Duty Session 537: Shrine of the Dragon King

Far from any Root Town, nestled deep in the misty ravines in the southern reaches of the Palace Lands, there is rumored to sleep an ancient altar sacred to the divine spirit, Longwang. Unfortunately, without any local adventurers to cull their numbers, the shrine has been all but overrun by monstrous apes. Now running rampant, the mad monkeys need to be put down to restore some semblance of holiness to the shrine. Perhaps Longwang will award a blessing to those who fight to cleanse this sacred space? But even if he does not, the high-level monsters in the area are sure to drop some pretty substantial loot!

Difficulty:    Moderate
Rec Party:     3+
Rewards:       2
World Rewards: Reduce the danger near Seeker's Landing.

Goldenblade
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Goldenblade has put together another mission to the Sher Kar burrows to clear it of the giant ants that have taken over. She explains, "We will trek overland to the site, and from there, we will go underground and deal with the ants." That said, she's purchasing food supplies and other basic gear here in town, and hoping that more people will show up for the expedition. But with the war coming on, most adventurers are taking care of their own last-minute business.
Uta
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Some people call it Luck, some people Karma. Some call it Fortune, some call it Providence, some call it the Will of the Cosmos, and some the Random Happenstances of an Uncaring Universe.

But regardless of what you call it, Uta happened to be in Westelande, looking around with her usual distracted air, and asking for directions to the dock area... of Carmina Gadelica Marina.

When the mistake was cleared up, and she learned of the ant menace, she forgot about everything else (as she is wont to), and joined Goldenblade in her effort to make the place safe for the Landers.

"It is a cultural landmark of momentous value!", Uta begins, while inspecting a length of rope up for purchase. "It is unacceptable for a whole culture to have their most important rituals held up by monsters. No, no, this won't do. We must do something about-" A blink. "-what was it that we were trying to save, again?"
Goldenblade
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

The cross country hike to the site took some considerable time, but with just two, the pace was pretty quick. Goldenblade has a tendency to get sidetracked, but is easy to prod back on course. She seems to be in several sorts of conflicting moods recently. But she manages to lead the way to a pit that looks like a quarry, a big pit open to the air with several ramps down. A handful of ants are clustered at the bottom, and will have to be dealt with before going inside.
Uta
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Uta holds her staff, and begins to intone a song. Tendrils of light and color dance on the handle, winding around it in helixes. Her vocal technique got better since her Strange Mood. More melodious, more powerful.

The latter, however, turns out to be a tactical mistake. The ants perks up their feelers, alert, and spot the Spriggan before she can complete her incantation. The dart for the party, with surprising speed, ready to attack.
Goldenblade
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Goldenblade charges down one ramp like an avalanche. Whatever else is going on, she's highly motivated, which does not turn out well for the ants, who seem to be unable to keep up with her DPS. The narrowness of the ramp means she can easily spread out and fill it, and there's nothing getting past her twin blades. But they're ants. They can just run up the side of the walls, and that leaves Uta vulnerable as she pulls aggro off Goldenblade. It's frantic close combat for both of them after that, but finally ends well.

Ants defeated, a closer look reveals several ways inside. Which one leads to dead ends, and which leads to important places is not readily apparent, and will require some investigation.
Uta
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

"Hold on, Rylen taught me a trick here..."

Uta spreads her arms and closes her eyes. Palms held downwards, she swipes them around, and paces about. "It's a technique where you open hidden passageways in the rock. Of course, you aren't going to go in blind, so you need to first 'get a sense' of where you're going to shift the Earth. It's kind of like when you try to find an electric wire inside a wall with-" She stops, pivots on one foot, and turns to her left, still closing her eyes and sweeping her hands to and fro. "...if I can take my time, I think the results might be accurate to the point where-"

She snaps her fingers and points in a specific direction while her eyes both open at the same time. "a-HA! That way!", she exclaims.
Goldenblade
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Goldenblade is clueless as we search the ground for a path that leads to the ants' vulnerable lair. The ground is covered with back and forth trails of them going back and forth, possibly caused by the ants going back and forth across the ground. But Uta is able to clue in on one particular indication, and leads the two into one particular tunnel. "A fox-and-hound, eh?" Goldenblade says, knowing about tracing electric wires through walls. She owned an old house, and is old enough to do her own home repairs, mostly. Who knew?

A maze of twisty passages, all alike, is a good rough description of the underground lair, though as we get to one part, Goldenblade notes, "You may not know, but this used to be the home of the Sher Kar. The ants kind of took over, and we're techically clearing it out so the Sher Kar can take it back over, But they're monsters, we can't just ask them to let us by. We'll have to sneak by them, if we can, without killing them. If we kill them, this whole mission is pointless."

Goldenblade has indeed recognized the Sher Kat section of the maze, and there they are, grubbing in the dirt, though they look up at the arrival of fresh meat^h^h^h^h adventurers.
Uta
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

"I did, in fact, not know." She keeps pacing on in the dirt, her soles making muffled sounds as they compress the earth under the Adventurer's weight. "Which leads me to the next question. What -is-, exactly, a Sher Kar? I am not sure I-" There are- what is that noise? A growl?

Uta doesn't even flinch. She shoots one hand up, to point in the direction of the noise, and tenses her finger to cast magical energies to superimpose her will to that of the Monster. A few steps. Another hand shoots up, to control the second monster. A few more steps, and a third hand- wait, no. Let me count.

One... Two...

Oh, it's only two hands. She apparently had to release the first monster to stop the third.

"Paula?", the Spriggan states, quiet. "...I think we should run!", she whimpers, no longer quiet. At all.
Goldenblade
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Goldenblade says, as they show up, "That's a Sher Kar." Which is maybe not enough advanced warning. Goldenblade is entirely skillful enough to sneak by the Sher Kar, and Uta has initial success at handling the Sher Kar, but when she runs out of hands, it's all over. "Yes," Goldenbladde replies as Uta suggests running, and they both dash out quickly, leaving the Sher Kar behind. But they can both hear the Sher Kar following them. "Ah, last time, we gave them a bit of thumping and they didn't want to follow us," she explains. "Hopefully, when we next encounter the ants, the Sher Kar will scuttle back to their tunnels."

Speaking of finding ants, Goldenblade and Uta have halted their headlong rush in a very small chamber /packed/ with Guardian Ants, who look surprised, as much as an ant can look surprised.
Uta
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

"I suppose I've learnt a lesson from our last encounter with ants. Don't spend time ramping up a spell."

Just like before, ants rush towards the Adventurers, but unlike before, Uta keeps silent. She just stares determinately. Until the closest ant is within range, at which point, her eyes narrow, she lets out a "YAH!", and after a short run, she digs her staff onto a shallow, wide depression in the ground and pole vaults to slam both feet into the face to the monster. Due to the close distance, she ends up practically 'squatting' horizontally while holding onto her improvised pole, and with a motion, she pushes herself off the face of the Ant, which falls sideways, to spin around, using her staff as a pivot, and kick multiple enemies in the process, using each face as a springboard for the next round, each blow underlined by a "YAH!", "HAH!", or "TAKE THAT!"

As the ants give sign to get wise to Uta's antics, she does a backflip and lands on her feet, to jab at the opposing ant's legs. At which point, she either impacts (causing the monster to lose balance) and follows through with an elbow blow, a spinning kick, and a chop to the head, or, if she misses with her staff, she immediately spins and lifts it, to topple the opponent, at which point she follows up by jumping on the giant insect with its legs spinning helplessly in the air.

Much shattering was had that day.
Goldenblade
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Goldenblade pulls out one of her big moves, running one sword across the back of it's twin, striking sparks, and then switching blades to do the same with the other blade. Both blades now have razor edges, and positively gleam with menace. The blades, when they hit, cut very deeply. Uta is equally deadly in close quarters, after all, she's a musical KUNG-FU nurse. Many people forget that middle part to their dismay. And the ants are pummeled hard, smashed with the staff, punched, kicked, and toppled besides. It is not pretty. For the ants.

The guardians struck down, Uta and Goldenblade proceed further, find themselves in an egg-filled cavern. Grubs and tenders fill the room, the grubs grubbing and the tenders tending them. When Uta and Goldenblade appear, the grub-tenders scuttle forward to defend their charges, and the grubs grub forward, seeking food, and Goldenblade says, "Let's just cut loose."
Uta
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Uta nods. We're among professional Hunters here, this is not her first Ant Rodeo.

Well, ok, it is, considering she didn't have to face ants before, but she did face spiders, so that's close enough.

"Switching to support," she declares, and takes a step back to allow Goldenblade to get into the thick of the battle.

She intones a song that alternates between breezy and oppressive, high and low pitch, and the tendrils materialize the familiar red/green couple of beams. She direct the red one at Goldenblade's current target, to sap it of energy, while simultaneously aiming the green beam at Paula, to restore her HP bar.
Goldenblade
Yamato - -44 - 1 - 0

Goldenblade is, perhaps amusingly, not tanking this in the manner expected. Rather, she vanishes in a puff of smoke, and then, quite suddenly, the workers and grubs approaching the only party member left, Uta, start poofing into pixels. Apparenty these monsters are weak enough that Goldenblade's song-buffed ninja strike from stealth is enough to one-shot them. And when she's able to one-shot her opponent, it seems not to break stealth. So it continues, until the swarm is no longer, and Uta and Goldenblade are clear to smash the eggs, themselves, which is one of the goals of being here.

That done, Goldenblade suggests, "Let's get back to Breg Epona."
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

The Island lies a good distance to the South of what many would consider the furthest reaches of mainland Yamato. Even the boat that left the Adventurers off here, refuses to come closer to shore, having anchored a distance out and provided longboats for landing.

To say that the island is overgrown is an understatement. Plant life is in abundance here, growing into thick jungles of entwined leaves. Even the trunks of various trees have weaved together, creating massive natural structures that stretch high into the skyline.

More unusual, though, is that there seems to be steam coming up from various points on the island in regular patterns. Upon investigating further, the group had stumbled upon what looked to be a domed entryway into some ancient ruin, now overgrown with foliage. Above, tucked against some rocks, a spout releases white steam into the air. Those with keen ears may pick up the strange clunk of moving machines in the distance, far below.

* * *

Uta finishes tying the boat to a pole she had to ram into the ground by herself a few minutes earliers. So much punching. Still, that's a Godhand's life for you.
Ayame
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

There had been other longboats, and even other boats travelling - this far from the mainland, pirates were ever a threat. Numbers helped. Moving up, from another boat, boots kicking up the dust from the overgrowth - or pollen, perhaps - is a strangely familiar silhouette against the light behind them; a knee-length, fitted skirt, a shield on an arm, and a buzzing pair of fluttery wings. Light gleams on a little set of half-moon spectacles, flashing, as the figure approaches. Pauses. And then, with a wary resignation, asks in hope that she may be wrong "... is that Uta?"
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"...Is that Ayame?", Uta asks, in the excited hope she may be right, as the other adventurers who have come here on a mission from the Hunter's Guild. Still clad in the same white nurse's-uniform-slash-martial-artist-gi-slash-MMORPG-fantasy-outfit getup with black trimmings Ayame used to see her sport back in the day, Uta rushes over to the Sylph, dark wings aflutter with elation. "Oh, by the goddesses! I haven't seen you in ages! How's things been?"

The entrance into this mysterious, ancient ruin seems to be blocked by a strange, stone door. There is metal inlaid into portions of it, giving the impression of some feat of mechanical engineering that must have come from some earlier age. Vines cling around the edge of the entrance, but the fact that this has not been overgrown suggests someone, or something, has been making its way through from time to time.

To one side of the entrance, there is a series of carvings in some ancient Gnomish tongue, the sort of thing that few of the modern age would understand. Then again, the wise may pick out a word or two of instruction. Otherwise, the door seems to be a massive, circular slab with gold lines that weave over the surface. At various points, there are indents where it looks as if objects should be inserted, but there are none obvious to be found.

Lines extend out from these holes in the door, giving obvious signs that some sort of power source is required in order to open it. Even if the right 'keys' can't be found, perhaps something equivalent can be enchanted to imbue enough energy to open the way forward.
Ayame
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"Hello, Uta" Ayame says, for indeed it is she. Pristinely neat, the white shirt crisp and shining with either an excessive amount of laundering or someone who abuses their menu functions, she shifts her shield away from where she'd subconsciously moved it to defend herself, and smiles down "It's been a time! I've been well enough, keeping busy and out of the way. I don't suppose it's too much to hope you have been as well?" She asks, with just a little teasing, as she makes her quick-stepping little way towards the ruin.

There, she stares at it, frowning, and then extracts her wand from the prim little bun the secretarial sylph traditionally wears, tapping it on the shield; runes around the latter and the tip of the former gleaming as she looks at the carvings, still chattering down "How is everyone? I've been out of touch for so long. They need adventurers all over, still. Now more than ever. How are ... Gwen? And the Baroness?" As she picks out names she recalls them both talking to.
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"Gwen is as Gwen as usual. Tall. Stealing people for nefarious acts of fashion. The Baroness-" There is some hesitation there. "She had to evacuate Eas. Then she entered a Strange Mood. Now she seems to be out of it, so there's that. She is, as usual, doing her best to take care of the people under her protection. And work the political side of this whole..." She gestures vaguely in the air. "...mess. Last I saw her was just after the meeting with the Uncrowned, where they explained what is really going on with this invasion, and how the Palace Land Landers seem to be forcing control on Adventurers through the use of Crowns."

Uta goes straight for the inscriptions, and runs her finger in the air, while she quietly mouths words in ancient Gnomish as her eyes scan the glyphs. "Hmm. Seems like it might require some sort of 'powered magical keys' in the slots in order to unlock. I wonder..." She paces around the circular slab, kneels down to inspect one particular slot more closely, and in the end, she jabs the bottom tip of her staff into the opening. "The part I read did not give many specifics about the particular resonant frequencies that might be needed to trigger the release mechanism, but I suppose we can try a frequency sweep and hope for the best... unless you have found something on your side of the carvings?", Uta asks, before beginning with the lowest note she can utter, and sliding the frequency up in a never ending portamento. As she does so, helical tendrils of light and magic interwine on the handle of her staff, coalesce into the gem at the top, and flow downward to be poured into the slab, which seems to hum and vibrate slightly along.

It keeps doing so until, likely thanks mainly to Ayame's additional guidance, the door rumbles open, revealing a passage beyond.

* * *

The main tunnels of the ruins open wide into vast galleries that might have once been a central living area for the Gnomish people who lived there. There is little sign of that now, leaving the location feeling eerie and abandoned, especially with the thud-pop-hiss of machinery around them.

As the group passes from one empty chamber to the next, there is a blinking light that awaits them. Just below it, a single chim stands, looking in their direction before darting off further into the facility. That red light, however, reveals itself as a metallic sphere which rolls out of a side alcove, transforming into a strange mechanical guardian.

Part of the sphere is wielded as a shield, while another forms into a wicked, curved sword. The automaton hisses steam before making slow, thumping steps in their direction, intent on stopping them from finding their way further into the ruins.
Ayame
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"Sounds like it's the usual mess, only much more" Ayame smiles ruefully, looking things over as she sweeps the wand back and forth "Not sure. It says something about the colors of the sky, from dawn to dusk - oh. Yellows to blues to reds, then?" She hazards "Those would be ... medium, then high, then low?" She suggests, moving to assist in that, and smiling as it sweeps back.

A little bobbing firefly emerges from the wand, bouncing down and casting a greenish glow into the tunnels as it descends, and Ayame follows, heeled boots clicking on the stone as the sylph shimmies ahead, quick little steps and a carefully raised shield. "Control of us? That's rather horrifying" She admits with a nervous flutter of a breath and buzz of her wings "I'll need to offer my help. That's just a horrible idea. I mean, they might make you not like Slimes! Can you imagine?!" A forced, rushed levity in her voice as she cracks a little laugh.

Then pauses, as the sphere rolls out, and transforms. She groans, and adjusts the shield - moving in ahead, to begin the much-practiced routine of Tank The Clank.
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"That... that is precisely what they wanted to do to me, it would seem." Uta replies, over the rhythmic clicking of her own boots, punctuated only by the occasional drip. She is as tactful as she can be, but an undercurrent of dread seeps through the tiniest cracks of her controlled elocution. "I was attacked by a Sheriff type, Sheriff Shirin. I was apparently placed under arrest for being a nuisance to Landers, and he said that Queen Laira Lorelei would be glad to show me the errors in my ways, starting with using monsters." Her staff, whose gem at the top has recently been sung into emitting a faint glow, is swept left and right, like an inverted metal detector. "As one might understand under such circumstances, I was uncooperative. My sentence had therefore been upgraded from 'arrest' to 'repeated deaths'. Whose effects... you're probably aware of of by now?"

"Oh, hey, look! A chim!", she points, upon seeing the little creature. "Have I told you about the Chims already? I once found them in a cave, and they-LOOK OUT! IT'S A-" She frowns, after having instinctively jumped back into a defensive stance. "...murderball? I... I guess it -literally- is one?"

As the machine lunges for the Spriggan, she bolts out of her position, doing a cartwheel in the air. She impacts feet first on a wall, absorbs the shock by 'squatting' sideways, then hurls her self back at the monster. While she spins into a flying kick, she also intones a powerful, rhythmic hymn, meant to shake the ground rigt under the creature, and create a chasm for it to fall into.
Ayame
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

Uta's efforts are very much appreciated by Ayame, who is getting beaten back by heavy, repeated blows from the Ridiculous Robotic Murderball. Wand and board are less effective when your short-ranged blasts ricochet from the curved plates, and your shield only just holds against the swift blows. Still, she holds the RRM off long enough for Uta to drop it into a chasm, and she grunts, adjusting herself and fingering a scuff to the glove of her wand hand where the thing's sword cut at it "I'm fine" She assures "Just superficial" She nods, moving on in, ahead, before responding

"I'm aware it's bad" She admits "We start to lose things. Which makes the current invasion all the more worrying" With a little sigh, scratching the back of her neck. Behind her, the little cast is securely fastened to the small of her back, under those wings and above the skirt.

"I'm glad you're okay, though. An Uta without a strange fascination is like a slime without glistens, or rats without tails" She grins back just a little
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"Or a party without Ayame," Uta follows on, as pulls hersef back to a standing position from the offensive stance she had landed in, after kicking the monster to say hi to the Abyss. Or... well, at least a chasm large enough to contain it for now. She goes check on the Sylph. "Memories, specifically. Memories of who we were before the Apocalypse. What makes us the Adventurers we are is dismantled, piece by piece. And we change accordingly," Uta mumbles. "I've heard rumors that people have started journaling just in case. Or sharing." There was no invitation or silent implication in her tone of voice. A mere stating of facts, reported as heard.

The sound of machinery seems to grow louder as the group traverses further into the depths of the ancient ruins. It's obvious that this is not simply some abandoned place, but a full on dungeon. It seems that there is some sort of location sensitivity, as they come to a certain section of a narrower tunnel and giant blades shoot up in front of them. The large, metallic blades extend from a central column, fanning outward before spinning in place, neatly blocking the way forward through to the chambers beyond. It's at that point that the group spots their first 'Terraformer'. A dark creature with strangely metallic accents sticking out of the arms, standing in a hunched position. It seems to watch them from beyond the trap, as if considering them. Then, retreats down a set of stairs.

The group is left standing in front of the trap, left to their own creative devices in order to determine the best way to disable it so they can continue forward.
Ayame
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"That makes sense. I don't know if that's better or worse" Ayame says solumnly "I mean, at least not knowing has a certain - peace to it? If you knew what you were missing, but couldn't recall it - I can only imagine it's people telling you what you're looking at without you being able to see it"

Ayame sighs as she tries to wedge the shield with the glowing runes into the whirling blades. It works - briefly - but as she crawls through, she nudges it - and they start going again! She's quick, but by the time she gets out, the little sylph has suffered more than clothing damage. And there's a lot of that, too. One hand clamped over her arm, pale, wincing and muttering magic to at least stave off the worst of it, breathing heavily
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

The blades take Uta by surprise as well. She yells "FROST SHIELD!", but none appears: she screams in pain as she's thrown up and backwards, and slams on the floor with longitudinal red gashes all over her body. Her uniform took corresponding damage as well, boots and gloves included. Durability may have been impacted, but thank goodness modesty has been preserved. She lies there in pain, moaning for a few seconds, and then-

The flmsiest protective bubble of ice forms around her, and shatters in a sprinkle of snowflaces.

"H-have I mentioned I am training to learn how to Shield?", she mumbles, as she pushes to stand.

Once up, she dusts herself off (not that it does much given the sorry state of her outfit...), and looks around. "Okay, uh... are you any skilled in Construction? Because if not, I... I fear oud only choice is to just... you know. Run through the blades and take the HP hit." She glances at Ayame's HP bar, then her eyes dance to the corner of her HUD, where her own health indicator lies. "It'll hurt, but based on my medical training, I estimate we'll both make it." She mumbles. "You even more, considering your shielding skills and tank build."

Following the retreating form of one of the 'Terraformers' the group finds themselves moving down a narrow stone stairway, broken in places and strewn with bits of rubble. At the bottom, the passage opens into an absolutely massive room that seems to have been entirely overrun, not only by plants, but by the 'Terraformers' themselves.

The room is so massive that they cannot truly grasp the size, the walls hidden by foliage. Above, there is some sort of observation structure, but it is out of their reach. The hunched, black creatures move in and out of the forest, as if this place were some sort of obsession. The jungle seems to have no creatures living in it, only a startling variety of unusual plants that the 'Terraformers' seem to be caring for. Many of these do not look native to Yamato, or perhaps to any part of the natural world that they are aware of.

There are many of the creatures here, a perfect time to strike from the many hiding places and thin out their numbers. It's even possible that a skilled herbalist might be able to turn their own plants against the creatures, trapping them here so they cannot escape and bring havoc to the outside world.
Ayame
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"Not terribly skilled in it" Ayame says, adjusting herself. At least the slashed skirt allows her more freedom, now she's through, breathing deeply and the very worst of the bleeding stopped after her muttered chants, the Light seeping into her as she takes a few wobbly steps forward "I'm not much of a builder. People tend to assign me the more delicate tasks when we're around the place" She chuckles tiredly, her shoes finding that rhythm as she slowly picks up ahead

"I'm not sure what I need to start learning. Shield is useful - very useful - and I would like to learn more. I haven't specialised much at all, beyond that. What would you recommend, to augment my existing skillset of summoning and shields? With a dash of writing and such?" She asks, blinking ahead.

Then she sighs, looking at the terraformers. Then at Uta. "I won't ask if they're friends of yours" She murmurs, holding her shield up and chanting, a list of sounds that correspond to the runes around the edge of her shield, which flash white as she finishes with "OL REPTH!", sending the vines and kudzu of the jungle into a frenzy of strangling growth.
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"I suppose that advancing our defenses in any way, these days, is vital," Uta replies after some thought. "After that, I would probably go for something that you like. Hm. Maybe you can reach out to Baroness Wake? You two strike me as two types that could work very well together. I'm sure she will be able to counsel you far better than I could, on these matters."

Uta looks at the Terraformers. Then at Ayame. Then, once she's spoken, back to the Terraformers. "They are no friends of mine," Uta replies, despite having been explicitly not asked about it. "Speaking of friends, I got distracted earlier. How's Kuroyuri? We haven't seen each other since that time at Gwen's," she asks, before leaping into the fray.

A quiet hum, and the Spriggan is enveloped by darkness. Silent. Functionally invisible. Nobody can see her zigzag through the terrain, except-

-Except that she happens to step on a Snarevine, which springs to latch around her leg. Unexpectedly grabbed, she slams face-first onto the ground. The aura of Darkness is dispelled, and everyone's attention by now is on her. "Oh, great," she grumbles as she keeps thrusting the tip of her staff at the base of the plant. "I guess I'll have to fight them the old fashioned way..."

Which she does. It ain't pretty.

Beyond the strange laboratory and testing facility, everything about the dungeon seems to change. The tunnel that leads onward is no longer finely cut from stone, inlaid with golden wiring. Instead, it seems to have been rough hewn out of stone, with rubble lining the side of the passageway. The passageway weaves in different directions and the floor beneath their feet is nowhere near flat. They must be beyond the scope of the original Gnomish facility now.

A low hum and a rumble of earth seems to greet them as they step out into a wide, natural cave. The source is immediately visible. A giant robotic machine with a pointed drill-bit seems to be burrowing into the wall of the cave. Accompanied by two of the smaller 'Terraformers', this massive drill seems to be trying to expand the facility, extending the reach of the 'Terraformers' into new places. If the chaos they have seen is any sign of what this could bring, it needs to be stopped here and now.

One of the creatures riding the machine seems to indicate the Adventurers, and immediately the party finds themselves aggressed by the enemy. The giant machine seems faster than one might expect, trying to run them down in the close confines of the cavern. It may be made to burrow through the earth, but possibly not to have it rain down onto delicate machinery, and there are those convenient stalactites hanging above them.
Ayame
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"She's well" Ayame smiles, trotting along with a little more freedom than normal. For all she enjoys the occasion, the sylph's sartorial style is perhaps confusing "We've been keeping eyes out for each other, and we both manage to more or less run under the radar. We're neither of us big names or notable out of the masses, so we find it a lot easier to manage" She says with a little relief.

"I remember you trying to introduce me to the Baroness. She has the Right Clothes as well?" She taps the case at her back with her wand "It would be interesting to meet her and look into it sometime" She says with a thoughtful tone "I don't typically use them, but I understand she does, from the one time we met."

Then they look up, and out. Ayame scowls, as she looks at the burrowing groups; and gestures Uta to stand behind her. She ducks, taking shelter behind the circular shield, and begins to mutter.

The resultant burst of magic seems to be going well - until a little nick from the earlier whirling blades is shown having altered a rune on the edge of her shield. And the resultant flare of magic from it knocks her on her back, making her skid along the floor. At least she's well padded ... and gave Uta a distraction
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"Considering how many outfits I've seen her in, I am pretty sure the Baroness does use The Right Clothes regularly. She really, really likes her fashion. She even gave me a new gi/uniform as a present for the last Bonded Hearts Festival. Not one from The Right Clothes, mind you. It doesn't disappear." She looks up and away. "Hm. I keep forgetting. I should wear it at some point..." Considering how the Bonded Hearts festival was back in February, and now it's almost the end of June, that says a lot about Uta's attention span.

There is not much time to elaborate on that, though: the creatures attack all of a sudden, and Uta leaps off to one side just in time to avoid being hit by a Terraformer. She zigzags amont them, while intoning a call-response chant which alternates between angelic and ominous, leaps on one of the creatures, and bounces off it as if it was a trampoline. The last note is hit, and two beams, one red and one green, are shot from the gem on her staff towards the opponents and herself. HP is sapped from the former, to be... *AHEM* 'redistributed' to the latter.

Thanks to the extra energy boost, she can now proceed to leap from creature to creature, impale them from above with the bottom tip of her staff, and different magical blasts from her hands directly (since her staff is busy pumping health). The Sylph is periodically glanced at, and with a yell of "Here, take some!", she occasionally redirect the healing beam her way. She has been DPS'ing a lot for this mission, but one must not forget she's also support -- and keeping the Tank alive is crucial.

Blow after blow, sap after sap, parry after parry, the creature's bars are driven into the red.

The 'Terraformer' drivers seem the easiest part of the boss to eliminate, but it still seems to act, even without their guidance. After a time, it's clear that the machine can't take the onslaught of damage that the Adventurers can throw at it. Piece by piece, it begins to fail, the drill stopping, the treads and wheels falling off, and finally it seems to stop all-together.

Then, the machine begins to tremble, giving them only a moment's notice before it explodes, filling the room with dust and debris.The Adventurers are able to protect themselves from the area-of-effect damage, but there isn't much left in the aftermath. Within the crushed pieces of metal and rock, there are a few bits of shattered crystal which seem to glow with a strange connection to the earth.
Ayame
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

Ayame had picked herself up, and joined the fray - it's very hard to ignore someone in the middle of a fight, since when they turned to assault Uta, they were met with blasts of energy to the back. Trapped, harried, warded by shields and drained to nothing, by the time it's over, Ayame is breathing heavily. She gives Uta a wry smile and nod "Good to see you've not lost your touch" She grins tiredly "Thank you. Yes. If you get the chance, I'd love to meet with her sometime. Whenever is good for you all. We can figure something out and maybe even come to a good discussion together"
Uta
Yamato - 48 - -6 - 0

"Glad you haven't lost your touch either," Uta beams, over her own heavy panting. "It'd be a great loss for Yamato." She slumps to sit on the ground, then... just -sprawls- on the ground. "I'm sure we can arrange something. We'll have to see how busy she is these days, but I am sure she will be able to make some time if I ask her nicely."

Breathe in, out, in, out. Her chest heaves and sinks as she oxygenates those lungs. HP bar crawls slowly up, but far, far too slowly. "How about we go get cleaned up and celebrate somewhere?" Her stomach growls. "...I would suggest a tavern."
Uta
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

Stars.

Uta might be excused for propping her head on her chin and staring out of the window.

This late at night, most people are asleep. Patients certainly are. As for the medical professional, well -- one of the things doctors working in a hospital learn to do is to get their sleep in whenever they can, as opposed to whenever they want.

Uta, right now, cannot. It's her turn to be available in case any patient needs her, and given the current work overload, she's doing double duty by manning the reception, which, at the moment, means staring out of the window, head propped up with one hand, twirling a fountain pen (something one doesn't see every day in this world!) in the other. There is some medical paperwork she's probably supposed to work on in front of her, but her mind is elsewhere.

Stars.
Prophylaxis
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

Stars.

It's always kind of strange how they can show up in the tower. The tower is supposed to be a closed off structure, after all. But each floor seems to be a world in and of itself, with each their own rules and histories. Uta isn't alone in the night shift. There are others still milling around the facility, tending to patients whose cases simply cannot wait for the next morning. Emergency room duty is, after all, a non-stop sort of job.

Doctor Prophylaxis does not rest. Or rather, he seems to rest only from time to time, taking short naps now and then to recouperate before getting back up to handle this that or another. The war being what it is, they're busier than ever.

"Uta," the doctor's voice calls as the scent of freshly brewed coffee wafts through the air. "Can I get you a cup? I just prepared a new pot."

Beat.

"You look like you have something on your mind. Is everything alright?"
Uta
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

"Oh. Potion of Alertness," Uta comments, absent-mindedly, kind of quietly, but given the silence, Prophylaxis has probably heard her. A glance around to make sure that no patients are in sight: none, confirmed. A yawn, a stretch. Some clicking of the tongue, and up she gets to receive her elixir; while outside the clinic one would probably not be able to guess that Uta has the Etiquette skill, she somehow does a 180 when on duty, or dealing with patients outside the clinic: her professional demeanour is never dropped in front of them, like some sort of instinct, as if the human-relational side of the medical profession, which she had never practiced before the Apocalypse, had become second nature to her.

Which speaks volumes about the ways in which this game affects the Adventurers.

If a game it is at all.

Uta calls back, "I'd love a cup, thank you." More eye rubbing. "It's... well, no information has reached me about what's been going on at that meeting between alliance representatives and Gilgamesh," she mumbles. "If only I could get to talk with Wake directly, or doctor Prophylaxis, or..." She squints at the Doctor. "Who represents the New World Alliance, these days?"
Prophylaxis
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

The doctor nods and pours out a second cup, "Cream or sugar?"

It is amazing what the 'game' does to people. People who never had a diplomatic or entrepreneurial bone in their body have become negotiators and businesspeople. Conversely, people who possessed skills they had in life are suddenly bereft of many of them, or find that they're ineffectual even at what they used to be experts in, simply because they don't have the right skill on the right menu.

"Mm. It's a shame that you can't get a hold of Doctor Prophylaxis. But perhaps once you have your cup, you'll be able to find him more easily? As far as I'm aware, Shiruba and the Lizardman are in charge of New World, but I'm surprised you haven't been able to get a hold of Wake. Then again, she has been rather busy."

"So," he offers, bringing over the cup once it's properly doctored up, "What do you want to know?"
Uta
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

"I... I don't know? I guess I just want to know if anything important was revealed? Lore? History? Future endeavours? If there's anything we're supposed to be doing? I have heard only vague rumors about securing root cities or something, that's it.", Uta comments with a shrug. "I'll take my coffee black, thanks," Uta remarks, quickly. "And yes, I am sure that once I have imbibed my coffee, things will be far easier."

Spin the pen left, spin the pen right. Glance down. Form. Check some boxes, fill in some fields, look up again. "Shiruba, Rizadoman. Good to know. And yes, Baroness Wake has been busy. She's got a lot on her plate, and on her shoulders. Cannot blame her." Silence. "Plus, in her defence, I've been hard to get hold of myself. This whole situation..." she gestures around, vaguely, "...is not exactly conductive to..." A pause, as if looking for the right words, then, looking down, she mumbles, "...well, anything."
Prophylaxis
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

"Mm, indeed," Prophylaxis answers over a long draw of his drink. "This whole situation is a terrible distraction from what we aught to be doing." Which, in the Scale's case at least, is the continuation of their ever upward climb. But until recently, they've had a /very/ good reason to put it off. Now, they only have a decent reason to do so. The sooner this war ends, the better for everyone involved.

"Well, in general," he begins, settling down into an available chair. "Yes. We are to be searching for individuals underneath the Root Cities who seem to have some measure of control over critical aspects of their operation. These lynchpins can do things like selectively extend the protection of the Guardians to certain groups, which is obviously something we would like to secure to prevent another Mac Anu situation. At present, Olympus has been investigating Breg Epona, New World has been handling Fort Ouph, the Scale has been taking care of Dun Loireag, and Carmina Gadelica has been a... cooperative effort."

"Incidentally, King Gilgamesh will be founding a new Kingdom in Carmina Gadelica. A new root town to replace the fallen Ezzo."
Uta
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

Uta perks up. "See, -this- is the kind of thing I wanted to hear!", Uta darts up, excited, hands extended towards Prophylaxis. Almost certainly in excitement, but there's almost cerainly a little bit of reaching out for coffee. "A new kingdom! This is history in the making! I'm looking forward to be involved in that! A new kingdom! A new kingdom!" Uta keeps looking towards Prophylaxis and away at each sentence. "Will we make history? I hope I do get to make history. Think there'll be a memorial stone? Like for when people beat the tower?", she asks pointing up, potentially at the floors above. "Think I can get my name on-" She shakes her head. "No, no, stop that Uta!", she chides herself. "This is not some silly ego boost. It's for a very serious, important altruistic reason, which-"

A pause. A blink. A squint.

"...why is a new kingdom being founded, again?" Uta scratches her head. "Is this an effort to solve the refugee crisis, or is there something deeper I ignore?"
Prophylaxis
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

Prophylaxis siiiips at his cup. When Uta gets this excitable, it's best to wait for her to burn off that nervous energy. The late hour probably isn't helping much.

"All good questions," he answers, then shrugs. "It's in part due to the refugee issue, I think. However, Gilgamesh and the Bandit King mentioned something about Yamato needing a new 'source of power.' Whether they meant political and economic power, or something more... subtle, I can't say. I think ultimately that it comes down to needing to better integrate Carmina Gadelica into the defense of Yamato, but there may be more to it than that."

"We'll be searching for the Lynchpin under Carmina Gadelica as well," he repeats, then. "They might be able to answer whatever questions we might have. If not, it's a good idea to track them down regardless."

"Whatever the case, once we've found and secured all the Lynchpins, or as many as we can at least, we'll be moving to reclaim Mac Anu."
Uta
Tolbana - Clinic - Foyer

Perhaps it's the recently offered coffee, perhaps it's Uta's natural excitability. Perhaps the two things are related. The point is -- as Prophylaxis predicted (likely due to his regular work with the Musical Kung-Fu Nurse), soon Uta exhausts her hyperactivity and is back to a more sedate rhythm.

"A source of power... interesting..." Uta sips her cup between both hands, her pen having been clipped to her belt. "Could it be..." Her eyes wander in the distance while the steam from her hot beverage rises in swirls through the air. "...could we Adventurers be the power? Someone mentioned this hypothesis that we're living in a sort of Matrix once, and-" She shakes her head. "No, again, this is just baseless hypotheses. No, no, let us just wait and see, until we know more." Sip. "That said, I'd love to help with Carmina Gadelica, in any way possible." A pause. "If possible."
Haru
Plot Room 2

Longwang's ancient shrine is a remote, foreboding place. Even when it was not overrun, it was rarely frequented by any but the bravest or most pious of pilgrims. The entire area seems swaddled in a veil of impenetrable fog, which rarely disperses and even then, not for very long. Forgotten stories would have claimed this mist to be the breath of the enshrined divinity itself, eternally swirling around their favorite resting place. Whatever the case, as you approach the shrine, you find yourself surrounded by the stuff, swallowing your party up in a cool, colorless haze. It is peaceful, but it may not be for long. Use this time to prepare for what is to come.

Haru is still in the Palace Lands after 'meeting' with the 'war consultants'. He isn't happy. However, when /is/ Haru happy anyway? The man has a smile like a thin line that gives him a wounded soul look at all times. There is a chance to look into a shrine before returning to Yamato, so he checks if anyone wants to explore it. Blow off some steam. Brood a little less. Cool, colorless haze? Sure. Enhance the zen. "Thanks for coming," he says in a monotone voice. Almost like he doesnt mean it. Its all the battery he has for people right now.
Hifumi
Plot Room 2

    Hifumi has been out and about more, hunting for new ingreedients and ideas. Still he traveled out to explore the emperors tomb so might as well do what he can while he's still in the Palace Lands hunting for things. When hhe joins up he holds out bento because of course he does.
Gwen
Plot Room 2

Gwen had heard about the shrine before the war, she'd been unable to check it out before the way was shut. So when she heard that Haru had needed some help. She'd come without a second thought and she was in good spirits as she saw Haru.

"Heard you needed a hand how could I say no to you, Haru." She seems to be in good spirit she's bonding and in her HEAVY BLADE armor again.

She also took a look over to Hifumi and also smiles.

"It's good to see you Hifumi! I really need to go to your place more to eat."

She looks at the bento and will happily accept it.
Haru
Plot Room 2

The mists part, revealing an ancient mountain path that winds down into the valley. The only indication that this is at all where you want to be is the broken remains of an old dragon statue, crumbled to rubble at the side of the footpath. Not long after you set off, though, you detect a foreign scent in the air-- the odor of rotting fruit. One such overripe treat comes splattering down at your feet, and when you look to see where it came from, you see a trio of monkeys high overhead, cavorting gleefully atop a cliff overlooking the path. Soon, one rotting fruit is joined by another and another! It isn't long until they begin hurling progressively grosser projectiles, rocks, and worse! You need to hurry ahead and out of the monkeys' range before you're covered in filth and afflicted with all manner of awful status effects! But this path is narrow and treacherous and, if you're not careful, a single misstep could send you tumbling into the valley below...!

Haru accepts the bento. It is rude not to accept food, drink, or a kindness. "Thank you. I'll snack on this when there is a break." A break. When was the last time he took 'a break'? And if people are all this way, what was even the point? "I'll need to trouble you further, Gwen. I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from earlier." He wishes it could burn off his tongue. He is not in sync at all right now. Or maybe he wants to be hit? Plenty of the darts hit him on the advance. Looks like he will need that bento sooner than later just for the healing buffs.
Hifumi
Plot Room 2

    Hifumi nods to Haru and then as things start flying he starts dodging, bob weave jink... it seems someone might be working out... that or his kitchen gets more unruely than people think. He's good at it, or is that a shimmering cloak of magic that the flower drake on his shoulder is using to deflect things at the last moment... six of one half dozen of the other most likely.
Gwen
Plot Room 2

Gwen will enjoy the bento later she puts it in her inventory to save for after they are finihed here. She looks to Haru for a moment, with a look of concern on her face. "You are never a trouble Haru, I hope understand that..." Sounds like something went really bad for Haru with the recent goings on. She will look over to Hifumi for a moment. While not a primary healer Gwen can heal and it looks like it will be needed as thing go badly for here. She's not looking too hot by the time the party presses all the way through this part of the trial.

"Well we're alive at least right?!"
Haru
Plot Room 2

Your footing gives out underneath you! Perhaps you just had a spell of bad luck, or maybe just a bad dodge. One way or another, you're falling. The cliff face next to you is sheer and jagged, but with great effort or some quick earth magic, you might be able to catch a break by grabbing hold of a lucky outcropping, ropy root or mountain tree... But there's no climbing up from here. There's simply no good grips leading back to where you came. The only choice is to descend down into the mists below? ...Which, you notice, are growing increasingly foul-smelling as you continue your descent.

"Maybe so," Haru replies to Gwen about the idea of being a burden is only in his head. He picks the darts out of his arm with the little red lines fading away. "But," and before the drama prince can continue on how how the woe-is-him, the whole ground giving out happens. One of his four ioun stones floats down ahead of him, causing a platform sand first and then a solid rock. Then another. Another. Humans lack the wings to glide down. "It doesn't stop the floor from being taken out from under us," he relates to his earlier statement. Also. Literal in this case.
Gwen
Plot Room 2

Gwen does still seem concerned but does not push it they have a quest to deal with. The ground gives out. Gwen cries out attempingh to use her sword to grab the wall and slow her on the way down. This does not go well and she has to rely on her shitty slowfall, this may be the first time Hifumi and Haru has seen Gwen use her wings. They work well enough to save her life but the impact is still pretty bad.
Hifumi
Plot Room 2

    Hifumi slips a time or three and then finaly calls out "Snakeroot." the serpent made of roots and leaves slithering out of the sparkling summon and starts widening the path, the temporary earth of magic jutting out enough to keep the path from dropping out completely. He waves his hand at the smell rising up as they go lower. "Gah... it's like my natto closet got out of control."
Haru
Plot Room 2

Finally, you reach the bottom of the ravine... And discover, to your horror, what has become of it. This used to be a pure river, kept clean and pristine by Longwang's influence. Now there's nothing but a gross, fetid marsh. A thick canopy and even thicker fog swallow up all light, casting the swamp into deep shadow. Many-legged insects skitter across the surface of the befouled wetland. Every step forward is a terrible struggle, the sticky, stinking mud coming up to mid-shin and resisting every attempt to wade through. Worse, each step risks releasing a bubble of toxic gas from deep under the mud, and the longer you spend in it, the more poison your body accumulates. If not carefully monitored and properly treated, the building toxins will quickly overwhelm even the staunchest constitution. You need to get out of this, and quickly. Perhaps if you follow the slow flow of water upstream...?

"Hypothetical question for you, Gwen, Hifumi," he starts as he treds through the muck, "imagine for a moment that there was a way back from the way we came from. That it could only be done if we were in a bad place. Like this bog, clearly suffering." Trudge trudge. "And someone returned us to save us from this suffering." Sounds straightforward so far. A good deed. "But only so they could use us in the Old World to be grateful, indebted, or manipulated by these saviors. Would you still want to be saved? Would the saviors be in the right there, owed this gratitude?"
Hifumi
Plot Room 2

    Hifumi smiles a bit wryly "My man, they would have to drag me screaming from this world." he says "I'd say kicking but if they're dragging me out that's not an option anymore." he says with a bit of dark humor. "People can head back to the old world if they want... just leave me out of it. I have a life here, love, and my dreams are slowly coming true." he takes a toxic cloud to the face that starts to overpower the regen buff from his Triffid Salad. "Fuck.. well... lets just say I'll use my good hand to stab the first person I see when my arm vanishes." he snaps his right fingers. His health getting fairly low as he struggles through the poison debuff.
Gwen
Plot Room 2

Gwen is moving along with Haru and Hifumi as they head deeper the muck is not very fun the effect are not fun but Gwen is one of the most durable people in Yamato when you get down to it and she's quick to trigger a spell to help her friends.

"Sanctuary!"

the healing power is let loose around them hopefully patching them back up. The question seems almost loaded to Gwen and she grows even more concerned. At first, it seems like a normal thing she nods listening for a moment. Then the twist hits.

"So saving us only so they could use us as a pawn or a plaything. With motivation like that...to be a god damn puppet... gods I ... be separated from so many people ... I care for. My parents... I have never seen them so happy. The wonderful people who fill my life now and make it worth living...I'd be separated from if sent back to earth...there'd be such a social gap between us Haru that...I think my heart might shatter." She's also lost everything she's built here. She trails off then realises what she's just said...
Haru
Plot Room 2

The water begins to quicken around your legs as the mud grows somewhat shallower. Centipede-infested mangrove roots form arches overhead and help to hold the mud underfoot solid. It's finally easier to move, but? In the trees, you can hear them. Large, long-limbed apes swing from branch to branch overhead. Each one is merely a challenging fight, but there are so many of them. Too many to fight without stealthily sniping them out of the trees one-by-one, at least, and it'd be far too dangerous to simply leave this many of them around while you've still got swamp to trudge through. Careful, though; if you don't kill them quickly, or fail to notice one of the sentries before it notices you, you'll soon find yourself buried under a mountain of angry monkeys.

Attempting to sneak around is a reminder of why Haru is a crafter first and an Adventurer second. At some point the tactical skills like searching, sneaking, and hunting become a requirement. He compensates with Dark magic, but nothing truly compares to the need to use raw physical stealth techniques. "Don't worry about that, Gwen," as Haru goes in complete guy-mode of 'solve problems' instead of 'listen to problem'. "My bodyguard could track you down and we would be able to find each other quickly. Unless I am still in here." He takes a deep breath and exhales, "It wasnt a question about leaving this place, though," he clarifies for both of them, "but rather something that happened with the Mac Anu Kunie I Uncrowned. Every time I think learning this technique would bring nothing but salvation, I find the world finds its way to turn it into something cruel and ugly." He puts a hand on Gwen's shoulder, probably before the whole monkeys are like 'Yo, this is a stealth check, stop talking' and attack.
Gwen
Plot Room 2

Gwen has never climed to be the smartest person but Haru's words made her brighten up a little bit at this. "Ah I see...I not always been the best at metaphores." She listens for a moment and she thinks for a moment. "So their response to your uncrowning them was much like your first questio..." She gets the hand on shoulder and the heads up she'll have to talk more about this later as she's got to sneak. A miracle happens somehow Gwen does not make any noises and does not draw notice to herself.
Hifumi
Plot Room 2

Hifumi notes the apes, and well... he has an answer. "Dandylion, Tigerlilly." he calls the two feline flower creatures appearing and climbinging to stay just ahead of the team, leaping from branch to branch and savaging some of the sentries to help keep things nice and quiet.
Haru
Plot Room 2

Finally, the water seems clearer. You can see the tops of your boots as you push through to the river's head. A vast waterfall pours down from somewhere high above, plunging into a deep pool and spilling out into a wide, picturesque clearing. A stone walkway weaves up into a cave hidden behind the falls. Following the path up, you notice the gleam of jade peeking out around the cascading water. Perhaps the altar you're looking for is up there! And then you see it. There, hunched over in the water right under the falls is an enormous... corpse. It looks like some kind of gigantic ape, its head severed from its body, its neck cut clean through by a great blade that still sticks out of the ground nearby. Its head is still sitting there, too. In fact, the entire thing is far too... intact for your tastes. It's also obstructing the only path to progress. Foulness oozes from its severed neck, infecting the surrounding water with so much poison that it's almost impossible to approach. There?s no way to the path up the mountainside that isn?t positively putrid with toxin. You're going to have to deal with this before you can proceed; leaving the body here can?t be good for anyone. Move the body out of the way, purify the water, and clear a path.

"Similar," Haru picks up for Gwen, "the Kunie was greatful, but I felt awful about it. They had been mentally tortured, forced to do things that brought them to tears and our first demand of the Mac Anu Kunie was to free the city. We didnt put a Crown on them, but we were using them for our own agenda all the same." He takes a moment to assess the corpse, pulling out his alchemical kit and working on neutralization of the toxins. "Shirin may have gone back but at least he had a choice of his own. Its fucked up when Im more proud of that than the other major Uncrowning. People aren't even asking, they are trying to use me and that technique. Makes me sick." Like these toxins! Focus time.
Hifumi
Plot Room 2

    Hifumi puts his right hand on Haru's shoulder and gives a squeeze "Sucks man, look what I was talking about was going back to the world we came from... I'm... well I'm better off here. Back there, I'm a shutin cripple who hides from the world." he smiles a bit "Here, I'm building the life I lost. Try to keep in mind that while the world can break you down, other people can't steal from you any power you don't let them. Uncrown people because it's the right thing to do, and let the ones you free know that they do not owe you anything, must less owe anything to other people who should be doing this work because it's the right damn thing to do."

    He activates the strength buff that comes with eating a tasty rat bento and starts on dragging the ape away. Someone does enough of his own butchery that dragging away a corpse is something he can just put on his game face for.
Gwen
Plot Room 2

Gwen does have an understandingf og water magic and she'll pu that to use here hoiping to help them get though this whole adventure in oine pice it seem to work anbd she'll help to dilute thins enough the other efforts are hopefully successful.

"Freeing people and giving them the chance to choose is what imporant and make sure they understand they owe you nothing."
Haru
Plot Room 2

Finally, with the corpse out of the way, the natural flow of water can slowly clear the pollution from the area. You prepare to move on to your destination? And then the thing... twitches. The decapitated corpse pushes itself upright, grasping its head in one hand and that massive blade in the other. Centipedes burst from the stump of its neck and swarm out of the orifices of its severed head in vast numbers. The simian corpse was not a corpse at all, it was a Centimonkey Hivelord! A horrible mishmash of monkey and centipede that spreads poison and corruption with its very presence! Screeching in a hundred cacophonous voices, the monstrous monkey attacks with deceptively swift, sweeping sword strikes and wields its severed head like a powerful flail. Every so often, it vomits a jet of poison or clumps of venomous, aggressive insects. Keeping the poison under control is of utmost importance, as is dealing with the teeming multitudes of centipedes. Fire will probably help, as will a skilled tank to keep the insect swarms at bay.

"The act is bad enough," Haru says as there is a glint in his blue eye, "but saying it is a 'good' idea. Saying that 'it is the right thing to do' even though its pandemount to manipulating a victim for personal gain?" The air around him begins to sizzle as the boss screeches. "Because 'we are at war'? There is always a conflict going on. Market dominance. Culture. And even this stupid monkey insect." Excuse me, Haru, its a hive mind of insects. "Unacceptable." He clenches his fist, the arena erupting into flame in the way that a man bonded with the Divine Beast of Frickin Fire can do. A phoenix is summoned out of the flames, fighting in Haru's sted as a high end summoned elemental.

Fire glints off of his purple monocle. He doesnt look much like a hero in this light. "You are both right. They should be free. And. I shouldn't let others use the act of emancipation as leverage any more. We didn't come here to be slaves. We shouldn't cast aside our keys because others wish to use them in malice."
Hifumi
Plot Room 2

    Hifumi sighs... he just MOVED that body, and of course now the body is moving around and trying to murder him. "See... this this is the crap..." he and Snapdragon go for flaming strikes and straifing runs. Only it doesn't take long to show that Hifumi is a back line fighter and support class... as he's lost in a pile of giant centipedes.
Gwen
Plot Room 2

Gwen knows what to do while Haru is busting out some top level Magic. She will get her shield out and will plant it into the ground crying out as she trigger's it's powier causing a massive golden barrier with a Lion's head as she calls out.

"FOR STORM WIND!" She just had to as she keeps the hostiles back from her two companions.
Haru
Plot Room 2

Finally, the fetid beast falls. This time, it seems, for good. A handful of centipedes skitter from its dissolving body, leaving your party to make the trek up to the altar behind the waterfall. More streams pour down through the mountain and flank the jade, dragon-inscribed altar, babbling across tables of long-deposited minerals. It's beautiful but also... a bit of a mess. The monkeys have not been particularly respectful to Longwang. But after cleaning it up, the place seems good as new. Looking upon your work, you feel as though some modicum of holiness has been restored to this place? And upon the altar is something that wasn't there before. An orb of fetid, poisoned mud suspended and contained by a swirling layer of crystal-clear water. It seems that the Dragon King has given you a gift, and disposed of some of the corruption afflicting their domain all in one fell swoop. This will be safe to take, as long as you're careful with it.

It is over. Haru opens and closes his hand, letting the tension out of it. "I hate this war," he says, letting it back down to his side. "But it isnt going anywhere anytime soon," he looks to Gwen and Hifumi, "Thanks for letting me blow off some steam. I shouldn't let other people's bullshit get me down." He picks up the fresh loot. "This will work." All the elements he is partial to.
Gwen
Plot Room 2

Gwen Says "I don't like it either I rather help clear out monster nest and make things for people myself." She frowns at this thought but hey the battle is over they have own and she scoops up her loot. At worse she could use this to somehow torment Morri for a change but she will have to see. "Oh got ideas for the loot already Haru? Sounds like you have an idea of how to handle this in the future?"
Hifumi
Plot Room 2

    Hifumi sits and dumps a few healing potions down his throat as he did fair baddly in the battle. "Well, glad to have cleaned some of this crap up." he says "But seriously... what the hell is with this land? All the half and half animals are funny and some are cute but... centipede hive giant ape?"