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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 56: Miranda's Right

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

Warning: This session deals with the controversial issue of assisted suicide. If you find this issue too polarizing, I suggest reading the following synopsis of events only. If you can, skip the synopsis. Thank you.

[Synopsis of events:

  1. The Cupcakes found Maiphere in a church.

  2. Maiphere told them of a woman named Miranda who pleaded with her god for a magical cornucopia that would help feed her village. However, it was an imposter who supplied her with a cursed cornucopia instead. Once it had destroyed her village she took it to Vigil for unknown reasons.

  3. Maiphere then told them which church in this city of churches she had taken the cursed artifact to and arranged for a familiar carriage to take them there.

  4. The carriage turned out to be the hag's carriage, being driven by one Grave T. Robber.

  5. They rode to the church, entered and destroyed the cursed cornucopia.]

The free lunch. The get rich quick plan. The snake oil salesman. If these things have taught us one thing it's this: if something is too good to be true, it probably is. Read the fine print. Consider the consequences. Distrust the purveyor of such 'opportunities'.

{Player's Note: It's a recurring theme (in the form of the false utopia) that runs through the original series of Star Trek. }

But every now and then someone is taken in by such conmen, to varying results. Such was the case with Miranda.

But before we get to Miranda's story, we need to pick up the Cupcakes'.

When last we'd left that group of chaos incarnate, they'd found themselves in the city of Vigil, now a city of undead, in their pursuit of the kidnappers of Babba Yagga's granddaughter. They'd alighted on a nearby manor house and contacted those people they could contact for help.

Zha'lusky was no help at all. But, she could be forgiven that seeing as she was in the midst of battle when Hazel called.

{Player's Note: I mean, I won't answer a call at all when I'm driving . . .}

Next they'd tried Maiphere, who had turned out to have a bit more to say. Namely, find his older self which was currently in the city. All he could say was that his older self was working for the mayor of this lovely vacation destination. And that, being a city of clerics, said mayor was probably using a church for a town hall.

Frank immediately assumed this meant the largest church near the center of town and off they went. As they flew over the town, in what had become their standard flight formation, they could see that it all seemed decrepit. As if the entire town had been abandoned to the undead hundreds of years before.

They quickly located a church that fit Frank's criteria and landed on the roof. Gently, as its decrepit status was at least as bad as the surroundings. Experimentally, frank stuck his rifle but through one of the holes to see if it was an illusion. Since it went through the hole, they surmised that the hole was real.

Taking into consideration that the streets were still choked with undead, they settled on using the bell tower as their ingress point. Once there, Frank attempted the rotting wooden staircase, barely making it back on the broom as it collapsed under his weight.

Thor then started pulling rope out of his bag. This was followed by more rope, and still more rope, until he had 200 Ft. of rope in 4 different coils. He joined those together and attached them to the ring holding the bell, which was anchored into the stone ceiling.

While he was performing this feat of kompology, Hazel inspected the bell and informed them that it was covered with runes and inscriptions that suggested that ringing it would affect the undead in some adverse way.

Figuring that the noise would also draw undead from a much greater radius, they all agreed to shelve that; they didn't need to bring undead hordes down on the place if elder Maiphere was actually there.

So Frank slid down the rope to the bottom of the bell tower. Once there he closed his tac light, let his eyes adjust to the ambient lighting as best they could, and tried to very carefully open the door at the bottom.

The door collapsed, leaving him holding the handle. Immediately the area was filled with moaning sounds. Frank quickly backed up to the rope, flipped his taclight back on, and scanned the hallway past the doorway. Only to see five or six undead moving his way. And they seemed to be increasing in speed.

He gave the rope two quick tugs and Thor hauled him back to the top. He arrived at about the same time the zombies crashed into the base of the bell tower. Frank immediately suggested they tie the rope to the bell's pendulum, exit the structure, and ring the bell.

But, for some reason not clear to anyone Hazel didn't like that plan. She wanted to exit and have Thor throw his hammer at the bell. Frank pointed out that this plan had a much higher chance of causing the entire bell to fall, but to no avail.

After a few rounds of this Frank tired of the bickering, grabbed his rifle, and butt stroked the bell as hard as he could. The zombies below immediately cried in terror and reversed their course, running out of the building and down the street.

Sadly, even that amount of impact (perhaps combined with the bell's tolling) caused a worrying cracking sound to develop from the bell's anchor. The foursome took one look at the source of the noise and dove out of the tower (except Hazel, who flew) mere seconds before the bell plummeted down the shaft.

As they got up and dusted themselves off, Frank came face to face with a glaring Hazel. A look he returned in kind. She then informed him that he would not be riding on her broom anymore. Frank pointed out the pettiness of her attitude and . . . may have alluded to the peaking of certain womanly cycles.

Fortunately, round two of bickering was cut short as Steve called an alarm. He'd come to realize that four of the gargoyle statues dotting the perimeter of the roof were moving. Never when anyone was looking at them, but never in the same place when checked.

Hazel immediately elected herself the face of the party and approached said statues, addressing them. Once they knew the gig was up they spoke to her. She told them that the bell was an accident, and that they meant no harm. She did however suggest that it would be okay if the gargoyles attacked Frank, which the others could hear just fine from a hundred feet away.

But it wasn't until she mentioned Maiphere's name that the gargoyles seemed to relax. They gave her directions to the church the dragonkin had taken up residence in and returned to their positions. Hazel returned triumphantly to the group only to be informed that she was no longer allowed to be the face of the party.

The group then resumed flight, with a minor modification: Frank was carried by Thor, while Steve got to ride on the broom. Not nearly as effective if they got into a fight, as Frank made a poor shield for Thor, and Steve a poor sniper. But it did keep Frank from shooting Hazel for deliberately inciting an attack on a party member.

They found the indicated church and managed to infiltrate without issue. While there were undead out and about, there were none in the church itself. Once inside they had no trouble locating the dragonkin.

Their conversation with him was a bit odd, however. As it turned out, Maiphere's future self had been experimenting with time magic. Whatever his goal, the end result was that he could no longer sit in one timeframe for more than ten to fifteen seconds before blinking out of existence. His absences never lasted more than a second or two, at which point he would blink back.

So, in stunted tellings, punctuated by countless 'one moment's, Maiphere told them of a priestess of the goddess Chauntea named Miranda. Apparently her people had been suffering from famine and she'd prayed to her god for help. Chauntea had then appeared and gifted her a cornucopia able to feed her entire town.

It turned out later that the cornucopia had not been a gift from Chauntea, however, but was in fact a cursed artifact that doomed the entire village. Afterwards she'd brought the cornucopia to Vigil for as yet unknown reasons. According to Maiphere she was in a church of Chauntea on the northeast side of town.

On the lich, Maiphere seemed less certain. He had two accounts, written by the same person, dated at the same time. One stated that the lich was bent upon world domination. The other said he simply wanted to be left alone.

About the only other useful information they gleaned from him was that everything in the town had been fine eight days ago.

With nothing else to go on the group decided to deal with this cornucopia first. But Thor couldn't fly forever, and walking the city streets was . . . problematic. In the end Maiphere offered the use of a coach that he assured them would get them where they needed to go.

They accepted his offer and stepped outside to see the Hag's carriage rolling up to them, with Grave T. Robber at the helm. Frank took up the shotgun position as the other three piled into the surprisingly plush carriage.

On the trip Frank questioned GTR about the ring he'd gotten from him. GTR shrugged, saying that he'd found it on a corpse. When Frank explained what it was GTR became fascinated, which only made Frank more suspicious. GTR seemed to not notice, instead asking on the wherabouts of the ring, and any others. Frank's only reply to these repeated inqueries was to simply state that the rings were to be destroyed.

Fortunately (for both of them probably) the ride was short. Before disembarking, GTR warned them that as long as they were in the carriage they were invisible to the undead. But once they exited they would be noticed immediately.

So the group flew up to the rooftops again. Sadly, this time there was no bell tower, and no way in from the roof. Hazel did a reconnoiter of the building looking for any entrances; the only ones she could find were all on ground level.

So they flew down and in the main door, shutting it behind themselves. As it turned out, the entire temple was shaped like a barn. The main door was in fact a rolling door on tracks. Their was a statue to the goddess Chauntea in the middle, with pews arranged behind her. It looked, as did the rest of the town, as though it might collapse at any moment.

And, of course, it was filled with undead. This particular grouping consisted of both zombies and ghosts. One ghost, holding the ghost of a child, screamed as if a banshee. Hazel immediately channeled energy. The zombies all fled, but the ghosts seemed merely mollified. The group spread out, looking for the cornucopia.

Eventually Frank realized that the statue was on a track that allowed it to be slid backwards. Thor did the honors, revealing a trapdoor. They opened it and Frank used his tac light to check the environs. What he saw was a large basement, covered in a thick layer of dust. There was a single footprint pointed further in where he couldn't see. And it reeked of rotten food.

Steve hopped down first. His dragon eye caught movement as a figure slowly shambled out from behind a stack of boxes. As it moved closer Steve could see that it was a woman. A woman that had been fused to a massive cornucopia.

Steve readied himself for an attack, but waited to see what she would do. The figure crept closer and closer until she could put her head on his shoulder. Then she whispered 'kill me'.

By this point the rest of the group was down. Hazel tried to contact Maiphere and Grimm in the hopes that there was a way to save this poor soul. But they explained that if this was a god level artifact there was nothing they could do.

And it was clear the woman was in great torment. So, after a few moments they all agreed to grant her request. All that left was who would do it.

Steve felt some responsibility to the woman, as she'd asked him to do it. He probably also wanted to shield the others from having to shoulder such a burden. But the sad truth was, he had no way to accomplish the goal mercifully. Pummeling someone to death with your fists hardly qualifies as a mercy killing, and the cornucopia was blocking a clean neck break.

In the end it was left to Frank to shoot her in the head. He did so, vowing vengeance upon whomever had done this.

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