Calling this a fort is possibly an affront to forts, as it is mainly a small grouping of tents with a fire at the front. There is a makeshift dock and fence as a launching point for assaults on the Phantom Colosseum. Still, it makes for a good spot for the exploration party to gather together, as it isn't far from the hidden dungeon that the map leads to. If not for the eyesore of the fort, the beach would be a rather idyllic and beautiful place to vacation on, but honestly, the dinginess of the fort kind of ruins the aesthetic of an otherwise pristine beach.
Having heard that the Hunter's Guild needs help with the island(s) where the colleseum is, Souji is more than happy to get on a boat and sail out to clear out monsters. The secrets may interest others and that is enough for him. Everything is a mystery in Elder Tales.
Yeowang shows up looking ragged. Faint circles under her eyes mark sleep deprivation as much as a Tired debuff, and while she's not in some strange mood, she's not looking as fresh as she normally does showing up to a mission first thing in the morning. She's been up for several hours, and even Seta might be surprised at the intensity of her workouts. Or he might not, given he's doing the same thing.
But when his workouts end, hers shift focus, as she's also working on learning new techniques, and when that workout is finally concluded, it's a menu-wash and into her complex logistical and management life as she tracks and organizes several projects, receiving status updates and giving orders by chim. She is the picture of a busy overachiever, but when she shows up at this ... site, she is all business, or at last as much business as remains of her attention span.
After following the map the party reaches the entrance to the dungeon, and the first challenge they have to overcome. The entryway to this dungeon is a giant doorway made of metal that has been polished to a mirror shine. It becomes difficult to look at due to its positioning, reflecting light from a magical source above directly out, so darkness may help to allow one to view their surroundings more. It might be possible to simply brute force the door open, though there are also notes of shimmering words that might be seen if someone can read it through the bright light of the mirrored doorway and speak a secret passage to open the door.
Soujiro is the path of 'there is a smart way to do this and a strong way'. It does not take long before the samurai uses his literal strengths to try using might to open the door and press onward.
Yeowang looks over the entryway we arrive at, a polished metal portal, but there are faint writings. Shading her eyes, she proceeds to use Seta's smart way, so that the door pops open as he forces it. She nods solemnly and will proceed on.
Getting through the door leads into a giant ice-encrusted room that reflects any lights in a rainbow of color. In the center of the room is a giant, decrepit harp. Its magical energy is spent and many of its strings broken. There is seemingly no way forward, but perhaps repairing this harp through magic or knowledge of delicate instruments could assist in figuring out the way forward? Or one could use one of their own instruments to attempt to play several notes that are crudely inscribed into the side of the harp. Upon either playing the notes on the harp or the notes on a personal instrument, several blocks of ice pull out to the side, revealing a damaged stairway leading down. It's a relatively safe, if slightly treacherous way down.
There is a whole lotta nope in the second puzzle room for Soujiro. He looks appreciatively to the harp for a moment. Then he looks over towards the ice. It would be faster for him to melt ice than learn how to play or repair a harp, so away he goes to try to get the whole frozen door moving again.
Yeowang follows Seta in, and reacts like he does to the puzzles. Like him, she is useless at puzzles, if for different reasons, but the result is the same. Judging that he must know something as he goes to get the door moving, she will go and assist as best she might, but she really has no clue what exactly we're doing. Strain as she might, though, there is little progress. "This may take longer than planned," she observes in between efforts.
Whatever happened in this dungeon before caused the icy foyer to become a shattered mess of ice and slick puddles of water. Traversing this entryway is extremely treacherous and requires careful balance and finesse. Even with that, the only way forward is to slide downwards on a makeshift icy slide. Of course, this isn't a smooth or safe ride, with jagged ice crystals. One needs to either be nimble to avoid getting speared or durable enough to tank their way through the worst of the damage. Perhaps fire could be used to blunt the incoming spears to reduce damage as well. Either way, the party will make it to the bottom...
Souji is all about balance and walks across the slick surface gracefully. The idea of an ice slide lights up his face. People have to pay good money for experiences like this! Probably because that is safe and this is not. He have enough divination in him to dodge or otherwise block the damage, however. Battletoads stuff.
Yeowang has no idea what Battletoads was, but she knows a lot about ice skating, even when you're on boots. She's quick and agile, and lucky, and is able to skate around, so to speak, the worst of the obstacles. Zipping along, pony tail trailing out in the wind, she ducks an overhead stalagtite of ice, and finally slides to a stop when the path has become relatively flat. "That was unexpected," she says, looking flushed.
After their descent, the party finds themselves in a beautiful ruin
that looks to once have been home to a large tribe of monsters that
lived rather comfortably. The walls are lined with intricate golden
designs, and the room has several seats and places where the former
sirens that lived in this cave could relax and spend their days eating
or socializing. Several of the golden designs on the wall have a story
that is shown in different parts of a beautiful maiden that was cursed
by the gods to become a siren. She is shown crying or sobbing after
her curse, and those tears become sirens themselves.
In the center of the room is a giant, shattered mirror. There are
several large cracks in it that spiderweb out from points of impact.
If anyone should gaze into this mirror for more than a second or two,
they will find themselves mesmerized, lost in a state of longing for
what once was or might have been. The visions can include forgotten
dreams, lost loves, and other desires.
The party will have to search for clues on how to continue, requiring
the use of the light artes to temporarily counteract the mirror's
illusions, enabling them to plunge into the mirror itself to continue
deeper into the ruin.
There are not enough hands and eyes available to properly navigate this particular challenge. Soujiro does what is available to him with the power of Light to guide the way through the enchantment. He is not much of a sentimental samurai so staying focused on the present is all he need do.
Yeowang looks over the mirror, and has no idea. This is another one of those puzzles for gamers she was not expecting and has no idea how to deal with. "Should I do something?" she asks, but she has no idea what that might be, and when she tries to copy what Seta is doing, she turns out not to be very good at it. She will have to let Seta solve this problem, and she will stand by to punch any monsters that turn up.
After entering the mirror, the party finds themselves in a room that emits dark energy. There is a massive, damaged magical seal in front of them. Whatever the seal had been holding back has long since been freed, though there is no sign of it beyond the dark energy permeating the room. A wall of water blocks off the other half of the room and a stairway that goes down below. Inside of the wall of water there seems to be several phantasmal shadows of adventurers that failed to adequately protect themselves from the bitter cold of the icy ruin and dove into the water unprepared. Party members with a particular knack for survival could figure out the exact buffs or potions they might need for the situation, or the party could simply attempt to brute force or try to use fire to keep themselves warm while pushing through the frigid waters.
When in doubt, brute strength it out. Souji starts in on the seal with no more than the steeled grit of his hands and an aversion to solving puzzles with means of brains. He didn't pick none of them silly brain concepts. Not when you can run up walls and pick up boulders the size of cars. Priorities.
Yeowang follows Seta and watches him wrestling with the seal. She, too, is not a puzzley sort, but she has some ideas about leverage and planning that will aid their efforts to make it move. She takes a bit of time to prep as he keeps heaving, and when she's complete, she puts her own shoulder into it also. Slowly, things begin to happen.
Swimming down deeper into the dungeon results in a slightly desperate
situation where buffs and oxygen meters start to wear off as mana
ticks down, but just before things get truly desperate, almost
abruptly the party finds themselves 'falling' out of the water into a
What were once chambers befitting a queen or king is now reduced to
rubble. Sitting on the remnants of a throne in its center is a
beautiful young woman whose legs are crossed daintily. She waves
towards the adventurers, before pointing towards several chests in the
room with a smile. In spite of the fact the young woman says nothing,
an eerie music permeates the room, and initially the coast seems
clear. That is, until the party approaches either that woman or the
chests, at which point the rubble, maiden, and throne all move,
revealing a twisted anglerfish-based siren that immediately attempts
to grab and devour the party -- forcing them to attempt to free their
party members from the devouring attacks through several difficult
mechanics, along with countering the false maiden's icy breath
Alright! Combat! Soujiro rushes up to meet the guardian with quick footwork. The arena itself isn't kind to proper footing for evasion. The boss itself has wide attacks. All of these challenges are the sort of thing Souji looks forward to as he sets up a taunt-and-evade rhythm so keen to old Megaman games. He leaves the attacking up to Koga, who has an ethereal state less bound to the conditions Souji is working with.
Yeowang is not surprised when we enter this final room, which looks like a rewards room, and it turns out to be a trap. As the tentacles reach out for her, she slips away, and is as hard to nail down as a breeze. While she's mainly forced to remain in an evasive mode, she is able to stike the attacking tentacles until they fall limp. She looks to see that Seta has things under control and will concentrate her attacks where she can in this crazy evasive dash, striking at each tentacle as it approaches and zipping away like the wind.
After a long battle, the False Maiden finally falls, bursting into pixels and dispersing its illusionary magics to reveal the true room they were standing in, which is a relatively plain room. On the far side of the room areintertwined statues: a young hero and a beautiful siren intertwined in an eternally frozen moment. Both of the siren's eyes are missing, and the statues are starting to crack in places. Frozen tears trail down the siren's cheeks, and at the feet of the pair are several large frozen crystals that look almost like tears. Upon touching the frozen tears, a voice speaks of a love story between hero and monster.
"A sad tale," Souji says without letting too much of the bad vibes stick to him. Some stories are like that! Nothing you can do about it now but move on. "Going to go back and try that slide a few more times," he says to Yeowang before heading out. Always. Be. Training.
Yeowang finishes the battle in a flurry of activity, but finally the enemy bursts. She looks over what we can now see clearly and hrms. "Sad, yes," she agrees, "but I wonder. If they really loved one another, who could stop them?" She shrugs, confident that her own issues on the romantic front have recently resolved with the rescue of her out-of-game boyfriend from the Crowned. She nods about the slide, but says, "That's a good core workout, but a bit dangerous overall, yes? Though do you know if they snow ski here in Yamato?"