5828/Beyond the Emerald Key-1

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Beyond the Emerald Key-1
Date of Scene: 05 May 2018
Location: Shadow Tower
Synopsis: Pending
Cast of Characters: 6316, 518, Sanary Rondel, 571, Staren, 6320, Reiji Arisu, Starlight Bandits, Arthur Lowell, 1143


Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    Knowledge of that particular, dark, surrealist hole that had apparently unified without a sound or a warning, doesn't seem to have spread far, if at all. The question of whether it had actually unified into the Multiverse at all is still a good one, competing with ideas such as "it'd been around for much longer than just a couple of weeks, and has been hooking on to unified worlds one by one", or "it's an inherent fixture of a large cluster of worlds that have only fully unified now", and such. This place, as much as it can be called strictly a 'place', has only gone by the moniker 'the Tower', and the proper name 'The Tower of Shadows'.

    Being clear, there is no natural Warpgate that leads directly into it. The Multiverse either deigned to skip over this location, didn't recognize it, or it had intentionally made itself as inconvenient as possible to find when it doesn't wish to be. The only way into it currently known of is a single, gigantic ruin in a mysterious clearing that had appeared overnight in a dense, barely-explored jungle, not easily described as any kind of temple or lost city, like sometimes exist in ancient jungles, because of the fact that it is so massive, and its pieces so thoroughly unrecognizable, that it looks like some forgotten god had dropped a colossal piece of abstract stone artwork from the sky and it had shattered into a million, car-sized pieces. It's even stranger for the fact that the height of the thing is predominantly a massive cluster of trees that have wound about each others' trunks until they seem to constitute one warped and utterly bare Yggdrasil.

    Navigating the area below is unfortunately still necessary, however the dense maze of giant roots, eye-level grass, cold pools, crumbling stone totems, and deep shadows, is at least ostensibly safe this time. The freakish beings that some had come into contact with before now keep a wary distance from people left stumbling around in the dark through increasingly less believable root structures, slowly becoming patently intentional in their restrictive, room-like spread.

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    It also still involves another trip to a (now extinct) campsite, and dropping down an incredibly unsafe hole in the floor into utter blackness, and winding up at the rough and narrow shore of a faintly luminous underground river. It is difficult to tell if the cowled and skeletal amphibious ferryman is the same one as last time, because the emaciated, alien salamander-men are hard to tell apart, and this one doesn't even say anything while waiting for people to get aboard the incredibly ominous black boat, so he can paddle them down a surprisingly long and fast flowing stream, which gradually begins to glow brighter and brighter, and swarm with dancing particles of light. The scent of rain, blood, and ozone pick up throughout the ride, along with an electrical tingling on the skin. The monolithic white slab of an arch is the last feature to the ride once more, carved with the mysterious symbol of three radiating arches branching from a tall vertical stroke, still pulsating with blue-green light. It's a creepy, foreboding, and obtusely long and inconvenient trip, and one might hope for something better soon.

    Let off on to stone steps and through a bizarre 'door' assembly of some unknown rock-wood-metal, some return, and others lay their eyes first upon, an array of circular catwalks of scarred white stone that float precariously above a bottomless void, radiating bridges that connect into myriad other doors around the perimeter of a room too large to see all the way across, and surrounding the central fixture of a giant, semi-organic/crystalline 'eye' in the ceiling. There are a number of pod-like 'buildings' connected to the rings of walkways, seemingly inhabited by more of those skeletal, gilled creatures.

    The entire gigantic chamber has an ambient magic level of 'yes', which steadily intensifies and concentrates into the center, where a massive beam of that teal-ish light is fired from the void and up into the eye a couple of times per minute, before the ambient power level drops again. The main thing of note (and where anyone will probably wind up being directed by someone or another) is the far end of the chamber (it's always the far end, somehow) where an even stranger door of mottled textures and unknown materials is set with a huge, brilliantly emerald lock at its center, and flanked by a quartet of ornate marble posts, each with a glowing beacon atop them: red, blue, purple, green. Even from a distance, it's hard not to stop the stand-out figure of the anachronistically dressed woman with horns amidst all the amphibious creeps, waiting by that entrance.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
On One Side: A giant death-dimension outer-realms limbo prison filled with countless monsters just jammed up in there.

On The Other: One bored immortal really strapped for an escape from the increasingly encroaching ennui of 'forever'.

When Yuuki Kuran had read the Syndicate ad to explore a MONSTER FILLED HOLE to an UNDERGROUND RUIN, she had jumped (down a hole) at the opportunity, finding the campsite quaint and the tingling air 'brisk but stimulating', adjusting her large sunglasses - that she leaves on, even in the gigantic ruin-antechamber, drawing in a slow inhale and exhale as she wanders towards the Mysterious Gateway .

And the Mysterious Person.

Yuuki runs her hand along the wall as she approaches, her gloved digits susurrating along the wall, before her voice calls out.

"Ah, hello." She offers, just a hair above casually conversational to let her voice carry. "Are you the guardian of this place?"

Sanary Rondel has posed:
     Sanary's danger senses are tingling. Even being here is a terrible idea, considering the... Everything going on with the architecture and the yes-levels of magic in the air. Arthur's words weren't exactly the most reassuring, either, considering how the call for assistance wasn't even for people seeking the prize, but something beckoned the healer to appear anyway.

     She just needs to make sure not to get too close to the center of the giant chamber. Her eye is already flickering with the telltale sign of a flame laser about to fire off, but she's keeping it in check! Raising a hand towards the mysterious figure, she flashes them a quick grin while staying right where she is and half-yelling to get her voice to project.

     "Sanary here. Got any leads on the... Er. Breakout point? Any... What's it called. Expected... Methods! Methods?"

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    The message for work about troubleshooting had reached Maaka's ears, and the cyborg was eager to look into it. She's got a pretty damn bright tactical light shining in the darkness, affixed to a massive M249 SAW with foregrip and optic sight. The ammo pack is a heavy cloth bag carrying a long belt worth of spare ammo linked inside of it. She just short of flags Sanary with the muzzle of her machine gun's powerful torch, before she stops herself.

    She checks her corners, making sure the weirdos watching her stay far away. "Arthur's got that in mind, apparently." She radios Sanary in reply, before she spies Yuuki, jogging toward the Concord's second-in-command. "Ma'am." She greets, her armor making her more than a little intimidating thanks to the deathmask, even as it opens and folds away to reveal her face. She's content to defer to Kuran's judgement, as well as Arthur's, as eccentric as he is.

Staren has posed:
    Normally, Staren would consider it quite sensible to NOT enter the tower noone's supposedly escaped just to prove it wrong. At the very least, if he gets trapped he can't help people. Today's circumstances are different, though: With a way out, this mysterious tower can be investigated. Primarily, Staren hopes to maybe find some source of power inside, but learning about what's going on inside might lead to other opportunities as well.

    He's here, in the heavier armor again. For those who haven't seen it, it generally looks bulkier, like maybe there's another inch or two of armored plating in places -- although some of the thickness is probably more mechanical muscle as well. The upper legs and especially the chest look better protected, with a clearly-discernable extra layer of armor over the upper chest, back, and sides. There are short protrusions above the shoulders to protect the lower face from getting shot from the side, the helmet itself is actually full -- he must be using screens inside -- and the hands look more like thick gloves with armored plates wherever there's not a joint, instead of gauntlets. The shoulders are a little bit bigger too, although not to space marine extremes.

    The ear protrusions on the helmet and the segmented tail armor make it pretty clear who it is, though, even before Staren speaks. "I don't think anything's known, that's why they need someone to go in and scope it out. Given that this happened so close to when nearby worlds apparently unified, though, I'd hazard a guess that there might possibly be a warpgate, perhaps a malformed one, inside. But that's just a theory. Could also be there's other Multiverse shenanigans going on. Maybe there's someone else out there with powers like Arthur who's either kept off our radar, recently unified, or teleported over from another sector, who decided to pop in for a look, and brought someone out when they left."

    As they approach Rurufon, he nods in greeting. "Hello again."

Hemlock (6320) has posed:
Hemlock had heard about an interesting place called the 'Tower of Shadows', one that doesn't seem to be well-known. As someone who uncovers the truth, that just meant he had to explore it and tell the world as much about it as he can. The bard is armed and ready, dressed in an explorer's jacket and a cap, looking like a very bland and generic male human. There's a fiddle strapped to his back, complete with bow.

As they head down the hole, he's holding a notepad and pen, which he at times clicks curiously. He takes notes on all sorts of things, like the ruin, the weird scent, the light, the river, the creatures, and spends a few moments trying to figure out how to describe the void room, clicking the pen again, possibly to the annoyance of whoever's near him.

Once he finally notices the woman with horns by the entrance, Hemlock heads towards the emerald door, tipping his hat. "Hemlock. Journalist and sort-of-ex-adventurer. As you stand out, you must be our contact." There's an appraising look over Yuuki and Sanary, as Hemlock hasn't met anyone here before except for Staren, before he speaks again. "Is there anything we should know going in? About the dangers, creatures, or treasures? It'd all be appreciated." Another click of the pen. He's probably going to be doing that all night.

And a glance to Staren and a nod, as if Hemlock got understanding. "So someone cheated, basically. I see." Another note taken!

Reiji Arisu has posed:
The number of maddeningly dangerous hell dimensions which exist solely to be prison to unknowable abominations against god and nature is... Strangely perhaps not as uncommon as one would normally expect. However, rarely are they so bizarrely wrought and colossal in scale as... This thing.

Whatever this thing... Is.

A tower? A vast tree? Something more? Does it appear this way only because of the limitations of the human mind? What are the limits of its true dimensions?

Reiji Arisu can't begin to imagine. Instead he focuses on his surroundings, on the strange salamander-men and the electric sensation of raw magic in the air. The occasional pulse of pure power from the floor to that iris in the ceiling is unusual-- is it transporting energy somewhere else? Is this some kind of magic tap root?

Reiji frowns and goes to join the others. "This is quite a structure," Reiji says, his gaze still scanning over the strange architecture. "I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it before." He looks back to Rurufon, then. "I don't think we've met, either. Reiji Arisu, exorcist. A pleasure."

Starlight Bandits has posed:
    "Hey, Irvine?"

    "How can I help, Molly?"

    The Starlight Bandits are here, having been chatting about nonsense the whole entire trip. Everyone would have gotten an earful on the merits of hard-boiled eggs vs soft-boiled, the difference between a king and an emperor, and how to best deal with foot odour. Remarkably, Irvine is wrong on every single one of these points (especially on how he thinks hard-boiled eggs are superior), and Molly eats it up anyway.

    "What are we doing here?"

    "That's an excellent question Molly!"

    The moment they arrived, two sets of eyes immediately snapped on to that emerald lock. They then both hunker down, totally ignoring the horned woman, and each produce a rolled mat that they unfurl, revealing a bunch of tools. Small hammers, chisels, crowbars...

    "You see Molly, tales tell of the spear that is at the top of this tower, rumoured to bear incredible power. Many have died on the ascent to reclaim it... but don't you find that curious Molly? That they only tell of a spear?"

    "Ummm... do you think there's something more important in here?"

    "That's exactly right Molly! Historically, spears were used with shields! Clearly, there is also some ultimate shield in this tower! And while everyone trips over each other to steal the spear that everyone knows about, we'll uncover the shield that no one knows about!"

    "We'll be legends Irvine! The Shield-bearing Bandits!"

    And so they both throw their heads back and laugh, before going to take a crack at 'extracting' that emerald lock. Even more galling is that now, they actually throw Rurufon a polite nod before doing it.

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    This boatguy doesn't say anything to Arthur this time. But Arthur, as is Arthur's way, chatters at him the whole way down, while idly playing something on his DS. And he still tries to find something to tip the boatman with. Last time he tried the little currency pieces, which he couldn't foist on him. Now he tries... Flies. Where did he get flies? They're frog-ish dudes, aren't they? Is this racist? Did Arthur Lowell just do a /racism/?

    Questions for later. For now, Arthur strides up to Rurufon, immediately attempting to assail her hand, regardless of her leaderlty nature, with a rush of daps, pounds, low-fives, and other coolkid handshake gestures. "YEAH, what's those haps, DOUBLE R? Dive me HEADFIRST up in that FLOOR, homie, I'm ready to straight BLAST this motherfucker. Got some of my old classic LEVEL ONE GEAR just to make sure we do this shit LEGIT."

    He actually assumes a more serious tone for, like, a fraction of a moment. "Oh, and, I know this whole thing is kinda dangerous for the Tower and those linked worlds, yeah? Any way I can link up, help brace any crucial cosmological systems for the feedback?" He knows that the Tower serves a pretty important cosmic purpose, and while he's eager to take this from the ground floor, he's also keen on making sure everything turns out okay on other scales.

    He also examines Sanary and Yuuki. "DAMN HOMIES," He declares, going right back to his old mannerisms. "Haven't seen YOU TWO in ops I've been around for for... Shit, how many OBJECTIVE years was it? Like TWO OR THREE? NICE havin' you on!" He's quite happy about that, at least. He also attempts to assault their hands the same way. Both at once. Simultaneously, with wildly different handshakes for each.

    Anyway, he's ready to follow along with Rurufon, assuming she gives any indication of how to dive directly into the business, because he's eager for some HEROISM.

Touta Konoe (1143) has posed:
Yuuki Kuran isn't the only immortal that had kept himself informed with the Syndicate ads. They had surprising tidbits of information, and when he heard about this less driven by boredom than by curiousity and excitement. And there was definitely much to be curious and excited about, at least it's a strange sort of curiousity this place gives. The mass cluster of trees and plant life surrounding the place really give this place an untouched by any sort of civilization vibe. It almost feels as though he's walking into some sort of jungle ruins that had been untouched by time itself. Though the way it had been described to the vampire so far was that it was pretty much exactly that.

After which there's the little drop into the gaping hole that one can't really see the bottom of. Suddenly he gets a flashback to visiting the city of the Lanterns, though when he decides to jump down this time...

From there it doesn't take one too versed in magic to realize just how magically imbued this place was. As the skeletal ferryman brings the group upon the stream that begins to glow brighter, as the air sparks to life with the sensation of electricity, and the mysterious markings inscribed upon the slabs the place couldn't scream magic more unless there was possibly someway for it to be magically screaming.

"Touta, you remembered to bring those this time right?"

A voice comes from no one directed towards the spikey haired young man and he simply nods as he looks towards his own hands. After his own experiences with the Prospekt and their magical imbued environment he figured with his certain 'condition' it might be better if he was more cautious as to what he was and was not touching. With that being somewhat squared away he ends up with the majority of the group as they meet with the horned woman.

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    Rurufon of course recognizes Arthur immediately, but spends pretty much the entire hyper-complicated bro pound hodown sequence critically staring down all of the people he'd broght with him, significantly greater in number than she'd expected. Up close, she has that kind of pallor that comes from someone who hasn't seen sunlight in a /really/ long time (unsurprising), and the incogrous horns swerving out from under her hair are exactly what one would call 'satanic', but there are no immediate signs of her being anything but human otherwise.

    "Administrator." she replies to Yuuki a little tersely. "The Tower of Shadows needs no guardian, nor does it invite one. Most any are welcome in; it is who is allowed out that the Tower judges carefully. You could think of me as an overseer. I stay informed of everything that goes on here, I monitor its functions, and I see to it that the balance is maintained. Humans from outside of the Earth Realm wandering in without a connected Realm of their own, then wandering back out, undermines the entire purpose of this Tower raised from the Abyss."

    "By entering at all, once accepts that the Tower's challenge. What they use is what they brought and what they find. They contact only those stranded here with them as well. There is no retreat save death. Someone free to run away with foreknowledge of their challenge, to return better armed, better supplied, and fully recovered, means that no ascent can possibly be a meaningful test of will, or could possibly adequately temper a potential wielder of a relic of the Abyss. Three of the four men who entered have died already, and as is proper, their souls now circulate through the Tower of Shadows, until they are eventually reborn to begin anew. The fourth, the Tower was somehow unable to contain, and the only commonality is that his Realm his not represented anywhere here. A human from somewhere /you/ are familiar with."

    Since Arthur only decides to go with 'Double R' in typical Arthur fashion, she eventually introduces herself with: "Rurufon. I'm not forewarning or forearming you in any way about what lies ahead. What I will tell you is that the rooms of the Tower of Shadows are infinite, but a finite number are chosen for each floor, and refined with each ascent to better suit a challenger, physically and mentally. Those who have given up on ascending the Tower, but have enough power to survive, to lead, and to rule, become Lords, and lay claim to some of these places. It is typical that the Lords enjoy holding keys to higher floors, to ensure that plenty of fresh meat comes their way. No Lord of the Emerald floor was defeated."

    After letting Molly and Irvine jiggle at the lock for a while, banging on the absurdly durable half-orb jammed into the weirdly fleshy-metallic-wood, and possibly breaking a crowbar in the process, Rurufon gets tired of the noise and just /hands/ them the key. What's probably a key anyways. It's this weird, lemon-sized and shaped caltrop of some kind, which inserts into the slot and then slices through it downwards. "You are entering the Chasm Nexus; the level at which the Tower of Shadows begins bridging the Realms. Any direction you wander, you will find where a piece of a Realm has been captured, and those challengers who came from it, and then settled to be the servants of Lords."

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    "I will arrange for the Tower to present the same selection of Realms the previous challengers faced, so you might follow their trail. I will also monitor your progress. I will at no point warn you of anything, or intervene in anything, save exceptional conditions. I know for certain that the survivor had to struggle out of the Realm he visited first, before he was able to escape, so it seems the integrity of the Abyss' dimensional separation still works within those places. You will be stuck there until you conquer it or somehow escape back to the Chasm Nexus. Beacons along the way may be used to heal your wounds, recharge your reserves, repair your equipment, or replenish your supplies, but as with everything here, all of it comes at a cost. All I will say is that you will look for the grey path."

    Despite the super weird key and magical lock, the door opens pretty normally, in the grinding and decrepit ancient dungeon sliding door kind of way. It leads to a long, cobbled, spiral ramp, seemingly through the heart of some iron tree, still pulsing with veins of light, and then up onto a sort of small central plaza surrounded by walkways, like a highly miniaturized version of the nexus below, without the giant eye, or any other life. The doors surrounding them are all extremely plain, white stone affairs, just like outside, and they all bear that same radiating mark. Rather than glowing, each of the marks has a different texture and colour. One is like white chalk ground into the etching. Another is deep violet, pitted, and wet. The third is greyish and filled with thousands of teeny tiny scratches, and strands of some grey-white material.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
     There's a slight sigh of relief as Sanary spots a few familiar faces, whether or not they've been on the same sides of a fight or not. Knowing what her allies are capable of helps quite a bit, and the trio of Alexis, Staren, and Reiji get brief waves before she shifts her attention to the more boisterous Bandits and Arthur.

     "Two, I think. Really has been that long, hasn't it...? Yeah, this sounded as good of a time to stretch my legs as any. Weird place, weird people. Just like the old days." She laughs as she takes Arthur's handshake in stride, trying to mimic it (mostly badly) in return before turning to Hemlock and Rurufon with a curious eye.

     "Makes sense... Can't blame 'em for wanting to do that, but if this is more test than prison, then it'd be pretty meaningless to beat it that way." Sanary taps a finger to her chin as she listens to Rurufon's further instructions, her other hand fiddling with the large axe strapped to her back. "At least we're not going in completely unprepared. Hm... Well, I got healing covered if anyone needs a pick me up in between those... Er. Beacons?"

     She's got half a mind to ask about that 'cost', but she decides against it rather quickly. Best not to tempt the overseer or whoever's higher up the chain. Once the way is open, the healer moves forward, her attention quickly grabbed by the stone doors and their many differences. The wet violet door in particular gets her to approach it, and she even gives that door an experimental push before grimacing slightly and shoving it with her foot. "Hope that's just water..."

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    The cyborg jerks a thumb to herself, "Maaka." She introduces herself. The field is a bad place for small talk. She definitely still doesn't know where Arthur gets all that bro machismo, because he seems to have an endless supply of it fueling him. Must be all the energy drinks and doritos. "How's ammo gonna be in supply here?" She asks, cocking an eyebrow at the guardian, before she thinks about it. "Wait, nevermind." For her money, it's more than likely magic that lets the beacons restore even 5.56 NATO.

    Of course, she remains on-edge the whole time as Rurufon explains things. The whole realm gives Maaka a bad itching feeling, like nothing about it fits together. She fully expects monsters to come out of any and all corners, as she goes through the doorway after it opens. She follows Rurufon's words, remembering to follow the grey path with the Surefire light illuminating the group's path.

Staren has posed:
    Staren tries to give Rurufon his best stern glare -- the effort, possibly laughable, is wasted. He's not used to armor that covers his eyes like this. He folds his arms. "Surely you've heard of the Concord by now. We don't care about the tower's purpose." He then drops them back to his sides. "...However, I don't particularly want to antagonize you or make a big deal about breaking the rules today. I'm here to investigate -- if I learn stuff that helps others on later runs of the tower, that's a bonus, but I'm not setting out to break this whole system you've got going here." He doesn't point out that people forming fiefdoms in there is already breaking the rules of the challenge. Besides, if she really had a problem with him she'd teleport him away and tell him he's banned or something. But he really would prefer not to antagonize her. He may not view this setup very highly, but they don't conscript anyone -- challengers are all willing, and Rurufon is pretty darn upfront about the usual conditions of entering, so whatever befalls the usual challengers is on their own head. He's not the fun police.

    Staren watches with interest as the door opens, revealing... more doors! He expects everyone to take the grey path, and will follow there, but he doesn't take the lead.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Maaka's approach is greeted with a awkward wiggly-finger wave from Yuuki Kuran, and a gentle smile, as Rurufon goes on to explain things.

She's not a guardian, she's an ADMINISTRATOR. 'So, basically, a Gua--Prefect, right?' goes unsaid, but the rest of the explanation of the mechanics of the tower mostly connect, and somewhat deflect, off the vampire girl's understanding of things.

"So, if we go in, we either go all the way up, stop on a floor and live as its ruler or a servant to the ruler, or die. Is that right?"

Arthur's 'HOMIES' call gets a big smile. "Well, with you here, Arthur, there's nothing to worry about. Just a big death-adventure tower, and a quest!"

She brings up her fingers to emphasize. "With only an teeensy eensy-weensy problem of maybe never coming back and living forever in a giant shadow realm. But hey!"

She tromps off after Maaka. "We've got management opportunities! So that's nice. Grey path, watch the beacons. Comes at a price."

Right as she walks past the Horned Woman, she stops, turning. "Do you mean forever, or forever-forever. Because forever is... a really long time, you know. Just checking!" She finishes, not exactly waiting for a response. "Don't go to far ahead!" She calls after Maaka, heading inside the LAND OF NO RETURN WE MAYBE GUESS.

Touta Konoe (1143) has posed:
As Touta listens to the self-proclaimed administrator of the tower, Rurufon as she describes the tower, its challenges, and its inhabitants and the relics of the Abyss that could potentially come into their possession. Frankly, Touta doesn't really have an interest in any of those sorta things. Not that it doesn't sound cool and all but he had only really came at the request of the Syndicate Ad. Perhaps that was more of a lackluster reason to have arrived but he is here now for one reason or another. But he does have a question of his own before he decides on a path to follow amongst the separate doors before him.

"Hey Ms.Rurufon, name's Touta. So you said that if someone loses their will to continue ascending but is still able to live in the tower they're able to continue living on as these lords or whatever right? So what happens if we were to try and convince them to along with us. Ya know, what if the lords get get their motivation to continue climbing the tower again or something?"

As silly as it may sound he wasn't joking. It was a sincere question. He knows this mission sounds like it's more heavily focused on the four individuals who had previously entered the tower and their lone survivor, he sorta can't help but think that perhaps all the Lords of the Tower were in some way kinda trapped.

Though while he's saying that it looks like everyone's already heading into the doors already. "Man, everyone's really eager to climb the tower it looks like."

Reiji Arisu has posed:
Well. That's quite something to drop on a guy, isn't it? Reiji's expression turns pensive and thoughtful, his hand strokes at his chin and at Yuuki's succinct summary of just exactly what it is that they're going to have to do. Get to the top or figure out how that one survivor escaped-- or die in the attempt. "The way you speak, you seem to imply that this fourth individual... Escaped even before he made it to the top of the tower? Is that right?"

Reiji's gaze turns away from the bizarre architecture to focus on this strange, nearly-demonic administrator. "The amount of power that went into assembling this much folded space is incredible. I don't think that it'd be so simple of a task to pry the folds of space and time open and brute force an exit. Interesting."

Touta raises another interesting point as well. The exorcist nods, "Or if we're to somehow drag them along with us, for instance. Is that a possibility? You mentioned that what we can use includes what we bring with us-- and what we find along the way. Does that include people and creatures as well?"

He looks to Touta and shakes his head, "I'm more eager to figure out how this person escaped from a veritable dimensional prison. I've got a personal interest in this sort of thing, you see. It's part of my job to know how these events might come to pass and how to prevent them in the future. A lot of terrible things are sealed in similar places as this one, and keeping them there is vital."

Hemlock (6320) has posed:
Hemlock's pen continues to move as Rurufon explains things, a glance towards Molly and Irvine. He'd taken some notes on their discussions during the trip as well, circling 'HARDBOILED EGGS ARE BETTER' on his pad of paper. Hmm. Gives ideas for advertisers, once his paper gets bigger.

As she finishes, Hemlock nods, and speaks to her again. "Thank you. I appreciate the information so far, even if I wish you had given more. We'll find the truth." Writes in 'possibly okay' next to the notes on 'secret demon cultist' he's taken on Rurufon, before moving to put the pen and paper away as the door starts to open. Now will be time to actually do some action, so the bard should be armed.

Which is why he draws his fiddle and bow from his back, prepping them for play. "I will allow you to lead on. My abilities are best suited from behind, even if I can defend myself in a fight." As the door slides open, Hemlock tilts his head for a better look, before moving in, following along with the grey path immediately once he makes it out. The journalist ducks behind briefly when he spots the strange strands of gray-white material, moving to collect some of it if he can. "Wonder what this is. This entire place makes no sense. I'm so /curious/." A pause, as he moves to speak towards the others in the group.

"Are towers like this common? I assume not, but I'm curious if anyone's seem something similar." Hemlock asks generally as he moves forward.

Starlight Bandits has posed:
    Even as they fiddle with the lock, breaking several tools upon it, the Bandits do pay attention. The mention of the tower as a 'test' has them looking excited, something that is only mounted as the lock only frustrates their efforts. "A challenge! Doesn't that sound exciting, Irvine~?" "Very much so! If it's anything like this blasted lock, it sounds like something worthy of the Starlight Bandits' attention!"

    And then Rurufon just gives them they key.

    Molly pouts ferociously, and begins lightly drubbing the guardian's shoulder with her balled fists! "No faaaair! We almost had it!" Irvine just sighs melodramtically and unlocks the door with the air of a teenager slamming his bedroom door. "Well, if you /insist/ we do it your way..." he grumbles before waving everyone else through.

    Four doors, and one obvious one. This would normally be a part where the two conjure some convoluted reason that it's actually one of the other doors, but they're still grumpy from having their lock-picking stolen from them. However, Irvine does address Hemlock. "Anything can be a tower if you approach it from the right angle. Live for the little difficulties!"

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    Arthur gives eager attention to all the details, seeming quite excited at the prospect of more dungeon-diving. "ALRIGHT! We get that GENUINE EXPERIENCE! Hell yeah, homie. Gotta take that proper BETA TESTER EXPERIENCE on your UNIVERSE PORT. Here's hopin' it doesn't go as shitty as the last BETA TEST I did." He traces his fingers along his chin in a pondering way. "We can be PRETTY SURE they stuck together. So, head through whatever REALM it looks like THEY HEADED THROUGH, then after we get through THAT, we start lookin' for a BREACH or a GAP or somethin'. Or head through ANY REALM and just look for the BREACH." There's a few contemplative nods.

    "Yeah, STRAIGHTFORWARD PLAN. Let's just give this motherfucker a CHARGE. Yo, DOUBLE R, call this me paying back that FAVOR in the UNDERWATER CITY, dog." He says, giving her double-fingerguns and a quick wink before pressing forward to the door towards the Chasm Nexus... And, barring some other interruption, he heads for the door Sanary's fussing with. "WHAT'S UP? We gotta pick ONE OF THESE, let's go with the one that GOT YA." And with absolutely no hesitation, he moves to head through the door too.

    As he moves, he chats with Hemlock. He slips briefly into a more articulate tone. "Plurality is kinda an inapplicable concept here. Towers like this aren't common 'cause there's only one tower, and it exists at a lot of places." He explains. "It's less like there bein' a bunch of towers like this, and more like having a bunch of mirrors that all point at the tower." And then he's back to the bro-energy, demonstrating to Maaka that not only is it a bottomless well, it also stops and starts randomly. "BOOYEAH!" He declares, brandishing a much more plain-looking broom to engage in combat with, something stylish and white, looking like the kind of broom you'd find in a fancy castle. "I'm here for some FLOOR CHALLENGES! I've got a FISTFUL OF BROOM, a HEAD FULL OF HEROISM, and a SPIRIT FULL OF SOULS, come at me!" He's already shouting, intending on getting right into the adventuring. "YEEEEEAAAAAH!" Already he intends to be at least one of the first into the adventuring on the violet door.

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    Watching them on the way past, Rurufon answers a couple of individual's questions. "Forever in the sense that they will never escape until they reach the top. There are those who've been here for thousands of years. Weak, slow learners" Then to Touta. "Lords are Lords because they qualified to be one, and so the Tower of Shadows granted them additional power. Not all who simply give up are capable of becoming Lords, and those who choose the status often do so because it is easier to take the power and survive in something close to comfort, than to keep climbing. They would lose that immediately, and another would have to take their place."

    To Reiji: "It does. The Tower of Shadows is a closed system, and the tools and weapons of those who came before are scattered all over. The beacons exist to maintain some of that economy, especially for races such as humans, who are utterly helpless without them. If you are able to recruit or force another to submit on the way, so be it. Leadership and domination are forms of worthiness, and tests of will in of themselves. However, even under the special circumstances you are in, I will not allow you to remove items or individuals from the Tower of Shadows without an appropriate sacrifice in exchange. Otherwise, it deprives those who challenge it fairly." She barely pays attention to Maaka's question, only casting the barest glance at her weapon, then touching the green beacon light, running her fingers across it remarkably like scrolling through some kind of app, before saying "Pray that you do not fall short by much."

    When the door slides shut behind the group, the massive magical signature of the main nexus is cut off completely. Arthur should also be familiar with the fact that the space outside of it is too. It seems each individual 'room' exists in its own separate iteration of this 'Abyss', making it indeed extremely difficult, if not impossible, to cheat between floors. They would be left in total, eerie silence, if not for Hemlock's playing, but even then, the sound resonates oddly and is faintly warped, as if his instrument were electronic and plagued with slight static.

    The doors slide open at the faintest touch, retracting into the ceiling in identical manners. Both lead into short halls of the same kind as they had just left, with a second door at the end, like 'airlocks' or similar, where the water is 'space', no doubt. Two of them being opened at once seems to be no issue.

    

Rurufon (6316) has posed:

    Behind the wet, pitted, violet mark (which stings slightly to touch), the unlucky couple step into a highly squared and utilitarian room, covered with grates in the ceiling and floor, walls dripping in water, with wells and tubes that run up and down, and immediately stumble into a rank, blackened corpse that falls over from the door being opened, apparently having been pressed against the opposite side.

    The reason someone had died trying to get the door open is immediately obvious, as a thick, blindly dense purple fog practically hits them in the face, absolutely choking the room from floor to ceiling. It burns like fire to the mouth, nose and eyes, and tastes like concentrated vomit, rot and death. Each breath is equivalent to being bitten by a lethally venomous snake or spider, coursing through the system instantly. Not content to be just insanely toxic however, it is also highly acidic. It's less awful against exposed skin, where it stings and reddens like battery acid, but on harder substances, it begins eating it away immediately, like the blood of an infamous movie alien.

    The grey-white substance clinging to the grey mark is some kind of brittle fibre, which barely has any flex left to it, but is surprisingly difficult to chip off. Going beyond its dimensional 'airlock' hall, the sights are quite different. Elites are immediately enclosed in a dark, claustrophobic tunnel barely large enough to stand up in, which twists unnaturally sharply down and to the left to an odd fork, neither sensibly level nor with squared corners or angles anywhere. The walls, floor, and ceiling, are all made of the same dark brown, roughly textured material, looking like the exterior of a paper wasp nest if it were petrified underground and covered in a layer of amber.

    The left fork looks like it's been partially caved in, and the massive chunks of the material make it clear just how thick the tunnels are. Even smaller ones have been bored into the walls as some kind of crawlspace to navigate around it. An old skeleton is trapped under the rubble, picked clean save for an old Japanese World War 2 handgun in its bony grasp, missing only one round, which accounts for the hole in its skull. The right fork leads to clearer, equally dark twists, but has a message written on the wall in something bright red.

    "They do not speak. They do not breathe. It's only their bodies that betray their presence"

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    Maaka has no idea what Rurufon is doing, but she has ammo to spare. Still, onsite pickups would be helpful later on. She isn't too far from the group, only taking point as she lights the way. "Bloody great mission to bring the MG on." She grumbles softly under her breath, as she navigates the tunnels, trying to crawl after a while, with the light on her gun keeping the way lit up for the time being as she begins to slow enough to reunite with the others. Eventually, the cyborg takes the right fork after a gaze at the left path, noticing the skeleton of an IJA serviceman and his dusty Nambu. "No chance that leads anywhere good." She muses, before approaching the message in the right pathway, lighting up the writing with her Surefire. "Lovely sentiment." She mutters to herself.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
     ""Becoming a ruler would be neat. Mm... Well, maybe a pain. Still, if the current rulers had to get through all they did themselves, then... Maybe they know what they're doing." Sanary chimes in with a curious tone after Yuuki speaks, laughing after a moment and drawing her axe. She winces at that sting slightly, steps in after Arthur whomever else goes for the PURPLE door.

     "... Or maybe they really suck, if they've given up already." That certainly sounded like what Rurufon was getting at. She can't quite blame them, however, after getting hit with the horrible fog blasting right into their faces a moment later. The pain is intense and makes the healer stagger from the pain, drawing a pained groan from her not unlike that of someone several hours after eating something that's gone bad. Were she that corpse that fell right towards them, she'd probably be dropping dead soon!

     Luckily for herself and Arthur, Sanary isn't quite so weak. Reaching out to grab the more animated of the pair, she starts putting out magic energy rapidly, all of it focused on healing them both to brute force their way through the acidic substance. She doesn't notice the effect it's having on her axe and fancy coat, though, and even her eye has turned a dull color from the sudden shift in focus!

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    "FUCK!" Arthur shouts, immediately recoiling more from the sight of the corpse than the toxic sting in his lungs. He begins coughing and shoving the fabric of his robe over his mouth, buying only the most precious few seconds he can squeeze out of his lungs. "Yo, homie, get that HEALING!" His Health Vial display is gradually turning to a sickly green... And then it halts, as Sanary properly steps in and overpowers it. "Fuckin' hell..." He shudders with the intensity of the pain of it eating away at his skin, and his Health Vial display jitters, but it's all stable, for now.

    "We gotta make sure there's nothing here that let the guy get out." He says, pulling forward a little. Though near-blinded by the mist, he's gotta check around this particular little chunk of realm, though he gives the corpse a good berth. Is there anything at the grates? Up the pipes? Can they be maneuvered and connected in any way that might work with Arthur's puzzlesense? Arthur also checks over the local spatial folds, any gaps? Did he escape through any grates, or climb up any tubes? Is there really anything worth checking in this room or is it just a giant room of 'fuck you, here's some poison'? Arthur even tries out bringing out a low-level mop and soaking up some of the water to wring out at certain places or suchlike, to see if there's puzzly solutions here.

    But if this really is just a hazard room, he's gonna work on getting back out the door they came in real fast, because this is /incredibly/ painful and he's not enjoying being around here.

Staren has posed:
    Two people go for the violet door. It's concerning especially that Arthur, their ride out of here, is so reckless. "He didn't get out though, did he. She already told us, the one who escaped made it through this area first. You're wasting time and endangering yourself." Staren observes, keeping his distance from the noxious gas.

    He waits for Arthur to return and hopefully go down the grey corridor. "Well, that's... a warning." He comments, at the deceased soldier. "They left him alive long enough to write this note... which wouldn't have been translated, before Multiversal unification. Hmm." He looks around every few seconds, now forewarned that the enemy is silent. "I think we should check the left fork first. It seems unlikely that if they were working together, one would come BACK after encountering the monsters while the other went on. More likely they split up, willingly," he gestures at the cave-in. "Or unwillingly."

    He turns the matter manipulator to the end of disassembling the wasp-nest-stuff to see if he can clear the passageway.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
The tower doesn't care how they ascend, only that they do. Or that they don't, and so die. But Rurufon's words still seem... Strange, in many ways. The tower grants those who become lords strength to defend their realms; is the tower itself a sapient thing? The exorcist nods his thanks for the explanation-- chances are good that they'll just have to uncover this place's secrets as they go along.

It's how these things tend to go, he's found.

Reiji proceeds down the grey path. It strikes him to be not dissimilar to the fossilized remains of some ancient ossuary. Or maybe the outside of a paper wasp's nest? He says nothing, continuing on silently until he finds something... similar.

Reiji kneels before the fallen soldier and quietly whispers a prayer for the man's spirit. It's almost certainly long gone now, but he has his duties as a priest. If it is still present though, perhaps it might respond to his presence-- and the familiar tongue he speaks.

One way or another though, he takes the gun. It might be useful.

"Keep your eyes open," Reiji says to the others. "If that message is accurate, then we'll probably see what they're refering to coming. Hopefully."

He draws his flaming blade to act as a light source and help facilitate that. It's better than nothing.

Hemlock (6320) has posed:
As the material turns out to be difficult to chip off, Hemlock gives up, instead playing his fiddle for ambience. He wasn't asked to, but it's a thing he's used to doing, though the electric sound gives him some pause. "Interesting. Why is it doing that..." He tries to consider, but honestly doesn't have enough information to make a conclusion, so he decides, internally, that it's secret evil magic. That's usually the explanation for these sorts of things.

The area is claustrophobic. Hemlock squeezes together, trying not to take up too much room, as they move forward. Maaka's light is greatly aappreciated, as the path goes downwards. There's a fork in the road, so Hemlock takes a moment to analyze both options. The first is left, through the partially-caved in tunnels, where a man with a gun and a hole in his skull lies. Hemlock isn't familiar enough with guns to go and check how many rounds or any of that, but he knows what they look like and what they do from internet crawling, so he can easily accept that the man killed him. If they had some more time, he'd try and get an idea of what happened there, but instead, he decides to write that path off and take the right one, especially after he sees the text.

"This one." Hemlock taps the writing on the wall, which doubles as checking if it's blood. "This one has a clue, and therefore something to use going forth. They do not speak or breathe, but their bodies will betray their presence. Likely some sort of silent killer of a monster. Furthermore, it's easier to navigate, due to not being caved in."

Hemlock doesn't wait to see if anyone agrees with him or debate it, though. He'll start that way (not leaving too far from the light, though), and try and make sure the others advance, strumming his fiddle as he slowly starts walking. "Let's go." Hopefully, atleast someone comes with him! He needs meatshields.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Yuuki is fairly good at following orders - specifically about following paths - as long as there's not, you know, something cute on the other path, or a misunderstood and tortured soul with big soulful eyes and dreamy dimples and...

Well, ok. The purple death path that is revealed, corpse and all, causes Yuuki's nose to curl and her face to screw up in revulsion at the smell alone, even from where she stood on the path. "Eugh... Are you two ok? Did you find anything?"

Well, that seemed to be mostly a good example of a Key Item Required Purple Door, and not a normal path door. "Maybe the colors mean something special...?" She muses aloud.

Like an afterthought, she pats Maaka's shoulder. "Don't worry. I'm sure even if your 'em-gee' doesn't work, you can take them down with your... strong punching arm?" She gestures with her arm, 'flexing' and patting her noodly shoujo bicep. "It'll be fine."

Touta Konoe (1143) has posed:
While Touta's never really had to worry about someone escaping from an interdimensional prison he can see where Reiji's concern is from. While he's never personally seen them himself he can only imagine that there's types of prisons or seals in his world as well. Though once Reiji's acknowledged him the young man can only give a bit of a smile, "Well, there's only one way to find out." They were going to have to trace this guy's path. Or attempt to anyway. Unfortunately it appeared as though the two groups had decided to split off. The majority of whom appeared to go towards the Grey door, while there were two who had straggled to the purple door. Guess no one wanted to try out the white door...

Well the doors had apparently already shut and from what he could hear over the comms there was already craziness ensuing behind the door taken by Arthur and Sanary. So to that endeavor he heads towards the purple door and opens it from the outside.

More than likely he's going to be blasted by any of the dense fog that attempts to escape and the burning sensation will probably be horrid to say the least but that only exemplifies how bad it must be to be left in there while it was shut.

"Guys! This way!"

It must have bee hard to see anything in this fog but he's hoping the sound of his voice can still reach them. He's hoping once they're able to get out that they can catch up with the rest of the group who had descended upon the Grey path.

Starlight Bandits has posed:
    It's a tight squeeze for a pair who insist on standing shoulder-to-shoulder for some reason, but the Bandits begin to wriggle through the tight tunnel. The two take notice of the skeleton buried in the rubble, with Irvine bending down to touch it. And then immediately remove the skull from the corpse. By keeping a thumb on the jaw, he begins to move it to mimic the act of talking, before putting on a ridiculous falsetto.


    "Hey there Molly! Even in strange towers like this, you can't escape your good friend Skel E. Ton! How you been girl?" Molly beams with delight and claps her hands together. "Skel! It's been way too long! What are you doing in a place like this?" "Well, you know that old saying, 'I need it like I need a hole in the head? Don't believe it for a second!"

    The two share a good laugh, before Irvine tosses the skull hard down the path. It's likely old enough that it shatters on impact, making a very clear noise. One that should hopefully lure out whatever the message speaks of.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
Reiji notices a certain hand reeeeacching over as he's knelt in prayer. Once he realizes what it's going for, he wastes no time in... Firmly smacking Irvine's knuckles and batting the groping hand away from the dead man's remains. "Have some respect for the dead," Reiji growls over his shoulder. "Desecrating a corpse is where I have to draw the line."

Starlight Bandits has posed:
    Both Irvine and Molly swivel to stare at Reiji for a long moment as he knocks the skull from Irvine's hand. Their eyes glint dangerously, faces as hard as the walls around them.

    Then Molly bursts into tears.

    "Skeeeeeeeeel~! How could you do that to him?! You awful bully!" she sobs, pointing an accusing finger at Reiji before burying her face in Irvine's chest. He rubs her back soothingly, before glaring at the exorcist. "Honestly, I've never seen a man so committed to breaking the smile of a woman before. This grim place suits you well, sir!"

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    Maaka peers back at the left pathway, to see this.

    She can't even muster the effort to try and direct them on-task. All she can do is drop her shoulders and roll her eyes with a heavy sigh.

    "I'm not being paid to deal with this much extra."

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    It seems the purple, wet, and pitted mark is something of a mild environmental indicator as to what lay beyond, being full of water, purple fog, and hideously awful toxic acid. Stumbling near-blindly through the poisonous smog, Sanary and Arthur encounter a number of other bodies, in different states of decomposition, but somehow never quite making it to skeleton status, as if the poison is too intense for even the bacteria to last very long. Water lies thick, stagnant and foul beneath them, though the various wells and tubes seem to be there for the purpose of moving it. Disused and dry as they are, anyone can peek through them and see floors above and below. Going near the walls, they find more pitted stone doors, though with a totally different mark on them, indicating that this isn't just one room, but a whole area horrifically polluted like this.

    The main feature of note, despite the ramble of pipes and holes that lead elsewhere, is a stone plinth sat right in the middle, with a very large, multi-sided socket inside of it, as if to receive a comically large gem. Scouring around the room, it seems to be highly secure space-wise, and the water is insanely noxious, possibly where the gas is coming from. Sanary's healing will only keep up for so long before she runs out of energy, but in that time, Arthur is able to find, under a section of floor grating and mostly submerged, apparently having been dropped and rolled under, a huge chunk of some kind of ore, chalky white and cut with several facets. Without beating around the bush, it clearly goes into the pedestal, and it looks like someone was carrying it around before abandoning it to try and get out. Faintly, when Touta enters, he can hear sounds of squelching, slithering, and deep growling from above.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
Reiji stares long and hard at Molly and Irvine, rogues extraordinaire. His expression speaks volumes about just how often he has to deal with situations JUST LIKE THIS ONE. He's lived with Xiaomu for years. Reiji has developed a finely tuned pokerface for these sorts of dramatics.

He squints his eyes, then shakes his head with a sigh.

He doesn't get paid enough for this.

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    On the grey path, it sadly seems that Rurufon was telling the truth regarding how souls work here. The spirit might have lingered for a while, but this man died a very long time ago, and is has either incarnated elsewhere in the Tower, or is still waiting for another opportunity. The gun is indeed a literally antique Nambu, in extremely good condition, considering the generally lukewarm and dry air. Mining away at the cave in is going to take a while. Like, a /while/. Despite looking papery and semi-organic, the dark material is like chipping away at solid blocks of tungsten. It's entirely doable, but Staren will be there long enough to want to check his emails or something, and a guy who ostensibly shot himself once he realized he was trapped isn't great company, despite Molly and Irvine's insistence to the contrary.

    The right fork is clear enough, and despite the almost nauseating twists, including those where the entire hall gradually twists on its side, as if floor and ceiling didn't really mean much, those venturing down it end up in a warmer chamber, lit by some faintly glowing fungus, about wide enough to host a dinner in. There are 'doors' to either side, though they look kind of gross and organic, and one directly ahead that is slightly more artificial, but with a set of massive horns or mandibles growing out of it.

    The room is also full of eggs. Big, beach ball-sized, pearly white and slightly gelatinous eggs. They're stuck to the walls and floors in dense clusters, glued on with some glistening, greenish substance and anchored by several more strands. They have an odd, slightly sickly, opalescent sheen, and are just translucent enough to see gestating shapes inside of them. Some have broken open, but quite a while ago, judging by how dry they are, and judging by a iron-shod walking staff that lies cracked in half on the floor, someone bashed them open on purpose, and broke his weapon doing so.

    It's all quite fascinating, which may distract from the fact that there are little 'crawlspace' holes in the ceiling too. It may also make the impossibly quiet footsteps too difficult to hear, before a quintet of nearly man-sized insects of some description drop out of the ceiling, two on Maaka, one on Hemlock, and one on Molly and Irvine each. 'Insect' is a generous term, since they don't obey Earth's morphological rules at all, considering they have four legs, complex, bifocal eyes (with kinda grossly human pupils), and bite and kick hard enough to sever limbs and crack bones. They're /vaguely/ like giant, bruise purple locusts, but all of them are subtly deformed in slightly different ways, as if misbirthed.

    Oh, and one of them sneaks up out of the crawlspace behind Staren too, while he's busy mining away.

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    Arthur's scouring does turn up something useful, thank goodness. Maybe it's only useful on this one particular fork, but it's at least useful, and that's enough motivation for him to carefully surge his space magic through the grate, under the artifact, casting a portal through it! With one Gate made under the chunk, Arthur casts one above, and tries to drop it through using proper portal logic. Captchaloguing it quickly, he then immediately makes a dash for the main plinth, dunking the ore into it directly "BOOYEAH!" He shouts, with the sort of triumphant hope that this means the gas will clear out and that the Puzzle Solved dungeon advancement jingle will play, instead of being ambushed by whatever horrible monsters Touta was hearing that Arthur couldn't. At least with the gas in here, he can pretend the corpses aren't.

    He's probably gonna try to book it out and rejoin the group if there's no progress on this though. He and Sanary have doubtlessly had more than enough of this nonsense, Sanary especially.

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    Maaka seems to barely even consider collecting the Nambu. Maybe she doesn't put much stock in GLORIOUS NIPPONESE IMPERIAL STEEL. (She really doesn't.) She heads through the right fork, her helmet folding back into place as she lifts her SAW and begins to patrol the place. She sees the room of eggs as she enters it, looking disgusted beneath her visor. "Uuuuuugh..." Things go from bad to worse, as she sees buzzing creepies coming her way.

    "Contact, spread out!" She calls out, before she aims at the insects with her SAW, the machine gun letting off a barrage of 5.56. Thankfully, this thing's got a suppressor dampening the noise, or the report would be deafening and not too pleasant to those less seasoned in warfare.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
     Sanary can't afford to see. She can't afford to shoot lasers anyway. She can't really afford to let go of Arthur, either. No, all she's doing is pumping out that healing magic in a light cloud around herself and Arthur, doing her best to counteract the effects of the gas the entire time they're in there! She's lasting longer than she expected, too, considering how little prep time she had before SUDDENLY GAS, but following Arthur around is easy enough even as she feels herself stepping on what is most likely some number of corpses.

     Whether there's success to be found in solving that puzzle or not, Sanary just keeps the healing going and staying blind the entire time. Hearing Touta, she directs a burst of healing his way as well, but it's not quite as efficient or lingering what with the distance and not being sure he's fully in the room.

     "Found something, Arthur? Uh... If it's heavy, just..." Grimacing again, she gets one hand out and just waves it around awkwardly while keeping pace. "I can still hold things on this side!"

Staren has posed:
    Upon encountering how tough it is to chip away at this stuff, Staren decides it's a more efficient use of time to chip apart only far enough for him to remove the hunks of rock(?) and dump them out in the entry room. Still, it's slow going.

    A monster sneaks up on Staren from behind. Looks like he should have purchased a Demon Slayer from Northern Gun! ("We've Got You Covered!")

    ...But the bug doesn't have the benefit of illusion, Staren was warned about silent enemies, and he has rear cameras. His support AI notices the movement, and Staren turns around and fires a dual beam blast, point-blank.

    He suddenly wonders if this is what it's like, inside a Xiticix hive.

Touta Konoe (1143) has posed:
Touta can't see what Arthur's going for sadly. All he knows is that there's a acidic log fog burning his flesh which thankfully able to recover due to his regeneration, however he has no idea about Sanary or Arthur's capabilities in dealing with this fog. Though a strange attempt at magic his way keeps him hopeful. "Hold on guys! I got an idea!" The last thing he wants is for the to of them breath in too much of this stuff. So he has to make a decision.

While he's intended to leave the exit open so that some of the gases would expel out and the density of the fog would lighten he can still barely see in front of him. If those creatures decided to attack either of them now, he's not sure they'd be able to see them coming let alone have him try to help them. So he's forced to take action in an attempt to try and remove all the fog from the room.

He'll have to accept any consequences that come of next. He pulled off the glove of his left hand, or what was left of it leaving his bare flesh exposed to the poisonous fog but that's not a major problem for him. Using that same hand he pulls something out from his pocket, hoping it hasn't deteriotated too much yet. He unfolds what appears to a hula-hoop and starts spinning the thing like everyone in the room's life depends on it.

As the spinning begins something strange would happen, the polluted air around Touta's body would begin to rotate around him. He was performing his revolution. A technique designed to let him use a few other of his skills but had the nice little perk of whipping up the air around him usually letting him levitate things in close proximity to a certain degree. While it wasn't particularly useful in combat but in this sort of situation he thought he might try to pull the poisoned fog condensed into his revolution. He's hoping the suction of the revolution will be strong enough to pull in the majority of the fog in the room, if not to clear the air to at least give the other two more visibility. If anything it'll create an 'eye' where Touta's was located.

"Guys! Seriously we need to get out of here!" He still has no idea when whatever was the cause of that growling is going to appear and he'd rather get these two out of here before something stops his rotation, cause if it does well...They'll be back where they started again. Or at least that's what Touta figures.

Hemlock (6320) has posed:
As they move forward through the right path, it turns out to be absolutely disgusting. Hemlock is more intrigued than anything, though, as he glances at the fungus, and then at the doors, and then the...eggs? Ah, yes, that must be the horrors inside. He spots the broken egg and the iron-shod walking staff, looking around at the eggs and their weird sheen, and then moves over to the walking staff to inspect it. As he's doing so...

The horrible white 'insect' drops out of the ceiling on him. The four-legged white ball with horrible eyes, giant and purple, and also incredibly strong. While he was prepared for an attack, it wasn't actually for 'from above', and the strike from the creature hits hard, cracking several of Hemlock's ribs, lucky not to do worse. That's certainly not good for a first adventure out in the Multiverse, as Hemlock falls down, and tries to think. What to do, what to do...

Control it. That's what he's good at. Enchantment magic is his specialty. Holding the bow to his fiddle tightly, Hemlock begins to play, but it's different this time, infused with his magic. The song is enchanting, folksy, and also is trying to communicate to the 'insect' that Hemlock is Good, and that the other bugs are Bad. They're bad things that need to be taken out, and attacked Now, while hurting Hemlock more will only harm the creature. Motifs of starvation are included, as Hemlock is sure the thing wants to eat, and food motivating it will probably assist him.

At the very least, even if Hemlock can't control it, hopefully the music will distract it long enough for Hemlock to get loose, at which point he'll try and hobble back to the hallway so he can prepare to cast magic. Either way, he shouts out in general. "Any of you have healing spells?!" Where's a cleric when you need one?

Starlight Bandits has posed:
    And so they advance, Molly still obviously shaken by the loss of Skel E. Ton. Irvine is doing his best to comfort her, mostly by trying the voice without the visual aid, but it doesn't seem to be doing much. She is so distracted, and Irvine so focussed on her, that the awful 'insects' take them both completely by surprise. Irvine is pinned to the floor, shouting "Not the face!" as he tries to keep the awful thing at arm's length.

    Molly does not slump however. The creature lands on her back, and she goes still for a long moment before shouting, "DO YOU MIND?!" Her arm reaches back, trying to grab at the thing and hoist it in her grip. Her other drifts to her side, drawing her revolver. She goes to press it against the thing's body. "I AM HAVING," She continues, almost drowning out the sounds of gunshots as she empties the revolver at her assailant. She then takes out her hatchet, and looks to the trapped Irvine.

    "A MOMENT!" She raises the blade, aiming only for a brief moment before bringing it down, aiming to decapitate the insect that is currently crushing Irvine.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
It's okay, Reiji's already collected the Nanbu. He may have functionally and game-mandated unlimited ammunition, but there's no reason to not have a holdout pistol just in case.

In case of what?

In case of rooms full of horrible man-eating insects, for example.

'Insects.'

It's a very loose description for what these things are, but it works. Reiji is, fortunately, not subject to their predations. Certain people nearby, however, /are./

A crescent of flame trails behind Karin's edge as it whirls through the air. Reiji surges at one of the bugs assaulting Irvine and Molly, having been standing /right there/ while the pair were accusing him of being a lameo square. Well. It turns out he's a lameo square WITH A FIRE SWORD.

Or. Rather. He goes to help out Irvine, because apparently Molly can handle herself.

That was a little bit vicious. Just... A little bit.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
There are many places that draw the eye within the tower, but Yuuki is actually woefully underprepared for the application of Dungeoneering Skills and Death Game Best Practices. She is instead Dangerously Naive about the implications of AlienS (with the s) egg-sacs. In fact, they look so fragile, like spun webs and glass, that she kneels down next to one carefully to... to boop.

With her finger. Boop! Boop!

"Hmm, the texture is dry, like... construction paper? But smooth, too, it's so intere-"

The sound of Maaka's SAW and the shouting and sounds of combat gets her to scramble to her feet, looking at the silent bruise-colored insects with some incredulity. "I didn't hear them! Did they come from the holes? The eggs?" She asks, aiming a swift kick at any that get close to her.

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    Trying to do blind navigation and math magic in this acidic hellhole is a feat alright. It seems that the fog even subtly distorts distance, like try to grab something at the bottom of a pond, visible a few inches away from where it actually is. It's definitely the purple air, because when Touta begins drawing it in (and getting a double dose himself), the portal can be fired accurately. Oddly, when the poisonous fumes leave, the squelching and growling stops as well, as if whatever is above is hesitating on dropping into the room.

    At the very least, it seems portals, space magic, teleporting, and such, all work perfectly well inside of the confines of the Tower itself. Dropping the odd (and very heavy) chalkstone through the portal works perfectly fine, and jamming it into the socket causes it to click loudly, sink in an inch, and then warm up with a soft white light from within, gradually growing into an intense, wall to wall shimmer as it shines from the plinth.

    It's exactly what Arthur had hoped would happen. As the light expand, the awful fog clears up, and the stagnant water underneath at least goes from sickly purple to properly transparent, threatening only ice cold damp socks. It sadly doesn't actually purify the poison out of their systems though, even if it does kill the acid; that much will have to run its course, though with Sanary pumping healing magic, it'll be a couple of minutes at most.

    Unfortunately, taking a glimpse down any of the pipes, wells, holes, tubes, and various points of ingress, the violet fog remains thick and lethal in every room beyond this one. No doubt there are more purification plinths like this (or perhaps they were originally water control devices?), but finding one of those stones in every room seems . . . unlikely. In fact, it doesn't seem to match any of the surrounding materials, like it'd come from somewhere else entirely. Luckily, it seems that the doors don't dramatically lock behind them. Spatially isolated as they may be, walking back out takes them straight to the Chasm Nexus where they had come in from. It may actually be intentional design for people to be able to go back and forth between various areas. The Tower may provide these selections intelligently.

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    The encounter with the horrid bug things is brief, at least. It's even more doubly sure that they aren't really insects, or from Earth at all, when they ooze bright green blood when shot or stabbed. Despite being giant and proportionately as strong if an insect were scaled up without respect to square/cube physics, they aren't supernaturally tough, and bullets and hatchet/sword chops blow off legs, wings, and even heads without too much difficulty. The trouble is mostly that each of them have to be shot and stabbed several times to stop moving, apparently capable of continuing to attack with no head and multiple body parts missing.

    Once again, there is the obvious suspicion that these things are from Somewhere Else, though unlike the weird natives that the first exploration group found in the forest leading here, they don't seem to be suffering for Earth's different environment and fundamental laws. Of course, it's quite likely nobody is /on/ Earth anymore, but the hive terrain all around them behaves as it looks. Some kind of . . . area-specific multiverse effect? Predating the capital M Multiverse too.

    Staren dispatches his assailant without much effort as well, spraying him with goo (which thankfully isn't dangerous). When he finishes mining out a few keystones of the stuff, and sends the chunks rolling into a sagging pile, he finds that they're actually not /tremendously/ heavy, just super hard. Heavy enough to keep a normal person pinned indefinitely, sure, not not too heavy for his robotic strength. The left fork beyond travels upwards instead of downwards, but stops dead at a door not unlike the one in the egg chamber, sprouting a pair of weird, glowing mandibles that snap when he gets close. Someone has used the same red liquid (which seems like blood, but blood would have dried forever ago) to crudely sketch some kind of twisted, horn-like item that may be relevant. It's like seeing notes left by another player of a video game dungeon, but then aren't those just designer tests of skill, strategy, and combat power as well?

    It's actually the bug thing that Hemlock charms that is the weirdest. The attempt succeeds, but he can tell it's significantly more intelligent (if still pretty dim) than a bug should be, maybe on the level of a smart dog. It savages one of its maimed kindred trying to crawl away with its jaws, and then abruptly turns and walks off towards the mandible'd door. Said thorny protrusions glow faintly as it approaches, and then the thing opens of its own accord, letting the creature through (into a much larger passage) and closing behind it.

    Well, it makes sense that the bugs would be able to open their own doors at least. How much sense would it make otherwise?

    Yuuki is effectively unmolested by the brief fight that happens. When she pokes the egg, she finds it jiggles ever so slightly under her fingernail, bobbling the shape inside. Up close, she can get a view of the faint silhouettes of gestating larvae within. There is a distinct pattern to them. Those in the earlier stages, judged by smaller size, all look exactly identical, as larvae usually do. Those that are near-fully grown, starting to touch the walls of their eggs, are just as weirdly deformed as the creatures they'd just killed. Something is wrong with the eggs, and they're hatching as mutants, like goat babies born in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    Bullets are certainly a thing Maaka has in great supply, well over a hundred of them per belt! She lets off one more burst before one of the bugs gets too close for comfort, knocking her off center as she drops the gun, letting it hang off the sling as she grapples with the ugly sucker. "FUCK RIGHT OFF!" She growls, smashing the bug against the cavern wall, drawing her ProgKnife, jamming the thing into one of the insect's wounds before stabbing over and over and over.

    She might end up ripping through the bug like an angry space marine by the end of it, before she draws her 10mm sidearm, the pistol kicking in her hand as she fires at the other bugger attacking her in between swipes of her knife. She -really- does not like bugs, especially ones like these.

    The many gaping, bloody wounds in her armor do not help, as she starts to realize she's got a number of wounds across her arms and chest thanks to her HUD's notifications. Super soldier or no, she's still been thrown through a meat grinder. And she only fought TWO of these fuckers. Right now, going up against more of them is a galling prospect.

Hemlock (6320) has posed:
Hemlock is very glad that worked, though he thought it would. As the bug fights and then leaves through a door, he takes a slow, ragged breath, covers his ribs, puts his fiddle back on his back, and takes out his pen and paper to write down what just happened. Then, he considers. Bugs - controllable, which is useful. But which door to take...

Slowly, the bard heads towards the weird gross organic door. Hemlock says why as he does so. "Mandible door is probably for bugs. That means this door might not be. I think it's worth checking out what's behind here. Though I'll need some help with this injury." Hopefully Sanary catches up with them soon.

Hemlock's definitely planning on checking out what's behind that door, though.

Touta Konoe (1143) has posed:
As far as double doses of poison go, Touta's probably the best equipped amongst the three of them. It looks like that whole 'eye' of the poison cloud thing wasn't as effective as he hoped but it seems like he accomplished what he needed to for Arthur to clear the poison out from the rest of the group. Even if the poison would take some time to clear from their systemm he's pretty sure whether it does take a while he's in no great danger. After all...He's immortal. So the moment the poison fog subsides he stops his hula-hoop and folds it back to be properly placed away.

He's going to deny any healing that Sanary offers him, after all he doesn't need the healing probably as much as the others. Even if he did probably take in more of the poison in the last moments.

"Jeez, you guys freaked me out for a moment. You both alright?"

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    "Fuckin' hell, is this space gas? Am I getting refracted? Are we getting poisoned by geometric difference?" Arthur mutters in pained ways, bracing against the plinth while he tries to shake off the poison. With several strained grunts, he seems to shake his Health Vial until all of its green, sickly poison status clears up with Sanary's help. "Well, that's was AWFUL." He declares in a definitive tone. "Looks like we figured the way this PUZZLE SHIT works. Gotta grab those ORES. Let's keep that on the BRAIN for when we head out to the OTHER ZONE. Which we shuld probably do NOW, yeah." There's a grateful look to Touta. "THANKS, homie, Let's OLLIES OUTIE. I'm not ALRIGHT, but I got enough SPARE BLOOD and MEDICAL HELP on me to take the PAIN."

    And then he's out. Let's head back, off to the gray door, and follow the others. Boy, that was a hell of a fiasco and a detour, but it was a learning experience! Hopefully there aren't more corpses past the gray door (there are definitely more corpses past the gray door). Hopefully he can rejoin the group before a fresh wave of those awful mutant bugs emerges and starts making problems, because he's way more interested in fighting than he is in fetch-puzzling!

Staren has posed:
    Staren is... pleasantly surprised that the bug is so easily dealt with. Somehow, it feels like the enemies here should've been harder.

    He's sure there are harder enemies ahead.

    He'll take a picture of the drawing and share it eventually, but with fights breaking out and shouts on the radio, he rushes to the other fork... although it seems the fight is already over. It looks like they got the worst of it, fighting multiple bugs at once. "You guys okay? Any sign of poison or the like?" He starts pulling nanobandages from his bag. While they don't cause meaningful healing in a short timeframe, they can at least stop the bleeding and help fight off any diseases that might have been on those bugs.

    "So, did mind controlling the bug work? I don't see a new pet at your side..."

Sanary Rondel has posed:
     With the terrible gas room solved for the most part, Sanary's finally able to redirect some of her energy into actually turning her eye back on! Unfortunately, that does mean having to look at the corpses finally. Fortunately, she's somewhat used to coprses already.

     Doesn't make them any more comfortable to be around, but at least she can focus her healing magic a little better without just letting some of it linger in the air doing nothing. "Yeah, we're... Uh. We're alive! I've had worse." She boasts to Touta with a confident grin, clearly forcing it through gritted teeth. Her axe is eaten through in several spots, and her coat is frayed and tattered in spots! "What about you? You... Sure you don't want any?"

     He gets a questioning look, but the healer won't push too hard on that just yet. She shrugs after a moment, then breaks into a run to rejoin the rest of the group. "That rock's really different from the stuff here, too... Yeah, we should keep our eyes open."

     A pause, then a wider grin. "Eh? Ehhh?" It's a joke that makes more sense in her head than it does coming out of it, apparently. Following Arthur out through violet door and doubling back to get to the violet door, she only spares a moment to fail to understand it on the way to rejointhe rest of the group.

     Healing magic is the name of the game, of course. Hemlock gets the majority of it, but she's on standby to heal whomever draws close enough or requests it!

Starlight Bandits has posed:
    Molly's breathing is a bit ragged as she finishes up her assault, but the things still writhe. She is jumped by the one she shot, and pinned properly this time. She cries out as her shoulder is bitten, only for more gunshots to ring out. Thanks to Reiji's assistance, irvine is back on his feet, and sinking shots into the two wounded insects. He then follows up with some frantic stabbing with the kukri end of his gunblade, only stopping when they stop twitching.

    "Oh dear. Molly, are you all right?" Irvine says with a wince, clearly favouring one leg as he helps the girl up. "Oh, I'm okay," she says, bleeding profusely all the while. "How about yo-AAAAAAA! IRVINE, YOUR FACE!" She points at a minor cut he got across the cheek. "Oh, this? That's nothing, rea-" "NO! We already lost Skel, we're not losing your handsome looks too! We're done for today!" She pouts powerfully, making Irvine show an expression of contrition before letting out a sigh.

    "Oh, very well... good luck everyone! We must be off for the day!" Molly beams, and produces a short, silvery staff that the two of them both grip. An ascending tone emits from it. "Bweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-" And then, flying in the face of everything Rurufon told them about how people don't just get to 'leave' the Tower, the two of them are gone with a quiet "bip."

Reiji Arisu has posed:
Honestly, that could have been significantly worse. Between a frighteningly strong woman smashing an axe into its skull and Reiji driving a blazing blade into whatever is left, the second insect is rapidly dispatched. Another is slain when Irvine is able to get free, which leaves...

...All of those eggs.

Were they just trying to defend their young? Or do these things feed their children on the remains of unfortunate wanderers?

Hm.

Well, they should probably get going before too long. "I'm fine," Reiji answers Staren, cleansing his favorite blade of the viridian ichor clinging to it with a sudden burst of flame. "Fortunately that wasn't as bad as it could have been. If these creatures all hatched, it would have been a very different situation. I'd suggest setting the room on fire, but I doubt it would do much of anything in the long run. We'll just need to make do with reserving our strength for now."

And then--

Reiji stares at the Bandits. "Wait," he starts, "How're you planning to--"

*Bip!*

"..." Reiji un-says, glaring at the empty space that used to contain the Starlight Bandits. "I," he starts, "I'm beginning to think there's more to those two than it seems. I've got no idea /what./ But still."

Beat.

Firelight flickers from Karin's edge, dimly illuminating the alien world surrounding them. Reiji makes his way to that strange, bloody door, lifting his blade up to the strange organic portal. "I think I agree," he says after a moment, "But there's too little we know of this place. This door may be just as good as any other we find here. I say we see what's beyond."

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Yuuki Kuranot getting eaten by the buggies is a good thing, and Yuuki is thankful that, in fact, the bugs that crawl out of the stonework to ambush them go down quick and don't even accost her. Which leave her with fleshy mutant eggs, and the crawling feeling that's something is Wrong inside. Malformed, misshapen, monstrous.

She compares the corpses - mangled as they are by laser beams and automatic weapons and the like, a 'bleck' expression crossing her features as she even touches the blood with a gloved finger, rubbing it between her thumb and forefingers, contemplating something within the viscosity, before wiping her fingers on the ground unsatisfyingly, requiring many passes to get it off.

"I, ah, think there's---"

The Bandits pop out of existance, causing Yuuki to rise back up to her feet, worried look on her face, looking directly at the returned Arthur. "Y-you know Space Stuff, are they going to be fine? The guar... The Administrator said that there was no escape from the tower. Unless-"

Yuuki brings up her hand contemplatively, looking at Arthur as if considering a fine piece of art in a museum (or a shirtless bishounen). "If they can get out, and you could get out... maybe the reason that someone escaped is some breach from the outside, got in? Or disrupted the inescapability somehow?"

There's a squishing sound as she thinks, before she pulls her hand away, looking mortified. "Oh, ewww..."

NOW she gets out the handkerchief to wipe her face.