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In this conundrum, the spectral Emilia's first thought is to attempt to break through the sentinels' ranks, proceeding upward.

Her second thought is to have the party vault over the railing, plunging down into the depths. She doesn't know what lies beneath, if they'll go splat on the cold, hard ground, or if perchance there's a pool of water that can cushion their fall.

But hey, with only one arm left on her body, she's open to anything.

Then she sees Shen dash forward, breaking free from the inertia of stalemate; "Follow me!" he demands. He clambers over the railing, and seemingly leaps down – but he doesn't fall. Instead, he is levitating – floating in an energy bubble that has just appeared around him, carrying his weight.

And he is slowly fluttering upward.

Before the sentinels could react, Twisted Fate and Vayne are clambering forth – Vayne is yanking Emilia by her remaining arm when they all jump, joining Shen in shared levitation. The bubble is unsteady beneath their feet.

"Yee-haw!" Twisted Fate exclaims, pulling off his feathered hat.

The entire prison populace is in a cheer.

The sentinels are seemingly at a loss, regarding how to follow the escapees. Then, in unison, they decide to rearrange formation, so that they're now marching up to where the exit is at the top.

For Emilia, it reminds of the hive-mind mentality of bees; there must be someone, an alpha sentinel or the like who is giving out the master commands, feeding actions for the sentinels to execute. Alors.. she has no voice to communicate this insight, so all she can do for the moment is glare at those armours.

As Shen's energy bubble rises – above them, the sentinels swivel from their forward march, turning inwards towards the railing, then--

They dive, towards them. Bouncing off the shield's barrier that is made tangible upon their impact. Emilia notices how with each sentinels' attempt to land, Shen seems to wince painfully, his meditative pose shuddering, as if their impacts were directly affecting him. And the way it looks, this ninja isn't holding up well to their landing assaults.

Vayne seems to be aware of Shen's wincing also, so in tense readiness, she focuses on taking down the incoming sentinels, shooting bolts on their sides which (just barely) deflects their incoming path away from them.

They're almost to the top. The ceiling is a 30-foot dome of stalactite frost.

"We're sure getting there," Twisted Fate goes, as he joins in with Vayne, tossing hooplas of explosive cards at the falling sentinels, pop! He glances at Emilia. "Just gotta hold on for a little more."

Suddenly, there are more, unexpected jolts in the bubble's rise – from the sides and below, the sentinels are swinging their maces at their energy bubble, and like a balloon, the bubble is swung left and right of the spiralling stairway, as each sentinel gets its turn at swinging at the pinata.

"Can't.. hold it.." Shen mutters under his breath. "Prepare.. to jump..!"

Indeed, Shen's energy balloon is faltering, and its outlines are made visible as violet strands, on the verge of being ripped apart at some points.

Twisted Fate decides to leap forth onto a vacant area, and Vayne and Emilia follow him too – Shen also, a second later.

Two spirals upward is the exit doorway. They're surrounded on both flanks by sentinels.

"I suppose we'll just have to wing it," Twisted Fate says, before he tosses a detonator card forward into the midst of them, which in an explosion sends the sentinels flying from the zone of impact – either tumbling down the shaft, or being wedged along the wall.

The walkway ahead of them is fractured, and taking a step, the group finds the walkway portion collapsing down in crumbles. The resultant gap is just barely a leapable distance.

Twisted Fate doesn't falter. He yanks out from his entire deck to lay down and fill the gap with a bridge of cards, and everyone crosses it – stepping on the card surface is surprisingly sturdy, Emilia finds. Once everyone has crossed, Twisted Fate retracts his cards back into his deck, and proceeds to throw another detonator card into the foray of sentinels; this time, aiming more upwards so the walkway does not collapse.

Eventually, they make it to the exit, without pursuit.

"Brrr.. it's freezing in here," Vayne comments. They're ascending the icy stairway, their breaths like mist in the refrigerated environment. "Are you sure this is in Anor Londo?" she asks Emilia, before they emerge into a much warmer hallway. "I guess it's time to find out.."

For some reason, Emilia finds it hard to focus on her surroundings – everything is starting to look blurry to her vision. Then she sees her ghostly hands and arms start to melt. Her spectral form collapses onto the floor, and she emits a muted screech of terror before--

Back at the bonfire, Emilia's real eyes snap open, seeing Lulu.

"Emmy!" Lulu exclaims. "You're awake!"

"I know where they are," Emilia says. "They're escaping from Anor Londo's dungeons."

January 2017

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