Duty Session 475: Haunted House On Ninetail Hill
An Obsidian level quest has been posted at the Hunters Guild in the Ninetails Dominion. A rather eccentric Monster Handler Lander named Rionnag Taisbeanadh, the owner of a rather sizable mansion a few miles out from Dun Loireag, was attempting to create a haunted house. But the problem is that it has gotten a 'bit too haunted' for his liking, and he has requested Adventurers to please go through his house to minimize the amount of monsters in his house without making a mess of the place.
Rec. Party: 4+
World Impact: A safe Haunted House!
Haru evidentially. His hair is already white, it can't be scared any other color. The Artificer is waiting by the entrance to get admitted in as one of the Adventurers that signed up for a spooktacular event that only David S. Pumpkins could throw together.
The building is more of a 'tower' than a mansion. It has a large house front and a ten floor Pagoda style building beyond in honor of the 'Crystal Tower' that once stood. The dark wooden outsides are remarkably well maintained even to this day. It is possible to see a few low level goblinoids climbing that outside of it and providing maintenance on the wood.
The owner, Rionnag, welcomes the members in after a bit of waiting and provides a map with a route through the mansion that requires clearing. Where the spooks will be. WHERE THE SPOOKSY SPOOKY SPOOKS WILL BE. Also, here is a key. Don't lose that.
At seeing the mansion, Tian puts their fingers into their mouth and gives what is obviously an appreciative whistle. Then, they lower their hand, fingers closed together to tap on the opposite open palm. "<Money money.>" For someone who has had to fight to survive, seeing riches like this is bound to be impressive.
Tian looks over to Haru, pointing to their ears in that way that the deaf Adventurer tends to. It's an unspoken request to be notified of anything they need to be aware of that is audio-only.
"<I have not been to a haunted house since I was studying in America.>" Tian signs, a smirk playing on their lips. "<I imagine this will be a bit different than that.>"
...Which is certainly not an ominous oath to swear. Yep.
"We must be sure that we don't cause... /too/ much damage," the doctor warns. It's somewhat rare to see the Doctor of Tolbana out and about on some seemingly random expedition these days, but in this case it's at least not /too strange./ It seems that he had been in the area of Dun Loireag when the call for adventure went out, and made his way over once he learned the identity of the one who posted the quest. "I'd hate to have to tell Rionnag that I'm associated with the destruction of /another/ one of his favorite things."
His brows rise as a vaguely familiar face is already waiting at the entrance, lips curling into a broad smile that revealed the glint of his pearly white teeth. His eyes then fell to the other figures, hands moving to rest on his hips as he silently observed their exchange. "A bit more realistic, I'd say. I doubt this place has that whole 'no touching the guests' rule." Golden eyes quickly examined the two unfamiliar faces, giving them each a nod. "Let's try to make this quick and clean then, shall we? No need to explosions and spells of mass destruction."
The party is met with cobwebs upon entering the main chambers of the Haunted Mansion's floor. The dry-as-cotton decor threaten to stick to clothing or possibly worse: someone's face. Creepy hands reach out from the dark. They are not real ' disembodied hands'. They are fake spooksy hands that someone would craft. Roughly it comes down to humans sticking their hands through various contraptions that hide the rest of their bodies. Deploying the mild spooks. EMF levels are at 0. Nothing on the thermal reading. The party is still safe.
The party does have a map. They also have low visibility. The haunted house is fairly dark. Plus those hands are pretty grabby. The personal space waiver is part of the experience. Losing that key? Hopefully /not/ part of the experience. This is going to take some cooperation.
Haru is fairly good with his hands, but he is no dashing rogue that picks locks and does sleight of hand. That is more Shenmi's territory. He resorts to the very gentlemanly art of batting away those hands with his own and a strong stare from his blue eyes that screams 'boundaries!'. The dark doesn't bother him. Getting lost wouldn't either if they didn't have someplace to be to do the job. With a key. That they don't lose. Losing a key would be bad if they want to avoid destruction of property.
There is a hall of grabbyhands before them! What a terrible, awful place to be, full of so many groping, flailing hands. The doctor scrunches up his face and... Gestures at the key. It suddenly finds itself wrapped up in a tangle of vines and bound to the one currently holding it. "That should keep it on-hand at least," he says, confidently.
Notably he does absolutely nothing to improve the illumination of the room. That is, apparently, outside this particular spell's capabilities.
The Cait Sith falls into step, moving a few cobwebs out of the way with one arm and then coughing once before taking in a breath and giving a series of short sneezes that are uncharacteristically high-pitched. When the otherwise silent Wolf-fox does make sounds, they always seem a bit 'off'.
With Haru taking care of the key, hopefully, Tian tries to focus on providing them some light. They remove one of the daggers, running it against a bit of flint to try to spark up a nearby torch. Unfortunately, one of the hands grabs the torch and bonks Tian right on the head, leaving the poor Wolf-fox rubbing at their head with a wince.
Which then proceeds into a game of 'keep away' as the hand keeps the torch out of Tian's reach.
As they enter into the darkness and Haru handles the key, Toshiro gathers around with the rest of the group as they struggle to produce any form of light. "...Alright, when we get back, I'm talking to someone about inventing flashlights." As he grumbles to himself he starts digging through his bag, finding no sort of preparation that might help in this moment. "Does this place really not have any sort of lights? It's not like we're here to experience the whole 'haunted house' experience."
Think of it as a fair amount of time lost wandering. The reality of poor lighting doesn't bode well for the party. They spend extra amount of time traversing the dark passages and being slapped around by the mansion spook staff. They kept the key though!
The first floor of the Haunted Mansion is filled with heavy furniture. It is clearly the main living area of the building. There's Shoji doors constantly clapping open and shut that creates an annoying timed progression. The spirits within was a passable movie-- I mean the spirits within are hard to exorcise. They probably are not the big troubling spooksters the owner spoke of, but that doesn't stop them from being a hinderance. The party begins dealing with a few heavy chairs that are rapidly flying towards them. Its clobberin' time! Target: Adventurers. They aim to bludgeon and trap the party to the ground or shove them into the various open-and-shut doors.
Binders are not /exactly/ Haru's thing. They are Kau's. Yet it is still within his wheelhouse to understand basic monster management skills. He snapps his fingers with confidence to get their attention, "Attention please, ghouls and ghosts. You are currently at an eight and I need you at a six. Thank you kindly, and good eve to you. Good eve, I say." With a bow. Who knows, they may be formal ghosts. The key is respect and confidence!
As they start to wander into the otherwise noisy room, Tian doesn't seem at all bothered by the slamming doors. It just doesn't have the same impact as it would with others.
What does have impact, is a chair being flung their way. The Cait Sith is just trying to pull a torch from their own inventory to light when one of them ends up hurtled towards them. It catches the Bladedancer unawares, landing on top of them and sending them sprawling to the ground, a few limbs wiggling from underneath.
The next chamber is a veritable haven for poltergeists of all kinds. Doors slam, furniture wiggles and wobbles. The doctor sweeps a fingertip across a windowsill and hurmphs at the dust he picks up. "Well, this won't do at all. Neither will those misbehaving doors. Now..."
He whirls his staff overhead and slams its base into the floor. A series of protective barriers spring up... Where the doors ahead of them had momentarily shifted open, effectively acting as doorstops to make sure they don't go slamming down into anyone any time soon. It's a little sad, watching the doors clatter and wobble uselessly against those invisible walls, but passage is passage. "Let's keep moving. I don't think these ghosts are the ones we're looking for."
The normally chatty adventurer was unusually quiet as they got lost in the halls, golden eyes quickly flicking in each direction as they wait for something to jump out at any moment. So when they finally reach the slamming doors, he finds himself jumping at the sudden noise as all the built tension is released from him. "DAMMIT." His tone was unusually harsh, his voice seeming to even get a few notches deeper as he curses his own jumpiness. Before he even has a moment to recover, he finds himself being assaulted by flying furniture.
His smile vanishes, rows of monstrous teeth revealing themselves. He steps toward the chair flying in his direction, reaching forward to meet it. Long fingers grip it by the armrests before it has a chance to collide with him, his weight shifting forward to force it onto the ground and stand on its legs like a NORMAL chair. "I'm not in the mood for this anymore. You're going to SIT HERE until we're done. Understood?" Toshiro growls out his words, his demeanor more fitting for the monster his avatar embodied. A moment later the chair stopped struggling, seemingly willing to follow his direction.
A moment later he would turn back toward the group, clearing his throat as he takes a moment to adjust his clothing. "...Yes. Good idea. No reason to stick around when there's still work to be done."
The party advances beyond the floor with the possessed chairs. The Shoji situation still persists as they are moving erratically everywhere. It must be a powerful monster to control that many doors throughout the entire mansion. The third floor awaits them and a classically frightening foe: evil twin versions of yourself. No, wait, that is a mirror. Crooked mirrors create a reflective maze that gets more than a little jumpscare potential when puppets drop from the ceiling. Puppet trap! And those chests? They randomly pop open. Take that, Adventurers, we have weaponize what you love: Treasure chests. By the time the whole 'that chest is just going to pop open' has settled in there is a double surprise: one is a mimic. It gnashes at the party, jumping and biting. It looks hungry. In haunted mansion, you are the loot. Or at least you are a tasty snack.
"This solution requires violence," screams Haru, in complete retrospect to his earlier admission. The four floating stones around him jolt forward to the hungry mimic. Before anything can be done he needs to calm that thing down so two of them start to emit a magical thread to start wrapping the creature up for calmings. Or debuffings.
There are more visual effects here, which means that now and again, Tian's tail puffs up with alarm from something or other that appears out of nowhere. Their breathing is a bit quicker than usual. Thankfully, they don't react in fear to the mimic. Instead...
"<This looks expensive...>" Tian grabs for one of the mirrors on the wall and neatly shoves it in the mouth of the Mimic. "<Chew on this!>"
Oh wait, no, that's not a hallway of bun-buns, that's just a series of particularly squat and distorted Prophylaxis reflections. For a moment there, the good doctor was flashing back to that time a gigantic, bunny-shaped agglomeration of bun-buns literally devoured his arm right out of its socket. It's not to be, thankfully.
And Tian... shoves a mirror into it. "Ah," Prophylaxis winces as a sharp pain suddenly shoots through his pocketbook. "That mirror... Ugh, I'm going to have to replace that..." He mutters morosely, allowing the others to handle the mimic as he does a quick calculation on how much he might end up owing by the end of htis escapade.
Which made him all the more pleased, albeit quite surprised, to see one of those chests suddenly come to life. A soft breath of irritation slips past his still smiling lips as he clenches the blades in his hands. "More inanimate objects? I'm starting to think this house is running out of tricks." Toshiro doesn't even get near it, instead choosing to give his blades a twirl before unleashing a rapid barrage of slashes in its direction. With each swing, a blade of magical air fly toward the monster.
The party parts with the dreaded Mimic and has made some solid progress in the mansion at this point. They are on the seventh floor now having clean up some minor breakway monsters on thew ay up. Things have scaled up on the riskiness at this point. There is a small army of really solid armor approaching. Clank clank clank. The helmless suits look rather priceless. Avoiding destruction of property will be rough since they are directly tethered to the spirits possessing them. At least a capable crafter can repair them afterwards. The suits are not too smart, but they sure are sharp. Sharp weapons that is. Fwoosh.
"Now I know we are trying to keep the damage low and we just sacrificed some mirrors for the greater good, but," Haru motions his hand in a circle like 'buuuuuuuut', "I think we may need to drill the point into these guys that we have places to go. Ghosts to see." A tap of the foot as he establishes a rhythm to chant his Wave Arte by, "Terra. Vocare. Terebro. Numerus. Terebrare. Hostis." With each word there is a visual representation of it circling around him as if being scribed by the orbs circling him. Stones appear to fly off of the wall of the building to combine in a core of stone golem as the last chant of the Arte complete. The circles bind the greature into place, giving a magical girl tranformation light as two adorable drills vrrr to life and produce suitable music for the occasion. "Its Terra-ble, I know, but we can look into fixing them afterwards." THUMP. The big Earth summon stomps forward and does a Bioshock style Big Daddy charge towards one of them. VRRR.
Musical reference from Terra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIr4C5Ztlcg
The posessed armor, however, that requires a bit more of a fine touch. Armor isn't something that Tian is that skilled with. Their crafter talents lie elsewhere. Instead, Tian uses their daggers and begins to draw a circle of magical energy on the ground, which radiates an aura of dark energy.
It's enough to capture some of the ghostly armors in place, meaning that they aren't quite so able to cause destruction or mayhem.
But then they come up to the army of armors, a soft sigh escaping the were fang as he looks across the,
"Such fine craftsmanship. Hopefully they'll understand we couldn't preserve them." He gives his blades another twirl before holding his hand out toward the small army of armors. He speaks quickly under his breath, his words forming a wave arte that would surely be of great aid in the battle. But it's not quite fast enough. While Haru assaults one with his earth magics and Tian captures them with dark energy, one pushes through and takes a swing before Toshiro could finish. He manages to move to the side, the blade dragging across his arm and leaving a trail of glowing red light behind. "Shit. I guess I got too comfortable..."
To this end, he employs... yet more barriers. While he absolutely can't do anything to salvage the wall at this point, or the dullahans that have already been crushed and savaged, he can still surround the rest of the hallway with a protective sheath. A similar barrier encloses some of the stampeding dullahans, pinning them, immobile, to the walls-- without doing anything at all to their armor.
"As awful as a squadron of dullahans might be," the doctor grunts, sweating visibly from the strain of maintaining his wide-area barrier magic, "I still don't think that these are the ghost we're looking for...! Let's keep moving, we should be near the top!"
Haru nods to Proph. This isn't the last of them or what they came here for. With the Dullahan dealt with, the party has made it to the tenth floor. The Tower has been climbed. What is at the top of the tower? It seems to be built almost like an observatory. There is a mobile of Alba, though it is lacking any definition beyond the map of Yamato, and the two moons. A large stargazing telescope stands on one side of the room. Before the party can rust the mobile begins to glow and come to life. Three spirits snap the mobile off of its wires and form three elemental creatures: Earth, Fire, Light! They attack immediately with each spirit moving rapidly across the room. They are relentless and refuse to be defeated. Each element will need to be paired with their elemental counterpart to herd them, trap them, and weaken them to the point where they can be captured once more.
"Hows about we try that Dark stuff again," the Artificer asks Toshiro, "I'll bring out Eve to keep it 'regulated' in case it gets too wild." A small black cat pads out from Haru's shadow, summoned from the sum of his darkness. With the current season she could come out from anywhere and right now is a lot larger. Big catte. "Eve, have you been indulging." Red eyes snap to Haru. Never ask that. Haru throws his hands up. Sorry! "Tenebris. Cadit. Lunae Lumen. Oriri. Occultare." The Enchanter's first, and one of his favorite, Wave Artes is cast, embolding his summon in an aura of darkness that she uses to chase after the Light spirit. Cat following a light on the wall? It checks out.
At first, there is a sense of wonder at what they see upon the last floor of the tower. An appreciation for the observatory, the mobile of alba, and the telescope. However, as elemental monsters make themselves known, Tian steps backwards, daggers held tightly.
Tian can't exactly sign to the others, so instead they sweep their daggers in a miniature whirlwind and point towards the elemental of their choosing. Then, leaping forward, the Cait Sith seems to empower their leaps with elemental air magic, swirling wind around themselves and causing each of their dagger strikes to be followed up by additional ones as more knives are added to the swirling vortex around them.
Another observatory. Prophylaxis stares at the telescope, his eyes tightening with recognition. He knows what stands in the direction it's pointing. This is another one of that man's treasures, no wonder he was so eager to see it protected. "Careful," the doctor cautions. "This is something we definitely can't afford to replace. Don't damage the telescope or the mobile."
Which is admittedly easier said than done. Three elemental spirits materialize, evidently the ones responsible for empowering all of the Binders and other specters down below. The doctor's stare turns withering as he glares directly at the thing of light and fire. All around him, the air suddenly chills. Temperature plummets as a thin coating of frost creeps across his skin and over the floor underfoot. "You need to chill out. Cool your head!"
It's a command. An imperative. The frigid air spreads to surround the flame spirit, drawing away much of its heat and strength and reducing it in size considerably.
Somehow, the Doctor manages to keep from extinguishing the flame completely. His control over this particular power seems to be improving.
The final challenge was the last thing the enchanter expected. His eyes widen slightly as they find themselves assaulted, not by more furniture or spooks, but by elemental spirits of all things. A quick look is shot toward Haru at his suggestion, his smile growing into a bit of a smirk. "I'll be trusting you and Eve to guide me on this one. I suspect there is a lot I could learn from the both of you." With that, he turns to focus on the light spirit and begins weaving his wave arte. While Haru and Eve pursue the spirit, Toshiro focuses on building up a bubble of darkness to trap the light within. "Don't worry, my friend. If there is one thing I pride myself on, it's precision." The moment he sees it get chased into a corner he unleashes the spell, encasing it in an inky bubble that quickly constricts around it and starts to sap at its energy.
Tian's wind strikes slice off the elemental spirit like carving up a roasted cluck cluck, making it smaller and smaller with each blow. The size diminishes rapidly like the temperature to Prophy's icy attack. The flame shrinks rapidly with the control not to completely snuff it out.
The spirits return to their dormant state within the mobile with their powers weakened. "Ay, teamwork," Haru goes to give Toshiro a high five. Really everyone gets one but Toshiro's is first. The Pagoda seems quieter than it was before. More at peace. This house is clean! As much as it should be considering it is still a spook house. The constant clapping of the doors beneath ease into a more responsible speed for a haunted house. Taking the opportunity up here, the group all gets turns to gaze through the telescope and find that it is not, in fact, looking towards the stars. It is looking towards Aincrad Tower. Topping at about half of its height there is a beautiful crystalline-blue tower. It glistens as it catches the sun from various sides. Attempts to remove the telescope any other way will fail. You have two accessory forgers with you, just ask one of them to make ya a telescope. This one here is a Relic and is firmly set in place. It is only able to observe the Crystal Tower lost many centures ago to history itself. "All, that is gorgeous," Haru says. He has never had the full fascination of the Tower as those that raid and push it. At the core Haru is more a craftsman by choice and Adventurer by circumstance. The Artificer can appreciate how well constructed that Tower is with little reservations.
The party eventually will return downstairs where theya re thanked for their participation in freeing up the haunted house. Everyone is given a glowing baggie of ectoplasm as thanks for their reward. Ghosts = Busted.
The Cait Sith seems quiet, perhaps a bit thoughtful when they make their way back out, accepting the 'reward' with some measure of curiousity. It could certainly be used for some kind of enchanting, so it is a good thing to keep around.
"<Thank you for the party.>" The Cait Sith touches a hand to their chin and then extends it outward in thanks. "<I think I have a few new bruises that need to be tended to.>" There is an unusual lump on their head near one ear, likely from being bashed on the head a few too many times with a torch.
Well. At least this time, he didn't end up breaking the telescope. That's probably the most important thing.
"Indeed, thank you for arranging this," the doctor tells Haru, finally pulling his eye away from the beautiful spire in the distance. One that was only half as tall as the tower he knows so well.
...Perhaps they might have to do some more digging. So much is buried 'under' the tower, after all. And in Karluin's catacombs, they might just have the chance to find some sort of answer to at least this particular mystery. He'll need to thank Rionnag for the opportunity to see the old tower on the way out...
And to pay for some of the damages, of course.
Eventually the party makes their way out of the mansion and into safety, at which point he raises a hand to offer the group a friendly wave. "As do I, my voiceless friend. I wish you all safe travels. Maybe the next time we meet it will be for pleasure rather than business."