It is mid afternoon on a mid September day and the hills beyond the Sandford Pit are mostly empty. Semi frequent summer storms have done a wonderful job of watering the grass and lush green fields span out as far as the eye can see. The track you have taken through the pit was more of a goat path than a pedestrian footpath, progress has been slow as the brush has needed to be cut back to allow you through but after a rather sticky, midge infested hour or so you are finally here. Everyone has their reasons for being here, the hint of forgotten treasures, possible adventures or perhaps simply getting out of the washing up but that's not important now as the first step of the real adventure seems to be ahead.
A small hillock lays in front of you, the side you are facing having been carved out into a dish of sorts by a millennia of wind and rain wreaking havoc on one of the only bumps in the landscape. The inner wall of the curved hillock is made up of sandstone and flint, the various layers possibly quite exciting for any geologists but otherwise quite boring to look at. There are the remains of an old campfire here, a stone base that was dug out and laid into the ground which suggests this may have been a popular resting or camping spot at one point but it certainly hasn't been used recently and the last people to use the spot were apparently careful to leave little trace behind.
Cefyn, her washing-up all safely finished hours ago, has been at the fore with one of her trusty axes for most of the walk. After all, she is used to doing this sort of thing, and in this day and age that's getting rarer. The sturdy clothing, the large leather satchel, the raven-feather cloak at her back and the axes at her belt suggest that she's not pulling any punches today.l
There's always something to be said for having a nice afternoon out. Electing to enjoy just such a day, Jax had dressed for a lovely time out with the expectation of a good time. Looking over at Simon, Jax grinned and motioned to the pretty vistas they made it to, and overall seemed to be enjoying the hell out of their walk to wherever they were headed for a picnic. "I'm very glad you called to see if I wanted to come along, but I might be even more glad I didn't wear my typical heels." She chuckled, amused at the thought of herself wearing 5" spiked heels on a walk through the Sandford Pit.
Jax was free of the hospital so she didn't have to show up in scrubs or a pair of slacks, no, today Jax got to dress pretty. After all, if you aren't in the sandpit, the dust bowl, or some Godforsaken jungle, you may as well allow yourself to dress like a girl, right? She'd managed to find a rather lovely, midnight blue, silk skirt that fit in soft waves and swished around her thighs as she walked. Of course, the skirt likely looked even shorter than it actually was with the lengthy expanse of legs that were revealed by it, leading down to a set of wedge heeled sandals that look to have been made out of hemp and had small, midnight blue and bright pink flowers on the straps. For a top, she'd worn a tight, midnight blue camisol with a sheer, beige shirt over it that covered her arms and hung diaphenously around her waist, leaving a flattering V of exposed chest and the top of her camisol showing. All that long, chestnut brown hair of hers was worn down, allowed to flow to her lower back in silken waves that looked like they'd been brushed to a high sheen. All in all, Jax looked ready to be out and about.
A frequent visitor to the Pit when he wishes to get away from the bustle and noise of the city, Reno has come to relax on this early fall day. Recent events aside, there are times when the man simply feels that the weight of the modern world can grow to much, and the Pit offers a way to relax and get away from all that. And so he's come today, a small picnic hamper in one hand, and his messenger bag at his hip, the satchel strap cross across a comfortable light weight button down t-shirt. His trousers were obviously picked for moving through nature, offering just enough protection without being uncomfortably warm. His graying hair blows loosly in a breeze as he moves towards the hillock, easily avoiding tree roots and rocks that might otherwise snag his feet and stumble him. A familiar shape moves to the left of him and he smiles, calling out across the field. "Cefyn! How lovely to see you this afternoon. You are looking quite resplendant today in your natural finery. I hope the day is treating you well." Jax and Simon received a nod and a friendly wave. "Ah! It seems a day for pleasant reunions. It has been some time since I saw either of you. How are you Doctor? Simon?"
Andrew is following after Cefyn and Jax, smoking cigarette #2 and enjoying the vistas of the modern, independent woman who don't need no man, because it means -this- man can saunter lazily in the nicely cleared pathway with pleasant views ahead. Being between shoots for a new period drama, Andrew's a bit shaggier than normal, his yellow hair loose and tousled around his ears and the scruff on his chin well past five o'clock shadow and more into five-day shadow territory. He's dressed in a pair of leather shoes, artfully distressed designer jeans, and a black, vintage-styled t-shirt for some skateboard company. He grins and takes a couple of effortlessly speedy steps to put himself between Reno and Simon, stretching out to try and throw his arms around each of the men's shoulders. "Fine day for a stroll, isn't it, lads?" he mumbles around his cigarette. "And with views like these, who can complain?" His eyeline certainly isn't lingering on the scenery. "And Simon, who is this enchanting lady with you?" He pulls one hand down and offers it to Jax. "A pleasure, I'm sure." He looks forward at the hardworking Cefyn and grins, "and I do hope one of you will introduce me to our trailblazer up at the front? She's quite the capable lady."
The reason for the Eternal Apprentice being out and about. He glanced around at the others. Reno? One should always cross-reference with the museum seemed like something reasonable. Cefyn? Nothing wrong with having the opportunity to learn a section of history that was missed while she was out of the office for several centuries. Andrew? Why was he here? Oh right, the whole seducing a red court vampire, murdering them and pretending the bathroom was out of order until the body was moved. Jax? The continuance of date night involving something to be dug up.
Simon set down a coleman kerosene lantern and a leatherbound notebook, unscrewing the rod on the latern to pressurized the reservior. The kellu corduroy jacket fit him well enough over a red island and anchor print Hawaiian shirt, blue jeans that may have been flared, but not so much as to have a group of homeless people seeing them as shelter. It was much easier to see the detail in his knitted scarf, it was clearly something else in another life based on the patchwork knitting and faded bits, some of the symbols were arcane in nature. Yup, the brown knit scar was, at one point, his apprentice robe that had repurposed as a scarf. The man smiled at Andrew, "This enchanting woman is Doctor Montague. Doctor Montague, this is Andrew." Opening the leather book, he flipped a few pages, "It's amazing what falls behind bookshelves and is forgotten."
As people get closer to the hillock, external noises seem to get muted. Either by some sort of natural function of the dish or by other means, the distance city noise is barely audible, giving the feeling that you are far further out than you had once thought. Off in the distance, the small white blobs that can only be sheep are seen in one field, large blobs that are probably cows are in another. Aside from that, you have the area to yourselves, this late in September doing a wonderful job of keeping away the casual traffic and the bored students. The smell of mint permeates the air, the wild herb dotted around the area along with other herbs that seem to have been sprinkled out here.
Chuckling, Reno turns as Andrew's arm is placed around his shoulders and he returns the one armed hug with a start and a cry of surprise. "Andrew! Why as I live and breath! How excellent it is to see you again! It has been far, far to long." He leans in slightly, though his voice is clear and loud enough to be easily heard. "I trust your posterior has had plenty of time to recover since the last time I saw you? I know it has been some months since, but you did take a rather awful pounding." He blinks, keeping as straight a face as he can, and looks to Cefyn in the lead. "That, my dear compatriot, is the lady Cefyn. Who is wise in ways I cannot begin to imagine, and who is very likely one of the most capable individuals you will ever meet in this life time. Yours or mine.
Cefyn, breaking free of the scrub she's been cutting out of the way, tucks the axe back into its holder at her belt and strides onwards. The dimming of the sounds gets a simple nod from her, as do the scents of the herbs in the area. She glances behind her, to the others. "This not always abandoned has been," she says, in that not-Welsh not-Scottish accent that blends aspects of both. "A wise-woman once here may have lived." Jax gets a faint smile, Reno gets himself a polite nod, Andrew's comments get utterly ignored, and Simon gets a rather firmer nod. Apparently people who bring lamps and books are useful people.
Jax looked over to Reno and to Cefyn, nodding to the two of them and offering a warm smile. "Reno, how lovely to see you again. Your friend looks as though she's got the wilderness survival strategies it takes to go into a rain forrest with a toothpick and chewing gum, then come out a week later stating they've built a shopping mall." Clearly this was seen as complimentary by Jax, who left her smile directed to Cefyn as she finished her words. "I love your axe, Miss Cefyn, is it?" Her proper Oxford accent was layered with a sincerety that could have been fake, sure, but it certainly sounded sincere as well. When Andrew mentioned needing to be introduced, and then Simon introduced her, Jax couldn't help but chuckle. "Why Andrew, have you forgotten me so easily? Such a shame, I do believe it has been quite rare for someone to see me in as few articles of clothing as you have. I'll have to ask if I was so easy to slip the minds of the others involved. Or, perhaps it was that your face was in a rubbish bin most of the night while I was skinny dipping with the others?" Amusement lent a curve to Jax's lips that caused that Oxford accent of hers to take on a little lilt, almost like she was suppressing a laugh. When she looked back at Simon she winked to him. "That's why all of those forgotten things are lucky to have you there to find them, Simon. And please, feel free to introduce me as Jax when I'm not in scrubs or my lab coat. Otherwise I might not get the full joy of a day away from the hospital."
Chuckling, Reno turns as Andrew's arm is placed around his shoulders and he returns the one armed hug with a start and a cry of surprise. "Andrew! Why as I live and breath! How excellent it is to see you again! It has been far, far to long." He leans in slightly, though his voice is clear and loud enough to be easily heard. "I trust your posterior has had plenty of time to recover since the last time I saw you? I know it has been some months since, but you did take a rather awful pounding." He blinks, keeping as straight a face as he can, and looks to Cefyn in the lead. "That, my dear compatriot, is the lady Cefyn. Who is wise in ways I cannot begin to imagine, and who is very likely one of the most capable individuals you will ever meet in this life time. Yours or mine." He chuckles, Blinking slightly, looking to the three others. "Oh. Have you not yet met one another? Yes. That is Cefyn. She and I have something in common, though rather in the same way that a mountain and a pebble do." He chuckles, nodding to Simon. "A pleasure Simon, to see you both." He looks about, his eyes widening slightly, the light of life fading in them as other senses take the fore. A hand goes up, looking to the others. "Something is rather odd here." He looks to Cefyn, nodding. "Someone very likely did live here once. Perhaps many someones. But..." He shakes his head. "There is... nothing here. No spirits. No... memories. A place like this... where people once lived, there should be at least one or the other, if not both, would you not agree?" That question goes out to all, and he frowns slightly as he asks it. "This cave is natural, and has likely been here for.. millenia. When someone lived here, it would have been well hidden. But... as I said, there is nothing."
Andrew flicks the end of his spent cigarette down into the ground and stubbs it out with a foot. No fires today, thanks. He gives Simon a wink and a thumbs up of congratulations when he introduces Jax, though Jax's response leaves him scratching his head. "Can't believe I'd miss that for a bin...OH, SHITE! Christmas! Think I threw up my gizzards that night. That was a fucking rough night...glad I was adequately medicated for it, or as our friend Reno so generously reminded me, that arse-pounding might have stuck with me." He breaks into a laugh that lets curls of smoke escape with it, and thumps Reno heartily on the shoulder. "So, where is Lady Cefyn leading us?" He opts to direct the question to everyone -not- wielding an axe at the moment, though he quite happily follows in the pathway the Wise-Woman has cleared. "And why isn't there anything here? Every place has a memory." He shrugs and smirks with one too-long tooth sticking out. "Unless it isn't a real place."
Simon smiled and bowed his head, "Adding titles as a force of habit, Jax, sorry about that, and the potential ritual summoning of your coworkers." The man grinned, and with a wave of his hand uttered the word in Hawaiian, "Ka pua li'ili'i." And with that the lantern sparked to life and he adjusted the lantern. "It's a cave which is a start, or I'm terrible lost which means I have managed to give everyone an excuse to exercise." Grabbing the lantern by the loop, he raised it up, moving to light the cave the best he could.
The inside of the cave is a little damp, the sandstone doing a great job of drawing in the moisture from out side. A low bench has been carved into an alcove in one wall, the bench big enough for three people to sit on or for one person to lie down on without being on the floor. There is another firepit inside, a small bowl carved out of the floor that still is stained with charcoal from long ago. The walls of the cave are the same sandstone/flint combination that can be seen from outside, small carvings visible here and there which could possibly be graffiti or some other writing. It smells musty inside and there doesn't seem to have been much traffic recently, leaf mold and other detritus has been blow inside over time, banking up against the walls and the bench, obscuring a great deal of the floor. Bones crunch underfoot, small animals and rodents that once called this place home perhaps. The far back wall has another alcove, about six feet across and ten feet tall, going all the way up to the ceiling of the cave. The ceiling of the cave shows soot stains underneath the firepit, the rest covered in patches by a thick green moss.
Cefyn raises her hands as she steps forwards with Simon; she takes a deep breath and then releases it. "The herbs by themselves did not grow," she remarks, once that's done. "It real enough is. This place warded is - or was. Enough remains that the spirits here will not linger, even the vermin here will avoid. I trespassing am, but she no longer here is so that I ignore." As if that explained everything. "So." She offers Jax a faint smile. "For your compliments I you thank, Doctor." She looks around the cave, then points. "Bed. Firepit. That, though," she points at the back wall, "That unusual is."
Jax smiled and looked at Cefyn, giving her a nod. "Please, call me Jax. And at least there isn't some whammy set up to make sure our ears get blown out our eyeballs for tresspassing." She winked to Cefyn then looked around the cave, the bright amber highlights of her eyes glowing and reflecting the light of the lantern. "It's interesting, seeing things like this without worrying about someone running up with a gun behind you. I quite like the idea of leisurely being able to inspect one." Jax sounded quite pleased with it indeed, and continued to walk in deeper, her footsteps careful and cautious despite what might be considered less than reasonable footwear. Naturally, the very tall doctor ducked to make sure she didn't go rubbing any of the soot or the flora from the ceiling of the cavern, but moved over to where she could look a little more at the bones gathered, crouching down a bit and examining them with a curious eye. "Definitely a varied array of dead creatures, nothing human so that's a blessing. They've been here quite some time, though, even some snake remains, not just a shed skin, but the full bodies." She motioned towards the bones and brought herself back up to almost fully standing. "This was a nice, safe place for some of them, I'd imagine."
Nodding, Reno stepped past Cefyn, moving deeper into the cave to look the back wall over, somewhat curious. "Hmm... if it were not so symmetrical I would almost be willing to say the alcove was created by some sort of naturally occuring water feature, but I do believe it was definitely man made. Though I do not think Ground Force was here any time soon." He peers a bit closer and frowns slightly. With an annoyed snort he pulled a pair of glasses out of his shirt pocket and slipped them on, blinking for a moment. "Dammed things. Make me look like an old man" Sighing, he looks a bit closer before standing back straight, putting his hands on his hips and gratefully slipping the glasses away. "Frankly, I am at a loss as to how it could have been made. This cave is likely at least a thousand years old, or thereabouts, but I cannot imagine this alcove being produce without modern equipment. Magic perhaps?" He looks to Simon and shrugs. "With the moss growing, clearly this cave gets light... but that may also mean that we are not seeing other useful evidence because it has been removed in some fashion or another."
In a moment of thoughtfulness, Andrew stubs out his lit cigarette before entering the cave. But, waste not, want not! He tucks the unburned half behind his ear. "How in the hell...?" he muses as he moves in the direction of the unusual alcove, all the way to the back wall, and puts out a hand. Before it lands he growls, his hand freezing in place. "I don't like to be watched if I'm not in on the fun," he snarls up at...nothing...in the alcove.
Simon listen as Cefyn spoke, sorting it out as he looked around. "Was warded... Looking around, it was either forgotten or whatever was here was taken." He smiled, his voice more cheerful, "Either way, it wasn't a complete waste to check it out. Since flashlights don't get along, someone else is welcome to lantern." Digging in his pocket of a smooth rock, offering another Hawaiian phrase, "Hoku-lele." The stone glowing with a blue light and set the lantern down as he moved over to check out the carvings. The man chuckled, "We may not have anyone chasing us with a gun, but the idea of dodging a boulder sounds sort of exciting." A grin passed his lips, "I always hear it as glasses make one look distinguished." Checking out the carving, he brought the rock over to the alcove, searching the rock. "It's odd for certain back here, but the use of magic the create this area wouldn't be surprising. Cefyn did say there used to be wards in place."
There is a change in the air within the cave, a hint of ozone creeping in with the other smells. All external noise is dampened as a calm seemed to descend upon you, almost thick enough to feel. At the back of the cave, one by one, glyphs start to light up, going from bottom to top on each side of the alcove. As each of the glyphs lights up, there is a pulsing sound that only gets more persistent the higher up the go. When the final glyph at the top of the alcove is lit, the back of the alcove starts to vibrate, the sandstone vibrating until it looks like a sandbed behind. The vibrating ceases and then from within the middle of the alcove, the sand starts to shift, coalescing together until a stylized 'V' can be seen. When fully formed, the 'V' bursts into light, just like the other glyphs and then there is a final burst of magic, a dark brackish looking water filling the alcove but not passing beyond the edges. The alcove is now filled with a vertical sheet of water, the surface swirling gently as if by some unseen current, the glyphs on the side now fully lit and bathing the interior of the cave with an orange glow.
Cefyn grins at Jax, then blinks at Reno. "There no water in here is," she says. Andrew's comment to the door gets a faint smile, and Simon a nod. And then the lights go off, and her eyes go wide. "Sigils," she says, then adds, "There many people working on this were." Those axes are in her hands now, as she waits to see what will come through - and then she steps forwards herself, into the water.
Jax blinked as the bright water seemed to fill the alcove head of them. Her smile slowly curved wider as she exclaimed "My God-Daughter absolutely loves this movie! I wonder if there's a set of glyphs on the other side that bring us back here or if we'll have to befriend the locals and get them to teach us their language to get home." Amusement made her eyes glitter merrily as she looked over at Simon and shook her head, still smiling. "You know, Simon, this makes 3 out of 3 very interesting dates you've taken me on. Your average is that of a rather lucky man." And then Cefyn was walking into the water. Jax glanced at the others gathered and gave a wiley waggle of her eyebrows. "I don't know about you lads, but I'll be following the lady with the great axe." Doing just that, Jax ducked slightly and walked into the shimmering, vertically unchallanged surface of the water, playing with it along her fingers as she finally stepped through. No closing the eyes for this trip, and she breathed, because hell, might as well see if the wormhole smells like freshly churned earth or butter cookies, right?
"Watching Andrew? Do you sense something?" He looks about, eyes narrowing before he shrugs and looks to Simon. "That is an excellent point Simon. Wards do suggest magic, a subject I'm afraid I know little about. But you are both well versed in such things correct? So perhaps you might be able to ah...?" Reno stops speaking, staring as the sigil goes off, and more importantly the watery field seems to activate. "I... see. That would certainly suggest how the alcove was created. Well, at least I was correct in my surmise that it was not created naturally..." He frowns and looks to Cefyn and Simon. "I am assuming this is not, in fact, natural..." Cefyn steps through and Reno just stares for a moment, whatever his train of thought was thrown off track. "Movie? What are you talking about Jax I..." He's cut off again as the Doctor steps through as well and frowns. "Hmm... in for a penny, in for a pound it seems." His eyes go to Andrew and Simon and he shrugs. "With luck, I will see you on the other side of whatever lurks beyond this portal. Good traveling to you both gentleman." With that he grips his bag tightly and draws in a breath before stepping through after the two women.
"HOLY SHITE!" Hackles are raised, so Andrew leaps back several feet when the glyph start pulsing, and in another skin, he'd have quite the mohawk all down his back. He grunts and nods to Reno, but the urge to play it cool overpowers the bristling. "I would have sworn I felt eyes on me. And now, I suppose we know why..." He laughs and pats his pockets, checking to make sure he has more cigarettes and his lighter. With a shrug and a wild grin he looks back at Simon as Reno disappears into the water-curtain. "Well, Simon, we've got Ladies First out of the way. Suppose we can't leave them to have all the fun. Will your light stay lit through the water?" Guess he'll find out - he takes a leap and jumps into the portal.
Simon blinks at the water running vertically, opened his book to read, "Mark yourself as an adventurer... Open the way forward." He eyed Cefyn and her tattoos for a moment, "Fair enough." Simon ran his fingers on the ceiling to coat them in soot. The fact he blackened his nose and marked three lines on each cheek. "War cat it is." He grinned at Jax, "I was still banking on a mundane walk. As for the treasure mentioned, I suspect something about courage, newfound respect and understanding." At Reno, Simon waggled his hand side to side. "That's me when it comes to magic. Cefyn is the real deal." Closing up the book, he held up the rock, snapping the lantern as well. "If it is water, magic will get shorted out and I don't expect the lantern to hold up much better." Smiling, he walked into the 'water' with no care in the world.
Once through the portal, you come into a hexagonal chamber, the ceiling some ten foot in height, just like the cave that you just left. There is a band of copper, some half foot in width that runs uninterrupted around the outskirts of the room, arcane script engraved into the copper that flashes briefly as you all enter. Four of the walls have alcoves with ironwork benches, heavily decorated affairs and all looking well worn but not showing any signs of rust. There is doorway carved into the wall from where you entered, the lights on the sigils flashing out as the last of the push through, the fluid surface receding back into the brickwork and leaving your way back blocked. Oil fed lanterns flash into life a few moments after you enter, each one held to the wall by an iron work bracket at head height. The floor, ceiling and walls all have the same uniform brickwork, none of them showing much wear. There is only one exit not, a more normal sized door way, a sheet of light filling the doorway in defiance of physics.
Cefyn, axes at the ready, steps aside from the doorway to let the others follow more easily rather than pile up in the shimmer. The first lantern flickers into life and she jumps, startled, then looks around the room. "This not like the cave is," she says, then steps forward, dropping to one knee to examine a piece of the copper edging on the floor. "So much magic. Another ward. This one against spirits is. And that doorway, that a threshold is, and sunlight. I that trick must learn, and I so glad am that I not a vampire am."
Jax stepped through the portal on carefully placed feet, her legs leading the way before the rest of her emerged. She smoothed her silky skirt down a bit and took another step into the chamber. Reno came through behind her and so she moved a little to the side, allowing him to pass if he wanted to, her eyes wide and taking in the truly secreted room they'd entered. "Wow... this is qui..." Her words were cut off as Andrew cam barrelling through the waterway, and ran smack, flat into her back, his poor face likely smashing into the back of her neck. Physics as they were didn't provide her much recourse, and so Jax ended up falling forward onto hands and knees, with a rather stunned sound. "Oh for fuck's sake!" She cried out, then looked over her shoulder at Andrew, her eyes glimmering bright and almost solidly amber in color, looking like there was a light shining through them from behind. "Andrew! If I'd been wearing hose they'd be ruined!" She shook her head, lifting up off of her hands to wipe them on each other, freeing them of any dust or dirt from the floor while she knelt.
Stepping through, Reno is immediately on guard, bringing his hands up in a defensive position as he lands. It takes the briefest of moments for him to realize that he is not, in fact, in any immediate danger. Lowering his hands somewhat sheepishly, he look to the two women already through and shrugs. "I thought it wise to be prepared... what a strange place this is." He takes in the benches, the alcoves and the doorway, his eyes raising towards the sigils. Moving quite a bit faster, he'd managed to maneuver out of the way of Andrew's enthusiastic leap and landing, offering a hand to the man. "I believe the phrase is "Any landing you can walk away from is it not?" He looks to Cefyn and Jax. "Are you both well otherwise? Unharmed and unchanged by your transition through the portal?" He looks down at Andrew and smiles. "You I imagine would walk through a holocaust unscathed and merely ask for a cigarette." He chuckles.
Andrew flies through the portal like a man leaping for his life...which carries him, and a good bit of momentum, right into the lovely Doctor Jax. "Wew, hewwo theh, Dottah," he mumbles into her back where he's landed face first. "Awfully sporting of you to soften my landing. Sounds like a case for not wearing hose..." he grins as he peels himself off of the leggy doctor, taking Reno's hand, and in turn offers a hand to help Jax up, which she very clearly doesn't. He winks at Reno and adds, "That could have been you. Worked out well for both of us, wouldn't you say? I'm fine, mate. Unless the good doctor takes a pound of flesh for her skinned knees." Orienting himself and making way for Simon to come through the portal, Andrew frowns slightly in thought, and he ducks rather excessively away from one of the iron wall fixtures as he traces the wall. "Wise-woman, does it say anything about other thresholds to come, or what this place is warded against? Spirits and vampires...maybe only the undead?"
Sorting himself out, Simon, in his kitten soot war paint, started looking around the room. He nodded to Cefyn, "Vampire or not, crossing a threshold without invitation will weaken any supernatural abilities." Offering a hand up for Jax to get back on her feet, though Andrew had that covered. "So... Eight walls, four benches, four lanterns... I suppose checking the benches and the lanterns." Heading over to one of the alcoves, he knelt down and started feeling under the benches for anything, then checked the brackets for the lanterns.
This has the feeling of a waiting room, a place for weary travellers to rest before pressing onward. The benches are worn but well looked after, an ancient equivalent of 'Hammerite' covering them and then a lacquer. After a few moments have passed, a scratching hissing can be heard from above, a hitherto unseen grill providing a vent to the sound source. "Welcome candidates! Please go through to the next room when you are able, refreshments have been provided, along with the supplies that you may need." The voice has a clipped Oxford accent, but distant, the recording device ancient and distorted by whatever mechanism is being used to convey it.
Cefyn hides a smile at Andrew's arrival and the collision involved, but Reno gets a puzzled look. "There no translation has... ah. Yes, I fine am. Thank you." Andrew gets an approving smile at his question, but she shakes her head in answer. "Nothing." And then there's a voice; for all that she's ancient, she has encountered speakers - and recordings - before. It doesn't take her long to cotton on. "There, we invited have been," she says philosophically, rising to her feet. "Although I do not what condition the refreshments are in know." And then she's striding towards the sunlight, her feather cape billowing behind her as she steps through.
Jax reached up and accepted a hand, be it Andrew's or Simon's, with a "Thank you, luv." And used it to bring herself to standing. She brushed off her knees and looked them over, grinning as she looked over at Andrew. "If I took a pound of flesh for every minor scrape I'd be a rather rich woman, in tonnes of flesh at least. I think I can let it go this time, but next time I'll be sure to get your knees instead." Jax chuckled and started moving through the room, resettling her clothing and examining the the intricate working on the copper band through the room. "Well then, this is fairly lovely. I second you on the happiness I'm not a vampire allergic to sunlight, Cefyn." She eyed the room thoughtfully. "Though I suppose I'm also glad I'm not allergic to Iron or Copper, and not a spirit at the moment." Jax chuckled softly and then stopped as she heard the words from overhead. "Candidates for what, I wonder? An interesting sort of screening process, to be sure." As she walked through the room towards the sunlight-bright doorway she trailed her fingertips along one of the alcove edges, rubbing her fingertips together as she made it past it. She put those long stems of hers to work and followed through the door of sunlight into the other room, likely quite glad indeed she wasn't one of 'those' vampires.
"This place..." Reno looks back through the portal, eyeing it. "That... is definitely a way. A bit like the one I use but... not entirely. Regardless, this place is steeped in magic. It is a good thing that none of us here is paticularly reliant on technology, though I dare say our cellular phones may well have seen better days if you happen to be carrying one." Smiling, he looks from Cefyn to Simon at that and shrugs before his attention goes to Andrew with a chuckle. "I believe you will find that I am a sight faster than that. Though at the same time I am not accostumed to being accosted by men hurling themselves through watery Ways. So surprise certainly could have been on your side." Curiosity getting the better of him, he takes a moment to look around, examining everything as Simon had said. "I cannot imagine what this place is for though. It somewhat reminds me of the foyer Rashmi once took me to but..." He stops as the voice speaks, looking up for speakers. "Hmm... it seems my question has been answered, if not to satisfaction. But as we are candidates, to what I do not know, let us see where this leads us." With that he is quick to follow the two women, passing through into the sunlight with little concern.
Andrew reached up to check for the cigarette lodged behind his ear, only to find it left in...another world? "Damn," he murmurs with a smirk, tapping a new cigarette out of the pack. He grins up at the vague location of the speaker. "Sunlight and running water. Sort of like a spiritual shower, isn't it? Should feel nice and clean after walking through." He quirks a pale brow over at Simon. "Those numbers mean anything to you, Simon?" He waits, curiously, for Simon's answer, before stepping through the threshold of sunlight to check out these refreshments.
Simon frowned a touch as he listened to the voice while kneel in front of a bench, "I swear I didn't know the documents I found were, in fact, a brochure for a couple centuries old magical getaway used for team building. If corporate trust fall exercises await, I'm apologizing in advance for my ignorance." As he stood up, he smiled at Andrew, "Four and four and eight? Yeah, those numbers are meaningful in the number of lanterns, benches, and walls in this room. Beyond that? I have no clue." He gestured to the sunlight doorway, "Good news if I scream bloody murder, Cefyn should be able to open a doorway to the Nevernever." Not one for lingering too long and not finding anything, Simon attempted to pass through the door of light and beyond.
After a short corridor you come into a oblong shaped room, a full thirty foot long by twenty foot wide with an exit at the other end. On the left side of the room, a row of bunk beds had been laid out, the frames made from iron and what appears to be freshly laundered sheets on each of them. The middle of the room has a large dark oak dinning table in the middle, a set of benches on each side and a variety of serving dishes laid out in the middle along with place settings for ten people. The right side wall is taken up by a series of shelves.
Ten old fashioned rucksacks hang from hangers on one shelf, all of them obviously empty. Below the rucksacks on another shelf, there are a pile of Hessian bags, each looking quite full and laid next to each bag, a covered lantern along with a bottle of what is presumably oil. The next shelf has a range of what could be climbing equipment on it, piles of rope along with grapples and some boat hooks. The shelf below that has a quantity of what appear to be broom handles and on the last shelf below that, bundles of oil skin cloaks. To the right of the shelves is a cupboard, it is set apart from the shelves and there is a copper banded ward around it. One of the doors lays open and a range of canned goods can be seen inside along with a heavy iron door with a latch that seems to have been recessed into the wall. Of by itself to one side of the room and set against the wall, there is a small altar. Its surface covered in a velvet cloth and a small golden cross sits on the top. A bowl sits to the right of the cross and next to the alter is a small stone font, the bowl of the font full of water.
When everyone is in the room, the voice can be heard again coming from the ceiling. "Welcome candidates. Please make yourselves comfortable! There is food in the cupboard and all the supplies that you should need for your trials are in this room. When you are ready, proceed through the doorway at the other end of the room. The trials beyond will test your wit, your strength and your courage. I wish the best of luck to you all!" The voice is the same as from the other hissing recording of earlier, obviously not a live broadcast.
Cefyn makes her way into the room with the air of a woman who's absolutely refusing to be surprised about anything now. If a jolly green giant offered her some sweetcorn next, she'd fail to be shocked about that too. What she does do is jerk a little when the voice comes back, then turn that jerk into a polite nod to the altar. She hadn't been surprised at all, honest. It's the promised food she heads for, if only to find out what it is, what state it's in, and how it's been preserved. Professional interest, if nothing else. "They expecting someone else were," she says, thinking out loud as she opens the pantry door wider, axe foremost. Just because there are tinned goods doesn't mean it's safe.
Chewing her bottom lip for a moment, Jax looked around the room thoughtfully, nodding to herself. "Interesting, though everything really does look well stocked. Reminds me of suiting up with a squaddie unit for a run into inhospitable territory, on a night trek." Jax mused for a few more moments then nodded. "I suppose we should check expiration dates and what not before we load anything into our packs, but for sure any hard tack or something of the like would be a good idea. The rest of the supplies, though, if you can manage a pack I'd suggest bringing some of everything along you can carry. If this is a challenge that requires the use of most of the items, if not all, we don't want to be caught without the very things we need and realize we left it behind." She eyed the water in the font. "And that might well be holy water, may want to take some in a container if there are any available." Then she walked over to the large rucksacks, and started slowly filling one with care, making sure to layer things together so they'd be easily accessed, climbing equipment with its like, equipment to keep dry all in one layer. She looked for medical supplies among the offered items, then one of the Hessian bags to peruse within. "Charcoal, a couple of paper scraps, an empty water skin which I imagine we ought to fill from that bowl before we go. Flint, steel, a whetstone, and some travel rations in here. Looks like.. Simon is this glitter?" Jax held up her palm and in it were two wax stopped bottles that looked like they contained glitter suspended in a liquid, indeed. "Also some bandages, safety pins... and some...." She opened a stopper on one of the small flasks she found in the bag and sniffed. "Ah, fresh water here, so not sure if the larger waterskin needs to be filled or not. Might want to do so just in case that is holy water over there." She repacked the hessian bag and added it to her pack, then attached one of the folded up oilskins to hang from the bottom of the whole thing. Naturally, she held out the larger, empty, waterskin just in case she planned to fill it from the bowl at the statue.
Reno looks to Simon, blinking. "Beg your pardon? What exactly is a "trust fall"? Am I trusting in having all of my bones broken?" With a shrug, he steps through after the two women, looking about in utter confusion. The voice that speaks to them again doesn't seem to exactly help, and for a moment he covers his lack of understanding by simply following orders, helping Jax catalogue the available supplies. He does poke his head up out of a cabinet to nod to Cefyn. "I do get that feeling as well yes. Though... better that we have been pulled into this than others. I cannot help but shudder at the thought of a pack of wild children wandering through the forest and entering this space. If they did not go completely mad simply from lack of understandng, they would probably consume each other after they ate their supplies on the first day." He frowns, shrugging. "On the other hand... if these trials were specifically designed towards a different group of individuals, say... ten of them." He eyes the rucksacks. "We may be in a bit of a bind." He does nod at Simon's words. "Worst comes to worst, I can do the same, though my navigation through the Never Never is... somewhat more haphazard than most would probably like. I tend to simply go exploring as best I can through what looks safe." He shrugs.
Andrew shakes his head and scratches at his forearm before moving away from the cupboard. "This room doesn't itch as badly as the last...only that cupboard. Is there anything magically tingly about those cans?" He picks up a rucksack and fills it with an oiled cloak, an oil bottle and lantern, a skin full of water filled from the fountain, and ropes. He reaches for a grappling hook and has it halfway to his bag before wrinkling his nose and setting it back down...rapidly. "I can tell you one thing, they certainly weren't stocking up for anyone like me." The boat hook, touched rather gingerly, does make it into the pack. Climbing hooks are dropped and scattered, but Andrew's pack is full enough, anyway. Or so he deems. "If we're trust falling off of boats, this is going to be the worst corporate retreat ever," he smirks as he runs a red, irritated finger over one of the oil skin cloaks.
Simon gave the area a quiet scan before make his way over to the non-food supplies as he listened to the recording, taking down a rucksack to set it on the ground. Piece by piece, he added to his rucksack the supplies provided. Tilting his head, he stared at the glitter liquid that Jax had, taking another one. "I have no idea to be certain... Attempting to use The Sight, would like turn me into a vegetable with all the magic woven in." Unstoppering the bottle, he fanned the vapor from the opening to his nose and sniffed like he was in chemistry class. He looked back at Reno, "Trust fall... Crossing your arms over chest and falling backwards into coworkers or compatriots, they catch you, supposedly proving that other people are there for you. Common as all hell in Hawaiian. I think it was mostly an excuse to go." He smiled and restoppered his bottle to place in the ruck as well before scanning his pile and closing it up. "The sheets..." He walked over to them, sniffing them. "There is no way a scene would have stayed for centuries, right?" Heading over to the pantry to crack open one of the tins, checking the smell of that as well.
Cefyn opens the other door in the pantry, and while the others are loading packs she takes a few moments to check things out. When she's finished, she meanders back into the room with half a loaf of bread in one hand and some sort of sausage in the other. "Pres'vation ward," she says, around a mouthful. "Good one." Chomp. "Intr'cate work." She drifts around the place while others look busy, spotting something on a wall between two beds. She heads closer, still chewing, and bends down to inspect. "A. S. 1866. That a while back is." Drifting back, she heads towards the sacks and picks one up for herself. It goes into the satchel, and then Cefyn's heading for the door. "So. Onwards?"
Jax moved over to fill up the waterskin with whatever kind of water was in the bowl at the statue. She proceeded to close it up, then put it into her pack along with everything else. The lantern was attached so it would hang off the back of her pack and the oil for it was placed into an easily accessable section of the pack. She then went over to the cupboard that Cefyn had been in, pulling out some food to place into her pack. Even if she didn't necessarily need it, someone else might, right. Nodding to Cefyn when the query was made if they were moving onwards, she pulled the sheer shirt she'd been wearing over her camisol up and over her head, then tucked it into a tiny pocket as sheer material folded up to be almost the size of a kerchief. Once that was done, she pulled the rucksack onto her back and adjusted the straps like someone that had worn her fair share of the things. "We'll see if I'll have to take off the shoes, but unless we're doing any climbing I should be fine, so I'll leave them on for now." Jax looked at the others and smiled to them, using a stray piece of thong leather she'd found to pull her hair back into a braid, quickly tying it off and securing it so that it wasn't going to be loose and in her way, or maybe just so it wouldn't be sticking all over her face, neck and shoulders if she were to break a sweat. "I'm ready. Hopefully we've got all we need, in case we need it." She glanced at Reno, giving him a grin. "This should be fun, haven't gone caving in a while." Then she looked over at Andrew, that same grin on her face, reassurance at its best. Then she glanced to Simon, winking. "Let's go have some fun."
Taking a moment to watch the others, Reno goes about preparing as well, loading up everything he thinks he might need, mostly what the others are taking. The grappling hooks Andrew eschewed go into his pack, as does plenty of water and food. Slipping one onto his back, and settling the strap across his chest that holds his satchel, he makes himself comfortable with the pack and then shrugs, loading up a second one with spare supplies, mostly food and water, as well as an additional lantern and lots and lots of rope. He looks to the other, hefting the second bag with ease. "I used to do this sort of thing all the time when I was younger. Trekking across Egypt on a rumor of a burial site. Of course, back then I was mostly a pack mule serving the members of the team who had already earned their place." He shrugs. "Still... it was a fascinating time, and I would not mind a bit of adventure once again." He looks to Simon, giving him a look that suggests he's not sure if the man is pulling his leg or not and then shrugs. "I suppose if someone were to drop you, it would be a rather definitive proof of whether or not they could be trusted. Though depending on the height that one fell from I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make." Grinning, he shoulders the second pack, allowing it to hang by one strap. "Is there anything else anyone thinks we may need extras of that I can carry? The weight is, at least for the moment, not over encumbering." If not he nods, moving after Cefyn.
Andrew waits for the others to deem the food edible, and then he heads over to grab a couple of cans for himself. Into the pack they go. He pulls an unopened pack of cigarettes from his pocket and leaves it on the table, grinning up at the vague area the voice had come from. "Thank you for the hospitality, and the supplies." He falls into line, slinging the pack over his shoulders. "Looks like what our props mistress whipped up for the new shoot. She'd be flattered to know, if I could find a way to tell her that didn't sound completely mental. And Reno, mate, Simon's spot on. It's some kind of corporate hypnosis measure to make coworkers get along. But some end in drinks, so it can't be all bad." A roll of the shoulders and pop of the neck. "Ready," he tells Cefyn with a nod and a toothy grin, and a wink to Jax. "Who doesn't love a good adventure meant for double our numbers. I like those odds."
Leave it to Simon to consume spam from 1866 and eat it happily. This is sort of like when they found that sealed bottle of beer from the 1700 on the ocean. The bottle? They took out the dormant yeast and readded it to the modern brewing cycle, yeast proved it was a badass by making kids when it was over 200 years old, turning sugars into alcohol, and thereby getting people drunk. Go yeast. Once he was finished eating, Simon put on the cloak, grabbed a broom handle, tossed the boat anchor and climbing hooks in his bag, put on said racksack with a grunt. Then went to the pantry to add food to his possession. Oh right, water skill, filled in the cross fountain of DOOM! "Just because someone catches you doesn't prove trust." Simon smiled and headed towards the next room.
After a short stone tiled corridor, the sides lit by the same sort of lanterns as earlier, you come into a large expansive room. Easily thirty by thirty foot across, there is a doorway directly across from the one you entered at the other end of the room. The floor is stone flagged, each tile one foot by one foot. The walls of the room are tiled in the same way, along with the ceiling, the designer of this room certainly liked his cubism.
Every fourth ceiling tile has a loop of metal driven into the stone and there is a grill set dead in the center of the ceiling. The room is only lit by a lantern at each end, the two of them not providing a great deal of light, the dimness giving the rather utilitarian room a somewhat ominous presence. A couple of the flagstones are missing here and there on the floor, only darkness showing from where they once sat.
Cefyn, once everyone is ready, opens the door and heads down the corridor. When she opens the next door she stops, steps in, takes a moment to think about it, and breathes a word. Her cloak billows and her feet leave the ground. "Someone a rope end pass," she says to those behind her, floating to one side so they can come in too. "Do not too far in go?"
Jax followed Cefyn in, then looked around the room covered in its 1x1 tiles. "Hmmm, interesting." Her eyes took in the entirety of the room as she reached into her pack and pulled free one of the loops of rope she'd grabbed off the table. She offered Cef one end of it and moved up next to the blue-tattooed woman, nodding to her. "Good plan, we aren't sure if the tiles are set up with traps. Or if there is something in the middle that might harm us." She frowned slightly. "We could possibly toss some of that glitter water out to see if it falls strangely, or if it sets off any traps before we try questing someone out on a line?"
Frowning, Reno eyes Andrew and Simon for a moment, shaking his head. "That's... I think you are right Simon. It is an excuse to go on vacation to a tropical island. And you are right. Dropping someone would be rather unsubtle. Better to do it a bit more... out of sight I suppose." He smiles and folows after Cefyn and Jax. When they come to the strange room Reno stops as well, looking about with a decidedly practiced eye. "Hmm... that seems like a good idea. When exploring the tombs in Gize we used to carry decently weighted rocks along to test for such things. Of course... by we I mean I did, but it was often effective. Once we realized we should be doing it..." He eyes the floor and the grate above it, and the rings set into the walls. He blinks after a moment, looking from one person to the next, grinning slightly at Andrew. "As ever, you are keeping yourself busy my friend." Chuckling at nothing apparently, he frowns at the tiles set into the floor, before dropping his packs and pulling a lantern out. Lighting it with a practiced motion, he gets down on his hands and knees and starts to crawl towards the tiles. "Hmm... without a proper look between the stones, I cannot say what might be under them. But until we know, I'd highly suggest that no one take a run across this room. /I/ would not take a run across this room..." That said he shines the lantern carefully, peering under the stones. After several moments he crawls backwards just as carefully and stands, brushing off his pants and letting out a breath. "Well... that's a rather clever one. As was likely the case it is trapped. A number of tiles are supported by pillars, while others are held in place only by pins connecting them to others in batches of four, with every third one missing. A misstep would not be difficult. The supported tiles follow an L shape. Not unlike moving as a Knight in a game of chess." He points out the pattern as far as he could see it via the light of the lantern, then shrugs his shoulders. "At the moment I think it would be wise to set the packs down before attempting to move across. The less weight we are carrying the more likely we are to survive." He eyes the loops in the ceiling. "With any luck we can string the along with rope and simply pull them over head after us." Finished with his dissertation on the nature of dungeon traps, he turns to the others. "And... that is as far as I know at the moment." He smiles. "It does bring me back though. I remember when Dr. Thaler fell into that first pit." He shakes his head. "Memories..."
Andrew winks back at Reno's out of nowhere assessment, happy to play along even if he doesn't know to what it refers. "Always, mate. Life is too short to miss out on a chance for fun." He listens carefully to Reno's description as he tugs a rope from his pack and passes an end to Cefyn. "So, we move across like knights in Chess...no sense having to come back for the packs. If I'm guessing the Wise Woman's plan right, we can send the packs over across the rope, and use it to brace ourselves in case we lose a tile?" He pauses a moment for affirmation and winds his end of the rope around his wrist several times.
While Cefyn is demonstrating what it's like to ride a vomit comet and Jax is working on the rope, Simon holds out his lantern to try and illuminate as much of the room as possible to see if there's details in the floor tiles. "I'm all for expediting a way through, but we don't all have cloaks of floating, so it may be worth it to find--" Simon listened as Reno offered his version of the room. "If we drop our packs, they're going to be on the wrong side of the room when we cross. Why not have one person tie off, test stones and mark them as safe with the charcoal, then we can follow." Simon frowned a touch, "You know a knight can move to the position next to it in three moves, right?" Simon pointed to the grill. "We could have Cefyn feed a rope through there... No, rope is too long to swing... Or..." Simon choked up on the broom handle and started giving tiles a wack to test them.
With judicious use of his pole, Simon is able to knock out a bunch of tiles, lending further credence to Reno's 'Knight's move' theory. Exposing a gap between two of the 'L' shapes that would suggest a first glance that they are crossing the room in a diagonal pattern. Of course, that's assuming that the room designer wasn't a bastard and then changed pattern half way through. What you are left with is two 'L' shapes directly across from the entry way, enough for those with even shorter legs to put one foot on each to stand astride the gap. When the tiles are knocked away, there is a gap of just over a second before a series of splashes can be heard, letting you know that there is the possibility of a soft landing at least.
Cefyn takes the rope up to the eyes, and starts threading it through to give the others something to hang on to. The feathers of her cloak billow, as does the fabric beneath, the wise-woman's flight a little uncoordinated but smooth for all that. She returns for more bits of rope, making sure that there's plenty there and it's well-secured.
Jax looks at the L shapes that have been demonstrated by Simon. "Ok, if they expected us to carry these packs through here, the supported tiles would be able to handle our weight combined with that of the pack. At least if we weigh normal amounts. They likely didn't expect any behemoths to come through here, or perhaps they did and they have enough support under the tile to handle it. I don't really think we need to string the packs across separately." She looked at the people gathered and winked to Simon. "Give me a hand, luv?" She reached back to grab Simon's hand, holds the rope Cefyn had drug over with her other hand, and stepped out onto one of the solid tiles demonstrated by Simon's poking with the pole. It might be telling that she didn't hold her breath, but did put her full weight onto the tile. Once the tile held her firmly, she nodded and let go of Simon's hand, walking out along the first L, then onto the second L, her long legs making the trip rather easily. "I'll wait here while for you to come along with the pole, if you would Simon? Let's make sure I don't make some assumed step that proves to dunk me into whatever they filled the tank below?"
Reno nods, looking to Jax. "It's a wise idea. Though I think we are meant to use the loops." He points to them. "Like the rest of this place, they serve a purpose. As for the tiles..." He looks to them. "I think I should go last. In case the there are less tiles, I might have a greater chance of getting across them." He shrugs and watches as Simon and Jax cross carefully.
Andrew takes his own end of the rope strung through the eye and ties it securely around his waist. "Don't care to take any dips in surprise liquids today," he laughs, starting carefully on the remaining tiles with Jax and Simon. "Here goes nothing!"
Simon held Jax's hand to help her across. Having gotten an idea how much pressure the unsupport tiles could bear, Simon continued on his path, knocking out tiles, testing all of them on the way across. "My guess is to stay away from the center... The grill part doesn't cause any issues." A chuckle escaped him, "Wackamole..."
With much trepidation and a general enough unwillingness to 'Leeroy' across the room, the party does in fact make it across safely, with dignity intact and a minimal amount of 'puckering'. Once through the doorway on the other end, you are face with a hallway that is wide enough for two abreast to walk down, the lights provided by the usual wall lanterns. At the end of the corridor there is another room, the same size as the other, although with a different lay out.
30'x30' as the last room was, a door at the other end is where the similarities end. There is a pedestal in the middle of the room, on top of which rests a cross much like one would find in a church, the pedestal lit from above. The tiles on the floor in this room are 2'x2' and a block of three cross the entryway, all a simple gray. The other tiles on the floor have sigils on them, each one different and picked out in a bold glowing green text. Each of the floor tiles has a different background colour, alternating in a haphazard fashion between white, red and black.
The walls of this room have the same shaped tiles but in a grid formation and alternating between black, white and red in colour. Each of the wall tiles has a series of holes in them, each about an inch across, with 5 holes on each tile. The tiles on the ceiling are the same uniform gray of the ones next to the door but with no hooks in them.
Cefyn, apparently, sees absolutely no reason to stop flying. She floats through the doorway and onwards, to the next room, where she descends a little to get a better look at the stone flags. "These in Enochian are... hmmm. Not all. That one not Enochian is," she says, pointing at a black tile. "That one is not, too." Red. "Huh. There more not Enochian are, than Enochian. Does anyone here Enochian read?"
As Simon walks with her, knocking out loose tiles into the drink beneath them, Jax continues along until she makes the other side of the room. Coming up towards the door that would lead them to the next area, she took a deep, cleansing breath and chuckled. "Well, at least they didn't want to double the trouble and put a weight limit on the squares, right? That would have made this an extra level of interesting. Though, now that I think about it, that would be an excellent surprise in an additional, identical room." Seeming surprisingly enamored of the idea, Jax continued after Cefyn into the following room. Having learned that there was no reason to go leaping into the center of the room, she stopped near the entrance and shifted to the side near the lightly floating woman. "I absolutely love that cloak, Cefyn. Your equipment ought to be featured in a magazine spread for efficiency while looking like a piece of artwork." When she looked down the hallway, Jax hummed thoughtfully and then stepped into the room. "Well then, I'm guessing gray is safe, but the others have something specific attached to them... Ok... so some of the red, black and white tiles have the Arabic for Sun written on them, there's som Hebrew in there but I don't speak it. Also, some of the other tiles are written in Latin, and say Holy... Then there are a couple of French ones that say Garlic... and then there's some Greek, but I'm a little rusty in my Greek to make them out." She narrowed her eyes a little. "I wonder what happens if we throw some of that what could be holy water on the tiles that say Holy..."
Peering at the multi-colored tiles and their twisting, mind poking runes, Reno shakes his head. "I'm afraid I do not. I'm not really even sure what it is. Aside from a language I do not know." He smiles slightly and looks to the tiles, though his eyes are not on the writing. Instead he scans the tiles themselves and the pattern of colors, looking for anything he might discern from that, such as how it might correspond to the holes in the wall. Which he eyes with a decided frown. "Hmm... I've always hated those sorts of things. I do not know which is more frustrating. The fact that there is a trap there, or the fact that the trap is so very obviously there, and yet difficult to actually avoid." He thinks for a moment. "Well... holy water, sunlight and garlic are all traditional methods of dealing with vampires. The Greek reads "True emotions." I'm afraid I am not up on my Hebrew however... I've been meaning to fix that..." He pauses. "Come to think of it... the first door we entered to find our supplies was similarly warded against vampires. A pattern begins to emerge it seems." He eyes the walls. "Darts or crossbow bolts would be my guess. Poisoned? Maybe... though again..." He looks to Jax. "I think that idea has a great deal of merit. Unless some of the supplies we are carrying happens to have a great deal of garlic in it. Or if someone can conjure sunlight... Or maybe if you step on a panel that says holy water you are sprayed with it like a squirt gun... though does that mean if you step on one of the emotion tiles you are read the Velveteen Rabbit?" He snaps out of his odd train of thought and looks to the others, shrugging. "I am man enough to admit it makes me cry every time I read it..."
Andrew inches forward, hanging back at the edge of the gray tiles. He looks thoughtful, and takes the time to light up a cigarette, apparently to help himself think. "White, red, and black tiles. You know what else is white, black, and red? Vampire courts. Think about it, mates...sun, garlic, holy. They're weaknesses of the courts. So...let's find the ones that don't match up, yeah?" He puffs out a plume of apparently extra-insightful smoke. "Simon, do you have your stick handy? Between your stick and Jax and the holy water, I think we can figure out how to reach the cross." He scrunches his face briefly, thinking. "That is the objective, right? To reach the cross? Suppose I ought to check that first."
Simon steps into the room, staying on the gray tiles to the purpose of not setting off a trap. "Holy, garlic, sunlight... Those are a lot of classic weakness for vampires." He frowned a touch, "There is nothing magical that I can sense in here which means gears and pressure plates. Mundane traps. How is a tile going to know if a panel has garlic, sunlight or holy water on it?" Simon smiled, "What weighs the most? A pound of garlic or a pound of holy water?"
Cefyn floats over to the cross in the middle of the room, and peers at it. "This clamped down is," she decides. "There hinges are, there must a way to release it be." She tries pushing it downwards, just to check and make sure it's not that, since she can't lift or turn the thing.
It doesn't budge.
Jax looked at the tiles... then she reached back and grabbed for Reno's hand. "Reno, you're insanely fast. Jerk me back the second I say NOW, alright? Just in case I feel something giving way. However, you guys keep an eye on my feet, I can read enough of these to see a path that makes sense, but it would be hard to go through and teach you all the symbols on the fly." And then, once she manages to get ahold of Reno's hand, Jax stepped forward onto the closest tiles she could read and ascertain that they fit the pattern. "Not just a pretty face, Andrew, excellent idea. The colors line up with the weaknesses. So if you can read the language and it matches the right color of the Vampiric court, it's safe. If you can't read any of the languages, just pay attention to where my feet go, and follow me like we're doing the conga line and we need to get to the bar before they run out of the good Gin." After she was 2 tiles away, she let go of Reno's hand, and started moving, waiting long enough on each tile to make sure people can see it, then moving to the next. In total, she moved 7 tiles into the room, following the pattern. "They feel like they sink a little when you step on them, but they hold solid once your weight is on them."
When Jax stopped moving, she was waiting right near the cross in the center of the room, giving people a chance to start moving after her. When she got to the cross, though, one of the clamps at the base of the cross dropped free and she stared at it, blinking. "Well shite... I wonder if that thing comes free and we need to take it with us? Last person... might want to pick it up and bring it along?"
After Jax's passage, a moment after her feet leave each of the marked tiles, there is a whirring of machinery and the tiles sink down one inch. There is a clunk as she reaches the center, followed by one of the clamps holding the cross folding back into the base of the pedestal.
Reno nods to Jax, gripping her hand and readying himself until it's clear she's made it without any issue. Watching where she moved carefully, he was about to follow after when the panels started to sink and click. "Interesting... so perhaps it requires that it occurs several times? If we need to take it with us, perhaps I should go last then? If things go particularly wrong, I should be able to carry it out, and quite quickly as well." He looks to Simon and Andrew at that.
Andrew chuckles back at Simon, smoke leaking out around his words. "A pound of holy water is heavier. Comes laden with a lot more responsibility and guilt." He grins and puffs away, watching Cefyn discover the hinges that Jax's first step starts to loosen before taking a step onto the third tile behind Jax. He shrugs at Reno. "I'll be more than happy to grab the good doctor should things take a turn, if that's what you all think is best. But the question is...what happens if we take a wrong step?" He lets that one hang there for the group to ponder.
Simon grimaced when the mechanisms did their magic and tiles ran out, "So follow the leader is out. Should we have tried a wrong step to see what it fires? I mean if it's a dart, it's unlikely to may it through the rucksacks. More importantly, it's mundane in mundane in natural so there are a set number of shots before the ammo runs..." He gestures to Andrew, "That's why we check to the deadiness of traps before crossing... Which becomes a terrible plan if the holes shoot out poisonous gas. So if anyone wants to point to correct tile, I'll start my walk. I got the latin one, but that's it." Simon moved up to the line to start.
Once the clattering of machinery dies down, the room is still once more. One of the three clamps has been removed from the base of the cross and there are now a series of four tiles that have sunk down an inch into the floor.
Cefyn backs up and away from the cross a little when the clanking happens, then darts down in Jax's wake to inspect the tiles that have stayed down. "Aha! These stones that down are, they all black are, and they the Black Court's weaknesses have." She points at another black tile. "That one a bad one is, I think. That not a Black Court weakness is. Let us the right tiles find."
"Holy is both a red and black court weakness, but if you avoid the white ones with the Latin for Holy, it might be for the best. The Arabic looking ones should be bad as well, since they are all Sunlight. This would mean that you need to walk only on the White Court vampire's weaknesses of True Emotion... Try walking only on the greek ones that match up with White tiles... It looks like this." Jax pointed with her toe over at a white tile with the Greek symbol for True Emotion on it. She then tested the theory, walking with a wide stretch of her legs to get to the next white tile with True Emotion on it, then to the next one. She was a little bit from the other side of the room, but hey, it was worth a test.
Watching Jax and listening carefully to the discussion, Reno nods and lightly hops out onto the field. His movements are quick, efficient and remeniscent of nothing so much as a game of hopscotch, as he leaps lightly from tile to tile. When he comes down with a grin on the final one, there's another grinding sound as fourmore tiles descend, and the second of four clamps clicks free. He looks to the others, putting up a V for victory. "Hmm... after we clear this room, I admit I am somewhat tempted to trigger it, just to see what happens." He smiles. "After of course..."
Andrew hops to the tile newly vacated by Jax. "This is all Greek to me, except for the patterns in the shapes, so I'm trusting you all not to lead me astray. I mean, that's my job." He finds purchase and balances on an already depressed smile, one hand steadying his rucksack, the other ashing his cigarette. He looks to the tile Cefyn pointed out. "So, if that one's wrong, then this one..." He hops to a nearby red tile, gulping as he goes...and whether it's dumb luck, pattern recognition, or divine intervention, four more tiles depress, and a clamp unsnaps from the cross pedestal. That's earned another puff.
Simon watches the others, taking in Jax's advice. Waiting on Andrew to finish and the tiles to depress, Simon begins his version of 'In the Grove' because that's how things become unlocked. On his way past the center, Simon grabs the cross and immediately checked the ceiling for a rolling boulder. "Maybe next time." The door on the far end of the room opened as well and Simon continued to the far side. "We stumbled into an apprentice teaching course or something, because I can't think of another reason to build anything like this."
Out from the room of multicolored tiles there is another well lit corridor, this one with a set of alcoves set in each side with a bench in each should the contestants which to rest. Continuing onwards, there is another doorway, across the top of the door way the word 'Fortitude' is written in Latin. Another big room, with 3'x3' tiles, in the middle there are four pedestals. One of the pedestals is empty, one has a mason jar on it, on the other two rest empty copper bowls. Much like the previous room, there are two grey tiles directly in front of the doorway, the others being plain white. Directly inside from the doorway and on your left, there are two pieces of curved red glass.
The mason jar contains a shriveled head, the features too difficult to make out from this distance.
Cefyn floats her way into the next room, then looks at the tiles. She blinks, then looks up. "There many people working on this were," she says. "Many different enchantments there are." Her cloak stops billowing and she lands lightly, then drops to one knee at the edge of a grey tile, looking at one of the white ones. "Hmmm. This one earth is." A look at the next. "That one spirit is."
Jax cocked her head to the side, looking at the room, frowning slightly. "Hmm, a mason jar and two copper bowls. Four pedastals... and two pieces of curved red glass." She raised her brows and licked her lips, looking around at the room and trying to discern something, anything really. "So the tiles are marked with elements? Do you see anything about the bowls or the glass when you look at them?" She hummed softly. "No pattern from what I can see, nothing that leads a logical sort of progression forward. But Courage can suggest that you need to move forward without allowing fear to hold you back." She set her pack down and opened it, pulling out a small stoppered flask of Fresh water, the possible Holy water in it's larger water skin, and the small bottle of shimmering glitter in its suspension liquid. "How do you guys feel about testing it by tossing something into the room to see how the tiles react?"
He looks to Simon with a chuckle. 'The voice did say that we were candidates. Though not for what. I think we are testing to see if we can become apprentices. I am uncertain how I feel about that, at my age." Reno laughs ruefully, following the others through the door. He stops short, almost plowing into Jax, reflexes just barely stopping him short. He eyes the jar for a moment before making a face that suggests he'd just tread in something squishy that smelt of rotted fish. "Oh now that is just unnecessary. I can only hope it is not from one of the last people to attempt this place." He eyes the whole, thing shaking his head. "I do not like this room. The head in the jar only accounts for... well, it accounts for rather a lot of it I suppose, but something about this place raises the hairs on the back of my neck." He looks to Cefyn, listening carefully before he eyes the head again, letting his vision double as he checks to see if anything happens to be in the room with them. After a moment he frowns and grunts, his vision returning to normal. He rubs his eyes for a moment with the heel of his hand and shakes his head. "I can tell you this at least... that head has never belonged to a human being. Or any creature with a soul. That is comforting... in an odd sort of way." He looks to Jax and grins. "It is a time tested method of inquiry, and I for one am entirely for it."
Andrew sucks his cigarette to the filter, agitated. He paces along the rear edge of the doorway and scratches at his forearm. "This room makes my skin crawl. It was bad in the entryway, but this...this room makes me edgy. Not just the tiny head, that would be hilarious under different circumstances and is excellent prank fodder. But...ugh. I'm for whatever gets us through fastest." He leans forward to peer at the tiles Cefyn and Jax are studying. "Spirit, earth...courage? And what's with the red glass? Red makes me think of fire, but that doesn't make sense if it's not on a tile." Speaking of fire, Andrew lights up again to steady his nerves.
Simon scans the room with a frown, "It doesn't make a great deal of sense to me." With the broom handle, he pointed to the doorway they just walked through. "Fortituto or fortitude for the non-latin people would suggest sticking it out." A smile overtook his frown, "Candidates maybe. There was mention of treasure like I said, but who knows." He offered a nod to Andrew, "Magic is woven throughout this room. That's a good bit of crawling skin right there." Taking a deep breath, he offered a nod to Jax, "You can try tossing something, but it may not detect anything due to the triggers being different."
The woogyness in the air only gets worse now that you are all in the room, the room itself lit fairly well, the tiles giving off a light of their own which at least allows you to see clearly. It is just five tiles from the doorway to the table in the middle of the room, it's can't be all that bad really.
Cefyn rises again, then nods. "Right," she says, then steps onto the tile she'd already announced to have a spirit-based enchantment. There's no visible effect, other than all her hair trying to stand on end - not just the ones on the back of her neck - and a full-body shudder. Her lips peel back from her teeth and she snarls, drawing her axes again, but she doesn't back off. "This one fear is," she says, trying to sound off-handed about it and actually mostly succeeding.
Jax blinked, watching Cefyn walk out onto the square and then nodding. "Alright, so they incite emotions. What do we do with the bowls, jar, and glass?" She glanced at the items again, frowning slightly. "I think... I'll take one of those red lenses over there and walk out to one of the bowls. I can't help but imagine that they want something put into the bowls. Blood maybe, water, perhaps. I'll bring the waters and the glitter bottle as well, just in case, but I'll leave the rest of my pack here." Jax did something potentially unladylike and slipped the small flask of fresh water and the small bottle of glitter into her cleavage, letting her bra carry that bit. Then she held the larger water skin in one hand and walked over to pick up one of the curved shards of glass with her other. Next? She stepped out onto a white square, about 2 squares away from Cefyn so she wouldn't be too close to the other woman in case she went 'Poof!' When she stepped onto the square, she was suddenly lifted... up, up, uppppp. And then her head was touching the ceiling. She gasped, looking down. "Ok... this one lifts you up... and fast... like you weigh nothing." Jax let out a slightly nervous chuckle. "Thank heavens I wore panties." She managed to keep herself upright, but looked a bit like she was up on a tight rope.
"Hmm..." Reno pauses, watching as Cefyn and Jax take their positions on either side of the door, stepping on to the platforms. As Jax suddenly ascends, her timely comment concerning underpants keeps him from paying attention to her flight for too long. Instead he clears his throat and looks towards the table, leaning forwards slightly. "Maybe I should just wear the glasses... there is something inscribed on the bowls, but I cannot make it out." He looks to Cefyn. "Jax rises. Do you feel heavier standing on that one?" He looks down to the floor, frowning. "I could simply try to run towards it. I have the best chance of making it. But my concern is for the rest of you, should something unfortunate be triggered." He shrugs. "But if the rest of you are amenable I can always try. Unless someone has a wiser idea. It should hardly be difficul to come up with one better than that." He smiles, looking to Simon as he speaks.
Andrew swallowed hard and nodded at Simon. "Right. It's just the magic trying to get into my head. Got to push through." He grits his teeth when Cefyn faces down the scary square, but his mood lifts considerably when Jax levitates. "Well, if that sight doesn't inspire fortitude, I don't know what will." He uses the temporary shot of testosterone-induced courage and steps out onto a tile of his own. And the moment his feet touch the tile, Andrew gasps and stills as a layer of frost crystallizes all over his body. Shivering, he stammers, "Sh...shite..."
Simon watched at Cefyn decided to take on the hair raising spirit tile, and Jax got to get beamed up. Drawing it a deep breath, "Better idea? The trial is fortitude so it's a staying game. The tiles are producing effects consistent with their element. Spirit is kinetic, emotion or light. Earth is earth, gravity and magnetism. Air is wind or lightning. Water is water, ice or entropy. Fire is... Fire is just that, fire and temperature. The best bet with fire is using water on yourself and trying to cover as much skin is possible." When Andrew decided to Water it up, he winced and grabbed a lense as well. He gaved to wrap and cover most of his face and stepped out on the dance floor. For a moment, there's nothing happening until the creases of his clothes start to discolor and edges of the material starts to fray. "And this is entropy."
Cefyn pulls a small bottle from her satchel and downs the contents in one hit, then eyes the next tile or two thoughtfully while she tucks the bottle away again. "Water ahead of me," she says. "Spirit the one beyond that." And then she's on the move, taking a large step over the water stone and landing on the spirit. There's a brilliant light from above and it catches Cefyn squarely. "Gaaaah! Swyve it!"
Looking at the situation below her, Jax took a steadying breath and nodded to herself. "Incoming!" She called to let people know she was coming down from the ceiling. She pushed herself forward, like a long distance jumper, leading with her hips and her knees as she fell from the low gravity area and back to the real world. Using her momentum, she flung her body forward until she landed at the very edge of the table. Once she landed, a sudden rush of water was heard, and around her there was a solid layer of water, like she'd fallen into a tube shaped like the square she stood on. It covered her fully, drenching her and forcing her to hold her breath, to which she shook her head and grinned, glancing up at the ceiling like she was conversing about the silliness of it with God above. Then, she looked at the table in front of her and reached for the half foot lip around the edge, looking like she intended to pull herself from the odd, square tube of encasing water as soon as she could and get to that presumably safe zone.
Watching as the effects take place, Reno nods, looking at the different squares. "Hmm... I believe in this case the shortest distance between two points may in fact be a straight line." He backs up slightly, getting a bit of a run up as he bursts forwards suddenly, kicking off with his front foot to throw himself into the air. Unfortunately the magic of the room MUST have messed him up somehow, because the leap didn't take him particularly far. When he landed, there was a moment of quiet, before he gasped, body siezing up as he flushes, skin turning red and blistering slightly. "Gah! Egypt was never this bad!"
Andrew shivers and shakes off the frost. His sad, frozen cigarette falls forlornly to the ground. "Well, bugger that," he declares of the freezing square. He whistles poorly as Jax makes her impressive leap, and nods in agreement with Cefyn. "Couldn't have said it better myself." He looks over Simon and Reno, assessing. "Entropy there. Heat there...aw, hell with it." And he jumps as far as he can, landing on a tile just in front of the table. He starts to cheer, having landed safely, but it's cut short as he weaves and bobs and swears frantically, his movements blurring.
Simon couldn't help but have a smile at the magical effect going off around him and continued on to the next square. Once he crossed the threshold, he let out a yelp of pain, his knee buckling under him. Hammering the ground with the bloom handle and cross, he panted as he forced himself to stand and start walking against. "At first I thought these trails were more of a obstacle course... But now I'm starting to think there may have been some seriously twisted wizards involve in its construction."
Cefyn takes another step forwards, putting herself directly in front of the left-hand third of the table. Her hair stands on end again and she takes a quick step sideways without stepping off her flagstone. It's just as well she moved, because there's a flash of light, a roaring boom of thunder, and the scent of ozone. Where she had been standing, the flagstone is slightly different - there's an odd-shaped circle there, glinting beneath the soot that hadn't existed a moment before. "You think this bad is? Try my old Mentor pestering before noon," she says, glancing over her shoulder and offering Reno her hand. "Let us a little more clever be, yes? This one already gone off has."
Jax grabbed hold of the side of the table and used it to pull herself free from the square tube of water she'd been encased in, dragging her body up onto the half foot lip around the thing, into the 'safe' zone of sorts. The water that had been holding her crashed to the floor and was gone, all in that one little square, without splashing anything else. Jax, on the other hand, was dripping water and still soaked through and through, thank heavens for the fact she was wearing midnight blue instead of something lighter, or it would be indecent. She looked at the table, blinking droplets of water off her eyelashes and held up the lense she'd carried over, cocking her head to the side. "Ok.. the note says 'With these do you kill the beasts.' and we've got the two bowls and the jar with the vampire's head in it." She rubbed at her cheek with the back of her hand as if it would dry the skin faster.
Shaking off the massive burst of heat, Reno gasps for a moment, looking to Jax. "I wonder if I jump to yours next if it will balance out... but I imagine not." When Cefyn holds out her hand to him he nods, bunching his legs slightly and taking a hard leap. He flies through the air with the greatest of ease, hitting the panel Cefyn had vacated with perfect accuracy, sticking the landing with both feet. He does accept the hand, giving it a shake and smiling at the wise woman. "My thanks Cefyn. I shall endeavor to be more astute in the future. Or at the very least to jump a good deal further."
Andrew dips low and dives out of the reach of his invisible assailant, dragging himself up to the table beside Jax and the tiny vampire's head. "With these do you kill the beasts?" He catches his breath and looks back over his shoulder. He runnages in his rucksack and pulls out the skin of possibly holy water from the fountain, and quirks a brow at Jax. "Two bowls...one for holy water maybe, one for...do we have garlic? Or...that glittery business, what's that?"
Cefyn eyes the setup, the bowls, the empty space and the glass jar with head. She glances down at her axe, then over at the water-carriers, then eyes the head-in-a-jar some more. She comes to some sort of decision and raises a finger, then points it at the jar. "Sigel," she tells it, and a blazing ray of what looks like sunlight erupts from her finger and lances at - and into - the jar.
Simon took another step forward. His cheeks and ears took on a red tone as he seemed to vibrate. The fact his hands whiteknuckled the broom handle and cross and his jaw quenched should made evident that there was nothing pleasant in this square. "Oh... This is going to require some yoga later..." Exhaling a slow breath, "Anyone want to catch the cross. I'm taking the slow path to get there."
Jax reached back towards Simon and opened her hand, accepting the cross from him with a wink. "Thanks luv, should work lovely." Then she set the cross onto the open platform, making sure the Holy item was placed. She blinked and then looked at Andrew, reaching over to jerk his pack off of his shoulders. "The paper! Write Garlic in French and then True Emotion in Greek as they were written on the stones in the first room. Then place one each into the bowls. That should work, as we have sunlight roasting this wicked looking little Black Courtier, and we have Holy, covering both the need for Holy water and the Cross in one item. We'd still need the Garlic and the Pure Emotion!" Her hands came free from Andrew's pack with the Hessien bag in them. "Charcoal and paper, in there! Now, which bowl?" She peered at the bowls, and continued thinking it through as she did so. "I can write the French, unless someone else speaks French, Reno, can you write the Greek?"
Jax blinked. "Oh! This one here is latin for spirit, the other for Body. The Garlic one should go with the Body, and the Pure Emotion should go with the spirit, as they effect that part of the vampire!" She looked around at the others for a concensus. "All the Ayes, say Aye, if you agree?"
Nodding, Reno takes paper and charcoal as they are offered to him and writes out the words for "True Emotion" in greek before passing it back via channels. He takes the time to do it, getting the wording just right and nodding in satisfaction. "Aye! Here you are Jax! Well done on working that out. I'm afraid vampires are somewhat outside my area of expertise. I'll have to look into fixing that gap in my knowledge."
Now that you are closer to the table, the head of the vampire can be clearly seen. not the most handsome of creatures when he was alive, this nosferatu hasn't gotten any better looking in death.
Andrew is happy to serve as the sherpa for the moment. "Bloody good work. That's all the items, and damned if I speak a whit of either French or Greek, so..." He takes the "True Emotion" paper from Reno, being the dryer of the two standing at the bowls, and drops it into the Spirit bowl. "Here goes."
Simon panted, tossing the cross to Jax. "Alright, at least you didn't have to leave your square for that." Taking a deep breath, he advanced to the next square. A dusting of frost immediately covered him, "Oh dear god, I opened a portal to the lowest level of hell." He immediately tried to shake out his limbs.
As soon as the piece of paper hits the 'spirit' bowl, a feeling of 'wrongness' threatens to overtake you, fear and loathing try to overwhelm you.
"Nay!", says Cefyn - but it's too late. The wash of fear and loathing hits, without even a trip to Las Vegas. Gritting her teeth she pulls the paper out. "That the wrong Court is! That head Black Court was! Holy we have, sun we have. Fire, fire - hah!" She reaches into the sack and pulls out the flint and steel. "Who something flammable has?"
Jax reached over to Reno, wiping her hand down his shirt so that it was dry (giving the poor man an apologetic smile, if it was a bit hurried), then she accepted the last piece of paper and the charcoal. "Shite, alright. Hold on Simon, hopefully this ends it." She scrolled the word 'Ail' onto it, French for garlic, and looked at the bowls. "Yes! Cefyn... Burn the paper that says True Emotion! It's Flammable and already in the right bowl, here!" And Jax reached into the pack and pulled out the lamp oil, dousing the paper and filling the bowl a bit, as she really didn't limit her pour in the slightest. Half the bottle was in that copper bowl for spirit now. "Garlic is still bad for the Black Court, so it should work for the fourth... If I'm wrong, hopefully we can switch the two..." And with that, Jax dropped the piece of paper into the empty Copper bowl for Body.
Digging through the satchel at his side, he pulls out a pack of cigarettes that looks mostly empty by the way he hauls it around and reaches in, pulling out a heavy brass zippo. Eyeing the pack he shrugs. "I knew there was a reason I never quite smoking. Aside from the fact that it may not actually be able to kill me anymore..." He checks it, nodding at the sight of a flint in it and the presence of lighter fluid before striking his thumb across it. The flame comes to live, and as Jax commanded, he tosses the the lighter into the bowl, watching the lantern oil burst into flames, consuming the paper.
One the bowl is lit, the paper and the oil catch quickly and it sends a flame a good foot into the air. A chime rings out in the room, and then four chimes, with each chime the feel of heavy magic lessens until it is barely noticeable. There is a loud clunk and the doorway across from the table opens and the lights in the room are turned up, the atmosphere in the room going from creepy to just something approaching normality.