Chaotic Crew:Campaign/Chapter 10
--THE NEXT MORNING--
*cue "peaceful morning" music*
Wolfgang shuffles the contents of his pack. "Man, I feel like I've been awake all freakin' week long."
Eleihoff yawns and crawls out of his tent, stretching up to his menacing 3' 8" height. "Ah, morning! Oh, there you are!" Eleihoff says as a Raven caws at him, then flies over and lands close to him, walking the rest of the distance.
Credance is sitting by the fire making chicken omelets.
Wolfgang: "Where'd the bird come from, Eleihoff?" Wolfgang starts to rise, then does a double take. "Credance? How long have you been sitting there?"
Eleihoff: "Where'd he come from? This is Edgar, remember?" Eleihoff picks up the little bird, letting him balance on his arm.
Credance: "What? Um.... not too long...
Credance: "Would anyone, um, like an uh-omelet?
Reginar crawls back out of the tent, yawning and holding his Bag. "Good morning, lads and lassie!" He holds out the bag, slightly open. "Grandpa says good morning as well."
Wolfgang: He pauses for a long moment, staring at Credance, then sliding his eyes to the raven. "...Memo to me, find an optometrist in the next town." Wolfgang tosses his pack into the tent, then sits down next to the fire. "I'd love an omelet, Credance."
Reginar: "Oh, and watch out for the letters. They might be a bit poky on the feet."
Reginar indicates the little black plastic letters piled in the camp.
Credance: "O-ok, there's um, plenty.
Credance hands over a plate to Wolfgang.
Eleihoff: "How..." Eleihoff picks up one of the little letters.
Reginar: "I have this interesting magic pen..."
Eleihoff: "Ooh! Oooh! Can I see?"
Wolfgang takes the plate and pulls out a fork. "Thank you, Credance." He sits back and pokes at the omelet for a few moments, contemplating.
Reginar: "Sure!" Reginar fishes out the pen and some paper. As he turns to demonstrate the pen to Eleihoff, he pauses for a minute. "Ah... didn't ya used ta have an owl, lad?"
Eleihoff: "Owl? No. Just Edgar."
Credance: "Do you not like ch-chicken?
Reginar: "No owl."
Credance looks at Wolfgang with big eyes.
Wolfgang looks up. "What? No, I love chicken. Just have a lot on my mind right now." He smiles, then takes a big bite to prove the point.
Credance smiles and seems to cheer up a bit.
Reginar: "OK. Well, uh, I can live with that, I guess."
Reginar goes through the motions of writing on the paper to demonstrate the magic pen powers to Eleihoff as they once again glow and pop off, adding to the growing pile of cute little letters.
Reginar then tries drawing a very bad stick figure doll on the paper to demonstrate its other properties.
Eleihoff: "Oooooooo! Can I give it a try?"
Reginar: You draw an adorable little stick figure holding a crudely-drawn sword and shield. It immediately leaps off the page and lands on the nearby ground...it a high-pitched, tinny voice, it shouts "An adventurer is I!" and proceeds to charge off into the underbrush, waving its sword threateningly.
Eleihoff: "Wow! Can I try now?" Eleihoff practically jumps up and down in anticipation.
Reginar: "Sure, lad!" Reginar hands over the pen and paper.
Eleihoff scribbles experimentally on a corner of the paper.
Credance: "Would either of you, um, l-like an omelet?
Reginar: "I'd love an omelet. I'm famished." Reginar pats his stomach for emphasis.
Credance layers up another omelet and offers it to Reg.
Eleihoff: You scribble some random lines up in the corner of the paper. They shimmer, then fall to the ground, resembling pieces of shiny black twine.
Reginar takes the omelet. "Thanks, lassie!" He digs in eagerly.
Eleihoff looks at the result of his scribbling. "Eeeee!" He then proceeds to slowly and carefully draw a picture of a dragon...
Wolfgang finishes the omelet, washes his plate, then says to Credance, "That was excellent, Credance. Thank you." He smiles, then heads off to recover his signs from various trees.
Eleihoff: After a few moments, you succeed in drawing up a (rather crude) stick-figure dragon. It shimmers, then starts to climb across the paper like a lizard, clambering onto your finger and perching there. It looks up at you.
Eleihoff: "Hello, my little dragon."
Eleihoff: The dragon responds by opening its mouth...a huge spout of flame spews forth along the length of your arm, catching your sleeve on fire.
Eleihoff: "No! Bad little dragon!" Edgar the raven quickly flies away as Eleihoff vigorously pats out the flames.
Reginar notices the flames mid-bite, and drops his fork. "Lad, are ya OK?!"
The dragon flaps its tiny wings and flies off into the air, disappearing from sight beyond the treetops.
Wolfgang returns a few minutes later clutching a few papers. "You drew a dragon, didn't you."
Eleihoff: "It wasn't as loyal as I hoped it would be."
Wolfgang: "Idealism doesn't conquer all." Wolfgang grins, then starts breaking down his tent and packing things onto his horse.
Eleihoff frowns as his head slumps. "But I wanted an army of little dragons..."
Reginar finishes his omelet, after dropping some of it in the Bag as an offering. "Here, try some, Grandpa. It's pretty good, actually."
Credance: "Perhaps you, um, shouldn't h-have drawn a, um, black dragon?
Reginar: The omelet vanishes into the bag. After a moment, you could swear you hear a satisfied belch.
Wolfgang: "Oh. That's what that smell is." He tucks the tent into the pack.
Eleihoff: "It would be hard to draw a gold dragon without a gold pen, then..."
Reginar gives a satisfied smile, then sets about to gathering up his own belongings for departure.
Eleihoff raises his head again as his face lights up, and then draws an omelet on the paper.
Credance: "Can, um, could I try?
Wolfgang finishes packing and grabs the key locater. Returning to the fire, he sits crosslegged on the ground and leans forward, checking the arrow. Most likely east, east, east, but still...
Eleihoff: The omelet shimmers, and slides off the paper onto your hand like a real egg off of a frying pan. It's black, and oily-looking. And cold.
Eleihoff brings the omelet closer to his nose and samples its scent.
Wolfgang: The arrow points...west! ...nah, just kidding, it's still pointing east, although now just a leeeetle bit north as well.
Eleihoff: It doesn't smell like anything, actually...no odor whatsoever.
Eleihoff: "This is a very strange omelet..."
Wolfgang: "It probably tastes like paper."
Reginar emerges from his tent with his stuff all prepared, and studies the new omelet carefully. "Well, if ya made it with the pen, it's probably all plasticy."
Eleihoff holds the omelet to Wolfgang. "Do you want to try it, then?"
Wolfgang: "No, thank you, Eleihoff. I enjoyed a fine omelet already that was cooked quite nicely, and don't need to top that off with an origami one."
Eleihoff takes the strange black omelet and drops it in a bush. "Who else wants to try out the magic pen?"
Reginar: "I'll experiment, for ya, lad. I'm sort of curious about this meself."
Credance: "M-may I?
Reginar picks up the dropped omelet and licks it experimentally.
Wolfgang: "Let Credance have a turn with the pen."
Eleihoff hands the pen and paper to Credance. "Here you go."
Credance: "Oh! Thank you.
Wolfgang: "...I wonder if you can change the color by just picturing a different color in your head..."
Credance pulls a sheet of pink stationary out of her pocket and proceeds to draw an adorable fluffy kitten.
Reginar: It tastes...like an omelet that was cooked and then left on the counter most of the day. Cold and unappetizing, but otherwise tastes like the real thing.
Reginar: "Huh. Tastes mostly like a normal omelet, actually."
Reginar: You notice that, on the spot where you licked it, the omelet seems to have...melted, slightly. An inky black goo dribbles onto your hands.
Wolfgang: "I'll pass, I think. Probably time to get on the road."
Reginar: "Hmm." Reginar rubs his fingers together where the ink is on it, and then smells it.
Eleihoff quickly folds up his tent and somehow stuffs it back into his pack.
Credance: The kitten shimmers, standing up on the paper...it's no more than a couple of inches high. It looks up at you and mewls cutely.
Reginar: It's...ink. Ink, with dwarf spit in it.
Credance pets it gently.
Reginar: "I don't think you'd want ta eat it, actually. But, it is interesting."
Eleihoff: "Is that...a kitten?"
Reginar drops the omelet back into the bush, and wipes his hands on his pants.
Credance smiles at the kitty and tickles it under it's chin.
Reginar: You smear ink all over your good pants. ...no, wait, these are your "I don't give a damn" pants. Never mind.
Credance: The kitten purrs, rubbing its face against your finger. All together now: AWWWW.
Credance carefully tucks the kitten in one of her pockets so that it can look out and begins packing up her gear.
Credance: The kitten curls up and settles in for a nap.
Wolfgang: Swinging up into the saddle, Wolfgang takes a spin around the camp, doing one last check before they head out.
Eleihoff: "...hmm. Is there such a thing as a demon...kitten?"
Wolfgang: "Is there such a thing as a singed arm from an ink blot drawing?"
Reginar: "I thought all cats were demons." Reginar winks.
Eleihoff then produces his demon puppy from wherever it was hiding, and hugs it again. "Let's go find Edgar before we start traveling again..."
Wolfgang attempts to whistle for the bird.
Wolfgang: You inhale deeply, purse your lips...and yell "HEEEY, EEEDGAAAR!" at the top of your lungs.
After a few moments, Edgar comes flying in from the nearby trees, settling on Eleihoff's shoulder.
Wolfgang: "Problem solved. Let's ride."
Eleihoff: "Excellent work!"
Wolfgang turns in the direction the arrow is pointing.
Reginar: "Indeed!" Reginar mounts his own pony.
Eleihoff climbs up onto his pony, handling the reins in one hand and cuddling his Plushy Demon Puppy in the other.
As the Party mounts up, sounds suddenly begin to emanate from the nearby brush. A leafy shuffling, accompanied by the snapping of twigs, as something moves through the brush.
Soon, the source of the noise appears - a huge grizzly bear lumbers out of the foliage nearby, stomping in front of the Party.
Reginar: "Ah!" Reginar's hand grabs for his crossbow.
Eleihoff: "Ooo! A bear!"
The bear stands up on its hind legs...it's then that you realize it's wearing oversized blue jeans and a ranger hat. "And just WHERE do you think YOU'RE going?"
Eleihoff: "Oh, it's just a talking bear..."
Wolfgang: "...Um... only you can prevent forest fires?" Wolfgang drops out of the saddle and immediately douses the fire.
Credance makes sure that she picks up all the letters.
The bear nods. "That's better. I have enough problems without you people trying to burn down the forest." He steps out of the way, motioning for you to pass. "Alright, move along."
Wolfgang climbs back into the saddle, sighing deeply. "I so want this switchboard fixed." He rides off.
Credance hops back on Tanak and starts to head off.
Reginar rides past the bear slightly agape, then realizes he's still holding the crossbow and hastily puts it away.
Eleihoff just rides past the bear, looking a bit disappointed.
Wolfgang: "That does it." Shaking his head, Wolfgang pushes his horse into a bone-jarring trot. "We need to get to the next city."
The bear waves at you as you ride off. "And remember, only YOU can prevent wildfires!" He then vanishes back into the shadows of public services from whence he came.
Credance nudges Tanak into gentle trot.
Wolfgang: "Oh, Credance..." Wolfgang moves his horse over next to Credance's. He lowers his voice, and asks, "Did you need anything? I know you mentioned that you didn't have any money to buy things from the last merchant, but if you need something specific..."
Credance: "Oh th-thank you.
Credance: "But I um, rarely want for anything....
Credance: "People tend to be, er, generous to the, uh, church.
Wolfgang: "All right, just wanted to make sure a specific need wasn't being ignored." He tilts his head at her, then taps the horse into a slightly faster pace to get on to the city faster.
After riding for a few hours, the Party passes a signpost tacked to a nearby tree:
"FIELDSBORO, 1 MILE"
The Party crests a hill...in the valley below, the city of Fieldsboro stretches out before you. A fairly new city, Fieldsboro is bigger and somewhat more modern than the other towns in the area. Rows and rows of squarish wood-and-iron buildings form an urban maze that sprawls off into the distance.
Wolfgang: "Ah... civilization. I hope." He squints at the city in the valley, a slightly concerned expression on his face.
A heavy stone wall encircles the city; a huge wooden gate at the end of the path you're on appears to be the only immediately visible means of entry. Twin guard towers flank the gate, with sniper windows near the top (whether or not there are any snipers IN the windows remains to be seen from this distance).
Eleihoff: "This looks like a nice place to stop."
Credance: "It's a shame what, er, happened with the stone giants. I really miss stone walls.....
Smoke billows from a multitude of chimneys across the city; a thin smoggish cloud hovers semi-permanently overhead.
Wolfgang: "Blech. Oh, well. Wolfgang heads toward the city at a slightly faster pace.
Reginar coughs a little in the smog and follows Wolfgang to the city.
Credance: "D-doesn't look that uh, friendly....
Eleihoff: "Well, it IS a city..."
Wolfgang: "It's about as friendly-looking as any other place we've been. But, don't worry. That's sure to change."
You approach the huge wooden gates. They're certainly...huge. And...wooden.
A small sign on the gate reads simply "KNOCK".
Eleihoff: "Now, that seems friendly."
Wolfgang: Pulling to a halt, Wolfgang does precisely what the sign says. He knocks.
Wolfgang: ...in the shave-and-a-haircut beat.
Silence. Then...something that sounds like excited chittering from the other side.
After a few moments, the noise stops...a tiny panel slides open in the door. A round eye with what appears to be a monocle over it peers through at you.
Wolfgang looks back at the monocle.
Wolfgang: The eye stares intently at you. For quite a while. Without blinking.
Wolfgang: Eye's watering, he finally says, "May we come in, please?"
It stares at you, and speaks from the other side of the gate...the voice is tinny, like a wind-up toy. "WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE?"
Wolfgang: "One purpose is I need to see an optometrist."
Credance: "Are-are you're eyes bothering you? I can-um-help you.
*click!* "AH. YOUR OPTICAL ORGANS ARE DAMAGED. YOU SEEK REPAIRS?"
Wolfgang: "...Um... possibly. I wanted to have them checked."
Credance: "But... the Switchboard?
Wolfgang: He glances back at the others. "...did any of YOU expect this?"
Wolfgang: He addresses the monocle. "We also are here to acquire a device, if we can find it. May we enter, please?"
Eleihoff: "Well, I didn't expect a monocle."
Reginar shrugs and shakes his head.
Wolfgang: "And, Credance, I'll talk to you about it later."
*click!* "PERMISSION GRANTED. PLEASE WIPE YOUR FEET." The panel slams shut...sloooooowly, the huge gates begin to creak and shudder.
Wolfgang: When the gates open, Wolfgang attempts to enter. Slowly.
Eleihoff trots right in, adjusting his glasses.
The gates, shake, shiver, creak, and finally...a small human-sized door, previously invisible, springs open directly in front of you.
Wolfgang: ...Wolfgang gets OFF his horse, and attempts to enter.
Wolfgang: (While bringing the horse behind him, if possible.
Eleihoff: "We can't bring in our horses?" Eleihoff stops as he realizes that his pony will not fit.
The doorway is rather narrow...the horses are too wide to fit. Maybe if their previous owners had put them on a diet...
Reginar dismounts his own pony. "Guess not, lad."
Eleihoff climbs down from his mount. "Awwwwww..."
Wolfgang looks around for a hitching post. "Um, the gentleman with the monocle. May our horses have entrance as well?"
The voice speaks up again from the other side of the gate. *click!* "EQUINE TRAFFIC IS DISALLOWED."
*click!* "THAT INFORMATION IS UNAVAILABLE. YOU MAY UTILIZE THE EQUINE RESTRAINT MECHANISM TO THE RIGHT OF THE GATE."
The "mechanism" turns out to be a series of metal rings bolted to the stone wall, presumably for tying horses.
Credance ties her horse's halter to the ring with plenty of room for her to graze.
Reginar also ties his own pony to the rings.
Eleihoff hesitates, but then ties his pony to one of the devices.
Wolfgang thus ties his horse to the ring, patting it gently on the neck and promising to return quickly.
Wolfgang: He then heads to enter the city.
Credance grabs her pack and heads after.
The Party files through the narrow door, barely wide enough for the stout Reginar to fit through. On the other side, the source of the odd voice is now evident: A being that looks like nothing so much as a metallic cube with arms, legs, small feathery wings, and a large, flat face on one side.
It stares at you. "GREETINGS INITIATED. WELCOME TO MODRON COLONY #72A."
Wolfgang: "Ah... thank you." Wolfgang glances at the key-finding device, and then asks, "Where is the nearest optician?"
Reginar: "Hey! They look just like the little figure I got from the merchant!" Reginar pulls out the figure and points it out to the Party.
Wolfgang: It pauses, as if checking something. "THAT INFORMATION IS UNAVAILABLE. PLEASE DIRECT QUERIES TO PENTADRONE SUPERVISOR #24." It points to what looks like a tourist information booth beside a nearby intersection.
Wolfgang: The detector is pointing off somewhere towards the northeastern corner of the city.
Wolfgang: "Thank you, Mister... Modron... sir." He turns and heads to the booth to make further inquiries, but notes over his shoulder to the group, "Looks like the Northeast corner of town."
Reginar: Credence: It is an action figure of what looks like a computer monitor with a face, arms and legs.
The quaddrone guard closes the small door and bars it, then stands behind it, staring at the gate only inches in front of its face.
Wolfgang: As you approach the booth, you realize that a rather large metallic creature is crouched inside it. It resembles an oversized starfish being held up by a quintet of thin, spindly legs; each of the five "arms" of the starfish has a single eye and mouth on it. Given the creature's large size and the relatively small size of the booth, you idly wonder how it got in there to begin with.
The tendril-face closest to you turns to face you. "INQUIRY?"
Wolfgang: "Location of an optometrist?"
Eleihoff: "How did you get into this booth when the entrance is too small for you?"
Reginar follows Wolfgang over to the booth, glancing around with open curiosity.
Wolfgang: The entire starfish-shaped section of the pentadrone rotates, until a different tendril-face is looking at you. "YOU MAY FIND AN OPTICAL ORGAN REPAIR TECHNICIAN AT THE FOLLOWING COORDINATES." The tip of the tendril reaches under the counter, and produces a paper map, which it hands to you.
Wolfgang takes the paper map. "Thank you." He then turns to puzzle out the map.
It then turns to face Eleihoff with a third face. "THAT INFORMATION IS UNAVAILABLE."
Wolfgang: "They probably built the shack around the device. Creature."
"THAT INFORMATION IS UNAVAILABLE."
"THAT INFORMATION IS UNAVAILABLE."
Reginar: "What is in the Northeast corner of this city?"
Eleihoff: "Will the information ever be available?"
Wolfgang: "The portal key."
Reginar: "That's not quite what I was going for, laddie."
Wolfgang: From the looks of it, the layout of the city streets is a logistical nightmare. Fortunately, the map has an easy-to-follow dotted line that leads to a building a few blocks away, marked with a red X.
Wolfgang: "Oh, sorry. Thought you were asking me."
Wolfgang idly starts meandering toward the optical organ repair technician's shop. "...Meet me at the eye doc's."
The pentadrone responds to Reginar. "NORTHEAST QUADRANT CONTAINS INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION FACILITIES AND REFUSE DISPOSAL SITE."
Credance wanders after Wolfgang while looking in fascination at the city and strange creatures around her.
Eleihoff wanders out on his own, looking at the sights.
Reginar: "Thank you for the information." Reginar follows Wolfgang and says, "Sounds like the key got stuck in a rather unpleasant area. Hopefully it's not in the refuse."
Wolfgang: "I'm not taking any odds." He grins at Reginar, then attempts to follow the map.
Reginar chuckles a bit and continues following Wolfgang.
Eleihoff: You wander off from the others, turning into a back alley and following it onto a large street. From there, you duck through several side roads, twisting and turning through the ever-present buildings...before long, they all start to look the same.
After stumbling around lost for a short while, you emerge from one particular alley to find yourself standing in front of an optometrist's office - just as Wolfgang and the others round a nearby corner.
Eleihoff: "Ah, hello!"
Wolfgang: "Took you long enough, Eleihoff." He enters the office.
Reginar follows Wolfgang into the office.
Credance follows warily.
The "office" may have been such once, but it looks like the modrons have redecorated - all the furniture and other remnants of the former human occupants have been stripped away, leaving naught but a single, large, empty room. A pentadrone, physically identical to the one in the booth, stands in the middle of the floor, staring at the Party with its five faces.
Wolfgang: "Uh... I'm in need of a quick eye exam."
Wolfgang does so.
Reginar watches the proceedings with interest.
The pentadrone slowly lumbers forward, positioning its lowermost face inches from Wolfgang's own. Its single large eye stares directly into his left eye, then his right.
After a moment, it steps back, and a different tendril-face rotates into position. This one repeats the process, looking into both of Wolfgang's eyes before swapping to yet another face. The process repeats until all five faces have examined him.
Wolfgang: "What'd you find out... uh... doc?"
Finally it responds. "OCULAR ORGANS ARE FUNCTIONING AT ACCEPTABLE LEVELS OF HUMAN PROFICIENCY. REPAIR PROCEDURE NOT RECOMMENDED."
Wolfgang: "...darn. Okay, thank you. Let's go, everyone." Wolfgang pulls out the locater and examines the arrow for a moment, then turns to leave.
"DIAGNOSIS COMPLETE. RETURN TO DUTY STATION IMMEDIATELY."
Eleihoff: "No room for goofing off, eh?"
Reginar chuckles a little and moves to leave himself.
"THAT INFORMATION IS UNAVAILABLE."
Wolfgang: "Oh, sure. Just... I was a little worried, y'know?"
Eleihoff: "Not much information is available, it seems."
Wolfgang steps outside, waiting for the others to finish.
Reginar follows Wolfgang outside. "Well, we might as well see what we have to dig through ta get to the key."
Wolfgang: "Yeah, agreed. But, hey, if there's something fun along the way, we can take a look-see, right?"
Reginar: "Of course!"
Eleihoff finally steps outside.
Wolfgang: "Ready, Eleihoff?"
Wolfgang: "We just need Credance, and we can go see what we can see about this key."
Credance: "I'm here.
Wolfgang whips his head around. "GAH! That's what makes me think I need glasses! I swear."
Wolfgang: He shakes his head, and heads off, following the compass.
Wolfgang: You break out the compass and thump it around a bit until it turns on again. The arrow points up a nearby alley...you lead the Party into it, threading through the streets and back alleys of the city as you slowly make your way towards your final destination.
Credance: "Final by , um, who's standards?
Wolfgang: "Did you say something, Credance?"
Eleihoff: "Wait, what?"
Reginar: "Huh, lassie?"
Credance: "Well, um, it's n-not our final-final d-destination...
Credance: Be quiet, you'll blow my cover!
Eleihoff: "What's not our final destination?"
Credance looks at her feet and quietly follows Wolfgang.
Wolfgang shakes his head. "It's all right, Credance. I think we're all getting a few... weirdities on this trip." He puts a hand on her shoulder gently, then continues on to the destination.
The Party weaves its way through a veritable maze of alleyways, dodging the occasional brightly-colored ghost. Soon, the passage opens up...you emerge into a large open plaza near the eastern edge of the city.
On the far eastern side of the plaza, a massive landfill is visible...giant rolling hills of trash stretch as far as the eye can see. On the north side of the plaza, an absolutely massive factory complex rises high overhead, huge smokestacks belching smog into the sky.
Eleihoff: "Oh...what a nice city...this...is..."
Random modrons - mostly tridrones and quaddrones - mill around the plaza, tending to various errands.
Wolfgang glances at the compass. "Not the landfill... not the landfill..."