Duty Session 80: Spinner's End

The Landers in the Town of Beginnings seem to have a never ending string of trouble that comes their way. A few of the local Lander blacksmiths have complained that they are struggling to get the raw ore that they need. Apparently, the nearby mines have been overwhelmed with beasts and monsters, making it hard for the miners to continue their excavation efforts. It blips as an optional side-quest with a reward of improving the available resources in the Town of Beginnings.

Difficulty:    Moderate
Rec. Party:    3+
Rewards:       2
World Rewards: Increases in mining efficiency in Town of Beginnings.

Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

After days - going on over a week, really - of manual labor in the basement, Whis is ready for a breakthrough.

The breakthrough isn't coming. Instead she 'sits' in a rickety chair at the HQ, balanced at a forty-five degree angle with a far lighter outfit on than usual - tights, a half-sarong giving off the look of a tied sweater around her waist. Her top is a light, half-sleeve affair with a towel around her neck and shoulders.

"I'm done. No more caves! No more rocks!"

She slaps a hunt bill on the desk, blindly. "We're gonna..."

Her chair-legs click to the ground. "Do whatever this is."


Still dressed down, Whis stares at another goddamn mineshaft.

"I am filled with hate. Please take care of me, everyone."
Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Count V! ... is still pretty tired. Today he's clutching a waterskin that he's heating with magic, this one big enough to be draped across his shoulders. A strip of cloth that is /no doubt/ just some garment he hacked into a facemask sits pushed up on his forehead, and though he doesn't look quite as out of it as he did during the skeleton battering ram incident, he sure doesn't look 100. It's unclear whether or not he's just exaggerating everything on purpose, though. Considering that he's willing to go out and about...

"And what might that be?" He asked, a little while ago.


The Diviner sways back and forth in place, a few feet to Whiskey's left. He heaves a heavy sigh, and says, "Well, it's not as if I plan to let spiders eat you."

Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Can't say I'm too shocked. We're low level, so it's pretty much basements and dirty caves for a while. Gotta suck it up."

Haseo, having nothing better to do and getting absolutely sick of camping an empty church that only has occasional people respawning, has decided to use a part of his free time to help Whis dig rocks out of a dirty basement. Because that's what guild members do??? He's not actually sure about that, but at the very least he knows that you can only watch a tiny woman do heavy menial labor for so long before it stops being funny and starts getting a bit sad.

"So it's spiders again. Luckily I've done this crap before so it shouldn't be too hard."
Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Red eyes gleam in the dark, a creature -- not a spider, exactly -- peering out from the dark. Furless and flesh-colored, with wrinkly skin and huge teeth, gnawing on a bone, comes charging out of the mine's forward sorting room, wielding a human leg bone as a weapon. It swings dramatically towards Haseo, and then chucks a rib towards Whiskey and Count V, like some sort of grotesque boomerang.

Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Oh, uh..."

"Flame Wall?" Count V declares, half-heartedly. It results in an extremely half-hearted flame wall, that races forward into the mine, momentarily illuminating it-- and then dissipates without having the opportunity to do much else, to the cave or to the creature that comes running out of it. He frowns, looking at his staff as if it had somehow betrayed him.

Then he gets whanged in the side of the head with a rib-boomerang, and goes stumbling to one side.

Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

The first creature they come across isn't dogs. Or spiders. It's some weird fleshy abomination full of teeth. Well, that's different, but regardless of what they are, they probably die all the same.

Haseo whips out a scythe from his inventory, giving the weapon a few lighthearted swings before putting his all into it, a trail of flames following behind the end of the curved blade as he swipes the farming weapon into the weird flesh-creature.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"I read that the bill was for an unexplored ruin... And mysterious monsters!" Whis grumbles, running her fingernails lightly along the inside of her neck, along the odd black rings that walk from around the back of her shoulder to stop beneath her neck.

"This is neither a ruin, nor mysterious. It's just dark. They can't just... get away with this!"

She clenches her hand into a fist exasperatedly. "These Landers figuring out which words will get me to jump out of my chair. It makes me itch worse."

Whis smiles at Haseo, shrugging. "It can't be helped."

V gets a sad pat on the shoulder. "Neither do I, V. In that, the V... is for Ob-V-ious."

Immediately inside, the weird red-eye monster stops Whis cold. "That's not a spider after all? Well... As an expert handler of animals, the easiest solution is..."

Whis draws out a large chunk of meat - a steak, practically, bone-in. It is <BAIT>. She layers a smoking concoction from a vial on top, like a glaze, which erupts in a green skull-shape of smoke as she finishes.

"Perfect." She nods, underhanding it at the monster.

If consumed, it has... predictable results.
Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Haseo slices into the strange creature with a flaming scythe, and Whiskey lures it away with BAIT. Being a reasonably rational WHATEVER IT IS, the creature jumps on the easier-to-acquire food than resisting adventurers. Unfortunately, that food is poison. It limps along a moment after the attack and poisoning, and then-- falls over dead. That wasn't very difficult.

Beyond red-eyed mine creatures, the mine's path opens up into a tunnel that is blocked at the end with a pool of water. It doesn't look as if it's intentional, or particularly old-- it hasn't become stagnant yet. The only way to continue is to pass through the water, which is sure to have its own challenges...

Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Water? Easy! In fact, there's a transparent interest that Whis shows to STAGNANT POOL OF MINE WATER. "Oh! A chance to wash off. Perfect!"

Moving to the edge of the water, Whis plops down at the lip and dunks her feet into the water to check the temperature, kicking her feet a few time. "If you're going to split it down the middle again, I'm just going to go first. Don't wait for me!"

Pushing off with her arms, she drops almost ripple-less into the water and kicks off from the wall to simply swim through the path, her mood immediately refreshed by the presence of something...

Well, something refreshing.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Haseo kicks at the dead poisoned creature. Mostly to confirm it's dead, and also for massive disrespect points. Once it is confirmed that it has shed its mortal coil, he moves on.

The next challenge is a pool of stinky stagnant cave water. Very lovely.

"I mean, hey, if you want to wash off in scum water, go for it."

As Whiskey's just taking her sweet time in plop in, while Haseo takes the True Boy Route of just stretching his legs out a bit before jumping in head first. Screw getting acclimated to the water, going in all at once just gets everything done and over with.

Luckily for Haseo, he doesn't go into shock from by suddenly submerging himself in cold water, so he's able to just swim his way across with all the grace of a teenage boy at swim class.
Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Since he was specifically asked, Count V refrains from splitting the water before Whiskey Sour has made her way across it. He lingers there for a moment, waiting to see if Haseo is interested in doing something similar.

"It's not scummy /yet/... I don't think it's been here that long." He replies.

As soon as Haseo has crossed through, the Diviner slams his staff against the earth next to the water, causing the water itself to push itself apart as if into two curtains. V strides forward through it, the way rapidly closing behind him in his wake.

There's not really anything else to the challenge. There was a water hazard, they had ways past, and now they're on the other side!

Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"I'll explain it for you, sempai." Whis replies sweetly, once the trio are past the water hazard, the Druid wringing out her hair with her hands before scrubbing her feet in the shallows. "We're not dirty or clean. We just have levels of comfort. We live our lives to cover our skin in things that are appropriate and scrape away stuff that isn't. If you're 'dirty', you rub yourself with less dirty things. You can't decrease the amount of filth in the world - you just transfer the filth to something else... Or you get used to it, and you don't feel dirty."

She smiles, even as she speaks, her clothing dripping into a pool around her as she does. "Some things don't wash out, though. Some things shouldn't."

Standing, she winks at Haseo. "But if I'm dirtier than the ground, won't I get cleaner walking barefoot? Maybe that's just what I think after being stuck as a druid for a few months."

She shrugs. "Maybe it's the lack of sleep. I've had to up the strength of my pills."

The party turns, heading down a passageway into...

"What, did they just not BUILD THE DUNGEON?!" Whis laments, as the trio is faced with...

A literal chasm, and the bridge that's supposed to be there just laying on the ground next to the posts. Do it yourself! Sense of pride and accomplishment!

"So smug..." She grouses.
Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"You need to be careful balancing that out. I wouldn't wonder if there's an intersection of debuff severity and and performance capacity where your ability to power past the debuffs will be eclipsed." Count V advises Whiskey Sour, gently. As they arrive in the unfinished area, he directs his staff towards the pile of wood, "Up and at it!"

"Stone to Nails!"

"Reinforce Structure!" He finishes, the last few beams of wood assembling into a bridge that... actually will probably last there for a while. Count V tests it with his staff and, satisfied, crosses it without further worry. He is definitely less exhausted by /building a bridge/ than he is by trying to jump the damn thing himself.


He glances over his shoulder, twitching his wings as he does so.

"Are you enjoying your recent party play, Haseo?" V asks, genially.

Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Haseo just kind of blanks out a bit as Whis' explanation about cleanliness and levels of comfort. Partially because it goes a bit over his head, and partly because it isn't his first rodeo with really weird women. He's pretty sure he's got the meaning of what she's going for though.

"So it doesn't matter, is what you're saying?"

Yeah, he's definitely got it. Unlike this dungeon design that doesn't have a bridge. Did the game designers forget to put one here, or did they really expect people to make this jump themselves or fall and deal? Whatever, he doesn't have time for this.

With impatience at an all-time maximum, Haseo just sort of decides to throw himself over the gap to see if he can make it. What's the worse that can happen? Well he could die... Oh, he could die... Well, he doesn't, as he thankfully manages to grab the other ledge by his fingers and pull himself up, but it's a realization that probably should have come sooner.

"It's fine, I guess. It's been a while though." Haseo grunts, dusting himself off before carrying on like nothing happened
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"No, it matters a lot. The point is: You get clean by dirtying something else. Moving dirt around... well, if you're uncomfortable, change it. That's what I'm saying."

She carries on over the bridge, wobbling a bit but having few problems thanks to Count V's rapid construction. She does, of course, carry on while padding across the bridge. "I'm itchy all the time. Like wearing wool! But laying on the grass feels like a soft bed, and most plants taste fine and I barely have to cook meat to enjoy it."

She shrugs. "I can't rest easy, yet. But it has been a while for me too, se-m-pa-i." She jokes, leaning on Haseo. "So I'll say again: Please take care of me!"

She spins, walking backward with her hands laced behind her head. "I was guildless before this. And I don't feel confident asking people to promise to support me yet. Isn't that the hardest step?"

She extends her arms into a grand shrug, spinning as her performatively jovial air is broken by one large SCREE in the background.

And the chorus of extra SCREE-s, like a Chipmunks album or a nightcore track with the crowd's voices added in.

Previously, the guild encountered the terrain type: Rat. Now, Plant Hwyaden experiences the chittering, skittering terrain type: Spider.

"Well there's the spiders..." Whis deadpans, her staff appearing in her outstretched hand. "Let's make the V -- stand for Victory!"
Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Hmm... that must be a Druid thing." Count V says, of Whiskey's experiences with sleeping in the grass. He sounds a bit envious. Though he offers her a sharp look, he doesn't seem inclined to keep warning her about it all. Inhaling deeply, he replies to Haseo, "It's strange to me to think about, 'Party play being a long time ago' for anybody. You really do like solo play, don't you? It can be hard to find truly reliable partners, I suppose..."

His solution, of course, being that he just ingratiated himself with as many people as possible.

"No, in this case the V stands for-- Vacuum Cutter!" V declares, spinning in a circle. There is a pull-in effect around him as a wind whips up, drawing the Uncomfortable Number Of Spiders in towards him (and coincidentally, anyone standing in the path of said spiders) while a series of visible, green arcs of wind cut through the air and shred them on contact.

Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Whis goes on about cleaning and EFFORT and things that are just a bit too high concept for someone as straight forward as Haseo, but he thinks he gets it? Well, he's not going to say anything out loud and question it and just nod in feigned understanding.

He does however, respond to Whis leaning up against him in the most juvenile way possible, his eyes widening in horror, his body tensing up, and his leg moving faster to get away. "H-Hey, cut it out! Yeah! Yeah! Protect you, got it!" The kid-like act is dropped just as quickly as it started as he basically instantly returns to his usual broody self, but at least it's proven his isn't unshakable.

"Pffft. Saying 'like' is a bit strong, it was just easier." It's a bit more complicated than that, but it's not wrong either. Even if he wanted to go into further detail, it's not like there's time, there's a bunch of spiders to mop up.

Haseo spins his scythe just to flex, before spinning around like one of those battle tops that were really popular back in the early 2000's, carving through waves of spiders because they are faceless and not named and thus easily disposed of.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"It's probably a druid thing. This whole place runs off dream logic." Whis reasons, rotating her staff as she exhales, signing a circle with the tip. "It's way too much bother to kill them all. Enshrouded in a protective gale - Aero!"

Whis tracks after V through the Too Many Spiders, light-stepping around concentrations of stubborn spiders rather than march a bloody path.

Whis emits a rather peculiar giggle, one that Count V might know specifically the tenor of, as Haseo flounders and acts like a juvenile. It sounds crisp in a way that in generally Whis isn't. She laughs without performance, an electric climb into the upper register as she brings up a hand to hide her mouth as her cheeks flush. "I never imagined you'd react that way, sempai. Well, I'm counting on you, then!"

In the next room, everything seems normal. Generic cave floor texture, circular arena, empty but for cobwebs and detritus.

Until someone looks up, after a sizzling drop drips into a smooth pool on the floor. Tracking up, to the cieling, the source is clear:



Dropping from the roof of the cavern room to the ground, the spider immediately screeches a challenge and surges forward, the tiktiktiktiktik of its legs summing into a WHUMP as it rams a foreleg into Whis, knocking her Aero-shrouded body back into a wall and stunning her for a moment.
Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"'Just easier'..." Count V repeats, frowning a little. He nods lightly, and says, "So what you mean to say is that you encountered toxic players early. That's how it goes sometimes, I suppose. I always just made myself invaluable to whoever happened to be around, and being as pleasant as possible. Life's too short to spend too much of it being cranky at others."

"If you're not careful," he says, "you end up not having any 'others' to speak of."

After a moment's silence, he adds, "Don't tease him too hard, Whis. I don't think he's used to it."

The Diviner recognizes the area they walk into as soon as they set foot in it. The floor texture is pretty distinctive-- and he remembers how they handled it last time. Only this time, the enemy is a bit too quick.

"Fairy Healing!" He directs towards Whiskey Sour, reflexively.

Then, "Flame Wall!"

This time, the wall of fire erupts with force and conviction, surrounding the Dire Tarantula and forcing it to eat the damage-over-time regardless of the choice that it subsequently makes.

Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"You're doing it on purpose, aren't you?" Haseo blows one his bangs away from his face in annoyance. It's a rheoterical question. He knows she's probably doing it on purpose and for some other weird reason. In that sense, she's a bit like one of her old guild mates really, only probably smarter and with infinitely less cat puns.

Despite the weird different paths they took, the boss seems to be the same. So it's probably safe to assume a simple beat down is just as effective as last time.

"Tch. Something like that. Sure." V's a bit too on the mark for his liking, even if it's still somewhat wrong.

Rather than explain or talk it out or do anything a rational person would do however, the Legionnaire decides to just shut up and take his annoyance out on the boss before them, grasping their scythe with both hands as tightly as possible before putting all their weight into throwing it at Arathrog from across the room. The weapon embeds itself into the massive tarantula's carapace, doing minimal damage, but Haseo's quick to follow up by chasing after his thrown weapon.

The imp scrambles, ducks, and jukes through various acidic shots aimed at him, some of it even splashing to corrode at his leather armor, but when he's finally within range to climb up the monster to grab onto the shaft of the embedded scythe, the danger he put himself in to get this far was definitely worth it.

There's an almost Cheshire-like grin as he pushes the blade a bit deeper into the massive dire tarantula, his stance widening to secure his footing before he begins dragging the blade across its body for maximum damage.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Healed, Whis is only mildly battered rather than fully injured - the slivers of HP lost that only a neurotic healer would fix in the heat of battle. The massive tarantula, heeding its own monstrous logic, rears up and seems fit to spring before it's surrounded by fire. Reacting in the way of a startled insect, the huge arachnid springs back instead of forward.

Like a bad-ass tryhard, Haseo parts the flame with his lunge as he engages in his combo, drawing his blade longwise across the body of the tarantula for

        DAMAGE. Haseo is extremely esports.

Whis is barely up and through a 'ca-!' before the tryhard wonder has depleted nearly all the boss's hit points.

"Well, I guess I did ask." She shrugs, leaning forward on her staff and daubing at her cheek with the towel still hanging from her neck. "I should be helpful, ughh... Something something, earth, Rock Pillar."

A finger of stone rumbles down from the cieling to smush the center of the tarantula-boss against the floor so the death spasms are a dangerous but stationary flailing rather than a dodge check.

"Yaaaay. Go team." Whis deadpans, walking to the center of the room. "Commends for everyone. And Haseo: I was doing it on purpose, but everyone does most things on purpose. I didn't know if you liked-" She draws a fist close to her chest, pumping it, and puts on an aidoru voice. "Save me, sempai! Oh, you're so strong!" She belts out, in perfect saccharine, before dropping back to her resting Sucyface. "-Or not. But I think the Count is right: You're not used to it."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Haseo jumps out of the way as Whiskey decides to kill a giant spider with a giant rock. It's poetic? Ironic? Fitting? It's one of those three words, pick the one that makes the most sense to you.

There' no fanfare music, but the white-haired imp throws his scythe over his shoulders and walks away coolly as the giant arachnid goes through its death throes, only to be assaulted at the last moment when he least expected it by Whiskey pulling out the SEMPAI routine again.

"H-Haha. Yeaaaaaaah. Not my thing." Haseo goes through a multitude of emotions, first cringing, then tensing up, followed by rage, and finished off with him dramatically rolling his eyes and looking off to the side as he pretends he definitely doesn't want to scream for them to stop mentally assaulting them.

It takes a bit longer to collect himself compared to last time, but once again, he's back to black, bitchy, and brooding, before he answers the burning question of how much party experience he actually has.

"I mean. I did a lot of partying back in the day with my last guild when I was low level. Never went back to it after it disbanded though. Not like I needed to either. PVE Raid content didn't interest me, and I could fight one hundred players by myself no problem."
Count V
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"In these communities? You'd be surprised how many people make others uncomfortable without realizing it. Of course, you'd be /un/surprised how many of them know what they're doing, and get offended when you tell them to stop." Count V says, as the colossal spider falls. He examines the glowing circle on the floor, prodding at it and reading the message. It's not the first time he's seen it, but it is the first he's offered it much thought at all. He sighs, and touches his weird scarf-waterskin thing, "Warmth."

On the subject of players, he says, "PvP was always a lot of investment for little reward, to me. It seemed mostly like a way to give people a bad time, and I wasn't really into that. Though, I suppose the 'PKK' thing isn't a problem, it still means the gameplay style mostly isn't for me. The patterns are also completely different, of course. I like being able to strategize things and map them out enough to micromanage them after a while. Though, I suppose..."

"With the way NPCs are acting now, we might need to get used to that sort of dynamism. That's really good news for /you/, Haseo..."

He flops down on the floor next to the magical sigil, shameless about his desire to Rest A While before recalling.

Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"And bad news for us P-V-E players." Whis finishes V's sentence, dropping to her knees gingerly and then more firmly down on the ground, heaving out a breath. "Look, Haseo: It's hard enough making any 'friends' if I'm trying to mess with them too. My dad always says: if you just make enemies yourself, you'll have all the ones given to you by fate plus extra. It's not worth it."

Leaning her staff against her shoulder, she smiles up at the scarfed hero. "If it bothers you, just say so. It's free to me to try and get along with the guild. That's how guilds work, right? I'll be counting on you a lot."

She shrugs. "Maybe you'll have to count on me too."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Not much of an investment when an event gives you EXP and gear hand over fist, honestly. Anyway, I'm not much of a thinker in the grand scheme of things. I'm more of a brute than anything else, but if you guys say the change is good. I guess it is?"

Haseo scratches his nose as he doesn't even flinch after saying he's basically a thug. Not that it should bother him considering it's true.

"Also look. I'm trying to ask as nicely as possible for you to stop. I'm used to just...Well... Ya know, being a brute..." The gruffness in his voice trails off a bit as he sounds a lot more natural.There's a brief moment of inner inspection that takes place. And then it's done and gone. He doesn't have time for soul-searching. It makes his job easier just keeping that sort of stuff deep and buried.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Thumbing a path from the base of her neck up to the tip of her chin, Whis considers this for a few moments.

"Maybe I like thugs, though. Too many brainy people slow things down. Sometimes, you need to take action, right now. People who make decisions get indecision. If you follow your heart..."

Whis moves her hand from her chin down to her chest, tapping her middle finger against her heart. "You'll only have to worry about your ability."

Whis gathers herself up, gesturing her staff towards the nearby Convenient One Way Cave Exit.

"People with instinct can be useful too. It's a good quality to be able to rely upon."

Her smile as she looks back, eyes half-lidded and whole posture droopy and slack, is a smile like warm melted butter, pooling at the tilted side of her face. "So I'll be happy to rely on you a little longer, Haseo."

With a lift of her staff, she carries onward and out. "If we keep chatting in a boss room it may respawn, and make the V stand for 'Very Dead'. And that'd be terrrrrible."