Duty Session 619: Spooky Scary Skeletons

During the Shadow Festival, the number of dark element monsters and undead seems to increase across the lands of Yamato. In the desert landscape of the Holy Empire Westelande, this is a particular problem, as the harsh desert seems to yield even more of these monsters. The Hunter's Guild has reached out to Adventurers, hoping to quell the numbers of undead before they become a threat to Breg Epona.

OOC: This quest is only available during the Shadow Festival. This quest is largely 'Combat'-concept based.

Difficulty:    Easy
Rec. Party:    3+
Rewards:       1
World Rewards: None

Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

Even as Adventurers begin to gather at the edge of the desert, there are already signs that the festival has had an impact on the environment. There are shambling bodies moving across the sands, occasionally obscured by a shifting sandstorm or passing dune. Usually, undead are not common here, except in a few dungeon locations, but it seems that they have wandered beyond the confines of their usual territory. These seem haphazard and random, rather than the organization seen in the Ninetails Dominion. Despite the time of year shifting into fall, the heat of the desert still radiates, causing the horizon to flicker and the sun to bake even the most steadfast of travelers. "The largest concentration seems to be towards the oasis." A Hunter's Guild guide informs them, "So, head that direction and kill as many as you can. It should slow them down from reaching the city." The guide, apparently, is not coming with them. The heat and danger of the desert awaits...

"Around this time last year there was a Lich-like creature in the desert," Soujiro says as he waves off the guide. "This would be a good way to see how much our combat skills have grown over the year if so!" Always looking on the bright side of things. And the training side of things. Helps beat off the heat.
Plot Room 2

"Yeah. He tries to pull this shit every year around this season." There wasn't a Kauchemar there. And now there is, as she has that knack for arriving when no one was looking in that one direction. "Can't accept how often he gets his bony remains of an ass handed to him." She shrugs, resting her staff against her shoulder. "If it wasn't for the fact that it threatens the city, and makes the oasis unusuable, I'd just let him stew in his tomb."
Plot Room 2

Schneider follows along with Soujiro as he prepares for the festive holiday fighting. The Exploder Wizard is fine with holiday fighting, de's decked out in a brightly colored and ornate coat, with a cape of dragonscales, and his hair seems to float mysteriously at times. "Lich-like? Well, we'll see he becomes charcoal briquette-like." He chuckles in a foreboding way.
Plot Room 2

Miho is game to deal with the Lich or whatever is lurking around this year she's happy to do so. She seem eager to do this and make sure thing were kept under control. "So...this is going to be an expoerrianc and I hope it might have some metals I can make use of!" Her tail is swishing at the moment...she seems happy enough.
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

Even at a distance, it is easy to see the wandering figures that have
begun to make desert passage that much more dangerous. The omnipresent
heat and the dry air have taken regular ghouls and turned them into
desiccated creatures.

Looking as if they were formed from a number of the usual races, their
skin has dried in such a way that it clings to the bones underneath.
It has a paper consistency, sometimes flapping like cloth in the wind,
revealing the skeletal structures underneath. Some drag along
shriveled lines of strange, dark organs that look more like rocks than
the entrails they might have once been.

Hollow eye sockets peer out into the endless sea of sand. They groan
as they shamble, seeming to take little notice of those around them
until they come too close or make too much in the way of sound. It's
possible that they could sneak by them, or at least round up a few so
they aren't as much of a problem to the passing travelers.

There is a smiling acceptance of everyone's reasons for wanting to put a smack down on the forces of desert darkness today. Souji sparkles. It could also be sweat sparkles due to the heat. Looking at all of those enemies ut there, it would be a lot of fun to see if he could Samurai Warriors his way through 1000 kills. The sword saint advances with light footing, engaging where he needs to and testing the bounds of the agro radius otherwise. Last time he did this he remembers it was like threading a needle between agro radius. This year it seems oodles easier!
Plot Room 2

Schneider looks on to the ghouls that swarm the area, and he goes about clearing them in the wrong way. Because of course he does. It's a simple matter to slip by these mild pests on the way to actually dangerous enemies, but Schneider takes his role as undead annihilator quite seriously, and rather than just sneaking by, he will lay down a covering fire of, well, fire. It's enough to distract them from his prescence, at least.
Plot Room 2

In contrast Kauchemar just walks right into the thick of things as if there wasn't a care in the world.... And to a degree, there isn't. A little clever use of her own inherent darkness and some illusionary magic for concealment. These roamers may have numbers but they don't have mental clarity to think more than scan their specific zones, allowing her to stroll right through as if she herself was a mirage upon the desert sands.
Plot Room 2

Miho oh dears there's a lot of skeletons there may be too many of them them to take on directly or so she thinks. She going to attempt to evade them but things do not go so well, not at all. She ends up getting her tail grabbed by one monster and has to fight her way free!
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

Further beyond the first shifting sands, there are more dangerous
undead lurking. At first, the sound comes at a distance, like drum
beats across the empty landscape. Then, as they crest one of the
dunes, the source of the sound becomes clearer.

A group of rattling skeletons march together in time. The steady
footfalls of their bone feet against the sand are rather rhythmic to
the ear, likely keeping them moving in time. It almost appears as if
they might have once been a military regiment, wearing tattered
remains of Westelande colors in places.

The moment the Adventurers get into range, the back line begins
grabbing pieces of bone from their own bodies, hurling them as
projectile weapons. The hollow bones make strange sounds as they fly
through the air. The front line of skeletal fighters rush towards the
Adventurers, utilizing hands and feet to lash out at anyone they can

However, for those musically inclined, there is a pattern to their
attacks. It seems to move with the same rhythm they had been marching
out earlier.

The sword saint strides forward against sand and sound. The smile on Souji's face shows that he is into the music. Not ever fight gets its own background music, so he enjoys it when there is one. It quickly becomes more of a rhythm game for the samurai as he begins to dodge attacks and strike like a LoFi Rush using his blades.
Plot Room 2

Schneider hrms as we spot the squad or regiment or whatever you call it of skeletons asttacking, throwing body parts and flailing visciously. Schneider is having none of this and conjures a quite small earth elemental, which picks up the aggro in his stead and fights them off while Schneider selects a suitable spell for blasting them to pixels.
Plot Room 2

The marching undead comes into view, and Kauchemar grins to herself as she lowers her staff to grip in both hands. "Oh, this is the fun part... Time to evacuate the dance floor because I'm here to ROCK'N'RULE!" She steps forward, then twirls to the side with precision timing to avoid several arrow projectiles. She is one of the best Bards in Yamato, it's no surprise she picks up on the harmonics in the marching and fighting. To her it's like a combat rhythm game, blocking skeletal strikes and smashing them away with her staff while literally dancing through the ranks faster than they can follow.
Plot Room 2

The good news is shes alive when all is said and done but something else is going on as skeletons start theoing bones at them, like that one old rockman enemy. Miho will keep he distance for a moment as she start making use of earth sword artes to join in the musical beat formed assault. She does seem to be having fun!
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

It isn't long after the encounter with the Skeletons that the group
spots the first hints of structures within the desert. Ancient, stone
buildings seem to have been half buried, etched away by wind and sand.
Any identifying marks seem to be long gone, but they mark the entrance
to the green of the oasis, beyond.

There are guardians here, as well. Skeletal hands scramble up from
beneath the sands, dragging dry bodies, wrapped in linen along with
them. The mummies seem to be wearing a strange necklace upon each of
them, emblazoned with the symbol of a beetle.

They are faster than their ghoul brethren, making quick movements
towards the Adventurers with clasping hands and dirty, sharp
fingernails. Their dark, gaping mouths seek to bite at exposed flesh,
even as dark magic lingers behind their empty eye sockets.

Classic enemies are classic. Soujiro keeps true to the party formation of remaining in front to tank the creatures with his balance of evasion, deflection, and damage. The good vibes of tunes may not linger on his buff bar, but they linger in his heart as his strikes become Light imbued and Kogarasumaru shines a brighter during the melee.
Plot Room 2

Schneider finds it difficult not to use Fire here as these enemies are quite flammable, but there is a deeper secret underlying things here that call for his particular flavor of erudition. The key is the beetle necklaces, and once that becomes clear, his task is simplicity itself, simply a matter of going through the motions.
Plot Room 2

Ah yes, the desert mummies. Entombed in rituals, or deaths brought on by starvation, or worst, dehydration in the heat with no water. Making it kind of ironic that they now haunt near an oasis. They tend to be smarter and more malicious than the typical skeletons and ghouls though.

A wicked grin curls Kauchemar's lips as she raises one hand from the grip on her staff and snaps her fingers. A few sparks swirl between the hardened tips, then she grabs the brimstone flame and holds it up for the surging undead to see. Then turns as if to impassively walk away even as she flicks the brimstone over her shoulder in their direction.

One little spark goes off into a vibrant, violent display of bombastic flames to intercept their path. That go off to the same rhythm that the battle has been musically synchronozing to no less.

Remember kids, ebalming ceremonies and mummification wraps may grant you great power in unlife... but they're also REALLY flammable.
Plot Room 2

Miho is able to do far better this time she will dance around the enmy now a she breaths in depe holding the depbest breast she can and then she exhales a massive gout of fire into the undead and it feels good. Soon as the first birst is done she'll do the whole thing over several more times.

"This is fun! I needed to give my lungs a good work out, Souji!"
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

"Happy to help with more training," Soujiro gives Miho the approving samurai smile over to her. He really does like helping people become the best version of themselves and making training fun is a great way to do it!

Leaving behind the ruins at the edge of the oasis, the party continues
into the lush landscape that has grown out of this rare water source.
Leafy plants sway in the hot, desert air, but there seems to be no
evidence of animals, despite the fact that this would be an ideal
watering hole.

The monsters are surely the reason for this, and the direct cause soon
shows themselves. A faintly glowing, undead monster floats in patrol
around the edge of the water. The creature lacks legs, being only a
floating ribcage with arm and head attached above it. It makes an
eerie sound as it moves, almost like faint screaming.

Wearing a tattered hood, it hides a face made of bone with red energy
radiating out of where the eyes should be. Each time the creature
stops, it looks around slowly, eyeing for signs of outsiders.

Seeing them, it reaches out a bony hand, summoning a large, obsidian
scythe, which flies through the air with remarkable speed, seeking to
cut the Adventurers down to size!

This is what Soujiro looks forward to in every unknown adventure onward. A powerful boss to face off against. This one is familiar from last year. Back then he did not have Kogarasumaru reconstructed. The blade burns brightly with a white light against that of a Reapers scythe as he connects with it directly for might against might. A hymn like sound of 'Was Granme ra Rana' plays against every strike as he forces his way closer to seek to end this quickly and decisively. Its awe inspiring to see how he moves. A true master of the blade once again.
Plot Room 2

Schneider, for his part, plays it safe. Soujiro looks like he has a plan, so Schneider will simply play it cool, toss a bit of fire, and hide behind his magic cloak when the bad guy attacks. This works out well, as the cape is magically tough, and is proof against flying obsidian scythes, at least how this monster throws them.
Plot Room 2

"Nothing wrong with walking some pathes you have before, to see what new ways you can overcome their dangers," Kauchemar agrees to the training effort. She's still got the rhythm in her head, striding with the pace as the group ventures past the ruins and to the real source of the problem. The litch-like monster, clad in the classic adornments of a grim reaper, summoning the scythe to match.

Kauchemar plants one hoof firmly in the sand and brings up her staff, ready to fight it seems. Until the Oasis Reaper actually turns to strike at her and the Nightmare is no longer standing there as the blade only slices through a shadowy afterimage. The Reaper doesn't have eyes to follow the glance of, but it seems to be watching... and then turns at just the right time to bring up his sythe to intercept the skulled staff being swung at him as Kauchemar emerges from her void steps.

She tilts her head to one side to grin with her fangs across the locked weapons at the Reaper. "You're quicker on the recovery than I'd give you credit for."
Plot Room 2

Miho grins back "One should never stop trying to improve!" She would say more but they need to focus on what they are up to. She'll still seem in a good mood. There is much to deal with, after all she also does seem to have a special hate of the undead from the looks of it. She seems to be glad she came along with everyone else however the creature would soon have an blender in the form of a smole lizard lady joining the pile on with a gleeful look on her face.
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

As the Reaper's health begins to fall dangerously close to defeat, it
gives a cry that sounds like the screams of many people and animals
being melded together. It floats away from the party, out over the
water. Then, something strange happens. It begins to crumble to dust.

Then, there is a sudden pulse of green light over the water's surface.
Rippling from the water, a new enemy appears with an even larger
health bar. With billowing robes and magic crackling at its feet, the
Lich raises one hand and sends out a pulse of green light which seems
to resurrect many of the same undead they had already defeated,
summoning them from the surrounding sands.

The dancing skeletons approach in lock-step with shambling ghouls
rising from the water - waterlogged, but no less dangerous. The Reaper
Skeleton's bones being reconstructed, and a new bone scythe forming!
Mummies rise once more, launching their bandages at the players,
trying to crowd-control them down!

This is certain to be a hard fought battle, as the undead forces wade
in upon the Adventurers, and the Lich follows up its necromancing
abilities by raising its green gemmed staff! Green light begins to
draw from all living things nearby, sucking away their health slowly,
and restoring its own!

The attempt to overdamage the Reaper before it could float back and trigger Phase 2 did not work. The Samurai thought the challenge was fun, but some battles are scripted that way. You dont know if you can beat the system until you give it your all! He wipes the sweat from his brow, crystaline from the dry heat that a desert is known for. Even takes that moment to kick back a refreshing flask of water while the Reaper crumbles and the Lich appears. The flask is put away and his hand returns to his blade. "And always push yourself to the limit so you can see the best version of yourself at the end!" Soujiro cheers on for Kau and Miho. Schneider too, but he doesnt need it because this Lich is about to get cris-pay. Even though the samurai spent most of his cooldown abilities on the Reaper in an attempt to defuse a Boss Phase, he attacks relentlessly with more basic attacks and pushes through with the sheer will of a warrior's spirit.
Plot Room 2

The lich-like reaper sacrifices itself to bring the real lich into play, what is this, lichception? And now the rest of the hordes are responding to the unholy cries. Minor miscalculation. We'll roll with it. Sometimes you just have to improv the final act if the audience gets restless

Kauchemar grips Grindcore Staff in both hands, still moving with the battle rhythm, side stepping here, deflecting there. Before finally turning to point her staff towards the Lich proper and raising her voice.

"o/~ Lurking in the desert sands, hazy.
Wandering all on your own, crazy.
Thought you were the monster here? How sad.
Time to learn your place, you're -boned-, bad. o/~"

She unleashes a booming blast of magical sound from her weapon. Grindcore Staff definitely lives up to its name! The Lich seems to realize what's coming and shifts out of her line of fire, but the blast still sends bones and dust flying as skeletons and mummies are shattered by it.

"o/~ Cast a thousand sins and one, have you?
Common boogeymen you are, it's true!
Let's see if you're all just bark, no bite.
Cowards like you better turn tailbone, take flight! o/~"

She missed the big bad boss but she did help keep the growing swarm of mobs off the other's backs and now they're aggroing towards her. So Utili-offtank successful?
Plot Room 2

Schneider fights the good fight, but it looks like we've been bait-and-switched as far as enemies. Reaper no longer reaping, but here's a huge Lich with attendant undead who promise fight. Schneider, however, has brought a shotgun to a knife fight, metaphorically. "Deep Doomsday," he chants as the energy gathers. "To the spirits of land and air, bound by the pact, fulfill your obligation now." He takes a slow breath, points to the Lich.


The catastropic explosion is catastrophic, and the smoke is cleard by the force of the explosion, the afterimages of intense flame seem to be seared on eyeballs for a moment. Blibking to clear his vision, Schneider is happy to see the Lich's health bars are not nearly as full as when we started.
Plot Room 2

Miho seme please as the reaper goes down and she'll give a thumbs up to everyone.

"This is a good run so far!"

She wag he tail but it seem there's more dancing undead and she pauses as the thing seem to nto be over or is it finally they seem to put it down for good. She then stops staring for a moment at the Lich.

"I think we found the cause of it!"

She then just leaps on the thing using raw physical power to hack and slash at the Lich, intent to take this thing down hard!
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

Amidst the attacks, the staff is shattered! The remaining raised
undead fall to the ground immediately! This gives the Adventurers the
chance they need. Their strikes landing true upon the Lich's robed
body, quickly dropping its health. Soon enough, it cries out,
shuddering for a moment before bursting into points of light.

As its body shatters, the dark clouds that had gathered overhead are
cleared, and the region is saved from this dangerous foe. The gem that
once was encrusted upon its staff landing before the Adventurers, and
shatters into multiple equal pieces.

The final boss was still summoned but the result was the same: Adventurers are victorious! Souji does a fanfare fist pump of excitement when the foe bursts into its crystaline bits of xp and loot. "Anyone up for a race back?" he says, looking over his shoulder to the group with that desert win blowing against his long blue pony-tail'd hair.
Plot Room 2

Schneider looks pleased with himself at our results, which are certainly good, and the enimes are naught but pixels. That's the sort of ending he likes. "Race back?" he asks Seta. "A wizard neither dawdles nor hurries, but always arrives when he means to arrive," he paraphrases.
Plot Room 2

Miho will only stop when the Lich has finally fallen she'll take a moment to check over her loot drops for a momnent. Then grins at Souji "A race you say! You are on!" She'll take off the moment the race starts.

Plot Room 2

"Back to restless sleep with the lot of you for another year," Kauchemar proclaims as the final battle wraps up. Then rolls her eyes at Schneider because she gets the reference. "Think you can beat a horse in a foot race, samurai?", she replies... but then it's Miho that's going to make a break for it. "Huh. She can move it for a lizard girl pretty good." But she's quick to get moving herself. Honestly? She's not super fast or anything. But she has the long distance stamina, being a Messenger and part equine and all that.