Monday, January 28, 2013

Episode 74: Stuck In The Middle With You

While Xeno was out throttling his sworn enemy, Xoe, Ragnar, Takemiya and Kobayashi were exploring the strangely familiar statue in the prince's fwa-yay. It was indeed the very one encountered on the night of the foray into Chang Kai Eel's lair - the night they got Fundus high on scumble and discovered the resuscitated simulacrum of Ragnar in the eerie chamber below - accessed through a secret panel hidden in the inner thigh of the poor, eel-tormented man. The four of them were now debating a plan to quietly access the secret door which was in the middle of a fountain and now, in the middle of a public shaming after-party.

After a long debate failed to produce anything greater than the old 'pretend the dwarf is drunk and wants to go for a swim' ploy, the group was saved further embarrassment when the DM unveiled the old 'mysterious figure emerges from the secret panel' ploy. A very dark, silhouetted figure with glowing eyes and a compelling demeanor stood in the hollow of the Laocoon's enormous muscled thigh and drew Xoe in with his dark, enchanted gaze. As she floated across the water, her 'fellows', her 'friends', her brothers-in-arms' just watched and failed to act until she was swallowed whole by the malevolent sculpture's nethery regions.

Only then did they leap into action.

And leap into action they did...

The three noble adventurers leaped into the fray, fearlessly throwing themselves into the thigh of the unknown, hurtled themselves down the staircase of uncertainty, and dove headlong into the strange, glowing portal of adversarial escape and into... ornate, Muralian  sleeping chamber., one where even the doilies labored under a thousand layers of ancient lacquer, and the dust was so old it had a pedigree. The carpet was thick enough to hide cutlery, and the large, canopied bed could easily conceal an elephant.

Or worse.

Finding Xoe nowhere in the bedchamber, Ragnar elected to dive headfirst under the bed.  It was there that he discovered that the entire underside of the (what's the next size up from a 'king'?) mattress was a convoluted, writhing mass of articulated tentacles, tubes and webbing. Ye gods, thought Ragnar, this mattress is ALIVE!!!

So he decided to poke it. It sucked him up.

Takemiya, only tangentially aware of the dwarf as he slid past his ankles, braved a  peep between the curtains of the bed and found Prince  Englebert  sleeping peacefully on his back... to his conjoined twin, Chang Kai Eel. 

Takemiya froze - and in that moment, the Prince awoke - his gaze fixed directly at Takemiya. Panic seized him. Well, it didn't so much as sieze him as, well, he sort of felt pressed into immediate action and, well, the whole Muralian-twin thing was a bit of a shock, and, I mean, what would you do? 

So he punched him.

Or tried to punch him.

But before he could so much as form a fist, the Prince lashed out with his left arm and struck him with an open palm right in the solar plexus, knocking a watery double - a whole, Takemiya-shaped being made entirely of water - out of Tak's body and splashing across the back wall of the room. Water ran down the walls and soaked into the carpet. Takemiya remained standing, but felt considerably weakened.

Kobayashi somehow became stuck to the ceiling. Ragnar rose up through the mattress and emerged between the twins, held fast by the tentacles and snuggled up to the weirdest pair of silk boxers the world has ever seen.

It was then that Takemiya changed tactics, and engaged the Prince in conversation. This is how we learned that the Prince has been dreaming the events on Lungfish Isle. His brother, Chang, has been playing the more negative, nightmarish foil to Englebert's plans. Takemiya then attempts to enter the dream and manages to produce an escape at the back of the room in the shape of a red telephone booth. Englebert informs Takemiya that the phone booth will take them to the heart of the Muralian Empire - and into the palace of the Dowager Empress herself. Englebert entreats the group to kill the Empress - Chang and Englebert's mother, in fact - in order to weaken Chang's connection to the Negative Energy Plane and allow him to be killed, preferably by Englebert himself. Englebert realizes that this will most likely end in his own demise, but he tells the party that not only has he tired of a life tethered to his evil twin, but he would gain enormous peace from putting his brother's wicked deeds to an end.

Englebert then presents the party with a gift - a handful of red pills and a handful of blue pills. The red ones will teleport the one who swallows it directly back to Englebert's palace.

The blue ones are deadly poison.

When the Empress is dead, says Englebert, each one of you should take whichever pill you each deem appropriate.

Englebert then directs everyone's attention to the bell jar on the nightstand, where a small, self-contained ecosystem holds a miniature Zen garden, a moss-covered temple, two tiny gnomes and a rather enthusiastic monk who is no longer stuck to the ceiling...

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