Duty Session 108: 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.
Rec. Party: 3+
World Rewards: Increases in mining efficiency in Town of Beginnings.
Prophylaxis, newly promoted as he is, leads this particular expedition with a small amount of trepedition. He's not /afraid/ of spiders per se, but he's keenly aware of what their venom can do to a body, and would really rather like to avoid being bitten if at all possible.
It's probably a bit of an ask, but that's why he's packed a whole box full of antivenom for the trip.
"Everyone ready?" Prophylaxis asks, standing at the yawning mouth of the main shaft. Thick, sticky spiderwebs hang from the walls like morbid lace curtains. The good doctor looks at them with a thoughtful grimace, then begins whisking the webs around his staff, gathering them all up in a fluffy cloud of spider goo. "I'm not looking forward to this... Who had the bright idea of putting a /spider cave/ in a VR game...?"
"I promise not to try and eat any for the experience of it." Is all she offers at first. Then realizing how odd a joke that is, shrugs and says, "Nevermind, it was a joke- I'm ready when you guys are." and adds as an after thought, "Giant spiders are a staple in fantasy. It's a boring idea's what it is."
"Spiders are pretty typical type of enemy from what I understand. Right there with rats and slimes." Vertina just grabs some of the webbing in a fiery hand and disintergrates it. Shakes off the remaining ash. "What she said. Not very original... but the easiest way to flesh out lower floors of the tower and save the weird stuff for later, I suppose."
She's not strictly a tank but being a daredevil she has no problem hopping ahead in the lead. "Let's get this duty rolling!"
What the party finds in the first of the tunnel's wider chambers is not a spider, however. It's... Something. It sure is Something. It's a big, flesh-colored thing with a too-big mouth and teeth like tombstones. It seems to be chewing on a very human femur, even as its beady, blood-red eyes scan over toward the adventurers as they enter its spiderweb-laden chamber.
"Nope," Prophylaxis declares as the monster makes to stand. He hurls a barrage of fiery bolts in a spectacular array of pyrotechnics. The beast recoils at the flame, and then begins screaming (in a tone that sounds way too much like a giant, upset baby) as the fire spell smashes into it. Curtains of spiderweb catch fire and fall across its exposed skin, cooking it like a coal-roasted pig. "I did not sign up to deal with any form of nightmare other than the eight-legged variety, thank you very much."
She looks around, and spots one of the satchels of stuff left behind when the miners flee. Gets her toes under it and flips it into the air in front of her. "Whatever it is..." As it drops back down she twists to slam her foot into it, kicking the object towards the beast as it's ignited by her Salamander Fire-Fu.
"I mean I know they're related to crab and all that- I'm sure they even taste finee prepared properly. I'm just happy going for simple ramen though."
It smells like pork. Delicious...?
"Well that was unpleasant," Prophylaxis says as he presses on through the corridor. "Let's hope it was guarding something worthwhile and not just another dead end?"
Not quite. The tunnel immediately past the smoldering embers that used to be a monster is... winding. It goes on for a long, long time, and Pro wonders whether they're ever going to run into anything spiderlike at all. For all the web in their way, they haven't encountered many arachnids yet-- though the reason could very well be what they find at the end of the winding mineshaft.
"Flooded," Pro says with a huff. The tunnel very clearly continues through the water, but anyone who knows anything about cave diving would be able to tell you just how dangerous it can be. "Anyone have any ideas? I'm tempted to just part the waters as best I can, and hope that it might clear a path."
One of the fish swimming around gets a different idea when it sees light glint off the sinking hook. The whopper has gnarly jaws more than big enough to chomp down on the hook and take off in a rapid swim.
Vertina blinks as the rope abruptly twangs out at an angle instead of sinking straight down. "That's not what's suppose to happe--ACK!" She's cut off by the splash as she's yanked into the pool, being towed into whatever underwater passage it is her unintentional catch is barreling down!
"I figure it wasn't guarding anything, it was probably just here. Like here to eat kind of thing. It's a trash pull." Hisame shrugs, poking the water with the butt of her polearm and swirling the water up while thinking.
"I mean" she starts, "Instead of parting the water why not just give yourself a bubble head sort of thing and wander around that way? Or change the currents to speeed along or something. Seems easier." Which she then does, because the fish is yanking oe of the party along and she'd better catch up just in case.
And then Vertina is abruptly yanked into the pool by some kind of ridiculous cave-fish. Prophylaxis has barely enough time to curse his platformer-trained reflexes as he reaches out to grab hold of her ankle just as she tumbles in. "MRRRGLGLGLGRL!" Prophylaxis babbles through the freezing, crystal-clear water as he conjures a bubble of air around each of their heads (even Hisame's, who should probably try to catch up as soon as she can). The fish- or whatever it is- takes them through a twisting, zig-zagging underwater channel, slamming the adventurers up against limestone walls and into jagged rock before suddenly leaping /out/ of the water. Vert and Pro are thrust bodily into the air, and manage to catch sight of their makeshift ride. It's... majestic. Some kind of gemstone-encrusted dolphin-like creature with a massive tusk on its forehead that glitters like diamond. Some kind of... Stone Narwhal. A Stonewhal, you might say.
"Guh!" Pro grunts as he hits the ground. The Stonewhal falls back into the pool and swims away, having slipped free of Vert's fishing hook. Hisame needs to dodge the creature's retreat if she wants to avoid being impaled by its tusk, but can follow its path easily enough to where the others have ended up.
Which is, as it so happens, a distinctly square-shaped chamber... With no readily visible exit, just a whole bunch of weird rock formations. There are indications, however, that someone must have passed through here recently-- the spiderwebs are torn in places, and the dust seems to have been disturbed here and there. "Ughhh," Pro groans as he pushes himself back upright. "Anyone get the number on that truck?"
He pauses as he peers at the room, casting a quick fire spell to help light things up a little bit. "...Looks like a dead end. Or maybe there's a secret passageway here...?"
Surfacing some short time after, she mutters a few more times and hauls herself otu of the water.
With absolutely no skill whatsoever in picking locks or even pretending that she can, she instead starts to fiddle with the stones, fingers running over them and eventually just trying to kick them. When all else fails, percussive maintenance or... something.
The only thing she finds is the small fish that eventually flops out of her judogi pants, splatting about before finally floundering back into the water.
From there, Pro is able to apply literal magic to it and convince the runes to light up and the gate to open. Illuminated as they are, their meaning can be discerned: the runes spell 'friend' in Alvish...!
But nobody here can read Alvish, so the meaning is lost. Still! The cavern wall seems to fade away, revealing a path that leads even deeper into the earth. "Looks like we've got our way forward," Pro says with a quick glance back at Vertina's sudden yelp. "You okay back there? Let's take a sec to dry off and then get underway, huh?"
There's nothing dangerous in /this/ room at least, right? It's a good place to take a brief breather.
But afterwards... There's only one way to go, and it leads to somewhere both terrible and not at all unexpected. The tunnel leads to... webs. Lots and lots of webs. The webs coat the floor, they stick to boots and shoes, they... They're everywhere... and so are the eggs. Great, web-covered eggsacs hang from the far wall, promising the birth of a nightmarish swarm of spiderlings just waiting to be born.
And... Hanging above them are what must be their parents. A pair of giant spiders, legs curled up as if sleeping... For now, anyway. If they're disturbed, who knows what they might do?
"Careful now," Prophylaxis murmurs, weaving the beginnings of a spell under his breath. "I think I can shroud us-- or at least slow the spiders down if it comes to that, but ideally we can just... make it through without any trouble."
Or they can just set the place on fire. That could work too.
"If you can keep them from not acting up, that's great." Vertina clenches her fists, causing them to ignite in flames once more. "I'll clear us a path through so we can hurry." And continues from there, until her entire form is glowing in the fiery aura. Which allows Vertina to just charge her way through, burning webbing out of the way to make a path, and headbutting down any big spiders dumb enough to get in her way.
Her initial thought would have been poison. Lots of it, but they're deep in the mine and that would probably be counter productive. Or does it follow video game logic? She's distracted by the idea as she tries to conjure up darkness to suppress the area. It's not particularly effective, the blobs of darkness blobbing off to the side before she can correct the spell. "Oops." is all she can think of to acknowledge it.
Meanwhile, Vertina's fire clears a separate passageway of a massive tangle of webs. "Let's go down this way?" Pro suggests, not wanting to risk setting himself on fire by following the spiders through the still-smoldering nest.
The new tunnel is... ominous. Humanoid remains litter the ground and some semi-liquefied skeletons dangle from cradles of thick webbing, their mining helmets still firmly set atop their heads. Prophylaxis grimaces at the sight, but proceeds regardless. Eventually, the tunnel opens up into a vast, vaulted chamber. The walls are positively plastered in webbing, upon which a veritable army of tiny spiders crawl and spin. This is not the main threat-- that designation belongs to the enormous arachnid that falls from the ceiling at the center of the room. It has... too many eyes, and too-large fangs that drip a venomous, radioactive-green ichor. "I think," Pro observes as he regards the boss-- and the corrosive venom that scorches craters in the stone where it falls-- and frowns, "That we've found the boss. Hisame!" He offers the tank a few potion bottles. "You'll need some antivenom I think! I'll hit it from as far off as I can stand."
There's a massively ugly spider monsters in the room and clearly it doesn't like visitors.
"Finally! The source of the infestation and something actually worth fighting!" Vertina is probably one of the few people -happy- to see a big threatening boss, but that's why she's here. "Time to squash you like a giant boot!"
The Salamander darts into the fray while her teammates are prepping, but it's not quite as ignorant of the Boss's threat as it might seem. She's just not the sort to stand around fussing over matters like extended strategy, being the thrillseeker that she is. When the Boss vomits up poisonous gunk she vaults over the splatter, leaping high into the air in the process.
Using the momentum to somersault foward and bring her foot, alight with focused ki energy, smashing down on top of the spider boss with the aerial axe kick!
There's a bit of green, glowing goo vomited up by the creature, which to be fair, is better than what she'd figure it would be. It's just poisonous, smells bad and itches right now. She can chug an antidote AND she doesn't have to try and repair acid eaten armor. She does meet that attack with a firm kick to the teeth with her armored boot though. "Knock it off and die already." She growls out and finishes with a sharp twist and yank of that scythe blade.
Fortunately there really isn't much that needs to /be/ done. The giant spider clearly does not expect the level of violence that these adventurers are able to bring to the table-- especially not when one of them has made abundant preparations for just the kind of threat that this monster poses. Arathrog manages to land its corrosive, venomous spittle once or twice, but Prophylaxis quickly follows up with an antivenom potion, hurled with the same accuracy with which every Latin mother wields their chanclas.
With the neutralization of its potent venom, Arathrog is vulnerable to being outright grappled and punched repeatedly in the face by the other two party members. Hisame and Vertina savage the monster with little fear of repercussion, and Prophylaxis occasionally hurls a sizable nuke right on top of the beast between potion-tossing. By the time the creature dissolves into so many pixels, the battlefield is utterly ravaged by flame.
...Revealing what looks to be a runic <<Dungeon Gate>> circle emblazoned upon the ground. "Well," Prophylaxis says as a certain item appears in each of their inventories. He examines it with a quick flurry of hand gestures-- and nods. "Looks like we got what we came for. Might not have been metal, but I'm sure nobody will care that we're building walls out of spider chitin, right? Heck, we're the Scale Emblem Alliance! Spider chitin is /almost/ scales, right!?"
She picks up one of the chunks of spider exoskeleton, giving it a firm shake before slipping it into her inventory. "Better to make use of what we have than whine about what we don't."
Yanking her scythe, she flicks the blade, clearing the spider goo away and turns to the other two. "Ready when you are. I need a bath."