Plot Room 1

    Uta has, over the past 24 hours, probably noticed that Asuna's chims are a bit... unusual. Mostly they lack context but are heavy on excitement. She's given directions to find her that were strangely lucid. Otherwise it's all about slimes that make chime noises and a deep, dank cave that Asuna keeps getting lost in chasing a rumor.

    Or, as Yui would put it: Mama is crazy again.

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The excitement about slimes was shared at first, but then it became obvious that something was amiss in Asuna's chims. Uta's nursing sensitivities tingled, and suspicion gripped her attention: she got ready to carefully prod around for deeper answers.

But this is Uta we're talking about; anything trying to grip Uta's attention has the same chances of success as gripping a greased eel smothered in soap, on ice, in zero gravity. The next mention of more slimes was enough to-

-well, why don't we take a look?

"Slimes?! Slimes?! Slimes?!", asks Uta as she bounds into view. Heartsong, her staff, is giving off a faint light from the gem at the top, to illuminate the cave, and her eyes glinting with excitement.
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    Asuna is pacing around the entrance to a cave, rambling out loud. "So it's only semi-permeable, so glass ought to have worked, but then it BROKE the glass, so now we have enchanted glass but the creatures have withdrawn, deeper into the maze. Attempts to navigate failed when the creatures proved to have a penchant for eating trails of bread, white beach stones, and everything else..."

    She looks up at the sound of Uta's voice and panics, "WHERE?!"

    The Flash spins around to look everywhere, but sees no slimes. "I... may be surrounded by invisible slimes. That would explain so much. Also, if they like to eat everything, I should use my trail markers as a trap!"

    Facing the wrong direction, she cries out, "UTA! YOU ARE A GENIUS!"

    She narrows her eyes as she stares at a tree. "You look a bit different. Perhaps you should consider a new moisurizer.."

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"Ah, yes. The good ol' semi-permeable versus non-enchanted glass issue. Gets beginner slime breeders all the time."

"I am not aware of invisible slimes, unless you count imaginary slimes, which, let it be said, are a perfectly valid way of indulging in the fantasy of having slimes be your pets and friends which, as it is known by any monster handler worth their soy sauce, is not a thing that we can reasonably expect. Also, please read nothing deeper into this oddly specific comment," Uta begins.

"I am a genius?!", Uta interro-exclaims in shock. "I didn't get the memo about that! Why am I always the last to know things- oh."

Uta looks at the tree. At herself. At the tree. At Asuna. At the tree.

"Uhm...", she begins, embarrassed. How to break the news? "...well Asuna, I... there's a thing you should know and..."


"...I haven't really looked much into using moisturizer at all, to be fair. As you know, I valuie practicality over aesthetics, and- anyway, I'm digressing." She leans over and squints. "What were you saying about invisible slimes, again? I'm interested."
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    Asuna turns to face Uta. She squints. Looks back at the tree. Then back to Uta. "Curious."

    "Enough about that, though! You are here! Did you bring the cage I didn't ask you for?" A pause of perhaps two seconds. "No? Good! That would have been odd. In any case..." She flips through her menu and produces the cage in question.

    "Now! TO THE CAVE! Just be careful, the third step is missing and it's easy to fall."

    And off she goes, because what else needs to be said? Also, she puts her foot down on the missing stair and falls down the next ten stairs. But all the while the cage is kept safe, by juggling it in the cave with nearly impossible agility. Yes, she loses a bit of health, but it's clear she'd done this before.

    "So last time I went left, right, left, right, left, left, left, left, right, right, right. After that I got lost for around two hours. So let's try that again! Also, you should use moisturizer! I thought you looked rather treeish at first!"

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"I- I-", stutters Uta.

There is a bit of disappointment in Uta's expression when Asuna decides that Uta didn't bring the cage she asked for. Uta -always- carries a slime cage with her! You never know when you might need one! Even if Uta doesn't have the Capture Monster skill. I mean, she didn't even have Handle Monster at first, but did that stop her from petting slimes? Heck no!

When Asuna declares the missing cage a -good- thing, though, Uta knows better than to contradict her. Etiquette, yo.

Uta also trips on the third step, despite having just been tolda bout it. Greased, soaped-up eel suddenly experiences gravity.

As Uta stumbles to regain verticality, she reprises, "Oh. Yes, I should. I mean, I know Pharmacy. I know how to prepare them. I should start using them, lest people start confusing me with trees. That just wouldn't do, would it?"

After a moment of embarrassed silence, broken only by the rhythmic tapping of her staff on the ground as she walks, Uta continues, "...So, please tell me again, why are we here, again?"
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    "That one always gets me."

    But oh well. Onward! Asuna barely remembers to use light to see where she's going. Clearly she's been at this for a while now. And she's really not being terribly careful. Except with the cage! That thing is important.

    "Okay, so these are slimes that are kind of.. shiny and crystalline. I mean they don't glow. I'm working on that. But these are pretty and they hate light." Thus reminding herself, there is utter darkness.

    "So if we are very quiet..."

    And just like that, there is the sound like a wind chime. It is faint and distant. "There... that one. They seem to know how to pick up sound vibrations really well, too. They are kinda.. well some are glassy and clear, others are like amethyst, purplish kind of. Yui will love these! They are so pretty!"

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"Crystal Slimes?!", Uta exclaims. "Hmmmmmm."

Those gears in her brain have started turning.

"I wonder if we could arrange a number of them in a proper configuration... largest to smallest... and then... and then..."

"...and then make them vibrate appropriately... create a musical instrument out of them... a... a slimophone!"

Uta presses herself against the rocky wall. "Okay," she whispers. "Want me to magically handle them so you can focus on capturing?"
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    "That would help. We have to trick them... but I think I have an idea."

    Asuna moves slowly, silently, and lobs something through the air into a cave ahead. It's a fruit, it seems. A Tomoe favorite. Fortunately the red panda is not here. With all this darkness, she would be surrounded by her dreaded shadows. Not to mention all these rocks (her natural enemy!)

    There's a few tense moments. The tinkling sound grows louder. The slime may be there. It may not. It sounds like it is. There is the sound of two tinkling noises, then. And a third is added. Each is different in pitch. One can almost hear the narrator say, "There was a papa slime, a mama slime, and a baby slime."

    Asuna has no stealth skills, so she waits patiently for the noises to intensify. And then she moves! An explosion of light and she leaps forward with the cage open. She doesn't leap /on/ them/ She leaps behind them, where they will try to flee.

    "Now Uta! Hit 'em!"

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Uta leaps from the shadows, or what is left of them after the Flash flashes her flash.

The Spriggan spins in the air, one could easily see it in a movie in slow motion: a figure soaring through the air, slowly, focusing on her back at first, but spinning to slowly reveal her face, and as she turns to face the viewer, and can be seen intoning a melody (which, for the audience's sake flows at regular pitch -- it conventiently has a slow tempo); Heartsong, whose anatomically correct heart shape is charged with tendrils of light and magic elicited by her Song, shoots out three beams, each of which impact against a slime.

Three hits, three slimes!

Uta slow-motion looks towards Asuna. Now, now is the time!
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    The moment of stunned defense and interrupted feasting provides what Asuna needs to manage the full capture. Plus there is more fruit in the cage.

    She uses a blast of air and good, old-fashioned, physical coercion to drive the creatures into the enchanted glass cage. The container is closed and a sigh is let out. The soft wind chime noises of the slimes is muffled in their new enclosure, but they are indeed held fast.

    "Got them!!"

    Asuna victory pose!

    "So now that you're here, let's have lunch! Then I'm off to chase after this rumor I heard from a guy in Tolbana about slimes that actually spit acid. How cool is that, right?"