Aspire to Nothing (Group 2)

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The forest is deeply shadowed in shades of purple as the sun sinks into the earth somewhere far away. Wherever it is, it isn't here. Here there's only two older mythwood elves talking in low voices to one another, and the darkening shadows betwixt the trees. There's even a low fog clinging to the ground, making the setting somehow more mysterious and perhaps a touch... unsettling.

As the group approaches the two cease talking to one another and you are struck by how alike they look to one another. Both dressed in leather clothing that is tight-fitting and makes them look remarkably slender. The material has been dyed black, but a sort of blackish brown color that blends more easily with the surrounding shadows than a pure dark color might have in its place. Their hair is fair, but tied back so that it doesn't get into their faces as they move. Rivers of braids falling down their backs.

"I do not know brother Kailu, I would not answer questions of untested strangers." Says the first, and his brother follows quickly in his wake.

"Rhith, they may prove themselves yet, but from the look of them... It does seem doubtful."

GAME: Harkashan casts Light. Caster Level: 5 DC: 14
GAME: Fidget casts Detect Magic. Caster Level: 2 DC: 14

Ulthan walks behind the sith-makar, content to quietly observe everything he can. His studded leather armor is subtly mottled from the patchwork done to repair it, while his flail rests loose in his hands.

Harkashan's heavy but firm steps trail behind the party just a bit, due to his heavy armor. But from that position, he casts a wide glow from the lavastone that hangs between his sharp horns. In a ways, he is glad for the change of scenery.

The glow keeps playing with his scales, making the Sith-makar seem aglow like lava, flowing throughout his scales. Spotting the twin Mythwood members, and speaking of brothers, he lets out a plume of black smoke from his nostrils as they so loudly question their mettle.

"Those who have never met, are always untested to their observers." Harkashan counters the two with a deep rumble in his chest, touching a hand to his chest.

"Please permit us upon your demesne, Kailu and Rhith. Are you our guides to learn more of the ancient Spire within the Felwoods?" He then inquires of the two Mythwood elves, before introducing himself proper. "I am Harkashan, Deathsinger."

In moments like these, Rune is reminded of just how much she feels set apart from her Sildanyari 'cousins'. Her hood is pulled up to cover her pointed ears, likely feeling more comfortable not revealing her mixed heritage to these strangers of the Mythwood. Still, one can be grateful that it is these two, and not another mysterious banquet table seeking to eat them.

"And people wonder why someone would ever leave the Mythwood." This is spoken in a quieter voice, likely meant for the ears of her companions, alone. Rune, as half-sil, likely came from somewhere in this area, but she most certainly doesn't seem comfortable here.

"How, exactly, are you looking to have people prove themselves?" There's little in the way of diplomatic flattery there. It's very much an: 'I am over your Sildanyari bullshit' sort of tone. Harkashan is far better at such matters, anyways. She offers no introductions, herself. She simply seems watchful, and wary.

GAME: Harkashan rolls Diplomacy+1: (6)+11+1: 18

"Hn. Twins." Aelwyn lets out quietly by himself, looking over towards Rune. After a moment, an amused rumble leaves his lips.

The Dragoon had few recent scuff marks upon his scales - but more importantly, a new ribbon tied around the shaft of his polearm. It was red just like the others. A bit thicker and with a golden embroidery. The purples of the setting sun did plenty of wonders on his own purplish to bright orange scales, seeming to light them on fire with every passing ray as he walked through the deep shadows of the forest.

Besides the brief amusement before, the draconian otherwise was not on a very jovial mood throughout the trip. Something had been weighing his step down on all these mysterious tasks in the forests of various rarity, and the suspicion already cast on the party was not helping him. All of which didn't prevent him from flashing his teeth at the two elves.

The ruddy sith-makar makes a bow of his own. "Aelwyn, a Dragoon. A pleasure."

A little behind the group, the oddly dressed goblin hops over an trip hazard root as her magical vision starts to fade once again, she'd been hoping to see *something* interesting on the way here, but so far it's just been nothing, nothing, nothing, and sometimes the back of a glowing Sith-Makar, but the novelty of that wore off at least an hour ago.

Muttering a handful of words to herself, she refreshes the magic, noting the continued presence of glowing dragon-person. But maybe these new strangers will prove more interesting than the long walk thus far.

"We're hardly untested strangers, my Sildinyari friends, we're just the right people to help you solve..." Fidget pauses briefly to remember what it was they were here for, "...your tower-related problems!" she finishes with undeserved confidence!

GAME: Fidget rolls bluff: (12)+7: 19
GAME: Harkashan rolls Sense Motive: (9)+12: 21
GAME: Ulthan rolls sense motive: (1)+3: 4 (EPIC FAIL)
GAME: Rune rolls sense motive: (6)+8: 14
GAME: Aelwyn rolls sense motive: (5)+1: 6

The two men look doubtfully at the group, both of them looking very sternly at Harkashan. "Peace on your nests; those of you of the People. Welcome to the Mythwood." They nod low enough that it's almost a bow, their voices rising in unison.

The one on the left addresses Harkashan then. "If you would; this unnatural light is not welcome here. You will frighten off the natural residents of this area with such."

The other turns to Fidget. "As for you, do you mean us insult? To cast such a spell is to indicate that you do not trust that we are not using magic to deceive in some way."

Together they look at Rune lastly. It's clear that they heard her comment. "The Night Gauntlet awaits you. If you can run it as our youths do; you will be accepted and you may find the information you seek."

Harkashan can't help but show a little flair of a smirk when Rune speaks, taking note of the tone she is using. He knows a bit of her history with this place, and her reasons for leaving. This whole encounter so far is proving a point rather firmly in no time flat.

He slowly glances down and to the side as the Gobbo speaks. Perhaps it's the fact that he has spent a significant time around rather quirky gobbos as of late, but he doesn't betray that he sees through some of this boisterousness. Just a little bemused glance, and that is it.

Looking back to the Mythwood folk; "Peace on your Nest, and Ancestors blessing on the eggs, your mate, and offspring." Going for the long version for once.

The lizard then touches a claw to the unnatural light, quieting the spell. "You will have to forgive my companions here. We have been beset by a great deal if mimicry and falsehood as of late. It is not you, but the Times in which we live, that are to be insulted." The Sith-makar offers to them.

Taking a few steps forward, he asks; "Please, if you would guide us to the Night Gauntlet."

GAME:  Harkashan rolls Diplomacy+1: (19)+11+1: 31

The comment from Aelwyn gets a look from the rogue, a slight lift of the corner of her lips following that. The humor seems to comfort her, in a way.

Then, she looks over towards Ulthan and Fidget. The two weren't particularly familiar to her prior to this expedition, but the fancily dressed Gobbo. Certainly no one would wander out into the Mythwood in such an outfit without knowing what they are doing, right? Riiight? She has to assume that if they are here as part of the Guild, then they must be capable.

When the eyes of the two fall onto her, Rune simply meets the gaze with a quiet intensity. It would not be the first time she as been judged by her half-kin. She leave sit to the Makari to smooth things over, offering only an inclination of her head. "We'll face whatever test it is you have for us."

Ulthan shrugs when hearing of running a gauntlet. Whatever kind of contest it is, those aren't anything new amongst the Dranei, and having to prove one's worth is rather common when visiting new clans.

Aelwyn leans onto the back of his foot, tilting his hip down. His tongue lets out a click. "Tch, cold." He looks over Lava, then back towards the brothers. "Light," A low rumble and a sway of his tail, "A little fire."

The Dragoon looks about the rest of the party though; especially at the Goblin amongst them - Gobbos - but his attention returns onto the two brothers. There was not a second doubt in his mind that she may or she may not know what she was doing; he had enough first hand experience to see it go all the ways. At least she wasn't handling explosives.

"This one is certain that we are prepared to scale the Gauntlet. Why else would we be chosen?" That or maybe there just wasn't much competition. "Shall we be told what lies in await to us, or will it be one of those surprises?"

"I...uhh..." Fidget's red eyes widen in surprise and confusion, as she'd barely been thinking of the Sil when she'd cast the spell, so the connection took a moment to form, "Oh! That spell! Uhh, hehehe" she gives an uncomfortable goblin laugh, "No insult intended, I was just curious. It's been a long journey and it's been dull as a wooden-" She pauses, "Whoooaah..." Her red eyes blink and she looks around at the magic, now more than a general sense of energy, it's lit up with magic all around in a rainbow of colours.

"Are you all seeing this? This whole place is magical. This is going to be so neat. Or deadly. Or both! Let's get going. TOO~ the Gauntlet." She says, mystified, trying to pick out what any of the glows around them actually are.

The two look suddenly VERY firmly at Fidget. "We will go when this one releases their spell. For the Night Gauntlet has very firm rules. If you wish to use magic when you have entered it; that is acceptable - but you must enter as you are."

They clearly intend to wait until they are listened to, and once Fidget releases the spell they lead the group through the forest to an area that seems really not any different than any other save that far in the distance one can see a blue flame burning.

"This is the Night Gauntlet. Once you enter there is no turning back. Follow the blue flames until you reach the end. Be wary, clever, and fleet. If you have not completed the task by the rising of the sun; you will have failed."

The Sith-makar gives the Gobbo a bit of a look. He is vouching for the team here after all. "Of course." Harkashan remarks to the two elfin ones, and waits for the Gobbo to realize the situation a bit better.

Once led through the forest, he bows his head and thanks the Mythwood twins for the opportunity, and prepares to proceed to the first blue flame, now that it appears the gauntlet begins.

At entrance to the gauntlet, Rune falls quiet. She knows well enough to take such matters seriously, despite her opinions on their Mythwood 'hosts'. Since part of their rules is to 'enter as you are', she draws back her hood. Whatever these two might feel about it, it doesn't change how Rune feels about herself.

She prepares one of her blades, checks her gear, and then nods. The half-sil steps forward, ready to face the gauntlet.

Ulthan checks his gear is secure and within easy reach on him, making sure that a pair of ceramic flasks are within easy reach on a leather bandolier. Then he looks at the rest.

Aelwyn clicks his tongue. "Always a surprise. At least there will be fires. One can wish for their warmth." He looks over towards Harkashan, then idly rubs at his own exposed scales. Nature could be cruel; he flicks his tail out in a bit of an exaggerated display. Come as you are? Already there.

The Gobbo in the party gets a long look from him though, as he tried to discern if this was an actual... trouble the Gobbo was having, or just typical act of grandiose from obviously grandiose Gobbo. "Hm." He finally states, turning around to head on after the others.

He carried no other questions though, he was fully prepared to face whatever it is that was going to be thrown at his way. And as usual, absolutely confident he could take it on. At least there will be none of those orbs from the Felwood.

Mentally dismissing the spell and watching the beautiful swimming colours of the area fade away to the blacks, greys and faint purples of the poorly lit forest, Fidget dejectedly follows on, her expression crestfallen. She mutters as they move ahead, a little ways away, "Enter as you are, he says, that's what I was *doing*. Can't be *me* with my eyes half-closed." Her softly spoken tirade seemingly for herself, more than anyone else.

Seeing the half-sil with them grabbing a knife, she reaches into the pastel ruffles of her skirt and produces a dragonspitter that was lost inside those frills. "So... this gauntlet, I'm guessing that means fighting?"

"As we said. 'Be wary, clever, and fleet.'" This seems to be all that they have to say on the matter. Thus the group heads forth! The fog obscures that which is distant and the group quickly sees a path up ahead. A pair of trees breech a wide gap. Two ropes with knots on them hang from the trees offering something of a path forward.

It is clear that there is no other path intended forward for the trees are surrounded on all other sides by thick blackberry bushes.

GAME: Harkashan casts Prayer. Caster Level: 5 DC: 17

Ulthan looks at the ropes, then turns around and looks over his team mates. "Anyone need a lift, don't hesitate to ask. I think this is a team event, so we're not competing with each other..."

GAME: Fidget casts Mage Hand. Caster Level: 2 DC: 14
GAME: Rune rolls athletics + 1: (18)+7+1: 26
GAME: Aelwyn rolls athletics+1: (20)+8+1: 29

Ulthan 's eyes widen as he sees the rope catch fire beneath the leather-clad woman, but they almost bug out when the rope is returned unsigned.

Fidget peers over the edge nervously, "Oh, this is a terrible idea." she says as the rope floats towards her hand. "I probably shouldn't go last, though, don't want to get stuck on this side by myself"

GAME: Fidget rolls athletics+1: (19)+0+1: 20
GAME: Ulthan rolls athletics+1: (10)+8+1: 19

The task before them seems straight-forward enough. Getting slight heft upward by Harkashan, the rogue grabs on to the rope, adjusting her grip for a moment as she catches scent of something burning. Looking down, the girl realizes that it is the rope catching flames behind her. "Well, fuck." There goes Rune's mouth, as usual.

She starts to climb, her natural athletic graces helping her to be able to swing the rope and get across. Holding on to it only a few seconds longer than necessary to make sure it can be swung back in the other direction. Of course, seeing the flame gone in the next instant, she mutters, "Magic again. It's always magic."

There's some obvious concern on her features, knowing that some members of their party are unknowns. That, and Harkashan isn't exactly graceful in the best of circumstances. "You going to be able to manage this, big-guy?" She calls back, "Or do we need to figure out another way?"

GAME: Harkashan rolls Athletics+1: (4)+-4+1: 1

Aelwyn looks around the area; but then he rolls his shoulders. He tilts his head as he watches Rune. And a wide grin spreads on his jaw as he sees what the rope does. "Brilliant. Just like home." The ropes did not intimidate himself so much; instead, he seemed to get excited..

The ruddy sith-makar looks at the rope in what seems to be... a moment of particular serious, distant look on his face. As if in remembrance. "Hmh. Perhaps Jared was right; once on a rope, all you can do is move on." The Dragoon quietly rumbles by himself, before reaching into his satchel. He pulls out what looks to be white powder of some sort, spreads it in his hands... and watches it fall off. "Hmh," He rumbles in amusement.

The talc from his hands gone, he instead takes a step forward; then another, looking as if he were about to dance - and dance he did. Like a gymnast, he grabs the rope with his legs and pools it around his glaive - and completely unnecessarily, leaves the fire burning at the bottom as he gathers some speed. Soon, just as the fire starts to unwind the rope from around the end of his glaive, he flings himself up and across the gap, twisting in the air like as if he were giving a show at one of those circus shows in the Theatre district. Which he in reality, was.

Quietly, he lands besides Rune after his flip. "Tch." Then he calls out. "Leave the armor, Lava!"

Harkashan lets a small spell ripple over his allies. A small prayer to Vardama to keep his allies protected, while keeping a close watch on the woods themselves. The Mythwood elves had seemed rather protective of the wildlife when he'd lit his light, and had noticed the goblin's own arcane magics.

He hopes that something this small will not offend the woods.

Proceeding to help anyone up the rope that he can, lifting them to the ropes. "I will attempt to make due." Harkashan calls out to Rune. Though he wonders if he could politely ask the rope to maybe NOT burn.

Before swinging into the ropes, trying his best to climb them and swing over... only to fall back onto the ground again.

He huffs. He isn't swift like the Sil.

"My hands slipped. This armor is really heavy." He notes. "Got any ideas, Rune?"

Ulthan grabs the rope and swings over, but his grip begins to slip and as he sldies off the rope, he utters a very undignified mutter... that shuts up the moment his rump lands on the safe side of the chasm.

Harkashan grimaces a bit at the suggestion that he should leave his armor. Looking at the forests around himself, and the particular Lavastones within his armor. He's been seen without his armor on rare occasions, but he's always made sure his armor was somewhere well protected. Somewhere he could retrieve it with ease.

He's started pacing at Aelwyn's suggestion. It looks like he's not so willing to leave behind his armor for <reasons>.

Grabbing the rope and jumping onto it to hold on with an iron grip, Fidget definitely has her eyes closed for most of the swing, only opening them as the rope begins to slow at its apex. She leaps off, lands on the other side in a three-point superhero landing. Then, after a moment to register that that *actually worked*, she turns to give a bow to the rest, then seeing the Sith-Makar struggle, she frowns - unsure how to help.

Fidget says, “I could try to put a rope up through there and give him a better, longer rope to use... it's probably tricky to get it up there properly though. Mage hand isn't very dextrous.”

The sight of Harkashan falling has Rune immediately wincing. "You okay?"

At the prospect of other ideas, the rogue looks at each of the others, likely gaging Ulthan and Aelwyn. Of the group, they seem to be the strongest. "We might be able to use some of our own rope. Get him to tie one end around himself, then toss the other end over this way."

She eyes Ulthan, "You look like a barn door of a man and I know Aelwyn is strong, so maybe he can just jump and you two can help pull him the rest of the way?" It's the first thought that comes to her mind.

"Otherwise, we could try to get one of our own ropes up into the trees, try to make an easier path across." The half-sil shrugs slightly, knowing that she isn't strong enough to counter the bulk of the tall Makari and his armor.

"I'm okay." Harkashan remarks, lifting his hand. "If needed, go on without me." He rumbles at them, as he watches Rune start suggesting things. Whatever they come up with, he'll go with it.

Aelwyn looks at Rune, then towards Ulthan. "Hmm." He stops to touch around his satchel - and eventually pulls out an actual, pretty functional climbing kit. "This one would greatly enjoy having Lava in his hands." He grins at her, then turns towards Ulthan. "He knows how to properly handle this situation, one supposes?"

Ulthan nods at the Dragoon. "I lived in the mountains, we did a lot of climbing and assisting with climbs to get our sheep after they were chased to inconvenient places."

"Okayyy~" Fidget says to herself as she lines up the rope throw, using her Mage Hand to pull the rope up and over a heavy looking branch, and quietly cheering when it goes over neatly as planned. Then she pushes the bottom of the rope over towards Harkashan so he has a better, less-on-fire tool to work with.

GAME: Harkashan rolls Athletics+4: (5)+-4+4+2+1: 8

Harkashan tries his best, using the talc on the climbers kit, tying the rope around him, and generally just trying his best to make use of everything. He leaps... some of the ground gives way, and he grabs onto the rope and goes... down. This is not the Sith-makar's day.

GAME: Fidget casts Detect Magic. Caster Level: 2 DC: 14
GAME: Ulthan rolls athletics+1: (10)+8+1: 19
GAME: Aelwyn rolls athletics+1: (8)+8+1: 17

There is a hint of a laugh that Rune gives to Aelwyn's comment, but that humor snaps the moment that she sees Harkashan fall into the pit. "Hark!" Alarm is written in her voice as she races to the edge, kneeling over it to look down. Her eyes look to Ulthan and Aelwyn, depending on them and this 'backup plan' that she'd suggested.

"Shit, please let this work." Those bulging muscles have to be good for something, right?

Ulthan quickly grabs the rope, lashing it around his arms and then leaning back with all his weight, pulling on and working to get the big lizardguy out of the pit.

Aelwyn hisses as the big lump of armor goes down in the pit _anyway_, despite their magical and non-magical efforts. His body does bulge - from extreme strain and digging his claws into the ground. "Tch! With, me Herd!" He says to Ulthan, as his body moves with the other man. He may have been strong, but he was no strongman. And this was quite the deadlift. Or lizard-lift.

Harkashan lets out a bit of a grumpy noise as he gets dragged up the side of the hill after a heavy THUD against the side, the rope slowly hoisting him up. Arms up, holding onto the rope. Tail hanging down, looking mighty miffed about the whole situation.

Once up, he rumbles; "Thank you. Let us hope the future 'tests' of this gauntlet do not require further 'swiftness' of this one." He remarks, before giving the climbing kit back to Aelwyn and giving Rune an apologetic look.

With a squeak of alarm as the Sith-Makar drops from view, Fidget looks worried, and peeks over at the others hauling on the rope. She would only get in the way there, so she summon her Detect Magic spell again, peering into the depths to see if there were any dangers lurking in the pit or nearby of a kind she *can* do something about.

Ulthan huffs and puffs slowly. "I need to start lifting more... I can run for a week, but..."

Gathering together, the group heads further forth, but you get the impression as you head toward the flame of blue... that you're being watched. Eventually you come to a log rolled over the middle of your path. It's about four feet around. Not the most intense barrier you've ever seen, but another test it seems.

GAME: Rune rolls perception + 2: (4)+14+2: 20
GAME: Fidget rolls perception: (8)+4: 12
GAME: Ulthan rolls perception: (20)+6: 26

Aelwyn slaps Ulthan on the shoulder, also heaving a breath as he calms himself down. "A good pull." He compliments, before he simply rumbles at Harkashan, slapping the ankle of the taller sith-makar. "This one hopes this was worth a drink."

The kit stashed away around his hip once again, he looks at the log with a tilt of his head. "Our gracious Twin hosts must be amused already." He moves to lean down and stretch his legs once more, warming up.

Ulthan peers at the log, then grunts. "May I suggest we get our stout fellow over first, and not last, this time?"

GAME: Harkashan rolls Athletics: (13)+-4: 9
GAME: Ulthan rolls athletics: (16)+8: 24
GAME: Rune rolls athletics: (8)+7: 15
GAME: Aelwyn rolls athletics: (8)+8: 16

A look of relief seems to replace the fear on Rune's face as soon as Harkashan is pulled up. She's less concerned about how embarrassing it might be for the Makari, and more about the whole 'not falling into a pit with unknown dangers at the bottom'. So, a grateful look is given to the mountain man and the smaller Makari.

"Let's hope so. If it does, we might want to figure out some way of jury-rigging your ass across first." Pushing back to her feet, she looks along the path, "We should move, we don't know how far we have to get before sunrise."

As they continue onward, the blockage in the middle of the path reminds her a bit too much of the way her old 'crew' used to waylay carts on the road. It's enough to see her on edge and have the rogue doing a quick search of the area. When she finds nothing, the rogue returns to join the others.

"Let's see if we can get you over, big-guy." She tries to get into a position to help, but ultimately Rune's athleticism depends more on grace than strength, meaning that it's more about just trying to make sure he has the right hand-holds.

The Big Guy isn't one to just give up so easily. Certainly not to be stopped by a felled log! He's climbed many logs like these before in his life. Just... not when his armor was quite this heavy. He digs his claws in, and begins to try and get his ass up, tail dangerously whipping about for anyone trying to push from below! But with the aid of Ulthan, Rune and Aelwyn, that big lizard-butt ends up at the top and then prepares to help people up from above!

"Thank you for your patience. Though I am sure these attempts of mine are laughable in the eyes of the Mythwood residents."

GAME: Aelwyn rolls athletics: (4)+8: 12
GAME: Rune rolls athletics: (16)+7: 23

As they move forward, Fidget glances back at the ropes, her magic sight taking in the spell attached to the rope and she tries to recognize the pattern of the shimmer as a spell she's familiar with. Then it clicks.

"Those assholes, it's faerie fire - it's not even real." she exclaims to the rest of the group as they reach the next obstacle. "Just a trick. So I guess we should watch out for further tricks." Now, this obstacle seems to be... just a log. Strange challenge, and not nearly as inventive. Something must be up... she stares around as they haul Harkashan up, trying to spot what mischief the Sil are up to now.

GAME: Ulthan rolls athletics: (3)+8: 11
GAME: Fidget rolls athletics: (1)+0: 1 (EPIC FAIL)

Aelwyn rumbles as he moves to stand behind Harkashan, helping to grab the large fellow by his waist and hip, pushing him up with the help of others from the behind. "Tch, at least one is on the point." He says to the lizard atop, catching his breath.

He himself takes a running leap, trying to make a show - but his foot slips and he barely grapples on, slowly pulling himself up. "Hnh. No wonder Jared had thick arms." He rumbles - not even too bothered by his own showing. The Dragoon seemed to be just be enjoying himself and not too worried about getting eaten by the next trap.

Fidget takes a step back and takes a running leap to reach Harkashan's outstretched hand, and completely whiffs the jump and faceplants into the wood. She squawks and flops backwards into the dirt. "Ow ow ow ow" she grumbles from the ground as the stars spin, and then she dazedly gets back to her feet for another attempt.

"Well, if nothing else, it should show them that we don't leave one of our own behind." Rune replies, looking up towards Harkashan as she follows. She manages to find just the right footholds, clambering up as if moving over obstacles like this is part of her every day activities. It may very well be, rogues often have do a number of strange feats of athletics.

"There's a bit of Fey magic in the Mythwood. It runs in a lot of the Sildanyari bloodlines." This is given in response to Fidget. "So it wouldn't surprise me if we find some of those sort of tricks, here." As soon as her feet touch the ground again, Rune is already scouting ahead of them.

At least, until she hears the squawk, "Is... everyone okay? Wait, where's our fashionable Gobbo friend?"

Ulthan, not up to anything fancy until he catches his breath, just leaps up to grab the offered hand, and scampers like an overfed rodent to reach the top of the log.

GAME: Fidget rolls athletics: (17)+0: 17

As Rune finishes asking, a small, purplish hand grabs onto Harkashan's and is hauled up. She's feather light to his lift once she gets a hold, and she's up and onto the log in moments.

"I'm good, I'm fine. I definitely did not just fall on my butt." And with that fact clearly stated, she quickly tries to clean the dirt off the back of her outfit with prestidigitation.

GAME: Fidget casts Prestidigitation. Caster Level: 2 DC: 14

The group, regathered once again, and feeling like this is indeed some kind of amusement on behalf of the Mythwood elves follow the path forward. Eventually another challenge rises up. This time? A wall. A good eight feet or so in height and stretching off the path a fair distance. It's made of wood. No ropes hang from it. Just a wall.

GAME: Harkashan casts Bull's Strength. Caster Level: 5 DC: 16
GAME: Ulthan rolls weapon7: (15)+5: 20
GAME: Ulthan rolls damage7: aliased to 1d6+3: (6)+3: 9

Ulthan reaches down and pulls his handax from the clasp on his belt, then swings it straight-armed at the wall, chipping a decent way into the logs.

Aelwyn steps back as there is... yet another fall. He simply looks over towards Harkashan, and then addresses Rune. "This does not seem to be the day for heavy armor, Rune." When Ulthan and Fidget start instead tearing into the wall, the Dragoon steps back, as he has nothing to contribute to the dismantling process.

GAME: Fidget casts Acid Splash. Caster Level: 2 DC: 14
GAME: Harkashan casts Divine Favor. Caster Level: 5 DC: 15
GAME: Harkashan rolls weapon3+1+1: (6)+5+1+1: 13
GAME: Harkashan rolls damage3+1+1: aliased to 1d8+1+1+1: (6)+1+1+1: 9
GAME: Fidget rolls ranged: (12)+5: 17
GAME: Fidget rolls 1d3: (2): 2

Noticing that the others have given up on the Athletic road, Harkashan grabs his weapon and starts hacking at the same spot that Ulthan has begun to hatchet, trying to help tear down the gate. "You know, I think you can practically look over this one. I feel like our intellect is being tested more than our brawn at this point."

At the sight of another test of athleticism, Rune just sort of stands there for a moment, her arms crossed. She looks over to Aelwyn, giving a nod of agreement. "My people don't tend to wear it as much as others, but all of this bothers me." She motions at the wall as others start trying to chop through it. "This is a test of younglings, right? So it has to be more than just a test of physical prowess, right?"

It's obvious that Rune has never been through a test such as this in her own youth. It is, perhaps, something reserved for pure-bloods. She also doesn't try to think too hard on this particular challenge, especially as the rest of the group seems to make short work of it.

Aelwyn turns to look towards Rune. "Are there not physical challenges, Twin? Especially for younglins, one would imagine they would train the body first, for the body is the door to the mind." He then turns to look towards the wall.

"It is a wall, Twin. What else could it be?"

A path forward is carved! You continue on the path some distance further until you come upon a small river over which two ropes are strung. Two low, two high. One over the other. So.... You'll have to shimmy across - perceivably.

GAME: Aelwyn rolls will: (2)+2: 4
GAME: Fidget rolls will: (1)+3: 4 (EPIC FAIL)
GAME: Harkashan rolls Will: (19)+8: 27
GAME: Rune rolls will: (5)+3: 8
GAME: Ulthan rolls will: (14)+1: 15

As they approach the new set of ropes, Harkashan's heart sinks for a moment. Staring at the waters, the ropes. Grunting at first...

Before squinting his eyes a bit, and proceeding to just walk forward... across the river. Not stopping, full heavy armor through what the others might see as that river. And he just... He just walks.

GAME: Fidget rolls spellcraft: (20)+11: 31

Aelwyn rumbles in amusement. "Tests, again. Lava must be-" The Dragoon begins, but then the biggest lizard starts walking across the river. Curiously, he tilts his head, looking towards Rune and the others in concern. "What is Lava doing?" He says, starting to walk forward as well in case he needs to pull the other sith out of the water, but staying well clear of the river this time around.

Yet Harkashan never falls. "One who walks on water?"

Harkashan, when the rest don't follow, turns around and motions his hand. "It's just a stream!" He calls out to them. "We don't need to swing over this one!" Pausing as he realizes the others are not immediately following him.

"Trust me!"

GAME: Harkashan rolls Diplomacy: (11)+11: 22

Ulthan was rushing forward to check the rope bridges when the big guy just walked into the water... and kept walking. Leaving Ulthan more than a little flabbergasted.

GAME: Rune rolls will: (9)+3: 12
GAME: Fidget rolls will: (10)+3: 13
GAME: Aelwyn rolls will: (10)+2: 12
GAME: Ulthan rolls will: (9)+1: 10

"Okay, it's definitely an illusion, but... I can't see through it. Oh, that's really messing with my head." Fidget braces herself and starts to step forward...nope, that's really not working, not while she can see it. She closes her eyes and takes another step towards Harkashan's voice.

Ulthan grunts... Even if he saw the big makari walk through it, he can't bring himself to follow. And that is -really- annoying.

The response from Aelwyn has Rune quieting for a moment, "It's... possible." She is forced to agree with that assessment, "But it's not the impression I always had about the Sildanyari." Her brows furrow, "Besides, we're supposed to be 'clever' about this, right? That suggests there is more to it."

Rune steps forward, about to reach for the ropes when she watches Harkashan just start to walk across the river as if he had developed the ability to walk on water. Blink, stare. "How did he..."

There is a brief pause before he calls back to them, asking the party to trust him. Well, she trusts Harkashan. So, Rune walks forward. However, she does not seem to walk on water. Instead, the cold seeps into her clothing. "It's c-c-cold, but..." The rogue starts to shiver a little, she's never dealt well with cold. Still, she keeps going, arms wrapped around herself.

GAME: Aelwyn rolls athletics: (6)+8: 14
GAME: Ulthan rolls athletics: (1)+8: 9 (EPIC FAIL)

Harkashan ends up walking back a ways when Rune is crossing, taking her hand. "You can do this." He rumbles, bringing his warmth to her. And when Aelwyn similarly ends up falling into the cold, he wraps his other arm around the fallen Dragoon. "Come on." He bids to the two of them, bringing them to the other side.

Ulthan tries to use the ropes, but a third over, he slips, and when he comes to contact with what he perceives to be very cold water, his muscles just cramp and he grunts as he sinks below.

Absolute certainty that this isn't real doesn't do anything to defend from the biting cold, nor the unpleasantness as her small head disappears below the waterline, leaving only the top of her hat and the plume of red hair sticking out of it above the water line. For those unaffected by the illusion, Fidget is alternating between the words "Cold" and "Fuck" in an increasingly fast and loud muttering as she wades through. As her head breaks through the water line once again, and she lets go of a breath she didn't need to be holding, she lets out a very loud "Fuuuuuuck. I am going to set something on FIRE. And it might be ME.", she pushes through the rest of the way as fast as she can and then starts rummaging through her bag for that bottle of alchemists fire she kept in there - "Gotta get warm. Gotta get fire." Someone should probably stop her.

Aelwyn hears the word 'Cold' and he instantly steps back from the water. The fiery sith-makar had nothing but respect towards the opposite of temperatures, so he instead takes hold of the ropes. It has worked so well before!

Unfortunately, he was not a tightrope walker, despite what Jared taught him. "Fuck!" He hisses as he falls into the water - and when Harkashan reaches out for him he clings to that arm as if it were his lifeline, naturally coiling around the larger sith-makar. "This one is grateful, Hotstone." He shivers. At least he wasn't wearing clothes to get soaking wet with.

The Dragoon looks towards Rune, when the others start falling. 'Let Hotstone hug our way out of this?' He asks, over his clattering teeth. <draconic>

Since her return to the land of the living, the cold has always had more of an impact on Rune than it had in the days before. Yet, with that hand offered, she reaches out and accept sit, allowing herself to be drawn against Harkashan along with Aelwyn. "Definitely worth having dragged your ass along. If only for the benefit of being a freaking space heater." She shares a look with Aelwyn, followed by a soft laugh.

"Well, at least we know they are using illusions on us. So hopefully one of us will be able to see through it." She coughs once into her hand, "I'm no good with magic."

"You are welcome." Harkashan answers Aelwyn with a deep growl, bringing him and Rune to the other side of the river. He then motions at Fidget; "You may wish to aid in warming that one. Before the little one makes a mistake." Before looking back towards Ulthan. "There is a reason I have oft offered my body out to heat others." Pause.

"I will help Ulthan." He believes to recall his name. "Stay here." He rumbles, and goes back into the river and steps up to Ulthan, and takes his hand, bringing his heavy body heat to him. Harkashan has no qualms with getting close and comfortable with the Dranei giant, taller than the Sith-makar, and guiding him. "Step with me, Ulthan. Cling to my scales." He bids to him.

GAME: Harkashan rolls Diplomacy: (13)+11: 24

Chattering teeth, legs curled in cramps, Ulthan is a mess in the river, but the help of the big Makari and his inherent warmth brings him out of the dark spot, and he gets out of the water before he resorted to his ancestral rage to see him through.

Aelwyn looks at the gobbo fiddling with the flask - and with stiff limbs moving, he steps closer, trying to hoist her up before she sets _anything_ else on fire, except maybe him. "Tch, cold is passing, fire is eternal. Set the Baths on fire later." He takes in a deep shivering breath. "And it sounds like we need her magic."

The prospect of the Gobbo setting things on fire might be appealing to ward off the cold, but Rune joins Aelwyn in trying to dissuade that. The 'Twins' might not appreciate having their forest damaged in that way. "Save your fire for later, my friend. I'll buy you a warm bath at the TarRaCe after all this. It will warm body and soul." At least, that's what she is hoping for, in any case.

Then, looking over her shoulder, she does one more check to ensure that Harkashan and Ulthan are out of the river in one piece.

GAME: Aelwyn rolls diplomacy: (18)+5: 23

With a certain amount of flailing, Fidget is subdued without dropping the volatile flask on the ground. After a moment as the cold of the illusion starts to subside, she regains some composure, though she's still shivering. "Or..." she mumbles through chattering teeth, "..,we could have some goblin firewhiskey. It's -cold cold cold- an ancient Gobbo recipe. Take whiskey, set it on fire! It goes down warrrrm." she says with a shivering laugh, grinning. "Okay. Okay, I'm good now. I will not *currently* set the forest on fire. But I'm not getting in that river again. And I may need to have some words with the person responsible for that illusion. Many four letter words." She uses Prestidigitation to warm her clothes slightly, it helps a little. "Gotta go. Deal with the next problem." she says, slipping the flask back into her satchel and hefting it over her shoulders.

The flame burns closer and closer now. Eventually... and to your surprise, you reach it without further trial. Indeed, the two mythwood elves stand beside the torch that led you this far, and together they offer the group of you a scroll. "We were impressed. Not really by your skill in the Night Gauntlet, but by your teamwork. When this one -" A nod to Harkashan. "Said that they should be left behind, none of you hesitated to give them aid. There was never doubt in you that together you could achieve your goals. We see in you - hope - of a future that is brightly lit."

The scroll contains the very information that you seek. That the spire is in fact a tower that was once thought lost to the fell powers of the Felwood. That it draws in the power of the full moon, and can only be reached on such a night. - Which explains why no one has been able to reach it yet.

Harkashan remains at the center of the group, making sure that those who still need warmth can be close to him as the proceed towards the next flame. Dreading what might come next.

But what comes next, is instead a sort of strange gratification, and reward in the form of information.

"A full moon." He rumbles, "That has interesting implications with the werewolves." And more importantly...

He looks to Rune.

A certain Goddess.

Ulthan, having worked the cramps out by moving vigorously after the warmth from the big makari friend drove away the cold darkness from him, is still shivering as he listens to the elves. The chatter of his teeth almost masks the muttering of what sounds like a nasty hex of having their spoons always slip into the soup…

Aelwyn was glad for the flames; walking ever so closer to them. "A spire that appears on full moon." He clicks his tongue. "And a pair of Twins." He flashes his teeth. Yet the Dragoon will be more gratified by the warm baths that has been on his mind since the river. "TarRaCe? This one suspects he can negotiate a discount with Sharkie for firewhiskey and boiling hot soup."

"You and me both." Rune agrees with the Gobbo in regards to firewhiskey. A drink would certainly warm the bones. Beyond that, she continues along with the group. She ends up taking off her gloves, rubbing her hands together them as they walk. Yet, she doesn't offer a word of complaint.

When the two hosts appraise their trip through the gauntlet, Rune casts a look to Harkashan. "No one gets left behind." Those words may very well have a deeper meaning behind them, but she nods her head, seeming glad enough to accept the information.

The matter of the tower, the full moon, and the connection to werewolves and Goddesses is not lost on Rune. Her lips press together. It is a matter for another time, it seems. Instead, she seems to force on a smile, "I think the TarRaCe sounds like the perfect way to end the evening." She and Aelwyn certainly agree on that. Ulthan hasn't had the chance to visit TarRaCe yet as a customer, just delivering some messages there as a courier. But he knows the location, and could use the exercise... "Race you there? I'll haul the Goblin for handicap?"

It takes a while before Fidget stops shivering, but she's starting to feel a little better by the time they reach the twins, which is why she's able to bite her tongue and not one of their ankles. And she only steals a brief peek before extinguishing her magic sight - quickly enough that she probably doesn't get in trouble.

She insists on getting a chance to read the scroll before they leave, wanting to see what they've all worked to retrieve.

"I haven't been to this TarRaCe place, but you've convinced me." She frowns, "Especially if they have whiskey."

"Hey," she adds to Ulthan, "I move just as fast as you long-legs do, I'll have you know."

Ulthan stretches and then looks at Fidget. "It wasn't because you are slow, it's because I don't wear a heavy armor. And I think you are most comfortable to carry of the folks here."