As the team arrives back at Camp White after a long heavy and arduous journey overland, they are welcomed with open arms in Camp White. They've learned to signal and use various Friend based messages to make sure that Camp White doesn't retaliate against 'strangers approaching' or feels the need to hide.
When further inside the ruins, Sophia Keren welcomes them personally. "If the monsters south of us were cleared out, we could actually try to establish a port." She mentions offhand, while a few of her people approach with food.
"There's also a group of Grunties that appeared to the west of town, but they have been really difficult to capture. They seem to be led by a very /odd/ looking Grunty." She points out.
"There's also talk that Thor scouts have been spotted in the area up north. We can take care of them if they do appear. But we're having a hard time finding them."
There are dark circles under Mikage's eyes and the Were Fang has a strange set of ear-muffs over her ears at the moment. It has been quite a while since her encounter with the King of Thor, but apparently she is still not quite feeling back to full strength. At least the ear-muffs are cute, though, with little adorable tuffts on them.
"So, the current set of problems amounts to monsters, weird grunties, and Thor scouts." She may just be talking a bit louder than normal due to her muffled hearing.
"I can probably lend a hand with most of those things. Though I'd probably lean towards dealing with the monsters or the scout problem. I don't know that I can deal with grunties today." Grunties can be loud. They complain a lot.
Merek opens up a book which he keeps with him, when he comes to the camp with the party. He nods a little bit when the greeting is a list of things they need to do, and food. "I keep food with me, don't worry about that." He would like the supplies to be kept for the fighters. "Well, the port would be nice to have, although I wonder if you have the ships to support it when it's made?"
He looks to the other members of the party, "Dealing with monsters is simple enough, as is dealing with finding the scouts, I think we have people in the party that can manage those easily. I don't know if we have enough to do all three, although if people would like to try. The Grunties are an interesting concept to deal with, in all of this."
"A port would be ideal, especially for helping to build a logistics network." Kaydon says, as he listens to the ideas, scratching under his muzzle for a moment, "But defending it would require extra forces. Still, it may be worth it to avoid that overland route from Seeker's Landing."
He looks to Merek for a second, "You think if the leader was captured, the others would fall in line? Like some kind of pack."
Schneider had to sail all the way back across the ocean to rejoin the group, so he's been running hard to catch up with the party and once he caught up, there hasn't been a lot of taking it easy. Still, he's not helpless or noodly-armed, so he hangs tough. He listens to the situation report from Sophia Keren and hrms. "The scouts are the larger threat, are they not, because if they find you, you're in trouble, and if they completely vanish, someone will get sent after them to see what happened to them?"
He nods at what Kaydon says, though, "A port would be useful, and it'd be a short jaunt to Seeker's Landing, enabling us to move very easily."
Gwen had come to lend aid again against her better judgment after her last action in the Place Lands left a bad taste in her mouth. Still he's here and she looks over to Kaydon nodding a bit.
"Logistics win wars in the end Kaydon. Still even with the troops tied up it would be better than overland issues."
She looks to Schneider. "So how to make the scouts think they got nothing snd have them report such?"
Sophia notes; "It is more important that we find out where they are, without being discovered. If we know their route - and find how they keep disappearing from sight for us - that'll help a lot." Clarifying that situation. "And the monsters at the port seem to be some kind of... water creatures? They make a distinctive sound and charge at anyone who gets close. Even using tridents and magic. They seem to follow people all the way into the camp here. They're a lot of trouble."
"... The Grunties. They're pack animals to people a lot. Do you think that they would be willing to aid in the other things if we managed to talk to them? I am aware that is likely a long shot but... Well. We thought it was a long shot when we took down an entire factory. What if someone with Oracle or divination looked into it, and perhaps tried to find what the path forward should be is?" Merek says to the party.
Schneider says to Gwen, "Well, we've got all the elements. Monsters to the south, a group of grunties. If we pull these monsters into the scouts, it might deplete the scouts' resources and compel them to retreat to resupply, none the wiser and simply reporting that it's a very monstery area."
But as the situation is explained, it seems that we will need to spy on them. "I have a spell useful for that," he admits.
Gwen pauses for a moment and snaps her fingers "What if we kited those things into the scout's camp if we find them? Monsters happen after all right?"
"They... they're not sentient. You do know that, right?" Sophia asks Merek when he remarks on talking to the grunties and getting 'their help'. Giving him the biggest look of 'what the heck'. Of course, it doesn't look like she has experience with Oracle.
At Schneider's suggestion, she nods her head; "I will leave this to you. I don't know the scouts have a camp per-se. But it may chase them away at least."
"I'm... going to go check the area north for signs of the scouts." Mikage reports, her voice still sounding a little rough around the edges. "Anyone quiet can come with me, otherwise.."
Rama looks up, yowls once, and then goes silent.
With that, Mikage starts making her way out of the camp, moving quietly, looking for signs of recent passage.
"I am not that stealthy. I'd like to look into the grunties, but I will also aid with the monsters if we don't have enough people for that, what do you all think? I would like to look into all three things. With Thor weakened, we need to be able to strike while the iron is hot," Merek adds to the party while he nods to everyone.
Schneider starts to head off after Mikage, because having an Exploder Wizard with you is always useful. But when she demands only quiet people come with her, he will beg off. He has a spell to hide, but that only works once.
He shrugs to Merek, and says, "I think clearing the way south to open the port will support the camp the most, maybe we should do that first. I dislike splitting the party, but I think it may be OK as long as she keeps a distance and only spies from a way off.
As Mikage begins to move northwards, it's not long before she's creeping through the farms. Making it further north takes quite a while however. It isn't a short trek, going from the camp to the northern opening of the semi-Caldera shape of this place.
But eventually she makes it to the fields and rolling hills and forests. It would be difficult for Thor people to be hiding in this area. So it's no surprise that Sophia had been concerned about Thor Scouts suddenly 'disappearing from sight'.
More-over, Mikage doesn't find signs of them in the field. She has to double back a bit before she finally spots some tracks. Not in the fields or forests, but near the mountains. Disturbed rocks, areas where footprints are left.
It takes some time to pick up their trail properly, heading into a cave well north of the camp. It faces away from the camp, so they likely haven't seen the camp itself yet. But a high enough vantage point - they might just get exposed!
Gwen looks to Schenider and then to Merek.
"I'm for clearing the way to the port maybe we can use the monsters to our advantage as I said eariler. I'm not the stealthy sort and would hinder any sort of sneaking mission."
Merek looks between the three, SChneider, Kaydon, and Gwen. "If you think you are all best suited for fighting... I want to look into the grunties. I don't know why, but I think it's important. I think you three can manage with the creatures along the port. It doesn't sound like it's a boss, and it seems that they only come to range. I can give you things to aid you if you need." He takes a moment to look into his pack, and offers them each some of his Alchemist's Fire explosive potions.
Moving quietly is a lot easier when you're by yourself, or at least with a trusted companion who also blends into the shadows as if they were a second skin. Going unnoticed is kind of Mikage's thing. As much as one can be renown for being unnoticed.
However, the tracks are a more difficult task. Rama sniffs and ends up taking her in a circle for a good long while, likely not finding anything too unusual to follow. That is until they reach the edge of the mountains.
The cave is a concern, especially as it risks discovery of the camp from this vantage point. A whisper comes over the raid-group's chimlink, "Found a cave, checking it out."
Merek heads Westwards towards the Grunties. They're not exactly hard to find, but it's still a good half an hour of a walk. Coming across a bunch of standard Grunties...
And a grunty wearing a helmet, sunglasses and what looks like a spiked vest?! It's really hard to tell exactly what is going on here. But the leader grunty is running them to stampede through the area ahead, eating and devouring grass...
Until Merek appears, at which point it halts and stares his way. "Mooo-come at me."
The idea from Gwen gets a tilt of Kaydon's head, before a laugh, "Oh I love that idea." Kite the monsters into the scouts once they get found? It'd be hillarious.
"We should go get the monster's attention...Maybe have one person kite while the others clear out the remaining ones? Depends how many there are.." He muses, looking between Gwen and Schneider, "What do you think? Try to grab them all?"
Mikage, aided by Rama, gets closer to the caverns. Due to her particular kind of training, learning how to merge in with nature, she manages to stay out of sight quite well. Though perhaps in a transformed state, she would have an even easier time hiding amongst the stone.
Listening in, she can hear the Thor Scouts.
"I really doubt there's Uncrowned out here." She notices they're Pooka wearing green vests. From what she can tell at her distance, they appear to be Landers rather than Adventurers. They're marked yellow, meaning they're actually a challenge for her were she to go in solo.
Schneider says to Kaydon, "I have a spell that can help us hide, if we can kite them into position. I can probably grab all their aggro, I don't know if I can tank them all the way to where we want them."
Merek looks at the grunty that seems to be asking him to come at them, not to mention the fact that it seems like it's running some kind of motorcycle gang. "Well... I don't suppose that you're able to talk to me? What is it you're doing out here?" he asks. Then he's walking to approach them, taking his time to relax.
"Moo~Come at me!" The Grunty answers Merek, sounding more aggitated. The troop of Grunties turning around to face towards him. After all, he's approaching them. And it seems the Grunties will approach him back.
Because they can't beat the shit out of Merek without getting closer.
Gwen looks to Kaydon.
"That sounds like an idea my friend. We get some good fast and attention getting. While the rest polay clean up I'm down for clean up duty as while I'm a good tank I may not be as swift as needed then again prehaps I am."
Though stealthy? The only stealthy Gwen can do is hiding from her mother when she has an outfit so out there not even Gwen wants to put it on.
"Oh even better Schneider!"
Merek thinks about it for a moment. This might have not really been the best decision. All the same, he is committed, and will take his time to see what he can do. "Alright. What's up my fellow bikers, a wonderful day for a ride. I don't suppose you have room for another?" he asks.
Merek, not having figured out yet that Grunties do not understand Adventurer language, decide that him talking at them must be a form of threat. As such, they all rush his position, stampeding towards Merek, looking to crush him!
Since the tournament, Mikage has been less shy about utilizing her monster form. Her reasons for keeping it a secret this long finally pushed to the wayside in favor of simply living her life to the fullest. So, the shift is near silent, her gray and white tones helping her blend in as she perches, simply listening to the group.
If they were already planning on leaving, it would be easy enough to simply wait them out, and then destroy this particular hiding place in the aftermath. For now, intel is probably more important than anything else.
"It'll be like herding cattle." Kaydon says, as he brings his hands up to kind of demonstrate what he means, "Schneider, you get their attention to gather them all together, then Gwen you grab hold of them and take the lead." He motions where Gwen would move to at the front of the monsters.
"Then Schneider and I can keep them funneled behind you while you lead them to the scouts. Then Schneider does his thing to break aggro and the scouts have a really bad day."
Schneider, when on the spot to pull aggro, pulls out one of his nastiest spells.
"Zarzardo Zarzardo Bakemono! Rono sook! Burning in the depths of darkness, fires of hell! Become my sword and strike down my enemy!"
He completes the chant, "VENOM!"
Venom creates a deadly whirlwind of life-sucking evil, or so it seems, but that will hopefully be enough to drive them forward, towards where we want them to go. The flesh-eating whirlwind can herd them left or right as it pursues them onwards, promising a horrible, painful death for anything too slow to get away.
Gwen, Kaydon, and Schneider make it down south towards the edge of the water, where a small army of water-based fish-like creatures roam. Upon Schneider's casting of VENOM, their warcry is indeed rather distinct. And the moment they spot the Adventurers at fault for the sudden crimson running over their bodies, they immediately aggro on them.
Tridents thrown, magic cast, and some invisible ones trying to ambush them as they start trying to head north, pulling these creatures.
It wouldn't be such a problem, if it wasn't for the fact that they have to spend a few /hours/ heading up north like this, while constantly under attack. And with Mikage and Merek being well outside of Context range, they can't exactly signal what is going on. To them, in the party, it just indicates that the trio is under constant assault.
Gwen is doing a darn good job keeping them off of Schendier however. And they're making great time heading up north!
Mikage sneaks a bit closer, her rocky form permitting an easier time to blend into the stone itself.
"We'll do one last sweep down south into the Caldera, and try to set up a little watchpost." She will notice there's a bunch of wood they've gathered. "If anything, it can help us watch out for monsters going forward." They add.
The smell of yummy food comes her way. They clearly have a fantastic cook in their midst...
Gwen grins and just yee haws for a moment.
"Well then we should get a move on shouldn't we?" She seem ready to go as the plan is laid out. She is almost vibrating.
"Yup lets get to this. My Leeroy watch over us."
With that she's going to be ready to head out with Kaydon and Shnwider ont his task and soon as Shcneider starts she'll be making ready for the clean up.
The smell is enough to make Mikage's mouth water, but she has enough self-control not to make herself known. Instead, she just remains perched, quietly.
She hasn't had good food since Sassaral left their party to build her inn in Shibuya. Sigh. She really missed Sassaral's cooking.
Merek is trampled by the grunties, only for him to try to decide in the moment what to do with trying to calm them. Unable to come up with any ideas, he will try to handle them the usual way. "Alright, calm down you all. What do grunties like, you know I might be able to find you all some nice grass!"
Schneider has pulled aggro all right, and he hauls ass. "Well," he says between panting breaths, "I think we've got their attention." That seems maybe to be an understatement, but just to further antagonize them, he chants, "Kaizard, aruzard, kisk! Hansay Glossik! Unleash total destruction! Sage of Hades use the seven keys to open the gates of Hell!" The spell culminates with "HALLOWEEN!" and a huge explosion is intended to hold their attention, or grab their aggro so hard they can't give up now.
Schneider will rush with the others toward where Mikage said she was going to go search for the Palace Landers. Raid chim should work within the party, right? Can he chim her that we're on our way and coming in hot?
The Grunties, after trampling Merek the first time, move in fine formation. Turning around like a herd of... well... aggressive grunties, and continue to trample him. Their "Moooo!" can be heard throughout parts of the Caldera as they continue to slam into, walk over, and otherwise make a mess of Merek's health. The man quickly dropping faster and faster in health. He may have to retreat soon!
"MOO! COME AT ME!" The Grunty demands, clearly desiring blood.
They always told Merek he needs to use his head more. And so he does what any reasonable person would do with a grunty. He then takes his time to back up, and looks to the motorcycle biker grunty, before he charges forward! "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" He reinforces his frame with the repelling shield, and headbutts the grunty right on!
Merek rushes the Grunty with all of his meight. His frame reinforced, and SLAMS his head into the grunty! The grunty MOOOOOS a mighty moo...
Only for its helmet to break! Shattering into light. Turning the grunty into a regular grunty and dropping a helmet before Merek.
> MAD MAX HELMET < If worn by the one who bested a MAD MAX Grunty, can command Grunties for a day >
Mikage manages to still her hunger. And while Schneider and co are unable to reach their allies for quite a while going northwards, due to the sheer distances involved in the pull they are managing, eventually they get close enough to the mountain path that Mikage gets within Context Range of the pull itself.
Which allows her an option. Does she guide the team and their army of Fish Monsters to the cave with Lander Pooka?
Merek takes his time to pick up the helmet, and looks at it for a moment. He then looks between all the grunties, nodding a bit. He turns the helmet about and places that into the inventory. That might come in handy, although he doesn't have any reason to lead the grunties at the moment, while he considers.
Hearing the rest of the party suddenly come into context range of the chimlinks, Mikage seems to finally abandon trying to gather intel. She slips out of the cave, in her full monster form. She takes a moment to activate one of her relics, checking the minimap for the location of the others before finding a perch for herself on the rocks.
"Up here." The call is made over the chimlink. "They're in the cave just beyond this point." Her tail thuds against the ground, likely not too happy about the situation she's found herself in, but might as well make use of the monsters. "Make sure you aren't seen releasing the monsters. They don't suspect there are any Uncrowned here, so this needs to look like a fluke, not something intentional."
Kaydon is going to pull up the rear after Schneider gets all the monsters attention. At the moment he's in hiding, waiting to jump in as soon as Gwen grabs a hold of the overall aggro. He's also ready to swap with her and tank if she needs to recover health, but he thinks she'll be able to hand it. He believes in her.
Once she's in position, he'll jump up behind the monsters, getting hits in on any that start to stray from the pack at all. They want to keep them as concentrated as possible so when they disappear, the monsters won't have anything to lock onto but the Thor scouts. Then it's just a matter of waiting until the monsters and scouts battle it out, and finishing off the winner.
Merek takes the helmet and places it on, before he nods to the Grunties. "Alright! Let's get going to where the people are!" He points forward and motions for the grunties, using the power of the helmet to make them follow him. While the others all do what they will do, he is going to be leading an hour and a half long travel with the grunties. There is doing what they did to Thor before. Then there is preparing the camp to the extent that they are.
Well things are going fairly well at this point as she looks to see Schneider live up to his namesake magically speaking. Whil she now knows it's time to hide, and she has an idea, she boots up her menu gets some crafting gear out and in a flurry of motion makers a Cameo shoudr dfor use when she needs it. She'll be ready to tank swap anmd grab the agro when it's time but for now she's got to make sure they can hide so only the scouts get the agro. Then she'll take any that remain onto herself.
Merek puts on the helmet, leading a long train of grunties towards Camp White. This supply of grunties is sure to supply the camp with a lot more food and workforce than they previously had!
Schneider eventually reaches the meeting place, coordinating with Mikage, over raid chim while we lead the murlocks on a merry chase, having really tweaked their noses and made them quite mad. Though in truth, they've probably never been gruntled in their lives. As we reeach the range at which Schneider expects the Murlocks to aggro on the Palace Landers if they lose us, he will case that spell,
"Roots of shadow, tendrils of light, smoke over water, fire in the sky, DEEP PURPLE." And the world doesn't change at all, really, except for where Schneider was, there's a kind of jagged outline of a tree. He really could have done that better. Luckikly Mikage's effors getting things set up means the murlocks have something else more interersting than a vaguely Schneider-shaped tree to pursue.
At the same time, up North, things go rather well together. With the guidance of Mikage and the quick thinking of Gwen -- Schneider and Kaydon lead the group of waterbased enemies straight into the Lander Scout camp in the caves. There's shouts of surprise and comfusion on fishmen appearing in the mountains. "What the hell!?" "Is there a secret underground cave!?" "There's so many of them!?!" It's clear that they are surprised. "Let's get out of here!" They call out, rushing the heck out of there. Past the team while the Fishmen chase them. Some of them making for a fighting retreat. It's very possible the Landers will survive this, but they won't know what happened here.
More notably though, thanks to Mikage's scouting, they also uncover a hefty supply of logs that were meant for a watchtower. Except, now they can make use of those for a port!
As soon as the monsters are in position, Kaydon uses a dark sword arte through his gunblade to give himself the kind of cover as he bails out, listening to the chaos and confusion going on behind them as the monsters clear out the Lander forces. He keeps his head down until the coast is clear.
At least he'll be able to help transport the logs back down to the camp proper once the caves have been fully cleared out.
Schneider is quite pleased to remain dead still and watch the fishmen roust the Palace Landers out of the cave and drive them off. That worked out /really/ well. And when Mikage lets us know about the wood for a watchtower she found, that's spectacular. "That's perfect, that'll help them build that dock they were talking about!"
Once the Palace Landers and fishmen are gone, he will help Kaydonmove the logs to where they can be used. He's not as physical by a long shot, but a small summoned elemental can he a big help for something like this.
Gwen is going to bail as well as soon as the Monsters are on the Landers. It's time to get out of here and not leave a trace that they were there. So off she foes with Kaydon and she'll help with the log as well given just how strong she is as well.