Duty Session 96: Escort Quest: Artificial Stupidity
A Lander stands just at the exit of town with a familiar quest marker being offered. Apparently, they need to travel to a nearby location which requires traversing through rough terrain, filled with monsters. So, they have reached out to brave Adventurers to help guide them on their way!
It's just a simple escort mission. What could go wrong?
Rec. Party: 4+
World Rewards: None
"It shouldn't be too far, I promise!" She says with a desperate haste, almost as if she's worried that the VILLAINOUS-LOOKING CAIT SITH (and his companions) are going to change their minds at the last minute. "The shrine is just a little ways down the road and there shouldn't be too much trouble...!" She adds, whispering, "...Except maybe the monsters...?"
Prophylaxis sighs. "Of course there's going to be trouble. Why hire adventurers to come along if there's not...?" He looks aside to the rest of his party with a shrug, "Where did they even find a shrine on the first floor, I wonder...? Ah well. Here's hoping we won't run into anything we can't handle."
Yuuki can be a bit of a completionist. So even with notoriously bad escort quests, she still wants to try them out once. And because notoriously bad escort quests are notoriously bad, she thought she'd drag Prophylaxis along to suffer with her. And because quests like these are easier done in groups. Plus a few others probably got nabbed on the way towards the quest start. Or they happened to be in the area. Or planning to do the quests themselves! Who knows.
With all that said, Yuuki grins as she walks alongside the Lander and the rest of the party, "Hey! It wouldn't be a very fun quest if there was no trouble."
Yuuki flashes the Lander a grin, "Not to worry though! We'll keep the monsters at bay." Yuuki thinks for a moment, then adds, "As long as you pay attention to where you're going and don't wander off!"
She does narrow her eyes just slightly at Yuuki, and hopes the girl didn't just jinx it for the lot of them.
"You are the leader of the Sleeping Knights?"
She seems a bit shocked to see a major player here with them. Not that she's going to complain about it at all she also look to Vetina for a moment.
"We meet again!"
Prophylaxis, meanwhile, is busy staring at Yuuki like she didn't just speak the phrase that always, without fail, invites certain disaster. "It's going to be one of those days, huh...?"
The group of four (+1) sally forth! And for a while, it seems Gerda is actually being quite true to her word! She sticks to the main road (such as it is, Tolbana's roads still being in quite a state of disrepair) for a good while, full of chatter about life in town and how it's so much nicer than how things were in Ezzo, and then--
She's so caught up in her story that she barely notices that there's a flock of *giant birds* on the road. These are no normal birds. Black of feather, coal-like eyes, these are some manner of giant raven... And they do not seem particularly pleased about being disturbed. "Ow! Ow-ow-owww!" Gerda squeaks as the creatures squawk and scratch and peck, and she comes running back toward the party... with a flock of angry corvids out for her eyes! "Help! Bad birds! BAD BIRDS!"
"Hey! Back off!" Vertina darts in without much other consideration, slamming her hands together to create a shockwave to knock the Bad Birds away from Greda.... Only for them to pretty much shrug it off due to their size. "Ow ow! No fair!" And start pecking and clawing at the Salamander as well. Vertina at least can use her scale clad arms to shield her head and face, so she's kind of protecting the girl? But has gotten herself into just as much trouble in the process.
Someone clearly didn't play the right games to know Fighting types are weak to Flying type attacks.
Yuuki apparently doesn't notice anything wrong with what she's said so far. As Miho recognises her, Yuuki looks at her and grins, "Yup! I'm the super famous fearless leader of the Sleeping Knights. One of the co-founders of the Olympus Alliance!" She then jokingly adds, "Autographs will have to wait until after the quest."
Some time passes, Yuuki happily walking along as they progress, chatting with Gerda along the way. She also fails to notice the evil birds in their path like some kind of avian gang. It's only once Gerda finds herself being pecked at that Yuuki jumps into action!
Yuuki draws her sword, quickly dashing towards the group of evil birds. A whirlwind forms up around her blade as she starts an air-based Sword Arte. She begins to slash and wave it at the birds. Everyone knows that flying mobs are weak to air!
"What the hell is wrong with those birds."
She makes a very puffy cheeked angry face about it. As she moves to keep fending them off with her sword and the odd arrow from her bow.
Whereupon the resulting air-currents she stirs suddenly double if not triple in strength- the result of a well-timed air-enhancement spell aimed right at her sword! "Everyone knows that birds are weak to wind or lightning! *Unless* they're ground birds, then the best bet is probably fire!"
"Uu..." Gerda sniffles from under the human shield that is Vertina. "Everyone... Are you all okay? That was scary and--" She pauses and slaps her hands against her cheeks. "Nn! I can't cry just because of some birds! I'm sorry, I didn't see where I was going! I'll make it up to you the next time!"
"Y-yeah," Prophylaxis answers, then shakes his head with a long sigh as their Lander escortee ~hops~ back to her feet and dusts herself off. "Just... don't go too far off on your own, okay? It's hard to keep you safe when--"
"Oh! A river!" Gerda chirps, "Don't worry! I won't let you down this time! I'm a great swimmer!"
Prophylaxis' eyes shoot wide, and you can practically hear the glass pane cracking in his brain, "No, wait, don't--"
There's a *sploosh!* Tentacles shoot up out of the water and begin flailing about. And Gerda... is trapped in their clutches. "Uwaaaaa! Heeeelp! Tentacle monster! TENTACLE MONSTER!"
Prophylaxis just looks... Kind of dumbfounded, honestly.
Not because of anything in particular that Gerda did, in all actuality. He kind of predicted that she'd charge boldly ahead regardless of the obstacles in her path. He's just... "...How the heck did a *squid monster* get in a *river!?*"
...Apparently baffled by the juxtaposition of tentacle monster and fresh water. You're not supposed to find tentacled things in fresh water!!
To a river. That's nice and calm and there is no way it can be a probl--"What the hell?!" With a start she hops back as tentacles start flailing out of the water. That doesn't make any sense!... but being one less reliant on sensability Vertina is less flustered by it than the doctor. Instead there's a cheeky quip of "Good thing I'm not wearing a skirt!"
The Salamander leaps in, grabs a couple of tentacles, and then pulls in the opposite direction and digs her clawed toes in for anchorage. "Com'n! Over here boy! Just try to drag me in!"
She's... trying to play tug-of-war with it like a giant dog until someone else can do something more clever it would seem.
The birds are handled well enough that they're able to free Gerda up from their evil pecking. Moving her sword up to rest on her shoulder, Yuuki gives Gerda a smile and a thumbs up, "It's all good now. And it's fine to be scared of monsters. They can be scary if you aren't used to dealing with them."
The group continues onwards, soon coming to a river. Where's a bridge when you need one... Or perhaps a large bird you could fly over the river on the back of. Yuuki opens her mouth to suggest that maybe they should take a moment to look for a better place to cross, when Gerda suddenly heads towards the water's edge. Swimming can be good. But not in tentacle monster infested waters! ... Wait... These are tentacle monster infested waters!?
Gerda is caught within the evil clutches of the tentacles, Yuuki wincing a little bit, "Hold on! We'll get you down." Yuuki starts running for the river. To the others she says, "I'll go for the tentacles at their base. Someone be ready to catch her!"
Yuuki reaches reaches the edge of the river. But instead of diving into it, she activates a movement skill and starts to run across the surface of the water. Reaching the point where the tentacles are rising up out of the water, Yuuki starts making running passes, slashing at the flailing limbs, trying to get the ones that are holding Gerda up.
"I don't have any magic!"
She notes to Prophylaxis. Well, there's some but nothing that would make her considered to be a mage. She will carry on seemingly enjoying herself once things settle down a bit until they hit the river she looks at it for a moment. She takes a look at tiver for a moment and she nods for a moment and then watches what' happening she'll make a face.
"Why does it have to be tentacles!"
She will break into a run to try and get into the water to either fight the creature and hack away at it, or aid the lander in getting free should they get free.
Speaking of which, the girls make quick work of the tentacled horror, chopping its many limbs into chunks of meat that would be absolutely delectable if battered and deep-fried... And if they actually persisted for longer than a few moments before dissolving into patterns of red light.
It all happens quickly enough that Prophylaxis doesn't even manage to snap out of his baffled reverie in time to help! Not *effectively* anyway. Yuuki orders someone to catch Gerda before she gets herself hurt, and Prophylaxis hops to the job, but manages to trip over himself and tumble into the river himself for his trouble.
But the monster is murdered in short order. Vertina holds tentacle after tentacle hostage, leaving them open for Yuuki to cut free of their host-body. Miho intercepts the falling Lander before she hits her head on something, and lands on the other side of the river following her leap...!
Really, with only their escortee and caster soaked to the bone, and the waters now clear of tentacle monsters, that was a pretty productive encounter all together...!
"Well, I hope we all learned a valuable lesson about running into unsafe waters," Prophylaxis sighs, his labcoat doffed and strung up over his staff like some kind of extremely sciency flag. It's drying, slowly, but he had to remove it or continue to suffer from the <<soaked>> debuff.
"S-sorry," Gerda says, chastened more than just a little bit for the next stretch of the journey. She's a little quieter too, maybe the devs didn't code her enough text for this part of the quest? Or maybe she's just embarassed about having been saved *again* immediately after saying that she'd be totally fine and would watch her step better?
"Oh!" She squeaks as she nearly stumbles down a sharp decline. She wobbles a bit, but falls back instead of forward. There's... a crevasse. A chasm divides the land, cutting the road neatly into two segments. To follow the road means to somehow ford the gap.
"M-maybe we should find a way around?" She asks, reasonably unwilling to hop across a gap that large.
But maybe if the adventurers are able to shape the earth effectively enough, they might be able to *make* a way across...?
She steps back and looks around at the rocky surroundings. "I think..." She closes her eyes to concentrate, arms up in front of herself with the hands crossed back-to-back to make what could be a mountaintop. It's something rock and earth related to focus on to use Earth Wave Arts, is what it amounts to.
Then she snaps up one leg and slams it down hard into the ground. "SHIFTING SANDS!" Earthly material is heaved up as she channels through the strike, almost like a minature sandstorm, rushing forward and pushing it over the edge of the chasm to help fill in a portion.
Yuuki chuckles at the sight of the soaked Prophylaxis. For Gerda though, Yuuki just smiles and pats her on the shoulder, "It's fine. It's not really your fault or anything." Yuuki blames the devs.
Moving onwards, they come to a sudden break in the road. Yuuki blinks, "Oh boy... Ummmm..." Yuuki paces up and down the edge of the chasm. Looking a little clueless.
As Vertina starts shaping the ground to form a bridge, Yuuki watches on, impressed. She looks around for a moment, before leanining down to pick up a rock. She throws it into the mass of shifting earth adding a bit more ammo to the caster. She's helping!
"Yes tentacle horrors have no place in this world or any other."
She'll look to Gerda and pauses.
"It is all right. I think I have an idea."
She will attempt to follow up Vertina's effort as she pulls out one big darn Forge hammer from her inventory and attempt to follow up and helping to knock it out of the way but she ends up flat on her face.
"Damn it i tripped on my tail..."
Meanwhile, Yuuki chucks rocks.
YUUKI IS HELPING.
Miho is also helping. Or trying to help. Unfortunately, the footing is not the best and she ends up tripping over herself! Whoops!
"Oh my," Gerda breathes, clapping her hands together. "I never thought you could use magic to do something like build a bridge before...! Come on, let's go!"
Eagerly, she hops onto one of the larger rocks, then billygoat-leaps from it to the next, the next and the next, and gets to the other side intact! Well done, everyone! There's even still a bridge for the adventurers to cross, too.
And for a while, all is well and good. There are no obstacles ahead, nothing particularly pressing to deal with...
And then Gerda stumbles as if suddenly woozy, and collapses to her knees. "I don't feel... very good...?" She says, a pained expression on her face. "Hold on, I just need to... catch my breath?"
Prophylaxis frowns and pushes his way to the front of the group. He grabs his labcoat from his staff and whips it back around his shoulders. It's still damp, but he needs it for *effect.* "Don't worry, we can take a few minutes," he says, kneeling next to the Lander girl, "I'll take your hand for just a minute, I'd like to check your pulse..."
Doctor gonna doctor, it seems. The others might have their own insights or abilities that might help out in this makeshift treatment. But... what might have caused this? She was fine just a second ago. Is this another case... Of developer malice...!?
Greda complains about some inspecific ill feeling. "-- There it is," Vertina murmurs to herself, shaking her head.
Good thing they have a Good Country Doctor with them. She just folds her arms at her chest. "I'll leave this one to you Doc. Most of my spiritual supplications are self-applied only."
Yuuki bounces her way across the large chasm, using the modified terrain thanks to the magic of the others, "Man, I sometimes wish I could use magic. But then I wouldn't be as good with the sword. So ultimately I think it's a good enough tradeoff."
They keep going for a while. Up until Gerda starts to feel ill. Yuuki walks up to lean over and look at the girl while Prophylaxis tends to her. Yuuki smiles reassuringly, "Not to worry! We've got the best doctor on the server here! In the meantime, I'll go see if I can find some water for you." The energetic Imp spins around, rushing off behind a large rock.
About a minute later, Yuuki makes her way back, looking a little disappointed, "I couldn't find any water..."
She then holds out hand, showing a plant in her hand, "But I did find this growing between a couple of rocks. Think it might be helpful?"
Inspecting it reveals it to be an extremely rare curative ingredient, not known to grow in any one place but found sporadically through the region. When it can be found, anyway.
His eyes narrow. At some point while Yuuki is out fetching water, he rolls up one of Gerda's sleeves, revealing a stretch of skin that looks... Inflamed? Like there's a rash there. His lips forming a thin line, he checks another spot on her other arm, and finds a similar stripe there. "Tch. I knew I should have given her a once-over after that tentacle monster. This looks like some kind of slow-acting contact poison. Must've gotten all over you when it grabbed you. I've got antidotes, but that'll only take care of the toxin. The fatigue and other symptoms aren't going to go away immediately--"
Just then! Yuuki suddenly reappears... With an herb! An extremely *rare* herb. Prophylaxis' eyes almost bug out of his head. "You... Yuuki you lucker! That's a panacea herb. Give it here for a sec--"
Field medicine isn't a graceful or pretty. Prophylaxis opens one of the plant's seedpods and grinds its contents together between a couple of rocks. He gathers the powder, mixes it in with some of his own drinking-water in a portable flask and hands it over. "Slow sips. It'll be pretty bitter, but you should be able to keep it down..."
From Gerda's expression, that stuff *is* bitter as all get-out. "Take your time," Prophylaxis soothes, and the Lander obediently follows his advice.
But, these circumstances...
He chuckles softly and gives Yuuki a look. "I never thought I'd ever see the day when you'd be acting as my nurse! I mean, future game developer sure, but you never struck me as a nursing type. I guess I should be thankful to this place for showing me something amazing, huh...?"
Gerda takes some time-- about ten minutes or so-- but manages to get the rest of the medicine down. It takes another ten minutes for her to recover, and she offers an apologetic bow as she rises, "I'm terribly sorry for the trouble. I'd actually started feeling weird a little while ago, but I didn't want to worry anyone..."
"It's fine," Pro says, stashing away what's left of the medicinal herb for later. "As long as you're feeling better now, that's all that matters. But next time, if something doesn't feel right, let us know ahead of time?" They could have cleared it up way earlier if it was detected immediately! But then, that's on Pro a little bit, too. He should have known that tentacle monsters probably carried some kind of paralytic poison...
"It's right up ahead!" Gerda chirps, clearly back in good spirits, as they approach the shrine. "We had stopped and offered prayers on our way into town! I felt like giving the spirits an offering was the least I could do as thanks...!"
But the shrine is... It's seen better days. The shrine isn't too overgrown, admittedly, but it is somewhat worn. There's a statue there of a woman carrying chains. Gerda smiles and steps toward the idol, when suddenly...
Strange hooded creatures step out from behind the statue. They're twisted, gnarled figures with branch-like limbs and hideous, miscolored, horned-faces that surround rotting, decaying teeth. Hags...!
Gerda screams and falls back toward the group! The hags lunge, attacking with sweeping, taloned strikes! Those claws smolder with some kind of miasma-- poison!? Or something worse...?
Some time later, Vertina is regreting she ever said that. Sure they found the temple with little farther issue. So all is well and good... Until it's not. Because there's always something else.
"Those faces look like they already got beat up!" Vertina quips as she moves into position to intercept one of the gnarled hags. Though this time it's with a more measured pace, stepping in to block a limb with one arm, and then lashing a kick at the hag.
Which the twisted woman knocks aside with her other gangly limb.
"Hold still!" There is a lot of back and forth like that. "I said hold still!" As thanks to her defensive stance neither Vertina or the hag managing to do more than annoy the other. Until the creature just finally ups and flees upon realizing the Salamander is not going to be an easy victim.
"Yeah, that's right!" Vertina shouts after the hag. "MAKE LIKE A BOUGH AND GET BENT!"
.... Well at least it wasn't the most obvious tree pun she could of made ....
Oh hey, the plant is useful? Yuuki knew that! Of course she did. That's why she picked it. Not because she was trying to distract from her terrible water-finding skills.
Yuuki laughs at the idea of her being a nurse, "I don't know if I'd go that far." She thinks for a moment, then says, "On the other hand, I have spent a lot of time in hospitals. Maybe I've learned some things through osmosis!"
They give Gerda a little more time to recover before moving on. Soon enough they come to the shrine that signals their destination. Yuuki lets out a sigh of relief, "That's good. Looks like we're finally here. It wasn't that bad, really."
As Gerda screams, Yuuki quickly draws her sword, "Ack, spoke too soon!" She rushes ahead, closing the distance to Gerda and the Hag going after her. She brings her sword up in between the Hag's talon strike and the Lander, using the flat of the blade like a shield as she deflects the blow.
Taking up a position between Gerda and the Hags, Yuuki says, "Get 'em!" She deflects another attempted strike with her sword, this time quickly getting in a counterattack with a quick swipe, "I've got this!"
She'll let him do his work and she comments.
"Eh do you two know each other?"
She asks Yuuki and Prophylaxis. They make more time and things end up going fairly well at least until she sees the thing has been overrun by horrors.
She'll go for the bow on her back notch and arrow and let lose several Burst Shots into the creature.
"To think I nearly went for a Shine Maiden sort."
The Hags are not trivial foes. Their claws are wicked-sharp and able to tear through all but the strongest of defenses. The toxin coating them is enough to paralyze even with a shallow cut. Vertina's skill at arms is enough, however, to keep her personal Hag occupied until she's able to drive it away. Whether because it's being tanked or because it's on the run, it isn't a factor in the rest of the engagement.
...Which is good, because the monsters are formidable foes indeed. The good doctor has taken a rear-guard position, erecting a fortress of stone around himself and their escortee. If she gets cut up by one of these things, it'll be game over right then and there...!
But he has little to worry about, as it turns out. Yuuki's sword-arm is as deft as ever, and the doctor's makeshift defenses are ultimately meaningless, as the hags never actually get close enough to test them. So focused are the remaining hags at taking Yuuki down that they scarcely notice Miho lining up a perfect shot, taking two of them out in a single volley. The remaining hag screeches as it flees into the wilderness, skittering like a jagged spider as it goes.
With the battle completed, Prophylaxis drops his shield and Gerda steps tentatively out. "...They're gone? You drove them all off?"
The Lander girl smiles and pulls a few sheafs of rice from the pouch at her side. "Our first few crops at Tolbana... Should make a good offering, I think! O' goddess," she prays, laying the plants at the statue's feet, "Thank you for granting us your protection during our travels, for blessing us with these fertile lands, and for sending these brave adventurers to our aid. Please grant them your blessing as well, and continue to grace us with your favor..."
Nothing seems to happen immediately, but it won't be long before a mysterious token appears in the inventories of those adventurers gathered here. But for now, all Prophylaxis can do is observe: "...So they have their own gods too, huh? How much of this is programmed, and how much is... Mmn."
Miho asks what his relation is to the manic purple-haired girl, and Prophylaxis shrugs, "That's up to Yuuki to say. I'm fine if she wants to share, but otherwise my lips are sealed."
"Nice shot!" Yuuki gives Miho a thumbs up as she sees two of the Hags exploding into light.
Yuuki finally relaxes as the remaining Hags are driven off. She would give chase, to finish them off, but that's the kind of thing the devs probably expect you to do and so keep a few extra Hags in hiding to get the escort NPC when you're not looking. Thus Yuuki keeps an eye out for any such surprise mechanics while Gerda does her thing with the shrine.
Yuuki is somewhat familiar with religion, though not the ones in the game specifically. But she does say, "I recall there being gods in the game lore. But I didn't pay much attention to it."
The questions of the relationship between Yuuki and Prophylaxis comes up, the latter leaving it up to Yuuki to speak of. Yuuki grins in response, saying, "Yup! I've known Prophy for years." She pauses for a few moments before adding, "I get all my drugs from him!"
Yuuki turns, beginning to make her way back to town. She's amused to leave that technically true statement as the only descriptor she provides.
She probably won't notice the mysterious item until later.
"Hard to tell," she replies to Prophy's musing. ".. Or if really matters. Even 'code' seems to be turning over on its own these days."
The whole conversation over how close the doctore and the star raider are goes mostly over her head, so she just shrugs and turns to head back to town. "Let's get back home before something -else- happens."
Damn escort missions.
"I'm glad to have helped let make sure you get somewhere safe once we're done here?"
She looks to Prophylaxis.
"Fair and for that? How programmed are we?"
She grins at the compliment from Yuuki then pauses.
"Wait all your durgs....?!?!"
Miho gets the wrong idea there...the VERY WRONG IDEA. She'll be keeping an harder eye on Prophylaxis now...