Dreadlords Death Lotto

Threads open to all members of the Dreadlords group
Character Biography
So, this is your first lesson to teach and it’s a game?” Proctor Goetsch asked Everleigh, raising a blonde brow. She had just finished reading the papers of the game that the poison eater had put together last night. Although, “game” was far too kind of a word to describe what Everleigh had planned. “Most proctors want to start with martial training, maybe some swordplay or hitting moving targets… they don’t go to this extreme right off the bat.”

You did.” Everleigh replied, her back perfectly straight but her expression was rather lax. “All the time. Down in the dank dungeons. For days on end we’d play games. Besides,” Everleigh noticed the twitch of irritation in Marianne’s jaw, and despite her position now, she wasn’t going to push it. Those games she had mentioned were nothing like this, but it did remind her of a proctor’s might. Her goal wasn’t to have these initiates spitting and pissing blood at the same time. “This is an important lesson. They should know they’re never safe, especially within these walls.

Word that better.” Marianne corrected immediately, but her blue eyes were back on the papers, leafing through them briefly. She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth and shrugged. “I like it. I just don’t think it’ll go as you suggested. You against the entire—

Us. It’ll be us against the Gilded Class.” Everleigh said, “although I don’t think many will make it to the end. If that’s the case I won’t need your help. And if only one or two make it then I still won’t need your help. I have three years on them. Maybe their talents in arcane might outshine mine but this isn’t about luck, brute force or might of one’s magic. It’s about thinking outside of the box. Which not enough initiates do.

It wasn’t even four in the morning as Everleigh walked down the dorm halls, eyes glowing violet as she checked one last time that the doors were shut tight. Using her acidic tough she had burned the doorknobs on both sides of the doors completely. Then, with help from a certain friend, had reinforced the doors that opened out to the hall with metals. Nothing as fancy as steel but strong and sturdy iron.

Oh, and for those who had windows, well, shame there was such a leap to the ground. Even if they were able to open one, that is, as Everleigh had also tightly sealed those shut as well and marked runes that would sear those who dared touch them.

The first task was set, and Everleigh couldn’t help but smirk. Some initiates would be able to bust through this, with help of magic. But the goal wasn’t to just have enough strength to break through the door— too simple, and something that she herself wouldn’t necessarily be able to do.

Thinking outside of the box was the goal, and she’d see exactly how many initiates could really do such a thing. And nothing like adding a bit of pressure. Folded notes were slipped underneath the door, all of them having the same thing written on the inside: five minutes.

As Everleigh departed the dorms, eerily silent as if she were sneaking around as she used to do when she was their age, she couldn’t help but grow her smirk into a signature smug look. Before she stepped out, dozens upon dozens of translucent yet iridescent lilac snakes slithered down the hall, each one slipping underneath a door crack into the room of a sleeping initiate.

Everleigh turned her head, looking back and inhaling deeply. Her eyes were still glowing violet, and as she exhaled, a fine violet mist began to roll down the hall like a heavy fog along the moors. Her poison mist worked just as well as her poison breath, but mixed with air and water magic it traveled farther and saturated the air better.

Not that this poison was deadly. It was the same as the poisonous snakes waiting in their rooms. Uncomfortable and stifling, when an initiate would pass out from the slow suffocation in five minutes, Everleigh would consider them “dead.” She stepped out from the dorm hall and closed the door shut behind her, locking it. Everleigh snapped her fingers and each snake burst into the same violet mist, filling the room with poison gas. Let the first trial begin. She wondered if she would win this first bet against Marianne on who would survive and who wouldn’t.
A strange little noise, and Kristen awoke. Still dark outside. She turned over to get more sleep. But a horrendous stinging smell touched her nostrils and it was then that she finally bolted awake, dressed in only a nightgown.

Her eyes scanned the dimness of her room. She clapped a hand to her mouth, alarmed. An odd hue was in the air, coloring her room with a faint haze of...purple? Yet the clawing in her lungs from breathing in the gas persisted, and she knew something was terribly wrong.

She saw the note. Quickly launched herself out of bed and picked it up and read it. She half-expected it to read: "Reconcile." But it did not.

"Five minutes!?"

And it was then that she saw her door no longer had a knob. She rammed her shoulder into it, yet it would not budge.

Everleigh Ebersol
Caeso awoke immediately when he heard the puffing noise of the snake turning to gas. One's ears in the old way had to be finely tuned to wake, lest one suffer great harm or even death at the merest lapse.

He coughed. Harshly. He ripped a portion of his bedsheet without hesitation and fashioned for himself a makeshift mask. Something foul was in the air, and there were a few Initiates capable of such things. For this affront he would respond in kind, and let them know in no uncertain terms that, Republic or no, there was very much plenty of the old way left in him.

Caeso did not notice the note. He had leaped up from his bed, wearing just sleeping pants, and stomped straight to his door. He reached for the knob but it wasn't there. He tried to push the door. It didn't move. So he Enhanced his arms and punched the door open, the loud clattering of twisted metal as the iron bar on the outside tumbled to the hallway floor.

He stepped out into the hallway. And it was then that apprehension set in...for the hallway was likewise tainted by the violet hue, that insidious gas.

Everleigh Ebersol
Perla had fallen asleep at the tiny table shoved in next to her bed. The book she was currently snoring on was a study of ancient runes. She had been studying a collection of runes that had been discovered in Allir that proved to be subgroup of the traditional runes. Unfortunately, she had fallen asleep during her study. w A collection of items were scattered across the table. A sealed vial containing a Bees Barf potion, two gemstones, fennel herbs, ink, a quill, a bottle of Hydrofluoric acid contained with wax, and vial of energy elixir.

The sound of the snake puffing snapped her awake. The second she spotted the gas, she snatched up her scarf and wrapped it around her face in a makeshift mask. She reached for the door but found the door knob had been burned down completely. She recognized the burns as acidic. There was a note underneath and she picked it up and saw the words, five minutes. A test. Of course. But the melted down doorknob gave her an idea.

Turning to her tiny desk, she dumped everything but the hydrofluoric acid and energy drink into a satchel as fast as she could. Perla yanked off the seal from the hydrofluoric acid and poured the energy drink into it. She had an idea of what such a combination could do. Hydrofluoric acid was corrosive to metal while her energy elixir had a slight explosive reaction to metal. Perla threw the concoction at the metal part of the door and prayed that the gas wouldn't have a reaction with the liquid. The glass shattered and the second the liquid touched the melted handle of the door, there was a massive explosion and its force slammed her at the opposite wall.

She pushed herself up, ignoring the destruction of her room and the bruises forming on her back, and ran out the door into the hall. There was more gas. Fuck. She only had a useless bee barf potion and ingredients for one enchantment.

Everleigh Ebersol
The smell got her first. Melting metal - acid on metal..wood? Sleep-tousled haired head snapped up. Tawny-eyes searched her room as she rolled to her feet. Her shield and sword always within reach. Tugging on some boots and strapping on her sword, she snatched up her shield as she padded over to the door.

She didn't touch it.

No knob.

Grabbing a scarf that hung by her door, she quickly doused it with water by her nightstand and tied it around her face. The mist seeping beneath her doorway was not a friendly-looking mist. Poison didn't usually affect her with her temperature fluctuations but she wasn't about to risk taking that chance now. Feeling something crawl over boot, she looked down and kicked violently as fangs slashed through the air - getting into the boot but not through to her skin.

The snake's body hit against the door with a sharp THUD.

Mind raced as she gripped her sword in her hand. What was happening? Had the proctors turned on them? Were they about to end up like 2.0?

"HELLO?!" Fist pounded against her door. "IS ANYONE OUT THERE?!" Taking a breath through her scarf, she began to heat up the metal on her sword.
Kor was awake the moment the serpentine agents of chaos entered his room, every winged member of his family alerting him to the intruder. Of course, Kor's eyes opened only to the darkness that came with blind eyes, but his ears were alight with the sound of panicked calls from the birds. They would not awaken him were his guidance not needed. Sitting up in his bed, he quickly formed a connection with his raven, Repent. Slowly, as if waking up all over again, the blackness he saw gave way to Repent's vision, the furs hung upon the walls, the birds perched upon their posts both caged and otherwise, and the ethereal snake making its way into his nest.

Only seconds before his Owl swooped down angrily to attempt a feast.

He wasn't able to command him down fast enough, and the moment the hawk's talons touched the snake, it burst into a miasma of colored smoke that immediately began to spread across the room like a cloud hungry to devour the air. The noise increased, his flock panicking at the presence of a foreign chemical in the air. Kor felt it in his nose immediately, stiffening his muscles and stifling his breathing. Poison. Not lethal, but poison nonetheless. He'd experienced similar symptoms when testing berries for edibility years prior.

The Owl fell helplessly to the ground with a cry, writhing and struggling. A shot of anger coursed through Kor's head, but only for a moment. He would make the one responsible for this pay later, when he wasn't in danger.

One of the crows noticed the slip of paper and scooped it up. Kor switched his connection to that bird and read the text upon it with mild amusement. A test then? Something a bit more challenging than a pillow fight to prove their worth? He didn't need 5 minutes; This challenge was meant to weed out stupidity, and Kor was wiser, and though blind his eyes were many.

Archene, the red-tailed hawk, had talons of about the right size, Kor decided. Reaching out to the young lady, he pushed her to fly toward the locked door as he finally rose from bed, walking slowly over to the door and raising a hand for her to perch on. Carefully, Archene angled her foot and slid one of her talons into the hole where the doorknob had once been, the tip of her claw interlocking with the door mechanism with a soft click, disengaging the lock and letting the door swing uselessly open.

He exited, along with his companions out into the equally hazardous hallway, only to wince at the racket coming from next door. Lumen. She was panicking, not thinking clearly in the slightest. Somehow that didn't shock Kor one bit. He should have left her there to fail, but...

It wasn't in his nature to leave one of the flock behind.

"Heat the reinforcements until they melt and kick the door down. It's just metal, Lumen."
A scent like bleach and ammonia robbed Zinnia of the dream she'd been having, and she shot up in bed. From images of one serpent to another, it seemed, as some spectral looking snake erupted into a cloud of lavender fog within her room.

With a yelp, Zinnia scrambled upwards and out of bed, wearing only a *very* oversized t-shirt, and rapidly donned her cloak and pulled the mask of it up to cover her nose and mouth. She knew it wouldn't do much to prevent...whatever this was from invading her lungs, but it was clear her that her room wasn't safe now. Was this an attack? A test? A scrap of paper was visible on the floor next to where the snake had been just moments prior.

"Five minutes..."

A test. Wonderful. Zinnia looked up to the door, gold eyes shining vibrantly in the dark, ripples of *something* crawling across her skin that she couldn't quite place. In the gentle moonlight that seeped through her window she could already see that the door handle was gone, a melted mess of once-solid brass.

She shoulder checked the door, but it didn't budge. Gods, did they bar it? Zinnia snatched up her hammer, but didn't intend to use it. Instead she set it next to the door and placed her hands on its wooden surface. Thankfully, she always kept her battery filled with a healthy amount of fire. She held nothing back as she channeled the energy into the wooden door, and in no time it was cinders from the inside out. She let up as the fire began to graze the frame, not wanting to burn the whole building down.

Sure enough, iron bars had been mounted to the frame's exterior. Visible beyond that in the hallway, more gas...perhaps she should have taken her chances out the window.

Who else was on this floor again? She could hear a muffled voice yelling, see at least one other figure in the fog as she slipped between the bars and into the hall, careful not to catch her shirt or cloak on anything. She reached back in and pulled her hammer out as well, then coughed. This was all so sudden, it was difficult to focus...
Kristen Pirian Caeso Diemut Perla Irven Lumen Kor Zinnia

Once the students got outside, they would be greeted with fresh air, unhindered by Everleigh. Directly outside the door, not even five full steps away, would be another piece of folded paper and three summoned foxes. The initiates would be able to recognize them as earth summons, something that anyone could do once understanding basic magic. These foxes didn’t need to eat, they weren’t real, but these foxes were often used by hunters to find rabbit burrows: in recent years they had also been used to find murder victims or even those hiding under the earth.

In neat handwriting were every single letter was nearly identical to each other, it would be weird to see a few mistakes by the writer: but then again, Everleigh never minded giving a hint here and there. Really, the ‘good luck’ was genuine. Truly.

A myriad of things through her mind: that this was the unknown party which had wished to kill her in the desert; that this was Duresh coming for revenge; that it was Garron Banick, figuring he ought to finish her off.

No! She didn't want to die here! Not in this sterile dorm room!

But the door was barricaded from the outside (had she deciphered the mysteries of the Eternal Aegis, she would have had magic highly suitable for this problem). Time was running out. Kristen turned and looked to the window and with the strength of adrenaline picked up her small desk. The ink wells, quills, and books—The Romance of House Black chief among them—clattered to the floor. She hefted the desk like a battering ram, aiming two of its legs at the window, and charged.

The glass shattered, but the hidden rune inscribed upon it ignited. Searing flame flared up in a flash and Kristen was thrown back. Down onto the floor.

And the desk she held crashed onto her head.

Blackness took her.

Robbing her of precious time and strength.

Everleigh Ebersol
Caeso went sprinting down the hall. There was a heavy load of missions that had been doled out recently, so the dorm had quite a lot of vacancies. Still, though, there was banging and lamenting to be heard aplenty.

Before he reached the stairs down, however, another Initiate emerged out into the hallway. Though the haze was obscuring, by her stature he could tell it was a female (but he might be wrong, Zaire did exist). As he got closer, the form of the Initiate was thrown a little more into doubt because of the cloak.

But then he was close enough to see who it was. Zinnia.

"Out!" Caeso shouted to her. "Out of the building!" He coughed from inhaling more of the gas—the impromptu mask was imperfect, and a slight dizziness was seeping into his head.

Without much consideration one way or the other about it, Caeso clutched at Zinnia's arm and started hauling her along with him.

"To the stairs! Stay alert!"

They still didn't know what, precisely, was happening.

Everleigh Ebersol Zinnia
The sounds of shouting and panic echoed around the hall. But the sounds that drew her attention to her neighbor's room was glass breaking and something falling. Perla didn't want to help them. It would waste her time and possibly kill her. But... she knew that whatever happened next wasn't something she'd survive from on her own. The door wouldn't fall down on its own but it had been right next to her explosion, weakening the hinges. On the ground there was a long piece of metal with a pointed edge that had flung off her door. Picking up the metal, she looked for the weakest spot on the door.

It wasn't about strength. It was about leverage. The hinges were weak and without those, the door itself wouldn't hold. She took the piece of metal and used the sharpened edge to unscrew the hinges. Her fingers were fast from years of alchemy and she was careful to breath as little as possible to save herself more time. The hinges fell off, along with the door. She managed to jump out of the door's way as it fell into the hall. Then she saw the idiot with the desk on her head.

"Fuck me." She grumbled.

Wielding the metal like a crowbar, she jammed it under the desk and used her bodyweight to lift it up, dragging Kristen out from underneath it. She stuck the metal underneath her arm then began dragging Kristen out of the room and into the hall. By this point, she was starting to feel a bit dizzy, despite the tightly wrapped scarf. She followed everybody else's lead towards the exit. But instead of continuing to drag Kristen, she just started rolling her as that took less energy and seemed to be faster.

Kristen Pirian Everleigh Ebersol
Lumen had called out for a few reasons:
1. To see if anyone responded
2. To see if the attacker responded
3. If it wasn't the attacker, to see if others were already out or still trapped like she was - if they were

What she got was Kor explaining to her how to get out. Was it a trap? If this was the old way, she would assume he'd betrayed her with some others. And she'd have an opportunity for a surprise attack with what she was about to do. But it was post-Revolution. So, she gave him a warning.

"Look out."

With her sword sizzling hot and glowing red on the edges, she punched it through the door. It cut the wood like butter as she sliced a rough shape before kicking it outward. Ducking, she carefully stepped through and sheathed her sword. She only had on her boots, pajama shorts, sword belt, and bandeau. Blonde-hair tousled by sleep hung below her bare shoulders. Circular golden shield was around one arm. In the foggy, poisoned air she bumped chest-to-chest into Kor.

An oof left her mouth as she looked down.

Hhh'yup, he was naked.

But there was no time. Reaching down, she made sure it was his arm she grabbed as she tugged him toward the door. "No time, let's go." Perhaps he could ask one of his bird friends to bring him a pair of pants once they got outside.
In the dead of night, Aelita woke up with a violent coughing fit. She did not display any signs of illness the day prior. Raising her hand, Aelita channeled her magic and caused her hand to begin to glow much like a lamp.

Blue eyes spotted the letter sitting at the base of the door. Aelita then noticed a purple haze filling the room. Her coughing continued, even if it subsided a little.

Just as other Initiates had done, Aelita first created a makeshift mask.

Then, she walked over to take the note and quickly look over it.

Five minutes? Damn proctors,” she cursed.

Aelita reached for the doorknob. But, she realized instantly it was gone. She pushed on the door to no avail. She looked back to her window to see it barred shut.

In addition, she heard Lumen’s screaming – but the words were too muffled to understand their meaning.

A faint smell of smoke also graced Aelita’s senses – caused by the unseen fires Zinnia and Kristen set.

A deeper muffled shout followed. Frantic footsteps.

Aelita turned to grab her staff and strap it to her back. If five minutes meant something significant, it was far too short of time to fully don her armor. She would have to make due with a cloak and her warm, cozy sleepwear.

For safety, Aelita walked to the far side of her room from her door. She closed one eye. She twisted her staff and cast a spell.

ERUPT!” she yelled.


An explosion of light followed with a literal explosion. Light had materialized at the door in a short destructive burst. Aelita covered her head as splinters of wood flew across the room.

Aelita reopened the eye she closed – having done so in order to keep it acclimated to the dim room. She saw a mostly missing wooden door that revealed the metal bars that had been behind it all along.

Just as others had done, Aelita slipped through the just large enough metal bars in order to enter the hallway.

With the glow of her hand piercing the miasma, Aelita spotted Perla Irven rolling Kristen Pirian down the hallway...

Wai-wait! Wait!” Aelita yelled as she rushed toward the two.

She hurt? I’ll help carry her,” Aelita offered as she moved to attempt to pick up one side of Kristen.
Gold eyes glanced up at a figure as it ran through the fog and shouted at Zinnia. Caeso!
"R-right--" She wheezed out weakly, still trying to pull herself fully to her feet, steadying herself with her hammer.

Before she even realized what was happening Caeso had pulled her up and was dragging her down the hallway. That needed a moment to digest. To wit, a very shirtless Caeso was pulling Zinnia to safety. Gods, if the place wasn't being flooded with neurotoxin or whatever this was she'd have believed she was still dreaming.

Would that she could have appreciated all of that, instead she did what she had to and focused on the situation at hand. Not that she wasn't just along for the ride at the moment.
"S-stairs! Got it!" She replied; with the thinning air and transpiring chaos, it was important to be clear and concise in communication. While she wouldn't get Soleil levels of short, she still felt the need to convey what she knew to the one person she could identify in this mess. "Note said f-five minutes, I th-think this is a test! Used m-maybe half that time already!"

What Caeso might want to make of that time was up to him. Their lives likely weren't in danger, sure, but were they supposed to help each other out of the fray, or was this a race? She'd stop to bash the iron bars off of other doors, but that would cost them both time they might need to get out; after all, who knew how much of this space exactly was being fumigated at the moment?
Kor didn't have any way of knowing if Lumen had listened to, or even heard his advice. Normally he wouldn't have bothered, but he was far more upset at whoever had orchestrated this brazen exercise, and he recognized his peers were in much the same situation. He'd been about to head down the hallway towards the exit when he heard her warning from behind the door, shortly followed by the sound of it cracking open with no small amount of force.

There was silence, save for the sounds of other Initiates making their escapes until he felt a soft warmth press up against his bare chest, followed by a muted gasp. Kor's brow furrowed from behind his veil of darkness. Funnily enough, it was rather difficult to be modest and ashamed of one's nudity when you couldn't see yourself. It felt no different to him than wearing clothes, save for the extra breeze against his skin. "Not bad. Thought it would take you longer than that."

It certainly appeared he was totally oblivious to whatever effect his own nudity could have on the half-dressed paladin. Or if he did know, he didn't care. If she had an issue with his body, it was exactly that: her issue. Not his.

Suddenly she grasped his wrist, causing him to recoil a bit; being touched when blind was far different than it was with vision. When you could see it coming, you could prepare. Kor never knew when somebody was going to try and grab him, and he never got over the sharp pang of hesitance. Thankfully it, wear slightly as he followed. His birds followed, but he didn't have a chance to connect to one of them with all the commotion, leaving Kor rather in the dark as to what was happening, save for the voices of several of his other flockmates. Zinnia and Caeso, if he was hearing correctly.

He almost always was.

"Easy! I can't see, lady!"
The rolling, flopping end over end, her head (with a nice shiny deep red mark above her brow where the desk smacked her) turning ceaselessly along with the motion, was a pretty good way of rousing Kristen from her unconsciousness.

She was coming to when the soft-spoken voice of Aelita offered to "help carry her."

Dazed, the very first thing which came to Kristen's mind as scattered fragments of the situation bubbled back up into her awareness was this: "Am I...modest?" And her arms instinctively went down to her gown, moving of their own accord, stretching the garment—needlessly—to ensure that her decency was intact.

The awful stinging smell of the poison jolted her into firm wakefulness then. So much that she actually started, as if waking from a nightmare...into another nightmare, as it so happened. She got an assessment of the two helping her. "Aelita! P-Perla?" She thought that was the second girl's name.

Kristen made an effort to stand on her own two bare feet. "I'm alright. Thank you! We must make haste!"

Perla Irven Aelita
A note? Someone left Zinnia a note? No, with the hallway so flooded with gas, with their peers all haplessly involved as well, it stood to reason that she was not the only one who had been given a note. Mayhap her suspicion was correct. Mayhap it was a test.

"Then the other half will see us away!"

Caeso ran with thunderous speed, his unbound hair whipping around. He could have Enhanced his legs, gained even more speed in so doing, but Zinnia would have been left streaming behind him like a tattered sail clinging to a mast. Or would have fallen back entirely. Until the exact nature of the test could be determined, it behooved them to stay together, overlapping strengths to cover what weaknesses came with being solo.

The stairs. Caeso went barreling down them three, four, five at a time, one hand pressed to the wall and the other clutched to Zinnia's arm. In this haze of poison? Contact was important. Who knew what could be lurking in it, as part of this "test."

Ingrained memory brought him to the front doors of the Dormitory. He didn't trust that they would not be barricaded, so before they even got close Caeso threw a Forcewave at the doors and blew them open. Blew them off their hinges as it so happened, each door clattering noisily outside.

He emerged into the fresh air, coughing, sputtering, but thankful that the air was, indeed, fresh.

After a second he finally saw it. The three summoned foxes. Bemused, he glanced sidelong to Zinnia and remarked flatly, "What in Kress's name is that."

"...Thanks." Perla said to Aelita.

She let the fellow initiate take the other arm and took an arm of her own. Just as she was about to drag the unconscious girl to the stairs, she the good sense to wake up. The first thing she checked was her modesty, which Perla hadn't even thought of. Well... either it was be dead or be immodest and Perla already put in too much effort to let her neighbor die. The stench of poison seemed to wake her up properly and tried to get onto her feet. At least now they didn't have to worry about how to transport her down the stairs.

Now that she was on her own feet, Perla felt less of a need to babysit either of them. The scrawny young initiate bolted towards the stairs and made her way down them. Her speed was surprising but she was small and running on adrenaline. She made it just in time to see Caeso fling the doors off their hinges with his magic. Five minutes. Perla ran out into the fresh, not poisoned air, and snatched the scarf off her face to breathe properly.

There were foxes.

"Oh for fucks sake." Perla grumbled.

Maybe it would've been better to have let herself get poisoned.

Kristen Pirian Aelita
She winced at his wince.

"I've got you," she said quietly.

With the way he reacted? How he trained and fought? It was easy to forget he relied on his animals to see. Tawny-eyes swept each end of the hall as she tugged Kor gently - but FIRMLY along. The other doors were open or destroyed. She had to assume the rest on this floor got out. If she'd seen one closed?

She would've urged Kor on and gotten them out.

She did hear familiar voices ahead. Through the foggy-haze she thought she caught Kristen, Aelita, and...was that Perla? Ahead, a very familiar noble voice and Zinnia's stutter. Relief made her focus all the more. At the stairs, she moved Kor's hand to her shoulder.

"Wall on your left. Hand on my shoulder. We've got lots of stairs. You ready?" And then she was off, moving as fast as her partner behind her could. Stairs-stairs-stairs - a blown doorway that only confirmed her suspicions of Caeso ahead.

And even though it looked as though the poison wasn't affecting her, the air outside still tasted sweeter as it hit her and Kor's faces...and exposed skin. "There's a note and three summoned foxes," Lu said quietly to Kor. "And the rest of the hall made it out."

That last part was important to her and if her suspicions about Kor were true, he'd probably think so too.
Not too long after Perla and Aelita began to carry Kristen out of the dorms, their patient seemed to stir and wake.

A snort followed when Aelita heard Kristen’s first words. Then a cough.

You’re modest enough,” Aelita replied as she looked over Kristen’s gown.

Despite Kristen’s claims that she was fine, Aelita would stay by her side and assist the wounded Initiate down the stairs and out of the building. A strained sighed emerged from Aelita’s lips as she saw Perla run ahead as soon as Kristen claimed she was good enough to walk.

Eventually, Aelita would have made it outside – dragging Kristen along if need be.

The first thing Aelita did was to take a long, deep breath of clean air. After a few lingering coughs, she ceased her fits all together. She looked over the courtyard to see several more Initiates from the same dorms making it out.

Aelita’s eyes spotted the shirtless Caeso and rather immodest Kor.

Well, at least there’s a positive to this mess,” she said beneath her breath – next to Kristen.

Looking back to Kristen, Aelita used her magically illuminated hand to examine the extent of Kristen’s injuries. At the least, Kristen woke up from unconsciousness – a very positive sign.

After that, Aelita scanned the courtyard to see the earth foxes and note left by Everleigh. Since no one went after it yet, Aelita took the initiative to walk over and examine the note.

As she began reading the note, Aelita donned a rather worn but neutral look upon her face. But as her eyes passed through each line, her eyebrows furrowed more as if confused. Then, her grip on the note tightened – crumpling the fragile paper. Her jaw tensed up in apparent anger.

What the hell?!” she yelled.

If any other Initiates gathered to read the note, Aelita would point at the drawing on the note.

I know her, I’ve seen her! She’s just graduated!” Aelita would claim.

Since this was the very first “lesson” Everleigh decided to give, not all Initiates (if any) would be fully aware of her new status in the Academy.

Aelita would discard the letter next – either to the next Initiate that wanted to examine it, or crumpled as a ball to the ground if none took it from her.

Let’s get the proctors,” Aelita said.

Then with a glance to Kristen and anyone else with obvious injuries, Aelita added, “And a healer.
Then the other half will see us away!
"Ohboyherewe goooooooo!"
Feet barely touching the ground, Zinnia did her best not to hinder Caeso's advance. He had both plan and purpose and, really, who was she to question that? If this was a test, then she wanted to succeed just as much as he did. She hadn't been prepared for quite the level of speed Caeso put forth, but she prided herself on her athleticism and she'd be damned if she proved herself a burden after he took it upon himself to aid her out.

Before she even knew it, a loud *boom* marked the telltale sign of Caeso's magic detonating, and suddenly she felt the cool rush of fresh air on her skin and . Thankfully she'd had the good sense to hold her hood forward through all that rush, but she coughed right alongside Caeso as the unpoisoned air began to fill her lungs and the choking vapors were forced from her body.

Zinnia met Caeso's glance, then looked to the note and the trio of magical vermin.
"...F-familiars?" She replied, now curious to know exactly what this was all about.

Immediately after, several other initiates came rushing from the violet haze and into the open, many of them also in various states of...immodesty. Which reminded Zinnia: Caeso still very much was holding her wrist, and she was very much lacking pants. A timely draft let her know just how little she was really wearing. She blushed crimson but fought the instinct to make a scene over it given that hardly anyone else was really much better off than she was at the moment.

By now Aelita was making a stink over all of this...ordeal, and making determinations about what to do next.
"Aelita, n-no...the proctors p-probably ordained this. C-could I see the n-note please? I m-might be able to make some s-sense of this," Zinnia piped up, the adrenaline still emboldening her just a bit. She glanced over to the young man who'd been so bold and helpful as to guide her out of the gas, a bit more shy than before. "Also, if I c-could, um...have my arm back, Caeso?..."

Kash mumbled sleepily, rolling over. He'd been studying all night ... why couldn't he just rest ...

Danger here. Awake! AWAKE!

That last exhortation to move hit with all the force of a cracking whip. Kash snapped awake, the bleariness fading in an instant as his muscles locked and a wave of adrenaline washed through his body. Shaking his head, he swung himself upright, irritation creasing his brow. What have I told you about waking me up? You may not need sleep to function, but I do. And you need me functional!

An impatience to match his own ground back against his thoughts.

Clouded death drawsss near. Away! Away!

Even as he readied a retort, the initiate finally recognized the malodorous fume that filled his nostrils, cutting off the thought as soon as it came. Poison. Poison gas. But why? From where? No, why didn't matter. Not yet, anyway. Resistant to the fumes as he might have been, that wouldn't buy him enough time to spend debating the whys and wherefores with himself; given time enough, it would end him as surely as any other Initiate. Speaking of whom—

The others. Sand's teeth, the others. They couldn't breathe poison. Were they alright?

No. He couldn't afford to waste time worrying about any of the others. Not even about—no. They could take care of themselves. But he couldn't afford to die; the consequences could be too severe, too disastrous. He dared not risk it.

Gritting his teeth, Kash closed his eyes and cleared his mind. It was a technique that came easily now, with the ease of long practice. Reopening his eyes, he quickly scanned the room, taking stock of the situation with a gaze that saw as clearly in the dark as day: missing doorknob, melted away. The window, barred and lined with glowing runes; not to mention the sheer drop. A note on the floor: "five minutes." He could read it from here; the handwriting was quite neat and legible.
Compliments to the writer. So it's a test, then.

Some of the tension went out of his shoulders. A test wouldn't necessarily be any less dangerous, but at least it would definitely have a solution—and it was unlikely to be deadly. The others would surely recover, even if they failed. He just needed to keep a clear head and determine what that solution was.

"Five minutes." The door was locked, the window barred. The implication is for us to find or make an exit ... but is the actual correct answer merely to survive the poison at least that long?

An angry stirring itched at the back of his scalp. It seemed not all parties were pleased with that idea. Okay, fair point; best not to risk it. You win this one. Shaking his head again and fighting down his own impatience, Kash looked back to the window. If this was spreading through the dorm, the hall would be no safer; the window, guarded and barred and stationed above a long drop though it might be, wasn't much better, but it was at least an improvement. Those bars are made of metal. And metal—

—isss weak.

The other surged within him, demanding release. And Kash granted it: a snap of the fingers; a quick gesture. Ethereal coils of indigo malice unwound from his fingertips, from the wall, from the very air, encircling the bars, slowly tightening their grip, exerting a dreadful crushing force that did not relent, but only grew. Metal could not flee; it could not dodge; it could not fight back. There was a vague crunching, then a creaking whine; the metal began to bend, then buckle; then, with a sharp crack, it broke away entirely, the coils dissolving into mist as the bars plummeted silently down the wall.

New coils stretched forth to take the place of the old, covering the runes which glowed so threateningly along the edges of the now-open aperture. There was a faint sizzling, and purple smoke began to rise, accompanied by a dreadful hissing. This, the other did not like; he wouldn't be able to force this for long. Already, a pounding headache was starting in Kash's temples as he grabbed his staff—still topped with chakrams from his training the prior day—and pulled himself up onto the writhing bed of serpents, crouching down to pass through.

Looking out, he hesitated for but a moment. Not from the drop; that was a mere twenty feet or so. He'd been trained to fall from much further heights. Simply tuck and roll. Momentum will do the rest. Nor was it at the sudden chill of the night air against his bare chest and feet; roused from slumber, he was clad only in black-dyed woolen leggings and an open-faced knee-length cyan robe. No, what gave Kash pause was the thought of the others still possibly trapped inside. Especially— No. Clear the mind. Best not to think about it. They would have to fare for themselves, with what advantages they had. Besides, by now, it was too late to turn back.

The protective bed of serpents beneath him was already thinning as his headache worsened and that all-too-familiar feeling of being somehow stretched grew within his mind. The initiate took a steadying breath, heedless of the poison he took with it and the wave of fuzziness it brought. He tossed his staff out before him, a bit to the side so it wouldn't be beneath him. He braced his legs; he pushed off ...

... and simply dropped.

His robe streamed behind him like a flightless pair of wings, the wind rushing briefly against his ears, a trail of indigo mist spiraling down after him as the last of the serpents faded. The ground rushed up to meet him, and—as he had been trained to do—he tucked his legs and shoulders in, rolling forward and letting the impact spread over his body as his momentum was redirected from vertical to horizontal.

It wasn't the cleanest of landings; Kash was a bit out of practice, and he'd definitely have a few bruises the next morning. But, other than a few aches and pains—and, of course, that awful headache, which he already knew he was going to regret for at least a week—he was unscathed, and at least able to keep moving.

Pulling himself upright, the initiate picked up his staff, brushed some accumulated detritus from the fall off of his robe, and started to make his way around the wall, towards where his sharp ears had already picked up the sound of familiar voices. Perhaps some of the others made it out, as well? Lifting his free hand to cup around his mouth and better project his voice, the initiate called out, his smooth tenor carrying well through the night air.

"Who's there? Lumen? Zinnia? Kor? Perla?"

Everleigh Ebersol | Lumen | Zinnia | Kor | Perla Irven
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Lumen had taken Kor from being in complete control of the situation to absolutely helpless. If she hadn't been so hasty to pull him to safety, he could have taken a moment to connect to one of his birds and guide him through whatever else this ridiculous challenge aimed to serve him. These frustrations were kept in his head, however, as Lumen took extra care to guide him through staircases and hallways to safety, showing a surprising amount of care to one who admitted himself a difficult person.

It wasn't long before he felt the cool earth beneath his feet and the gently gusting breeze against his flesh that told him they'd made it far from the reaches of the treacherous toxic tendrils that reached out from behind them. Compared to the poison gas, normal oxygen made Kor feel as though somebody had been squeezing his throat with their hand and finally had released him. Around him the mumblings and murmurs of his peers began to swirl upon being met with their next challenge.

Kor still couldn't see.

Possibly showing a bit of clairvoyance, Lumen spoke of the note (unwittingly omitting the contents and any hints left within it) and informed him of the spectral foxes. Kor turned his head towards the sound of her voice, his brow creasing in confusion. Was this another test? Lumen was being slightly lackadaisical on details now. "What does the note say? Who was it signed by? Why is Aelita being so loud?" Each question came right after the other, and it was becoming clear this partnership between Kor and Lumen wasn't sustainable for these challenges. "I apologize. You needn't answer."

With a click of his tongue against the roof of his mouth followed by a sharp whistle into the air, the birds from Kor's room emerged from the doorway behind him, all shooting up into the sky, seeking the freedom of the clouds. All save for one; his raven Repent moved directly to perch on his shoulder, talons pressing the flesh taut as Kor smiled, feeling that kindred spirit close enough to touch. The connection was made, and Kor's vision returned to him.

"Ah, that's substantially better." A sigh of relief left his lips, and the raven quickly snapped it's head to stare at Lumen through one beady eye. Without turning himself, Kor addressed her with a bow of his head, the long dreads of hair tumbling down his shoulders. "Thank you, Lumen. The assistance is noted. Now, where is this note?"

Repent launched from his shoulder, seeking whoever held that strange message currently and snatching
it from their grip with its talons, bringing it back to its master, who held it up for the bird to examine for him. Somehow, the cutesy visage of the purple-haired girl didn't shock him at all. In fact, as soon as he'd woken up to poison it had been his suspicion she was the culprit.

Still, even knowing this... part of him agreed with the fuming blonde figure of Aelita across the way. Who, know that he could see again, Kor noted seemed to not so subtly be stealing looks at a specific area of his anatomy...

Not that he particularly minded.

With a cry, Repent took flight again, circling around and gently dropping the note back into Lumen's hands as Kor turned on his heel to face Aelita head-on, a thoughtful hand finding his chin. "I'm frustrated as well, but I think it unwise to act too hasty. This is too organized to be the act of one-- Everleigh does not possess the know-how to bar doors as ours were, so it's very possible she had the help of a metal-bender. The only one of those that I can think of is staunchly on our side... so this may be an official exercise."

Being able to see--and hear-- from a birds-eye perspective lent itself to being aware of things others might miss easily. Kor made it a point to be knowledgable on his flock.
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Kristen went hurtling after Perla and Aelita. Others who successfully broke out of their rooms and evaded the malicious effects of the gas stood now just outside the dorm.

Well, at least there's a positive to this mess. Words, covertly said by Aelita but nevertheless picked up by Kristen.

"What do you—?"

She saw Kor, flushed intensely red at his alluring immodesty (adolescence often had a way of overriding noble upbringing), and shifted her gaze away. Right onto the shirtless Caeso. The red grew hotter and at last, with Aelita bringing her illuminated hand up to her forehead to check her bruise, Kristen had something more decorous (but less exciting) to focus on.

The foxes (foxes?) and the note, then, became the center of attention.

And a healer.

"I shall endure," Kristen said.

Zinnia and Caeso were crowding around the note. Path of least resistance, Kristen stood behind Zinnia, peering over the smaller girl at the note. And when she saw the small depiction of a familiar, purple-haired face, Kristen paled.

She remembered...a number of unpleasant things happening during the Punishment Games.

Perla Irven Aelita Kor Zinnia Everleigh Ebersol
They were joined by several more. Aelita, Perla (she hadn't fallen asleep in the alchemical laboratory again?), and Kristen. Lumen and Kor. Someone apparently had jumped from a window and their voice was calling from afar.

Aelita had been the first one to approach the foxes. All for the better, Caeso supposed. He was of a mind to take no chances, to blast the foxes all the way to Epressa, lest they too feature some hidden malevolence within. Though when Aelita took the note, nothing untoward happened.

Also, if I c-could, um...have my arm back, Caeso?...

He glanced down. Yes, in his wariness of the foxes, he had yet to let her go. "My apologies," he said, and did so relinquish her arm.

Aelita handed off the note, Zinnia taking it. Caeso came forward, having a look himself. And what was written upon it was infuriating. Kor spoke the name of the culprit out loud.

Caeso scoffed harshly. "'I read that kids learn faster.' Kids. What unchecked presumptuousness. What unearned arrogance! Scarcely removed from being our peer, this purple-haired, pox-ridden rat Everleigh has the nerve to condescend to us so! What foul times are upon us, when owing to desperation the Academy accepts outright failures as Proctors!"

Aelita Zinnia Everleigh Ebersol
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