Minako and Hotaru: Sword and Sorceress
The adventurer strode through the misty forest, her crimson cloak flowing around her body as she forced her way forward, the road they were traveling overgrown and tangled up with vines. The blonde was garbed in simple armor, a chainmail shirt and metal breastplate that gleamed as golden as her lovely long hair.
"I think we're lost, Minako," the black haired young woman said wryly from where she was walking beside her calmly. Her own armor was plain brown leather, a rough woolen cloak thrown over her shoulders to fend off the chill mists.
"We are not lost, Hotaru," Minako said firmly as she tried to peer through the white shroud over the land, "I'm sure the city is around here... somewhere."
"That is so comforting," Hotaru said with amusement as they continued on.
The old trail they were following got even worse, if that was possible, but eventually a shape began to grow out of the mist. The tower was part of a fallen castle, the outer wall broken and the inner building itself mostly falling into rubble. Built into one corner the tower looked mostly intact, and from some window up above they saw a flicker of firelight.
"It's not quite what I was expecting," Minako admitted as they circled around to find the remnants of a main road up to the castle, the large paving stones broken up by grass and vines, "do you think we should go check it out?"
"Might be worth while," Hotaru admitted, adjusting the small pack of supplies she carried, one that matched the bag the taller Minako carried.
They moved on almost as one, their boots tapping on the stones as they neared the gate, studying the rubble thoughtfully. Amid the wreckage were the long dead remnants of monsters, goblins, orcs and others left where they had fallen in taking the castle. They climbed over the ruined gate and entered the courtyard, the ground littered by broken shields and swords, the signs of a failed human defense of the place.
"No human bodies," Hotaru noted as they walked towards the main gate of the castle, a black hole waiting to swallow them up.
"I understand that this land burns their dead," Minako noted, her blue eyes warily scanning their surroundings.
"Maybe, but.." Hotaru started when with a bellow things spilled out of the gate.
The goblins raced forward in a wild pack , howling and snarling as over a dozen of them carrying rusted, broken weapons in their gnarled hands attacked. The squat, green skinned man-beasts weren't terribly strong, but they likely thought strength of numbers would carry the day. Sadly they were badly mistaken.
As the goblins reached them Minako kicked out with one of her hard leather boots, sending the lead goblin sprawling even as she drew her sword with a hiss. A single powerful sweep of her weapon sent goblins rolling away, splattering her and the ground with green blood. "Come on, then," Minako purred to her now shaken foes.
From behind Hotaru chanted, cupping her hands together as light began to pulse between them. Drawing her hands back she cried out a single word and unleashed her spell, sending a fireball sweeping in to the goblins. The explosion left a blackened hole in the ground, the surviving goblins fleeing in terror out towards the woods.
"You could have left me with more to do," Minako said wryly as she knelt, using the rags off of one of the goblins to wipe her sword clean.
Sounding more amused than anything else Hotaru said, "I'll leave the next ones to you, if you wish." Together they picked their way through the rubble, heading into the shadows of the wrecked castle itself.
Minako swept her arm to get some cobwebs out of the way as she smiled with honest affection, "Gee, thanks."
"You're welcome," Hotaru looked up at her, a faint blush coloring her cheeks.
Water dripped from the walls as the mist hit the cool stones, the hall lined with moss and slime. The light was dim, whatever came in through holes in the ceiling and the faint glow coming from the odd mosses. They were careful where they treaded on the slick stones, making their way through the wreck towards the corner where the tower was.
"It might be easier if I used my magic for light," Hotaru offered as they peered into a dimly lit room filled with the garbage of years.
"Save your strength," Minako made a face at the stench and closed a door, "I suspect we aren't done fighting yet."
"You feel it too, then?" Hotaru asked.
"There's more in this ruin than us," Minako said calmly, "and we're going to find it."
Moving up the hall they slowed as they heard sounds up ahead. Gesturing Hotaru to be silent Minako peered around the corner, taking in instantly what waited for them. The Orcs were a bit like humans, but only in the basic shape. Tall, with muscles that fit together oddly they gathered at the base of the tower, clad in furs and carrying wooden clubs.
Drawing back into concealment Minako said softly, "They're going to be tougher than the goblins... do you have another Fireball ready?"
Hotaru made a face, "No, I memorized a variety of spells this morning rather than just one over and over."
"There's a lot of them," Minako frowned, "I can probably take them, but it won't be easy without magic."
"I have my usual explosive spell," Hotaru sounded apologetic, "but using it in here might not be too wise."
"Tell me about it," Minako agreed, looking around at the ruins around them and imagining what would happen if you disturbed them much.
"I do have Sleep and Ensnare," Hotaru murmured thoughtfully, "neither one would work on the whole group but they should stop a lot of them together."
"Sounds good," Minako drew her sword as silently as she could, "cast sleep first, then I'll charge. Once I'm fighting the rest, use ensnare."
"Sounds like a plan," Hotaru agreed. She reached out to put a hand on Minako's arm, "Be careful, love."
Minako patted her hand softly, "Always."
"Wait a moment," and Hotaru chanted softly, summoning her magic.
Even as Hotaru unleashed her first spell Minako raced around the corner, smiling as she saw several of the Orcs stagger, then drop to the stones as the spell struck. Sword in hand Minako swung to parry a blow from one of the clubs, striking back viciously as she drove her sword home in a fountain of black blood.
With an incoherent howl a orc swung for her head and Minako barely ducked in time, feeling the nearness on her skin. Taking advantage of an opening she swept her blade across his neck, sending his head rolling to hit the wall with a wet thump. Again and again she slew the Orcs, focusing on keeping them occupied on her, listening to Hotaru chant so musically behind her.
With a final cry Hotaru struck, her spell bolt whizzing by Minako to strike the surviving orcs. In a second it was almost as if a glowing, silvery spider-web lay over them, but to the orcs the many gleaming threads were as strong as steel. Hotaru emerged from cover with a gleaming knife in her hand as she said, "Let's finish this."
"Let's," Minako agreed and both women ruthlessly finished their foes off.
With a bit of distaste they searched the fallen, ultimately coming up with a few coins that they dumped in a money pouch. "This would barely buy a meal," Hotaru noted as they pushed on the battered door to the tower.
Looking up the darkened stairs warily Minako nodded, "Let's hope there's more treasure upstairs or this is going to be a wasted trip."
"You have no patience love," Hotaru teased softly as they began to go up, "there could be tunnels beneath this place, as well."
"True," Minako brightened a bit at the idea of more fights and treasure. She looked at Hotaru as they passed a window, "How are you doing for magic?"
"I still have four spells memorized," Hotaru reassured Minako, "as well as several spell-scrolls I can fall back on in an emergency."
"I know how costly they were, we'll try to save them," Minako vowed. The faint light made Hotaru's face shine, giving her a almost unearthly beauty. Stopping her a moment Minako leaned in and kissed her softly. Gazing at the blushing younger woman Minako smile, "Sorry, I haven't done that in a few hours and I couldn't help myself."
Hotaru blushed a charming red as she murmured, "You can do that anytime." Shaking herself she said, "But first we have a tower to search."
"Maybe there'll be a bed up there soon," Minako flashed a smile, "and we'll take a little break."
"Mina!" Hotaru scolded as they hurried up.
The door at the top of the stairs was in better shape, a torch burning in the holder mounted on the wall. Within they could hear muffled voices, but the stone and thick wood made it impossible to tell who it might be. "What do you think?" Minako asked after they listened a moment.
"Burst in," Hotaru said briskly, "if it's a foe we'll catch them by surprise, if it's a friend we can apologize after."
"Right," Minako kicked the door hard, sending it swinging open as they raced in... only to freeze as she blurted, "You!"
"Took you long enough," Haruka Tenoh said with a smile, the sandy haired bard tuning her lute as she sat in a battered chair by the table. Her clothes were silks and wool, bright colored and finely made like the charming performer she was.
"Thank you," Michiru Kaoru smiled, the green haired archer standing by the window. She wore leather armor like Hotaru, her quiver resting on her back as she picked up her short bow.
"How did you...?" Hotaru blinked.
"We were exploring like you when we entered the tower," Haruka explained, "but the orcs got reinforcements blocking our way before we could move on."
"Clever, Ami," Minako conceded from where she was sitting at the table, "I wondered how you'd have them join our party."
The round table was cluttered with books and papers, all of the normal signs of their weekly role-playing sessions. There were the player's handbooks, magical races, monster guides, dungeon master books, all the different kinds of dice and character sheets as well as miniatures to help them visualize the battle field.
Ami Mizuno sat behind the dungeon master's screen, her blue hair falling into her eyes as she sorted her papers. "Thank you," Ami pushed her glasses up with a smile.
"Not bad at all," Michiru agreed from where she sat with Haruka.
"Dropping her voice Minako said to Hotaru, "Thanks for inviting me, this is a lot more enjoyable than I thought it'd be."
"It's nice to have another newcomer here." Hotaru nodded towards Haruka and Michiru, "they've been playing this for years."
"Somehow I still have a hard time imaging Haruka being into something like this for so long," Minako mused.
Ami softly confided, "Haruka still has the first edition set for the game. I was impressed."
"Here's the sodas and I'll have the bowl of snacks in a minute," Setsuna Meiou growled as she slapped the bottles down on the table then stalked off, long black hair swinging angrily.
Softly Michiru explained to the surprised Ami and Michiru, "I think she's still annoyed that Pluto lost it's planet classification recently."
"I HEARD THAT," Setsuna snapped from the other room.
"Ouch," Haruka winced. "I was wondering, is there a reason you two wanted your characters to be lovers?" she asked the newcomers with a impish look.
"No reason at all," Hotaru carefully didn't look at Minako, knowing her face would reveal too much about where their relationship had recently gone in real life.
"So, where to next?" Minako asked Ami to change the subject.
"The tunnels beneath the castle," Ami smiled at them evily, "I have a very well designed dungeon waiting for you."
"Ready and willing," Hotaru nodded, reaching out to covertly take Minako's hand.
Notes: I began to think of this after reading all the 'Gameword' stories from Megatokyo, as well as various fantasy series. The RPG they're playing is Dungeons & Dragons, more or less, based on my memories of when I used to play it years ago. The idea of Haruka being into D&D is inspired by a bit from Dreiser's fanfic 'Scenes from the Elevator' where she had Haruka be into videogame RPGs.