Comic 151 - Slowly back away

24th Jun 2018, 9:26 PM in High Roads, Low Roads, Threeroads
Average Rating: 5 (3 votes) Rate this comic
Slowly back away
<<First Latest>>

Author Notes:

Morgenstern 24th Jun 2018, 9:26 PM edit delete
You slowly, cautiously, put down your irregular foliage... and then begin to back away, holding your hands up. Ranse and Emerald follow your example.

One of the regular ants clicks its pincers, and hesitantly approaches the foliage. The other soon joins it, the two of them creeping up and eventually, taking the foliage. The soldier ant holds its position, looking ready to commence battle at any second.

You decide to come back later, maybe with a way to try and communicate with the ants... or bigger firepower, you haven't decided yet.

You, Ranse, and Emerald continue west, toward the forest where the fungus was said to be.


However, you've barely begun your trek into the forest, when you encounter...



"Are you all emissaries?," the King Slime asks. "Did someone send you to welcome us?"

"S-something's..." Ranse stops to give a deep inhale, her gaze shifting rapidly--almost nervously. "Something'soff. About these... r-rabbits."

And to be fair, one of them is wearing a top hat and vest. ...Which, while adorable, you do have to admit is a little off putting.

They don't seem HOSTILE, per se--the bunnies just do a thorough job of staring you down.

"We mean you no harm," Emerald states firmly. "Do any of you understand me? Are any among you fluent in the body language of slimes, perhaps?"

You watch as the bunny in the vest pulls out a deck of cards... and begins to shuffle it between its tiny bunny paws.

"T-that'snotathingrabbitsdo," Ranse blurts out.

"Well, they certainly should," Emerald replies. "It is highly entertaining to watch."

The rabbit, upon finishing its shuffle, takes one of the cards... and with a motion of its paw so subtle you almost miss it, throws said card.

...Right past your face.

...Drawing blood across your cheek.

The card, apparently razor edged, sticks into a distant tree behind you. No longer moving at frankly imperceptible speeds, the card flops a bit, a perfectly normal playing card aside from its incredible sharpness.

Ranse and the King Slime both stare, wide eyed, at the bunny in the vest. The bunny begins to shuffle the deck again, the other bunnies continuing to stare blankly at you and your party... as if daring you to act.


Cloudy 24th Jun 2018, 9:56 PM edit delete reply
Don’t we know a big predator of these ants? One with the same amount of legs...
1977 25th Jun 2018, 12:24 AM edit delete reply
Nice idea, but even when the giant spider would be up for it a whole colony is a bit too much I think.
Cloudy 25th Jun 2018, 12:50 AM edit delete reply
I mean
We wouldn’t send him in alone...
And we can have him accompany us plus 2 other members
Because if he doesn’t full on join the party-
Technically we can have a party of 4
Then maybe afterwards we could offer once more for him to join our party full time.
He’d probably stay in his little home when he wasn’t in the active party, I doubt he’d do side quests if there wasn’t food involved...
Who knows, just a thought :p
Hellbovine 25th Jun 2018, 5:09 AM edit delete reply
Don't spiders have 8 legs?
Ants have only 6...
1977 25th Jun 2018, 5:36 AM edit delete reply
Pyre Ants are special.
You can read all about them in the lore. Lore>Bestiary>Bugs>Pyre Ant
In this page
Ranse thinks somethings wrong with these ants too.
lil Joshu 25th Jun 2018, 2:48 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Normal ant colonies are hard enough for modern humans, and a serious threat to even combat-readied humans in certain parts of the world against army ants. A extra-large pyre-ant colony with weapons is going to be a much, much bigger threat, and more along the lines of a war to exterminate. Also, if they share much in common with their earth-counterparts, they're extremely self-serving except with one or two species they symbiote with (like aphids).

Allying may be possible, but expect it to be a very rigid and structured relationship that will be expected to be permanent and have lasting consequences (as in, breaking expectations will involve getting knocked back into line). And that's not the kind of alliance humans would generally go for - being incorporated into the hive machine.

So, if some workable contracts of some kind cannot be established, stay away from the hill, and prepare for war.
Cloudy 25th Jun 2018, 5:13 PM edit delete reply
I didn’t want to ally with the ants, I wanted to ally with the spider
He has an interesting accent and it’d be nice to see him again
So long as we come with food...
Krylo 24th Jun 2018, 10:02 PM edit delete reply
The bunnies have proven themselves hostile. Respond in like.

Tornado on the one throwing the cards. Emmy can go ahead and use consentacles to paralyze and draw in the one behind us, Ranse can apply fire to the three in front of us as well as the tornado.
ZincFingers 24th Jun 2018, 10:26 PM edit delete reply
I like the sound of that, means the two more experienced fighters tackle the group, and Emerald can fight her first one-on-one. (Though obviously we’ll intervene if things go sideways.)
MakePeaceAndLove 24th Jun 2018, 11:03 PM edit delete reply
+1 to this whole plan.

And yeah, this is just one of those situations where diplomacy won't help - their message is clear. "Leave or we fight." Well, we'll give 'em a fight then!
1977 25th Jun 2018, 12:27 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, Firenado time.
Then again, in the middle of the woods?
Must take care not to start a forestfire.

Rest of the plan is good.
Gandalf 25th Jun 2018, 12:56 AM edit delete reply
Twelveseal 25th Jun 2018, 3:42 AM edit delete reply
+1, just remember to keep that shield up.

Roast rabbit sounds nummy.
Guest 24th Jun 2018, 10:02 PM edit delete reply
I guess fate wants combat. We denied it ants but bunnies are a good team building exercise too.
I'd say wind blast the cards out of it's hands and begin killing bunnies with daggers and slime whips or jets or whatever ES does
Cloudy 24th Jun 2018, 10:06 PM edit delete reply
That’s a fun idea, weapons+consentacles. There’s whipping about an acidic paralysing tentacle, then there’s whipping about an acidic paralysing tentacle with daggers lodged inside them.
Cloudy 24th Jun 2018, 10:03 PM edit delete reply
Also, time for consentacles paired with paralysing touch?
These rabbits don’t want to talk and there’s plenty of em...
They’d be easier to fight if they weren’t... moving.
Maybe after this whole ordeal we can cook up some magirabbit stew?
Caydenite 25th Jun 2018, 9:32 AM edit delete reply
+1 to paralytic consentacles.
pwzysk 24th Jun 2018, 10:05 PM edit delete reply
Use wind wand to blow the deck of cards into a tornado around the bunny with the hat. Get rid of the obvious leader.
Gandalf 25th Jun 2018, 8:23 AM edit delete reply
On reflection, this seems like a better plan. Incapacitate the main threat without being unnecessarily aggressive, and without harming the more normal-seeming bunnies. Better to neutralise the threat and get them to back down rather than to escalate.
Cloudy 24th Jun 2018, 10:11 PM edit delete reply
Also, just noticed, these rabbits have really floppy ears.. that’s usually a genetic trait of tamed/bred rabbits, wild ones don’t really have that. They have perky ears. Perky ears help hear things like wolves and foxes come up on ya, floppy ears... well don’t.

It’s a long reach but maybe there’s a tamer nearby?
Or trainer
Or someone to keep an eye out for?
MakePeaceAndLove 24th Jun 2018, 11:05 PM edit delete reply
Oh wow, good eye there, Cloud.

I would guess they're either trained or they have their own culture and evolved magic to the point they don't have to listen for predators - the predators have to listen for THEM or get hacked up by such cards.

... or maybe, they're a bunch of 'hat bunnies' that were trained to assist a magician, but they went rogue and killed him, and took his stuff. XD Who knows?
Antarean 24th Jun 2018, 10:12 PM edit delete reply
We can give diplomacy one more shot, maybe Nast's JNSQ would do the trick even with the apparent language barrier, but they don't seem interested in talking. If Emerald is able to do it fast enough and if the bunny in the top hat is within range, she should very quickly shoot out a consentacle and paralyze it before it can start a game of 52-Pickup. Hopefully the other bunnies don't have any surprises and we can take them out fairly quickly with the regular repertoire of pyrespewer, wind wand, and multiple consentacles. Don't forget about that one behind us though.

If the lead bunny was their only ace in the hole and they don't have anything up their sleeves, we should be able to dust these bunnies.
Lapdragon 24th Jun 2018, 10:58 PM edit delete reply
What kind of bunnies are intelligent enough to wear clothes and shuffle/throw razor-edged cards?

Bunnies that aren't bunnies! We've got another enchanter afoot maybe?

I doubt that Emerald can be seriously harmed by playing cards, no matter how sharp and well-aimed, so let's get her out front to take the initial barrage from the Ringmaster - Ranse can cover our rear with the pyrethrower, and Nast can work on the support bunnies up front with the wand. Once we've cleared the trash, we can focus on the Ringmaster. If he's actually a bunny, he might go into retreat, and if not we might figure out what's actually going on.
Arislide 24th Jun 2018, 11:00 PM edit delete reply
If we tornado Mr Flopsie with the top hat what do you think the odds of him losing his grip on his cards and getting shredded by them?
echo 24th Jun 2018, 11:28 PM edit delete reply
Anya was right, bunnies are bad news!
Eyebrows 24th Jun 2018, 11:30 PM edit delete reply
See if you can steal from the bunny.
G. Sansa 24th Jun 2018, 11:48 PM edit delete reply
+1! This is responding in kind: hostile but not all-out murderous. And it should tell 7scsomething more about what we`re dealing with, which frankly is pretty cool whatever it is.
Espylacopa 25th Jun 2018, 12:10 AM edit delete reply
Bunnies are quick, more so than most humans and slimes. I think trying to touch one would more likely result in us getting hurt again than successfully stealing something.
G. Sansa 25th Jun 2018, 2:09 AM edit delete reply
Right, but the cards thing is just too strange, and not quite hostile enouh, to respond with boring all-out combat. And yet it's too hostile to respond by just saying "do you know how to play hearts? How about Rummy?"

So stealing is the best idea so far IMO.
Dysprosian 25th Jun 2018, 12:02 AM edit delete reply
Have emerald devour the bunnies. Wind whip them in the air and let her catch them. Rabbit stew in a way
JiggilyJoe 25th Jun 2018, 12:28 AM edit delete reply
Tornado the bunny with the cards, I'm sure the cards caught up with him will shred the little sucker. Next let slime move up front to do her thing.
I'm sure the wand could slice them in two if needed.
1977 25th Jun 2018, 12:46 AM edit delete reply
Our queen is a little naive.
Assuming every encounter is specifically sent to take up diplomatic relations with her.

They proved themselves hostile.
Tornado for the leader.
Consentacles for the rest.
Acid or para as necessary.

I'm wondering what would happen if we injected one of the bunnies with BerserkerDrug.
Obviously they would go berserk, but would they change sides?
Would be fun to watch injecting one of them to see it tearing apart it's former allies.
RicardtheDragoon 25th Jun 2018, 2:16 AM edit delete reply
So, if it was used on the card player, its apparent primary means of attack would be disabled. This does have a major downside: we might end up re-enacting a Monty Python scene.
Guest 25th Jun 2018, 12:11 PM edit delete reply
Dammit! If we had justice with us, Little Blue could baptise our bomb to make a holy hand grenade!
1977 25th Jun 2018, 12:23 PM edit delete reply
Don't worry, the bomb is in the shared inventory, so the other group can use the holy hand grenade.
Alternatively the next time she summons it they baptize the bomb and it stays in the inventory as holy hand grenade for our group.
That's the great thing about our inventory, it doesn't matter where you are everyone can use it.
RicardtheDragoon 25th Jun 2018, 2:12 AM edit delete reply
Are these bunnies... bounty hunters? Maybe not them personally, but they could be the work of a summoner or an illusionist. Still, bunny bounty hunters would be rather funny.
GS 25th Jun 2018, 2:47 AM edit delete reply
An intriguing notion...
Espylacopa 25th Jun 2018, 2:54 AM edit delete reply
Or a monster tamer/trainer.
MakePeaceAndLove 25th Jun 2018, 9:58 AM edit delete reply
Bounty hunter bunnies? That would be pretty cool, actually, I could see it.
GS 25th Jun 2018, 2:46 AM edit delete reply
Focus fire on the card shark.

+ Nast tornadoes him to disarm those cards.
+ Ranse fires pyre spray into the tornado.

+ Emerald runs interference with consentacle / paralytic combo, keeping the other bunnies off our backs.

If they surrender or run, accept it and move on.
Eyebrows 25th Jun 2018, 4:20 AM edit delete reply
At some point we need to try consentacle dagger whips.
Hellbovine 25th Jun 2018, 5:11 AM edit delete reply
We need that top hat for Inzo =D
Green Visitor 25th Jun 2018, 5:36 AM edit delete reply
1977 25th Jun 2018, 5:39 AM edit delete reply
The hat could count as monstercrown?
Not sure what transformation that could bring.
Caydenite 25th Jun 2018, 9:35 AM edit delete reply
+1 It is a very nice hat. It must be ours!
MakePeaceAndLove 25th Jun 2018, 9:59 AM edit delete reply
Yeah that's a really nice hat, we should grab it if we get the chance. And even if Inzo doesn't like it, it should come in handy with any of the goblins later.
Some Random Guy 25th Jun 2018, 11:24 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
Perhaps this could be the new hat for the Ki—uh, I mean, the Emerald Scholar.
Corwin of Amber 25th Jun 2018, 5:48 AM edit delete reply
Recruit the card shuffling and highly entertaining bunny to get us into the entertainers guild! Did we ever fing out about mimics? With grandpas warning maybe it's a lead for the panty thief?
Some Random Guy 25th Jun 2018, 11:26 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
If the head rabbit can be spoken with, his lackeys can be spoken with, the head rabbit stops attacking us, and he is friendly, then yes, let’s add a cute little rabbit with card-based abilities to our team.

This all hinges on whether the Panty Bandit wasn’t a furry, though, ‘cause Nast’s face is currently uncovered in the upper region (eyes and perhaps nose).
Iago 25th Jun 2018, 7:20 AM edit delete reply
Is that Fancy Top Hat maybe like a crown-equivalent of sorts ?

Either way, those fluffy fuckers appear to be hostile, but maybe not too much so. Seemed like more of a warning 0r a dare than a real attack.

I second the idea of trying to steal, but I'd like to first try to knock that hat off, with a tiny, energy efficient wind slash.
Going taunt for taunt, before we're sure we have to go blow for blow.
Some Random Guy 25th Jun 2018, 11:23 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
I’ve been agreeing with the idea to attack by other commenters, but I do have to acknowledge that you could be right, and perhaps they’re just trying to get a message through.

The rabbit could be a bounty hunter for all we know, but that would be bringing up the question of whether rabbits wear—okay, no, they’re monsters, let’s beat their asses.
Caydenite 25th Jun 2018, 9:39 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, +1 to everyone suggesting tornado on the magician rabbit. Even if they manage to hop out the way, if we can position ourselves with it between us and them, hopefully it'll suck any thrown cards in, neutralising that attack.
Cloudy 25th Jun 2018, 10:16 AM edit delete reply
Um, I hope I’m not too late in posting this-
But in many instances, slime gel is flammable-
Should we ask the Eme her flame/heat tolerance before we let Rance go wilde with fire...?

Also, sort of related, do you think she’d be willing to give up a small portion of her mass to Rance’s chemspewer?
Cloudy 25th Jun 2018, 10:20 AM edit delete reply
Also might a tornado pose an interesting risk to someone made of a gelatinous mass...?
It seems our weapons and fighting styles might need to be considered depending on who’s in the party...
Some Random Guy 25th Jun 2018, 11:18 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
Oh dear. That might actually be a problem for us.
Some Random Guy 25th Jun 2018, 11:18 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
There’s no need to start of right away with the tornado, and if they are also surprisingly nimble, we might just miss by a bit. Perhaps slinging a few wisely-placed wind slashes will put these rabbits off-guard, whilst Ranse bust out the Pyrespewer and flames the ones without dapper hats.

I agree with what others are saying, the Emerald Scholar is the weakest, she should attack the single one behind us. Since she has the Belt of the Brawler, she should be rather okay anyways. Let her start off with some Consentacles and her paralyzing acids.

But as always, keep our shields up. If we haven’t, maybe we should’ve Reinforced the wooden shields beforehand . . .
Some Random Guy 25th Jun 2018, 11:20 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
Just to be clear, I’m not disagreeing on the tornado, but I’m just saying to use it at an opportune time, perhaps after we see how fast and durable these opponents are.

Tho, they’re small rabbits, so I don’t expect them to tank.
Guest 25th Jun 2018, 11:33 AM edit delete reply
Offer to play poker. They probably just want to play a card game.
Guest 25th Jun 2018, 11:35 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy 25th Jun 2018, 11:37 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
That would be a funny thing to watch though, men versus rabbits in a card game.
GS 25th Jun 2018, 12:52 PM edit delete reply
Beats dogs playing cards!
RicardtheDragoon 25th Jun 2018, 12:58 PM edit delete reply
With the way things sometimes go around Nast, it might just degenerate into strip poker, and the card-playing rabbit looks like a good cardsharp with the skill it moves those cards.
Thankfully, this doesn't look like an invitation to playing cards.
JiggilyJoe 25th Jun 2018, 5:18 PM edit delete reply
Next thing you know, they'll be banging like bunnies!