The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #211
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: White Cloud City IC

    "Er...no, I think we stand a much better chance than that." Tsugiharu immediately added, somewhat awkwardly.

    If we can lure it out of the tunnels, at least.

    "...but I can't say the same for just five students, so if you want to come we'd better hurry."
    To the optimist, the glass is half-full.
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  2. - Top - End - #212
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    Wulfric's face splits with a toothy grin.

    "You've found something more exciting than the ants? Count me in! Was getting tired of these things - not much of a fight once you've seen a couple."
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  3. - Top - End - #213
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    Reactions to the news of hanyangi were mixed.

    Satomi eyed Adarata suspiciously. Reiko's eyes went wide in alarm. Jiyuna reached down to stroke Sunwing's neck protectively. And Kaede...

    "Yeah, they sound really strong!" 3 children being offered new toys could maybe match Kaede's excitement. Maybe. "I could really use a good fight. What can they do? Are they far away? What order do we want to fight in? Is your team going in first?"

    "Order? Its a demon beast! Why would we take turns? We should fight it together"

    "All of us ganging up on it? That wouldn't be fair!"

    "But if it is really that strong, fighting it would be really dangerous. I've seen adepts come back wounded even when they were well prepared. I don't want to see any of you get crippled."

    "Well, no. It just seems like such a waste..."

    "Yeah, lets waste it."

    "I agree. If it is such a powerful beast we should work together. To do otherwise and charge in alone would be foolish and unworthy of a warrior pledged to protect the city." Satomi absolutely did not look at Lash while weighing in. She had in fact taken out a cloth and started cleaning off her naginata's blade with almost absentminded efficiency. "But I still have a question. How do we know that there are hangyangis in the valley? I had heard they only live in caves deep underground."

    "Forgive me, but are you suggesting we are lying to you?"

    "No, no. I have no doubts as to your sincerity, but it is possible to speak the truth as you know it and still be incorrect."
    Last edited by Dorni; 2019-09-29 at 07:01 PM.
    Everyone makes mistakes. Our fate and our character is not determined by the mistakes we make, but by how we react to them.

  4. - Top - End - #214
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    PirateGuy

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    Adarata shrugged.

    "Ant hills go underground. The caves are underground. Territory isn't only a human problem."

    He idly gazed over the pack of children. He was beginning to speak as if this Hanyangi problem wasn't exactly a new situation for him.

    "Now there's all plenty of us. You'd send not nearly this many folk where I come from to take care of, say, a wee bear. And those folk aren't adepts. As long as nobody does anything foolish it should all work out."

  5. - Top - End - #215
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    Griffon

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    Shiori shrugs, shrinking in on himself. "The Ants delved too greedily and too deep. We know what they awoke in those tunnels," he replies quietly, looking away from the group.
    Originally Posted by Xefas:
    "I need the Goblins in phalanx arrangement. Sky Blotters in the back! Swissles? Assume the Swizzle Stick Formation! We're going in!"
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  6. - Top - End - #216
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    OldWizardGuy

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    "Yes, well, perhaps they forgot to inform these particular hanyangis about that." Tsugiharu replied, trying to sound joking but unable to entirely conceal the sarcasm in his tone. That comment somewhat rubbed him the wrong way. "We fought giant-bat-like creatures with sharp claws and stunning screeches. Don't know how else to call those."

    "And anyway, any moment we spend in pointless arguments is another moment that fool Benjiro could get someone killed. Just sayin'."
    To the optimist, the glass is half-full.
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  7. - Top - End - #217
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    "Yeah, that sounds like a hanyangi to me! We'd be happy to help!"

    "Hold on Lady Kaede, we don't know if-"

    "-our classmates are asking us for help defeating a powerful opponent, and it sounds like Benjiro and his friends went off ahead and might be in danger. You're being too cautious."
    "I agree. There's caution and there's paranoia. We should help them.

    "I don't like the thought of standing by doing nothing while my classmates get hurt when I can do something about it. Please, lets help them."

    "Fine." Satomi let out a big frustrated sigh, but she looked back towards the newcomers. "We'll help. Lead on."

    Spoiler: Sense Motive, Diplomacy, or Knowledge:Streetwise DC 20
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    There isn't anything that you can quite put a finger on, but you get the sense that this isn't a new exchange for Kaede and Satomi, and although Satomi is being excessively cautious you don't get the sense that she lacks for courage. Its more like caution on principle, or professional caution for Kaede. Its unlikely that she'd develop that concern for Kaede if they'd just met in class this week - they must know each other from outside the academy. Given all that, you get the sense that Satomi is acting as a yojimbo for Kaede.

    Spoiler: Knowledge: Nobility or Streetwise DC 15
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    A noble having one or more yojimbos is quite common, but its a rare thing for someone to have a yojimbo while attending the academy. If Satomi isn't just being excessively protective, that would suggest that Kaede is someone of extremely high station.
    Everyone makes mistakes. Our fate and our character is not determined by the mistakes we make, but by how we react to them.

  8. - Top - End - #218
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    Griffon

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    Almost unconsciously, Shiori noted the power dynamic between Kaede and Satomi and briefly entertained its significance before dismissing it to consider more important matters.

    That one, Shiori sends privately to Hitomi, outlining Yumi in his mind's eye. She... feels like THEM, but she isn't THEM. I think... she might have read a different Book. If she doesn't know... I will try to find out if she does. Keep an eye on me? It was an old joke between them; they always had an eye on each other, for one reason or another.

    As the group begins to head towards the anthill containing the adult Hanyangi, Shiori finds his way near to Yumi. "Do you sleep?" He asks her abruptly, though quietly. It was dangerous to get so close to the matter, he knew, but to anyone without the knowledge it should be an innocent question. And to people who knew... well, they knew already, so their Doom was already upon them. Just like Shiori and Hitomi.
    Originally Posted by Xefas:
    "I need the Goblins in phalanx arrangement. Sky Blotters in the back! Swissles? Assume the Swizzle Stick Formation! We're going in!"
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  9. - Top - End - #219
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Lady Kaede, huh?

    Just respect or a master-attendant relationship? Hard to say from a single exchange, so Tsugiharu stored the matter in a corner of his mind for future reference.

    "Good. Right behind you, Great Nezu." he said, then his keen ears picked up on the exchange between Shiori and Yumi and he focused on the pair, trying to figure out the significance of the question. Why wouldn't she sleep? It would be pretty interesting if there was some technique that allowed you to do that.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Taking 10 for 25 Stealth to eavesdrop unnoticed .
    Last edited by Hyperbolic sine; 2019-09-30 at 03:23 PM.
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  10. - Top - End - #220
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    Yumi blinked at the question. "Most of the night. I'm still new to this power. But I'm definitely going to make it mine."

    "Yeah, I know the way! Everyone follow me!" Nezu took the lead again, walking to the edge of the clearing but then picking up the pace to a light jog once all the other students had started following. The band made good time through the forest, encountering no resistance. Perhaps they got lucky, but more than a dozen warriors in full armor also made raised quite a din as they traveled. Any ants in their path would have been wise to lay low until they'd passed.

    At last, Nezu slowed up. "Alright everyone, we're getting close. The anthill I first saw the hanyangi at is just ahead. The-"

    "-I smell blood." cut in Yumi. "Lots of it."

    "What? Didn't you say Benjiro went here ahead of us? It could be Benjiro! Come on!" Kaede called as she started running for the clearing. The rest of her group took off after her, although Satomi growled as she did. Dragged along, the other parties followed Kaede's band.

    The clearing was something of a nightmare. Blood and ant parts covered the clearing, torn apart.

    Spoiler: Perception DC 15
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    Although there are ant parts scattered in a bloody mess all over, there aren't actually that many dead ants. You count even fewer than Lash and Kaede's team fought outside the last anthill. It just appears so because of how completely and violently the ants were torn apart. You also don't see any human bodies among the carnage.
    Spoiler: Perception DC 20
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    Based on where the bloodstains and bodies are thickest, you get the sense that the ants here were killed while they were approaching the anthill. These ants weren't fleeing the anthill when they were killed - they were returning to it.

    Spoiler: Knowledge: Demon Beasts DC 10
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    These ants clearly weren't killed for sustenance - hanyangi might be unusually violent among demon beasts, but this kind of dismemberment is still unusual even by those standards. Unless what the attacker was after wasn't meat but soul stones - Demon Beasts that were close to advancing sometimes could grow unusually aggressive in pursuit of the last soul stones they needed.
    Everyone makes mistakes. Our fate and our character is not determined by the mistakes we make, but by how we react to them.

  11. - Top - End - #221
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    Wulfric rushes into the clearing with the others, coming to a stuttering halt at the sight of the massacre.

    "Serpent's Poison... what happened here?"
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  12. - Top - End - #222
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    PirateGuy

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    Adarata barely stopped as he got into the clearing, quickly eyeing over the bodies.

    "We learnt about all this! Demon beasts can act quite strangely when they only need a few more soul stones to grow stronger. That big Hanyangi was on the verge of expanding."

    Looking around to the now rather large group, he waved a hand to advance.

    "Come on! It might be big enough for all of us now, and Benjiro's men are in there alone!"

  13. - Top - End - #223
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    Griffon

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    Shiori lives in a world of worst-case scenarios; the fact that Yumi connects his question of sleep to her power immediately is as good as confirmation for him. He falls back, watching Yumi's back warily as she strides ahead. "No, oh no," he says softly. "If you continue to sleep, all unknowing, you will soon be its."

    Upon seeing the gory, nightmarish scene before the anthill, Shiori visibly relaxes. He catches Hitomi's eye, and begins scanning the trees above and the dirt directly below them, confident that Hitomi will cover the most direct paths of nightmarish attack. "We may as well meet it head on," he agrees with Izuka, though reluctantly. "At this point, it's too late to run." He walks forward, still looking everywhere except the most obvious locations of danger.
    Originally Posted by Xefas:
    "I need the Goblins in phalanx arrangement. Sky Blotters in the back! Swissles? Assume the Swizzle Stick Formation! We're going in!"
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  14. - Top - End - #224
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Yeah, of course she sleeps most of the - wait, what power? So it was a valid question? Hmm.

    How curious. Well, if anthing, it was clear Shiori's wierdness wasn't just, well, weirdness. Tsugiharu's interest in the matter spiked once more. Should I actually pursue the matter, though? he wondered idly. He'd already kind of burned bridges with Benjiro&Co, it wouldn't do to earn the ires of even more classmates.



    Spoiler: OOC
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    Taking 10 for 20 Perception.


    Tsugiharu made to follow the others, but as he looked at the slaughtered ants he came to a sudden realisation.

    "Stop!" he cried out, trying to not be too loud but unable to completely suppress that people potentially running to their deaths caused. "It's already out! These ants were coming back!"

    His eyes darted around the clearing, looking for the hanyangi. If something that dangerous managed to ambush them, it could end up very badly.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Perception (1d20+10)[11].
    Last edited by Hyperbolic sine; 2019-10-07 at 12:27 PM.
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  15. - Top - End - #225
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    Kotetsu seems a bit slow for a moment, contemplating utilizing the one way she knows how to draw out anything that could still be in the ant hill at the cost of anonymity, to the point of losing focus.

    However, when the others voice their concerns, she drops into a guarded stance, shifting her sword in the sash, preparing for... well, damn near anything.

    Spoiler: OOC/rolls
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    Prepping x3 Mizuchi's, Crawling Ivy Strike, and Aerial Strike. Staying in Phantasmal blade stance


    Also, perception: (1d20+6)[25]
    <BananaPhone> Stop sniveling worm! You think something as petty as "oh boo hoo my house is collapsing!" should stop you from posting in an online fantasy game where people pretend to be werewolves?

    "Let me get this straight. Some guy dressed up as Batman to fight the guys dressing up as clowns scaring people. Maybe this planet aint so bad after all."

  16. - Top - End - #226
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    The class responded at once to the warning - classmates hefted weapons and started scanning the trees for the beast about to leap from the shadows and ambush them. Nari's face went white and the temperature around her dropped. Satomi and Yumi wore looks of grim determination. Nezu nocked an arrow and started scanning the trees, although he moved towards the center of the clearing as he did. Reiko summoned her flame and raised it. The golden glow enveloped Kaede, who scanned the trees eagerly, and Hitomi, who looked unimpressed by the suddenly ominous cave mouth of the anthill. Jiyuna gave a sharp whistle and raised her hand, pointing two fingers skyward and making a circling motion. Her Giant Eagle Sunwing shrieked in answer and took to the sky in a fluffy of feathers, rapidly rising a hundred feet in the air and circling the clearing. Even if the monster was hidden from the ground, few could hide from a sharp-eyed eagle on the wing.

    Any pretense to stealth was lost - surely any monster waiting in hiding would see they were on their guard and give up on stealth.

    Seconds ticked by.

    Then more seconds.

    Nothing jumped out of the shadows.

    "Hey Tsugiharu, Sunwing doesn't see anything. Are you sure we're under attack?"

    Yumi warily studied the ground while taking a deep breath through her nose. "The scent is... newish. More than an hour, but not much more. I think. The tracks are muddled but I think the largest hanyangi to come out of the anthill went back in."
    Last edited by Dorni; 2019-10-19 at 09:27 AM.
    Everyone makes mistakes. Our fate and our character is not determined by the mistakes we make, but by how we react to them.

  17. - Top - End - #227
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    OldWizardGuy

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    "Well, I never said we were under attack. Tsugiharu muttered, releasing some tension from his muscles. He was somewhat embarassed by what had effectively been a false alarm, but ultimately he was more relieved than anything. They still had a chance to engage the hanyangi on their own terms (and, you know, no sonic screech taking out half the party before the fight had even begun).

    "Er, sorry. Assuming the worst case has kind of been drilled into me. But better safe than sorry...right?" he said, with a weak smile. "Let's keep going, then."
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  18. - Top - End - #228
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    Spinning around on all points with his staff, Adarata nodded.

    "They are tunnel beasts, so surely it would retreat into the hill again. It was still a good assessment, friend. Let's advance!"

  19. - Top - End - #229
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    The sudden alarm went out of the group. Weapons were lowered with a collective murmer. "No harm, no foul. I think we'd all rather be on-alert than let one of those beasts get the jump on us."

    "Yeah."

    "Agreed."

    "Definitely."

    "So it looks like we're going into the tunnels. How do we want to do this?"

    What followed was a cacophony of the students trying to figure out just that. Reiko's flames gave off some light, but not enough for the entire group to see by. Staying out till nightfall had never been part of the plan, so few of the students had bothered carrying lanterns or torches. Fortunately, "few" didn't mean "none", and the group was lucky enough to scrounge up enough light sources between them for each group to have one.

    Then there was the haggling over what order everyone would move in. The ants built their tunnels wide enough for two of them to pass at a time. While that meant the students could travel in double-file if they needed to, not all of the students could realistically fight in such tight confines. Those with larger weapons would need to travel single file. Hitomi's over-sized glaive in particular had been devastating in the earlier battle in the field, but was clearly unsuited to cramped fighting underground. She would prove to need to short-haft the weapon just to maneuver in the tunnels' confines.

    Then there was Sunwing, who balked at following the gaggle underground. Jiyuna tried soothing and coaxing the eagle, but Sunwing wasn't moved. The standoff resolved itself at the suggestion that Sunwing be allowed to stay out of the tunnels. After all, there was still a hanyangi that was maybe still somewhere in the forest. If Sunwing stood guard and spotted it returning to the nest, Jiyuna assured everyone she'd be able to sense the alarm through her bond with Sunwing. It should be enough warning so they could avoid being taken unawares.

    With that settled, the class was at last ready to descend into the anthill. The going proved slow - the ants weren't supernatural climbers but they were more than capable of scaling just about anything they could hook their clawed feet into. As such, while the walls and floor of the tunnels were rough with plenty of handholds, the ants hadn't dug their tunnels with anything resembling a regard for keeping tunnels level or gentle descents. So even as the class moved slowly and kept on alert for possible hanyangi, more than once the line of students needed to slow down to navigate the terrain. And as they traveled deeper, the smell worsened. The students regularly passed ant corpses in the tunnels - or rather, pieces of ant corpses in the tunnels. They'd been torn apart much like the ants just outside the mouth of the anthill had. There were several places where the tunnels opened up into rooms, sometimes fairly large ones. In most of these rooms the students were able to make out piles of food the ants had stashed away, but all too frequently the rooms were also coated with blood. It seemed like the hanyangi had come across packs of ants in the rooms, or maybe the ants had tried to make stands in them where they could more readily bring their numbers to bear. It hadn't worked in their favor.

    Yumi seemed to go white as the class advanced and the stench of gore got thicker. She'd remained in her Running Hunter's Stance trying to do her part to be on watch hoping she could catch the hanyangi's scent, but finally gave up. When Nari asked if she was ok Yumi responded that between the ant smell and the stench it was impossible to pick out any one scent anymore.

    The class descended deeper into the anthill. The frequent splitting of the tunnels made it all but impossible to search every nook and cranny, but the main tunnel was always just a bit larger and the footing easier even as it wound deeper. There was little discussion of breaking off to follow the side tunnels - if they had to fight a hanyangi, no one wanted to do it on uneven footing in single file.

    Despite being on high alert, none of the students spotted the monster as they descended. It was eerie - to see the gore of the ants and the ocasional gouges in the wall carved out by a large claw, but not hear any sign of the monster itself. At last, the tunnel opened up into what could only be the Queen's chamber - a large open, high-ceiling room. Tunnels connected to the chamber from all directions and heights. The walls of the chamber were hewn into a kind of honeycomb, each little alcove at one point having been filled with an egg. If they were all full, the chamber should have housed dozens upon dozens of larval ants.

    Now it was impossible to tell as the eggs were were smashed, membranes torn and the fluid inside instead dripped from the walls. The ants hadn't surrendered the room without a fight - the ant corpses were everywhere, with quite a few being the slightly large frames of the soldier ants. The soldier ants lay thickest in one corner of the room where another ant body lay. Despite now being headless, this ant was half again as large as the soldier ants with shredded wings jutting out from its back - the queen.

    And as if to greet you all, an eerie howl echoed from somewhere distant down the tunnels.
    Last edited by Dorni; 2019-10-21 at 09:52 AM.
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  20. - Top - End - #230
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    "Alright everyone, here we go. This should be good."

    The cocky smile appears on his face again as he gives his chain a few test swings with a flourish. He doesn't appear nervous, but those watching closely will notice that he changes from his typical aggressive stance to a more defensive one.

    Spoiler: OoC
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    Stance changes from Body of the Night to Leaping Spirit Dance
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  21. - Top - End - #231
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    PirateGuy

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    Adarata nodded along.

    "We might not find another good chamber like this. Perhaps we should wait for it to come - if we press up against all the walls, with ambushers and archers in the corridors, it won't get many with its screech."

  22. - Top - End - #232
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    OldWizardGuy

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    "Yes. We have to attack all toghether, so we need all the space we can get." Tsugiharu agreed with Adarata, warming up his joints, then scanned the studens to look for Nari. "That snow wall you summoned before, it blocked the brunt of the screech, right? We'll need some of us to be bait to lure the beast to the center of the chamber, and you'll need to protect them. And on that matter..."

    "...who's going to be bait?"
    he asked, somewhat apologetically since he wouldn't be stepping forward for the role.
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  23. - Top - End - #233
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    Adarata's hand shot up.

    "Right, yes, I'll make a go of it! It won't be so dangerous with all these extra fighters anyway."

  24. - Top - End - #234
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    "I'm up for it, too. Got a technique that could let me tangle it up when it attacks me. If I can keep it grounded, this should be easy."
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  25. - Top - End - #235
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    Griffon

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    "So, the plan is to split up and try to get the giant creature to hunt for us," Shiori says slowly. He has been mostly silent throughout the haggling and movement through the tunnels, sticking close to Hitomi and gazing about in seemingly random directions. "That may be as good of a plan as we can get. It was pleasant enough to know you both for the short time I did," he finishes, gazing at Izuka and Lash solemnly. There's too many, too many, and look--LOOK--where we've gone! It must be too late for some of us, even here, he frets silently in his own mind.
    Originally Posted by Xefas:
    "I need the Goblins in phalanx arrangement. Sky Blotters in the back! Swissles? Assume the Swizzle Stick Formation! We're going in!"
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  26. - Top - End - #236
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    PirateGuy

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    "...well, don't split up! Nobody should leave the chamber unless they absolutely must not be engaged. And even those people should only go a few extra paces. The rest of us spread around the walls."

  27. - Top - End - #237
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    OldWizardGuy

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    "No, no, no one's splitting up." Tsugiharu hurried to say. "We just need to give the hanyangi an obvious target when it gets here. We have to fight it on our own terms. Control the flow of battle. And come on, no one's going to die."

    If we don't screw up.
    he added, in the privacy of his own mind. He was starting to think that maybe they should have left Benjiro to his fate. ... Actually, they hadn't met him yet. It could have been all for nothing.

    "Right?" he added, looking at Saori for help. She, unlike him, was good at pep talks.
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  28. - Top - End - #238
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    Griffon

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    Mar 2012

    Default Re: White Cloud City IC

    Shiori looks at Tsugiharu, his head tilted slightly to one side. Gently, as though explaining to a child, he says, "Everyone is going to die. That's why every morning is so surprising."

    He blinks a little as the plan is explained in more detail to him. "Oh, so we are staying to fight in here, not running out to find the monster and trying to lure it here? In that case, I will be the bait. I--" he stops himself from continuing aloud, but says to Hitomi mentally as an aside, I have certainly been bait before.
    Originally Posted by Xefas:
    "I need the Goblins in phalanx arrangement. Sky Blotters in the back! Swissles? Assume the Swizzle Stick Formation! We're going in!"
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  29. - Top - End - #239
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Dorni's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    Default Re: White Cloud City IC

    Nari blinked in surprise when Tsugiharu singled her out. "Well... yes. I can try blocking the screech again. But I won't be able to protect you if we're all spread out. I mean- I can only make a snow mound appear within arms's reach. And this far underground maybe I should try an earth wall instead? I... might be able to clog up some of the tunnels at least. Would that help?"

    "Shiori, no!" Hitomi interjected immediately. Any of them can bait this meaningless beast. Only we can fight them.

    "Tsugi's is right, no one's going to die today." Saori's declaration was filled with reassuring confidence. "There are many of us and one of it. The wolf may fear a bear, but the bear fears a wolf pack. As long as we work together we'll win!" Coming from another the declaration might have sounded hollow, but Saori's charisma was downright infectious. All around the room students raised their heads or nodded in agreement as morale steadied.

    "If someone needs to be bait, let me do it. I can probably handle anything the monster throws at me better than any of you can."

    "ooo! I-"

    "With all due respect to your skills," Satomi cut in as Kaede was opening her mouth, "this adult should be larger than the young beasts we faced before. You'll have to get inside its claws before you can fight back. I have a reach advantage. I can hold the beast in place while the rest of you move into position."
    Everyone makes mistakes. Our fate and our character is not determined by the mistakes we make, but by how we react to them.

  30. - Top - End - #240
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2014

    Default Re: White Cloud City IC

    His head constantly swivelling over to the direction where he presumed the monster would come from, Adarata appeared unusually frustrated.

    "Not so many of you! Look, now when the monster bears down on some poor soul, it will bear down with all its tooth and claw. So, if we're worried about our safety, it makes no difference if there's one person in the middle or ten - either way, somebody's armour will be tested."

    "But the point is to fool it into using its screeching attack on only a few of us. Three at the most, or else it defeats the purpose, because it will be able to get many of us in one blast. I say three fighters!"

    Whipping out his staff, he spun it around a few times in one hand before planting the haft on the earthy floor, positioning himself at the dead centre of the room.

    "Myself, Shiori, and one other. It doesn't matter who. The rest of you, scatter to the walls. We will all swarm around this thing and bring it down, but wait for a moment before you do! If it uses its screech, you can all attack. But even if it doesn't, attack anyway! As long as we surround it properly, it won't be able to use it very well anyway."

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