Duty Session 387: Isle of the Terraformers
Strange dark creatures have been reported by various members of the Hunter's Guild. These creatures seem to be drawn to the power of the Elements. However, these are no friendly creatures. They have been seen actively trying to do harm to Divine Beasts or other natural sources of Elemental Energy. The Were Fang, Mikage Yurei, has discovered the location which seems to spawn these creatures into the world and brought that information to the Hunter's Guild. Now, the Guild seeks Adventurers willing to delve into unknown Gnomish ruins to reduce the threat of these 'Terraformers'.
Rec. Party: 3+
World Rewards: Reduce 'Terraformer' activity. Increase capabilities of the Divine Beasts of Yamato.
She had been tasked with trying to stop them, or at least to thin their numbers enough that they would no longer be a threat to the Divine creatures of this realm. That is what had brought them to this strange island, far South of the Fourland Dukedom. They had come to shore in longboats, the Landers refusing to set foot on the island.
"This... is definitely the place." Mikage murmurs, having only just recovered from their sea-voyage, resting momentarily on a rock near the shore.
The island is overgrown with highly unusual plantlife. It grows high up, stretching into the sky. The jungles are so thick that it is hard to see anything. Still, there are signs that there must have been some ancient Gnomish facility here at one point. Strange stone structures loom out of the foliage. Puffs of steam plume up from locations around the island, suggesting that whatever facility lies beneath, is still quite active.
"There used to be some kind of Gnome settlement here, but it was abandoned a long time ago. Though... maybe not fully abandoned." She murmurs, looking at the steam clouds.
"If you spot strange black creatures that identify as 'Terraformers', those are our targets." Miki explains, pushing herself to her feet. Rama is already sniffing at the edge of the jungle. "We should get going."
The dire situation doesn't stop Shiruba from taking a moment to admire the sheer magnitude of the jungle-like island they've found themselves on. She considers the challenges such an overgrown environment will have, which actually makes her tail wag a bit. Her exploration spirit was already running high. "Best we don't spread out too far then. Getting seperated and lost would not function well for an expedition." She looks at the falcon perched on her arm. "That goes for you, too. No straying." The raptorial hunter tilts her head, but seems to acknowledge before taking off from Shiruba's arm and perching in one of the trees until they move on. Better view from up here, as long as she stays below the dense canopy.
"This blade is so going to lose its integrity as it dulls, isn't it?" He mutters, looking down at the blade, before turning to Mikage and Rama. "Feeling better?" She's always a bit off after a boat trip. For someone who loves to travel, Mikage sure has one of the worst traveling traits.
"It is a very fertile area," Haru observes, taking a moment to observe the natural earthen energy going through the place. A hand goes along a buttery jungle leaf and handles a small bug onto his finger before moving it to another leaf. While everyone is getting situated, he sketches out some ideas. Travel is great inspiration for creativity in new things. He wouldn't have easily thought of such verdant scapes while on a boat or in town. The sketching goes away when people mobilize, thinking losing visual with this density would be bad.
She has her long hair pinned up in a loose bun, to keep it out of the way, and looks around curiously as we put ashore, scouting the terrain. She's slowly coming to grips with party roles, and does a better job now than she'd done at the start, though there's still a few things she needs to use the menu for.
The signs of steam are at first encouraging - someone has developed steam technology? But then, much of what science she's seen is the 'mad' variety and she's suddenly less sure. But she will peer out into the undergrowth and see what may be seen.
Fuka was quick to sign up for a Hunters Guild expedition, especially one which mentioned elemental energies. Always willing to lend a hand, the idea of learning more about elemental energies, or better yet the possibility of claiming an elemental item, was an ideal lure. She's done her best to keep the trip amusing thusfar, singing sea shanties for morale and being (relatively) helpful overall.
Fukaziroh too is a little overwhelmed by the lush jungle. It's not exactly her chosen environment, but then that's fine. It's not like she's unable to cope, and she has a ranger friend with her! Always bring a ranger when exploring the jungle, that's Fuka's rule!
"Stick close. Aye aye!" she says, saluting Shiruba in a way that would probably seem mocking if she wasn't so obviously playful about it. "Also, if I see a black creature, kill it." she nods. Then pauses. "Does that sound rude to anyone else?" she asks absently.
"So they could be some old experiment by the Gnomes who lived here then?"
She looks to the entire group but she seems uneasy as memnories of an quest in Fallout New Vegas pops into her mind. Worse this is real and not a game so far as Gwen sees it.
"I admit this makes me uneasy..."
Shiruba's falcon companion does, indeed, get a good view of the place from above. There are multiple places where those ruins stick up out of the dense jungle. Much of it seems to be buried, however, suggesting that there was once a larger civilization that was simply overrun by whatever force had changed the island.
Mikage looks over at Cyrus, offering him a fond smile, "I'm fine." A phrase he has heard many times before from this girl, by now. Haru's observation is also given a nod at this point, "By their names, I'd guess the creatures were built to change the landscape somehow. Not that I understand all that much about them." She looks to Gwen, afterwards, answering, "That's my guess. Some experiment gone haywire."
As the group heads into the dense jungle, it becomes clear that no one has traveled here in quite some time. There are no obvious pathways, which means that they mostly have to pick a direction of one of the plumes of steam and head in that direction, trying to spot it through the dense trees. Shiruba's falcon helps a bit in this, helping them to keep on the right track.
Eventually, they find an overgrown stone entrance, with a domed roof and a circular stone door. It is inlaid with gold filigree and metal gears along the outside. There are indentations on the structure, as if something were meant to be placed in the door to allow it to open. Writing can be seen along the wall in ancient, Gnomish script, likely needing a keen mind to decipher.
"Huh..." Mikage murmurs to herself, touching the edge of a broken set of vines, "Looks like this has been opened recently but... I'm not sure exactly how it works." Rama sniffs at the air, then starts to look around, as if he were trying to find something.
Fuka sees the filigree-encrusted door and her eyes light up. No, not with greed, not this time. A puzzle! And if she's not mistaken, one with magical patterning she can work through!
Unfortunately, once she gets started tracing magical pathways, Fuka's mind begins to wander. It's a bit hard to trace the outlines of THIS puzzle when another puzzle entirely starts occupying her mind! Fuka's mind isn't so much off-track as completely derailed, at least right now, and she's of little help in the actual solving of this one.
And then there's the golden looking opening.
The youth steps forward, looking at the cogs and the make. "This looks like it's of Gnome make, based on the stone and all of that. But..." He gives it a closer look. "I haven't seen this kind of gold work as much with the culture that's near us in Yamato. Interesting that this has survived as well as it has. It almost looks 'maintained'." He points out, before he starts trying to push some magic into the gears themselves, trying to get them to start turning.
Shiruba frowns. "I'm not finding any 'keys' lying around unfortunately," she reports. Admitably jungle is not an environment she's as familiar with as she is forests and mountains, so having to rely on one device, as powerful as it is, doesn't provide the best options.
Approaching the door she'll peer at the script and hrms. Not that she's a student of this, but ... she kind of is. She doesn't think of it that way, but she's picked up a smattering of the old languages somehow in her studies, and she'll read aloud, which conveniently gets autotranslated for everyone's edification. Hopefully that will help us to work out the puzzle.
Gwen wills start searching and things won't turn up anything she just has no luck with this. She seems a bit miffed but this doesn't last too long. They will find their way to the stone door. Gwen pauses and will start looking about to see if she can find anything of note here.
"I wonder why the Gnomes left here..."
While the others work through figuring out the process of the door, Rama manages to find what looks to be a faintly glowing crystal, nearly buried entirely underneath one of the nearby bushes. Trotting over, Mikage takes it from the cat, ruffling his oversized ears. "Good boy." When it is placed into one of the slots on the door, with the help of Cyrus and Haru's enchanting and Yeowang's translations, the door begins to open.
It creeks on hinges, revealing a long passageway which echoes with the hiss of steam and the clank of machinery. There are signs that this place is very much still 'alive', and yet the dust and spider webs seem to suggest it has not been used by any living thing in a long time.
The walls are carved finely out of stone, covered in metal plates and fine wires that seem to make the whole structure some part of a greater mechanism. As the party enters, a series of red lights begin to blink in the darkness beyond. First one, then another, then many.
Then, a clattering sound follows as robotic spiders move their way forward through the tunnels, obviously alerted to their presence and ready to defend the facility. They shoot a strange, sticky filament to try to capture the Adventurers, or crawl up at them and prod at them with sharp, metal legs.
Turns out to be a smart move. As the first direct threat the expedition comes across is magitec arachnoids. "Spiders, why did it have to be spiders," Shiruba mutters as she raises her bow, but then has to duck instead when a siderbot sprays some adhesive threads at it.
Which is followed by the "KE-KE-KE-KE" shriek that is a falcon's warning cry, just as Windburn swoops past her and tries grab the construct with her talons and jab her beak into the 'eye'. It gives Shiruba long enough to reorient herself, and fire one of her piercing arrows through the relative head area of another.
A good hunter knows to find the weak spot, regardless if they are Man or Beast... or both, if you're a Cait Sith.
Fuka ooohs in delight at the ancient magitech, but decides it can be studied at a later time. No, now is the time to explore instead. Reluctantly tearing herself away from the fascinating display of magic and ancient steam-tech, she follows along with others.
"Because they Spide us!" Fuka cries out shrilly in answer to Shiruba, hastily chanting a protective barrier - in this case, a fire wall to block off the spiders. There are however too darn many of them, so she's unable to efficiently corral them. With some luck she'll buy time for others at least!
The pun gets a slow head turn to Fuka and a thumb up. "Excellent," he smiles. Genuinely.
Well, this is the class she signed up for. The one she doesn't know very much about, but she's been making an effort to learn after realizing that it's actually important. Like all necessary job skills, she's pursued it single-mindedly, until she's achieved at least a passing ability with the basics. In this case, her bow comes out, and she's able to shoot the scuttling spiders as they swarm, pinning them to the walls and ceiling where the bowshot doesn't impact one already damaged by one of her allies and kill it in a cloud of pixels.
"I hate spiders, I hate spiders, I hate spiders." Cyrus starts to repeat, shining the light at them, trying to blind them. "Someone please take care of the spiders." The Cait Sith mutters, while hiding a bit further in the back lines so he doesn't have to deal with the spider web filament being shot their way!
"I have this."
Gwen notes and she marches forward it's been a very long time since Shiruba saw Gwen take the stance she is currently making. she takes her sword out kneels down mutters some sort of pray and drives the sword into the ground.
THen comes the holy magic which Gwen hopes will thin out the spider's ranks. Though anyone checking on Gwen's status? It's clear she's spending her own HP in part to do this.
Yeowang manages to take out a few, pinning them briefly to walls or finishing off those damaged by their allies. Cyrus' blast of light throws back some of them, causing a few to skitter back towards the nearby walls. Gwen's Grand Cross seems to do much the same, the force of it eliminating a number of them and sending a few more skittering into cracks in the walls or hiding around corners.
"Don't worry, we've got this." Mikage tries to offer support to Cyrus, as he has so often been keeping her going as of late. Rama charges forward to pounce at one of the spiders, but it seems less than effective when one starts shooting sparks at the cat, sending him fleeing back behind the Adventurers.
After a moment, it looks like all the spiders are cleared out, the sound quieting. "Looks like we're good." So, the group continues onward, until they run into the first signs of the 'Terraformers'. A trio of them are at the end of a long hallway, seemingly trying to dismantle a piece of the ruin wall.
Spotting the group, they turn, fleeing further into the dungeon. However, as the Adventurers move to follow, they find themselves halted by a trap, likely activated by movement or pressure plates. A wall of fire shoots up from the ground, blocking the entire path. It seems wide enough that walking through it could be dangerous for those who aren't superbly tanky.
However, there might be a way to douse the flames with enough water, or find some means of cutting of the chemical accelerant which fuels it by figuring out where it might be located in the walls.
Hopefully that will give people some room to get closer to the source.
The first sight of the Terraformers is curious, and she peers at them dismantling a wall. Why? Who can say, but that implies that capturing them for our use is certainly a bad plan. The wall of fire covering their retreat brings her up short, and she looks around for a fire extinguisher, because that's what you do. But this isn't that world, so she will try to channel water. But she's not that good at it, and the amount she can channel, less than a garden hose, does nothing to the flames other than filling the air with steam.
He grimaces a bit at Fukaziroh as she gives him that look. Still flightily looking around for more mecha-spiders. "What's next, cowboys and trains?" He mumbles to himself. Then suddenly, fire!
"Hee!" His tail puffs out as the fires burn wild around them. And the youth is /quick/ to pull out something that he smashes on the ground near the flames. There's a sudden explosion of bubbles and foam that starts to smother the flame, turning from white to black as it absorbs the energy. "Stupid... rassinfraggin traps!" He complains.
"So what could we be dealing with...flame wall."
It had to be fire didn't it? Gwen will ready her shield and start popping various abilities it seems she's going to march through the flames...
"Aye Haru we're hot but this is a bit silly."
She hasn't run with Haru before, though she seems to like him so far. She'd cast him a look, clearly thinking about something. Shiruba would know that look, she'd know that look very well. It vanishes though after a moment as Gwen turns back to the fire.
Rather disgruntled at the spiders going RIGHT THROUGH her firewall, Fuka complains in annoyance while others actually solve that problem. "Who ever heard of spiders not burning? Everyone knows you use fire to solve spiders and spider-web problems in dungeons. These mechanospiders are DECEPTIVE!" she complains, neck-deep in the meta. Not really offended or upset, but definitely wanting to sound like she had a plan that was better than 'set them on fire!'
Of course 'set them on fire' is a perfectly good plan; witness the next challenge. Fuka's quick to recognize what's going on and eager to help. "That one." she points, aiding Haru. "Reduce that flow next, I think. If I make my guess, that'll keep it all from exploding." she notes. Explosions are great and all, as long as it's not her and her friends that are exploding!
After a moment, satisfied things are going well, she steps back and lets the pros handle it. She's not terrible at chemistry and this world's equivalent, but it's not exactly her thing and she's well aware others are better. Once she's said her part, she'll leave the rest to those who specialize in the task.
Soon enough, with the aid of quite so many trained alchemists, the group is able to disable the trap, the fire sputtering down and eventually fading out completely.
Rama looks a little singed around the edges, and gives the device a few kicks as if he were trying to bury it.
As they follow the path the 'Terraformers' had fled, they find themselves on a narrow stone stairway leading down. The entire path is strewn with rubble, making it a little difficult of a climb downward.
However, they do eventually find themselves in a large, underground room that seems to have been entirely taken over by unusual plants. Even the experts likely wouldn't have seen all the varieties that seem to exist here. It is hard to grasp just how big the room is, as the expanses are overgrown so it is impossible to see just where the walls are.
Above, there seems to be some sort of observation deck, likely used by the Gnomes to watch over whatever experiments were done here. Out of the jungle, below, though, comes more of the 'Terraformers' The dark creatures seem to move more erratically here, as if these were more 'experimental' versions of them. They move throughout the foliage, only a few paying heed to the Adventurers.
Now is a great time to strike from stealth or darkness, taking out a few in the process. A skilled herbalist might also be able to turn the plants here against them, turning their creations into their doom.
Most certainly, they are trying to follow those Terraformers, but unfortunately, Cyrus is just too distracted as he starts running an APPRAISE on every plant he comes across he doesn't recognize. "This one can be used for antidotes!" He mutters. "And this one is an anti-inflamatory!"
Shiruba points at one of the 'Terraformer' creatures moving about the internal jungle. She may of been right about there being a connection between them and the overgrown jungle, and the only thing that keeps her from outright saying it is not wanting to tip off their presence before they're ready to deal with it.
Instead she draws two arrows embued with Dark magic from her quiver, nocks them in her bow, and fires. The arrows shoot towards opposite sides of the chamber, releasing arcane energy into expanding globes of darkness. If nothing else it gives people a chance to get through while the creatures are hopefully disoriented.
Moving on to the arboreum, it seems like this place is where we find ourselves, she looks around at the confusing maze of plants and Terraforming units. It seems like a good place to strike from stealth and cover to take down a few of the robots, but cover in plants and dim lighting is not really effective cover from the Terraformers, it seems, and rather than an ambush, it looks like a stand-up fight. And a hard one.
Unfortunately Fuka is not a very sneaky Sylph. Or maybe she is, and Sylphs just aren't very sneaky in general. Especially when they're wearing somewhat clanky armor!
Fortunately, Fuka has magic and can cloak herself in darkness. Unfortunately, darkness does little to muffle clankiness. Fortunately, Fuka's pretty good in the resulting fight even if they're not terribly stealthy about it. Unfortunately, that means they probably get in a fight and end up depleting far more health and mana than they would've done if they were properly sneaky. Fortunately, that'll mean Fuka gets to have fun, and any dungeon where Fuka's having fun is a good one. So... who really cares about stealth anyways?!
In the end, Shiruba and Mikage are the ones that are able to sneak through, eliminating some and finding an actual path that seems to lead to one of the walls. There, there is a large crack that seems to open into the stone surrounding the room, as if these creatures have been digging their way out.
The neatly carved walls with their metal accents are left behind in favor of rough carved stone that seems to be dug out without care for aesthetics. The ground is uneven enough that it might catch people's feet along the way.
Eventually, they are greeted with a low rumble in the ground beneath them, leading to a natural cave. Inside, there is a strange drill-like machine, being piloted by two smaller 'Terraformers'. It is revealed by INSPECT to be a monster called the 'Terraformer Drill-Digger'.
It's obvious that this must be one of the sources of these new tunnels, and that these destructive creatures have been trying to burrow their way off of the island through the rock below.
One of the 'Terraformers' notices them, the large device turning in their direction. The ground rumbles again as it revs up, charging into battle against the Adventurers. ?
The youth then steps along with the rest of the group into the tunnels, winding their way until they find the drill-like machine. "A drill... digger... I mean, that's accurate." Cyrus points out. "Welp, and now it's coming our way." He quickly throws one of his flasks to the edge of the drill, which quickly splashes its white misting substance across the side and tries to freeze it in place!
Satisfied after battling robots - the terraformer bots were much more fun than the spiders because the spiders were creepy - Fukaziroh shoulders her great axe with satisfaction. Cutting loose, so to speak, is fun... and she sure did manage to show that as much as she likes her magic, she also likes swinging around a weapon almost as big as she is! Suddenly her clanky armour probably makes a whole lot more sense for someone who seems to identify heavily as an Enchanter these days.
As the party progresses, Fuka seems reluctant to set aside her axe for subtler things. Oh well, screw it. Fuka can't be subtle all the time! Besides, this group is full of enchanters, archers, alchemists and the like. When there's a boss battle to fight, naturally Fuka's going to default to the role that's most needed. In this case, that's the role of tank!
"I really DIG what you've done with the place but I'll have to AXE you to stop!" she cries out, charging forward with her axe readied, and leaping high to come down hard on what she sees as a weak point. The driver. Okay so that's more a DPS move, but she'll at least draw some aggro!
The thought is interrupted by the digging machine being turned towards them and moving faster than it should be able to. "Dammit!" Shiruba pulls an arrow and tries to aim at the rocks hanging from the ceiling, but the operator seems to realize what she's doing and swings around to slam one of the digger's legs into the wolfgirl, sending her careening across the cavern. Windburn squacks and circles around so no one loses track of her master, but without some form of instruction she can't do much else against this metallic monstrousity.
There is a motion to Fuka with one of his gloveless hands as he moves another to draw up sand into the machinery's gearworks. "Alright, you know the drill. Lets take them down," as he alternates his heavily innate affinity to Earth between the sand and the occasional debris storn of rocks.
Though, it seems their machines are, and they have machines that operate machines. That seems like entirely a bad plan, one that's been in movies and fiction for years. Machines that operate machines are /never/ good for people. On the other hand, she's a highly trained martial artist, and this looks like it's shaping up to be a fight. A hard fight, perhaps, but she's had hard fights before. They usually go like ... Yeowang dashing forward, leaping into the air, spinning like a dancer. Feet extended at the last moment for torque-based impact, slamming hard into the giant machine. Hard enough to take a chunk of its health bar, but that's the power of an Epic attack. The rest of her fight is possibly not as awesome as that, but she gives a good accounting of herself.
Glowing squares appear on the ground radiating out from Gwen which will heal her allies who step into them while Gwen keeps up her assault on the boss.
"YOU WILL FAIL!"
She's getting into it perhaps a bit too into it.
The sight of the monster trying to dig free is more concerning to her. "We can't let them escape from here." She explains, "If they do, they could cause havoc in the rest of Yamato." Mikage had seen, first hand, that these creatures could nearly capture and harm a Divine Beast. That isn't something she can let happen.
So, channeling a magic aura, Mikage begins to pull down stones from the roof of the cavern above, crashing them into the drill while trying to stay out of the way of the charging machine.
The device was clearly not meant to tangle with Adventurers, as it doesn't seem to have all that much in the way of health and it only seems to only be built with a few area of effect attacks. However, it does have a high armor rating, meaning that it takes a long time to actually damage it.
Eventually, though, the monster starts to tremble. Then, it explodes, doing damage to all the Adventurers, but not enough to drop any of them, thankfully.
All that is left behind seems to be a shards of a cracked power crystal, and a few hunks of scrap metal.
"Ugh." Mikage pushes herself up to one knee, "Role call, everyone still alive?" Obviously, she could read that off of the party health bar, but... it's important to check.
"At least... we stopped them from getting off the island. Hopefully that should be enough to help Kirin and the other Divine Beasts." Miki murmurs.
But she also notices one of the gleaming pieces of stone in the rubble and picks it up. "Oh this looks interesting." She gets to her feet and dusts herself off. "Let's get back to the surface before more of those creatures come to inspect the explosion."
Gwen seems pretty chipper and she's pulling food out of her inventoy.
"Anyone want some food! I made it before we headed out!"
The towering woman is just about bouncing in place.
"Right we'll eat when we get out!"
Fukaziroh groans as she hears the role call request, and raises one arm. She seems to have found herself sprawled flat out on her back, ears ringing. "Ow." is her first statement, but she also lifts a thumb into the air at the end of that arm.
After a bit she lowers her arm and props herself up into a seated position. "That was a blast!" she says enthusiastically, after feeding herself a little bit of healing potion and removing the worst of her current crop of aches. "And I've got SO MANY GOOD IDEAS now! These gnomes really know how to build stuff!" she nerds aloud.