Duty Session 404: Zombie Jamboree
While those who had controlled the undead hordes of Ninetails are now sealed, at least temporarily, there are still many that roam the lands, creating a menace to the people of the Kingdom. Rylen Corvus of Crescent Moon has worked with the Merchant Blades and the Peko Army to commission a Hunter's Guild quest to help thin some of these numbers.
Rec. Party: 3+
World Rewards: Reduce the number of roving undead in the Ninetails Dominion.
Wake has been busy. She's been running around a long list of places one might call the 'middles of nowhere'. After a brief pitstop home, she's launched herself off to the Ninetails. She made a promise to continue the push to eliminate the undead. She is here to make good on it.
She's dressed in a simple, but finely cut black dress, the sides slit for mobility. She stands waiting, her expression neutral, her focus direct at her surroundings. She's isn't expecting trouble to come to her, but she does mean to find it as soon as possible.
She announces, "Ready to go whenever we're ready."
She looks around at the rest of the group that has gathered around the Baroness, asessing each of them with the same steady gaze. "You all ready to dance?"
After an enlightening conversation (and a sound trouncing from an impromptu trainer), Gallant has decided to take some self-improvement detours and tackle on some of the troubles of the land... that were not directly linked to the Palace Landers. After all, he had been told, clearing dungeons and tackling dangers would eventually help towards making him stronger, and therefore of actual use against the invaders.
Well, that is the plan, anyways.
So that is why he is here, coming to lend his swords for a good purpose: the clearing of the undead. At Miyako's question, the lion grins and draws his swords, "Ready as I'll ever be!"
Just how ready that is, though...
Hold that thought.
It's a case of zombies who aren't exactly here for music and dancing. They're here to cause trouble, and they need to be stopped.
"I've got a feeling you're right, Miyako," Kotono replies as she takes out her daggers and checks to make sure they're sharpened. "Good thing I keep my blades sharp." She smirks a little. "Time to send these beings back to the afterlife!"
This time she just happens to come across a group of familiar faces also preparing to deal with one of the pockets of foul fiends. "This is certainly fortunate timing." Her falcon gives a soft kree of agreement before taking skyward, freeing Shiruba's arm so she can properly draw and arm her magic longbow. "This problem needs to be dealt with before a new dominance can fill the void of power left in their ranks."
Wake acknowledges everyone as they appear. Her curtsey is particularly graceful, though it's hard to say from a mechanical standpoint just what it is that makes it different. Practice makes the perfect ever more perfect, perhaps. Regardless, her introduction is offered in an even, relaxed tone, regardless of these unsightly surroundings.
"Thank you for joining me, everyone. I am Baroness Wake of Eas. We are here to clear out the undead. You can see their handiwork all about you."
The village looks a mess, with things discarded in all directions. Clearly the landers who dwelled here had to beat a very hasty retreat.
The work lies ahead and through the outskirts, towards a cemetary. It's always a sure place to find undead, isn't it? And it's no exception in this case, either. As the party approaches, the slow, shambling undead move between the monuments, showing no sign of even noticing their doom approaching.
"My friends.. you may begin showing these creatures back to their rightful place in the earth," Wake says softly before racing ahead to attack.
Slipping out of the shadows, however, Miyako finds she's misjudged her target. The zombie hasn't continued on its way, but is facing directly towards her. Well, that's going to make the fight harder.
Not that it's a terribly long fight even with the handicap.
Shiruba takes a few pot shots at the deadheads, but focuses mainly on darting her way through the cemetary. These shuffling corpses weren't worth expending excess time on, not when there was likely bigger threats within the village itself.
Fortunately her bird has perched higher than the zombies can grab at her with their limited dexterity, and takes off again once Shiruba has made it pass the worst of the lot.
"You'll get there, Miyako," Kotono says as she finishes off the zombie that was looking right at Miyako. "For now, let's just be glad it didn't come off worse."
A first real encounter with the undead can be a little daunting. As part of the melee detail, Gallant advances, using his blades to try to cut down what few creatures come within his reach. Unfortunately, all enemies he has fought up to this point have been alive (or some concept of alive, anyways), and their reactions are different. He isn't quite used to hacking someone's arm off and having that someone be largely unfazed. And ready to retaliate.
A startled yelp followed by the attack, and the lion cuts the creature down, sending it back to the land of pixels. He glances at the wounded shoulder and grumbles, "Great. I hope this doesn't turn into one of those episodes where a member of the party gets zombified and turns on the rest..." He presses on.
The shambling zombies only notice they are under attacked after they are already well in-hand. Since she was closest, Wake has no trouble at all rushing forward to deliver a powerful sneak attack, striking several of the monsters before they even know what's hitting them.
"I hope the rest of them are as observant as these beasts," Wake comments glibly.
The zombies manage to hold their own only for a brief time. Even though Miyako isn't able to make a sneak attack, Kotono's strike is successful, clearing out the threat immediately.
Yeowang is able to swiftly overcome many of the zombies. Near Yeowang, Gallant meets the undead for the first time. It's not a flawless meeting, but many adventurers have suffered far worse from their first victory. Though Shiruba isn't able to devstate the enemy with ranged attacks, their low hit points have them exploding into pixels left and right under the pressure of the adventurers.
With the first group of undead put to rest, the team is able to catch a moment's respite. In a short while, the sound of a wind chime. Spotting the source of the sound reveals an odd sight, indeed. Under the chime is a strong zombie with an empty bottle of alcohol in its left hand while the right drumbs out a steady, somber beat on a barrel. All about it, empty and half-broken bottles are littered. Seeing the adventurers, the beast slowly settles its attention on them. An eerie glint comes to its eyes as it surveys the party, still drumming out that strange, slow rythm.
And then turns to run farther up the street because that is probably not going to work.
Nevertheless, Kotono decides to try distracting it. She throws a rock in its general direction, not intending to strike it but merely get its attention. Unfortunately, the rock goes a little wide and nicks the creature, which takes notice of Kotono.
"Oh crud," Is all the green-haired Spriggan gets out before she takes off running.
Hey! It's a monster! He handles monsters!
"Wait, guys, I got this!"
He begins to approach the malevolent creature. He advances towards it, arms held to the sides in a trained conciliatory gesture, "Now... now- good b-"
And then he gets a glimpse of that glint, and it's all over. It becomes extremely evident that this is one creature that, in life, had a one track mind for bloodlust. The mind may be gone, but that track is still there.
"Nnnnope! I don't have this!" he says, turning on his heels and pulling a Brave Sir Robin, following the example of his team mates.
Soft. Soothing. Almost like a lullaby. That's the tune that swells up around the zombie. Perhaps to lull it back into somnolence?
It's too late for that, unfortunately. Or perhaps the zombie's eardrums have just rotted away too much for it to hear her contribution. Either way, it's time for a fight.
... or not. With the others turning to find another path into the town, Miyako shrugs, giving the zombie a 'whatchagonnado?' sort of smile, before she turns to sprint after them.
Well, this goes poorly. It's a strong zombie, and it seems the alcohol has powered it up. There is a strong vibe of drunk boxing meets zombie monster in the battle.
Various attempts to get the creatures attention fail. The thrown bottle by Shiruba seems to only make it angrier, and it roars at the thrown bottle! Being repeatedly slammed in the face and kicked by Yeowang does not improve its mood one bit.
The rock hardly helps matters. It focuses its anger at Kotono. Suddenly it lifts the barrel above its head, showing no strain at all, and readies to throw it, Donkey Kong style, at the Spriggan.
The attack is delayed momentarily by Gallant's attempt to get the creature under control. There's a moment where things seem to be in the balance. That moment passes and soon Gallant is opting for the better part of valor. Miyako's song is heard just as Gallant races by, but that, too, seems ineffective. Perhaps the creature is deaf as well? It just roars in anger and gets ready to throw the barrel.
In the midst of this, Wake is able to clutch a smaller defeat from the jaws of.. catastrophic defeat? She manages to use a nearby hammer to break the barrel in the course of Miyako's song, dumping cheap beer on the zombie monster in a deluge.
There's no point in waiting to see what follows. Wake swiftly moves on with the group to the next problem, hoping that it isn't quite such a niche situation.
Leaving the wind chimes and the alcohol-soaked zombie behind, the party quickly runs into another enemy! This time it's a massive undead mess, with a smaller zombie hanging out the side of the beast's stomach. Worst of all, the group has interrupted the thing's meal. It's not happy!!
Only to have it fizzle out almost immediately.
"This is embarrassing," Kotono says with a sigh as she runs away again.
A concoction he bought from an itinerant merchant specializing in potions. From her, he had bought a combustive philter, according to her, that would cause a powerful conflagration focused in a very area. The perfect thing to clear something like this, right?
He reaches into the pouch hanging from the side of his loincloth and retrieves a flask. Without looking at it, he flings it with the haste brought around by desperation and-
A green-brown substance drips down the abomination.
There are no flames.
"... crap." Right. He also had bought specialized fertilizer for a portable garden as part of a fetch quest for a villager. Which he had given to - "... oh no."
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE FARM: *WOOOOOSH*
"Goddamnit Yayoi, what the hell did you water those pumpkins with?"
"Right. Run away."
He turns tail and follows Kotono. "This really isn't our day, is it..."
All she says outwardly, however, trying to sound cold and uncaring, is "Focus, Ko-chan. It's just another target."
The young Spriggan produces a few pouches of ingredients from about her person, mostly her firestarter kit, and adds a bit of rust taken from a doorframe to improvise some thermite. The powder is tossed into the gaping hole that the ... the /second/ zombie is emerging from, as she sprints past the monster. "Hit it with fire!" she yells, as the fuse on the improvised bomb burns to its end and ignites.
She doesn't stick around to watch the results. It's time to gafiate. She runs hard to catch up with Kotono and the rest of the party.
"Well, this has to get better!"
Wake knows that is not strictly true. And it's also not true in this case. Wake's work with light is so ineffective it's not clear what she was even attempting to do. Thankfully, everyone is running in short order anyway, so there's minimal need for explanation.
It's not like most of the group was delivering top performance in this challenge, anyway. Shiruba's attempt to use alchemical arrows results in losing some arrows. The little zombie thing does make a rather high pitched, horrific keening in response, though, so that's something. Kotono's light attack puts an end to that, but only for a moment. Like a flash bulb, it bursts in and out of life almost instantly.
Yeowang has the same level of luck, but at least she gets to hit the thing a few times. Hopefully at least it addresses the frustration of the round.
That level of frustration also might be mitigated by the rather curious contributions of Gallant in this particular fight. While at first, the unpleasant concoction reveals no effect, a moment later it gives off a scent that is most motivating. As if the party needed any more incentive to get out of here!
The monster, now smelling like an over-used latrine, rushes at the fleeing party, only to be cut off by yet another bit of alchemical work. In this case, a large explosion covers the retreat of the party and soon the double zombie poo-smelly monster is left in the dust. If only that were true of the smell!
As the group continues to work its way (okay, the party is really just fleeing this way by /chance/).. in any case, the party is heading towards a larger building, likely the home of the highest ranking noble in the settlement. However, their progress is cut short by the sudden appearance of a monster wrapped in cloth. This is odd in these parts. But more odd is the fact that this particular undead creature is balancing on a high wire. A nimble backflip later and the zombie's flashing its teeth and moving to attack.
"Finally, a problem I really know how to deal with!" remarks the wolfgirl as she pulls an arrow, nocks it in her bow, and fires. The Spell Fletcher magic takes over, the arrow glowing bright red-orange until it impacts with the mummy's body where it explodes in a burst of flame. And guess what? Embalming fluid soaked bandages prove to be quite flammable!
"OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!" Gallant bellows, skidding to a stop and sheathing his swords, "I've /had/ it with the undead!"
His hands move in a blur, and a spark of magic turns into a revolving sphere of fire that leaves him and impacts the monster right after Shiruba's arrow takes effect. Fire to feed fire. His approach to the undead and spiders are pretty much the say: Kill it with fire!
"Looks like I'm gonna have to cut this thing's bandages off," Kotono says as she draws her blades and prepares to deliver a running strike at the mummy...
Only to have her blades fall out of her hands. Missing the mummy completely no less.
With a diving roll, Kotono picks up her blades and then waits until she's a safe distance away before stomping her foot and letting out an angry noise.
Curved daggers in each hand, she runs forward alongside Kotono, her face grim as she prepares for the fight.
It's a short fight. She cuts the thing's hand off as it reaches for her, and then it's overwhelmed by Yeowang's martial arts. So the Spriggan takes the oppportunity to demonstrate why Spriggans are known as 'backstabbing bastards' among landers -- by backstabbing the bastard mummy. Thirty-seven times.
"Anybody got a light?" Wake asks playfully. She's been on enough adventures with Prophylaxis to recognize what is, essentially, an animated wick in front of her. She sets the thing ablaze immediately, dodging back and away to avoid scalding herself (and frankly, looking rather elegant in the process). She hopes the earlier effort is forgotten.
Clearly Wake isn't the only fan of fire, either. Shiruba's delivery is, admittedly, more impressive. Gallant adds even more energy and heat to the mix and the mummy goes up as a proper torch now. It does appear to be in agony, though it's not clear if the undead really 'feel' the pain.
Just as the flames die down (those wraps can't last forever, after all), Yeowang beats the unliving snot out of the damn thing, striking it so hard the flames go out entirely.
In the mix of this fight, Kotono's issue with blade-management is not quite so noticable. It's not like the zombie is going to do much.
In fact, since Miyako removed both the creature's hands, there is little it can do at this point, besides get back stabbed. Thoroughly. So thoroughly that Wake has to give the offended Spriggan an uncertain look. Still, zeal is to be admired!
Feeling just a little more confident, the group runs into the last challenge. It's at the noble's house in the middle of the town. While looking around, sensing danger, a vampire swoops down into their midst.
"Ah, how thoughtful of you to deliver yourselves! I am in need of more reinforcements!" it calls out, smirking. It then leaps into the assault!
"Not tonight." She takes aim. "And not ever again!" The air power is reaching the point the charging spell is starting to sound like a howling wind, and then Shiruba lets go to fire. "TYPHOON SHOT!"
The windy wail only intensifies when the 'charged shot' is fired, howling through the air with the same speed and force as a screaming cyclone compressed into an elemental projectile to shear through the target!
"Like hell I am going to join the sad-sack possee of a man who looks like he dresses out of his great-grandmother's doily drawer!" the lion roars and draws his swords again, the blades glowing white-hot with magical fire. After Shiruba fires, he lunges forward, the glowing tips of the blades before him as he aims to impale the vampire. Fire hurts vampires, right? He can never remember exactly what kills what when the thing you are trying to kill got killed a long time ago. It's complicated.
Her attempts at using magical techniques backfire and she fails to do much damage to the vampire.
"I'm going to sharpen my blades even more when I'm done," Kotono mutters with sarcasm as she rolls away to avoid becoming vampire sushi.
"Reinforce *this*," she says, and inscribes the last rune by flipping Mr Vampire the finger. "I'd say drop dead, but it would be redundant, so... drop /deader/."
Whatever her spell was supposed to do, it doesn't seem to do much more than annoy the creature, unfortunately. It's distracted for a moment, but shakes it off all too quickly.
"Well, we approach the end at last. It's time to turn up the heat again!" Sure, it's not much of a one-liner, but Wake's not terribly interested in snappy one-liners. She just wants to convert this thing to loot.
When all you have is fire to use, the whole world looks like a lot of fun. Undead generally don't like fire, and this vampire is no exception. Wake has to get close, but with a rush of flame she sets the enemy's fancy cape ablaze.
Before the vampire can punish Wake for getting too close, Shiruba's arrow strikes home, staggering it away from her and shearing a hole right through it's torso. The damage is massive, but it's still alive. Well, not alive, it's.. it's just not really dead.
Not for long, though. Gallant's blazing weapons tear through the undead flesh as if it were butter. Where they cut, flames leap up. Even after the attack, the damage goes on.
The vampire launches a few more attacks, but it fails to strike Kotono. The magic may have failed, but it did serve as another distraction. Turning to attack, the vampire finds itself met by Yeowang. The attacks do not inflict damage, it seems, but the vampire can't seem to attack effectively, either.
Sensing its danger, the monster seeks to flee, but is held up at the last moment by Miyako's attack. No more damage is inflicted, but it buys enough time for further flame and air damage to put it to a much-deserved ending.
The vampire's last cry rings out in a horrible tone, "The Queen has abandoned us!!"
"Vampires and many undead have unusual rules for damage. In the past, when I was a regular raid scout, I'd sneak in and try to find out a few of them. It was fun! But.. that was back when this was just a game, and death was just a dratted inconvenience," says Wake.
She lets out a soft sigh, forcing that unhappy reflection away with an effort. "You add some fire, add some light, generally that keeps you viable when dealing with them. But as we saw today, that's not universal. Special encounters throw a wrench in everything we do."
Kotono sighs as she puts her blades back in their sheaths. "Next time I'll try to be more careful," The Spriggan says with a scowl. She then looks to Miyako and says, "Come on, let's go relax someplace."
"One down, still plenty more splinter groups to deal with," she mutters as she puts it all away afterwards. Then nods a bit to Wake. "It's good to know certain expectations, but not to rely on only them. Things are rarely that cut and dry anymore."
She holds out her gloved arm for her peregine to come land on. "Thanks for the heads up on that mummy, girl."
Gallant shakes some vampire dust off his mane, grumbling, "Augh, I am going to have to bathe to get bits of dude dust off me. That's just gross..."
He glances at the group, then at the Baroness, and he smile. "I have to admit, for a moment there I thought we were all doomed. But somehow we managed."
He looks back at Yeowang, "The Baroness is right... the undead have their own peculiarities for damage. This is my first time fighting them. And it is just so STRANGE how my EXPLOSIVE POTION just completely FAILED to go off. They must have some neutralizing power. Yes."
He glances sideways, to see if anyone is buying it.
Whatever the case might actually be, she seems satisfied with her examination. "Hey, at least my thermite impro worked. That thing was just effing disgusting."
She turns back to Kotono, stepping close to slide an arm around the taller girl. "That sounds like a great idea. I saw a sign for a bath-house in the last town we passed on the way here."
She nods at what Miyako says. "Yes that's a good point. I guess this is just food for thought and should give me some new direction for growth."
"Well, the game generally wanted to force us to be flexible or gather certain items. But back in those days, before the Cursed Wave, I'd say everything made a lot more sense. Considering things now.. it's all gone sideways." At least, that is how the Baroness views it.
"The important thing, though, is that we made it through together. The alliances can overcome anything if we stand together when it counts." Though Wake isn't really addressing the duties. She has bigger fish to fry.
"Getting the undead out of Ninetails is critical, in any case. Then we can focus on dealing with our Palace Landers." Wake is so totally not a fan of them. Well, except for the uncrowned.
She diverts her attention to Shiruba, "Do you have a decent idea of just how many more pockets of these things remain? I know we sealed their power center off, but I can't claim to know just what is left to deal with. People need to get back to their homes."
Something happens to Gallant at the mention of The Other Life. He seems to completely ignore those comments. Almost as if it had never been mentioned, he dovetails into the Baroness' remarks, "Indeed. We will kick the undead's sorry asses out of here and then..." he cracks his knuckles, "We send the Palace Landers crying all the way back to Queen Lollygag Latrine's throne. Count on me for whatever more clearing missions are needed to cleanse the land from these shambling monstrosities."
"Oh, they will all get what is coming to them. For enslaving adventurers, the punishment will be terrible, indeed." The Baroness turns her attention to the south. "For now, though, I must make my way back to Eas. No doubt sooner or later our enemy will come for a visit. I must make their welcome... memorable."
She turns to face Yeowang and Gallant, smiling suddenly. Once more she glides into a deep curtsey, "Farewell, my friends, until we meet again! Watch your backs."