear into the other leg with his blades. More flashing strikes, the lightning fast moves striking again and again.

THIS TIME, however, he's moving while he strikes, so he's in a better position in order to get out of the way of the next mechanic before it goes off. See, he's learning!
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to - oh, frak it, it was a dumb line anyway. "Right," Miyako mutters to herself as she picks herself up, "Time to get serious." She takes the break in the monster's attack pattern to get herself in position, and a moment to make sure the shadow-spell is still on her blade. "Still cranky as usual, I see."

    She takes the last few seconds of the break to leap in and take a few swipes at the Trisket, shouting "Avast, ye mechanical landlubber!" before bouncing back just in time to avoid the renewed attacks. Then she starts circling the machine, keeping up with its attack pattern this time, darting in to slash at it before darting bak out to dodge the next attack.
Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

The wide-area attacks by Triskeles scour the platform clean wherever they pass. Gleaming metal is left behind, along with a tracery of pearlescent color along the edge like inlaid wire. Once the first pass is complete, the vertical opening starts to reposition --

An arrow flits into the interior, followed by the glow of another. An explosion of glowing vines covered in thorns erupts from inside. Triskeles, normally prone to rotating and dropping smaller templates as it does, gets rooted to the spot, the magical binding affixing it to the ground where it is presently unwillingly seated. The burst of energy accompanying Algol's Code: Shooting Star severs several, triggering the explosion of bright light and burst damage associated with the spell. Two more eyes disintegrate in the blast as the boss's hit point bar gradually descends.

The firepower pours in, in a very literal fashion. Proteus and Kauchemar fling fire damage onto the monster, enveloping it in roaring flames. The legs lift and fall, causing shockwaves to threaten footing if nothing else, joints glowing red-hot and the occasional thorned vine bursting under the incoming attacks. "DAMAGE EXCEEDS OPTIMAL LEVELS," drones the voice of Triskeles, unexpectedly. "ENGAGING COUNTERMEASURES."

There's a mechanical clattering noise as the boss adjusts itself minutely on the platform and then seems to sink a few inches into it, rooted firmly to the middle. The eyes align into three vertical rows on the same faces as the legs. All of them ignite at once, firing vertical panes of glowing translucent energy out to the edge of the platform. It's setting up barriers. All of a sudden, everything is split up, and with a jolt, the platform begins to move, hovering up off the surface of the water.

This is not how the next phase is supposed to go.

Nevertheless, there is never a bad time to be attacking the boss when an opportunity such as a phase change without offensive actions presents itself. Kasai's lone wolf attacks are inadvertantly synchronized with Miyako's hit-and-fade tactics, the two of them alternating attacks on the legs they're nearest, with armor buckling and steam and smoke escaping from damaged gaps. They're in the same third of the arena as one another, actually.

Glyphs appear on the energy walls projected by Triskeles, facing into the blocked-off thirds of the arena and flashing brightly. An enormous glacial sheet of ice appears on one side of Kasai and Miyako's section, jagged at the front and rapidly expanding with a haze of killer cold ahead of it. On the other wall, a flood of sand falls across the surface, then kicks up into a scouring sandstorm that threatens to engulf them from the other side!

Proteus can feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, a disconcerting sensation in a virtual reality as it is, before multiple twisters rip out of the wall nearest her and roll forward with flashes of lightning within their windy bodies. Kauchemar, apparently in the same segment by sheer chance, feel the flash of warmth before the storm begins... fortunately mostly figuratively, since a rolling carpet of near-liquid fire is projected by the opposite side and closing in fast!

Algol and U.L.P. are in a different position. Whatever the Thorn Bind Hostage did, it must have messed with the mechanism allowing the elemental attack to happen. Instead of the dual-elemental threat from either side, the wall-projecting eyes fire narrow beams of energy inward, ricocheting them off the opposing walls over and over again in style not dissimilar to its first attack. It's still deadly, but it isn't quite as tricky to counteract!

Counter the elemental attacks, hold on for dear life... or take your chances with the whirlpool that the waters below you have become. Just know that falling off the boss platform in fights like this usually means instant death...!
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"Woah!" U.L.P. says, jumping back and trying to avoid energy walls, but it's far too late.  It seems the groups are separated!  Which means support is going to be harder.  Worse than that, this is new, completely unexpected, and likely far more dangerous.  Fortunately, his plan did make his and Shin's life easier.  The lasers firing at him are met with an arrow with a glass shard for a tip, scattering the attack away from him.  

Lasers are not a problem, but this buys U.L.P. only a few precious moments.  His eyes look at each section, their situation in the air, and the boss itself.  Trisket is getting dangerous...but it's also getting desperate.  Separating your enemies is the first part to destroying them...but he was still able to see, and direct.  

"Guys, I have a plan.  We need to coordinate our fire, when you see your side do something, fire, spark, anything weird, don't fire.  The people to either side of them fire at it.  Each time this happens.  I think what's going on is that it takes time for it to calculate means to kill us and during that time the spaces surrounding it have some sort of defense down."

U.L.P. squints, as his eyes try and size up the situation.  "We just have to hold out!"
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

It's moved off of the pattern. Proteus' teeth clench as the entire boss fight goes off script and into the realms of the unknown. "HEADS UP!" She yells. "THIS IS NOT IN THE PLAN!" She isn't sure who did what, but it happened. Something triggered it, and just massive DPS couldn't have been it. They used to burn this thing down super fast before. But now...

The barriers that go up cause her to glance at the glyphs, instinctively trying to figure out their meaning even in the middle of the boss fight. However, the elemental assault that comes up changes matters considerably. The tingling on the back of her neck is a tell, and with a grimaces, she suddenly tears her attention to the situation at hand, the problem of the elemental vortex. "Wind." She mutters. "I have to disrupt it..." With a flick of her hand, she calls upon another Earth Pillar. V S M

The resource cost of the spell is high, but the effectiveness can't be debated at this point as the rock pillar crashes upwards, providing a solid barrier on the windy section to hide behind and keep the vortexes and lightning from striking at her effectively.

Or at least, she WOULD if she were going to stick around there. Before, there was a point of the boss that was more or less window dressing. This time, she's going to think outside the box. Since there's a point to trying to do that now, Proteus doesn't so much hide behind the Pillar...

As launches herself into the air using it, sending her flipping towards the central pillar. She crashes into the side with a little less finesse than she'd like, but her fingers grip on the edge and she hauls herself upwards, putting herself literally on top of the totempole-like boss. There, she sees her goal: The puzzle that the boss is trying to solve. "Let's see what this might do..." She says to herself, quickly kneeling next to it and sketching another ability in the menus: ( * #

The Arcane Eye manifests over her head, the magical globe twisting and helping to highlight the way the interwoven moving blocks shift around. She never did find out the meaning of this puzzle and why this thing was trying to solve it... But it does seem to be the purpose of the machine for the time being. Deftly, her fingers work to shift the blocks around, trying to manipulate the puzzle state and work against the boss in another fashion, impeding it working its own solution and imposing a different path.
Shin Heno
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

     This is, evidently, not how this phase is supposed to go.

     'Algol', ready for a completely different attack, gets hit square in the body by the wall-projecting fire eyes. He's flung backwards, sparks flying from his form, red light etched across it in nasty criss-cross patterns. 'Algol' hits the ground and skids, only to be hit by the criss-cross beams for more sparks and more red lines. He hits the ground with a hard *thud*.

     But he hasn't changed back.

     So that's something.

     'Algol' pulls himself to his feet. He's absolutely covered in red lines. The sheer amount of damage he must've taken from that attack is...well, it's visible on his body as well as in the UI. It's *a lot*.

     He's probably at Very Low HP.

     Still, he's standing. He wobbles for a moment as the walls fade.

     Armored fingers fumble for the belt.


                                CODE: ALGOL                                

     The belt starts to play music. It's loud music, the kind of music you'd hear in a superhero anime at the climax point, the kind of music you'd hear in a tokusatsu show when the main hero's ready to kick something's ass. It's upbeat J-Pop.






     'Algol' goes shooting forward again. He doesn't duck, or dive, or weave, or shift. He just runs right through the beams, trusting in willpower to see him through, arms crossed over his face, bent forward at a run, blood-red scarf streaming behind him. The belt is starting to glow a powerful crimson, trailing circuit-lines behind him as he runs.

     He rolls under an attack.

     Both hands hit the ground.

     Both hands push off the ground.

     'Algol' goes flying.

     'Algol's foot smashes down into the boss's mechanical eye with all the force 'Algol' can muster, red light erupting from the axe-kick heel.

     He might fall off. He might get killed. But, in this moment, he's going to do all the damage he possibly can in one strike, because that's what a Hero of Justice is supposed to do - destroy the monster.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    Bounce. Hit. Bounce back. Flip up and away. Dodge. Leap in to strike again. This is the life of a Spriggan with a Naginata and a determination to chop a machine into itty bitty pieces. This is Miyako's today.

    "Counter THIS, Clanker!" she yells as she launches a slash at its leg and bounces away once again, the shadow-shrouded blade cutting through metal with ease.

    And then there was ICE. And the ice was, honestly, pretty damn ugly. "Oh, go shove it up your nonexistent proverbial!" she shouts at the creature as she backs off, her blade slashing out at spikes as they come near her.

    Not too much time later, fortunately, she's found a safe perch for the moment, and begins a new spell, finger moving swiftly as she inscribes a lengthier series of runes on the air before her. As she writes, a ball of light forms at the tip of her blade, crakling with energy as it grows. Finally, she takes the naginata in both hands and lashes out, hurling the ball of electricity at the mechanical monster. "BLITZSCHLAG!" she shouts, the final incantation detonating the sphere as it strikes the creature.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    It doesn't take arcane precognition to see that something very strange was going on with the boss. "What the fu--" She's cut off by the boss slamming itself into the ground while trying to break free of the bonds, and then panels of energy zorching across the arena to split people up. "This is not part of the standard rotation..." She grabs her floating shield and takes several steps back from the barrier.

    Between the heat building on one side, and the electricity crackling on the other, her mane is about to stand on end, and that's not a good sign. "I think it's time to change tracks. Time for the deep tones..." Which would be instead of her usual instrument she goes to singing... any actual words are unintelligible, but in her haunting voice it is a very deep somber sound, something like a dirge at a funeral.

    Whatever the bardic summoner is doing though works, as it gives rise to some manner of undead serpent, that instead of flesh and scale as the dirt and moss of the grave wedged between it's flexible boney length. It coils around her as Kauchemar holds her shield up, forming a dome over her while barricaded by the undead creature. It's dirt covered skeletal body grounds out the electrical discharges, while it provides shelter against the winds and then the rolling wave of fire washes up and over it, causing some of the diterius making it up to smoke and burn away as it shield's its summoner within.

Once that has passed, it rises up, Kauchemar being revealed no worse for wear. "Now then..." She points at the boss. "MOMMA SAYS KILL!" The undead summon lunges as serpents tend to do, aiming to slam into the mechanical foe's body as hard as possible before it entirely burns away.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Kasai is doing his best to stay with the team, moving around and paying full attention to the mechanics. It's easy enough for him, though the freezing blast manages to nearly catch him. He slashes through the air with one of his blades, after he coats it with flames, slashing through the field in order to give himself a path out.

He lands and rolls on the ground, before coming back up to his feet, getting himself back into a fighting stance. Instead of repeating his attack from the last couple of plays, he opts for something else. He rushes forward, and then jumps up, using his lightingstep to teleport above the boss, and then drop down onto it with the hidden blades in his gauntlets. These things tend to do more damage, but the range is so short he can only use them if he gets directly on top of a target. It's an extremely dangerous move, but he doesn't think this boss has any attacks that go up, so he may actually be able to get into a blind spot!
Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

The dangerous elementally-themed hazards don't disappear until they reach the halfway point of the segments, with or without people left in it. After that, mercifully, they vanish entirely, leaving little evidence they existed in the first place beyond massive damage and the shields that seemed to create them. Fortunately, none of them were solid enough to squish anyone between them like a trash compactor... this time.

The consequences of the attacks are clear, though. The undead serpent summoned up to protect Kauchemar is already in flames as it lunges for the boss, slamming into the solidly rooted Triskeles as the snake rapidly disintegrates. Not far away at about the same time, a lunge tipped with a lightning explosion connects. The barrier between the two points wobbles and shakes, becoming hazy and unstable as the damage bleeds over to the eyes that project it. One pops, and then another, and the wall fails, triggering a cascade of lightning over the surface of the machine's body that knocks the others out of alignment. They're free!

U.L.P. can see what's happening. He's mostly correct: it's observing them and then modifying its offensive based on what they're doing. The central 'eye,' the multi-faceted thing it was messing with that it's practically wearing as a hat, is as close to a sensor for this sort of thing as it has. Periodically, it shifts focus, and then that's when it seems to wind up to ramp up the danger.

Which is presumably why Proteus does something like bodily flinging herself at the boss monster to mess with the puzzle.

It's fiendishly complex. The puzzle doesn't look like it follows any sensible or rational three-dimensional design, apparently made of triangular segments that rotate and unfold into different shapes and, correspondingly, change the footprint of the object. There's a pearlescent sheen to an imprinted pattern on it, almost like a faded diagram of a circuit-board. It means absolutely nothing to Proteus in the abstract.

In the practical sense, though, she can see what it's trying to do. Screwing it up causes the blank and damaged sides to open, small, delicate-looking arms emerging and reaching up to try to correct the changes with rapidity. It leaves the interior open and, based on the sheer amount of blunt force trauma applied to it just a moment ago, doesn't look like it's going to have an easy time closing back up quickly. Kasai compounds the problem by getting on top of it right next to Proteus, jamming hidden blades into any weak-points he can find -- of which there are several -- and then totally ruining the mechanisms the arms are using to operate with any dexterity. It's flailing, now, and not in a good way.

Meanwhile: GO GO THE LIGHT  o/`

With a dramatic kick, Algol spikes the central eye out of Proteus' grasp and straight down through the middle of the boss. The entire thing seizes up, and then tears itself upwards off of the point at which it had locked to the platform. Red lines appear to criss-cross it, and it vents heat and fire in every direction as it starts to spin and slam its feet on the ground in fury. Bits of it shoot off in every direction with every impact, filling the air with deadly shrapnel. Its health is in a critical state, and it's responding by enraging and trying to pound every combatant into paste and then sear the paste off the platform!

This is the last push!
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

U.L.P. could only throw everything into one final defense, and pray they had enough damage to take it down.  Throwing his biggest defensive spells up, he narrows his eyes as the creature thrashes.  It's obviously in a low health mode, but if enough people die they might not be able to take it.  Swallowing his fears down, and grinning at the beating of his heart...he runs.  

But not away, but rather around the creature.  Using his enhanced speed to avoid the arms smashing at the ground, and using studdering movements to seemingly flash through the shrapnel that flies out everywhere.  He keeps moving until finally, he seems to have a target.  

One last thorn remains, and he pulls an arrow out, pulling the string taut, and channeling another spell through it.  "PIERCE IT'S HEART!" he booms, releasing an arrow that comes out more like a railgun shot, aiming to pierce the armor and hit that last thorn.  Hopefully, the heart seeker lives up to its name!
Shin Heno
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

     They're almost done.

     The enraged monster pounds the platform. It hammers the ground, smashing, shaking, rocking. When 'Algol' touches down the world is shaking.

     Well, nothing to it but to keep doing what he's been doing.

                                CODE: FREEZE                                

     The air around 'Algol' gets cold. Real cold. Ice-colored circuitry runs up and down the chitinous black arms. When the Armor Beetle-man punches his hands together, ice shakes out, falling to the ground in flakes of snow.

     One of the limbs comes down.

     Two hands swing up to haymaker it.

     It's...a halfway exchange. 'Algol' is sent flying. He hits the platform somewhere off to the side, only narrowly avoiding sliding in by sheer determination. There's a flare of white light and a shower of sparks and a small explosion; what's left over is Shin, covered in red cuts. He is probably down to Almost No HP. Not dead, but basically nonfunctional.

     Meanwhile, the haymaker has erupted into a spike of ice aimed to punch right through the offending limb and perhaps straight into the monster's head one more time.

     If it does, though, Shin's not going to be able to tell, because he's one chess game away from being down for the count.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    "It has -definately- changed since the old days." They're pretty much already aware of that by this point, but as a Muse and Messenger Kauchemar has a certain obligation to point out such things anyways. "It's having a bigger tantrum than the last time I beat my little sister at DDR."

    This time the winds whistling to life around the Nightmare are her own doing, and then she bursts into motion even faster than before, using her blistering augemented speed and dexterity to leap out of the way of the thrashing limb trying to hammer her. Then spins around and leaps on top of it after it's pounded down.

    Now it's time for the 'running up the giant monster's limb' trope, because that's the sort of dramatic thing you do at the crux of the battle like this. While doing so Kauchemar flings the Binder Shield in front of her. The spirit possessing it spins around to release the elemental energy she'd channeled into it to produce several spiralling gusts of air to blast the hot scrap shrapnel away from the nightmare as she's doing her limb run.

    Once she's closing in on the body and it's nearly broken vulnerable core she draws and snaps out her whip, cracking it violently towards the core to lash onto one of those opened ports and unleash the ennervating Dark magic crackling down it's length and into the core.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Kasai dodges, ducking left and right as those arms slash and flail at him, before he teleports again, upwards, away from the arms. He finds himself in midair for a moment, probably should have thought that one through.

He drops again, this time charging his blades with electricity as he falls downwards, aiming to ram both of those hidden blades, crackling with electricity, directly into whatever would function as this thing's 'brain'. Thats should short circuit it, and put an end to this boss once and for all! At least until it respawns.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    "Temper, temper," Miyako chides the ranting mechmonster. "Where's that cold logic and rationality, eh?" She rattles off a quick series of runes, calling up a swirling waterspout to support her and swirl around her to deflect the flying debris. "Come now, that's just /rude/." A gesture and her waterspout flits back, pulling her out of the way of the larger attack.

    "I really only have one thing to say now," she finally announces as she works through another rune-series. "And that's DROP FRAKKING DEAD!" The waterspout shatters around her, dropping her to the platform, as it splits into a baker's dozen arrows of water that lash out at the machine-monster, pushing at every little crack in its armor to work in and rip apart its internal workings.

Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

The insane complexity of the puzzle more or less guarantees solving it withing battle time is impossible. But Proteus is fine with that, really. As Kasai moves to support her shenanigans, she nods to him. "Right. Time to inflict some chaos." Still, something about the puzzle itself is oddly compelling, drawing her eyes to it as she wastes a couple valuable seconds admiring the construction, the patterns within patterns as it seems to draw her in...

But then one hand snaps up and she actually slaps herself, shaking her out of the momentary fascinating trance she experienced when looking into the puzzle. "Gggh. Need to move..." She hisses. With a swift motion, she brings up a knife, attempting to wedge it into the side of the puzzle. Not to further ruin it... But to dislodge it entirely and try to pull it out of the machine's carriage.

Algol, however, interrupts the effort as he kicks into the thing and blasts through the mechanism. Proteus isn't sure whether to congratulate for genius or yell at him for recklessness. She'll have to decide later based on the results. That's how it always works.

She flips in the air, falling off of the pillar, but with a quick motion of her hands, an Aero spell manifests to allow her to air-tech upright. ^ S O

The thing is pounding and burning and destroying in all directions. Proteus only has one solution, really. She isn't going to evade all of that. The solution:

Kill it before she hits the ground. The initial spell is cast quickly, her hands slipping into a familiar pose. > X O The Whirling Disc forms, the water condensing in her hands and flattening out into the deadly buzzsaw of water, which she hurls at the thing. "Now... DIE!" She yells. As the disc digs into the pillar and breaches inside, she follows up... + <

With a fireball. Her hands ignite, and fling the burning sphere into the same hole the Whirling Disc made, making the water-blade explode into a white-hot steamsplosion within the complex machine... But now, out of energy, all she can do is hope the thing is dead before she lands.
Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

It's really wonderful when a plan comes together, isn't it?

Miyako's aquatic assault strikes first, even accounting for shouting time. Piercing arrows of water hammer the exterior, with gaps in the armor getting pelted and punched through, scattering the internal workings to the outside air. It leaves it soaked and punctured, but not at all down just yet. That health bar keeps moving though, steadily, steadily dropping --

Algol connects with the Elemental Machine, ice meeting failing metal. The heavily-damaged leg connects, and then splits, the spike of cold ripping through it and momentarily rooting it to the spot. It twists, trying to shake free, but its mobility is hampered by the abrupt temperature shift at least in part because of the large amount of water that got shoved into it mere seconds prior. Expanding chunks of gleaming ice rip out of it, cracking and groaning as it calls up its own elemental power to deal with it.

This gives time for an oft-cinematic maneuver to get employed. Kauchemar moves up the briefly-stunned arm, dark magic surrounding her weapon of choice. Wind from the bound spirit-shield keeps her from getting perforated by the seemingly endless barrage of bits and pieces. That whip lashes out at the central body, and the tip brushes across the interior of one of the jammed-up arrow slit-like openings in the sides, discharging the dark blast into the interior. The movements of the monster visibly slow, grinding noises predominant in the arena's combatative soundtrack.

Kasai impacts with the top of the Elemental Machine. The tiny arms sticking out of its sides bend and reach, trying to grasp him and pull him into the inner gearworks where he'll be crushed into paste. Nobody knows how these monsters work, though, so stabbing it in the brain isn't really a starter... but the uppermost part of the twelve-foot-tall main body he's presently perched on top of has a few points that look sort of like vital computer components, and the electrical discharge that goes into them causes smoke and fire to erupt from places that he can assume ought not to be emitting those things. Ultimately, that's what assassination is all about, right?

Similarly, magic is all about the explosions you cause with it. Proteus carves a hole in the already-weakened side of the machine with the Whirling Disc, the blanket of cold threatening to turn it into an icy buzz-saw instead of a watery one as soon as it penetrates. The fireball that follows converts it into steam, though, along with a lot of the frozen structure. The exterior bulges outward like an overstuffed sausage, plumes of steam and smoke erupting from its extremities as it shakes. A little more... a little more...!

It's almost too late. The machine begins to rotate its upper body, peeling apart and revealing the impossibly-complex internals that are intermingled with horrific damage inflicted by the Adventurers. Some kind of ball of energy grows, a rising pitch filling the room. The crystalline puzzle orbits the energy sphere like a moon, connected with a crackling bolt of energy as it draws on it, too, to rapidly grow in size. U.L.P. sees his opening, but if he doesn't time it absolutely perfectly -- heck, even if he does! -- he might hit something he doesn't intend to and ruin their chances.

Att Syne, not dead yet, emerges from the twisted wreckage of one of its legs, raises his staff in two hands, and hits the puzzle crystal like he was swinging for the fences.

The crystal goes flying off, its orbit making it skitter across the surface of the platform and towards the edge near Proteus. The energy growth suddenly wavers, slowing dramatically. U.L.P.'s Heartpiercer fires at the instant it contracts. The incredibly powerful shot creates a shockwave in the air and the debris cloud growing around Triskeles, parting it like a stone dropped in a lake. It hits the glimmer of violet nearly on the other side of the supposed 'core,' and the last Thorn is severed in a violent explosion of washed-out white light.

Triskeles convulses once more as the light fades, and then goes silent, collapsing. Shards of color flake from its body. The Elemental Machine breaks apart with one more mournful groan, disintegrating into the fading multichromatic light show that heralds a boss's destruction.

At the center of the platform, a huge chest appears like magic. Att Syne, presently standing like an anxious batter waiting for a pitch, blinks several times. "We..." He clears his throat a little. "...We did it!"
Shin Heno
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

     "Yaaaaay," comes the not-especially-enthusiastic noise from roughly in Shin's vicinity, "We did it."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"Well!  We in fact did it.  Though far more difficult than it was before.  This is definitely a trend...they are acting less like they are back in the game, and more...well realistic isn't right, but MORE realistic than the confines of a game," U.L.P. says with a wave of his hand.  

"Anyway, let's collect our loot and go home to celebrate," the Bard says with a tune in his step.  "Could make a story out of this, ya know?" There is a beat, "Actually...out of curiosity...what happens if we leave and come back?  Is this dungeon done forever?"
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Kasai makes ure to jump clear of the monster before the elemental machine shatters apart. Not that being on it would hurt, nor would the twelve foot fall. But it looks cool to leap off at the last second as it dramatically bursts into crystaline data behind him, land with a roll and come back up to his feet.

"Well done, everyone!" He congratulates the team, actually showing a bit of enthusiasm for once in his career.

To answer the posed question, he hmms, "I think the dungeons like this one are instanced, so...Technically any other group who came in would wind up generating a whole new version of the boss. That or it's not and just on a respawn timer."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    This is quickly becoming a very bad position to be in, so with her part of the final assault done Kauchemar leaps off the siezuring boss' form. She's 'caught' for lack of better phrasing by her possessed shield, standing on it like a boogie board as it hits the platform and skids away from the collapsing form before finally coming to a stop. Kauchemar steps off, and steps on the edge of the shield to flip it into the air, where it resumes floating at her side. She pats it with one hand. "Good boy."

    Then turns to the rest of the group, still grinning her viper fanged grin. "Well, that was an adventure wasn't it. We got loot, we learned things, and we learned about working together but I am not going to sing a song about that because then it would be like some lame after school special."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"Either way," Miyako adds to Kasai after her waterspout returns to shield her from the machine's destruction, "We don't have to deal with it again. Unless we maybe want to. Or maybe it won't respawn. Wouldn't that be a kicker?" She takes a step back, leaning against a wall, sighing softly.

    "I could probably think of one if I cared enough, but it would be -silly-, so I won't," she adds to Kauchemar. "That's the trouble with a party full of Bards -- you get /Filkers/."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"I am feeling personally attacked right now," U.L.P. says in response of the comment about bards.
Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"That would be wild, wouldn't it? If it didn't respawn?" Att Syne sheathes his sword and looks around the chamber, then to the chest. The platform is gradually settling back down, now. "I don't have any reason to hunt it down again, though. At least, not anytime soon."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"So go on, check and see if you got the loot you were looking for." Kasai says to Att Syne, motioning towards the chest, "That way we can make sure we're good, or see if we need to reset it and try again."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"Assuming we can reset it and try it again. We have no idea if dungeons can reset or not," U.L.P. says towards Kasai. "We do know that the mobs can change behavior, and act less like programmed AI."
Att Syne
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"We don't exactly have a healer, so we can't retry it without leaving the dungeon and resting anyway," Att points out. "Let's see..."

He starts rooting through the chest. It might take a little bit.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

"As long as it doesn't try to restart while we're here," Kauchemar grunts. "Even I have had enough Rage Against The Machine for one encounter."
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

Proteus hits the ground just as the boss goes into a hard enrage. That's just what she was afraid of. However, Att is right there, hammering the core of the thing and sending the puzzle that is the boss' existence flying. Proteus sees the thing gleaming as it arcs towards her, skittering...

Just out of reach. She dives for it anyway in a desperate attempt, her fingertips closing around the glittering thing even as she slides right off the edge... And grabs on with her free hand, dangling inches over the roaring water below. "WHY ARE THESE DAMN WINGS JUST FOR APPEARANCES?" Proteus yells irritably, the vestigal things flapping behind her as she struggles... But then her body bulks, her muscles suddenly growing out subtly under her clothing as she grunts, pulling herself upwards with one hand and intensive effort.

She ends up gasping and heaving on the platform, looking up to see everyone celebrating... and just flops over. The puzzle crystal quietly ends up tucked away in her cloak as she breathes and heaves, recovering from that exhausting battle.
Overworld - 6 - -6 - 0

    Miyako shrugs again, laughing bitterly. "Oh, how I wish I knew the answer to that question," she answers Proteus. A swipe of her hands produces a wrapped sandwich from her inventory, and a bottle of fruit juice, and she settles in to eat her snack. "I've had these wings for over a year now, and ... not a single sign of a questline to do anything with them."