Duty Session 621: Abandoned Springs

During the Hot Springs Festival, there are often times that new springs find themselves bubbling to the surface. Sometimes, old, abandoned locations can find themselves flowing with fresh, clean water once more. The Hunter's Guild has reached out to Adventurers about one such location, which seems to have attracted some unusual activity around it. They are looking for people to clear out any monster activity around the site.

OOC: This quest is only available during the Hot Springs Festival. This quest is exploration and combat-based.

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

Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

The Hunters Guild has summoned the Adventurers to the beginning of an
old, overgrown mountain pass. Stone steps have been worn into little
more than rough rubble that leads upwards to a gravel roadway, heading
deeper into tall grass that has yellowed with the coming cold. There
is a hint of frost that lingers on everything, though it is not yet
chill enough to freeze over.

"We're not entirely sure what is beyond this point. There used to be
an old onsen at the end of the trail." A nervous looking Lander
fidgets as he stands by the trail marker. He had lead them this far,
but seems reluctant to go any further. "Clear out what monsters you
can and report back to the guild. That's the task." He explains, then
clears his throat.

"Best of luck to you all." Just as he speaks, a chill wind blows in
their direction, causing the Lander to huddle deeper into his coat and
traveling cloak. "You'll need it." He whispers.

"We will do our best," Soujiro says back to the Lander with the kind of radiant tone that implies 'and our best is more than enough for the job!'. The road of training does not shy from the odd requests. Hybrid monster things? No problem. Space Fish? Swim on down. The samurai starts walking on the crunch frosted road. "I'll take point," he lets his fellow Adventurers know.
Plot Room 2

Daiyu stares up the mountainside while Soujiro gets details from the Hunter's Guild representation. "Abandoned establishment at the end of steep overgrown and lightly monster infested mountain trail." Her tails flick a few times, and she lifts one hand to nudge her spectacles into position lightly. "I imagine this will be a vigorous test of keeping my field scout skills at acceptable performance."
Plot Room 2

Schneider has assembled to venture to some lost and forgotten hot springs to unlose it. Or something. He's not entirely clear what. But the Guild is hiring people to go there and see what can be done, and he can do that. He hrms about the anticipated hot springs. "I wonder who will be there," he muses. Of course Scale has their own onsen in the Tower, but finding new places is always interesting.

He will follow Seta along the road, his long white hair blowing back despite the lack of breeze, and he considers. "This isn't such a bad game. I'd play it if I could log off and do RL, too. But being stuck here is the problem, and I don't know what we're doing to solve it anymore. We stopped climbing the Tower to fight the Palace Lands, and now we're in a lull with them, too. What's our current short-term goal? As an Alliance?"
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

"Not knowing is part of the fun," Soujiro says to Daiyu with a smile as he heads out. Maybe they need to climb with one hand and it will be an athletic challenge ahead of them. Maybe they will have to hunt a golden squirrel. No one knows until you venture out! Though the same logic doesnt apply well to Schneider's statement, "The Alliance, you mean? I don't know." Not knowing, not as fun. "West Wind Brigade is making the most of it and keeping the path past the tenth floor clear. I get the feeling the answer will present itself in time." And Souji's instincts are often Oracle level accurate.

Beyond the initial waypoint, it becomes clear that there are a number
of forgotten paths that make up this part of the mountain. Some seem
as if they were once cart trails, with deep furrows in the ground,
while others look to have been made out of small stones. There are
even a few that look more recent, as if they were trodden down by the
passage of monsters or animals who must call this area home.

The problem occurs when they reach a point that the paths converge,
overlapping one another for long periods and then later splitting off
again to different parts of the mountain. With the path being so
infrequently traveled and so overgrown, it's hard to tell which might
be the right way to go. A keen sense of direction may point the way,
or a process of elimination by removing those natural pathways made by
animals or monsters. Otherwise, those keen of eye could be able to
pick out the subtle signs that marked the pathway to the onsen.

However, choosing the wrong way could lead them to waste hours
wandering the mountains, unable to find the right way up to the
abandoned springs.

"Daiyu was right!" cheers the samurai at the foxy lady's earlier suggestion. He evenly looks around the area and takes a page from the others that are seeking out the path. There is always a way to learn. Always a way. To. TRAIN.
Plot Room 2

Schneider is lost in the woods. That's pretty plain. He's got zero cross-country orienteering skills. He can use a subway map, no problem. And he can follow a path. But finding his way through an unmarked woods, that's a no-go. He grumbles, "You know, if they wanted us to solve their problem, the least they could do is mark the path so we can get there. This is a bit frustrating. I mean, how many times have we seen that fallen tree. And I'm sure the footprints up ahead are ours..."
Plot Room 2

The question may of been posed towards Soujiro, but Daiyu also replies to Schnieder. "We prepare. My former colleauges have learned that they cannot simply strongarm everyone into submission now that they have support from another region, and you have uncovered many of their secrets like King of Thor's artificed duplicates. The lull is more likely a calm before the storm as they reconsider their plans. And knowing that they can and have interered in the Tower Climb before means that is not an entirely safe bet to continue without precautions."

Now Daiyu is really good at her job, she was one of the finest scouts in the Crowned army before being liberated. But sheer skill alone does not surmount working in an entirely unfamiliar location, and she has to be slower than usual to make sure they find the right turns in the pathes and don't get lost for longer than could be acceptable. "This route really has not seen much use over the years has it? I wonder why it was abandoned in the first place...."
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

The important thing is the trio gets where they are going. Time is an illusion anyway! Souji acknowledges Schneider's frustration with a sparkly smile. "See it as an opportunity to practice kindness, empathy, and space. Its a chance for us to build rapport with someone who can't do it themselves. Next time we see them we can show them a path clear of monsters and they can put down markers. We can rebuild the stone path up there. Everyone has an onsen to go to." The sword saint's positivity approaches cringe but its clear he isnt even /trying/ to be that upbeat about it. Its just how he is. And to not dwell on it, he shifts to Daiyu, "Ooh. Tell me about your former friends. It sounds like they have room to learn. And there is a Tower over there, too, right? Schneider-san, perhaps that is where you can try next? The Tower of Babel."

Following the path, eventually the Adventurers find themselves in what
looks to be an overgrown garden. There are tiers which must have once
been beautifully kept, with walking paths that run along a nearby
river and up to lookout points that show the natural beauty of the
surroundings. There is a wonder in a place like this, as if time had
stopped completely.

However, the overgrowth means that it is hard to figure out the right
way to approach the large onsen house in the distance. Thick vines
block the way, which could be eliminated with the proper handling of
plants, or chopped away with a bladed weapon.

However, there is also a strange bit of writing that can be found on
an unusual stone, talking about a way through a nearby waterfall,
which seems to avoid the problem entirely. That is, if they are able
to understand the unusual script.

It would be impolite to use Kogarasumaru to slice through the vines. Soujiro goes through his inventory and gets a pair of sickles out and starts carving his way through with the proper tools. "I find that when I am doing a task over and over again, that I imagine I am part of one of those really active music videos. You know the ones that people put their favorite anime or manga to?" And instinctively he starts humming the tune to 'A Cruel Angels Thesis' from Eva. His slashes go out to the melody. Its very effective.
Plot Room 2

Daiyu watches Soujiro start chopping through the overgrowth... Then something catches her attention from the corner of her eye. She walks over to inspect some rocks, then motions to Schneider to come take a look. The script is hard to make out, having been worn down by the weather over time.... But that's easy for Daiyu to deal with, adjusting her spectacles to activate the Glasses of Orth's special ability to read such faded text, and recites it off for the others to hear.
Plot Room 2

Schneider shrugs about kindness, empathy, and space. "I'd like some of that, myself, from the game devs, but that's a no go, huh?" He sighs. "I guess we keep on keeping on?" Seta's philosophy is a bit more calm than the Exploder Wizards, which is centered around setting things on fire and making them explode. "I just want to fast-break and leave them flat footed," he explains.

He ohs about a Tower of Babel. "That's right," he says, and looks to Daiyu. "Why was it they left that Tower alone?" he wonders.

He huhs as Daiyu reads out the odd words, but that's his other niche. As Scale's librarian, old, weird languages are not a mystery to him.
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

"We live," is the smiling response to Schneider about kindness from the devs. Souji isnt sure about the Tower, "I don't know. I bet if we asked them, we would get a good answer. Strong enemies, I am hoping." Moar challenges.

Beyond the mess of vines and overgrown vegetation, there is a large
stone wall which surrounds the abandoned onsen. It is relatively high,
enough so that climbing over could prove dangerous if the stone isn't
as sure in place as it looks.

There is an old gate, which seems to have stood here against wind and
weather for decades, at least. Rust clings to the metal bars in
places. A single lock keeps it shut, the bolt rattling when the bars
are shaken.

Someone skilled could try to pick the lock, or look for a weak place
in the metal to try and break the bars free. Otherwise, it may require
simply destroying part of the wall to get through, utilizing the fact
that the stones haven't been maintained in many years to their

It has been said that when 'Training' is said that a Souji would come crashing in like the Kool Aid man. Today is that day to see if that is the case. There is a wall. There is a Legend of Zelda style crack in it. There is a smiling samurai that is thinking 'Wont know until you try'. He dashes. He crashes. He smashes a hole in the wall. Best not to think too hard about it.
Plot Room 2

"A number of reasons." Daiyu shifts back into conversation mode easily as they move on. Thanks to her time with Elly she's gotten much better at personally interacting with other people and not just coming off as overly stoic and stern. "The prominent one being we got no messages designating our Tower as the solution to some great mystery, so there was little motivation to investigate it. Also the monsters are even more disporportionately high level and threatening, according to those that did dare to venture close." A pause. A thoughtful tilt of her head, tapping a clawed fingertip against her cheek. "I myself have considered that mayhaps there is something there the Lander leaders DON'T want known, so they've kept their forces directed elsewhere... but that's just personal theorycrafting."

The trek brings them to overgrown stone walls. And a gate that looks like it has been locked for quite some time. There is only one lock, but one lock that's possibly rusted. She expects a physical approach from at least one partymate and isn't disappointed. Soujiro might not break through but his smash against the wall might vibrate some of those rusted hinges loose.

"Allow me, friends." The foxwoman steps forward to put one of her less prominent skills, those of an escape artist, using her precise and efficent dexterity to finaggle with the lock and finess it open.
Plot Room 2

Schneider nods to Daiyu. "There is that," he allows. "But the game -has- slowed down since the first days. I think the spark of discovery, of newness has worn off, and everyone's been ground down. There's no feeling of things to be done, not for me anyhow. I guess I need some new horizon."

Large stone walls apparently do not count for that, and he stares at it for a while, hurls a fireball at it (which crisps some vegetation and leaves a scortchmark on the wall), and then will follow the path that Seta makes.

He ohs as Daiyu mentioning their Tower not being the answer to anything in particular. "I guess that makes sense. And you guys are generally a bit lower level than we are. With all the players being under the heel of the Landers, you're stuck with their lack of drive. -We- would have cracked that Tower, I'm sure, just out of player curiosity. ACtually, that -does- sound like a good plan, now..."
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

Beyond the gate, there is a large courtyard which must have been the
central entry way into the onsen. There are many individual buildings,
some meant for bathing, and others for sleeping or entertainment
purposes. However, all have seen better days. Some are only just a few
bits of wood that stick up from the ground, giving the impression of
the structure that had once been there.

Others look largely intact, although they are stained by age, large
pieces of roofing missing. The most notable of these seems to be the
hot springs themselves, of which half the building seems to be gone,
but the rest seems intact. The once empty and dry springs now bubble
forth, overflowing into the courtyard and leaving the ground wet and
muddy beneath their feet.

However, this new influx of water seems to have brought with it some
strange creatures. At the arrival of the Adventurers, a series of
heads pop up from the murky surface of the water, blinking frog-like
eyes at them. Then, wet and scaled limbs begin to crawl out of the
mire, dragging with them spears. The monstrous frog-men croak their
displeasure before starting to launch spears at the intruders, trying
to drive them away from the springs.

Ready? FIGHT! Soujiro is at point of the group and wastes no time leaping into action with a literal leap. It splashes the cold water near the frog people as he engages in close combat, evading the strikes with only inches between the tip of those spears and his face. The way he fights looks almost as if he has seen the moves ahead of time and his well trained body is capable of reacting with smooth counter attacks. Gotta get over 10,000 kills to be a proper Samurai Warrior on this map.
Plot Room 2

Schneider is a fire mage and famously doesn't know ice magic. Or claims not to know it. He also claims not to know water magic, either, but something happens with the water when he chants, and it's not good for the frogmen. It seems to be fighting them, or strangling them, boiling them if they stand too deep, and generally making their lives unpleasant. And much shorter.
Plot Room 2

"They would want to keep Adventurers less powerful and under their control, yes. Heaven forbid we find a way to escape the world they now dominate." Daiyu sighs softly. "I was a fool to let myself be dragged into such things, but the past is just that. One has to learn, and move on... and yes." She nods to Schneider. "A new horizon. Much like being here and working with you all, seeing your ways and society, and Landers that actually respect and admire Adventurers, is such for me."

They get inside, only for their intrusion to draw the ire of frogmen monsters lurking in the deep water. "I am afraid the conversation, interesting as it is," she snaps open both her warfans in a definite motion, "shall have to wait for the time being."

Frogmen charge with spears... only to waddle to a stop in confusion as one of their opponents seems to run in multiple directions at once. The illusion gives Daiyu the upper-hand as she circles the attackers, and a red slash appears through them from behind courtesy of her bladed fans.
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

Eventually, the strange, monstrous frog-men are driven off, retreating
into deeper parts of the onsen in order to avoid the assault from the
Adventurers. A few spears are left lying strewn about their

However, they do not seem to be the only guardians of this place.
Almost as soon as they disappear, a massive rumble sounds. It is
followed by a movement of red-gold fur as something massive leaps from
behind one of the buildings, landing atop the crumbling rooftop. Tiles
from the roof clatter down as a large monkey-like creature crouches
there, nostrils flared, watching them with intensity.

The Monkey King roars out his challenge, reaching for one of the
support posts and ripping it free, as if the massive monster intended
to use it as a staff. It launches itself forward, landing in a crouch,
then sweeps the weapon out towards the waiting Adventurers, ready to
defend this place from their interference.

Boss has appeared. Soujiro transitions effortlessly from horde slaying mode to boss mode with a stance shift that is easy to miss if not paying attention to where his feet and shoulders are positioned. The holy blade of Kogarasumaru activates and the big ape gets to content with another mythical figure along with the sword saint. Every attack against him is quickly met with a powerful counter, often stronger than the base offensive being issued in relentless strikes.
Plot Room 2

That wasn't so hard... that wasn't also the final fight, as the huge monkey man leaps onto the scene and rips up part of the foundation for a weapon. Daiyu shifts her stance slightly, ready. "Songoku got ripped."

There's a roar from the monkey maniac, and the samurai goes for the direct assault. Presumable the battle mage is going to fling magic. So Daiyu takes a less direct route so to speak. Nimbly she kicks off the ground, vaulting up a wall and across a roof in much the same manner as their opponent arrived.

Before finally leaping off, using the height to put additional momentum into a powerful downward swing with both her warfans together. The initial impact is like that of a mudslide slamming down, and splays some manner of murky ichor with the strike to fester in the wounds made.
Plot Room 2

Schneider ahhs as Daiyu mentions keeping adventurers less powerful to keep them in check. "That sounds like a microcosm on life in Mao's China, anyhow?" he wonders. He doesn't know, of course, that's a question for Daiyu. But as the Monkey King appears, Schneider doesn't even break stride, he simply chants, "Deep Doomsday. To the spirits of land and air, bound by the pact, fulfill your obligation now."

He gestures to the Monkey King, and shouts, "MEGADETH!"

This catastrophic explosion engulfs the Monkey King in fire, and when it clears, he's smouldering and several HP bars lower than when he arrived. "Have some extra crispy," he says with a sneer.
Soujiro Seta
Plot Room 2

It doesn't take long for the Adventurers to realize that the Monkey King is no ordinary boss monster. In fact, his challenge rating is high enough that it ranks as a raid boss. This means that the beast does huge amounts of damage to those who are unwary. Enough so that it likely pushes them to the edge of their endurance. Luckily, they manage to eliminate one of the monster's health bars and that seems to be enough to shift the beast's behavior. The Monkey King raises the wooden pole above his head, shaking it with a roar of challenge, and then disengages, leaping from rooftop to rooftop before vanishing up the mountain, into the mists that surround the abandoned onsen. What is left are scraps of fur, a sure sign to the Hunter's Guild that this place is no longer safe. If a raid boss has made this place home, it is bound to need more than a simple quest like this to clear the location completely.

"Rematch, any time!" Soujiro says, having enjoyed the fierce fight and does not begrudge an enemy their choice to live to fight another day. "But until then leave the people of the Land and Adventurers alone!" he tells King Konga Sun Woobie. The katanas go back into their rightful homes once more. "Looks like a successful clear. I'll let the Guild know they will not be able to send people up here for a while until the big guy over there is completely delt with."
Plot Room 2

Schneider sighs as the thing puts out hella damage. "That thing was actually pretty tough. I think we'd need to come out with a raid group to put him down. I don't know how we'd hold him here to fight, he seems intent on coming in, causing trouble, and then running off. All that does is keep the onsen from reopening." He considers. "You know, I'll bet we -could- come here in a raid group, with maybe ten or twelve players, like we used to do with floor bosses back in the day, and I'll bet we could lock him down and DPS him out."
Plot Room 2

Daiyu gives a dramatic flick of one warfan to clear the grime from it after the fight. "That was a formidable foe indeed... and interesting tactical notion, Schneider." She stops to pull a clump of fur from between the partitions of her fan and eyes it. Hmmm. "Well, this venture is not without its gains it would seem."