Duty Session 443: Obligatory Rat Maze
It has been a year of Adventurers delving into the underground of various cities across Yamato, seeking to eliminate the rat infestation that has caused so many shopkeepers trouble. After all this time, something finally seems to have changed. The shopkeeper's dialogue has changed, explaining that while repairing their cellars, they found a passageway into a deeper part of the underground. Since then, rats have been finding their way up through the previously sealed passage.
Now, they are seeking brave Adventurers who are willing to, once again, explore the tunnels beneath the city, in order to seek out this new source of rats.
Rec. Party: 3+
World Rewards: None
The Adventurer's guild has called!
And a number of people have responded! Seems that even as people have leveled, dealt with the tower, dealt with the Crowned, there are still need of people in need of good old-fashioned Rat Killing. Hence, here's a were-tiger, looking a little irritated. Rats? Bah. Level 1 content! That was somehow missed, so here Nariko is, coming back to get it done. Seems like the rat cellar from once upon a time has a larger portion that needs dealing with!
"Ready to move out," she announces.
Fuka has nothing against beginner content. Got to train, got to keep in practice! Besides, as the war stretches on, neglecting things like rat warrens would only do terrible things to cities. Turn them into plague pits or something. Just because the duty might be easy is no reason to turn up one's nose at it right? Besides, sometimes a light duty is fun to goof around in. And didn't she meet Haru in a similar mission too?
It was the first duty he ran with Fuka. This time when he arrives it is with her. Its that dawning on him, like some distant light, as he puts the pad away. "Know what this needs?" he asks her, "Coffee and Cookies." Good memories.
Fortunately for all, the Guild knows what to do with bored Oni: Give them something to smash. And so they've sent Chikako out to join Nariko's team on this little mission of theirs.
"Rats? That's all?" she had protested.
"Not just rats. ROUS's." was the reply from the Guild rep.
Chikako blinked, remembered the source of the reference, and nodded. "So long as there's no Bog of Eternal Stench involved, I'll do it."
Not Too Long At All Later, she arrives at the gathering point and waves casually to the gathered adventurers.
Stairs! Spiral stairs, going down, which Nariko is happy to lead everyone down. It's not long after that she regrets the decision. "... I ... sometimes .. forget why being ENTIRELY in is a bad thing. I am being reminded right now..." At about the same time, everyone else should get a nice whiff of the stench of all the garbage that has been gathered by the rats in this room. The poor were-tiger's super senses are making it even -worse-. "Oh god..." she handwaves everyone forward, "Go go go before I'm sick!"
Fuka smiles fondly at memories of coffee and cookies, though there's a faint blush to her cheeks too as she remembers that the last time they'd been questing to take care of rats, Fuka was in the middle of a strange mood. Obsessed over her projects and yet needing to take care of duty and duties, she was ... perhaps a bit manic. "Why is it we meet the nicest people crawling through sewers and garbage and rat-infested cellars?" she asks Haru. Possibly because only nice people bother with this kind of unpleasant task? Who knows.
The little sylph is familiar with this sort of thing by now, and is quick to whisper a brief chant, summoning light to the head of her axe which she rests on one shoulder, holding it up like a particularly nasty torch; the type that usually accompanies pitchforks. No, she doesn't go trolling through garbage. That's just nasty. She glances sympathetically at Nariko. "Once we find where to go to..." she muses, looking around and waggling her light-heavy-axe around to shine it in various crevices. "Then I guess we're good to go!"
Another swipe and the item is returned to Haru's inventory. "Repulsive. Repulsing." Swipe. Bloop. Another note. It takes his gag reflex to make him 'hurk' before he takes the situation in current context. "Ok," he says as his Wave Arte orb begins to glow a campfire ember's red hue. "To the furnace with the trash," he hurks again as fire rolls around like a million sparks into the air to burn up the gaseous scent and replace it with that of a campfire scent. A campfire if you threw trash onto it.
"Because the nicest people are all about taking out the trash," Haru says to Fuka with a smile, having the same line of thought, "and are willing to get their hands dirty to do it." The firefly like environment does roar into a more aggressive tone as certain areas are flashburned up to leave ash, not trash. But you can't spell trash without ash. Ashes? "Trash. Ash. Ash Trash? Ashes. Phoenix? Vermillion Bird." He snaps his fingers. He has it, whatever 'it' is.
Shaking her head, she takes her tetsubo and gives it a practice swing. Then she turns slightly...
"NO! FRELLING! BOG!"
And /smashes/ the massive, metal-studded club into the wall. Which bursts open quite nicely, releasing a torrent of water that washes down the stairs, deluging the trash mound and washing it away.
At least Nariko wasn't the only one overwhelmed by the smell of it all. Seeing as Yeowang has a really similar reaction, it's no wonder Nariko's not really able to even call up a few sparks to try and blast the putrid piles of pestilence with a bit of fire. ... honestly would that even be a good idea? What if that junk is putting out methane?!
It must not be too bad since Haru uses it in a rather creative way to burn out the stench. A deluge of water from Chiako helps move more of the rubbish away, and then Fuka shines a light on the pathway to go... which results in the were-tiger sprinting through the worst of it for that passage, ending with a trap door, which she jumps down without a moment's hesitation. "THIS ISN'T BETTER!!" Why is there a -slide- in here? Is this an Indiana Jones movie or something?!
Fuka's not sure what Haru's going on about, but that's nothing new. He might end up going off on some random-seeming trip from time to time, but she's never been disappointed at the outcome yet. She'll find out, sooner or later, and in the meantime they have some wet tunnels to navigate.
"Hey at least we get to wash off the smell!" Fuka notes as she leaps for the water. Aaaah what a rush! Wearing armour, swimming really isn't her thing, but the rushing tunnel water isn't so much a drowning hazard as it is a bashing hazard. She manages to find several rocky protusions in the watercourse, which she does her best to mitigate with her armour. As such, she does a moderately better job at not drowning than she does in sparing herself a wild ride. It's a very sore Fuka that exits the other side, splashing down in the pool. "Okay note to self. HOT bath. With fewer rocks!" she complains. "Maybe a bath bomb. Oooh anyone got any?"
But when the path forward is clear, she will move forward resolutely. Holding her breath. She jumps down into the torrent and tries to ride it.
Seems she's lucky today, she avoids the worse of the jagged edges and eddys that will leave you stranded to drown, she actually zip through quite smoothly, having remembered the path correctly since the last time she was here. She is finally disgorged into a small pool at the edge of a deeper passageway, and she scrambles out of the way so she's not bowled over by those coming after her.
Fuka gets a weary and well-soaked smile. "A hot bath sounds good about now. A pleasantly scented bath."
When Haru begins to land into the water slide, a small crystal forms where his foot will land. It draws forward as another crystal forms when he falls backwards, one mid thigh. His back. A whole series of humming crystal mesh shards form around him like a magical tobaggin as he shoots on down. "Bath bomb! Bomb. No, head would explode. Already the case," fwoosh fwoosh. FWOOSH with magical crystals and humming and magic.
And eventually the ride sweeps her right down the pit and into the underground river, eliciting more whoops and hollers of joy from the girl. On she goes like a pinball, kicking and bashing at the walls whenever the water takes her too near them, until finally she's spat out with the rest into the pool at the bottom.
"YEEEHAW! Okay, let's go back up and do it again!"
At least the others seem to be having a good time with the wild ride down the trap door chute. Seems like everyone made it through mostly unscathed, except maybe Fuka who will just need a heal or two to make sure they're alright. Thanks to a bit of an affinity with water, (as well as most elements,) Nariko's able to guide herself down in a similar manner and takes a longer moment in the water to clean up (as best as they can considering the source) before finding some ground to stand on. "Ugh.. I guess that's better," she muses before realizing something. The maze has begun in earnest. After some wanderings, the group finds themselves before a Rat of Very Unusual Size. And it looks like it may be rabid too! "No, this is fine, I can handle a fight!" Time for a battle!
Fuka's fiiiiine, just a little HP loss, and she's at least moderately tanky. A little light regeneration, or Light regeneration, and she'll be back to mostly full with only a little mana loss. She turns to grin at Chikako, who seems to be enjoying this most fully. Her type of free spirit at least, even if they might not see eye to eye on most things.
Still if anything, it's Haru's weirdness that has Fuka worrying. Well, not worried. He can manage, and he's regularly weird. He likes her after all, and that should be a key note when it comes to his nature.
She ends up considering the ratbid monstrosity dubiously. "Maybe let's not fight." she suggests. "Healing that bugger's bites is well beyond me. Ah, or we could bury it and whack it when it's down!" she offers. Unsporting, but it sounds fun if not actually wise. "H, time to get boreing!" she smirks, breaking into a guttural chant, intending to shape a trap out of potentially collapsing stone. Or a wall, if that's a good way to go forward. Yeah, wall would be fine.
Which doesn't happen. "Don't fight it," she warns Nariko. "It's too high level. The challenge here is to get clear so it can't chase us." That said, her skills for this aren't great. She'll try to stack up stones and debris to block off the passage, but it really wants a bit of earth magic, which she ... has, technically, but never does well, and this is no exception. The snouth pushes through the stacked up stones, and she's got to leap backwards to avoid losing a hard.
"Hmm?" Haru says as his one blue eye is looking off to the side when Fuka mentions to get as boring as possiible. There is a thoughtful appraisal of Fuka's earth magic, "Have you been practicing? That was good. Really evoked the gutteral tone deep from the chest. Feeling the thrum of it all." Approval and a smile while this HUGE RAT is yowling and flailing back there. The assessment continues, looking to Yeowang, "However, Yeo, you lack these skills. The drawing evocations are limp like a hollow stone of a soul. Thats confusing. You always appeared to have a hard exterior but," he snaps his fingers, "empty inside. Empty inside. Null." RAWR! Angry monster. "Damnit," he shakes his fist in anger. He lost his train of thought. There is this slow turn of his head to the undefeatable boss.
"Terra. Vocare. Terebro. Numerus. Terebrare. Hostis," the Enchanter begins in an angry summon as his words thrum off like drums humming off of the earthen walls. It is enough to shake the ground as thick chunks of rocks snap together like magnets. They crash violently into each other unlike other times he has summoned Terra. The two drills on her arms spark as the 4 meter tall Earth Sprite is summoned with a countering roar to the boss. Drills go up above her head and down into the creature to pin is viciously into the ground as Haru looks really. Flipping. Pissed. Almost to the point where he forgets the whole point is to /flee/ until he catches where Fuka is doing. Then the skull above the monster's head and how, although visually pleasing to see, the health bar isn't going down on that thing fast enough. He absconds, taking a moment to brush some of the damp white hair away from his face.
"I'm with her! We wanna fight!" Grunt. Everyone's already trying to block the rat off, so with a huff, Nariko gives the ground a frustrated stomp, but that's just part of the ability! It pops up a big ball of stone which she sets on -fire- with a shot from one of her bracers. It looks like she's going to kick it -at- the rat but after another moment's consideration she kicks it straight up from near their path, trying to bring a fair bit more of the cavern down to block off the massive rodent. "Time to go!"
The passage behind them basically collapses thanks to everyone's work, and Nariko's meteor strike. The further they go in, the darker it seems to get, until they enter a room with a green glow from a hundred hundred points of light... that blink. ... "Rats." Lots of Rats. They are lunging. "NOW WE FIGHT! No more sneaking! just mind the path!"
Luckily the others get the passage blocked, and she will join the others in moving along the passageway, following it to the narrow squeeze, which she has no trouble with, and then into the green glowing room.
And a lot of rats. But these we can fight. Yeowang's fallback is martial arts, but it seems they don't take damage from merely physical attacks. Her comments about magic notwithstanding, though, the Shadowfist class does have magical powers, of a limited sort. She doesn't learn or practice them at all, but when she conccentrates fiercely, her fists glow with edritch power. She doesn't quite understand it, and it's not reliable at all, but when she concetrates hard and kicks the everloving snot out of the rats and manages to do damage. This encouragges her, at least, and she will keep up with the ki-charged feet, kicking the hell out of the rats until none are left.
Fuka seems quite pleased by the compliment. She hasn't been practising Earth magic more than anything else, but it's possible she's let a little of Haru's mastery - and deep tonal incantations - rub off on her. She's a little less pleased as he criticizes Yeowang, frowning up at him. He's a bit off right now. More than usual. She pats his arm though, then grips it and doesn't *quite* drag him along. Forceful guiding, more like. "Just follow me, dear. We'll get through this." she claims.
Well now, that was prophetic. Seems they've found more rats, and this time it seems like those rats are quite fightable! Well okay, maybe not so much meleeable, but she's not going to stop Chikako or Nariko from trying! The whole magical aura these little buggers have though, that gives her an idea. They seem to have absorbed some sort of malign energy, and the flow of such energies is the Enchanter's bread and butter! Sparing a glance at Haru, she figures he gets it too. Or he'll explode them with a fireball or something, which is fine. She breaks into a dissonant chant, not summoning any particular element but stringing together phrases of control and transformation in a weave of magical energy that saps some of the rat's power, helping make them rather easier for the physical specialists.
Other rats?! Haru looks to Fuka. He gets it. Time to get to chanting. He also gets to dancing, spurred by Yeo's thoughts that interpretive casting may be part of the experience. The dance does not help. The combo Enchanting debuffing with Fuka however? That does.
And then.... "Wait, bashing rats over the head? YEAH!" Can it be Oni Tiem? YES! It is ONI TIEM! The girl with the shit-eating grin smirks even wider, suddenly expanding into a crimson-skinned amazonian proper ONI form as she lays about with the massive, iron-studded club. "YES! FINALLY! SOMETHING I CAN BASH! SMASH! CRASH!"
Rats are batted into walls, beaten into the floor, and every so often simply kicked so hard they end up embedded into the ceiling before disappearing in the familiar shower of pixels.
Let the smashing begin! While others are slinging spells and singing incantations, Nariko and Chikako are far more interested in bashing rat skulls together. Sure, it may not seem like any damage is done at first, but when Nariko channels a bit more energy into her bracers, the rats are turning into red pixels left and right! Eventually, there's no more of them.
After another set of twisting tunnels, the group reaches a void of a room. There's no light source in here, even Nariko can't see anything in there! .. It makes the group uneasy at best. Watched at worst. This is proven when a pair of red eyes pierce the darkness. The shadowy form appears to be inthe form of a rat but it's hard to tell. Then it starts lashing out at everyone. Proximity is chilling, touch? Freezing. "Gah! Someone get some light! OR FIRE!"
In a haunting voice suitable for ghost stories Fuka intones, "Lost in the dorkness. At least we're together." she adds, still holding lightly onto Haru. He doesn't seem to mind, and she gets the impression it's important to keep hold of him. So he doesn't wander off.
Thing is, the dorkness isn't empty. Realizing the shadows move, Fuka lets out a squeal. More of rage than fear, but don't be too surprised that Fuka doesn't like getting surprised in the dark. Well, not by monsters at least.
"HOW ABOUT BOTH?" Fuka calls out in answer to Nariko, rapid-chanting a complex spell under her breath. Fortunately it's one she's particularly good at, and is rather effective besides. With a flick of her wrist she casts out a ball of intense flame, singing the ninja rat. And the spell doesn't end there. The ball of flame hangs there even as the critter retreats, casting out brilliant light throughout the room. Not enough to break through all the magical shadows, but Fuka has enough mana to cast another globe the next time Splinter's evil cousin shows its pointy face...
The dark room beyond is the thing that Haru remembers. "Ah. Null," he acknowledges as the thick blanket of darkness and smoke surround. "An emptiness. A state without," he considers as he shivers. This was the first place for a lot of things. It was the first Adventure he met Fuka in. It was the first inspiration to create a Wave Arte that was to help with Accessory Forging and Enchanting. The human Artificer's orb glows like a pale moon as he casts it aloft. It floats and another pair of red eyes, matching the rodent's, appears. Rat, meet cat. The six-legged Dark Elemental flicks her shadowmist tail and pounces at the Kageratto. The artificial moonlight gives the area a soft, magical light that allows more to be seen.
"Thanks Fuka," he says as he channels his energy into his summon to fight for him. He rather likes the closeness. Its like a haunted house! "In darkest of nights, you are my Light," he says in his sappy soft-spoken way. He stands unafraid of the situation and watches the intense Light and Fire magic like a fireworks display as if it accents the point there is no corner of the Abyss she can't light up.
She does have to grin at the antics of the nerd couple, however, even as she continues to bash away at the rat lord.
"In brightest day, in darkest night! Good or evil, fear my might!" she crows, teasing the sappy remarks of the pair, grinning as the rat is finally crushed into dust. "WOo! Good fight!"
The shadow rat is no match for the assembled adventurers. Yeowang gets in a few good hits, Fuka's able to cast a spell of light AND fire, burning the beast. Haru's elemental lunges, Chikako -bashes- at the creature's head, and Nariko erupts into flame as she slings her fists at it. After a number of hits, red pixels and shadowy whisps go in all direction. The beast is slain. VICTORY.