Thursday, April 17, 2014

Episode 101: Funeral in Hel

When the floor fell out from beneath the party as they were talking to the prospector, everyone fell in accordance with their own path in life. Kobayashi fell into the Underworld in order to face his adverse approach to healing and, not surprisingly gave himself a fatal dose of gangrene as he tried to reattach (read: heal) the severed finger he lost in the belly of a snow leopard back in Aqua Sulis.

Xeno fell in order to come to terms with his dealings with Chaos and, well, messed up a very large solar constuctor array and effectively 'broke' a star, launching a "chaos star" somewhere into the multiverse - just before meeting his demise at the hand of a race he had at once learned to hate with the hatiest of hates.

Gigamesh fell in order to come to terms with his own endearing benevolence as applied to trust issues, i.e., what happens when you hang out altruistically with the wrong sort of people, i.e., Xeno. For in just a few short months weeks days daze Gigamesh has been transported, transmogrified, deified and pulled into an entirely new universe - all as a punishment for helping a few people out of a dungeon all those many whatevers ago.

When Spencer fell, it was into a quiet, peaceful chapel. He was all alone, save for a few rows of chairs and a radiant column of soft blue light. The column gave of a pulsating, thrumming sound. It was comforting. relaxing. For the first time in - in a while, anyway - he was not under duress.

Spencer then discovered a set of doors leading out of the chapel - and into a long hallway. Three doors on each side of the hall, a barred set of double doors opposite. Each of the side doors led to a reception room, containing couches, chairs and... a casket. As Spencer walked up to the first casket he completely failed to notice that his hands had become flesh - even as he reached towards the first casket to open it.

As he slowly raised the lid, he was more than a little surprised to find it contained... Karl.

"Hey, man."
"What you doing in this casket?"
"I'm in a casket?"

It was then that Karl asked Josh where they were.

"Wait, I'm Josh?" Josh asked no one in particular. "Yes," no one in particular replied.

Josh and Karl then proceeded to the next room, where the opened the third casket and found Alex. Then Alex's brother Eric. Then David.

By now everyone was getting a bit confused and more than a little creeped out. The last two caskets proved to be empty.

Displayed next to each casket was a painting, and all six paintings were different. One contained a tree, another, a scarecrow. The Kabbalah was represented, as was a crucifixion by Grunewald...

As the five humans debated what was in fact happening, something smashed through one of the windows hidden behind the casket in one of the rooms. A large, footlong 100-legged slugbeetle was lying on its back, squirming helplessly. Karl immediately picked up a chair and went to dispatch the beast, as Davis sidled over to the window to see what was outside.

And there, in a dark alley some 15 feet below the window, stood Count Fundus. But in the pale, ashen light of some hidden moon, David could tell all was not well with with their nemesis. As David called to the others to come see, the count spoke in an eerily rasping voice.

"I've got a message for you, and you're not going to like it. Pray for death."

As the group watched, Fundus' body split open, allowing hundreds of crawling vermin to cascade onto the alley floor, revealing the body of a smaller, darker figure - that of Chang Kai Eel.

"Aw, shit."

David called down to Eel (rather bravely, in my estimation) and asked: "Are you the message?"

"No," hissed Chang. "I am the weapon. And my Black Orcs are the ammunition. KILL THEM!"

SUDDENLY, from behind Eel in the darkness of the alley, charged dozens of black-clad orcs, firing arrows at the window. David ducked behind the casket as a stream of evil-looking arrows flew over and around him, some being barely blocked by the casket.

At the same time, a giant red rooster charged into the hallway outside the room and, barking and clucking, grabbed Eric and dragged him by his hoodie towards the chapel. Alex, Josh and a chair-wielding Karl gave chase and eventually scared the rooster of at the door of the chapel itself. Eric was unharmed, but now that David had crawled out of the arrow-riddled room, everyone agreed that a hasty retreat was in order.

The chapel itself proved a dead end, as a handful of chicken feathers at the base of the column of blue light was the only new bit of evidence to turn up. tree roots could be seen at the top of the column, but they were too high to access by anything other than magical means. Like, perhaps stepping into the light while holding a feather in one's hand, for example...

The group then fled to the other end of the hall and through the barred double doors. They discovered a shallow lobby, with another set of barred doors ahead, and two set of stairs leading up and behind them to either side. David and Karl were debating the wisdom of just heading out the front doors when the issue was answered for them by a barrage of black arrows piercing both doors and nearly pricking the both of them.

So upstairs they fled, only to find themselves in a seemingly endless hallway flanked by row upon row of caskets. the roof of this hallway consisted entirely of tree roots and damp earth. Eric stopped to explore a casket, with grim results, but the sounds of the front doors being broken in caused make haste and start to climb.

David was the first to the top, but as soon as he touched a root, it slithered around his wrist and pulled him up and into the ceiling. Josh scurried up to follow, but Alex told him to wait. Alex found that he had his cellphone in his pocket, and he dialed David's number...

"David? It's Alex. Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine - just a little squeezed for space.... I seem to be still moving upwards through the ground..."
"Cool. We're right behind you."

The others followed and allowed themselves to be sucked up into the ceiling just in time. Well, almost just in time. Karl took an arrow up through his foot. :/

The party ended up surfacing at the bottom of a wide, earthen bowl-like depression. Clambering up the sides, they found the bowl was ringed around with a sort of open hallway, with windows facing out in all directions. The windows opened up into what looked like the night sky - except there was no ground, buildings or anything - just the infinitely jeweled curtain of space. And off in the distance, flaring into existence like a cosmic opal was a twinkling, flittering, multi-hued star...

The Chaos Star.


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