TYPE: Dungeon LEVEL RANGE: Low ELEMENT: Water & Dark BGM: [LINK]
You find yourself on the deck of an ominously creaking ship, made of wood and metal, and enforced with old, defunct steam technology.
Once upon a time, there was a terrifying pirate lord. You're not going to find him here - he's gone, along with his fearsome crew, sunken by mysterious means. What remains is his ship, wrecked and stuck in the bottom of the sea. Though entering the dark, wrecked ship seems inadvisable, one can't help but wonder what treasures could await within...
Gating in, Noblesse came back to the dungeon entrance he'd been to before. All the signs pointed to this being much like the pirate ship that the rumor's originator had spoken of. Though his scans hadn't really revealed anything out of place right at the entrance, he supposed he'd have to check again if he did stumble across any strange treasure chests...
Well, him, or any of the people he was going to have to bring with himself!
Why wasn't I expecting that to backfire, again?
When he'd told his fiance about his plans, Noblesse somehow hadn't thought he'd end up gathering an oversized party of people to come along. However, it was better this way than letting people interested in the rumor just run around by themselves, getting into who-knows-what kinds of trouble. That's how he tried to comfort himself, at any rate.
Maybe trying to gather information on the BBS hadn't been his brightest plan.
He stepped away from the Chaos Gate and turned his back towards the dark abyss waiting up ahead, choosing to instead face anyone else gating in. Behind him, the large, crooked entrance into the ship proper was like a dark mouth in itself. In these kinds of dim light conditions, he supposed it wouldn't be hard to mistake a hole in the floor as a mouth, either.
But he wasn't all that worried about anything happening to him. Surely, he could fix it up, or contact one of his fellow Gamemasters who could do it for him, if anything happened. No, his concerns were elsewhere entirely...
Noblesse hadn't thought someone like Mouse would be interested in these kinds of things. Appearances could be deceiving. And this SHASTA person... well, soon, he supposed he'd see what kind of a person that turned out to be. Whoever it was hadn't sounded terribly disagreeable over text.
Golden rings descended her form as Mouse appeared by the Chaos Gate. She blinked when the first thing that met her eyes was Noblesse looking right back at her. "A-ah!" She seemed surprised at first, maybe a little jumpy, but then quickly smiled wide in his direction. "Noblesse!" Her small voice picked up another pitch as she waved. "Investigating rumors, I see! And here I was just looking for an excuse to hang out with you guys again..." Mouse held her thumb and forefinger up to her chin and tried to make a mischievous smile, though the look didn't really suit her.[break][break]
"Well, really-" Mouse lowered her arm so she could fold her hands together behind her back. "That, and also- It kinda worried me. The original post I read regarding this rumor.. The people involved seemed really scared and upset." Shaking her head, she beamed up at Noblesse. "Well, anyway, I'm sure we will be fine. I'm glad to be here. We'll get to the bottom of it! Even if that means just getting to the bottom of the ship!"[break][break]
With that, she nearly skipped to stand alongside him to copy him in turning to face the Chaos Gate to wait on Ornery and the other person who had responded to Noblesse's BBS post. She wondered what the stranger would be like. It seemed like she was meeting more and more new people these days.
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It was a different ship, but Shasta had the same objective. It was unfortunate that her previous attempt at investigating this rumor ended before it could truly begin due to the idling and eventual disconnect of Nocturne, the party leader at the time. However, she was at least glad that this next go at it had no streamers in it. While she had agreed to it at the time, the idea of having one around to record their activities for entertainment purposes had her both unnerved on a personal level and worried about the potential consequences had the rumored turned out to be something serious. However, she had a good feeling about the group she was going to be joining up with this time and expected the whole affair to go rather smoothly, regardless of what they may find in the field. From what she could glean from the BBS, this party seemed to be comprised of players familiar with the game that were - as far as she knew - completely normal.
Fading into the field within the usual cascade of rings, the lithe Beastwoman took a preliminary glance at the ship they were on. Right away, she could immediately tell that this one was more dilapidated than the last, the deterioration of the deck alone giving the place a bit of a hauntingly eerie feel. She smiled a bit in spite of herself; although she had long outgrown ghost stories of any sort, she knew that the general atmosphere of the place would have teenage Chihiro quivering a little with both anxiety and excitement.
Quickly noticing the two players that had gated in before her and giving them a gentle wave, she took a few steps forward and bowed politely as she made way with the usual pleasantries. "You're two of the people I agreed to meet up with here, right? I'm Shasta, both here and the BBS. Good to meet you two." Upon taking a brief look at her UI, she crossed her arms and gave off a somewhat embarrassed, self-deprecating smile. "Ha... I'm feeling a touch bit underqualified here." Unlike the last run, which paired her with two fresh newbies, the level disparity was against her favor this time, both players over twice her level.
Ornery had arrived a fashionable few minutes late, having had opted to fetch himself some drinks from the fridge in the kitchen and into the mini-fridge next to his computer desk. If anyone had seen his complement of Things To Ensure Appropriately Hydrated Gaming, they'd definitely have accused him of being a horrible no-lifing hikikomori NEET.
Which, to be fair, was kind of true - he was self-employed, not engaged in education nor training, and he really didn't go out that much. Not to the extent he'd identify himself as a hikikomori, not any longer, but he definitely fit certain parts of the stereotype.
He was just far more functional about it.
Either way, with the mini-fridge stocked with cans of soda, and a vast battery of snack bags and packaged umaibo, he was more than prepared to take this rumor dive on.
"I see you're all way better at timetables than I am today! Yo, Nobgoblin! Yo, Mouse!" He laughed, waving. Certainly, nobody unaccounted for, everyone he'd expected was already there. "I was fetching some soda, since this might be a long one. I'm guessing you're all done with introductions, so I'm just gonna, like, uh... right. How are we doin' this party thing? Which of us is adopting Shasta for the purpose of this venture 2000 lieues sons les mers, eh?"
Shasta didn't look any more threatening or interesting than any average player of [The World], but Ornery knew that could be fairly deceptive - he looked like a perfectly normal if slightly chuunibyou-affected individual, himself. Maybe this one had reasons to explore the game's deeper recesses. Maybe she did not, and was simply in it for the, as they say, meme of it.
It wasn't really his business, anyway. She was perfectly of-level for a field like this, and was unlikely to become a liability. That was all Ornery needed to know to start with. If they were to become friendlier through the bonding experience of looking for spookums that likely weren't there, though, maybe he'd think about her more.
"Ah, Mouse---Miss Mouse, I mean!" Noblesse smiled sheepishly at his slip-up. He'd held up this politeness shtick for this long, it'd be a little weird to just let go of it, wouldn't it?
"Yes, I have to say I got worried, as well. I'm hoping it was a hoax, but we may as well have a look. If nothing else, this should be a nice little walk through a haunted ship... even if the creaking is a tad bothersome."
The sound was realistic enough that he wondered who had recorded and mixed it. The sound guys who worked on this game were really something else, weren't they? If he didn't know better, he'd swear the planks under their feet would give in at any given moment.
Not that, thankfully, added weight really did anything in The World. They were soon joined by the unfamiliar person he'd been expecting. Noblesse bowed lightly in a greeting.
"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Shasta! I'm Noblesse no matter where you look, naturally." He greeted. "No worries - it's us who are overqualified, I'd wager. I don't doubt you'll be just fine."
Just as Noblesse straightened up, his fiance finally decided to join them on the deck. Of course, Ornery acted as though he hadn't almost cried in real life when Nao had told him about his plans to investigate one of the rumors. His lighthearted attitude was much appreciated, though.
As much as Noblesse hadn't wanted to drag others into something potentially dangerous, he hated the idea of distressing people, especially if it ended up being unnecessary.
"Well, look who's here. Did you get lost on your way to the fridge?" He teased jokingly, before addressing Ornery's question.
"I think we could pair up in any manner - we're going to be walking together, so party composition hardly matters. Do you have a preference, Miss Shasta? What about you, Miss Mouse? If neither of you particularly wants him, I volunteer to tolerate this ornerous fop."
[attr="class","posttext"] Mouse tilted her head toward the sound of another gating in, eyes cautiously glancing over Shasta as she appeared. Her nerves settled a bit watching the way in which the beastwoman greeted both her and Noblesse, she even rose a small hand to return the wave with a nervous smile. When Shasta made the comment about being under-qualified, Noblesse knew just what to say. Mouse nodded in agreement. "Y-yes, it will be fine. You're not under-qualified at all. We just play the game too much," she said with a soft chuckle.[break][break]
When Ornery arrived, Mouse's smile grew. "Ornery! Hi!" The little wave she'd given Shasta picked up pace a bit when it was directed towards Ornery before Mouse politely folded her hands together in front of her. She couldn't help but chuckle at Noblesse's asking if Ornery had gotten lost on his quest for soda, but quickly focused on the party arrangement situation. Naturally, she would be more comfortable with Noblesse or Ornery, but.. Looking towards Shasta, Mouse tilted her head with a smile. "I'd be happy to party up with you, i-if it's no trouble. Of course, it's up to you. Whatever you'd like."[break][break]
Whether Shasta agreed to this or not, Mouse would send the woman her member address and leave the party request to whoever was sending one the Runechemist's way. No matter who it would be, she would of course accept. "We'll all be moving together anyway, like Noblesse said. So it will be like we are one big party even if we are technically separated due to the game's rules." She rocked back and forth a bit as she stood in place, listening to the sounds the old, rotting wood made as she glanced around at everyone to see what the turn out would be. Naturally, she assumed Noblesse and Ornery would like to stick together. It was also yet another opportunity to get comfortable with partying with a stranger.
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