Duty Session 343: 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

Word has started getting out that the interaction with the 'Rat Cellar' shopkeeper that indicated the original rat infested Duty has changed. After confirming this as true, Shiruba sent out word to gather up a part and go investigate. She had done the previous iterations more than enough times to know them well, so investigating with the behavoir of the rats themselves has changed would go a good ways with her animal husbandry training.

Shiruba is already waiting at the fissure in the cellar structure that leads to the supposedly new discovered section, tail flicking idly behind her as she examines it. ".. Well, this isn't the first time we've seen a Duty expose new levels once Adventurers had gotten stronger. Though I wonder what triggered this... It's like like the spider mine that had the next extrance marked but locked down...", she muses while waiting for others.

    Some adventurers seem to believe rats are beneath them. Fukaziroh is one of those. Of course they're beneath you. They're small, and tend to live in underground burrows and stuff. When they're above you there's a problem! And while she doesn't imagine she'll make a great name for herself slaying rats and exploring sewers and stuff, she loves doing the whole adventurer's guild scene for the people she gets to meet and help out.

    Fuka nods, smiling slightly as she scans the entrance. "Friend of mine mentioned that a lot of duties were doing that. Makes you wonder if someone out there doesn't like us and wants us all dead or something!" she says cheerfully. Death, may it ever be distant and preferably for others, doesn't seem a huge fear for the bubbly Sylph.

    Merek will walk along with the party and takes the time to adjust the hood which he wears along his features, the beltcape about the waist. "Alright, I went to it, there are a lot of you know, rats along the place. Way more than even we would be able to manage. So don't let the enemies really swarm ya." He does take a hand to the hilt of his weapon, drawing two swords. Twin weapons, speed and accuracy are important likely.

Schneider has also accepted the mission to blow up rats. He's got to grind missions to gain levels to get new spells, one of which he's packing today, and this pleases him greatly. His coat is a bit flashy, also somewhat new, but it also pleases him, as it has +FIRE, which you wouldn't think he'd need a buff for that, but +FIRE is always good.

He is also one of the taller adventurers, but he is slender in a bishonen way, so he doesn't have -too- much trouble. He shakes his head to Fukaziroh, "It's the natural progression of games to keep adding more content. Nothing shocking about that." He peers at Merek, but nods. That'd be a /lot/ of monsters, if his /big/ AoE couldn't handle it. Well, fireproof rats would give him trouble...

Gwen was looking to go back to the Rat Cellar she was seeking out a place to train and going after rats might be a good place to do so. She'd also heard about some of the drops form the newest dungeons with rats. She seemed to be in a very good mood though as she's ar the fissure with Shiruba and she looks down it. She even seems eager too bouncing in place, somehow.

"This is going to be fun and hello Merek. I had a few ideas for coffee branding we should talk on when we get a chance to."

She boucnes again and looks to Fuka. 5R
"Here there Fuka!"

    "See, that's what I said!" Fuka beams to Schneider. "And my friend said it's totally true, so yeah. But she also said that doesn't mean there isn't an actual in-game reason behind it too!" she adds.

"Why do I let you drag me on all these things." Kaydon says to Shiruba as he walks along behind her, looking over at the big crack, "How deep do you think this whole thing goes, anyway? Is there even any way to tell?" He wonders, as he tries to get a better look at it, "Wonder if it just keeps going.." He ponders. If the quests are evolving, what does that mean for other, much more dangerous quests?

"You get paid well for it," Shiruba responds to Kaydon without batting an eye. "And that is what I was expecting Merek, but thank you for the insight regardless. I want to see how the behavoir of the rats themselves is different. Or not different. Anyways," Shriuba turns sideways to shimmy her way through the opening. "The only way to discover is to see for ourselves!"

On the other side of the breach the party is greeted by.... a trash heap. Several trash heaps even. With a gagging growl Shiruba puts a hand over her nose and mouth, having gotten a much too strong whiff of the stench thanks to her strong wolf-like senses. "Gaaah! This is worse than the time Hinoke refused to take the garbage out for a week!"

They're going to have to find a way to withstand the hideous smells and make their way through though.

Schneider wrinkles his nose at a trash heap, but he's got a solution for that. "Hang on, let me clear some of this out," he says, and engages his famous trash-clearing spell, "GUNZENRO!" Huge gouts of flame erupt from his hands and incinerate the garbage and consume some of the fumes also, ironically clearing things up, once the flames die down.

    Merek looks to that garbage while he takes the time to try and use the fire magic on it. He doesn't seem to think that there is too much garbage, which means that the fire which he uses is not as effective as the man might like probably.

    "One of the benefits of this body is I have a tiny nose." notes Fukaziroh perkily. "One of the disadvantages, I'm closer to the trash. Ew." she wrinkles said nose. "Don't mind me, you guys burn the trash or wash it away or whatever. I'll just hang back and shine some light so we can find the rathole to get moving on, 'kay?" she says, hefting her axe and channeling magic into it so the head of the weapon lets out a soft glow. If Gwen can make it through any tunnels, the axe shouldn't cause Fuka any problems!

"Well that is why you pay me the big bucks." Kaydon replies, as he looks at the trash pile. Now he was in the Marine Corps, so he knows exactly how to deal with a pile of trash like this, "Everybody step back." He says, as he digs into his inventory for a second, and then pulls out a torch. He lights the torch, and then hucks it onto the pile, figuring the flames should spread quickly.

Gwen smirks for a moment as she looks to Kaydon. "Should have invited the folks along, it be like old times then." She noted with a grin on her face and away she goes into the dungeon she looks at the trash there's so much she does not say a thing for a moment.

"I wish I had some of Mr. Hill's Propane right now..."

She closes her eyes and starts to chant letting lose iwth fire upon the trash.

When she recovers from nearly gagging Shiruba tries using some water, but it mostly just turns piles of trash soggy, making her gag all over again. Fortunately others are more effective, mostly in the use of fire to incinerate the rubbish and provide some light to guide their way, glinting off the metal hinges of a trapdoor previously hidden under a heap of filth.

Once its open everyone makes their way down into the new and mysterious room. Once she can breath again Shiruba takes a quill out to scribble some notes on a parchment. "Rats hording trash for food supply and nesting material..." Then looks up. "Huh." She puts the rat notes away for the moment. "This is kind of like the previous puzzle door room, but it's not just energizing a combination of glyphs with magic, I don't think. Investigation time~" The explorer cheerfuly trots over to one of the walls to examine the scrawled words upon it.

Schneider follows along with the group, looking over Shiruba's shoulder to see what sort of notes she's writing. "Rats?" he wonders. Entering the strange room, he muses, "It looks like the inside of a lock..." He looks back over his shoulder, but no key is being inserted just at the moment. Which begs the question of how -we- might key it, but then, here are instructions. "Uh...." he looks them over. "Insert this into ... over there, then ..." He shakes his head. "They make this all so complicated." But not too complicated for intellectual exploder wizard.

    "All I want is the fancy loot. Or lute." Fukaziroh claims, moving into the room and staking a claim on the musical instrument. "Did something like this before. Music puzzle with some fancy writing and figures and stuff. Only we couldn't read the puzzle so we just ended up banging on the lute wires for a while until we could form keys out of the right notes, and use them on the holes."

    She's exaggerating, it wasn't quite that bad. But it was a while before they managed to solve the puzzle. It may or may not have actually summoned physical notes. But the story's much more entertaining if it did, so she thinks, and so she claims!

    Merek takes a look to the places that they need to key into, while he nods a bit. Then he takes the time to begin arranging the things to place, he knows a lot about cryptography, and it looks like that will work, though he can't really solve it all himself.

Gwen has some trouble burning up enough of the trash but she doies help slightly and the smell goes down a bit.

"Worse than the dumpster near the barracks."

She mutters a bit about she looka round she knows this place or at least the thingup0on the wall and pauses for a moment looking confused.

"Wait how is it I have it still in my bag...."

She trails off confuse but muddle he way though it in the end helping to fine the way through this one.

When it comes to puzzles, Kaydon is not always the best. He knows it though. So instead he decides to try to help the crew out by grabbing the lute and strumming a few chords on it. It's too bad he doesn't know a damn thing about music so he's kind of just screwing it up. Hopefully it's not too distracting to the others.

Shiruba glances up when Schneider joins her. "I'm training to be an animal handler," she replies cheerfully. "Both to help with the Peko Races, and dealing with animals in general. Just because I'm a Hunter doesn't mean I have to HUNT everything." She made a few notes, but then Schiender's question distracted her. Fortunately he and Merek seem to have figured something out, along with Fuka's advice and Gwen's assistance. Long story short it doesn't take nearly as long as the instance Fuka is retelling, mostly to other's having experience. A good mix of skill and luck opens the doorway leading into more underground passages.

After a few misteps with blocked off by rubble passages the Hunter picks up on the trail of actual rats and leads the group finally to another sizable room. One that had once been a place of worship and reverence for the dead.

But now was an infested rathole of filth, decay, and a lot of rats. I mean a LOT of rats. Shiruba goes back to her notes. "Interesting. Looks like they're clever enough to horde their rubbish at the entrance, and only bring down what they need to actually make or repair nests." They're going to have to either sneak by, or find another way to keep the vermin from swarming them entirely to protect their territory.

    "This is starting to look *really* familiar." Fukaziroh drawls, looking around. "Okay, so. Rats. Avoid making us look like targets." she says, peering up at Schneider. "Which might involve mass murder so they have other things on their tiny minds than eating us. Okay, ready my friends..?" she says, hoping to judge the ensuing chaos and judge their best time to take advantage of what comes.

    Merek looks to the place and nods while he begins to try to draw darkness to shield him. Well, it doesn't look like that works all that well while he tries to avoid all of the place.

Schneider follows Shiruba as she mentions being an animal handler. "I see," he says, and produces from his inventory a hat, which she might recognize as the hat that all participants got in the peko races, but changed a bit. "I made this into an item of power," he explains, "to try and bolster my racing performance. But I have too much going on to learn an entirely new skill."

As to a room full of far too many rats, he does have a solution, though it is not /quite/ the same as sneaking by.

"Kaizard, aruzard, kisk! Hansay Glossik! Unleash total destruction! Sage of Hades use the seven keys to open the gates of Hell!" A couple teammates know what's coming as he shouts, "HALLOWEEN!"

What's coming is a massive blast with a concussion, with a misasma of evil energy that some might not want to walk through the middle of to waltz through the formerly ratty area. The remaining rats, and there are lots of those, swarm in from the edges, but Schneider has cleared out a wide enough area for him to get through before they can get to him.

"I am lost as hell." Kaydon says, as he looks through the room. There's a lot of rats. He's pretty sure he could handle it.

He, in fact, cannot handle it.

Someone should probably help him out as hes getting swarmed by rats now.

Shiruba watchs Fuka for a moment. "I.. haven't trained enough to attempt it with so many rats at one time," she murmurs. Others are just using Darkness, so she does the same, taking one of the her Dark infused arrows and striking it on the ground like a match to trigger it. She holds it up to cast the darkness over herself... but only gets part way before the rats start to sniff out what they don't see, and she beats a hasty retreat for the exit as they're catching onto her. Eep! Shneider does a better job in using the Darkness offensively to clear a path, to say the least, and while others fumble dealing with the rats they can trail after him to avoid getting ratpiled upon. Shiruba helping grabs Kaydon to give him a yank in the right direction.

They progress farther into the catacombs, until those attuned to magic might feel a spike in its presence. Shortly before some rats come down the opposite end of the corridor... Large rats, walking on their hind legs more like tiny people, and radiating an arcane presense of their own.

"Oh this is new. It's like magic itself has alterered them." Fortunately she doesn't let her study distract her this time, drawing her bow and readying it as the arcanely infused rodents shriek and charge....

Gwen replie to Kaydon sadly

"I feel about the sa...."

She trails off at this.

"I really need to finish my Ashes Nei outfit."

She ntoes at the spell Schneider cast there's some amusment there at it. It's quite a good replication of it all things said and done. When it comes to dealing with the rats is just goes badly she pisses one off and it runs off squeeking this could be bad.

    Merek looks to the creatures, while he thinks about it, "Well, I know that these look like the ones that were altered." While he watches, the man takes an alchemical potion and will throw it into them to counteract the magic, while he weaves up the place.

    Fuka's attuned to magic, and she nods at Shiruba's words. "Or something else altered them." she notes unhappily. "I'm not sure. If I had a flute I'd try to charm them out of the way. Or is that a pipe? Nah, if I had a pipe I'd just bash them!" she notes, abruptly cheerful once again. "Maybe there's enough loose magic I can just enchant them. I am *very* enchanting after all!" she claims rogueishly.

    She probably should have tried to be more wizardly then rogueish. It might have gone better for her. The rats are completely immune to Fuka's charms, so to speak.

Schneider puts his peko hat away as they proceed along, encountering rats walking like people and attacking. He smiles to Gwen, and says, "I can teach it to you, if you'd be my Arshes Nei." Since Nei knew Helloween also. But dealing with the present crisis, he's not quite sure ... whether to pull out the big guns, or save them for some anticipated finale.

He choses to save his other big spells, and tries to make, "DAMNED!" do the job, but it's just not hard enough of a blast to take the wind out of their sails, and he's quickly swarmed, and fighting them off with his sword. Which he can do, but he's not very good at it.

Kaydon needs to learn enchanting for a job he is planning on doing down the road...But he hasn't learned it yet. And that much is obvious as he looks at two rocks and he clacks them together, "Anybody got any crayons or anything?" He asks, as he tries his best to throw one of the rocks at a wall. Maybe he can bash through the wall with the rock, which is really his style.

Well as the group presse ona head she'll end up dropping a big damn heal wiat when did Gwen relearn this one? Either wya the floor lights up the party will be heale and monsters wioll be repelled for a bit.

Whatever enchanted the rats seems to make them a bit more resistant to being disenchanted, as several party members unfortunately find out. But Gwen is quick to step in, doing her job as tank to drive the super-rats back from the party. Merek chucks some alchemical magic into the fray, which does a better job due to being on contact, at disrupting the rats. Snow and lightning fires from Shiruba's bow, sending them staggering a second time.

It's long enough for the party to regroup, and everyone apply enough pressure to learn something else -- whatever enchanted this rats made them smart enough to know when to RUN. They scatter down various small passages, leaving the path open.

"I guess with intelligence comes a stronger sense of self-preservation," Shiruba notes. This is making interesting study for her animal husbandry if nothing else!

Another passage trek finally bring the group into a treasure room... Or it would be, if the treasure wasn't a clutter of useless trinkets and knicknacks most Landers on the surface don't even notice are missing.

The Kobold wallowing in one of the piles may be familar to some though. He oddly recognizes the party of Adventurers, at least as a whole in being Adventurers, and panics. Kobold gibberish that includes something about 'found me!', 'my preciouses!' and 'no take candle!' follows as he leaps down from the pile, grabs a spear from the base of it, and jumps on the MOUS that had been sprawled next to it to spur it into action. CHARRRRGE!

"Kobolds are kind of like monster rat-lizards, does that make this some sort of rat-ception?" Shiruba muses, even as she readies her bow once more. "Doesn't matter, take him down!"

Schneider navigates the maze of tunnels as his HP slowly regenerates, following the others to the boss room. A kobold on a rat? Now that's ... interesting. And he blew his big boom on the other rats. On the other hand, there's other parts to a battle, it's not -all- offense. "DAMEDO! Magic Shield!" he casts, and the shield appears, stout enough to deflect the rat-riding lancer's spear as he charges. When he's past, Schneider will pour FIRE into his back as he comes around, dropping his health a substantial fraction. "I see how this is going to go," he says with a wry smirk. With a stout enough defense, he can take his time and nickel and dime the boss down as slowly as he likes.

    Merek will take the time to begin to shield up while he protects people from the fight.

    Fuka peers at the final treasure room, though her attention is quickly caught by the Kobold. "Cute." she notes dubiously. "Not as cute as the armored rats I've seen, but still pretty cute."

    She sighs, readying Chopstick. "Oh, Evil rides among us this day~" she chants, then breaks out into sing-song. The tune is improvised and really not particularly good, but then she's not actually barding. "And yet our feelings shall not stray~ Harden your hearts, for this I pray~" she pauses, tries to work out a remaining verse. Shrugs. "Kill the dirty rat lover? Oh right. STONESKIN!"

    The magical energies course out, encasing everyone with earthen energies that will let them ignore most hits, hopefully letting them all get in good hits of their own while so protected. She raises the great axe, and takes full advantage of relative invulnerability to swing for the fences!

Now this kind of thing is what Kaydon specializes in. The were fang is more than capable of tanking the fight, though with Gwen being around, he'll probably have to switch off with her as the two of the them work together to keep the fight under control.

Kaydon's own damascus blade flashes as he uses it for defense as well as attack, parrying and riposting a lot of attacks that come in from the riding kobold, "We got this, keep the pressure on him!" He does what he can to direct traffic as the group works the boss' healthbar down.

The rats are being a pain but Gwen keeps going deeper and deeper she will find what she needs here or so she hopes. She will drop into the fight spamming taunt on the Kobold and will do he best to keep them on her then the others.

"I liked the Dragon Lizard sort myself. Cuter."

She notes and will make use of her shield to intercept the attacks from the Kobold and keep up in it's face.

"You are not what I seek but We shall deal with you! None the LESS!"

Shiruba ... seems to change her mind after a moment, and puts her bow away. Instead she darts ahead of the group, and tries to jump on rat as well to pull the reigns away from him while taking advantage of Fukaziroh's Stoneskin buff. It doesn't quite work in getting the straps from his grasp, but now the kobold has to deal with the wolf girl trying to Grand Theft Rodent his ride!

Which means while not taken control of, the rat doesn't really have a lot of control of it's own, and it keeps running rampantly into the defenses people are putting up, taking damage as it does while running wildly around the room! Spear bounces off the Magic Shield, and Kaydon's parries knock the duo off-balance farther, sending the giant rat reeling in the other direction... and into Gwen's defensive position colliding against her shield like it was a brick wall. Strikes from various people pummel rider and ride alike, while he's busy dealing with the unwanted passenger. Finally he gets a good kick into the Cait Sith's midsection, knocking Shiruba off.

But by that point his mount is exhausted from it's frantic running and collision damage, and collapses on the floor. The Kobold panics, tugging franticly on the straps. But he's already surrounded by the party. There's fire. There's enough blows it's hard to tell where they come from. Then Fuka axes him to cease existing, and he does as both creatures desolve into pixels.

A treasure chest clatters to the ground in their place, which Shiruba is back on her feet to open. "... Huh. Well." She holds up a piece of gear. "This isn't meant for normal animals... but maybe someone I know can still work with it." She smirks at Gwen as she tosses it over her shoulder. "Let's get back to the surface and report this in."

    Checking the loot drop, Fukaziroh draws out the reward. "Huh. Kinky." she muses, then shrugs and returns it to inventory. She does not elaborate her thoughts on the reward. "So, great job guys! So good to have good tanks so I get to cut loose!"

Schneider chuckles to Fukaziroh, says, "Yeah, this character's defense is better than I expected when I built him." The offense is pretty clearly spectacular, if limited in number of uses. But that's always a wizard's concern.

Gwen is glad tp see everyone is okayu when the fight comes to an ened and she pauses for a moment she inspect is and looks like someone kicked a puppy infront of her she fornw sigh puts it into her inventoy and heads off she's got more work to do. She'll cheer up the moment she gets an outfit idea for anyone here with her... or maybe the Ashe's Nei costume..