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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 15: Moreau's Anatomy

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Oh don't worry; I'm just preparing your medicine . . .
Admit it, if this guy were your only option for health care, you'd opt for the do it yourself method as well.

Annnnd we're back. Last session ended on a bit of an enigma: a buried hatchet in the shape of a jar of lightning bugs. Seemed odd, but that's par for the course, isn't it? Fauna didn't seem to know what to make of it either.

The Cupcakes then mentioned that they needed to get to the sub-basement, because blurting things out is just what they do. She pointed to a doorway at the back of her glade, and stepped back into her operating room.

The door in question led to the classic forbidding stone hallway one would expect from a dungeon crawl. A ways down they found a door that had been bricked off. Loki immediately knocked on it (the only step before speaking 'friend') and was rewarded with the sound of a door opening coming from other side of the added walling.

Thor then took over, dismantling the wall. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your philosophical point of view) the bricks were not mortared together. They simply fit together like the stones of the pyramids. Unfortunately (no matter your disposition) as Thor cleared the wall a horrible stench began to permeate the air.

Thor had just finished his demolition when Fauna zipped up, demanding to know what they were doing. They explained, BECAUSE THEY BLURT OUT EVERYTHING!, and she asked if they were going to brick the door back up when they were done. To which all were in hearty agreement. She then zipped away again.

The door led to a large room that would probably give Joseph Mengele a creepy feeling. The ceiling was covered in open tubes, some with not so nice looking implements hanging out of them. The room had shelves all around the periphery, filled with all manner of tissues. And, strapped down on the confinement table in the center was what appeared to be a mannequin.

I'll say that again. The mannequin was strapped down. Which suggested that it might just leave if left to its own devices.

{Player's Note: And there I was thinking the story of Pinocchio was creepy enough already.}

Finding nothing of value they moved to the next room. Here they found far more jars of various parts of various species. Loki found a book detailing the rendering of said various species in it. One subject, a dragonkin, had notes about how his soul had been completely uncooperative. It had also detailed how the 'subject' had remained alive and insulting, even after the removal of his brain. It then indicated that said subject's circulatory system and organs were in bottles marked '7'. It also stated that the soul had been sent to the elf the Gnolls worked for, and the flesh had been sent to the fleshwarper.

A completely commonplace and noble profession, that last. For this place anyways.

The Cupcakes quickly located all jars marked 7. Loki was able to fit the circulatory system in his BOH, but it was too full to fit all the organs. So, a barrel was found and emptied, and all of the organs were stored within. Thor was given the job of toting said barrel. Not that he'd ever pass up the chance to show off his mightiness.

As the Cupcakes reentered the first room, they couldn't help but notice that the mannequin on the table had moved. Whereas the head had been looking straight up at the ceiling, now it was facing the door they'd just entered from. And a tear was working its way down it's cheek.

A few skill checks later suggested that this action had been an automatic reaction, and that this thing had no soul. But the Cupcakes didn't care; it was creeping them out. So, Thor smashed its head in and they hurried on.

Thor then set a speed record for rebuilding a wall, no doubt aided by Loki as the foreman. They made sure to brick that entrance up good and tight, even contemplating making it official with some mortar. But, they didn't have any concrete mix. So they headed back the way they'd come.

Fauna caught them at the entrance to her glade, immediately ensuring they'd bricked the door back up. They assured her they had. The Cupcakes then inquired on Incu's procedure. Fauna assured them that everything had gone on fine, though she did mention he would take a little time learning to walk; apparently he'd declined the tail that normally goes with such locomotive means. Either way, it was obvious that she was much better at these things than the Hag that had replaced Steve's eye. You know, the one that remarked about how they usually die?

Fauna kindly gave them instructions leading to the Fleshwarper's workshop. But, instead of following those instructions, they opted to check on Maiphere's progress with the scroll of water breathing he was working on for them. Besides, they were tired of watching Thor juggle a barrel of organs like he was in the circus . . .

Sadly, Maiphere was not finished with the scroll. But, he did offer to open another portal as close to their destination as he could. They all agreed. Before they stepped through, he warned them that he only needed a piece of his flesh. Which was good news to them. They had no desire to see Thor juggling Maiphere's fleshy bits all the way back.

Once through the portal they found themselves in a large, ornate, two story, vestibule. Behind them were stairs leading upwards. There were hallways to the right and left. And, directly in front of them, were two massive doors leading to a courtyard they all recognized with a shudder. It was where Loki had been chased by discarded limbs, and where Steve had been trampled by a ghostly carriage.

They decided not to go that way. Tis a silly place.

But that still left plenty of other options. While they were standing there, trying to figure out just where in Fauna's directions they were (see this is what happens when you take short cuts) Hazel was able to notice (with all the enhancements afforded her by the near complete Dragonkin she was wearing) that there was a very terrified presence on the other side of the wall.

Loki had no trouble locating a secret door, and the lever to open it, thanks to his wand of Detect Secret Doors. (Every time I use it, the DM curses his dice; it was random loot) As it opened it revealed the Tonberry they'd encountered just after the horrible scene in the courtyard. It immediately took off running down a four foot tall corridor. Loki tried to keep up (one wonders what he thought he was going to do when he caught up to something that could phase out at will) but to no avail.

Instead he followed the path until it made a complete loop, ending back at his entrance. The group swore the quarry hadn't come back. That's when they remembered that the shifty little bastard could walk right through walls.

{Player's Note: Okay, okay, the DM had to remind us of that fact. Happy now?}

Shrugging, they gave up the chase and returned to their initial quandary. Which was when Hazel noted a rectangular outline on the stairs. Quick examination found two buttons on either side of the stair which, when pushed in unison, lowered that section of stair, creating another, smaller, staircase leading downwards.

The group quickly took that path. It led to a dimly lit hallway with a single door on either side of it. The one on the left was stacked with crates. Thor pried the lid off of one, finding vials and beakers filled with an unknown substance. The lids had shipping information for various cities. Some hadn't existed in a long time. Others they'd never heard of. In a rare bout of reason, they decided to leave said unknown substance alone and continue looking.

The opposing room appeared empty, but actually contained invisible vats the size and shape of the one that Nebula had been found in. The group quickly decided they'd leave well enough alone here too. Now, I know what you're thinking; what has happened to them? Two chances to play with fate and they refuse? Are they ill? Hit on the head? Scared sensed? All good questions my friends, all good questions.

But, instead they worked their way down the hall until finding yet another T intersection. In the wall directly in front of them was a bust of a dwarf with one half of his head shaven. Again, the group chose to go to the right. There they found a room with a large open elevator in the center.

The first room it stopped at was a large hall, filled with various clockwork servants all building a series of massive robots. {Player's Note: The DM refused to call them Yaegers, but they were totally Yaegers.}

And yes, the Gnome in Loki immediately called dibs. The group noted an open staircase leading to some sort of office on the left hand side of the hall. Following it up they found design documents, books related to their building, and resource materials. Loki immediately shoved all of them into his bag. The bag that couldn't hold a barrel of organs. But, he made it fit.

The schematics were all rolled up together and pushed into his Handy Haversack. While he continued to drool, the rest of the group quickly came to the conclusion that this was not a fleshwarper's workshop. It required physical persuasion to get the Gnome to come along, but eventually they did.

There was only one stop below the assembly area, a recycling center. The door opened into a pit of broken parts and damaged clockwork servants. The less damaged ones were dragging all manner of broken items, including the more broken servants, into a pool of lava at the other end of the room. After a quick look they headed back up to the top room.

They headed back into the hallway, passing the half shaved Dwarf. This side of the hall led to a staircase that wound down for some time before opening into a large room filled with bins and tables, all covered in cloth. A quick look revealed the bins to be filled with the flesh of various creatures.

They were just starting to wonder how they were going to identify one particular Dragonkin's fleshy bits from all the others when Hazel held her arm (still clad in Dragonkin bone) out over the nearest vat. When there was no response she moved to the next.

Eventually she got a nibble. As the flesh began to wiggle out from under its cloth she grabbed it and sliced off a piece. Not that that stopped a person's worth of flesh from slowly working itself off of the table and towards her.

She screamed as the drawbacks of her personal sorting technique became apparent, and bolted for the door. The flesh followed, at a somewhat more sedate pace.

Once they were outside they slammed the door. Then Loki pointed out that this made things easier; they could bring all the flesh to Maiphere by simply Pied Pipering it to his library. Most of the group was undecided about such a plan, particularly when it came from the little guy. Hazel was very much against it. But she came around when he pointed out that they might be entitled to some sort of bonus if they brought everything back.

So Hazel got a head start and they opened the door. A pile of flesh oozed out of the room after her. Loki then stepped on a wide strip, as if riding a skateboard, and they were off.

The consequences of that plan became somewhat apparent too, because as the flesh gave chase it began to get faster. It also began to take the shape of a dragonkin, as if sorting itself out. When Loki noticed that latter he immediately stepped off his grotesque ride. When Hazel noticed the former she accelerated to the speed 'as fast as she could go'.

But as the chase continued, the flesh got faster and faster until it was starting to overtake her. Indeed it would have if not for one minor drawback: a lack of eyes. At every turn it would splat into the wall before reforming itself and continuing.

Despite these setbacks it was still right on her heels when she burst into the library. Thor and Steve slammed the door in it's lack of face. Maiphere (ever the librarian) immediately approached demanding to know what all the noise was about.

When they told him he sighed visibly (a neat trick for a spirit) and reminded them of his parting words. He then sighed again and instructed the muscle to open the door. As soon as it was open, the flesh charged into the room. Maiphere cast hold person upon it before it could make good its goal of merging with the bones Hazel had so carelessly adorned herself with.

About then Loki moseyed in, took one look at the frozen flesh, and began talking about extra credit, or some such nonsense. Maiphere ignored him.

He instead went about assembling all of his bits. The circulatory system and skin went into/onto the flesh. The skeletal system was removed from Hazel and applied. Then the organs were added. Yes it probably wasn't the best order, but its not like this guy has done this often; clearly he got ahead of himself.

Before he added all the fleshy bits back on he warned everyone that this was going to be painful, and probably quite loud. He offered each a silence spell, but only Steve took him up on the offer. Loki didn't because he was curious if there were any spells involved in this last bit.

{Player's Note: Not sure why the others didn't. Perhaps they've all got a touch of sadism in them?"

And the scream, when he unfroze the flesh, was just as advertised. Still, they all weathered it just fine, but none better than Loki, who was apparently transfixed by the whole operation. Hazel did what she could for Maiphere once the operation was over. Loki even got into the caring act by pulling some of his stores out for the recently reassembled Dragonkin, but Maiphere wasn't able to stay conscious for much longer.

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