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Journey Without A Map
(2013-06-16 - 2013-06-17)
No description.
Zia Normally, Zia isn't the sort to pull a lot of people in for a personal adventure, but delving into the unknowns of the Serpent's Trench is just the sort of thing that she knows can't be done alone. Thus, the call went out to VALKYRI and the Shard Seekers (and anyone else she could find), trying to see who else might be hair-brained enough to go spelunking into caves filled with monsters, sharp rocks, and fast moving water. Apparently, the idea wasn't crazy to everyone, either that, or the lure of the lost city of Atlantis, and what treasure might linger within, was enough to drag people from their usual tasks to go on this particular adventure.

After a far too fast and quite life-threatening trip through the first few winding passages of the trench (imagine one of those 3D movie roller coaster moments), the group has arrived. Luckily, someone thought wisely enough to bring the sort of short-term magic that at least gets them all there /mostly/ dry. There's a fire that's been started to help warm the last of the chill from traveling the trench (or dry a bit for those who may have fallen in).

This particular chamber is unusual, and that is the reason that they've come to check it out. There is a crumbled pillar near the back of the cave with strange markings on it. That is what drew Zia's attention immediately. She's half crouched, trying to compare the markings on Percival's sword with the ones on the pillar. Which probably includes tugging the poor gargoyle while she tries to get some light on the scabbard. Asking him to take it off would be too simple.

"Well, Ah still cannae make heads or tails of it, but the writin does look the same." She releases it then, holding up a torch to try to get a look around. "At least the old man wasnae completely daft." It's only at that point that she realizes she was probably tugging her friend in the process, "Sorry, lad." Squinting into the darkness, she glances over towards the others.

Skoll in the meantime, has turned into a fuzzy wuzzy werewolf. Okay, big giant fuzzy wuzzy werewolf with razer-sharp claws, one hand to the ground and his head pointing in a particular direction. His tail goes straight all of the sudden, along with the rest of his body.

"There's air coming from over here." He declares, and continues to hold this pose until someone touches him, or tells him to come along.

... okay, so he'll probably follow along eventually.

With the nose of the resident werewolf leading the way, Zia calls out to the others, "Alright, ladies 'n gents, let's get this show on the road." And then proceeds to start leading the way towards the crack in the cave wall that Skoll had found. It's big enough that even the werewolf could get through, but he might have to crouch a bit in places. Some places make it harder to squish through, and others are downright claustrophobic in how tight it gets for people to move. But it does seem that Skoll is right, there /is/ fresh air coming from the other side.
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart has been adventuring alot. She's even been swallowed by a whale. So she's not afraid of a bit of water, or rocks, or monsters. She has steel-toed boots for those. She can't really hit the other things, but she's not as afraid of non-sentient things either.

When Zia came asking for help, she thought it might be interesting. She's pacing around the room, looking at the walls, the markings. She can't make head or tails of those, but obvious someone's been here before, so that alone is enough to note. She turns back when Zia calls everyone to move on, picking up her small backpack. Mostly stuff in case of emergencies. Food, something to make fire, a flashlight, and some first aid. Sure, you can always use magic for some of those, but sometimes its not practical to do so either, and some things go beyond an application of Cure.

"Tight and humid, pretty much what I expected of a cave, honestly..."
Percival The first part of the journey was like one of those rollercoaster rides with the disclaimer: /YOU WILL GET WET/! Except, ten times moreso.

Fortunately his kind didn't tend to feel the chill in such a poignant manner as his other companions. Still, once they were firmly en/trench/ed at their new campsite, he took the time to drip dry off. Unlike the others, he wasn't here for any sort of treasure. He was here though for the exhiliration of discovery. The rubbing Zia had taken from his sword made him feel like this might actually be the legendary Atlantis from /his/ world, rather than any of the others. And that fascinated him, as there were so many theories on how Atlantis fell, and debate as to whether it ever existed at all. they were! And either way it was likely to be a fun journey, that would allow him to take his mind off the grimdark tidings of the surface world by exploring the mysteries of the depths.

When Zia tugs him over to the crumbled pillar, the Gargoyle looks at her with some amusement, and at one point even tries to take off the sword and scabbard to hand it to her, but that would be too easy! And after a time he just submits to the treatment with a bemused look. His leathery, membranous wings were furled about his shoulders and linked at the joint, as he held onto her hand, looking at the runes in question. "I can make even less sense of it than you can Zia. But it certainly looks like we're in the right place. Where did you say your Father got this blade again?"

After Zia finally releases him, and he rubs at his now aching shoulder joint from being tugged around so hard! He follows after the Werewolf, ducking down at certain points to avoid getting his head bapped against the stoney formations of the caverns.
Avira Very Adventerous Ladies to the rescue!

Or...only one lady, really. Avira had showed up with very little fanfare. There's something decidedly off about her as she doesn't seem to be displaying her usual childlike excitement for the start of a new adventure. She's a lot more pale than when she was last seen. More conspicuously, though, there's a streak of white hair about an inch thick centered over her right eye, disappearing off into her braided hair.

She's been subdued the whole trip, even through out the incredibly wild ride deep into the trench that apparently had put Avira in the splash zone. She'd endured this soaking with a reserved stoicness someone might find on a several-decade vetran mercenary. Well, with the exception of her hands clutching the nearest 'solid' object.

Since then, she's followed around the transformed Skoll, regarding him with interest now. "It really is gone." she remarks out of the blue to him, "...isn't it? The Darkness just isn't there anymore."
Reize Seatlan Hair-brained enough to go spelunking into caves filled with sharp rocks, monsters, and fast moving water?

Just get Reize Seatlan!!!

Aside from the water part, Reize is brave enough to take on everything ELSE. However.... well, the treacherous path of water...

Reize is curled to a ball.

"Water. Can't swim. Can't swim. Water. Why did I agree to the idea of something that involves swimming?" Q_Q

...Reize hates water.
Give him a moment to recover and he'll be back to his ol' self again.
Skoll Ulfang The werewolf came along because there was something potentially very important on the other side of that tunnel. After a rather 'interesting' meeting with an old man and a shotgun, Zia and him had put out this little request of theirs. He's letting Zia lead, although he's around to help here and there. The wolf has been rather quiet though. Perhaps that can be attributed to Avira being along. He loves having her around - don't make any mistake. It's just...

It's complicated.

When Avira speaks to him, Skoll moves out of his 'I FOUND SOMETHING, I FOUND SOMETHING! WOOF!' pose (that's the short version of the name), and slowly rises to his full fuzzy and impressive height. His head tilts a little, and then turns to look at her. His eyes are... less wild than they used to be. But he still has that 'fierceness' about him that she's known him to have in this form. "It's gone." He answers her. "There's little bits of it, maybe. But I wouldn't know anymore." He lays a hand to his chest. "Trips to the wolves in France will take me a lot longer now though. I can't travel the way I used to."

The wolf then tilts his head a little, looking at Avira's little white streak of hair. He pads towards her and reaches a hand out, touching the strand with his big clawed paw, not saying anything; the question is there, lingering in the air. Avira may choose to answer, or ignore it. The wolf then looks aside at Reize, and lets out a big 'huff' of air through his wolven nose.

A few moments later, Skoll grabs Reize by the back of his uniform and pulls him onto his shoulders, and then goes down onto all fours. He does this quietly, but for now...


And so, Skoll follows along.
Violet Luckily there's a Shard Seeker here that isn't bothered by water. And can keep an eye on the boy in the fetal position. If anything does happen though Violet's already resigned herself to dragging his dazed and/or passed out body through the tunnel with her. Maybe she should have brought a floaty or something along those lines...

The pale-headed girl taps at his foot with her toe, as if testing whether or not he's aware of the outside world, when the large wolf strolls closer. Violet blinks her crystal blue eyes with mild surprise when he yonks Reize and matter-of-factly plops him between his shoulders. It was a rather amusing sight.

She cups a hand over her mouth to hide the smile there as she hurries on after them.
Zia "He got it from his da, 'n his da before him." Zia explains to Percival, and then offers a shrug of her shoulders, which nearly gets her scraped against the rock as they walk through the rocky crevice. "Tha sword is probably a couple thousand years old." At the very least, the old sword seems to be pretty sturdy, which is a testiment to whatever craftsman created it, and to those who took good care of it over the centuries.

As she leads the way through the crevice, there is a breath of relief when it seems to open into a paler light on the other side. "Well, it's a wee bit be'ter than it bein completely underwater, at least." Zia suggests to Tifa. It had been one of her worries, especially with the stories fo Atlantis having sunk beneath the sea. Sure, they were beneath sea-level right now, but at least there was air.

She misses the conversation between Skoll and Avira that goes on back behind them, which is probably for the best just now. It leaves her still quite oblivious to the lack of darkness in the wolf. It's not a sense that she has naturally. "Looks like we've got another cave here." She reports, then shimmies out, stepping to the side to make room for the others.

The cave on the other side of the crevice is /massive/. An underwater river runs through the center of it, vanishing off into darkness at one end like something out of Minecraft. Yet, there is something about this place that doesn't seem /quite/ natural. In fact, the gorund is a bit too even, like it might have once been a road.

The room is lit, strangely enough, by an odd looking sphere that hangs high up in the ceiling, casting a pale yellow light across everything. It's enough to let them see, for now, without torches or flashlights, or celphones. Ominously, a huge carved skull seems to take up one wall of the chamber, with a path winding up through each of the eyes.

"Somethin tells me, we're in for trouble." Zia shakes her head, waiting for the others to come through, she steps a bit closer to the river. "So, we're down in the dark, wi'out a map. Anyone wante choose a direction?" Not Reize. Not Reize!
Avira There have been a staggering number of situations where Avira's been stuck as the third wheel lately. If that's the case around Skoll right now, she doesn't seem to acknowledge it. Indeed, she's grown numb to being in this kind of situation. After all, there are much worse things than being the socially odd one out, as Avira's recently learned.

"It's gone." Avira confirms for Skoll in a voice that shows just the slightest hint of happiness. "The darkness you were never supposed to have is all gone. You're free." after a beat, she laughs when Skoll mentions he'll have to take much longer to visit their wolf friends in France. "It isn't that bad. Walking everywhere. And you..."

Her eyes become glassy for a moment, overcome with what is commonly referred to as the 'thousand yard stare.' " don't want to go through there again. You'll never want to go through there again."

She's quiet for an uncomfortably long time afterwards. When Skoll reaches up and touches his furry, clawed hand against the white streak of hair, Avira doesn't seem to react at first. She doesn't even seem to notice. But when she does, she makes eye contact with him. That look in her eyes is a haunted one. She's seen something, clearly, but she doesn't seem too willing to explain right now.

Reize is given a werewolf ride. Avira is mildly jealous about this. Coming to her senses, she looks over at Violet and frowns, " the way." she says, her voice low to Skoll, "...who is that?"

Looking ahead to the cave, which splits into two ominous-looking tunnels framed by a rock skull, her immediate answer, before Reize can say anything, is "Right."
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart has to climb a bit over a rock to progress, securing a boot at the top of it, and reaching back to offer a hand up to those that might need a bit more balance. "People been here before, it might have been submerged at some point. I'm actually curious as to what's keeping this place from being flooded. Is there any magic at work you think?" It wouldn't be that surprising either, considering what they saw in around. Forcefields too.

She hops into the more open cave, looking at the river first "... You know, like this, a river." She hms, looking around "Maybe this was a stop of some kind, maybe could use the river to send you a boat with items." She observes, wondering if people could follow that river too. The lighting of this place definitely screams as for human intervention of some kind.

"I'm no cartographer, but..." She takes a look at the different tunnels, trying to see if any of them goes to anywhere interesting. This avoids going into a dead end 3 steps down too. "Anyone see more lights down their tunnels?"
Reize Seatlan Can't sleep! May drown! May drown!

Reize is undergoing a nice flashback of his last battle against the tides. In a way, the tides was how his adventure started. However, it could had spelled an unceremoneous death for him instead. That possibility haunts him, even now. If only he could swim.

Thankfully, Reize has friends by his side. Violet is able to keep an eye on the leader of the Shard Seekers to make sure that he doesn't pass out. However, Skoll moves to grab the fetal positioned boy up by the scarf and pulls him to his shoulder. Reize is clinging onto the wolf for dear life. "Th-thank you..."

However, at the sake of directions, Reize recovers enough and he lifts a finger, "L-" Denied! Avira chooses the direction for them. His antenna hair flops and comical tears flow from his eyes. "So much for that."
Percival "I wonder what it's truly made of, then." Testament to its craftsmanship indeed! If it really was millenia old, then it either had some sort of magic imbued into it, that wasn't obvious to him as he was about as magically savvy as a soggy cheese sandwich, or it was crafted out of some material that was so rare that it didn't exist any longer. Maybe it was Orichalchum, Plato had written about it after all when referring to Atlantis.

His thoughts wandered away from speculation though as he glanced back towards Avira. He'd noted that the woman looked.. haunted, and muted compared to her usual exuberance when out on these sorts of expeditions but he didn't want to be nosey and call attention to it yet. Skoll seemed to be taking the role of offering her company anyhow.

As they walk from one cavern to the next, his talons clack lightly on the stone, and he casts a ruminative look to the ground, as if trying to discern why exactly it was so even in a /natural/ cavern. He doesn't quite puzzle it out, as they enter into the next room with the sphere in the center of the ceiling.

Having...experienced, Reize's particular brand of navigating, he just offers with a low rumbling in his throat, "Perhaps up through the right eye, like Avira suggests."
Skoll Ulfang To Skoll, Avira is never a third wheel. The way he interacts with her certainly disproves that. As much as their little 'romance' might not have gone the way things had looked at first,, Skoll still greatly cares for the girl. She's seen him through so much. As has Zia. Both the tone of Avira's voice, and that glance she gave him... are things he's seen before. People who had seen things they wished they'd never seen. People who woke up from nightmares unlike any other. He'd seen some of those himself. He'd known that look... because he'd lived those looks.

With increased worry, Skoll keeps glancing behind himself, watching Avira. Only to turn away for a moment during their little trip forward to comment on Violet. "Shard Seeker. She's been with us since... ehmmm." He ponders for a moment. "Something in Fluorgis - just before Hati..." Got into trouble. "Reize found her in the desert, I believe. Violet herself might be able to tell you better of course." Skoll grins a big toothy werewolf grin.

Skoll then follows this up by a chuckle. "It has /got/ to be the right/. I think Reize was going to lead us left after all. But if you want, I can sniff something out?" Splat splat splat go his paws as he continues along and ends up besides Zia, rubbing his head against her leg for just a moment, before looking back at Avira, wagging his tail like a happy dog, waiting for her to get beside him as well.

Hey, he has favorites!

A glance up follows. "As for the languages and that mumbo-jumbo. Sorry, not my field of knowledge." He dropped Lore: Rare Languages for a level 0 artifact: Mickey Mouse Keychain.
Violet While Avira is on one side of the Skoll wolf, Violet is on the other. And distracted for the most part as she constantly looks through the tunnel all around her with open curiosity. The whole place was massive, and there was a river and free flowing air. And she does notice how smooth the ground is just about when everyone else does. "Paved?" she asks lightly out loud. "That would mean there was allot of traffic here at one point... I wonder where they were going." Tifa wonders this too it seems.

And then she spots the huge skull (like anyone can miss it). The path goes right through its socket! A bit unnerved, Violet walks just a little bit closer to the wolf as she watches the wall skull tentatively.

Her worry is distracted however as Violet blinks her pale crystal eyes up at Skoll, who explains to Akira about the desert that she was found. A small sweatdrop forms on her brow and she tries to smile, "A forest on the other side of the desert, actually. And... it wasn't the best introduction..." Not that when it came to Reize anyone would be surprised if it wasn't the best. Oh well.
Bucket O'Heartless Threat Reading:Minor

In the massive cavern something collapses in the far distance. It starts with a sliding rumble, then a clatter, then a noticable shift of the dust as rocks crash to the floor and plunge into the underground river with a splash muted by the distance.

From holes in the terrain, in places where the even ground isn't QUITE so even anymore a number of small flying insects stream upwards from buried hives, disturbed by the vibrations.

The bugs swarm around the small party of adventures and startled, begin to spray a noxious liquid into the air. A foul and reeking miasma of chemicals and sulpherous compounds. Rotten eggs left out on a city street in a landfill full of burning rubber and a world's worth of dirty gym socks.

From the roads leading through the eyes.. a deranged squeaking, far too high to be anything but a trill, a piping of maniacal tension that squeaks violin-string tension into the cavern quiet before going silent again.
Zia It isn't until Avira and Skoll exit through the other end of the tunnel that Zia even really has time to notice the change in the VALKYRI leader. It's probably not the time to ask, but she does seem curious. Not the time to ask, though. At least she hasn't been turned back into a mutate? Maybe she'd have time to ask about it after this mess with the crystal was over.

"Ye've seen the crystal. Is it any wonder tha the same makers could make a sword te last a thousand years or more?" Zia notes. The things that baffled her about one is the same as what troubles her about the other. Hopefully, the two are connected like she'd thought. Otherwise, this is one giant wild-goose chase.

With a glance to Tifa, she shrugs her shoulders slightly. "This place looks dry te me, but tha doesnae mean it was always so. Ah've seen stranger things, but Ah think we should avoid the river." she motions her chin towards Reize, silently referring to his antics on the ride down here.

With Skoll coming up towards her, the gargoyle offers him a worried smile, reaching a talon out to scratch behind his ear. It also gives her a chance to check on to Reize as well, "Ye doin alright, lad?" She asks, seeing if he's recovered from his panic on the way down. To Skoll, though, she nods once, "Keep yer nose open for anythin strange. We dinnae wante run inte any poisons trapped down in these caves."

Speaking of noxious gasses... Zia's ear twitches at the sound of rocks tumbling one over another. "Careful." She warns, drawing a little closer to the others, just in case there is a full on rockslide. Rockslides she might be able to handle, but sudden insect activity? Not quite so much. Swatting one away doesn't help, especially when the smell starts to choke her. "Ach, wha the bloody hell?" She pulls blue scarf up over her nose, squinting as her eyes begin to water.

The choice between the stench and the tunnels seems obvious to her. She'd choose potentially life-threatening monsters vs. insects and stench. "Come on. Let's go b'fore we find out these things sting, too." Her muffled voice calls, then coughs as she waves a hand, making her way across the bridge and heading towards the skull.
Percival "Our world was full of wonders that few ever saw, apparently. I suppose the TDA was correct, I really am a /newb/." He chuckles to himself, which becomes a low rumbling in his throat once again. "But no, I suppose it isn't a suprise after all."

And then the small insects erupt from every crevasse, how very annoying. He swats at them as if they're gnats... until.

That noxious miasma wafts over to him and hits his nostrils. This had the Gargoyle doubled over and coughing. "Oh God! It's like Will after Celina forgets to bathe him for a month!"

Taking up his shield, he starts to flail at the insects with a little more purpose to them, trying to strike them away with greater force. His tail and wings even get in on the action, his wings flaring forth to swat, while his tail gesticulates to try and bash anything that decides to come near his backside. This also serves to ventilate his immediate area a little better.

Right, between life-threatening trilling squeaks in the chamber ahead and the smells? He'd take the dangerous any day. He followed after Zia in a rush across the bridge.
Skoll Ulfang Ewww! Bugs! Ewww, icky smells! Skoll loudly sneezes through his nose the moment those noxious liquids enter the air, and gives Zia a most pitiful look. Like: 'how am I ever going to get that out of my fur!?'. At least she still has that scarf he gave her. Skoll, in this form, isn't that lucky. He's... well... not wearing anything really. So, nothing to cover his nose up with. "Reize... hold on for dear life. I can carry at least one more." Skoll introduces what is going to follow. Zia at least can run and protect herself with those wings - as can Percival.

"Avira, think you can freeze a few of those bugs?" Though he wonders... why did they all suddenly pop out of the ground?
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart totally agrees with avoid the river really. She heard the noise at the back of the tunnel "Hope that's not a sign that the entire is going to collapse soon..." She shakes her head, and moves over to Reize, and prods it on the side "Hey, fearless leader, fheer up hm? You're not alone here." She smiles, playing the 'pick me up' as she's used to do, bringing morale up. "Isn't there's a Knight's Vow about not showing your weakness, it leaves you open?" She teases him, as she moves after Zia over the bridge "... The Skull Road huh, omnious... but if they dug the tunnel, it must mean it leads tos omething.
Avira Yes Reize. DENIED.

At being informed that Violet has actually been with the Shard Seekers for quite some time, Avira looks shocked and peers over at the younger girl. "Just how many more girls does Reize have hiding up his sleeves?" she whispers to Skoll, walking alongside the massive werewolf. At least this one seems pretty observant, Avira will give her that.

At the sounds of distant shifting rocks, Avira's quick to draw the Spine. Her entire body tenses and becomes rigid, a hard, almost predatory look in her eyes. What doesn't come-who knows what Avira was expecting-seems to disappoint her. Especially since they're assailed by irritating insects instead. From one of the pouches around her waist, Avira pulls out a bandanna which she ties over her nose and mouth. A pair of goggles slide up from her neck to settle over her eyes. If Skoll looks at the right moment, he'll see a familiar chain around the girl's neck.

"It was." she agrees with Percival. "My entire life had been spent as a mundane, you realize. I was completely unaware that things like magic or gargoyles or fae even existed. As is the case for most people."

She pauses and thinks as Skoll proposes his question. "Interesting. I suppose if I made the spell very fine and..." she trails off, looking distant, "...yes...I think I could..." she lifts her free hand and closes her eyes. After a few moments pass, she heaves a breath of air, which makes the bandana flap up momentarily, across the palm of her hand. Blue, freezing mist spreads forth and the air temperature drops suddenly to a point that usually encourages insects to hibernate.
Reize Seatlan At this point, Reize has managed to recover enough to regain his bearing. He doesn't want to be a hinder to Skoll, afterall. He looks over towards the big-brother figure before placing a hand towards his shoulder. "Thank you, Skoll." This time, the boy gives him an affectionate scritch to the ear. It is good to have some bearing thanks to support from his friends. Like always, he needs to stand on his own two feet.

He shuts his eyes, "...But, I have my bearing again." He finally leaps off, landing next to Violet. When Zia asks of his condition, Reize rubs the back of his head sheepishly, "Yeah! I'm alright now. Sorry, experienced a bit of a bad flashback."

"Yeah yeah, that's in the past." He is flippant about the introduction, letting her know that it's essentially 'water under the bridge'.

Speaking of water, it looks like some noises have strung out. It warrants the antenna hair rising up, picking up the frequency of the muted splash.


Unfortunately, there are bugs that swarm around them and spray noxious liquid in the air. The boy's eyes widen, "Whoa!" He reaches for a boomerang from his side, using the other hand to cover his nose. "Let's ward them away!"

With a throw of his boomerang, Reize snaps at the bugs. "Git! Git!" He is reaching into his pouch for something useful. Something like a bug repellent or some explosive that may ward off the bugs. "I think I got something inside of here!"
Skoll Ulfang "Ehmmm, let's see. There's Lenn, Violet, Lily, Raiya, Shiki... used to have Leida around. Don't know what is up with her. Then I guess you could count Priel and Deelel, but I think the earlier has more interest in Ivo than in Reize." What, surely nobody is surprised that Skoll actually CAN read these social secrets... "Me, Ivo and Reize are actually the only male Shard Seekers. I think we have a higher girl to male ratio than your VALKYRI." Which, in a ways, is disturbing and hilarious at the same time. "Oh, and Reize is engaged with Lenn - to marry her. So that makes the whole mess even more..." Nope, he can't find a word for it.

He glances up along with Avira and notices the chain around her neck. This makes him smirk a little. She still has it. Reize jumps off, and this means that Skoll has room to move. The moment after Avira fires off her cold-spell, Skoll starts nudging people forwards with his head - Avira, Violet and the rest of the bunch, to get them into a run to follow Zia and percival. Skoll follows last.
Violet When Reize lands on the ground beside her, she blinks her crystal blue eyes up at him, a small amount of relief seen there now that he's able to stand on his own two feet. But her attention is pulled towards Skoll and Avira and their whispered conversation, not that whispers don't echo off the walls or anything. And something else flickers in her pale gaze for a moment longer before Violet shoves those thoughts away, focusing on where they were.

Violet visibly tenses when she sees a swarm of insects begin to stream out from hives, no doubt disturbed by their presence. And not even a moment after the air becomes so pungent! Its enough to discourage anyone! Making a face to herself, the girl pulls the front of her brown cloak up over the front of her face to try to block some of the noxious smell, but its futile.

She couldn't agree more with Zia.

Violet quickens her pace, eyeing the bridge but never hesitating to cross over it as the thrill moves through the chamber.
Bucket O'Heartless Threat Reading:Uh-Oh.

The irritating bugs, who had forgotten to pack their little scarves and mufflers, yawn and turn back towards their hives for a short nap and no longer in a panic from the tunnel vibrations, the assault peters off although the smell lingers for some time.

The road that winds through the skull breaks off into a number of smaller ancillary tunnels and multi-level terraces as the cavern winds sinuously through the earth.

To those with good hearing, the sounds of the party passing is not the only sound of movement. There is a rustling, a murmuring, a shuffling of feet and as the party gets a little further down the trail, a number of granite skinned shapes no bigger than one or two feet tall appear from the surrounding terrain as if breaking off from it. Large rigid masks in geometric designs and adorned with patches of luminous blue flare to life as the imp-like creatures on the terraces ready small little spears and blowguns. They grumble ominously in squeaky high pitched voices.

Ground Chipmunks of the Ancient Deep.
Zia There isn't much time to talk about the wonders of the world. Zia's own life had been pretty sheltered, even if she'd had more experience with magic. "There's always somethin new and unknown. Tha's what makes life exciting." Her tail swishes, responding to the whole thing about gargoyles not existing, offering Avira a brief smile. Of course, she hadn't been expecting the 'excitement' to include foul smelling insects and running for her life.

It hadn't crossed her mind to try to fight back. The fact that the insects suddenly stop chasing her causes Zia to pause mid-way up the path, blinking in wonderment at the combination of Avira's magic and whatever useful shenanigans Reize managedto pull from his bag of tricks. Sometimes, her friends amazed her. "Nice job." The gargoyle wasn't always the quickest at thinking on her feet, but that's why it's good to have others around to help.

Still, getting away from the smell would be a good idea. Zia waits for the others, not wanting to get too far ahead. As much as this is a quest that she'd asked them to come on, sticking the squishy mage in the front of the party isn't the best idea. "Ah think Ah've seen some shampoo that should help." Zia tells Skoll when he does meet her on the path. What she doesn't tell him is it's that dog shampoo meant for skunk spray. But... it might work?

Without the impending doom of insects, they can take their time a bit more getting into the tunnels, but that doesn't make the strange echo of sounds coming from the ledges and levels around them any less frightening. Raising her torch, Zia manages to shine light right on a couple of the little creatures around them. "So... anyone speak tiny subterranean creature?" Maybe someone should have held on to that Junior Woodchuck's Guidebook from that adventure a while ago.

She's... just going to edge towards Percival and Skoll. Hide behind the fighters. Okay, so Skoll is /technically/ in mage form at the moment, but... seriously. Giant werewolf doesn't exactly scream 'low hp'.
Reize Seatlan Sheesh, these bugs are spraying a lot of noxious gases out there. The boy coughs a bit, grimacing to himself. He turns his head towards Skoll and Avira's chatter. "Ooii! You two!" Hi antenna hair rises up in annoyance, "Faruja is a member of the Shard Seekers as well!" Not all of them are girls! ...Just most of them.

Pause. "...Raiya and Ivo have talked a lot."

As the bugs clear away, it leaves for the crew to regain their bearings. Unfortunately, te smell still lingers, which causes Reize to make a face. "Blech."

Neverthless, Reize is taking in th sights o the smaller tunnels an terraces. He does spot something. As the rustling sound makes its wa, the boy turns his head over to see that there are creatures appearing.


At Zia's question, Reize turns to face the older gargoyle and he taps his chin. Hrm... Hrrrrmmm...


"I got it!" The boy whips out the Junior Woodchuck's Guidebook.

"I remember this!" He looks back at Violet, giving her a reassuring smile, "Don't worry, I got this." The young boy walks over to the smaller creatures, then he kneels to their level. He starts flipping through the pages.

"Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. (Hi, we adventurers! We come in peace)"
Percival "You know, for being a Gargoyle, Avira. My life really wasn't that much different in that respect. I didn't get a good perspective on the supernatural of our world. I heard of Oberon's children from the old tales... but never encountered any, nor any magic.." He'd shrug his wings back, before furling those leathery membranous appendages across his shoulders once he felt like he could actually breathe again.

And then he nearly stumbles right into a chipmunk horror of the deep. Which raises a blow gun threateningly his way, and the Gargoyle just slinks... backward, one step at a time.

Leave it to Reize to have remembered his Junior Woodcheck guidebook. ...He just hoped that he wouldn't get MIND CONTROLLED by them again. That would be bad. Hilarious, but bad.
Tifa Lockhart ....

Chipmunks? What is going on here?

She's reminded of the muses for a moment. Will these dance and sing too?

Anyhow, while Reize has some things against insects, she doesn't think he has anything for ground critters... she steps around them carefully, not sure if they are aggressive. Not that she's afraid of tiny creatures, but she rather not stir a fire when its not necessary either.

And then Reize tries to communicate... Why does she have the feeling its not going to go well?

Oh right, its Reize.
Avira Avira lets that sink in for a moment. 'Shard Seekers have a higher girl to male ratio.' "We've had quite a few male members join recently too." Avira admits quietly, reaching out to idly ruffle the fur of Skoll's neck. She can't help it.

Much to Avira's surprise, her little ice spell actually works, sending the foul-smelling insects scurrying back into their nests. She doesn't linger long to appreciate her handiwork and starts to run after Zia at Skoll's urging.

Avira shoots Percival a disbelieving look. " can that be, really? I mean...well, okay, maybe Gargoyles and magic can exist independently but.." she pauses, staring down at the little native chipmunks with wonder. She COULD try using the Voice on them! All of them. At once. They seemed tiny so that usually meant 'easy to control.'

Reize beats her to it, though. Who knows how well this would bode for their party.
Violet This... was unusual.

Violet couldn't help but blink her pale eyes for a moment, then blink again as she watches Reize squeak at what can only be mutant chipmunks. Is there such a thing as mutant chipmunks?
The scene as a whole is enough to give the girl pause...
Skoll Ulfang Skoll belatedly leans in against Zia after the earlier scritch he'd received, and then looks behind himself a few more times to make sure those insects are not following. He'd avoided getting gooped, it'd seemed. But he's not taking any chances. "I think I could use a bath in this form one way or another." Skoll points out. "It's hard for me to reach some of the spots." ...

Then suddenly, weird imp things. And Skoll just has this look on his face that basically spells out...


The werewolf tilts his ears all weird and his tail goes closer to his legs. That tail goes back to wagging however, when Avira ruffles through his fur. Happy puppy! Yes he is! Yes he iiiis!

And then Reize begins to squeek.

"Okay, I think Reize has finally lost it. I vote Lily for our new Shard Seeker leader. At least she's more responsible."
Bucket O'Heartless The Ancient Deep Chipmunks look actually rather surprised. The pronounciation and accent are a little off, and the dialect is something like Olde English would try to relate to modern english, but there is enough there for the chipmunks to not immediately attack.

They look at the one with the most shiny and luminous mask, who flips it up like a welder mask to look speculatively at Reize for a few seconds in perhaps mutual 'What the heck?' before flipping the mask down again and resounding in deep tones.

'Squeak Squeekikin ---squeek-squeekiesquee squeak squeeek squeek."

Kapook Industries provides you this handy Ancient Chipese to English Translation. Remember. Kapook. For all your adventuring needs.

"Strangers. You smell of the above. You trespass on holy lands. Sacred lands. What is your purpose here?"

There is the faint but insistant sounds of digging in the surrounding silence, which makes the chipmunk people more than a little wary and nervous. They grip their weapons aimed at the adventurers and look more than a little on edge.
Percival Okay, now he'd seen everything.

Reize rolling a natural 20 on his diplomacy roll while consulting a Junior Woodchuck guidebook.

And then the thought occurred to him that he was beginning to geek out a little too much after staying around Zia in the tower enough.

Even so he gave Avira a bemused look, "It's rarer than you think. In the other clan that mine... rarely came into contact with, there was a single mage amongst two hundred or so other Gargoyles. Never saw her, she was said to be a pretty severe sort, with a Unicorn's head."

And then he just stands back, looking sidelong at Skoll, "Suprisingly, I don't think he has lost it... I'm just as shocked as you are, I know, but he once had a squirrel take control of his mind, and drive him towards that book... and..." Reflecting on that story, he gives Skoll a chagrined look, "...nevermind, in lieu of that tale, I'm seconding Lily as your new exalted leader."
Zia What did we mention about holding on to quest items? Oh yes, sometimes it comes in handy /not/ to turn in your quests right away. Especially when it comes to books that apparently have the answer to life, the universe, and everything - probably on page fourty-two. In any case, Zia looks just about as awestruck as everyone else when Reize whips out the book and starts /squeeking/ at the little native chipmunk-imp-things.

She's not going to say a word about werewolves needing baths, stinky or not, he's probably still the most likely to work as a human shield against rabbid native squirrels. Her tail does slip around one of his forepaws for a moment, watching the strange exchange between boy and squirrels. "Give the lad some credit." Zia offers in a quiet tone, scowling at the two. "Ah dinnae see ye comin up wi' any other bright ideas."

Nope, she's not voting for a new leader. Maybe she's fallen under Reize's spell, too. *Gasp* Or maybe she just gets the fact that sometimes he's hapless in a good way. Her ears twitch, though. Something is botherign the squirrel-natives, and she can hear it, too.

"Do ye hear somethin?" She asks, looking over at the others.
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart is also very surprised at this working out... Well, let Reize handle it for now. Chipese to English, she's not that good with languages to start with.

But that sound... it attracts her attention. She makes a 'shhh' motion to Zia, as she starts to creep toward the source of it... trying to pinpoint it. The problems with caves is that they might have been echoing from very far away too, or a different cave too, the sound bouncing off makes it hard to find the source, but she tries nonetheless.

She slides her boots as quietly as possible along the ground, inching through the cave toward the noise.
Reize Seatlan "So they say that we are tresspassing here."

The boy thinks over the matter. That is fair, they are strangers and this is their land. The boy starts thumbing through the pages, occasionally looking at the weapons gripped their way.

However, he hears the vote of the crew to out him as the leader and put Lily in his place. Twitch. Twitch. His antenna hair ponts at both Skoll AND Percy when he turns to face them, "Ooi! I am not bonkers! This book works!" The head lowers, comical tears flowing, "You two are mean." Though, Zia defending him makes him happy! His antenna hair perks back up! Oh, right, back to the chipmunks.

The boy squeaks back. "Squeak squeak! Squeeeak! Squeeak squeak squeak! Squeak? (We do not mean harm. We are seeking a passage that leads to a city that has been lost. Atlantis. Do you know of it or whatever it may be called amongst----)"

The boy turns his head around, looking around for the source of that sound, "...Eh?"
Skoll Ulfang "You're serious?" Skoll gives Reize the most confused he can manage in his werewolf form, low to the ground like that. Which... honestly, is pretty darned confused. He then glances back at Avira, whom he knows has a thing with animals. "What about you?" No, he doubts she can understand them, Instead, he just ends up grinning a bit at Percival.
Bucket O'Heartless Threat level: 0DANGER



The chipmunks begin to scatter back into the background. The one with the brightest mask remains behind, as if indecisive, then gestures for Reize to follow as they disappear down one of the ancillary side tunnels.

Tifa pinpoints the sound, or the sound nearest to her as a sort of crunching, scratching digging sound that results in something popping out of the wall near her shoulder. It's a rhino nosed digger with large claws and a lot of them.

It's a shiny black with luminous yellow eyes, the underbelly and overall carapace limmed with crystalline bits. All the shards together form a strange beetle like shape with the emblem of the heartless written in moving shards along the back.

Many of these heartless appear in the tunnel at the same time from the ceiling and the walls. They attack with lunging pincers, swiping at feet and limbs. They drop from the ceiling and chatter in high pitched Clicking noises.
Percival The Gargoyle just grins a little at Skoll as Reize and Zia basically call them out for being /mean/. He chortles, only for... the Chipmunks to scatter for Emblem Rhino beetle heartless to appear.

/DANGER/ Combat Mode Engaged /DANGER/

The apparently Atlantean blade is removed from its scabbard, its intricate runes lining across the unidentified metal. They look remarkably similar to the ones they saw earlier on the crumbling pillar. This doesn't necessarily mean that it's supereffective against anything down here though. As one beetle descends to clip one of his wings, he spins, snapping the blade out for it to screech against the emblem heartless' shell. It sounds remarkably like metal upon metal when they clash, the harsh noise echoing throughout the chamber. The force of the blow does knock the creature away though before it does any serious harm to the Gargoyle. Crouching into a low stance, he remained near Zia.

If MMO sessions with Zia had taught him one thing it was that the warrior should protect the DPS.

Okay that was a total lie, it was common sense to him before that. Still it was an amusing thought as he began to lash out at any of the creatures that got close enough to her or Skoll to at least keep them back. Only on one of them did he manage to find a purchase in the gap between the parts of the shell that covered the wings, allowing him to skewer one. The rest, he just sort of delayed to give the Deeps time to do their thing.
Zia Clearly, she isn't the only one to have heard the sound, as the gargoyle is left watching Tifa's approach towards it with a quizzical expression. She's about to speak up to suggest something when a shrill sound causes her to flinch. Screaming squirrels, fleeing like rats from a sinking ship, or in this case, squirrels from an underwater cave.

While the shape isn't familiar, those yellow eyes are. "Heartless." The word comes out sounding like a curse. Being this far underground, her wings won't be as much help as she'd like, and she has to use extra care not to rip the whole place down on their heads. "Why does it always bloody have te be underground?" She mutters to herself.

Luckily, some of her 'combat training' does seem to pay off. Zia sets her back towards Percival, depending on him to keep that side clear. The fact is, control has never been her strongest suit. It's part of what made her a powerful mage. Holding back requires a lot more skill than letting loose. Still, she grits her teeth, launching small jolts of electricity towards a couple of Heartless who manage to come at them from behind, and then catches a third in the air right in front of Percival. It sort of sizzles there in mid-air, waiting for someone to poke at it and put it out of it's misery.

"Wha in the world are Heartless doin down here?" Usually, Heartless were attracted to things like - you know - living people. If all that lay in these caves was a long-dead civilization, then why would these be here? "Careful of the walls, we dinnae wante collapse the whole place, 'n these bloody things arenae helpin matters."
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart looks over to Zia, talking as quietly as possible, trying not to attract the attention of the heartless right away, not before everyone is ready for it at least "... Heartless are seeking hearts, of course... so there might be a strong, pure heart nearby that they are trying to reach by the shortest way possible... they aren't too smart on their own after all."

She slides back to the others to inform them too "That... or there's a world shard nearby and they can feel it."

And she was almost out of the tunnel back to the others when... guess trying to be discreet didn't work. Or maybe she has a more appetizing heart than she thought, as the heartless pops out right next to her as she's turning around on her heels...


A gloved hand grabs the beetle by the neck, and then with a squeeze around the windpipe (do they need to breathe? Well this one won't), she TOSSES it at the rest, that apparently became aware of the presence at the same time. They probably can communicate. She slides her legs open, taking a battle position "Okay, battle station!"
Skoll Ulfang Skoll's ears PERK in the nearance of <something>. For a moment he thought it had to be the Chipmunk things, or Reize, or something. But no, this is something else apparently. He tilts his head a little, growling in the direction of the oncoming heartless. He couldn't feel them anymore. In the past, he could sense them, he could command them to go away. But these days... these days there is only one thing left to do when heartless approach.

And that is to FIGHT!


And then Tifa has to say something about a pure heart. And Skoll's gaze goes to Avira... and then to Zia, before shaking his head a little and looking down at his own paws. No, he has no pure heart. He's a Noble Wolf, but he's no Dusk Princess. He's not even CLOSE to being a /Princess/. Then, more of them. Heartless surrounding them. "Zia, stay near Percival." He tells her, then glances at Avira. "'vira, you got this?" He's still worried, due to that 'white streak'. What if it meant something more?

The werewolf then lets out a howl, strange mist coming from his mouth... and... nothing. Like something was going wrong. He intended to summon Fenrir... but... there comes nothing. Skoll just stands there for a moment, eyes wide open... and suddenly scared.

W... why can't he summon!?
Violet Violet frowns softly as she watches Reize engage with the 'critters', blinking when one of the points towards one of the tunnels. But before they have a chance to fully investigate...


On reflex, the rapier is pulled out and she twists her wrist, twirling the blade through the air expertly in front of her for but a moment as the young woman narrows her gaze with sudden full concentration.
Reize Seatlan "...Clickers?"

It is then that the chipmunks scatter. However, the one with the brightest mask is gesturing for him to follow as they move down the ancillary side tunnels. Reize turns his head over towards where Tifa is pinpointing the sound.

Reize looks over to see something emerge from the wall. "Tifa! Watch out!" As the creature emerges, the boy readies a boomerang once more. Then, he turns back to the group. "Everyone! Let's go down the tunnel to follow them---but we need to take out the Heartless!"

Any of the creatures that decides to get any closer to the boy would also meet the fate of getting a roundhouse kick in the face.
Avira "Well I can't understand them...I might be able to tell them to go away but..." Avira looks unsure. The little critters were obviously smart enough to negotiate. But in a few moments that doesn't matter.


She'd never put her weapon away, therefore Avira was ready to deal with Heartless. "Of course." Avira says, an odd sort of fierceness in her voice. She doesn't need much prodding from the others-she's suddenly just THERE, dashing through the ranks, meeting the creature head-on and leaving a strange, silvery blur in her wake. Disconcertingly, she doesn't make a sound as she suddenly lunges at the lead one, Spine inverted as she leaps between the pincers, planting her feet upon its head, then carpace, while dragging her downward-facing blade smack between its pincers and eyes.
Bucket O'Heartless The creatures sckitter and slide away from percival, snapping pincers at him and wiggling back and forth their yellow eyes bouncing up and down as they jerk spasmodically.

Something very strange happens as the lightning bolts sizzle and sear the beetles. A few of them explode in puffs of black smone, but the rest of them. No matter what they are doing. Once one of them has seen Zia, all of them jerk and spasm to look at her.

All of the, In Sync. Stare at Zia, and there is a feeling, just a flicker in their dead and hungry eyes, that something was peering out of them and looking at her.

A few of the Heartless then turn to snip and snap at Skoll, when the one Tifa has thrown CRASHES into the center of them, briefly scattering the bunch and breaking the eerie spell. The Heartless break up into little groups again to harass each of the adventurers, despite getting boots to the head.

Avira plunges into the fray, the spine slicing through crystalline carapace and the heartless exploding in a cloud of smoke.
Zia Have you ever had that feeling that you're being watched? It's a creepy, feeling when all those yellow eyes turn towards her. Zia was just about to send another bolt forward towards an oncoming beatle when it just /stares/ at her, and she stops. "Crap..." Okay, maybe lightning in the dark was a bad idea. Maybe Heartless like this, that live underground, don't have great eyesight and she'd just lit a beacon for them. Bad idea.

"Uh." She takes a step back, possibly nudging into Percival before steadying herself, giving a low snarl, turning her attention one way, then the other.

Thankfully, Tifa breaks that eerie moment as she bowls for beatles, and it also shakes Zia free from that hold, too. Blink. Like waking from a dream, she turns, ears twitching towards Reize. "Ye heard the man, let's go. Blast as many as ye can along the way!"

She turns to follow Reize, but then notices Skoll with that strange expression. "Skoll! Come on!" Having her own distractions, she'd missed the fact that he hadn't been able to summon. One pawed hand is grabbed at by the gargoyle as she tries to tug him onward, which likely leaves her open for a Heartless to come her way, if Skoll doesn't snap out of it.
Percival Once all of them /stare/ at Zia in synch, there's absolutely no chance on this side of the abyss that Percival is going to be reckless enough to leave her side.

Something here really had it's eye.. or eyes, or horde of eyeballs on her so to speak. Alright, plan B. Draw their attention away from her.

Dropping the shield, he switched the Atlantean blade to his offhand, and instead drew a rapier into his mainhand from a scabbard of.. carved oak? The situation was still under control, so he felt he could do so safely, allowing him a greater range of ways to attack the Heartless pressing against him and Zia. The Atlantean blade was reversed, so he wielded it not unlike a knife, to parry and slash, while the rapier was wielded right side up at a middle guard to thrust.

Then it became a simple matter. A cut across the eyes or other softer areas to delay them long enough to line up a piercing attack. Repeat. Repeat.

He allowed himself to get into the rhythm of battle while the heartless broke up into their little group and continued to press. They scored far more hits with his shield forgotten, but this allowed him to pick up his effectiveness just enough to try and prevent any from breaking through and flanking Zia from his side.

Once they started to move, he continued to follow, now using wider swipes to fend off Skoll and Zia from the side, as they followed Reize down the tunnel. They were less deadly, less precise, but it was only meant to beat them back, not to score more kills.
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart follows Avira's lead on this one, and moves in, kicking those that the spine is not slicing, bowling them and sending them flying. They are rather small and easy to kick around at least... She just hopes there isn't more of these though, because it could easily overrun the entire cavern "I'm okay Reize, just concentrate on the rest! Just... try not to make the entire place collapse!" She means that for everyone, not just Reize.

Its just coincidence that his name is in the same sentence here, really. Honest.
Avira With brutal efficiency, she leaps off that disappating beetle as it vanishes into a puff of smoke, landing on top of a second, plunging her sword downwards into its carpace with both hands. That one is abandoned quickly as well, Avira moving with a good deal more urgency than before. The silver bleed-off continues. She lopes after the beetles that were recently scattered by Tifa's thrown one.

Those beetles that were, in fact, going to harass Skoll. "Come on." she says to the werewolf by way of encouragement. Skoll just wasn't showing his usual brutality. He was...hesitating? Why?

With a quick glance over her shoulder, she slams a foot behind her, kicking away an approaching beetle with prejudice.
Skoll Ulfang Skoll reacts the moment Zia's hand touches his arm. He seems to come out of a trance almost, looking at her with startled eyes. "Huh, wh..." But he has little time to think about it. A small squad of heartless come his way, and Skoll immediately goes for a strike at the ground - smashing his big fuzzy fist into the ground and causing a momentary forwards quake that topples the oncoming Heartless over - followed by a quick grab with his other arm at a Heartless that dared to get too close to Zia, and then gets pummeled into the ground and explodes upon contact with the hard surface. The beast growls angrily, then glances Avira's way. He felt her looking at him, and then looks away again in an embarassed manner.

And he goes running along with the others, punching a heartless here and there where he can manage. But there's quite a few of them!

Internally, his thoughts are mixed. He's confused. Why can't he use his ability to summon? Is it... is it because the darkness is gone? The darkness that so long tainted his summons into their darker forms - and now? Now...

Now where is that power? Has he been away from the light for that long, that he's forgotten how to make that connection? Now that he no longer forces those summons to appear, has he lost contact with the ancestral spirits?

The wolf's shoulders remain slumped as he jogs along.
Reize Seatlan "...Uhh.."

That is the reaction that Reize has when the heartless rhino beetles gesture their heads in unison at Zia. "...That is peculiar..." It is something to definitely keep an eye on. Reize is reaching into his pouch. He tries to drum up something. Maybe this will help.


Reize is rummaging through his things to try to find what he needs. There has to be something. It is then that he finds a small orb. "Oh! I remember this I got this at the market!"

Reize holds a ball of light up.

0Reize Seatlan has used [Orb of LIIIIIIGGGHHHHHTTT!!!!!]

Bucket O'Heartless And the heartless are relatively easy to push back. But after they all synced together and then broke apart, there seems to be more and more of them pouring out of the walls. At first a few, then a dozen, then several dozen beetles scurry and clatter after the retreating group.

They are kicked, stomped and beaten into a pulp by the efficient blows of Avira and the Spine leaving dark trails of smoke as they disappear back into whatever shadowstuff formed them. A few of them leap after Avira, trying to snag her with their pincers.

They all twitch and thrash at the Orb of light. It dazzles and disorients the first few ranks of the advancing hoard and thus as they stumble along the group retreats farther. As the group retreats down a narrow sidepassage, it sharply banks to the right and then opens up into an terraced tunnel leading downwards. As the beetles scurry in chase, the Chipmunks of the Ancient Deep open fire with a squeaky battle cry.

A rain of small spears and handfuls of sticky exploding shards decimate the clicker population, putting a large dent into the ambushed hoard.

CHIPMUNKS use RAIN of Spears! It's Super Effective!
Violet Beetles everywhere!

Violet grits her teeth as they move, her sharp eyes following the swarm. Any that get too close she flits the blade at them, cool frost visible in the air in the rapier's wake as she slashes as multiple creatures at a time. As many as possible without losing any ground, without moving too far from the adventuring group.
Zia Running through dark corridors following a chipmunk and the most directionally challenged member of the Shard Seekers... nothing can go wrong here? Zia isn't really thinking about that so much as she races alongside the others through the tunnels. There are so many questions swimming in her mind, and no time to address any of them. What happened to Avira? Why is Skoll so distracted? Why did she get the creepy Heartless stare of doom?

The sudden flare of light has her squinting as she trails not far from Reize, shielding her eyes. They've been down in the dark long enough that her eyes have adjusted more to that than to the light. "The light seems te daze them." It seems to explain their behavior earlier, at least.

As they come around the corner and into the terraced room, Zia can hear something /else/ there. Her first guess is an ambush, but as she turns, it's to the sight of a rain of spears coming down on the Heartless trailing them. "So, it was foolish te talk te the wee creatures, was it?" She aims at Percival, not daring to tease Skoll, he still looks... off somehow.

It's hard to catch her breath, as she isn't as strong as some of the others in raw athletics. She does eye the other gargoyle's use of that 'other' sword, but after speaking to the strange armored Elf, she isn't about to comment. This is exactly what he said for the gargoyle to use it for. "Let's finish the last of em' off." She suggests, pointedly /not/ using lightning after this. Luckily, she has a few water-based tricks that should probably help mop up a few.
Avira Skoll using a summon was actually a relatively rare thing for Avira to witness. In fact, he seemed to only use it when the situation was especially dire-against a Gaia Sister, against Heartless about to end Manhattan. That he isn't able to do it right now is lost completely on Avira. All she sees is an odd sort of hesitation she's never observed in Skoll before.

Something was bothering Skoll, Avira can tell as much. But she doesn't question it now, not when the Heartless were attacking!

She spins, ready to face the sudden large horde that jumps to attack her. The look on her face is resolute. She's not afraid of these creatures or the darkness they wield. She's ready.

But suddenly they are disoriented by Reize's very convenient Orb of Light. It's all the opening Avira needs to slap them all back with a fast, cleaving swipe of the Spine.

The teeny, adorable calvary arrives when they rush into the terraced room. A bark of a laugh escapes her, followed by a shouted thanks as Avira pushes on ahead. "Come on!!" she calls at the Heartless. "COME AT ME!"

She doesn't wait for them to come for her but she does wait for a good opening in the chipmunk assault to rush ahead.
Percival /Our spears will blot out the Orb of Light!/

At least that's what Percival imagines them saying in his head as he watches them decimate the Clicker ranks. He waggles a talon at Zia. "No no. I was just questioning his sanity from the time a squirrel literally took control of his mind by driving him with his hair. Skoll was the one who questioned his sanity for speaking to the Chipmunks."

The fight to follow on his side as he helps the Chipmunk brigade finish off the heartless can only be described as: /POW/! /PAFF/! /KERPLAP/! and all sorts of onomatopoeia which evokes imagery of a now epic beatdown of the Heartless as if they were Batman villains on the old 60's TV series
Skoll Ulfang Indeed, in the past, Skoll would only use his summons in the heat of important battle. But here, he meant to use the minor force of Fenrir to run through the heartless and protect the little creatures. For as much as he made fun of Reize, he still wanted to do what he does best. To protect. It's what his heart tells him to do. When Reize goes a'yelling about light, Skoll is quick to turn his head and keep moving, closing his eyes lightly to not get blinded.

A little while later, he ends up standing behind both Zia and Percival, and shakes his head a little. "Reize was right to do what he did. As much as I tease him..." He looks towards Reize, and then shows a kind smile. "He's a good leader. His heart is in the right place. His physical journeys may land him in trouble... but in spirit... he never seems to go astray." He then quickly glances towards Zia. She's noticed something his off - he can tell by her expression. Avira is the same. But he just keeps quiet and doesn't draw too much attention to himself; he doesn't want to worry the others.
Reize Seatlan "Take that, uglies!"

Holding onto the Orb of Light, Reize keeps it shining at the creatures. He knew that perhaps trying to drive them away would help. However, he wanted them gone so that they can follow the chipmunks!

However, as the horde start stumbling away in retreat, Reize grits his teeth. "After them!" When the beasts start banking along the tunnel, the boy runs ahead down that tunnel.

...Only to halt when the chipmunks open fire with spears of exploding shards.


Quickly, Reize retracts his boomerangs and he thumbs through the pages. Finding the appropriate words, the boy beams while giving them a thumbs up, "Squeak! Squeee~! (Thanks! You guys are greatest~!)"

Closing the book, Reize runs toward the bettles. However, he turns towards Skoll upon his words. A smile grows, "...Thank you, Skoll." This time, the boy faces the beetles, the energy manifesting around him when he pushes his leading leg forward.

He takes off in a dash.


Both boomerangs are drawn, and then the boy moves past a group of the creatures with a slashing motion.
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart covers her eyes when the blinding light shines over. What did Reize do? Turn on a sunlight on them? She can barely see and she had her back to Reize too! "What did you do!?" She wonders, but the hearltess seems to be phazed at least... enough for the chipmunks to counter attack. She blinks at the fire spears... Oookay... This is getting more weird by the minute.

She moves through the caves, kicking the beetles away as she advances deeper after the others, following the chipmunks down "Are we done you think? There's s omany of them.
Bucket O'Heartless There is always more.

That is the essence of the struggle.

The heartless fall. They fall by boomerang and sword and spear. And they keep coming.

They fall by magic and MORE sword and still they keep coming.

They crawl along the ceiling and the walls and the floor, boiling in waves of dark smoke. --- and finally.. there are no more.

And something roars ominously further down the caverns --and the Chipmunks begin to retreat again, leading the group into another tunnel series.
Zia When the last of the Heartless finally vanish, Zia has to lean against the wall to catch her breath. Like most mages, there is only a certain amount of magical energy she can call on before she's left drained. It does seem to be the end of them... or is it?

She's just about to say something when the roar from the tunnels perks her ears. "How aboot we nae stick around 'n find out wha tha was. Let's follow our wee friends there." It isn't just the roar of the beast, but a rumble that follows, threatening the already precarious ruins.

So, it's follow the leader again, moving deeper into the tunnels.

At last, they seem to be lead into a larger chamber, but this one is unlike the others. The stone roof is held by beautifully carved pillars, and while the tunnels looked dangerous, this place seems well supported. A safe haven in the tunnels. Though the roars in the distance still aggitate the small creatures. Now safe, they draw back to the corners of the room, all except for the leader.

The leader makes his way forward to an archway on the opposite end of the chamber, which is etched with the same strange symbols. Standing there, bathed in a blue glow, is a taller creature wearing a mask that looks strikingly similar to that of the tiny rodents.

This one, though, stands, a spear in a far too human hand. The small leader of the creatures squeeks at a frantically high speed, gesturing wildly and dancing around with some enthusiasm. The masked man simply inclines his head, then steps forward a few paces, the chipmunk following as if it were some sort of honor guard. The quiet attention and regard that the armies of the chipmunk hoard pay to the man probably is enough to draw eyes his way.

He lifts his mask, revealing a darkly tanned man with blue lines traced onto his skin and a softly glowing blue crystal that rests against his chest. But what he says is absolute nonsense. They're words, but none that any here would have heard before. He aims a spear towards them, but it doesn't /seem/ threatening, simply pointing them out as if he were asking a question.
Avira Avira remains on alert for a few moments longer even after the Hearless vanish. She seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. The next ambush to happen. The distant roar gets her attention and she narrows her eyes. Her weapon remains at the ready as she follows the tiny creatures.

They are lead into an impressive chamber that makes even Avira pause at this point, but not relax. She especially does not relax when a larger masked being appears-human maybe? The mask lifts and Avira stares. Definitely human. And yet...

Slowly she shakes her head, "We don't understand you."
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart phews as the heartless seem to vanish... there's always more hiding, but right now they seem to have given up at least. And that's enough for her. They aren't exactly smart enough to make an actual ambush usually, not enough to fake retreat to lay down a trap at least. Doesn't work that way.

She looks to the others, everyone seems unhurt too, so its a relief. She reaches into her backpack, pulling out her flashlight, and setting it on a lower setting so she doesn't scare the chipmunks or blind anyone around, just enough to see better around them.

And then, the blue eyed man. She blinks. "... I don't think Reize's book can help us here, can it?"
Percival The russet Gargoyle was all too happy /not/ to find out what that roar came from. Mainly because he didn't want the caverns to collapse on his head. That quivering of rock overhead just did not give him the impression of stability.

And so follow the leader once again.. except more urgently.

Once they got to the large chamber, he marvelled at the carvings on the pillars, but he wasn't given much time to admire the architecture.

The subterranean chipmunk clan led them right up to an individual with human like features, despite the mask, wielding a spear. He cocked his head to the side, puzzled, since he couldn't understand him. He didn't take the gesture as a hostile one, but he looked unto the others around him, questioning, before murmuring to Zia, "That crystal.. it looks... similar, doesn't it?"
Reize Seatlan After the exhausting battle, the monsters have finally cleared. Thankfully, the atmosphere is as peaceful as can be. Pant. "...Is everyone alright?" Reize turns to check up on his crew. He moves towards Violet, reaching to take grasp of her hand. While a roar bellows, Reize tenses and he becomes more alarmed. "Okay! Everyone, let's follow the chipmunks!"

As the group journey deeper into the tunnels, they finally arrive into a larger chamber. Their arrival, however, is one to marvel. As the eyes drift around to see the architecture, Reize's eyes widen. "Th--this is amazing!" The boy smiles, but then he looks at the chipmunks who scatter around.

When the boy approaches, he stops at respectable distance to watch the leader head towards the archway. That blue glow radiates towards the creature wearing the mask. Reize now apptoches that figure. He eyes the spear and he holds onto the book to translate.

Reize looks at the figure before them, blinking before he kneels down to the chipmunk.

"Squeak squeak. (Is he your king?)"

Reize looks at the spear, uncertain at the man. And yet..

The boy gently drops to a knee, kneeling. "Squeak. Squeak. (We come in peace. We search for a lost city.)"

If he can't speak to the man, he can at least speak to the chipmunk to SPEAK to the man.
Skoll Ulfang Skoll lets out a bit of a relieved sigh escape his nose, and then twitches as that mighty roar fills the halls of this place. It sends a chill down his spine - followed by his hair literaly going on-end. Skoll quickly shakes his head, and agrees with Zia. "Yes, let's not." Wait, Skoll... getting away from a fight? Or perhaps he just wants to stick around with Zia. Honestly, the truth is that he's rather startled by his find that he's lost some of that power of his. And as a being that normally is so used to running around with 'supreme power'... it can be quite... painful to find this out. It's shaken him to the core.

The wolf follows quietly with the group, until they finally come across the dark tanned man. Of course, his eyes immediately follow on that crystal, and he instinctively puts a hand forwards, reaching just mildly towards it - but quickly withdraws when that spear is pointed towards them. "I didn't bring extra clothing..." He mutters to Zia - who will hopefully understand what he means. He knows Avira will.

He then looks at the ham with the spear once more. He doesn't get a feeling of... threat from this man. And it seems the others agree with him on this. So Skoll decides to do what is best!

He reaches into his INVENTORY, and draws out a small red-and-white object and offers it to the man.

"Don't worry, I got this. This is the universal greeting." He declares and offers the man... BACON!

Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bacon.
Zia At first, the white-haired man simply looks over the strangers one by one. He seems to listen to their words, appraising them cautiously. the first to surprise him is Reize, causing him to look down with a puzzled expression at the boy.

The next to puzzle him is Skoll. He reaches out a hand and takes the offering, sniffs it once, then pops it into his mouth, apparently accepting it as a sign of friendship.

Yet, for zia, it is the crystal that makes her heart skip a beat. She closes her hand around her own pendant for a moment, then steps forward, slipping the chain from her neck. "We came here lookin for those who'd know somethin of stones like these." The cracked crystal dangles from her fingers, "Please, could ye help us?"

The man looks at her, but not with the surprise that most do the first time they see a gargoyle. He slowly removes his mask, hooking it on his arm like a shield. "Gorlois?" He looks at Zia, then at Percival, then eyes Skoll as if trying to figure out if he might be one of them or not, and decides otherwise.

Seemingly deciding that they are no threat, he clears his throat. "My name, is Kitan, and I am a guardian of Atlantis. You have helped the little ones fiend off the dark spirits today. I will take you onward to the city. These tunnels are no longer safe."

For Zia, it's exactly what she might have hoped for - someone who might be able to help. For the others, it's a chance to see a strange, lost civilization. But no matter what, they're all quite aware that the only way back out of here, is through the beast in the tunnels. With a glance towards the others, Zia turns, and follows the man onward, through the mist, and into the great hidden chamber that has protected Atlantis all these centuries.
Skoll Ulfang "Gorlois. Isn't that what old man Whitmore called you first?" Skoll points out to Zia when she gives him that confused look. The werewolf then turns back to gaze at this Kitan fellow as he speaks. "My name is Skoll Ulfang, guardian of all who need protecting." He declares with a hand to his chest. "Have you been having a lot of trouble with the Heartless - ehmm - dark spirits?" Skoll is quick to inquire. Many people, after all, are at risk to these things.

The werewolf then glances aside to Zia, and points at his nose. "I told you I have a nose for these things." And then sticks his wolven tongue out at her. He's a bit nervous in his joking though, enough so that Zia will know that he's still uncomfortable about something. And that's when they finally walk into the massive chamber that holds Atlantis... and Skoll just gets this big wide-eyed look... tail rising, ears perking.

"W... woooooow."
Percival The Gargoyle watches the exchange between Zia and the Masked Guardian with interest. However when he calls him /Gorlois/ he gives the masked guardian a puzzled look. Whenever he thought of the word, it evoked the Arthurian legends of Igraine's first husband. However he decided it must have a different meaning more akin to his /race/, probably the Atlantean terminology for it. He'd have to ask upon it later.

The Gargoyle inclines his head at the greetings from Kitan, apparently Atlanteans were quite familiar with their kind, "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. My name is Percival. Thank you for your hospitality."

He fell silent afterwards, feeling that anything more might sort of... ruin the magic, of laying his eyes upon a place that hadn't been seen by people on the surface world in millenia. He advances forward in silence, through the mists of the chamber...

And into Atlantis. Cue /AWE/!
Reize Seatlan Reize notes the offering from Skoll, unable to do anything BUT crack a smile. It is a custom, it looks like, for the acceptance of the gift. However, his reaction to Zia causes him to look rather confused. "Gorlois?" Reize blinks, looking rather confused. First, his eyes fall over towards Percival and then at Zia. So, the figure is referring to them as Gorlois? This is peculiar.

Nevertheless, the man introduces himself in a common-tongue. "Whoa!" The boy brightens, "This makes communicating easier!" So, he is the guardian of Atlantis. Reize is glad to meet the individual. They are declared friend rather than foe. The promise to take them to the lost city is a reward itself.

As they follow the man into the hidden hamber, Reize takes a look towards the chipmunks, flipping the page before he grins.

"Squeak squeeeak! (Thanks again, you guys!)"
Tifa Lockhart Tifa Lockhart tilts her head a bit, and puts the flashlight away, as it doesn't seem to be needed anymore right now "City? There' sa city down here?" She wonders. All she saw were tunnels, although manmade, she wouldn't think there'd be people living down here. One man could be a hermit, but a city means a few hundreds at least, right?

She follows either way, looking back to the helpful chipmunks and waving at them too, turning back on her heels to follow the robed man.

... Chipmunks, really.
Avira Bacon appears to be a language she should learn in the future. A mental note is made by Avira to this end.

The man introduces himself in a language that Avira knows pretty well. Confusion registers on her face to hear him speaking in their own language. Another mental note is made, mostly to investigate this language thing later.

She has nothing to say when they reach the city. The appearance off the place has rendered the stoic leader of VALKYRI speechless.

This scene contained 73 poses. The players who were present were: Reize Seatlan, Skoll Ulfang, Tifa Lockhart, Zia, Avira, Bucket O'Heartless, Percival, Violet