Duty Session 107: Convoy Escort Quest I

Escort quests, the bane of any experienced gamer. Assisting people who are unable to defend themselves as they trudge slowly through dangerous environments on a preset path. When implemented well, they're a chore - when implemented poorly, they're a nightmare.

The merchant guilds and the People of the Land will pay handsomely to see this convoy deliver its goods - and its people - to the destination, and your group is needing to head that way anyway for your own reasons, so it's time to hitch up and hit the road. It can't be all that bad of a quest, right? Two days of travel will fly right on by.

(Note: This Duty takes several IC days to complete.)

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

Whiskey Sour
Alne - Main Square


Whiskey Sour, freshly freed from her 'duties' of 'minding' the 'statue idiot', has brought both Seliana and Att Syne along with a sheaf of working papers.

"We're going shopping, now that we're not all trapped in the workshop eating cheesy fries-" Other people ate other things. Whis *only* ate cheesy fries with pickles and relish. "-and Att basically lost his choose-things-to-do priveleges-" A major demotion, if temporary. "-so I found some cheap, easy work where we bop some goblins on the head and mostly sit around getting paid. We're provisioning for the shopping trip."

"I didn't spend all my money on alchemy supplies, if you're wondering. I did not." It was pharmacy tools AND alchemy supplies, plus paying Proteus for burgers. There's a difference.


'So, we thought you'd be leading us...?'

Whis nods firmly. "Sasuga, universe. I see now even you'll stand against me. Alright. There's a wagon and some horses and everyone's ready to go, so... follow the road and let me think."

She draws out a worn(-looking, but actually just Low Level and thus Janky Looking) set of divination cards and starts flipping through them.

"Good results, good results... Should I just call a fairy instead?"
Alne - Main Square

Resting beside Whis in her still somewhat frayed black dress Seliana gazes down at the cards Whis is flipping over, although her expression has the ever present frown she seems to be watching the cards closely. "Do those actually work?" she looks up to Whis "This is very different from any kind of divination I do." She really is doing a poor job of 'letting Whis think'.

She looks around at the convoy, and the few Landers which still seem to be going about minor tasks as they get moving. "So.. How long was this supposed to take again?" Seliana wonders aloud.

Turning her gaze to Att she looks him up and down. "I think we might have to bring Att along with us." Then looking down at her worn dress she lets out a breath of air and looks out at the road. "Maybe there are some shops at our destination?"
Att Syne
Alne - Main Square

Honestly, the privelege-loss being accompanied by ascension from the rank of 'statue idiot' is pretty acceptable after all is said and done.

"Okay," says Att Syne, wearing something freshly laundered, having recently rested, and just minutes ago fed something that resembled fruit salad instead of cheeseburgers, "this is about what I honestly expected."

He's sitting on the front of one of the Lander wagons, riding shotgun. He's even rigged up a sword frog and partly-open scabbard to the side of his seat, wherein his wizard's staff is stuck, like a dangerous weapon laid to temporary rest. He's back in his armor and somewhat-classier clothing than the weeks of dusty apron he had going on before. One of his hands is behind his head, and the other is stroking a short beard that he's experimenting with, thanks to so long of being classed as Statue Idiot.

Att is also extremely determined to sit through the entire thing. He's been on his feet for something like six weeks straight with only very brief breaks. Maybe his butt needs to be used before it falls off.

"If we follow this road," he calls with the sound of someone who Definitely Knows Things, "we'll pass near Giant's Seat. So there must be a fork somewhere up that way we can use to get where we're going, right? Just look for the one with the biggest wagon ruts, it's easy!"

It's... it's easy.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Main Square

"Sure, Tarot works, but it's more on the feeling. You experience a lot of this kind of stuff in school, I guess." Whis explains. "The cards are probably for spell attacks or talisman users. I just use them because they're a deck of cards. I can sort of feel if something is wrong when I use them, these days."

Whis is just about to fan them out and do a reading on the wagon as Att guides them towards Giant's Seat.

Of course, there is a fork! A wonderful fork, clear paths, and a good reading. Everything's going great, wonderful, marvellous.

Then they take the path and immediately there's the 'schlorp' of mud on wheels as air is forced out of the muck.

Then Whis' tarot cards light on fire.

"I was going to cast a portent, but I think our luck ran out."

Sliding from the wagon seat, Whis stands next to the sinkhole and sighs. "I think that was The Tower exploding, which really makes me have to repeat: sasuga, universe."

An apologetic look is cast to Seliana. "I thought it'd be a day of work for a bag of gold each, and then I'd bat my eyes at Att and he'd feel guilty and then I'd have two bags for clothes. Now that I know it's a quest and not real work, it's going to be an afternoon of suffering, and we're going to want to die."

"There may also be no bags of gold involved."
Att Syne
Alne - Main Square

Att's directions are helpful and mostly correct... ...on the way. He doesn't know anything about the present state of the roads, which is way more important in an era without lots of paved roadways. He's actively dozing when they actually hit the trouble spot, and, fortunately, isn't on the wagon that gets stuck, so he isn't pitched into the road.

He cracks an eye open. Att looks left, looks right. He... oozes...? ...down to the ground, then straightens up and yawns when he gets there. Att slops through the muddy road, his boots helpfully sealed against this particular hazard by virtue of armor plating and lots of experience being miserable with wet socks.

"What's that about guilt?" He looks down at the sinkhole. "Oh. Um... I didn't do this one."

Yes, that's definitely the guilty part.

"Alright, I'm gonna... okay. Let's see if we can make this more solid, then slowly fill the hole underneath it. If we snap the axle we'll be in really big trouble." Att goes back and grabs his staff. He starts creating a magical green-yellow lightshow around the path, gradually turning parts of it into mud bricks instead of just mud. It seems to mostly work out.
Alne - Main Square

Seliana simply watches Whis work with her cards as they travel, until suddenly the wagon sags to one side and the cards poof into flames. Watching as both Whis and Att hop out to check on the situation she stands.

Slowly climbing out of the wagon Seliana moves over to where Whis is looking at the sinkhole. "It's not that bad. This is all trivial stuff." She looks around at the Landers then over at Att. "You can do something about this, right?" She then stares at him with an impassive frowny face, only occasionally blinking.

Then realizing where she is she looks down at her slippers only now realizing some of the mud is starting to soak into them and she backs up a little. "Okay, maybe this will be horrible and terrible." She moves a little off to the side and tries to wipe her feet on the roadside grass.

After a few moments she comes back. "I needed new shoes anyway." She pauses and glances at herself. "Okay, I need new everything."
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Main Square

"You're fine. It's just mud. They're just shoes. They're an item, right? Just add it to your inventory. Unless it's been transmuted by the mud. Would that be the worst?" Whis is off in her own world for a few moments. "If we're near Giant's Seat, there's a river a few hex grids back that's good for washing."

Whis has clearly washed in it. She is a terrible barbarian IRL, apparently.

"But you're right! That IS what we can do. And afterwards, bags of money for clothes! That's how I'll live for tomorrow."

Whis cracks her knuckles audbily, drawing her own staff out of inventory with a muted flash. "And not kill these idiots today." She subvocalizes, tapping her staff to the earth. The path bursts with foliage and life, and for a moment the caravan is bound up in a tidal wave of growth that carries it out of the rut and builds a mud brick and 'wooden' bridge, tight packed with an almost-smooth slattage of thick vines that kerchuck-kerchuck under the wheels of the caravan.

The idiots manage to get through the pass, only for everyone to get all tired out being rescued from disaster.

'Hey, we're hungry! It's dark! Let's take a nap!'

"Okay. I'm going to find fruits and berries or something, and hopefully we can suffer through a night."

But hey, there's a cool mud brick bridge here now!

Also maybe Seliana's shoes got transmuted to bricks fit to drown someone in the lake with. Maybe. Shopping appears to be a mandatory outing at this point.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Main Square


Day doesn't break so much as peek throught the trees in the small waystation that the group had set down with, with their breakfast of Weird Mushroom, a whole beehive (de-bee'd and cut cleanly in half), and three Odd Pears.

Look, only Whis apparently could find anything to eat.

As Whis drains honey into cups with mushrooms and fruit and prepares honeycomb toast, a group of banditos lurk up to the group.

Wearing forest colors and bandannas, the lead one slurs out to the party.

"Yer money... or yer life."

Whis looks down at her skillet'ed honeycomb, and points down confusedly.

"New, not tha *honey*. Tha *money!*"

Whis points at the honey again. The bandits raise knives and swords and clubs. "Awright." The bandit leader decides. "I'll take boff."
Att Syne
Alne - Main Square

Att may or may not turn Seli's shoes into mud brick clogs accidentally.

He fills the hole and raises it up, though. They get underway without too much issue. Att returns to his half-napping spot on the front of the wagon behind them, and stays that way until nightfall. He's really the worst caravan guard, being asleep on the job instead of actually performing it...


"Ah, well..." Att looks down at a heap of rotten ingredients. He sorts out the ones that are halfway decent. "I think I can carve the bad parts out of this, and then we can use it! It'll just... take a little..."


Att looks up with a start from his spot, having fallen asleep at a makeshift cutting board. He grabs something, hauls back, and whips it across the campsite at the lead bandit with nary a thought.

It's a ham bone with a little usable meat on it. It's been sculpted into the shape of an adorable piglet. The tail is stiff enough to use as a corkscrew.
Alne - Main Square

Watching mutely at the spectacular display as a new bridge is formed in only a few moments Seliana appears rooted in place as she looks on. After a few more moments she looks down at her feet as she struggles to move. With some effort she lifts one of her feet to take a step forward and a sizable and solidified block of stone comes with.

After some slight struggling Seliana manages to slip her feet out of her slippers and simply adds them to her inventory. Now freed she moves barefoot over to the others as they setup camp, and along with it their complaints. "It takes a lot longer than a single day to get your hunger debuff up to the point where it starts to tick damage." She counters the complaints and as if that explained everything she find herself somewhere to curl up and is quickly asleep.

"New, not tha *hone*. Tha *money!*"

Blinking awake Seliana looks around, her hair a dishevelled mess she yawns. Blinking a few times she spots pointy and clubby things faced in her general direction. Standing up dull colors seem to seep into her irises and swirl in a kaleidoscopic dance and little orbs of multicolored light phase into existence around her. With another yawn she raises a hand to point at the highwaymen, and electrical charges crackle between the motes of light moving towards the area in front of her finger before an arc of multicolored lightning bursts forward and causes a nearby tree to explode.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Main Square

It's a fiasco. Bandits for breakfast. Everything is terrible.

What's worse is what happens to the honeycomb.

As the bandits are blasted by technicolor dream zaps and swing around dazedly blind, or scream as a pigtailed corkscrew stabs them in the forehead and they fountain digital blood, the leader goes up against Whis.

She brains him with a frypan.

But there's only one fry-pan in the camp.

The one frying up the tasty honeycomb toast. It plaps to the floor, as the bleeding guy with the pig in his forehead bumbles into the dazed buffoon.

They stooge into each other for a while, before being chased off. And that's when it hits everyone.

None of the Landers helped at all. None of them even *did* anything. It feels entirely scripted, and now the party is down a set of shoes and the better part of breakfast. Spirits run low...

Well, they run low among the NPCs becuase it's always a bloody crisis.

Whis, for her part, at least tries to cheer up Seliana in the morning. "I always walk around barefoot in the game world. Maybe you'll like it? The ground just feels better than in reality. It makes me want to break out in song!"

There's a moment where the forest takes in a breath. The second day could use a little brightening up. Is this the vaunted... MUSICAL NUMBER?
Alne - Main Square

As the highwaymen are chased off the colors in Seliana's eyes seem to bleed away into the ether until only the dull red are left once more. Looking around she stretches and looks around blinking and yawning some more. "Wha.. *yawn* was that about?" perhaps she was still a bit asleep through the conflict despite all the exploding and screaming?

As they get moving again Whis tries to cheer her up. "You know, I think I kind of like being barefoot. It is kind of.. grounding? There is a powerful feeling in it somehow." She looks down as she scrunches her toes. "I only ever used to do something like this at the beach. I always liked it."

Looking around the Landers seem to be in a fowl mood, complaints are being thrown about, they really were a useless lot it seemed. But the sun was coming out, the flowers were blooming, was that a fuzzy bun-bun hopping along just to the side of the road? Maybe this day would get better. Maybe this was the turning point.

As Seliana walked along, the grass beneath her feet, a warm sensation in her chest started to grow. It was like something was coming up.. "Uh, guys? I think I'm going to be sick.." And then she quickly rushes out further to the side of the road.
Att Syne
Alne - Main Square

Fending off the bandit attack rewards a decent sum of XP, a little bit of silver, and no food to speak of. It nets negative food, in fact, because of the manner in which they beat it. Att frowns deeply once the realizes their predicament, but has nothing to add to it.

The subtle, guilty cronch of old Valentine's Day candies being quietly eaten are all in your imaginations.

"At least it's a nice day," Att sighs. He feels a sort of tension in the air --

Acting quickly, Att constructs a FUNCTIONAL LUTE out of nothing more than a LENGTH OF TWINE, a FLAT STRIP OF BARK, a CHUBBY SQUIRREL and a FUNCTIONAL LUTE.

He passes it to Whis with a solemn expression. It's up to her, now.

...Then he sidles off to go check on Seliana. Really, someone ought to.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Main Square

Whis is one with nature. She is the land and the light and also is frustrated as hell. This is exactly what the Landers always do. They tease with capability, they act with wit and interesting properties, and have heroes who stun even Adventurers with their prowess.

And then you get them in a quest and it's like managing highly distractable chimpanzees and cats. The air is certainly one of despair, every time. Fires starting, and triage.

And then Att Syne hands Whiskey Sour a lute made out of a squirrel. Please don't worry.

Only the squirrel will be harmed in the making of this travesty.

"I'm feeling a song coming on. Are you okay? We can take a break, and I'll tune this thing."

Whis tweaks the stems (literal, stems) at the top, and plucks the strings with the tips of her fingers. She picks away... and as Seliana feels a WEIRD FEELING in her HEART ORGAN, Whis starts singing.

It's 'singing'. It's actually growling. Like death metal. This is not a serenade in the classical sense.

But, of all things, Whis can growl like a champ.

While the group wait by the roadside as Seliana has a moment and Whis crows something about 'Forget Not' in broken English, some other adventurers show up.

"Wow! We just got done helping out. Now we'll help you! Okay? Okay! Let's get paid, everyone!" A red bandanna guy with spiked hair announces, with an Orthodox Staff Girl and an androgenous Bow Person with a cowl and mask. You know the sort.

They have a cape.

And they're here to Mister-Steal-Your-Share.
Alne - Main Square

Returning to the rest of the group after having received some assistance from Att she pauses to look at the other adventurers with their pristine outfits, never have left sight of the town. Seliana now with matted hair, torn and dirty dress, and barefoot she gazes at the newcomers. Her dull red eyes starting to glow a faint red light.

Marching up to the other adventurers, her hands tucked into fists she looks up at them and growls with all the dignified grace of an undead zombie "Leave."

Then from behind one of the Lander's respond. "Well, alright. Works for us." And the convoy suddenly starts to move forward along the road.
Att Syne
Alne - Main Square

Att Syne can dimly hear the drifting notes from Whis' impromptu Squirrelectric Lutar solo in the distance. He's a supportive guildmate to his bedraggled ally in her time of, um, illness. He may have been vaguely responsible, since he was partly involved with the cooking the night prior.

They come back. Seliana makes a threatening motion, and the Lander caravan starts slowly creaking forward. Att steps up and smooths his hair and his new beard with quick, practiced movements. He moves on over towards the lead Adventurer in the other party. "Oi!" Att makes a motion that means nothing to Landers, but everything to players with the Inspect function, a quick, upwards hand gesture.

                              Att Syne / Spriggan                              
                              Guild: Plant Hwyaden                              

"You're in charge, right?" He's making that assumption because this is the guy with the cape. Att looks towards the disgruntled Landers, and then back to the Adventurers here to steal their credit. Att doesn't think they're getting paid anyway. He leans in close. "Listen; we've gotta get back -- guild stuff -- so it'd be a huge help if you finished this up for us. I'll transfer the quest to you through the Hunter's Guild and everything. Just..." The other guy raises an eyebrow and, at Att's beckoning, leans closer.

A moment after with some AR menu fidgeting (what they do isn't visible, but the hand gestures are), Att walks away, waving Whis over to where he goes walking back to Seliana. "Come on," he tells the two of them. "Let's get outta here." He starts picking his way through the woods off the trail, going downhill and following the curve of the land.

A minute of walking later, and they've become sufficiently separated... and have arrived at a babbling brook running through the woods. There's enough of a gap in the foliage above to let shafts of sunlight filter through and play off the surface of the water with twinkling results. Att draws a knife from his sculptor's tools -- very familiar, after his month-plus of wielding it -- and neatly cuts the top off a rock near the water's edge to make a flat surface. There's space around it for them to sit on the ground.

Which is good, because he starts dropping food out of his inventory. Fresh, wrapped for the road, and player-made. It smells great. Att is looking particularly smug. "I traded the quest progress for lunch. Those Landers weren't gonna pay us anyway after the night we had." He drops to the ground, gesturing at the (for three people) veritable feast.

"It's an ugly duck's job to take care of their guildmates. Dig in!"
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Main Square

Att Syne and Seliana see a side of Whis that never came out in the workshop.

Her dark eyes draw coldly across Forest Archer, Staff Girl, and Chad Spikehair. There's a tremble in the air, a chill in her tone. Somehow she stares 'down' at them. It's absolutely an energy.

"You... want to do what?"

The incredulity drips from her tone. She crosses her arms. Seliana demands they leave. Whis doesn't verbally contribute, and rather tenses up like a spring taking in compressed energy, or a pneumatic press slowly spooling up.

Att Syne, of course, is a seasoned shotcaller, and just calls it a wash. Whis doesn't come down off of Resting Villain Face Mountain until they get to lunch.

Finally, when they get to the Ugly Lunchling Place, Whis unspools a little, elbowing Seliana. "You going to be up for lunch? I'll kill those guys later, don't worry."