SpritesHero is displeased. This much is obvious even through night's gloom, tastefully suffused with a soupy fog that The Game has evidently decided is important for undead-themed quest. First, the report from an all-too-perky (and more than a little jumpy) Peko scout that leaves Robert staring in what can only be described as skeptical disbelief. Then the temperature drops, causing him to pull his cloak more tightly around his Sprigganesque frame. And looming over this entire unimpressive exchange is the fort itself, its walls an imposing and, at least in the dark of night, monolithic slab of black that blots out half the sky. "I seriously need some better help," Robert can be heard to mutter, bleakly.
"Did you ask for help?"
Ayame surfaces through the mist, tugging a slim-fit jacket over her shirt, the ribbon at her neck gleaming as she looks around and lifts a hand to Robert. The wand in her bun gleams a little in the fog, but she still looks unhappy about it "You'd think we'd avoid dark and nasty places after the last few times, but nice to see you. What do we have?"
"Ask and ye shall receive," quoth Robert, glancing over his shoulder at Ayame and giving a brief nod of greeting. A mildly disturbed expression filters over his features as his gaze lands on her ribbon, but the moment passes. He turns back to the task at hand.
"If the places weren't dark and nasty, they wouldn't need us," he points out, straightening his increasingly fog-distressed clothing as best he can. "Undead. Apparently rampaged through the fort and took control. They've got some sort of nasty spell they're currently constructing, and we need to intercept it. 'Intel'"--and yes, he does air-quote with his fingers as he shoots a dirty look in the general direction of the rapidly retreating scout--"says that it is an easy matter, and that all we need to do is, and I quote, 'get to the fort, over the wall, across the courtyard, and into the tower. Stop the magic.' They'll handle the rest, they say. Though they seem to have buggered off splendidly."
"I'm sure they'll involve themselves as soon as victory is assured" Ayame murmurs with a small smile, reluctantly unslinging her shield and hefting it, testing the weight and nodding to herself as she makes small adjustments to it "It certainly sounds easy, the way they've described it, but I'm sure we'll find more. How reliable do you think, is that" She gives a sigh, and lifts her free hand, before it extracts the wand from her hair.
SpritesHero's eyes momentarily glow with concentric circles of blue and crimson. "It's reliable," he concludes, with a smile that is somewhere between amused and wry. "Grossly misleading and ethically reprehensible to the point of being outright suspect, but -technically- accurate." His hand lifts to indicate the wall. "Half dozen patrols. Three stationary there, there, and there. Three more actively patrolling. No clue what's on the other side. -And- it looks like we'll have to climb over."
"Climb I can do. But you can do first" Ayame says primly, as she shucks her coat to free her wings, fluttering them carefully and looking up "But first, let me see about covering up what I can see up there ..."
She flicks the wand, carving runes through the air with slashes and sweeps, glowing a dim lilac as slowly, slowly, clouds rumble in overhead, dimming the stars and thickening the mist into a denser fog
"Naturally," Robert agrees, blowing unwittingly past interpersonal danger zone with all the awareness of Pooh, after having spotted a pot of honey.
Physically his approach is less aggressive. Utterly silent, mind--even a wraith seeping its way through that fog would be hard-pressed to be as stealthy--but he does keep his pace slow and comfortable, to ensure they do not get split up. Though to be fair, at this point Ayame has thickened the fog to the point where one just might be able to cut off a slab and snack on it. So for all practical purposes, Robert could probably simply just walk up to the wall with no problem. But standards must be maintained. He only pauses once he reaches the wall's base.
Ayame follows after Robert as they make their way through the murk, looking around uneasily and only pausing once they're at the base of the wall. She walks on tiptoes, aware of the click and clack of her heels, so it's an exaggerated little sneaky motion. She keeps her wand below her shield, hiding the light it emits.
"Pretty tall" She mutters, looking up "How often do you go climbing?"
SpritesHero grimaces. He looks up. And up. And up. And grimaces again. All of which can be summed up elegantly by him turning back towards Ayame with a grin and a helpful shrug. Nope. It would appear that he does not climb.
Luckily! He seems to have another idea. He places his hand on his chest, lifts his free hand as though it were an elevator, and then slashes it down across the length of the wall.
Ahh. Hand gesture codes. But not particularly formal. Hopefully understandable. Or at minimum it indicates that the stealth option is now gone. There is a sudden swirl of arcane energy beneath his feet before he blasts upwards over the vertical face of the wall and out of sight. What happens after is less clear, though puffs of black smoke can be observed to propagate down over the length of the wall.
Ayame looks up after Robert, shaking her head, and she just calls up softly "Showoff"
Her ascent is a low slower. Weighed down by her shield, slung onto her back as she does, it disables her wings and stops her catching her ascent. She slips a few times, scuffing her gloves and boots, which might indicate one reason she wears them. And there are more than a few yelps before a hand emerges over the top and, panting, she pulls herself up, glaring daggers at Robert and shaking her head before she rolls to her back, recovering herself
During her ascent, there is the sound of thumping, of metal hitting stone, of bone shattering. And then there is silence, interrupted only by the momentary silhouette of Robert's head and torso peeking over the edge to make sure she's alright.
But outright assistance is never offered, and by the time she makes it to the top of the wall (glare and all), he's busily engaged in studying the courtyard in front of them. "'Intel'", he informs her, using air-quotes again, his manner that of one blithely ignorant her glare (or just supremely unobservant), "neglected to inform us that they mined the courtyard. Needless to say they did not provide a map."
"This day keeps getting better" Ayame stares at the courtyard, shaking her head.
"I mean no offence at all, but their .. intel ... frankly, could be a touch better" She notes with the faintest of exasperated looks "I suppose it's just a run for it" She muses after a moment "I have no clue about these, and the faster we move, the safer we'll be."
"I fully mean offense. Their intel isn't." Robert asserts. And then he is silent, save for his slightly quickened inhalations and exhalations as he continues to survey the courtyard.
At length he steps back, cracking his neck and bouncing up and down to limber himself up a bit. "No," Robert decides. "I'll do it. So long as you go where I stepped, you should be fine. Wait for things to explode before following please. Though fair warning, I'll be just about drained after this even if it succeeds, so it'll be your job to get us through the other end."
"If you insist, but honestly, I don't see this ending well for either of us" Ayame murmurs, shaking her head. The wand emerges, as a little barrier magic forms below them both, before she sets off at a quick, panicked trot
And it doesn't end well either. True, Robert blazes across the field quickly enough. And true, mines go off. Unfortunately, they go off rather faster than he was expecting. And while he never quite ends up...uhh...decorating the courtyard, he's definitely on the singed and sooty side of things once he ends up on the other side.
And oh, how he wishes he had time to catch a breather! But there's a sudden hiss, and a thunk as an arrow sinks into the wood of the door-frame inches from his nose. Woops. Seems like reinforcements for those patrols on the front wall have showed up.
With barely a moment to unsling her shield, Ayame manages to catch up to Robert. True, she'd not been blasted across the room, but explosions and blasts had definitely buffeted her, scuffed and slashed at her shirt and skirt and gloves and boots, leaving her less than her best.
And annoyed. Very annoyed.
She runs her wand around the rim of her shield, muttering, breathing hard, and managing to gasp out "Watch for - "
" - archers" She breathes, staring at the arrow embedded in the mortar of the wall between them
Boy. Robert's grimace is getting an awful lot of practice today. If he's not careful his face just might get stuck in that "I'm pretty sure the Gods hate me today" expression.
But there isn't much time to waste on theological reflection at the moment. So he simply ducks down, pulls a slender wire and a thin..spatula of some sort out of his belt, and sets to work on the locks. "Cover me," he requests. Evidently he means it too, for he completely turns his attentions away from that hissing of incoming arrows.
Ayame looks innocent, as she drags her wand the other way around the rim of her shield - then again, sparks flying from the wand, flying and expanding into that Wall of Fire she's used before. This time, though, it rushes forward, to burn up the incoming arrow storm and force the archers into hiding as the flamestorm washes over them.
"How much cover?"
"Yes," Robert answers, momentarily distracted from his work by the sudden wash of flame. Well that's new. Horrendously and wonderfully effective to boot.
The lock clicks, the door swings inwards, and with the archers properly subdued he simply strolls on in. Once Ayame is through, he'll politely close and latch the door behind her. "Patch up anything that needs patching, but make it snappy," he suggests. "That spell is powering up, I think." And indeed, there are a few ominous rumblings from overhead.
"I can patch up afterwards" Ayame murmurs, hurrying on through and leaning back against the door to recover her breath, blinking rapidly before adjusting her shield on her arm "Let's move up fast. I don't like the sound of it, and frankly, the stairs will be bad enough. Why is it always UP today?"
"Think of it metaphorically," Robert suggests with a wink as he bolts for the spiral stairs, taking them two at a time, magic already beginning to gather in the palm of his right hand as he vanishes from sight. "Onward and upward?" his tones inquire from around the corner.
"Remind me to hate you later" Ayame says with a wry smile. She follows, her wings fluttering as she Sylph starts to make a quick-stepping sashay up the stairs, craning her neck to look around nervously and her ears pricked to listen intently
What Ayame's ears will hear is a burst of maniacal laughter, followed by what is likely the beginning of a dastardly monologue.
Unfortunately, said monologue is abruptly drowned out by a shriek of....delight?...followed by an ominous sounding 'whoomp'.
Once she reaches the chamber, the meaning of said sounds becomes more clear. The villains are a sextet of vampiric cultists, all ominous cloaks and overlong nails, hissing and spitting malevolence at their fellow combatant. The fellow combatant is, of course, Robert, who has apparently followed his Scale-instincts and just set everything--or at least everyone--on fire. There's no taking the farm out of the farm-boy, it would seem. And he's also far too busy being a pyromaniac to notice that the magical summoning circle under his feet does -not- appear to be getting disrupted by the combat. Instead it would seem to be activating.
"Oh, for - Move!" Ayame declares and declaims, as she summons a burst of magic. It's not the fire, no, but a pure and blinding light, winding and wrapping around the magic seeping around them, forcing the vampire cultists into the cleansing flames Robert wields. And there's another faintly amused, exasperated look "You're enjoying this far too much" She tells him
"My momma always told me to find satisfaction and meaning in any job that I do," Robert replies with affected solemnity. "And as I'm a good lad, I always do what my momma..." Flames blast at the feet of a cultist (the one remaining that Ayame hasn't purified), roaring skywards in a crackling pillar and reducing said cultist to ashes--which unfortunately send a pulse of energy into the spell-circle, "...says." The floor rumbles, and there is a sudden surge of light. Not Ayame's, either. It flares, then begins to concentrate, compressing into an increasingly blinding ball.
"That's a disturbing ... view" Ayame murmurs in response, her hard breathing slowing in shock as things move to an unexpected Sixth Phase "Oh no. This isn't wrapping up -" She says, already falling back and raising her shield in preparation. There comes a casual ease at the assumption of the rules; and this isn't the norm!
It's also complete BS, judging by the shit-eating grin plastered across Robert's face and the helpless little shrug of his shoulders.
The moment of levity disappears, as though a candle snuffed out by a sudden blast of wind. Oh. This isn't good. This isn't good at all. Robert is just ripping his sword from its sheathe when a scream echoes through the chamber, blasting anyone still alive backwards against the wall. Far too bright to look at, the light gradually resolves into the shape of an albino pooka, eyes manic and bloodshot, hair and skin as white as sun-bleached bone. She pulls three arrows, draws, and sends a fan of arrows out towards Ayame and Robert. Unfair.
Ayame doesn't get the shield up in time, taking a pair of arrows to the shoulder. Still, she manages to blast off a little with her wand, falling back and trying to cover them both as she looses the bolts "Summoning and transforming!" She yells, pained and her voice catching in her throat
SpritesHero doesn't have a shield and certainly doesn't get out of the way fast enough to avoid the third of three arrows plugging him dead-center in the chest. It is, moreover, a critical hit judging by the sudden dip in his health-bar. Unlike Ayame, however, there is no yell from him. Not even a grunt. Simply a grim, pained gritting of his teeth as he blazes forward to begin slashing away, maniacally, at his target.
Not that the Pooka seems to register much. If anything, she seems to be in a berserker madness. She is heedless of the red marks that score her skin. She cares not for the sword that slashes across her legs, nor does she react to the blasts of Ayame's wand that catch her full in the torso. And though her health-bar plummets, the scream of her arrows hissing through the air never abates. On the contrary, it only gets faster, until the air is filled with a veritable (if implausible) hail of serrated darts.
Ayame doesn't cower. No, it's a rush behind the shield, with random blasts of magic in a futile attempt to slow the rain of arrows, before the flat of the shield impacts the pooka archer, sending them sprawling. It's a break, momentarily, a pause in the assault, as Ayame reels and staggers in turn, twisting out of the way
Ayame has opened a window, and Robert jumps through it. Or, to be more literal, onto it. Firmly planting one booted heel on the Pooka's chest and leaning heavily on it, he firmly thrusts downwards with his sword into the spot where her heart -should- be. Though with it being a monster and all, who knows.
There is no critical hit. Just a steady bleeding away of health and a thrashing of limbs as Robert keeps his sword firmly in place.
Ayame groans as she moves back, recovering her footing, and she moves to place a small healing spell on Robert. Just enough to keep his health ticking in place following that critical, before letting it tick up slowly. She relaxes, a tiny amount, breathing out deeply and shaking her head "This was insane" She mutters "So much for intel. At least it's cleared"
SpritesHero is breathless as he steps back, his sword freed by the Pooka pixelating, then dissipating into a small mound of corrupted bones. Setting his sword aside, he leans on a nearby piece of furniture, eyes closing momentarily as though to steady his nerves. "Thanks," he states, with a nod to Ayame. "And yes. I for one will not be relying on Peko intelligence again in the future. I'd almost suspect them of working with these undead. Or hoping we clear most of this place then get sent to respawn."
"Don't even joke about that" Ayame mutters, poking the pokes and then picking one up as they fail to vanish in turn "I've had nightmares ever since the truth behind the respawning came out. Not something I want to think about too deeply, you know?" She gives him a small smile up "But thank you. It's clear. Let's get out before something worse happens. And we can tell them what we think of their ... intel."
"Agreed," Robert concludes, sliding his sword back into its sheath and strolling at an easy pace towards the stairs. Ayame can rejoice. They head downwards this time. "And chin up, Ayame. It's unnatural to live forever anyhow. We are fortunate to have found out the consequences as early as we did. This could have been far, far worse."