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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 41: A little alone time

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

The face you make for the journalists . . .
Who knew that was illegal?

When it comes to the military there are several types of people. There are the people who respect the military, the people who serve in the military, the people who blame the military for the wars it is ordered to fight, and the people who simply cannot grasp how the military works. Hazel, as it was soon revealed, fell into that last category.

{Players' Note: Although, to be fair, they could probably have figured that out before now.}

Specifically, she seemed unable to grasp the concept of a chain of command. This revelation came shortly after one of Zhalu'ski's communication bugs (which is completely different from her eavesdropping bugs) awoke Hazel. Through it they received a full tirade from the Half-Drow, Half-Elf about the rudeness of being awoken in one's sleep. Oh, the irony.

Through questioning Hazel was able to discover that Zhalu'ski had managed to extricate herself from the camp and make it to the Gnolls. All caught up, and not going back to, the group decided to see if they had any orders. But, as it turned out, all of the leaders of this mishmash of military might were 'in conference'. And, if you've ever seen more than two managers meet up, you know that sort of shit can take days to hash out. They were probably still arguing over seating arrangements.

Frank did offer to do some scouting to the officer giving them this information, but was informed that all operations had been suspended pending the completion of the summit. After that there was only one thing for it: breakfast. Once finished, they headed back to their tent; as any soldier knows (and Hazel was learning) never pass up a chance for sack time.

However, they encountered a short term fate changer upon entering said tent, as they realized that a familiar deer skull was hovering in a dark corner. Another of Hazel's . . . odd friends had come to call.

{Player's Note: And I've just now realized that Hazel is Fred Savage's character from the movie Little Monsters.}

Hazel greeted Grimm, and thanked him for helping the army find sanctuary. She then asked if he could help her scout the camps the army had abandoned for any survivors. Without a word Grimm helped her Astral Project. Hazel suddenly found herself hovering a hundred feet off of the ground, over the nearest of the camps.

Hazel flew over the various sites, noting survivors where and when she found them. Then she decided that this information needed to be reported to Noblesword. Which, let's face it, constitutes personal growth. Not long ago she'd gotten herself in some hot water by not revealing information she had to their leaders.

So it was off to find said leader. Fortunately, they knew precisely where the Dwarf would be: a massive tent near the center of the city. A massive tent ringed with Gnoll guards.

Not that that was going to stop Hazel. She had information to deliver. And she knew firsthand that their leader did not like information being withheld. So she led the group right up to the guards. Then, just before reaching them, she stepped behind Thor, and cast dimension door, target: the entire party.

An entire party that had no idea what she was about. Perhaps they thought she was casting some spell to help their diplomacy. Whatever it was they thought, they never expected to be teleported to the entrance of the tent, on the other side of the cordon of guards.

A cordon of guards who quickly reacquired the missing party and collapsed with depressing speed. Frank, thinking quickly, detailed Thor and Steve as roadblocks, and pushed Hazel inside. I suppose he figured that, since the deed was already done, they might as well deliver the message.

In response to Frank's barked orders, Thor picked Steve up, using him as a shield against the guards racing towards them. Steve had just enough time to issue a sardonic 'thanks' before they both found themselves on the ground, restrained.

Once inside the tent, Frank blended quickly into the shadows while Hazel delivered her message to a weight of brass rivaling a big band. A group that clearly did not see how the information bestowed was worthy of the interruption. Their only response was to tersely ask why she hadn't passed the message on via the bird perched at the cordon, but insisted on delivering it herself.

I mean, jeez; they get angry when Hazel doesn't report stuff. They get angry when she does. There's just no pleasing some people.

Meanwhile, Frank attempted to extricate himself from the situation by stepping outside while Hazel had everyone's attention. Unfortunately, he stepped outside just as one of the Gnoll guards was coming in. With nowhere to go, and confronted by a guard that was just doing his job, Frank surrendered.

The four were then marched off. Frank offered to take possession of the other three once outside the cordon, but as it turned out, the Gnolls had other ideas. The entire group was marched to an area with a set of humanoid sized metal bird cages. After having been divested of their gear (Frank was able to conceal a Traveler's Any Tool. Don't ask) each was given their own.

Pretty much everyone felt wounded in one way or another. Hazel was feeling like she just could not get a grasp on this whole chain of command thing; Frank tried again to explain it. The other three were feeling rightly wronged. Imprisoned unjustly. And without trial.

They bore it well though. Steve and Thor chose to wait it out. Hazel decided to conjure a hammock and go to sleep. And Frank, well once he'd come to realize that Hazel was never going to get the concept of a chain of command, he resorted to calisthenics. Whether to calm down, or as a way of passing the time (or a combination of both) they weren't sure.

However, apparently the guards didn't appreciate that, as they then banged on his cage with their sticks. Having had enough, Frank then whipped out his (keep your mind out of the gutter) Traveler's Any Tool and tried to pick the lock. Sadly, when it came to stealth and lock picking . . . well, he's no Loki. In other words, he was quickly discovered and relieved of the implement.

The rest of the night passed without incident and they were released in the morning. They were 'escorted' directly to get their new orders. Apparently they'd proven themselves to be more trouble than they were worth, as they'd been detailed with exploring the inside of the tower that had erected itself in the center of the city.

They were then 'escorted' out of the camp where they were turned over to none other than LN. Apparently the Drow had managed to find a way into the tower, but was not being paid enough to explore it.

{Player's Note: Damned contractors . . .}

As they walked, he filled them in on what he'd learned, including the fact that the skeletal Redsmith was still making weapons. Only, now that the forge had been swallowed by the castle, he was making them for the enemy. Apparently he's the 'follow the orders to the hilt' kind of . . . flensed guy. LN then gave them quick instructions on where an how to enter the tower, and the whereabouts of the Redsmith. No, he had not gone in himself; he'd used an arcane eye.

He then left them at the tower, even going so far as to wish them good luck. Once inside the Cupcakes followed their directions (for a change) until the familiar sound of hammer on anvil could be heard coming down a corridor.

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