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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 43: Things that go Bump in the Night

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

This one goes crunch in the night
Who doesn't fight giant skeletal constructs in their underwear?

Welcome back. When last we left off, the Cupcakes had managed to free their Redsmith from certain . . . well, immense pain at the very least. But, not before their nominal enemies had cloned a hundred more. Then they'd destroyed the massive forge said skeletons had been using. Sadly, they failed to do anything about the hundred or so skeletons that escaped. And, let's face it, considering the industriousness of one Redsmith, just how long can they actually think they set them back?

Something that Frank was quick to point out. In fact, he seemed incredibly aggravated about it. (I mean, he's called 'The Punisher', not 'The Catch and Releaser'). Consequently, Frank's grumbling about it greatly aggravated the rest of The Cupcakes.

So, once inside the camp, the group split. Frank and Steve went to report in. Hazel dropped the Redsmith off with the Dwarves and then racked out. Thor . . . drew Hazel duty.

Frank reported in to Noblesword the deeds of the day. He was quite shocked when she shrugged off the fact the enemy now had a hundred more versions of the one thing they had been tasked with taking from them. They were then dismissed. Frank left the tent starting to wonder if this trend towards the insane lack of understanding of basic consequence went further than his new found compatriots.

Frank and Steve went to the mess tent, ate, then Frank spelled Thor from Hazel watch while Steve and Thor slept. Several hours later, Steve awoke and spelled Frank. All was quiet.

Like that ever lasts.

On this particular day, chaos reared it's ugly head earlier than usual: about two in the morning, to be imprecise. The team was awoken by a scream. Frank was out of the ten, gun in hand, running for the sound before he even fully awoke.

The other three took the time to arm themselves before leaving. (Speaking of understanding consequences)

Frank came around a corner in the camp to see a skeleton tackle a human and pull the tackled's skeleton out of his body in one smooth, quick motion; like it was gutting a fish. Then both skeletons began attacking others. Frank quickly got their attention in the way he does best: he shot them.

They quickly forgot about their quarry and turned on him. One knocked him down, attempting to do the same trick to him. He resisted, mainly by putting the barrel of his gun to its head and pulling the trigger. Whether due to it having already taken damage, or its essence existing in the vacant skull, the skeleton died. He then killed the other one, using three shots each, and worked his way back to the tent for his reloads.

As he went he began shouting orders to the denizens of the camp. On his bellow, the Dwarves, Gnomes, Gnolls, and Humans began forming cohesive groupings and fighting back.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Cupcakes had uncovered a far bigger threat than deboning skeletons. Coming out of the tent those few seconds later had given them a view of a ghost pulling the spirits out of living people. They dealt with it in short order, only to realize that the bodies of the fallen were splitting into bone and non-bone constituents. The bones were heading westward while the flesh was heading east.

On their own.

The threesome followed the bones, smashing them as they went. Yet, no matter how much they smashed them apart, the components would simply regroup and continue on. They followed the powdery exodus out of the camp to where it was forming a bone pile. Seeing something forming in it, they decided that what they needed was fire. Well, it's worked before . . .

So they yelled out for someone with fire abilities. The call was picked up through the camp, though altered as the people further down the chain yelled for someone named Archimedes. A moment later a huge gout of flame erupted into the night's sky from inside the camp.

Thor flew over to the source to find a Gnome wearing what appeared to be a backpack constituting 2 tanks, connected to a long stemmed pipe by hoses. To say Thor was as intrigued by the design and possibilities as he was dubious about trial runs of equipment in the heat of battle would be an understatement.

But, he was also aware that beggars cannot be choosers. So he grabbed the Gnome under the arm pits and flew him (at arms length) back to the pile of bones. Of course, by that point it was less a pile than it was a bone construct of immense proportions. It was so large that its pupils were human skulls floating in its eye sockets. Archimedes took one look at it and opened up, cackling maniacally as he did so.

The fluid levels in his tanks dropped at an alarming rate as a gout of flame licked upon the skeleton. For it's part, the still forming skeleton seemed not to notice as the bone caught on fire. But it did start to attack the party, who fell into their standard formation sans one ranged fighter. In other words, they had given their enemy fire attacks.

Archimedes' flamethrower ran out of fuel and he bowed out of the fight. The rest of the group agreed that a good flame wizard would have been preferable, though perhaps none more effective.

As they whittled the life force down on the construct it bolted back the way its constituent parts had come. Back towards the flesh pile that was forming in the center of the city. (This from Hazel as she flew high up)

Steve and Thor nipped at its heels, trying to stop it, but having dubious results. From her vantage, Hazel spotted Frank in a group of allies and flew over to tell him to stop the giant skeleton. (An order that needs no repetition)

Frank took aim, and loosed a called shot as the skeleton came into view. A shot that splintered its shin and sent it crashing to the ground. Thor and Steve were on it immediately. Steve hammered its spine into powder, causing the entire body to go limp.

Sadly, that wasn't the end of it, as the individual pieces once again took on a life of their own, and began heading for the flesh pile that was now only a hundred meters or so away from them.

At that point the group decided to split up. {Player's Note: I know, I know, never split the party. But these are The Delicious Cupcakes. Rules barely qualify as guidelines to them.}

Steve stayed back to continue pummeling the skeleton while the others went to head off the flesh mound.

As it turned out, the battle with said flesh mound was much easier than they'd feared. Three critical hits from Frank, and two from Thor made short work of the thing. Hazel was bored.

But, while they were dealing with that, Steve had made something of a discovery: this in the form of a glow coming from the cracks he was making in the back of the skeleton's skull. He moved around to the eye sockets to see a purple glowing skull floating in the center of the giant skull, no doubt subbing for it's brain.

Since he couldn't fit through the eye sockets, he went back to the rear of the skull and continued the demolition. Once he'd created a big enough hull he crawled in and hit the purple skull. It immediately began to glow brighter and brighter. Accompanying this increased light level was a wave of increasing heat.

Steve bailed out of the hole, followed quite closely by a gout of flame as the skull in the skull exploded. Finally, the bone pieces remained still.

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