After many infiltration attempts, some more successful than others, the Adventurers of the Hunters Guild have pieced together enough information to discover the whereabouts of the now infamous group known as the Still Water Pirates. It has led them to the far side of the Isle of Beginnings, where a rocky outcropping looks out over the raging seas below. Water crashes against jutting rocks, the ocean a tumult of white-capped waves. Somewhere below, there is a hidden cavern which the Pirates have claimed as their lair. The Adventurers gather high on the cliffs, scouting the way down along the rocks in advance of their attack.
"Pirates!" exclaims Soujiro on the idea of an adventure of finding, fighting, and generally being around pirates. He is a samurai. Samurai versus Pirates or Undead is a fun thing to see. His last pirate hunt has only left him wanting for more. More Adventure. He is standing there atop of the high cliff as the sea breeze rages against. Behold, Soujiro Seta of the West Wi-- of the Aincrad Liberation Front, Blood Knight of Tower Climbs. Look at how his kimono billows like a pirate flag against the breeze and his long blue hair wavers long enough to point the direction and speed of yonder wind. He looks back to the party after declaring his love of adventure in singular word format, "A classic adventure from as far back as," and he goes on to be censored as Blizzard did not release the rights for their game to be mentioned.
You've got pirates. And Daiyu can be very close to a ninja in style, so that is covered as well. "It will be interesting. The last time I deal with pirates.... anyways." She shrugs, collapsing her parasol and stowing it on her back, so she can have her warfans at the ready. "Will be interesting to see how much REAL pirates and how much fantasy and folklore they incorperated into the encounters."
"Oh man how have I not done this one." Syx is wearing what is best described as pirate cosplay. He's got a tricorn hat on, with holes for his horns of course, and his vest is replaced with a long leather jacket. Still no shirt though, "How is there so much pirate content in this game and I'm just now finding out about it?!"
It seems Syx is rather excited to go and fight some pirates. Time to buckle some swashes!
Goldenblade has joined the mission, looking entirely serious about this mission. "This is one of the harder ones," she warns. "Everyone stay sharp." She eyes Seta, who sounds like a blowhard, but is actually pretty competent. She looks over to Daiyu, the Palace Lander is a bit lower level than the Yamato players, but pretty talented if she remembers right. Syx ... is Syx, only moreso. "We can do this if we stay alert and if we don't get too much bad luck," she says.
Souji blows as hard as the West Wind, yar har har! He gives Goldenblade one of those smiles that reminds just how fast the kid learns and applies that athleticism. He won't underestimate these pirates, but he is also always making sure each challenge is /challenging/ for him. And fun. Elder Tales is fun, y'know? "Golden, Syx, Daiyu," he welcomes his adventuring companions for the Hunter's Guild request, "glad to have you here. I'll keep a sharp eye for danger, I was looking for a challenge today." Bringing things to a new level. Possibly with a level up!
The path towards the Pirates' lair leads the Adventurers down a precarious bit of rock and stone that weaves along the steep edge of the cliff face. Eventually, they reach a point along the path where a larger ledge can support them all, gathered together. There is a large amount of scraped rock here, as if things were moved from somewhere within. However, there doesn't seem to be any obvious opening in the rocks. There is the more direct route, which continues downward into the caves below, but there has to be something hidden here, right? It will require a keen eye or some sort of sense into the beyond to determine if there really is some hidden path here, or if it is just another trick by the pirates.
Soujiro walks down towards the path that is steep and makes him mindful of his footing. A swift fall would be a quick end. The larger ledge seems off the same way a crack in the wall seems like it needs a Legend of Zelda bomb tossed at it. He takes a deep breath in and exhales, the sort of breathing technique that needs a Demon Slayer cameo, as his sharp eyes gesture out to the area, "There is something here," he lets the party know. Instinct. Gamer instinct. Perhaps more. Souji's awareness doesnt follow cold logic half the time.
Goldenblade nods to Seta's smile, but will have to let him find that hidden path. Gamer's might have insticts for gamerly things like hidden puzzles, but she's a bricklayer, and theyt don't make secret entrances. In any event, she's in construction, she gets to see the blueprints when she's laying bricks, but coming in unprepared, she's got no way to find anytning like that beside blind luck, and so she peers around, but her blind luck is blind, and she will have to follow someone else when the trail is located.
As the group starts on their way Daiyu follows, though after a few strides she pauses again. Vulpine ears twitch, and she tilts her head back slightly almost as if trying to sniff the air. She steps a little to one side, and then the other, and then back again. "There." She stops, turns and points with one collapsed fan to make the indication more obvious. "That way. I can smell the rum, salt water and unwashed from weeks at sea." Followed by a disgusted expression crossing her prim and proper features. "Unfortunately."
Syx is not the thinky type, as he would put it. He grins at Seta's greeing and gives him a wave back, "I'm sure we've got this, either way." He replies, as he follows the group. He doesn't really do much to find anything though, it seems the group has this covered for him.
"Good find, Daiyu," Souji follows up as the pair are able to unlock the pirate mysteries. Pirates were able to hide their entrance last time, but NOT TODAY!
There is a certain amount of cleverness in how the pirates have hidden away this secret entrance. Recessed buttons and hidden switches which allow parts of the stone to shift, opening into a passageway beyond. The sound of water carries through the tunnels, leading them towards what appears to be an underground river. It has the smell of sea brine and a feeling of mist in the air that surrounds them. The water flows off into underground passages, splitting and forking along the way. There are subtle signs along the rock ledge that runs adjacent to the river. Disturbed dirt, or places where something has scratched into the rock. Yet, even if a person isn't able to read into those signs, they could always follow the water in hopes of finding where it eventually comes out, below.
The secret entrance is unlocked and Souji isn't shy about the fist pump of 'oh yeah' to celebrate the victory. Finding secret things, be it alternative routes, easter eggs, or a techniques is the outcome of all that training paying off. It brings him joy. This water does /not/ bring him joy, but the 'good times' buff mitigates that for a while as he makes his way along a waterway maze downward. The scratchings and disturbances are all things beyond his ken, so he focuses on the flow of the water.
Goldenblade follows Seta along the waterway, using the sound of running water where it can't be seen to follow it through to it's eventual destination. It's as much luck as anything else, but as she often says, "It's better to be lucky than good." When people used to say that at work, she would counter with 'It depends how good you are,' but here, luck seems to play a much bigger part in events, or things are simply much harder than they were in her admittedly non-fighty real life. There weren't any monsters, just bricks. Supervisors don't count because you're not allowed to fight them.
"Well, good to see they've put actual effort into being less findable." Daiyu at least enjoys the challenge part of getting through these tests, even if it is not so pleasant on her Were Fang heightened senses.
"Water does not flow without somewhere to go," is her observation of the next section of the secret passage. A fancy way of saying that they should just follow it to where it leads. "So much water, yet so much stench of unwashed. Sigh." She gives Syx a light nudge with her elbow. "Even you do not smell this bad, despite being a physical bruiser." Was that an attempt at a joke amongst allies? Hard to tell almost with her nearly deadpan delivery of it.
Syx hmms a little bit to himself, "Hey I smell amazing." He says, as he respodns back to Daiyu, before he kneels next to the water and dips his fingers into it, using an arte to send a pulse through the water and try to get some kind of map back.
He at least gets himself a general idea of where they need to head, "This way. C'mon, lets go find us some pirates to fight."
Souji agrees with the sentiment about direction, "A good soak after will feel all the better after a pirate clash." He isn't bothered by the smell, as a human, but understands that a good olfactory offense can take the fun out of Pirate shenanigans.
Where the underground river comes to an end seems to be a massive underground lake. There are lines along the walls that suggest this area fills and empties with the tides. Far in the distance, the main Pirate encampment can be seen, but there seems to be another path that leads elsewhere, off into the darkness. Those with keen ears would hear it first, a sweet sort of song that seems to linger on the air, as if trying to draw them down along that other path. The source of the sound appears to be three beautiful humanoids spanning a variety of genders, all in various states of questionable dress. Each one sings in alluring tones, as if trying to draw the Adventurers in. However, if they get too close, the beautiful creatures shift, growing ravenous fangs and sharp claws, snatching out to try to grab on to the Adventurers and drag them down into the depths.
Maidens singing at Souji is another Tuesday night for him. The sword saint steps to the front as his harem grows by three songstresses that look to get a chunk of that Souji. Literally. It comes to their (and many of his fangirl's) dismay that they can not woo him over so easily. Is this song not so lovely? It is! He even smiles at one of them to interupt the melody and puts his Dauntless nature to drag along anyone who needs stronk arms pulling them away from the siren's lure.
Goldenblade makes it to the end of the river, and she can hear the siren call. She doesn't get it, but she doesn't get a lot of this game. She understands she dare not get close, though, and she'll pull out her infrequently-used shortbow, used occasionally for the times when she can't get up close and personal for one reason or another. But she doesn't practice it much, and that lack of practice shows, her shots are wild and woefully inaccurate. Hope the others can do better.
Daiyu hears the singing, but she also notes the walls. The chamber fills with the tides... meaning no regular being could live down here. In fact if someone was to stay here until the waters rise they'd likely drown.
It all snaps together, and she scowls a bit at the potential trickery. She shifts, standing behind Soujiro, tails fanning out as she draws on her supernatural magicks. "Show the eyes what the ears fail to perceive," she chants, and unleashes a surge of spirital light shining upon the sirens to reveal their true monsterous nature as it burns into them to help break any traces by seeing how horrible they truely are.
Syx can hear the music, and he knows what it is. What, just because he hits the gym doesn't mean he's not a nerd. Why do you think he's still stuck in a video game? Syx knows better than to go towards a siren, but his attempt to counter-act their singing by rocking out on an air guitar while making guitar noises is less than successful.
Beyond the rocks which the Sirens had been using to lure the unwary, the stone pathway is nearly lost to water at this time of day. It splashes over a couple of slick stones which need to be traversed across in order to continue along the wall of the cavern. There are a series of hut-like structures clustered together, lit by strange blue flames that seem to be placed in an almost ritualistic arrangement, leading the way towards a circular pool of water surrounded by stone. It is first a single Sahuagin, wearing fine robes, which steps from one of the huts and spots them. With a warbling cry, it summons more from every corner, a few even rising up from the nearby water. They brandish spears towards the Adventurers. Some begin to advance, while others throw their spears from a distance.
Combat! This is what Souji was looking for. Kogarasumaru had been in her saya for too long. "Lets go!" he does a Solo Charge, dashing forward to place himself in melee range with a wide arc to his iai strike. It cleaves into the first wave of sahuagin, a second strike from his other katana cleaving the other side and instantly drawing a load of attention/agro. Time for a brawl.
Goldenblade is lucky that the rest of the party can deal with the sirens, she's pretty hopeless. Apart from construction and weaponsmithing, she's really kind of hopeless in the area of out-of-combat tasks. Oh, and she can sneak, a skill she hadn't planned on, and got by accident, basically. But sneaking has no place here, where the whole sahaugin army is coming after us. Or that's how it looks. She'll have to even the odds a bit, if she can, by means a bit less than forthright. Charging into the mass, she vanishes. The fight goes on without her while she locates the few sub-bosses in the mob of sahaugin, and she emerges from hiding to assassinate one, then vanishes before the others can turn on her.
The same technique is repeated on the other minibosses, there's noone too high level in this swarm, and the mooks aren't a huge danger to a high-level type like her, and Assassinate seems to be effective on the dangerous foes, and it's a good thing! This is a party, and she didn't bring a party dress.
Daiyu doesn't rush directly into combat with the fishmen. Not because she's wary of fighting, but just the fact that all three of her Party companions are likely to do so, and that's going to get messy. Instead she opens her fans, and stabs them into the ground while channeling some elemental magic through them. Earth is not as strong as Fire or Wind for her, but it is enough for her to pry several chunks of rock loose as she yanks back on them. Then quickly pivots to paddle the stones with her fans to fling them across the chamber. They succeed in knocking some of the thrown spears from the air, but don't get far enough to actually strike any of the enemies throwing them.
Unlike Daiyu, Syx does run into combat immediately with the fishmen. He grabs one and slams it to the ground, not realizing that one had a buff on it that would cause the first attacker to be the focus of the ire of the sahagain. So now he needs rescusing from the tank.
While many of its brethren fall, one of the Sahuagin manages to run towards the stone circle, grabbing one of the blue torches and lighting a lantern beside it before jumping off into the nearby water with a splash. First it is simply the one lantern, then another lights, and another, until every lantern around the circle now flickers with blue flame. Then, the ground rumbles beneath them. From beneath the water, a massive creature with a pointed head emerges. Monstrous teeth gnash at the air while tentacles writhe around the edge of the circle. It begins to hum, drawing more Sahuagin from the waters around them as if it were some form of communication. A tentacle slams down, grasping with intense strength. The way that the Sahuagin follow the creature, though, suggests it is more than just a simple, mindless boss monster. No, the Sea Lord appears to be one of the leaders of these Pirates, worshipped for his power within the oceans.
"If any of these tentacles grab you, I will prioritize cutting them down," Soujiro says, fueling a fireband level of heat into both of his katanas, "with great retribution." He has read enough manga and watched enough anime to know that if a party has ladies in it and the boss has tentacles that someone needs to cut those things down. Like. A given boss gimmick.
Cursed lanterns are lit and the ritual draws a massive tentacled creature from the watery depths. "Well, we found the kraken it would seem." With vulpine grace she sidesteps one of the thrashing limbs and the fishmen following the blow intending to mob any Adventurers that are knocked vulnerable. "Wrong kind of tentacle monster, but the concern is appreciated, Samurai."
When she gets an opening Daiyu draws one of her alchemical gas bombs, ignites it, and heaves it into the monster's toothy maw. "Have a case of heartburn, fiend!" Literally and figuratively, as she's counting on the intense heat of the firebomb to start drying the creature out from the inside, and it's very important for most aquatic lifeforms to maintain that moisture to function since they don't have rigid skeletal structures to keep the mobile tension in their flesh.
As the fight evolves into a final-boss-type fight, her attack buff wears down. But there's more than one trick up her chainmail sleeves. The reason her mail is tinted gold is the continuing presence of elemental fire, and as she puts on the /big/ speed boost, fire rises up from where she had been standing. Like a delorean, sort of, she leaves a trail of flames where she's been, and any luckless mobs or bosses that get too close will get burned. As she jinks and dodges more and more, the flames rise higher, and the attacks have less and less a chance of catching up with her. She really does seem to have eyes in the back of her head.
As the large creature emerges from the flames, Syx just pumps his fists in the air, "Yes! This is great! Time to slay a sea monster!"
Syx may be dressed like a pirate, but he still fights like Syx, as he leaps up and towards the creature, engulfing himself in flames as he flies through the air, slamming into it and aiming to wrestle it to the ground. While still on fire.
With a number of health bars, minions, and a dangerous amount of reach, the Sea Lord is no simple boss monster. It has dramatic area of effect attacks which include spinning those massive tentacles and pulling the entire party forward into a vortex of water-based damage. The Sahuagin continue to pose a threat as well, offering spear damage from the sides of the ritual circle. It is a hard-fought battle to get the creature even to half health. At that point, the creature burbles and the Sahuagin retreat into the water as those massive tentacles flail into the air. However, there is enough intelligence in this monster to not stick around for a losing battle. It slowly sinks back underneath the ground, the ritual lights around it going dark as it vanishes once again beneath the waves. Defeated... but not destroyed. Not yet. The Adventurers are left in a suspiciously empty chamber. However, there is one thing they can claim as their boon for this hard-fought battle. The strange ash that produced those blue flames must be useful for something...
The samurai heads over to the item that appears to be the boss loot. Ashes. Is it time for deep words? Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust? No. This is Souji. He takes his share of the item and 'tosses it' in the good ole inventory to care about later. The treasure was the adventure along the way. "Going to go for a soak back at town and then night training. You are welcome to join up," he extends the invitation out to GB, Syx, and Daiyu as he is a friendly bean like that. A friendly bean that is always training.
It was a hard fight, but one well one by the end. Even if the Boss fled before it could be completely destroyed. "Hmph. One of those bosses. Destined to be back in a future expansion to farther frustrate people. But excellent work, party." She scoops some of the ash up between her fans to collect it, adding it to her other potential future reagents. "I may be able to start some more advanced projects soon..." she muses to herself. "A bath and some hot tea sounds like a fine idea."
Syx is still in the middle of punching the hell out of one of the add sahagain, holding it by the back of the head and punching it several times in the face, as the Sea Lord runs away, "Hey! No fair, coward!"
He punches the Sahagain one more time, which disperses it into pixels and coins. With that done, he dusts his hands off, "Sounds like a plan, especially if you're paying!" He slaps Seta on the back and laughs.
Goldenblade's flames flicker and die as the Sea lord sinks back down, her fiery trail having burned down several of the mooks and savaged the big one pretty badly. but the flames flicker and die as she collects the ash. "I always wonder who thought of all the weird junk that monsters leave behind. It's useful, in it's own way, but it's .... unexpected." As to the invitation, she says, "I'm in. I could use a hot bath after this."