Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 14: More on the Vertically Challenged
Updated: Aug 3
Who doesn't love a bog, am I right? The muck. The rotting vegetation. The foreboding mist that clings to the ground, hiding all manner of hazards. The . . . the smell. It's perfect!
Which is probably why we chose to leave our characters standing hip deep in one for a week. I mean, sounds relaxing right? Or perhaps we just wanted a week to get used to the idea. We have very powerful imaginations . . .
But, whatever the reason, a week passed and it was time to muck on. The Cupcakes quickly dug themselves out of the holes their bodies had made when they chose to jump from a height of ten feet across a narrow stream of fast moving . . . never mind.
Once they had their bearings they began heading towards the center of the garden. At least, as close to the center as dead reckoning can get. For some time not much happened. Which just provided enough time for their imaginations (not to mention the Labyrinth references) to start working.
After a bit they encountered a tree adorned with nooses. Well, that's all most of the group saw. Hazel got to see the bodies that had once been noosed on that tree thanks to her Maiphere-vision. Starting to be a bit of a necessary curse there.
As she griped about the decorator's choices, Steve noted a peculiar phenomenon. Off in the distance he noted a small hole in the waist high mist that permeated this wonderful place. And it was getting closer.
He called attention to it, at which point Nebula, and Thor noted the same thing. Hazel didn't see anything normally, but with her Maiphere-vision was able to make out a familiar orange glow coming from the closing object. Loki was apparently looking the wrong direction.
But, once he'd been turned around, he concocted a plan. He fished in his bag (cursing all the while the twist of fate that had left him without a Handy Haversack, whilst offering his brother's strong arm to the gods for one) for the Wand of Glitterdust he'd lifted from the Gnolls, aimed, and fired.
Of course he missed. Just wasn't his day. The others saw that the . . . whatever it was, stopped in the middle of the path. After a bit it started moving cautiously towards the group again. Loki made ready for another (no doubt unsuccessful) Glitterdusting, when Thor snatched the wand from his hand, giving him a warning look.
Meanwhile the invisible thing continued on towards the group. It made it within twenty feet before it came to the realization that the group could still see it. At which point it turned tail and ran. Thor and Nebula, the quickest of the group by far, took off after it. Loki (who just happened to be riding on Thor's shoulders; three foot high fog remember?) grabbed a pauldron, leaned into the sprint and yelled 'mush'! He also made motions with his free hand as if he were hitting Thor with a riding crop. (It was probably for the best for him that he didn't actually have such a device handy.)
The two-and-a-halfsome quickly caught the fleeing intruder with Thor tackling him to the ground. As they tumbled downward he dislodged a cloak of invisibility, revealing Incu, the little Goblin with the leg fascination. As the last time the brobdingnagian bloodrager snagged the little bogitt, said bogitt began sputtering and howling until Thor clamped one hand over his mouth.
As they pulled the cloak completely off of him they saw that he was wearing Maiphere's legs as stilts. They took them off revealing two very short goblin legs. Incu redoubled his efforts at protestation.
Eventually the little boggit cooled down enough for Thor to risk releasing his mouth. He immediately exclaimed 'Do you know what I had to do with that witch to get those?' Hazel was quick with the 'Aha!' that he could actually speak common. (Previously he'd only chittered at them in goblin.) He turned beat red and, for a moment, seemed to be considering going back to playing stupid. But, in the end he decided to drop the act.
The group quickly agreed that, while they couldn't let the little guy keep their benefactor's legs, some recompense was in order; after all, this was the second set of legs they'd stolen from him. Eventually they hit upon the idea of taking him to Fauna's grounds.
At first he was opposed, claiming he didn't like furry legs. Fauna liked furry legs. But, Loki was able to get him to agree by pointing out that she might just be able to make him some nice Velociraptor legs. And on the plus, when she was done, no one would be able to take them from him. Well, except in the normal ways one takes another's legs.
At that point Incu climbed up Thor taking the shoulder opposite of Loki's perch. There was some debate over which perchee was the angel and which was the devil. While this line of inquiry proved fruitless in itself, it did pass the time until they became distracted by more pressing concerns.
About half way back to Fauna's glade, a large black darkness appeared several yards from the group. Out of it came what looked to be a nice older lady. But by this point the group was not fooled by appearance. Incu whispered her name: Deranged Victoria. Then he dove into Thor's pack.
The witch waved once at the group, eliciting waves back. Though that was as far as the interaction went. They continued upon their path, not wanting to subject themselves to anyone with the title 'Deranged'. And really, who could blame them?
The rest of the trip back was of no consequence, but ended with a bit of an issue. If you'll remember, the group jumped across a river from a hole ten feet high in a wall. Now they had to get back, preferably without getting pulled into the bog by the souls that Fauna had warned them were in the water.
Also, there was a giant tortoise filling the hole in the wall completely. Some calling out drew Fauna's attention. Once they explained the issue she energetically moved the Tortoise back a couple feet, opening the entrance for them. But that still left getting to said entrance.
For Thor the solution was simple. He handed Loki one end of rope. Loki took it without thinking, as so many people do when handed something. The next thing he knew he'd been picked up and hurled through the air. Fortunately, this time Thor's aim was true. Loki landed just in front of the tortoise.
Grumbling, he moved to wrap his end of the rope around the giant turtle, but Fauna objected energetically, saying that he was not an anchor. He was a tortoise. When Loki asked why he couldn't be both she pointed imperiously (which is quite hillarious looking from a two foot tall creature) towards a nearby tree. He glared at her momentarily before deciding he really didn't want to get into it with a speedster. Then he marched over to the tree and tied his end off.
Thor then held the rope so the rest of the group could climb it. Hazel went first, slipping a few times, but never falling. Nebula quickly caught up to her. Steve (judging from the climb check) caught up to and passed both of them with a mighty bound.
Thor then asked Incu how he'd like to be transported. Incu said, don't throw me and dove further into his bag. Thor shrugged and hurled the bag into the opening. What? He threw the bag, not the goblin. Then he leapt the river, using the rope for extra propulsion. Once across he climbed up without issue.
Well, other than when Loki undid the rope. Fortunately for Thor, he was strong enough to climb the wall without. Unfortunately, the minute the rope was free it began to get dragged into the river, as if being pulled by something. Steve was able to snatch up an end before it disappeared into the bog. Between him and Nebula they were able to haul it out.
As it came out, three spirits came with it, clutching the rope as if for dear un-life. As they completely exited the water they suddenly drifted skyward, as if freed. Which led to the spontaneous formation of a new sport; Bog Fishing. Sadly there were no more nibbles on their line.
But, while the group entertained itself with its latest diversion, the bird Fauna had sent for help returned. In it's mouth were what appeared to be some weeds. Hazel took them, only to have the weeds affix themselves to her and start growing.
This led to a rather amusing (somewhat spastic) dance. She tried to wipe it off, only to find the grass now on the other hand. She tried to wipe it off on the ground: no luck. She tried to use her boot . . . well, you can see where this was going.
Fauna eventually took them from Hazel and planted them at the base of the hole. They immediately grew several feet high. The Cervitaur then directed the group to push them over. Shrugging, Nebula and Steve complied. The weeds allowed themselves to be pushed over until they were in a direct line leading from the hole to the opposite bank of the river. Then they sprouted upwards again. Again and again, they pushed them over, rinse and repeat style, until they'd reached the other side. At that point, that end rooted and the bridge grew walls and a canopy. Fauna's animals started down the plank immediately.
While the alt Muscle extended the bridge, the others presented Fauna with her next project: one nubby legged goblin. After some negotiation the two of them agreed to the proposed procedure.
Once the alt Muscle finished it's task, the group gave a jaunty salute and went back to the library. Maiphere congratulated them, seeming somewhat surprised that none of them had screwed something up this time, and then reminded them that the last piece (aside from the organs) was with the dragon they'd so narrowly escaped last time.
The dragon they'd promised to bring Maiphere to once he was complete. But, on the plus, the disembodied Dragonkin did opened a portal back to said dragon's lair. He did warn them that it would only stay open for a few minutes.
Loki immediately bowed out, saying he wasn't going back down there. He hadn't made the deal with the Dragon. And he was damned if he was going to be incinerated with the rest of them when they found out she reneged. Instead he went back to his reading. The rest of the group jumped through the portal.
It didn't take them long to get the dragon's attention. It immediately reminded them of their deal, at which point they told her that they were two items away, one of which being somewhere in here. She then pointed to a lavafall. Looking closely they were able to make out the edge of a cave behind it. She then swam over to the lavafall and used her body to channel the lava away.
The group glanced nervously back at their ever diminishing portal and hustled along the beach to the cave. As they entered the dragon suggested they loot everything, but inside all they found was a lamp and an overly large casket.
Shrugging to himself, Thor began sliding the lid off. He'd only cleared about a foot when two hands with eyes in their palms popped out of the opening. The palms rotated around, scanning them. Then a voice spoke from within, inquiring as to who was there. Of course, by this point, nothing really surprised any of them about this, so they answered.
A moment later the lid slid completely off, revealing a large humanoid Chimera. It had three heads, six arms, and only two legs. The central head was an Orc. Another had skin grown over the eyes and mouth. The last head had died at some point because it was a skeleton.
The group explained what they were after and the thing informed them that it was down in the casket. Peeking into it, they saw not a stone slab meant for dead rest, but a stairway leading downwards.
Everyone but Thor descended into the cave system below. Thor, instead, held his holy sword at the ready, watching the creature's every move. For it's part, it watched him back, as if waiting for an opening.
Down below, Hazel quickly located the ribcage they were looking for, again with the help of Maiphere-vision. After that they booked it back up top and out of the cave. Thor took up the rear, walking backwards so as to keep an eye on the creature.
Once they were out, the dragon moved, allowing the lavafall to block the cave once more. They ran for the ever diminishing portal, with Thor last through. He had to dolphin dive in order to make it.
About then Loki entered the library through the main door, laden with one big jar of fireflies. When asked he explained that he'd gone to see Jhalu'ski to trade one of the daggers he'd gotten from her for a Handy Haversack. Basically, he was tired of having to dig through his backpack for the correct wand, rod, or scroll. Now they were all in the haversack, ready to be used at a moment's notice.
That all made sense. What didn't make sense to any of them was the jar of fireflies. Apparently Jhalu'ski hadn't wanted the dagger. All she'd asked was for them to take the fireflies to Fauna.
So the group trudged back to Fauna's glade. It was much emptier than before, but Fauna was still there, deep in her work on Incu. So engrossed that she didn't seem to have any time for the very people that had brought her such an interesting project. But they eventually got her to come and examine the jar.
At first she seemed rather off put when they explained the origin of the jar. But she opened it just enough to catch one glowing bug and examine it. After a few moments she stated that these were just normal fireflies, as if confused. She then opened the jar, releasing them. Looking on the inside of the lid she found a note claiming that these completely unmodified fireflies were a peace offering. Apparently Jhalu'ski wanted to bury the hatchet with Flora and Fauna. Only time will tell where she wants to bury it.