The day is positively glorious. This is the kind of day they make into screensavers. The spring air is warm but never too much so, thanks to the playful breezes, the grass is vibrant green and the flowers are blooming. The river itself has never sparkled so much - it's like a million diamonds are reflecting off of its surface as the boats and canoes cast off from the Pontoons and Boatsheds. It's a postively, perfectly, peaceful morning.
Victor is walking along the river. There is nothing more special about it than that. Just a man taking a walk. He has his leather jacket with him, but he's doffed it, having it slung over his shoulder casually. His expression doesn't match the season, however. He's reserved. Thoughtful. Lost in his head a bit, but not dead to the world.
Pim was obviously in a grand mood on this less than rainy day in mid-Spring. Wearing a set of vibrantly pink shorts that looked about two decibles too loud to be ignored by even the blind, her trim and toned legs carried her happily towards the boat rental shack waiting by the water. Her feet were actually bare, as she seemed fully intent to wear no shoes today and enjoy the crushing of the grass beneath her. For a top she had on a vivid, hyper-purple Tshirt with pink writing across her chest that proudly proclaimed 'It's LIFE! LIVE IT!' in scrolled cursive print. Looking over at Auggie, the dark haired woman ran her hands through the mass of hair attop her head, sending the inky layers of it spiking messily in all directions. "This, lubirea, will be a wonderful day for the boat. Perhaps we can find a good place to test out some swimming techniques for our longer trips!" Her Romanian accent wound its way through her words to make them lilt playfully as her slate blue eyes glinted with eagerness and excitement for the day's activities.
YT is out painting, it's just the kind of day for things like painting death into serene landscapes of the city and river and people who are around. The androgynous artist, is on a stool with an easel and pallet of paints as she works. Her mohawk dancing around her in the light breezes that come off the river on such a glorious monring where nothing horrible will happen because demons don't exist and keep kidnapping her to hell.
The fanfare of sunlight and the warm spring breeze moving through the leaves of green that crown the trees is a siren call. The glorious morning find Cricket walking by the river looking for a spot. In one hand, she carries a brief case and in her other is picnic basket. Over her arm she has a blanket. Her silver hair has been braided bound up. She is dressed in flats and a navy-blue business suit, that has a long skirt and a double-breasted jacket. Her blue eyes glitter like the river, with the delight of spring. Finding a spot, she puts her things down. "Now, just to wait for Ger-Bear to finish parking the car." She murmurs to herself. She takes a deep breath and lets it out. Hearing Pim she turns her head and raises her hand. "Lovely day is it not?" She has not seen the others just yet.
The day might be perfect. Gauaranteed, however, the river is still cold, and if you go too deep it's polluted, but the upper waters are clear and pleasant, in a... glacial sort of way. With a loud splashing and a gasp of air, one university student breaks the surface, panting loudly as she treads water. Molly's glasses are held fast to her face with a little plasticy cord around the back of her head, and she spares a moment to dash some of the water off of them with one finger. She gulps in another breath before making for shore, and where her knapsack, clothes, and a beachtowel are waiting for her under a tree. Water glistens in the sun over skin and a blue bikini, and she stretches her arms up over her head, before glancing at the waterproof watch on her wrist.
Auggie was wearing a long flower print sundress that swished and bounced as she frolicked in a zig zag pattern, keeping up mostly with Pim. Upon her back was a pink rucksack with little bells that rang with every landing and change of direction. "If the boats are screaming for sailing, they're asking you to captain them." Auggie nodded, but it was mostly sideways as she added a spin to her step.
The diamonds on top of the water sparkle even brighter, dazzling any eye that dares skip over the rivers surface - all this despite any apparent change in the sunlight. Shadows slowly begin to bend, as if they were being poured down the side of a bulb-shaped wine glass, and figures in the distance become fish-eye distorted as if being seen through the bottom of a glass soda bottle. The grass, the warmth, the flowers, the capricious breezes...these all carry on, encouraging the spring walkers not to focus on those nasty fraying edges around the blue of the sky, or bowing of the docks. Today isn't a day for worry, it's practically perfect in every way.
Victor glances here and there. Noting sounds. Auggie, Molly. Other people. His head turning, his eyes flicking. Glancing up towards someone in the distance as they laugh loudly, that is what leads him to noting how the environment is warping. His neutral pensiveness immediately traded for a hard disapproval. "Figures, the moment I step out of The Circle this week.." Annoyed, for sure. Though something about what's going on prompts a quirk of his brow.
Pim was perfectly happy as she nodded to Auggie in total agreement. "Aye, you can refer to me as Mon Capitan once we are on board. It will be a lovely afternoon indeed." She waved to Cricket, a waggle of fingers more than an overt gesture, but the smile on her face was utterly genuine. "Buna ziua, Cricket!" Pim called the greeting a few moments before she blinked, then looked this way and that, eyes narrowing shrewdly. Speaking in Romanian, she looked at Auggie and raised her brows, motioning to the world around them with a strange sort of all-encompassing motion.
Pim says, in Romanian, "You see this too, love?"
YT blithly ignores the world changing... the world doesn't change, it's just she might be about to have another of her episodes... yup that's it it'll be crazy and scary and horrfying and she'll be fine when it's over cause she's always fine when it's over and so it's best to wait and see just what's about to happen before she starts screaming and running at the inapropreate time. Paint gets daubed on the canvas... but the blurry edge of reality is freaky enough that she really has to start adding it to the painting rather than really ignoring things.
Opening her mouth Cricket is about to respond to Pim. But the surge and the blurring of realties as the veil thins and is moved aside catches her full attention. The older woman tilts her head to the side. A soft frown touches her lips. Her nostrils flare slightly. She is lost in thought for a moment. Analyzing, cataloging the moment as her six and even seven sense flare to life. He frown deepens, though the warm spring air moves around her.
Molly is busy drying herself off in a flurry of toweling, with her spectacles perched atop her knapsack. When she puts them back on, however, her expression immediately changes. "...What this time?" she mumbles, dropping the now dampened towel onto the grass. She hurriedly squeezes her feet into her boots, before she steps up away from the river. The student glances about herself for a moment, before she turns to approach the first familiar faces she sees. "Pim, Auggie," she calls out as she approaches. "Did you two just see that?" As she gets closer, she dips her voice so she isn't telling the whole world. "It's like the world is warping. Just the world though, not the people."
Auggie stopped her dancing step, freezing in place as she started to sniff at the air. Blinky a couple of things, she scanned from person to person, distorted to untouched. "I swear, Pim, they were field mushrooms. Innocent field mushrooms looking for a home with the beef wellington." She paused again to lift her chin and sniff at the air once more. "Glamour? Glamour would make more sense." Lifting her hand, she offered a nervous wave to Cricket as well. As Molly approached, Auggie gave her a slow nod, "I think so... Unless you had field mushrooms as well."
The distorted people in the distance begin to blur into amorphous colors and shapes, the riverside blurring into a fuzzy tesselation of geometric patterns. The little slice of paradise on the waterfront starts to wash around your feet like beach sand when the tide comes in, the grass and flowers and trees melting into the warm eddy at your ankles. Each step feels like walking the beach on a hot day, or dipping a toe into a hot bubble bath.
The sky and landscape itself is completely bowed and bent into a sphere, the light coming through oddly stationary, what was captured from the park all that remains for illumination. Then, all of a sudden, the eddies of sand and water begin spiraling downward, a whirlpool sucking fiercely downwards toward...something beneath.
Victor glances towards Molly as her voice lifts the first time. Noting Pim and Auggie as well as her path is tracked, he turns to start walking towards them, though not without paying some attention to the environment. Not yet speaking as he approaches. When he gets closer, he starts to speak, but.. "Be ca-" His words stopping abruptly as the running colors start to whirlpool. His expression tensing, arms akimbo as he fights to keep his feet. He can't keep himself in this world, but he'll be damned if he's going into this on his ass.
Pim nodded to Molly and offered her a curious "Da, I definitely see this., a slight frown etching her brow with previously unseen lines as she took a step towards Cricket, only to find that the ground beneath her seemed to become a sucking chest wound on the earth. A sharp, sudden sound that was almost a squawk escaped the raven haired women when she suddenly seemed to just poof out of where she'd been standing. Her brightly colored shorts and Tshirt fell to the sinking mud as a tiny, rapidly flapping bird rose up into the air. Surveying the situation, the tiny PimShrike let out a call that was disturbingly close to a nightingale's and circled a time or two as people were sucked into the swirl of apparent doom below them. Still, as the people she cared for were taken, PimShrike seemed to make a decision and followed suit, but at her own speed, careful not to get caught up by an eddy of erosion with her quickly darting movements. Friends don't let friends get eaten by the ground alone, after all.
YT ignoring the weird... while painting the weird... sitting on a stool doesn't really lead one to quickly avoiding sinkholes. "AHHHHHHH!" she screams, yup the screaming part is starting. As the mud and water sweep the stool from under her and send her spinning along towards the hole at the center of the vortex.
Lost in thought, Cricket manages to realize too late that she is falling or that the ground is rising to greet her. She it hits it. The now boiling moving oozing mud splashes and covers her navy-blue suit, her skin and hair. She now looks like a college kid who is about to go to a mud wrestling match. "Bloody hell!" She is now is reaching for her briefcase or trying too. The picnic basket is forgotten. "Nothing is broken." She mutters to herself.
"Well, it's wei-aaaAAAUGGH!!" Molly flails her arms out to either side as the plug is abruptly pulled on the world and it swirls down the drain in a sudden and violent vortex. After her initial scream she just sort of sucks in a breath and holds it, while somehow finding the presence of mind to wish she'd brought her camera. Better luck next time, Molly! By the time everything has settled down, anyone watching might not be faulted for thinking that Molly had, in the meantime, grown a pair of wings; she lands on her feet in a half-crouch, with enough grace and poise to make a snow leopard jealous. She straightens, and dusts herself off, taking a moment while she's at it to pull one of her bikini straps back up onto her shoulder. "Alright," she muses, glancing about herself, "Where are we? Is everyone alright? And oh, hi Victor. Glad you could come." She glances over to one side, "Hey, YT! Over here."
Auggie blinked as Pim went to the sky, turning her head to glance at her pink rucksack. "I'm electing going down with the ship... Or my pack." Watching the earth distort under her feet, she gave a worried hum. "They were from the farmer's market!" And then she went a sliding, extending an arm to the ground to stay mostly upright and try to move away from the center.
Gerry is within sight of the group when the world swirls into chaos, with the ground giving way beneath some people and rising to smack others in the face. When Cricket stumbles, he lurches toward her, stabbing at the rebellious ground with the tip of his walking cane, and clutching the strap of his satchel with his left hand. "By all that is holy!" he exclaims. He glances around him. "What happened? This is not how we should greet the arrival of spring!" he grumbles.
The landing beneath the whirlpool (for those without the powers of flight) is...surprisingly pleasant. Soft, a little bit bouncy, and fluffy. A massive divan, laden with cushions and pillows of silk and velvet and every sumptuous texture imaginable. Smiling women with gentle eyes and warm smiles, dressed in crisp white uniforms, greet everyone with a puffy cotton robe, embroidered with everyone's initials. The room is lit entirely by candles, and it's permeated by peaceful music and warm smells of home and comfort. Waterfalls tumble over rocks in fixtures throughout the dim room. Massage tables and heated tubs await, as do steaming cups of tea, cocoa, cider; cool juices and ice water.
Between two giant white pillar candles and surrounded by purple orchids, five oil lamps sit, unlit.
"Welcome to our spa," greets one of the women, rather plain of face but with a kind smile. "We hope you will be comfortable here. We wanted to make your visit as comfortable as possible, because we must ask you to consider uncomfortable things for the brief time you are with us. We wish to speak to you...to warn you. About Hell."
Victor's landing is lacking in grace, but his muddied boots stick the landing, even if he weaves a moment before catching his balance. Only then, straightening and squaring his shoulders, does he glance around. Almost immediately the environment prompts a frown. And that only deepens when he looks at the 'woman' speaking to them. Without looking to the others he states, "Be extremely careful. Nothing here is what it seems." A bold statement, but he seems certain of his conclusion. The next moment he glances around, attempting to take in the environment more closely. Seeking any clues.
PimShrike, having not come to a padded landing, lofted down on her wings and made slow, lazy spiral patterns through the air to get a good lay of the land with her sharp bird's eyes. Her bright green, white, black and gray markings were easily visible as her feathers moved in the current created by her movement and she made sharp calls into the room as if she were testing something. Finally, she came to a stop as she landed on Auggie's shoulder, fluffing her feathers out a bit before she turned her head and bit at Auggie's earlobe, not having to bother with getting around the blond woman's hair because it was up in a makeshift bun. The bite didn't go deep enough to draw blood, but it was definitely there, and able to be felt because of that hooked beak of hers. A moment later she let go to whisper softly in a strange, high voice that sounded almost like a hum.
YT stands and rings the mud and water from her mohawk as she looks at Molly and sighs "Oh look someone familiar to anchor me while my delusions run rampant... at least this time they just want to do my hair.. warn me about hell... and I duno probably eat my brains or something." she says in that tone of voice halfway between alto and tennor that makes it so hard to determine her gender easily.
Managing to grab hold of the briefcase, Cricket tries to reach for Gerry as the ground swallows her whole and then there is a soft landing that feels like the softest of feather beds. Her blue eyes are round like saucers. She sits there on the feathered pillows for a moment. Taking mental notes and making sure nothing is broken. Her mind races to recall the voices she heard before the power grabbed at her mind. "Pim, Molly, Auggie, Gerald! Are you all okay? I think I heard a Victor in there." Her mouth opens and then closes.
Cricket blinks as he takes in her new surroundings. Her nostrils flare again. Her ears are working, when she hears the woman speak, she turns her head in the direction of the woman. She frowns but her weighted gaze is on the stranger. "Lou, the imp of the perverse, has been busy lately, that is not new news. We should always be wary when the he is active along with those of that plane." She manages to get out once she finds her voice and gathers her wits about her. With effort, she tries to get up off the pillows. Her hand not letting go of her precious (briefcase). She turns her head to look at YT careful not to meet her gaze. "Not a delusion, hate to pop that bubble of yours but there is no choice at the moment. You might be able to call it a bad or odd dream later..."
Molly waves a hand and shakes her head, "Thanks, but I'm okay," she murmurs, turning down the offer of a robe. She observes the white-clad women passively for a moment, before taking a step back to bring her alongside YT. "THey seem genuine enough about their intentions," she murmurs, "At least so far. But this *is* actually real, YT... call it a delusion later if you want to, but treat it as real now. Trust me on this one." She bumps her hand against YT's, letting her know a hand is available to be held if she should wish. "So... what is it about Hell that you wish to discuss?" she inquires, addressing one of the women directly.
Sliding down to the comfy bottom, Auggie landed with some grace, her gold eyes scanned the room and her lips moving as she counted in silence. Another worried tone bubbled out of her even as Pimbird landed on her shoulder. "And I've been long of the opinion that hell is Faerie adj--" A yelp came out as the shrike bite her earlobe. "I'm awake..." She cleared her throat and rubbed at her cheek, offering a slight nod to Cricket as not to attract the shrike's attention to a moving target. "Mostly fine, thank you." She gently cleared her throat. "Faerie has a sort of rule to it. The more beautiful the place, the more dangerous it is..." She scanned the room again from one creature comfort to the next before her gaze settled on the welcoming woman. "I must respectfully decline your offerings of comforting and potentially your warning... It seems like a road thoroughly paved with good intentions."
Gerry thuds head-first, but he rolls reflexively to one side, as if years of practice prepared him for handling such falls. Again, he jabs the walking stick into the pillowy surface while he rises to his feet. He squints at their odd host and frowns. He looks to Auggie and nods. "By that rule, then, Miss, this place is a veritable death-trap," he grouses. He shakes his head and steps clsoer to Cricket. Returning his attention to one of their attendants, he agrees with the others. "We should dispense with the pleasantries and hear your warning if you have one for us. This is no time for tea and crumpets."
The women in white mill about, offering beverages or taking up stations beside the massage tables. One takes the robes away as she's waved off by Molly, another offers clean, fluffy white towels to help with the mud and "To help preserve the furnishings," as one says with a smile.
The first oil lamp ignites, a gentle, soft blue glow spilling onto the floor.
"You are wise to be skeptical, though I assure you our accommodations are top-notch, and offered freely without expectation of reciprocity or any obligation on your part," the kindly smiling woman replies to Auggie with a nod to Cricket and Gerry and the other skeptics. "Very well, we will speak plainly. Sit, and let us converse. The Seven Princes of Hell, those your world knows best as the seven deadly sins, wish to claim your Oxford. But you know this already. Hell is biding its time, but it will come again, and the remaining sins are not so overt as their brethren."
Victor immediately starts to investigate the room, bypassing the 'host' and taking a quick tour around. Not looking at what a tourist usually would. The refreshments, the comforts, the friendly faces. He's examining the place itself, the corners. Professionally, with a quick eye that snaps from place to place, quickly dismissing things that don't, for now, hold any importance. There is a pause at one spot, his eyes lingering as he notes something. But for now it's not lingering for too long. But its presence is noted. He's quickly back near the others and ends up eyeballing the spokes.. thing for this place.
Ultimately, listening to what is said, he states, "If you're going to tell us something, tell the whole truth. I can tell you're hedging because I know a thing or two about not telling the whole truth. And I can smell a liar easier than most." He's not rude in tone, but is words are direct and to the point without being overtly hostile. "If you want to prove that you're not just one of those subtle tricks, you'd better be frank. Verifiable is even better. Because proof trumps all. Otherwise, how can we trust anything you say? Why should we?" His mistrust is obvious.
PimShrike popped off of Auggie's shoulders, then slowly fluttered her way to the ground. A few moments later the tiny Shrike morphed its way to being Pim again, standing next to Auggie and naked, her fingertips fluttering slightly as she looked around the room with a darting gaze more befitting a bird than the raven haired woman she was. Running her hands through her hair to make it positively a shambles, she looked around the room and back to the woman that was speaking to them. "I find it interesting you want us so relaxed. I get it, easier to handle people when they are comfortable. I tend to be the one suggestion that people relax though, and I know why I do so. I cannot imagine that you, being some sort of emmisary of Hell, have better intentions than I do when I make the recommendation of relaxation to others." Pim's grin was positively cheeky, and barely hid her teeth as she looked at the others gathered and then even nodded to Victor. "I would think the simple answer there is that we should not, Vic. Trusting anything from the mouths of strangers admittedly affiliated in some way with hell would be a terrible idea." Instead of sitting down, Pim remained standing, not bothering to go and find the discarded clothing that had fallen down the rabbit hole with them.
YT sits down on a pillow rests her hands on her knees. "Get talking... the more we hear the easier it will be for me to find the hook in your tempting tempting spa bait." she says. Her fingers drumming on her knees as she stares at the spa demons or whatever they might be.
With Gerry's near her and his hand reaching for her. Cricket uses his help to get back on to her feet. She stays close to him, holding on to his arm and using his sturdy frame to balance herself with as they navigate their way off the pile of pillows. "I would also will be declining the offer the delightful treats, though the offer of a bath is tempting after the mud, along with the towels. I want to thank you for that." She offers a bow of her head to their hosts, her manner and tone is polite.
Once again on firm ground she leans against Gerry for a moment before she takes one of the offered towels. "Thank you!" The briefcase is wiped off first and set on the ground between her legs before she begins to use the towel to wipe away the mud. She is listening to the flow of conversation. The brown thick gunk is wiped from her hands then her face. She looks thoughtful for a moment. Then she speaks.
"Yes they have been thwarted from what I have learned. What of good old Lou? He is considered the Sin of Pride, since he was cast out of heaven. He likes his playground but seems to be just doing his normal deals. The next question is why Oxford? There are better places in the world that would show the base of human nature that Princes represent. The next question is who are you, why the warning? Why this? My companions have a very good point." The older woman seems calm as she continues to wipe away the gunk. She casts a side long glance and Gerry, a small slight nod of her head is given to him.
Molly bites her bottom lip and hrrrrms softly. She clasps her hands behind her back as she listens, tapping oen foot in thought. "I don't know," she mumbles. "I mean you seem genuine enough, but blimey, that's exactly what I'd expect one of the three remaining sins to be like." She shifts her hands to her hips, glancing up and around at the surroundings, "And you didn't precisely ask before taking us here, which is never a good sign to me." She dips her gaze once more, and adjusts her spectacles. "You *seem* genuine enough, but it still doesn't make sense. The methods of the White God and his angels have always been strict non-interference, and reliance on we humans to make the right choices ourselves. So who do you represent, then?"
Free of the PimShrike, Auggie was able to make movements as normal and avoid being suddenly grabbed by a hooked beak. She looked around the room with her golden hued eyes training over details as she listened to people speaking. A nod of her head was all she gave to both Victor and Pim's suggestions that this was nothing to be trusted. "Despite all of your promises that it costs nothing, I'll still not accept anything, though I thank you for your offer." Drawing in a deep breath, she shook her head. "Death trap I assigned to 7. This is more of an 8.5 on the scale." Auggie looked up to where they were dropped in. "I'm the sort that has to give when receiving."
"So the others are coming, and they will take more subtle form than those who have troubled us so far," Gerry concludes, eyeing their host. He yanks the tip of his cane free from the candy floss and then clasps his fingers around Cricket's arm to stabilize her while she works on cleaning the mud from herself. "What is your stake in all of this?" he questions, looking to the host. "Do you have more to share? Do you seek allies? If so, what are your terms, and why should we trust you?" He glances to Victor and nods. Then he looks to Cricket. "Just a moment, love," he murmurs. Pinching his cane between his knees to free both hands, he removes his long, button-down cardigan and tosses it toward Pim. "There you are, lass," he says generously.
As the second lamp flares to life, the woman with the kind smile...smiles kindly. "You have been hurt so much, you are nothing left but walls. We cannot make you trust, we can only offer. Proof, you ask?" She glances between Victor and Pim. "Ask what you will, then. We will answer. Will this make you trust us? We all know it will not, in truth." A smile for YT. "But we will do it anyway. Besides, what else will you do while you're here?"
She turns then to Cricket, her face eternally patient in the blue light of the two glowing lamps. "Lu is not the Master of this place, though he often quarrels with the Princes of these demesnes" she offers, "And Oxford is a very special place. The servants of the Prince can easily pass from their demesne into Oxford, and the reverse is also true. The easier to assimilate them, should the time come. The Veil is thinner there. As to why we are warning you? Why, because it is our purpose. The reason we were created by our Master, who we represent."
This last to Molly.Two more women in white raise candles to a mural, by all appearances the sign for the place, with ancient letters carved into the wood of the wall. She looks to Gerry finally, and says, "We offer information, and seek no terms, for terms are not our purpose. Our stake? Our stake is to fulfill the purpose for which we were created, which is to welcome you here, and offer you our warning, and information, as well all the comforts you could desire."
"I've got a few questions," Victor notes. He crosses his arms over his chest. "Firstly, why pull us into this place in the way you did, rather than meet us in our world? You had to know pulling us in here would set our guard up. Because that's what was done before. So doing this is, to be frank, not smart if you're portraying yourself as an ally." A beat before he continues. "Who is your master and why does he want to help us?" A beat before he adds, eyes narrowing, "How do I destroy the foothold they have? I've had men watching it since it was created. I want it gone. And don't hold back any possibilities, no matter how costly. I have a lot to spend." He pauses then, the initial trio a good enough starting point. And for now, he focuses on the spokes-something. Gauging it's expression, tone.. everything.
Since it came from a trusted source, Pim caught the cardigan Gerry threw her way and gave him a wide grin. "Why Gerry, multumesc. You could be a stand in for Richard Gere any day." She bowed her head gently to him and pulled on the cardigan to protect other people's sense of decency, as her own wasn't harmed in the slightest. She was buttoning up the front of the shirt when her head tilted to the side as if she were listening to the woman asking questions about what would make them trustworthy. "Hmm, I do not believe you could really convince me of it, even if given a full day and night of attention." Looking up at the ceiling, the swirling whirlpool that had dropped them into this HellSpa, she frowned, then she looked at the walls. "Alright well. Since I'm fairly sure that only a couple of us can fly, and only a couple of us can breathe underwater, there is an issue we should likely pay attention to. Now. There is water hitting the walls of this room, outside, and it has risen, and become more violent since we have been in here." Pim looked around at the others gathered and smiled softly. "Let us look around for something we might use for a diving bell, or perhaps a set of climbing gear? I can fly up and hold a ladder or rope for people to climb if needed." She pointed up at the swirly exit over top. "I am going to see if I can find an exit that is less like a reverse flush. That one seems difficult at best." And then she began walking towards the darkness just beyond the light.
YT sits and rests her chin on her fists. "Okay, so lets start with who is your daddy and what does he do?" she says to the 'staff' here. "I think that's a good starting point, then get onto where you tell us preciscly what you're hoping to tell us, then you show us the way home so I can get back to just thinking of hell as a bad place for Christians to go when they disappoint themselves before dying."
With the murmured words to her, Cricket stops the process of cleaning. She waits for Gerry take his cardigan off. Once he is free of his sweater she uses him for balance again as she goes back to cleaning herself off and listening. Something, the woman says to her and that patience and the way the woman looked at her, causes Cricket's gaze to come and rest on her. Her expression is thoughtful and her eyes narrow for a moment. Her breath slows. She then answers, "We have all noticed how thin it is. I would say it is akin to shredded gauzy curtain. You are proof of that, along with them and the hell hounds." She looks to Victor. "If they are what I think they are, they have rules they need to follow. Everything is governed by rules." She say this with a slight quiet smile on her lips. She casts a glance to Pim and looks up. "I have not noticed." She turns her gaze back to their speaking hostess. She casts a quick look to YT. "It is a bad place for anyone does not matter what you believe in." A look is given to Molly and then Victor. That gaze of her goes back to the woman.
"I can neither fly nor breath underwater, but I was actually practicing holding my breath earlier this morning, so there is that," Molly murmurs. As Pim is putting on the cardigan her eyes do widen, just a bit; a naked Pim is... always pretty... pretty good. To look at. Yes. She shakes her head, and looks back to the hostess. "And, yes, rules. Always rules, everything always so well governed by rules, and everyone always seems to know the rules and how to bend them, except for us. Nobody ever seems overly keen to help out the human race with those details..." she cocks an eyebrow, and plants her hands on her hips once more. "Alright, I think we should accept help, this time around. Everyone can use a little help sometimes, Lord knows I can. But, while we're talking, do you have a Bible handy? I left mine at home, I feel it would be helpful here."
Auggie frowned a touch, rolling a shoulder out of her rucksack to slide it in front of her to dig into it for a couple of towels and a rolled up overcoat. "On the otherhand, we know it's a demense now, so if anyone wants to scare me near the point of hysteria I may be able to get us out of here." She nodded to herself, she unslung her rucksack and started walking beyond the circle of comfort and warmth to whether was the darkest and more uncomfortable places. "Claustrophobia maybe? On the other hand we have towels and water... Is anyone feeling particularly anti-social and has been holding a grudge against me? Waterboarding seems like the way to go if we want to expedite our escape. That's, of course, if everyone else is alright with the lanterns lighting one by one..."
Gerry nods to Cricket when she hints at her suspicion. When Pim catches the cardigan, he bows to her. "You are most welcome," he answers. He waits until Cricket finishes her tidying, and then drops his satchel to his feet. Kneeling, he opens it and rummages briefly before he removes a thick, well-worn book. "Some things should be standard equipment," he comments. With the book and his cane in one hand, he hoists his satchel onto his shoulder again. "Here, Miss." He offers the book to Molly. Then he tilts his head upward to peer at their point of entry. He frowns. "Whater is tricky, but not entirely unmanageable," he concludes. From the inverse funnel, he returns his gaze to the strangers. "Please, tell us what we need to know, and how we can deal with this intrusion."
The third lamp flares to life, and the floor begins to rumble.
The kindly smiling woman folds her hands and sets to answering questions, as promised. "If we had asked you to come, you would not have come," she tells Victor, "Our master- " she points again to the mural on the wall. "Acedia." She paces a few feet, uncomfortable for the first time. "To destroy a foothold, you simply need forgiv-" and the kindly smiling woman halts, goes entirely rigid, and falls face first into the water of a bubbling pool.
Another woman, with a sweet face, steps in to take her place, and answers YT. "Our Daddy is our Mother is our Master, Acedia. Acedia does nothing. Acedia is. The way home...is beyond our control." She simply smiles over at Pim where the Romanian woman is searching. "Look to your own-" and the sweet faced woman goes limp, lifeless, and drops over a stone waterfall like a doll with too little stuffing. So it is a third woman, this one with serene eyes, who answers Gerry. "What you must know?" Her empty, gentle eyes shine briefly with fear before she answers. "You must know that we are a distrac-" Another lifeless body falls to the ground.
"Rules are made to be broken or bent," Victor murmurs, his eyes flicking towards Cricket briefly. Then.. the things here start to drop like discarded toys. Which unnerves Victor. In a more general sense than as if he cared for their lives as people. Just.. the oddness of the event itself. And how the others do not seem to care, simply stepping up to continue speaking as if they share some emotionless hivemind. The last one pulls at his attention. "Distraction.." He turns, scanning his companions. "We need to get out of here now. This is going sideways." Though he seems uncertain how to do that, his attention sliding outward to scan the area.
Pim frowned slightly and turned to look at Victor, raising her brows. "Vic, I JUST said that. The water is going to likely cause this to be a very bad day. We need to find a way out, or something that people can use to float on. Or perhaps diving masks or a diving bell. Something to keep the people that cannot breathe underwater alive." Looking at Auggie, Pim chuckled "I do not suppose you have added a life raft to your kit, Lubirea?" She winked and started examining everything and anything, looking for wood, floatable items, and then finally going over to check if the cushions could come up to be used as personal flotation devices, like they could on an airplane. Cursing colorfully under her breath in Romanian, Pim shook her head. "These people did not plan for a water landing." Narrowing her eyes, she peered into the darkness, then stood up and walked until she was engulfed by the shadows surrounding the room. The sound of someone moving things around was obvious, as Pim wasn't attempting to be stealthy as she worked to find a way to keep people from drowning.
YT nods her head "Yup... distraction... knew it..." she sighs "And now's where the second screaming and running and trying not to die bit... with the hallucinogenic spit or the giant claws or gnawing hunger..."
Cricket's eyes go wide for a moment. Letting out gasp Cricket rubs her temples; there is a pallor to her. "Time to go." Cricket says quickly, there is a change to her tone that is leaning toward panic. "Time to get out, time is literally running out. You were all right." She reaches down to open up her briefcase, from it she pulls out a smithing hammer. Her rough calloused hands wrap around it its handle. With her other hand she closes the case. "We need earth air, water and way to get to the other side of the veil and quick. Welcome to hell." She waivers a little on her feet and her face is pale. "Ger-Bear bubble of air around us my love? I need a bath in holy water after this." Her hands are shaking. "Time to go. Thank be to god the fey have us all trained not to eat anything that is offered. I have some ideas. I am going to church after this."
Molly pushes her spectacles further up her nose as she accepts the Bible from Gerry. "Thank you very much," she says aloud, the lowers her voice to add, "I wanted to see if -they- could give me one, though."
Auggie grimaced as the rambling continued and she hummed a worried sound. "That's a bit closer to the feelings necessary. We may have to wait until everyone is screaming and in a panic if I'm the one that is going to edge out the door." Moving over to Gerry and Cricket, she took a deep breath. "I have a bottle of holy water, though pouring it out may not have the best results at this location." Fumbling with her pack again, she started trading out her towels and overcoat for bottles of water, one marked with an 'H'.
Molly pushes her spectacles further up her nose as she accepts the Bible from Gerry. "Thank you very much," she says aloud, the lowers her voice to add, "I wanted to see if -they- could give me one, though." She perks an eyebrow upwards, before she flips the Bible open anyway. Might as well make use of it, while Pim is working on a more physical means to stave off drowning. "YT, you might want to help Pim," she murmurs, "She might need assistance of a more physical nature." She flips hurriedly to one section, and humms softly, "Well, it does say in here that demons can't stand water. So it seems unlikely that any of the Sins are present, given that they're trying to kill us with, y'know, water. So who *is* trying to murder the lot of us?"
"We've no time to lose," he concludes, looking to Cricket and Auggie. "Let's shed some light on this subject, shall we?" Raising the point of his cane overhead, he murmurs a command to conjure a bright blue-white ball of light at the tip.
The fourth lamp illuminates, this one casting a sickly green glow. Time is running out, and cracks begin appearing in the walls that let in gushing spurts of brackish water that smells strongly of brimstone. The women in white stand serene as ever, even as three of their number lay lifeless around them and water begins to pool around their feet.
Pim had found what she was looking for in the darkness, and as she started stepping out into the light, the light decided to come up and greet her in the face. Luckily, she'd spotted a wizard lifting a staff-like object, and that's never good, right? She turned her head to the side in time to avoid being blinded by the glaring brightness that Gerry called forth from the power he held. In Pim's arms were some two by fours and a couple of sheets of plywood, several of them, with her arm muscles straining to hold them tight. "There is more, come help me. We can at least get something together that floats. I will be alright, so I do not need to be on the raft device. Auggie, can you get your rope out of your backpack please? We can tie these together. Or at least a couple of them with what you have." She flopped the boards down onto the cushions and went back to the now rather illuminated pile of discarded wood to pick up more and bring it over. "HURRY we do not have any time, the water is Angry outside and it will be angrier in here, when it kills the air!"
YT everyones scrambling, the bright light is fighting the dark, and the artist notices things getting worse with more lanterns... not more light. She jogs over to the lanterns peeling off her sodden shirt before twisting it into a rattail to start ringing water out over the lanterns starting with the green one. No lanterns no increase in terribleness... it's logic.
The lanterns fizzle as the water from YT's shirt extinguishes each flame, giving off the scent of sulfur before flickering out. As the light dims in the fourth lantern, there is a hiss of steam, then silence. And a strangely dark patch amidst the light. The water pouring in slows...and sulfurous, acid fumes begin leaking out of the extinguished lamps.
Victor goes at once to the rope he spotted earlier, snapping it up. He glances down as Gerry summons his light, but only pauses a moment before he straightens. "I don't know about air, but we still have the way we came in and I saw this earlier." He lifts the heavy coil of rope. "I just need something to serve as a grapnel. And someone who can throw hard and accurately. The further up and out you can get it, the more chances we'll hook something solid." He eyes Pim's collection and notes, "How are we going to keep the raft in one place to go up through there?" He glances up, then around as there is no darkness anymore. Some kind of hook..
Cricket looked away before the light spell was cast. "Careful, everything here is a hellish creation. That is not oil in the lamps. I would not want to touch the water." She points out the obvious. She is looking thoughtful. "Whatever is behind the puppets is powerful. We are in an hourglass." She explains a little more. Her hands grip her hammer tightly. Her ruby earring look lifeless and black. She has a far-off gaze in her eyes. Wavering on her feet she reaches out to grab Gerry's arm tightly with he her free hand. "We need to move. Cap the lanterns, fumes are eating away through everything, including the walls, not to mention what it is doing to the air supply. I need dirt off of you. Handfulls, if you can get it." Steady she lets go of him, but stays very close to him.
"Actually, in the verse I'm looking up, Jesus drove demons into a herd of swine, and--" Molly cuts off, as Cricket goes through her explaination, and hunhs softly. "Nevermind." She snaps the Bible closed, and sighs softly. "Hey, I know you never interfere, but now would be a pretty good time for some help," she murmurs, before handing the book back to Gerry with a thanks. "Try not to get it wet," she adds. "Better hurry if we're going to avoid touching the water, it's already slowing up around our feet." She scratches the back of her head, and trudges through the water to one of the still-standing white clad women. "Hey, you there. Since you said you'd answer our questions, answer this one; how do we get out?"
Auggie blinked a couple of times before offering a nod to Pim. Twisting her backpack in front of her, digging out the rope to start lashing wood together as quickly as she could. "Oh, the smell of brimstone... I've just pretend someone was setting off fireworks. They were pretty... Pretty showers of white, reds and yellows. There may have been a farmer that accidently covered himself in red paint. He had an implement for moving hay... He may have been a music lover because he couldn't stop talking about the greatest song in the world... Though he was muttering, rather than singing... He probably forgot the words." At this point, Auggie was just prattling on as she attempted to build a raft in haste. She sniffed at the air again as the lanterns were extinguished, "That's not a good smell... More fireworks?"
Gerry continues to hold his came aloft while he accepts the Bible from Molly. ""You're quite welcome," he answers. He turns to look to Cricket. He frowns at her. "Stay close, love," he urges. When Molly attempts to interrogate the remaining women, he eyes their hosts. "If you want us to help with defending Oxford, then we need any help that you can give," he calls.
"Up," a nearby woman in white tells Molly, pointing at the whirlpool opening. "You must go up. Or elsewhere. Or you will die. We do not want you to die. We want you to be comfortable." The poppet futilely offers Molly a cup of hot tea as acid water swirls around the doll's legs and starts to burn them, trying to fulfill its only purpose in its last moments. Another appears from the edges of the room and offers a tarp to YT, and a third offers a bag of nails to Gerry. "We hope these will make you comfortable," the poppets chime in unison, with their warm, gentle smiles and empty eyes.
And that's when the final lantern illuminates. No gentle glow, here. The fifth lantern churns with bubbling, boiling sulfurous water and then explodes, a massive fountain of water filling the room like a fishbowl.
And water isn't all that the final lantern let in. A shimmering, iridescent sea snake the size of a crocodile begins slithering up where the lantern once was.
Witney dropped Languor.
Victor spots what he needs. Perhaps better than he could have hoped for, jogging his way over to a corner of the room where.. there is an anchor. A good thirty pound hunk of metal. With just one arm, the other holding the rope, it takes him a moment to drag it up to a point where he can heft it up. "Forget the raft. We don't have that kind of time and we can't keep it under the whirlpool to go up through it." He huffs his way back towards the point just underneath the only obvious exit and drops both the anchor and the length of heavy rope. Looking towards Pim he says, "You can change into a powerful shape. Can you throw this up through the whirlpool hard enough to give us a good chance of hooking something? Because I can't throw this thing that far." He doesn't wait for an answer, already looking to bind a simple, double knot to the anchor to make a makeshift grappling hook. "We can be out of here before the water gets high enough for the raft." He notices, as the water rises, that it's making his boots smoke. That gives him pause. "We need things to stand on."
He casts about and says, "Pull some tables over. We can get on them. That should give us enough time to get it hooked and climb out of here." He gets the ball rolling himself, snagging the table nearest where he is to pull it over under the whirlpool before stepping up onto it.
Pim looked over at Victor for a moment, the rope and anchor in his hand, and then to Auggie. "Give them both to me, and stand back a moment, I don't want to knock anyone out." Stripping out of the sweater she'd been given by Gerry, Pim tossed it towards him on the cushions nearby and the proceeded to become something that was not at all like her human form. A few blinks went by before there was a truly massive dragon standing where she once was, well over 8 feet tall with huge, viciously spiked wings and a long, sweeping tail. Long, clawed fingers wrapped around the anchor in Victor's hand as she pulled it away from him with the effort one would put into picking a daisy. Next, she took the end of the rope from Auggie. Glancing around herself with smoke trailing from her mouth and nasal sockets, she let out a grinding voice that vibrated the floor due to the massive size of her chest. "BACK!" And then she leapt. Straight up into the air, her powerful legs kicked her a good 10 feet, and then her wings unfurled and shoved a heavy wave of air downwards towards the water and her friends below before she quickly pushed higher into the air, going up until the whirlpool above them engulfed her. The last view of Pim was a swipe of her tail, and then there were just the two ropes left hanging down into the plush and soon to be waterlogged HellSpa.
YT throws her shirt at the last lantern. Then grins at the poppet's words, the topless woman taking the tarp, and kisses the doll on the cheek "Thank's luv." she says as she starts to run for the raft. It's still hard to tell that YT's a girl, tho explaining the body tape holding her breasts flat and towards the outsides of her ribs might be complicated to explain to someone who thinks she's a man. She runs with the Tarp from the water spewing from the lanterns she was extinguishing.
Cricket's knees grow weak for a moment. All her weight goes against Gerry as she uses him as her anchor. She winces. "Shite." She has eyes on the last lantern and the snake. "Careful, I see you and know what you are." She murmurs to it. "Not a wise idea Hell beast. Others are above and will not like you coming to the surface, they will bind you. They are waiting at the mount." She then reminds them. "My friends we have a visitor, hold on to hope and keep your faith in whatever you believe in strong. It wants us dead and it wants a way out." She closes her eyes. Opening them she begins to scape any dirt she can find off of her and she holds it in her hand. To YT she says. "Step away from that last lantern, back away slowy, becareful near it." She begins to gather magic to her.
"YT, Get to the ropes, we need to leave!" Molly adjsuts her spectacles, as she hops up onto a table. Not that everyone else doesn't need to leave, but there is definitely extra concern on Molly's mind for the one person who is at least partly convinced that this isn't real. "Test the ropes Pim fly up and out with, make sure they're tied off," she urges. As she stands, she gazes back down at the snake emerging from where the lantern had been. Her eyes narrow, and she coughs softly, clearing her throat. "Acedia. Of course. Latin; for Sloth." She draws herself up and squares her shoulders. "Well, know this, Sin. I may be only a mortal, and be as nothing to half the people in this room, but I will never rest idle, not while the sorry likes of you and your kind threaten my friends, and if you come near any of them now, I won't rest until you're chopped up into tiny little pieces, if I have to rip you apart with my bare hands. So think about *that*."
Once plans start falling apart, Auggie groans and immediately starts stripping out of her sun dress and boots, stuffing them all in her backpack. Taking a hissing breath her hair blackened and scales of transparent obsidian grew over her skin as her frame stretched and muscles expanded. Spiraling horns grew from her forehead, curving over her head. From her shoulder blades, arm-like appendages grow, a blackening membrane growing between the 'fingers' until they formed into wings. Sniffing animalistically at the air, a growl rumbled in her chest. Her slitted gold eyes moved from one person to the next, settling on Cricket that seemed to be buckling under her own waste. Grabbing her pack, she flung it into Cricket's arms, "Not sure if you're going to make it up the road." Without another word, she scooped up Cricket like she was going to carry her off the threshold. Zmeugie's wings started beating at the air, as she slowly came off the ground and up to anywhere but here.
After catching the sweater from Him, Gerry looks around him to find a dry path. Then he steps quickly backward, leading Cricket by the hand. "Grab the rope!" he urges her. Then, looking to Auggie, he queries, "You mentioned holy water." Looking to the snake, he suggests, "/That/ might need a good bath." When he turns back toward Auggie, and sees that the woman has transformed into another mythical form and grabbed Cricket, he sets his jaw and nods. "Right," he concludes. He shifts his own satchel so that he can dig into it, he stows the Bible and pulls out a large bottle of his own. He unscrews the cap, and with a jerking motion, splashes water on the creature. "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," he shouts, "depart from us!" He squeezes the bottle with his full strength to force the water through that small opening.
The sulfuric acid water continued to rise, now nearly 3 feet, and threatening to start cresting the high places and shelter of the cushioned divan. The makeshift raft bobbed on the waves that started to lap at it while the poppets were halfway consumed by the rising tide.
"The Massssster bids you ssssstay and resssssst," the sea serpent hisses with a surprisingly alluring tone. Then...then Gerry splashes Holy Water on the Hellbeast, in the Hell demesne of one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The effect on the creature is immediate, as it wildly thrashes away.. But perhaps not as much as the effect on the Hell Construct of the hourglass itself. What water didn't hit the serpent...hit the wall, and might as well have been C4. A violent explosion ensues, and the room fills with fresh water from the outside.
If there's a silver lining, at least the acid is diluted enough to not eat through flesh. But the bottom bulb of the hourglass is now all but full. Time is up.
Victor gives over the anchor and rope without question, backing up to a nearby table via a cushion. There, he hunkers down for stability against Pim's ascent and glances towards the others. First he notes Molly nearby. "When the rope stops reeling, you're going up first." He then looks to YT. "Then you." He nods to Gerry. "Then you. Get over here, people, we're not waiting around. It's now or never." With Auggie focused on Cricket, that shortens the queue. He moves a bit on his own table, making room for the indicated to make their way over close to the ropes. Gerry has some time to do what he has to do, but not much. Noting the ropea become stationary, he shouts, "Now! Let's go, get up those ropes!" Because ladies first. Well, one lady, the other assumed. Vic hasn't been paying attention to such things.
After anchoring the ropes somewhere out side of the world of quicksand mud and swirling whirlpools and sulferic muck, PimDragon came back into the lower half of the room. She whirled her way around the ropes with a disturbingly serpentile motion, then shifted to be out of Zmeuggie's flightline as she already had a passenger. Scanning the area and seeing no immediate threats to life or limb other than aspirating water, she moved towards the people climbing the ropes and headed straight for Victor, as he was still not climbing. Slowing by adjusting the angle of her wings, she wrapped her massive, clawed talons around his chest and lifted him up into the air. Luckily, being carried by something the size of a bus with a good bit of momentum meant the hand-like appendages weren't small either, so he was fairly solidly held in place as she hoisted him up and out through the whirlpool portal, displacing water below and the air around them as she did so.
YT runs towards the rope, her gifted Tarp flapping behind her like a cape. She then she's up and and before she scrambles onto a rope she turns like a bull fighter and sends the tarp in a flat spin out over the water where it lands just over Languor's head tangling the sea serpent enough to block his vision. "Haha! See you later!" she shouts.. it's not TERRIBLY pithy but YOU come up with one liners while in a hell dimension you don't even believe in while sea serpents try to eat you out of a sulfuric acid pond. Then she's scrambling at the rope... I mean pithy comments come at a cost really.
Cricket is with Gerry and then she is not, talons wrap around her. Her hand holds on to her hammer like it is her only hope. She does not fight she does not argue as she is snatched up. She knows it is not a hell beast. Up away from the fray she gets relief. It is simple and sweet. It comes like the warm spring air caressing her cheek.
"Come on, we need to be going!" Molly shouts, echoing Vincent's words. But go first? Not likely, apparently. She's too busy taking note of the difficulty that YT seems to be having, following her most successful throwing of the tarp. "Come on YT, get going!" She doesn't wait for an answer; she just grabs YT by the waist, and with a load growl of effort just hoists her upwards, helping her get up the rope with a boost -- even while the stingy acidic water is, no doubt, bubbling up higher and higher.
Zmeugie's wings stretched and dug into the sky with repeated beats until she set down on the ledge. Sniffing at Cricket, another growl rattled her chest. "You should... Stay here." Of course, she stood with Cricket along enough that the seconds started to tick into being awkward. "Oh right..." With a dragoness sigh, she put Cricket down careful. "Please do not let my bag fall back down." Narrowing her eyes at Cricket, she fall backwards, twisting in the air to control her glide back down into the hourglass. She lacked the grace of the higher dragon, but grabbed her own tail to hug it like a stuff animal. "CAN NO ONE CLIMB A ROPE!"
Okce he has emptied the liter bottle onto the serpent, Gerry turns and lunges for one of the ropes. With the acidic water already dragging at his feet, he struggles to haul himself upward. He manages slowly but steadily, heaving with all of his might toward the hall at the top of the now disintegrating hourglass. When he reaches the lip of the hourglass, he hs panting and drenched with sweat. He heaves himself out of the hole and stumbles across the surreal landscape. He looks around the area and grumbles, "They'll raise our taxes again to cover this reconstruction." He looks around the area and calls loudly, "Cricket?"
The little raft is fully afloat, now...not the most seaworthy of vessels, but she's afloat and she's better than acidic water as she bobs underneath the whirlpool. The water laps at the top of the hourglass' bottom bulb, and beneath the whirlpool entrance the air is precious little and getting less by the second. Having been burned by Holy Water and then blinded by YT's surprise tarp attack, Languor the Serpent beats a hasty retreat, hissing this promise into the waves: "You will ssssssssee me ssssssoon, mortalsssssss."
Victor is snagged. the man tensing instinctively from having something large coming at him, but he doesn't fight or struggle. He knows what's going on. Holding his breath on the way through, he turns his head after emergence back up to the topside. When Pim drops him off at the edge of everything, he notices Cricket being dropped off nearby. He grunts as he pushes himself up to his feet to make his way over to her, dipping to a knee nearby. "I'm here." For what that might be worth. He fishes out his phone, kept off when not needed. But he doesn't open it yet. "I'm going to call in some discreet people. Medical, transportation. Won't take long for them to get here." When he hears Gerry call out, he lifts his voice, "She's here!" He rises, preparing to make good on his plan to call in his cavalry.
Once Victor is safely to the edge, PimDragon commits to her next swandive down the whirlpool of Hell and emerges in time to flatten out in order to avoid making herself a dipped dragon. Hissing with a smoking, glowing breath from between her teeth she swooped forward and wrapped a massive set of talons around Molly's chest. Plucking the woman from the water, she followed through by coming up behind YT and wrapping her other front set of claws around her chest and ribcage. The rope of course was grabbed up in the fray as well, and PimDragon started pushing herself and her precious cargo up with storm-inducing pressure provided by her wings. It was more effort, yes, but the massive dragon didn't seem to have any problems holding both women and flying at the same time. "ALMOST THERE! AUGGIE! Come on!" She made sure the Zmeugie saw them all coming up and out so she wouldn't continue into the flooding chamber, and likely called out to let the women know it was still Pim in thre somewhere or to at least reassure them that they weren't being snagged and taken away by denizens of Hell. When they burst up through the whirlpool into the odd sight of the strange, melting park she headed straight towards the rim and solid ground it offered, not pulling the women too high above ground in case they started to struggle, as God only knew how much softer the swirling ground would be compared to just falling onto the grass.
A tap-tap-tapping sound comes from the outside of the hourglass. An old man, wearing a greasy mechanic's uniform with smears of soot and the grime of a hard day's work on his skin, raps at the glass and smiles warmly. The sphere shatters, dumping everyone into the shallows at the riverbank beside a houseboat with a very recently shattered side window. "You've all been quite industrious today," the old man offers, sidling over with an amiable amble. His eyes narrow out at the water, where the sunlight briefly catches iridescent scales, before they slide below the surface of the Thames and disappear with nary a disturbance. "You've made an enemy, one that has a memory longer than his Master's silly land grabbing games. One of triplets, for triple the fun." The old man smiles. "But you've done good hard work today, and that deserves a rest." He gives a friendly salute and walks out over the water, then disappears.
YT flumps when Pim lands and it's safe to do so, and then there's the old guy "Fucking fuckity another fucking angel shows up when we've finished all the not being tempted into sin shit... again... and not even the one who runs around with his wings out... Christ on a cracker you'd think we're just poker chips. I mean seriously who just sets up horrible hellscapes and pokes at pople while angels and demons watch and see what's going to happen so we can get our own asses out of trouble only to be thanked and congradulated for not being horrible sinners..." she pants for a moment mid rave. "And Molly... why do I end up cold and wet and naked when we run into each other? And why can't all the magical crap leave me alone, I'm a painter, not saint, not a hero, not a mean mother fucking servant of god.. I'm... a ... Painter! That's it... I just want to paint, and show people the fragility of life and the joy of embracing every damn minute of every damn day, and what do I get for it? Hellspa... Spartucus in Hell... A Christmas Carol, HELL Flavored.... and AND... Dead women who turn into giant tentacle monsters in the fucking river...." she stands theere panting, bare chested, tattoos on display, muddy mohawk and wild eyed like only a true doubter having to reconvince herself it's all bullshit can.
The grass is green the air is sweet. Cricket being gently set on the ground winces and nods her head to the Dragon as she takes the pack and puts it over her shoulder. That smithing hammer is still in her other hand. She nods her head. "I will, the only way it will go back down the rabbit hole is if another sink hole opens up." She promises, hoping that her voice is heard before the dragon disappears there is panic in her voice. Her eyes are closed and remained close. Gerry's voice acts like a lifeline it when he reaches the top and calls out to her. "Major!" She is trying to focus. She hears Victor and nods her head. Her eyes open, they are no longer distant and she is careful not to look at him. "No, I will be fine. Do not call anyone. I know what to do. The Major knows what to do. I just need quiet, rest. I am fine." She tells him. Her eyes close again quickly.
The man talking has her opening her eyes again. Cricket just stares out him for a moment and watches him wary and weary. She blinks and nods her head. She gets a question out just as he disappears over the water, "Who are you and that is the most Obvious observation of the day. Therefore you are Captain Obvious."
When YT is done with her rant Cricket simply answers back. "We are chess pieces. I want to thank you both for getting me out of there."
Molly isn't about to protest when Pim snatches her out of the water; it was diluted sulfuric acid anyway, and her skin was starting to burn. She's certainly looking quite red once she's fished out, and other than holding on tight to Pim's wrist she just relaxes and enjoys the ride, given how much better it is than, y'know, drowning. She breathes a heavy sigh of relief once she's safely on board the houseboat, and looks up to the mechanic with a tired gaze. "Thank you," she murmurs, watching him go before looking down at herself, whereupon she realizes two things. One, she looks like she's attempting to be a lobster. Two, sulfuric acid is apparently bad for whatever fabric her bikini was made from, and therefore she is no longer wearing it. "Oh, uhm, that's... that's awkward," she observes, devoting one hand to covering herself down there as she stands up, blushing rather fiercely. "YT, I, I don't know, I'm not really sure about... about any of that, honestly, except for one thing. Heaven doesn't fail to help us because God and the angels don't care. They don't help because they have more faith in us than we have in them."
Zmeugie flaps her wings a few times, releasing her tail to grab onto the rope and lazily flying with it in across both hands as if it were a dead snake. Beating at the air, she slowly climbed back to the top to land in the shallows. Staring down at the rope, the dragoness sniffed. "My dear rope... Perhaps one day, individuals will understand not to skip their upper body workouts and you will again be a useful mode of transportation." Slowly, she began to coil the rope back up. Slowly her form shrunk down, leaving a happily humming Auggie standing in the shallows. Her gold eyes moved to the Old Man as he spoke, considering his words. She happily waved to Cricket, "Just drop off my back at shore, I'll get it in a moment."
Gerry moves cautiously over the ground toward where Cricket and Victor are. He glances overhead and waves to the dragon. Even though she probably cannot hear, he calls, "Thank you!" Then he inclines his head to Victor. "And thank you. We'll survive, but you should call your people about this ... disorder." He sweeps a hand to indicate the Dali-esque landscape. "Someone has his work set for a while." Beside his satchel, which dangles from his shoulder, he still has the walking stick and the cardigan. He looks around the area. "Stay there," he advises Cricket. "I'll be back." He heads toward the others to check on them, in time to see Molly landing. Again, the cardigan flies through the air, aimed at the bespectacled girl. "There you are!" he calls. "After all of that, dying of a chill would be rather anti-climactic. Don't you think?" He sighs. "I'd suggest leaving as soon as possible before the pesky reporters arrive."
PimDragon made sure that everyone was touched down, then turned slightly and stared at the man through the curved layer of glass until it was simply not there. Her brilliant and glowing green eyes flared a bit as the smoke from her nose plumed up when they all ended up in the shallows of the river, in broad daylight. A moment or two later she came to land in the water and shifted into human form, looking between herself, Auggie, and then Molly with a slow grin. "Just remember ladies, if we act as though we are supposed to be here naked, we all have the excuse of practicing for a session later, since we all are either currently models for the art school, or have at least modelled there before." She winked to the other two women and shook her head, dipping down a bit to rub along her skin with the theoretically cleaner water of the real world. "I am glad to see we all came through that, though the next time I end up in a spa in hell I want to at least try out the mud baths before all of it goes south. I can only imagine the high levels of volcanic ash they use would be wonderful for drawing out toxins from the skin." And with that, Pim began walking towards the backpack of Auggie so she could pick it up, but on the way there, clothing suddenly covered her body like it had sprouted from her skin. A set of bright blue shorts and a bright pink tank top. Simple, and fitting.
YT sighs and nods at Molly "Come on lets get you somewhere you won't attract too much notice." she says, hardly noticing her own topless state.
Victor tells Gerry, "I'm going to call some transport and medical to the east side of the park. They'll be easy to spot. Tell the others. Anyone who needs them, they'll be there. But I have to step away to make the call." Which he does. Straightening, then turning to make tracks away from all the magic, so his phone won't pop.
Molly catches the sweater from Gerry, but when Pim makes her suggestion, she just glances down at herself, tosses the sweater back, and shrugs, holding her hands up to either side of herself. "Sure, why not? Streak my way home in nothing but a smoldering pair of boots, I suppose everyone should have that experience at least once, and I won't freeze in this weather." She shrugs, and lets her hands drop back to her sides, "We should do the modelling together again sometime, Pim, I still do it once every month or two. It's good money and it's fun anyway." Also, any day when Molly gets to see Pim with nothing on is a good day, goes through her mind without being voiced. "Of course, we could just take a ride with Victor's people. That's an option too. Up to you, YT. Anyone who wants to come to my house is welcome to, I've got... half a cake in the fridge. Plenty for everyone."