Duty Session 85: 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.
Rec. Party: 3+
World Rewards: None
Help Me protect the Landers and their businesses. Bento lunches will be provided for Adventurers who help clear out rats. <Instructions for which market square to join up in are given>.
But it was also a good way to hear the word on the streets. And after overhearing a couple of vagabands muttering about the poster they saw and that paying with food was cheap and lazy, she decided to take a look into it herself. I mean, it might be cheap but if it's real food and not the bland generic in-game cooking, it's a bonus.
Kauchemar is more interest in why someone is putting such time into 'protecting' the Lander businesses. And that is why she is here, lute already in hand. "Sounds like this little foray could use some accompaniment."
Getting free food out of the deal? Double-Yes.
Though her traveling party usually makes due with hunted meat and scavenged plantlife, tossed together by their resident cook, the prospect of having something different to fill her stomach is an alluring thing. The Were Fang girl has made her way to the appointed meeting spot, her hood pulled up over her head. A few suspicious eyes from the Landers is better than outright wariness that comes from her monster blood.
"I don't know about adventure. I'm here for the food." She muses, a smile playing on the edge of her lips. "It will be interesting to see if there's any variations in the rat dungeons in this region compared to those in Alne." She rests a hand on her sword, giving an incline of her head to the others by way of greeting.
Besides, there's a bento on the line, and she's not going to turn that down. Not when so few people are able to provide Real Food.
"So," she muses, looking around to some familiar faces. "How's everyone been so far?"
"Hey." he says to Miyako "We're actually making some progress, hopefuly she'll be a productive member of society."
He reaches into his inventory and pulls out a cloth wrapped box for each Adventurer "Here we go." he says "Bento as promised." He hands them out. "Shall we get started? Usually we all just sit around and eat our lunches once we've finished clearing a quest." he says.
Glancing at Hifumi, she nods, accepting enough that the Adventurers had a role to play in what has been happening here. "Ready to go whenever you are."
The old Cait Sith smiles "Well if I was still in my prime and working with the army I'd take care of the little buggers myself." he offers, the edge of his glasses catching the light for a second. "But now with this old back." and belly "I'll leave the fighting to you youngsters."
Hifumi opens the cellar door and leads the way down into darkness. Not the 'hey this cellar is dimmly lit' kind of darkness but the 'hey were did my eyes go' kind of darkness. "Uhm... anyone bring a torch?" he asks with a tone of teasing in his voice. The sounds of rats in the distance add a creepy 'jump scare is waiting' kind of vibe to the whole room.
Energy sputters around her fingers for a moment as the spell /almost/ works.
She sighs, repeats it, this time focusing more closely and pushing more energy into it.. and a small, ghostly sphere of light forms in the air before her, which she cups gently in her hand. "Dang."
Descending into the cellar, she seems a bit confused at Hifumi's question about a torch. "Is it that dark in here?" She asks. "I guess it doesn't really bother me." Miyako's fire spell reflects slightly in her eyes, in a very inhuman way, likely able to just innately see better in the dark, even without taking on her full Were form.
"At least there's no spiders this time. I've had enough of them."
But the cellar is extremely dark. "Oh, what a time to not be the modernized nightmare that's instantly on fire," she mock laments. Not like she needes it. Vague outlines of shapes is all she needs to see, while her hearing and bardic affinity with sounds filter out the external distracting chittering.
Hopefully no one else will get freaked out by her glowing ethereal eyes in the darkness though. "o/~ Hello darkness my old friend... I've come to talk with you again... o/~"
Best to be prepared, too; from the sound of things there are quite a lot of rats or whatever down here. He casually unslings his short bow from his back and fits an arrow loosely to the string, just in case something jumps out at them.
Then they're in winding branching tunnels. "Anyone bring a clue of twine?" he asks looking around. "If there is a giant Ratotaur in here... I'll be impressed... and depressed." he says with a sigh getting out a nail from the building project and scratching an X on the tunnel entrance they just stepped out of.
Right, back to the business of finding rats and... hmmm... she doesn't really have anything for mazes. Being the chaotic creature she is she tries to just go one direction and use the 'always turn one way' trick.
But eventually she just double-backs twice and ends up with the rest of the group again. Rubs her head with a palm. "This is not as easy when you're not looking at it on paper." She decides it's better to just follow the others who seem to have a better idea of how to handle this.
In the strange winding tunnels, Mikage takes a long moment to take in their surroundings. Crouching, she runs her fingers along the floor, "I think we need to head down this way. It's subtle, but there's some small footprints and signs of passage." She motions down one hall, then gets back to her feet, knowing that the others will likely have some of their own methods of navigation.
AT first, he closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, trying to track the scent of Rat to its strongest source. This however results in a snootful of dust, and a loud sneeze. "Uhf," he grunts, rubbing his nose with the back of one hand, the readied arrow dangling limply for the moment between his fingers. He follows Mikage partway down the tunnel indicated and nods. "Yeah, I can see them too." Now that he's actually using his eyes instead of his nose. "This way, guys."
The little fox opens it's maw in what would have likely been a cute 'yip' in a real fox instead of a flower fox. "Yes little guy we're hunting rats, think you can find them?" he says and the fox joins in on the 'track the rats' path snuffling along and helping with a few turns they might have missed when visual cues were absent.
The sound of rats gets strange, growing stranger, perhaps coming out of the rain? No it just sounds like they might almost be drowing, while others seem to have found an amp an turned it up to 11. The black and white, yin yang of bloody rat violence is a sight to behold, that one might wish they hadn't. "Well uhm.. we could help one side and then take them out when they're weakened by winning.... or we could just try to go at it with both groups and become our own third faction in this fight?" he says questioningly.
"I... think we should just get through this and see if we can find out what they're fighting over," he suggests. With a little sneer of disgust, he kicks away the body of one of the rodents that tumbles up against his foot, and starts picking his way around the edge of the fray.
One big black monster of a rat rears up and lunges at him in passing, and gets a swift arrow in the face for its troubles. "Gross," the hunter mutters, as he plants one foot on the body and retrieves his arrow from it with a wet sucking noise. Those things aren't free.
But it gets them through the maze without her getting lost, and that's good enough. Maybe she should look into summoning things besides undead, spirits and abominations.
More to think about later. Right now they're rounding a bend, her ears immeadiately standing erect again at the horrid chorus of unearthly sounds coming from just beyond. Because it's absolute chaos as rat is fighting rat, and the disguisting field of viscera surrounding them tearing each other apart. "Forget dog eat dog world, rat eat rat is a lot scarier."
Nostrils flare as she snorts. "Looks like this challenge will take a little..." She stomps a hoof on the ground and flexes her hands into fists. And charges right into the mass of rats, the slamming of her hooves atop stone and rodent alike rumbling through the chamber like a stampede. "HORSEPOWER!"
"Okay," she muses as Hifumi swaps out his summons. "Gotta admit the fox is cute." She waggles her fingers at it and smiles. And most certainly does -not- resort to baby talk.
And then we have The Rats From Cheron. "Nope," she replies to Hifumi. "Rats are most definitely not cute." She reaches her hand into the air to inscribe a new series of runs, the characters glowing darkly as she works through the spell, a much longer one than the light spell from earlier. Finally she finishes it. "Darkness Rain!" A shower of needles made out of shadow ripples out into the crowd of rats, slaughtering indiscriminately as she strafes the blast across the room. "We get rid of them /all/."
"One of my old guildmates who was lucky enough not to end up stuck here caught him for me originally." Mikage explains, nodding to Miyako. "I wasn't able to have a cat in real life, so this is the next best thing."
As they step into the room with the distinctly colored rats, Mikage shakes her head, "Yeah, I've seen these guys before. I usually just plow through rather than trying to get involved." That said, that is exactly what the Were Fang girl does. She does her best to avoid stepping on the rats, but it is a losing battle. Squeaks and squeals follow as she pushes her way across the room, knocking them to the side in places.
When the bloody battle is done, Hifumi picks his way across the battle field "Good job guys." he says and as they move past the twisted metal bits he raises an eyebrow... until JuggerRat... Ratternaught? The boss mob charges. "Crap, Fight!" he says scrambling out of the way.
"Huh, looks like they've been dragging goods here from a blacksmith shop?" Dare ventures a guess. Although he can't imagine what the weirdly twisted bits would have been scrap from.
He spots the monster in the helmet at the same moment that it charges as if launched from a spring loaded cannon! "Incoming!" he yelps in alarm. He doesn't have a chance to get his bowstring drawn to bear on the barrelling monstrosity, and instead thrusts his fist forward in a blind punch with the bow clutched in it. He yelps, as his knuckles scrape against the overlapping plates of the helmet, but by pure luck he also feels the already-bloody arrow still braced between his fingers plunge into something soft as the thing practically impales itself on him, knocking him backwards.
It brings them to the next chamber, and one very pissed off, territorial, angry rat in armor. Somehow. "Oh this is more like it," the nightmare croons even as she pulls her lute back into her grasp while others are likely readying weapons. Her fingers strum across the instrument's strings, little sparks of red and orange whirling about them as she does. "Time to bring out one my own dance partners~"
Just as the armor rat is charging the Muse's musical summoning weaves in front of the group, as reddish hues bubble up from the floor as if coming between the cracks to congeal into a large slime blob. Which ignites on fire as it forms. It splatters when struck by the monster, squirting slime all over the armored rat in return. Slime that dribbles its way between the seams of armor to start burning into the rat's skin beneath.
And then there is Rattus Unpleasantus. "I'm having flashbacks to bad Marvel Comics parody issues. Iron Rat, anyone?" She dodges nimbly out of the way of its charge and slashes down at it with her naginata, the blade clanging heavily off its makeshift armor.
Keeping the sword raised, she does her best to block whatever comes towards the party, reducing some of the damage. It's enough to hold it partially at bay so those more directly combat capable can do their thing. "What the heck do they feed the rats down here? Steroid pellets?" She mutters.
When they come into the room with the scene from some heavy metal album cover. A ratman...werefang? Just mutant rat? Man transformed by some of the magics used to make cait and weres? Anyway the Ratman has a circle of power drawn in blood, thick robes, and the general air of dark summoning. Annnd there we are, the rats are summons no wonder they're so odd. "Well, I guess it's time to take out the threat, at least it isn't sad girls who just need some help and real friends." he sighs his fingers already starting to draw runes in the air.
As they come upon the summoning circle his senses swirl for a moment in confusion. His skills lie largely toward the physical realm, and all of this magic practically vibrating through the air is... it's like... it's like Hifumi's meta text indicated. Like a metal album cover. Well, what's he been honing his rock mojo all morning for anyway? The armored rat from the previous room provides all the rest of the inspiration he needs. He draws himself to his full height and bellows, "I AM IRON MAN!"
He hasn't got an instrument on him though. He can feel wisps of bardic magic gathering around him but makes a mental note that he really ought to at least start carrying a drum he can whip out in a pinch, as he swiftly nocks an arrow and sends it sailing over the party's heads toward the red portal. "Has he lost his mind!" Twang as another arrow is loosed. "Can he see or is he blind?"
Turning her sword, she holds it outward, blade pointed at the ground. Blue magical energy starts to focus through it, causing subtle lines and cracks in it to glow. Her breath starts to hang slightly in the air, the temperature dropping quickly. "Forces of magic, heed my call. Ice Rain!"
Shards of ice appear above the enchanter, beginning to fall onto the ground around him. It disrupts the symbols drawn on the floor, spearing them in places and preventing the direct flow of magic that is powering those portals.
She sighs again and starts inscribing runes in the air, once again, her eyes focusing close on the man's ritual circle. "Droch chrich ort," she chants, "Imeacht gan teacht ort. Go dtuitfeadh an tigh ort. Mallacht mo chait ort!"
And with that, there is a sound as of breaking glass, and shards of light shatter and fall to the ground from the edges of the circle.
o/~ No one can destroy the Metaaaal... The Metal will strike you down with a vicious blow! o/~
Dark shadows rise up around the Nightmare as she plays, vagely taking the form of a specteral choir.
o/~ We are the vanquished foes of the Metaaaaal... we tried to win for why we do not knooOOOOOOOOW o/~
Their cries rise to ghostly wails as Kauchemar strikes a deep metal riff, and the specters conjured by her metal singing surge towards the rat summoner with their dark disruptive energies.
As the nightmare and gnoll go heavy metal in a different way, and the Mimi's go magical oposition, the defenses of the Ratman fall and the open portals close with several rat summons charging the party. Durring the confusion Snakeroot slithers close and sinks it's poisoned fangs into the enchanter's leg. It isn't long from there before the low hp high mp boss falls the persistant damage of snake venom. The summoned rats all follow their master puffing into pearls of light, only they leave behind neatly cut steaks as big as they were... all labled 'tasty' when inspected. "Well.. that's good to know." he says pocketing his portion of the meat.
She stoops down to pick up one of the chunks of rat meat left behind. Holds it up as she stands, notices the 'Tasty' flag and sniffs at it. Both with her nostrils, and with her serpentine tongue. "... I almost hate to admit it, but he might be onto something," she murmurs, as she drops the rat steak into her inventory.
"I'm still more in the mood for the Bento boxes, though."
She crouches to pluck up a piece, sniffs at it, and then looks at it curiously. "It... smells good?" The fact that is called 'tasty' seems to be enough. "I'll probably have Sassaral look at this. She knows ingredients better than I do."
The pale-haired Were Fang nods towards Kauchemar, "Agreed. I think I'll take a bento over rat meat. Still, it's something interesting."
She holds up the piece of rat meat and glares at it, turning it this way and that as if searching for some reason to dismiss the 'loot drop'. "I mean, really. Can it get -any- more disgusting than this?" She still almost tosses it away, before swiping a finger across her menu to slip it into inventory. At least there it won't get rat grease over everything. "Probably make for decent dog bait or something, at least."
She sighs and mutters some song lyrics under her breath, then straightens and looks about the crowd. "Not all of us like raw meat. And I know exacly zero recipes for roasted rat."
He stoops to pick up his share of the loot, side-eyeing the 'tasty' tag suspiciously and giving it a very cautious sniff before packing it away in his inventory. Maybe if it's cooked, thoroughly, in some kind of stew...