Duty Session 481: 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!
No one seems willing to get too close, so they've been left in the shadowy dark of evening, with a key, and little else other than instructions to get to the top of the tower and thin out the supernatural creatures in the process.
"Another person thinkint they can just keep monsters around like pets. They're monsters." Mikage sighs to herself, tossing the key in one hand as she looks towards Rama, her lynx companion. "Hopefully this should be pretty straight-forward. Get in, smash some monsters, get the reward, right?"
She looks towards Cyrus, then. "Besides, we've got healer back-up."
"I do believe he said not to ruin the house too much. To thin the monsters out, rather than to just kill them all." The young man rolls his shoulders a bit and takes a deep breath, before releasing it again. "I really hope it's not spiders." He then adds, and grabs hold of a few potions, and begins distributing them to the crew.
"Just some to heal yourself ahead of time. They're concentrated healing potions. Just in case we get separated somehow. It's a Haunted House after all." He notes, and then nods to Miki. "I'm ready to go." Ignore the poofed up cat-tail. He's a snow leopard. The Cait Sith is supposed to be that poofy, promise!
Mizuki is a bit more... morose than she's previously been during the holiday. The encounter with the Ash Wight was not pleasant.
Still, she at least shows up in costume; and she's switched from the '94/'95 version to the '98 version: Her hair is brushed for once and dyed purple, with bangs in front, held somewhat in place by a red alice band with a star decoration on one side; The costume itself consists of a red sleeveless tunic with chinese-style fastenings offset to one side down the front, with a white sash around her waist and over a white blouse with short but poofy-shouldered sleeves and darker red shorts almost like bike shorts. Red fingerless gloves and boots matching the tunic, and a necklace with big purple beads matching her hair, complete the outfit.
She keeps staring at the ground, lost in thought, her right hand holding her left upper arm -- her left arm rests in a sling that's presumably not part of the costume. When others speak, she looks up briefly. "Huh? Oh... I don't know... I guess haunted houses must bring people some entertainment or they wouldn't go, right?" Then she hangs her head again, almost muttering. "...But what's the point if it just ends up hurting people... You're right, it's just foolish, to do something so risky." She takes the potion, then transfers it to her bad hand so she can derez it with the inventory. Hmm. Having one good arm could start to cause a problem.
As the group seems to have finally all gathered and Cyrus has handed out the potions, Mikage nods. "Well, we'll do our best to make this safer for everyone." Tossing the keys one more time, she nods before heading forward. "Let's get going."
As they head nito the house, they are quickly met by a bit of trouble. There are plenty of cobwebs that stick to them, but also strangely creepy grabbing 'hands' that seem to try to block them from entering. "What the hell? These aren't monsters, they're people." She swats at one.
They'll need some light in here, and someone with capable fingers who can keep the key out of the reach of those grabbing hands long enough that they can get inside.
Except it turns out to be just a bunch of hands waving around from people hiding in the walls. She promptly slaps one that gets a little too close to places no woman should be touched without permission. "Rude!" Then she holds up her other hand and makes a fist, which starts to glow as she draws light infused ki to it.
The Snow Leopard is a bit grumpy, but another part of him is almost amused at this. It just feels almost... comical, this entire situation. "Who has the key again?" He then asks. He knows he doesn't have it. So instead, he pulls out one of his potions that one of the hands was grabbing at, quickly snatching it back, and raises it to light the way - reflecting off of gossamer webs and the wood of the house itself.
"You know, we had a Pagoda temple back in my old home town, but I never went into one. At least this will be neat - to see the insides of one finally." Cyrus then adds. "And what is this 'attack of the killer tomatoes?' That sounds like one of those terrible old movies with bad puppets."
Oh, Vertina's here! Mizuki approaches for a hug before the start of the dungeon, but then they must move onwards.
It's... an actual, realistic haunted house? Mizuki shrieks and jumps when a hand grabs her, but when she sees what it is, she calms down and just looks at the hands with a detached gaze. She speaks dryly: "Calling it now: The gimmick is that it *looks* like a fake haunted house, but it turns out this shit was real the whole time; they're ghosts *pretending* to be employees using stage tricks."
She transforms so she can see in the dark better and: There are locks! She brightens up a little, "Finally, a use for my thief skills! Maybe we won't need the keys, just keep the hands off me."
She crouches down in front of a door, adjusting her sling so that her left hand is held at the right level to try and use the tool to hold the lock open with just finger movement; maybe it'd be easier if someone helps her.
She works the pick with her right hand, feline ears listening closely for the quiet clicks in all the noise of talking and hands.
Thankfully the others are able to handle the situation with relative ease, allowing them entry into the building. "Oh yeah, guys, this is my friend Allie. Allie this is my partner Cyrus, Vertina and Mizuki here are bad-asses from Scale Emblem." She explains, while motioning to each person.
These introductions are made as they head on to the first floor of the mansion, which seems to be filled with heavy furniture. There are massie doors which are constantly clapping open and shut, creating an annoying, timed progression forward. The ghosts that are here probably aren't the worst ones, as mostly they just tend to move some of the furniture around. However, now and again, one of the heavier pieces does go flying, meaning they have the capability of being quite dangerous.
"Uh... Rama, stay close to me, okay? I don't want you getting eaten by an arm chair or something." Miki warns.
Did that person actually say 'helloes'
in real life?
Mizuki stares at Allie. A smile starts to come to her face, just watching the energetic girl... And then her thoughts turn into a confused fog, the recent wight encounter having brought certain doubts to the forefront. Her smile fades, although Mikage calling her a badass brings it back. "Nice to meet you."
It's not lost on her that Allie is exactly the kind of person she created Mizuki to have fun being.
She can't bear to tell Allie off, though.
If Mizuki can hold it together and not be foolish, then maybe other people can get to enjoy themselves; she'll just have to pick up the slack. Doing unpleasant things so others can have more peaceful lives is a hero's job, after all.
"Yes," the cat-girl says evenly, slightly adjusting the position of her tools to work on the next part of the lock. "It's a good thing."
What's important is they're about to be accousted by Ikea rejects. "Look out!" Vertina jumps to the front of the group and swings her fist, still glowing from the last room, into a charging chair. The divine nature of Light stuns the spirit animating the chair, causing it to drop to the floor.
Which Vertina picks up, and with a shout of "Here, take a seat!" shoves against a door and under the handle so it can't keep snapping open at them. "You ghosts are just lucky I'm feeling chair-itble enough to not just burn you all down!" Because we all know how Scales enjoy their Fire to solve problems.
"Cyrus." He introduces himself, "Alchemist extra-ordinaire... or something like that. If the heals come late, it's because I am focused on healing efficiency." He adds to that.
And then, the first floor. Filled with... furniture.
"This isn't so bad. Kind of boring in fact." Cyrus begins to talk, right before the heavier furniture comes rushing their position! "OH SHI~" He instinctively steps to the forefront and tries to block one of the chairs coming their way, only to be knocked in the head by a flying chest - causing the youth to stumble back!
Past the locked door is... an obstacle course? "...Maybe it's just ghosts? I guess they're not pretending to be employees anymore... I don't see any ropes or anything to make the movement look faked... come on."
She holds out her good hand and intones, "Chill frost, shield my body as you shield my heart! Condensation Shield!" Despite the name, it acts more like a disc made of force with cold, misty VFX that moves as if 'attached' to her lower arm -- her good arm, this time, since she's not using a weapon here anyway.
She's confident that with her feline agility she can make it through the gauntlet just fine, but she uses her were fang strength and the shield to try and hold back some of the attacking upholstery so others can pass more easily.
Even Rama looks as if he just winced for the Cait Sith Alchemist. Ouch.
With most of the chairs under control for the time being, they are forced to make their way through more of those moving doors. It takes a bit of time to find the way to the stairs and further up onto the third floor.
Here, they are met with a number of mirrors that cast strange versions of their reflections. Followed by puppets that drop from the ceiling and chests which pop open, seemingly with strange things jumping out at them. All of this seems mundane.
That is, until one of those chests has a slathering tongue and huge teeth. The mimic starts charging forward, trying to take a bite out of the Adventurers.
"Yep, I am fine. All that's wounded is my pride." He tells her; "I didn't expect flying chests. That's on me." He rubs his forehead a bit and takes a few healing potions, before heading onwards, trying to dance through and around those constantly creepy clapping doors!
"I'll be fine. There's no way another chest is going to get me like that going forward."
And on they go. Up two more floors, until they end up in what looks like a hall of mirrors. He ends up stepping in front of some of them and making funny looks. "Hey Miki - look." It's a slenderizing mirror - making him look really tall. "I'm a lightpost." Putting a potion over his head and just lifting his hands in the air. It looks silly.
They carry on through the third floor, when suddenly...
He's super on his guard. And the moment one pops up, he's quick to grab hold of... a baggy of coins. "It's a Mimic. Just shut it up by giving it some trash items. Quantity over quality!" He calls out to the rest of the team and flicks the baggy of what is basically 'change' into its open maw!
Until one of the chests opens up to display sharp teeth and a sloppy tongue. "Oh, that's more like it!" Still not really scary, but at least it's different and dangerous. Especially when it starts snapping at them.
"You got it!" She replies to Cyrus. But instead of money she pulls out some bones and scraps of meat. Things unsuitable to make food for Adventurers, but that she can toss to the Mimic to gobble down without concern.
Mizuki looks dully at the mirrors. They warp what she's supposed to be, but that's expected, isn't it?
JUMP SCARES. She has never been a fan of jump scares. Puppets and jack-in-the-boxes get clawed for their trouble. Until--
>Wait! That chest is actually a mimic!
Mizuki's eyes pass over it, and it takes a half-second for her brain to process it and then LEAP away, shouting, "MIMIC! Don't touch it!"
HOW MANY TIMES has she fought mimics in the Dungeons of Doom?! More times than she can count... More than most ETO players, certainly, save no doubt Att himself. She keeps hopping back from it, and breathes quick bursts of fire at it, and, keeping her distance, repeatedly uses thrown kunai Sword Artes to damage it without directly touching it, lest it stick to her like it would in Dungeons and Dragons! She does NOT want to grapple with a broken arm...
Once it's down, she reclaims one of her kunai and holds it up dramatically. "I name thee, 'Mimicbane'." Unless such nonsense actually creates an enchanted object on the spot, she simply gives a little shrug and returns her kunai to her inventory.
A colorful string of curses follows that would likely make many traditional Japanese people blush, but she starts to kick at the thing, Rama growling and snarling at it until she is able to get her leg free. "I. Hate. Mimics." She winces, grabbing one of the healing potions that Cyrus had given them early on and chugs it, then makes a face. "I think this batch of potions is even more gross than normal." Her nose scrunches.
She's left staring at Allie as she tries to calm down down the Mimic. "Nope, still don't like them. I'll stick to animals." It looks like all of Allie's attempts to calm the Mimic just make for a really good distraction, allowing Mizuki to finish off the creature, causing it to break into bits of wood before bursting into pixels.
Making their way up additional floors, they eventually come to the seventh which seems quiet at first. That is, until a clanking of possessed armor starts coming their way, wielding weapons. "I'm sure the owner would want us not to damage the armor but... beggars can't be choosers here. Time to exorcise some ghosts."
Concern over the matter takes a backseat to what the next floor presents in the form of headless animated armors. "Yeah, now we're getting more my style. Hey guys, watch this..." Vertina twirls her hands around in front of herself a few times, apparently conjuring barbed vines and winding them together into a ball shape. Which she grabs with one hand, winds back her arm, and then flings it as hard as she can. The Bramble Ball bounces around, ricocheting off armors and walls alike until it finally wedges in the neck slot of one arm, knocking it over.
"I gotta agree with Miki though. Animals over Monsters." As he heads forward. The next few floors are pretty quiet. A few jump scares and what-not. But no crazy monsters. But then...
"... living armors. Okay, this is /actually dangerous/." Cyrus points out. He then pulls out a series of potions and begins to form a sigil before the party. "I'm going to create some exorcist sigils on the ground! Lead them into these!" The youth declares, as he rapidly swishes his hand around, like some espresso artiste, drawing rapid sigils on the ground and then holding his hand; "EXORCISM - BLESS!" Followed by the circles coming to life with light!
Mizuki looks at Allie. "...Sorry. I guess this just isn't the place and time to tame monsters..." She smiles awkwardly, "But I'm sure you'll get another chance!"
The next things they come against are... "Armor? Do I even have weak points to sneak attack? And fire will just make them hot to the touch..." Mizuki takes a breath. "Guess I have to go for raw damage... what a time to be maimed." She rezzes Ichiya's sword and finds the darkest spot in the room to take up the Edge of Shadow stance. "Edge... of shadow!" She leaps at the armor, swinging strike after strike with her good arm, trying to pile on the damage!
Defeating the armors is a bit of a struggle, but not as difficult as many dungeons out there. In the end, the remaining armor pieces fall to the ground, clattering around their feet. "Well, not too much damage." Looking at the others, "Just a few more floors." She tells them, heading for the stairs.
In the end, they find themselves upon the tenth floor, which seems to have been built as an observatory. there is a large telescope, but also a mobile of Alba, lacking much in the way of definition in regards to the lands beyond. Slowly, this structure begins to glow, and from it three elemental creatures emerge. There is one of earth, fire, and light. They will need to break off and handle each of these with their opposing element, and try not to cause too much damage to their surroundings.
Vertina curls her arms up to a ready stance, taking a breath and exhaling to focus. Then grins to show her fangs. "Time to say hello to a little erosion!" Air swirls around her fists, so that when she makes a one-two punching motion even though not near her target it releases shearing bursts of wind to slam into the Earth elemental, staggering it just long enough for her to leap into the air and spin around to bring a kick crashing into it, which releases another explosive shockwave of air on the impact to slam it across the room!
"Huh, didn't expect that." He looks at the two 'moons' on the mobile. "Hey, it's even got the damage to the moon." He points out, right before the structure begins to glow, and three elemental creatures reveal themselves!
"I'll restrain them!" Cyrus quickly calls out, as he pulls out multiple potions that he starts throwing in a sequence - attached to a cable. Almost like a ripcord. It leashes around the mobiles, and he then suddenly pulls on the cable, causing it to suddenly engulf in black enchanted flame! Not destroying the mobile, but holding back the enemy's ability to defend against other magics!
"I've got them restrained!" The catte declares.
"Wait, you have a tamed mimic??" Mizuki is surprised. After Allie is knocked down she throws herself into attacking the armors harder, taking more than her share of blows in return. She tucks the sword under her arm while she rezzes and drinks the potion she was given at the start, nodding thanks to Cyrus.
"Those aren't ghosts... they're elementals! Stupid fire elemental, you think you can hurt me?"
But then she asides to the others as she derezzes the sword, "Keep it away from me for a few seconds..." and holds her hand out in casting stance.
"Scatter your chilly sharp blades! Frost Bolt!"
As the spell VFX start up, large icicles appearing above where Mizuki cast the spell and flinging themselves at the fire elemental one after the other, Mizuki switches to a surfing-like stance and motions with her hand, doing a 'Waterslide' technique towards the elemental, then leaping off the conjured water and spinning in the air while making a sweeping motion with her good hand, directing the water up against the elemental in continued contact -- out of practiced habit, it tries to reach the elemental's 'head' to suffocate it, not that an elemental can suffocate but it's the contact of the water that matters here!
Just as the elemental has to deal with her water, Frost Bolt's animation completes with a satisfying THWACK and the damage of all the icicles hits at once. Maybe it'll be enough to interrupt whatever it tries to do to counter her?
The elemental forces aren't defeated, but they are weakened enough that they retreat to a dormant state, returning to the mobile. As they do, everything seems... quieter around them. Oh, there are still the moans and groans and rattling of chains that comes with your usual haunted house, but there is less random, chaotic monster activity, which is exactly what they had been hoping to achieve.
In the aftermath, they are able to look through the telescope if they so wish, the relic instrument giving them a view of the Crystal Tower which was destroyed many centuries ago. Mikage does give it a glance, but she has never been all that keen on the lore and history of the world. That has always been left to Cyrus. "You should see this, Cy."
When they finish their observations, the group will return down through the tower, finding themselves thanked for their efforts by the owner, a certain Rionnag Taisbeanadh, who also offers them a pouch of strange Ectoplasm, likely harvested from some of the monsters within.
At Mikage calling him over, he nods; "Yeah, what's up? It's just pointed at Aincrad, anything important about it?" He asks, as he takes turns on the telescope and...
And draws back. "A relic Telescope." He notes, and looks at the thing, running his fingers along the metal. "That was the Crystal Tower - at a guess. What with it all glistening and all of that." He proposes to Mikage. "It's the tower that supposedly was there before Aincrad Tower, in the lore of this world." He explains. "Supposedly there was a massive Rebellion there, which led to that." He points through to one of the mobils. To the damaged moon.
"I don't know the details." He admits; "But it's the tower that Gilgamesh climbed."
Mizuki smiles at Cyrus's pun and then chains techniques to hurt the fire elemental and Allie douses it with a TORRENT OF WATER, leaving the were-tiger staring. Then she walks over and pats Allie's shoulder with her good hand. "You did good. Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like, if I'd made this character a mage..." She would dress in an *excellent* witch outfit, for one...
She looks through the telescope for several seconds, but... she doesn't know what she should be looking FOR.
Although, Cyrus gives an interesting detail. "Gilgamesh climbed a DIFFERENT tower?! ...And yet, the floors he went to were the same as Aincrad's?"
A successful mission lifts her spirits somewhat, but she sticks close to Vertina afterward. When the ectoplasm is handed over -- "should this really be in a pouch?" -- she Appraises it and comments, "Wisteria might be able to use this..."