The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 12: The Gates of Dawn, Part 4—The Way Home
Rhomande's Insufferable Basterds
Rhomande Sorfinde, Bard in Extraordinaire – Rudraigh Quattrin
Dark Brother Smyd Kaltrops, President of Bear Industries – Cian Quattrin
Issa Featherfoot, Pengonquin Princess – Ceridwen Quattrin
Imenand Shenouda, President of The Shenouda Necromancy Corporation – Blake Parker
Thrimlach Lenanien, Secretive Elven Mage – Cian Quattrin
Vragul, Baron of Keepfield etc. (see “King of-” list) - Rudraigh Quattrin
Thorn the Trixie Pixie of Unknown Gender – Blake Parker
Maldreth the Impius, Ogroid High Priest of Makar – Gabe Abinante
Stiev Pierabbat, Chameleon Rogue – Natalie Abinante
The DM – Rud
Torrea Marsvel - Cian
Sir Gnome — Rud
Yfirma∂r, Queen of Vragul – Natalie
Tuxedo Beak – Blake
Draeclin Denarion – Gabe
Il-Dana – Blake
Imperial Wizard – Natalie
His Holiness Emperor Natshif XXVII – Cian
Scene 0: Show Opening & Theme Music
Vragul: **From “offstage”** QUIET!! TIME FOR START SHOW! VRAGUL DEFEAT AUDIENCE!!
SFX: (2d20 rolls)
DM: Your Move Silently and Hide checks are successful.
SFX: (pause)(51136_rutgermuller_Cough (short))
Rhomande: Good evening Lords and Ladies. You have chosen your evening's entertainment quite wisely. You are about to experience the most wondrous spectacle in all of Western Scottalia. I am your Host-Proprietor, Rhomande Sorfinde, and I welcome you...to The 20-Sided Theatre!
The Wiz: **From “offstage”** Dancing lights! SFX: (121558_sbarncar_whistleandreport.aif x 5 (bunched in time with opening of Theme Music)
Theme Music: (VCMG – Victory Flower Fields – 20-Sided Theatre Edit)
Music Bed: (Sylvius Leopold Weiss – Courante in F Major.mp3)
Scene 1: Recap
Rhomande: When last we left my Insufferable Basterds, they had just traversed the astral plane, to a non-place called the Citadel of the Rising Suns. There, we found that we were still engaged with the game-and-trial structure of the Arena of Ahk’rapp. I’m pretty sure we bested all of their contests, but I’d still rather not die to see if I wake up in a cell, so that theory hasn’t been tested. In any case, we met some Elemental Emissaries and received a brief history of the Grand and Holy Empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns. Apparently, the ancestors of the humans and elves who first united to form the Empire had struck a bargain with the Elementals. If the Elementals would agree to aid the pre-Imperials in their struggle against Mëassë, the Mother of Weapons, then the Empire would in turn hunt down the rogue Wind-come-Chaos elementals that would someday be known as the Hungering End. After our history lesson had ended, the Emissary of the Plane of Air opened a doorway, through which spilled the warm, rosy light of dawn.
Rhomande: Lords and ladies of my beloved audience, please do now adjust your listening devices to capture the stereophonic scryocastic selection of sounds that is this evening’s feature episode: The Gates of Dawn, Part 4 — The Way Home.
Scene 2 – The Dawncaster
Rhomande: I cannot tell you what novel landscape awaited us. Would that I could describe a vaporizing corona in all its fiery majesty, or a great hall of burnished bronze, or gates inlaid with pearl! But, in all honesty, all before me was white. I could not shut out the light, regardless of my intestinal fortitude or the girth of my arm.
Rhomande: Shortly, the infinite light receded, or perhaps we all regained our physical forms at the precise moment that a man carrying a clutch of golden javelins approached. The stranger aimed a dart far off into the distance and cast it beyond sight. Moments later, a distant rosy glow flared up, as a tiny sun broke its dawn.
Stiev: Um… I know I sssay thisss a lot, but who issss thissss guy? I mean, who jusssst sssstandssss around all day throwing ssssunssss over the horizzzzon?
Thrimlach: Yeah, the chameleon is right. This is not an acceptable way for a possibly-divine being to spend all of its time. Stranger, I demand that you immediately identify yourself and tell us what the fuck you think you’re doing.
Il-dana: It would please my ears were you to call me Il-dana. Many dawns are yet to come, e’en this day. Tell me, fair travelers, which dawn would you behold?
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Maldreth: The Il-Dana, you say? According to the Old Tales, Il-dana, the Son of the Sun, stands on the Plane of Morning and hurls each and every dawn over every conceivable world. Though he is a godling worthy of serving this honorable function, he does not embody the suns themselves. Instead, all the rising stars, as beheld from every conceivable vantage point, are housed in the javelins that he hurls into the skies.
Il-dana: You state my function well, traveler. I am the Son of the Sun, and I provide the first impulse for all dawns to break the horizon. Now, you have conquered all of your trials, setbacks, and contests. Which dawn would you behold this day?
Stiev: Ooh! Can we go sssee what happened to Brexxxt? That would be a great way for me to catchhhh up on the party’ssss hissssstory.
Thorn: I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, Stiev. From what I’ve heard, nothing very good happened when they visited Brext. Something about a former ally going bad and a city that slew all good-hearted people. I’d rather go back to the day I snuck that itching powder into King Oberon’s leather athletic supporter, as he was getting ready to visit Queen Mab in their marriage chamber.
Imenand: Neither of those days suits my purposes. O Great Caster of the Dawn Spears, we left Scottalia on the eve of Lugh’s Feast, in the seventh year of the reign of Her Majesty Morag Cassini XVII of Scottalia and Helsnak. I had experiments that should have reached maturity four days after we left. I would prefer to return to my workshop outside of Oak Vale, on three days after Lugh’s Feast, of the previously mentioned year.
Issa: Yeah, that sounds pretty good. We’ve been wandering around the potato plane and the arena and the tower thingie for what, like, a year and a half now? Look! Vriggle’s even learning to walk, now!
Yfirma∂r: And hims teething now. Me think it just teething. Might be tusking, now. Either way, it time for wean little prince and give him raw leather for chew through gums.
Vragul: Yeah. You lady-chest-things pretty chewed up. But you Queen of Breastfeed, and you strength make son strong, too. Me only hope him also get you smarts, sweet-tusk.
Issa: I’m so glad I’m not a mammal. I do not want a tiny beak near these things, whatever they do. I’ll have to ask my mom what they’re for when we get back home.
Tuxedo Beak: My dad always said they were for storing water and calories, like a camel. But he was a poor, uneducated kelp farmer whose wife was kidnapped by seals, so I’m not really sure he was right about that.
Smyd: I’m with Imenand. If we can get back to Oak Vale before mid-August, then I can oversee the final harvest of the year. Let’s go back to three days after we left.
Il-dana: Your dawn in selected. The sun rises on this and every morn.
DM: Il-dana selects a javelin of polished gold and aims it at some unseeable point. A streak of emptiness splits your vision in two as the Suncaster is pierced by rays of chaotic energies, before being overtaken and subsumed by a pack of the Hungering End. The javelin drops to the ground and begins rolling away from the sun god.
((Sfx: hungering end howling, d20 roll x8, chaos rays, biting/clawing sounds?, clattering sound of a dropped weapon))
DM: Above you, a portal has opened, and thousands of fallen imperial troops pour out. Make Spot checks.
((Sfx: d20 roll x10))
Thrimlach: Hey, I recognize him! That’s the wingless elf that kept claiming to be the illegitimate son of the emperor!
Maldreth: No, I’m pretty sure that’s some other half-celestial-half-dragon-half-elf. Denarion had massive scars across his back, from the surgical removal of his feather-decked dragon wings. Ah, how I wish I had met him before any of you did! Then I could have been the one to remove said appendages.
Thorn: I think you’re a little off, Maldreth. That’s certainly Draeclin, but whatever has happened to his skin!? It’s all grey and sickly, but only around his torso and forearms.
DM: At the head of the Imperial Force marches Draeclin Denarion, once heir to the Empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns. A chitinous exoskeleton has been grafted onto his skin, its segmented plates sliding hypnotically as he moves. He now sports a pair of crystalline, feathered wings that catch and refract the light of a thousand dawns.
Scene 2: Supervillaining
Rhomande: He met our gaze with one baleful eye. This jogged my memory in some half-whispered way. I blinked, then took in my surroundings.
DM: Does that mean you’re giving me a Spot Check?
Rhomande: I suppose it does.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Rhomande: The troops accompanying the Young Dragon wore the same uniforms as those who had harassed us in the tower. All of the soldiers sported empty eye sockets, and a hazy cloud of matter fog drifted away from each soldier.
Draeclin: You!? I never expected that I would meet you at this moment. Tell me… do you remember Brext?
Stiev: I can honesssstly ssssay “No” to that quesssstion. What about you, Thorn?
Thorn: Well, I’ve heard quite a few stories about that particular adventure, but no, I cannot honestly say that I can recall any of it firsthand.
Draeclin: (angry) Adventure? ADVENTURE! Your companions – all insufferable basterds – left me to be kidnapped by the Order of the Black End! They tortured me for months and used my blood to summon and bind the Entrophytes, but I held faith that my “friends” would save me. They showed me your arrival in Brext, to break my spirit, and yet I held strong. But my faith shattered when Maldreth, here, erected a magical aura that slays all good-hearted people, allowing the city to fall to corruption, decadence, and violence for over six hundred years!
Thrimlach: Booooooor-riiiiiiiiiing. Look, Draekie, we’ve all had tough times in the oubliettes, and you don’t see us complaining about it. Twelve Hells! I even passed through the Necrotic Cradle to create a better, less human version of myself. Yeah, it was painful, but I have no complaints, other than creating that asshole Threllis.
Draeclin: Ah, yes! The Necrotic Cradle. The Order of the Black Hand dragged me to that filth-ridden hole to remake me as their servent. I nearly lost all will and agency, until I saw you round the corner into the cave. You simply watched, lifting not so much as the smallest finger as the cultists broke me down to my component threads and rewove me to be the leash around the throats of their chaotic pets. But in the end, you saved me. Or, rather, my hatred for you saved me. The sight of my “friends” doing nothing to end my torture kindled the last embers of will into a firestorm of rage. That, alone, spared me from the Black End’s plans. I sacrificed myself to remake myself, that I might use the power of the Entrophytes to destroy my betrayers and those who would aid and praise them!
Smyd: See, Stiev? This is why we never told you about Brext. Because it would mean having to tell you about this self-centered jerk. “Boo, hoo, hoo. I’m Draeclin and I don’t like when people look after themselves, because I can’t take care of myself for shit.” Whiny prince.
Stiev: Yeah, I kinda sssssee what you mean. But you could have warned me that we might meet thissss guy sssssometime in our travelssss!
Issa: Meh. Not really worth the effort. I’d just as soon fully forget this guy ever existed.
Rhomande: I’ll second that sentiment! At least, we used to get a little bit of humor out of watching him set up the camp for us. Have you ever seen a palace-pampered amateur adventurer try to set up a tent? It’s all poles and “Ooh, help me! I can’t get this enormous piece of canvas off from over my head!
Draeclin: (cold fury) Humor? Well, fate often provides many opportunities for humor. Here I stand, having amassed an army to scourge the Empire of your sins, and you insufferable bastards show up just as I’m about to strike the final blow! Would it were I had the time to kill you here, too. Perhaps I should have the Il-dana send you home? Or perhaps you should settle that affair between yourselves.
DM: Il-dana bursts forth from the pile of demons, hurling them in every direction. He selects a javelin and casts it toward Draeclin. The missile hums as it streaks toward its target, but it suddenly stops. The javelin turns sideways, presenting itself to your faux-angelic foe. Draeclin grasps the javelin, and a sickly, black tarnish spreads over its golden surface.
Draeclin: Thank you, Il-dana. Now you may begin your negotiations.
DM: Anybody care to make a spot check?
((Sfx: d20 roll x10))
Issa: Ahh, crap. Guys! Our ride home doesn’t have any eyes any more!
DM: Draeclin stabs the air before him, opening half the sky to reveal the crystalline city of Brext. Off in the distance, the smoke of battle rises from the Plain of the Godkillers, where your younger selves concurrently fight to return home. As soon as the portal can fit a humanoid body through it, the howling horde of possessed and corrupted soldiers begins spilling out onto the battlefield that you barely escaped the first time.
Scene 3: Sun Slayers
Il-dana: The Knowledge burns my soul! The knowledge must be wiped clean, and all memory shattered forever!
Rhomande: The Il-dana, who had been an ally just moments before, selected four javelins from his quiver. The first spear dropped to the sun caster’s feet, as he transferred two more into his left hand. His arm pistoned through the air, hurling the javelins from his right hand. Before the first javelin had found its winged, green, Vragully target, Il-dana had transferred another of the spears from his left. From there, he cast two more spears, one from each hand, striking Torrea and Maldreth. The godling clutched the final spear between his toes, then rolled into a hand stand to kick and hurl the final spear at Stiev.
Stiev: Ohshit! Thank the Great Lizard for my species’ natural contortionist abilities! How are the rest of you guys?
DM: You’d better give me some Will Saves. The Il-dana is now one of the intelligence-eating demons of the Hungering End.
((Sfx: d20 roll x3))
Torrea: Spirit of the Swift Wind and I stand fast!
Maldreth: The will of the Warfather bolsters my own. As long as you ninnyhammers don’t screw up my relationship with Makar, I ought to be safe from the likes of these demons.
Stiev: What about you, Vragul?
Vragul: Vragul… is… be…. ams…. were… um… what you say? Me forget already.
Stiev: Well, that isn’t great. I think it’s time to blend in with my surroundings and get a better vantage point!
DM: Stiev drops to the floor and swiftly matches her color to the blindingly white landscape that takes up half of your vision.
Thrimlach: What takes up the other half? Lorramar displeased me back in the cave with the Elementals, so his eyes have been confiscated for a week.
Rhomande: Ceatharan, don’t you have another familiar? What happened to that moldy potatoling that you used to have on your shoulder?
Thrimlach: This place was too bright when I walked in, so I stuffed the potatoling into Sir Gnome’s skull. Right now, it’s searching my hoard of booty for a pair of hammered gold sun lenses.
Rhomande: Well, in that case, ceatharan, the bottom half of what we can see now is the same blindingly white background that this place started with. The top half is somewhat vertiginous and disorientating. I turn my head to look up, and perspective tells me that I should be falling downward onto the Plane of the Godkillers. I suppose if we did that, then we could go back in time and help ourselves escape to the Water Temple again. Maybe this time we can kill that Faceless Pirate before he becomes a long-running annoyance!
DM: Meanwhile, the majority of fallen imperial soldiers continue flooding through the gate. A small minority begins firing rays of destruction in all conceivable directions, instead of just the weird up-down firing that paths through the Brextian Gate. Most of the rays fire harmlessly into the distance, but three enemies take careful aim at Maldreth, Thorn, and Rhomande.
((Sfx: d20 roll x3, hella rays of destruction))
Maldreth: As I stated before, the Warfather protects me. What about the other two cretins?
Rhomande: (in pain) I’m… <cough> … good.
Thorn: (in pain) Not… disintegrated…. yet.
Thrimlach: If Rhomande’s right about that army flying through the sky, there’s waaaaay too much movement going on here. We’d better put a halt to some of that and organize ourselves for a moment. And what better way to stop an army, than with a Heightened, Empowered, Chaining HOLD PERSON?
((Sfx: mass hold person))
Thrimlach: Now, Torrea! While the way is clear! You and Spirit of the Swift Wind should go club that ass hat Draeclin in the back of the head with Logic! Take Sir Gnome with you, in case you need to use him as a humanoid shield!
Torrea: At once, Lord Thrimlach! Come, Spirit of the Swift Wind! We charge into battle with our master’s longest-standing foe!
((Sfx: neigh, horse gallop/charge))
Torrea: Just a little closer! And we can STRIKE!
((Sfx: d20 roll, hit to a crystal shield))
DM: At the last possible second, Draeclin spins on his heel, lifting his left wing to defend his head from Torrea’s charging assault. In the same movement, he continues the spin and lifts his right wing, to knock Torrea from her saddle.
((Sfx: d20 roll, thud from falling off a horse))
Torrea: Oof! How uncouth! Are you unharmed, Spirit of the Swift Wind?
Thorn: He’s fine, Torrea. Spirit of the Swift Wind is crossing the field and providing suitable cover so this dragoon doesn’t see me when I cast ENERGY DRAIN!
((Sfx: neigh, energy drain))
DM: Thorn clings to the cinch on Torrea’s saddle as Spirit of the Swift Wind continues his headlong gallop past Draeclin and toward the crushing mass of foes trying to squeeze through their angelic general’s gateway. When the gap narrows enough, Thorn stretches out one arm, slapping a demon soldier across the faceplate. In that half-second of arcane sneak attack, the pixie’s hand flares with a sickly, off-white light that quickly envelops the enemy. The enchantment blossoms on the demon’s cheek, quickly spreading to every corner of its body. Within moments, the Entrophyte has achieved its ultimate goal, and its atoms cease all movement. A pile of dust falls to the ground, to be quickly trodden over by thousands of armored boots.
((Sfx: neigh, falling dust, stomping/marching feet))
Rhomande: I do believe that Stiev and Thorn have displayed the most prudent course of action. I shall follow their lead, and hide myself safely behind Imenand, who is surely about to erect his cube of force! And while safely ensconced, I lift lute and voice in a song of courage, that my allies might best this unwinnable situation!
DM: Rhomande. You know the part about hiding, where you’re not supposed to announce every action you take. And you're doubly not supposed to start singing about it.
Rhomande: Oh, right. Then I shall also Quicken a Crescendo of Collaborative Carnage!
((Sfx: begin Crescendo))
Vragul: Vragul feel inspired by talky elf! Him stand up there and sing like he no know he going to die any second! Vragul no get showed up by talky elf! Vragul choose die in SHOWER OF VOILENCE!
DM: Vragul wraps his thick, green arms around Yfirma∂r and their toddler son, before launching into the … well, perspective is weird in this place, so we’ll call “toward Draeclin’s Portal” “the sky” and “away from Draeclin’s Portal” “the ground”.
Vragul: But down from Vragul ams only white, and when Vragul look up, me only see ground! It wrong ground, since it Brext, but that definitely ground. So Vragul already in sky, talky-voice.
Yfirma∂r: Vragul, why you always get side-track? Us ams go teach Vwiggie for fight enemy first time ever, and you stop in middle of charge for talk to big voice about where ams sky?
Vragul: You right, sweet tusk. Me ams need be more responsiborc now. Come, family! Us show sun-throwy-god how hard it be for escape KING OF RAGE!
((Sfx: d20 roll x5))
DM: Vragul drops his wife five ILDMs from Il-dana, and she hits the ground running. Yfirma∂r leaps at the dawn caster, catching him at unawares. Her left knee slams into the sun god’s nose, but the godly cartilage does not break. Before gravity begins to tug at her, she aims her right fist at his face, but Il-dana manages to grab the wrist, over the back of his head, and slam the orc queen to the ground before him. Still prone, she kicks harmlessly at his chest. When Il-dana voids to let the kick pass by, the terrifying Queen of Moms uses the momentum to leap back to her feet, smashing an elbow into his left cheek. While all of this is happening, Vragul flies past the dawn caster and somersaults in the air, landing in a crouch behind his enemy. Vragul’s legs coil as soon as his toes feel the ground, and once they are loaded, he leaps forward, bringing Bloodless, his Merciful Great Axe, to strike behind Il-dana’s right ear, as Yfirma∂r’s elbow meets his left cheek.
((Sfx: orc wings, punch x2, fall slam, flat axe hit))
Maldreth: By the Sword, Shield, and Spurs of Makar, the Father of Battle, may this landscape be made UNHALLOWED! Now, Brother Kaltrops, I believe you know what must come next, in the name of War.
DM: Maldreth, you may want to give me a spot check before we see what the bear does.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Maldreth: Weeeeeell now. I can see our past selves running up that street over there. And they’re right above the Il-dana.
DM: That’s not even remotely what I wanted you to see.
Maldreth: Don’t care. You may not have a body, but you have a voice, so you exist. That means that someday you’ll die, and I will live on eternally, to laugh at your misfortune of not having made yourself a lich. In any case, it looks like past-we are coming to that T-junction that we couldn’t decide to go left on. So, I shall make our choice a little easier by chaining a Quickened FIRESTORM from Il-dana to the rightward path.
Rhomande: Well, that explains everything I ever wanted to know about Brext.
Stiev: Rhomande, what are you even talking about? I’ve asssked you thoussssandsssss of timessss to tell me about Brexssst, and now I’m even more confussssed than when I sssstarted asssssking.
Rhomande: I had always wondered why that building suddenly burst into a column of flame that forced us to go left, which happened to be southeast and toward the Water Temple.
Draeclin: It’s called The Temple of Ulm, you idiot! Not “the Water Temple”.
Tuxedo Beak: That’s what I’ve been trying to tell them.
Maldreth: Whatever it’s called, it’s ruined and crappy, and full of what must be a foul-smelling fish god – I wouldn’t know, since I don’t have a nose – and our younger selves are on our way there so we can get into this mess and all the nonsense in between.
Imenand: When you put it like that, then maybe you made the wrong choice. Perhaps you should have sent us to the right, instead.
Maldreth: Shut up, Imenand. If I had done that, then we’d have to start a long debate about the fundamental nature of the time stream and the heretofore unproven divergence of multiple, parallel realities. I’m not happy with this reality, but I’m not letting it get replaced by a worse version with less effective copies of you all. Now, Brother Kaltrops, I believe you have the Unhallowed floor.
((Sfx: bear roar))
Smyd: rrrrrRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIII I’M NOT LETTING ANY FUCKING SET OF ASS LICKING IMPERIAL DEMONLINGS STAND BETWEEN ME AND MY FAVORITE BACK-SCRATCHING TREE ANY MORE! Hy’gkrrrrah! ((and power ranger sounds))
((Sfx: d20 roll x6))
DM: The half-bear monk bounds into the closest group of Hungering End soldiers, crushing one as he lands atop it. When the two demons beside the crushed, eyeless landing-pad turn to react, Smyd grabs each of them by the throat and smashes their heads together in an explosion of brains and blood. He then casts the foe in his left paw directly at another soldier, distracting her for the briefest moment, until the limp body in his right paw came crashing down upon her, twice in rapid succession. Smyd lets go of the headless demon’s collarbone to wrap his right arm around a fifth enemy, whose rodent-like head is quickly removed from its neck by the bear’s crushing fangs.
Issa: Well, the sun thrower guy seems distracted by the family of orcs, now. Tuxie, you help the bear out, while I slide over to the sun guy for the old Peck-PECK!
((Sfx: d20 roll x3, beak hit x2))
Tuxedo Beak: Roger, fishball head. I’ll help out with a song to join Rhomande’s Crescendo and three RAZORFISH! Wak-waaak! Wak WAAAAAK! (and other penguin singing)
((Sfx: d20 roll x3, razorfish x2))
DM: Il-dana is now surrounded on three sides by Issa, Yfirma∂r, and Vragul, but he gives no sign of exhaustion or mercy. If he had eyes, he’d surely be seeing red, right now.
Imenand: But his eyes are gone, along with his intellect, and soon the rest of him shall be gone, as well. Go, my Cadaver Collector! I choose you… to bring pulpy, sanguine destruction upon this metaphorical being! Meanwhile, I shall erect my Cube of Force and seek to thin Draeclin’s herd of Hungering Denizens! The nearest shall easily fall to a HORRID WILTING that accelerates its precious entropy. And the one that thinks it’s sneaking up on Rhomande shall be consumed from the top down by its own head!
((Sfx: cube of force, horrid wilting))
Issa: That’s disgusting. And how does that work?
Imenand: Well, penguin, it starts with a Quickened EYEBITE! This will convert the demon’s lash follicles into tiny teeth, which usually crunch eyeballs into vitreous and aqueous goo. But behold! This demon seeks the destruction of self, above all, so it begins to turn inside out, passing all of its bones, muscles, and sinews through its empty sockets. As the horrible foodstuffs come through the hole, the lash-teeth simply mulch it into oblivion!
Issa: Dis-gusting. But super effective, I guess.
Rhomande: Meanwhile, the Cadaver Collector closed the distance and took up a position that cut off two escape routes for our enemy. The collector puffed upward, seeming to draw breath, as silly as it sounds for a stone-and-dirt construct to breathe. That particular mystery was dispelled quite quickly, though, as a stream of gravesoil and headstones erupted from the Collector’s chest, slamming into and flowing over Il-dana the Son of the Sun. The collector stepped forward, regathering the umbilicus between itself and the dawncaster. When the two beings finally stood nose-to-chest, the collector kept drawing inward, until the godling found himself trapped within the construct’s tomblike chest.
((Sfx: cadaver stomping, d20 roll, slam))
Maldreth: Excellent work, Imenand! This young god should make a very pleasing sacrifice to the Twin Gods of Carnage.
Imenand: Of course it was excellent work, Maldreth! I am the Lord High Weaponer for the multiplanar empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns. All of my creations are cutting-edge and top-of-the-line! In addition, they are available for purchase at vaguely reasonable prices, if you simply Scry in to any of the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation’s many customer service representatives. Shenouda Necromancy: We bring out the best in your dead.
Stiev: Um… Was that jusssst a commerccccial for your busssssinesssss?
Rhomande: Indeed it was, Stiev. Part of the bargain I struck with Ceatharadinn Dromande involved a minimum level of advertisements and sponsors, per episode. Shenouda Necro has, in fact, been one of the Insufferable Basterds’ finest sponsors since… well, since we met Imenant, I suppose.
DM: Okay. You guys are forgetting three extremely important things. The first thing’s relatively easy. Give me some Spot Checks.
((Sfx: d20 roll x10))
Tuxedo Beak: Lady Featherfoot, look! Il-dana dropped that spear, when the Hungering End arrived. I think that might be the one that takes us back to Scottalia.
DM: The javelin Il-dana selected for you does, indeed, lie on the ground behind him, still reflecting the infinite light in its golden head. The spearhead slowly dulls and tarnishes, as it sits near the Entrophytes. The second thing you’ve forgotten is that you’re surrounded by about seven and a half thousand smaller demons, who still want to unmake everything, both literal and metaphorical.
Maldreth: Big deal. We’ve gotten the hang of killing this particular enemy, I think, so no number of eyeless goons should be much of an impediment. And if it turns out that you cretinous parishioners cannot easily murder a few thousand demonically-enhanced humanoids, then Father Makar will finally set me free from the penance of being your pastor!
DM: Okay. Then, you probably still want to know about the third thing. That one involves the Cadaver Collector.
Imenand: What could possibly be interesting or dangerous about my beloved Cadaver Collector? Especially now that the earthen construct in question has devoured a sun god, whilst inhabiting a non-plane of metaphor and refracted truths?
((Sfx: earth/stone explosion))
DM: That’s the interesting and dangerous thing, right there. That being is responsible for the rising of every sun over every conceivable planet. Did you really think that anything you crafted would be able to absorb that much energy without being ripped in half from the inside? Yfirma∂r, Vragul, and Issa are each hurled ten feet back, as the cadaver collector explodes.
((Sfx: exploding cadaver collector))
Stiev: (gulp!) Dear godsssss on the rocksssss! Did you ssssee that? The sssssun throwing guy jusssst punched hisssss fingersssss through the cadaver collector’sssss chesssst and tore hissss way out from the insssssside!
Il-dana: RRRRAAAAAAGH! THE KNOWLEDGE BURNS! AS SHALL YOU, CHAMELEON!
DM: Il-dana strides forward with the patient fury of a schlocky murderer in one of Rhomande’s terrible horror musicals. As his left foot brushes a scattered javelin, the gold of the tip tarnishes. He wraps his toes around the shaft of the weapon and kicks upward behind him, tossing the spear forward and over his shoulder. The dawn caster catches the spear in his swift hands and aims three rapid thrusts at Stiev.
((Sfx: d20 roll x3, parry x3))
Stiev: Whoa! Whoa! Back up! Full defenssssive action! Parry! Parry! Come on, knivessss, don’t fail me now!
DM: Meanwhile, Draeclin’s rabble of demonically enhanced soldiers continues flooding through the gateway, to utterly destroy the crystal city of Brext. Well, most of them continue flooding. At least three of them have stopped to turn their attentions toward your party and its audacity to exist. All of the foes spray rays of chaotic energy in whatever direction they happen to be facing. Imenand, Rhomande, and Stiev are in particular danger.
((Sfx: chaos rays, d20 roll x3, cube of force hit))
Imenand: Hah! Nothing passes through my cube of force!
Issa: What about the bard and the lizard? Are you guys okay?
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Stiev: (wounded) No! I’ve… jusssst been hit with a ray of dissssintegrattttion, and thissss eyelesssss god-demon-thing isssss ssssstill thrussssssting at me!
((Sfx: parries [stiev]; lute [rho]))
Rhomande: Aaaaah! Hide! Hide! Behind the box! If I’m here, then none can can sock / my head right in the ears!
Thrimlach: Look, guys, I’m not so sure we’re really up to this task. I mean, that’s a sun god right there, and it’s just had some sort of traumatic experience that’s made it even more dangerous than if we had attacked him ten minutes ago. I think our only way out of here is that Scottalia Spear. And to ensure we have an easier time getting to it, I shall erect a heightened, extended, maximized PRISMATIC WALL! Aaaaand… there! Now the bulk of that army can’t get to us without going the looooooong way around. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, Sun Guy! I have a Quickened WALKING PRISMATIC EYE to take care of you!
((Sfx: prismatic wall, walking eye, acid ray))
DM: Thrimlach dances his hands through the air, channeling the arcane energies woven throughout all realities, and a mile-long, half-mile high wall of swirling colors reaches forth, creating a third zone in your visual fields. Two and a half seconds later, his prismatic eye appears in the air between Il-dana and the Scottalian sun spear, cycling its iris through all nine of the colors that elves can see. As the eye’s four, spiderlike legs touch the blindingly white ground, its iris ceases its cycling and a ray of orange energy bathes the dawn caster in torrents of acid.
Thrimlach: Now, Torrea! If you grab the keyspear and get us home, then I promise to make Spirit of the Swift Wind permanently able to fly!
Torrea: At once, Lord Thrmlach! The Fate of Mandos seems to have preserved the timeline of Brext. Let us pray that the lord of hidden paths does not end our journeys here!
DM: Spirit of the Swift Wind makes a wide loop around the battlefield, returning to his lady knight. He doesn’t even slow as he passes the paladin, but this proves no difficulty for the plate-armored warrior, who catches her steed’s reins and slides a foot into a stirrup more swiftly than it takes Rhomande to break into song. She hangs low from the flank of her steed, with one hand outstretched to catch the javelin when they pass it.
((Sfx: neigh, gallop))
Rhomande: Hey! What gives? I thought I was being good, this time! If you do not apologize, then I shall write a satire so scathing that you will never be able to show your face in any reality, ever again!
Issa: (flatly) Um… Rhomande? You’re talking to a giant, disembodied voice.
Rhomande: Oh, right. Well… I guess that means that at some point in the future, we will meet the still-embodied version of this voice. And that means that I have already shall be victorious in this venture of revenge!
DM: (sigh) We’ll see about that. Oh, shit. Torrea, you may want to look where you’re going. Rhomande distracted me.
Torrea: What do you mean, voice? Spirit of the Swift Wind and I are heading directly to the single object that has been promised to return us home, since we left for Haikon, and Lord Thrimlach has already secured the area around said object.
DM: You’re not steering correctly, Torrea. Spirit of the Swift Wind is taking you right past Il-dana, and he’s just finished thrusting at Stiev.
Il-dana: NO DAWN SHALL RISE AGAIN! THE SON OF THE SUN REJECTS HIS FATHER AND ALL FATHERS BEFORE HIM! MAY DISTRIBUTION REIGN!
DM: Il-dana times his attack to strike Torrea squarely in the midsection as she passes by him. He clotheslines her with the intensified force generated by the collision of two moving bodies. Torrea hits the ground hard, knocking the wind from her.
((Sfx: d20, blunt hit, body hitting ground thud))
DM: The Hungering Demons closest to Torrea break their attention from the massive portal in the sky and toward the stricken paladin.
Thrimlach: Sir Gnome, if Torrea dies here, I know it’s your fault! You’re probably angling to become my paladin bodyguard, AREN’T YOU, SIR GNOME?
Sir Gnome: Yeth Mathter. I accthept all culpability. But, no Mathther. I have no dethire to be your ethcort, thir.
Thorn: Torrea! Maybe those demons will leave you alone if they’re properly distracted by some Scorching Rays!
((Sfx: scorching ray))
Torrea: (spluttering, gasping noises from having the wind knocked out) Lesser…Restoration! Ah! That’s much better! I have the spear that will take us home! Lady Issa! Catch!
((Sfx: Lesser Resto, tossed item?))
Issa: Hah! Got it, Torrea! Now I’ll just give this god the old peck-stab!
Imenand: Whatever you do, please do not use that spear as a weapon!
Yfirma∂r: Why penguin not use spear for intended purpose, wrappy face?
Maldreth: Because, you thick-skulled she-orc, those javelins were never meant to find a target so close to their origin. Why do you think reality needed a god to shepherd the spears of dawn? Only a god has the strength to cast the dawn far enough away for nobody to be consumed by it.
Thrimlach: Yeah, and that asshole Draeclin screwed up the skyscape here by opening a time portal right above us. If any part of the two portals overlaps, then we’re in for some real trouble. Trouble like, we might accidentally fuse Oak Vale with Brext, destroying both planets and both timelines.
Issa: Got it. Don’t hit this guy with the spear. But how are we supposed to get home, then?
Imenand: By employing basic planar geometry, penguin! We just need to be sure that the javelin lands perpendicular to the existing portal, so that the second portal is parallel to the first. No intersection, no problem of ruining time.
Issa: Wow… That sounds… hard. I’m not really sure I can get it that precise. How far away from the current portal do we have to be, to do this the safe way?
Thrimlach: See how far it is to the horizon, where the Brext portal meets the ground? We need to go at least twice as far as that.
Rhomande: Or, you simply need some guidance and inspiration. Fortunately, my song is now reaching its CRESCENDO! Go, my insufferable basterds! Work together and check each other’s maths, that we might be able to go back to the version of home we desire!
((Sfx: Rho’s song swells and hits its crescendo))
Issa: Meh. Can’t argue with the sound track. Yfirma∂r! Catch!
((Sfx: thrown spear))
Yfirma∂r: Uh oh. Look like no-eyes god want spear back. That okay. Me know how give just the blunt end of stick! Hiii-yah!
((Sfx: d20 roll x4, staff hit x3))
DM: Yfirma∂r whirls the sun-tipped javelin in her hands like a staff, striking Il-dana thrice in swift succession. This catches the enemy’s full attention, and he grasps snatchingly at the weapon.
Yfirma∂r: Vwiggie. This game called monkey in middle. If any friend ever try make you monkey, then you take them out at knee. But if you not monkey, then you throw to friend so monkey no get whatever you keep away. Hey, wrappy face! Here spear!
((Sfx: thrown spear, cube of force hit))
Imenand: You witless she-orc! You’re almost as bad as your husband! Nothing passes through my cube of force from that side! However, this side allows the passage of many things, not least of which are the antipode charges of LIGHTNING BOLTS and QUICKENED POLAR RAYS! That will teach you to destroy my Cadaver Collector!
((Sfx: lightning bolt, polar ray))
DM: The eyeless Il-dana breaks off from the melee as soon as Yfirma∂r throws the javelin, provoking many attacks of opportunity from Vragul, Issa, Stiev, and Yfirma∂r. He does not slow as he charges headlong into Imenand’s torrents of lightning and ice.
((Sfx: d20 roll x4, fist hit, flat axe hit, beak hit, knife hit))
Maldreth: Ugh. I suppose it falls to me to keep the key away from this godless fuck.
Stiev: Um… he’sssss already a god, Maldreth.
Maldreth: And as such, he does not pray, so he has no gods of his own. O Makar who is the best god, as proven through many wars against lesser beings! Please bless this humble battle and set a BARRIER OF BLADES between me and my foe! Here, Tuxedo Beak. You take this sun-forged armament and see that it gets to Vragul. It offends me the least when he takes to the air to fly.
((Sfx: blade barrier, spear toss))
Tuxedo Beak: At once, Father Maldreth! Let me just free up a flipper or two by throwing all of these RAZORFISH!
((Sfx: d20 roll x3, razorfish hit x3))
Il-dana: AS THE KNOWLEDGE DESTROYS ME, SHALL I DESTROY YOU! AS THE KNOWLEDGE GATHERS, SHALL I DISPERSE!
DM: The sickening sun god passes through Maldreth’s blade barrier, seemingly unfazed by the thousands of cuts that have blossomed over his graying skin.
Tuxedo Beak: Oooooh SHIT! Master Kaltrops! Catch!
((Sfx: spear toss))
Maldreth: You idiot! I told you to throw it to Vragul! Ugh. I’ll start preparing the flagellum for your penance.
((Sfx: bear roar))
Smyd: Kinda… busy… with all these… dragoons and lancers! Let me just… clear some room! H’rrraaaaagh (and other bear power ranger sounds)!
((Sfx: d20 roll x6, bear flurry))
Smyd: Come on, sun guy! Just a liiiiiitle closer…
Il-dana: I AM THE DOOR, AND ALL WAYS SHALL BE SHUT!
Smyd: Vragul, catch!
((Sfx: spear throw, begin orc wings))
Vragul: Vragul king of catch! Well, okay. Vriggle king of catch. But Vragul still very good for catch. Especially with me wing. Hey! Sun Guy! You say you door? You say you lock? Then Vragul open you with SUN SPEAR KEY!
((Sfx: d20 roll, body hitting ground))
DM: Vragul plummets down from the sky, directly toward Il-dana. The King of Distance Hit aims an awesome blow that knocks his enemy directly downward, to leave the godling sprawled on the blindingly white ground. Vragul then lands atop the shoulders of the sun caster and raises the sun-tipped spear high above his head, with the point hanging downward toward the enemy’s face. For a long second, they pause in this tableaux. A winged half-orc sitting atop a sun-god, in front of a terrible double-background of the Fall of Brext and the combat in the space between night and dawn.
Rhomande: It’s really too bad nobody here paints. Does anybody have a picturebox, at least?
Stiev: Nope. I’ve never even sssssseeen a picture boxxxxxx.
Thrimlach: Maybe. Somewhere in Sir Gnome’s head, if anywhere.
Issa: I can’t use picture boxes. The flippers can’t quite hold onto the box and hit the button at the same time.
Imenand: I prefer to keep memories, rather than memorabilia.
Rhomande: Well, I thought I’d ask, since it’s such a striking scene. Oh, well. Vragul? Take us home.
Vragul: VRAGUL KING OF HOME!
DM: Vragul thrusts the spear downward into Il-dana’s left eye socket, pinning his head to the ground. Almost immediately, the spear’s energies flood outward, and you all fall through the floor. You tumble back into regular timespace, landing in a pile in a dimly-lit, wooden structure of some sort.
((Sfx: spear thrust, portal opening, multiple bodies thud))
Maldreth: Any sign of the fallen god, or the spear that he gave us to get home?
DM: None, whatsoever.
Imenand: Was this, in fact, the correct spear? Are we back in Scottalia, three days after the whole potato incident?
Smyd: Well, this is Scottalia at least. This is my curing shack, back on the Bear Industries farm.
Issa: Hey, look. The sun’s coming up.
Stiev: Wait… Your planet hassss two sssssunsssss? One pale green and one red?
Issa: Um… not usually. We have three moons, but one of those is an egg that’s going to hatch and destroy the world some day. At least, that’s what the Wise Penguin used to tell us in End of the Week School. But, no. Just one sun, usually, and it’s sort of yellowy-green.
Imenand: This bodes ill. For all of us, everywhere.
Scene 4: Credit where Credit is Due
Issa: Visit The 20-Sided Theatre online at twentysidedtheatre.com. And follow us on Twitter through scryomagical links that Master Shenouda and Thrimlach have established. You can follow Rhomande @IllustriousRho, Master Shenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, Thrimlach @Thrimlach, and the Issa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the 20-Sided Theatre through iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or your favorite scrycasting application.
Stiev: The 20-Sssided Theatre isss a joint production of Bear Indusssstriessss and the Sssshenouda Necromanccccy Corporatiiiiion. Thisssss Episssode ssstarsss Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceri Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, and Rudraigh Quattrin. With ssspecial thankssss to Jonathan Abinante, Sssierra Cccirimelli-Low, and Michael Ssssolssso for the ussse of their Player Characterssss.
Rhomande: Written by Rudraigh Quattrin and Edited by Blake Parker.
Tuxedo Beak: Sound Effects Design by
Tuxedo Beak: Music by
Thrimlach: For a complete list of and links to all the music and sound effects you heard on tonight's episode visit the show notes at 20sidedtheatre.com.
Maldreth: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 5: The Tag
Imperial Wizard: Hello? (tongue clicking) Is this thing on? You have the honor of being contacted by his Excellence –
Emperor: Give me that trinket, you fool! We have no time for pleasantries! This is the Emperor himself. I am reaching out to all forces in the field, to all strike teams, to our allies and to our enemies. Sahn Daskaar, the Holy City of Voladros and the Uiadhenns, is under attack. The Hungering End has returned, and our knights and magi are not enough to hold back the flood. If they take the Gateways in the harbor, then all is lost. They will ravage and consume all worlds that our Empire has touched. Whether you love us or hate us, you must send your armies. You can kill us all later, if you get the chance. At least we would die knowing that there will be a later.