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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 49: Minor Detours

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Sometimes a cry for help is not as clear as it could be. Kids act out. Adults become destructive. Sometimes, it . . . sounds like a bell?

Strange as it seems (because so much in this campaign has been normal) that is exactly the sound the cupcakes began hearing as they ascended to the fourth level of the spiral stair at the center of the tower of madness.

Of course, they didn't know that was what the sound meant. All they heard was a ringing bell coming from behind them. And it was getting closer.

So they did what any harried group of adventurers surrounded by madness for weeks would do: they turned and focused entirely on the ramp leading to that level, completely ignoring the possibly far more dangerous gargoyles that Frank had scouted ahead of them. All weapons drawn, and aimed at . . . a bell.

(Look, they've been through a lot, okay)

Eventually a tiny stuffed dragonkin appeared, dragging its body towards them, bonging like an entire choir of bells. A tiny stuffed dragonkin in the likeness of a living (and sometimes unliving) dragonkin they knew quite well.

As it drew closer, Thor (with his helm of comprehend languages) began to make out words. Apparently it was Maiphere, last seen 800 years prior. It explained that its old body had worn out, and the stuffy seamstress had created this one for him. On closer examination, they also realized that it was . . . a leather stuffed doll.

Of course, Thor had no more than finished relaying this before Hazel rushed forward to scoop up the doll, much to its chagrin. Upon hearing him protest, Thor then relieved her of it, much to her chagrin.

Once free of Hazel's Elmyra-like grasp, Maiphere explained that said seamstress had thought it amusing to give him a bell for a voice. He clearly was not amused. But, despite this, he still needed them to go rescue her. As it turned out, she was the one making the silver thread that had caused much problems.

It was at this point in the relay that Frank suggested a rather opposing plan to rescue. Steve then retorted that they should close all gun manufacturers because of what some people did with them, causing Frank to shut the hell up.

Maiphere explained that she was being forced to make the thread against her will, and it was not she that was using it to make these abominations. On top of this, the reason that she was in trouble was because she was now refusing to make any more for her . . . patron. Also, said patron had seen right through Thor's ham fisted attempt to look like he was kidnapping said doll.

So it was off to the rescue, seeing as they were partly responsible for the current situation anyways. Maiphere led them down to level 3 and through a door.

{Player's Note: Almost like the DM didn't want us to skip a level}

As they walked Maiphere filled them in on past events. As it turned out, he and the paladin had managed to evacuate the ballroom before it was taken. Frank's horse was still unalive, yet Maiphere refused to explain exactly where it was. And there had been a few changes to the timeline. For instance, their leader Noblesword, was now a man.

This information got them to a door that led to what appeared to be nothingness, until Frank tried his looking glass. A stairway downward was revealed to him, after which he gave the glass to Steve, who was the most logical point man in the group.

So Steve led them down slowly until they reached a hall that stretched left and right. Maiphere then indicated that they should go to the right, where a warm glow of firelight was flickering in the distance.

This led them back into the doll's workshop, although it was now devoid of all of her equipment. Maiphere indicated a door in the room that they quickly opened. This led into a long hall filled with tables and coffins. The coffins were closed, but the tables had what appeared to be the remains of creatures sitting on it.

And down at the end was a robed figure, with a hood over its face, and the doll. The Doll was on some sort of red carpet, with the robed figure standing over it. The carpet seemed to be pinning the doll to itself with fine red threads.

Frank indicated the others should wait at the entrance, and stealthed up to the two. He didn't even bother with the clichéd 'wait for the signal'.

As he got closer he could tell that the robed figure was demanding something quite vehemently. The doll was just as emphatically refusing. Having heard enough, Frank opened fire on the robed figure.

This of course led to a classic argument at the other end of the room that went something like:

"Was that the signal?"

"He didn't say anything about a signal."

"There's always a signal."

"That is usually his signal."

"Not always."

"When has that not been his signal." "Ah, screw it, I'm going in!"

That last was said by Thor as he charged into the room.

Not that Frank needed much help, as it turned out. His shots tore great gouts in the target, spraying its guts all over the doll they were there to rescue.

{Player's Note: A trench fighter getting 2 crits, one max damage, will do that.}

For its part, the robed figure floated over to stand on the nearest table. The parts on it began to move around, as if by their own accord. But, before anything else could happen, Thor threw his hammer once at it, killing the figure. The parts on the table immediately stopped moving around.

They then freed the doll, who was both thankful for the rescue, and quite annoyed at being covered in chunks of abductor. They then set fire to the rug, because they didn't want it to do that again.

As they were leaving, something caught Steve's eye (the dragon one, of course) and he called a halt. After he pointed it out, it became clear that, under the carpet, was a trap door.

They quickly cleared away the refuse of the carpet and tried to figure out how it opened. They could find no switch anywhere in the room. They tried looking for loose tiles, moving torches, and were contemplating opening the various coffins when Thor (who'd shown great restraint up until then) hit the tile with his hammer.

The tile rotated slightly, as if mounted through the center by a metal rod. Frank immediately called a cease to the demolition efforts and stepped on one side of the tile, causing it to rotate down, while the other side rotated up.

Steve and Thor grabbed the upper end and heaved it up (while Frank hastily stepped back on to solid ground) revealing a small bundle. Thor grabbed it and removed the cloth, revealing a box with a slot in the top, just the right width for currency.

There was also a note with it, stating that one should feed it regularly. In other words, it was a baby mimic. Of course, Thor thought it was cute and decided to keep it. He even fed it a gold coin. Because nothing is cooler than having a pet mimic . . .

The group then followed the doll back to her workshop; she was quite distraught at finding it empty, but opened a closet to find all of her equipment. Of course, this led to another cry of anguish, as it was apparent that whomever had placed it there had not taken the slightest care in organization or action. It appeared to have been crammed into the closet with a bulldozer.

As she began pulling the components back out she and Maiphere started getting into what was clearly an old argument about his new body. As the two began to sound more and more like an old married couple, the group quickly decided that there work was done, and left.

As they turned to go the doll turned from Maiphere to stop them. Once she had their attention, she dove into the pile of equipment, coming out with a pair of scissors that she promptly handed to Hazel. Hazel tried them (like men clicking tongs) only to see some form of cosmic energy between its jaws. It was almost as if the scissors were cutting the fabric of reality and they were watching it mend itself afterwards.

All the doll would say was that they would need them. Then she turned back to resume her argument with a patiently waiting Maiphere. Taking this cue, the group left.

But, before they could go back up the phantom stairs, Frank insisted on investigating the other end of the tunnel. Not that it required much insistence; they wanted to know what was down there as well.

As it turned out, what was down there was nothing more than a dead end. But did this deter the Cupcakes? Of course not! One can never label anything a dead end until they've looked for secret passages.

And, as it turned out, they found one. In this case, the back wall rotated vertically about it's center. But, as they pushed the wall open, air began escaping out the passage. Frank stuck his head in long enough to see a void with a massive elder being closing in on them.

They frantically closed the door, stopping the loss of air, and were just breathing a sigh of release when a knocking came from the other side. When no one responded, the knocking repeated, only much louder. The third series of knocking actually shook the floor.

The group quickly took a poll and decided unanimously that this was one event where discretion was definitely the better part of valor. In other words they beat feet back to the staircase as fast as their legs would take them.

As they neared the stair the doll yelled out, "What did you do?"

To which they responded with, "We may have unleashed an Elder God, Bye!" before turning up the stair back to the less madness inducing tower.

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