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Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

[PP-09] Bandit Camp - Red Crystal Machinations

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"Seriously?  We're talking about just four guys?"  Freyd was talking to the foreman at one of the obsidian quarries near Yogan village, right up against the base of Mount Kazan.  By his tone, he was struggling to believe the requirements of the quest that he'd just been offered.

"There have to be fifty of you here.  Look at the size of your forearms, man!  They're bigger than both of your legs combined."  The disproportionate modeling reminded him of a series of caricatures he'd seen on the streets of Osaka, but not in a good way.   "Drop a small mountain on them, or something!  You really need outside help to deal with four bandits?  Where's your sense of pride, or was that programmed out of you as well?"

The burly-looking, top-heavy dwarf impersonator who self-identified as the quarry foreman crossed the aforementioned arms in front of him in a clear display of stubborn defiance.  "You want access to our ore, you do the job.  I don't have time to argue the details."

Freyd furrowed his brow.  There was literally a small army of NPCs working like a well-oiled machine behind the man.  He doubted he'd ever even moved from this spot throughout his entire existence. It wasn't worth beating his head against lazy programming any longer.  Letting his head and shoulders sink in exaggerated disappointment at the mob's inability to negotiate just as his hand raised to accept the ludicrous quest.

"Fine. Whatever.  I should be back in about 15 seconds.  Have my package ready, will you?"

@Oscar

Spoiler

Name: Freyd, The Whisper in Shadows
Level: 39
HP: 800/800
EN: 78/78

Stats:
Damage: 15
Mitigation: 48
Evasion: 1
Accuracy: 4
KEEN:1
HLY:2
BLD:12

Equipped Gear:
Weapon: Forgiven Disobedience (T1-2HSS, ACC 1, HOLY 1, BLD 1)
Armor: Skirmisher's Garb (T2-LA, MIT 2, EVA 1)
Misc: Assassin's Cowl (T2-Trinket, ACC 2, KEEN 1)

Skills:
2H Straight Sword [Rank 5]
Light Armor [Rank 4]

Extra Skills:
Disguise
Familiar Mastery: Fighter 3
Survival

Mods:
Precision
Finesse - Rank 3
LA Athletics

Battle Ready Inventory:
Starter Healing Potion (50 hp)*3
Teleport Crystals*2
Turkish March *2
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik*5
Super-Duper Snake Sauce*2

Housing Buffs:
Rested: -1 energy cost for the first two expenditures of each combat
Clean: The first time you would suffer DoT damage in a thread, reduce damage taken from DoT each turn by 20% (rounded down)
Hard Working: +2 EXP per crafting attempt and +1 crafting attempt per day
Filling: Increase the effectiveness of a single food item consumed in a thread by +1 T1 slot.
Item Stash: +1 Battle Ready Inventory Slot
Relaxed: Increases out of combat HP regen by (5 * Tier HP) and decreases full energy regen to 2 Out of Combat Posts.
Col Stash: +5% bonus col from monster kills and treasure chests
Multipurpose: Gain +1 to LD, Stealth Rating, Stealth Detection, or Prosperity to one post in a thread. Can be applied after a roll

Guild Hall Buffs:
Lucrative: Reduce LD needed for Salvage by 5 (10+ for Alchemist crystals, 6+ for everything else). +2 EXP per craft. Rank 9 crafters receive +1 crafting attempt per day. Rank 10 crafters receive +2 crafting attempts per day.
Col Deposit: +5% bonus col from last-hit monster kills and +10% bonus col from treasure chests.

Scents of the Wild: n/a

Wedding Ring: n/a

 

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Spoiler

Oscar - Lvl 65
1330 HP
130 Energy
5 Accuracy (+1 Precision +3 Gear +1 Absolute Accuracy)
2 Evasion (+2 Gear)
19 Base Damage - (1 Base +7 Skill +1 Ferocity +9 Familiar +1 Athletics)
106 Mitigation 
Absolute Accuracy


Equipment
Tesseleth’s Fury [Tier 3 Demonic Two-Handed Battleaxe] | Fallen, Fallen, Burn, Burn
Money Shot [Tier 3 Perfect Two-Handed Battleaxe] | Absolute Accuracy, Accuracy, Bleed
Tactical Outfitting Mk.III [Tier 3 Demonic Light Armor] | Vampiric (Defensive), Para Immune, Rec, Rec
Mythril Greaves [Tier 3 Perfect Heavy Armor] |  +81 MIT
Gloves of Caerus [Tier 1 Perfect Light Armor] | +3 Loot Die
Ivory Gold Leaf Ring [Tier 1 Demonic Trinket] | ACC, ACC, EVA, EVA

Familiar
Leeroy & Jenkins - Familiar | +3*Tier DMG


Battle Ready Inventory
Teleportation Crystal
Empty Inventory Slot |
Empty Inventory Slot |
Empty Inventory Slot |
Empty Inventory Slot |
Empty Inventory Slot |

Buffs
Well-Rested | -1 energy cost for the first three expenditures of each combat.
Filling | Increase the effectiveness of a single food item consumed in a thread by +1 slot.
Relaxed | Increases out of combat HP regen by (5 * Tier HP) and decreases full energy regen to 2 Out of Combat Posts.
Col Stash | 5% Bonus Col from Monster kills and Chests
Squeaky Clean | The first time you would suffer DoT damage in a thread, reduce damage taken from DoT each turn by 25%

Skills
2HBA | Rank 5: +8 Damage
Light Armor | Rank 5: +25 Damage Mitigation
Battle Healing | Rank 5: Recover 5% of Max HP every round while in combat
Concentration | +1 to your BD (3 turn cooldown)
Survival | Heal 15*Tier HP when out of battle
Parry | 2-turn CD, 5 EN Half damage of next attack and remove Stun/Paralysis effects
First Aid | Rank 5: Restore 20% of target’s max health [Cost: 4% of healing done]

Skill Mods
Ferocity                   | Increases Base Damage by 1
Athletics                  | Increases Base Damage by 1, Max HP by 10*tier
Precision                 | Increases Accuracy by 1
Justified Riposte      | Successful Parries Stun Opponent, 3 Turn CD
Finesse Rank 3       | -3 EN on 2HBA Sword Arts

Here he was, back at it again in this absolute hellhole. If you'd asked him why he was even here, he wouldn't have been able to answer you. One, the heat had absolutely drained his batteries - mentally and physically. So he couldn't muddle the words together to adequately communicate his reasoning for enduring the heat for such a pitiful amount of experience. Two, his throat felt so prickly that it was a chore to even try to speak. Why did he insist on wearing a suit here of all places? One of the hottest floors on Aincrad. If he could sweat, it would have been flowing freely down his face and neck. Somehow not sweating made things worse. Now he had to deal with all the stimuli from the heat, but with none of the relief. He dragged himself through the town. Eyes obfuscated by dark shades - concealing the fact that he was in utter agony just by being here. 

Finally, something drew his attention. The sound of arguing. His ears perked up and - with a glimmer of distraction - he was able to stave off the effects of the heat just a bit. That was exactly what was needed: distraction. The last time he'd done a quest on this floor, he'd been with Cordelia. Having someone to talk to made the heat just a bit more survivable. Oscar watched as a young man questioned the logic about being sent off to slay some bandits as the absolute unit of a miner stubbornly refused to hear any of it. Finally, the two parted and Oscar would be right in the center of his field of view when he turned to trot off to fulfill the miner's request. Before he did, Oscar spoke up, his voice hoarse and gravelly. Odd, considering his throat wasn't actually parched. Kudos to the designer for adding that bit of realism to the mix. "Bandit Camp?" Oscar asked. Maybe they would be able to knock out this quest together and make the ordeal more palatable in the process.

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The glimmer of reddish brown eyes shone beneath his charcoal-coloured cowl as he paused to take in the stranger.

"More like a handful of morons who foolishly chose to pick on the locals, and the locals can't be bothered to deal with it themselves, but... yeah, bandit camp."  He looked him over up and down then tilted his head like a confused beagle.  "You must be the bandit-insurance salesman or something?  No one else would show this fast for something this trivial, except maybe lawyers.  Ambulance chaser?  I don't know and it really doesn't matter."  Freyd was rambling deliberately as he took in the man's features and appearance.   His bearing declared his confidence and his tone implied boredom, which could be a dangerous mixture, and an opportunity.  He totally looked like the front man for a PK-ing cartel, or some other criminal organization desperate to validate its legitimacy.  The red tie was a nice touch to compliment the fiery sky and lava-ridden terrain, but a white trench coat was about the worst possible pairing.  Freyd also knew better than to judge a garment's capabilities by its appearance.  His curiosity had been piqued.

"Who are you?"

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Have you ever met someone and resounded with the words they were saying so profoundly that it actually stunned you. As Oscar took in the man's response, he felt an immediate kinship. This kid got it. The logical inconsistencies with the quest givers, the overall strange behavior and mannerisms of the NPCs. They were set pieces who existed solely to pawn tasks off to the players. As their sole method of gaining experience at any meaningful rate, one would run afoul of such an interact at some point - probably sooner than later. Oscar cracked a grin, both at the revelation and the boy's rambling. Oddly enough, Oscar found it rather endearing. He was unflappable as he felt the boy's eyes drilling into him. Utterly relaxed, both hands in his pockets, he waited until the boy spake again. This time, inquiring about his name.

"Oscar," came the man's plain reply. "I'm here to do the same quest you're on. Figure some company might make the fact I'm hanging out in Satan's Asshole a bit more bearable. You in?"

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"I'm not sure I want to agree to be in Satan's Asshole with you, but I'm perfectly willing to do the quest together.  We can which one of us makes these bandits explode just by glaring harder than the other.  I'm Freyd, by the way."  He extended a party invitation to Oscar, and nodded yonder towards the road, which was little more than a linear patch of black ash and rock worn slightly more smooth than the surrounding wind-scoured landscape.  Freyd's eyes bulged nearly imperceptibly when he saw Oscar's stats appear in the party interface.

"You slumming it or something?  I'm just here to clear off low hanging fruit on my quest log," a partial lie, but it would suffice, "what the heck is someone with your skill doing this for?"  Curiouser and curiouser.  Who the hell is this guy, really.  His eyes kept darting to nearby rocks and ledges, wary of potential attack, though his gait remained light and relaxed.  Freyd's very nature was to be on edge at all times, yet appear to be as utterly clueless as possible.

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Oscar laughed. It was true. He vastly overleveled this floor. To the point that the strongest possible enemies could not possibly hope to threaten him. Except for one, but that one had already been handled. "Would you believe me if I said I'm here now because I hate the climate?" He let the words hang for a moment. A rather paradoxical assertion, but one that would make sense in context. "I'd put off doing the lion's share of the quests here simply because I don't like the heat. Now that I'm running low on quests to do, my hand is forced. It was either this or go fishing. While I enjoy fishing, every time I do a fishing-related quest, it's just a painful experience." Oscar cleared his throat. It seems even pleasant conversation couldn't distract him from the fact that his throat felt drier than the Sahara in the middle of July. "What of yourself? This quest is pretty far beneath you as well. Something tells me these bandits would only be a problem if you were level 10 or something."

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"I suppose I'm here precisely to avoid the problem that you just described."  Freyd's eyes kept wandering to the horizon, as if he was looking for something.  "I've heard some disturbing rumours of late, and thought it best to investigate.  The information brokers are being especially hush-hush on the subject, and there's enough misinformation floating around that it seemed prudent to confirm it for myself."  He caught Oscar's gaze from the shadows beneath his lazily draping cowl.  "Let's just say that I'll be perfectly satisfied if all we find out here are a handful of disgruntled drunks and vagabonds who somehow thought it wise to piss off the miner's guild."

He paused and crouched down to inspect a patch of pitch caked over with ash, the imprint of several booted feet.  "Their imprints are shallow.  They're lightly armored, at best.  I only see two sets, but the patch is too small.  The rest might have walked around or have traveled separately."  He cast a bit of the gathered ash into the air and watched it drift over his shoulder.  "Good.  Downwind works for our approach."  He looked up at Oscar's white overcoat, still sifting the last of the ash between his gloved fingers.  "I would normally suggest we do something about how obvious you look, but it's not likely to be an issue here.  Besides, that's a really nice suit."

Edited by Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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"I've heard some disturbing rumours of late, and thought it best to investigate.  The information brokers are being especially hush-hush on the subject, and there enough misinformation floating around that it seemed prudent to confirm it for myself."

"That sounds rather ominous. I can relate," Oscar replied. The way the kid spoke had Oscar worried that his own gang problems were more widespread than he had originally thought. The aviators were a rather new addition to his ensemble, but one that was already paying dividends. The flash of worry in his eyes would be inscrutable. Not that Freyd would notice anything. He was busy studying tracks. 

 "I would normally suggest we do something about how obvious you look, but it's not likely to be an issue here. Besides, that's a really nice suit."

Oscar could only laugh at that. "Yeah, that was rather the point. It really isn't going to matter. Come along now." Oscar broke off ahead of the young man, both hands in his pockets. His discomfort towards the heat had been replaced by an aura of bored nonchalance. He had to give the kid credit for being cautious, but Oscar seriously doubted that they would run into anything that would even approach threatening. "Out of curiosity, what rumors have you heard?"

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"I ran into a series of false mat spawn nodes on floor five about a week ago.  They had been rather intricately planted to lure players towards them - blue cobalt crystals amidst the orange sandstone canyons, that sort of thing.  My first notion was a PK trap, but I sneaked up on a group of mobs speaking about having laid them.  Their discussion was short-lived, as they were, but I was it was notable that they all max stats for that floor.  Each of them carried a sigil on a stone that looked like a red tower with a black sword through it."  He summoned one of the tokens from his storage and tossed it to Oscar.  The tower's profile was shaped much like Aincrad's, with an onyx shard like a blade overlaid through its centre, tip pointed down.

"Two days ago, I found a similar token in the mouth of a flaming tiger on floor six."  Another token materialized in his hand.  It was a nugget, or hunk of compressed charcoal.  Embossed upon its surface was an image of Aincrad's tower-like profile, glowing like a red ember and struck through its centre with an obsidian sliver shaped like a sword.

"I came here on the pretext of securing resources for my guild, but also hunting for further signs.  I'm also hearing rumblings from other floors that have me concerned."

 

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"Are you suggesting there's such a thing as sentient monsters?" Oscar asked. "That's literally insane," he quickly added. Oscar had his doubts about the veracity of the claim, but once confronted with the evidence Freyd had acquired, he did a bit of a mental double-take. Given how life-like some of the NPCs could be, it didn't exactly strain credulity that monsters roaming the floors would also exhibit similar behaviors. If Freyd was right and didn't have several dozen screws loose, life on Aincrad would get much harder very soon. "It's insane, but not entirely unbelievable. I've seen how sophisticated the AI can be in this game. I'd much rather stick my head in the sand and call you a raving lunatic. Given the potential circumstances, somehow I doubt that's going to help anyone." Oscar shrugged his shoulders. "No rest for the wicked, I guess." It was rather fortunate then that nothing on this floor could hold a candle to him. Fighting an enemy with the capability to adapt their behavior would require any advantage one could get over them.

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"That's literally insane," Oscar had said.  How many times had Freyd heard that?  How many times had he questioned his own sanity?  It was easiest just to let Oscar talk his own way through it, especially since the pendulum actually could swing both ways at the same time on this one.  Paradoxes suck, but it doesn't mean they can't exist.  His face betrayed no emotion, because there were none to betray.  This was a simple matter of clinical analysis of the available facts.

"In this case, my choices appear to be that I might be right, I might be insane, or I might be both."  He scratched his head as if shopping each options around for consideration.  "My wickedness, at least, I can confirm."  His hood looked towards the west, into a series of deep canyons etched out of black basalt cliffs, the wind howling through them like a chorus of badly tuned banshees.  Small rivulets of lava tricked from each mouth.

"We might as well try that way.  Careful though, you might be crazy to follow me."

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Oscar shook his head, sly grin stretching across his features. "In my line of work, I've learned that everyone's a little crazy." Oscar followed the youth without complaint. The kid was more effective at tracking than he was, clearly. Who was he to defy the expert? Still, he couldn't help but think what kind of fight they would be in for if these bandits did, indeed display some level of higher thought? Oscar was probably the only person he knew excited over the prospect. Combat had quickly become one-dimensional and bland. Given that was all the depth this death game had, it was a bad place to be. After they had roamed about for a while, Oscar could feel the heat getting to him again. He loosened his tie and vented his collar a bit, looking around rather impatiently for their targets. "So you got a bead on them or are we going the wrong way? I'm not seeing anything but rocks around here. I'm intrigued about your theory, but I can only take so much heat in one sitting."

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Freyd held a hand out to signify potential danger.  His bleached white blade extended behind him as he raced around the corner, followed by started yelps of surprise and the shattering explosion of de-materializing mobs.  The other two bandits were faster on their feet than he'd hoped, and he cursed himself through gritted teeth for his sloppiness in what should have been a clean group kill.

Wheeling back to face his opponents and keep their backs exposed to Oscar when he rounded the same corner, Freyd's eyes also drifted upward to a pair of massive constructs towering above his foes.  Comprised of deep crimson crystals, they looked to be inert, but capable of considerable mayhem should they be roused.  Deep black darkness roiled like slumbering chaos within them, looking for some excuse to awaken.  He dearly hoped he hadn't just provided it to them.

"Sorry lads.  Whatever party you were hoping to get started just got pre-emptively cancelled."

Spoiler

image.png.4a3ba480794fe2e55788966b5b94caac.png

Freyd, The Whisper in Shadows | HP:800/800 | EN:70/78 (-8)| DMG:15 | MIT:48 | EVA:1 | ACC:4 | KEEN:1 | HLY:2 | BLD:12 (Rested, Finesse 3)

BD: 1 (miss).  Freyd misses Bandit #1.
BD: 1 (miss).  Freyd misses Bandit #2.
BD: 4 + 4 = 8 (hit).  Freyd deals 120 damage to Bandit #3.  Killed
BD: 5 + 4 = 9 (hit).  Freyd deals 120 damage to Bandit #3.  Killed
 
Bandit #1: HP 100/100 | DMG 90
Bandit #2: HP 100/100 | DMG 90
Bandit #3: HP 0/100 | DMG 90
Bandit #4: HP 0/100 | DMG 90

 

Edited by Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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Freyd had tried to put the bandits down in one fell swoop but missed his mark. Oscar calmly strode forward, golden axe in hand. One of the bandits wheeled around, presumably to attack its aggressor. It was greeted with Oscar's shoulder to the face. The bandit stumbled backwards, smacking into its compatriot. Both targets clumped together lined up one hell of a shot. Following through with his momentum, Oscar stepped forward. His weapon whipped around him, tracing a golden line through the air. The weapon's edge found purchase in the pair, carving right through them. He allowed his body to follow them momentum of his weapon, spinning his entire body round and bringing the weapon about for another slice. By that time, however, his targets had shattered. Without anything to slow him down, Oscar stumbled as he fought his weapon a bit in order to halt his attack.

His eyes moved skyward. Raised his shades with his free hand, Oscar let out a shrill whistle in awe. "Fuck are those things," he asked without looking away. They certainly looked ominous. "Should we do something about this?"

Spoiler

Freyd, The Whisper in Shadows | HP:800/800 | EN:70/78 (-8)| DMG:15 | MIT:48 | EVA:1 | ACC:4 | KEEN:1 | HLY:2 | BLD:12 (Rested, Finesse 3)
Oscar HP: 1330/1330 | EN: 124/130 | 19 DMG | 5 ACC | 2 EVA | 106 MIT | ABS.ACC

Trample Act[x6] 6 + 4 - 4 [Finesse/Well Rested] = 6 EN Spent

Bandit #1 HP: 0/100 | 90 DMG | ID: 164554 | BD4+5, 114 DMG
Bandit #2 HP: 0/100 | 90 DMG | ID: 164556 | BD7+5, 114 DMG
Bandit #3 HP: 0/100 | 90 DMG
Bandit #4 HP: 0/100 | 90 DMG 

 

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"Those are exactly the sort of thing I was hoping not to find here," Freyd said as he crouched down over one of the disintegrating corpses, snatching something quickly before it could vanish with the rest.  Surprisingly, it remained in the soot-covered palm of his black-gloved hand.  Examining it momentarily, there was a barely perceptible drop in the tip of his hood and shoulders.  He flipped the object to Oscar, who quickly saw that it was an obsidian token about the size of a hockey puck, with a glowing red tower on one face and the etching of a sword through its centre.  The tower's form vividly resembled Aincrad's profile, and the red glow flickered like fire in his hand.

"I really don't like how this is adding up."  Surveying the makeshift camp site gleaned only one additional item of interest: a missive outlining orders for the forces of something call the 'Sundered Spire' to marshal on floor twenty one.  Freyd's jaw set tight.  Right below the Tanabata event.  The Sundered Spire was a clear reference to the symbols he kept finding.  At least now he had a name.  

"I'll put Firm Anima on notice and make my way directly to floor twenty one.  It's my only remaining lead.  Do everyone a favour and plan to hang around the Tanabata festival.  I heard that there was trouble last year.  We wouldn't want a repeat."

Spoiler

Freyd's later exploration on floor 21 can be found here:

And the giant crystalline behemoths reappear here:

 

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"Shouldn't we take care of those things first?" Oscar asked. If these crystals were as dangerous as they were ominous, Oscar definitely didn't want them to continue existing on the lower floors. The quests here were targeted to players in their 20s. If these constructs were left here for a hapless lowbie to stumble upon, the results probably wouldn't be pretty. He caught the coin, turning it over in his hands. He then turned his attention back to the red-and-black crystals hovering above them. The more he examined them, the more certain he became that their best course of action was to destroy them now. To that end, he opened his menu and cycled through his inventory. Finding the entry he was looking for, Money Shot disappeared in a flash of light - only to be replaced by the obsidian blade known as Tesseleth's Fury. If Money Shot was the scalpel, Tesseleth's Fury was three-billion kilotons of ordinance designed solely to wipe out his enemies with extreme prejudice. He needed that more at this moment than a knife with a medical degree.

"So you reckon those things are Immortal Objects or not?" Oscar asked again. Firm Anima. Those dudes were everywhere. Impressive given how young the guild was. It assuaged his fears somewhat, knowing that they were mobilized against whatever the hell was going on. Oscar refrained from mentioning his own guild, but this whole thing was right up their alley. Perhaps he might mention it and see if they could bring their own resources to bear. Of course, their "resources" were basically just the fact that the guild had the highest concentration of broken weapons out of any other group in the game. Not really much help until it all hit the fan anyway. 

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Crossing his arms and leaning back against the black basalt walls of the gorge, Freyd gestured with an open hand as if to suggest that Oscar should feel free to proceed and find out.  No immediate response was provided to his companion's query.  Could Oscar's weapon shatter it, even if it was?  Wouldn't that be an interesting development?  He didn't believe that the constructs were anything so resilient, though he agreed that they should be destroyed.

Forgiven Disobedience remained at the ready, its bright white blade standing in stark contrast to their surroundings.  Freyd's form practically faded into the background, making it appear as if his sword was floating in mid air, hilt up and waiting in silent vigil for its purpose to awaken.

For his part, he wanted to see what Oscar's new toy could do.  Always gathering data, this seemed to carry high potential for a priority notice tag in his files.  Despite his dislike for the heat, and odd dressing habits, Oscar seemed like a cool customer with keen insights.  In other words, he was someone worth learning more about.  A rare few had been encountered in his travels so far, and Freyd never passed up an opportunity to pick up anything that might benefit his goals or advancement.  It wasn't ego.  Freyd barely had one.  This was about practicality: discerning and understanding - two skills that would eventually prove key to unlocking this infernal box and enabling their escape.

"Shall we see?"

Edited by Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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"Well let's get to it then," Oscar said with confidence. Weapon in hand, Oscar strode forward. Positioning himself in between the constructs, Oscar took a deep breath. There was no way of knowing what was going to happen if and when they were broken. But the only way forward was through. He rested the butt of his axe against the ground. The Tyrant's power coursed through the weapon and seemed to resonate with him. A burning unquenchable resting in the bosom of boundless darkness. It flowed through the obsidian blade like a coursing river. At the merest prodding the entirety of the formless inferno could be brought to bear. Oscar raised the axe, the dull end of the haft mere inches from the ground. And then, let it fall. The weapon struck the ground and like steel striking flint, fire was born.

Though this was a little more than a mere spark.

An explosion of black flame rippled out in all directions. So massive was the rolling inferno that the pillars were indistinguishable from within the conflagration. The Tyrant's Will had been unleashed and naught would be left but ash. The flames inevitably faded. Oscar emerged from the hellfire completely unscathed. And he wasn't alone. Two large tri-headed creatures now flanked him, standing exactly where the pillars had once stood. The look on Oscar's face was one of immediate regret. He'd encountered these creatures before. A quest boss. A difficult one at that. Just what were these new sentient mobs doing? "Hey Freyd? Gonna need you to hit that stun button on these guys 'kay?" 

Spoiler

Freyd, The Whisper in ShadowsHP:800/800 | EN:78/78 | DMG:15 | MIT:48 | EVA:1 | ACC:4 | KEEN:1 | HLY:2 | BLD:12 (Rested, Finesse 3)
Oscar HP: 1330/1330 | EN: 130/130 | 19 DMG | 4 ACC | 2 EVA | 106 MIT | 12 FLN | 36 BRN [BD8-10]

Incomplete Gatekeeper1 HP: 450/450 | 175 DMG | 3 ACC | 2 EVA
Incomplete Gatekeeper2 HP: 450/450 | 175 DMG | 3 ACC | 2 EVA

 

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Instinct kicked in immediately.  Oscar felt the barest brush of cloth against his suit as Freyd ran past him in a low crouch, deliberately limiting his profile and exposure.  He had no idea what these things were, and it wasn't likely to matter if they managed to start gnawing on any of his favorite body parts.  They were fast, too, as he soon discovered.  His first slice was too ambitious, hoping to catch at least two heads on the beast to Oscar's left.  Landing horizontally on the cliff-face behind it, Freyd rolled and leapt, using his momentum to bolster the force and speed behind his strike at the second target.  It howled and recoiled as the white, holy steel sliced through the area at the base of its necks, where they met the bulk of its torso.  It was lost in agony, granting he and Oscar temporary reprieve from any immediate attack.  Skidding to a stop in a wide stance next to Oscar, his sword trailed a shower of brilliant white sparks as he dragged it across the stony ground to slow himself and recover.

"They're quick!  Any idea what they are?"

 

Spoiler

image.png.f4fff705a3a862ba3b528ad4f40d094c.png

Freyd, The Whisper in Shadows HP:800/800 | EN:70/78 (-8) | DMG:15 | MIT:48 | EVA:1 | ACC:4 | KEEN:1 | HLY:2 | BLD:12 (Rested, Finesse 3)
Oscar HP: 1330/1330 | EN: 130/130 | 19 DMG | 4 ACC | 2 EVA | 106 MIT | 12 FLN | 36 BRN [BD8-10]

BD: 1 (miss).  Freyd misses Incomplete Gatekeeper 1.
BD: 6 + 4 – 2 = 8 (hit).  Freyd deals 120 damage to Incomplete Gatekeeper 2.  Stunned.

(0,0) Incomplete Gatekeeper1 HP: 450/450 | 175 DMG | 3 ACC | 2 EVA
(1,0) Incomplete Gatekeeper2 HP: 330/450 | 175 DMG | 3 ACC | 2 EVA (450-120); stunned.

 

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Freyd, The Whisper in Shadows HP:800/800 | EN:70/78 (-8) | DMG:15 | MIT:48 | EVA:1 | ACC:4 | KEEN:1 | HLY:2 | BLD:12 (Rested, Finesse 3)
Oscar HP: 1,123/1,330 | EN: 116/130 | 19 DMG | 4 ACC | 2 EVA | 106 MIT | 12 FLN | 36 BRN [BD8-10]

Explode Catapult [x14] -14 EN

(0,1) Incomplete Gatekeeper1 HP: 16/450 | 175 DMG | 3 ACC | 2 EVA | ID: 165014 | BD: 7+4-2, Deal 434 DMG | MD: 6+3-2, Deal 207 DMG
(1,0) Incomplete Gatekeeper2 HP: 330/450 | 175 DMG | 3 ACC | 2 EVA | ID: 165015 | BD: 1, Miss | MD: 3+3-1, Miss

"They're quick!  Any idea what they are?"

Oscar let out a sigh. Thankfully Freyd was able to stun one of the bastards. That made things a little less complicated. Before he answered, he launched an Explode Catapult. Apparently, they mirrored each other's accuracy. Oscar was able to catch the one Freyd hadn't touched. A Fallen proc, signified by an eruption of darkness from Tesseleth's Fury on impact caused the creature's health to tank. Another small mercy. At least these thing weren't as durable as the original. He wondered whether or not they fought like the original. His question was quickly answered as each of the heads of his target focused on him and bit into his body in quick succession. A hefty chunk of his health gone in an instant. At least they didn't also have the original's burning abilities. With the creature's fangs still buried in his body, Oscar turned to answer Freyd.

"So you haven't done Gatekeeper of Fire yet. These are that. Looks like those bandits were nurturing copies of the upgrade version of Cerberus Cardinal recently added. Luckily, they aren't nearly as durable. Still kinda hurt, but at least I'm not also on fire. Might wanna end this quick either way."

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