Yeowang has been told that the worst of the goblins, the source of the goblins, has been removed from Karluin. There's a sort of placard here saying so. But all the goblins are not gone. Not all of them, and even /some/ goblins are bad. They make more, for one thing. But, also, this is training. And Yeowang is -intense- about training. It's different here than it was back in real life, though she's mostly come to grips with how things are. There's more goblins here than in real life, for instance.
But there'll always be bad people, and here, there's no school telling her not to go kicking people's teeth in for being bad. So, she will assemble a team of intrepid volunteers at the hidden passage underneath the keep, wide stone doors open, the dark waiting. "So," she says matter-of-factly, with the same emotion she'd display opening a board meeting, "Shall we do this?"
"Let's do this!", Uta exclaims, slamming the bottom end of her staff on the ground. "Let's clear this area from goblin vermin! Let's purify it through the concerted effort of Adventurers, for this is the way, at least until we find a way to disgorge a massive outpour of slimes into the place and let them take care of it. That day may not be today, but, fellow adventurers, mark my words! The day will come when Uta Furore shall have a majestic moving castle with a slime pump attachment, and will be able to channel a tidal wave of gelatinous adorableness into the most obstinate of dungeons, thus-"
She snaps back to attention, blinks, then shrinks, head sinking in her shoulders, legs pulled close togeher, even hunching over a little while she wrings her staff. "...S...sorry, I've been rambling again, haven't I?"
Karluin - Main Square
Since returning to the Isle of Beginnings, it almost seems as if a weight is hanging on Rylen. The normally easy-going and social Pooka has a troubled expression more often than not. Perhaps, despite his role within Crescent Moon, he may just be feeling a bit helpless.
What better way to deal with that then to kill some monsters, right? So, that is why Rylen has come on this little 'Adventure', despite his tendency to avoid Aincrad since his run in with the infamous 'White Whale'.
And then, he finds himself at a meeting. Why is it always meetings? The acrobat just leans against the wall, looking somewhat bored already, before they have even gotten started. "I'm just here to kill some monsters and burn off some stress." He shrugs. Yep, something is definitely eating at him.
As things would have it Vertina is already at the doors, doing some warm-up stretches. She stands and waves to Yeowang and others as they arrive. "I didn't know more people were coming down here this morning, but it's great timing!" She turns and looks up at the great gates. "My own training ventures aside, Scale wants to properly refortify the Keep as a defensively line, so if necessary in this 'war' people have a location to fall back to farther up the Tower and be more difficult to reach." Then tilts her head back to the trio. "But got to make sure none of the stray goblins have taken to trying to hide here, or leave more of their traps around."
So, before the party is allowed to proceed into the castle, Scale tactical officers call the party and sit us down for a briefing on the state of the ruin and what to expect. There are multiple documents to review, and dossiers and pictures with circles and arrows and paragraphs on the back explaining what they are. "Well, let's see if there's anything to all this ... completely unsorted information."
Yeowang nods to Rylen, "I expected just a monster hunting expedition, this is now a tactical exercise, it seems. But perhaops the goblins -do- warrant some caution." She smiles at Vertina's greeting, "Clearing goblins is always good training." Uta just gets a concerned look, and she nods about rambling. "That's okay, let's get this done."
Vertina just groans and paces around the first meeting, as it were. She stares at some of the gathered materials, but none of it makes any sense to her, being more the punchy-kicky tomboy sort. "Can we just get on with it? There's enough Keep it doesn't really matter which part we check over first, right?"
Karluin - Main Square
"Don't even get me started on tactical exercises." Rylen groans, rubbing at his temple as if he's had too many conversations about such things in recent months. "If it wasn't tactics against the undead, it was Xander complaining about uh..." And that's when he remembers Vertina is there, and seems to shut it quickly before he tastes boot leather any more than he already has.
He doesn't even try to look into the maps or other information, perhaps because he is well aware of how little tactical knowledge he actually has. It's been drilled into him plenty of times. He picks up a map or two, glancing over them, and then puts them back down before cracking his knuckles. "I'm with the fiery lass on this one. Let's just get going."
While other people complain, Uta just quietly scuttled off in the corner alphabetizing papers. Despite her general chaotic behaviour, someone like Rylen and Yeowang who get to hang out with her a lot, will have noticed that within her laboratory, all papers and data are neatly organized, alphabetized, and stacked with maniacal precision. Even her handwriting is so obsessively precise it looks almost printed. She's humming to herself, apparently enjoying this kind of paperwork. Alas, no matter how fast and thorough she is, the 'in' stack is far taller than the 'out' one, so the haste of the rest of the team might not leave enough time to finish...
Yeowang looks over the briefing materials, which Uta is alphabetizing, but scolds the Scale clerks, "This is horribly organized. It's no use to us as it is. A party would have to me scholars and intelligence analysts to get any use of this." She nods to Vertina, "Yes, this is /not/ usefully organized," and as Rylen seconds that opinion, she will proceed onward.
Onward, in this case, is to a placed called the 'Dragon Bridge', which is flanked by two turrets and a ramshackle gate.
Goblins open fire with bows and crossbows, and seem to have vats of boiling oil on the top of the battlements. "We should do this fast in order to limit our vulnerability," she says, in a Captain Obvious moment.
Karluin - Main Square
Maybe going in without any forethought was a bad idea. Under other circumstances, Rylen would usually be fare more careful, but ... things aren't normal. So, he finds himself, along with the others, right in the middle of a goblin killbox.
It's that moment when he can just hear Xander's voice in his head, telling him how stupid he's being at the moment. A voice that he quickly shoves to the side to focus on the issue at hand. "Right. Sounds like a plan."
He moves to try to push through and avoid being caught out in the open too long, but the Pooka is just a little bit off of his game at the moment, it seems. He takes an arrow to side, nearly downing him in the process. He rolls to get under cover, making a grunt of pain as he pulls the arrow out, you know, like you're totally not supposed to do.
"Alright, this is not going well."
Once they're out on the Dragon Bridge Vertina is back in more familiar turf. She squints a moment, and then in one of those split-second sixth sense moments kung-fu heroes have jukes abruptly to the side just as a crossbow bolt whistles past her ears. "Well well, looks like some of them took up hiding in the turrets again. And I was worried this was going to be a boring excersize!" The Salamander charges forward, using her quick reflexes to knock more shots out of the air as she rushes the far end.
Sometimes evasion is just evading being hit, not necessarily 'dodging' as it were. Parry and Deflect are Evasion cards after all!
The party moves on, and Uta doesn't. I mean, she does follow the rest of the party, but while walking, she's still cross-referencing papers and stowing them away in folders as well as she can. One folder held open with one hand, the other hand navigating and scribbling in pencil (a pencil which comes and goes from behind her pointy ear), moving sheets about, while a second folder is held between her teeth. Somehow, her staff is balanced precariously atop her head, horizontal. Atop a stack of papers which are swapped in and out with sudden ducking-and-yanking movements.
When arrows begin to shower around her, she dodges off to one side. Folders and papersgo flying everywhere, some even skewered by the weapons. Uta lands on the floor with a *THUD*. A dozen arrows pierce her body over her screams of pain, red dots glowing on the entry and exit points.
Five seconds later, the thinnes sheet of ice materializes in front of her, only to shatter immediately due to lack of structural integrity.
As the goblins attack from their makeshift fortifications, Yeowang and the others dodge incoming ranged attacks as best they can as they try to penetrate the defenses. They are ultimately unsuccessful, but Yeowang spots an alternate entrance that looks viable, with a bit of effort, and rather than defeating the fortification, they slip in around it. The passage is made of featureless gray stone, and is not unguarded as it first seemed. It's either back out into the lats fray, or onward through the fusilade of arrows and hope to find a place that's not guarded by goblin archers or their traps.
Vertina points down the passage of murder holes. "Yes, yes, this is -exactly- the sort of thing I came down here for! A gauntlet of formidable enough challenge to..." She briefly squats down in a runner's starting stance "... Try this!" And then she takes off. Takes off with such intensity that fiery sparks shower in her wake from her feet. She tears down the passage with such speed that the air around her superheats and ripples, creating that sort of distortion one seens on hot desert days. The goblins with their tiny field of view though the slits can barely see anything, several can be heard yelping as they rear back from the wash of hot air shooting some embers into their little killslots.
Vertina skids to a stop at the other end, smoke hissing from her heels. "I LOVE THIS NEW MOVE!" She will have to thoroughly thank Goldenblade later.
Karluin - Main Square
"For the last of the goblins here, these ones are sure putting up a fight." Rylen mutters to himself, doing his best to avoid being in the direct line of fire of the goblins. The wound in his side still seems to be slowing him down, however.
Despite trying to blast away some of the arrows as he races behind Vertina, he isn't quite able to avoid all of them. The elven performer is starting to look a bit like a pin cushion at the moment. He tosses away another arrow, leaving behind a wound in his leg this time. "Sorry guys. I'm really not on my game today." He leans against one of the walls, taking out a potion and chugging it to try to regain some health.
He can't help but smile at Vertina's enthusiasm, however. "Glad someone's enjoying themselves." He laughs.
Uta is still limping while removing arrows from her body. Her outfit was notably already gloveless (people might have heard of a certan accident where her hands got cut off and were promptly glued back by Prophylaxis -- but the gloves didn't make it), and now her gi/nurse's-uniform ensemble has turned a nice glowing red polkadot. "Curse. You. Goblins. Ow.!", she exclaims, pulling out yet another arrow with a grimace, the whole exercise made harder by also having to somehow try to keep together all those folders and sheets from earlier. "I've barely managed to re-organize these, and- OH CURSES!"
Arrows rain in again; this time, however, she leans into her usual istincts instead of fighting them: one swipe and pirouette, her staff is grabbed, swung above her head, then held at an angle, upwards, and spun as fast as she can. Powered by a Word Arte song, a blast of air repels and deflects the arrows directed her way.
Yeowang and the party finally break through the goblin defenders, and she mutters, "I feel like we haven't exactly been /clearing/ them. Perhaps this is why so many remain? Can they not be cornered and made to fight a decisive battle?" Rylen gets an emphatic nod. "Yes!" Vertina's fiery dash is very impressive, though. Uta's globe of air is also pretty effective ub staving off the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
The problem is that this is where the maps that Uta hold on to stop being helpful. Not that they were a lot of use before. The place is a maze, and now it's a matter of finding -anything- of tactical use. Or an exit, or anything? "Bueller? Anyone have any idea where we are? I just ran."
"When in doubt, we find a way." Vertina replies. "Besides, I'm pretty sure this place has more than one exit to different parts of the Keep." She considers a moment, trying to remember things she's seen others do. "Well, I can do -this-." She punches one of the walls, leaving a big dent in it. "This way at least we know where we've been, and can find a way to go from there." Which is what she does, punching spots when they turn corners or choose forks in the path, like a more violent version of the yarn in a labyrinth. It's about the limit of her 'map' know how.
Karluin - Main Square
"Well, hopefully we take out a few along the way and lighten the load." It's been a while since Rylen directly supported Scale actions within the Tower. Not that he had any issues against them like some others within Olympus Alliance, but his focus just tended to be elsewhere - more on people than on specific locations.
As they seem to get to a point where there is a need to navigate, Rylen tries to stand at his full height, looking around. His injuries still seem to be bothering him, but not enough for it to really hinder in this particular task. As Vertina knocks down walls, he follows behind her into the next hallway.
"Let me see if I can point us in the right direction." He touches the ground briefly with his fingertips, enough that people around might feel a slight tremmor as he does. Then, he lifts his head, "I think we can get around the barricades and through if we go this way."
The blast of wind from earlier scattered all of Uta's papers all about, so she had to, -yet again-, pick them up and sort them. At this point, Uta just tags along Vertina. She eyes the dents in the wall, and takes the opportunity to extend the maps she's holding with the new information. She does so by grabbing the pencil from her pointed ear, and scribbling down...
She looks at the stylus she's holding. "Wait, this is a goblin arrow, not a pencil."
So, amazingly, Vertina's navigational trick proves to be the useful trick that keeps us from going in circles and Rylen's naviggational insight, the party is led onward. Yeowang follows, lost, but still game to fight goblins while Uta attemps to notate maps with a goblin arrow.
The party finally finds itself at a dread portal that looks like it will go down, but not easily. Forcing it will make a racket that will precude a stealth attack on whoever's behind, though Yeowang's good with brute force at this point. When your only tool is a hammer, all the problems look like nails.
Or when you have Scales with you, every problem looks like kindling.
"We've made plenty of racket coming down here, and Amalthea isn't here to play Grandma's Hairpin with the locks, so...." Vertina reachs into her inventory and pulls out a flask of fiery red and orange liquid. "Fortunately I brought this. One of the failures in creating the Dragon's Draught, at least when it came to taste. But I found the combination of alcohol and alchemy has another useful purpose."
And then she chugs down the entire bottle, unflinching at the bitter taste.
Followed by her taking a breath, and then unleashing a glorious conflagoration from her mouth as it turns out the concoction, while a terrible social drink, is an extremely effective arsonic accelerant when applied to Salamander flame breath, setting the wood afire and even proving hot enough to start to burn through and weaken the rusted locking mechanisms.
Karluin - Main Square
Well, this is certainly a doorway that the Scale Emblem members hadn't gone through, by the look of it. Rylen approaches with a thoughtful expression, still limping somewhat. "Well, I'm not any good with picking locks, but let's see if I can do anything."
He touches a hand to the wall nearby, trying to channel more of that elemental Earth energy into it, perhaps trying to rattle some of it free. However, all it does is seem to rattle the whole barricade, making a few things fall off precariously.
The Pooka might have tried again, but then Vertina goes spewing fire and he steps back, trying to avoid being turned into a crispy critter. "Huh, I didn't know Salamanders could do that."
Uta whistles in amazement at Vertina's antics. "...Cool, think you can make creme brulee with that? That'd be an interesting novelty number for your inn."
Uta herself pushes her nurse's cap forward. "Hold on, let me attempt something." She inhales, and after a quick spin ending in a powerful "YAH!", her leg bursts forward to kick the portal, only to follow into a louder "YAAAAAAAAAHHGGHHH", and her falling down to one side, clutching her calf and thigh to her chest. The arrow holes left earlier glow brighter. "Too early! Too early!", she yelps, with tears to her eyes. "If we ever get out of this game, I -definitely- need to report how terrible the pain system is, even if dampened. Who would subject themselves to this for -fun-?!"
Yeowang is forced to agree with Rylen that this door has not been passed by Scale yet, because just as Vertina demonstrates, Scale brings the burn. Setting important parts of the door nicely ablaze, Yeowang is able to rip down the remaining barriers and the party enters. "Uta, you stood too close when beginning the kick," she observes. "That kick needs a longer runup." Ever the martial arts coach.
What the party finds is one of the leaders of the goblin occupation, and a lot of his entourage, who've asembled here, no doubt, while we wandered the passages. The elite goblin flunkies are a bigger threat than the king, though, and will require actual thohughtful tactics rather than a break-down-all-doors approach. But if we can take down this elite cadre, it will be a blow to the goblins.
Karluin - Main Square
As the most powerful enemy of all Adventurers is defeated (the door, of course), Rylen joins the others as they are greeted by a boss Goblin and their team of elite mooks. Surely, if they can defeat such a powerful mini-boss, this one will be no problem, right?
Rylen takes a breath, and then steels himself. "I'll try to distract them and keep the damage off the DPS. You guys try to burn them down." He isn't a tank. Not by a long shot. But... he's learned a thing or two about how to draw people's attention.
So, what follows is a display of acrobatics, some of which may be called gratuitous by means of a technique learned from Uta. It's enough to draw most of the aggro from the goblins, leaving the others a path for the boss.
"Yeah, what Yeowang said." But Vertina's attention is drawn from Uta's fumble to the goblin gathering on the other side of the doorway, pointing towards the throne. "There! That one must be trying to become the new King!" And of course a king has an army. Oh well.
Vertina rolls a shoulder, then grins. "Now the -fun- part. RRRRRRAWR!" She charges headlong into the mass of goblins. Literally. As in using her head horns like a battering ram to smash a few in the front line to make a way to the Elites. "These ruins are now under the watch of the Scale Emblem Alliance." Vertina leaps from her charge, grabbing one of the Elite Goblins and twisting around him, then planting her feet and twisting again to yank him off his own. The armor and size does little to deter her strength. "And we're enacting a strict No Goblins Allowed policy." The spinning throw YEETS the Elite across the room and crashing into one of the throngs of lesser goblin footsolders. "CONSIDER YOURSELVES EVICTED!"
Uta nods once, taking note of the feedback from Yeowang, and offers her a bow of gratitude. "Noted. I will pay more attention next time. Thank you!" Some people might have heard rumors that Uta has been training under Yeowang of late. Or, in the case of Yeowang at least, know this as a fact. Because she was there.
Uta stands back and plays the healer. An almost constant singing and pointing the healing beams from her staff at the party members who need it the most at the moment. While staying mobile and avoiding the entourage. As shown earlier, she's not really in any condition to kung-fu much, and let's not even -get- into her current shielding abilities; the most she can do is stab the monsters that get too close with the tip of her staff (while still singing and pointing the healing beam at her party).
When the fight draws to a close, and her song is conveniently reaching the finale, the crescendo to the last note leads to a high C so powerful it results in a shockwave that visibly ripples through the air, ready to crush anything it hits out of sheer power.
Yeowang and Vertina bring the beatdown to this party, rushing in, kicking the goblins hard enough to send them flying at time, or bursting into pixels, Vertina's battering-ram attack crushing several in one go. Rylen is there to distract most of the attackers, leaving the DPS to mow down the elites post haste. Uta's heals keep Rylen in the tanking game far longer than he would have otherwise been able to, long enough for Yeowang and Vertina to finish off the elite bodyguards.
The last of the bodyguard defeared, the king is next for takedown, but it looks like he's jumped down an escape hatch. Only Uta is even -maybe- small enough to go dow after her, and it'd be crazy to do so. Anyhow, the elites were the main threat, without them, the king will hopefully not be able to mount much of a threat by himself. Also, the king's loot has been left behind, so Yeowang starts pocketing gold.
"I'm going after the king!", Uta exclaims, limp-running for the escape hatch. But she gets distracted by loot along the way. "Oooh. Shiny."
Vertina walks over to the hatch. "Not safe to go down there alone." Granted, Uta already got distracted away from it. "I have a better idea." She walks over, grabs the throne the wannabe king had been sitting on, and shoves it hard enough to tip over. On top of the hatch. She steps back and dusts her hands off. "There, now wherever he went to hide, he's -stuck- down there for a while. If he doesn't die from starvation, one of the other cleanout patrols will probably find him."
Karluin - Main Square
With the goblins defeated, Rylen lets out a breath of relief and looks over to Uta, offering her a relaxed sort of salute. "Appreciate the healing, your magesty." Thankfully, Uta's healing is relatively powerful, since the poor Pooka had to face-tank most everything, or just dodge around like a damn fool.
With the King retreating, Rylen goes to look through the loot that is left, grabbing up at least enough coin to make sure he can replace the potions he'd used, and pay for all the repairs he's going to need to his armor and clothing.
Rylen's quip seems to have a therapeutic effect on Uta: it melts away all the tension that has kept her strung up.
She bursts into laughter, an inextricable mixture of adrenalin crash and genuine relief at not seeing Rylen as troubled as as the start of the quest. "Why, Sir Rylen," she begins in her whimsical posh English accent, "it is merely my duty towards a honoured Knight of the Ground Table. We had a lot on our tectonic plate of late, so it was imperative to keep you healthy in order to go from bold to boulder against that boss."