Bardass! Quest 03 – The Stolen Lute

Finally, the Fall installation of Bardass! is here!

Quest 03 – The Stolen Lute

Arco: *squeak* *squeak*
Brier: Hnnn….
Arco: *squeak* *chomp*
Brier: OW!!
Arco: *squeak*
Brier: Oh. Arco. *yaaawn* Man, what happened last night? I’ve got this terrible headache, and… my lute is gone? MY LUTE IS GONE!!
Arco: *nods*
Brier: Arco, what happ- Ohhhh SHIT! That witch!

The previous night, our young bard was having a few drinks with a sprightly young maiden that he thought had an eye on him. The young girl was a starting elementalist; a practitioner of the black arts and manipulator of flames.

Brier: Hey, hey, look at this! Check this out! I want you to cast a fireball spell at me.
Seci: Okay, but it might burn!

Seci cast Fireball!
Brier defends with Obsidian Lute!

The ball of flame bounced off his lute into the air and fell again. The bard continued bouncing the flame at will.

Brier: Ha ha, see?
Seci: Wow, it’s like you’re juggling the flame!
Brier: See, this is a property of obsidian! It reflects magic spells with ease. That’s why I had my lute made out of it. Cool, right?
Seci: More like hot!
Brier: Ah, it’s an expression.
Seci: Ohhh. Okay! So how about another round?

What the bard failed to notice was the fact that the young mage had an obsidian necklace on, so she clearly knew the properties of the ore. Especially how much it costs. Luckily for the bard, there was no place she could go to to reforge obsidian tools except far off in the kingdom of Harl. Also, obsidian was notoriously heavy; the only reason Brier could wield his own lute was a rune engraved on it during forging, tying the lute to him. Only a native of Harl knows the secrets of obsidian forging. The former chambermaid Svennia is just such a person.

Following Balken’s defeat at the hands of the heroes, the two escaped into a nearby cave. Balken no longer had the magical abilities or the strength to move in his own armor. After researching the Bard class, Balken ordered Svennia to reforge his armor into a lute and sell the leftover metal. The lute was beautifully done, and even the strings themselves were made of fine obsidian. The result was a practically unbreakable musical instrument that could protect the bard from magic.

That one-of-a-kind instrument was now missing.

Brier: Damn. Okay, she couldn’t have gotten far. That thing’s pretty heavy, and Astoria’s borders are closed until the army training is over. Let’s go, Arco.
Arco: *squeeeak*
Brier: Hm? Oh. Yeah, I’m unarmed…

The bard instructed Svennia to set up a quest listing and reward.

Svennia: Sir, I’m afraid we don’t have much to offer.
Brier: What do we have?
Svennia: 350 gold pieces, blankets, tablecloths, a variety of herbs and poisons, two vials of panacea, and lizard chow.
Arco: *squeak*
Brier: Yeah… Okay, a quest this big demands at least 2000 pieces down. And I’m saving that panacea. I’ve got it!
Svennia: You are not selling me away again.
Brier: What? You got away easy enough.
Svennia: Only because I left no survivors or witnesses. That’s a no go in Astoria.
Brier: Haaaaah. Okay, we’ll just have to sell most of our assets. Find an alchemist that actually knows what these herbs are worth. That should be good for 700.
Svennia: What about the other 950?
Brier: The silk tablecloths should be worth 150. Alright, I’ll give up some of my secret stash too. As for the rest, Arco can take care of it.
Svennia: He can’t move too far away from you though.
Brier: He can for 15 minutes. That should be enough on wings. I’ll meet you at the Quest shop. Got it?
Svennia: Yes, master!
Arco: *squeak squeak*

And so, the young Bard did submit the formal application of a rank B quest posting, and he did recruit a party of three adventurers.

–Begin Quest Dialogue–

Brier: My precious obsidian lute was stolen by a harlot of a mage. She couldn’t have gotten far.
Kazan: And you desire that we do your job for you?
Brier: I am a Bard. I have no other weapons or methods but music, and that has been stolen from me. The girl has striking red hair and wears an excess of belts, so she is easy to spot. Unfortunately, she doesn’t want to be seen. She could be hiding anywhere in this city or around the outskirts, waiting for her chance to leave with my lute. She might be with others, I don’t know. But she’ll easily recognize me. There’s no way I can do this on my own.
Mina: We should spread our forces out to scout the town first, then contact the others once she’s located.
Tyler: It should be a simple enough task.
Brier: Oh, and try not to kill the girl. I only need my lute back, but there’s a bonus in it if you can bring her to me. Disarmed and unharmed.
Tyler: The price seems a little low.
Brier: Again, I am a Bard.
Mina: You haven’t performed?
Brier: I am a poor Bard that can’t sing or play well.
Mina: I see…
Tyler: Between the three of us and the Bard that can’t sing or play, we should be able to handle well. But how do we contact each other?
Brier: My familiar, Arco.
Arco: *squeak*
Brier: You can contact him through the scale. He can’t talk, but he can understand whatever you say. As soon as you’ve found her, Arco will teleport the others to your location and use up the scales.
Tyler: You have a familiar. You are no ordinary Bard.
Brier: I was once a Shadow User, but those days are behind me.
Kazan: Then you should have no reason to refuse a different weapon. Here, have one of my daggers. It’s cheap, but it should be of good use to you.
Brier: No, my fists are of better use than one of your daggers.
Kazan: What was that?
Tyler: Oh, another brawler? You don’t look the type. Go ahead, slug me in the face.

The Bard delivered a haymaker to the tall brawler’s chin; the man was barely fazed.

Tyler: Is that all? You’re better off with that dagger, friend.
Brier: Do you think so?

Brier accepted the weapon and immediately turned it towards Tyler’s throat. The blade shattered without touching his skin.

Mina: Tyler!
Tyler: Hey, I knew I was tough, but… Kazan!
Kazan: No metal is that weak.
Brier: As I said, those days are behind me. I need my lute back.
Mina: I don’t understand your situation, but I promise we shall do all we can.

-End Quest Dialogue-

Quest: Recover the Obsidian Lute!
–Astoria City–

Recommended Level: 42-47

Party Leader: Tyler

Tyler [Brawler] lv. 55
Title: The Rugged

Mina [Hunter] lv. 37
Title: Hawkeye

Kazan [Thief] lv. 49
Title: Of The Thousand Knives

And so, the three split up. Kazan investigated the slums, Mina posed as a maid to infiltrate the castle, and Tyler went barhopping. Meanwhile, Svennia and Brier did various part-time jobs for gold and Arco ran around the outskirts.

Mina: (I haven’t seen anyone else here that fits the description. Anyone else would have to be a knight or royalty, and no one could pull that off…)
Chef: Marie! Keep moving! We need more food on the table! The guests are getting bored!
Mina: What about the fool?
Chef: The fool was late to the hall.
Mina: So?
Chef: Are you daft? Don’t you know the King’s penalty for tardiness?
Mina: (Urk… Better get this food out now!)

Kazan: (You have to watch your words around these kinds of people. Once someone catches wind of a possible bounty, you lose out on a potential source and gain a rival.)
Seedy Barkeep: So what are ya lookin’ fer?
Kazan: A young woman with red hair and multiple belts around her waist, arms, and legs. Have you seen her?
Seedy Barkeep: Maybe. What do you need her for?
Kazan: She did a number on my brother. Can’t see out of his left eye.
Seedy Barkeep: Oh. Well, I don’t know where she is, but I’ve seen her around.
Kazan: Was she carrying anything unusual?
Seedy Barkeep: Hmm… No, not really. But she did buy some odd stuff from the weapons shop.
Kazan: Thanks.

Kazan left the barkeep a tip and headed for the weapons shop. Meanwhile, the leader of the group was making headway.

Liam: What about her?
Tyler: Heh heh… Naw, man… Not enough leg.
Liam: They look fine from here. Picky guy, eh, Tyler?
Tyler: Naw, naw… I mean sure, you’ve got a lovely bunch here, but when you’ve gone around as much as me, it starts looking more like… uh…
Liam: More like what, man?
Tyler: Loaves of bread.
Liam: Huh?
Tyler: Yeah. I mean sure, it helps fill you up, but it ain’t satisfying, y’know? You can try to butter it up, but it’s still just bread. All I see roaming around here are side dishes.
Liam: So what kind of woman whets your appetite, Tyler?
Tyler: Heh. Me? I like ’em spicy.
Liam: Spicy?
Tyler: Yeah. Young, fiesty, and especially red-heads. If I have one weakness…
Liam: It’s the red peppers?
Tyler: Hell yeah!
Liam: Speaking of, I’ve got just such a dish locked up somewhere.
Tyler: Pfft. Not interested in some tyke you picked off the streets.
Liam: Hey, who do you think I am? SHE came on to ME!
Tyler: Really? You?
Liam: Yep. I still got it!
Tyler: But you have her “locked up?”
Liam: Ah, she wanted it! New in town, wanted a place to stay. I told her all about my place… It’s huge, by the way.
Tyler: No need to brag, I’m not a woman.
Liam: No, I meant… Well, yeah, that, but my house too. I’ve even got a wine cellar. That’s where she’s staying.
Tyler: Huh. And she didn’t pay you?
Liam: She will tonight.
Tyler: Just tonight?
Liam: Well, I woulda had a go at her last night, but she insisted on celebrating, and I got so shitfaced I couldn’t tell heads from tails.
Tyler: Either one’s fine by me. But I see you’re still drinking.
Liam: Yeah! Doing my drinking during the day so I’ll be ready for tonight!
Tyler: Lucky stiff. I don’t suppose I could see this pepper?
Liam: Heh. Sure, but not ’til I’m through with her.
Tyler: Hey, I just wanna see her.
Liam: Alright. You’re a good man… I would be honored to hand to you my sloppy seconds.
Tyler: Just glad to be part of the team!

Liam led Tyler right to his place and the way to his cellar.

Seci: Oh, you’re here early? So, how about a drink? H-HEY! Who the hell is that?
Tyler: My, my… You fit the description alright… And there’s the bard’s lute. ARCO!

Arco appeared in front of Tyler and acknowledged the situation. He immediately disappeared and transferred the others to the room.

Kazan: Tch. You beat me.
Mina: *cough* *cough* Hm? Tyler?
Tyler: Mina, you look like hell. What happened to you?
Mina: Too much sugar.
Tyler: Huh?
Mina: Never mind. *elbow*
Liam: Guh!
Mina: No touchie!
Kazan: That lute… That’s the bard’s obsidian lute alright.
Seci: So that bard hired a party. Damn that idiot… This is why I told him not to let anyone in!
Tyler: Give it up.
Mina: Yeah, I’ve got a bead on you. Not that there’s any place to escape to.
Seci: Oh, I think not.

Mina attacks!
Seci released Fire Wall!

Seci reached into her bag. Mina immediately let loose an arrow aimed straight at her heart, but it was burned to ashes in mid-air by a column of flames.

Tyler: That was a stored spell! High level stuff.
Kazan: I won’t let her chant another.

Seci pulled an item from her bag: it was a small wooden lute, a bit weathered, but still functional. She began to play.

Kazan: What?
Seci: La___nd ari____se and sta_nd be_fo__re me / Be__ my so__ldier no__w!

Seci played The Song of Golem Summoning (Abridged)!

The cobblestone that was the cellar floor gathered into one area, piling up until it formed the outline of a large man.

Tyler: A golem?!
Mina: That was a bard song! So she’s both a mage and a bard?
Tyler: She’s neither! She’s a Harlot!
Mina: Tyler, it’s rude to call women such things.
Tyler: But that’s what she is! Harlots are an advanced class that have access to magical techniques and up to two elemental specialties, but they also have proficiency in bard skills, an assassin’s sneaking skills, as well as their own unique passive skill: Charm Point!
Seci: That’s right. With Charm Point, any man becomes my fool… even stone beings. Golem! Destroy them!
Golem: . . .

Quest updated! Defeat Seci the Red-Hot [Harlot] and her Golem servant!

Golem used Granite Spray!
Kazan received 95 HP damages!
Mina received 107 HP damages!
Tyler’s Tough Skin activates!
Tyler received 6 HP damages!

Kazan: Ggh! Demon begone!

Kazan used Shadow Flurry!
Blades have minimal effect on Golem!
Golem received 15 HP damages!
Golem used Granite Lariat!
Kazan received 245 HP damages!
Kazan is knocked down!

Kazan: No good…
Seci: VERY good! Now, the archer!
Mina: Eeee!
Golem: . . .

Golem used Stoning!
Tyler intercepts the attack!

Tyler ran in front of the Golem’s thrown boulder and shattered it with his fist.

Mina: T-Tyler…
Tyler: I’ll take care of this thing. Focus fire on the Harlot.
Mina: Right!
Seci: You can’t hit me while my Golem is protecting me!
Mina: (She’s right… and she’s moving just enough so I can’t get a precise shot in…)

Seci begins chanting!

Tyler: I’ll try to break this thing down, but you have to interrupt her chanting! She has Spell Storage, so the longer she chants, the harder it’ll be to take her down!
Mina: Right!

Mina used Barrage!

Mina rapidly fired a dozen arrows into the air over the Golem, hoping at least one would strike Seci.

Seci released Fire Wall!

Seci: What a waste of arrows. [Oh, flames, my embrace excites the rage within. From thine calmness ejaculate thy power!] PROMINENCE!

Fire wrapped around the Harlot’s arms and shot out from her palms, moving in an arc around the Golem and striking Mina.

Mina received 317 HP damages!
Mina is critically wounded!

Mina: Nngh…
Tyler: This should do it!

Tyler used 1000 Fists of Mountain Weathering!
Golem is losing balance!
Tyler used Soaring Ostrich High Kick!
Golem is falling!

Seci: Damn it!

The Golem fell backwards, forcing the Harlot away from her shield.

Seci: Stay away! [Oh flame, gather the-]

Seci received 117 HP damages!
Seci’s chant was interrupted!

Seci: Hngh…
Mina: One more… Ah! Out of arrows!
Tyler: What?
Seci: Heh. I’ve still got one stored spell saved up just in case.
Tyler: I won’t let you get it o- Huh?!

Seci’s Golem was still very much alive, however, and grabbed on to Tyler’s leg.

Seci: Good, keep him there. I’ll destroy both of them in one shot! INFERNAL CRISIS!

Infernal Crisis is the highest-level intermediate flame spell. It is an area-of-effect spell that burns everything within a 30-foot radius of the caster.

Seci: DIE!
Kazan: Not just yet!
Seci: That’s…!

Kazan who was merely knocked down at the start of the battle, had spent much of the fight using his stealth abilities to remain hidden while he pulled the Bard’s lute away. He appears before Seci now, standing in front of Tyler, wielding the magic-reflecting obsidian lute. With one swing, he repels the flames back at their master.

Golem received 314 HP damages!
Seci received 417 HP damages!
Seci is unconscious!
Golem’s body has returned to soil!

Kazan: There…
Tyler: Not bad, Kazan.
Kazan: And you are as insane as ever.
Mina: She’s still breathing.
Tyler: I’ll take that lute. Kazan, grab the woman. Mina, keep an eye on her. We’re reporting back.
Kazan, Mina: Yes, sir!

* * *

Tyler reported everything to the Bard and was rewarded 2500 pieces of gold for his efforts.

Brier: At last, you’re back! Aw, did you miss me?
Arco: *squeak*
Svennia: I’m glad everything went well, Master.
Tyler: So, what about the woman?
Brier: Oh, yes. Svennia, how about you tie her up while I get ready?
Svennia: Yes, Master.
Tyler: Hey now… That girl’s a Harlot.
Brier: I am aware. You told me before. That’s why I’m going to have to be a bit more creative.
Tyler: Hm. Wish I could watch.
Brier: It’ll cost you.
Tyler: Hmm…
Mina: Tyler!

The huntress jabbed an arrow into Tyler’s neck.

Mina: We’re going! Take care, Brier.
Kazan: Perhaps we’ll cross paths again one day.
Brier: Probably not.

* * *

Brier entered his room and found that Svennia had tied the Harlot down on his bed.

Brier: Well well… Not so mischievous now, eh?
Seci: Go ahead, get it over with. I won’t scream.
Brier: Do you take me for a fool? I don’t know where you’ve been. After all, your kind has a peculiar advancement test. 10 in one night? I wonder, did you manage to clear it in your first attempt?
Seci: . . .
Brier: I want to know where you learned that Golem-summoning song you used. And any other songs.
Seci: What’s the matter? Never went to choir?
Brier: I doubt you did either.
Seci: Hmph.
Brier: What other songs do you know?
Seci: Do your own work. Why should I have to tell you?
Brier: Why indeed? Svennia! Candle!
Svennia: Yes, Master.
Seci: Oh, come on! You think I haven’t had that stuff poured on me before?
Brier: Maybe. But have you ever had it **** in your **** while you’re hanging upside-down?
Seci: No… why?
Brier: *grins*
Seci: S-so? I could…
Brier: Pushing your luck, huh? Just for that, this one goes in your *** instead.
Seci: H-HEY!
Brier: Svennia, get me the bath candle.
Svennia: Yes, Master.
Seci: N-NO! Alright, alright! It was in the Sakarlands!
Brier: Sakar? Now what would someone like you be doing in that area?
Seci: You think I always wanted to be a Harlot? Before this I was training to be a Cleric. Then one day…
Brier: Oh, THAT old story again.
Seci: Don’t trivialize it!
Brier: Look, I’m not interested. Just tell me how you learned the songs.
Seci: As you know, men can’t become Clerics, so they take on other classes. At least back when men were allowed in the Cathedral. There was a young bard there. He taught me the songs.
Brier: Is he still alive? Did he keep records of the songs?
Seci: I don’t know! But if he’s still around, he should still be in Sakar. Not in the Cathedral anymore, but probably in his own chapel.
Brier: What’s his name?
Seci: That I can’t tell you. I refuse.
Brier: I see. Well, if that’s all I can get out of you…
Seci: Then let me go!
Brier: Not just yet.
Seci: What?!
Brier: I was lying about earlier, y’know. Really don’t care where you’ve been. It’s just going to be a lot less enjoyable. Still fun though.
Seci: Huh? H-HEY!
Brier: Thanks to you, I had to use up all of our savings. I fully intend to get my money’s worth, so make it count.
Seci: You ass! Hey! Maid lady! Do something!
Svennia: I don’t understand why you’re panicking so much. This is nothing compared to what Master has done in the past.
Seci: W… WHAT?! N-no, let me go, let me GO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

In the next episode of Bardass! The borders of Astoria are still closed. In the meantime, our young Bard must prepare for his trip to the Sakarlands. But getting into bar room brawls isn’t such a good idea, is it? Why is the Rumble On? Believe it or not, it’s because he fights for justice! …right?

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