Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Episode 25, Part 1: Let's Get The Band Back Together...

The last of the workers climbed on board, and an ice elf sealed the hold behind her before heading below decks. The ship started to move, then a few moments later, dove and began to travel underwater...

Xeno refused to lurk behind his crates any longer. Sliding out from his hiding place, he convinced the orcish Iryien to lend him a swatch of clothing so he could pretend to shine up the interior of the amphibian ship.

"What is that idiot doing?" Iryien hissed. Kobayashi peered out at the orc as he polished the bone archway that led into the next chamber.

"Look like he scouting," replied Kobayashi. "Perhaps I scout too."

He lifted the top off the crate he was hiding behind, but due to the damage it had sustained earlier, the entire crate broke open, spilling the contents loudly on the floor.

A number of the black, spiky objects lit up and started to beep.

"I suggest we remove ourselves," whispered Xeno. He hurried into the next compartment. Kobayashi quickly followed, and joined him in what appeared to be a storage closet for pungent meat.

"Fools! You can't leave these here! We'll all die! In the water!!" As Xeno wedged himself in between two crates, he pried one open and reached inside. He found two bloated sausages, their pale skins barely containing the questionably pulsating contents.

They seemed to be alive.

"Well, they should absorb some of the blast, anyway," he remarked to Kobayashi as he too crouched low.

There was a click. And a BRZOOOM!!. And a muffled cry of pain.

Then it all went silent, and the only thing that could be heard was the clatter of heavy boots up a nearby ladder as some orcs arrived to investigate the noise.

Xeno emerged from his hiding place, attempting to blend in, pretending to snack on the turgid meats.

Somewhere inside the sausage, They sensed the warmth of a living creature... felt the cradling hand... could hear the heartbeat that They longed for... hungered for. As They were lifted towards the mouth They coiled, tensed, readied themselves to strike...

And then it was gone. The creature was only pretending to eat.

They would have to wait a little longer...

As Xeno watched, a burly female orc arrived on the scene and ordered Iryien's unconscious body be taken away. The female then pointed to Xeno and another orc and ordered them to clean up the pointy weapons. Perhaps they wouldn't notice of one went missing, Xeno thought...

Takemiya approached the final cell in the passageway and peered inside. There was a diminutive figure lying unconscious on a dirty cot inside. She looked familiar, but as Takemiya's thoughts bounced around his helm, he found himself at a loss, loosing touch with the vagaries of temporal existence.

What he really wanted was to perch himself on top of a really nice hoard somewhere. You know, some really resplendent dragon's horde somewhere and just chill out for a century or two and quit worrying about all these creatures and their constant struggle to avoid Death - like you have a chance - I mean, he's practically in our party now! How crazy is that?

But some part of him drew his mind back - his human mind - back to the present where he was staring at the prone body of...


Xoe! How did she get here? He tried the cell door, but alas, it was locked. He looked around for a key or a lever but stopped short as he heard approaching footsteps.

He now could make out the guard Karl and the robed priestess making their way towards him. Still invisible, he bunched himself up into a corner in order to let them pass. As they stormed by in agitation, he could hear the priestess say "They said she had captured two intruders: a gnome and a human. But when she went to interrogate them, all three of them disappeared!"

A gnome? Interrogation? Disappeared? That could only mean one thing.


Takemiya looked up from his thoughts in time to catch an old man in older armor pop into the hallway ahead to intercept the priestess. He asked her what was going on and she instructed him to double the guard on the prisoners and be on the lookout for anything strange. He nodded and turned on his heel, and when he did, Takemiya spotted the key ring.

Aha, Mister Jailer.

The amphibian ship had docked, and Xeno and Kobayashi were two of the first topside. A long gangplank led down to a dock that ran parallel to a rocky beach. Kobayashi, whose transmogrification had worn off, was directed to hit the water as Xeno hopped off the dock. He met up with Kobayashi under the gangplank and looked to see where they were.

A huge stockade lay like a bloated tick in the darkness at the end of the dock. Armed guards patrolled the walls. Large, pointy logs told strangers that not only were they not welcome, but they were likely to be on the receiving end of a painful buggering if they tried to gain access without permission.

A delegation emerged from the stockade and came up the dock to greet the ice elf and her bodyguards. Xeno and Kobayashi strained to hear the conversation.

"The shipment has arrived and is intact? Excellent. My Master will be pleased. He is here to inspect it himself."

The two hidden figures recognized that voice.

Count Fundus.

What was HE doing here? Does that mean we're in Plank Town? We're back on Lungfish Isle? And his Master - is the mysterious Chang Kai Eel here as well?

This opportunity was too good to pass up.

Xeno and Kobayashi waited until the last of the orcish crew had carried their load into the stockade before emerging from under the docks. Xeno had finally returned to his old, gnomish self.

"What we do now? You have plan?" asked Kobayashi, a little tentatively and with more than a little fear.

Xeno was still wielding two of the orcs' trembling sausages. Kobayashi stared in horror as, with a blood-curdling scream, he lifted them high above his head and charged the front gate.

"With Tahksha, Tsun Shi and Jae Hoon Suk as my witnesses, I will never be left alone with this lunatic again," muttered the monk.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Captain Nemo Had Nothing On This...

Iryien and Xeno shuffled up towards the ship, crate held at an awkward angle between them.

"You could lower your end a bit," Xeno whispered and he struggled, backwards, across the slippery cavern floor.

"And you could be taller," Iryien hissed in irritation. She was busy scanning the scene. Large humanoids, bundled in layers of fur, were busy shuttling crates up the gangplank to the bizarre, skeletal ship. Xeno glanced over his shoulder and noticed them, too. They were everywhere. He suddenly realized the three of them looked horribly out of place.

Then he heard Iryien whispering quietly to herself, and his whole world started to change...

The ground flew away from his feet as he grew, up, up, up to over six feet tall. Barely able to keep his feet going as he grew, he turned to see the last change overtake Iryien's shape, and he had to admit, it wasn't for the better.

She was now an orc.

And so too was Kobayashi, struggling down the icy steps alone with his crate as he morphed. The culmination of variables was too much for him, though, as his new feet slipped off the final step and he fell forward, landing on his crate as it burst open, spilling its contents over the icy floor...

The objects were foreign-looking, and unlike anything that Xeno had seen before. But even with their foreignness, they managed to communicate one simple fact: they were built to kill stuff. They were black. They were replete with barbs, tips, handles and triggers.

And they looked like fun.

As he reached his own, newly-orcish hand down to pick one up, a harsh voice echoed out in the cavern.

"You son of a promiscuous she-dog! Watch what you're doing! Remember what happened to Grazshnak when he dropped one of those back at White Plume Mountain?!? You'll be the death of us all!" A larger, uglier orc lumbered over to the transmogrified Kobayashi and thumped him one on the ear. "Now pick those up! Carefully! If but one of those is damaged I'll have you thrown out to sea!" The overseer turned on his heel and returned to the ship to vent his spleen on another hapless laborer.

A befuddled Kobayashi started to put the things carefully back in the box as he glanced up to Iryien and then himself.

"So this is the plan?" he whispered to the orc he assumed was Iryien.

"It all I could come up with on short notice. What has passed for your 'plans' has nearly gotten us killed. From now on you listen to me."

Iryien strengthened her grip on the crate she and Xeno had been carrying and almost knocked him over as she began pushing it towards the ship. Kobayashi hurried to catch up, but didn't encounter any more resistance as they brought the crates up the ramp and lowered them into the belly of...

The Ship.

It looked like a large sea creature with fins and a long neck. Its skin was a translucent red, and lights from within revealed a massive skeleton which held up the dried, rubbery flesh. As Xeno climbed down a ladder through a hole in the center of its back, he could see that it seemed to have two decks. The interior walls were also flesh and bone, but hideously re-grown into a more serviceable configuration. Smaller crawl-throughs were cut through these walls, and Xeno was directed to pass his crate through one of these walls to a waiting orc.

Iryien followed him down the ladder. She took Kobayashi's crate and looked around quickly before handing it to Xeno.

"Over there. Stack it on the others and hide behind it. We'll be over here. Don't move until you hear from me." She shoved him in the direction of a corner filled with crates. Reluctantly, he worked his way into a small corner and pulled the crate up to hide himself. He could just peer over the top and see the exit ladder and behind it, two orcs hiding themselves among the crates.

He was uncomfortable in his new skin, and with the fact that he couldn't seem locate his weapons. His backpack seemed to have disappeared in the change as well, as his fingers were gnarly, green and completely devoid of his special Glove of Fiery/Frozen/Acidic Death.

Xeno peered out at to where Iryien was hiding. He tried to fix her with his Very Peeved Look.

"Next time we split up, I'm going with Xoe," he mumbled.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Episode 24: How To Implode a Space-Time Continuum

Iryien sits at a spinning wheel in the small seaside cottage where she and Gaius have managed to raise three beautiful daughters. But things have taken a turn for the weird as of late: she's being visited by a disembodied voice which claims to be Takemiya Jones - a monk she once associated with many years ago while working for an outfit called, what was it again? Oh, yes - DCM Enterprises... She remembers him being somewhat level-headed, (well, until that thing with the helmet) so she wonders why he's spitting and sputtering, in and out of the back door of the cottage muttering about some sheriff from back in her adventuring days. Maybe she's been working too hard. I know it's not yet autumn, but the nights are getting cooler and it would be nice if the girls had their new sweaters before the frost...

Iryien is also eyeing Saladin and Xoe in the dim light of the dual moons. For some reason, (other than his recently-acquired deathly aura) Saladin seems to be flickering a bit. As if his body was a pool of water that had just had a pebble thrown in it. As they debate whether to head down the mountain and find their former selves, she listens as Xoe explains some of the pitfalls of tinkering too lightly with the Trousers of Time. Together they convince Saladin that the Temple is a better option - not to Raze it to the Ground with Cleansing Fire, as was his wont, but to play it cool and try to seek answers. The three of them proceed to the Temple as Saladin ceases to flicker.
There they are ushered in to the rear of the Temple where Xoe discovers, hidden away in a closet for a number of years, Object. He is covered in a layer of rust and dust, and has also acquired a new accent. He then proceeds to decapitate the Matron and a High Priestess, leaving the three heroes to meet yet another Iryien in circumstances of high drama.

Iryien is also freezing in an ice cavern, and is bewildered as to why she's there. Teleported from somewhere under Eldritch Mountain, she now finds herself with Kobayashi and Xeno, poorly bluffing their way past a frost giant and not particularly enjoying a cup of tea. Of course Kobayashi mutters the wrong thing, of course the tea makes Xeno go blind. But once the die rolls start to leave the realm of probability, the Gods (bless their twisted little hearts) find a way for everything to work out in the end. That's unless, of course, you're a frost giant that had entertained thoughts of having children one day...
So now she finds herself stowed away on a ship. Well, not a real ship, anyway, more like a hollowed-out sea creature's corpse. It appears these Ice Elves are packing up and heading off to rendezvous with Count Fundus, and if that's the case, she could be back under Eldritch Mountain in no time at all...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Episode 23: "I Think The DM Has A Drinking Problem."

Saladin looked up at the temple. All that was wood or wicker had burned away. What was left was a stone structure that looked... eldritch by comparison.

"We can all get in through this side window," he told the Holth and the Death Commandos. "Follow me."

They hurried over to the side of the temple and listened. The piteous moans of burned and glass-riddled acolytes had died down considerably. Saladin went in.

Li'l Sauron was next, followed by Object. Holth did not come next. Neither did Velva. The fact that Aaa'ooo'aaa failed to bring up the rear struck Saladin as particularly annoying. Demanding answers, he got a shrug from Li'l Sauron and a series of whines and clicks from Object. Not reassuring.

The three crept towards the back of the temple. Soft, lilting feminine voices could be heard debating some topic in Muralian. Saladin ears pricked up, while other parts of him grew ears. Gripping his club and ready for battle, he sprung around the painted screen that sectioned off the back of the temple to find... no one.

All that was there was an evilly bubbling throne on a gem-encrusted base, five stained glass windows depicting the 4 elements, the downfall of humanity and a pregnant Iryien, and a hole through the Earth window that was about the size of a berserking gnome. the feminine voices came from without.

Suddenly, in a fit of inspired madness that caused the DM to take a heavier-than-usual pull on his maple porter, Saladin leaped through the bottom of the center stained glass window, only to land with a resounding thud on top of...


The slowly-thawing corpses of the two guards had been set up in the crypt. "The next person who enters therein will get surely stain themselves," thought Xeno.

"Next time we split up, I go with Xoe," thought Kobayashi.

The two then headed up the hallway to an intersection. After some debate, the two decided that the passage ahead, which was wide and well-lit, could only lead to trouble, and instead chose to turn down a dark side corridor, redolent with sinister echoes and paved top to bottom with black obsidian.

"Next time we split up, I go with Xoe," thought Kobayashi.

Sure enough, they soon came to a dark and sinister chamber. So dark and so sinister, it sucked the light out of Xeno's light spell.

"Perhaps other way is better?" hazarded Kobayashi.

On cue, other way started to go boom, boom, boom with the sound of drums.

"Perhaps not," sighed Xeno. "I think we should- SWEET PICKLED EGGS WHAT'S THAT?"

Quick as a flash, Xeno's Cube of Force was activated, and just beyond it's protective walls, two vile, stinky undead appeared from within the chamber. The cube's walls seemed to keep them out. But as the drum section grew louder (and was soon joined by a cacophonous brass section) the duo decided that these two fiends were the lesser of two evils.

Kobayashi readied his Staff of Thunder and Lightning, aiming it into the chamber and over the heads of the two slavering fiends. He then discharged what would have been, outdoors, a very loud thunderclap...

Inside the small obsidian-lined chamber, however, it was destructively, titanically and... what was the term?

Oh, yes. It was ear-shatteringly loud.

While the cube protected the two from the bone-stripping cloud of supersonic pulverized obsidian, it did knock them flat on their asses. Lying there, stunned, Kobayashi thought of retiring from adventuring and becoming Port Harbor's official Drunk Munk.

Xeno wondered why everything had gone so quiet.

As he tilted his head back to see the five figures hurrying towards him (upside-down, from his point of view) he wondered if they were wearing slippers, for how else could they travel so noiselessly down this hallway?

Rough hands pulled him silently to his feet, them noiselessly lifted him up to face a woman wearing dark robes. She was mouthing words at him in a very agitated manner... Was she expecting him to read lips? Why wasn't she making any sound? Why does she look sort of familiar?

As she turned her attentions to Kobayashi, Xeno's memory started to clear... Iryien! She's come here to take us out of here! Yes, she's now leading us away from here, down this hallway, around a corner, up a little slopey bit here, yes, yes...up to this weird doorway and being thrown in - what the Hades? Why are we being tossed in here? What's up with Iryien? And how DID she manage to slam that door so silently?

Takemiya looked around the cell block. No keys hanging on a hook. Of course it couldn't be easy. But there were a couple more doors ahead...

He stopped to listen at the first. Nothing. He crept up to the second, and barely audible above the fish-slapping in the adjacent cell, he thought he could hear a high-pitched wooden sound.

He tried the door. Unlocked. He slowly pushed the door open and peered into the room...

A shabbily appointed room contained dirty dishes, piles of laundry and some poor creature's attempt at 'decorating'. Homel figurines and a painting by Thimmaus Kink-aid adorned what looked to be (and smelled to be) a studio apartment. In the middle of the room, spinning wool on a large wooden wheel, was Iryien.

"Iryien!" Takemiya whispered in her ear. Quick as a flash, Iryien picked up a wooden spindle and wheeled it about her head. Only Takemiya's incredible monkish training prevented him from losing an invisible eye.

"Who's there?!?" Wild-eyed and shaken, Iryien looked disheveled and a bit worn. Her plain gingham dress looked ancient and her hair had a sheen of what looked like chicken grease.

"It is me, Takemiya! I've found Longbottom! Do you know where the keys are kept?"

Iryien still held the spindle high and with a threatening air, turning to and fro in an attempt to keep the disembodied voice at bay.

"Longbottom? That was so long ago... Keys? What keys? How did you get into my cottage?" Takemiya looked around the room. He'd never have used the term "cottage" to describe what he saw.

Iryien was obviously under some sort of delusion, probably magical in nature.

He returned to the hallway outside. The imp was still lazily thudding away. Perhaps this would shake things up... Takemiya detached his floating head and rammed it into the cell door.

The bars clanged, but did not break. The imp disappeared with a POP! And he could now hear footsteps running towards him, from the direction of the angry priestess...

"Next time we split up, I go with Xoe," thought Takemiya.

Iryien opened her eyes. It was still dark. Her head hurt, her back hurt and her plate mail was probably dented. She got to her feet in time to see Saladin slowly get up on one knee. Glass tinkled to the ground.

"Mind explaining what this is about?" she whispered. She looked around for the Gardener, but he was nowhere to be seen.

"Iryien! Is that you? Where did you disappear to?" Saladin rushed forward, groping in the dim gray light towards the half-elf.

"Disappear? I wandered into this garden two minutes ago. It hardly constitutes 'disappearing'. Why aren't you down at Elof's? How did you fall out of the sky on me?"

Saladin started by explaining her going AWOL, Xoe returning and the ensuing rescue party. When he got to the part about Iryien being pregnant, she stopped him.

"WAIT, WHAT? I've only been gone two minutes! How could anything have happened in that amount of time???"

She suddenly heard Ben's voice in the back of her head: "Eldritch Mountain is practically build on a junkyard of Time..."

Saladin must've heard it too, for they both turned to look up towards the top where the temple lay waiting.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," she whispered.

Xeno watched as Iryien returned, silently sliding the door open and entering by herself. While he was hoping that she came with an ear-wax kit, instead she was wielding what looked like a Very Hurty Wand.

She flourished it in his direction, but after failing to comprehend her demands, he was ignored and she turned on Kobayashi.

Xeno couldn't read lips, but he could read the situation. Iryien was MAD, and probably under a geas or something.

Time to make like Gloobian Jelly Spider and Exeunt via its Superlative Nesting Sac.

Xeno carefully flipped open the mouth of his Bag of Holding and, while Iryien's back was turned, procured a teleport scroll. Catching Kobayashi's eye, he began to whisper...

A circle of flickering blue light opened in the floor, and without hesitation, Xeno leaped. "QUICK KOBAYASHI FOLLOW MEEEEEeeeeee...." The monk followed suit, and as he headed down the rabbit hole to Quietly Attentive Nature Spirits know where, he had one thing in his mind:

"Next time we split up, I go with Xoe."