Update 34: Waiting For Ragnar to Play

Hey, hey! Hey! Hands off the merchandise!
I can't help it! The bird is in the coffin!
It's not my fault Lanzon's coffins are so plush.
The Pillboxes are NOT for lazing around in.
Well, if Greg would stop--
Greg, down boy! Stop!
Okay, okay, here we go. HUP!
Wait, you're going to tear--


My coffins! Give me a Pillbox, Sasha, I need one.
8500 ental.
We're friends, aren't we? Give me.
Lanzon, that's not business etiquette. C'mon.
Well here's this-- GET OUT OF MY PILLBOXES!
I can't help it! The dog broke a coffin and two of your Pillboxes are in there now!
WHAT?! Lanzon! You...you charlatan!
It wasn't me!
Wait, they've got bite marks on them...
Ha! Oh, Greg must've been using them as chew toys. It is a bit cramped in here-
Sasha, you're going to blow a gasket!

Unless my memory's startin' to fail me--and I'm pretty sure it's not--Melina wanted us to look for some secret-secret passage on this floor.

That's it. That's the passage.

Oh, have you found anything suspicious on the 19th floor yet?
For certain values of "suspicious."
Really? Then do you think you could you tell me where?

So there's a hidden path beyond there, is it? I see. One sec, let me go take a look myself.

Okay, I confirmed it. It's just as you said. But the crystal there is much harder than it is elsewhere. That could be a problem... Hmm... Oh, sorry, you didn't need to hear that. Your request is now complete. Do you think you could officially report it to me? Just for form's sake. I'll be sure to let you know what's up when you do. Thanks.

And there we go. All the forms filled out and everything. Thanks, everyone.
...C'mon, Melina, something's up. Spill the beans. ...Please.
...Now I suppose I have to keep my promise and tell you what's going on. A little while before I made the request, someone put up a request for materials from the 19th floor. And they wanted quite a lot too, so a lot of guilds took it up. The request itself wasn't all that difficult, and I figured that since multiple guilds would be on the floor at the same time, it'd be even less risky than usual... But it didn't turn out that way. All the guilds, every last one of them, were attacked by monsters and suffered severe injuries. Without exception. No one was able to complete the request either, so I had to apologize to the client and cancel it. Later, I went to visit of the kids who took the request at the hospital, and the state they were in was just awful. Seemed like none of them would be able to work as explorers...
I'm unsure what else to say beyond "what a shame."
...Um, so, it'd be dangerous to explore the 19th floor like this, right? So I asked around to see if anyone knew of some particularly dangerous monsters living up there, but no one had heard a thing. But I figured that if anyone had any clues, it'd be you all. And it seems I was right. Now that we know this area is dangerous, I'll be sure to let the town know. And that's the end of the explanation. Here's your reward. Thank you.
This is leading up to something, in case that wasn't obvious.

Obtained 7 Therica As.
Obtained 7 Therica Bs.

Sasha learns Labyrinth Search Skills just so someone has it.

Corkscrew is still powering up.

You encounter a single hole in the ground and stop. You recall Vernon's request. You believe he wanted you to leave bread in places where Panda Ants would appear and observe their reactions. If this hole is the entrance to an ant nest, then this might be a good place to leave the bread. You can either try it out or leave.
Feedin' time, ants. Get this sweet bread while y' can.
You pull the extremely sweet bread out of your backpack and leave it near the hole. You then hide yourselves in a nearby bush and try your best to not give away your presence.
Ooh, ooh, there's one.
...Soon, you confirm a solitary Panda Ant walking down one of the forest trails. When it notices the bread laid before the hole, it stops. It circles the unfamiliar object, examining it from all angles. However, the sweet scent soon proves to be too much for it and it gives into its desires! The Panda Ant pounces on the bread and begins devouring it with gusto!
Absolutely disgusting.
Before you know it, there's no trace of the bread left, having disappeared into the ant's stomach. It seems these ants are especially fond of sweet things. You note this down as the ant returns to its nest in satisfaction. Your test of the extremely sweet bread is now complete. However, you still have another item to test. You can either find another spot to est it, or simply report these results back to Vernon.

Same intro dialogue as the first hole. Let's use the spicy bread this time.
You pull the so spicy you can see it bread out of your backpack and leave it near the hole. You then hide yourselves in a nearby bush and try your best to not give away your presence. ...Soon, you confirm a solitary Panda Ant walking down one of the forest trails. When it notices the bread laid before the hole, it stops. It circles the unfamiliar object, examining it from all angles. It seems curious, but shows no sign of wanting to eat the bright red bread quite yet. It's now been a while, and the Panda Ant still hasn't eaten the bread. At the very least, you've confirmed that the ants won't eat spicy-looking things right away. This should be enough for Vernon, and you're free to end the investigation at any time.
...Wait a minute, we haven't actually seen it eat it yet. Let's give it a bit more time.
You still haven't seen the results of the ant actually eating it. Therefore, you haven't finished your observations. With that thought, you continue watching the Panda Ant. ...Your patience is rewarded, as all of a sudden the Panda Ant bites into the spicy bread! As it silently chews, you begin to wonder if maybe they can handle spicy food after all. But then the Panda Ant suddenly stops and begins to writhe around, as if in agony! It continues its wriggling for a while before finally running off to places unknown. It seems they don't like spicy foods.
Yes, good.
Before you start basking in monster agony, Cecil, maybe it has to do with the bread itself?
Or perhaps this bread goes beyond merely "spicy". Its bright red color certainly isn't normal. It's almost as if someone painted it red afterward. Frankly, it doesn't look like something you'd think to put in your mouth. Nonetheless, in the interests of science, you may want to test exactly how spicy it is.
Nothin' ventured, nothin' gained. Dig in!
You determine that this investigation requires you to experience the bread firsthand, and begin trying to eat it.
We can choose to have one specific person eat the bread, or have the entire party sample it. I go for the latter.
Thinking it would be best to get as many opinions as possible, you divide the remaining bread among the party. Then, after taking a deep breath, you toss the bright red bread into your mouths! But perhaps because you were prepared for it, it isn't nearly as spicy as you were expecting, and you all feel a tinge of disappointment as you grin at each other.
Man, what a letdown. ...Uh, Cecil?
However, in the next moment, Cecil's face goes stiff. At the same time, Gram loses all expression, and the light seems to go out from their eyes. Next thing you know, everyone's faces have gone as red as the bread, and your clothes are becoming drenched by a full-body sweat. You now realize that the Panda Ant's reaction was perfectly natural, because this is far too spicy! Your throats tingle, you seem to be developing fevers, and your tongues feel like they've been stabbed by needles. And while your bodies heat up on the surface, you feel a strange sensation as though your stomachs have gone ice cold. Unable to stop your hands from trembling, you have to wonder what the heck you were thinking a couple moments ago.
However, it's too late for regrets. Eventually, as a result of fainting in agony, the spiciness begins to fade, leaving you more exhausted than you've ever felt.

The party's faces are gloomy, but your investigation of the Panda Ants is complete. All that's left is to report this information back to the client.

Vernon: Hey everyone. Have you finished looking into what tastes the Panda Ants prefer?
Vernon: Really? Then you've gotta tell me! ...Mmhmm... So it really liked the sweet bread and ate it all in one go. I see, I see... So maybe we can assume they like sweet things? This is valuable data...
That ain't all...
Vernon: And when it ate the spicy bread, it seemed to suffer before heading off somewhere? I suppose this is proof that they can perceive spiciness then. And we mustn't forget that it seemed to be quite cautious about it beforehand. Hmm... I see... This is good data. Thank you, Nameless. Really, thanks for taking my request. By the way, is there anything else you'd like to report?
We, uh, mighta kinda sorta ate the spicy bread. It nearly killed us!
Vernon: What?! You ate it?! No ordinary person could withstand that spiciness... Oh, but you don't need to worry about any long-term effects. It may have been unpleasant, but it's technically edible. But...why do I get the feeling that I should be studying you instead of the ants? Kidding, kidding. Yeah... Anyway, you've completed my request magnificently. Please, go pick up your reward at the bar. I hope you like it. Now, goodbye Nameless. I'll be praying for your success.

Looks like you finished Vernon's request wthout a hitch. When I heard you'd be observing insects, it honestly sounded kind of fun, but then again this is the Labyrinth we're talking about. You weren't injured or anything, were you?
We, um, ate the spicy bread.
What? You ate the bread meant for the ants? Um, are you going to be okay? I mean, you look okay now, but you haven't been having stomachaches or anything, have you? Anyway, maybe the people who ate it should be resting up... Don't let me hold you up: here's your reward. Remember to watch your health.

Obtained 5 Soma Primes.

Another point in Sky Dive.

At this point I engaged in a frustrating, minutes-long hunt for a Clockflower. Sasha eventually came through for me.

Looks like you're gathered the materials for the request. Good work. Now, which of these would you like to hand over?
All of them.
A Thick Stem... It has a bit a strange texture, doesn't it? It's like a soft pinecone, but it feels nice... I could get used to touching one of these. ...Hmm, so this is Coriander? It's got quite the peculiar scent. It's not bad at all. Maybe I should get some myself, to put up around the house? ...This Clockflower... I can feel mana stored inside it. Maybe the flower absorbs it as a nutrient? Quite an unusual plant. So this is everything then? All right then.
Whoever filed that request, I would hope, will be very grateful for the Clockflower...
All together, you've obtained three different varieties. I suppose I'll be handing you the full reward then. It's just like you to go the extra mile, isn't it? I'm not sure you realize this, but the people in town really think you're amazing. I mean, you've gotten to the fifth stratum of Yggdrasil. That's pretty amazing. But that doesn't mean you can let our guard down in the Labyrinth. What I'm saying is don't let it get to your head. Wait, why am I lecturing you? Sorry about that. Here's your reward. Thanks for always helping out.

Obtained 6 Nectars.
Obtained Nectar II.

Still powering up the one thing Sasha can do when she doesn't need to guard or set up Pillboxes.

Jana still has nothing to learn but passives by this point.

Equivalent Exchange deals 71% of a ghost's remaining HP as damage now.

With all that out of the way, let's get back to the Labyrinth.

(Floor subtitle: Calamitous thunder echoes through the trees)

There's a campfire right here.

Scarlet Caracal

HP: 763
STR: 108
INT: 88
VIT: 89
WIS: 92
AGI: 114
LUC: 96



Damage Resistances:
100% 100% 100%
50% 150% 100%

Disable Resistances:
50% 100% 100% 50% 150% 50% 100%
100% 50%
100% 100% 0%
Remember how boring Pouncing Caracals were?
No, which only proves your point.
Hey look, here they are again, basically.
Except red this time.

C'mon, at least try to gimme a fight.
Like a lot of monsters that are neutral to phys damage, Jana can one-round these things with Four Gods and Reflower.


Well now, that's one ugly customer.
What is it, even? I have genuinely no clue how to describe it.
Meet the Calamity-Inviting Plague, henceforth... I dunno, lions. They're our FOEs for the floor, and they aggro on us once we enter a 3x3 area around them. They don't de-aggro after that until we leave the room, and take one step for every step we take.
All the FOEs here are pretty creepy, which I think works out nicely in contrast to the idyllic scenery.

I tried fighting one to show it off in combat but, uh, this happened. BACK TO TOWN.

Okay, let's give that another try.

Calamity-Inviting Plague

HP: 13893
STR: 96
INT: 108
VIT: 90
WIS: 86
AGI: 76
LUC: 101



Damage Resistances:
100% 100% 100%
125% 75% 100%

Disable Resistances:
25% 25% 50% 50% 50% 75% 0%
10% 50%
50% 25% 50%
So yeah, these things are kinda jerks. Both Ominous Bolt and Expel Misfortune hit damn hard, petrification's already a nasty element, and if neither of those is enough on their own, if someone gets petrified and hit by Expel Misfortune, say goodbye to their TP.

You've certain expanded the list of monsters you get really angry at these days, haven't you?
These...abominations are sufficiently bear-like.


Aaaaaand I'm safe.

Bleh. I want that thing afflicted with an ailment, for Lead Blow purposes.

(Hypno Cannon.)

Falz kinda hits really hard with a level 10 Hawk Whistle and level 10 Flying Talon Strike, by the way.

There we go!

I can't wait until Corkscrew and Lead Blow are both maxed out.

I've got this in the bag.

Ah. Always satisfying.

I'll just Formaldehyde that conditional later because fuuuuuuuuuck that.

My only complaint about Lead Blow is that it requires a shitload of skill points to be very effective.

I could skip the puzzle that lion was guarding, but where's the fun in that?

The prevailing theme of 22F is seeing a short bit of a room, and then being chased out by lions.
thats also the prevailing theme of my life

Obtained 1 Granite naturally, and 1 Firefly Plate from Sasha.
22F, C4 Mine Point

Rampaging Stone Horse

HP: 1365
STR: 107
INT: 89
VIT: 106
WIS: 91
AGI: 69
LUC: 100



Damage Resistances:
100% 50% 100%
50% 150% 50%

Disable Resistances:
50% 50% 50% 100% 0% 150% 0%
100% 100%
100% 100% 50%
Degenerating Leg's side effect is nasty, but battles generally won't last long enough for it to be that big a problem.

So what part of the orchestra are those stone shards gonna be?
Eventually? The foundations of a grand orchestra hall.

Cutting stone monsters just isn't the same...

Let's, uh, get moving, yeah?

You know, are these long stretches of small paths, devoid of FOEs, calming, or boring?
I don't see why it can't be both, dear.

Obtained Storm Jar.

I went back to town to unload our backpack, since it was full.
Bastard Sword (+103 ATK, +92 MATK, HP Up 3, Silver x3) is made from 1 Firefly Plate (5th Stratum Mine 2). Costs 37000 en, sells for 14800 en.

Rune Wand (+75 ATK, +113 MATK, AGI Up 2, Silver x3) is made from 1 Stone Animal Ear (Rampaging Stone Horse normal). Costs 38000 en, sells for 15200 en.

Sanshobo (+118 ATK, +90 MATK, Flame Sword Chaos Blade, Silver x4) is made from 1 Bound Stone Leg (Rampaging Stone Horse conditional). Costs 48000 en, sells for 19200 en.

Flame Sword Chaos Blade: Uses the arms. Deals melee STR-based cut+fire damage to one row of enemies. Has an 80% speed modifier and no base accuracy modifier at all levels.

Hey, multi-target coverage, something Masuraos usually lack.
isnt that just a ronin move
Correct--it's basically just Flame Grater again.
General Leather (+48 DEF, +48 MDEF) is made from 2 Stone Animal Ears (Rampaging Stone Horse normal) and 1 Fluffy Tail (Ice-Lightning Squirrel normal). Costs 24000 en, sells for 9600 en.

Lumberjack (+42 DEF, +64 MDEF) is made from 2 Flexible Barks (5th Stratum Chop 1) and 1 Red Cat's Pawpad (Scarlet Caracal normal). Costs 24700 en, sells for 9880 en.

Morion (+34 DEF, +25 MDEF) is made from 1 Stone Doll Fragment (Calamitous Stone Horse normal). Costs 17700 en, sells for 7080 en.

Ward Chime (Reduces encounter rate) is made from 1 Stone Animal Ear (Rampaging Stone Horse normal). Costs 500 en, sells for 200 en.

Man, who the heck puts these empty rooms here, anyway? There's even a door!

As you walk through the beautiful Labyrinth, you find a large bird waddling across the ground. At first glance it appears to be a turkey, but on further inspection the shape of the wings and body look different.
Oh, dears, have you never studied your avians? This is a dodo.
Lanzon then tells you that it resembles a bird called a dodo, which was said to live in faraway lands. If you like, you can hunt and eat it.
Gimme just a second...
Luckily, you have the hunter Jana with you. They draw a knife and strike the bird!

Obtained 3 Animal Meats!
Easy as...something really easy.
You return to exploring with the newfound Animal Meat.

Foreign foods

You found a dodo, said to live in foreign lands. You successfully hunted it.
I am glad that we have now killed and eaten two famously extinct birds.

Again, gotta wonder why you're so worried about dying.
Just go with it.

We can hide out in this small room and let the lion reset its position.

There we go.

We're getting close to the end of the floor.

For this one, hug the top of the top sections until the lion's on the other side of that small corridor.

The exact opposite of what I've done here, basically.

There we go.

Should result in a situation like this.

This room is, much like the other two, not that hard.

As you proceed along the path, the underbrush gradually grows thicker. Suddenly, you hear a cracking noise from underfoot. Apparently you stepping on something. The next moment, a large hole open up below you!

Luckily though, Jana nimbly leapt away from the hole as it was opening, and narrowly avoided danger. It seems there was originally a hole here, but it had been covered up by vegetation, forming a natural trap. If you had fallen in, you would surely have suffered serious injury. Taking care to watch your step, you resume exploring.
That was an Acrobatics check.

Dangerous pitfall

You discovered a pitfall covered by plants, but managed to avoid it using your agility.

As you proceed down the unkempt paths of the Labyrinth, you catch a brief glimpse of something ahead of you. When you strain your eyes to look, you can see some kind of squirrel-like creature hiding among the foliage. The animal seems to have no fear of you, and makes no attempt to flee as you draw nearer. You can either reach out towards the somehow-familiar creature, or leave it alone.
I'm getting bad, bad flashbacks right about now.

Let's choose the affirmative response.
baby squirrel youse a sexy motherfucker
Oh, it's such a cute little thing.
You gently reach out towards the animal in the greenery.
Come here-- Yeek!
...But, at that moment, the squirrel adorably hops onto your arm and climbs up your body!
goddammit I knew exactly where that was going
The squirrel than crawls into your backpack, removes something, and leaps away into the bushes. Confused, you open up your backpack to check what's missing. Apparently it's stolen that vital tool of all explorers, an Ariadne Thread. However, it seems impossible to get it back at this point. You carefully continue your exploration.
...Good thing I brought a spare~
I would question why that demon squirrel needs an Ariadne Thread, but I feel it would be a waste of time.

Encounter with the squirrel

The lovable squirrel stole your heart, and also an Ariadne Thread.

Hey, Jana, do you think you could maybe--
Nope. I can't jump that, not even with a running start.
That's...weird. There's no way for us to access that small island.

As you stroll through the beautiful green forest, you come across a large field of Labyrinth Berries. The way they're laid out is almost as if they were cultivated artificially, and were simply waiting for someone to come harvest them in large quantities. You can take some if you like.
Well, berries do make for decent sustenance on explorations.
You reach out and begin to gather the ripe berries...

Obtained 5 Labyrinth Berries!

Berry field

You found an expansive field of berries, and took only what you needed.

God I wish Jana had more to learn.

Obtained 1 Granite naturally, and 2 Granites from Cecil.
22F, B2 Mine Point

And so concludes 22F.

Up we've gone, and now back to town we go.

My golly, you guys are so much more scarred than you were when you first came in...
Hey, not wearing armor hurts--a lot--I mean a lot a lot--but hey, at least I get to flip everywhere and swing four swords.
Oh, but I'm sure each one's got a story behind it, right? Like, this one here, it's from when you fought a monster, oh and this one here, it's from some kinda crazy ninja trap in the Labyrinth, and this one here I bet it's from when you valiantly sacrificed yourself for your ally, golly that's just my favorite kind of scar!
...Not, uh-- Not even close.

23rd floor, huh... That means you're halfway through the fifth stratum?
Goin' by the rest of the strata, yep.
At this rate, you're probably gonna fulfill every explorer's dream, and reach the top of Yggdrasil-- No no, I give it 100% odds! Ceric & Sons Merchantry's appraisal skills are second to none!
...Ceric, dear, if you value us as customers so much, why don't you give us a discount? Special treatment? You've been selling us very expensive equipment lately...
...Why do I not give you special treatment? Well, um. You know, uh, it's--it's a matter of my livelihood, folks, guy can't live without an ental to his name, why are you looking at me like that, what are you thinking about me?

Are you saying that the fifth stratums shows signs of man-made structures?
I don't know how else to explain those strange white pillars with blue lights on them.
What could that mean? I mean, isn't it strange? As far as we know, you're the first people who have ever been up there. But if there are signs of civilization up there, then that means someone used to live there, right? Just a reminder that we really know nothing about this tree at all...

Man reading fairy tales:
I Got Nothing: No one could have predicted that the fifth stratum would be above the sky. I have no idea if these will be useful as a reference, but in a lot of fairy tales you see people swim through the air, weightless. It seems fun at first, but once you start moving, you can't stop until you crash into something. Moral of the story: it's always best to keep your feet on the ground. And I agree. The Labyrinth is such a frightening place these days...it's kinda making me not want to go...
Gee that's such a subtle hint I wonder what 23F's gimmick is.
So it's ice.

Heard you made it to the 23rd. Judging by patterns, the summit's in sight. Other explorers've followed you, but it sounds like they've been having...let's call it, "a touch of trouble."
Hey, at least most of them probably aren't dead.
You're the only ones in a position to really get to the top.
Ah, c'mon, you're just sayin' that.
What, no, everyone's saying it!

Oh--the other day, a Therian general of some renown hailing from Yamato visited the city. When the topic of Nameless came up, he seemed quite deeply interested in your abilities. My experiences have found them generally a quite competitive people, so I'm unsurprised to find they naturally think of the strong as potential rivals. His subordinates were eager to start scaling Yggdrasil immediately, but he managed to calm them down and return to Yamato.
Yep. All of that sounds about right. Stereotypical, even.

We've got exactly one quest open to us right now, because the other one for 23F is locked behind random chance. FUN.

The desperate warrior:
That request is from a regular at the bar. A masurao. Apparently his beloved sword, one he's been using for years, broke. So he's been looking for materials to reforge it. Then one day he happened to pass your guild by in the street, and noticed you were carrying some ore he'd ever seen before. He later confirmed that that sort of thing was mined in the fifth stratum, and he figures maybe they'd make an excellent katana. So that's the set-up, but basically he just wants you to mine on the fifth stratum. He doesn't care what kind, so just 1 of anything should be fine. But I'm sure he'd appreciate something rare more, so just keep that in mind. Good luck.
Oh great. Mining for Rutile is gonna be fun.

That's neither here nor there at this point in time, though. Next time: 23F.
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