The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 26: The Slap of Investigation
Rhomande Sorfinde’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
Ssssstiev Pierab’bat, Chameleon Rogue – Natalie Abinante
Issa Featherfoot, Pengonquin Princess – Ceridwen Quattrin
Thrimlach Lenanien, Secretive Elven Mage – Cian Quattrin
Dark Brother Smyd Kaltrops, The Half Bear Monk – Cian Quattrin
Vragul, King of Town Hall – Rud
Mhorton Salzgeld, a Dwarven Mage – Tony Scaruffi
Stil Colemanaani, Druid of the Frozen Summit – Cian
The DM – Rud
Torrea Marsvel - Cian
Sir Gnome — Rud
Tuxedo Beak – Blake
Luwok Airwakka, a Homeless, Multibreed Penguin – Tony
The Wiz – Cian
Pamande Mulkafinde, a pig-haired Northern Gentlelf – Blake Parker
Hera Laris – Ceridwen
J’awn Roderorc – Blake
Tipp Indecent – Rud
The Mammoth King – Tony
Skrump Jugga – Blake? Gabe?
Yfirma∂r, Queen of Vragul – Natalie
Professor E. Slide – Cian
Sam Sonar – Ceridwen
The Mason – Rud
Scene 0: Show Opening & Theme Music
Vragul: 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, Ladies, Non-Binary, Multiform, Constructs, and Others. You have chosen your entertainment quite wisely, for you are about to experience the most wondrous spectacle in the Great, Venerable, and Multiplanar Empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns. I am your Host-Proprietor, Rhomande Sorfinde, and I welcome you...to The 20-Sided Theatre!
The Wiz: 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: (Firefly Village Theme by Stephen O’Brien)
Scene 1: Recap with the Action Town Criers
Rhomande: Well, my adroable boosters. Things have certainly taken a turn for the worse, and I’m not talking about the constant, nagging messages we keep receiving from the Emperor and the Imperial Defense Council. No, my faithful friends, a great ill wind has seen fit to lift my tunic right up over my head. Here’s Hairy Larry to tell you more.
Hera: Ahem. My name is Hera Laris of the Dipson Memorial Action Town Criers. Where has your sense of professionalism gone, Master Sorfinde?
Rhomande: I’m sorry, Hera. With my sibling in such close proximity, I’m a little on edge. Let’s try that again. I bring you now to Hera Laris and the Dipson Memorial Action Town Criers for more information!
Hera: Thank you, Rhomande. Tonight’s top story tells of the largest musical festival ever to take place in the Deep North of Scottalia. People of various species are flocking to the town of Acoustica as we speak, to hear the musical stylings of the largest, most flamboyant, most popular stage act in all the Empire: The Red Hand Minstrel Assassins! We go now to our newly hired music and culture correspondent, J’awn Roderorc for the full story. J’awn?
J’awn: Thank you, Hera. As you can see behind me, the preporcrations for the traditional Scottalian Sweet 216 are well undorc way. The stage is almost fully orcrected, and the stage magicians are currently testing their various stage spells and special orcffects.
J’awn: But, uh… These elves don’t seem to be up-to-date with the strict Imperial Safety and Health Orcganization’s regulations, so things keep breaking and orccasionally maiming one or two of my cousins on the Illiterate Barbarian Road Crew. Laborc is cheap, though, and orc lives are cheaper than most, so despite any setbacks the show will go on as planned. And, orccording to this note from Pamande Mulkafinde, the most famous elven Pig Farmorc in the Deep North, nobody in town has mentioned any thoughts or rumorcs of saborctage.
Hera: Actually, J’awn, I did hear word that the festival has sabotaged its own schedule of performances.
J’awn: Well, Hera, the Red Hand usually headlines this event, but since this year’s festorcval is being thrown in honorc of their front-elf and body percussionist, Izreanna Alafinde, the lineup’s been thrown into some disorcray.
Hera: Disorcray—er… Disarray? How so, J’awn?
J’awn: Orccording to these swamp elves’ local suporcstitions, if the birthday-person sings even the briefest sixteenth-note of the Nameday Song during her party, or if the song begins between a half-note too early and an eigth-note too late, then the swamp will dry up and these elves will be forced to endure a thousand years of drought. More than that, Miss Alafinde is so closely orcssociated with the musorcal stylings of the Hand that for them to perform without her would be worse than not taking the stage at all!
Hera: Then, who will be headlining this year’s show?
J’awn: Izzy’s slightly-orcverdue twin brother and his Insufforcable Basterds have been hired to play the show in their place. I’ve heard that Rhomande guy play in concorc before; he’s actually pretty good. But I’ve never even heard of his backing band. When I was still tour’cing with the Eastorc Nation Typhoon, we once opened for the Unlovable Orcphans, but then they broke up two years latorc, in ’56. Not sure who these Insufforcable Basterds are. But we here at the Action Town Criorcs will bring you more inforcmation as it becomes orcvailable. Back to you, Hera!
Hera: Thank you, J’awn Roderorc, and welcome to our news team! When we return from our break, we will take you to Pinky the Problematic Dragon-Pixie for this month’s tips and tricks for ecological preservation. But first, a word from our sponsors!
Tipp: Oh. Hello there. I didn’t notice you while I was polishing my cordovan boots and chewin’ on this SlidingTech Potato-Based Foodlike Product Bar. Well, since you’re here, I might as well tell you about the new line of The Mammoth King Brand Grooming Products for Exotic Mounts. I’ve never used the stuff before, but he’s payin’ it so I’m sayin’ it. His majesty the Mammoth King isn’t just the mascot, president, and spokesman for the company, but he’s also a highly satisfied customer. Isn’t that right, The Mammoth King?
((Sfx: Mammoth King))
Mammoth King: I AM THE MAMMOTH KING!
((Sfx: Mammoth King))
Tipp: The Mammoth King Brand exotic mount grooming products are made with only the finest, all natural ingredients, sustainably sourced from the frigid highlands that his majesty The Mammoth King calls home. What? You want a second opinion or something? Well, fine. Just listen to this testimonial from some half-orc called Skrump Jugga.
((Sfx: Mammoth King))
Skrump: Me use The Mammoth King Brand exotic mount grooming product on me riding Rhino every day. Him hide never be thicker than whens me rub The Mammoth King Brand Hide Ointment on him butt. Many thank, The Mammoth King!
((Sfx: Mammoth King))
Mammoth King: I AM THE MAMMOTH KING!
((Sfx: Mammoth King))
Tipp: Well, there you go. Two endorsements, and one of them’s straight from the Mammoth’s Trunk. Purchase your very own The Mammoth King Brand Exotic Mount Grooming Products from your local Pan-Species Stable today!
((Sfx: Mammoth King))
Mammoth King: I AM THE MAMMOTH KING!
((Sfx: Mammoth King))
Rhomande: O noble members of my beloved audience, please do lie down upon your silver-chased couches, gulp your drinks, ignite your bear grass, and adjust your listening devices that you may find yourselves thoroughly engrossed in your evening at The 20-Sided Theatre.
Scene 2: A Shoe in the Works
DM: A series of elven-raised roosters awakens the party early in the morning. You go through all of your daily ablutions and morning rituals, then head downstairs to the common room, where you find Pamande Mulkafinde, the most famous pig-farmer in all of Acoustica and father of the twins Bromande Druchtreen Sorfinde and Sismande Izrea∂enn Alafinde, just finishing up his lecture on Acoustican naming conventions. Issa and her two attendants sit with their heads on their flippers, nodding off after an exhaustingly long, but culturally informative monologue. Pamande still looks fresh and unaffected by speaking through the entire duration of the previous night.
Pamande: … and once you know this system, you’ll be able to recognize the person’s family, their status within the family, their craft/trade/or job, the family’s achievements, and the animal their hairstyle most closely resembles! Oh, but it appears I’ve talked your ears off. I’ve been such a rude host!
Issa: (yawn) No, no! You’ve been a great host, Master Mulkafinde. We penguins just have ears on the inside of our heads, so that’s why it looks like we’re not listening. Isn’t that right, Tuxie?
Tuxedo Beak: (snore)Waaak! Right away, King Prautha! Uh… I mean… Yes! Master Mulkafinde has been a wonderful host.
Luwok: Indeed, Master Beak! Never have I felt so welcomed in any place or by any person… Except for Lady Featherfoot, of course. And I am very much looking forward to celebrating Miss Alafinde’s 216th birthday!
Pamande: That’s the important one to make sure you get right as an elven father, you know. As the old saying goes, ‘When a girl turns Six to the Third Power years old, she gets to be princess for a day, or else she and your spouse get to be your wardens for the next Three to the Sixth Power years!’ …That one sounds a lot better in Elvish.
DM: Meanwhile, the rest of the party begins to trickle into the common room.
Mhorton: …Look, Thrimlach, I just want to borrow him for a little while to do perform some Inscrutable Dwarven Magics and Experimentation. I promise not to break Sir Gnome with my arcane sciences!
Thrimlach: And that’s the problem I’m having, Mhorton. You’re promising not to break Sir Gnome, so I’m afraid he’s going to come back from your laboratory having grown a spine or something.
Sir Gnome: But, Mathter, I already have a thpine. You jutht won’t let me catht Mage Hand to thtack it back up.
Thrimlach: Mhorton: Shut up, Sir Gnome!
Thrimlach: Heh. Y’know what, Mhorton, you’re not so bad for a Dwarf. Maybe I should let you run some experiments on Sir Gnome. Here, I’ll help you put him back together while you tell me what you think you’re doing with that crystal.
((Sfx: the sound of a crystal hitting a skull; the sound of Sir Gnome getting put together))
Mhorton: What? Oh, nothing much. I’m just embedding this shard of ruby quartz into the base of his skull. Normally I’d do some alchemy first to turn this stuff into a crystalline salt since the skin absorbs it better that way, but y’know…
Sir Gnome: (various “ouch” sounds)
Thrimlach: Indeed! I freed Sir Gnome from his flesh many years ago, back when I still had one of my original eyes. So, anyway, what’s this experiment supposed to do?
((Sfx: various magical “telepathy” sounds))
Mhorton: Oh, nothing much. Just installing a little tracking and monitoring system, so Sir Gnome can always be found. The crystal will amplify Sir Gnome’s natural Psi, and through a forced quantum entanglement field, the source crystal should be able to pinpoint his location and distance, while also providing access to Sir Gnome’s thoughts. Oh, uh… You look thirsty. How about you down this nice, tall glass of, uh… “Dwarven Spring Water”.
Thrimlach: Wow, thanks! (slurp) Hmmm… It’s a little salty and very grainy, but I like the aftertaste of spearmint.
Mhorton: Yep. That’s an old clan secret. Anyway, I think the process is finished. We just have to turn on the monitoring system to see if it works.
Sir Gnome: (psi) Did it work, Mathter Thaltzgeld? Should I climb back down out of thith treehouthe inn to tetht it furvher?
Thrimlach: (psi) Sir Gnome, what are you doing in my head! I demand that you get out immediately! Oh, and there’s no need for you to climb down the tree. Not when I can cast LENANIEN’S DEFENESTRATING HAND!
((Sfx: magic hand, breaking window, distant thud))
Sir Gnome: Whooooaaaaaa!
Mhorton: Welp. I didn’t hear any of that exchange, so it looks like the experiment worked. Hey, Thrimlach! Where’s Sir Gnome, now?
Thrimlach: Shut up, Dwarf! I hate you forever! And not just because I know that Sir Gnome hit his head on the spire atop the Acoustican Town Hall, so I’ll have to repair the portable storage hole in his skull once I can stand to look at him again.
Thrimlach: How long is this psi-bond supposed to last, anyway?
Mhorton: Oh, that’s part of the experiment! If my calculations were correct, the half-life on this enchantment should be roughly equal to a Gold Dragon’s full life cycle.
Thrimlach: WHAT! (spluttering, angry sounds)
DM: While Thrimlach stands around choking on his own rage, Rhomande finally emerges from his room upstairs.
Rhomande: Good morning, my Insufferageable Basterds! Good morning papa! I trust you all slept as soundly as I did!
Pamande: Why, good morning my darling son! Most of your companions have been up for hours now, but I see you still have as much trouble getting out of bed as a blind, newborn piglet has finding its mother’s teat: it’s adorable and it takes a while, but you’ll get there eventually! And if you don’t, then you’ll die!
Imenand: Actually, pig farmer, some of us do not sleep. We have more “important” business to be about.
Maldreth: Indeed. Father Makar has bolstered me in the War on Sleep for nigh on the past fifteen years, ever since he showed me the path to eternal battle through sustainable lichdom!
Thrimlach: Yeah, Torrea and Stiev don’t sleep either, since I jumpstarted them with all those gigajoules of Positive Energy. And the half-orcs have a toddler, so they definitely don’t get any rest at night. Hells, I think Mhorton and the penguins are the only members of this party who still technically sleep instead of meditating or trancing. Wait… Torrea, does Spirit of the Swift Wind need to sleep? And where is he, anyway?
((Sfx: distant SotSW))
Torrea: Spirit of the Swift Wind is down in the pasture near the base of the treehouse inn, Lord Thrimlach! My faithful mount now prances in the bogs below, alongside the noble swamp-horses of Acoustica! And, no; he does not need to sleep, though he can if he wishes, for Spirit of the Swift Wind is a Celestial Steed whose spirit has been eternally bonded to mine!
((Sfx: distant SotSW))
Stiev: Yep. I don’t sssssssssssleep either, ssssssssincccccce I asssssssked Thrimlach to help me ssssssssstave off the effectsssssssss of Imenand’ssssssss aura of radiattttiiiion. The Xssssss-Ray visssssssion and the enhancccccccced jumping mussssssculature issssssss pretty niccccccce, but my sssssssscalesssssss kept falling out and I kept coughing up sssssssstuff the color of Sssssssssir Gnome’sssssssss feet.
Thrimlach: (stage whisper) I didn’t actually cure her cancer or her radiation poisoning. I just killed her and raised her with positive energy, the same way I did with Torrea and Vragul’s Uncle Debbid.
Vragul: Huh. Me wonder why me no see Uncle Debbid since wedding. Last time me remember see him, Uncle Gnarrrrp was offer him drink from special black bottle of Sightender Lick-youre. Me just thought he get lost on way home from Arena of Ahk’rapp. Also, you forget two mans who sleep, blindfold elf. You forget Bear and Durwid of Forzen Summit.
Mhorton: Yeah, they got up really early to go on a nature walk or something. Stil said something about trying to restore the energy-balance within the local galvanic fields, and then he started wandering from tree to tree and muttering at them.
Imenand: He had better not be undoing all of the hard work my retinue of thirty-five irradiated necromages have applied toward improving this Suburb of Nowhere.
((Sfx: door/trap door opening, 2 someones climbing up into the room))
Stil: Don’t a-worry, Imenand. I was-a just fortifying the immune-a-systems of-a-the trees that hadn’t a-been irradiated yet. The-a balance of-a Nature requires that-a you make-a-the-space for all-a-the bugs and-a plants and-a animals and-a mutants that-a might-a wanna join-a-the biosphere!
Smyd: That, and he was helping me prepare the little patches of solid ground we could find for some bear grass seeds to take root. But all that work’s made me thirsty, so I’m going to have another one of those extra-sweet, high-alcohol Elven liqueurs that they make out of the nectars from fruit trees.
Pamande: Well, you’re all here now, so we can finally get through the formality of the Acoustican Audition Ceremony. Here, let’s help the Hammock’s staff set up the stage, and then y’all can play a set. Just one song is all you need for tradition’s sake. And traditions are very important in Acoustica.
Mhorton: Man… maybe we should play a medley, just in case they don’t like our cover of the birthday song. Or just in case we’ve accidentally been jamming on the traditional Northern Dwarven Birthday song, instead of the Elven one.
Pamande: If you wish to play more than one piece, then that will be acceptable. But you must play at least one song, to prove your fitness for our proudly humble Birthday Hoedown Extravaganza.
Rhomande: Two songs, eh? Well, I don’t spend much time listening to Dwarves, but I’m always willing to embroider their musics a bit. I just wish I could hit all of those deep, bass notes without casting Ghost Sound on myself first.
Stiev: Um… Misssssster Mulkafinde? What happenssssss if we fall off tempo or don’t play with enough vibrato or other embellissssssshhhhhmentsssssss or sssssssomething.
Pamande: Well, my dear lizard friend, y’all have to be very careful with the timing of the birthday song. According to our venerable swamp witch, if even the quietest sixteenth-note chimes out before its appointed time, then the whole ceremony is ruined and our gods will blight our crops for a millennium. Y’all don’t have to play all fancy, though. We Acousticans are very proud of our austere musical stylings, and we mostly just want to be able to pick out a familiar tune. But this is just a formality. Y’all’re professional musicians and the real performance is tomorrow night, so we don’t have to worry about any of that for right now. Just get on up there and play your hearts out! And, Bromande, thank you for agreeing to play for Sismande. Mamande and Grandmande will be so happy to see both of you getting along nicely together for a change!
DM: The Insufferable Basterds schlep all of their borrowed or improvised instruments onto the stage and spend the next quarter-hour setting up their tableaux. Once the instruments have been tuned and the sound check is finished, Pamande signals the innkeeper to dim the lights with a modified darkness spell, leaving only a small pool of full illumination upon the stage.
((Sfx: Darkness, light; Basterds’ version of the birthday song))
Pamande: Oh, that is an excellent beat you’re keeping Miss Stiev. Your tail-drumming will be perfect, if you can keep it up through the song’s full duration of one and three-quarter hours!
Stiev: Thankssssss, Misssssster Rhomande’ssssssss Dad!
Pamande: (trying to be polite) Oh, gods! How long have you been in this band, Master Shenouda? Now, I don’t want to be unkind… I trust Bromande to find decent musicians to back him, but that sounded… uh… let’s say it’s a little too, uh, fancy for this venue, maybe? Howsabout you try that bass line again, only without your magical box of distortions this time?
Imenand: I’ve only been in the band for the past fortnight. And most of that time was spent developing my S.A.D.D.E.N.E.R. Box. I spent the effort to build the device, so I will not be eschewing it for this upcoming performance.
Pamande: Ah, well. Your short time in the band does excuse you from being, uh… less familiar with the part? But you built your instrument yourself, so the people of Acoustica will at least appreciate your craftsmanship, if not your execution.
Thrimlach: And now it is time for my grand solo upon the newly repaired Sir Gnomophone! Hold still while I hammer your ribcage, Sir Gnomophone!
Sir Gnome: Blinkety blonk. Yeth, Mathter. Blonkety blink.
Pamande: Oh, No! No, no, no, no, no! That simply will not do, ceatharan! Your solo is far too ornate! Tone it down, Vivaldi. We’re playing the Acoustica Stump here, not one of those glittery Golden Music Halls those jumped-up Dwarves to the east keep erecting!
DM: Issa shoots a significant glance across the stage at Rhomande.
Rhomande: That’s right, Issa. Now you can see why I left this place. My countrymen simply cannot appreciate the finer aspects of music, and I refuse to play less well, simply to accommodate my audience!
Issa: No. I was thinking more that you’re a globulous fraud.
Rhomande: Wha— And what is that supposed to mean, you overgrown puffin?
Issa: Look around, poncy-pants! You always claimed to be the best bard around, but when we first met you were above-average at best. Now I see why.
Rhomande: I will have you know that at the age of 92, I was ritualistically exiled from this town, simply for my –ahem– differences in musical opinion. Besides, papa didn’t call me on the carpet this time, so I’ve obviously learned how to make compromises for the sake of communal harmony!
Issa: Communal harmony, my cloaca! You weren’t even hitting your strings! You basically played Air Lute through that whole song!
Rhomande: And thus, nobody took note of my many hammer-ons, pull-offs, and aeolian scales. Papa isn’t getting red in the face–well except for the juniper blossoms on his cheeks–so harmony must have been preserved!
DM: The… I guess it counts as a performance? Anyway, you wrap up the song, and Pamande greets you as you relinquish the stage.
Pamande: Thank you again for gettin’ on up there. I say, it takes a whole bushel o’ courage to perform anything in front of a live audience, and from what I’ve seen tonight, if even a tenth of what my son keeps writing home about y’all is true, then you’re still the bravest group of adventurin’ musicians I’ve ever met. Even braver’n my darling daughter’s Red Hand Minstrel Assassins.
Issa: Rhomande writes home to you guys? That’s weird; he always makes it sound like he has no living family other than Izreanna.
Pamande: Well, he more writes at us than to us.
Issa: That sounds more like the Rhomande I know and tolerate.
Mhorton: But he writes about us when he does?
Pamande: Well… He writes about his own daring exploits and adventures, but he always includes y’all as supporting characters. But I know my boy well enough to know how to read between the lines, so that’s how I know that y’all’re the bravest adventurers ever to grace our humble Acoustican Stump with your musical presence. Especially with all the, uh, mysterious threats and such surroundin’ tomorrow evenin’s party. But that’s got to just be sound and fury. Ain’t nobody ‘round here been hurt, so far.
((Sfx: splintering timbers))
DM: At that moment, you hear a sudden crack as one of the Inn’s support branches gives way. Make reflex saves to avoid falling out of the treehouse!
((Sfx: d20 roll x15/lots, splintering wood, crash))
Pamande: (*cough-cough*) Well, I spoke too soon, I suppose. I just wish I knew who would want to sabotage my darling Sismande Izrean∂enn Alafinde’s sweet two-sixteen. But first, is everybody okay?
Rhomande: I’m fine, Papa!
Thrimlach: Ooooogh. I’m not quite dead. Luckily Spirit of the Swift Wind broke my fall. And even more luckily, Sir Gnome broke the magical-yet-not-talking horse’s fall!
Issa: We penguins are good, thanks to the Celestial Chain Mail that I force all of my retainers to wear.
Vragul: Vragul fly, too, so Vragul and family ams okay.
Yfirma∂r: You do nothing for help family, Vragul! Me ams monk, so me slow fall with Vriggle as soon as tree break. You bad husborc for look after self but not family!
Maldreth: Ugh. I take this as a sign that the Warfather has declared a war on timber.
Stiev: Imenand, I think thissssss isssssss your fault. If you could jusssssst turn down your aura of radiatttttttiiiiion maybe the treessssss will ssssssstop breaking on ussssssss.
Imenand: Shut up, Chameleon. I’ve only been here for about 13 hours, so while many tree cancers have budded in the wake of my free radicals, they shouldn’t have had enough time to metastasize or cause structural damage… yet.
Mhorton: And this is why Dwarves aren’t stupid enough to build their inns in trees. Well, this and the fact that our adamantine kegs are too heavy to be supported by mere wood.
Smyd: Ugh. I’m fine. But I’m starting to hate this place. I see why you left all those years ago, Rhomande.
Rhomande: Well, if I have to perform at tomorrow’s soirée, then I should go get ready. I’ll be in my dressing room, so don’t bother me under any circumstances. But first… a word from our sponsors.
Scene 3: A Commercial Break
Ormr: Y’know… When us Dwarves is drivin’ our shaggy yaks all up’n down a mountain, sometimes we gotta bivouac and make camp on the cliffside. Now, us Dwarves is pretty good at cookin’ up a stew or sauce what holds all yer daily vitamins ’n’ nutrients, so we always know we’ll go to bed with a full belly. Then one day this dumb half-orc wanders into our camp, carryin’ a big cauldron o’ somethin’ what smelled like a chili pepper’d fallen love with a tomato.
Skrump: Hey Dwarves! Me ams travel, too, but me all lone. You Dwarves want for me share me special extra-hot orc sauce? It made with phantom pepper!
Ormr: Well, we Dwarves’re a hospitable people, so we invited this Skrump feller into our camp and took a bite out o’ his cauldron, and hooo-wee! It was the worst sauce I’d ever tasted; that swill was blander and milder’n a newborn’s first fart. P’too! Feh! Hey, Skrump, where’d you say you got this recipe?
Skrump: It old family recipe from way back when me grandmothorc help build New Orc City.
Ormr: NEW ORC CITY!? Well that explains it, I guess. Here, Skrump. Try some o’ this Special Dwarf Core o’ the Planet Hot Sauce. Now made with chili seeds what grew on the Plane o’ Fire!
Tipp: Special Dwarf Core o’ the Planet Hot Sauce. They say it’s magically hot, but I don’t believe in magic. Now registering at over 14 trillion on the scovo scale, this sauce is guaranteed to set fire to your supper tonight.
Skrump: AAAAAAGH! ME TONGUE! IT BURN!
Scene 4: The Glove of Investigation
Mhorton: Now, Mr. Mulkafinde, I don’t want to transgress against any of your northern elven customs and traditions, so I’d like to ask a question before I begin an official inquiry: Do you slap somebody with a glove to start an investigation, this far up in the Deep North?
Pamande: Why, yes, that is how you start an official investigation up here! You know, you’re pretty well-versed in our proud Northern Elven cultural dealings, Master Saltzgeld. For a Dwarf, that is.
Stiev: In that casssssse… Misssssssster Pamande, I hereby open thissssssss invessssssstigattttiiion! Ssssssslap! Sssssssomeone hasssss been ssssssawing at the branchessssss of your treehoussssssse, and I want to know who! Wassss it that dassssstardly flying sssssswordfissssh who’ssssss been terrorizzzzzzing the Eassssssst Coassssssst of Ssssssscottalia?
Pamande: My dear, I do believe you are confused. Such damage as this would not be caused by a flying swordfish. The dreaded flying sawfish on the other hand…
Thrimlach: No, no, no, Stiev! You’re doing it all wrong. Do it like this: [southern accent] Mah good sir, I demand investigation!
Pamande: Ouch. You’ve got a mighty powerful slap there, Marse Thrimlach. Let me just pour myself a dram of Northern Comfort to steady my nerves before I admit that I have no idea who would want to spoil my dear Sismande Izrea∂enn Alafinde’s two hundred and sixteenth birthday celebration. (slurp) Aah! Quite refreshing! And now, I will officially admit that I have no idea who might be behind the attempts to ruin my darling daughter’s most important natal anniversary.
((Sfx: drink pour))
Maldreth: I suspect that the pig-farming elf may be holding back. O Makar of the Creeping Terrors, please send us your BRAIN SPIDERS to wrench the secrets from this hillbilly’s mind!
((Sfx: Brain Spiders))
Pamande: Oh… Oh my gods! What’re those… Ag’hkk’n! My ears! Ooogh… What would you like to know, Marse Maldreth?
Maldreth: First off, you shall address me as Reverend. And secondly, what was the first indication that something was amiss with the forthcoming birthday ritual?
Pamande: Well, Reverend, the threats kinda started about a day and a half after Sismande came to ask me if we were going to throw her the traditional Sweet Two-Sixteen. Oh, and she also reminded me that her birthday technically is the day before her twin brother’s.
Issa: Wait a minute. Back the fuck up. Your twin children have different birthdays?
Pamande: Yeah… It is somewhat strange that my twins have different birthdays, but when Sismande came to me a month ago she had this Certificate of Live Birth from the Imperial Office of Foreign Registries that clearly showed that she was born just before midnight and Bromande was born just after. I always thought Mamande was in labor until just before dawn when she gave the worlds my twin bobbins, but after ninety hours of labor, you kinda lose touch with the facts, I guess.
Imenand: I DEMAND INVESTIGATION OF THAT CERTIFICATE OF LIVE BIRTH! Hmm…yes, yes, everything appears to be in order here. These are official Imperial documents, all properly signed and notarized. And this page, here is a Foreign Birth Registry Application, filled out and approved about 3 years ago. You see, all paperwork must be properly filed, even for Preexisting Citizens whose homelands are absorbed by the Empire in their adulthoods.
((Sfx: Gloveslap, paper rustle))
Rhomande: None of you are paying any attention to me! If that will be the case, then I shall be retiring to my dressing room post-haste!
Smyd: I thought you already did that.
Rhomande: Well, I was going to, and then I heard that advertisement for that disgusting Dwarven hot sauce and had to make myself a cosmopolitan to rinse the taste out of my mind! But I’m leaving for real now, even if you do start paying me proper amounts of attention!
Issa: If the Bard stays conscious all day, we’ll never get anywhere with this investigation. Tuxie, hand me one of your slightly-larger slapping fish.
Tuxedo Beak: Right away, Lady Featherfoot!
DM: Rhomande spins on his heel and starts to make a bee-line for the staircase, but his trajectory takes him right past Issa, who cunningly hides Tuxedo Beak’s piscine blackjack behind her right thigh until the last possible moment.
((Sfx: d20 roll, fish slap))
Rhomande: What the…? Ooof!
Issa: There. Now he won’t get in the way. Thanks for the loan, Tuxie!
Tuxedo Beak: Any time, fishball head!
Imenand: I shall continue the investigations! Give me that glove, Stiev! Now, then. Master Mulkafinde. If your culture holds the two hundred and sixteenth birthday celebration to be so important, then why have we not even mentioned the idea of celebrating your son’s birth?
Pamande: Well, Master Shenouda, the original plan was for the party to span both days, so that Bromande could play for Sismande’s party, and they’d trade the stage after midnight. But then someone came by in the night and stabbed this note into the base of our ancestral treehouse.
((Sfx: paper rustle))
Mhorton: Gimme that note! Let’s see… Whoever wrote this has terrible handwriting. I can’t tell which vowels all these little loops over the consonants are supposed to denote; you elves usually use solid blocks of ink in your calligraphy, not weird little loops. Hmmm…
((Sfx: paper rustle))
Thrimlach: Of course you can’t read it, Dwarf! Your eyes aren’t worthy. Now, let me just put my blackened, mouldy potato familiar on top of the page so I can see through its many eyes… Okay. It says, “This party violates the most sacred rites of Acoustican Culture. Bromande Duchtreen Sorfinde will not take the stage, and if your preparations for such an event continue, then Spanglegloves will be forced to dissuade you.” Who the fuck is Spanglegloves?
Pamande: Now, now. There’s nothin’ to worry about for y’all musicians. Now, I don’t know any Spanglegloves, but ain’t nobody gonna threaten my children. I got Sissie’s friends with the red mittens lookin’ into it, though, so y’all should probably just focus on practicing the Traditional Acoustican Nameday Song.
Issa: Hang on. Before we get out of this ruined treehouse inn and go off to practice that song we’ll never be able to pull off, I want to start one more investigation.
Pamande: What would you like to know next, Lady Featherfoot?
Issa: I want to know all of the most embarrassing childhood stories about our ““dear, beloved”” Bromande!
Pamande: Well, telling embarrassin’ stories about one’s offspring is at least five-eighths o’ the reason to spawn in the first place! My favorite was the time he pooped his pants, right in the middle of Elf Church! I mean, he was still young… He’d only seen about 23 winters, by that point. Anyway, there we were, seated amongst the roots of the great, hollowed out Tree of Manneg, elven god of the skies. It was the first time that my dear daughter was to sing the responsorial psalm to the congregation. Now, I know how jealous my dear Bromande can get when others are garnering more attention, but when I glanced to my side I did not expect to see his face shining so beet-red with such powerful exertion…
Scene 5: Credit where Credit is Due
Maldreth: Visit The 20-Sided Theatre online at twentysidedtheatre.com. You can also follow us on Twitter through scryomagical links that Imenand and Thrimlach have established. You can follow the Twenty Sided Theatre @ Two-Zero Sided Theatre spelled with an -RE, the Inexcusable Rhomande Sorfinde @IllustriousRho, Master Imenand Shenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, Thrimlach Lenanien @Thrimlach, Issa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot, and Spirit of the Swift Wind @SpiritOTSW. Check the show notes for Episode 25 if you need help with the spellings!
Thrimlach: The 20-Sided Theatre is a joint Production of Bear Industries and the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This Episode stars Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceridwen Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, Rudraigh Quattrin, and Tony Scaruffi. With special thanks to Jon Abinante, Jim Kolling, and Mike Solso for the use of Smyd Kaltrops the Half-Bear Monk, Stil Colemanaani the Druid of the Frozen Summit, and Vragul King of Things.
Mhorton: Tonight’s episode was written by Rudraigh Quattrin and engineered by Blake Parker.
Imenand: Music by …
Imenand: 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. While you’re there, consider donating to the upkeep and production of the Twenty Sided Theatre. If you don’t, then I shall equip each of my 35 irradiated necromages with INCREDIBLY heavy gloves, that they may begin 35 separate investigations into the causes of your miserliness.
Issa: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 6: The Tag
Torrea: Master Shenouda? Spirit of the Swift Wind and I bring you tidings from Lord Thrimlach.
Imenand: Silence yourself, Torrea! You too, Spirit of the Swift Wind! (pause for SotSW) I SAID SHUT UP, HORSE! I am receiving signals from the polycosmic monitoring system that I use to spy on that so-called “scientist”, Professor E. Slide.
((Sfx: SotSW, radio tuning))
Professor Slide: Doctor Edwin von Slidingwerth, honorary-Ph.D., here again to bring you a brilliant new product from the SlidingTech family of goods and services! But before I can show you our brilliant and supremely useful new bauble… Sonar! Get in here!
((Sfx: Door creak))
Sonar: Uh, whaddaya want this time, sir? I was busy decoding all those .wav files you’ve been recording with that multidimensional surveillance network that you teleported into that Shenouda guy’s workshop. Also, jeezy-creezy! That door is super-loud! Maybe you oughtta consider oiling it up or something.
Professor Slide: A capital idea, Sonar! Go and fetch me a can of SlidingTech universal lubricant! But first, you should shut that door so I don’t get mosquitos and moths crawling all over this incredibly expensive scientific equipment!
Sonar: Sure thing, sir. (grunt of effort) Uh… The door’s kinda stuck. You really need to oil this thing more often. Lemme just give it some boot-grease. (grunt of kick)
((Sfx: kick, slamming door, something cracking/splintering, begin rumbling))
Professor Slide: Sonar, what have you done!? That’s a load-bearing wall that you just broke!
Sonar: It wasn’t my fault, sir! You’re the one who hired that cut-rate cockup artist to build Lab Facility Epsilon out of sticks, after that Big Good Wolf asshole blew down Facilities Alpha through Delta! Oshit! Run!
((Sfx: end rumbling, collapsing building))
Professor Slide: (cough-cough) Wow. That was unexpected. Especially since that so-called “hero” the Big Good Wolf wasn’t involved this time! Okay. Time to start up on Science Facility Theta! Sonar! Bring me THE YELLOW PAGES! I need to look through a list of companies that specialize in stonework!
Sonar: (cough-cough) Uh… I think the phone book’s still down there in all the rubble. But you don’t need ’em anyway, sir. There’s that Mason guy who’s in our superhuman community service group… Jack, I think his name was?
Professor Slide: Brilliant thinking, Sonar! Hand me your SlidePhone!
((Sfx: cell phone dialing/ringing/pick up))
Mason: Uh, hello? Jack Partry Construction and Stonework. Solid work with solid materials since 2010. How can we be of efidication today?
Professor Slide: The Mason! Get out here! Lab Facility Epsilon has finally met with the same fate as all the others, and I need your unique set of Terrapathic and Terrakinetic abilities to build me a new one!
Mason: Who the— aww, shit. Eddie? How’d you get this number, chief? I keep tellin’ ya, I don’t wanna be part of no company run by an ex-supervillain. I’m on parole now, boss, and I don’t wanna screw that up by working for you.
Professor Slide: First off, it’s “Professor Slide” to you, The Mason. Maybe “Doctor von Slidingwerth”. But never “Eddie”! Such familiarity will not be tolerated in a henchman!
Mason: And that’s what I keep telling ya, chief! I don’t wanna be no henchman! I mean, your guys’ve got the best insurance package this side of the Mississippi, but your pay’s still shit! Plus, that whole volcano lair idea you’ve been talking about just ain’t gonna work unless you wanna relocate to somewhere that volcanoes already exist!
Professor Slide: What? So you’re telling me that there’s no way I’m going to get a secret underwater volcano base hidden at the roots of Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay? What kind of shoddy Terrapath are you anyway?
Mason: Look, boss, I just talk to the rocks and move ’em around with my powers; I can’t convince a slab of granite to turn itself into lava or nothin’; just move it around and ask it about its day.
Professor Slide: Okay, fine. I just need a state-of-the-art lab and I need it yesterday. I’ve got a hundred gold ingots with your name stamped on them, but you can only have them if you can start construction within the hour.
Sonar: Holy shit, sir! You just offered him like a million dollars for this job!
Professor Slide: A little over 1.3 million, actually. So, whatcha say, the Mason? Are SlidingTech Industries and Partry Construction and Stonework going to be able to do business?
Mason: Uh… you got all those gold bars legally, right?
Professor Slide: Of course I did! The illegal part comes later, when I convince everybody else in the country to stop using paper money! Oops. Uh… forget I said that.
((Sfx: radio tuning))
Imenand: Hmm… I must find this Island of Angels, that I might visit such annoyance on Professor E. Slide as he has inflicted upon me. Though, it disturbs me to find that he is gathering allies unto himself. Not to worry, though…
Torrea: What bear-grass-addled divinity came up with such a strange ability as Terrapathy!
Imenand: Are you still here, Torrea? I thought you’d gone. In any case, you are correct. The ability to read the inner thoughts of stones and minerals will be as useful and interesting to this Mason-Partry individual as reading the inner thoughts of Sir Gnome will be to Thrimlach. Heh. I must remember to commend Mhorton later, for his cruel ingenuity. Now… Get out of my lab, Torrea! You, too, Spirit of the Swift Wind! And take care not to slam the door behind you. I do not wish to hire a mason of my own to reconstruct this laboratory.
((Sfx: SotSW, door shutting gently))