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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 42: A Tale of Two Trifles

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Why can't they just leave a picture of a guy peeking over a wall?
Image: Indication that the Cupcakes have been here

Welcome back. When last we left off, the Cupcakes were inside the eerie new tower that had sprung up like a weed Miracle Growth (patent pending), on the path to the Redsmith. The Redsmith that was now in the hands of whomever had built an enormous tower in less than fifteen minutes. Rumor had it he was helping the owners of the tower now, and they were going to put a stop to that. One way or another.

They had been following the sounds of hammering to a doorway. When they passed through it, they found themselves in a balcony overlooking a massive foundry, being crewed by regular skeletons. There was a pile of packs on one side, and one Red Skeleton chained to an anvil in the center. And I don't mean by the ankle. He'd been lashed to the thing like it was some sort of overly short bed.

As they took in the environs, a portal opened up, emitting one robed, hooded figure that glided over the ground, and two Umber Hulks. The dynamic threesome moved quickly over to the Redsmith and paused over him. The hooded figure began chanting in low tones, waving his arms over the Native American skeleton, while the Umber Hulks took up watch, flanking him. It was clear they were in the midst of some ritual.

As they watched, the red color began to drain from the skeleton, only to find it's way to the hundred or so regular skeletons in the room. As his red hue lightened, there's deepened.

Recognizing that what they were witnessing would be categorized under the heading of 'Very Bad Thing', the Cupcakes leapt into action. Hazel teleported the entire group behind the cloaked figure where they proceeded to attack. Thor took one Umber Hulk, Steve the other, and Frank made a holy cloaked figure.

The Umber Hulks both hit and grappled their opponents who ignored the condition in favor of attempting to damage their molesters. Steve even attempted to break one of their mandibles off, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Frank took down the cloaked figure in one turn, then turned his attention to the Umber Hulks.

While the other three's attentions were occupied, Hazel grabbed the cloaked figure by the cloak and lifted it into the air, where it proceeded to do the Hanging Dance. Fortunately, the newly inducted Redmiths paid them no mind. They had smithing to do.

Once the hulks were down, Thor, Steve, and Frank made short work of the chains binding the original Redsmith. Now of course, you'd think their would be some form of gratitude from said released prisoner. I mean, they did heroically place themselves in danger to rescue him.

But, all he did was demand (weakly) his bag. Steve spotted it in a pile along the wall and Thor grabbed it. Once in it's grasp, the formerly red skeleton crawled inside the bag. Peeking in, they saw an extradimensional space, a complete forge. And one slowly pinkening skeleton huddled in the fetal position in one corner.

Figuring their skeletal friend would right itself, it was on to the next order of business: check the cloaked figure. As it turned out, it was an Illithid. Fortunately a dead Illithid. The next order of business: check the portal.

Frank took that one, walking up to and sticking his head through it. He found himself pushing his head through a slightly viscous liquid on the other side. One look showed a bunch of tadpole like creatures swimming towards him.

Realizing that he was seeing larval Illithid, he quickly pulled his head back out of the portal, and stepped well back from it, lest he become infested with a brain eating parasite that would eventually explode from his head. When it became apparent that the tadpoles from hell would not, or could not, come through the portal, they turned to the last order of business: kill all the new Redsmiths.

At least, that's how Frank saw it. But he was immediately shouted down by the others who had a much more interesting plan: let's blow up the forge!

Of the building that had taken all of an hour to construct.

But they seemed less than swayed by that argument. Nor was the argument that some of these things would undoubtedly escape. Or that, there could be other forges. Or that, if leaving one was bad, then leaving more must be worse.

Nope, they were completely set upon a big explosion with the zeal and passion that a standard pyromaniac goblin only dreams of. And, for reasons unknown, they were not cool with killing the skeletons and then destroying the forge.

In the end, Frank shrugged and let them do it. Thor located the heat vents for the forge and closed them. Then, once the temperature was high enough Frank (who had the most knowledge of such things) gave Hazel the signal, at which point she cast ice storm in the furnace.

A high whistling sound filled the air, causing the newly minted Redsmiths to bolt for the door. All hundred of them. From the balcony that had now served as both their entrance and egress, the group could do nothing but watch all of them escape. In fact, the Cupcakes chose to emulate their former targets by fleeing back the way they'd come.

They didn't get more than a few steps before the furnace exploded with a deafening roar that left a ringing in their ears. As they retraced their steps, Thor failed a will save and began seeing portraits along the halls they were traveling. Portraits that seemed to be watching them.

Realizing what was going on, Hazel cast a cure, which made the illusion vanish.

{Player's Note: I was unaware that cure could be used like that!}

The rest of their passage back was uneventful, until they left the tower. There, standing directly in front of them, was a massive Centaroid Gnoll. (I imagine they look something like this.) One of a type that three of this party had seen weeks earlier when they'd found a gate leading to a massive Gnoll encampment.

It took one look at them and tried to hit Steve with a club. A very big club. Like, I've slept in smaller objects, sized club. The party responded in kind, and after one turn, it teleported away.

{Player's Note: Much to the consternation of the DM}

The group then returned to the camp, only to learn that their elusive opponent had been caught spying around the camp. What's more, he'd deliberately let himself be seen before leaving.

Unsure of what that meant, the group continued on to report. You can be sure that Frank is going to have some colorful things to say about the fact that a hundred or so Redsmiths had been allowed to escape.

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