Holes/Session 6

From Zaori


EXT. Village of Hughenden - day
While Radek talks to the villagers, the rest of the party mills about in the dustiness of the street. There's a fair bit of rubble and random stuff lying around - twisted metal, melted stone, wood that couldn't possibly be wood... the sort of thing kids would love to play on, except there don't seem to be any kids. Anywhere.
RHU
(he elbows Gravy)
There's a lot of dust here. How's the digging?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
I'm not burying dust.
RHU
(indicating the nearby buildings)
What's up with those shingles? They hurt my head.
Rhu goes and steals a shingle.
The porridge wiggles.
There is a loud thimphk sound behind them, followed by a bit of a cloud of dust rising from the impact.
Aziraphale turns to look properly and finds a kind of metal object half embedded in the ground. It is, apparently, an anvil.
RHU
Huh! Did it fall from the empty sky? Did it just appear magically behind us? What is it for?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
That's an anvil. They don't usually drop from the sky.
RHU
What's an anvil?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Used for... shaping hot metal.
RHU
Huh. It looks dangerous, it could have killed someone. Maybe that's what happened to all the children...
AZIRAPHALE
What, an anvil dropped on them? Don't be silly.
Radek, can you ask them if stuff drops out of the sky?
RADEK
(in deslau, to one of the villagers)
Does this happen often?
Villager shrugs.
VILLAGER
(in deslau)
Sometimes. Not really.
RHU
Do we have any technology that could warn us of incoming anvils? We might need to dodge them at some point.
RADEK
The villagers don't see this sort of event often.
I have nothing on hand, at least.
AZIRAPHALE
Okay, so it's at least happened before. This is curious.
RADEK
It is, these days. Well, in our days.
AZIRAPHALE
What about the funny metal things/toys? Did those drop from the sky as well?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Given how fast those drop, you'd need some seriously awesome detector thing.
RHU
Ah, true.
The porridge drips down Greibel's arm.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Radek, can you ask them where these came from? Piles of scrap metal isn't really what I'd expect from this level of technology.
The older villager gets up and ambles off.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
I probably wouldn't expect a rain of anvils either, though.
Greibel draws funny pictures in the dirt with a stick.
RADEK
(in deslau)
Where did this metal come from?
VILLAGER
(in deslau)
You know.
RADEK
(in deslau)
Nowhere?
VILLAGER
(in deslau)
Oh, totally. I'm sure it just appeared one day. Everything came from somewhere, right? Except where did it all come from before there was a SOMEWHERE for it to come from, hmm?
The villager nods sagely.
Radek grumbles.
RADEK
He doesn't know. Another rift in space, I assume.

EXT. Car - day
The party returns to the car to head out, with Rhu retaking the driver's seat, and the others piling in around.
There's a rough drawing of a tree on the dash with something written under it.
Rhu realises he sat on something.
RHU
Huh?
He finds a string of beads.
RHU
Huh! Do these beads mean anything to anyone?
There's some shrugging and general dissent.
RADEK
(indicating the drawing)
...It says 'guard'.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Ominous.
RHU
Yeah, maybe it's magical? Maybe it 'guards' us? Also, what's with the tree?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Either it's 'beware the tree' or 'the tree is a guard' or the tree means nothing and it's just general blabbings.
RADEK
I'm inclined to believe the latter. I'm a scientist.
AZIRAPHALE
Hmm... I don't think we can gain much information from that alone. Let's go to the sinkhole.
They fly off toward the sinkhole.

EXT. Hole at Vermai - day
The car ship flies toward what turns out to be a really large, mostly dead tree with a bit of a sinkhole right next to it.
The tree dwarfs the surrounding trees, and has a much smaller tree, which is still alive, apparently growing out of the side of it.
The sinkhole is mostly just a really dusty, dry-looking sinkhole.
GREIBEL
(to Rhu)
Of course I can talk to bears, silly.
RADEK
From what I've been told, approaching any further would be unwise.
They stop in midair a fair distance away.
RHU
One of these trees might be our dashboard tree. But which one?
RADEK
Don't ask me. I don't deal in organics.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
This is all really weird. That living one isn't the same kind as the big one. And I don't see roots.
That's really weird.
RHU
I dunno. Compared to Sarathi, this is almost mundane. So far.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
It might not be a tree. Maybe something trying to look like one.
RHU
Griebel, do your flock of seagulls thing!
GREIBEL
And I raaaan. I raaan so faaar awaaaaay.
Wait, maybe that's the wrong band...
Greibel turns into birds and then sends one bird out to approach the tree.
It seems normal enough. Hello, tree. Nice tree. It lands. A tree. A little bit ill, a little bit lush, but not something dangerous. Smells just fine. Feels just fine.
Then the flock of Greibel all sort of just falls asleep. (rolled 7 reality)
THE GRAVEDIGGER
There. See. That's not normal.
The porridge sits on Greibel's seat emitting an aura of loneliness, and oozes over one of the birds, partially enveloping it in a strange sort of hug.
Rhu reaches out to pat the porridge reassuringly, but the porridge cowers away from his hand.
Aziraphale fidgets, feeling the hole calling to him. (rolled 11 reality)
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Someone poke the rest of Greibel, would you?
RHU
OY BIRDS. WAKE UP.
The birds in the car neglect to wake up.
The bird on the tree falls off the branch and tumbles into the hole. (rolled 3 reality)
Aziraphale, meanwhile, loses control in light of the power of the hole's call and climbs out of the car, falling to the ground. (rolled 1 reality)
He continues crawling toward it on the ground.
RHU
Azir! Dammit.
RADEK
Oh, great.
Rhu directs the car to land between Aziraphale and the hole.
RADEK
Gravy, hold him back.
As the vehicle passes over Aziraphale, the Gravedigger jumps out, landing on top of him and pinning him down.
Aziraphale recovers slightly and stops trying to crawl into the sinkhole. (rolled 17 reality)
The flock of Greibel also wakes up a bit and makes some funny bird noises. (rolled 8 reality)
From here, the contents of the sinkhole are much more visible. Said contents seem to just be water. It looks disappointingly normal.
AZIRAPHALE
Hey, Gravy, get off me, I feel better now.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Promise not to start running into that hole?
AZIRAPHALE
Probably not.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Hmm.
The Gravedigger gets off Aziraphale, but remains close in case he runs again.
RHU
So investigate the hole on foot? And hope we don't all fall asleep?
AZIRAPHALE
I think it'll be a better idea if two people take a look. And that two people shouldn't include me.
RADEK
Let's start with something useless.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
What, throw a rock?
Radek glances at Greibel.
RADEK
(quietly)
Like... a rock. Yes.
RHU
...can Greibel turn into a giant spider? Spiders are good at holes. Or tunnels, at any rate.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
It looked like it had water at the bottom. If there's a magic ripping hole in there, it's invisible.
AZIRAPHALE
Isn't one part of Greibel already in the hole? It might have drowned. It might have fallen through time. Frankly I have no idea.
The rest of Greibel just sits there making noises.
RHU
I could go with the rope tied around me. I'm pretty light. Or lithe.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
I'll look.
Aziraphale fidgets and then gets tackled by the Gravedigger again.
Radek gets out of the car as well and impatiently heads for the edge of the hole in order to peer in properly. The water in the sinkhole is actually quite pretty, with shades of blue and green fading to black at its depths...
THE GRAVEDIGGER
SOMEONE GRAB RADEK.
I have my hands full of paladin here.
RADEK
I'll be fine! I'm coated in the stuff of time and non-existence.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
FINE THEN.
RHU
If we want to do the rope thing, we need to do that now and then back away. Otherwise we're all going to get mentally dragged into the hole.
Radek tosses a rock into the hole and it splashes into the water, exactly like a rock should do.
Then the rock bobs back up to the surface and floats, exactly like a rock shouldn't do.
RADEK
Alright, hand me a rope.
Rhu looks around for anything else around the hole and spots the seagull back in the tree. (rolled 22 perception)
RHU
Hey! Isn't that a bit of Greibel?
He looks again and the gull is gone.
RHU
Hey, where did it go?
Radek makes Rhu move the car over the hole and tie a rope to it, and hastily ties the other end of the rope around his waist.
As Rhu watches, peering down into the hole, he feels all of his problems just fade away. All of the horror of the past few days just melts... (rolled 5 reality)
RHU
That water looks really cool and refreshing... maybe a short swim will help us think about this problem better?
Aziraphale fidgets.
Radek dives into the hole. (rolled 4 reality) The rope goes taut with him hanging a couple meters above the water.
RHU
The water. So relaxing.
Radek hangs over the water. He suddenly realises how much he loves the hole. How wonderful it is. (rolled 1 reality) How he could be one with the hole. All of the hole. The hole.
RADEK
THIS HOLE IS GREAT!
Lower the car! I haven't hit the surface yet!
On one of the car seats, where nobody is looking, a porridge-wrapped seagull fidgets.
Rhu fidgets and lowers the car.
By the edge, Aziraphale continues to fidget, and the Gravedigger lets go. Aziraphale just stays put for the time being.
Frezak (Gravy): I might as well just pitch everyone into the hole at this point.
As Radek is lowered into the water, he submerges with a plop and sinks. The water is dark and watery and fairly clear, and there is very little of interest.
The Gravedigger throws some random bits of junk into the water. A handaxe. Some rocks. The handaxe sinks. The rocks float.
Radek sees an axe drifting down nearby before suddenly disappearing, and climbs up the rope back to the surface of the water.
RADEK
Who just threw an axe at me!?
Aziraphale sees bones. All around Sticking out of the ground. Piled up. Littered about. (rolled 7 reality)
AZIRAPHALE
Hey, guys, there are bones here. There are...
(he looks more closely at them)
Plastic bones here!
RADEK
Plastic bones? Who cares! The axe disappeared!
THE GRAVEDIGGER
That... sounds like a decoy.
AZIRAPHALE
(indicating the bones that only he can see)
Come look!
The Gravedigger plods over to test the bones, but he doesn't see any.
Aziraphale sweeps his arms to point at the bones all around them.
AZIRAPHALE
You can't see them?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
GODS FUCKING DAMMIT. THIS IS HOPELESS.
I'm gonna go back and become a helpful member of some community.
RHU
Radek, what does the water smell like?
RADEK
You tell me! I can't smell things!
Aziraphale ignores the bones and instead walks back to the sinkhole. They don't matter. (rolled 2 reality)
Gravy follows. (rolled 2 reality) It looks so... nice... A way home. A way out of this. A way to just go somewhere away from the crazy...
RHU
HEY!
AZIRAPHALE
I want to go in. I really want to go in. I think I should go in.
RHU
(jumping out of the car)
WAIT! COME BACK!
Aziraphale starts taking off the more unwieldy bits of his gear as he goes, and sits down at the edge, looking down.
AZIRAPHALE
Yes. I think I should. Come, the rest of you, why don't you?
RADEK
(from the water's surface)
If that water made an axe disappear, I'd encourage you to think about what it'll do to you.
AZIRAPHALE
It looks so nice... peaceful. What can it do? I'm insane and seeing bones y'all can't see. We got jumped to another planet. Everyone on Sarathi is dead.
(he looks back at the others)
Well... if you're not following...
Aziraphale edges forward and dives in, hitting the water with a splash.
Rhu mutters something under his breath.
For a moment, nothing happens. Then there's a horrible sucking squelching noise, and the water level suddenly starts lowering until it all drains out the bottom... leaving a dry stone base a few hundred feet down.
There are some bits of metal and wood on the ground under the rift. And a feather.
No longer supported by the water, Radek falls back to the end of the rope.
Aziraphale is just... gone.
RADEK
I warned him.
Rhu gasps, then quickly mumbles a prayer to Hazz'ridan.
Wen (Aziraphale): Something about how it's not really death, I just got an express ticket to the dead end.
Hazz'ridan blesses Rhu with his mind back, properly back, and suddenly everything becomes so much clearer. Before, it had only been mostly back. It had seemed back, but it wasn't, not really.
Rhu realises he's surrounded by CRAZY EVERYWHERE. His companions are losing it. Reality itself is shifting around them. And within the sinkhole, the rift in reality is actually visible now, the source of all of this, the madness, the insanity.
It's a strange little rippling thing in the air, not far from where Radek is hanging.
That's the real hole.
The rest just sort of... happened on top of it.
Rhu blinks.
Rhu blinks again. The hole is still there.
Rhu goes down on one knee and prays to Hazz'ridan to reveal the truth to all his companions. Suddenly he feels the warm, loving embrace of TENTACLES EVERYWHERE.
The Gravedigger stops heading for the hole.
The seagulls start dancing.
Radek, hanging next to the rift, suddenly sees it too, and gives it a good look-over. (rolled 13 arcana)
RADEK
Hmph.
Now this is more like it.
RHU
(he points)
That's it. That's the hole. Shimmering. There.
Rhu decidedly doesn't mention the bit about the tentacles.
RADEK
This, my... companions, is a rift in space.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Great.
RADEK
That's all I can tell you about it.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
So it's a hole, like the willagers said.
RHU
Well, we found it. At terrible cost, but we found it.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Azi might be hanging around naked on the other side.
RHU
Oooh, perhaps.
Rhu prays to Hazz'ridan to keep Azir safe.
Radek notices some of his coating is starting to seep into the rope. He quickly unties himself and drops to the bottom of the sinkhole, under the rift itself. The air there is oddly charged, as though full of static.
The bits on the ground turn out to be some shredded twigs and stuff. The metal is just as shredded.
There's a bit of a confusion as the others have a go at first getting down a rope long enough, and then hauling Radek entirely out of the sinkhole, with, naturally, no actual help from Radek himself.
Once out, Radek hands over the random bits to the Gravedigger, who looks them over. (rolled 21 nature)
THE GRAVEDIGGER
This was my axe. I don't think that Azi is alive.
RHU
If Azir is dead, we can ressurrect him from any fragment of his body, if one of those bits are fragments from his body.
If he has been teleported elsehwere or something, then no.
Gaurav (Rhu): I heard this on the Penny Arcade D&D game, so I don't know how true it is.
RADEK
Do you see any of his parts laying around?
Rhu looks around and notices that the smaller tree on the larger, dead tree is glowing. It looks like druid magic.
RHU
Oh, maybe some of those squiggles meant 'the tree that glows'. The water glowed too. Maybe it was also part of some kind of protection system?
In which case, is anybody nervous that we seem to be turning all the protection systems off? Shouldn't we investigate this rift? It might have something to do with Sarathi. Reality breaking down and all that. Although to be honest, this rift is much better behaved than Sarathi was.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
What can we do with this? I've no idea.
RHU
Poke it with a stick? See if it destroys the stick, anyhow.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Well it fucked up my axe. You try something.
Rhu throws stones at the rift.
The first couple are shredded. Another bounces off. One of them just sort of disappears.
Rhu prays to Hazz'ridan for wisdom in dealing correctly with this dangerous rift.
He gets a gist of a response: The rift is a dead end. This is a world of dead ends, with ends getting ever deader as time goes on. Hazz'ridan should be pleased, but he is not, for they are not his dead ends. They are something else entirely, and this is very, very bad. They need to get to the bottom of it, because the other gods seem inclined to utterly ignore it, and Rhu is the first mortal of his to have even gone near it. And survived.
Radek summons his eyebot and flies it down into the sinkhole, and then tries to send it into the rift.
The first time, it just bounces off and tumbles to the ground. (rolled 1 reality) It still seems to be intact, however, and Radek gets it back into the air a moment later.
RHU
Oh phew. Try again?
The second time, it goes in without issue. (rolled 12 reality)
Through the eyebot, Radek observes a horrible darkness. It is surrounded by horrible darkness, floating in horrible.
It flies around the horrible, encountering more horrible darkness.
It bounces off something.
Then there's light everywhere and it's tumbling through the light. It's flying over a beach now. Sand. Sea. Palm trees.
A pile of dead spikey sea creatures nearby.
No sign of the paladin.
Tracks in the sand, belonging to some alien creature.
RADEK
Fascinating. Also, horrible.
But it does seem that some manner of stable environment exists on the other side of this rift. It's in no better shape.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Not much use unless you have idea how to get trhough safely. Since being shredded is still possible.
And I don't want to be shredded.
Getting closer, it seems the palm trees are dead, like they were just dried out suddenly. And the rift on this side is enormous. It stretches across the beach, into the waves, which just sort of slice around it, and up the sky and overhead.
RADEK
...Oh my. We're looking at a much larger hole on the other side.
The light over the beach is darker than it should be, and getting darker, shifting to purple...
Around the eyebot, reality folds in on itself.
Everything goes dark, but the connection remains. The eyebot is still there. Somewhere.
RADEK
We... are going to want to close this. And I'm going to need a new robot.
RHU
Hazz'ridan would see a dead end here where the roads cut across space and time. We must close this. He wills it.
This new darkness seems to be different from the previous one. The eyebot's sensors indicate it to just be some sort of dark room.
Radek has the eyebot shoot its laser, illuminating what turns out to be a large cavern, full of stalagtagamiteses. There's no visible rift here, but the space around seems to ripple in shimmer in the light before it goes out.
RADEK
First a beach, now a cave...
Radek flies the eyebot about through the cavern, mapping out a portion. As it moves, it encounters pockets of more and less resistance; The air is funny, but also the space is funny.
Then it passes through a thinner patch and it's somewhere else once again.
This looks like Sarathi. Same style of architecture, same sort of technology, at least. It's in a building, in an open area full of tables and rubble and sunlight. Some overgrown plants reach toward the openings in the walls and ceiling.
The connection, however, is getting tenuous at best, as though it has been getting further and further away with each passage...
Radek flies the eyebot toward one of the cracks in the building wall, revealing a vista that very definitely is Sarathi. This city, however, it utterly demolished. Few buildings remain past their foundations, as though they had collapsed after a a great battle.
The sky, however, is ordinary enough. A bit of a smoky haze lies around the horizons. Billowy clouds drift overhead. Three moons are also visible, though the Sarathi they'd gone to had only had two.
Then the connection goes out entirely.
RADEK
Blast.
Well, it reached Sarathi, and the sky was much more agreeable this time. The place is utterly destroyed. Although, I wouldn't assume that it discovered the planet at the same 'present' we are enjoying right now.
RHU
Yes. I think we should try to close this hole now, then see if we can't find a city and report back to HQ on all this holes business.
RADEK
I don't think there is a city to find here. We should count ourselves lucky if this planet is simply underdeveloped, and not in the past itself.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Any of what you'd call technology on this world is not native.
RHU
Oh, right. The past.
There's a bit of a gurgling bubbling noise from the bottom of the sinkhole, and muddy water begins to seep back into it.
Radek uses the ropes to take a sample of the water.
RHU
Hazz'ridan, God of Dead Ends, is displeased by this state of affairs and would like us to close this hole. He would like this very, very much.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Well maybe he could tell us how. Else he can go bury himself.
RHU
I'll ask him.
Rhu prays to Hazz'ridan, maker of ends, for wisdom in the ways of closing rifts in space and time.
HAZZ'RIDAN
(such that only Rhu can hear him)
I do not know. This is the first time anyone has ever gotten so far at all. Find out.
RADEK
I couldn't care less what your god would like us to do, but in the interests of my own survival, I'm closing this hole.
RHU
Hazz'ridan is alas unable to help us, but encourages us to find a way. He says nobody else has ever gotten this far to sorting this mess out so I guess we're ahead of the crowd there.
HAZZ'RIDAN
(such that only Rhu can hear him)
And then maybe if you could be so good as to beat Kyrule over the head with it, everything can go back to fine and normal with good and proper dead ends like there are supposed to be.
RHU
(muttering)
Amen.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
So your god is as clueless as us. WHoop-dee-doo.
RADEK
So we need to do all the work ourselves. Nothing new there.
HAZZ'RIDAN
(such that only Rhu can hear him)
Get to the bottom of this. It spans worlds, universes, that were never meant to be connected. You have been pulled from your own, and that you wound up here is a greater blessing than you could have imagined. You are not alone here, and this shall not be your dead end.
Rhu repeats this to the group. They basically ignore him.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Well do you have any idea how to close it, Radek?
RADEK
None. Dealing in spatial instabilities is a hobby of mine at best.
RHU
Amadi seemed to know a thing or two. I wonder if we could get her back somehow. Maybe if we could figure out where Midnight was. Or when.
RADEK
Well, she didn't show up while I was working.
In the sinkhole, the water level is still rising, but as it approaches the level of the rift, the rift seems to be trying to twist away from the surface. Like it doesn't like it.
RHU
So the rift was covered in water it dislikes and with a tree overhead to 'guard' it or something. But it didn't work, because this planet has had a bad time of it. So maybe us uncovering it made it worse? Maybe together they can't be destroyed but once the rift is unprotected it can be? So many questions.
We could go back to the village and try to find someone who understands this better than us.
RADEK
It's as good a place to start as any.
They all pile back into the car.
The Gravedigger grabs a piece of wood and tosses it at the rift. It bounces off.
The Gravedigger grabs another piece of wood, dunks it in Radek's water sample, and then tosses it at the rift as well. It goes in.
Frezak (Gravy): Dammit. I forgot that sometimes things go in and sometimes they don't, regardles off what they are.
The water continues to rise and finally hits the rift regardless of its vague attempts to avoid it. The rippling effect spreads through the water, filling it with odd shards of wrongness, as though the water itself took on the properties of the rift.
Radek, clearly interested in this change, takes another water sample, though as it's detached from the rest it goes back to looking the same as ever.
As the rift is covered entirely, they feel it calling to them again, the same pull of the hole as they'd felt earlier, getting stronger the more it fills. This time it isn't overpowering, however, and isn't compelling anyone to actually do anything.
The water is full of shimmers.
RHU
We should maybe get out of here. Before it gets any stronger.
RADEK
Please do.
Without further ado, they turn the car toward the village and head back.

EXT. Car over open wilderness - afternoon
They fly around a bit, checking out the area. A big dry river over there. Some mountains in the distance which look like they might have some real life on them. A whole lot of desert in the other direction.
Some deer-like things further off.
A general agreement to maybe hunt the things is established, and they head in that direction.
When they get in range, Radek takes aim with his rifle.
RADEK
Intact body, right?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Yeah. You can pop the head or bleed it out, though.
Radek fires and misses. (rolled 12 vs AC)
They get a little closer, and the Gravedigger throws a grappling hook and rope at a running deerthing below them. It tangles around the deerthing's legs, and the deerthing is pulled into the air below them. (rolled 20 vs AC)
RADEK
Showoff.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
YEEEE-HAAAWWWW.
Pull up!
Rhu does so, and the deerthing swings about chaotically below them, making funny noises.
The Gravedigger hauls the thing up a bit and then unexpectedly winds up with a pile of thrashing deerthing in his lap when one of the swings takes it over the side of the car.
The Gravedigger headbutts it to death.
Frezak (Gravy): Those guys probably think that headbutting how hunters used to do it in the olden days. "It's an ancient, accredited technique. Shut up."
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Now, a spot to gut and clean this. Any rivers?
They fly on, but all the rivers nearby seem to be dry. So they follow pick one and follow the riverbed for a time. It passes through plains and desert, the land randomly switching between the two.
Later, they come to something of a canyon, dry but deep. Then the river passes underground for a time, and they fly over a ridge, and further down is more canyon. Here, there is some water in it. A trickle.
Later still, the river gets bigger, mountains sort of rise around it, it goes through some hills, snakes around some much greener area, and gets a whole lot larger very, very suddenly, with tributaries and everything.
It seems to head over mountains in the distance, and beyond, perhaps to the coast, but for now they head down to park.

EXT. Deslan riverside - evening
The party gets out by the river and sets up to roast the deer. The Gravedigger carries a tree over to the camp before setting down to clean the carcass while Rhu builds up a fire. Radek goes through his things and does some miscellaneous science in the meantime.
Greibel is still seagulls and sitting in the car like a flock of disoriented, bemused seagulls somehow attached to a car.
Once everything is cleaned up and the fire good and low, the Gravedigger starts off by roasting some legs and passes hunks of the result around while the rest burns down for the villagers.
Ganelon (Radek): I don't suppose I could just consume its soul, huh? But, you know, not to be evil or anything. It's just easier to eat that way.
Ganelon (Radek): Waste no part of the animal and all, y'know. Yeah, you've got the meat, bones, organs, and blood, but what about the life? That's where the old man comes in.
Gaurav (Rhu): What would happen if you ate the soul of a creature without killing the body?
Frezak (Gravy): In D&D? You just get a... mindless person. An awake but not concious body.
Ganelon (Radek): I guess it couldn't really feed itself, though.
Frezak (Gravy): Nope. It'd just stand there. Or sit. Or whatever position it was in when you sucked the soul out.
Radek takes his hunk and efficiently sucks out everything strictly beneficial about it and injects himself with that, leaving an awful, flavorless slab of dry meat behind.
Ganelon (Radek): It's how I'd eat if I were able.
Frezak (Gravy): It probably looks... icky. Grey. Dry. DEAD. It's the corpse of food.
The Gravedigger eats a leg of deerthing.
Rhu mimics the Gravedigger and tries to eat a leg of deerthing as well, but only gets through part of it.
They wind up throwing bits of the rest of it at the Greibel seagulls, which, though they're not acting all that intelligent at the moment, do seem to be aware enough to eat at the bits.
RADEK
Do you suppose his core intelligence was destroyed and we're simply feeding the instinct-driven remains of his 'body'?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Or he could just be really stoned.
RHU
I'm sure he'll be back. Once he remembers how.
RADEK
I've never paid much mind to druids. They're always going on about nature, like it holds secrets we haven't exhausted millennia ago.
A worthless profession, druidism.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Could be a passtime.
RADEK
For this one?
RHU
I don't know about that, Radek. A druid set up the little tree at the rift, and possibly also the waterlike thing. Maybe once we convince Greibel to unbirdify, we could get his opinion on the magic underlying them.
While they're at this, the sun sets.
RHU
Let's get back before it gets too dark.
They pack up and head back.

EXT. Car over open wilderness - night
It's dark by the time they get back to where they found the deer. They can see the lights of the village in the distance, and also a bit of a glow from the direction of the hole...
There's no sign of anything much else around.
They head for the sinkhole for a quick look.

EXT. Hole at Vermai - night
Now, the hole is glowing. In general, everything looks about the same as it had been when they were first there, but now, in the darkness of night, with glow. The tree. The water. The air around it. Tendrils in the rocks around. As though the glow has been seeping through the ground and coming up in places...
The glowing stuff is in the air, even, sort of like mist, some blowing away in the evening breeze, bot mostly just lingering.
No sign of Azir or the other bird. No sign of bones. Just glowing.
Frezak (Gravy): SORRY AZIR. GOOD LUCK.
RADEK
Get me closer. In the air is fine.
They get closer while trying to not get too close.
RHU
If Greibel was around, we could get him to look at the shining tree branch and see if he can work out what druidic magic made it. But alas...
Rhu motions at the flock of seagulls in the back of the car.
Radek investigates the glow, but his results say it is totally... nothing. (rolled 29 arcana) They say it doesn't exist.
RADEK
This is...
Rhu prays for help, asking for any idea about what all the shining is about. (rolled 26 religion)
Suddenly the Greibel seagulls melt together and turn into Greibel.
RHU
GREIBEL!
GREIBEL
Hmmmmmmmmm...?
Greibel rubs his head and licks his lips at the thought of ice cheese.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Oh, hey Greibel.
Radek sighs in relief.
RHU
Greibel, you're not... vegetarian, are you?
GREIBEL
What an interesting question to ask...
Well, I talk to animals and, like, turn into them. I tried eating meat after that but it was just too weird.
The Gravedigger averts his eyes and finds some interesting dust to look at.
RHU
Ah. Okay. Never mind. Forget I asked.
GREIBEL
(groggily)
Forget you asked what?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
LOOK! DUST!
At this point they just sort of head back to the village.
Ganelon (Radek): I'll have to explain to the innkeeper that I won't be speaking her language, literally, when we wake up. And unless she has a big storeroom full of magic junk for me to destroy, I likely won't be able to afford fixing that.

EXT. Hughenden inn - night
Some folks are loitering around the common room again, but not so many as the previous evening. It's a bit later this time.
A guy raises his mug at the party as they enter. The inkeeper raises an eyebrow.
The Gravedigger waves at the mug dude.
RADEK
Good evening.
INNKEEPER
Evening to ye. Didn't expect you back so soon, but I suppose that skiff of yours had something to do with that, didn't it? Or did you make it?
This time, however, the entire party can understand her.
RHU
That's not a 'skiff', it's a very fine shi - hey! I can understand you now!
INNKEEPER
Clearly.
(she leans forward)
So you all magically speak this now? This is new.
RADEK
I had no part in this.
RHU
Hmm. If it is a gift of the great Hazz'ridan, then maybe Greibel won't have it, since he was a flock of seagulls at the time?
RADEK
However, we did investigate that hole, even lost the paladin to it. I can say with certainty that it must be closed.
INNKEEPER
Lost?
RADEK
He's gone. Vanished. No traces.
INNKEEPER
I'm sorry to hear that. So four drinks it is.
RHU
He'll be back. I'm sure of it.
GREIBEL
(whispering incredulously to Rhu)
Weren't these people speaking other gibberish before?
RHU
(whispering back)
You are not going to believe what happened at the rift! Hazz'ridan spoke to us and cleared our minds! He spoke to me in my head! He seemed lost and confused.
GREIBEL
(whispering back)
Hazz'ridan, the God of dead ends, lost and confused. Who woulda thought?
RHU
(whispering back)
Every ending is another beginning. Hazz'ridan is at our side. We have a new goal now: to close the rift on this world. We cannot fail!
RADEK
I even sent a drone in to search for him. You might be interested to know that there is, in fact, another side.
INNKEEPER
Do tell.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Drinks? Drinks!
RADEK
Just three. I don't require nourishment.
INNKEEPER
Oh, love, it's not about requirements. Just try it. You won't regret a thing.
The innkeeper pours some very small mugs of stuff for everyone.
RANDOM VILLAGER
(quietly)
You'll just regret several other things.
Rhu looks disappointed at the mug size, but helps himself anyway.
RADEK
Liquids have not passed my lips in decades, ma'am. And recently I seem to have even transcended a need for oxygen.
INNKEEPER
Your loss.
She drinks Radek's for him.
RHU
Whah... how much for another one, these are delicious.
The innkeeper pours Rhu another.
INNKEEPER
Today's on the house.
GREIBEL
(to the others since Rhu is in a less whispery mood now)
So how do we close this 'rift' thing?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
(dropping a pile of deerthing on the bar)
Hey, do you want these meat bits?
INNKEEPER
(eyeing the meat)
How much have you got?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Most of the animal. Minus what we had for lunch.
The innkeeper blinks.
INNKEEPER
Well, you've been busy. Sure, I'll take it. How much you asking?
The Gravedigger shrugs.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Whatever you want, it wasn't any trouble.
INNKEEPER
Here for the night, too? I'll give you ten. And do drink up.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Sure.
The Gravedigger examines his drink. It's brown, almost reddish, and despite the small amount in the mug, the bottom is completely obscured.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
(watching Rhu)
So what IS this?
RHU
Good lady, you are t... you are t...
Rhu is now examining the bartop with great interest.
The innkeeper pours Rhu another, almost grinning.
INNKEEPER
Shalott! The proper stuff, rather. Not like went bad and made your friend's... friend.
The innkeeper eyes the porridge, which is sitting on Greibel's shoulder.
The Gravedigger drinks his shalott.
RHU
HUH? HUH? I HEARD mnamesomesbdit.
Radek gives in and hands the innkeeper a syringe, indicating that she should put some of the shalott in that.
Ganelon (Radek): Because injecting alcohol straight into your bloodstream is how the pros do it, kids. Don't try this at home.
She takes the syringe skeptically and eyes it. Then she eyes Radek.
RADEK
...What? It's efficient.
INNKEEPER
If this kills you, I take no responsibility.
Unfortunately you've gone and got my interest, and the whole floor's watching...
THE GRAVEDIGGER
(he lays a hand on Radek)
If you die, I'll bury you.
Rhu starts mumbling a dirty song.
The innkeeper mixes a very small amount of dark stuff with some other stuff and waters it down a bit and adds some other stuff and pours a bit into the syringe...
She holds it and pauses dramatically for a moment.
INNKEEPER
I can't think of anything dramatic to say.
She hands it over.
RADEK
Fear not. With this, I prove my own immortality.
Ganelon (Radek): He is not immortal.
Some of the villagers are now cheering him on. Urging him to do it.
One guy in the back mutters and shakes his head.
Radek injects the mixture into his arm.
There's a long silence.
Radek neglects to fall over dead.
RADEK
Keh heh heh.
Told you sooo - whoah.
The Gravedigger cheers and pats Radek on the back.
Everyone starts clapping and cheering.
RADEK
I had forgotten what this feels like.
GREIBEL
Huh... weird.
Rhu bangs on the bar a few times with his mug.
The innkeeper considers giving Rhu another and then pushes it toward Greibel instead.
Greibel looks at it for a moment before sipping it slowly.
The Gravedigger turns around to find that large guy from before standing abnormally close to him.
The Gravedigger gives him a look of the "what?" variety.
LARGE GUY
Hi.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Hello? Something you need?
The large guy stares blankly.
The Gravedigger stares blankly right back.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Oookayyy. Good luck with that.
The Gravedigger turns back around to see how Radek is coping.
Radek is happily muttering obscure formulae to nobody in particular.
The innkeeper looks really proud of herself for this.
Rhu notices the muttered formulae, tries to figure out how some possibly related song goes, fails, and returns to persuing the bartop.
A moment later, Rhu is sprawled forward across it, fast asleep.
The Gravedigger picks Rhu up and squeezes past the large guy, who is still standing right behind him, whacking the guy with a bunch of Rhu in the process.
The large guy just stands there looking confused.

Rhu wakes up a bit. RHU

Huh? Wha? Wh?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
You're going to bed, little man.
RHU
Hmf. No. Not sleepy. Five more minutes.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Shhhhh.
He heads up the stairs, and Greibel and Radek follow.

INT. Hughenden inn upstairs - night
The Gravedigger dumps Rhu with Greibel and steers Radek into another room with himself, since Radek doesn't sleep anyway.
Ganelon (Radek): He's a diligent guard. Except for the part where he pays no attention.
While the others sleep, Radek gets to work on another eyebot, this one with possible drunken 'enhancements'.