Duty Session 338: Still Tide Pirate Lair

Through the efforts of many Adventurers, the home base of the infamous pirates that have plagued the waters around Yamato has finally been tracked down. Initial scouting reports tell that the Pirate Lair is largely run by humanoid monsters of all sorts, relishing in the spoils of their plunder.

As a known Monster Nest, the Hunters Guild is looking for brave souls who would be willing to help clear out some of the monsters in hopes that it will start to diminish some of the pirate activity that comes from the location.

Difficulty:    Moderate
Rec. Party:    3+
Rewards:       2
World Rewards: Reduction in pirate activity in Yamato.


After many infiltration attempts, some more successful than others, the Adventurers of the Hunters Guild have pieced together enough information to discover the whereabouts of the now infamous group known as the Still Water Pirates.

It has led them to the far side of the Isle of Beginnings, where a rocky outcropping looks out over the raging seas below. Water crashes against jutting rocks, the ocean a tumult of white-capped waves. Somewhere below, there is a hidden cavern which the Pirates have claimed as their lair.

The Adventurers gather high on the cliffs, scouting the way down along the rocks in advance of their attack.

* * *

Uta approaches the area. Magic staff firmly clutched in her hands, firm expression, intense gaze staring ahead.

The picture of determination

She reaches an elevated clearing, from which the cave which serves as the lair of the pirates can be seen. She kneels down, one elbow held on the forward facing thigh as her hand hangs limp, and with her other hand shielding her eyes from the sun, she takes stock of the situation.

"So, that is the cave we have to clear from rats?"

    This isn't the first time Fuka's been here. A few weeks ago she was part of a significantly larger group raiding this area, and they had a moderate success by driving off the boss. This time, receiving an invite from someone she knows, she figures why not? The smaller group might be stealthier, and besides Uta's fun to hang out with. Plus she's got some idea what to expect. It'll be fiiiiiine what's the worst that can happen??

    "Y'know, I think the rats are somewhere else..." muses Fuka almost absently. She has her mighty axe at the ready, so she takes the lead almost naturally. "There's a cave around here somewhere, yeah!" she agrees cheerfully instead, peering around. Now, where was it? Had to be around here somewhere. This will be an embarrassingly short trip if they can't even find the cave. But hey, if that's the case, it still might be a good story!

"Pity... I really wanted another pet rat to keep Potpourri company...", Uta trails off, gaze lost in the distance. "Okay, time to go searching for that cave!"

* * * A long, long, long time later * * *

For some, it would be a familiar site on the edge of the pirate encampment. Many of those who used to be part of the Still Water Bandits have found their way here, though it appears that most of the standard Lander races are treated as second-class citizens here.

The Landers live in run down hovels, their clothing filthy and their expressions bleak. The monsters who run the group seem to have truly beaten down their spirits over time. So much so that they barely even acknowledge the Adventurers in their midsts. A few rise up, but it's clear that they don't really want trouble. It seems easy enough to bribe them to let the party pass. Afterall, things can't get much worse for them, can it?

"...this does not look like a cave," Uta comments with a frown.

    The last time, the group had found a hidden entrance. This time, apparently not! Oh well, there's still sign of people around here. They can't be too far away from the pirates right?

    And indeed, Fukaziroh quickly spots sign of enemies. Only to realize that these pirates have seen better days. "Maaan I almost feel bad for them." she says to Uta in a whisper. "Like... we'd be the baddies for being able to murder them for being criminal pirates! You okay with trying to convince them we're not worth fighting?" she asks. She *could* fireball the lot, but hey. That's just not fun!

    Fuka instead approaches chummily, cheerfully traipsing out in plain sight. "Ahoy, chummers!" she says. Chummers being what you call someone who throws up on a ship, for them spewing chum into the water. Oops. Relax, it's all part of the plan!

    Fortunately Fuka's naturally charming, and her seeming hopelessness and idiocy is a cunning plan to make them seem not worth fighting while at the same time amusing these hapless souls. And it even seems to work!

"I don't like to murder Landers," Uta replies with a mumble. "I know this is supposed to be a /game/, but... what if it isn't? I don't think I could forgive myself if they turn out to be actual, living beings." There is a sigh, followed by "I hope that the people we have to actually fight are plain monsters. Those are fine. Unless they're slimes. Then, well, I /know/ they're technically supposed to be vanquished, but still, I doubt I'd have the heart to-"

She freezes in place, as if her brain just crashed. Her pupils dilate to many times the original size, and she squeaks, "...pirate slimes. They'd be so adorable..."

Unfortunately, her being stuck like that squealing and fangirling does not help with the negotiation efforts, placing the full burden on Fukaziroh.

Luckily for us, Fuka succeeds for the whole duo, and soon, the party proceeds to the next step in their mission.

The outer ring of run-down hovels and tens gives way to a finer structure. Made of wood and metal, an imposing fort has been built upon the edge of the water, the timbers rising high into the darkness of the cave. Fires are lit at the ramparts, casting shadows on those approaching below.

At the entrance to the fort, there are a series of humanoid monsters of various sorts. Lizardmen, Gnolls and Kobolds are most common, with a few Gargoyle-like creatures which have perched on the higher places of the fort's entrance.

As soon as the Adventurers approach, they spring to action, brandishing not only their claws, but finely made weapons and armor. The monsters are clearly running the show, here, and they have the supplies to make sure their lair is well defended.

    Cheered from her success at making herself seem an idiot, though of course a *dangerous* idiot not worth murdering, Fukaziroh's in a good mood as the two-girl group moves on from the Lander outpost. She also entirely agrees with the sentiment about Landers, for much the same reason. She'd believed, once, this was just a game. In many ways it still is, but she's never been comfortable with those who ruin others for fun... a sentiment in place for a long time now since her own life was seemingly ruined by malicious computer viruses.

    "Focus, Uta!" Fukaziroh insists, perhaps a little unfairly given how often Fuka herself goes off on a tangent. Once they get past the Landers, she engages in some meaningless chatter on the subject. "We can always loot some like... eyepatches and peg legs and stuff I guess? Hopefully they have them in Slime size. Do Slimes even have eyes?" she muses, indulging in the random silliness she can definitely appreciate and encourage.

    This continues until the small group spots their next challenge, which seems to snap Fuka back to some measure of seriousness. "Now *this* is looking more promising!" Fuka notes, observing the pirate fortress with only the faintest hint of trepidation. Murder - that is, *adventuring* - is fun! At lease when it doesn't involve Landers; monsters can be killed without guilt. They respawn after all, and so death isn't actually killing. Or something like that. Besides, monsters are hostile, unlike Landers who have personalities. Or something like that.

    As the monsters brandish claws and weapons, Fuka raises Chopstick. "I'll take you all on!" she shouts fiercely. "Come on, one at a time or all at once! I DON'T CARE!", she provokes, causing a rush of monsters. Which causes a fireball, naturally. And Fuka gets to grin, because this might go horribly wrong, but her natural trickiness (such as it is) got the monsters to do pretty much exactly what she'd hoped. Win or lose the fight, get hurt or not, it feels *good* to fight on your own terms! "Oh and Uta dear~ If this doesn't work, how good are you at running for your life?" she adds almost casually. If they cause some chaos and run, maybe the smoke and confusion will let them get past where sheer firepower fails.

"They do, of course, have eyes! Tiny adorable little eyes that peer at you! Eyepatches and hats would look great on them. Well, for the minute it takes for them to dissolve them. There... is that catch."

"I excel in the art of running for my life! I have done nothing but that for my first months after the Apocalypse, and I'm still keeping in good practice!" She slams her staff on the ground, and begins an ominous chant, which causes tendrils of sheer darkness to seep out from the gem in her staff. The tendrils begin to envelope everything and everyone, until-


In the aftermath, Uta is left there, charred, blinking. And more monsters are coming.

"Oh, since you were asking... let me demonstrate how I run for my life!"And she proceeds to do exactly that.

The outer guardians of the fort are numerous and take quite a while to fight (or escape) through, but eventually the Adventurers find themselves inside those outer gates, working their way through the inner hallways of the fort itself.

One of the larger rooms that they encounter is certainly strange. There are fine murals painted on the walls by hands that seem too skilled to be those of many of the monsters who now call this place their 'home'. Depicted on the mural is a massive sea creature which looms out of the water, attacking nearby ships.

At the center of the room is a deep pool of water that seems to be somehow connected to the lake outside. Throughout the room, there are bits and pieces of writing, but they are hard to see in the dim light. There are strange markings around what must be a door that leads onward into the heart of the fort.

Perhaps, working together, they could figure out a way to open it.

    Fuka peers around the dimly-lit room, trying to figure out what to do. She's decent at puzzles, but not exactly specialized in them. "Hmmm... it must have something to do with the water?" she suggests dubiously. Speaking of water she could probably do with a bath. She's covered in smoke from her own fireballs, not to mention battered and clawed by a dozen pirate monsters. The whole idea of luring them into a mass charge didn't exactly work out. There were just too many to take care of. But they DID succeed in running and being somewhat sneaky, so it's all good right?

    When Uta lights up the room, Fuka herself brightens. "Oh hey, that's the one we fought last time!" she says, pointing at the painting of the deep sea tentacled monster. "Uh... I hope we don't face it again. We might have to run again." she notes absently. "Oh, hm. Maybe we should focus on the writing instead? Can't fight tentacled monstrosities if we're stuck here right? Now where were we..." she muses, getting down to helping solve the puzzle. And sure enough, they work their way through it, to a resounding cheer from the sylph.

Uta sings a breezy song, and the handle of her staff lights up with colorful tendrils of light, which envelope the handle and flow up to the gem in sync with the music. The gem retains a glow, which allows people to see by.

Uta does a double take at Fuka's words. "You have fought a /Leviathan/?! Those things can murder entire /fleets/! They're the reason why the Undines have been driven out of their kingdom. No team of Adventurers can hope to make it against them." She's downright boggling, as her trembling finger points at the painting. "Are you completely, undeniably, absolutely sure?!"

Thanks to the duo's combined effort, the doorway is eventually opened, and its threshold crossed.

As the party finally works out the way beyond the strange doorway, they find that it opens upon lavish chambers. There is a fine rug beneath their feet and the spoils from many raids upon lander villages and ships displayed upon shelves and along the walls. Many stone pools make up parts of the chamber, as if it, too, were connected to the lake, somehow.

There, sitting upon a throne, looking at them with fingers folded, is the Pirate King. He is dressed in fine armor, with a wicked set of scimitars across his back. His face is elongated, looking like some sort of reptilian creature, but none that are easily identifiable.

"You've caused me enough trouble. I suppose I should handle you, myself." He rises, drawing his blades, his movements remarkably fast as he initiates combat with the party.

    Part of Fuka wants to assure Uta that yes indeed, they were mighty and defeated a leviathan. Or at least drove it off. But while she's prone to boasting, she tends to keep it to the realm of the plausible. "Oh, I doubt it was actually a *leviathan*." she says dismissively. "Just a bunch of tentacles coming up from the water really. Just a big squid probably!" she shrugs. "Besides, it was a magical summons. Probably not a true monster at all, just a weaker copy of it. And we only drove it off, not killed it. Got some cool ash out of it too, from the summoning ritual." she says offhandedly. Nope, not bragging, not exactly. But sometimes being humble can be its own form of boasting.

    They continue traipsing throughout the pirate lair. Or at least, Fuka traipses. And skips. She doesn't seem interested in skulking at least, not now that they're past the majority of the pirates. Entering the King's lair though, she grins. "This guy wasn't so tough as the tentakiller." she says, smirking. "Oi, lizard guts! You and my axe got a date tonight!"

    Fuka charges into battle, trusting Uta to have her back. The tiny Sylph is actually a fairly fierce warrior, especially when she channels earth essence into herself to both hit harder and tank harder. Any help is welcome, of course, as she's a little too generalized to be a melee monster like Yuuki or one of the Werefangs she's met. But she's not bad either, swinging with enthusiasm, accuracy, and no small degree of startling muscle for such a small form!

    Panting for breath as the Pirate King is pulled away by a tentacle, Fuka looks over at her friend. "That tentacle. Would you say giant squid or leviathan?" she asks casually. And then pauses. "Maybe we should just grab loot and run before we find out?"

Uta's not a Melee /monster/ either, but as the local Magical Musical Kung-Fu Monster-Handling Nurse, she has quite some proficiency in it -- as much as splitting one's skills between the physical and magical realm allows.

The Pirate King is a tough one, however -- despite both fighters' proficiency, it is a very close call, until the last minute.

Uta was too busy knocking a vial of liquid away from the hand of the Pirate King to notice anything as subtle as a tentacle snatching him away -- but when Fuka explicitly draws attention to the fact, Uta hurries to attempt and examine the best.

The King is dragged underwater, and Uta just... stands there staring, finger still hovering where her menu option for inspecting must be. "I.... I think you're right, we're done here, yes. let's... grab our stuff and get going, okay?", she says, and inches away from the pools. "Might collect some samples for analysis, tho'..."

    If Fuka were the type to throw stones she'd accuse Uta of being a nerd, but then of course there's nothing wrong with that. Fuka prefers nerds. "Samples? Sure!" she agrees. What's the worst that can happen? Don't mind her tucking her reward away in her inventory so it'll be with her when she next respawns. Probably not reflecting anything important anyways. "Just don't get tentacled, hey?" she suggests. This isn't THAT sort of game after all!

Uta goes all red in the face and retorts, "...I DON'T PLAN TO ANYTIME SOON!"