Holes/Session 32

A fragment of the Garden of Remembering

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INT. Dorgin town inn - Evening
The inn is a standard fantasy inn with tavern with a really bad bard. Folks throw things at the bard occasionally. The innkeeper is also glaring at the bard, but not doing anything other than that.
The bard is singing horribly. George is in the corner wearing a pair of industrial earmuffs. The sort folks use when jackhammering a sidewalk.
The party enters, the Gravedigger carrying Rhu, Greibel petting the porridge.
The bard starts singing about them. It's kind of insulting. And screechy. And a bit waily. It's a bit racist, but the racism is mitigated by his having no idea what race most of them are. So it's more along the lines of log-man hoisted by a dog-man, big big big dog-man, all about are soggy men, loiging in a bog-man... then it dissolves into a largely unintelligible mess.
(under his breath)
...what is going on?
The Gravedigger heads up to the bar and beckons over the innkeeper.
Oy. Is the bard over there important somehow? Son of some lord or something? Is there any reason I can't just toss him out?
Ugh, no. We don't even know where the guy came from. Bouncer gave up removing him days ago since he just keeps coming back, but if you can get rid of him...
(indicating Rhu)
What's with that stick of a guy? You not intending to use his boniness as a weapon, are you? We have a size limit on allowed weapons, you know, so I'm going to need that answer to be no.
(under his breath)
What bony elf?
Nah, he's a passenger.
The Gravedigger puts Rhu on a chair and goes after the bard instead, who runs away as soon as the Gravedigger comes near him, singing faster and louder.
Other folks in the inn start to watch with interest.
Rhu realises that he's at a table and leans onto it.
(to the empty table)
Excuse me, have you seen a bony elf around here somewhere? I think that terrible singer is looking for one.
Greibel walks over to Rhu, confused as to why the avenger is talking to a table with nobody sitting at it.
The Gravedigger shoots the blade of the shovel off at the bard with a loud SPOIIIIING, bonking him in the back of the head and knocking him down. (rolled 26 vs AC)
The bard starts shrieking unintelligibly. It's really high-pitched and rather uncomfortable.
The other folks in the inn look decidedly pained, and one guy passes out.
The Gravedigger drags the bard outside.

EXT. Dorgin, outside the inn
The Gravedigger throws the bard into a hole.
The bard continues to shriek.

INT. Dorgin town inn
Inside the tavern everyone looks a lot happier now that the bard is further away. The passed out guy starts snoring.
George doesn't seem to have noticed any of this past his earmuffs.
The Gravedigger plods back inside and the innkeeper pours him a drink.
Rhu continues conversing to the empty table.
Bear Soup Guy (Greibel): Would it be terribly counter-productive if I re-enacted that scene from Cheech And Chong's Up In Smoke where Chong accidentally gives Cheech acid?
Apheori (GM): Maybe, but it'd be hilarious.
Gaurav (Rhu): Criminey. Can you at least roll to pick the right potion?
Bear Soup Guy (Greibel): I'll roll a... something, to rummage through my pack looking for white pills that look a lot like other white pills.
Hold on Rhu, I've got something that'll mellow your mind, man.
Greibel rummages through his pack and finds some white pills. (rolled 14 perception)
Here ya go, man. Take these.
Eh? What? Huh?
Rhu takes the pills, sniffs suspiciously at them, then shrugs and swallows.
Nothing happens.
That was nice, Greibel, thanks. Vitamins?
Yeah, Vitamin Q and some supplements. It might enhance your other senses a bit.
Oh, NICE. I could really use that!
Rhu grins and nods in entirely the wrong direction. He puts a small black stone on his head and starts balancing it absentmindedly.

Meanwhile Radek heads to George's corner. He slides up next to George and takes a seat, but George doesn't immediately notice him, just staring at his drink.
Then George suddenly notices Radek, almost jumps out of his chair, and pulls off an earmuff.
How long have you been there?
...A few minutes. Don't worry, I appreciate the silence. Any minute now I'm expecting one of the deadbeats to come pestering me about some new problem.
George glances over at the others. Rhu, Greibel and Amadi are chatting. The Gravedigger is gathering up some drinks.
They seem occupied.
Yes, that is how the problems get started. Sometimes they're not responsible. I still have to fix it all, though.
Is that how you wound up here?
I think I would go insane trying to understand how I wound up here.

(indicating Amadi)
She with you?
The Gravedigger shrugs.
Could be one or t'other.

(in the direction that Greibel had been speaking from earlier)
Where are Dave and Amadi? Are they still with us?
Amadi appears.
No. No, we're not.
Definitive answer from the source.
One of you is wrong.
I'm never wrong.
Okay then. Is Dave still around?
Depends. Around what?
Around... here? I dunno. I don't think Hazz' seriously expects me to able to protect you two without... you know (gestures at his face). But I hope she's okay with that crazy guard.
Oh, she's fiiine, they're both fiiiine.
Rhu looks at Amadi suspiciously but doesn't say anything.
Are we in a pub? Do they have sandwiches?
Are we in a pub? Why are we in a pub? I have sandwiches.
Radek and Gravy said something about some guy they liked the look off. Something about the Holes? ...I'm sure they can make me one here. If I just knew who to ask.
Oh, yeah. You should probably fix the Holes.
(pointing towards the restrooms)
That's their job. I'm just supposed to keep an eye on Dave and you. And that skull that has someone's soul in it, I guess.
Yeah, and Squirrel. ...I left her with Dave. They're fiiiine.
Rhu stares at Amadi for a second, suddenly realising he can see her. Then he waves at her.
Amadi waves at Rhu, then turns to the nearest waitress.
Can we have a sandwich? I already have one but my friend doesn't and I'd like to compare; I got this bit of wiggly thing in mine and I'm just not sure they're supposed to be like that?

So what're you trying to solve?
Oh, the whole universe is coming apart at the seams. Holes connecting planes of existence that should never interact with each other opening up everywhere. I've closed one. I'm trying to improve the method.
George downs his drink.
Well, don't worry too much. This place seems fine, other than the zombies. If a hole opens up I'm sure we'll head on over to try and fix it. No guarantees something idiotic won't happen and stick us between the fabric of reality, though...
Radek sighs.
The zombies may be coming out of a... hole.
Where reality just gets weird around it. And the closer you get, the more likely... Well, they sent in a unit. They came out zombie.
Yes, yes, that sounds like one. Maybe I can fix both of your problems at once, then, George.
You have some way to make people less stupid?
(he looks at Radek skeptically)
If that were so, you'd look happier.
Radek looks at George for a moment, and laughs. He laughs for a long time.
Which problems did you mean, then?
Just the ones threatening your life, I'm afraid.
George sighs.
I'll remember to find you if I ever find a cure for stupidity. You do the same, alright?
Oh, I've found a cure. Just not a good one. And generally I wind up arresting those who administer it.

Rhu stares at Amadi some more, then turns around to see if he can see anything else. He sees a sort of glow that might be the outline of Greibel. It also might not be.
Greibel? Are you still here?
Here as I'll ever be.
(pointing at Greibel)
Are you... there?
Rhu absentmindedly reaches up to take the stone off his head and puts it on the table.
Amadi picks up the stone, and a waitress hands her a rather tired-looking sandwich.
Hmm... Well, there's no sort of wriggle bit, but... I'm still not too sure about this.
Greibel puts his hand on Rhu's shoulder.
Greibel starts laughing.
Amadi hands the sandwich to Rhu. To him, it appears merely as a darker smudge against her odd brightness.
Rhu pokes at the sandwich smudge.
Is this a... sandwich?
Oh, for the sake of ice-cream!
Amadi digs in frustration through her pockets and hands Rhu a mask.
Rhu pokes at the gap between her fingers, running into the mask with his hand as a result.
What is this?
It might help.
Rhu feels it, realises that it's a mask, and tries putting it on the wrong way around. He turns it around and puts it on properly. Suddenly he can sort of see, but everyone looks like muppets. And there's a sort of weird mould everywhere. Everything looks hairy.
Amadi nods and looks at the stone. It's one with a contagion symbol on it.
Rhu takes the mask off, checks to see that he's still blind without it, then puts the mask back on.
Greibel, you have GOT to try this sometime.
So can you eat now?
Rhu puts on and takes off the mask a couple of times, then leaves it on.
Thanks, Mrs. Teatime! I like what you've done with your hair. I can see! I CAN SEE! And also eat, I think.
No problem.
This rock is camouflaged as toxic waste. Or something. I think. Or maybe it's the other way around. Do you want it?
I'm always happy to hold onto stones! I've got two already, I think. Are you going to eat that furry-looking sandwich? I'm famished.
I got it for you! I already have one.
Oh, thanks a million! That's very nice of you.
Rhu guzzles down the sandwich.
(to Amadi)
Mind if I pocket that away with the others?
Amadi shrugs and takes out her sandwich, eyeing the wiggly bit suspiciously.
Greibel takes the stone, examines it a bit, then stuffs it in the pack with the others.
Hang on, I need to try something.
Rhu tries to walk to the bar by using the mask. (rolled 11 reality) He winds up walking right into it and bouncing off. Apparently his depth perception with the mask is a bit off. And bouncy.
He catches himself (rolled 23 acrobatics) and tries again. This time he walks partway through the bar. (rolled 7 reality)
(standing in the bar)
Rhu stops, then quickly walks back out, a little embarrassed to be messing with the laws of physics. He checks to see if Radek is pissed off with him for doing this, but he seems to be pretty involved with his conversation.

Well, I'd be lying if I said I never tried to build a doomsday device. It's hard to be grateful about the end of all things when it's actually happening, though.
Yeah, no kidding. Nevermind all the idiots that live here, I have to live here too.
Radek pats George on the back. Softly - he couldn't make much of an impact even if he tried.
Can't help you with that, I'm afraid. I'd offer to take you with me, but... you would regret it. I can fix the hole, though, if you'll point me over that way.
Hah! Well, sure. I'll take you there tomorrow, how's that sound? File the paperwork, send out all the requisitions...
George mumbles incoherently.
That would be great. I could use the time to work on this formula, anyways.
Great. I'll be here.
Radek stands up and glances about the room, surprised to see it still in relatively undamaged condition.

Rhu tries to catch the barkeep's attention, and tries to buy a beer with the coins they'd found in the lab.
The barkeep accepts them, seems surprised, mentions something about Auberdeen, and gives Rhu a beer.
There's a loud screeching noise outside. It sounds like the bard Gravy removed earlier.
The Gravedigger gets up to go check it out.
Meanwhile Rhu tries to approach the bar again and pick up his beer. (rolled 2 reality) This time he walks entirely through the bar and his beer. This time the innkeeper notices, and backs away.
Rhu apologizes profusely and accidentally ends up on the wrong side of the bar.
Er, I'll just...
Rhu, what...
Rhu is looking very embarrassed now.
No, never mind. You can actually cause less damage this way. Carry on.
Ganelon (Radek): I have a strong suspicion that he'll prove Radek wrong.
Rhu tries to poke at the bar with one finger, then turns to grin sheepishly at the barkeep before trying to walk out through the bar again. (rolled 1 reality)
Then he falls through the floor, waving his arms frantically, spilling beer everywhere.

INT. Horrible nightmare realm
Rhu finds himself in some sort of basement. It's kind of nightmarish. There are some tables and a vaguely cylindrical thing with some angles and a prism shape at the top. With some glowing bits. Also weird vials and tanks and stuff. Grotesque things poke out of walls.
He manages to land on his feet. They're very hairy. Hairy muppet feet. Then beer rains down on his head, so he tries to catch some of it, except then he realises he's no longer holding the glass. (rolled 25 acrobatics)
Um. Um. Okay.
Rhu ignores his feet for now, and stares about the basement. (rolled 31 perception) Everything is really hairy. And weird. And full of strange experiments. It's like a nightmare, and oddly organic. There don't seem to be any ways to get back upstairs, aside from perhaps a chute on the far wall, barely big enough for a man.
There are also no doors, or at least nothing recognisable as doors. Given how the walls look almost like membranes, it's a bit hard to tell. There's also a sort of mesh screen looking out on utter blackness on one side. And a bowl of noodles sitting in the middle of the floor.
Something snakes out of the floor and grabs a noodle. It looks like... more floor. (rolled 25 nature)
Rhu takes his mask on and off to see if that helps any, but without it he can't see a thing. Everything is just a horrible white.
(under his breath)
Well fuck.

INT. Dorgin town inn
Is he perhaps a bit... touched?
(to innkeeper)
Touched...By An Angel?
(to innkeeper)
Yeah. Tentacles. Hazz - I mean, Vitoi.
(pulling a doll out from behind the counter)
And where do angels usually touch people?
In the brain, clearly.
(putting the doll away and being slightly more serious)
Do I need to expect any more of this? I'm not liable.
...For as long as we're here, yes. Well, I say "we".
Oh dear.

INT. Horrible nightmare realm
Rhu tries to sneak over to the chute (rolled 18 stealth). As he walks, the patterns in the floor seem almost to move away, like ripples in a hairy carpet. Snakey ripples.
Hairy snakey ripples.
Other than that, nothing seems to notice.
Rhu tries to stealthily (rolled 23 stealth) climb up the chute (rolled 19 acrobatics). It's slippery and horribly textured, with ribs and squishiness in all the wrong places.
He gets partway up, falls partway down, and makes a muffled clatter.
Rhu sits quietly until he's sure there's no response to the clatter, then tries again. (rolled 14 acrobatics) This time he doesn't even get as far as before before sliding back out.
Rhu looks up to see if there's any light at the top of the chute.
Hello? Is someone up there?
Silence. Then, in a long low whisper:
The voice is low and sweet, like a fungus that eats flies. Except these flies are horrible and huge, and the fungus is actually something else entirely.
Rhu pointedly does not respond. He realises the voice is being projected from above the chute, but it's not actually coming from there. He doesn't know where it's coming from. (rolled 34 perception (natural 20)) He feels a strong urge to remove the mask.
He resists, and sits quietly at the base of the chute, his eyes flicking first upwards and then quickly around the room, waiting to see what happens next.

INT. Dorgin town inn
There's some more screeching from outside.
Amadi takes Greibel's hand and attempts to walk him outside without giving any explanation for her actions.
Greibel tags along exasperatedly.
Radek ignores it and gets to pondering. Fist-inside-beard hardcore PONDERING.

EXT. Dorgin, outside the inn - night
Amadi goes to the bard. He's standing in a deep grave screeching like a harpy. In the screeches, there seems to be a tune, but it's vague.
The Gravedigger appears to have gone back inside.
(singing, mostly in tune with the screeches)
My name is Lon Chaney
I was in some movies
You probably remember me for my hideous face...
Amadi juggles bananas.
Greibel suddenly turns into a gorilla wearing a pink tutu. This messes up the singing slightly.
Amadi also sings the whole circus music bit that's supposed to go with this. It includes a lot of trumpets and stuff.
Greibel twirls hula hoops as a gorilla while singing.
The previously screeching bard shrinks back into the hole and goes horribly silent.
Amadi throws the bananas at the bard. He flinches away horribly.
Greibel goes back to normal, accompanied by a popping sound.

INT. Horrible nightmare realm
Quietly, stealthily, Rhu tries to climb up the chute again. (rolled 16 acrobatics) As he does, he feels a presense getting closer.
The attempt fails, and whatever it is hears him as he tumbles out. (rolled 9 stealth) He feels it. In his kidneys.
Rhu freezes, then pauses mid-freeze, looking confused.
He steps quietly away from the chute.
Everythng is hairy.
Rhu hides behind a hairy table.
The hairy table blinks at Rhu and looks vaguely surprised.
(to the table)
He puts a finger to his lips.
The table opens a few more eyes and those blink at the finger as well.
Rhu crouches behind the table and waits, listening intently. (rolled 23 perception)
He hears whispers from the black beyond the mesh lattice, and from behind some walls/membranes. Some are saying his name. Others... other things. It sounds like they've found something. Lost other things. Having lunch. Very sinister.
(whispers, to the table)
Do you hear that too?
The table rumbles and opens a few more eyes. It's somewhat covered in eyes now.
Rhu gives the table a knowing glance in whichever eye is closest to him and does the "shh" hand gesture again. Then he goes back to listening quietly.
The eyes all intently follow the movement of the gesture.
Rhu goes back to listening and waiting.
Some 10-15 minutes pass. A tank and a wall fixture also open several eyes and watch him. Hairy eyes.
Rhu gets out from behind the desk and walks around the room, looking closely for doors or any other way out of here. He finds nothing, and so tries to separate some wall membranes with his fingers to see if it responds to touch, and to see what's underneath them.
The membrane peels away under his nails he poke a finger through. There doesn't seem to be anything behind it, just empty space.
He makes the hole bigger and peels back a section of membrane. Behind it is another room very much like the one he's in. A wall eyes him. Literally.
He pulls the membrane back more and rips open a medium-sized hole which he might be able to fit through if he forced it. (rolled 15 strength)
More eyes in the wall watch curiously.
Something licks his foot.
Rhu ignores the footlicking and squeezes through the hole. (rolled 27 acrobatics)
The room grins at him with teeth. Grins opening up in rows of hairy teeth spiraling up into the hairy ceiling.
In a terror, Rhu squeezes back through the hole into the room he came from. (rolled 28 acrobatics) Everything feels kind of weird, and he winds up going too far and trips over a table. (rolled 5 reality)
The floor licks him.
Rhu calms down a bit and tries to stretch open a membrane on another wall. (rolled 3 strength (natural 1)) Nothing really happens, but it seems to have something behind it.
Whispers ask for lettuce.
(to the nearest eye)
What's behind here?
The eye blinks at him.
Rhu tries to open the membrane again. (rolled 20 strength) He clears it away and is suddenly faced with an enormous red toad eye, staring at him, through him, into him.
The eye stares at him.
Hi. Were you the one asking me for lettuce just now?
The eye continues to stare at him.

INT. Dorgin town inn
Radek ponders what been pondering for the last few days. How to close a hole. It is some fist-to-chin hardcore pondering. (rolled 18, 31 arcana)
Previously, he had deduced that a key was something about three pieces and a lock.
It occurs to him that the question, perhaps, is pieces of what? What does it take to close a hole, really? And for that matter, what does it take to open one? The question to one should be the answer to the other... Of course, if he could just make a lack of hole, something with no hole at all, well, that could be a way around a whole other problem entirely...
Ganelon (Radek): I'm not about to discount the possibility.
Ganelon (Radek): "Behold! I have created... stuff! It is the opposite of a hole in every conceivable way!"
Apheori (GM): "It looks like... normal stuff."
Ganelon (Radek): *Scoffs* "This 'normal stuff' is exactly what we need to eliminate the holes on a conceptual level. They will cease to be holes. They will cease to be anything, unless I apply an excess of stuff."
Apheori (GM): "And then they'll be stuff! Right?"
Ganelon (Radek): "No, don't be ridiculous. Then we'll end up with a gravitational singularity that will atomize this entire planet."
Apheori (GM): "I want it by tuesday."
Amadi and Greibel come back inside and start dancing.