Author's Comments: Hello everyone! This is the Etherdrone, passing by and saying huzzah!
I felt like writing something different for a change. These tales over here have absolutely no continuity to them; self-concluding chapters and episodes that might or might not have OCs in them. As it turns out, the first one has the Main Character of my current ongoing series, Touhou Chronicles.
If you don't like an Original Character, I beg your pardon, then. If you don't have a problem with your occasional outsider from a previous tale of mine having an opportunity to make an appearance on a future tale in here; then I say welcome! Let us partake in glorious reading!
I have no ownership over Touhou, its characters or Gensokyo. I, however, own my OCs. That's all!
First Tale: That's Not How You RP a G.
It was dark.
It was wet. The water that slowly flowed through the cracks of the western walls of the corridor ran through the stone and rested in puddles on the beaten stone path in solemn silence.
...The dampness and the claustrophobic sensation from the hallway cast a pressure against your shoulders in such a way it made you shudder. The rough, beaten and broken stone path and walls provided little comfort as you progressed through the seemingly abandoned building with nothing more than a torch to guide your eyes. The dreadful sensation of being alone didn't convince you as your lonely steps echoed through the ground, the crackling noises from the hardly useful torch breaking the silence more than anyone did.
And the end of the path was nigh as the only thing between you and another room was a beaten, rotten wooden door. The dim light seldom helped when it came to identify anything regarding its origins, or even how old it was. It was partially open already, so a simple and gentle push allowed you to open it with a loud, eery creak.
Now, before you lies a room. You cannot tell how old this room is, or even how big it is with this light. However, you feel a chilly breeze flowing through the stone slabs of the dungeon. It was a thankful relief from the smell of the previous damp corridor you were in.
This room was as crumbled as the rest of the place was. Parts of the what looked like chunks of the ceiling were crumbled and piled into the western part of the area, piling up in a disorganized fallen mess. Half of a large, wide pillar could also be seen rising from the floor, completely broken and splintered by the effects of time – its other half resting on the ground next to it, just as crumbled and worthless as the rest of it. Moss could be seen growing on the stone where it was closer to the puddles of water, and the constant dripping noise in the distance was awfully creepy for such a simple thing as it was.
The darkness of the room was so intense it seemed unnatural, even the torch you held above your head didn't help you see beyond a few meters in front of you, and the looming presence of nothing never leaving your shoulders...
"I'll cast Magic Missile at the darkness!"
"Wait a second, Marisa? What are you doing that for?"
"Reimu, don't you get it? It's DARKNESS, ze! We can't see jack, and we all know there's always something lurking in the darkness! So I'll attack the darkness! Isn't it obvious?"
"That's more like it, oi! Hahahaha! Teach that stupid-ass darkness a lesson, Marisa!"
"Um... Suika, you're not helping..."
"Of course I am, Sanae! Look at the size of my sword! Do you have a big-ass sword like that on ya? Do ya? Dats what I thought~!"
...And the man sitting across the room sighed heavily as he took a sip of tea from the cup right next to him.
How did I even get in a situation like this? That's what went through his mind as he looked at the girls before him, all displaying different levels of concentration and actual interest on the game before them. Reimu, Suika, Marisa and Sanae were sitting across him with character sheets of their own, and small add-on papers where their respective spell lists were... Listed appropriately for convenience's sake.
Well, how did he even get in this situation indeed...
Everything flashes back to hours ago, when our dear friend just woke up from a pretty nice night's sleep. When the sun hardly had risen, when he had just gone to work to... Well, actually work. He opened the door to Kourindou, the antique shop of Gensokyo manned by Morichika Rinnosuke, the white-haired half-youkai that quite frankly was a terrible manager. That was his workplace.
And then, that happened. It was a delivery, he said. To the Moriya Shrine. A package, slightly heavy for its size and quite obviously a book. Sounded innocent enough, didn't it? I mean, how hard could it possibly be? To deliver a book to someone?
…The irony of such is staggering.
"Hmm? A package, to me?" Kochiya Sanae, the Wind Priestess and god-in-training of the Moriya Shrine looked at the package in his hands with surprise as she picked it up and looked at him with curious eyes. "What is it?"
"I didn't open it, so I don't know. I think it's a book, though." His reply was honest and straightforward. He didn't really have any intentions of meddling with Rinnosuke's "deliveries". He already had enough crap with his Outside World item smuggling into Gensokyo with Yukari.
"It's kinda heavy, isn't it?"
"Look at the size of that thing. Were you expecting anything else?"
"That's true. ...I'll open it, I'm a bit curious."
"Hey, it's got your name in it. Knock yourself out."
Well, I'm done now I guess. He turned his back on Sanae and begun his stride towards the stairway of the Shrine, preparing to pat himself on the back for a job well done...
And a squeal of joy and surprise staggered him in place, forcing him to look back with wide open eyes.
"Kyaaa! I don't believe it! Are you serious?"
"W-What? What's wrong?"
His question answered itself as soon as his eyes landed on the cover of the book she was holding. It was massive – a grimoire of sorts – containing the distinct image of a red western Dragon battling a dual-wielding warrior and a white-haired sorceress in the ruins of a castle. The golden yellow letters on the cover also spelled the so-called name of the "grimoire", and it read just like it was spelled:
"...Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Core Rulebook?"
"I can't believe there is one of these in Gensokyo! ...Wait, I don't think there was. So did Rinnosuke-san have it? Or maybe it was Yukari-san? Did Suwako-sama or Kanako-sama ask him to get one? Or maybe they asked to Yukari-san herself? Ahahaha!"
"...Wow. I didn't take you for a... Roleplayer, Sanae. I mean..."
"I know what you mean, you jackass! Is there a problem with that?"
"Aaaah. Of course not. You just don't really look the part is all. I'm actually kinda impressed."
"Hmm. That's OK then. Waah, it really feel like ages since the last time I've seen one of these~! And it's on excellent condition, too! I think I better get to see Patchouli-san and ask her to make it permanent before anyone does something stupid with it...?"
...She looked really happy as she opened the book and flipped its pages with mirthful eyes of nostalgia, losing him from her world entirely. He opened a smile at her and scratched his head in amaze. Some things just can't be taken at face value, can they?
And he turned his back at Sanae one again... And stopped walking as she slammed the book shut with an energy he wasn't expecting to listen to at all. For some reason he felt his skin crawl.
"Shinki-san! Do you want to play it with me?"
Katsura Shinki was his name. All things considered he could be considered a newcomer to Gensokyo.
And he couldn't believe that he actually got dragged into this mess. Back to present time, we get to see once again that what unfolds right before everyone's eyes.
"So yeah! I cast Magic Missile at the darkness! My decision is final, ze!"
"...Uuuh..." Reimu simply grunted in response as she looked at Marisa's character sheet in confusion. Sanae patted her shoulder as to get her attention, pointing at the information she was probably looking for and nodding with her head. "Marisa, you do realize you have low-light vision, right?"
"But it's not helping me jack, is it?" She answered immediately as she threw a look of expectant denial at Shinki... Who closed his eyes and cursed the decision he made prior to the design of the room. "Is it?"
"...Not as much as it could, no."
"Case and point! Boom goes the darkness, ze! Come on!"
"You also realize you didn't prepare Magic Missiles, right?" Sanae said while raising an eyebrow to Marisa's spell list. She did choose the spell to be on her Spell Book, but she didn't prepare it at all. Marisa simply looked at her with a face that didn't get what she just said.
"Ahn? Whaddya mean?"
"I mean... You didn't really prepare this spell..."
"...Why do I have to prepare the spell if I already know it, ze? That doesn't make sense. I mean, I already know it, right?"
And Shinki covered his face with his palm as he took a small gander at the map on his hand with tired eyes, rubbing them with his thumb and index fingers as he ignored Sanae's explanations on the magic system to Marisa entirely.
The room they were in was rather large. A few openings on the far sides of the room revealed a few doors that led nowhere important, except for one. That last one had the remains of a soldier that wasn't so lucky and got ambushed by kobolds, whom were using the place as a hideout before they pissed off a Nightmare. Now they were as in hiding as anyone else from the monster, and that was the source of the unnatural darkness that tainted the whole dungeon.
The kobolds, in hope to calm the pissed Nightmare down, had placed traps all over the place. If they managed to kill the Nightmare, all the better. If they actually killed something else, they hoped the monster would calm down and... Maybe go do something else while eating on the dead thing. Kobolds don't think all that far ahead.
"Hey, how about I cut the darkness down with me sweoorrd! I'll do that! Charge the darkness!"
Suika was helping just as much as a tire track on the back of someone's skull. The man's patience was being tested to its deepest roots.
"Excuse me? You want to charge the darkness?" Asking just for the sake of asking never hurt anyone.
"That's what I said! Come on, everyone! Follow me!"
"W-Wait, Suika-san! Maybe there are traps in this room...!" Sanae's claim was music for the Dungeon Master's ears. However, they were unanswered by the rampaging one. Her drunken Dwarven Berserker instincts were making her roleplay better than he was expecting.
...T-Thordin charged through the darkness with sword high up in the air, swinging it wildly like a beast. His battle cries boomed and echoed through the dungeon as his frame disappeared completely from the light of the torch...
"S-Suika-san! I'll go after her! W-With the torch...!"
Leaving Reimu, your only healer in the party, all alone in the dark. ...The glee.
"...Hmm. Hey, Shinki? I have these... 'Cantrips', don't I? Can I cast the Light spell on my sigil, at least? So I won't stay in the dark?"
Reimu's question completely knocked the Dungeon Master's patience up a few dozen miles. A smile opened up with a glad nod as he found safety and shelter on the fact there were two people that weren't total dumbasses in this group at least.
"I'll cast Magic Missile at the sigil!"
And he covered his face with his palm so hard he thought he heard his skull crack.
"Marisa, you don't have Magic Missiles."
"Of course I do! They're on my Spell Book!" Marisa's claim was so overpowering he didn't even bother anymore. After a brief exchange of looks, Reimu simply ignored her. That would work for the best.
"...Okay then. I'll go after Sanae and Suika. ...Carefully." Reimu claimed to the Dungeon Master as he simply nodded to her in confirmation, clearing his throat as if to attract the attention of the players.
As... As Marimage kept waving her hands and chanting nonsensical words to Umier, she trotted behind Thordim and Zirk, illuminating her own path as they pressed on. It was really hard to see where you are all going...
"PERISH THE DARKNESS WITH MY MIGHTY SWWOOORD~! Hey, is the Darkness gone yet?"
He felt the back of his head throb again.
"No, Suika. You didn't cleave the Darkness yet."
"That's because I'm a Dwarf, right? Oh, crap! I knew I had to get a taller one for this kind of stuff... Is there anything I can cut in pieces, then?" The little oni seemed to be having a blast, though. For all the immersion-shattering bollocks she was doing. Alongside Marisa.
"Your eyes can see better than anyone else in this room. ...You can see doors to the far side of the-"
"CHARGE THE DOOR! WITHOUT PREJUDICE!" She cut him off with a battle cry of her own. He responded with deep, steep silence.
"S-Suika-san! Don't! You might spring a trap!"
"As a matter of fact..." He interrupted her as he threw a gaze through the space in between his fingers "Can you roll the dice a bit, Sanae?"
The wind priestess flinched in place. She frowned rather intensely at the dice, and held them close to her chin as she shook it like she was praying.
"O-OK. ...Aaah... Please help me, dice! Make me a miracle!"
...And... She got a 13.
Sanae's character is a Monk. Her wisdom modifier is a solid +3. 16 was more than enough of a perception check success.
"...You can see traps. The dim light from the torch you are carrying barely allows you to see the strings and the loose rocks on the ground. It... Heh. It really was a miracle you didn't spring all of them yet..."
"CLEAVE THROUGH IT ALL WITH MY SWORD! NO TRAP CAN SURVIVE MY MIGHTY CLEAVE!"
"I'll begin charging my... 'channel positive energy'. Tell me when the traps are done, will you?"
"I promise nothing."
After all the arrows, loose boulders and logs, magic fire and grease thrashed our heroes save for Umier, she healed everyone enough so they didn't need to lick their wounds nearly as much. However, thanks to the disastrous event that unfolded, there is enough grease on fire around to illuminate more than just half the room, revealing three doors on the far side.
They look just as beaten and corroded as all other doors in the place.
"Try not to spring any more traps, ze. I mean, use common sense!" Sanae threw Marisa a glare that one shoots their enemy.
"You are the last person I want to hear that from." The Dungeon Master's quip made her look at him with a pout. He didn't care. "Can we keep going now? Preferably with less insanity?"
"What's in the closest door then? I'll open it."
The Dungeon Master looked at Marisa as he analyzed the map he was using. According to it, the door she chose was the right door anyways. Call it luck or whatever it is, it allowed him to sigh in relief as he thought to himself that maybe this playthrough would be shorter than he expected. Hopefully.
Marimage advanced to the closest door as she put weight behind her push, making it creak with intensity. The cool breeze that flowed through her hair and the fact it was easier to see in this corridor were both reassuring and extremely eery. However, lying next to the door, there was a corpse. It-
"I'll charge the corpse! Attack it until it stops moving again!" Suika's bravado interrupted him, once again. He didn't even know what to say at this point.
"...Suika, it isn't moving." However, it didn't stop him from trying.
"Of course it is! I saw it twitch!"
"What? How can you see it twitch if it's not even alive?"
"But isn't it a zombie?"
"No it isn't!"
"Then I'll attack it all the same! Makes it easier to kill!"
"But it's already dead!"
"I'll cast Magic Missile at the corpse!"
"Marisa, you don't have that spell prepared!" Reimu was enjoying herself to this scene. Oddly enough.
"Then I'll cast Ray of Frost! Makes my life easier!" She looked expectantly at him while raising both hands as in cheering to herself. He felt his eyes sink in as if they were about to explode. "Can I?"
"...Yes you can."
"YES! Ray of Frost, go!"
...Marimage... Attacks the dead man with a spell as soon... A-As soon as she... Sigh.
"As soon as she... What?"
"Hey! Come on, what happened?" Her expectant childlike eyes made him feel a bad taste on the back of his tongue churning like acid. He didn't like it.
...As soon as she saw it. ...A bluish beam of energy flew from her fingertips and landed on the corpse, freezing partially that what it hit. The body jerked slightly due to the impact it received...
"It jerked? I knew it, it was a zombie all along! I'll chop its head off!"
"Suika-san, I think it twitched because Marisa just attacked it?"
"NO QUARTER TO THE DEAD! CHOP-CHOP!"
And Thordin cleaved its head in two soon after.
"YEAH! Thordin Graykeg saves the day once again!"
"Makes my day hell's more like it." The Dungeon Master sighed to himself, making Reimu open a grin. She was definitely having fun.
"Come on now, Shinki. Pull yourself together. Do you want more tea?"
He rose his eyes with tired effort as he tried to beg for Reimu and Sanae to pull him out of this catastrophe, but their looks denied that. He sighed deeply to himself as he saw both Marisa and Suika doing a high-five of victory, apparently really proud of their aggression towards an immobile and harmless target.
He didn't say anything as Reimu poured more tea to him as he took another sip of the liquid, placing the cup back on the floor and resuming paying attention to the game.
...For as little of it that there was.
"So, what was it that the... Um, dead man had on him? Can I check?" Sanae said as she carefully approached the dice in case he told her to use it, but there was no need for such.
"No need for the dice. The body had what looked like a bloody diary next to his belt. It was easily seen."
"Oh! ...Can I read it?"
"I'll cast Magic Missile on the Diary!"
"Marisa." Reimu threw a side glance at her friend as she simply shrugged the look off.
"What? Don't blame me for trying, ze."
The words on the diary were really hard to read, but apparently its owner was a steadfast adventurer with big dreams of riches and fortune. He found this dungeon on the trail to find the Holy Sigil of Khrom, the God of the Forge, and got lost due to the unnatural darkness. Apparently, he had met Kobold resistance in this place... And the last few pages cannot be read properly due to the shaky and blurry handwriting. He speaks of an unnatural horror, a horrible and nightmarish being that haunted the place. He writes about it in such an inconsistent manner it is easy to assume the man was delirious when he wrote it. That was the last thing on the diary worth of notice.
"Sounds like he found one of Aya's newspapers in here! Who'da thunk it."
"What a shame. I don't even know what to say. ...What a rotten way to die. Ze."
"...So can we assume that whatever is it that is here killed him? ...I think."
"Reimu-san, I think that maybe the resistance he speaks of did it. If there are Kobolds and an unnatural horror at the same place, it's a good chance that they are fighting to survive and probably killed him to focus the monster's attention on him."
...Some actual though. I'd be more happy about it if I didn't know it will be ruined in the next ten seconds...
"Keepin' the monster's attention on the body? Well, that gives me an idea!"
"...Oh boy. What is it?" Shinki's reply came dryly and unimpressed. Suika took another huge gulp on the gourd before patting her own legs as if she just thought of something hilarious.
"BUURP! Hahahaha! I'll stuff the dead guy on my backpack!"
...Silence took over the room entirely as everyone simply looked awkwardly at Suika, who took another gulp of the gourd before saying as if it's obvious:
"What~? I'll just chuck the dead guy on the enemies if we ever see one! That might do us some good, ain't it?"
And the Dungeon Master buried his face on both hands as he felt the very last thread of his sanity catching fire and disintegrating into the dark pits of shame and sadness.
"That... Sounds... Really... Unlikely. Suika-san." Sanae said while feeling more awkward than she thought she would.
"Nononono! Wait! That's genius, ze! We can use the dead guy as a distraction! I don't think he's compact enough to fit in your bag though, Suika!"
"It's fine! I'll just chop its legs and arms off! It'll fit nice and easy then! You can carry its limbs for me. Maybe you can even use them as freakin' clubs!"
"I don't need that crap. I have Magic Missiles!"
"I need an adult..."
"C-Come on now, Shinki-san! Y-You can pull it through! I mean..."
"I know what you mean, Sanae. It doesn't make me feel any better."
"How about we just get a move on? Down the corridor? With pieces of the dead on us or without?" Reimu's attempt at making things move received a stern, painfully long silent stare from Shinki as he breathed in once again, keeping all of that madness stored within... It didn't make him any less pissed off, though.
The corridor isn't all that long, seeing how it goes up after a small twist at the end, like a ladder. Looking as old and beaten down as everything else on the dungeon, signs of recent activity in this place become more and more clear. However, whoever is it that is actively moving in this place is doing so as carefully as he can.
"...Maybe... It's the Kobolds. Carefully trying not to piss the angry monster off."
"Up the path we go! Follow my lead, everyone!" Suika leading the charge. As usual.
"Staying here wouldn't do us any good anyway." Reimu coughed while smiling to herself, analyzing her character sheet with interest. She was having fun, wasn't she?
...As you advanced through the beaten, dark path, you find the little pathway up was closer than you imagined. It didn't even take too long before you reached it and begun going up, and this time you definitely heard something.
A bustling noise of quick movements on leather, and a few shrieks and yelps from various sources could be heard in the distance. It was too quiet previously, so this was either a really refreshing change or a terrifying one... It wasn't possible to tell.
"MONSTERS! Time to put the dead guy to use! Marisa, grab his legs! Let us flank the enemy!"
"Don't fall behind, ze! Come on Shinki! Let's charge the enemy!"
Well, that's not so bad. I was planning on having an encounter with them anyway...Thoughts of a possible early ending to this catastrophe reassured him once again as he coughed with interest and lowered his eyes to the map, analyzing the paths the seven Kobolds would take in order to either engage... Or be engaged. Since they sprung all of those traps down below, it's pretty certain they will be ambushed by the Kobolds.
"Very well. I'd like all of you to roll the dice once." For the initiative check, he thought grimly to himself. But no way in hell he'd say that to the girls.
"I got a 10." Marisa said as she pouted to the results on her roll.
"16 here!" Suika said with a drunken hiccup.
"Natural 20! Yes!" Sanae cheered to herself in pride. Well, someone was going first, that's for sure.
"Hmm. I also got a 10." Reimu looked rather disappointed at the results. Well, she had more dexterity anyway, so she's still going faster than Marisa.
After a few seconds of analyzing and expectancy from the girls, Shinki rose his eyes to them and opened a smile of his own.
"As soon as you all reached the top of the path, you found yourselves in a large room. Probably the ceiling of the room you were in before. The roof of this one room is also impossible to see properly, but you can definitely see something else very close. It was a disgusting-looking creature, with the head of a lizard and the body of a midget. His skin was dirty and yellow, and his big, bulgy eyes stared at all of you without surprise. Yeah, it's a Kobold."
"Oh yeah! Charge the sucker! Barbarian Huzzah!"
"Except now there were three more on the distance, aiming at you with bows and arrows. And three more on the other direction on the same floor. Save for the corridor where you came in, you are now surrounded."
"CHARGE THE KOBOLD ALL THE SAME! NO ONE TRAPS THORDIN GRAYKEG AND DOESN'T DIE!"
I expected that. Fair enough.
"It's OK! I'll cast Magic Missile on the archers!"
"Ugh. Marisa, you don't have Magic Missiles. More like you didn't even prepare the spell previously! Rules on the book, you cannot cast spells you haven't prepared, despite knowing them!"
"Eh? Why?" And she looks at him as if she wasn't expecting that reply.
"It's called 'balancing' and 'strategy'. If Wizards could barf any spell they wanted at any given time without preparing them first, it would be against the rules of the game and it would make all other characters obsolete."
"But I'm a Wizard! I'm awesome, ze!"
"Yes, quite. Can we get a move on, now? Or do you want to toss another Magic Missile at the darkness while you're at it?"
"Nah, I'm good! We can see what we are doing, right?" Yes, yes you can, Marisa. He thought to himself as he ran his fingers through his hair, letting go another tired sigh. This was more taxing than he thought it would be.
"Come on, Shinki-san. Let's keep going, shall we?" Sanae tried once again to lift his spirits. It didn't really work all that well, all things considered.
"Yeah. Let's keep go-"
"I'll toss the dead guy's leg at the archers, ze!"
"I'll prepare to cast my Wind Wall when I can, then... It deflects arrows, right?"
"Please do, Reimu-san. Please do."
"I need an adult..."
The incredibly messy and impossibly clunky battle was more hectic and louder than it probably should have been. Not only it attracted more Kobolds, but it actually knocked Zirk down as she attempted to save Marimage from being flanked by enemies. The situation doesn't really look favorable.
"Marisa-san, you should try to be more careful..."
"I don't know what you're talking about~! I had the situation under control, ze. Just waiting for the right opportunity and blast them off with my Rays of Frost!"
"At least that's a spell you have. Heads up, Sanae. I'll heal you."
The Dungeon Master thought it was rather fun to see Reimu of all people actually playing a healer in a game. It suited her rather well, didn't it?
"12. That should be enough to make you stand."
"Thanks. We have to find a way to run, though. We can't deal with too many of them..."
"Oh! I think I have an idea!" Suika interrupted the flow once again, raising her index finger to the air as soon as she finished drinking from her gourd. "Here, hear me out!"
"Yeah, Suika?" The Dungeon Master replied with a quick monotone quip.
"I'll chuck the dead guy on them!"
"...Ah?" Reimu was the one that rose an eyebrow this time, wondering what kind of toss would that accomplish. "Why? I mean..."
"I said to hear me out! I'll set the guy on fire, and hurl it at the things! They're not too bright, that's bound to scare them enough so we can escape, right?"
"That... ...How? With the torch?"
"With the torch!"
...Actually... That wasn't a bad idea. Considering the tools they had at their disposal...
"...Yes. Let's do that!" Reimu apparently read Shinki's expression as she smiled at the Oni, who gave a toothy grin to everyone, taking another huge gulp from her gourd and burping happily to the air.
What happened next seemed to be almost on its own. Zirk rose the torch high up in the air as Umier removed the... Chopped dead man from the Dwarf's bag. Using the fabric from his clothes as fuel, they set it on fire and lobbed it towards the creatures who backed off and shrieked in panic as they feared the sick insane people that they probably were after.
"That's us, ze! Doing things with style!"
"They stopped, then? We should run."
"Where to? We don't know this place at all, we were too busy fighting!"
"Any room will work for now, ze. Let's just get away from here. Is there a room nearby, Shinki?"
"Ahn? Aaah... Yeah, you can see a small beaten one down the path they didn't come from, far to the right. There's also the path you all came through, to the south."
"We'll press on, ze! Going back now isn't gonna make us rich!"
"Hells to the yeah! Follow my lead, everyone!"
...As you all ran through the corridor with more than enough room to disengage from the Kobolds, the portal before you slammed itself open as you bashed your elbow on it.
"Yeah! Hold Portal, on the door, ze!" Marisa said with triumph as she waved her Spell List on the Dungeon Master's face like it was a Wanted List before a target. ...And yes, she did have the spell prepared! He opened his eyes in shock as he took a small gander at the map, and realized it was a successful escape from simple Kobolds. Just like that.
"...Y-You... Cast the spell on the door, and an aura enveloped it as soon as you gave the command. Scratching noises and attempts to open it could be heard from the outside, and the shrieks of disappointment echoed in a chorus through the dungeon..."
"Yeah! I knew that getting that one would come in handy! Ze!"
"Marisa, if you actually thought ahead enough to get this spell, why didn't you get Magic Missiles from the start...?" Reimu asked while raising an eyebrow, and Marisa replied in a classic counter-fashion:
"Why, because that would be too easy!"
Shinki sighed to himself. Of course, that would be too easy. For him, apparently.
"Less yakkin' more trottin'! We dunno what's gonna show its ugly face to us. Well, I'm a badass Barbarian anyway. I'm serious, I'm all just like PHHHRT and you're dead. DON'T SCREW WITH THORDIN, BIIIITCHEEEES!"
"Maybe you could say that again if I didn't need to constantly save your backside, Mr. Dwarf." Sanae claimed with a pompous hair flick and a slight 'Ooh-hohoho!' laughter hidden behind a chuckle. "Should I stop killing the enemies so you can do something as well?"
"Hey, I'm not the one that chewed on the masonry back there~! Maybe you need a few Hitpoints? I gots my d12s here, hon!"
The Dungeon Master let go a contained laugh as he actually found himself having fun for a change. ...These girls... Maybe they were catching on the game...?
...No. I don't think so. He grimly thought to himself as he looked at the map and traced the route this path would take them... And... Much to his surprise... It was the room where the Nightmare was staged to appear.
What now...? Do I really make the Nightmare show up? ...Do I put them in this situation right now, and expect them not to do something insane? They are four – they COULD take the Nightmare on if they fight it properly... but am I expecting too much from them? Sanae knows what she is doing, she's been carrying this party on damage pretty much on her own. Reimu is the only reason why everyone is still alive too, considering that... Well, Suika is killing everything she focuses on, surprisingly. Marisa just throws Rays of Frost left and right, thanks to the Pathfinder Cantrip system... That won't even be enough to daze a 125HP Nightmare. They're not 100% perfect on HP and Spells either, save for a few scrolls that Sanae bought prior to coming all the way down this dungeon. Would it be OK for me to just hurl them in a life-and-death situation knowing that not everyone in this party is reliable? Would it be a dickish move from my part? I know it's been kinda frustrating to play Dungeon Master for them so far, but they are having fun, and isn't that kind of the point? Is it wrong of me to possibly end their fun, in case I put something they can't deal with? Should I skip this encounter entirely...? Maybe exchange that room down there with something else...?
Reimu's call snapped him out of his thought trance. The Shrine Maiden of Paradise simply smiled at him, while launching a look he couldn't quite get.
"Whatever is it you want to do is fine. Trust your judgment more; don't think that losing isn't part of a game either."
The walk down the damp corridor suddenly sprung into a deep, hollow darkness filled with silence; making you feel as if you just stepped into a death-infested pit. Signs of previously sprung traps can be seen all over the place as the unnatural darkness returned full-force, forcing Umier's Sigil and Zirk's torch to be put to their full use, but hardly being useful. Your eyes cannot see anything beyond a couple meters in front of you, and the only reassuring thought was the fact you all could see each other in this incessant dark.
The walls and floor felt more like a cave the more you went in. The stone slabs that used to pave the path of the ruins and the walls of the same begun to show signs of dirt, cave stone and burnt overgrowth, padding the ground beneath your feet like it was part of a not very complex cave system. This felt either like an unfinished part of the ruins you were in... Or perhaps time wasn't necessarily too kind to this area in particular. It was impossible to tell, especially in this choking obumbration.
"Wait... Burnt overgrowth...?" Sanae muttered to herself as she patted her own chin in wonder. The Dungeon Master didn't answer.
...As you proceeded through the cave and your footsteps begun to echo mighty and lonely... You heard a very distinct noise on the distance. It was impossible not to recognize it as what it was. It felt like it just came from the nose of an abomination. It didn't even felt like it was from this world... A horse's neigh.
"...A... Neigh? You mean, a whinny, ze?"
"Well, one can only wonder how an abysmal neigh sounds. Burp. What gives...?"
"An... Abysmal neigh? ...Aaah... I think I have an idea on what we are dealing with, girls..."
"And what is it, Sanae?"
The clopping noise of angry hoofs crashing on the ground echoed suddenly like a burst through the tunnel you all were in, and before you knew it its source could be seen coming straight at you all with its head low and its eyes fixed furiously on everyone, easily visible through the darkness that dominated the room like a mantle. At first glance, it looked like a great and mighty warhorse, black like tar. However, intense flames wrap around its steel hooves, emerge from their nostrils and burn on the depths of its dark eyes, its deep and unnatural neigh booming from the caves as it sprints with the abyss on its eyes. He obviously doesn't like you.
"Oh, Suwako-sama stuffed on a basket! It's a Nightmare!"
"Night Mare? ...Ooooh, I finally get it! Hahahaha! That's kinda clever! I've seen a Nightmare before, ya know~? Pretty angry fellows, they are. You... You're saying we have to kill it?" Suika's tone got rather doubtful as she rose an eyebrow to the Dungeon Master, who grinned maliciously to the Oni and didn't say anything, assuaging her fears really effectively. "Well, I kinda like horses when they're not tryin' to kill me better! BRING IT ON, BLACK-EYED NELLIE!"
"So...? We fight it? We try to kill it?"
"Yeah! Come on, Reimu! Don't lag behind, ze! I'll-"
"Roll the dice for the initiative check? Yes you are, Marisa." Shinki cut her short as he pushed the dice at her direction, making her give a wide grin, showing all of her teeth as she picked them up and begun to shake them in her right fist.
"I was gonna say that! ...13!"
"Come on... Come on! ...5! Wait, what?" Sanae said while facepalming in defeat. "Urgh!"
"...I got a... 20. That's good, isn't it?" Reimu said as she rose her eyes to confirm with Sanae, who simply re-rose her head in conquest. "Oh. That means I go first, right? Right then."
"And now, the great Thordin Graykeg himself! I got! A... 4. Badass."
Shinki then picked the dice up and rolled it in secret, because he figured being a secretive bastard was funnier. He got a 17.
That pretty much cements the turn order as Reimu, the Nightmare, Marisa, Suika and then Sanae. It was time to roll the dice and... Well, see what good would come out of this.
Here goes nothing...
"Reimu, you're shotgun."
"Right. ...Of all the things I have... ...I'll cast Doom on the Nightmare. -2 on Attack, Damage and Saving Throws, right? If it hits, that is?"
"Wow. Uuuh, yeah. That sounds about right." Shinki said as he rolled the dice to see if the Will save would actually save... But it didn't. "And you actually hit it! Well done! ...but now it's kind of its turn. Prepare yourselves, girls. There's something on your faces, and it was pain."
The Nightmare charged through the darkness as its gallop rattled the ground and banished part of the darkness away thanks to its fiery mane. Its eyes focused on the Dwarf as it lowered its head and charged rapidly towards Thordin!
"So it's a charge, eh? Come on, honey!"
"And there goes the dice." He said as he watched the results of the charge on Suika roll before him. "Your armor class is 16, right?"
"Yeah. Did I get hit?"
"You did. ...Suika, his headbutt hurt. His mane charred your magnificent beard as he ripped through you, all of such adding up to 14 points of damage." Suika opened a flinching smile at the news.
"My turn, right?" Marisa said as she rose her Spell List with triumph once again, pointing to the spell she probably want to cast on the monster. "Ray of Frost on the dude! Come on!"
"...3. Yeah! That's 3 damage from another spell! Damn, I'm on a roll, ze!"
"Come on, Marisa~! I'm gonna show you what real damage is! Dude, I'll get pissed off! Barbarian Rage, go!" Suika ordered as Shinki nodded to her and took another look at the little memo he had. "Now I'm gonna kill his ass!"
"You can rage and attack on the same round?" Reimu wondered as she looked at the Dungeon Master, who probably knew the answer. And she was right.
"Yeah, raging is a free action." He said it as he watched in amusement Suika raise her hand and make the dice roll as she clenched her other fist as if threatening the dice to give her the numbers she wanted. "Come on, baby... Come on! ...17! YEAH! Eat my sword, son of a bitch! CHOP-CHOP!"
Seeing how the Nightmare had just charged and was out of proper balance, Thordin – who was incredibly pissed off at the fact he was hit – swung his massive sword around and hit the monster, causing tremendous damage on impact. (20). The mane of the Nightmare swayed around violently as its feet rattled angrily against the ground, as Zirk prepared to do his thing.
"Come on, you elven bugger! Do something useful!" Suika playfully said as she took anther huge gulp on the gourd, making Sanae look at her with the corner of her eye.
"Oh, you don't say. Shinki-san! Is the Nightmare on my moving range?"
"Ah? Yeah, it is."
"Great! Can I flank it and then attack it? On the same turn, that is." She said as he rose his eyes in surprise. Oh yeah, that can happen.
"Yes! Yes you can."
"Perfect! I'll do just that." She rose up her own character sheet and smiled at it. Shinki knew what she was going to do next. "Stunning fist, then! Right on the flanks!"
...Zirk then proceeded to attack the Nightmare, hitting it on a vital spot. It didn't seem to cause too much damage, but the beast staggered, its mane losing a bit of its potency as Umier advanced in kind. She attacked the Nightmare as well, her mace scalping another bit of its flesh as the Stunning Fist prevented it from retaliating.
"Come on, ladies! We can do this, ze!"
Thordin resumed to wail at the Nightmare, and this time his attack just glanced through the beast's thick and powerful skin, and he frowned in annoyance, his rage making him see nothing else but the enemy before him. Marimage did the same thing as she did previously, and scorched the beast's skin with another Ray of Frost. Zirk now attacked the beast with a flurry of blows, missing one hit but landing the other with grace.
As everyone regained their balance, Umier blinked in worry as her attack missed as well. She stepped back in defense to herself, without overdoing on her slight retreat and gazed at Thordin, who blinked to himself in shock...
...The Nightmare unleashed a powerful, dark neigh that released a disgusting puff of smoke right at his face, who suddenly felt that burning cinder scrape through his guts as it violated his nostrils and lungs. He then felt the beast's relentless wail of attacks on his torso – his frontal hoofs bashing against his body as the beast lowered its head and bit the Dwarf as well, who felt the weight of the warhorse crash onto him and burn his flesh, rending his skin.
"...Oh. This is bad, isn't it?"
"It's OK! Marimage is on the scene, ze!"
Another Ray of Frost flew across the room as the Nightmare was hit by it, suffering another frost scorch on its leather and shrugging it off, unimpressed. Thordin, still in the cloud of smoke and still coughing from its effects, missed his massive swing and felt his eyes overflow from the feeling in his lungs.
Zirk stepped forward in defiance and unleashed another flurry of blows, this time actually connecting with all hits and landing a specially powerful one in the last. Much to his surprise, his fist sunk into the flank of the Nightmare, who unleashed a cry of disapproval as he pulled back in slight, cheering to himself. Umier, following right on Zirk's advance, tried to cast a healing spell, but was interrupted by a quick opportunity jab from the monster.
The Nightmare resumed its onslaught as this time it trampled over Umier, unleashing another neigh of anger as more and more smoke covered the cave. The cleric fell to the ground as the mighty horse buffed in excitement, preparing himself to attack once again...
...And Marimage cast Magic Armor on Thordin, who then charged the Nightmare through the smoke with his eyes focused entirely on its flames, for all that he could see in that mess.
The rush was enough to take the beast off of Umier, and keeping it away from everyone else's weapon range. Zirk ran after them, using the Dwarf as a platform and jumped over him, kicking the Nightmare on the back before landing behind him again, a look of complete focus dominating his face, sweat popping out his brow as he felt like this was the stupidest thing he's ever done in his life.
And as an immediate response, Umier stood up and stretched her hand, touching Thordin's back and casting Bull's Strength, greatly empowering the muscles of the Dwarf and making him yell in cheer.
"YEAH! Come on, baby! LET'S SCORE THIS!"
The Nightmare attacked, and attacked hard and angrily at the Dwarf, who did not receive the hits thanks to the Magic Armor... And Marimage, in an spontaneous spark of intelligence...
Cast Enlarge Person on Thordin, who became as tall as a human.
Swinging the blade like it was a giant meat cleaver, the Dwarf landed an insanely powerful blow on the phantasmal monster who shrieked in pain as it staggered backwards, bleeding a mysteriously black blood as it tainted the floor and caught fire. The mane of the Nightmare lost all of its color, the brightness of its eyes disappeared.
The beast tried to move, but as in to put the monster out of its misery, Zirk landed another blow on the beast's neck, finishing the job and watching the monster fall on the ground with a solitary thud. The last moans of pain from the monster echoed like the cries of the damned, and then, there was nothing but silence...
And more silence. The beast was dead!
"OOOH YYYYEEEAAAHH! Who'da thunk that killin' a Nightmare was that easy!"
"We can dream, right?" The Dungeon Master replied with a chuckle as he and Suika's eyes met, and they shrugged the thought off with a grin. The girls all looked at them with understandable curiosity.
"Wait. Nightmares EXIST?"
"You don't wanna know, girls. Trust me."
"Hey! I wanna cast Magic Missiles on the dead horse!"
"You wanna go through this again, Marisa?"
"What? I thought I could cast it now."
"...Really? You really thought that?"
"...No. I was just dickin' around! Ze!"
And the Dungeon Master thought about covering his face with his palm once again... But he didn't do it.
It was too easy.
"...Oh? Katsura-san, you are back."
"Hey there, boss. ...Nothing happened while I was out, I take it."
"Indeed. You look tired, did something happen?"
"Not really. Sanae got her game. She asked me to play it with her. No big deal."
"...Yes? You look like you had fun yourself."
"...I kinda did, yeah." His eyes rested down upon the white-haired manager as an upside-down grin formed in his face, making the Manager open his eyes in surprise. "But if you ask me to deliver something by Yukari ever again, at least tell me about it so I can find her and stuff it down her throat."
"...Aah... Sure. I'll do that."
And as another day of Gensokyo passed by, everyone looked up at the orange skies and realized the world was once again, peaceful.
Everyone went to their houses. Some speaking tenderly of the experiences they had during the day. Some overstating their achievements during the same.
And at the great distance, a black warhorse with fiery manes stood on top of Youkai Mountain, buffing with disapproval through his nose as he opened his eyes with sadness swelled in them.
"Yeah, it's still too soon, isn't it?"
Have you ever tried to be a Dungeon Master to completely inept and inexperienced players?
I have. And it's a Nightmare!
Jokes aside! These series might be updated much less frequently than my other one(s). Mainly because on my opinion, the focuses of one-shots like these is on their context. A comedy one-shot has to be funny, and a drama one-shot has to be dramatic. I find it really hard to be consistent to the context for a very long time, without it being grating and... Old. At least, it's harder to do it on a one-shot than on an ongoing series. At least, that's how it is for me.
Inspiration doesn't choose where it comes from, most of the time...
Until it comes then, I hope everyone stays healthy! See y'all next time, Space Cowboys!