Duty Session 521: No Game Gnoll Life
The Gnolls of the Isle of Beginnings have become increasingly hostile since the Apocalypse. At last, through the investigations of intrepid Adventurers, the source of this change in the monstrous creatures has been discovered. The Gnolls appear to be trying to summon a demon entity known as Yeenagi. The Adventurers must face off against the strongest of the Gnoll Generals to secure the place of the summoning and stop the Gnolls from unleashing this terror upon the world.
Rec. Party: 5+
Notes: Failing this +duty has non-death character consequences.
World Rewards: Gain items needed to unlock the final boss battle against Yeenagi the Demon Gnoll.
She /does/ brief everyone on what to expect, at least, and will coach people clumsily through the praparation process, because the debuff was pretty miserable. Still, there's only one end that matters anymore, and so it's that ending or who cares about the worst hangover ever, since the last one. "I think we can do this, with what we have planned. Is everyone ready?"
"So, ready when you all are"
The Artificer is not as talkative, though. A hand raises in greeting. "Ready, and as long as we work together we will have favorable results," and also turns his gaze to Ayame. Now that is a familiar face that has been a minute. "Ayame, how have you been?"
Fuka observes Shenmi's courtly behaviour with a smirk, clearly amused. "He's also known as Baoman." she observes to Ayame. "Don't worry, this will be a breeze! After all I'm here!" she claims. Did people miss her because she's small? Well, possibly.
Fuka seems relatively idle during Goldenblade's prepwork, but the attentive will realize that she's actually paying attention, nodding along to keypoints encouragingly even if she plays at being bored by the lack of action.
The Adventurers travel deeper into the forest, ignoring the warnings that the Gnolls have hung in the trees. They soon find themselves on what looks to be a perfectly normal stretch of woodland path. It is eerily quiet, with no bird sounds or hints of other animal life within the trees or underbrush. Everything seems a little too still, a little too perfect.
That is when light glints onto a bit of fine thread in one of the tree branches. Once the first trap is spotted, it becomes more obvious that there are others all along the forest path. Some are easier to spot, while others are well hidden.
"I'm afraid that sleight of hand isn't among my talents. Forthright and honesty, however, are" She blinks at Shenmi, and her cheeks actually flushing slightly at the offer of the bouquet, taking it "Ah. Thank you" She notes with a red-cheeked nod
"I'd never overlook you" She tells Fuka with an amused wink
Then she steps forward; and while she might not be the best for watching, that's a nice glow she casts, and it is a VERY big shield.
"Oh, traps! A classic!" She pivots on one foot, and fixing his gaze on each member of the party in turn, with a smirk, he begins, "I know something that might work here."
He waves his forearms in front of himself, fingers wiggling, a few times, and ends with his arms crossed on his chest, fists closed.
A grin, and as the fists are open, between each pair of fingers, there is little white ball, about the size of a table tennis one.
"Observe!", he says, and spins, throwing the balls all around.
They fly around, and as Shenmi continues to spin, more and more white projectiles zip about, each of them landing neatly on a trap's mechanism, that makes it snap harmlessly.
Three, four spins, and a good portion of the trap is no longer a threat. Shenmi stops spinning, legs apart and arms, equally apart, spread up in the air, in a 'X' shape. "Thank you, thank you dear audience! I'd be here all week if I weren't eager to get the whatever counts as an unpleasant afterlife in this world!"
"Wake has great talents!" Fuka notes cheerfully. "But don't sell yourself short, Ayaa~ You have huge talents too!" the little Sylph offers with an encouraging grin.
She studies the situation before them. Familiar... the traps and all. Different arrangement, but those gnolls do like their trapped exterior. "In this case my talent... is to shine the light of obviousness and reflection!" Fuka declares, summoning a blazing globe of fire and light to illuminate and cast the various traps into sharp relief. "This should make it somewhat easier for all of us to see what's underfoot and get through with... well, mostly with everything I guess!"
And with that, she traipses though, light on her feet, mostly avoiding anything by virtue of having no shadows to worry about, or of various reflections from bits of metal making themselves a little more obvious.
After so many traps, the party of Adventurers is bound to be keeping an eye out for anything unusual as they delve deeper towards the heart of the Gnoll Woods. In the past, there had been many lower level Gnolls in this area, but they seem to have vacated, leaving behind only remnants of their passing.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an arrow flies down towards them from a small grassy hill nearby. A large Gnoll stands up, a pelt of grass across his back and his fur a distinct shade of green that had allowed him to blend in with his surroundings. A wicked looking bow is held in one hand, firing arrow after arrow towards the Adventurers.
Goldeblade sighs at the Kennedy Assassination joke. "Stupid grassy gnolls."
She didn't find tripwires. Except with her feet. And, well - the reason for the boots, the shield, the gloves, become clear, as things impact her and spatter against the surface of the rimmed defence, as she advances slowly behind it, letting others show off as they disarm them. Even if she squirms and ends up with shreds in her shirt and skirt from razor arrows she barely hid behind. Grazes and light cuts at best
"You flatter" She tells Shenmi with a small, worried smile as she moves on and in, still looking around with that solid, braced stance "And thank you for that, sir, but I am very unused to such things. Just helping out, as best I can" She assures.
And a little smirk at Fuka "Really. You're going there already?" She asks with an arched brow "That was just a little rude" She winks down
"And yes. Be careful" She tells GB with a small huff
Speaking of new, there is that sniper. Haru vrrrs up his four Ioun Stones and starts laying a volley of magical assault down the killzone. Magic Missiles: They tend to not miss. Solid chip damage across the shield wall advance.
"Good thing we have no book depositories in the vicinity, then!", Shenmi comments to Goldenblade before clearing his throat at Fukaziroh's teasing of Ayame. He's not reproaching her or blushing or anything. He's simply pointing out that he, himself, is not following that line of discussion. Not at this point, at least.
The little Sylph cackles at Ayame. "A little rude? Of course! You should know that by now at least!" she agrees unabashedly. Poor Hyuga might not go there, might not get involved in innuendo and banter, but of course Fuka's all over it. That's basically what she does!
Likewise, Fuka's approach to a sniper is ... well, kind of unique. Powering up her own internal shields, setting herself to shed light and be quite a target, she skips towards the archer singing out. "Hit me if you can ~/o"
That, and the massive sword she draws, ought to make her quite a target. And given her general tankiness especially when she augments her defense, piddly arrows aren't going to do much once the element of surprise is gone. Oh, she might take a hit or two, but nothing she can't treat with a simple potion or two. Better her than the cloth-wearing squishies this group is full of!
Where there were once hundreds of lower level Gnolls who roved these woods there seem to be far fewer now. Only one or two are seen almost like shadows, keeping their distance from the Adventurers. That is, until they come through a copse of trees to find what looks to be a long abandoned fountain, overgrown with moss and crumbling in places.
There is still a little bit of liquid that trickles out, gathering in an oddly colored pool at the base of the fountain. Around it are a group of relatively regular Gnolls. However, upon seeing the approach of the Adventurers, they quickly scoop up mouthfuls of the strange 'water', gulping it down.
The Gnolls seem to shudder and then become impossibly more bulky, their eyes red and their maws drooling with white foam. They turn, growling and baring massive teeth at the Adventurers.
"Of course. And I do present a large target" She winks to Fuka, before hefting her shield even as the barrier around it flares, and she darts forward, providing cover as she runs.
Even as she does, she grins back faintly to Shenmi, nodding "She's very approachable!" She calls, taking the arrowstorm in her shortened stride.
But there is no time to perform surgery!
"...what's in that water? Protein shake?" He slaps his face. "Oh, great. Swol Gnolls. Now they're going to never-skip-leg-day us to death."
This location seems somewhat unfamiliar. Fuka oohs as she sees the fountain and the occly coloured pool at the base of it. Then makes a sour face as the gnolls drink it. "You shouldn't drink that you don't know where it's... well, yeah you probably know exactly where it's been!" she cries out.
Fortunately she too knows her potions, and can identify both the nature of the boon granted the gnolls and the accompanying debuff to their tactics and self-preservation. "Potion of berserk! They won't stop from pain, they'll hit hard, and won't take any actions to protect themselves from bleeds, burns or poison!" she warns the adventurers. It's likely to be a rough fight, but they can make it through. And hey, she's got some pretty good healing potions to help the group recover after! They may taste like literal hot garbage, but they work!
Further into the forest, the true effect of the Gnoll presence becomes more obvious. Trees are knocked, the roots turned up towards the sky. Dirt and rocks are flung in multiple directions. Something has gone very wrong here and the forest is taking the brunt of the damage.
It does not take long to see the source of the destruction. An absolutely massive Gnoll looms higher than the tallest trees in this part of the forest. The creature is stark black, tree branches sticking out from portions of the monster's fur. The red eyes of the beast are frenzied, and it seems to be attacking anything and everything that comes anywhere close.
Unfortunately, the Adventurers have come close, and that means they have found themselves the target of this giant, feral Gnoll.
... only for the Gnoll to simply shatter it with a few blows, pounding the secretarial sylph into the dirt as she tried to corral it into a corner
Fuka looks up at the gnoll, looks ... up at Ayame. "You shouldn't call yourself ugly, you know?" she wisecracks. Then winces, preparing to set up a fight. "Uh... you know, maybe we'd better just run? This doesn't seem to be going... Ack! That looked really painful!" she says brightly.
Fuka abandons her plans for going on offense - really, what would she do to such a colossus? Climb it and stab it repeatedly in the neck? Instead she grabs Ayame somewhere convenient and helps to haul her out of reach. "Dare I say it... RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!!!!"
After a long time of traveling through the perils of the Gnoll Woods, which are very perilous, but not too perilous for the brave party, they eventually stumble upon a massive cave structure that was previously discovered by an intrepid Adventurer. This seems to be the heart of the Gnoll problem, as it radiates a feeling of dark magic and there are web-like black lines that emerge from the mouth of the cave and snake through the ground, stretching off into the rest of the forest. The entire area is strewn with blood and gore. Claws have dug deep into stone and bones are littered everywhere.
Upon entering the cave, they discover what appears to be a locked door which seems to contain notches set into it. This does not seem to be able to be picked or forced open, held tight shut by some sort of magical force.
So, they are left to explore one of the side passages. They come to a chamber that seems to have been filled with a fine black sand. It sticks to their feet and shifts on the slightest of breezes. At first, the room seems empty, however, there is a shadow that looms from above as a massive Gnoll drops in from above, landing with a dull thud on the sand. This one is a bit different than many they have seen. They have a leaner build suggesting that this may be a female, and they wear furs and leathers rather than traditional armor.
As soon as she lands, there is a swirling vortex of wind that starts to form around her, blowing rocks and sand around the arena and making it almost impossible to see.
This time, she moves in, shield first once more, shuffling with a pained look, but as the wind begins to swirl, she spreads her wings, and lets it lift her briefly; before the wand is levelled and a bright burst of light impacts and explodes right in the gnoll's face, exposing paths through the tempest as she flutters to ground level once more
Fuka's not happy about fleeing the giant gnoll, but she'd be even less happy with everyone getting squished and sent to respawn at their respective temples. Having beat the supergiant once with a seriously OP group, she knows it probably doesn't bear any of the gem keystones, so it's really not worth it. Sometimes the coward's way is the *smart* way, even if it stings and burns.
As they approach the cave however, Fuka's glad they made the right decision. Their resources are low, but this isn't over yet! There is room for victory, if they proceed with skill and brave intent! And the enemy is ... the sandweaver. Ugh, how unpleasant. Something something itches and gets everywhere.
Sighing, Fuka resigns herself to fighting blind. She hefts her Arc-ane Blade, letting loose with a battlecry, then charges into the sand. As a Sylph she's pretty good in sensing things, in handling storms, and in moving fast. As a small sylph wearing heavy armour, the sandstorm itself isn't that big of a threat. Only the blindness slows her down, and even so she has a pretty good idea where to go based on the patterns of the blowing wind.
Soon, the combination of various skills and attributes puts Fuka in melee range of the sandweaver, despite the sandweaver's best attempts to make things otherwise. As Ayame illuminates its face, Fuka's in good position to take advantage of it and put sword into sand dancer. Insert, remove, repeat as necessary. Fuka's into it!
The Artificer draws the natural Earth mana from the room, heating it with fire and putting gashing glasswork into the enemy so that even when they dance away they are still bleeding damage over time effects.
The vortex interrupts his incohate attempt at casting some sort of spell through wide circular motions, and he has to hold onto his top hat.
"Fine! Bao, it's up to you now!", the Conjurer exclaims, removes his hat, and, predictably, there is a Bun-Bun inside.
The Animal companion is released, and Shenmi points, "Go! Find a way, Bao!"
The Bun-bun sniffs the air, squints a little, and hops off. More sniffing and squinting ensues, but eventually, the small creature is lost from sight.
He probably dug a hole to hide.
The battle against Seviira is no simple matter. Not only does the boss have multiple health bars to contend with, but the swirling sand makes it nearly impossible to locate her or predict where her attacks might come from. The party is buffeted, blinded, and forced to fight more strategically in order to deal with this sort of foe.
Eventually, however, they are able to contain the Gnoll to a point where her spells have less impact, meaning that more damage can be done. She growls, howls, rages and sends black sand flying, slamming the Adventurers back into walls or trying to bury them beneath the ground, but it is to no avail.
As the last bit of her health is eliminated, the monster roars and shatters into points of light, a handful of amber colored gemstones falling to the ground to land on the dark sands which once again, fall still. "Do these go in the door we passed?" Goldenblade asks of the keystones. She will go back and check, and place her keystones in. She hadn't noticed it before.
"Why," Shenmi begins to Ayame, "It'll always be a pleasure to be in a party with you. As in, an adventuring party. As opposed to a celebration. Which is still a pleasure to be involved with, but is a different thing." He rubs his chin. "Speaking of which. I believe, we have absolutely deserved something like that." He claps his hands and projecting his voice around, asks, "Anyone up for a festive dinner at a tavern once we're done with this?"