It's an impressive house. Large and expansive. The majority of its volume seems to be in the pagoda-styled tower that rises for ten stories above the main house. "Big place," Miyako remarks as she looks it over. "Wouldn't mind having a place like this to live in, eh, Ko-chan?" She elbows her friend and fellow Spriggan, grinning.
"Now, the guy back in town said the place is haunted. And we're right in the middle of the Shadow Festival, which means that creepy-ghoulie types will be at their peak. So let's everyone stick together and keep an eye on each other. I don't want anyone coming out of this thing posessed or the like, understand?"
A big house, looks nice, sure, except it's got monsters and ghoulies and other nonsense like that.
Is it a nice place to stay? Who knows?
Fortunately, Kotono's willing to be light-hearted with Miyako. "Sure, this would be a great place to stay... especially with my in-laws!" She chuckles and elbows Miyako back.
Then her expression turns serious. "We stick together and we don't go exploring! This isn't an amusement park!"
Hifumi does need to get out and about sometimes, he has things to work on, and even with a profitable business sometimes you need an influx of funding so you can expand. He could go to the Imps for a loan... but he had enough of loans and banks back in the old world, back before his life came crashing down around his ears and left him as much an addict to the world of Elder Tale as much as he was averse to living in the real world.
He comes along to help sweep out undead because it's a way to get cash or loot and it'll help out a Lander and he's fairly certain that the up tick in monsters is the fault of Adventurers being in the world so it's partly his responsibility to clear them out when they're problimatic. He joins in and travels with the group on the way to the haunted 'mansion'. Along the way he pulls bento boxes out of his inventory. "Something of a tradition." he says handing them out. When inspected they say 'Tasty Rat Bento', it's tasty it says so right on the inspect flag.
So, it's a haunted house that's gotten too haunted? That's piqued Schneider's curiosity and pulled him from his research to investiate. He considers Miyako's words, and nods about the haunting. "It's something he should have expected, given the festival," Schneider points out. Of course this is Schneider, so there's a good chance this will end in a mass conflagration, but he views that as a positive outcome, as long as bad guys get burned in the process. He smiles to his fellow party members, nodding about looking out for one another, and says, "Shall we see what this is all about, then?" He'll take a bento from Hifumi and stick it into his inventory for later.
"I think I'd pass on staying in a ghost infested mansion." Shiruba accepts the bento box from Hifumi and smiles. "Now this is a treat I can get behind, thanks." Hifumi food is always a treat. "Right. What they said. First person that suggests we 'split up and search for clues' gets smacked upside the head."
There has to be some irony in a haunted house becoming too haunted for it's own good. Perhaps it is funny to some, but the owner can't be happy in the slightest about this situation. People who go searching for safe thrills may end up waking up a whole day later, and that wouldn't be good for business. "I have to agree, no 'spliting the party'. More ground is covered, but...well, chaos happens then." Curtana readjusts his kite shield on his left arm, making sure it's secure. "And I think we'll have our hands full as it is."
Miyako nods, taking one of the bentos, and says, "Thanks for the snack. That's a good thing to remember too, don't eat anything in there that you didn't bring with you." She finally leads the group on to the front door of the house, producing a set of keys to open it with. "Like they said, no splitting the party. First one to get separated buys the drinks after. Got it?"
And, finally, into the house they go. And right away the shenanigans start, with the entrance hall falling dark. And even as they try to walk through it to the next door, hands reaching out of nowhere to grope at them.
There's a clatter, and then: "Crap!" comes the Spriggan girl's voice. "I dropped the keys! Find 'em, quick!"
Shiruba doesn't mind the dark, but she yelps sharply when hidden people start getting hands-on in a very awkward way, enough that it's good it is dark so no one can see her blushing. "Ack! Find that key so we can get out of this room!" She gets down on her hands and knees to help search. "Anyone got some light? It'd be really handy right now!"
A bento is always a nice addition, especially since you might get hungry exploring a place like this.
Unfortunately, there's lots of cobwebs and there's also hands poking from who knows where. This is definitely a creepy place and not one that you'd want to live in. "Everyone stick together, because if anyone gets lost, I'm not going after them!" The Spriggan uses her blade to slice through the cobwebs some to try to help out. Unfortunately, it's not enough to stop Miyako from dropping her keys.
"Leave it to me, Miyako," Kotono says as she brings up her spellrunes and casts a spell of light. It's bright enough to illuminate the area and help the others look for the keys. "They've got to be here somewhere!"
Schneider tries to bring up the light level to help find the key, but his light is like fire, flickery and mercurial, and while it mercilessly scortches the grabby hands, it is not much for finding things. But evertone else has light covered, it seems, so he will change focus and incinerate the hell out of the grabby hands. No need for anyone else to get grabbed. That's just inappropriate. And now it's incinerated.
The entryway into the Haunted House is simple enough, and Curt smiles at Miyako's back as she leads the way. "What if the group is split equally at the same time then? Who buys the drinks?" He does take the time to glance over the map while he still has some light.
Speaking of light, there's quite a lack of it inside. He flinches when a hand is laid on his shoulder and has to stop himself from striking out at the human entertainer's hand. Then the clattering of keys could be heard, and Curtana just shakes his head. "Hell's bells. Let me help you find them." Chanting softly under his breath, Curtana holds up an empty hand, with his spellcasting forming a golden orb of pale light on his palm. He holds it aloft so that the entire group can see clearly. "Pardon us, those in the walls. Just need to get something real quick."
Hifumi calls out "Dandy Lion, Tiger Lilly." and a pair of small felines made of flowers and leaves appear. "Keep the keys safe." he calls out. The little silent beasts bound off into the dark using their enhanced senses to find the keys, the two critters playing with them and jangling them about below the grabby hands. Hifumi follows close to the other Adventurers while his beasts play with the keys cause well they're silly little things but at least finding the key isn't too hard now.
The hands keep grabbing at people, but the light is enough to find the keys. Good work! (Although there are some unpleasant moments for a few hands that yank away from Schneider's fire. Ouch. Good thing pain isn't quite the thing here it is out in the 'real' world.) With the keys back in her hands, Miyako pushes on through the grabby bits towards the door. "Okay, handsy, that's enough!" Moving on, there are no further groping hands, but there are plenty of other obstacles. Doors fly open and shut, chairs are pushed about by unseen creatures, and probably more yet to be found.
"Bloody flippin' heck," the Spriggan shouts as she jumps up to avoid a chair, catching her hand on the top of it to propel herself up and over it. "It's a platformer!"
Hifumi looks at the flying furniture "Poltergiests..." he sighs even as he steps aside from a chair and sits in it. "Look this will be a thing, I will have Snap dragon burn your chair Ghost-chan, so do no make me. Now... on pain of fire and summary loss of your impact on the physical world. Just be a good spirit and carry my over to the next door that's a good spirit."
Surprisingly this seems to work... until he gets to the other side and gets out of the chair, only to have a sofa, a small table and a large lamp all pile on top of him leaving the chef in a position he's been in often... and almost anyone who's gone adventuring with him might recognize... just a pair of feet sticking out from under a pile of things while his summons work to free him.
Shiruba grunts as chairs flit about the room. "And my parents thought my bedroom was chaotic." However she's not going to take the problem sitting down. Despite the chairs' best efforts. She puts a magic barrier up around herself and uses it to keep shoving chairs away while she makes her way down the corridor.
Schneider hops over the first chair that scoots by, but then there's too many. "DAMEDO!" he cast. "Magic Shield!" The magical shield that comes up and remains in place deflects all the incoming furtniture. It forms a shell so that doors that try to slam shut on him can't. It's quite a useful spell. "This doesn't seem like too much trouble, at least," he says.
Thankfully, everyone works together to find the dropped keys. "I was afraid they were going to be in a crack in the floorboards. Glad we don't have to break down a door." Curtana doesn't dispel the light, figuring it would be better to have it to navigate the haunted house.
Staring in shock as Hifumi becomes a magnet for what has to be half of the possessed objects, Curtana shakes himself to get his head back on the situation at hand. They're under attack, so time for him to deal with the worst of the threats! Rushing forward, Curtana swings his shield to block a loveseat from jumping on the Hifumi pile. "Alright, we got the furniture covered, what's the correct exit?" Curtana moves to fill in the gaps where Shiruba's and Schneider's magic barriers didn't quite cover. Not even a lamp is going to slip by on his watch!
Moving furniture, doors opening and shutting, typical of a haunted house, right?
This is no movie though. This is the real deal, and there's got to be something done.
"I'll take care of this!" Kotono says, blushing a little as she realizes she's not sure what to do.
Then the thought of magical light purifying things comes to mind. "Can't hurt to try," Kotono invokes another light spell, and this seems to help things out somewhat.
Up. Up. Down. Down. Left. Right. Left. Right. A. B. Wait, no, that's not the right one. The moving furniture is - mostly - not too hard to deal with for those used to more agile monsters. Miyako steps over to help extract Hifumi while the others do their thing. "C'mon, Rat-boy, time to stop lying down on the job, hey? I know the chair's comfy but we've got to get a move on here." Wherever Kotono's light falls, the moving objects slow, making them much easier to deal with. Useful thing.
Eventually, the party reaches the stairs to the next floor. The first thing that happens here is an animated puppet dropping from the ceiling! Jump-scare after jump-scare proceeds as the adventurers search for the next stairway, until...
Miyako bends down to open a chest. It hasn't opened on its own... maybe it's jammed? Or maybe there's treasure in it? Or keys?
Nope. It becomes clear what its contents are when... it leaps up and tries to nom on the Spriggan's head! Miyako jumps back but it's too late, the mimic is wrapped around her head and gnawing at her hair! Save her, quick!
Shiruba jumps back when the Mimic jumps on Miyako, her tail doing the entire bristlebrush effect in shock. "Miyako! Hold on!" It's in the form of a chest, so maybe that means... Shiruba pulls out some spare gold coins she keeps on hand for various potential monetary emergencies, and jangles them in her hand audible. "Hey, over here. Nice shiney nom noms!" Jingle jangle.
Hifumi gets out from under the furnature with help from his summons, the little plant monsters freeing him. Once he's back on his feet he dusts himself off and sighs. "Not like it's MY fault my control monster ran out JUST as I landed." he shrugs most of his summons disappearing with just Snap Dragon resting on his shoulder, his near constant companion.
He continues through to the next floor and screams like a girl at the first puppet... when he calms down, and the puppet stops burning from where Snap Dragon flamed it he looks at the party "None of you saw anything... my grandmother had a puppet like that..." he says with a huff... and nothing is more traumatizing than a puppet in your grandparents house in the middle of the night when you're 5 and have to pee.
Most of the other jump scares don't really seem to be all that bad for him. When a hungry mimic shows up however... he knows exactly what to do. "Hey there lil guy." he croons like he does for the cats that he feeds behind his resturant. "Look what I have." he holds out a tasty rat bento. "High quality mid tier crafting, and it's Tasty, says so on the identify tag." he crouches opening the box and tempting the Mimic with it.
Leaving the possessed furniture behind, Curtana raises an eyebrow as a puppet drops down from the ceiling. "I never did see the point of these kinds of scares. Then again, i'm not really a fan of horror either, so I guess my opinion doesn't matter much here." Curtana does his best to ignore the jumpscare props, but a chest that doesn't open in the slightest draws his attention.
Miyako is getting her head chewed on by a mimic, and the Pooka knight runs in to help her. He swings a foot to kick at the mimic...only for the mimic to open wide and bite down on his foot as well! Yelping but not too hurt due to his armor, Curtana is now in an awkward position, balancing on one foot.
More trouble here, that's for sure.
And it's taken up to eleven when a mimic appears and... goes after Miyako?!
"MIYAKO!" Kotono cries out before she regains her senses. With a scowl, she grips her blades and yells, "Get away from her, you sorry excuse for a treasure chest!" With a couple running steps, Kotono goes after the mimic with her blades slashing at the fake treasure chest while making a metallic sound!
Schneider is, it seems, calm in the face of jumpscares. He manaes to keep his composure steady and not freak out as crooked mirror cast strane reflections, things drop on us, and chests pop open. Everything going on at once is a lot to deal with, but none of it seems like an actual threat. At least, not until one of the the popping-open chests turns out to be a mimic.
It's almost as if he were expecting that, and that's the case. "In any assemblage of chests, one will be a mimic," he states as if citing some regulation or historical inevitability. "Protective camouflage." In this case, it's easiest to deal with it by FIRE, and that's what Schneider uses. Not quite as hot as the sun, but definitely hot enough to incinerate a mimic as he pours flame into it.
Miyako would have a comment to snark about Schneider's attempt at a joke, but she's a bit busy keeping her head from being nommed by a mimic. Eventually, tempted by Hifumi's offer, it decides to try to eat bento -and- Spriggan! This gives Miyako just enough of an opening to shove it up and off of her head, hurling it across the room... where it lands on tentacled feet and chomps the entire bento in one gulp.
"You're WELCOME!" she shouts at it, then wipes at her face.
"Gross. It slimed me."
But the next floor beckons, and so after a quick use of her menu's 'clean' option, it's time to head up the stairs once again. This time there's no pretence, no attempt at disguising it, just baroque suits of armor marching down the hall towards the party with weapons at the ready.
That's right. It's straight-up plain old FIGHT time.
Shiruba gets out her magic bow, fires off a few magical arrows.... and doesn't accomplish much for one simple reason in the matter. "I can't headshot something that doesn't have a head!"
Schneider isn't even joking, sadly. It's his outsider's observation of things, though. Maybe gamers see it differently? But when the suits of armor attack, it looks like a straight up fight. Well, in a straight up fight, he will demonstrate why he is the Exploder Wizard.
"Deep Doomsday. To the spirits of land and air, bound by the pact, fulfill your obligation now." He pauses, gestures, and shouts, "MEGADETH!"
And that's when a firestorm of intense proportions is conjured. He conjured it a bit back and above the little pests, so it doesn't melt them down into puddles of steel, but their HP drop like the ball on New Year's Eve. He smirks with amusement.
It might be a valuable suit of armor to some, but to Kotono, it's an incoming threat and needs to be taken care of... fast!
"Sometimes, the simplest option is the best one!" The Spriggan says as she considers the direction of the armor as well as its speed, then proceeds to deliver a flying strike at it with her blades.
At the same time, she uses the momentum of her blades striking the armor to perform a somersault forwards and land in a crouched position, turning to look in case it might be coming back for more.
Curtana manages to pull his foot free from the mimic and just glares down at the disgusting creature. He glances down at his boot before flicking it a few times to get the worst of the slime off, which of course lands on the mimic. "Note to self, don't try to kick mimics like they are actual chests..."
The rows of enchanted armor on the seventh floor is a welcome surprise for Curtana, and he smiles as he finally has something he can deal with. "Let me get their attention!" Charging into the largest group of suits, Curtana lets out an ear-ringing roar. A cyclone of blue light forms around him, and many of the suits had to change targets to the Pooka knight. Those that ignored the tank were the targets of a longsword aimed at the armor's weakpoints. "Now this is more like it!"
Hifumi looks at the armor "Well... this at least isn't going to jump out and go boo..." he nods his head "Go on Snap Dragon, why don't you heat things up a little?" he asks and the little flower drake opens its mouth in a silent little 'rawer' that is adorable and shows off its little thorn fangs. Then the beast flaps its way into the air and starts straifing the armor... and then Schneider just sets the world on fire and the little drake gives him SUCH a look with its little flower eyes, if orchids could kill... the little drake keeps up its firing passes even if it feels a bit useless by the end of it.
Some days, the monsters just can't catch a break. This seems to be one of them. Sure, the armor can't be headshot when it doesn't have a head. But it's not hard at all to find ways to pick them apart and set them on the back foot. HP bars melt away under Schneider's fire, and Kotono and Curtana's blades pick them apart. Hifumi's little familiar scorches anything that gets too close, and Miyako stays in back to cast her spells, cutting down anything that threatens to get past the front line.
And so it's onwards, and upwards, and forwards, gee whiz!
The tenth floor reveals an observatory of sorts, which Miyako instantly proclaims "Nifty!".
The spirits making up the mobile seem to think the party are nifty, too: Nifty targets!
Considering the Lander that is asking for help with this haunted house Shiruba isn't really surprised to find an observation room. The mobile being posessed and turned into an animate weapon against them on the other hand is a bit of a shocker. "Hey! That's a delicate piece of display equipment, that's needlessly reckless!" She draws back her bow to form an arrow of pressurized air in the weapon from her storm magic, and fires it at the Earth orb to literally blow it away.
Earth, Fire, and Light. Sounds like the name of a band... oh wait.
"Looks like we've come to the end of our exploration," Kotono says as she calls up her spellrunes again. "Fortunately, ending things should be a real breeze!" This time, the Spriggan casts forth an air spell, shooting forth a large gust of wind. "This'll blow you away!"
Hifumi looks at the elementals and calls out. "Nori Come!" the fat little homnunculi made of its namesake seaweed appears in a sparkle of light. "Take care of the Fire elemental!" he orders. The little humanoid runs forward waddling like a toddler with a full diaper and inhaling so deeply it seems to expand. Once it does so it opens its mouth and a firehose like spray of water streams forth. The little creature keeps up the onslaught of water, chipping away at the creature's hp bar as the Chloromancer keeps up the stream of MP to his little summoned monstrosity.
As the last of the armors fall down into piles, Curtana lets out a low sigh of relief. Popping a potion down his throat to help with his HP, Curtana kicks a bit of the plates. "Might have to see if something is salvagable later. Might be fun to experiment with."
The elemental spirits on the tenth floor break free of their wires, and Curtana immediately focuses on the fire elemental. Taking in a calming breath, flickers of energy start flowing down his arms. Eyes narrow in concentration before Curtana snaps a hand out, snagging a bit of trailing wire from the elemental. The Ripple traverses down the wire, aiding in draining the strength of the creature, even has he gets pulled along. "Almost...got it!"
Who better than Dark Schneider to face a minion of Light. He gathers his sorcerous power and strikes it with raw magic, incidentally taking the lion's share of the aggro from it, too. The Light spirit savages him pretty visciously, but it can't keep pace with his regeneration rate, and Schneider reveals why he's hard to kill. The fight continues, raw sorcery against the mote of Light, but it seems he's winning. Slowly he drives the elemental back, each spell weakening it further as its HP melt away. Bolts of dark energy lance out like tendrils of magic energy, sucking down the elemental's life as the fight rages on. Luckily, it's not just him in this fight!
Fire burns, but Water refuses to ignite. Earth crushes, but Air flows freely from its grasp. Light shines...
But it is nothing without the Dark. As Schneider demonstrates. And as Miyako does, as well, appearing out of nowhere to reach out with a hand seemingly made of shadows, grasping hold of the spirit and crushing the weakened foe in her grasp.
Weakened by their defeats, the spirits return to the mobile, and after a good look at the Crystal Tower through the telescope, it's time for the party to head back downstairs. The 'haunted house' features are still there, but muted to a more entertaining level - armor suits threatening but not attacking, doors moving at a much easier speed to deal with, and so on.
"Thank you, thank you so much," cries the house's owner when the group finally emerges. "This was supposed to be one of the major attractions for the festival, I was terrified it would be just ruined! You've saved it! Thank you!"
After all is said and done, things are back to... normal?
And it was all supposed to be an attraction for a haunted house?
Talk about going too far with realism!
Nevertheless, Kotono takes a moment to catch her breath before looking to the owner. "Hey, there was nothing to it!" Kotono says as she twirls her blades before sheathing them. "We did what we had to and we succeeded!" She then looks to Miyako and says, "Now let's go unwind somewhere, shall we?"
Schneider yawns like a cat as he declares, "I am tired and will sleep. But it was a good quest, I think." And he got to explode a few things and didn't burn the house down. That's a win in anyone's book. He looks skepticly at the ectoplasm, but puts it into inventory and will head off to an inn. "Take it easy."
Hifumi takes his turn looking at the Crystal Tower and sighs "Things always change I suppose." he pets the flower drake on his shoulder as Nori ends it's summoning time disolving away into light again. "So... who wants dinner or a drink?" he says with a chuckle. "Also, who would be excited to see Isekai Ryoken in places other than Dun Lorieg?"
The three elementals are weakened and return to their docile state, and Curtana could almost swear he heard the haunted mansion sigh in relief. The most exciting part of this for him was being able to spot the Crystal Tower! He doesn't really bother going near the Aincrad Tower himself, but he does make a mental note of it to think about later.
"I'm just glad that the haunted mansion is safe for use now. Just...maybe hang up a few more low-level lights? It can get very dark in the entryway." The bag of ectoplasm is given a dubious stare before Curtana hesitantly deposits it into his inventory. But hearing Kotono mention unwinding does remind him of something. "Considering no one was split up from the group, it looks like everyone is buying their own drinks tonight. As for me...some roasted chicken sounds perfect right now."
Miyako smiles casually and slides an arm around Kotono. "Drinks and chicken sounds like a good idea. I hear Hifumi's been working on a good peanut satay sauce, I say we see if it's as good as he claims." She grins and waves to Schneider. "Okay, sleepyhead, see you around."
Then she pauses and looks over at Hifumi. "Fort Ouph."
Hifumi nods "I'll put it on the list then." he grins a bit, list? What is the master chef contemplating now?