Cavern of Forking Paths - RPLOG

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Just finding the place is a bit of an adventure in and of itself. Off the beaten path and with no signage to point way, and even then the entrance would be easily missed, were not for the aged crane waiting outside. He sits on a slab of stone shaped into a chair by earthen math, head bowed and eyes closed beneath thick, plumed brows. His feathers are clean and white, though what forms his 'hair' has silvered, and may have been a completely different colour in his youth. He's dressed largely in earthen hues, and his clothes, while formal, denote a being of modest financial standing. He rises at the first sight of figures approaching, welcoming them with a wrinkled smile, wetting the edges of his bill with his tongue before speaking, "Ah ha, more young blood here to test their resourcefulness against my labyrinth, welcome, welcome."

Mazurek smirks upon being greeted by the Crane in such a fashion. He is a griffon again today, his raven and panther body shining from a recent bath along the way. Whoever desires it can be on his back during the trip, too, "Young blood, you say? I take it this thing is a dangerous test or something?"

Rogna approaches the strange old crane, the mention of a labyrinth makes him smile slightly. "A test of mind is it?" he says, as he approaches the two. "I believe my blade should prove its worth and my wits are with me, let us see this test." He casts his cape back and moves to shake the cranes hand, he seems to be in a jovial mood at the moment.

Ryusho wanders up a bit slowly behind everyone else as he hums softly, not sure but he nods slightly, "I suppose I can give this whole mess a shot, even though if things get ..narrow in a way I might need to use my non dragon form....If I have too." he says with a slight chuckle, though it is his own thing as he rumbles in thought..a Labyrinth..interesting...

Ictus blinks as he comes across the others and the old man, he chuckles a bit at the thought of a labyrinth, "Sounds interesting and fun." he smiles at the crane and shrugs, "Will it be dangerous? Or just a test of our skills?"

"Oh ho ho!" The fowl rises and approaches Mazurek first, though his eyes don't seem to open. He stands round-abouts five and a half feet tall, most of that height coming from his legs and neck, which are longer than an average being's in proportion to the rest of his body, harkening back to the animal uplifted by the Creators from which he has descended. He produces thick-lensed spectacles from his pocket and perches them near the tip of his bill, leaning in close to study the hybrid bird-cat. "How magnificent! You must be a griffon. I've never seen one with my own eyes. How fascinating!" The old buzzard moves on without addressing Mazurek's question, whistling and looking Rogna over head to toe as he shakes hands with the hippo. "Oh ho, you're a sturdy fella, aren't you?" Then on to the dragon, he produces from his pocket a length of measuring tape, which he holds vertically alongside the looming tengu as far as he can hold his arms apart. "Goodness, you're a collosus! Good thing I made the tunnels plenty tall! Oh ho ho!" He's still putting the tape away when he pauses in front of Ictus, giving the fox only a cursory examination, compared to the rest, "My, you're all just brimming with questions! Now, the only thing you have to fear is wandering in and never being seen or heard from again! Oh ho ho ho ho! In fact, the last group that went in still hasn't found its way back, but maybe you young folk'll have better success, hey? Ooooh ho ho ho! Right this way, right this way." He shuffles towards the opening in the rock wall. Ryu'll need to duck the doorway, but inside the tunnel is comfortably large.

Mazurek strikes a few poses to show off to the Crane. He really doesn't seem to mind the attention in the slightest, and one of them is a ferocious-seeming attack pose. Well, more of a kitten-ready-to-pounce posture, but still. When the bird moves on to the next he takes a moment to preen some of his feathers while the others are being addressed. Of course, he approaches the entryway first and really bounds right inside, "We might be the first group out? Wow! If we run into the other groups, we'll help them out."

Rogna laughs and shakes his head at the antics of the crane, nodding to them in passing as he gives them a pat on the back and pushes in behind Mazurek. "First group out? There is an exit I assume?" he jests as he looks about the interior, keeping one hand at ready on a sword hilt as he proceeds inward. "There must be some reason the other groups haven't returned, I should hope none of the pass residents got hold of them during their journey."

Ryusho chuckles a bit as he looks down, "I suppose I am rather big.." Though he shifts slightly, almost showing off slightly not unlike maz, though he then cracks up laughing in thought, before looking over to Maz, then Rogna, "Well, Who knows, maybe we will see eachother in there if we somehow encounter them." he says nodding.

The crane bursts into another fit of his distinct laughter. "This labyrinth is my masterpiece. I first began carving these passages beneath the mountains over thirty years ago, after concluding my studies at the College of Cliffside. Thirty long years sculpting these very halls with nothing but the power of my mind, can you imagine it?" He makes a sweeping gesture to the walls on either side, without slowing his place or facing the group. "It hasn't been without setbacks; there've been cave ins, and occasionally I've dug too far, or too high, or too deep, I've had misfires and even one flooding, but it was all worth it! Oh ho ho, just you wait and see! Now wait right there a moment." He motions the trio to stop just before reaching a pair of riveted metal doors, which he approaches alone, stroking and lifting its hefty handle before tilting his head to regard the group. "Well then, are you all ready to begin?"

Mazurek simply can't hold back some giggles while he leads the group...behind the Crane. All the answers will be given in time, for certain, but the excitement can be seen all over the griffon's demeanor. He says nothing further until after the new door is opened, "So you've spent thirty long years doing this? Did you carve it with your mind, with your various math knowledge, or did you have some help just digging it all out?" Still, he waits only long enough for whatever the answer is before moving through those doors. Whee!

Rogna raises an eyebrow. "And would any of these dangers persist in the design or are we more than ready to proceed? I eagerly wait to see what you've come up with ini thirty years of work. It must be a masterpiece of grand proportions." He eyes the doors and then the crane, looking the others over once as he adusts his cape. He moves to follow Mazurek, once he is given the okay from the crane.

Ryusho nods a bit, "Thirty years work, That shows dedication worthy of praise I would believe, and should hopefully be quite memorable." He says with a smile, as he can appreciate dedication to ones work for certian, the dragon looking to the others, as he rumbles softly in thought some more...

Through the doors? Oh no, not quite. "Ho ho... oh ho ho! Excellent, you all look so eager! No more delays then, let's begin!" He lifts a foot just to stomp it back down into the floor, and with little more warning than a shift of the stone beneath their feet, the ground suddenly drops out beneath them, dropping them onto a steep incline carved of some incredibly smooth and slippery material that plunges them ever downward and deeper until they're deposited into a small chamber. When the last has tumbled out, a block of rock falls into place, closing the passage behind them, leaving them only with the passage ahead.

Mazurek was definitely not expecting the sudden drop. Poor griffon shrieks, the sound echoing around the walls and passage even during the descent. He can't get himself in a position to try to fly away, much less get upright, before the group is spit out into a chamber. He tries to roll away in some direction or another, but is more than likely going to get someone landing on him.

Rogna stumbles and slides down the slick incline, his armor not aiding in his attempts to stop himself. He reaches the bottom and promptly stands up, pushing folks asiide and groaning, checking for injury before he stands at alert, looking ahead with his hand back in position above his sword. The hippo blinks and looks down, having trodden upon poor Mazurek, who he attempts to help up.

Ryusho of course is scramblign, rolling 'bouncing' his wings folding -TIGHT- to his form to keep from hurting them as he tries to slow his decent, though well it partly works reason while maz is still starting to get up, Rogna is helping maz, and things look like they could of been worse....INCOMMING DRAGON! ...With of course probably a -THUD- either beside them or...with how things are going...right ontop of both of them.

The chamber they find themselves in, as well as the hallway beyond, are all carved of the same ruddy brown stone. A single recess in the ceiling houses a shard of illuminescent gemstone, providing light to the room, and similar recesses line the passageway beyond, so at least stumbling around in the dark isn't going to be a concern. Starting from the floor, every three and a half feet up the wall is a narrow line of etchings, precicely one inch tall. These markings run all around the room, including over the rock that's blocked off the tunnel through which they arrived, and continues on down the hall to the bend and out of sight.

Mazurek is a quadrupedal creature, so helping him to his feet is...not really that difficult. He groans a little and leans against the Hippo, resting his head on the soft belly, "Oof. That..was very unexpected." He looks up after a couple of seconds and smiles, "Thanks, Rogna." The etchings then grab his attention and he chirps, "Anyone able to read those, or does it matter?"

Rogna stumbles a little as Ryusho hits him but does his best to keep his ground, and from barreling over on top of Mazurek. He makes no comment besides a gentle pat at the belly resting, before he too stares at the markings. "It may not matter, but they appear to be a lead. Assuming there are no side-ventures along the path, I suggest we follow it." He then moves to attempt at helping the fallen dragon up.

Ryusho grunts as of course he had landed a bit 'hard' compared to what he would of wanted, as he mrphs, gladly accepting the help to get up, as he shakes himself out, cringing a time or two as he does before brushing himself off, just working a little soreness from a 'bad landing' out of his system as he then hums quietly, glancing at the etchings they had been talking about, "Could be a lead, could just be decoration though as well.." as he hums softly, "Though If they were not here before, could be a simple idea someone did to mark where they have already been."

The hippo's scrutinizing gaze turns up one fact, at least: the markings on the wall are mathemagical runes. Unfortunately, their function is beyond his limited grasp of magical calcualtions. It could be something to do with the labyrinth's construction, as the crane mentioned the whole thing was created using nothing but math, but that's purely conjecture. Well, they can sit there 'til they rot or start explorin' the passage, that's their call!

Mazurek has more magical knowledge with his current soul-gem setup than the others might, but he isn't going to swap the more magical of the two into the first slot..not right now anyway. After it is mentioned that the etchings might be something important he slips away from the others to a wall, rising up on hind legs with forelegs against the wall to get a little closer to try and decypher them. ...

Rogna looks them over curiously. "Well they are some form of mathmagical runes, but, I see no reason to examine them in length just yet. Perhaps they are for lighting." he suggests as he moves slightly closer to the corner, drawing his sword and peering round it when he reaches it.

Ryusho shrugs a bit, "I don't know, I am not sure if they would have any bearing on what we are doing, I have not been practicing my earth magic far as I Know it's pretty much math and..thats about it.." he shrugs a bit more as he begins to go and follow Rogna, "Well, he didn't say there would be any thing to worry least monster wise in here....." he says noticing the hippo draw his sword....

The passageway bends to the left, then immediately to the left again. The wall is only near to a foot thick. The passage proceeds back, parallel to the first, but only for half its distance before veering right, then right again. Immediately around the second right turn, the path branches, with a path opening immediately to the left, while the other tunnel continues straight a distance further before also turning left.

Mazurek cocks his head a little while examining the runes. He is slightly delayed in joining the others thanks to this, but when he comes up behind them he looks one way then the other, "They're not for light. That's what the crystals are for. Whatever you do, don't use any earth maths while we are here. I don't know what will happen, but the runes are wards against it." Looking one way and then the other again he smiles and asks, "So which way, boys?"

Rogna laughs as they hit the intersection, his sword sheathing once more as he examinies the situation. "Well I'm not much for earth magic, I have a little talent in a more sinister variety of it, but you won't have to worry about me bringing down the pathways. Now... I have no idea, but I say we go straight and if we hit a dead end we come back here, and turn right."

Ryusho rumbles a bit, "Well....We could also try something like, following a single wall, like place a hand on it, and just follow the wall, but that could also take forever to get anywhere if it is just a super long serries of nothing but dead ends...."

Straight on and to the left... and then to the right. Then straight on some more. It should be promising that nothing has jumped out at them so far. The passages are illuminated well enough that they should expect to be able to see something coming, at least. Another right turn, another left, and soon they come upon the next branch: an immediate right, down which they can see another right turn, or straight on to a second right turn, down which the path bends to the left.

Mazurek follows behind the others for a short ways through the current section of the maze. He cocks his head again when it comes time to make another decision. Looking between them he asks, "I wonder if we should have brought a Bull with us. Didn't the Creators have a legend of such a thing in a place like this?"

Rogna looks the paths over. "Whhere would you place the exit to such a place? What distance do you think he covered in 30 years?" He ponders the paths presented, looking forward.

Ryusho hums softly as he had taken out a note pad, and begun to sketch on it as they walked, looking up and walking a bit slower as he followed, though it looked like a bunch of -lines- right now as he looked up and around, rumblign softly, "I have no clue, Though we seem to have been making an interesting path so far, I suggest we continue forward...

Onward and to the left, the path proceeds, and immediately around the corner the path branches once again, though it isn't much of a choice: the path straight ahead ends right there, the branch to the left zigzags right then left again and continues out of sight. There is something different about the dead end that could merit investigation, however, a circular indent in the floor. Could be nothing, but it is rather out of place amongst the precision work they've encountered thus far.

Mazurek definitely becomes interested in that small indentation in the floor, especially since his klepto bird senses are tingling! Well, not really, but it is so different. Even if the others go on ahead he diverges for certain this time around to investigate this odd occurrance!

Rogna draws his sword once more and approaches the small indentation, expecting some form of trickery to befall them at any moment.

Ryusho would look at the indentation but not approach at first, untill the others begin too, "..>Well it is currious, so I do wonder what that could be..." he says softly

Approaching the indentation does nothing, obviously. It's just a little pothole, only a couple inches deep. It isn't until Rogna and Mazurek interject themselves overtop of it, in whole or in part, that a grinding noise comes from above. There's just enough time for the pair to look up and see the stone piston plummeting towards them. The hippo gets out of its path most gracefully, however Mazurek can't backpedal fast enough. Fortunately Rogna and Ryusho are both on the ball, and spring in, catching the falling rock and preventing it from delivering a more serious blow to the griffon. At most, he'll be walking away from this with a nasty bruise.

Mazurek always was one to be injured in a most spectacular way. This case is no real exception despite looking up to see the object falling. If he had been a biped he just might have been able to get out of the way. Thankfully he has the others around to assist him and he lets out a 'scree!' while backpedaling during the deflection.

Rogna grunts and drops the rock when he's sure that Ryusho is clear, looking over Mazurek for injury before saying "Are you alright?" and noting the trap. "I see why folks aren't coming out, curiosity might have fallen upon them." He looks to the alternate path and then the others.

Ryusho would have no idea how uch of the load he would of caught or stopped as he grunts, feeling the strike on his arms as he grunts softly, originally going to wait on Rogna and Mazurek to get out of the way incase it decides to go on down when it is let go, but then realises Rogna was waiting on -him- to move so he mrphs an dwould before Rogna let it go, as he then grunts and shakes his arms out, "Ow..." he says softly, not really hurt just from the shock from catching it, shaking his arms out before he marks this whole thing out, sketching slightly, and adding a mark or something to signify this dead end as being trapped, to also help him pay attention for a similar set up and be wary of it naturally.

Ictus skids to a halt from a head on dash, and on backtracking back to the passage he finds the three in he shakes his head, "Well... Are you guys ok?" he looks around curiously

Once released, the pillar finishes its journey to the floor, filling that indent quite snugly. After sitting there several moments, it begins to quietly retract back up into the ceiling to wait for the next poor shlub to come along. At least it is now obvious: this labyrinth is playing for keeps. The zigzagging path now lays before them, unless they opt to backtrack, but first: a happy reunion!

Rogna laughs and gives Ictus a wave, gesturing to the other path. "We're proceeding down this path, I assume, as this one is trapped. Intersting way of not being a danger." he says, looking Mazurek over once more.

Ryusho nods slowly, "Well we kind of have too...since is also not a dead hopefully that will be the right path and not into more traps and dangerous situations..such as pot hole lures.." Though he does momentarily consider trying to put a mark or something to say that this pothole is a trap..and no he would not set the mark IN the trap so then people would go to look and see what it says then get smushed, that would just be a huge jerk move

Ictus looks at the trap and nods to Rogna, "So I see." he looks around and ponders as he looks at the others, "I'll go first unless any of you have experience with disarming traps?" he looks down the passage carefully, scanning it for traps from his position as he waits on the descision of who will go first

With their affairs sorted, the group sets out. Behind them, the lowest row of mathemagical symbols briefly illuminates, then fades, and in the process Ryusho's etchings are undone. Slow zoom-in on the runes as onimous music plays, then jump cut back to the team! Following the corridor, the party zigs and zags until they come upon something new: darkness. As they emerge into a new intersection only the crystal immediately above them is active, casting just enough light that they can discern that the path branches left and right, with further branches on the left leading to another obvious dead end, this one decoratively filled with a Creator Statue, while another immediate turn on the right path leads to another corridor that goes further, but is quickly plunged into darkness. Only as they advance do the lights above activate.

Mazurek sighs softly after everyone has taken good care of him in their own way, going around and nuzzling those who won't mind it. He takes the rear guard after this, and vows to try to hold back his kleptomania in case it destroys them. Fat chance, really... When the lights reduce in number, he can't help but look up and back with a tilt of the head, but nothing is said until the lights begin to illuminate the passage after they reach them, "Okay. This is new."

Rogna frowns at the darkness, saying "If anyone has rocks, munitions, things that can be thrown ahead of us to ensure the floor is still there it would be appreciated. We don't want any unexpected drop-offs." he says. "I say we go right, but it's just a hunch." He looks to the statue once, before dismissing it completely. "You may lead, but the group will decide which path to take."

Ryusho rumbles quietly as he looks around slowly, thinking for a few moments as he slowly shifts one foot to another as he rumbles softly, rubbing his chin, "Well let us see...." he says quietly as he slowly glances around, taking note of the statue, and being distracted for a moment before shaking his head, then he shifts, "...I have a good feeling, considering our location and everything..that..we should do the path just over here to the left....." he says pointing out the way he means, the paralell path that is to our left.

Ictus hmms at the darkness and shakes his head, "Well... Anyone know any fire math?" he looks at Rogna and nods in agreement, "Yeah, I figure that would be best..." he blinks at Ryu and sighs, "Ok... Which is it? Right or left?"

What a conundrum! The team will just have to sort it out... three directions, two differing opinions. Perhaps a best-out-of-three rock paper scissors contest? Oh, that will have to wait, however, because as the team is debating the issue the statue grinds to life, a hazy cyan glow rising from its seams. It's certainly pretty to look at, but probably has murderous intents. It raises its arms and comes out swingin'! ...Yup, definantly murderous.

The runes do their utmost to repair the statue as it suffers under the combined might of the party, until someone gets the bright idea to attack the etchings themselves. It has a visible slowing effect on the restoration process, enough that they finally crumble the beast. The glow of the runes persists, however, until the walls are fully repaired, and on after that. The shattered statue fragments quiver and gravitate towards each other. It looks to be a slow process, however, so at least there's only a small threat of the thing being in any shape to fight again before they've booked it. Which brings us back to the original debate: follow Rogna, or follow Ryusho?

Mazurek is the one to strike down the runes that were, somehow, attacking them along with the statue. The group can thank his specially-made tail spike that fades back to a simple shimmer thanks to the maths keeping it invisible unless needed. Now that the threat is over he huffs a bit and starts to move forward into the darkness, "I'll go on ahead. If I get into trouble with a pit trap or something I'll be able to fly out. Just be sure not to lose sight of me." He blends in with the darkness very well.

Rogna looks very surprised at the runes regenerative properties, surviving and bouncing back completely when he strikes them with his dark magical sword. He decides his focus is better attended to on the statue, and when it is downed he looks to the repairing mess. He places a hand on Mazurek and says "Stop." before he grabs a small chunk of the statue and chucks it out into the darkness, listening for anything falling or happening, reaching back to the statue as he does to pocket a few pieces for further use. "You said you thought the path left would be better? Shall we flip a crown, or are you positive it would be?" he asks, unsure how to proceed.

Ryusho blinks as he hears a 'clank' through the tunnels as the golem he has made and used off and on apparently somehow has made its way to them, from..somewhere, seems to be back the way they came from as it comes to a stop nearby, and kinda 'looks' at Ryusho, as Ryusho stares at it, "You know your a bit late..." I tjust kinda stares at Ryusho for several seconds before 'resuming it's guard duty' now that it has caught up...before he shakes his head slowly and sighs, "Well I still think we should head along the paralell here ,...I thought I felt a breeze or maybe that was my imagination, but I am still pretty sure that is the way out..." He says then blinks as he looks to the others, "But I guess you all want to take a different way, we can go that way instead.....but..Meh, We can flip a crown if you want."

Ictus blinks as the statue comes to life and shakes his head before he helps to maul it to pieces. "Well, that was one of the more violent statuary I've come across..." he looks a bit sheepish as the statue starts to regenerate, "Um... Forgot to mention that I saw the walls mending themselves..." he looks at Ryu and then Rogna, and then sighs as he points right, "Let's try Ryusho's way first... Hopefully the worst that happens is we turn back."

The ceiling lights are not triggered by the hurtling stone, but something else is: the three strips of runes along the walls illuminate briefly with the fragment's passing, fading back to their inert state shortly after. The glow they give off is nowhere comperable to the light-giving gemstones, however when the stone finally hits the floor and comes to rest, it does so in the company of several bodies. At least three; a beaver, a weasel, and a marmoset, all slumped to the floor. No discernable injuries or visible blood, but one face that -is- turned towards the group is locked in an expression of terror. Ryusho's recommendation is looking rosier by the second.

Mazurek stares at what is revealed, even briefly, by one of the stones' passing. At least, he does so for as long as they are illuminated, "Well, that explains one group that went ahead. What about the others?" He looks to the Tegu next, "Looks like we take your suggested path."

Ryusho stares for a bit, "....Part of me wants to see if any of them are sure does not look like they are from here..." he says softly, "..I think that we should take the way I want to go..and not into the way that...we thought before I had my suggestion..." he says as he looks a little wide eyed, "..also someone needs to get that bird arrested and..something for spending 30 years to make a death trap to lure people in to..." he says as he gulps slightly...

Rogna stares at the pile of bodies and shakes his head. "I believe we need to have a talk with this gentleman about his life works." The hippo decides that since they are gone, he would have to send someone back at a later date, opting to move and follow Ryusho's suggestion, drawing both of his swords as he does so, carefully edging forward with a serious demeanor.

Ictus eyes the stone that goes flying and shakes his head at the bodies, "Poor folk..." he nods to Rogna in agreement as he heads to the left, stopping just outside the passageway to search for traps

The group proceeds into the darkened hall, their path illuminating as they tread it, leaving little hope of spotting danger before it's upon them... In short order they come upon another fork, however they opt to continue along their current path and pass up the branching corridor. As they reach the first bend in the hall, the lights ahead begin to flicker on in rapid succession, one by one until the whole maze appears to be lit up again. Unfortunately... there's not much to look at. The walls are all the same, the ceiling is all the same, the floor is all the same... A trap would almost be a welcome reprieve. At least it would bring some variety. The hall twists and turns for quite a while without any more diversions, until at last they reach another fork: straight on, or make a left turn.

Mazurek keeps looking back the way the group had come after the fifth right turn that follows after the group simply passes right by a turn. He finally voices the question that has been on his mind when the next intersection comes, " sure we're going the right way? The turn we passed is just...calling my name." Still, he knows well enough to try going back thanks to the amount of distance they've traveled.

Rogna looks to Mazurek with a raised eyebrow. "Given the nature of these walls would you truely trust anything calling your name, one that has not been uttered in the confines of this death-trap for anyone to hear?" he asks, trying to recall if anyone had indeed said their name. Still, he shakes his head, anything calling his name in this place would be worth avoiding. "I am positive we went the correct direction back there, but here I am not so sure."

Ryusho mrphs as he peers up ahead and then rusb his head with a mrph, "Straight.....Might be a dead end..I think.." he says as he peers off into the distance, "I can't tell with how every damn thing looks the same in here..." he says with a grumble, "At leas tnot righ tnow....after I almost ran into a wall at the last turn following you guys..."

Ictus looks at the fork and shakes his head, "We know this place is deadly... So, we shouldn't stay idle long." he looks straight ahead and ponders, "Lets go left... I get the feeling we shouldn't continue forwards." he looks to the left as he once again searches for traps while waiting for the others

It's a comparably short hall, leading to another left turn, which deposits the group into yet another juncture with branches to both left and right, though each hall abruptly turns again to left and right respectively. Ictus pokes his head around the corner to the left and ducks out of the way just in time to avoid being skewered as a trap lurking around the corner propels cone-shaped rocks at his face. Instead they impale into the wall behind where, after several moments of glowing from the repair runes, they're absorbed into the wall, leaving no trace. Satisfied that they ought not go that way, the team makes the right turn, immediately into yet another crossroads: straight ahead the path zigzags out of sight, and left around a bend is yet another intersection for their consideration.

Once again the Griffon's senses are calling out to him. In this case, at the intersection that they pause at he raises his head upward and audibly sniffs several times. Seems he's caught onto something and after a moment he looks one way and then the next, sniffing again each time. The latter path he steps toward three paces and sniffs again, and this time it is accompanied by a slow sway of his feline tail, "This way. The air is fresher here." Pad forward he goes.

Rogna nods. "I don't know where its coming from but the air isn't as stale here. Let us follow your senses." he says as he pushes forward, cursing his heavy armor for once. It's great protection, it's not so good in the heat, but it offers a great deal of resistance to the chilling effects of the wind, which could very well have been his downfall here without these good folks.

Ryusho hums softly as he looks around, though sniffing slightly, "...I thnk we should head to the left....Something about the me anyway, It feels like it's getting less...stale, more fresh...or something...." he says quietly as he glances around, "That and well, ..It seems like a good idea...maz agree's it seems.." Though he decides to take a look for traps as he scoots that way carefully..

Ictus eeps at the trap and shakes his head, "Ok, not that way..." he looks around as he follows the others and nods, "Very well..." he quickly catches up with the group and also searches for traps

Ryusho's tengu-senses start a-tinglin', and he warns the others off of another of the paths at their next turn. They continue on through twisting passages a while longer before emerging to another left-or-right divergence. This time, though, the dead end is plainly visible just a hop skip and jump away, so the team turns away from it and proceeds towards the next bend... which is when the path they just left walls up and a boulder drops in from the dead end, barrelling straight towards them! One mad dash later, the team rounds the bend, but Ryusho and Mazurek bring up the rear, and their tails end up paying for it, getting caught up under the rolling rock as they make a last second dive for safety. The boulder collides with the wall and shatters as if it were made of expensive china, its fragments quickly getting absorbed into the ground. But nevermind that: STAIRS! And they go up!

Mazurek's tail is smaller than the Tegu's by a long shot, given the feline thinness compared to the thick bludgeon of a dragon-tegu. Still, that small bit is more than enough to feel the pain! His dash forward is interrupted by OMG-HEAVY weight of the boulder and he collapses to the ground with a shriek! Echo, echo, echo, goes the shrill sound vibrations around everyone's head!

Ryusho kinda lies there on the ground for several long second before he pries..flattened tail..that could be wonderful for bevers...rather.PAINFUL for tegus...considering they have semi long but -THICK- tails......and..well it might be a bit..icky too as he grits his teeth, slowly but very tenderly beginning up the stairs as he begins to gather his field care kit and dulling potions to begin working at trying to make his tail look like a tegu tail again...ow..ow..owowowowowowowowowowowowow.....but..well his tail -actually- had slowed the boulder -down- he is looking like he is trying not to scream or roar or explode in firey dragonbreathdeathfiremagic

Rogna stops when he realizes the party is injured, moving back to grab Mazurek after sheathing his swords, and lets Ryusho ascend first, not as injured as the collapsed Mazurek. He hefts as can and moves towards the stairs. When and if he gets there uninterrupted, he sets them at the top. He keeps a look out for trouble, keeping some choice words ready for when he sees the crane.

Ictus growls at the boulder as it explodes and shakes his head, "Now what's going to be next?" he winces at the screech and shakes his head as he waits for the others before climbing the stairs

One uneventful, if exceedingly long stair climb later... you'd really think that rickety old fella would have installed a magic rock elevator for himself, wouldn't you. It's probably down that other hall Maz wanted to backtrack to. ANYWAY, at the top of the stairs are some extremely familiar riveted iron doors, opening to a darkened tunnel, though the faint glow of torchlight beckons from beyond the cavern's mouth. The crane is there, seated comfortably as he had been when they first saw him, and he is... surprised to see them, to say the least. "What in the... how in the... It isn't -possible-!"

Mazurek accepts the help very much, especially since it is the very noble and royal hippo that helps him. He whimpers and blubbers against that...well...blubber hippos are known for. It's only for a minute or two, though, and he is able to move up the stairs on his own power. Sure his tail is crushed, but it is nothing compared to the tegu's after all. When the group encounters the crane again he lunges for the avian with a shriek that matches the pitch of the previous one. He goes to pounce, not exactly injure.

Rogna scowls when he sees the avian and their surprise to see them. He musters up some dark magics, applying them to the avian with the sheer intent of slowing their potential escape. Any upset insides or injury is an added bonus. He carefully makes his way over towards Mazurek and the pounced bird, swords drawn as he examines his surroundings and then the crane. "I believe you are coming to speak with at least, the city guard. It appears you have killed folks before with your lack of warnings and needless trappings, not dangerous indeed. You may also add attempted slaughter of a noble, and a royal born to your record. I hope you have a very good explanation in store."

Ryusho would be grumbling, "And may I at least add a House Ironsoul Retainer to the list as well..." he says grumbling, "My tail would love a word with you as well....IF IT WAS NOT FLATTER THEN A BEVERS TAIL!" he says that with a half roar...yeah he is not happy..but it is very slowly starting to inch it's way back towards normal shape, so a bit less flat and..smushymeatlooking...

Ictus growls as he eyes the crane and nods to Rogna in agreement, "Though, I'm tempted to throw him into the labryinth... But he probably knows all the ins and outs anyway." he takes one of his daggers and examines the edge a bit, looking to the crane with a suddenly wicked grin. He doesn't say anything but you can practically read his thoughts of, 'skin him alive.'

The kooky old coot lets out a yelp as he scrambles, getting all of maybe three paces before getting battered by dark maths and flattened to the ground by the giant birdcat. What was that crunching sound? Was that his hip? I think it was his hip. He begins to blubber, their words seem to be lost on him as he rambles through his sobbing, "All my years, all my study, how could this happen? My math was flawless! Every trap, every hall, every golem, how could you have escaped them all?!"

Mazurek snarls in the crane's face, not caring at all what the crunching sound was, "We only fought one of your pets. Your previous victims failed halfway through, encountering something that terrified them."

Rogna moves to help Mazurek secure the old fool, one sword sheathed. He leaves his blood-thirsty dark magical sword out however, deciding it might be more useful in his case as he works. "Secure him and let us return to firmament."

Ryusho slowly clentches his hands, "Just...glad I don't have my hand on him..I would be dragging him by that scrawny neck all the way to tow, but if anything I -will- consider -wasting- a dulling potion just so he wont have as much pain being dragged back to town..." he would feel sorry for the old guy if he hadn't been kiling everyone!

Ictus glances at the others and sighs as the wicked grin fades as he realizes someone has to be the voice of reason, "Let's just take him back to the city... He can face justice there." he still looks like he wants to skin the crane though

"Ah, yes, I knew I should have cleaned up the labyrinth before I let you all in." Just like a lightswitch, the old bird turns off his misery, "But you know, there are just so many -stairs-. Well, lesson learned. -Next time- I'll put in a lift system of some sort, Earth Magic up, Earth Magic down! Oooh ho ho, I already know the perfect equation for it!" ...well, suffice it to say that continues, unless something is done to physically silence the fossil, all the way back to the city. At least they can rest safe in the knowledge that no one else will fall prey to this madman's trap! ...orrr wiiill theyyy? Slow transition through the darkened corridors as the ominous music builds until suddenly and inexplicably all the rune etchings light up at once. Dramatic chord, and black screen.