The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 28: The Bard and the Dancer
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
Pamande Mulkafinde, a pig-haired Northern Gentlelf – Blake Parker
Hera Laris – Ceridwen
The Wiz – Cian
Tipp Indecent – Rud
Torrea Marsvell – Cian
Sir Gnome – Rud
Tuxedo Beak – Blake
Spanglegloves – Rud
Zolov – Cian
Joren – Blake
Ragnaroctopus – Gabe
Shakes – Blake
Izreanna – 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, the big night is here. After over a Century, the Inexilable Rhomande Sorfinde will be taking the stage at the Acoustica Stump, in order to play the Traditional Acoustican Birthday Hoedown for my sister Izreanna’s Sweet-216. But I’ve been sequestered in the Great Trunk, tuning my lute and making costume selections for my Insufferable Backers… er… Basterds. In any case, I don’t know what’s happened in town this afternoon, so here to bring you more is Lara Harris and the Dipson Memorial Action Town Criers!
Hera: Ugh. (to self) It’s the closest he’s gotten in three newscasts, I suppose. (to “camera”) Good evening. I am Hera Laris and tonight’s top story continues the search for the criminal prankster known as “Spanglegloves”. Just hours ago, an explosion rocked the Acoustica Tree of Records, scattering identifying documents far and wide across the swamp town. We now go live to The Wiz on the scene. The Wiz?
The Wiz: Thank ya, Pally! As you can see behind me, the whole bottom floor of the Tree of Records was taken out by what authorities suspect to be a Blasting Skull Trap. I mean… Whenever I cast Detect Magic, I can still feel really high levels of evocative and necromantic energy, so a Blasting Skull kinda makes sense here.
Hera: Two groups of adventurers were supposed to be investigating the situation yesterday, The Wiz. Where were they at the time of the explosion.
The Wiz: Well, about half of the Insufferable Basterds and the drummer from the Red Hand were at ground zero, but from all accounts they were tryin’ to disarm the thing. Silly dummies didn’t realize that skulls already ain’t got no arms! Anyway, it doesn’t look like anybody was killed or nothin’, so Rhomande yelled out a window for everyone to get up to the Great Trunk for costume fittin’s. That’s all I gots for now, so back to you, Pally!
Hera: Thank you, The Wiz. Remember: any information leading to the arrest or capture of the criminal known as Spanglegloves will be rewarded with three gold puntillos. Please bring any such information to the Acoustica Town Guard or the Red Hand Minstrel Assassin Quintet as soon as possible. When we return, Engar Flamehand will sit down in an exclusive interview with master Imenand Shenouda, Grand Weaponer of the Empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns. But first, a word from our sponsors.
Tipp: Well, hello there. I must not’ve noticed you sneakin’ up, on account of how I’m cleaning out this Myth and Stetson, 97-caliber dwarven hand cannon. Lemme just lay this on the table here between us, so’s I can tell you about Spirit of the Swift Wind’s Express Delivery Service. Do you have a fragile package or frangible parcel that won’t survive the bumpin’ and jostlin’ that’s typical of the competitors at Sliding Peck Deliveries. I mean, them penguins’re cute, and their shippin’s quick, but their handlin’ leaves something to be desired. Must be the flippers. Anyhow, you don’t want none o’ that low-quality kind of delivery service. And you’re a smart one, so you know you can trust your most breakable bags, boxes, crates, and cargo with Spirit of the Swift Wind’s Express Delivery Service. Because no other service uses off-duty paladin mounts who can run your mail straight from a starburst in the sky right to the recipient’s feet.
Tipp: I’m Tipp Indecent, and they’re payin’ it, so I’m sayin it: [Spirit of the Swift Wind’s Express Delivery Service] is the finest [mail delivery service] available in your area.
Tipp: (to be cut and pasted, as if he recorded the frame once, and they just edit in the product and description) [Spirit of the Swift Wind’s Express Delivery Service] [mail delivery service]
Rhomande: Coves and Cozies of my blood-lusting audience, lay back in your gilded boxes, gulp down your libations again and again and again, adjust your listening devices to receive both channels, that you may thoroughly enjoy your evening at the Arena of Ahk’ra—er… Ahem. Enjoy your evening at The 20-Sided Theatre.
Scene 2: The Green Room
DM: It’s the night of Izreanna’s birthday party, and Rhomande has finally come out of his dressing room, wearing the traditional green-and-brown roughspun clothing of Acoustica. He’s even put aside Rhomandette for the moment, taking up his childhood lute, which is comically small for him now. He sashays into the green room, where the assembled party is adjusting their costumes, finishing their makeup, and tuning their instruments.
((Sfx: tuning the sir gnomophone, tambourine, bass guitars, etc.))
Rhomande: Alright, my Insufferable Basterds! Curtain in twenty! Now, form up in a circle and grasp each other’s hands… er… Stiev and Torrea, how about you two hold Imenand’s hands. No need to give anybody the old Radiation Tummy right before we go onstage to prove to all the worlds which of Pamande and Mamande’s children is the greatest to ever grace the stage!
Stiev: Sssssure thing, Rhomande! Though, I’ve got to complain a bit about thisssss cosssssstume you’ve picked out for me. The tutu isssssss niccccccce, but there’ssssss no ssssssssspot for my tail to ssssssssslip out of the leotard!
Rhomande: We’ll deal with that later. Just take Imenand’s hand, for now.
Imenand: Get your sticky-yet-somehow-clammy hand away from me, Chameleon! If you persist, then I shall remove your arm by erecting a Weaponized Prismatic Wall between us!
Rhomande: Imenand. We are about to invoke the Father of War and the Mother of Weapons to aid us in my personal war on mediocre Acoustican taste. Take the damned Chameleon’s hand and invoke your goddess!
Imenand: Fine. But, Bard, the moment Mëassë the Forgemother deems you too broken to fix, I shall disassemble you and part you out for my various “projects”. Torrea, you’re fine. I have no problem taking your hand.
Torrea: Thank you, Master Shenouda. The paladins of Mandos, the Arbiter of Fates, ever pride themselves on their graceful neutrality. It is why Lord Thrimlach selected me as his personal bodyguard!
Thrimlach: That’s right, Torrea! That, and the God of Lots didn’t want the body of a teenaged paladin-in-training to go to waste. Plus, his order of paladins needed a founding member! Don’t worry, though. Even if it were up to me, I’d have made sure that your fate was at least one order of magnitude better than Sir Gnome’s. Isn’t that right, Sir Gnome?
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter!
Thrimlach: Shut up and take my hand, Sir Gnome! And then take Mhorton’s hand, since he’s next in the circle, and friend or not, I’m not holding any dwarf’s hand for longer than it takes to strike a deal.
Sir Gnome: (psi) Yeth, Mathter.
Thrimlach: (psi) I thought I told you to— oh, right. The mind link. Sir Gnome! I have a new task for you! I place you upon this QUEST! You need to think up a suitable reprisal upon Mhorton for psi-bonding us!
Sir Gnome: (psi) Yeth, Mathter! Mathter Thalzgeld will know the wrath of Thir Gnome and hith Mathter Frimlach Lenanien!
Mhorton: Sir Gnome, why are you looking at me like that?
Sir Gnome: You’re the firtht perthon who hathn’t pulled my hand off at the writht when you grabbed it, other than Lady Gnome. I just want to fank you for your kindneth.
Mhorton: Uh… Okay. I guess I couldn’t tell what kind of look was on your face because you only have two expressions: mouth closed and mouth open. A little like how Issa’s flippers only have two options in Roshambo: paper and rock.
Issa: Yup! Some species have taken the basic model of the hand and perfected it! Who needs scissors, anyway? Gimme your hand, Mhorton!
Mhorton: Ouch! That’s quite a strong grip you’ve got. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the seven-ILDM-tall penguin has a crushing handshake—er… flippershake.
Rhomande: Yes, yes! Much better! Now that we’re circled up, we should center ourselves with a prayer. Reverend Maldreth, would you please desanctify the evening?
Maldreth: Of course, bard. It displeases me less than usual to see you giving our gods their due credit in your meager accomplishments. Join me, Master Shenouda.
Maldreth: O mighty twins of the sword…
Imenand: …who battled in the celestial womb with fist and umbilicus…
Maldreth: …the first to make war …
Imenand: …and the first to craft the tools thereof…
Maldreth: …turn your burning gazes upon this evening and this performance!
Imenand: May our instruments be weapons in the war on silence!
Maldreth: May our notes be barrages of bass and tactical strikes of treble!
Imenand: May the clamor of our victory against silence echo out…
Maldreth: Imenand: …for all time and in all ears!
Rhomande: Thank you both. This evening will be quite the one to remember, I promise you. Now, the fat moon is nearly in position, so we must away to the stage! Brother Kaltrops, Stil, Your Majesty, I regret to inform you that your services will not be needed upon the stage tonight. I suggest you make haste back to the Frozen Summit Crossplanar Bar and Grille, so you might go back to overseeing your personal affairs. Come now, my performers! The Stump awaits, and if the song begins between a half-note too early and an eigth-note too late, then the swamp will dry up and all of Acoustica will be forced to endure a thousand years of drought! So timing is of the essence!
((Sfx: feet leaving, door shutting))
Smyd: It seems kinda suspicious that Rhomande wants us to leave, instead of watching the performance, dontcha think?
Stil: I agree, a-brother Kaltrops. Usually the Bard wants as bigga-the audience as he can-a get. I kinda get-a wanting his-a Majesty Vragul outta-the way, but your a-bear-a-grass usually makes-a the concession sales go through-a-the thatched roof!
Vragul: Vragul wanted be King of Band, but talky-elf say there no leer-ick for Orcousitcan Birthday Song. Vragul already King of Bar, so now me want be King of Audience instead.
Stil: So, are we inna-agreement, then? We’re a-staying for-a-the performance?
Smyd: And we’re gonna have one last look around for this Spanglegloves person. If they’re gonna strike, then right when the band takes the stage would be the perfect time. We’ve got about a quarter-hour left while the road crew tears down for Threllis and the Faceless, so we should split up.
Stil: Good a-thinking, Brother Bear! I’ll take-a-the left wing!
Smyd: And I’ll take the right. Vragul…
Vragul: Vragul King with Wing. Me also King of Theatorc, so me know me place. Me look through flyspace!
Smyd: Here, I’ve got a few Rings of Message that I keep in my pouch for situations like this. Use them to stay in communication, and report in if you find anything. If this operation goes teats up, then use Maldreth’s ring to teleport to the stage. We’ll catch Spanglegloves before they kill our business partners, or my name’s not Dark Brother Smyd Kaltrops the Half-Bear Monk!
((Sfx: orc wings, bear leaving, door closing))
Scene 3: A Word from Our Sponsors
Stil: Oooooh-ah-kay! Now that alla-those other guys are-a gone, I can finally tell-a you, the audience, about-a the many goods and-a-services that we offer at the Frozen-a-Summit Cross-a-planar Bar and-a Grille! Not only do we serve-a-the finest foodstuffs and the tastiest drinkstuffs, but we also offer-a wide-a-range of adventuring out-a-fitters and spell-a-casters. Yes, friends, the Insufferable Basterds decided-a long-a-time ago that we wouldn’t stand for no half-a-the market price-a booll-a-sheet, so we opened up the shop in-a-corner of-a the bar. And now we can-a sell all-a the weapons and-a-the armors and-a-the tents and-a-the rucksacks and-a-such that-a we pick up off-a the bodies of our a-slain-a-foes! So a-come on a-down to-a-the Frozen-a-Summit Cross-a-planar Bar and-a Grille the next-a-time a-you get-a-the hankering to go on-a some adventures! Plus, the first a-fifty customers to buy the a-Secret Item of-a-the Day will-a get a free week’s supply of Frozen-a-Summit Private Reserve-a Eisvein! So hurry on a-down to-a-the Frozen-a-Summit Cross-a-planar Bar and-a Grille today!
((Sfx: wak at “bool-a-sheet”; door opens, then closes again at end of spiel when stil leaves))
Scene 4: Waiting in the Wings
Smyd: Alright. I’m in position in the left wing. Stil, it sounds like you left your ring on through that commercial, so I’m assuming you’re still on your way to the right. Vragul, are you in position yet?
Vragul: (walkie-talkie) Um… Me ams holding UH position, but me think maybe it not one you want me for hold. Vriggle fell into swamp, so now me needs dirty him up again after him touch watorc. Me promise me look through riggings in fly space as soon as son ams ready for me negligent fathorchood.
Smyd: Gods damnit, I hate you guys.
Thrimlach: Don’t worry, Brother Bear! I can always send Sir Gnome up to the grid. Sir Gnome!
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter.
Thrimlach: Shut up, Sir Gnome! And hold onto this rope with all your meager might!
Sir Gnome: Right away, Mathter. What should I do now that I’m holding it?
Thrimlach: You just hold on tight while I grab the bear by the wrist and use one of his claws to cut this line free from the railing!
((Sfx: claw slice, reeling rope, 4-7 thuds))
DM: Thrimlach drags the half-bear monk’s paw across the rope line, cutting several cords at once. A series of bags plummets heavily toward the stage, crashing open and spilling their sandy contents all over the hardwood platform.
Sir Gnome: Whooa!
Smyd: Well, I guess that’ll do. Especially since Mhorton forcibly psi-bonded you two. Can you see anything up there, Thrimlach?
Thrimlach: Uh… not really. Sir Gnome kinda got tangled up on the way, and I think there’s about 30 Centi-ILDMs of hemp between his eye sockets and the outside world. I can kinda hear the shuffling and rustling of silk pantaloons, though. But I assume that’s just the sound of us all climbing onto the stage in these costumes Rhomande picked out. Alright, Sir Gnome, if you don’t get down here right now, I won’t be able to play you for this stupid song, and then it’ll be your fault that the swamp dries up for a thousand years.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, mathther. Let me just… whoa!
((Sfx: falling bones))
Issa: Anyway. Where the hells is Rhomande?
Smyd: I assumed he came over with you guys.
Stiev: I think he ssssssaid ssssssomething about casssssssting “Actor’sssss Private Ssssssanctum” before making hisssss entranccccce. If he didn’t do that, then I assssssume that he’ssssss over in the wing off sssssssstage left.
Thrimlach: Probably more like he was going to cast Actor’s Private Tantrum.
Issa: Nah. A private tantrum would be useless to our Bard. He’s far more likely to cast Actor’s Public Tantrum. And he’s probably over across the stage casting it now.
Stil: (walkie-talkie) No, he’s a-not over-a-here right a-now. We just gotta Maldreth, Imenand, and-a Mhorton over on-a this side.
Issa: Gods this garland is uncomfortable. Why did the stupid bard have to make it so tight? I can barely wak in this thing. And it totally clashes with this kelp-colored ball gown that I can barely move in.
Tuxedo Beak: I wouldn’t say that, Fishball Head. The two greens provide a nice counterpoint to each other.
Issa: I appreciate the sentiment, Tuxie, but you don’t need to lie just to make Rhomande look better at his job. Which he’s apparently terrible at, since it’s less than ten minutes to curtain and he’s nowhere to be found.
Vragul: (walkie-talkie? far away?) OWCH!
Smyd: Sounds like Vragul just made it over to Stage Left.
Vragul: (walkie-talkie) Me did make it to stage! Vriggle ams as happy and clean as Bard-Daddy-Elf’s pigs when they roll in shit! And me just tripped ovorc this little metal box. Imenand! You ams have company for make box! What this box do?
((Sfx: wak, d20 roll))
Imenand: (walkie-talkie) Hmmm… The coiled copper spires suggest that this may be a heavily modified Chain Lightning Trap. I’m quite surprised you didn’t set it off.
Mhorton: (walkie-talkie) Any indication as to who might have manufactured it, Master Shenouda?
Imenand: (walkie-talkie) Let’s see… Detect Magic! Yes… there are some strong familiar energies flowing from this particular device.
Maldreth: (walkie-talkie) Well, if you know who the manufacturer is, then spit it out. Unless, of course, you’d prefer Makar to declare a War on Mummies for the next millennium or two.
Imenand: (walkie-talkie) Shut up and pay attention, Maldreth. I said that the energies were “familiar”. As in, “from a particular family line”. I can tell that this device was infused with the energies of the Mande/Finde family, but I cannot narrow it down beyond that.
Stiev: Well, ssssssshit. That cccccertainly narrowssssss the ssssssearch field, but Rhomande hassssss a pretty big family for an elf. Esssssspecccccially if any of hisssss grandparentssssss or auntssssss and unclessssss are sssssstill alive.
Issa: You didn’t pay any attention to Mr. Mulkafinde’s lectures on Acoustican naming conventions, did you, Stiev? Imenand said it came from the Mande/Finde family, which pretty much just means Ma, Pa, and their two kids. Maybe Izzy’s two kids, too, but they’re only half-elves, so I don’t know or particularly care how they were named.
Stiev: I ssssstill don’t think that it’ssssss Rhomande thissssss time.
Mhorton: (walkie-talkie) Actually, from what you all have said about your trip to the Plane of Potatoes, this sounds like exactly the kind of hackneyed schtick that he’d deploy twice.
Stiev: Yeah, but Ssssspangleglovessssss sssssstarted threatening people a month before we arrived! And Rhomande wassssss with ussssss, consssssssuming Alconutssssss on Penguidisssssse Island the whole time!
Imenand: (walkie-talkie) Yes, but the Bard could have easily sent someone else ahead to deliver these threats on his behalf, just as he did during the whole “Don Vincenzo” fiasco.
Stiev: Sssssso… I guessssss it’ssssss clearly Rhomande who’ssssss behind all thissssss, then.
Maldreth: (walkie-talkie) Eh. We should just let the BRAIN SPIDERS decide who is truly at fault here.
((Sfx: brain spiders))
Issa: Maldreth, if you send even one of those tiny land-crab things at me, I swear I will bring the full force of every Pengonquin raiding party, hunting squad, and war battalion down upon your cathedral in Slumberton!
Thrimlach: Hush your beak, Penguin! Rhomande’s taking the stage! We should probably get up there and start playing this stupid Northern birthday song.
Scene 5: All the Stages of Worlds
DM: The crowd falls quiet as the stage magicians dim the lights. The band takes the stage in darkness and silence, breathing in the expectant energy from the assembled audience of eleven thousand out-of-towners. And as the first, simple notes of the Scottalian Birthday Song ring out, the lights come up and the crowd… Well, the crowd starts with high enthusiasm, but after the first few bars, only the local Acousticans seem to be appreciating the Basterds’ efforts.
Smyd: Ouch. They’re dying out there!
Stil: (walkie-talkie) Hey, at-a-least they’re a-dying in-a-the figurative sense, and not-a-the literal one. Speakin’-a-which, you guys a-found any traps or-a-some threats?
Smyd: Left wing’s clear. I just made another sweep.
Vragul: (walkie-talkie) Uh… Me think me ams find thing.
Smyd: What kind of thing, Vragul? Is it a dangerous thing?
Stil: (walkie-talkie) If it does-a-happen to be a dangerous thing, then-a-you should-a hit it with-a-you axe.
Vragul: (walkie-talkie) It sometimes dangerous thing, but Vragul already defeat. Other thing way more dangerous, but it not seem want kill Vragul right now.
Stil: (walkie-talkie) So, you got-a-two things up there?
Smyd: Knock it off, you two. Vragul, what have you found?
DM: Before Vragul can respond, the Nameday Song reaches the breakdown, whereupon tradition dictates that the band leader introduce the vamping musicians and then give a short speech in praise of the birthday person.
Rhomande: Good evening, Lords, Ladies, Multiform, Constructs, Unknowable, and Others! You have chosen your evening’s entertainment quite poorly. For you are about to experience the most agonizing torture in all of Western Scottalia! For I am your mistress of misery, Izrea∂enn Spanglegloves, and I have traveled from a parallel universe where I killed my brother and assumed his identity!
DM: The elf throws off her wig with a flourish before unfastening the top button on her shirt and removing two padded chest enhancers. As the villain before you pulls on a pair of white sequined goves, two bodies come hurtling down from the fly space, their ropes jolting them to a stop 30 ILDMs above the stage. The only comfort anybody can take at this moment is that the real Rhomande is bound, gagged, and suspended in midair. On the other hand, it’s actually pretty distressing that our reality’s Izreanna is in the same situation. The Red Hand was supposed to start recording their new album next month.
Spanglegloves: Ugh. I can’t believe this reality’s Rhomande gained so much weight, just so he could play The Brando at the Imperial Stage Society. Anyway… When Bardok the Manyfaced promised me a single boon, I needed no time to think: As I had murdered my brother and taken his place to ruin his reputation, so would I do to every iteration of that Insufferable Brother across the entire polycosm! Once I stop pantomiming and actually play the traditional Acoustican Nameday Song at my own party, I shall have ruined his name upon this world forever! For in Acoustica, it is the Hired Musician’s most sacred duty to ensure that precisely this never happens! BWAHAHAHAHA!
Smyd: Vragul! NOW!
Vragul: Vragul KING OF STAGE!
((Sfx: d20 roll, flat axe hit))
DM: Vragul swoops down from the rigging upon his grafted dragon wings, catching the mirror-world Izreanna behind the left ear, snapping her head violently toward the right. She lands on the stage in a piled clump, her neck at a hideous angle.
Stiev: Oh, sssssssshit! What sssssssshould we do now? Sssssshould we at leassssssst untie Rhomande and Izzzzzzreanna?
Mhorton: Stop talking, Stiev! You’re endangering the rhythm of the tambourine!
Thrimlach: Yeah, and you don’t want to play any of the notes at the wrong time, or else the swamp will dry up for a thousand years or something. Isn’t that right, Sir Gnomophone?
Sir Gnome: Blinkety blank. Yeth, Mathter. Blongkety blongle blink.
Issa: We just have to make it through this song, then. And with Rhomande tied up and Spanglegloves dead, we shouldn’t have too many distractions.
Maldreth: Feh. Makar of the Silent Slaughters would never leave us so easy a task.
Imenand: I must agree with Father Maldreth. Look! Terrible portents are bubbling up from that corpse’s eyes.
DM: You look down upon the stage to behold an increasingly familiar sight: The body of Spanglegloves has begun to twitch and convulse, her eyes bubbling and boiling until they burst in a wet, putrid pop. As the body rises into the air, her chest heaves and forces wind through her larynx.
((Sfx: begin low bed of crowd panic))
Spanglegloves: (Hungering End Bitcrush) The great vengeance knows no limits. The unmakings are yet incomplete. Now both my brother and my other self will be forced to watch, as I consume their homeworld and shit out a cloud of celestial dust. For the Knowledge burns, and its burning shall be forever extinguished. I am the Herald of the End, and the End Hungers.
Mhorton: Um… What’s happening? Should we keep playing the song?
((Music: Red Hand version of Nameday Song))
Zolov: Don’ts worries, friends dwarf.
Joren: The Red Hand Minstrel Assassins are here to relieve the band.
Ragnaroctopus: You guys can take care of the xenocosmic parasite.
Shakes: (whinny) Shakes loves play Nameday Song for Acousticians! This am best times of year!
Spanglegloves: You shall all die! Your knowledge shall be rent asunder, and your quintessence scattered across the decay of spacetime! Finger of Mandos! Maker of Weapons! You two shall be the first to fall!
((Sfx: Ray of Destruction))
DM: The body that was formerly Spanglegloves opens its empty sockets wide, drawing in the chaotic energies derived from entropy. She swivels her spine unnaturally to stroke her light-eating gaze across Imenand and Thrimlach, unleashing two bolts of matter-nullifying darkness.
((Sfx: Cube of Force strike, d20 roll))
Thrimlach: Oshit! Hit the deck!
Imenand: Fortunately, the demon provided enough warning for me to erect my Cube of Force. Though, I do not believe it can withstand many more blows of that nature. This demon seems stronger than those we have previously destroyed.
Issa: Even stronger than that red skinned potato dragon of the Hungering End that we killed?
Imenand: Yes, penguin, even stronger than that miserable foodstuff we dispatched. But now we must capture or destroy this specimen, lest it consume all of Scottalia. I shall attempt the former by casting Entomb to trap this spanglehanded distraction. Meanwhile my Cadaver Collector shall mount the stage to retrieve my new source of “scientific inquiry”.
((Sfx: Entomb, Collector Stomp))
DM: The wooden stage shatters as two parallel pillars of stone erupt through it, rising to match Spanglegloves’ height, then they start to lean ominously toward each other. Just as the tippy-tops of the two rock columns meet, the villainess dances lithely into an oncoming shadow, vanishing entirely from sight.
((Sfx: Shadow dance, d20 roll))
Stiev: Hang on! Ssssssshe didn’t vanissssssh! Ssssshe’ssssss over there, coming out from the sssssshhhhhadow of the Cadaver Collector!
Spanglegloves: There goes the element of surprise, I suppose. And knocking out their spellcasters didn’t work, so I suppose I’ll have to take a more traditional approach: Kill the healer first!
DM: Spanglegloves vaults up the Collector’s back, tiptoeing across the jutting headstones, then leaping from its zenith directly toward Maldreth. In midair, she draws two weapons. They appear to be the bronze handles of two fist-daggers, though missing the blades. She fires another ray of atom-smashing destruction toward Maldreth’s right, driving him leftward. Spanglegloves’ fists then erupt with an intense blue light as two positive-energy blades wink into being. She holds the weapons aloft, slightly behind her head. She then twists her body and disappears into own shadow, emerging just behind the Priest of Makar as he dodges aside.
((Sfx: shadowdance, d20 roll, knife hit x2))
Maldreth: Aaaaagh! Infernal wretch! You shall suffer for those blows! O Makar of the Withering Gaze, direct thy sight upon mine foe that you may bring Destruction upon her!
Spanglegloves: Aaaaagh! This pain… is nothing… the true pain… is the Knowledge!
Thrimlach: Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard it all before. You think you’re so special because your feelings or genome or animating spirit or whatever got hurt. Well, I think you should spend a little time out in a Prismatic Sphere to think about what you’ve done.
((Sfx: Prismatic Sphere))
Mhorton: Uh… Thrimlach? Where’d you put the prismatic sphere? Because the demonic alternate-universe version of Rhomande’s sister is right there, starting to float an ILDM and a half above what’s left of the stage again.
Thrimlach: What? Oh, sorry. I was talking to Sir Gnome through that damnable psi-link that you forced on us. What are we doing again?
Mhorton: We’re fighting a demon for the Bard’s sister’s birthday! Or maybe it’s Rhomande’s birthday now? Or maybe it’s the demon’s birthday. It’s all so damned confusing. I’ll just forget about who’s birthday it might be and cast Horrid Wilting so I can go home.
((Sfx: Horrid Wilting))
DM: The eyeless body of Spanglegloves begins to shrink and shrivel as all the moisture in her body is swiftly sucked away. This doesn’t seem to stop her, though. She’s gathering energy for another one of those destructo-blasts. And I’ve really gotta give props to the Red Hand for not missing a single note while all of this madness is going on around them.
Joren: We’re professionals.
Stiev: Hrm. I’m not sssssssure what kind of help I’ll be right now. Ssssssspangleglovesssssss issss within range of my lizzzzzardly leap, but I don’t know how much damage my knivessssssss will do. Essssspecccccially when all thissssss magic doesssssssn’t ssssssseem to be sssssssslowing her.
Issa: Stiev. We’re rogues. Because of all the fucking chaos that’s going on, nobody’s looking at us. So let’s do what rogues do best and sneak off to do the one critical thing while everybody’s back is turned.
Stiev: Ssssssoundsssssss good. What’sssssss our misssssssssion?
Issa: We’re gonna go up there and untie Rhomande and Izreanna. If we’re lucky, Rhomande’s still got that potato sword that Mëassë made. That thing seemed to be pretty effective against these Hungering End demons.
Stiev: Okay! But… Which one of usssssss hassssss to untie Rhomande, and which getssssss to untie Izzzzzzzreanna?
Issa: Good point. Uh… Roshambo?
Stiev: Sssssssssscissssssssorssssssss! I get to untie Izzzzzzzzzy. I’ll jussssst leap up there!
Issa: Fucking scissors. I shoulda gone with Rock. But now I guess I’ll just cast Fly.
((Sfx: wak, fly))
Issa: One second, Bard. The last thing I plan to untie is your gag. Now, if I know my knots like I think I do, then I just need to pull… HERE!
((Sfx: unraveling rope, body thud))
Rhomande: Mmmph! Pftheh! Ouch! Ehrm. I suppose I should thank you for the save, Issa. And, though it pains me to admit, I rather like the garland that our current foe selected for you. It complements your eyes very well.
Stiev: Sssssssorry thissss knot issssss taking me ssssssso long, Missssssss Alafinde.
Izreanna: Don’t worry, darling. If she is an alternate version of me, then I can take credit for how well that knot was tied.
Stiev: Oh godsssssss… You really are Rhomande’ssssss sssssisssssster, aren’t you? Anyway, here you go.
Izreanna: (falling) Thanks again, Sstiev dear!
DM: As Izreanna lightly touches down on the stage, a hush settles over the crowd.
((Sfx: end crowd panic))
Izreanna: Well, brother. It’s good to see your Insufferable Basterds finally reunited.
((Sfx: crowd cheer))
Rhomande: And, sister, I suppose it must be good to see your Red Hand Minstrel Assassins a full Quintet again.
((Sfx: crowd cheer))
Maldreth: Quit your prattle, elves! Powerful as our spells and prayers may be, no number of Flamestrikes seems to be enough!
((Sfx: Flamestrike, crowd cheer))
Thrimlach: Yeah, neither are Lenanien’s Prismatic Bolts! She just keeps shaking off the petrification, and I think she’s immune to most of the energy types. I just hope the Madness element of the spell eventually works.
((Sfx: prismatic bolt, crowd cheer))
Mhorton: No such luck, Thrimlach. She’s clearly already insane, or else my Symbols of Insanity would have been more effective.
((Sfx: Symbol of Insanity, crowd cheer))
Imenand: Enough of this! We must use the sanctified arms of the Forgemother to dispatch this foul denizen of the Hungering End.
Rhomande: Very well. I suppose you’re the better swordsman, Izreanna. And it’s your birthday, so I’ll lend you my potato-souled scimitar. And I shall join your band in playing—just this once—that we might inspire your courage!
DM: Izreanna says nothing—just smiles as she takes the Toppler and dances into a shadow behind some debris. A moment later, she dives from the rafters, whirling her blade in a wide circle as she descends.
Spanglegloves: Hah! Such an easy attack to predict! And just as easy to counter!— What?!
((Sfx: wibbly shadow dissipating))
Izreanna: Which is why I sent my shadow ahead of me, to see how you’d react!
((Sfx: d20 roll, trip, scimitar hit))
DM: Izreanna catches her mirror-self at the ankle, tripping the eyeless demon and throwing her off-balance enough for the Shadowdancer to strike deep and true with the potato-souled blade. The welling darkness in Spanglegloves’ empty eyes then bursts and fires wildly and uncontrolled, up into the sky.
Stiev: It lookssssss like it’ssssss heading towardsssss the middle-sizzzzzed of thissssss planet’ssssss three moonsssssss!
Issa: Those are giant eggs, thank you very much. According to Ancient Penguin Lore, when one of them hatches it’ll mean the end of the world.
Mhorton: Which one is the moon that’s supposed to hatch?
Issa: All of them! There are at least three different apocalypse scenarios, depending on which hatches first. I think the middle moon had something to do with the stars going out and universal decay setting in. A world of all ice, but no fish.
Thrimlach: Sounds terrible. Hey, look! Izreanna’s back!
Rhomande: I hope you enjoyed the use of my favorite way to annoy Imenand. He just hates it that I own one of his goddess’ weapons!
Izreanna: I can just imagine! Here you go, brother. And thank you. I wasn’t sure you’d still hand it over if I said anything before, but… it isn’t my birthday.
Imenand: What do you mean, “it isn’t your birthday”? It is still a quarter-hour before midnight.
Izreanna: My birthday isn’t for a week. It’s the same day as Bromie’s, after all!
Rhomande: Hunh. Who knew!
Issa: Rhomande, how do you not know when your own birthday is?
Rhomande: Well, Issa, that would require knowing when Izreanna’s birthday is, and the less I know about her life, the better. Though, it was nice to play with your band. I suppose I’ll see you next week, at our joint birthday party, then?
Maldreth: She certainly will not, Bard. For you will be serving the lengthiest, most inane penance in the Grand Book of Punishments! Bard…? Rhomande, are you even listening?
Stiev: Sssssssomthing’ssssssss wrong with Izzzzzzreanna and Thrimlach, too!
Mhorton: And it looks like all the elves in the audience are also affected!
DM: Every elf in the area 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 sky, as they begin speak in unison.
((begin Same audio from Episode 13))
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.
((end Same audio from Episode 13))
Issa: Well, that was certainly the loudest time we’ve heard that message.
Imenand: I suppose the presence of the Hungering End upon this world signifies that we have been somewhat lax in our duties.
Rhomande: Well then, my Insufferable Basterds! Let us away from my hometown, that we might finally fulfill our duty and save the Emperor!
Scene 6: Credit where Credit is Due
Rhomande: 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, Me—Issa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot, and Spirit of the Swift Wind @SpiritOTSW. Check the show notes if you need help with the spellings!
Issa: The 20-Sided Theatre is brought to you by Sorfinde Productions and the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This Episode stars Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceridwen Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, Rudraigh Quattrin, and Tony Scaruffi.
Maldreth: 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.
Thrimlach: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 7: The Tag
Maldreth: Sit down and shut up, meatsacks. The Father of War commands your rapt attention once again. You shall close your eyes and you shall shut your ears to your worlds. My voice will now guide your minds toward the Inner Peace that can only be found through service to Makar.
Maldreth: Envision yourself walking a long road. Hear the crunch of your footwear upon the gravel. Hear the sound: a quiet, hard crunch; quite unlike the loud, weak pops of breaking bones that haunt your dreams. No. For now, there is just the road. There are hundreds of miles behind you, and yet thousands remain ahead. Feel the burning sensation in your legs as you force each foot ahead of its mate. Left foot… in front of right foot… in front of left foot… in front of right foot… Feel your quadriceps quiver and your knees threaten to buckle as you lift another leaden leg, only to swing it out ahead of you and begin the process all over again. Left foot… in front of right foot… in front of left foot… in front of right foot…
Maldreth: Of course, your legs are not your only sources of discomfort. Your spine is bent and compressed beneath the heavy burden of your pack. If you think about it, you can enumerate every item carried in the rucksack. You have weapons and the means to maintain them. You carry what little armor you can afford. A bedroll. A blanket. Pots and pans for cooking. What other items do you carry with you, upon this hard march in the blistering sun? Don’t stop to check your sack, you idiot! The line of soldiers will leave you behind. Alone. In the wilderness. With nothing but your meager wits and your poorly stocked backpack to keep you alive.
Maldreth: No. It would be far better to stay in the line of your fellow soldiers, muscles screaming and bones bending, rather than to die in the wilderness because you forgot a canteen and never bothered to learn how to start a fire. You are fare better off with your brethren-in-arms, plodding endlessly toward the next battle. Left foot… in front of right foot… in front of left foot… in front of right foot…
Maldreth: Now shut your minds and open your eyes. The real ones, not the damed mind’s eye, again, you dolt! Now you’ve felt a modicum of peace. That’s all you deserve. You can rest when you’re dead. And until you die, you owe 10% of all production to the Church of War. Send your tithes to the Chapel of St. Turbulus, care of the Frozen Summit Crossplanar Bar & Grill, Scottalia, YO-na-then, The Empire. You will tithe, or else the Faithful of Makar shall take the Warfather’s due from your fallen corpse.
Rhomande: This guided meditation has been paid programming, brought to you by the Church of War. The 20-Sided Theatre accepts all forms of payment for all communications from all beings… for a very steep price.