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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 4: A Long Walk Off of a Short Ceiling

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

That never gets old . . .
Screw you too, gravity.

You know what they say: another day, another looting.

What? They say that, don't they? No?

Who said that? Well, I'm afraid I can't go into that.

They also say (just trust me on this) that loot comes in all shapes and sizes. And, as the group came down from the adrenaline high of their near miss with the ghostly carriage and crew (sounds like a metal band doesn't it?) their bodies began demanding one specific type of loot: the morsel shaped kind.

I mean, they hadn't eaten since before their capture, and they had no idea just how long ago that was. And it had been a very stressful -and strenuous- several hours. Seems a reasonable demand, all things considered.

So the group headed back to the kitchen to grab some grub. And they found quite the selection. Breads, cheeses, wines, it was all there. There was even a butter churner in the corner. Loki noted that when someone said the word 'butter' it would churn automatically. He quickly pointed this out (that there was a churner, he conveniently omitted its self churning qualities) to the group. Loving butter on her bread, Hazel went to investigate. Loki waited until she was within reach and then uttered 'butter, butter, butter, butter,' as fast as his tricky tongue could go. The churner began working furiously, spurting butter all over the witch.

By that point Thor had found a meat locker, filled with meats of all types hanging on hooks. Sadly, he couldn't actually see inside due to his human lack of low light vision. Loki (among others) could though. He quickly, and quite uncharacteristically, volunteered his sight. Perhaps he too was hoping for cold cuts. Perhaps he just wanted to be helpful. Most likely he just needed to remove himself from the kitchen and Hazel's vengeful mood.

The trickster took one look inside, finding said hanging tasty goodness, and told his brother not to go in there. Thor wandered off and Loki liberated himself some chicken. He then began roasting said chicken on a spit in the corner of the kitchen. Strangely, no one asked him where he'd gotten it. I suppose they assumed it was just an illusion.

As they were feasting it occurred to them that whomever had kidnapped them had also taken their rations. Not a very nice thing, that. I mean, besides the kidnapping, which was also not a nice thing.

So they decided a little turnabout was only fair and stocked up. Most of them took more realistic rations. But Loki . . . Loki was a bit of a dilatant. So he took the rest of his chicken (magically seasoned of course), a bottle of wine (white because: chicken), a brick of cheese (extra sharp cheddar; the most sublime of cheeses) and a loaf of bread (what? its bread. Not everything needs comment you know).

They then bedded down in a room they'd found earlier that appeared to be a long unused dorm of sorts. It had four beds arranged around. But not ordinary beds. More like THE MOST COMFORTABLE BEDS EVER! So comfortable that the heavier members sank so far down they needed to make escape artist checks to climb back out.

{Player's Note: Serta wishes it could sell these beds.}

They then slept the sleep of the leveled. Steve and Thor took turns on watch. There was quite a bit of goings on up and down the hallways, but no one tried to enter. Loki almost gave them away when it was discovered that he talked in his sleep. A strategically placed pillow set by Thor ended that particular threat. At least the little bastard doesn't snore, right?

The next day they awoke to find they magically had new abilities. The manifestation of which apparently creates quite the appetite, because they headed back to the kitchen. But, this time the kitchen already had an occupant. This fact was broadcast by the loud scurrying about, banging of doors, and frantic mutterings of said occupant. Thor and Steve opened the door just enough for Loki to sneak in.

Fortunately his stealth rolls are far better than his diplomacy rolls. He hid himself and observed the gremlin that won't let anyone drive his legs frantically opening and closing cabinets and drawers. He was so upset by the missing inventory that Thor could probably have hidden from him.

Loki watched this in amusement for a moment, then cast Auditory Hallucination on the little guy. He made him believe his boss was telling him that they had guests and that he (the gremlin) was going to have to restock the kitchen on a daily basis. The gremlin responded in a mishmash of languages. Loki only caught a few words, interpreting them as the creature saying (irately) "I know. I am".

{Player's Note: The DM then informed me that he was coming to hate that spell, while giving me 'the look'. You know the one. The one that any decent player tries to elicit at least once each session. :P}

Loki then exited stage left, a smug smile on his face. When asked by the group, he informed them that he'd arranged for the free food for as long as they were there. But that they couldn't go in as yet because the pantry was currently being restocked. They feasted on their rations, then tried one of the doors they'd previously been unable to open with their key of devouring.

This time there was a clicking sound as the teeth on the key adjusted to the lock. Then it turned of its own accord. They stepped in to find a room filled with massive heaps of clothes. More were being added from slots in the ceiling periodically. The group did their best to outfit themselves with a decent wardrobe, even grabbing cold weather gear. Then Loki dove back into the pile. He needed a hat. Because, well: Gnome.

Sadly there were none, because the DM apparently hates Gnomes. Strangely, as Loki's hands delved deeper into the piles, they started appearing coming out of other piles in the room. Thor grabbed a boot and handed it to one as it popped out near him. The boot retracted into the pile, only to be pulled out of the pile Loki was searching by same. Thor smirked, then dodged as the boot came sailing over Loki's back.

Meanwhile Hazel had noted that one wall was actually a fake wall hiding a passage via optical illusion. She followed that passage until it came to a T intersection with a massive open air hall. That hall stretched on in both directions forever.

The rest of the group followed quickly. All except Loki. Thor had to go back and forcibly remove the little bastard from the pile he was currently working through.

He'd no more than set Loki down in the hall when a series of tiles were lifted up by some creatures residing under the floor. The tiles were all turned a new direction. Then the floor shifted, sliding the group down the hall a hundred feet before stopping. The group unanimously decided that whichever way the castle (or DM) wanted them to go was not for them. So they walked back the way they'd slid.

A hundred feet past their entrance they encountered a door that led to a beach. On that beach was a tower. And atop that tower was a pair of tethered orange bat like wings.

They quickly yelled 'King's X' and jumped through. As they headed to the tower they noted a rather large row boat out in the waves, containing one rather large (one might say giant) fisherman. They quickened their pace. As they closed on the tower they became aware that it too was of giant sized construction, suggesting a giant sized owner. Like the one currently manning a dingy. Again they increased their speed, while keeping a steady eye on the fisherman.

They reached the tower's entrance only to find it closed, because who leaves their tower open while going fishing? But there was no lock. Thor strode up and tried to open the door, but it would not budge. After several attempts he noted a nail buried into the center of the door.

Meanwhile others in the group had found an open window. Sadly, that window was directly over a giant sized stove. Not that that stopped them from trying to convince Loki to crawl on through to unlock the door. For some reason the Gnome quite stubbornly refused that invitation.

Meanwhile, Thor had become tired of a being thwarted by a nail, magical or otherwise. He hammered nails. They did not obstruct him. So he pulled his sledgehammer of appropriation (+1) and hit it.

The hammer bounced off. Now rightly pissed off, Thor reached up and attempted to pull the nail free. And rolled a friggin 20. The nail remained. Instead the entire door came off its hinges. A right bloodragery thing to do if you ask me.

{Player's Note: This act earned 'The Look' again, this time directed at Christian.}

The group dropped attempting to make grilled Gnome and rushed inside. They ran up the stairs to the roof and started to haul the wings in. They resisted. It took The Muscle together to reel them in slowly.

Meanwhile Loki was keeping an eye on the Giant they were currently burgling. He reported that it had just reached into the water, hauled a large shark into its boat, and was in the process of bludgeoning poor sea creature to death with its hands.

They reeled faster. Once the wings were down, Hazel stroked them, causing them to relax. The wings then alighted on her shoulders and wrapped themselves around her torso. The group then exited the tower post haste. Fortunately they made it back to the portal before the burgled could discover their handiwork. Just before stepping through Hazel stopped to collect some of the white beach sand and put it in a component pouch. Then it was back to the endless hallway.

As they entered again the strange tiles were again lifted and moved. All but one, which Loki just happened to be standing on. It tried, but apparently could not lift his weight. Loki motioned Thor over and whispered instructions. Then he stepped off. As the tile lifted Thor's hands darted out, lifting the lifter out of the ground for interrogation.

{Player's Note: Got the look again, spread between the two of us!}

Sadly they learned very little. Apparently the creature and its family had been brought there to move the tiles. When they got the message to move them they did so, or they died. Eventually Thor pitied the creature enough to let it go. It vanished into the hole. Then the stone rose again and was turned, almost as an afterthought. This time the tiles of the floor moved sideways, pressing the group against one wall.

When that flooring movement was complete they continued heading the way they'd been going.

It wasn't long before they came to another doorway, this one leading into a blackness that Loki's dancing lights could barely illuminate. Almost immediately a voice called out from in that darkness, asking for help. The group questioned it only learning that it was trapped and would prefer not to be. They then moved on to the 'what are you?' segment of of their interrogation. I mean, in this place that's almost obligatory. (And no, animal vegetable or mineral was not asked.) After running through the common creature types Thor asked if it was living or dead at which point it said 'well, shit'.

Loki asked if there was anything with it. It said there were several canopic jars next to it's cage. And, upon asking, indicated that one was glowing orange. Which settled that.

Thor went in, quickly ascertained that the room was a maze, and exited again. That's okay though; Hazel had it covered. She pulled out the white sand she'd collected, cast light on it, and handed it to Loki. He was then able to use it as a breadcrumb trail that allowed them to methodically work their way through the maze. Any time they had to retrace their steps he would use prestidigitation to put the granules back in the bag.

{Player's Note: Fourth look of the day, this one directed at Beth! That's a good day, right?}

Thor and Loki worked their way through the maze. First they found the remains of a cage that had apparently been destroyed by some large creature on its way out. The bars appeared to have been chewed through.

It was about this point that the brothers decided that this felt less like a duo type thing and more like a full party adventure. So they backtracked, picked up the rest, and continued. Interestingly, as the wings crossed the threshold they lit up the entire large room. Upon witnessing this, Hazel gave the wings to Thor, to make him a better target I imagine. After that it took little time for them to find the creature pleading with them for help.

It was a black skeleton. Still seemed a nice enough chap though. When it told them it'd been in the cage longer than it could remember Thor asked why it didn't simply disassemble itself and pass the individual pieces through to the other side.

The skeleton (and the DM) looked shocked, saying 'that never occurred to me'. Then it began following the Bloodrager's advice. Once that particularly fascinating operation was complete, it went over to the canopic jars arrayed just outside its cage, and grabbed one, saying it was 'me'. Once collected, it thanked them, told them it was going home, and left. A nice enough fellow I guess.

Thor grabbed the orange glowing jar, only to have the wings immediately start to grow onto him. He quickly dropped the jar and ripped the wings off his shoulders. Hazel took them back while Thor carried the jar. From that point on a one body part per group member limit was instituted.

Hazel activated detect magic, indicating that two of the canopic jars had light auras of magic on them. Loki retrieved them for examination. One had imagery denoting a soul being removed from the body. The other showed a heart. He opened that to find what he assumed was the heart of a Lich or some other evil creature. He tried to stab it, doing one nonlethal damage. Then he tried to magic missile it, doing 2 whole damage. It immediately healed itself up.

Blaming the walls of the jar for his troubles he dumped the heart out onto the ground where it immediately began hissing. Hazel recognized the heart as something belonging to a celestial creature, at which point it was rejarred. Loki then turned to the second jar. Reasoning that, if the first had parts to a celestial creature, this probably did to, he opened it, an action that elicited many yelps of WTF?! from the group. A wisp of something exited the jar, disappearing into the ceiling. Looking into the jar he found a signet ring bearing the imagery of a sphinx on it.

The group explored further, finding a last cage that appeared to have been crushed by something, and another dead Dwarf. Apparently, this castle (and the DM) doesn't like anyone under four foot five. Loki checked the jars found there but found nothing of interest or worth, unless your goal is to divest people of their lunches.

Deciding they really didn't want to be in here anymore the group exited back to the hallway. They continued down some ways until coming to a crossroads. To the left and right, the new hallway rose upward, appearing to make a complete circle. The group made to continue on but the wings immediately unfurled themselves to point down the left hand hallway.

Taking the not so subtle hint, the group headed down (or perhaps I should say up) the hall. Everyone but Hazel had more and more trouble until gravity simply would not let them go further. For Hazel it appeared that down was always towards the floor, no matter its orientation.

Keying on this, she handed the wings off to Steve, who carried her up and around the stairs. At the point of complete inversion they came to a chasm in the passage. Looking down (or up depending on your viewpoint) they were able to see an orange skull sitting against the wall.

Taking a leap of faith, the two stepped over the edge, only to find that gravity had suddenly gone sideways. (See above). They retrieved the skull, noting that it was not actually orange. It had both gold and red scales, creating the illusion of an orange skin.

They headed back to the rest of the group where knowledge checks were made. It was now ascertained that their benefactor was the product of a union of those two dragons. His alignment and goals were still very much in question.

But it was time to find out about that anyways. They were running out of parts bearers, and no one wanted to try carrying two after what had happened to Thor. They headed back, only having the floor moved under them one time before making back to the clothing room. From there they had no trouble making it back to Mayfer's den.

First he asked them to place the canopic jar in a corner of his room. He then took his skull, reasserting it with his being, which was a bit trippy.

He listened to the events of the day, sounding more and more worried and aghast at the Gnome's antics. He took one look at the heart, gave a worried look, and informed Loki that he'd been attacking an Archon's heart. Then they told him how Loki had released an unknown soul, at which point Mayfer asked why Loki was not bound so as to keep him out of trouble. Loki supplied that they simply couldn't catch him, which was most probably a lie.

Minerva interrupted the Gnome grilling to ask if she could hang onto the wings until they'd completed their task, citing their utility to said task. Mayfer agreed only if they'd give him something to read. Apparently he'd had only three books to read for eons. In the end he was given the book detailing Nebula's planned enhancements, much to the warning of the Gnome. (Ironic that he should be the one to sound that note of caution at this point, really.)

Mayfer then offered his quarters for their sleeping pleasure. Again, Loki was none too keen. Again he was outvoted. Once that argument had run its course it was off to the land of LEVELED UP!

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