Duty Session 331: Obligatory Rat Maze

It has been a year of Adventurers delving into the underground of various cities across Yamato, seeking to eliminate the rat infestation that has caused so many shopkeepers trouble. After all this time, something finally seems to have changed. The shopkeeper's dialogue has changed, explaining that while repairing their cellars, they found a passageway into a deeper part of the underground. Since then, rats have been finding their way up through the previously sealed passage.

Now, they are seeking brave Adventurers who are willing to, once again, explore the tunnels beneath the city, in order to seek out this new source of rats.

Difficulty:    Easy
Rec. Party:    3+
Rewards:       3
World Rewards: None


"Good afternoon, good sir!", Uta beams, over the chime of the small tubular bells hung over the door.

"I, Mister Shopkeeper, greet you, Noble Adventurer!", the man behind the counter announces in response. "What can I do for you?"

"Oh, I... I kind of forgot." Uta says, distracted, as she glances over the merchandise on display. "I was looking for something, but right now I can't remember what." The Lander begins his routine spiel, explaining his rat problems, but there seems to be some issue in the comm link between Ground control and Space Uta, who keeps rambling on along the lines of, "I'm sure if I look around, it'll eventually come to me when I lay eyes on- oh! OH!"

She smiles wide as she turns back to the shopkeeper, and as she points excitedly, she exclaims, "How much for that crack in the wall?"

Goldenblade comes in just in time to see Uta trying to buy the crack in the wall. "Uta," she says. "You can't buy a crack in a wall. If you want your wall cracked, I can do it for you. Or if you want some wall, I can build you a wall. With or without a crack." She, herself, has come for the rats quest, because she's helpful like that, and ticks off accepting it, while she herds Uta in, if she can. "Now let's help this fellow with his rat problems. There will probably be slimes, after all." Which is 50-50, around here, it seems sometimes.

Rylen just so happened to have been in that same shop. He'd been spending the deepest days of Winter in the warmth and relative safety of his home, rather than out in the combat fields of Ninetails. He had been looking to restock various supplies, not realizing there was even a quest here until the familiar voice of Uta starts asking about a crack in the wall.

The Pooka peers around a shelf, dressed in his winter gear, which includes a full jacket over a vest and slacks. It's a far cry from his performance attire. "Uta? I thought I'd heard you." He offers a charming grin as he steps out, inclining his head to the shopkeeper.

"I hadn't realized there was a quest here, just out doing some shopping. Were you looking to run it?" He offers, "I can certainly lend a hand if you need it." He grins to Goldenblade, "See, they've got the right idea. It would be good to have some idea of how this one runs, anyways, since I'm sure some newbies haven't stumbled upon it yet."

"It's /art/, Goldenblade!", is Uta's response. "It's a minimalistic yet powerful metaphor of the condition of the Adventurer, on multiple levels!" Pacing like a college professor delivering a lecture, she sweeps her hansd up and down, to indicate the span of the opening. "Not only it is the metaphor of the connection between two worlds, but also a representation of the apparently impassable hardships Adventurers are faced with every day, yet, we are able to breach through them, even if, in some cases, through a tight squeeze. It may not be good looking, but it gets the job done!"

She blinks and there is a pause. "I mean, I'm saying, the /circumstances/ might not be good looking. I'm not calling anyone ugly, here. Not any of the people in the room at least- Oh, hi Rylen! There is a quest in this room? I didn't kn- I mean.", Uta clears her throat and switches to a collected poise, and in a posh British learned accent, she continues, "Sir Corvus. What a wondrous circumstance it is our encounter in these whereabouts. Why, I was not aware there would be a quest, but I would be most delighted to partake in it." She looks away, and with a flick of her hand, she adds, "Noblesse oblige."

She is the first to head through the opening -- her being slightly below average height helps in this case. She leads the way down a spiral staircase, and what meets the adventurers is a floor littered with bones.

"...Oh my goodness. Bones. Bones everywhere!", Uta exclaims. "Considering how rare it is for a creature to drop them, either there's been a massive slaughter, or whatever did this had amazing hunting skills." She taps her chin. "I wonder... statistically, there should have been some /good/ drops here, then..." And that said, she begins to rummage.

Goldenblade chuckles to Rylen, "Yes, I've never run this particular one before. So it will be interesting to see how it goes." She sighs as Uta mentions art. She's a bricklayer. Cracked walls aren't art, they're a structural failure.

She blinks as Uta switches to a high-class accent, but sighs as the hazard of horrible art is avoided for the moment.

Joining Uta on the floor with all the bones, she looks around for signs of rats coming or going. She's not a tracker, and signs elude her, but she keeps checking. Just to be sure, and all. She won't be the first one to give up.

"Ahh, my leige, I am sure your skills would be appreciated most highly on such an endevour." Rylen grins as he slips into that playful banter, offering her a bow before following her through the opening and into what looks to be a mass grave for small animals.

"Likely the later, I would guess. Some monster, or monsters, with a high hunting skill. None of these are high quality, and most are low on durability." He explains, then starts to shift some of them out of the way, looking for the path forward.

"Huh, it looks like there's some lines in the floor, help me clear the bones away."

Goldenblade does, in fact, end up searching in an area rather far away from where Rylen spots the trapdoor. When he speaks, Uta turns, chin tilted the slightest amount upwards, and with a minimal nod of her head, as she approaches, she comments, "Please allow me to assist with-"

*CRACK*, goes the old trapdoor as she steps on it and disappears through the hole she's just created.



* splash *

A very, very quiet splash.

"WATER!", comes Uta's scream from below, faint and echoing. "Why does it ALWAYS have to be water?!" There is sheer terror in her voice; gone are the precision and control of the Godhand, the grace of the Bard, the subtlety of the Spriggan. She's now flapping about with the mindless frenzy one'd expect from a caffeinated weaselferret stuck in the spin cycle of a washing machine being clawed at by a bear, any trace of rationality replaced by panic, as the current carries her past all sorts of dangerous item jutting out of the river, seemingly with the specific intent of murdering adventurers.

"Uta be care--" And down she goes. "-ful." Luckily, there is that splash sound at the end, which offers some look of relief on Rylen's expression. "We'll be right down!" He calls out, before taking a bit more care in lowering himself down, splashing into the water.

"Try to stay together." He advises.

While most know him for his affinity to earth magic, the Pooka is decently skilled with water as well. Utilizing his own senses of it, as well as his naturally gifted agility, he's able to avoid anything too nasty that looms out of the darkness of the cave.

Goldenblade blinks as Uta vanishes, and chuckles as Rylen suggests staying together. "Of course," she replies, and will follow after Uta as best she can. She has no fear of water, as far as that goes, though she can't swim particularly well here, strangely. But she jumps down, just the same, and when she hits water, she treads water, and looks around for Uta. She didn't take the advanced lifesaver course, but she taught her kids how not to drown in the sea, so there's a bit of experience with getting small, struggling people back to breathing air. Now would have been a good time for her oxygen bottle, but she didn't pack it. Still, she slips into the water with hardly a splash and when she finds herself in the swirling water, she rides along like bumper-boats ride, avoiding the rocks and the sharp outcroppings and splashing down into the final pool, where she will swim over to the struggling Uta and drag her, if she can, from behind, to the shore.

Rylen manages the river quite well; there are a few close calls for Goldenblade, especially when she's hauling Uta to shore, but in the end no damage is done.

As for Uta, well, at the moment she's a shivering mess curled up in a ball and lying on the side, eyes popped open, unable to utter anything coherent.

Well, okay, coherent for Uta's standards. In any case, seems like the group will have to take a short break to let the Spriggan dry and recover psychologically.

The next step, after navigating beneath the surface of the city, backtracking through corridors blocked by rubble, and assurances that there 'definitely are no slimes that way', the party ends up in a chamber with a massive sleeping creature.

But not for long.

It is hard to tell who makes the wrong sort of sound, but one ear twitches in their direction and red eyes snap open, a massive rat head turning to face them.

As the monster stands, it licks at a muzzle filled with pointy teeth. Foam has formed at the edge of the creature's mouth. Its danger rating is unusually high for a creature found in this level of dungeon, as if it has somehow been affected by some sort of buff. With a mad scramble of paws, the massive rat starts to charge towards them.

Uta, after spending some time with the look of a deer in the headlights, snaps out of it, and her first instinct is to yell, "...Rylen! You're a Animal Handler, right? That rat looks suspicious. Think you can Veterinary-level-inspect it?"

Nevermind that that action probably involves /touching/ the rat...

Finding themselves far too close to a giant monster rat, Rylen steps protectively forward, ready to wield is magic. Then, Uta seems to completely derail his line of thought. "You want me to do what now?"

He looks over his shoulder, getting himself a swipe from rat claws for good measure due to the distraction. "I think that's actually more in your wheelhouse than mine." He shakes his head, silver hair moving with the motion. "Whatever is wrong with it, I don't think regular animal handling techniques are going to work here."

Instead... he reaches up with one hand and makes a motion as if he were pulling something. Rocks start to fall, building up a barrier between them and the creature. "That should hold it for a while."

Goldenblade will build quite a large and toasty fire to help Uta dry out faster. By the time the party is ready to continue, it's gotten quite large, but a splash of water leaps out from the pool and swamps it, leaving a steaming pile. She walks on, after that, following the group, though she's got no idea where we are, or where we're going. She's trying to be quiet, and has -some- skill in it, but she's not spectacular.

So, the sudden onslaught of the too-high-level monster comes as a bit of a shock. But she has both swords out, quick as a wink, and with them crossed before her and leaning into it, blocks the Rat's charge. Forcing it back so Rylen can wall it in, she will help with the walling off of the rat chamber. "Hopefully that will hold," she says.

"Okay then!", Uta exclaims. "I am going to do this!"

She navigates her menu, selects the option for medical inspection, and darts for the creature. She zigzags in an attempt to dodge its incoming blow, and while she devises the best point to jab her finger into-


A bare graze of the creature's paw sends the Spriggan flying(*) all across the room, docking more than half of her HP bar in one go; and that's not counting her slamming into the wall immediately after.

Still reeling, she decides not to push her luck further, and scrambles to flee the room.

The escape route seems to lead into tunnels that keep getting darker and narrower as the party proceeds.

They reach a chamber filled with rats glowing green -- and they inspect as monsters. Of course, they attack the adventurers as soon as they have a chance.

Normally, Rylen would warn people against experimenting in relation to strange monsters, but Uta seems determined to try to figure out what is going on. It does mean that he winces, quite visibly, when she is thrown backwards. "You okay, your highness?" He asks, looking concerned.

Of course, it isn't long before they run into yet another problem. In this case, in the form of glowing green rats. "That is distinctly unsettling." Turning to look at the other two, he offers, "I'll try to DPS them down, lets try to push on as quick as we can. I don't think we want to get caught by anything that could potentially be a bugged creature."

He follows this up by chucking a number of flaming balls of rock into the room, which each explode in an area of effect around the unusual rats.

Goldenblade winces as Uta is sent flying by the oversized rat, but wull continue on. We have a job to do. She seems puzzled as we walk on through smaller and smaller tunnels, mentioning, "I sometimes have a dream like this."

But suddeny, rats! Magic rats! She has no magic powers, so does not sense what is wrong with the rats. Nor can she do anything about it. Even stabbing them just makes them mad. So, her entire skillset seems to consist of making rats mad. She will at least try to keep their attention while Uta and Rylen do actual useful things.

"I think I may still be in one piece. That is something," a groggy Uta reassures Rylen. And at the mention of GB's dreams, she will reply, "Hey, me too!"

Her head has the time to clear up once they reach the glowing creatures. "...I am not touching them," is her comment to them.

Instead, she intones a melody alternating between high and deep pitches; a red beam shoots towards the rat, draining them of HP, while simultaneously replenishing Uta's own bar which, as established, was in dire need of some replenishing.

Once the monster menace has been dealt with, the Adventurers find themselves in a circular room.

"Hey, I think I've seen this room before..." Uta mumbles, tapping her chin.

This particular room is filled with a variety of small trinkets gathered from all over the city above, creating a personal stockpile of the monster who calls this place their home. For some, the sight of the little kobold sitting atop his pile of treasure would be familiar. He was one of the boss encounters in the first version of this dungeon.

However, upon spotting them, the Kobold darts to his feet and dives onto an absolutely massive rat that he seems to be using as a mount. Brandishing a spear, Squeak - The Rodent Rider charges forward, ready to defend his hoard of treasures from the Adventurers, yet again.

The sight of the final boss monster is met with an almost incredulous look from Rylen. "Well, that's something you don't see every day." With a laugh, he looks over towards Uta. "The mount INSPECTS as a monster. Want a real-world test of your monster handling skills? I'll run back-up. We should be able to turn it against the rider."

With that, Rylen moves forward, ready to try to distract the mount so that it doesn't catch the Kobold's commands. This should give Uta an opening...

Goldenblade rushes forward to engage the rodent rider, but none of her usual tricks are quite tricky enough to save her from this equestrian, or e-rat-rian anyhow, kobold. She loses quite a few HP trying, but luckily this is a team effort. If she were soloing this, she'd be entirely dead. As it is, she falls back to let Rylen and Uta finish this one. "Sorry about this," she grumbles apologetically.

Uta, in a particularly good mood after getting her HP bar replenished, also appears to be kind of amused at this development. "It will be a pleasure, Sir Corvus!"

"Don't worry, Paula... what should I say, given my track record until now?"

She stands still as mount and rider dart forward; one can almost see the Western Movie style cuts to her eyes, the approaching monster, then cut to Uta's slightly twitching hands, then a closer-up of the approaching monster, Uta's eyes again, closer, camera behind the back of the rider, which goes progressively out of focus as Uta, instead, gets sharper, and finally-

Rylen's distraction comes right on cue, and both monster and rider veer abruptly to go for him. Close up on Uta's smirk.

She leaps forward with a yell, and in a mixture of dance, martial arts, and wrestling, she wraps her arms around the monster's neck, closes the circle by clutching her staff with both hands, and then pulls the wooden item, effectively semi-choking the monster on one side when she intends it to turn a certain way, or fully choking it if necessary.

Squeak, understandably, is not exactly thrilled at this Spriggan jumping between himself and the head of his mount-- he moves to attack, but he gets both of Uta's feet slammed into his face; the Spriggan is so splitting her attention between handling this monster, and Capoeira-fighting the rider; she somehow manages, but barely.

"Rylen? Can we keep this- HEY!"

The rat's last desperate attempts at unhorsing (unratting?) the intruder leaves her no choice. She swings all around the beast's neck, goes flying(*) in the air, and when she describes the downard arc of her parabola, with Squeak ready to hit her, she spreads her wings and, by delaying her fall by a second, throws off the kobold's timing; this is enough for her to deliver one last kick in his face, shattering him into polygons, and stabbing the mount with the tip of her staff immediately after.

More polygons ensue.

(*) In all instances of this duty, 'flying' has to be intended as 'falling with style'.

Goldenblade sighs as the monster is defeated by Rylen's skill and Uta's ... novel approach. Managing the rat does seem to be key to this fight, something she'll have to bear in mind. Showers of polygons are very nice, and the riding gear aming the debris is well-received, too. "A bit large for my horse, but I can think of a few places this will be useful."