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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 38: Addressing the Peacock in the Room

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Be in awe of my awe of myself
The peacock wishes . . .

There is one constant to the human condition. We all start off believing that the world revolves around us. We're in a nice, warm, dark place with room service. Then we're ejected into a cold bright place where we're subsequently cut off from room service, spanked (welcome to the world!), and possibly had other little bits . . . removed. And despite this rather rude admittance ritual, it still takes most of us stubborn bastards several years to realize the world does not actually revolve around us.

Of course, some people never learn that particular lesson. Case in point: the overly pomped dandy conversing with Noblesword and the other generals when the Cupcakes came to report their findings. Very important findings about the doings and goings on of their enemies. But not nearly as important was what this man had to say. Just ask him.

Noblesword introduced him as Solaris, fourth in line (by marriage) of succession of the city. Once he'd been announced, he reported that the northern front of the city was now cleared the large sized Gnolls (you remember those guys right?) that had been occupying it. When asked how, he simply replied 'because I was there'. Because he was just that good, apparently.

Once pressed for details he explained that a huge Gnoll had broken the allies lines and left the city, followed by its smaller, yet still large brethren. Which sounded a lot less like he had anything to do with it, and more like they were fleeing something within the city itself. To the Cupcakes at least.

Frank then pressed the man for details as to what exactly he'd done to provoke this, gaining the expected reply: 'Because I showed up'.

As you can guess, it did not take more than a few seconds for the Cupcakes to size the powder puff up, and even less time to start letting the thinly veiled japes at his expense fly. Frank, and Steve definitely had their zingers, but this was clearly Hazel's time to shine. As they continued the verbal jousting, it became harder and harder for the peacock to maintain his composure. And the worst his composure became, the more the assembled generals seemed pleased.

Meanwhile, the dandy continued preening his feathers by saying he'd also secured an ally, one cervitaur named Fauna. He'd promised to help her find her sister Flora in exchange for assistance. Of course, he hadn't told her where Flora was just yet. An oversight Hazel quickly rectified, much to the animosity of the dandy. Hazel simply responded by telling him that Fauna kept her word.

But things didn't really come to a head until the man made the mistake of boasting that he had a alicorn for a mount. He soon realized his mistake as Hazel stage whispered to the entire tent that she'd heard that only virgins could ride such beasts.

All vestiges of maintaining a civil meeting collapsed as the entire tent began howling with laughter. Well, except for Solaris, whose accent suddenly shifted from the British upper crust to cockney as he took a step forward and said "Listen here you little-"

That was as far as he got before meaningful looks from Thor, Frank, and Steve made him pause. He then stormed out of the tent; one could only guess to go ride his alicorn. . .

(FYI: Hazel just won back all the points she'd lost with Noblesword over the last few days.)

Once the . . . entertainment had left, Frank got down to business. Something must have scared the Gnolls out of the city, he reasoned. He then reported what they'd learned from the . . . puppet show, and surmised that it was probably this half giant. He finished up with another of his oft repeated requests to head back into the center of town.

This time, it was approved. Apparently the constructs the army had been fighting had had a bizarre shift in their behavior. They'd ceased their efforts at demolition and were now righting fallen buildings. There were also fewer of them than before. Apparently, when they'd finished their sector they were heading . . . somewhere.

Their job (should they choose to accept it) was to follow these constructs, in the hopes that one would lead them to the half giant and kill him. A simple search and destroy mission. Right up Frank's alley, really. They were also told to bring the dog-thing with them. Apparently it ate chaos, and there was some sort of bubble of chaos blocking the path.

They were also told to bring the dog-thing Habe Blinken with them. Apparently it ate chaos, and the blue haze they'd continued to encounter since reaching the city was, as it turned out, pure chaos.

Also, taking it, kept it out of reach of the Gnomes.

{Player's Note: I'd always figured that, if alignments had a color, chaos would be green. Probably because I associate green with Gnomes and Gnomes with chaos . . .}

The group quickly departed for the center of the city, Frank still riding his new mount. When the got to their destination they found several dwarves overlooking the repair process. In fact they seemed to be directing it from time to time. The constructs appeared to be listening to them anyway.

The entire center of the city had been carved into a bowl, with sides so steep Frank was forced to leave his horse with one of the Dwarves. Then it was acrobatics time. Frank had the highest, parkouring down the side like a mountain goat. Steve was next, riding his shield like a surf board. Thor and Hazel flew down. Well, Thor was carrying their dog thing, which Hazel had dubbed Habe Blinken due to his eight eyes.

Once down the steep walls (without having considered how they'd get back up, mind you) the group was able to make out the blockage they were warned about: a large blue half sphere of energy. More of that blue . . . stuff, seemed to be leaking out of it, creating a ground cover of the stuff.

Habe Blinken went to work, sucking the pure chaos up as Hazel directed him towards the dome. As they went, the dog-thing would visibly swell up, until full. Then it was up to Thor to squeeze the thing, releasing a stream of incredibly acidic purple stuff from its . . . nether regions. Frank immediately suggested weaponizing that . . . by-product.

Eventually they made it to the sphere in the center. Thor reached out and touched it to find that it was completely solid. Habe Blinken tried to take a bite out of it, getting its teeth stuck in the process. Seeing as how the stuff was made of chaos, Steve attempted to punch the dome with his axiomatic hand wraps, to little effect. Hazel then pulled out her axiomatic mace and took a swing, chipping a small piece off. That test confirmed, she then handed the mace to Thor who made short work of the bubble. After a few strikes it burst like a bubble. As it did so, all the blue haze disolved into nothing.

While the others focused on the bubble, Frank kept an eye on the constructs. As the others worked, he watched as one traveled to the wall of the crater opposite from the one they'd slid down and seem to pass through it. Once the others had dealt with the bubble, he relayed this information and they were off again.

As they closed on the spot Frank had indicated, they saw that the wall had been carved in such a way as to hide a large sized tunnel. In the tunnel they found a gateway containing a portal to who knew where. As they contemplated it, another construct stepped past them and into the rift. Shrugging, Thor and Frank stepped through, followed by Hazel and Habe Blinken. Steve brought up the rear.

They found themselves on a barren plain of rock. In the distance they could see the last construct heading towards a run-down, deserted city. There was no sign of any other civilization, nor any living thing anywhere.

With but one clue, the group headed in that direction. The city was Dwarven in nature, and in an even worse state of disrepair than it had seemed from afar. It seemed ancient. Backing this impression up, they found ancient Dwarven runes within. Runes that had not been used for thousands of years.

They followed the constructs' trail to the center of the city where a crumbling wall stood. Frank and Hazel flew over to investigate, to see that the courtyard looked even worse. They ascended the wall just in time to see one of the constructs march to a large flat trap door in the center of what must have been a castle at one point. But, instead of using the door, it melted through the boards.

So they would not be going that way.

During this reconnaissance Thor decided to go on a walkabout, following the perimeter of the circular wall. He found a ramp the constructs were using to gain entry, as well as a postern door beneath it.

Once they'd met up and swapped intel, they decided they liked the look of the postern door. It had the advantage of not having melted anyone today.

Inside they found a passage leading to a shrine to the Dwarf God Moradin. You remember him. He was the one that gave Thor his hammer, whilst ignoring Loki. Something Loki still has not forgiven him for.

First they looked for any secret passages or switches. When that proved fruitless, they attempted to light the torches on the walls.

{Player's Note: A sign of any Zelda player}

All other attempts to discover the purpose of this particular room met with similar results: namely, none. Lastly, Thor began to pray. As he did so, a figure made of light began to spring up on the alter at the center of the shrine. But it only made it half way before collapsing. Clearly, Thor needed to pray harder.

In the end it took Thor, Hazel, and Steve praying, while Frank stood watch to complete the item, which turned out to be a hammer resting handle up. Once it had, the Dwarf god spoke to them. It told them it had been a long time since anyone had spoken to it. It told them that they had traveled back two thousand years. And, most importantly, it told them that there was a way into the underbelly of this structure at the back.

With thanks, the group headed to the back of the castle, finding a smashed in wall there. This led to a series of storage rooms for everything from rotten food to rotten people, eventually leading them down a spiral staircase wrapped around another pit.

{Player's Note: Because the DM loves pits.}

Other than one moment when Habe Blinken decided to break into some ancient boxes of rotten food, they had no issue descending. At the bottom they were met with a large sized adamantine gate. Locked of course.

It appeared quite the quandary for a moment, until Hazel remembered the magic key she'd acquired in the wandering castle. You know, the one that fits itself to the lock.

{Player's Note: The DM, clearly having forgotten that, glared at Beth.}

The key did its thing, and the gate swung open on clearly oiled hinges. As they looked down the tunnel they could see the half giant leading its constructs around.

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