Duty Session 599: Clearing Dragon's Eye
In the center of the Palace Lands is the island of Dragon's Eye. Monsters roam the ruins and the mountains. Adventures are being hailed to clear the beasts out, allowing the Olympus Alliance to begin restoring the strange root city in earnest.
Rec. Party: 3+
Daycare is a bit tricky to arrange, but with Klein and The Links backing her up, Asuna arranges it. Plus she knows of a certain dance instructor who might be able to give her a fast pass back out of here. Maybe. Regardless, she is here and she's sent out a general call for others to help her out, both inside her alliance and outside. Dragon's Eye is supposed to be pretty much cutting edge content, so the attraction is obvious.
"So, according to my notes, we wait for low tide. Looks like we got that. Then rush inside, club a bunch of monsters, and collect our prize. All the while hoping that none of our unfriends from the Palace Lands notice our handiwork."
The Flash is pretty well known, thanks to her reputation and the recent, limited success in the tournament. But she always covers her bases, "Oh, and I'm Asuna! Just in case anyone didn't know. Hm.. this reminds me.."
She starts meddling around with her inventory. A bit of muttering follows until she is suddenly dressed, well, in cosplay. Apparently her newest work, courtesy of Gwen, is a Zelda outfit. Curtana will be happy to note that she's decently covered!
Actually here, at least physically. Even if he may not be entirely here mentally. The fact remains that this place is somewhere that the Scale is direly interested in, and come hell or high water, even with the madness gripping his mind, Prophylaxis will not allow anyone in the Alliance to wander in alone without some kind of expert support.
Also, Yuuki was going, and that means Prophylaxis is extra incentivised to chug several mugs of coffee, crack a half-dozen mental clarity crystals, and make his way to one of the Palace Lands' most mysterious locales.
"Be careful. I have a way to get us back out in an emergency, but only three of us," the doctor cautions, sipping at a mug o' recaff. "If we can get to the Chaos Gate, we might be able to pull more people out. But other than that, the goal is recon. We've got no idea what's in there."
Except for the building that looks like pants. That's definitely in there.
Sipping away at a homebrew tonic to help handle the heat, Curtana takes one last look over his equipment and his trusty plain longsword, a constant ally since the early days. Sheathing his sword, he gives a quick nod and smiles. "Sounds like a plan to me. The usual tactics should work just fine here. I'll grab the attention of the monsters and let you all finish them off." It's a simple plan, but sometimes keeping it simple is a good idea in the chaos of battle.
That, and it is a step up of the bare minimum plan of hitting it until it dies.
Rubbing at his chin, Curtana frowns. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Best that the slower members take up that offer if needed."
"I don't know," She says, answering Curtana's question. "I dislike the desert. It's freezing at night and hot during the day. Lip balm?" The only thing the artificer has to add, apparently, as she offers her lip balm to Curtana. Along the way, the imp has steadily made use of earth magic to avoid getting... dirty.
Yuuki is clearly excited, having been rather energetically outpacing and circling back on the group as it mades its way towards its destination. It's always fun diving into a new dungeon! You don't know what's coming, which makes it all the more challenging!
They arrive and stop for a brief strategy meeting, Yuuki bouncing up and down on her feet as Asuna explains things. Then Asuna briefly introduces herself, to which Yuuki replies, "Hi Asuna! I'm Yuuki!" As if the two didn't already know each other well!
Though of course the introduction is also directed at others! As if they haven't already heard of her. But she does go on to say, "You may remember me from such adventurings as floor boss fights, wave fights, and that time Castle Eas was defended from the Palace Landers!" That was fun times!
Looking at Prophylaxis, Yuuki pfffts, "We've got this in the bag. There won't be any emergencies! Except maybe a sleep emergency." She stares at him a little, "Like seriously, you look like you could use a nap. Or something."
Then Asuna makes a costume change and Yuuki leans in to her, rubbing her chin as she takes a closer look, "Oooooooh. Very nice." She grins, "Maybe I should throw on a green tunic?"
Asuna does give Prophylaxis a worried look. "So.. I'd ask what it is, but you probably are barely able to focus on your surroundings as it is. On the bright side, you aren't force-feeding everyone around you pasta sauce." That was... so embarrassing. Even poor Yui eyes her mother warily at the scent of marinara sauce.
"And definitely, Yuuki! Dress up as you like! This is going to be a breeeeeeze with all of us here. Oh, remember when you saved me from dying when I decided to take on a gnoll raiding party all by myself?" Yes, that is all promising to think about right now, right? CONFIDENCE!
But the adventurer awaits. And since Curtana is the tank, Asuna is happy to let him go first. Let people do their jobs, right? The group proceeds through the tunnel that the low tide has revealed.
They find themselves in a cavern lined with geometric patterns on the walls and ceilings, all formed by several species of bioluminscent fungus. There is a slight musty smell all around them, and it is evident that this cave is commonly entirely under water, depending on the tide of the waters - meaning that they have limited time to stay here. The low tide washes allows slithering Centicobras (poisonous snakes with centipede legs) to congregate, gorging on trapped fish. These bar the way through the cavern. No matter what time of the day, there always seems to be few at the entrance waiting for the patrol party. The monsters bare their fangs and rush towards the Adventurers as the first in many battles to come.
Curtana takes the lead like any good knight should, his armored footsteps starting to echo as they descend into the watery tunnel. The fungi does draw a curious look from the Pooka. "Huh...I wonder if they're related to the mushrooms Uta and I found." It could be, but likely completely different from what he's used to!
Face set into an disciplied look as the Centicobras start to scuttle their way forward, Curtana draws his longsword and readies his kite shield. "Harken to me!" Slamming his sword and shield together, he draws their attention first, then scrapes the stone floor with the tip of his sword. With a flick and casting a spell, stone spires start to erupt from the ground, impeding the bug-snakes path and making it to they wouldn't rush him all at once.
"Hehehe, naaaah. Green's not really my colour. Definitely purple and black. With a bit of red." She is of course just describing her usual outfit. Which she of course is wearing at the moment.
But it's time to get started! Yuuki drawing the Absolute Sword and raising, "Come on! Let's go, go, go!" She runs towards the entrance into the caverns!
It doesn't take long for the group to stumble upon the first group of mobs. Yuuki grins in anticipation, "They aren't going to know what hit them!" Sword at the ready, she runs forward, rapidly closing the distance. She was preparing to perform a leaping slash past one of the monsters, her foot coming down for the leap.
Unfortunately it comes down on a slippery section of floor still damp from the tide. Yuuki's foot slides out from under her, sending her falling face forward into the ground.
Yuuki skids to a halt just in front of one of the mobs. At which point the Centicobra leans over and chomps its fangs into her.
Yuuki says, "Ow."
Fragrant, smelling of lilac and lavender, Lauren's magic seeps into the ground below a centicobra, which promptly loses its footing and slams hard into another of its bretheren.
Prophylaxis explains, then takes a long sip of his coffee.
"I /badly/ want a nap."
There are centicobras and a profuse quantity of moisture in the cave. The doctor takes one look at them, decides that he has no patience for individual targeting, and instead /freezes them all solid/ with a literally frigid glare.
"Ugh, and to think it's only just begun..." The doctor sighs, his breath fogging on his lips.
Yuuki is chomped. And poisoned. Prophylaxis makes a Marge Noise and makes his way over to poke a syringe full of antivenom into her arm. "Careful, the stone is slick in here."
"Well, I'm glad you are still able to want sleep. I needed some serious help even to think about rest. And mostly then I thought about it being a waste of time. It wasn't pleasant. But there was something that came up that has me so curious. About slimes for Uta." Asuna thinks on it, then feels, well, a tingle. "I should not dwell on that, though," she says abruptly and very, very quickly.
And then the monsters show up. In isolation, on fair terrain, these would probably be a cupcake encounter. But in slippery cave and in the numbers they present, this is not a joke.
Curtana's earth attack starts to open a path, and the Flash is able to just get in behind him, letting him do the work. There's still a bit of dodging to do, but it's not so horrible to pull off.
Yuuki's unfortunate battle posture is rewarded with a bit of damage, but the creatures can make no further progress. Insert reference to bing chilling in here for the kids. The antivenom removes any lasting effects.
Lauren's magic has a similar impact, buying the group more time to get clear of the enemy. And providing a very pleasant scene for all to enjoy. Seriously, this cave has a serious musty smell issue. Among other scents. The group is able to get clear in relative safety and is soon breathing fresher air.
The assigned patrol pattern has the party venture towards the western heart of Dragon's eye through the mountain barrier that seperates it from the rest of the land. So far the path is singular and uncomplicated. This simplicity proves to be its weakness as much as its strength as stepping outside serves to make the party a very clear target. A swarm of Kraithornets descend and attack. These unusual mixtures of snake and hornet are of the poisonous type. Generally they seek fish and other aquatic creatures that unwittingly exit the inland end of the cave instead of making their way back to the sea. Today the Kraithornets find no fish. Instead they find a new meal to dine on: Adventurers. The party will need to push past this choke point before they can hunt and clear the Dragon's Eye area within.
Like a dying candle, Lauren's great attack fizzles out. "Oh for f--" she starts before being swarmed upon.
'Careful, the stone is slick in here.'
Yuuki picks herself up after having been chomped, poisoned and then cured. She grins at Prophylaxis as she dusts herself off, "Thanks, Doc. Hadn't noticed! Don't know what I would do without you!" Of course, Yuuki doesn't mind her both figurative and literal slip up. It happens! The important thing is to get back up.
AND GET REVENGE!
Thus when the group comes upon the next group of mobs, some snake hornet things (ew), Yuuki sweeps her sword out to the side. The already dark blade turns completely black, darkness rapidly snaking out from it and causing the blade to grow larger and larger.
Yuuki raises it over her head and with a cry, sweeping the enlarged weapon down to catch a few of the flying creatures in a single swipe, "Hahahaha, your power of flight is nothing compared to the power of sword!"
Exitting the cave and past the cobras is a good sign that they are making some progress, but yet more monsters are flying in to-...wait. Snakes -and- hornets? "I...how does that even work?!" Curtana doesn't have very long to ponder but...seriously, these things are disturbing to look at just in virtue of what they were a fusion of.
That pause has the Pooka knight swinging his sword in shield in the air, trying to get the aggro of these creatures, but they don't seem inclined to stay still long enough for him to swat. He even casts a few minor air spells to try to strike them down, but their slithery forms have them slipping past the small tornadoes he conjured. "Be careful, and let them come to you!"
"I'm also on a sizable cocktail of drugs," he says to Asuna, sipping meaningfully at what is surely a perfectly ordinary cup of caffinated beverage and nothing more than that. "It helps."
Bee-snakes. He's dealt with these before. With a gesture, a wave of protective energy washes over the party, ensconcing the lot of them in barriers of crystalline fire. Bees hammer against them, several of which burst into colorless flame on impact. "That should do for this mob, at least."
"Wow, Yuuki. Overkill much?" Asuna grins at her friend. "At least you all left a little for me, anyway!"
The Flash is obviously inspired by it, though. "Can't let you have all the fun!" She draws Lambent Light and launches herself upwards. With each stab, blasts of glowing water slam into the weird hybrid bug.. reptile... things. It's definitely more overkill, but if Asuna lets Yuuki pull too far ahead here, she may lose their DPS race....
... which of course they are /not/ having. They are professional Adventurers, not childish types who would dare to debate who can deal out more damage.
After pushing through the breach there is a moment for the party to gather their bearings and pursue a more open pathing. The ruins that scatters across the area are wide. Paths stretch like old broken roads alongside even more broken ruins. Scouting out ahead would be the best option now to determine where the monster nests are in the area and how to start clearing them out without getting overwhelmed. Time for some advanced recon.
"I got nothing," The imp says quietly, rising to her feet after examining a particularly uninteresting segment of stone and floor.
"I was just checking to see if there were any secret passages... In the floor... It happens!" Yuuki grins at Prophylaxis as they continue onwards.
Fighting against the hornets, Yuuki counters to Asuna, "Sometimes overkill gets you bonuses! So it definitely pays to go all out. Sometimes." Chop. "Of course, you've still got to keep an eye on your mana or stamina! Don't want to run out at the worst time." Another chop. "Besides, overkill is more fun!"
The group finishes off the disgusting snakehornets and comes across a collection of ruins. Yuuki oohhhhhhs at the sight... Though after the initial wonder passes, there's not a whole lot immediately around. She needs a better view!
Yuuki makes a dash towards a particularly large column. A soft glow forms at the bottom of her feet. She leaps, planting her foot against the side of the column. And it sticks! She continues running up it vertically for a few seconds before leaping the last distance to land on top.
Yuuki raises a hand to her head, peering out across the ruins from her high vantage point. She then lights up, "Oh! Oh! I see something in that direction!" She points excitedly! She then starts bounding across the top of the ruins as she starts heading that way.
Beyond them is a sight Prophylaxis has seen once before, and its ilk several times by now. Still, it's a harrowing experience, seeing a city so... utterly /empty/ and devoid of people. But they need to find their way, and the doctor is utterly hopeless at actual exploration skills, in spite of his well known love for all things lore.
...Or he would be. If he were not on /several/ different kinds of drugs right now.
Yuuki hops away. The doctor turns his eyes to the sky, sniffs the air, and twitches his ears. Then, he turns in a direction and begins walking in it. "This way will get us to our destination faster. Come on, we need to keep up with Yuuki before she tries to solo a zone boss."
Wait, can it be called homemade if you don't even have a home?
The empty ruins of what once must have been a large city is always a little bizarre when you explore them for the first time. What once must have been a bustling place in this world hundreds of years ago is now nothing more than barren land and open sky. Thankfully, that makes it easy for Curtana to scale up a broken wall to try to spot something, but his perch is a little precarious...
Thankfully for the heavily armored knight, the wall still holds strong for him to get a good view of his surroundings, and he gives out a small shout of his own. Not everyone can have the energy that Yuuki the Imp possesses, that would just tire him out. "I see it as well! If we keep heading in that direction and make our way through the holes in the buildings, it should be easy to stay on course."
Climbing back down, Curtana's armor clanks as he hurries up to catch up to Yuuki. Wasn't he supposed to be leading everyone to take aggro?!
"Did you find any secret passages down there?" teases Asuna. She should really not say things like that, though. Inevitably she ends up eating crow after getting a bit cocky.
Like what happens.. You know, Asuna is really pretty good at capturing monsters. You'd think she might be good at stuff like hunting to go with it. If you thought that, you'd be so, so wrong! She does think she's got something figured out. She has her bowed in thought as she tries to put her insight to use. Which to others appears to be her cleverly walking in a large circle.
"Ohhh, what's this!?"
She looks up then. "Oh, hi Curtana... Umm, we better follow Prophylaxis and his wonder drugs!"
She gives Curt a /look/ that says quite plainly: 'We will never speak of this.' Hopefully Yuuki didn't notice. It's a vain hope, but maybe the Blind One will intervene.
Moving right along... the party finds a herd of Elkwolves walking through the overgrown 'streets' of Dragon's Eye. They may be the output of a nearby nest or simply a wandering feature of Dragon's Eye. Clearing these out and would go far in satisfying the requiresments of the job. These creatures are aggressive and blocking the way to stronger monsters in the area. Break time is over, time to get to work and clear out these monsters! With enough pressure the leader of this particular cell will need to show itself or face its domain being crippled through loss of monster-power.
Asuna's prayers are answered, as Yuuki is too focused on bouncing from one ruin to the next to notice the blunder. She heads towards the source of movement she had discovered. Finally stopping atop a broken down building, Yuuki looks down at the group of elkwolves. She grins as she gets an idea!
Yuuki leaps off the roof, landing on the back of one of the possibly elk, possibly wolf, definitely both, like creatures. As it starts to run and buck to try and shake her off, Yuuki is laughing while her sword is flashing about, chopping at the other monsters.
Until finally Yuuki figures she's managed to get another and proceeds to raise her sword and jam it down into the creature she was riding on. As it collapses beneath her and bursts into pixels, Yuuki leaps off it to gracefully land on the ground again.
Yuuki turns to the rest of the group, holding up her fingers in a V shape with a grin.
You know, like those ones, right there.
"Hmn," the doctor slams a foot into the ground, launching several globes of stone from the earth. Each one hovers in the air and quickly begin compressing, causing their cores to glow red-hot through the fissures in the rock. With commanding staff-swing, he launches the orbs at the elkwolves. Once they get close, each orb bursts in a devastating rain of fire and stone flechettes.
Well. At least Yuuki didn't /quite/ find the zone boss by herself.
While Curtana may not be able to do magical bursts or spells like some of the party can do, or at least to that extent, but there is one thing that he can do that many here can't. Breathing. Now that seems incredibly silly on the surface, but by breathing properly, anyone can use the energy of the sun itself to do some incredible things.
Hamon really is a wonderful thing, if used properly.
Releasing a deep breath, golden light starts flowing down all of Curtana's body, and he charges headlong to give aid to Yuuki in the middle of this fight. "Behind you!" She had let her guard down, and another Elkwolf was charging the Imp with it's horns lowered. Blocking it directly with his shield, a surge of Hamon stuns the creature for just a moment, enough for Curtana to pick it up by the horns and toss it into a wall. "Overconfidence breeds carelessness, so be careful!"
Phew. Yuuki missed that whole debacle. The Flash is ready to get back to it and look like the offensive powerhouse she is. Seeing these weird enemies, she wants to get up and close. Ranged would just get her teased for being careful, right?
And no! This is totally NOT A COMPETITION WITH YUUKI!
... which is good cause Asuna jumps in and gets trampled by these hideous mockeries of both wolves and elk. Where's Tomoe when she needs her, anyway?
Somewhere, through a blur of antlers and stomping feet, there's a glitter of heavy armor and then Curtana is there. The Flash springs up behind him, looking rather the worse for wear, but with decent enough health.
Thankfully the party mops up the rest! And they are able to make further progress, into an spot that is strangely thick with mist. Visibility drops remarkably fast.
It is perhaps equal parts haunting as it is beautiful as the thick mist in the area condenses into a creature of smoke and vapor. It is undoubtably considered a 'Mist Dragon' as the form the vapor takes (though it inspects as Mist Wyvern). The gaseous form makes it hard to strike in its 'thinned out', which happens in regular phases, and when it is solid again the damage is every bit as strong as any boss monster. The party will have to manage their timing and teamwork to get through this one, making use of attacks that launch them high in the air attack downward for maximum efficiency.
In the midst of battle, one can still find serenity. Expression has been abandoned by Lauren for the pure harmony of sifting magic. For lethal intent, but still.
Yuuki grins and waves Curtana off as he cautions her on overconfidence, "Pffft. I knew it was there." Did she? Did she really? She's not telling!
The group continues onwards, mist beginning to build up and block their view. Yuuki hmmmms, "I can't see anything through this..."
The mist begins to move, collecting together. Yuuki blinks in surprise, "Through this..."
The mist's form takes shape and solidifies, as Yuuki squeaks in joyful surprise, "Through this dragon!?" Wyvern. Same thing!
Yuuki's eyes sparkle as she looks at the dragon. Wyvern. Same thing! She bounces up and down on her feet, "Wow! This is gonna be great!" The boss fight starts!
Yuuki makes decent progress slashing her way into the dragon. Wyvern. Same thing! During its physical phases, anyway. When it comes to its mist phases, she's completely useless. Swords don't work well against mist!
During one of the later physical phases, Yuuki once more runs up a wall and leaps, gaining height to attack the dragon from above again. She angles her sword, ready to strike it again-
-The dragon changes phases again, turning to mist just before Yuuki can reach it! Oh no! She's going to fall right through it harmlessly!
Yuuki's headband shimmers with a just barely perceptible shine.
Yuuki passes through the misty dragon, her sword stabbing the ground in a little ways. At first nothing happens... Then there's a rumble. Yuuki's sword in the ground begins to shake. Yuuki blinks in confusion.
There's a sudden RUSH of air that blows Yuuki away with her sword, sending her flying and bouncing across the ground. The torrent of air rushes up, smashing into the dragon's misty form and blowing parts of it away, inflicting serious damage!
Yuuki had accidentally struck some kind of subsurface pressurised air pocket! Perhaps a secret boss fight mechanic?
And then the sky starts to darken, as what must be the leader of the monsters makes it's appearence. It doesn't show itself at first, but nevertheless, it's presence is known. The sun doesn't disappear and is more slowly blocked by billowing mist, with the buidlings starting to be shrouded in the water vapor. It gives the empty city a foreboding look as their visiblity lowers...before gathering all into one small area.
A wyvern, formed entirely of the mist, has arrived to strike them down.
Despite being made of nothing more than water vapor, it's claws and breath are still deadly weapons that it uses. Perhaps it was a guardian of this former ruins or the one who destoryed it years ago, it is unknown. What is known that it is very hostile and ready to take their lives.
Then again, a knight fighting a dragon. Now that's iconic.
But the misty nature of the beast is one it uses constantly, phasing through sword swings harmlessly at times, then reforming to strike. But it's still water vapor, and that gives Curtana an idea. Taking in a deep breath, Hamon starts to spark down the length of Curtana's sword...wait, is the sky darkening again?
Indeed, the sky was darkening, a small dark cloud of crackling electricity forming directly above the knight.
With an incredible roar of energy, a massive thunderbolt strikes downward, lancing into the longsword. Hamon energy stops it from going any futher and starts to infuse the raw fury of the storm.
And then Curtana unleashes it all as he points the sword at the Mist Wyvern, multiple bolts of blinding power striking into the creature.
...Though honestly, the most surprising thing about the creature is that Yuuki actually found a way to hit it with her sword.
"Careful, if this creature IS the mist, then this entire fog is a threat," Prophylaxis directs, moving steadily and surely toward the heart of the cloud. It seems contrary to his own advice at first, but he soon squares his stance and drives his staff into the ground as if to anchor himself in place. And--
A pulse of bitter cold races outward, radiating from the magus in a pulse of subzero temperatures. All around him, the fog flash-freezes, turning to diamond dust and falling gently to the ground in a thin layer of snow.
"Take the advantage now," Prophylaxis says, his skin blue with terrible, biting cold. "I'll try to keep the air clear."
Thankfully Asuna can redeem herself in the last battle here. Even if the Mist 'Dragon' is a bit more awesome than she expected. She cannot help but murmur, "It's... beautiful."
Okay, admittedly... she WANTS ONE OF THESE BAD!
Still, focus, Asuna! Focus!
She channels her inner monster and just barrels into a full-on, head-on assault. Curtana will have to keep her live somehow, because she's just in the mode to let it all go in this fight.
"This is amazing! I've never fought anything so beautiful before! Look at how gracefully it moves! And that dissipation!"
Asuna is gushing. Sure, half the time she does zero damage, but that only makes the monster hunter more fascinated. Oh yeah. She's got to get herself one of these. No doubt about it. This thing is awesome!
So awesome that Asuna is not paying much attention to her health gauge. Which she really never does. That's a problem for healers! Her problem is how to stab things and not run out of stamina!
The battle goes on, and things are getting dicey. Damage pours on, but this thing is hard to hurt. In the end, the mingling of so much magic and determined, focused team work wins the day. The Mist 'Dragon' shimmers, its health bar clears, and it bursts into the familiar light that tells the party they have won.
The drop is remarkable as the creature it came from. An orb of pure mist is left for each of the party members. This seemingly impossible object emits a tragic song formed of soft sighs and incomprehensible whispers.
Letting out a sigh of relief as he looks at both his HP and MP bars, Curtana sheathes his sword when no other creature leaps out to challenge them. "Whew...I think we can say the patrol was a success." Leaning down, Curtana picks up the orb of swirling mists, pondering it's depths for a few moments. "Absolutely worth it so far."
He was continuing to examine it even as he drinks a few potions to recover his health and mana.
Strange Moods are no joke. Adventuring during a strange mood is even worse. But they made good progress and got some neat loot out of it. Definitely a worthwhile trip.