Duty Session 11: Obligatory Rat Cellar
In each of the starting cities, there are at least a couple of poor merchant landers who have developed mysterious rat problems. This is clearly bad for business! A worried looking Lander stands outside their shop, rubbing their hands together, looking anxious, flagging down any passing Adventurer they can find to help.
(Note: This Duty has multiple possible paths/challenges/rewards.)
"Oh, hey everyone! This is Barton .. he owns an apothecary. Apparently, some giant rats are infesting his cellar, he'd really appreciate it if we gave him a hand!"
"So, who's up for a little Rat Busting?" he asks, toothily.
Misa is not on Kite's friend list. She hasn't met him. Is that for good or for bad? Who knows! Though for joining the rat hunt, that's bad. Thankfully it's good that Misa was walking by at the time and happened to overhear the situation. She pauses, considering for a moment... It would be interesting to see how quests function now. They may have been changed by the update. Or whatever it was that she's heard people are starting to call the Apocalypse...
Misa steps up to Kite and those that are gathering with him and asks, "Would you mind if I joined you?" She swipes her finger in the air a few times and suddenly a large scythe clunks down beside her. She takes grip of the shaft with one hand and raises it to rest on her shoulder.
"So long as it isn't as bad as gnolls." She gives a glance at Kaydon. "You know, you might have very well ended up with one of the strongest Were Fang bloodlines." She reaches down, scratching the head of her lynx companion. "If nothing else, Rama likes to eat rats."
It can't be any worse than the gnolls, right? Hopefully it won't be Vorpal Rats or a Ratking or something out of left field like that.
Shiruba -will- be a bit more cautious this time, regardless. "Well, we're going to need to be able to stockpile healing potions and such, so having the apocathory in business and free of infestation is a good goal I'd say."
"Hello Barton, I am Gwen Pendragon. We, hear you need some rats exterminated? I think we can handle the job."
It would be a nice change from undead Gnolls that's to be sure. Gnolls and greens skins were the banes of her gaming in fantasy and now a possibly fatal one in their new reality.
"I hear you there Mikage."
She looks to Kaydon for a moment.
"Kite? We got to talk later about the route to Ezzo once we're done here."
Mizuki walks up to the storefront and looks at Kite, not the Lander. At the news of giant rats, she mutters, "Of course they are." Rats. They were the very first enemy Sam's character, Sam, fought on Unofficial Circlesoft MUD all those years ago. His very first MMO experience. So why shouldn't an MMO becoming real life involve a callback?
"I mean," Mizuki's expression brightens and she jumps, pumping a fist in the air once, "Of course we are! If this guy needs rats extermi-nyated, he came to the right party!" She gestures a furry hand to herself and to Mikage's pet lynx.
She starts to walk in, but pauses briefly. "Oh, right." She swaps off the Newbie Armor for the bottom-tier thief armor, 'Leather Pants', which is as described and comes with a cuirass for males, but for females qualifies as 'pants' only in the British and Japanese senses of the word and pairs it with a cuirass cut more like a piece of swimwear than armor.
Maybe after this quest she can upgrade to the next armor.
"Alright, let's go! Those rats don't stand a chance!"
The bright eyed adventurer tilts his head as Misa approaches them, thinking about it briefly before nodding. "I don't mind. The more the merrier, really, it's better for everyone to be gaining gold and EXP right now."
What with things being as they were, and besides that, he missed having a larger party helping him out. Being in a group like this brought back fond memories, what of them he had from back then.
Misa is sent a party invite, alongisde everyone else gathered.
Barton nods his head gratefully, the man relieved that not all adventurers had completely lost their marbles. "I'd thank you graciously, as much as a man of my standing could, good lady. If the infestation is allowed to waller much longer, I'll be out of a business."
Kite, as ever, remained garbed in that unique red outfit. "Eh? You found something out? Alright, we can talk about it later. Let's get to it!"
Kite waits for everyone to sort out their equipment before letting Barton lead them inside his shop, and from there, into the cellar.
I don't see that here.
There are... no rats in the rat infestation? The heck? Instead there are... spiders. And webs. Mizuki is not especially afraid of spiders, but certainly wouldn't want them crawling on her and hates the feelings of webs stuck to her. Yeah, hard pass on that.
She forms a ninja hand sign, forming a ball of moving air around herself, and runs ahead a few steps to drag the field of moving air with her and clear webs, then leaps back through the air and forms another hand sign, shooting a lightning bolt into the dark corner where there are probably spiders!
Gwen will be ready for a fight, what she finds is something else. It looks like she's going to need to get blending.
"Well I guess I am a Maid so a little cleaning would be in order, would it not?"
With that she hacks and slashes her way through the webs without much issue.
"I can see why the owner needs a hand here!"
He cuts down some of the webs blocking the way, and then stabs a spider for good measure, "Guy needs a whole crew of maids to come down here and clean up.."
She has a similar idea, and with a quick incantation summons up a little burst of mountain breeze to help sweep some of the dust and webs out of their way.
Crouching down near her companion, she murmurs, "Hey, Rama. Can you sniff out the rats? Go find them." The lynx looks up, big ears perking in Mikage's direction. Then, the little cat wanders off towards the webbing, but clearly ends up distracted. Rather than trying to sniff out where the rats are, it instead begins to chase the spiders.
Mikage stares, then sighs, lifting a hand to her forehead. "Stupid lynx."
Misa follows Kite and everyone in without another word. She's forced to fold her scythe's blade in against the shaft so that she can fit down through the cellar opening. But once she's inside the cellar proper, a quick flick of her wrist sends the blade slicing back into position once more.
Misa slowly walks her way through the cellar. Like Mizuki, she has noticed the distinct lack of rats and over abundance of webs. Do rats lay webs? Are spiders called rats now?
Regardless, they've got a bunch of webs they need to get through. Misa raises her scythe in front of her. She starts spinning it, starting to chant, "Winds of protection, arise." As her scythe spins faster, a barrier of wind forms beyond it. Misa starts moving forward, continuing to spin her scythe while the cutting winds slice away the webs and free her path forward.
"You know what, rogues go first." He steps out oof the way so someone lighter on their feet than him can set off the traps, er, sneak past them. Yes.
Misa comes to a stop as she notices the plates on the floor and the notches in the walls. She pauses... And stares... Oh right, this is a newbie quest. Sure, she can see newbs falling for this stuff. Misa begins walking forward calmly.
She steps on a plate, an arrow shoots at Misa from out of the wall! She spins to the side, letting it sail past her.
Misa steps on another plate, a large sword suddenly swinging out from the wall at torso height. Misa dives forward, her head just passing under it as she goes into a roll.
Misa comes to a stop on one final plate. There's a quick crack from above and a large stone falls down towards her. A quick jump and she sails away, moments before it impacts the ground she had been crouched on.
Misa picks herself up, dusts her uniform off a bit and then continues walking.
However, luck is just not on her side tonight. Either that, or the game's systems have it out for her. Normally, her agile nature would have made this an easy task, but it seems that her companion is determined to make this difficult. Right as Mikage goes to step over a trap, the lynx comes barreling through as if it had no idea whatsoever that there is danger.
Ping. An arrow shoots out from the wall, neatly embedding itself into her shoulder. It appears the girl is a glutton for punishment. With a growl of pain, she reaches up and tugs the arrow free, leaving a glowing hole behind. "Okay, you're staying behind next time, Rama. What has gotten into you?"
Oh well. She half crouches, tail swishing as she situates herself, and then kicks off. She zigs and zags and hops over various panels and other trigger mechanisms with the same agility she got past gnarled brush and rocky cliffs with. A few traps nip at her heels but nothing catchs firmly to slow her down.
"Traps ahead! I see what looks like dart launchers!"
She could be wrong but it hopefully will put people on guard as she seeks out a way around the traps and will try to guide the other's through. It's a bit too late for some though sadly but they didn't lose anyone.
"Built over old crypts like say Paris is? He likeluy didn't, and keep behind me better I get wreked than any of you!"
Despite this, he moves forward with the others and unsheathes one of his dirks, good more for stabbing than slashing, he still is able to finesse the tool to cut down and pray away the thick sheets of sticky fluid.
"Huh...? Well, I guess that's why the rats only recently became a problem."
Bringing his dirk up to the bracer of his forearm, Kite drags it across quickly, drawing sparks that quickly heat the blade into a thin outline of searching flame. The source of light lets him get a better look ahead. "Watch the pressure plates .. unless one of you wants to be a fresh skewer!" he jokes, moving carefully ahead to the end of the passage they wound up stepping into, tensing skittishly as he felt his feet barely scrape by a pressure plate.
"Y..yeah...I'd for sure keep an eye on your lynx..." he sweats out, before finally crossing to the other side.
The flame fades from his dark as they all come upon the sight of an ugly, animalistic bloodbath, "Oh jeez...alright, let's get to work!"
Drawing his other dirk, Kite flips his hold on them and moves forward, signalling the party to fan out and get into position. If they struck hard and fast while any ranged capable fighters supported them from behind, they should be able to slay the entire brood in their confusion.
Kite darts forward and with laser like accuracy, skewers one through its neck.
Sure he could help pick a winner, but why bother with that when he can just rush across. He pulls a shield out from behind his back, and gets low to the ground, "Get behind me!" He calls to the group, before rushing forward, aiming to slam as man rats out of his way as he pushes through to the next area. The folks behind him can whack away at the rats with their weapons as they traverse through the path he clears, should they choose to do so.
"It seems we finally have some rats." And it's a lot of them. And they appear to be fighting one another... A little odd. But they are animals. "Well, let's get this over with."
Misa spins her scythe as she raises it into the air. It begins to glow with light. She then brings it down, using the bottom of the scythe to strike the ground in front of her. There's a rumble and the ground distorts, a shockwave rippling out from her. It rushes beneath the rats, throwing them off balance and giving the others an opportunity to strike them up close.
In the end the important point is that they get through, killing as much of the vermin as possible in doing so.
"Aww man. They're rats AND they're racist? Maybe it's supposed to teach us to cooperate." She spits a fireball into the crowd, then moves forward... cautiously, trying to not get too far ahead. Even if it is a little embarassing for a cat to have to treat cats cautiously... the memory of the gnoll boss is still fresh in her mind. She follows the others, diving forward to stab as her attacks come off cooldown, then zipping back behind the tanks.
With Kaydon seeming willing to take the front, she falls in step behind, making sure to keep her sword at the ready just incase any of the rats get too close. With how strange they look, it would be no surprise if they have some sort of weird disease or something.
"Just what I need right now, a knight in shining fur." She quips, though it sounds as if she is greatful for the other Were Fang stepping up with his shield.
"Rats populations will fight with each other over resources."
Gwen notes as she fights her way though hacking slashing and otherwise trying to cut the hordes down.
"Could just be a Chess reference too. "
A process expedited by the powerful area of effect abilities that others in the party use, such as Misa using a shockwave to batter them to death, all the while cover fire rains in.
The creatures barely had time to realize they were both under attack by a third opposing force before they were slain where they stood. The stink of blood and guts leaves Kite pulling up on his collar to cover his mouth and nose, retching slightly. Compared to Fragments, this kind of realism was .. disturbing, to say the least.
Still, he willed himself to ignore it the same way you'd ignore roadkill on the side of the street, and they advance.
After all, the rats roasted via fireball didn't smell much better.
"Good job guys," Kite says, his voice slightly mufled, " -- but I'd bet gold to galleon that there's going to be a boss waiting for us at the end. Just .. be careful, alright?"
They come upon the next room, and as sure as he'd jinxed them, a massive rat knight glowered upon them with its heavily armored hide.
This is the only command Kite hands out as he swerves to the side, skipping and hopping with great agility to try and attack it from the side, intent on driving his dirk into a seam in its armored head and use that dirk as a leverage to pry it off and impale the exposed flesh, causing the great berserker to cry out and begin thrashing, hurling the Twin Blade off of it and sending Kite crashing into one of the twisted metal husks laying about the battlefield, one of its weapons jammed halfway into the side of its skull as it turns its wrath upon the others.
"At least someone tried to be somewhat original about mobs on this quest." And not as weird as suddenly being undead things. Though undead would maybe make sense down here.
At least this time its weirdness she can deal with. "Aim for the joints or seems!" she advises.
Even as she does exactly that, shooting a piercing arrow right between two of the plates covering it's body.
It is a rat WEARING CLOTHES. "Awwwwwww!" Mizuki squees. "It's adorable!"
And then it rushes at them, and she dives out of the way. "Ah, wait, we have to kill it? Ah, why do they make the monsters adorable, it's just like the porings and eclipses..." She dashes around the room, waiting for someone else to get its attention, and then leaps in and slides her knife between the armor plates. "Sorry, ratty. But maybe you'll be a cute plushie in the CC Corp store."
Misa nods in agreement with Kite's analysis. And sure enough, they soon come across the Rat Man. Misa turns her head to give Mizuki a bit of a look... This thing doesn't look adorable to her. But her focus is redirection as the Armored Rat charges them. Misa remains calm. They have at least one dedicated tank in the group and he'll likely be able to draw the aggro of the boss.
As the tank draws the Rat's attention, Misa darts off to the side. She circles around the Rat, looking for an opportunity to strike. She sees a gap in its armor. Misa leaps into the air towards it, spinning with her scythe stretched out. It spirals through the air, tip aimed for that gap!
But the Armored Rat turns just enough at the last moment for the scythe's tip to strike its makeshift armor. The weapon bounces off, leaving but a scratch as Misa flies backwards from the counter force, landing on the ground and skidding back a couple meters. There's a hint of mild annoyance, but it's quickly gone as the others manage to finish off the boss.
Of course, when it decides that they are the enemy, well, that is another matter. The druid Were Fang slams the blade of her sword down into the ground. The impact causes a block of solid stone to emerge from where the tip is pointing. It makes a neat little shield, blocking the rat from getting to her.
"Okay, maybe not so cute now. Uch, I think it drooled on me." Her nose scrunches.
He waits for an opporitunity, and then lunges in, landing two quick strikes with his longsword that penetrate through spots in the armor where there was no protection. This is why layered armor is a good thing! Even if something gets through, there's leather and cloth underneith to help soften the blow.
With one of his weapons gone, at least for the moment, he waits for another chance to dive in. The rat knight howls a fearsome roar, even as more of its armor plating is compromised and its mobility is stripped from it. It thrashes and strikes with its armored plates which, one by one, are peeled away or otherwise bypassed in a similar manner as Kite had done to expose part of its head.
It bounces off several attempts to attack it, skillfully angling its body in all the correct ways, but after a midly hard fought battle, it finally goes down, and Kite reclaims his dirk. "Whew...it was equal parts fighter and wild animal, I guess."
The fat man looks at them, sweating deeply. It stinks, although he has a deep and enriched voice that contradicts his toad-like features -- an odd sentiment considering that he was clearly a full-blooded human being.
"W..what the hell? How'd you get in here?! A Health inspector...n-no wait, I can explain .. y-you see .. these rats, I .. I .. I sell them! Yes, to adventurers. We keep t-them down here to harvest materials."
He puts up a glib smile, "So you see, unless you come here with a warrant for my receipts ... y-you can't do anything to me."
Kite frowns admonishingly, " ... even if that's true, what you're doing is wrong. We can't let it slide."
In the face of such an earnest gaze, the man steps and snaps, "What do you know?! That punk, Barton ... ever since we were kids, he's always had the upper hand! Even though his potions and poultices are second rate, people buy them anyway! It's not fair! I have some of the best men and women money can buy to make mine, and he still outdoes me!"
The man stumbles back in his enraged ramble, the stress of dealing with a 'health inspector' and the judgemental words and gazes of others gathered causing the clumsy, almost oafish man to back into one of his own cages. "Eh?! No!"
In the end, he reaped what he sew, and the group is left to head back to Barton's.
The big were fang moves towards the Lander, getting close to him, "Health inspector. Looks like your basement is full of rats. We might have to shut you down because of it. They seem to be getting loose and attacking neighboring shops." Honestly he's hoping he just intimidates the guy into giving up.
It works, probably a little too well, when the man crashes into his own cage and goes running off down a tunnel being chased by rats, "Yeah we should like, let the other guy know what's going on. Hope that dude is okay. Or at the very least someone more reputible buys his shop.."
Misa makes her way out of the boss room and through the cellar. Once more she folds her scythe's blade back against the shaft as she rises out of the cellar and into the new shop. Glancing around, it's easy to see that this is the source of the rats below. She narrows her eyes at the lander owner, but remains silent.
Misa begins to slowly step through the rows of rats. Rats in cages. Who buys rats? Her menacing looking scythe is still out, though the blade remains folded as she rests it on her shoulder.
Finally Misa turns towards the Lander, giving him a cold stare as she says, "This is not the most ideal situation for you, now is it? We COULD reveal this information to the rest of the town. Unless you have something significant to say in your defense."
The lander proceeds to try and plead his reasons, only for him to be done in by his own rats as they escape and he chases after him. Only for it to lead to his own end. Misa raises an eyebrow at the now departed lander, "An ironic ending, it would seem."
Misa rolls her head, stretching a bit after the trek through the underground and the battle that followed. She looks at the others, "Well, that seemed like a reasonably ordinary quest."
"Oh man, yeah." Mizuki nods in agreement at Mikage's assessment of metal-wearing mouse marketability.
Farewell armored rat, you were too adorable for this world.
Mizuki's ears twitch as they approach the end of the maze. "There's a LOT of rats up ahead..." And then the cages come into sight. The hell? She's taking a big breath, preparing to spit another fireball, as her eyes fall on... a Lander?
That is honestly so unexpected that she briefly forgets that this is just a game challenge.
"What the HELL, man?!" She gesticulates wildly with her hands, which are still holding twin curved daggers. "Isn't this world dangerous enough for landers without you making it WORSE?" Amber-sclera'd, inhuman eyes glare at the lander as smoke-tinged words roar from that snarling maw full of pointy teeth. "How can you DO this?!"
Mizuki has never thought for a moment about how were fangs look to landers. Although, she's not making any real convincing arguing there, aside from it being presented by a bipedal monster.
But the assembled party is enough to drive off the menace as his rats break free. About to give chase, Mizuki snaps out of it. Right. It's just a game. Chasing down the guy and bringing him to justice wouldn't CHANGE anything, he'll just be right back here for the next group that does the quest.
She sheaths her daggers, turns to the party, smiles, and throws up a V-for-Victory handsign. "Another small-time crook, temporarily inconvenienced by ADVENTURERS!"
She rezzes the loot from her inventory and looks over it. "Huh. I wonder if pretending to be merchants might help convince Landers to let us use their boats...?"
And there's a fat man standing amongst them. Someone else's infestation proble--wait, he's not trying to fight them. And is that bits of dry crackers and cheese in the pockets of his shop apron.
Shiruba stomps a foot and dramatically thrusts a finger to point at the fat Lander. "He's using the rats to sabotage other businesses!"
After a moment she stops, and withdraws her arm to rub her chin instead. "That's actually pretty clever. Rats are so commonplace no one would immeadiately suspect that they're being coaxed into doing what they tend to do normally."
Then her ears perk up as the man rambles, reminding her there was still that. "General store? We came from the -Apocathory-. Your rat sabotage was getting into the wrong store." She waves it off with both her hands as she turns to leave. "I back what I said. Terrible execution! Even the crooked tradesmen back home would be disgusted. Ugh. What a waste of perfectly good economic sabotage scheme!"
She's from the Ninetales Dominion, no one should be surprised that's the part she's focusing on.
"Ack, Rama, no!" A moment later, the little creature is causing more than a little havoc as he barrels at one of the cages, trying to get at the rats. Diving after him, Mikage literally pounces on her companion, grabs him by the scruff, and then looks onward sheepishly.
"He's not normally like this. I really don't know what the reset did to him." She looks concerned, picking up the beast and holding him as she scrambles to her feet in time to watch the others deal with the shady shopkeeper. "I really need to talk to someone about you." She mutters.
She gets attention but the Rat is strong for this level and it does a number it mauls Gwen as she faces it down allowing her allies to takes it out it could be worse right? The battered Gwen will join the others as they make their way into the store above and she just looks around and will look to the owner.
"I will keep this blunt, we know what you are doing now, and you need to stop. If you do not? What do you think this will do to your reputation with your fellow Landers let alone Adventurers like us. It would be far better your bottom line."
She then cringes at what happened and shakes her head.
"... I was going to suggest show us your wares...as an alternative."
"It did seem pretty normal but seeing it like this.
"Tell me about it, Shiruba."
She looks to Kite and everyone else.
"That's two crawls for the day I think we should find some time to go relax and plot."
He rubs the back of his head, "Thank you for putting up with his scheming and helping me out, you kids did great. Here, I'd like it if you'd take these as a token of my gratitude .. "
He holds out a box containing a number of wax-stamped cards. "These sigils can help you curry a favor among the merchants. I hope it does you well."
Kite happily pockets his, smiling wide, "Thanks! We really appreciate it."
With one of those, he could probably acquire a boat, he thought.
Misa joins the others in returning to Barton. Of course.
The twenty-six year old woman raises an eyebrow as the lander groups her in with the others as a 'kid'. Those game writers... They really should get out more.
Anyway. Misa takes her reward too, looking it over for a few moments. She expects she'll probably have some interactions with merchants in the future. It may come in hand. She slides the card into her jacket, sending it to her inventory.
Misa turns the the others, "It does seem like there's been no significant change to quests due to recent events. Though I expect anything changed by the update is likely to be focused in higher level areas. It's going to take us a while to get there..."
Then remembers her manners, and bows briefly to the shopkeep. "You repay our assistance most graciously, good sir."
Then goes back to being excited. "Gwen! Look! I bet you can think of a few good uses for something like this." Right, help getting boats. Or maybe other projects afterwards if they're not needed. So many oppritunities in this strange new existance now.
This is the first time since the big update breakdown that she's felt truly good about what's going on.
Mizuki listens to the Lander's dialogue with disinterest, until he confirms that the sigils may indeed help them get boats. At that, she beams, tail twitching excitedly. "Thanks, old man! I'm glad we could help!"
She looks to Misa, ears splaying. "If the leviathans are high-level content, Ezzo players are in trouble..."
Just as he's about to speak up he stops for a moment as his head turns towards a few familiar faces, "Ah, it's Gwen's party again, you guys come in here to resupply too-" And then there's another person that catches his eye. "Ah...Excuse me, but aren't you from D.D.D?" The question gets raised to the blue-haired woman in the military attire.
She pauses as Shiroe arrives and she looks a bit sheepish.
"Shiroe we were just helping him with a rat problem."
She would turn to thank the Lander. "Thank you this will be a lot of help to our current project and we may be back later for some other supplies."
She notes then back to Shiroe.
"We had some more success since the Gnolls as well though things are pushing back pretty hard."
They need to locate some more healers she muses. She also pauses as she'll bring up a menu and tap a friend's contact.
"You are just in time was about to do a call in."
'Gwen's party'. Suddenly, Mizuki is defined by someone else. Not that this is anything new; Mycroft Hellfire was just another member of Black Cloud to most, and 'that rogue who doesn't talk much outside of combat' to most within his own guild. Few regularly remembered him even as 'The guildmaster's brother'.
Is 'One of Gwen's friends' how he's going to be known in this new life? No, Mizuki shakes her head, there are more important things to worry about.
She turns to Shiroe. "These leviathans... if they're new content, does that mean they're meant for max-level players?"
Shiroe appears and Kite Inspects him. A player, like he surmised. Placing his newly acquired sigil into a bag on his hip, Kite steps back to allow the others to talk, adjusting the hat of his unique garb, colored red and a keepsake from Fragments.
Having considered it, Kite realized that he was able to keep this exact look as a boon handed to him from the Book of Twilight, which had made him immune to alterations on his player data back then.
He wasn't so sure about how iconoclast that was now given he'd been shunted back to Level 1 like everyone else, but it was something.
"Well, I don't want to overstay my welcome, so I'll leave you guys to it. Thanks for partying up with me!"
Whatever Gwen had to tell him about earlier, he figured it could wait until she finished talking to her friend. They're talking about .. leviathans? Or something like that, as he leaves the party.
Misa nods slowly as Mizuki brings up the leviathans. She's heard mention of the plan to go and rescue the Ezzo folks. She's not particularly interested in it herself, but neither does she have strong reasons to oppose the attempt. But she tries to provide some comfort through reason, "The main shipping routes over land and sea likely fall into low level territory. I expect the only uncommon routes would lead to such an encounter. Still, be cautious if you are going over there to help them."
The store is entered by another customer, though this one turns out to be somewhat familiar. Misa looks at Shiroe, recognising him even without needing to inspect him, "Shiroe the Enchanter." Misa nods both as a response to his question and in greeting, "Misa Takayama. I am part of D.D.D. One of the divisions of the Aincrad Liberation Front. I recall that we've run into each other a few times, when you've spoken with my lord, Krusty. But we've never really had an opportunity to interact."
Kite is trying to make his exit. Misa simply gives him a nod and says, "Thank you for letting me accompany you."
Mizuki's ears splay briefly as Gwen mentions the gnolls.
And then Kite turns to run off, god damnit. She reaches out to grab his arm. "This is important, it's about rescuing the players from Ezzo."
She tilts her head a little at the other conversation, but that's not really her business, so it's mild curiousity at best.
"Something to do with Ezzo? I guess I need to stick around for that.."
He frowns, turning his attention back to the conversation at hand.
"Rat problems huh? I'm guessing it was anything but. Well, glad to hear you guys were able to take on some quests for the time being. Also speaking of the Leviathans, they're actually not an new addition to the game. Apparently they date back to the game's lore almost 250 years ago or a little later around the year 150. So more than likely they've been around or the expansion just had them appear with the lore behind it to support their appearence. That would make a bit of sense as well. Still, do you guys have a timeline for when you're expecting to head off by?"
Misa lets out a bit of a sigh in confirmation of Shiroe's suspicion regarding Krusty, "It's like a boss battle with never-ending phase changes..." She seems a little dejected, but those with keen insight will probably be able to pick out the tone in her voice that suggests she's actually happy with that relationship.
Misa then listens to Shiroe's explanation. Lore has never really been her thing, so it's new to her. She nods in agreement with his theory, then finishes, "Either way, it's unlikely that they'll be encountered this early." And if they are... Well, that'll be disastrous as low leveled as they are now. Of course, Misa doesn't mention that point.
The conversation turns to the Ezzo mission. And while Misa isn't involved, she does stick around silently and listen. The information is still of interest.
Mizuki pulls her arm back and turns back to Shiroe... and then suddenly feels underdressed, bringing up her menu and swapping the leather battle bikini back out for the somehow-lower-DEF newbie shirt and shorts. "I see. So at least they didn't just come from nowhere..."
She blinks at the question. "As soon as possible, I thought? I mean, they're in some kinda trouble over there. It's not like they're landers whose dire peril will keep until we do all our sidequests." She says, despite Barton's presence in the room.
"Although," she rubs the back of her head and looks aside, "I don't know how many players we have that know how to sail a boat, so that might be a problem..."
Finally, she looks to Misa. "Aincrad Liberation Front? What's that?"
Having done a little bit of exploring and talking around town, Kite had determined that one of the changes that came about from being stuck here, is that the Landers aren't necessarily 'NPC's anymore. True, there was always going to be someone who needed help around town, that's just how this world worked, but ... chances were, the next guy who needed help slaying some rats, wasn't going to be Barton in his apothecary.
Kite's attention is caught again by Shiroe, "This is all news to me .. I'm guessing that's what she wanted to talk to me about, earlier. I'm Kite, by the way."
He bows in a polite, Japanese fashion, before shooting the bespectacled villain a smile.
Shiroe gives some more details on the Leviathans. Good Kite needed that information about them as well.
"Basic update, the escapees are making good time, the got past the first natural barrier by heading underground. Bad news the entire island is being consumed still, they are just keeping ahead of the wave, only stopping long enough to rest and keep going. There's a large number of Adventure and even Landers are fleeing with them. They are still trying to reach the port or the region around it."
"I was about to as we'd been supply hunting since we parted ways."
She takes a deep breath and looks embarrassed. She's really botched up in front of a major mover and shaker far as she's concerned.
"I make no further excuses."
She'll look to Kite.
"The thing I wished to speak to you on is the Levthithans that Shiroe here has been speaking about. They are some sort of raid boss in all likely hood. The trick will be how to avoid them, distract them or make them unable to see us."
She's pushing on, but it's clear the weight of this is weighing on her. So much for her speech this morning.
The most pressing question is asked. By Mizuki. You swear that Misa almost raised her hand to invisible glasses as she dives into an explanation, "The Aincrad Liberation Front is a large combat-focused guild. We specialize in dungeons and raids within Aincrad Tower. Our open invitation policy means we have a large variety and selection of individuals, all led by an elite group of high... Well, once high level players. There are a few smaller divisions within the guild, such as D.D.D., which I'm in. Or the Knights of the Blood, the central group of leadership for the guild. With recent events, our knowledge and experience within the tower is going to be even more important at helping to escape our situation." Or so they've been led to believe by mister old floating man.
This does lead nicely into Misa's answer to Shiroe, "We were a little disorganized at the beginning, but we've been able to start scouting out the first floor of Aincrad. We're looking to establish a more permanent presence sometime in the future... So far things aren't all that different to before. But we haven't gotten very far. Progress is slow due to our sudden level drops and need to avoid death..."
Misa listens to the report provided by Gwen. It has been of some concern what's happening over in Ezzo. And whether it will begin to affect more closer regions... It could make progress through the tower even more difficult. If not impossible.
"Guess that's to be expected of Krusty. I was afraid with so many players being sent to Aincrad at once there'd be congestion issues in monster spawn areas. But if it's you guys I'd imagine you're getting everyone leveled as efficiently as possible. Sadly, while I see Krusty's on I haven't been able to contact him. I figure that he would have been a great contact to have given the situation. That being the case would it be a problem if I add you to my friend's list. I promise should the need arise I can more than provide any information that I end up finding outside of D.D.D.'s field of operations." He'd offer his own information to Misa, and as a way to show he did have some info, he'd also provide the Leviathan info that he had acquired prior.
Finally, a more serious looks given to Gwen. "Mmm...So the island actually is in danger. That really does put everyone on a time-limit. Gwen, if you can it'd be a good idea to see when they expect to make it to the port. If you do end up getting a boat you'll want to make sure that it's possible to get one over there at around the same time they'd arrive. Plus if you're able to schedule a boat well enough in advance you can probably avoid having other ships sail out on the same day so you won't run into an issue with the Landers. At least, that's what I assume. If there's any issues or new developments though please don't be hesitant to let me know."
"Hiring Landers to sail the ships? There's an idea..." Mizuki taps a finger on her chin. "Do you think they'd want us to rescue the Landers from Ezzo too, though? We'd need a lot more boats then... Do we actually know anything for certain about whether the leviathans are blocking even common routes, or only out-of-the-way areas?"
She listens to Misa's exposition dump, but doesn't have anything to say about it, though she nods vaguely. Conquering Aincrad will be important later, after they rescue the Ezzo players.
She looks between Shiroe and Gwen. "Do we have a headcount of how many people are waiting in Ezzo? So that we know how many boats we need?"
It's possible that doing so would simply enable the logout button, but, given his previous experience in Fragments .. in situations like this, what would most likely happen was that the server would be shut down in such an instance. In essence, he had until they cleared Aincrad's hundred floors to investigate the remains of Fragments, before it slipped through his hands again.
When Shiroe turned to him, a shiver ran down Kite's neck. The feeling he got from that look .. it's the same one as that man. And that was never a good sign.
" . . . r-right."
"Well, with the Merchan't Sigil that Barton gave us, we should be able to call in a favor at the port to get a ride to Ezzo and back, if nothing else."
Misa watches the interactions between Shiroe and Kite. She was obviously present in Alne that night, but she had not paid much attention to Balmung's words. Her focus was elsewhere. So she doesn't really understand the meaning behind Shiroe's words. But she can tell that this Kite person is likely one of importance. She makes a mental note to remember the name as she stares at Kite for a moment.
But as the conversation switches to Krusty once more, Misa coughs a bit before saying, "My lord has been... Indisposed with important matters of leadership within the guild." That could be true. Or more likely he's lying back on a grassy hill somewhere. Or carving his way through a bunch of mobs. Misa continues, "He's directed me to handle the matter of our approach into Aincrad. As well as some... Other matters that have begun to surface." She appears a bit tight-lipped on that for now. Though Misa does give Shiroe a bit of a look. Suspecting he may already be aware of what she is speaking of.
But as she is asked about being friended, Misa nods in response, "Of course. I'm aware of your skill. Being able to contact each other regarding important situations would be of great benefit to us both. While the Aincrad Liberation Front is focused on the tower, we're not opposed to assisting in other matters if we deem them useful to the goal of freeing ourselves."
She speaks on the line again briefly.
"About a day or so is Att Syne's best guess."
She ntoes and then she thinks for a moment. "Sounds like a plan on teh ships, we'll have to get to work with what we got and contiune to get what resources we can."
Then there was Kite again, "Ah, so you're planning to go as well? In that case." Without any other words a notification comes up on Kite's screen with a codex entry about Leviathan, "I wish I had more thorough information to give but this is all I have at the moment. Still, I'm glad Balmung ended up realizing how dangerous having you all go out on the ocean was so quickly. You should have seen him, he's usually so calm and composed but when he thought that he might have put you all in danger he dashed out of the bar in a panic."
Considering how rash it would have wound up being if they'd gone immediately. He blinks in surprise moments later, "Balmung did? I mean, I know he's not heartless or anything like that, but .. "
Kite scrunches his lips, "I can't really imagine him losing his composure like that." Not unless he was furious, and when he was that mad, it was usually something Kite was involved in. In that regard, he supposed it checked out.
Having adventured alongside the guy for like, most of a day, Mizuki simply cannot believe Balmung's accusation that Kite is the reason they're all trapped. She hasn't really thought about what would've had to happen to make balmung THINK that without it being true, though.
"It's good that he's looking out for us... but has it changed anything? We were gonna get boats before... and now we're still getting boats. And sailing to Ezzo and back. Limiting to just one isn't practical, with all the people we need to rescue..."
"I'm a little concerned, actually. There's been all this talk of the leviathans, but not what we're doing, exactly, to ensure we don't run into them. Is the 'one boat is okay' thing all we have? One boat how often? Do we send one each day? Can the players of Ezzo afford to wait that long, at the island's current rate of... whatever's happening to it?"
Misa finishes the friendship agreement with Shiroe. She also briefly glances over the information he's provided. Interesting. It may prove useful in the future.
Realizing how long she has lingered here, Misa looks between the gathered people says, "If you'll excuse me, I must return to Alne to meet some of my guild."
Misa looks to the group that is planning to head to Ezzo, "I look forward to hearing about your success as well as the stories that accompany it."
Misa turns to look at Shiroe, "I'm sure we'll run into each other again in due time."
With that, Misa nods in parting to those here and makes her way out of the store.
He leaves his words to that with her before looking back to Kite. "Hmmm, I can't say I've known him as long as you have if you're both Fragment players. Though if there's one thing I've learned about that guy is that he's someone who definitely will look out for others. Back when we were in the same group, no matter when it was we needed him he always made it his mission to arrive. He may not show it, but truthfully I think he's much kinder than he wants to let others know. So it probably hurts him just as much when he thinks he's had a friend get hurt..."
Mizuki blinks, not sure how to react to the tone. "I thought we were all worried..." She looks thoughtful a moment, then nods. "Well, if we need to find out more, I'm all for that, but um..." she sweatdrops, n_n; "I... kinda... don't know where to start? I only moved to Japan a few days ago and didn't have much time to read up on the lore of Yamato before... well, before this happened. Are there any libraries or loremaster NPCs on the central island we might be able to learn more about the leviathans from?"
She looks around. "By the way, that reminds me: You all sound like natural speakers! And I'm glad it makes understanding you easier, but why has everyone switched to English ever since..." she frowns. "...Wait. ARE any of you even speaking English? Do you hear ME as speaking English?"
Even if Shiroe seems untrustworthy, Kite can't help but confide in him -- one of the only other people who knew Balmung, rather than the legend behind him. "What happened back then ... Balmung always blamed me for it. To tell you the truth, even if I told him everything I know, he'd probably just wind up hating me even more. So I don't mind him taking his frustration out on me."
His eyes are cast to the sky, "I just wish we had the opportunity to be friends, too."
Kite returns to the here and now, "English? I thought we were speaking Japanese.."
He turns back again to Kite who's face seems so solemn. Hearing him say those words...Not saying what was on his mind, keeping things secret just to handle the brunt of it, thinking he already knew the account...It sounded...So familiar...So...
"Mmm, you know you two might be more similar than you think. When Balmung realized that he made a mistake about the Leviathans he wanted to make sure to fix it and chased after the boat group. And if I recall, he says you're the one who's responsible for this...Indirectly, and yet even now it sounds like you're trying to do something about it..." The enchanter starts to push up his glasses somewhat as he speaks up again, "It's not my business what happened between you both all those years ago, but time has passed. Plus...If you both are that similar, do you think you'd be content having secrets being held for your own benefit?"
Kite considers it before waving it off with a small grin, "There's no way ... well, if you think that, I guess there has to be some similarity I'm just not seeing."
Or maybe, that he just didn't want to see. Kite crosses his arms. " .... well, maybe. ... If I get the chance, I might try and tell him."
But that seemed like a bad idea. He could still recall the last time he'd tried to speak to Balmung, to tell him everything, seven years ago. They'd just wound up yelling at eachother before parting ways.
Ask other players and Landers. Of course! Talk to Everyone is the first piece of RPG advice you learn. Mizuki nods, feeling a bit sheepish for forgetting that.
She always talked to everyone in console RPGs... why hasn't she in ETO? Perhaps it's because being here is more about interacting with other players than Landers. At least, it had been, for Sam. Would interacting with the story be more fun? That sure is a question he'd have to think about for a bit if he didn't have more pressing concerns right now...
"Of course, of course. I'm sorry, I guess I've just gotten a bit overwhelmed with the whole... situation we're in. And even before that... Well, you don't want to hear my life story, but when you're part of a big guild, it seems like there's always someone better at all of this. There's someone who knows the builds better, someone who's mastered the crafting system better, someone who read the lore deeper than you ever will, someone who's explored and researched all the secrets, everything's already... It's like if you go at your own pace instead of following others, then you're not helping the guild the best you can."
"But things are different now. The world's changed and we don't have perfect communication and the BBSes... I guess it really is kinda like when we first started playing MMOs, before everything about the game was known..."
She's been staring off into space as she rambles, but now she looks at Shiroe again. "Thanks for helping me realize that. I'll see what I can find out!"
And then her face kind of scrunches up a bit as she focuses on listening to the others speaking, ears turning towards each of them in turn.
"...No. It's Japanese. But somehow, I understand it instantly. Well, that's a blessing. If FullDive technology can restore sight to the blind, perhaps it can also do this...?"
Yet they could all understand eachother. Or, Kite suspected, it could also just be a quirk of their situation.
Kite's eyes narrow as Shiroe brings up something surprising. Then again, he supposed it shouldn't be that shocking that Balmung would tell his friends about it, yet...
Bringing it up out here, Shiroe had caught him at a disadvantage. He really wasn't trustworthy after all, it's always the ones with glasses.
"Data Drain ... it was a tool that was native to Fragment, rather than an external program, sort of. A tool that can rewrite and extract data."
Mizuki listens, and looks a little alarmed at the suggestion that her naivete might get her killed. She hadn't thought about that, this was supposed to be a fun game... and truthfully, not constantly thinking about that sort of thing was part of what Sam hoped would make it MORE fun with this energetic happy catgirl character. Now it's life. His memoirs are gonna be interesting if he ever gets out of all this...
She nods, still looking thoughtful. "...I thought Balmung and Kite were just improvising some crazy story off the event, at first. Then I realized Balmung seemed to really believe it... and then Gwen came in saying Att Syne was in trouble and Kite said he wanted to go to Ezzo too, and..." she shrugs. "That's just the path I've been on since. It's involved way too much trekking across the countryside and nearly getting killed by a gnoll. Yesterday, I figured this would all get fixed in a few hours, tops, and by going with them I'd have a fun anecdote to tell people about later, but when I woke up today..."
She closes her eyes and sighs, then opens them again, forcing a smile. "Those people need our help, and I'm going to do whatever I can to help them, without being reckless. We may be their only hope. If we just stand by..."
She reaches one hand across her body to hold the opposite upper arm, and looks at the floor. "...If I was one of them... trapped on a corrupting island within the game we're all trapped in... and I knew that noone outside was going to even try to help me... That would be so sad, I don't even want to imagine it..."
"Hey Kite...Would it be okay to add you to my friend's list?" The sheen in his glasses relaxes and with it, it seems like a bit more casual response coems across the Enchanter's face. How did Kite go from getting interrogated to being asked if he wanted to get friended???
And he'd be able to hopefully find the answers he was seeking. Shiroe's almost casual, cavalier demeanor threw Kite for such a loop that he actually fell backwards, expression morphing comically. "What's with you?"
"Guh .. talk about whiplash, man ... well ... I guess I don't mind having more friends. I'll be honest, you've got the face of a villain, but I'd like to trust you."
At that point though he does find a moment to address Mizuki's conviction, "That's good. I don't want to either. Just if I had to give one last bit of advice about being reckless than this would be it...If you can't do something, then don't. Just focus on what you can."