The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 14: The Business of Departure
Rhomande's Insufferable Basterds
Rhomande Sorfinde, Bard in Extraordinaire – Rudraigh Quattrin
Imenand Shenouda, President of The Shenouda Necromancy Corporation – Blake Parker
Maldreth the Impius, Ogroid High Priest of Makar – Gabe Abinante
Stiev Pierabbat, Chameleon Rogue – Natalie Abinante
Issa Featherfoot, Pengonquin Princess – Ceridwen Quattrin
Thrimlach Lenanien, Secretive Elven Mage – Cian Quattrin
Kelora Tamlin, a Human Swashbuckler & wielder of the Dawnbreaker - Becky
Lorelei, a pacifist Lawful Good half celestial moon elf – Begga
The DM – Rud
Tuxedo Beak – Blake
Imperial Wizard – Rud
Emperor Nashtif – Cian
Brother Schadenfreude, a Cleric who happens to have cast Comprehend Languages recently – Blake
Luwok Airwakka, a homeless penguin – Tony
Helema Nisbet Alafinde – Tony
Soothsailor, a bluff old seaperson who may be mad – Rud
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 entertainment quite wisely. You are about to experience the most wondrous spectacle in the Holy, Multiplanar Empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns. I am your Host-Proprietor, Rhomande Sorfinde. Now please adjust your listening devices to receive the full, scryocastic stereophonic selection of sounds that is your impresario welcoming 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 and Further Carousing
Rhomande: Not much has happened in the four months since returning to Oak Vale and the other places we frequent on the Prime Material Plane. But Thrimlach Ceatharinn did manage to find Kelora Tamlin, a long-time ally who decided to buckle her swash on the high seas. The dread sea mistress’ retinue currently consists of one Lorelei Lunascale, a pacifist druid whose dedication to the Radiant Celestial Dragon Athairsidrinn the Open-Hearted, known as the Father of Eternity, should be avoided in conversation at all costs. Not leastwise because mine was the hand that struck him down! In any case, we were having a lovely evening of catching up with friends and companions, while ignoring a scruffy, homeless penguin.
((sfx: twittering; bar sounds in background fading in toward end?))
Thrimlach: … and that’s the story of how I paid my taxes, once!
Stiev: Wait… What are taxxxxxessssss?
Issa: They’re the things we collect from the peasants.
Imenand: Things like arms, legs, lungs, and other assorted “components”.
Issa: I meant more like grain or fish harvests – and whatever coins we can shake out of them – but I guess some of us do collect a lot of body parts.
Maldreth: As a religious institution, the First Scottalian Temple of the Warfather is exempt from the crown’s taxation. We are supported entirely by the tithes of our faithful: ten percent of all production belongs to us, be it money, foodstuffs, or offspring.
Kelora: That sounds suspiciously like piracy, to me. And I should know from piracy, after that three-episode arc that Lorelei and I had last year, on the Kelora Tamlin Adventure Scrycast Extravaganza Hour, brought to you by ArenaCorp. Plus, all the piracy that I do in my off time.
((Sfx: twittering birds))
Rhomande: No, no, this is a more legitimate-sounding collection scheme that’s completely different from piracy. It happens on the land, inside of towns, for starters!
Lorelei: Did you open up a bank? They handle lots of money on land!
Rhomande: No, that’s not quite right, either. Uh, Ceatharan? What’s the word for “the town leadership was both corrupt and inept, so now they work for us, and we skim 16% off the top”? I know there’s a word for that in Elvish.
Imenand: Rhomande, I believe the word you are so ineptly searching for is “racketeering”.
Thrimlach: I think the Elvish “cavortechtwa” sounds much better.
Kelora: Ooo! Hang on a second, guys! There’s something important that I have to tell you all. Lorelei, can you please cover your ears for a bit?
((Sfx: twittering birds))
Lorelei: Of course, Kelora! I’ll put my hands over my ears and sing the Traditional Moon Elf Song of Innocence! Dum dee dum doo doo la laaaa!
Kelora: Yeah, that’s good. So, um… I’m not quite sure how to say this, but… Lorelei’s my prisoner.
((Sfx: twittering birds))
Thrimlach: Yeah? So? I had kinda assumed that she was your version of Sir Gnome or something.
Tuxedo Beak: Does she not know that she’s your prisoner? You know, Kelora, that only disaster can come from keeping secrets.
Issa: That’s right! The “no secrets” rule is why Tuxie and I have such a great relationship!
Rhomande: If you’d like, I can suggest that she not remember this conversation!
Maldreth: No need, Bard. The BRAIN SPIDERS are already on their way!
((Sfx: brain spiders))
Kelora: Um… thanks? Anyway, there was this island that was perfectly strategically placed for an… ahem… lucrative sailor such as myself. You know… (stage whisper) The P-word.
Stiev: Prosssselytizzzzerssss? Like Imenand and Maldreth keep ssssssending out from their templesssss?
Rhomande: No, Chameleon! She means “Pomegranates”! Her sailing has obviously been… Fruitful!
Kelora: Gods damnit, I hate you so much. PIRATES, okay? I’m a gods-damned pirate. Not a proselytizer or a – how the fuck could you possibly think that anyone could become a pomegranate for their job?
Rhomande: I don’t know what humans are and aren’t capable of, and the only thing I’m less interested in than that is finding out anything about dwarves!
Kelora: Anywho. There was this island that nobody could get to because it was constantly surrounded by this eerie fog. So the pirate admiral – whose name I cannot say without needing to kill you – put out a bounty on the sorceress of the island. No ship could approach the thick fog and the sharp, shallow rocks, so – humble, mild-mannered badass that I am – I swam for seven miles to get to the shore.
Stiev: Were there any dangersssss along the way?
Kelora: You bet your cloaca, Chameleon! I had to fight a shark, hand-to-fin, and I only narrowly escaped by getting her stuck in a giant clam. And then there were these massive, seven-tusked boars that ran wild all over the island. They were both tasty and useful! I was able to fashion their hides and bones into a crude siege ladder, to reach the top of the tower, where the sorceress lived.
Issa: So exciting! I’m glad you got a deal with Drowmande to record all of your adventures after that.
Kelora: Yeah, the whole island thing made up our two-part pilot episode! So, long story short, I just asked her to come with me, and she said yes. She doesn’t know I’m supposed to turn her in for a bounty, and she’s kinda fun to have around, so I think I might keep her. Okay, honey! You can take your hands off your head, now! OH SWEET BARNACLES WHAT IS THAT THING CRAWLING OUT OF YOUR EAR!?
Lorelei: It looks like a perfect snacky for Mr. Peckybeak!
Maldreth: Nothing to worry about. Just the last of the brain spiders, finishing up its work. Lorelei won’t recall any of this conversation, by tomorrow morning.
((Sfx: twittering birds))
Luwok: Um. Lady Featherfoot? What are your plans for uniting the penguin tribes across the globe? You might be able to conquer the ice penguins, but the sky penguins will prove a much bigger challenge.
Issa: Don’t worry about that, Luwok Airwakka. This group is very good at shifting impossible odds so they’re in our favor.
Stiev: Ugh… I don’t want to ssssee any more fucking penguinssssss!
Lorelei: Ooh! I love birds! All the swimmy-swallows should live together in one, big, happy nest!
Issa: The Pengonquin do not nest. But I take your point, Lorelei.
Rhomande: Stiev! You don’t want to meet the Lava penguins that this raggedy, smelly penguin man has been describing? You don’t want the adventure of investigating a week of worlds-class extreme sporting events, such as lava surfing, crater skating, and roller discos?
Stiev: Not sssssincccce he ssssssaid that the lava penguinsssssss aren’t alwaysssssss on fire. That’sssssss the mosssssst exxxxxxtreme thing posssssible, and anything lesssssss boresssssss me.
Thrimlach: Well, I guess that makes sense. You did grow up as a gladiator for the Arena of Ahk’rapp, before riding our coattails out of there. That Great Horrible One has some pretty extreme tastes, and enough power to realize them!
Issa: Stiev, I’m sure that the lava penguins can make you on fire. Or maybe a coastal penguin can make that happen, if a certain uneducated chameleon doesn’t stop bad-mouthing my species!
Stiev: No offensssssse meant, Isssssssa. I jusssssst meant that it ssssssssounded way more interesssssssting when I thought the lava penguinssssss were alwayssssss on fire. I’m ssssssstill game for adventure!
Issa: Good. Then, first we need to decide which tribes to approach diplomatically. Tuxie, get me the map! I want Luwok, here, to mark every place he’s come across that’s home to a penguin tribe.
Tuxedo Beak: Right away, fishball head!
Thrimlach: And the next thing you’ll need is a diplomat to send out to these tribes! Fortunately, I’m a master of disguise, who speaks penguin! Observe! Wok wok wekkible wok!
Issa: Thrimlach, put that yellow clay cup down! Do not fasten it over your nose as a beak!
Luwok: Is this guy for real? I’ve never seen anything so offensive. What’s next? Is he going to pull out the grease paint and put on some Black-and-Whiteface?
Thrimlach: Can’t hear you penguins over the sound of this cup on my nose! Now, I’ll just adjust the string, and… Hmm… Who looks like they’ll fall for this disguise? Hey, Fatso! Wak wak wak! Wek wok wekkle wibbly woo and I love fish!
Cleric: I’m not fat; I’m paunchy! And, yes! I am a cleric who happens to cast Comprehend Languages quite frequently! But I’m sorry, son. I can’t quite understand what you’re saying. Let me adjust the spell a bit.
((Sfx: radio tuning))
Cleric: There, that should be better! Now, lad, what did you want to know about? Ho-ho! Is it the drought up north that’s making the swamp elves so nervous? Or - ho ho! - Or maybe it’s the blood-red star that rises in the west, certainly foretelling the doom of us all! Ho ho!
Thrimlach: None of that, you weirdo. I just wanted to know if you thought I was a penguin, or a blindfolded elf with a yellow cup over his nose. But before you answer— I just remembered something that I was supposed to do over the last three weeks or longer. I don’t have the time any more, so I’m going to send you upon this QUEST! Go to the echo mountains and check in on that orphan we sent there. Make sure he’s still alive and stuff, in case we ever need a silent monk to defend this town. And stop being so happy about miserable things, or I’ll give you something to be really happy about!
Cleric: But - ho ho - the Echo Mountains are on the other side of the ocean -ho ho-, somewhere south of Fenth! And it’s just about to be winter! The most dangerous time of year to cross the seas! Ho ho!
Thrimlach: Don’t care. By the way, now that you think your spell is working, do I look like a penguin to you?
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Cleric: Ho, ho! I suppose you do! Weren’t you just over at the other end of the bar, wearing a tuxedo and a domino mask? You had a map, and you were pointing out various spots on it, while you also looked on and asked questions.
Thrimlach: Yup! All three of those guys were, and continue to be me! Plus, this me. Now, get out of here, you weirdo cleric! Off on your QUEST! See, Issa? I’m even great at convincing people that I’m four of you guys.
Issa: I hate you.
Luwok: Can we perpetrate a genocide against just those two assholes, after you’ve united our species, Lady Featherfoot?
Imenand: Come now, Luwok! At least one of those beings may prove to be quite useful some day, in your eventual fight to survive the Hungering End.
Thrimlach: Oh, yeah! I’d forgotten about that. There’s this imminent doom thing threatening the entire multiverse, in case you weren’t up on the news.
Rhomande: That’s absolutely correct. Imenand? Thrimlach? Should we describe who-and-or-what the Hungering End is, for those present who haven’t been in direct combat with them?
Lorelei: No, thanks. That’s okay.
Imenand: Lorelei is correct: we should not take this moment to describe the coming destruction, and the Empire’s ten-thousand year history of standing between civilization and the Howling Darkness. There are more important concerns to be addressed, at the moment. Such as the discovery and eventual absorption of a dozen or so new tribes who are yet to be blessed by the Father of War and the Mother of Weapons.
((Sfx: twittering birds))
Kelora: Wait a minute, guys! I just realized something! Lorelei, you haven’t formally met the bard yet! Surely you’ve heard of Rhomande!
((Sfx: twittering birds))
Thrimlach: Um… I just need to, uh… slowly back away into this corner and cast Gateway for a moment.
Stiev: Don’t cassssst your sssssspell ssssssso clossssse to me, Thrimlach! It’sssssss too hard for my Chameleon ssssssskin to match all the ssssssswirling colorssssss you like to usssssse.
Rhomande: Oh, ye gods! I haven’t felt this particular thrill since I first set out from Acoustica to escape my sister! My dear Lorelei, you are about to experience the most wonderful musical spectacle in all of Western Scottalia. For the Indefinable Rhomande Sorfinde is about to cast the bard’s most important spell: SUMMON LUTE!
((Sfx: twittering birds, Summon Lute, song change?))
DM: Oooooh-kay. I’m not going to sit here while we listen to 45 minutes of Rhomande playing an intro, before a 12 second bridge, and another 22 minute lute solo. Can we skip ahead?
Lorelei: But he’s playing so pretty! I think I’ll draw out my pan pipes and start the woodwind section for this tune.
Helema: Ooh! Music party! I’ll add to the atmosphere with my violin!
Rhomande: Helema, what are you–– oh, never mind! Join us and play your heart away, my least unfavorite niece!
Helema: I’m your only niece.
Rhomande: Thus, you are my least unfavorite of said category! Now… I suppose I can still pull focus if I lift my voice above everyone else’s instruments.
Lorelei: Ooo! You sing, too, Mister Bard? Then all of the finches can tweet along as your backup singers, while the hummingbirds provide the beat!
DM: I’m definitely skipping ahead now, before Rhomande starts scatting with the birds. I mean, it sounds amazing (don’t tell him I said that), but we don’t have the seven and a half hours necessary to fully appreciate this impromptu symphony.
((Sfx: time passing))
Luwok: That was some hells of a performance!
Rhomande: Indeed, it was, Master Airwakka! And now you’ve all heard of me, Lorelei, and you know what it is I do best!
Lorelei: Actually, I still haven’t heard of you. I’ve just met you and heard you play.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
DM: Rhomande, you take one point of charisma damage.
Rhomande: Gah! My ego!
Luwok: As great as that performance was – not least of which because that offensive blindfolded guy with the cup on his face wasn’t at all involved – can we please get back to the task at hand? My flipper is starting to cramp from all the writing you’re having me do.
Issa: Yeah, yeah, keep your beak on. Look, Luwok, I really appreciate everything you’re doing for us here, but you really need to learn to go with the flow. Especially whenever Rhomande somehow ends up pulling in two other musicians for an impromptu concert. Now, where were those Acid Penguins you mentioned?
Scene 2: Setting Out
DM: The night passes and you’re all well into your cups, when suddenly every elf in the bar snaps to rigid attention. Their lips peel away from their teeth in horrible rictus grimaces, and they stand with all muscles taut for a long minute. They blankly stare into the ceiling, as they begin speak in unison.
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.
DM: All of the Vocal Conduits relax and regain control of their bodies.
Maldreth: Come, my flock! The hand of Makar moves the throats, lungs, and tongues of these elves! The emperor himself is in peril, and we must away to one side or another on that unhallowed battlefield!
Imenand: Yes! Let us away to the port, that we might earn our statues in the Halls of the Valiant!
Luwok: What the hells, guys! What about finding all the penguin tribes, so I can finally have a homeland and the peace of mind that comes with cold revenge against your parents?
Issa: Keep your feathers on, Luwok. We’re not going to forget about our quest to unite the penguin tribes.
Thrimlach: Yeah, we can still go conquer all of the penguin tribes across the planet, and we’ll probably still have time to go save the emperor afterward. Now, let’s see… I think I have the proper registration for a schooner somewhere in my bags, here…
((Sfx: paper rustling))
Imenand: Thrimlach, how dare you! The emperor himself has called for our aid, and you want to go off sailing?
Kelora: I’m actually good, either way. Thrimlach owes me a boat, so I’ll just commandeer the first one that drops you guys off.
Maldreth: I am inclined to agree with Master Shenouda. You idiots have just been presented with a summons to unholy war, and you immediately shirk your duties! Makar is severely displeased by your sloth.
Rhomande: Master Shenouda. Father Maldreth. Think of it this way: If we go to unite the penguin tribes first, then the result will be an enlarged congregation of War Penguins who all have various elemental resistances. Furthermore, these will be bolstered by as many new implements of carnage as Imenand can manufacture from the remains of our enemies.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Maldreth: Well… the phrase “twelve temples of the war penguins” certainly does have a nice ring to it…
Imenand: And I suppose that some of our aquatic avian followers will eventually succumb to mortality, thus providing ever more defense for the emperor…
Luwok: So, it’s settled, then? We’re not going straightaway to the enormous and deadly siege?
Issa: Precisely. Those lava penguins sounded pretty neat, so we’ll go visit them first. Thrimlach, do you actually own a boat, or are you just finding an excuse to rummage through your robes, again?
Stiev: But thosssse penguinsssss aren’t all on fire! How can they be exxxxxxxxtreme if they’re not on fire?
Imenand: I’m sure we’ll find a way, Chameleon. Fire always finds a way.
Tuxedo Beak: I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, unless you’d like to be pecked with a beak that’s spent the last 80 thousand years evolving to survive swimming in magma, before you set it on fire.
Issa: Tuxie’s right; we’re going to conquer these people, and we don’t want an insurgency, so no setting anyone on fire unless it’s really necessary in the moment. We’re going to find the lava penguins, and that’s the last word. Luwok, where are they?
Luwok: Ah! Well, those too-cool-to-hunt-fish-in-schools lava penguins live across the sea to the south. Their volcanic archipelago doesn’t have many good harbors, but I know of a cove that can shelter our vessel, if we can row for two days across the open sea.
Lorelei: Um… Kelora? My tummy’s feeling funny.
Maldreth: It’s probably something you drank. The living are forever slowly poisoning themselves with drink.
Kelora: No, that’s not it. I mean, it might explain why I’m feeling a pitch and yaw in my gut, but Lorelei doesn’t drink anything except for nectar mixed with morning dew. What the hell’s going on?
((Sfx: twittering birds))
Luwok: I think I know what you’re talking about, ladies. I felt fine when I got here, but now I’m feeling a little— w’… wo…. Waaaaaaabhbhbhbhbhllllllk (penguin vomit sound)
DM: How about you guys make some spot checks?
((Sfx: d20 roll x10))
Stiev: Um… Imenannnd, whyyy are you glowinnnggggg?
Imenand: Ah! The glow appears to be a side effect from long exposure to the elemental that the Bulwark Legions captured on the Plane of Plutonium. I’m undead, so it the radiant nausea does not affect me.
Kelora: Have you tried bathing?
Imenand: I would never bathe. My wrappings would get all moldy. If you really want, you and Lorelei can “help” me construct a dry decontamination chamber.
((Sfx: twittering birds))
Lorelei: Um… no thank you, Mister Mummy. That means working inside, and my flocks need the freedom of the open skies!
Kelora: Well, if bathing’s not an option, then I’m out of ideas.
Thrimlach: Meh. It’s fine. Just remember to ask Torrea to cast Restore for you, every time you stand within 10 ILDMs of Imenand. Also… Kelora, you’re a pirate and your first suggestion was bathing?
Kelora: I’m a classy pirate. You know, like that Moira Rua chick who threw Queen Elizabeth’s snot rag into an open fire, rather than stuff it up her sleeve.
Lorelei: Miss Chameleon lady? You look a little sad. Is there something I can do to help?
Stiev: No, it’sssss nothing, Lorelei. I jussssst wanted to become an adolesssssscent mutant assssassssin chameleon, but now that I’m a possssitive energy undead, I can’t mutate, no matter how long I sssstand near Imenand.
Lorelei: Oh! I can help with that! By the wild-growing tangles of nature, bolstered by the sheltering radiance of Athairsidrinn the Open-Hearted, we shall RESTORE YOU TO LIFE!
Stiev: Um… nothing happened.
Lorelei: Of course it didn’t, silly! Resurrection takes ten minutes to cast! Now, come over here to the stage, and we’ll get Miss Helema to play some nice violin music while we put you back on nature’s intended path!
Kelora: So, anyway… If we’re going to hunt some lava penguins, then we’ll need to make sure there’s enough room on the boat for Gentleman and Spirit of the Swift Wind. Gentleman’s a bit of a prima donna, so he’ll need two cabins and three stalls, all for himself.
Luwok: I hope your boat is a really big one, Mr. Cup Face.
Thrimlach: Well, I’m not actually sure which ship we’ll be taking, mister scruffy homeless penguin. Let’s go down to the docks and find out!
DM: You do know it’s the middle of the night, right?
Issa: Duh. That’s the best time to sneak around the docks. Less chance of anybody seeing you or trying to stop what you’re up to. Let’s get going!
Lorelei: Aaaand… there! All better!
Stiev: (big gasp) I’m aliiiiiive!
Scene 3: Off to the Docks
DM: Within a half an hour, you all stand swayingly on the docks, searching for a vessel to take you to the southern continent.
Issa: Now to find a boat. Anybody happen to have one handy?
Kelora: I used to have a boat.
Thrimlach: Ceatharan, didn’t you have a flying boat with a stage on the back of it? Can’t we use that?
Rhomande: I do, and we cannot. The theatre ship is in the shop for repairs and repainting. A certain Druid-named-Stil-who-shall-remain-unnamed tied the damned thing to the lighthouse for the whole time we were gone, and now it’s got no fuel and a terrible case of Sky Rot.
Thrimlach: Well, that’s good! Because I have a boat, kept in special reserve for exactly this type of situation!
Issa: You do?
Thrimlach: Yeah, sure. I do other things. You don’t know me. You don’t see me questioning you about all of your penguin rituals, while you’re at home!
Issa: I do see that! Like, every other day!
Thrimlach: Well, if you were a better conversationalist, then you could have at least asked me about all of my wizard rituals, sometime along the way! You’re a terrible friend, Issa. Just like Sir Gnome.
Issa: I hate you.
Thrimlach: See? Terrible friend. Anyway, down to the boating! But first… I’d like to cast a fireball.
DM: Ugh. Why and at what?
Thrimlach: None of your business and at this GATEWAY!
((Sfx: portal, fireball))
Issa: Thrimlach, I think you’ve gotten even more irresponsible with your portaling lately.
Thrimlach: Yeah, probably. Sometimes I’ll just leave a gateway in a shadowed alley so it’s hard to see until you're through. Honestly, I only walk through about 40% of the gates I open, now.
DM: Well, the docks were fairly lightly guarded until just a second ago.
Lorelei: Why, mister disembodied voice? What’s just happened here at the docks, where we’re standing?
((Sfx: distant explosion))
DM: Oh, nothing happened at the docks, Lorelei. But the bank in the center of town just blew up. Someone seems to have been tunneling under the bank using dynamite, and someone else just opened a portal to the explosives cache. But that’s caused quite a ruckus in the center of town, so most of the harbor guards are grabbing buckets and running to help put out the flames.
Maldreth: Perfect! Under the cover of darkness shall we make our exit! Just like the Achaeans, before they slaughtered those Wilusian idiots. Honestly, who thinks that it’s a good idea to dismantle your own city walls to bring an enormous and obviously hollow beast of burden inside?
Issa: As effective a distraction as that turned out to be, I really think that Thrimlach may have a portaling problem.
Thrimlach: Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it, penguin! Look! I’ve even learned to throw my portals so they land flat! You’ll never guess how many test bunnies that took, or how many planes those bunnies are now on. Here’s a little hint: they’re now on more planes than there were bunnies at the start.
Lorelei: Should we think about bringing some housewarming presents for the Lava Penguins? What sort of thing would they like to have, do you think?
Kelora: Well, Lorelei, if I were a Lava Penguin, I’d be happy to see a full mug of ice water.
Stiev: Do the Lava Penguinsssss even need water? I mean, they all live in volcanoesssss, ssssso there’sssss probably not much around for them to drink.
Imenand: Shame on you, Chameleon! All living organisms require water for survival. Were you not paying attention when the Elemental Emissaries gave us their homilies?
Maldreth: Yes, the being from the Plane of Water clearly stated, “Without water's presence - sometimes only the lightest caress - without water, life cannot take root.” I should prepare a penance for you to complete while we travel.
Stiev: Um… would it help if I brought along thisssss Decanter of Endlesssss Water for the Lava Penguinsssss?
Maldreth: Indeed, it would help! It will help reduce the time you idiots spend looking for a large volume of potable water, and it will help reduce your penance by almost a whole quarter-hour! You can start once we get onto the ship. Where is your vessel, anyway, Thrimlach? None of these floating crates looks like a proper conveyance for the High Priest of the Church of War.
Thrimlach: That’s because none of these is my ship. My ship is held… IN RESERVE!
((Sfx: massive portal, rushing water))
DM: An enormous portal opens up about half way between the Empire’s protective flotilla and the harbor. It slices the fabric of reality, stretching to over 200 ILDMs in width and 160 in height.
Thrimlach: Actually, the portal is 220 ILDMs tall, but the other 60 are under the ocean’s surface. I mean, a ship is coming through, and they don’t tend to stop at the water line. You should know that, voice.
Issa: (sarcastically) Thank you, Thrimlach. Now we all know how boats work.
DM: Thank you, Issa. The vessel in question is larger than almost all the others in sight, except for the Imperial Flag Ship. The ship slowly creeps through Thrimlach’s expanding portal, poking its enormous stallion-carved figurehead into your timespace first. The carving at the front of the ship has its mighty hooves raised, so that it appears to be dancing and leaping over the waves.
Kelora: Hey, Gentleman! That carving bears a striking resemblance to a certain fancy someone who loves apple slices!
((Sfx: happy horse snort or other sounds; apple snap/bite))
DM: The sails shimmer with faint blues and purples that stand out against the argent sheen of the boat’s Silverwood walls. Once you reach the main deck, you find the planks a deep, burgundy color.
Kelora: Oh, sweet! This is certain to hide all of the bloodstains!
Thrimlach: Hide the bloodstains? Do you even know what it took to get enough “stain” for this project?
DM: Let’s not dwell on that, for now, since it’s likely that Imenand and Maldreth will take the most interest in the details of that particular project. You hear the TAP-tap-TAP-tap of someone with a limp climbing a ladder below decks, and a moment later, the ship’s Soothsailor emerges from the hold.
((Sfx: climbing a ladder))
Soothsailor: Well, Brother Schadenfreude, I’m glad you cast Comprehend Fucking Languages Recently, because I only speak the fucking language of the seas, and I won’t have my cock-ridden mouth befouled by any of that shit-tongued Land Common!
Cleric: Oh, ho ho! It’s a good thing you stepped out of that alley to offer me passage, just as I was passing the bank! Oh, ho ho! Just think of all the trouble if I had been accused of that crime! Ho ho! There’s no way that the Church of Miserable Company would ever be able to pay back all of those clients! Ho ho ho! As it is, most of them will be homeless for months before they see anything from their Scottalian Baker’s Insurance Policies! Ho ho!
DM: You notice very quickly that the Soothsailor speaks “Sea Common” which is actually 98% identical to Land Common. Just with more cursing.
DM: Some of the cursing is in Dwarven.
Soothsailor: Oh, if it isn’t the Fuckmeister himself, Lord Thrimlach! Ye haven’t paid my fucking harbor tax in weeks! Now I’m down to the shittiest, most Urbrakkis kinds of foodstuffs and entertainments when I get to the docks! Now, if ye’d done as I’d fucking asked, we’d have retrieved the hidden fucking treasures from the depths of the Khenbik Hydra Mines, deep within the privatest, most deeply hidden crevice o’ the nine seas!
Stiev: Ooooh! Forget Lava Penguinssssss! Let’ssssss go ssssssee what’sssssss involved in a Hydra Mine!
Thrimlach: Better not to listen to this guy, unless he’s talking about weather or lines. I’ve checked out most of the stuff he’s suggested, and about half of his stories are complete bumpkis. The fact that the other half are dead either true or more dangerous than he described is reason enough to ignore him until we have nothing else going on.
Stiev: But I wanted to sssssee the Hydra Minessss!
Issa: For the last time, no. We’re going to see the penguins, first.
Stiev: Can we ssssee the Hydra Minessss on the way to the penguinsssss?
Rhomande: It would make a good story to tell the penguins when we get to them. And if we show up with spoils from both the Hydra Mines and the penguin tribes, it’ll make an even better story when we finally show up to defend the Empire against its immortal and timeless enemy.
Kelora: Honestly, I’m happy, so long as we spend at least a month on this ship. What do you say, Lorelei? Up for some adventure in the Hydra Mines, on the way to the Lava Penguins’ lair?
Lorelei: Well, that emperor sounded pretty worried. But he also called a lot of people, so someone is surely going there to help. And Mister Sorfinde makes a good point about getting all of our new friends together to help the old ones.
Thrimlach: Uh… You guys do realize that there’s a 50/50 chance of the Hydra Mines not even existing at all, right?
Imenand: Well, then if it’s on the way between any two penguin tribes, we can make a stop off to see if the Hydra Mines are worth further investigation. If they’re not, then we keep going. I move that we vote. All those who wish to see the Hydra Mines before we look for Lava Penguins, and then go find all of the other penguin tribes, before finally answering the Emperor’s call, vote now.
Maldreth: Father Makar will lead us to any reasonable challenges. I vote Yea on investigating the Hydra Mines, since we’ll have a great number of penguins to conquer, no matter our initial course of action.
Issa: I’d rather go see the penguins first, but if it’s on the way, I’m willing to stop and investigate.
Kelora: I abstain. I’m just happy on a boat.
Lorelei: Finding more friends is always good!
Luwok: I vote against the Hydra Mines.
Thrimlach: Your voting rights only extend to civic and national issues, Luwok. You’re not formally attached to anybody in this party, so my vote of “Yes, Hydra Mines” completely obliterates your “no”.
Stiev: I’ve already voted “yessssss” for the Hydra Minessssss!
Rhomande: I vote for whichever course makes a better story. Searching for the lost treasure of the Hydra Mines is as good a place for a story to start as anywhere.
Imenand: Then it is unanimous, with one abstention. We find the Hydra Mines first!
DM: But… The Emperor himself called for your help! I mean, the Lava Penguins are pretty close to another Imperial Gateway, so it’s probably fine if you go see them first. But really? You’re going to search for treasure on the advice of a crusty, old Soothsailor who’s only right, about half of the time, when the capital city of the Empire is under attack?
Rhomande: Indeed, we are! This way, we’ll be able to provide even more help than we could at the moment! Besides, like Lorelei said, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of adventurers converging on Sahn Daskaar right now. We’ll make it there, eventually, and they’ll have plenty of arrow fodder to hold out until we arrive!
DM: Gods, you guys are frustrating.
Kelora: Set the main sail! Tack the mizzen mast! Spin the Astrolabe! Do other sailorly things! We depart with the tides!
Scene 4: Credit where Credit is Due
Stiev: Visssit The 20-Ssssided Theatre online at twentyssssidedtheatre.com. And follow ussss on Twitter through ssssscryomagical linksssss that Imenand and Thrimlach have esssstablisssshed. You can follow Rhomande @IllusssstrioussssRho, Massssster Sssshenouda @SssshenoudaNecroCo, Thrimlach @Thrimlach, Issssssa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot, and Ssssspirit of the Ssssswift Wind @SssssspiritOTSsssssW.
Kelora: The 20-Sided Theatre is a joint production of Bear Industries and the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This Episode stars Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Becky Chambers, Blake Parker, Ceridwen Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, Rudraigh Quattrin, and Tony Scaruffi. With special thanks to Berglaug Åsmundrdottir for the use of Lorelei Moonscale.
Lorelei: Written by Rudraigh Quattrin and Edited by Blake Parker.
Cleric: Sound Effects Design by
Cleric: Music by
Maldreth: 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.
Rhomande: And as a final thank you, I have an announcement and an endorsement. Kelora Tamlin…er… Becky Chambers has written some books of scientific and speculative fictions! Go find The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet at your favorite local bookshop or internet merchant, and be on the lookout for A Closed and Common Orbit, wherever only the finest books are sold! You can find out more about Becky Chambers and her writings at otherscribbles.com. Now, let me tell you a truth: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one of the best reads you’ll ever come across, and you can trust me on that…. See? No bluff check!
Issa: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 5: The Tag
Thrimlach: Ceatharan? Are you there? I’m tapping into the Elven Thoughtscape again.
Rhomande: Indeed, I am ceatharan! That must mean this is another exciting instance of Thrim & Rho’s Elven Corner! What’s the topic of discussion today, ceatharan?
Thrimlach: Well, ceatharan, today we’ll be talking about spicing up your life through traditional Elven methods and techniques for foraging and cooking.
Rhomande: That we shall, ceatharan! You know, we elves are simply unparalleled at turning a handful of berries, some tree bark, a bit of moss, and some mushrooms into a tasty and nutritious snack!
Thrimlach: Waaaay better than those pustulant Dwarves. You know, I hear they farm giant maggots and somehow turn their waste products into cheese. But before we get too far into that topic, please allow me to introduce our two guests! Let’s see, here… This handwriting is terrible. It’s almost like the person who wrote it doesn’t have individuated fingers. I think the first one is “Isssss… sssssiel um… Fishblossom.” And the next is “Lu-lach Skyswimmer”.
((sfx: d20 roll for Decipher Script))
Rhomande: Welcome, Fishblossom and Skyswimmer ceatharuk!
Luwok: Thank you, Master Sorfinde! This is my second favorite conversational scrycast currently hosted by an elf. Have you ever seen I Will Never Interview My Brother, starring Izreanna Alafinde?
Issa: Glad to be here, knife-ears! I’m a big fan of talk shows with a speciesist premise.
Thrimlach: Ha-HA! Isn’t it great that we can call each other that, but it’s super offensive if it comes from a non-elf! And I’d forgotten about your sister’s talk show, Rhomande! It’s still killing us in the ratings, isn’t it?
Rhomande: Such bad news as my sister can never be allowed to pass my perfect ears. And speaking of exquisite elven ear shape, I would like to compliment you, Fishblossom and Skyswimmer ceatharuk, on the polished pointedness that pervades your aural structure! And I doubly compliment you two on the fashion choice of tucking your ears behind a bandana, so the pointy bits stick out of the top. I might try the look, myself!
Issa: Well, we elves don’t have to try very hard to look good, so your compliment means very little. But hey. Thank you anyway, splinter-butt! You know. Because we’re all elves and we sleep in trees, so we all have splinters in our butts. Especially Thrimlach.
Thrimlach: I will have you know, Issiel, that I have no splinters in my butt or elsewhere, as of 5:52am, every morning. Splinter removal is one of the daily chores on Sir Gnome’s Quest List! Right after that, it’s Torrea’s turn to Lay on Hands to stop all the bleeding from Sir Gnome’s botched tweezercraft. But, yes. Morning splinters are a common problem to us elves.
Rhomande: Let’s get to the topic at hand. Fishblossom ceatha∂an, I see you’ve brought a variety of jams, jellies, marmalades, chutneys, and preserves. Mostly fish- or kelp-based. So, you must be from one of the tribes of Coastal Elves?
Issa: Oh, yeah. Traditional gathering and preserving techniques and everything. Lu-lach and I are big in the canning and preserving business, among the Coastal Elves.
Luwok: Oh, yeah. We’re totally big with the coastal elves. Actually, I’m kinda surprised you don’t know me already. I mean, we’re both of the same species, so we obviously know each other, at least by reputation.
Thrimlach: Don’t be silly, ceatharan! I mean, there’s a certain amount of social awkwardness that’s easily smoothed over by tapping into the Elven Thoughtscape when you first meet, but none of us elves actually cares about knowing each other that well. Now, if we’re going to try all of this fish jelly, we’ll have to convey it to our mouths somehow, and I forgot to bring the silverware. Luckily, I’ve been researching a spell for just such an occasion. Prepare to feast your mouths on LENANIEN’S TOASTED CRACKERS!
Luwok: (munching on a cracker) Wow… that’s… That’s actually pretty impressive. You might not be a total write-off of a person, after all.
Rhomande: Well, now that Thrimlach ceatharan has provided the crackers but no silverware, how will we spread all this jam?
Issa: Here, I’ve got a butter knife.
Luwok: And I have two if you need them.
Rhomande: What the— YOU TWO AREN’T ELVES AT ALL!
Thrimlach: I can’t believe I let you two dastardly penguins call me all of those foul specieist epithets! And that I told you about my morning desplintering routine!
Luwok: Now you know how it feels, Mister I-Use-A-Yellow-Cup-As-A-Beak!
Thrimlach: Issa, I can’t believe you—
Issa: (interrupting) Talk to the flipper, Kay-tha-rakan!
Rhomande: How dare you mispronounce the word for “cousin” so badly that it sounds like the word for “a brawl or fight taking place in a light shower or heavy mist”! Get off my elves-only talk show! And leave those headbands here, so Thrimlach and I can try out the new fashion!
Luwok: Good work, Issa!
Issa: Y’know, Luwok. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Rhomande: Well, that’s another ruined episode. Stay tuned for Chip Dipson’s Action Town Criers: bringing you all the news your overlords have decreed you should care about.