Duty Session 570: Hungry Like a Wolfgarm
The mayor of Rovia, located on the fourth floor of the tower, has requested the aid of adventurers in thinning the population of the wolfgarm monsters in the nearby forest. These monsters have been attacking the town and, if nothing is done, it'll only be a matter of time before lander blood is spilt.
Rec. Party: 3+
World Rewards: Reduced danger from monsters on the fourth floor.
"By the request of the mayor, all adventurers are asked to slay the wolfgarms in the nearby forest. If you die while slaying said wolfgarms, we in Rovia are in no way responsible and ask that you do not come to us seeking recompense for your death. We are also not responsible for any maiming, broken bones, or discomfort you may experience. By attempting to slay any wolfgarm your agreement to this disclaimer is acknowledged. The people of Rovia thank you for your valiant effort.
P.S. Do not feed the whale!"
Underneath the adventurer agreement is a wooden arrow with the word 'FOREST' written on it in freshly dried paint and is clearly pointing towards a nearby forest.
"So," says Schneider when everyone has gathered up, "I suppose we follow the way into the forest. I hope this works out OK. I have prepared some new magic that hopefully won'r burn down the woods." Though knowing him, it's almost certain that burning down the woods would be less awful. "These Landers don't half know about disclaimers, though. Do they have a bunch of lawyers here? Maybe we ought to burn Rovia down after all, if they've got Lawyers?" He makes it sound like a plague.
"No burning down Rovia," Prophylaxis says with a huff. "They've been very helpful allies. And setting the forest ablaze would probably not be conducive to maintaining a good long-term relationship."
She smiles lazily and saunters along, humming a tune under her breath. She's not much for hunting or sneaking around in the woods, though, and it shows.
Schneider leads the way into the forest east of Rovia. The forest is dense and rather large; the den of the wolfgarms could be anywhere. The adventurers will have to figure out where they are going or else they could be wandering the forest for hours. Schneider nods at Miyako's comment, and says, "Well, no signs. We might be out for a longer stroll than originally planned."
Fortunately, the wolfgarms don't take time to clean up their droppings or their footprints. Someone who spends enough time looking might find signs of the monsters, if they knew their way around the woods or could tell an elm from a rock, which Schnider could do if you spot him one guess. One could also try to negotiate with Landers living in one of the nearby farmhouses (or a passerby) for directions through the forest, because of course Landers live in a forest full of Wolfgarm. Schneider signs.
Once the party leader-ish-type-person has proven his identity to everyone's satisfaction, however, the search for the wolfgarms begins in earnest. Miyako paces about the woods, peering at the ground, looking for tracks. She finds several signs of animals in the area -- mostly harmless forest herbivores like deer, and low-level predators like foxes. She passes right over several actual wolfgarm tracks without recognizing them for what they are.
...Unfortuantely, he soon returns with a couple of holes in his robe. "Not interested in solicitors," the doctor grumbles. Really it's more that they're not interested in non-human solicitors. Apparently the people out here in the wilderness are even more insular than the ones back in the city. Who'd have thought!
Miyako, whose search through the woods meets with as much success as Proph, is treated to a wide grin, and says, "I have completed one of my /iconic/ spells. Heheheheh." From his source material, though not many remember that he's a tribute character, or what he's a tribute character from. It's so old. His dad loved it, though, and his dad controlled the TV when he was nine.
But whether by intention or just dumb luck, a pair of wolfgarms happen to be in the area where the old fellow pointed them. They may be scouts looking for food. Either way, they haven't noticed the group just yet. At first, they sniff around and nip at each other for attention. When a branch falls nearby, it startles them and they move more warily. It appears the scouts are a bit skittish. With large enough theatrics it seems possible that the adventurers could send these two home with their tails between their legs. Or with their tails on fire, of course.
"Freeze," he orders, gesturing with an open palm. The wolfgarm does not stop moving-- not immediately, anyway. Instead, it shivers and squirms as a block of ice rapidly encases its body, trapping it in a frigid prison.
It's not fire, sure, but fire could have had them run off! And that just would have been counterproductive.
It doesn't take long for the first actual wolfgarms to turn up, at least someone managed to get the party in the right direction. She flicks out a pair of fans, aiming for the second creature as she sees Proph take one out, and a swish of her fan sends a blast of air at the wolf - to impact rather like an overdone punch, a simple blunt blow from a ball of air that dissipates as soon as it hits.
What the Wolfgarm lack in courage they more than make up for in speed. It will be a test of endurance and speed to keep up with them through the underbrush of the forest. ""Not everyone needs to keep up," he says, panting as he runs. "As long as someone does, they can lead us to wherever these two go to ground. Otherwise it's back to tracking." Which we do not seem to be good at, collectively.
...He has more subtle magic in mind.
The brambles and undergrowth seem to squirm out of the cait sith's path as he blazes a trail, keeping pace with the Wolfgarms in a twisted and entirely backwards game of chase. Who ever thought a rabbit(-eared fellow) would pursue wolves, and not the other way around? This is all entirely backwards!!
But it seems to work, so... Maybe it's not so wrong after all?
The two scouts finally run into their den, followed by the party, still, which appears to be nothing more than a hole in the ground. No wonder no one else has managed to find it! It's practically invisible. As the group enters the den, they find that it is much deeper then it initially appears. Adventurers are able to stand up and even move around a bit in case combat occurs.
There is one obvious problem though. The moment the group moves away from the entrance, they find themselves in darkness. There's not even glow moss! The wolfgarm must have some ability to see even in the dark to be able to navigate down here. The adventurers will have to figure out how to light their way and navigate through the tunnels beforedanger finds them.
Even goblin dens have at least a few fires to serve as distractions or cooking pits. This isn't just darkness, this is /advanced/ darkness. The doctor grimaces, but it's absolutely lost in the impenetrable dark. "This is going to get us nowhere," he concludes, of trying to navigate in this soup. "And we'll only end up ambushed. Hold on a moment."
The doctor's voice rises, lifting into a melodic tone. As he finishes, a wave of crystalline, white flame washes out from him and settles over each member of their little excursion team, surrounding them all in bubbles of protective fire. "That should keep us safe," he says, "And give us a bit of light to see by, besides."
It's dark as a dungeon, and damp as the dew
The dangers are plenty, and the pleasures are few
The rain never falls, and the sun never shines,
Yes it's dark as a dungeon deep down in the mine.
"... or you could just do that," she says, and shrugs, moving on as if she already knows the layout of the place.
The cavern opens up in a spacious room. Inside, the adventurers find a single wolfgarm. This wolfgarm is bigger than others, more savage looking, and has a scar across one of his eyes. This monster has seen a lot of battles and has earned the title of 'Alpha'. In fact, it earned this title so well that the name of the creature is literally 'Alpha Wolfgarm'. The way the Alpha keeps backing up makes it seem that it doesn't feel too confident winning the fight. It could run if the fight goes south. The best thing to do in this situation is to engage the Alpha and burn him down while cutting off any attempt to escape, else who knows what may happen?
"Eyes a-swivel," the doctor orders, tapping his staff against the ground. "Retreat immediately if it looks like we're in danger of an ambush. Dogs-- and wolves-- are pack hunters. The fact that there's only one here..."
"Is making me /extremely/ concerned," the doctor finishes, tapping his staff against the ground. A prison of ice rushes up to capture the alpha's legs... Only to shatter when the thing twists free. "Damn, too strong for that, huh...?"
If only Setsuna were here...!
All the tunnels seem to have wolfgarms coming out of them. Before the group knows it, they are surrounded, trapped in a cavern with few ways out. As the snarls and growls get ever closer, it is obvious that at any moment the circle of wolfgarm will descend upon the adventurers. The group is going to have to fight their way out of here without bringing the roof down on their heads, which means Schneider's first plan won't work. Or, well, his second plan, because Plan A is always More Fire, and there's too many wolfgarm for his fire spells to take out.
"Tch. The alpha...!" Is out of reach. The rest of the pack has flooded in, and doesn't seem inclined to give them the opportunity to pursue their leader. But this is still an opportunity to... /deal/ with some of these creatures. The doctor clicks his tongue and doubles back, his staff scraping across the cave floor. Walls of solid stone rise in his wake, closing off angles of attack and forming a protective barrier between the party and their assailants. He holds the spell for a moment-- long enough for the wolfgarms to leap onto the walls, trying to scramble up and over them...
And then he snaps his fingers and sends the walls of stone flying into the far-off walls, crushing a dozen wolfgarms in an instant.
"Keep thinning them out," Prophylaxis grunts, "Kill as many as you can, don't die yourself. We'll get through this...!"
Except, of course, that suddenly all the -other- wolfgarms that they'd missed on the way in are suddenly showing up to harass and try to get rid of them.
"Keep moving!" the Spriggan adds to Proph's suggestions. She slashes out with her fans, cutting her way through the creatures as the trio make their way out. "We're almost there!"
Unfortunately for the party, the Alpha Wolfgarm got away. Pursuing the Alpha at this point would leave the group lost in the tunnels. All the adventurers can do now is take the spoils of victory, broken-off spikes of several of the slain wolfgarm, and head back up to the surface. In the end, the group /has/ succeeded in lowering the wolfgarm population.