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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 44: The Plan

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Okay, somewhat that plan.
No, not that plan . . .

And we're back. Previously on 'wandering blindly in the dark' the group had liberated the enemy tower of a red skeletal blacksmith (or Redsmith if you will). In response, the tower sent undead to their camp in order to . . . well, make more undead really. This attack was stopped but at great cost.

After the Cupcakes had finished off the constructs that had been attempting to form from the constituent components of the dead they went to find whoever was left in charge. After a bit of searching they found Noblesword directing a group of the survivors. At first it looked like a repair effort, but as they reported they learned the truth: They were abandoning the Gnoll camp.

All the survivors (Gnolls included) were heading back to the last fort they'd cleared to regroup and come up with a plan. It took the better part of the morning and into the late day for the weary army to collect what it could and trudge away from the city that had been their goal.

The emotional toll was at least as great: every step away seemed a greater failure than the last. But, finally, they made it to the site of their previous victory. Only to discover yet more bad news.

The first sign of a problem was the lack of patrols outside the city. As they drew closer they could see that the battlements were unmanned. Then their scouts reported back that the fort had been completely deserted, as if everyone had dropped whatever they were doing and left. The Cupcake's hearts, which had finally started to rise on seeing the city, plummeted again.

And, as foreboding as an empty fort they'd assumed was safe was, they were also very tired. So the guard was set, the fort sealed, and everyone else sent to bed. The Cupcakes, being largely instrumental in beating off the attack the previous night were on the sleep rotation.

{Player's Note: Not that you had to tell us; we'd just leveled}

Once that routine bodily maintenance was complete they went in search of their next orders. In an unusual turn of events, they actually had some: find Grave T. Robber, last seen in the graveyard of the other realm.

The problem being, that the only entrances they knew of were now in enemy hands. Hazel suggested trying to communicate to Grimm again, to see if he knew of any other ways in. Despite the fact that the ethereal entity gave them the creeps, the others agreed. So, Hazel sat down and started to meditate.

But, instead of contacting Grimm, she got ahold of Maiphere, which caused her to squeal in delight, and begin jabbering about wearing him again. Which, of course, made all onlookers a tad bit wary.

Maiphere informed her that nearly every cemetery has a pathway to The Cemetery, and asked where she was. When she told him, he pointed out that there was a crypt underneath the fortress they were currently dwelling within. Hazel's mind flashed back to her first conversation with Grimm, where he'd casually mentioned a crypt below where they'd met.

On their way out, Noblesword suggested they take Snaggletooth (another Gnoll) with them. So they headed to where the Gnolls were camping, explained the situation, and continued on, heavy one Gnoll. And Frank's horse, of course. (He finally had points in animal handling and flying, and he was damned if he wasn't going to use them.)

Hazel quickly led them down to where she'd met Grimm. From there they found a stairway down to a dungeon. Using the lens of true sight they'd acquired in yet another graveyard, they found a door.

Once opened it revealed a vast expanse of nothingness on the other side. The three that were part of the original party had a flashback to the carpet that led to elder gods and immediately moved to close the door. But Frank checked with the lens again, revealing a winding stair headed further down.

Once he'd crossed in, the others followed, though hesitantly at first. The stair led into a small cavern with two opened graves. Again the lens was used to find that a portal existed below one of them. They peeked down the pit to see an opened casket with an undead that immediately complained (in a crotchety old man's voice, no less) about the noise they were making.

They offered to relocate him somewhere quieter; a proposition he quickly agreed too. So Thor and Steve dug a new hole and moved the casket. Thus revealing a trap door beneath said casket's old resting place. Opening it revealed another staircase, this one too narrow for Frank's horse, forcing him to leave it behind.

This stair opened into The Cemetery, right smack dab in the Elf quarter. Elves being Elves, they were immediately escorted out. Once outside of the pointy eared blowhards' area, they asked if they could speak to the Grave Keeper.

A moment later, the apparition appeared. Frank was warned heavily against using the lens of true sight on him as they asked after Grave T. Robber. The Grave Keeper informed them that Mr. Robber was in fact a guest of the lich, and off they went.

They'd no more than banged the door knocker before the door opened, revealing the same butler they'd encountered last time. They asked after their Gnoll quarry and were given the exact same directions as last time, in the same monotone voice: Follow the carpet, do not detour.

This time the carpet led to a massive library. Bookcases and massive tapestries covered the walls completely, and opened books covered the various tables. GTR stood behind behind one such table, appearing to be consulting three or four volumes at once.

Snaggletooth stepped forward to explain that he had to return. An overture that GTR immediately rebuffed. Apparently there was far too much to study to worry such mundane matters as the future of the material realm.

Then Snaggletooth said "Son, if Grandma has to come get you, you know you won't like it". At which point GTR's shoulders slumped in defeat. He led them to a map hanging on the room's walls and jabbed it with a clawed finger. A portal immediately opened revealing a field just outside the fort they'd come from.

GTR tried to wave them through first, no doubt an attempt to get rid of them, but they weren't having any of it. That last hope of remaining dashed, he stepped through the portal. The cupcakes followed. Once back on the material plane they split up. Hazel and Frank went to retrieve his horse while Steve and Thor returned GTR and his Father, Snaggletooth.

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