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Hesinca EARLIER, IN STAREN'S LAB

"Hey Staren dood," says a prinny. "What does chloroform smell like?"

"No, no, dood," says a second prinny. "You're supposed to say 'Does this smell like chloroform to you' and then get her to sniff the rag."

"Really?" The second prinny looks at the rag. "But what if she doesn't know what choloroform smells like?"

"Actually I don't know what it smells like either," says the second prinny, and they both lean in close to the choloroform-soaked rag to check for themselves.

LATER

"Hey Staren - I bought you this awesome cat tree for you to play with, dood!"

"Wait, what if she doesn't play with the boobytrapped cat tree and just plays with the box it came in instead - er, I didn't say anything about boobytraps, dood..."

MUCH LATER

"I promise you this catnip is entirely not laced with any sleeping drugs, dood."

MUCH LATER AGAIN

"Hey Staren check out this cool circle of duct tape I made on the ground right beneath this hanging net, I bet you want to stand inside it dood!"

MUCH MUCH LATER

"Hey Staren dood! I'm leaving on a trip and I've got my suitcase out, I bet you wanna lay inside it to keep me from leaving-"

At that point, Hesinca bursts in. "What the heaven - she's still not kidnapped!? We were supposed to have her in place an hour ago!"

At that point she just physically grabs Staren and carries her out of the lab.
Hesinca NOW

There's a tower. It's not *too* much of a tower, but it's high enough to make casually climbing it difficult, and there's plenty of space inside - laden with all manner of hazards, minions, challenges, and plenty of miniboss arenas, probably.

At the foot of the tower there's a small stone-tile plaza with a prominent sign: <PARTY ASSEMBLY AREA>. And another sign: <YOUR ESTIMATED QUEUE TIME FOR THE DUNGEON IS 10 MINUTES> despite there not being any visible queue. There's a prinny at a lemonade stand, except instead of lemonade it's an item/weapon shop, and there's a floating crystal labeled 'SAVE POINT' that doesn't seem to really do anything. There's a third prinny wearing a hat labeled 'ASSIST MODE' that looks lost.

Now is the time to assemble your party for rescuing Princess Wiremu! Or, if you're on Team Dungeon, finding a spot to set up for whatever Dark General or other hazard or obstacle you're presenting the heroes.

Up at the top of the tower, Hesinca's got Princess Wiremu in a cage. It's not a very good cage - the bars are far apart enough that she could probably squeeze through - and Hesinca herself is focused on a giant control panel for the rest of the dungeon.

"There's... tea? Princesses like tea, right?" she says over her shoulder. "This is the first time I've kidnapped a princess, so I don't know for sure. But I'm assuming tea, and I thought maybe crumpets, but the prinnies got to them first."

"Also when this is all over do you mind leaving me a good review on LurkedIn? Just like, five stars, no comments, that's fine. Might have to make an account, won't take you too long."
Okada Izou      Okada Izou is in A Different Set Of Working Clothes To Last Night.

     A very stylish suit well-complements his rough stubble. His hair is pulled back into a loose ponytail, still wild and unkempt but at least tamed. A lit cigarette burns between his bright teeth. A katana and a wakizashi hang off a leather belt around his waist. He looks the image of a samurai adopting Western ideals, not unlike the Shinsengumi's Demon Vice Commander.

     Izou is leaning on the wall near Hesinca. He's the Bodyguard, the Devil In The Black Coat, the Dragon, whatever you want to call him. He's here to stop the princess getting rescued...for reasons. His own reasons.

     Also, it just kinda seemed like a fun time?

     "Sarra likes tea," Izou tells Hesinca, as he pushes off the wall to look at Staren. He takes the cigarette from his mouth and stares at her. His grin turns wicked.

     "Well, Princess. I hope for your sake someone skilled enough to get by me comes to get you."

     "If not..."

     Izou removes the wakizashi from his belt and tosses it into the cage.

     "Well."

     "I hear it's easiest if you go for the gut first. It's a nice alternative to life imprisonment, huh?"

     Ah, a Last Act Of Mercy from the Evil Bodyguard.

     He's definitely getting into this a little too much, isn't he...?
Staren EARLIER
    "Why-- wait." Staren looks down at the prinnies as they knock themselves out, and then moves them to the couch. She opens a call. "Hey, Sarracenia? So what *do* you wear for a kidnapping, I think it might be happening soon because these prinnies just made a laughably bad attempt to lure me into a trap."

LATER
    "A boobytrapped cat tree? Just how is it boobytrapped?" She pokes at it a bit in human form.

MUCH LATER.
    "...You're not an anaesthesiologist, 'dood', do you really gotta use drugs for this?"

MUCH MUCH LATER
    Staren looks down at the circle and up at the net. "You realize that if you just TELL me the thing is trapped and try to get me to stand in a specific place, how suspicious that is, right? At this point you could do better by just placing a trap at the place I'll go when I *don't* do what you tell me to... I'm gonna go get changed, okay?"

MUCH MUCH LATER
    Staren answers the door having adjusted her outfit. There's still glasses with thin, round, dark frames, and a white coat, but it's shorter, just long enough to read as 'white coat' at a glance but of lighter material, with slightly poofier sleeves. And there's still a scarf; again, of a lighter material and of poofy construction to assist in showy billowing. UNDER that is a sleeveless dress, the top of which incorporates brown leather parts over dark blue cloth so that at a glance it is evocative of some sort of tradesperson's work outfit, but the pleated, above-the-knee skirt part flares out a bit. She's got crew socks on and is holding a pair of high-heeled boots that match the leather decorations on the dress.

    Staren looks down at the prinnies and their suitcase. "Seriously? All your plans hinge on the cat thing? At least you're not trying to lure me into a carrier..." She starts pulling on the boots, "Look, how about I come along willingly, and we get this thing start--" And then, HESINCA. She stares, open-mouthed, in surprise as she is catnapped.

    The outfit DOES manage to flutter appropriately in the wind as she's carted off. "Hey! Wait! Do you ACTUALLY have to carry me like this?? I guess it's better than a kitty carrier, but still!"

NOW
    Staren's hands are holding the bars. "Oh, wow, kidnapees really do get tea? Sarracenia said that might happen but I thought that was more of a 'locked in a nice bedroom' deal than a cage deal. What kind of tea? I guess tea is fine, sure. My legs are a little cold in this. I'm not *actually* a princess, though, so I couldn't tell you whether princesses like tea..."

    Staren starts fiddling with a com-unit to make an account with a sigh, if she was allowed to keep anything. "...Unless you somehow got me a title to MAKE me a princess, honestly I wouldn't be surprised if you went that far, but I still wouldn't know anything about being a princess."

    She looks up at Hesinca again. "So this is your first time kidnapping a 'princess', but have you done the whole dungeon thing before? What's it like? Any tips?" She hangs her head. "Honestly, I was originally going to do this whole bit and kidnap Sarracenia to set her up for a date, but I just had no idea how to set all this up... I guess it's a moot point now, but it feels like it might come up again sometime in the future, you know?"
Sarracenia
EARLIER

     Sarracenia gets a call from Staren? And it's so she can rely on the princess's expertise! "Oh! Well, you really should wear something nice but not extravagantly so. You do not want it to look -too- staged. Something flowing or with billowing sleeves is best so that when you are shown restrained it is flattering even if tattered." She thinks a moment, then adds. "Alternately, if you want a more 'working girl' appearance, wear something form fitting enough to show your figure but utilitarian enough to show you are not just a damsel. The classic look of white tank top and cargo pants might work well for you." That expert advice given, Princess Sarracenia prepares to become...Hero Sarracenia!
     Sarracenia is likely one of the first one's here. And for once she didn't bring an airship. She's a hero this time, not the princess or the VIP. So, no grandios entrance into the area. She walks up wearing a black outfit with far too many belts and buckles and zippers around the waist and along the skirt. She wears a long sleeve black leather jacket with a bit of an oversized zipper, open of course. And under the jacket a black halter that while it keeps her modest does something the princess never does. It shows her belly! And the princess has decent tone to it. She's no Hiromi or anything, it's more of a light definition.

     She has her hammer resting on her shoulder in proper heroic fashion, and moves to the starting point while looking up at the tower. She could easily scale such a tower, but that's not the heroic thing to do. Once it is time to go, she'll be going right through the front door. But for now, she patronizes the adventurer shop, 'saves' her game, and does other video game RPG preparations.
Darren THE EVIL SORCERER'S MANSE

(Dark General)

    "Ay, for real, this is ridiculous, fam."

    Darren, repping Team Dungeon clothed in a halloween store robe with an equally tacky costume jewelry circlet, pulls out a bright orange cell phone with cartoon (?) eyes on the back, checking the time. The time is wrong, because Darren manually sets it an hour forward every time everyone else moves backwards, so that he can live two hours in the future.

    A sarcophagus with four ghostly arms, all crossed, chatters its sharp teeth in agreement. Pointed stones hover menacingly in the air, sticky webs cling to bookcase facades and stone floors alike, and not a one has yet been disturbed.

    "Oh, hold up. I think they're here. Ay, Nessie, you up!"

    An ill, foreboding fog creeps into the manse of the EVIL SORCERER.... DARREN.

     "Cool, cool. Ramesses, get up in the rafters."
Staren AND THEN
    Izou chastises Princess Staren's casual conversation with Hesinca. He pulls off the suit look well, as much as it seems like something he'd never wear. The catgirl turns to him as he speaks. Her grip on the bars tightens a little and her head moves back away slightly as he adresses her. "Or... or what?"

    She looks completely bewildered as he... gives her a weapon? She looks uncertainly between it and him a few times, before she finally gets it and looks horrified that he'd suggest such a thing. "Holy SHIT that's dark, dude!"

    Beat.

    "I mean." She tries to shake the bars. "You monsters! You'll never get away with this! When the heroes show up, they'll teach you, the, uh, error of your evil ways! You'll never get away with this evil plan!"

    Beat.

    "Psst, what's the plan in this scenario again? Like am I held for ransom, or is it to *draw* the heroes here, or is my royal blood needed for a ritual or something, or is Hesinca marrying me for territory, like, what's the deal, so I can come up with lines that fit?"
Blemishine     NOW ENTERING QUEUE: BLEMISHINE (PALADIN)

    ...does not pop up on a prinny-held wooden board painted to look like a UI box, but we can pretend it did. And the young woman approaching the tower certainly looks the part, between her flowing blonde hair, pristine white armor, and furred cloak beating behind her - not to mention the sword and shield resting on her waist and left arm respectively.

    She didn't even get dressed up, this is just her normal outfit for operations! It just so happens to be suspiciously convenient for today.

    "Wow! They really did pull out all of the stops!" Despite the somewhat put-together nature of the starting area and prinny who looks like he's the one who really needs the Assist Mode, she apparently finds the entire arrangement wonderful enough to go from curious to brightly smiling in moments. The save crystal gets several starry-eyed pokes after she leans in towards it. "A bit different from what I was expecting, in a good way!"

    Indeed, though she may be more familiar with storybooks than RPG chic, there's more than enough crossover that she feels right at home. Enough so that it's hard to tell if she's serious or just getting into atmosphere when she stops ogling and turns to give Hero Serracenia a knightly bow.

    "You won't be alone in ascending the tower to rescue Miss Wiremu! As long as Maria Nearl is here, no evildoers will stand in our way! ...Heehee." She tries and fails to hold back the snicker at the end.

    Ruining her own noble proclamations aside, she's also going to peer over the wares being handed out, inquire briefly about ASSIST MODE with that poor prinny, and also prepare to enter the tower. Wait, can a tower even be a dungeon?
I4 I4 shows up because he was referred to this by a friend.  He's not sure why he's here, because the whole premise seems...silly?  Did Staren leave the Concord?  Why would they keep her against her will?  When did Staren become a princess?  Was she like, the Princess of Mad Science or something?  I4 had a million questions, and the only way to actually answer them was to show up.  

I4, however, is not dressed for the situation.  Instead, he's in a very comfy-looking sweater colored in puke green.  He's got a pair of jeans and sandals.  Beside him, a flying box with small arms floats, seemingly 'looking' around itself as does I4 himself.  The entire setup looks, somehow, very cornered cut.  

'It's like someone in a corporation heard what a castle for kidnapping was supposed to look like, found that this was common in video games, and then set up a cookie-cutter video game adventure, with stands that look like they'd be better selling lemonade.  Also, the employees all looked lost.'  I4 finishes this mental noting, saving this locally, but ready to send the review to LurkedIn.

This was about the time he realized Sarracenia was there and looked at her and her outfit.  "Uh...hi?" he asked, trying to figure out what's with the outfit, and if he forgot something important?  Mmmm...

No, the sweater was very comfy.  He was good.  He side-eyes Blemishine and shakes his head at the declaration.  "Ok, so this still doesn't answer the very important question of /why/?" This is followed by a beat, "Also I think we have different views on what 'the stops' are.." he muses.
Hesinca AT THE FOOT OF THE TOWER:

"... You guys want assist mode, dood?" asks the assist prinny as . "... Nobody ever wants assist mode, dood."

With the assist mode properly ignored, the party assembles...

TOP OF THE TOWER:

... "Wait - there's just three? That's not gonna work out! The dungeon has a challenge rating of - what was it again?"

She glances over at a prinny who's holding a calculator. "Don't ask me, dood, I'm still trying to work out our THAC0," says Calculator Prinny.

"We don't have time to make obscure nerd jokes only obscure nerds are gonna get - we can't run a dungeon without a party! Activate Plan C!"

AT THE FOOT OF THE TOWER:

"Sorry we're late, dood! We're your heartfelt stalwart traveling companions who've been with you on your whole adventure!" say the four prinnies who've suddenly emerged from the bushes and joined Sarracenia and I4 and Blemishine. "Prinny Squad - er, I mean, Adventuring Squad Sound Off, doods!"

The lead prinny spins two daggers around. "Murder Hobo Prinny, dood! Let's find something to kill!"

"Power Gaming Prinny, dood, hey if you hug the wall we can skip the Dark General's cutscene trigger and save, like, thirty frames."

"Healbot Prinny, dood, I'm a healer and nothing but!"

"... Um, right, I had my character sheet somewhere here," says the fourth prinny, desperately searching in his pouch.

With the four prinnies having forced their way into the party, the tower entrance opens up, leading into the fog-shrouded first floor...

TOP OF THE TOWER: "Wait, do you have territory? Can we incorporate it into a kingdom and actually make you the princess?"

Hesinca focuses back on the task at hand. "I don't know - improvise a reason you were kidnapped. Dark General! You're up!" she calls into the dungeon-band communicator. "Intro, threats, set the stakes, maybe kill one of them - the non-robot, he looks like a temporary party member anyway."
Staren TOP OF THE TOWER:
    Staren blinks at that question, thinking back over years of Multiversal adventures. "Oh wait, shit, I think I *do* have partial ownership of a planet and a moon. Uhh, and I dunno if the First ever rescinded my appointment to Governor of one of the Concord's planets..." Her eyes widen a bit as she considers the possibility that this is *something* like being a princess and, hypothetically, a reason for someone to kidnap her.

    Then her ears flick and she blinks. "Wait, I4's not a robot anymore! Plus I don't think he was the kind you could just fix, even when he was!"
Darren      "AH HA HA HA HA HA!" Darren throws his head back and laughs, given the Cue.

     "Oh, whassup? My bad," he says, hands up, sleeves of his tacky paper-thin halloween store robe rolling back slightly to reveal a wristwatch, which he promptly conceals. "Just remembered something funny."

     "Anyway, I'm the EVIL SORCERER," he says, both hands gesturing to his chest as if he were excitedly welcoming houseguests. "This is my manse. And, uh, you know. I keep it real."

     "Ay, you ever heard of shadow people? They say it's just sleep paralysis but that's just a lie Big Pharma tells you, for real for real."

     "They're extraplanar visitors, you feel me? And I'mma send y'all asses straight to the Shadow Realm with Sarcophagus Power."

     The sarcophagus in question levitates down from the ceiling in conjunction with 'arcane' hand gestures from Darren (he's actually just vogueing), and swoops down, arms extended, trying to tackle the party! But be careful avoiding SARCOPHAGUS POWER--EVIL STONES lie hidden in the FOGGY MANSE!
Okada Izou      "Tch."

     Izou slings his coat over his shoulder like a cape. "I'll just wait here for the inevitable. They'll probably get past that coffin-brained cutpurse in no time."

     He's just in-character, Darren, don't worry.

     "Send some more of those idiot birds as backup. You, you." He points at two of the prinnies with the sheathed katana, "Go and back up the General."
Sarracenia      Sarracenia nods to each other person that arrives, then blinks as she realizes one of them is I4. She smiles cheerfully to him until...she sees his outfit. "Oh dear...that will not do at all." she says, then digs in her bag and pulls out...a red silk tunic with cape included! "Here, put this on. And take this." She hands I4 the simple sword she purchased for no other reason than that's what you do at the shop right before the dungeon.

     She greets Blemi with a return curtsey. "Thank you for answering the call to arms! I would be glad to have such a noble knight assist me!" she says, then gives her hammer a twirling flourish. "Are you all rea-"

     And then Prinnies show up to pad the ranks a bit. "Oh, um...if those three are healer, adventurer, and...speed runner? Perhaps you are magician?" she suggests to the confused Prinny.

     With their party assembled, Sarracenia steps forward. "No thank you, assist mode. That would tarnish the entire experience!" she says, though she gives the poor Prinny a pat on the head as condolences. "Here we go!" she declares, then charges forward. "You better compliment my outfit, Izou!!" she exclaims loudly enough to be heard by most anyone around as she heads into the fog and...is beset by a ghostly coffin! That hammer comes swinging around to meet it's tackle, and there is no doubt an air pressure shockwave as they clash. "What sort of creature is this, Evil Sorceror?! Did some innocent soul pay the price to power this undead monstrocity?!" she exclaims in very clearly over-dramatic tones.
Staren IN THE TOWER:
    Seeing Okada order the prinnies around gives Staren an idea. She turns towards one of the prinnies still here. "Hey! Where's that tea? I'm a princess after all, of one-and-some-pieces planets!" She stomps a foot for emphasis and wobbles a bit unsteadily.
Hesinca THE MANSE:

"Oh no, evil stones, dood! Be careful dood, if you get hurt I can heal you? Is anyone hurt yet? How about now, dood?"

"The EVIL SORCEROR! I'm gonna stab him, dood!"

"Wait, dood, don't stab him right away, we need to time it right so we can one-cycle his next damage phase, dood!"

"I... think I have something that's... anti-EVIL SORCEROR? I think it was a feat? Can we, um, pause while I look this up dood?"

TOP OF THE TOWER:

"... Actually... yeah, I think that'd count."

"Okay!"

"By the power invested in me by being able to fuck up anyone who says otherwise, and also being actual demonic nobility but that first thing is more important, I hereby ROYALLY INCORPORATE the... all of those places you said, and appoint you as Princess. Declare you as Princess. However that works. Hang on, I'm going to make a post about it.

The two prinnies look over, with concern. "Um, I think the dark general has it well in hand, dood..." says Calculator Prinny.

"Yeah, and I don't really have an entertaining gimmick or personality trait to add to the mix," says Generic Prinny.

"He said get going - so get going before he stabs you and we have to waste time cleaning up the mess. Everyone else - prep for taunting break in five!"

"Er - yes! Yes, of course, tea, dood!" says the Prinny Wearing a Fake Old Man Beard, as he runs off to find tea.
Okada Izou      "Stabbing...ah, that's not satisfying." Izou flicks the blade out of its sheath so the Prinnies can see it. He tilts the blade forward so it catches the light for them. He holds it up in front of his face, turning sideways, his eye falling on the Prinnies as he runs his finger along the back.

     "You *slice*."

     "You *carve*."

     "You..."

     "*Cut*."

     He runs his tongue along the back of the blade, then flicks it sideways. "That's all I care about. Cutting with this blade of mine. And if it's not the heroes, it's you. So..."

     He licks his lips. "I suggest you develop a gimmick or personality trait right now."
Staren     Staren lets a chuckle slip when Okada threatens the Prinny to *develop a gimmick or personality trait* and then tries to look like she wasn't just laughing lest she be next.
I4 I4 waves back to Sarracenia, though the LAST meeting they were at it didn't go so well, a lot of things had changed since then.  Though he looks oddly incredulous as he's handed the sink tunic and cape, as well as a sword.  He tilts his head to one side, not getting this.  "Uhhh...why..?" But likely people chanting 'put it on' or something akin to peer pressure from Blemi and 'the friends he knew from childhood or whatever gets him to sigh and move behind a conveniently placed rock.

Moments later, I4 is out of his comfy sweater, in the silk tunic that somehow also has shoulder pads.  The cape is a bit too long and drags along the floor slightly.  The sword just...sits there in his hand.  Though despite that he seems to at least know HOW to use a sword.  

OUTFIT ACQUIRED: HERO'S ATTIRE.  +20 comfort (down from +90.)

Up at the Dark General, I4 looks at Darren like he has three heads.  "No, that's actually a thing humans have.  It's a rare time when you're asleep, but your brain hasn't caught up to your consciousness being awake.  There aren't any people from the shadow places, or UFOs, or Succubi.  I mean, there ARE those things, but they don't do tha-" COFFIN DROP.  

I4 manages to jump back, but of course, there are dangerous things everywhere.  Fortunately, POD can detect things through sight obscuration.  I4 calls these things out, swinging his sword at one when he inevitably gets too close.  

"Hey, I don't think this is uh...as fake as it looked downstairs!"

There is a pause, and I4 considers the power gamers' words.  "Hey Murderhobo, Swing when I tell you, ok?" he says, and uses CALCULATIONS BACKED WITH MATH, and gives Murderhobo the go-ahead.  
Blemishine     Assist Mode Prinny(TM) is given a pat on the shoulder. One day he'll get to fill the role of a better mechanic.

    At least they have several more little doods jumping in, all of which invite a surprised gasp. "Thank you all for your help! I'm sure we'll need it! Er..." She blinks and gives a sympathetic (and awkward) chuckle to the last of the bunch, nodding in agreement with Sarracenia's insinuation. They /are/ lacking a powerful sorcerer. Wait, does I4 actually fit that bill?

    This will require further thought. The outfit kind of helps for that though.

    But time for thought they're not going to get, when faced with THE EVIL SORCERER and not only his MENACING LAUGHTER but also his SARCOPHAGUS POWER. "The Shadow Realm? That does sound a bit better than killing us or capturing or souls or anything along those lines...but we won't be doing anything like that!"

    What was that about outfit compliments? Regardless, the knight does not falter back - with the ghastly creature swooping in towards them, she doesn't leave Sarracenia to fight it off alone. Blemishine brandishes her sword and lifts her shield, and rushes forward into a charging buckler bash right behind Sarra's hammer swing! Despite its ghostly nature, she is clearly quite confident in her ability to just smash right into it and send it flying back towards its master, whom she'll keep sprinting towards if not stopped.

    Let's hope she doesn't step on any Secret Stones in the process.
Hesinca TOP OF THE TOWER

"Um... uh, dood, um..."

The prinny casts about the room, trying to find something to base his personality off of.

"I... like the color blue, dood?" he says.

"I mean - no, no, don't stab me, dood! I mean I really like the color blue!"

"Like, I wanna name myself after it. I wanna paint everything I own blue. I want to jump into a bathtub full of blue paint and roll around in it and only eat and drink things that are blue... um... does... that work, dood?"

Calculator Prinny just grabs Blue Prinny and books it out of the room. "No more time to talk or get stabbed, dood, gotta go help the evil sorceror!"

"... You shouldn't expect too much out of them, they're literally souls of the dead who are undergoing slow ego death as part of the reincarnation process," comments Hesinca. "If they get one good exaggerated personality trait out of that situation, they run with it till they day they undie."

Meanwhile, Prinny With Fake Old Man Beard still isn't back with the tea.

THE MANSE

"What? No! Swing when I tell you to, dood!" calls Powergaming Prinny.

"I really just want to stab things, dood!"

"Isn't anyone hurt yet?"

"I... think I'm a wizard, I'm not sure... um, what's the difference between a wizard and a magus?"
Darren      "That's right! Sarcophagus Power grows stronger the more heroes like -you- succumb to it!" Intro... threats...

     Ramesses is walloped by Sarra's hammer, rattling a metallic, tinny kind of noise. He seems to be having just as much fun as Darren, even when he's knocked so hard that he's forced into a dizzying barrel roll, then skidding across the floor by Blemishine's shield bash. This causes sparks to fly, which ends up setting a cardboard book facade on fire. A friend-shaped creature in a cheap robe that's poked through with several holes--one for a horn and several for protrusions from a shell--hurries over and slaps the flames out with a fin. Darren laughs. "Ah, ah! Oh, damn. Y'all are pretty strong!"

     I4's callouts help neutralize the first part of the encounter, though like any good bossfight there's more than just one element to avoid! Seeing that the heroes can navigate the fog, Ramesses picks up the little stones and gently 'tinks' them against people as he passes.

     Darren looks like he's forgetting something... oh, right. Stakes! Darren's phone buzzes and he levitates it out. "Ha HA! See that?!" It's on a news feed with a poorly drawn diagram showing that, in fact, trees are biotechnological projectors for hologram reality. With that kind of thing on his news feed, I4's FACTS AND LOGIC are at a type disadvantage!

     "Oh, my bad, hold up." The screen switches to a text from 'Boss Lady.' Ahem. "Ya TOO LATE! Staren's been made the princess of planet... planet... anyway." He coughs. "She'll cede the throne any minute now, and the Dark Lord of Diaster will have yet another world (and some change) under her sway--and my Sarcophagus will FEAST! HA HA HA HA HA!"

     You got this, little homie, Darren's voice rings out to the prinny wanting to pause to check sheets. I'm a glowing-weak-point kinda dude. You'll see! Listen to I4.

     Indeed--the opportunity to seal the boss fight away comes when Darren prepares his ULTIMATE ATTACK--the SHADOW REALM!

     Ramesses opens himself, revealing a dark void where no light escapes. Darren's hands are up in a 'hit the wizard' kind of pose, as fog and stones are rapidly drawn into the void!
Okada Izou      Izou breaks character only momentarily to scratch the back of his neck at Hesinca. "Honestly, I don't even expect that much out of 'em, but, y'know...you gotta throw yourself into this stuff, right, or it's not any fun?"
Staren TOP OF THE TOWER:
    She was distracted by Okada threatening the prinny, but suddenly Staren looks over at Hesinca, "Wait, you're posting where? Is this, like, a real thing? Taunting break in five?!" She lets go of the bars and tries to pace around the cage, only to immediately almost fall, grabbing the bar to avoid falling over. "How does anyone walk in these?!"

    Princess Staren pulls herself up to standing. "You'll never get my share of the moon's Erchius deposits! ...How was that? ...Wait, why are the heroes rescuing me if I'm just rich? Shouldn't they be taking my shit to use for heroic stuff?" She taps her chin thoughtfully.
I4 "Wait is that an instant death attack?  Those never work, you know..?" Of course, this ends up in I4 being bullied into going along with the whole thing.  

I4's morale drops.  It's now, 'In the usual range.'  For those who can read bars, it's basically low.  

Of course, this doesn't do anything to change the fact that THE SHADOW REALM is charging up, and also his facts and logic are being ignored slashed rebuffed.  Rubbing his head, he points towards the Dark Wizard Chad.  

"Go for it Murder Hobo.  Aim for the giant orb."
Hesinca TOP OF THE TOWER

"... Oh, right, it was a bit. Sorry, I kinda... got into the moment too, and thought you were serious."

The demon grins at Izou. "Like - everything's just so dull, most of the time? But right now I have an actual *princess*, and a dungeon, and - if nothing else it's at least all so novel and it doesn't feel like I'm bored out of my skull like usual!"

"Speaking of! Gotta keep things rolling..." She presses the communicator button on the control panel. "Get ready for the taunting break - and queue up the Trial of Wisdom for right after that!"

"Um, Mistress Hesinca! The Old Man Prinny got sent to go find tea and is lost in the Block-Pushing Puzzle, and nobody else bothered to learn the Trial of Wisdom questions!"

"... What, ugh. Okay. We gotta move something else up quickly..."

She glances over at Okada. "Accelerated timetable. Think you can run down to the second floor and set up quickly once we're done taunting?"
Sarracenia      "We will rescue her before that ever happens!" Sarracenia declares as Darren shows the stakes. As that void portal opens and starts powering up, she uses her hammer to dramatically brace against the ground. "We must stop him before we are all sucked in!" she exclaims, then glares with puffed-up cheeks at I4. "Just do it, okay!" she threatens, then looks to Blemishine and the Prinnies. "All of you, with me!" she exclaims, then charges for Darren. "Hyaaaah!" With a leap and a spinning overhead strike, she aims her hammer at the Dark General. Hopefully he's pretty sturdy, because the real princess isn't so good at holding back.

     The hammer comes down with full force, definitely cratering the floor with a hit and possibly doing some damage if she manages to hit Darren! "Take that, Evil Sorceror! Let's see if your fel creature can continue its rampage without you!"

     She pauses a moment, then adds, "And who was that strange robed creature?"
Blemishine     "Good swing, hero!" Sarracenia gets a a nod and a wide smile. "And wonderful support, I4!" The Adventurer Squad...um. They're trying. Healbot Prinny gets another of those increasingly awkward laughs. "S-So you don't have any offensive abilities at all...?"

    With Ramesses tinking them - gasp - as she stops to look at Evil Sorcerer Darren's phone, Blemishine is momentarily taken aback by the counter-facts displayed on the screen--and then the message that follows. "Eh? Princess of an entire planet!? S-She can just suddenly become one?" The knight stops and looks between all the members of the party, including the prinnies. "...Can she suddenly become one?"

    After a moment of confusion you can't really tell is genuine or not, she shakes her head and faces down the fiend and his coffin. "...You won't get away with it! That newly-given throne belongs to her! Everyone...!"

    There's about a dozen holes in this logic, but she nevertheless braces herself against the whirling wind of the PORTAL TO THE SHADOW REALM. Despite impending doom tugging at her cloak, she takes a brief pause to lean in towards I4. "Psst, I4! Party unity. Party unity! Cheer up, okay? We're all supposed to be in this together. Besides, maybe you won't get banished, but what if you /did/? I couldn't pull you out, because then I'd be in the Shadow Realm too!" Indeed, she doesn't fuck around with 30% hitrates.

    Which is why immediately after, she charges forward once more, unfearing of SARCOPHAGUS POWER and instead towards Darren. This time, it's her sword that gets brandished in a flurry of rapid swings upon closing the distance, to strike all across his body as he's left wide open!

    They're all with the flat of it. Not only because she doesn't actually want to cut him up, but because she'd probably shred apart the cheap store-bought robe and totally ruin the effect.
Staren TOP OF THE TOWER:
    "I'm not an *actual* princess," Staren corrects reflexively, but her communicator interrupts her. She answers. "Mom?"

    "You're a princess?!" "Congratulations, honey!"

    The catgirl blushes. "I... wh..."

    "Did you not see the newwwwws?" The second voice draws the word out.

    "THE NEWS?!" Staren gives Hesinca a surprised look.

    "Oh, you didn't, huh..." "Congratulatioooons!" "Wait, does this make us queens? Does it go *backwards*?" "Aww, honey, you've always been a queen to me." "Tinaaaa. ...Thanks. But today is about our daughter, /Princess Wiremu./"

    Staren is blushing. "Oh gods. ...I don't even know if this is a bad thing, it all just happened so fast!"

    "Oh Sarah, it seems like just yesterday she was a partner in the Concord--"

    "That WAS yesterday!"

    "--and now she's grown into a princess just like we always knew she would!" "We literally never expected that."

    "You don't *grow into* a princess. ...Right?" Staren looks to Hesinca as if she's an expert on the matter. "Right?" Staren looks increasingly uncertain. Honestly it seems less absurd than what just happened.

    "SO," continues Christina, "When do we get to see the castle?" "She has a castle?! ...I mean *besides* the spaceship shaped like a castle. ...Oh shit, that was kinda leading up to this, huh? You had a castle the WHOLE TIME! We should've known. ...Does that mean if we build a castle we become princesses?" "Oh, you want to be a princess too, now?" "W...well... she did it so fast, and I... I never knew I wanted it but MAYBE?"

    Staren has grown increasingly embarassed and then gone :| She flatly states, "I never knew I wanted it either."

    Christina continues, "Okay well I'm sure you have *important princess business* to attend to," (Sarah is snickering in the background) "so we'll let you go." "Your mom's a tease but seriously if you need help, you can always let us know, right? Love you Star." "Love you~!"

    "Love you too moms." There's a click from the other end and Staren stands there awkwardly for a moment. "...So, uh, taunting break. Is there a camera I should look at? Are we all camera-ready? I've never done this before."
Okada Izou      Izou immediately falls back into character when Hesinca tells him to go. He turns, his coat whirling over his shoulder like a cape, and waves his hand as he walks. "I don't need to be told what to do. My blade's always ready to cut."

     With that, Izou opens the door as he turns invisible. It's a very convincing Evil Bodyguard Exit.

     He really has been practicing.
Hesinca THE SECOND FLOOR:

... is the prinnies fault.

They were told 'trial of wisdom' and given free reign to set up the arena for it, and nobody thought to check on what exactly they were doing with it theme-wise... and while Hesinca's vision was some sort of symbolic sea-crashing-against-the-cliffside set where the party would be given deep philosophical questions by a bearded old man...

... The prinnies vision was a quiz show. A quiz show administered by a bearded old man, so that much still transferred over, but that's practically the only thing.

The second floor is decorated in bright colors and covered in luminescent stage lights, with every tacky quiz show trope you can think of - the podiums, the wall of video screens, the giant wheel (actually three of them, throughout the stage, all with purposes that can't be divined at a glance), the various Grand Prizes on display off to the side of the stage (including a generic sports car), and of course the Physical Challenge - although it's only a singular obstacle: single set of monkey bars at prinny height.

... At least there's enough open space for a proper miniboss fight.
Darren      As someone who has unlocked his inner strength through pyramid power, Darren is stronger than the 'average joe' vibe he presents. That is, the vibe he presents when he's not dressed up in cheap robes and costume jewelry. He didn't have any appropriately sorcerous shoes, so when he's knocked off of his feet by attempting to block Sarra's overhead with SORCEROUS MIGHT, a pristine pair of sneakers is revealed.

     He LEVITATES OMINOUSLY to keep himself from being sucked into the Shadow Realm, however, there is a startled expression on his face! Clearly the Evil Sorcerer hadn't expected people would try to interrupt his instant KO attack!

     "Ah! Ah!" He makes one for every time Blemishine hits him with the flat of the sword, posing dramatically to really emphasize what a killer combo she's getting. And also because he's clearly having fun mugging like this. At the end of the multi-hit combo (and especially if the Murder Hobo Prinny last-hits) he goes flying into the Sarcophagus.

     "What an unexpected twist of faaaaate!" Clunk.

     The robed creature of which Sarracenia spoke presses her horn into the 'play' button of a well-used CD player hooked up to a speaker. Victory music plays, as she hurriedly generates more fog. The sarcophagus opens, and out comes a little floating alien.

HEY WHAT'S GOOD THANKS FOR SAVING ME Y'ALL MIND IF I CREEP ON THIS PARTY

     Booms the tiny ayy's psychic presence in your minds.

     Roswell has joined the party!

     Fog picks up so that the level can transition, and definitely not so that Darren can get all the props put away. "Bruh, I know you didn't mean it, but you just stepped on my foot."
Hesinca "Oh - oh, oops, taunt break *now*, nevermind if we're camera ready."

Hesinca turns on the camera, showing the final boss room at the top of the tower, a corresponding monitor appearing in the Manse.

"Mwa ha ha! I, Demon Lord Hesinca, have captured and have cruelly ennobled Princess Wiremu!"

The camera pans to show Staren in the cage (which, again, has bars spread too far apart to possibly contain her for real).

"Fight past my killer bodyguard and my fiendish puzzle traps, if you dare!"

"(psst, traps are broken, dood.)"

"... Fight past the fiendish bodyguard and take extra time doing so to pad out the dungeon length, if you dare!"

"And then fill out a comment card and leave it in the box by the exit, if you dare!"

Hesinca zooms the camera in on Staren. "(Okay, now say something inspiring,)" she stage-whispers, it accidentally getting picked up by the camera anyway.
Staren     The 'captured and cruelly ennobled' Princess Wiremu struggles against the bars when she's named. "You dastardly dark lord! You'll never get away with this! Save me, heroes!"

    And then after Hesinca's finished, she's put on the spot and looks a bit like a deer in headlights. "Um. Save me and I'll... give you myyyyyy eternal gratitude?"

    She rallies, taking a step back and almost falling over again. She holds a fist in front of her chest and looks dramatically into the distance. Her scarf flutters in the wind (not quite out of frame is a prinny holding a fan that's SUPPOSED to swivel back and forth on its own but it's broken so the prinny is standing in for the missing function of the appliance.)

    "Rescue me, noble heroes, and your great deeds will surely be spoken of for eons to come! Your exploits will be written in the stars, and everyone will remember the legend of the names--" She pauses awkwardly and looks at the camera. "--oooofffff all of you who showed up! Now save me before she drops me into a vat of boiling sharks!"
Okada Izou      The fog...

     Doesn't go away.

     No. It clings to uneven ground, hanging ominously above what could only be mud. Puddles deep enough to step into dot the ground like land mines. Above, a pale moon hangs in the sky, impossibly large, sickly yellow-white, its light refracted by the lingering mist.

     The party is at a crossroads. Ahead, a bamboo forest. Around them, the empty, muddy streets of a Japanese city from the end of the Edo period, squat white homes and low roofs bunched together with a sense of chaos and overcrowdedness. In the daylight it's probably a charming little street.

     In the moonlight and the fog, with the bamboo forest ahead, it's creepy as hell.

     Distantly there's the sound of a whistle being blown. A loud, shrill shriek pierces through the air. The clatter of weapons from far away. Then...

     Timed perfectly to the second shriek, a blade whips out of nowhere across Blemishine's back.

     "Tch."

                                 OKADA IZOU                                
                         THE MAN IN THE BLACK COAT                          

     Under the sickly yellow moonlight the blood dripping down Izou's blade takes on an even more unpleasant hue. He holds it up in front of himself like he's admiring it, eyes fixated on the sword. The coat over his shoulder gives an awful red backdrop to him against the mist. Then,

     "No, no."

     "That won't satisfy me at all."

     "A little cut like that isn't enough to satisfy Shinemaru."

     He flicks the blade to the side again, splattering the blood across the muddy ground, the mist swirling about him. With the hand holding his coat, he lights another cigarette and sticks it in his mouth.

     "This long."

     "You have this long to defeat me."

     "After this..."

     "I'll show you the ultimate technique."

     Oh, he has an Enrage Timer. Or...

     An alternate victory condition...?
Staren     Once the ON AIR indicator goes out, Staren looks to Hesinca. "You don't *actually* have a vat of boiling sharks under here, right?"
Hesinca "Couldn't get the sharks. It was that or the push-block puzzle..."

Hesinca slams a fist against the wall. "Which is apparently *broken*, so good choice there! How do you even break a push-block puzzle, anyway? It's blocks, and you push them!"
I4 Blemishine knows how to get I4 motivated again, the small talk doesn't SEEM to do anything at first, but after a moment he nods.  Especially when is timed attack worked, and the evil sorcerer pyramid king 'Chad' is defeated through teamwork.  

"Alright alright...just you know, keep her from threats.." he says, frowning.  I4 apparently doesn't respond well to OPPRESSION, and those who know his history might understand why encouragement works better than threats.  

The fog is thick, and when it shows no signs of letting up, I4 is about to turn visual scans back on before the slash across his Blemi's back.  I4 moves trying to keep himself from being stabbed...because if it can hurt Blemi, it'd obliterate him.  

"You know...I don't think he's 'in character'," he says to the others with him.  He holds his sword up, but not to attack, but instead to once more try and keep scans going on.  How should they approach this problem..?  With that, he has an idea, firing a ball of light from his hand.  All IT has to do is land before I4 aims to better scan Okada, aiming to Slow him down.

The goal is to buy them time, and also make it easier to hit him...and given the Prinnies.  "I'll do what I can to keep him slowed, but it's going to make me a target.."
Hesinca "Good! It'll let me murder him harder, dood."

"Good! You're the tank, you getting hurt is optimal, dood."

"Good! It'll let me actually cast healing spells, dood."

"Good! I've found a scroll that'll take out the EVIL SORCEROR in one blow - wait, where is he?"
Sarracenia      Sarracenia gives a confident smirk and a haughty 'hm!' as her attack is complimented, and I4 gets a smile as he gives in to peer pressure and sends the littlest murder hobo on the attack. The fog builds up more as the Evil Sorceror is pulled into his own shadow realm and a small alien is released. "Oh! Not at all! Join us, strange traveller!" she says to Roswell. She giggles at the Prinnies and frowns lightly at what I4 says about her.

     Then, level change! They are in a spooky town! And...did Blemi just get hit? Sarracenia -has- battled Izou once before, but his ninja-like tactics are still surprising. She actually looks a bit intimidated by his entrance! But, once she realizes who it is she smirks and stands tall, trying to show off a bit just for him. She twirls her hammer and herself in such a way that it shows off her outfit and her skills, then...she falters when she hears that one Prinny. She has to hold back a laugh and instead just a bit of a snrk escapes her. "H-he is vanquished! This is our foe now, it seems. Who would have thought that such a legendary swordsman would team up with Demon Lord Hesinca! We'll have to defeat him if we want to save newly dubbed Princess Wiremu and leave a review!"

     She looks toward I4 and the spellcasting Prinnies. "We'll be counting on your support!" she says, then moves to try and flank Izou with Blemi. "You are outnumbered! Surrender and perhaps we can end this without anyone else getting hurt!" That's a classic hero thing to say, right?
Blemishine     Success! There's a little moment where Blemishine glances around for the source of victory music, then just grins and does a few swings through empty air leading into sheathing her weapon. It just feels right to do.

    "Oh!" No sooner is she done than she turns on Roswell, clasping her hands in a mix of surprise and wonder. "You were trapped in there? Of course you can join us! The more the merrier!" Actually, the little guy is kind of cute. She will, of course, pointedly ignore any shuffling in the fog that she might pick up as they prepare to proceed.

    What she can't ignore is the monitor lighting up, eliciting yet another gasp, followed by a furrow of her brow. "Miss Wiremu! Er...Princess Wiremu now? We'll be right up there, I promise! Demon Lord Hesinca! You won't get away with this...! We're going to save her, de-...noble her? ....And put a stop to your plans!" Aside from that one moment, and the fact the monitor probably isn't even two way as these things go, she's rather good at getting herself into the mood.

    Whether that will hold up when they start preparing to move is up for debate. The fog remaining is extremely ominous, and the change in atmosphere even moreso. On the outside, at least, she's still sun and cheer despite the oppressive Edo-era atmosphere and dark streets setting in, perhaps to keep up spirits. "Don't worry, I4!" Keeping alongside him, she gives him a couple more nods. "A few roadbumps among the group is just normal. I'll be sure to make sure you two--" On the inside, she was guarded. Just not enough to stop what happened.

    Seconds later, she's catching herself from a stumble forward and whirling around while brandishing her blade, a gash cut clean through her cloak and the armor beneath. Despite that, she quietly holds a frown and a stare while leveling the tip of her sword at THE MAN IN THE BLACK COAT...before grinning.

    "A time limit, is it? And that style...I'll be paying you back twice over for that. Let's see if your swordsmanship can match mine - and all of us together!" She really, really seems serious. At least until she breaks character for just a moment to gesture towards Healbot Prinny, point at her back, and then give a nod and a thumbs up, all while keeping her thoughts on how coolly dramatic that all was to herself.

    And then she's all business again on a dime, dashing right in from the opposite side from Sarra to flank him! Unlike Darren, she's more than fine using her blade's edge to strike with here!
Okada Izou      The weight of I4's scanning settles onto Izou's shoulders. He can feel himself slowed down, feel himself growing less swift, less able to retreat on command. He purses his lips. Well, he could always play the 'bosses immune to status debuffs' thing...he's pretty sure he read about that in Hesinca's notes while he was laying around waiting for her to finish up the castle, or maybe heard one of the Prinnies talking about it, or something. He doesn't remember.

     But...

     Izou sighs and flings his coat into the ball of light, dispersing it.

     The coat splatters against the mud and disappears. It will probably be dry-cleaned by the time he gets out of here.

     "Alright, then. I'll accept your handicap. It wouldn't be a fair fight otherwise."

     He flicks his sword to the side to intercept Blemishine's. He's slowed, after all - moving is going to be a problem for him, especially in a three-on-one. If he lets them move him around he's going to get pushed where they want him to go.

     So when the katana comes out to intercept Blemishine, Izou turns around and punches her in the face.

     It's dirty street-brawling. He's not good at it, and he's not strong, but he's not trying to be - just enough to intercept her so he can jump. He's not fast, but...

     But he's still *stupid* agile.

     So as Sarra comes in, Izou goes up, lands on Blemishine's blade, and stomps his foot downwards. He lets Sarra go rolling past.

     Another breath. Some smoke exhales into the mist.

     "Let me tell you a secret, beautiful," Izou says, looking over his shoulder at Sarra as he shoulders the blade. "I'm always outnumbered. That's the way I like it."

     Then he turns.

     And he drops the two-handed hold of the katana.

     With one hand he reaches for his sheath. With the other, he points his blade at Blemishine. The sheath he holds up towards I4. No aggressive motion. He's apparently exactly that kind of obnoxious gimmick boss.

     And...

     Say, that looks an *awful* lot like Blemishine's stance...
I4 He doesn't have to attack to win..?  

Buying enough time.  Something was up, and I4 didn't like that he spoke with highlights in his words.  Worse, is that he's not attempting to stop his biohacking debuff, but instead focusing on defense.  The cigarette thing wasn't a bluff about his power, there is something else he's waiting for..?  I4 leaps back when he gets the look, trying to put distance.  

I4's action now isn't scanning Okada directly, but instead scanning the entire area, he looks for whatever Okada is referring to.  There has to be something here he's not seeing directly.  The POD's search extends out, trying to see what about this setup area has the manslayer so confident.  

Of course, because of this, he's focused on this and not attacking nor defending himself.  Hopefully, his allies can protect him.
Sarracenia      Sarracenia goes stumbling past Izou, but manages not to land in the mud. She turns, ready to strike again. Then, she pauses. "A worthy cause...and, just what constitutes a worthy cause?" she asks, her weapon lowered slightly. "What is more worthy a cause than fighting for the saftey and honor of a worthy person?" she asks, standing with her weapon down now, letting her long copper hair billow in the breeze while the moonlight glistens off her pale skin. "Is that why you are here? To find someone worthy of your blade? How would you know when you found this person?"

     She looks toward the others, then motions with her head. Perhaps they can move on while she distracts the well-dressed swordsman. She holds out a hand to Izou after that. "I do not know if I am worthy, but surely standing in the way of noble heroes trying to save a pure-hearted princess from a nefarious fate is not worthy of you."
Blemishine     Izou has been slowed - but that doesn't make him any easier to deal with. Or maybe it makes him more 'possible' to deal with. He's incredibly swift, far moreso than most opponents she's used to dealing with. The numerical advantage isn't everything, she knows that. Her blade is deflected when she goes for a swing--

    And she's socked in the face, reeling back a step and turning with the momentum before stopping herself. It creates the perfect opening for his acrobatics, further opening up her stance and leaving her unable to swing back until both she and Sarracenia are left on the backend of the Boss Cutscene Maneuver.

    Struggling to get her bearings back, she quickly ensures everyone is still okay before facing down the Manslayer once more...with a gasp that is /not/ faux-dramatic, but one that's genuinely shocked at the mirroring of her stance. She'd recognize it anywhere, as the very same stance that originally belonged to her sister before she learned the same.

    'I don't have to attack to win this fight. I just have to buy enough time.'

    "Manslayer...what exactly are you looking for?" Mirroring the mirrored positioning, albeit with a proper shield instead of a sheath, she simply holds her positioning in tense staredown fashion. "If it's fighting enemies while overwhelmed, I would say that's exactly what we're doing scaling this tower. If it's appropriating techniques, you could do better than mine." After the obligatory lead-in, while very obviously pretending the breaks in character on the radio didn't exist, she gets to the point.

    "But if you simply seek a cause, I would think you can do better than kidnapping princesses and taking orders from an Overlord who clearly doesn't appreciate your skills for what they are." With Sarra taking point in the talking, she lowers her readied weapon some. "...You should heed the hero's words. A more worthy cause than hers to fight for, I can't even imagine!"

    She says, as if they hadn't all just gathered here like fifteen minutes ago.
Okada Izou      Izou, still holding Blemishine's stance, just listens. The cigarette burns closer and closer and closer to his lip. Time is running out. They're betting everything on this gamble....everything on that hint from Izou and the knowledge I4 gleaned...!

     "...tch."

     Izou removes the cigarette from his mouth and slings it into a puddle. It hisses smoke as he stomps on it, splattering mud on his shoes. He will get mad at himself for this later.

     "What I'm looking for, huh..."

     Izou shrugs. He slams the katana back into his sheath and links it back to his hip. His head tilts over his shoulder so he can lock eye with Blemishine. "...yeah. You're right. I am looking for someone worthy. You got me."

     Then he walks over to Sarra.

     "Most people...don't ask to be worthy of my blade."

     "You're still rough. But I think I'll follow you until I see you reach the peak of your skill." He taps the hilt of the blade. "Either you'll become someone worthy of a duel to the end of my life, or I'll get to cut to my heart's content against the enemies you draw."

     "Sounds fair enough."
Hesinca "Oh - it's taunting break time again already..."

Hesinca turns the camera on - and a hidden monitor lights up in the arena.

"So - you've bested my manslayer... it matters not to me whether you've slain him or enticed him to your side, the outcome will be the same!"

"I stand ready in my machinations for you to crash fruitlessly against me like waves against the shore!"

Hesinca pounds one fist into another.

"And when you lie defeated - Princess Wiremu will be all mine to - to build me a doomsday machine! (Yes, that's it,)" she says, finally coming up with a reason for all of this, halfway into the plot. "Better hurry, heroes! The giant clock face on the doomsday machine isn't ticking - but it will be, once I force her to build it!"

<TO BE CONCLUDED>
Hesinca "Wait I mean to get resources from - to BUILD A DOOMSDAY MACHINE!" says Hesinca, retconning slightly based on reminders she's getting over the radio.

<TO BE CONCLUDED AGAIN>
Staren     Staren is slowly, unsteadily pacing across the cage with her arms and tail out for balance when the camera turns on and her ears perk up just before she looks at it and drops her arms to her sides... then clasps her hands together in front of her chest. "Oooh, a doomsday machine?! I'll make sure it's a good one, I can't stand poor craftsmanship on-- I mean OH NO!" She turns to the camera and grabs the bars again. "Save me heroes!" She holds the back of her forearm to her forehead, "So I'm not forced to create such a horrible-- to *supply* such a horrible device!"