EXT. Dorgin town street, near the inn - Day
The Gravedigger drags Rhu and Amadi out of the water and the party heads toward the inn. Somewhere along the way Rhu actually finds his legs and remembers how to walk, squelching along behind the group in his wet shoes. He seems surprisingly happy and very talkative, babbling loudly about anything and everything to anyone who'll listen long enough. Which, startlingly, is nobody aside from Amadi, who listens intently to Rhu. Or looks like it, anyway.
Greibel follows vaguely behind and fails to get lost, despite all efforts.
George is standing outside the inn, with a middle-aged woman talking at him. George looks grumpy and a bit hungover. The woman looks upset. George seems to be ignoring her.
...and there's rats in my basement and you guards should really be helping, why aren't the guards helping, you disgrace of a guard. Fuck you.
We met a woman once who had a raccoon in her basement, can you believe it, a RACOON, covered in oil, it was nuts, but then...
A raccoon? A rutting disgrace of a province. Completely useless, the lot of them, won't even do their jobs, and I've never even SEEN this one before...
The woman starts ranting at Rhu.
Amadi listens intently to the woman's rants, too. Or looks like it, anyway.
(ignoring the woman and Rhu)
Oy. I'll be blunt with you, but I don't really remember last night that well. What were we doing?
You offered to take us to the dimensional rift causing problems for this world. And the universe at large, really. I've been thinking about how to fix it.
(to the woman)
Hey. This man is the last guard because the rest turned to flesh-eating zombies. He's the last Guard.
Now give him a little respect, okay? He has a ton of work without people bitching at him.
The woman's mouth slowly drops open, and then she points accusingly at George.
WHAT DID YOU DO?
George finally turns and gives her a surprisingly powerful hungover glare.
The Gravedigger picks up the woman with his mighty hands. The woman gasps indignantly and starts flailing, but he just goes to the other side of the square and puts her down and gives her a stern look.
The woman yells at the Gravedigger a bit, then walks off in a huff.
Some girls watching giggle at it. Or possibly at Gravy.
George snickers, then manages to stifle it and nods to Radek.
It involves... well, explosives. I'll start small, no need to worry.
(he gestures down to the caving equipment at his feet)
That would explain this spelunking gear. And you were going to blow up the... zombie stuff. In the cave. Over...
Yeah. Sounds good. You all ready to head out?
The Gravedigger plods back to the party and beams.
Ganelon (Radek): Likely none of us are even remotely prepared to explore a cave.
Frezak (Gravy): AHEM.
Ganelon (Radek): I said CAVE.
Frezak (Gravy): I CAN DIG ROCK. I CAN DIG ANYTHING. IF I CAN DIG SPACETIME AND NEGATIVE SPACE I CAN DIG SOME BLOODY ROCKS.
Great. It's a few hours hike unless you want to charter an airship, which is a few days out because they never actually come here.
George pauses and eyes Rhu skeptically.
Are you SURE you want to take him?
Rhu returns George's skeptical look without pausing in his speech, which is explaining something about digestive tracts to no-one in particular. It's not clear when he last drew breath.
...As much as I would love, more than words can describe, to let him be someone else's problem... He has an uncanny knack for finding his way back to us. Supervision is for the best.
Ganelon (Radek): It's seriously uncanny, the places Rhu has come back to us from!
Rhu nods at Radek. He's now talking about saliva.
He's god-addled. It's not his fault. It's not even my fault!
George raises an eyebrow, but then just guides everyone out of town. Which is to say he just sort of leaves and assumes everyone will follow. Which they do, though not necessarily all at once.
EXT. Foothills trail - day
The party and George encounter a herd of large elk. The elk are generally all over the place, including across the trail. They look like fairly normal alien elk.
Ooo. Look at that.
Rhu finally stops talking and just watches the elk quietly.
George glowers at the elk.
...I've hunted worse.
Ganelon (Radek): In this campaign alone.
The elk just sort of stand around grazing. The ones on the trail lick the trail.
George grumbles and walks through the herd across the path. They mostly ignore him. A few move slightly out of the way as he nears.
A couple off the path put their heads down and kick their legs a bit.
To Greibel it seems that the ones with their heads down are just worried that they might be after their food. If the party keeps going it won't matter. (rolled 33 nature (natural 20)) Gravy gets a sense of this too, that there's no reason not to just go through them since for the most part they don't seem to give a damn. (rolled 22 nature)
Greibel motions to everyone to just keep walking. Aside from Rhu, everyone does.
Rhu lingers behind the group staring at the elk.
The agitated ones to the side of the trail become more agitated.
Rhu suddenly realises he's been left behind and runs to catch up, skirting off the side of the trail away from the agitated-looking elk and trying to stealth at the same time as he passes into the body of the herd. (rolled 24 stealth) Given that this is broad daylight and he's surrounded by elk, this doesn't really help.
The herd spooks around him.
Rhu tries to run up a tree (rolled 23 acrobatics) and then falls on his face because his arms aren't working that well.
There are elk stampeding in every direction. Some elk run over Rhu.
Spooked elk run past the rest of the party, further down the trail, as well.
You see, this is what I was talking about earlier.
Amadi runs around like a spooked elk. Joining in the party. For fun.
The spooked elk stay well clear of the Gravedigger, and are soon all past.
A bit later, Rhu wanders up to the rest of the group, grinning widely. Like a lost puppy.
EXT. Foothills higher up - noonish
The party is getting well up into the foothills now, heading off the trail, leading up a mountain. There are trees and stuff. It's getting more stony and rugged.
A grasshopper flies into Greibel's ear.
Greibel reaches up to move the grasshopper to sitting on top of his ear. While he's at it, he has a go at talking to it. (rolled 31 nature)
The grasshopper warns him to beware the reflections. The water is dark and muddy. And sticky. It ate Bob.
Bear Soup Guy (Greibel): Greibel assumes the grasshopper is talking about a fellow grasshopper drowning in a harmless puddle, even though I fully expect we're going to encounter a big shiny sludge monster that ate a human named Bob.
Greibel asks the grasshopper if Bob was kinda a jerk.
The grasshopper helpfully informs him that Bob was Bob.
Greibel nods sagely.
Here's to you, Bob.
Greibel takes a huge bong hit.
Amadi keeps running around wildly in circles around everyone, nearly knocking George over in the process.
George ignores her.
The grasshopper perches on Greibel's ear happily before flying away some ten minutes later.
EXT. Cave entrance - early afternoon
The party finally comes to their destination. The surrounding landscape is all stony and rugged and full of trees. The cave itself is a small hole in the side of the mountain.
They all stop in front of it.
So before we head in, I'd just like to mention that I'm not liable for anything that's about to happen. So if the entire thing caves in or something, it's not my fault.
(indicating the others)
Don't worry, it'll be one of theirs.
I'm not sure how reassuring that is.
Don't worry, we won't get buried. We have an expert with us.
Amadi leaps elkily onto Gravy's back and beams proudly.
...Yes, he should be able to dig us out. If he doesn't decide to kill us so that we end up buried properly.
The Gravedigger waves a shovel.
Rhu wanders around looking at trees. He confirms that they are indeed trees. (rolled 27 nature) Pines, mostly. One of them drips resin in his eye.
So many zings.
George has lunch. Some of the others eat too. Greibel has a lunch of delicious drugs.
Radek does that horrible thing he's known for. Extracting all the goodness out of food and leaving the mass behind.
So you've seen the rift before?
Amadi rides the Gravedigger's horns without commenting.
Haven't SEEN anything. Everything's coming out of there, though, so whatever the rift is, we should find it.
You have no idea how deep it goes?
I wasn't there, and nobody would come with and investigate again. Not after what happened the last time. Nevermind that all you should really need is some proper protection, and if you never investigate you'll never even know what that is.
Do you know what that is?
It might be best if you explain.
I don't know. I mean, Everything has something you can use against it.
You go against normal undead, you take relics that repel them. Go somewhere with decaying particles, wear a suit that blocks the energy.
So far, we've managed without.
Maybe it's something you already have?
Or maybe the group that went in before was all idiots. And they did something really stupid.
(pointing at Rhu)
He occasionally wields divine power.
(pointing at Gravy)
...And I doubt he can sustain damage at all.
Rhu waves idiotically at George.
(looking at Rhu disbelievingly)
Definitely Elk. I saw it. It was HUGE.
I could be an elk. I'd make a good elk. So would he!
Amadi points to Greibel.
(pointing at Amadi)
She keeps saving my life.
Rhu grins at everyone, nods and everyone, and return to peering at pine needles.
Huh. Well, that must be real interesting.
George gets up.
Shall we head in?
George heads up to the entrance without waiting for anyone to follow, yells loudly at the inside, waits for anything to happen, and when nothing does, heads inside.
After a moment the party follows, Gravy in the lead with Amadi riding his horns, Greibel and Radek behind him, and Rhu wandering in after everyone else.
The entrance is dark, a rift drawing out into a long, narrow corridor, forcing the party to head in one at a time, and the Gravedigger to hunch over uncomfortably, bonking Amadi into the ceiling periodically. She doesn't even seem to notice.
Then the passage opens up into a fairly cavernous cavern after a bit and everyone manages to spread out and stand up properly again. There's a steep chasm in the middle, and cracks and passages and stalagmites everywhere.
At some point, George puts on some funky goggles, but the others' space-elven eyes can still see well enough without help.
(pointing into the pit)
Down there. See how it's glowing?
Greibel, Amadi, and Radek (rolled 19 reality) see it.
To Gravy it just looks like a deep pit.
To Rhu, everything is just hairly and he sees a pit of really long hairs snaking up at him. Even the hairs are hairy. (rolled 8 reality)
Rhu backs up against the wall away from the pit, but doesn't run away.
Radek clicks his tongue and shakes his head.
Yes, I see it. A magical disturbance of some sort.
We'll need to get down there and check it out.
George starts getting equipment out of his bag and setting up to rappel down.
Oh, good, you came prepared with a way back up.
Yeah? How were you planning to get down?
The Gravedigger grabs the orb from Radek, as well as all the rope, and hands someone the other end of the rope. Greibel winds up with it draped around his head.
The Gravedigger makes as if to jump in, then stops, chucks down a couple of glowsticks, and peers into the pit with penetrative Gravyvision. (rolled 38 perception) Amadi peers down too from his horns.
The sticks bounce down the chasm pit thing a long ways, and eventually plop into an underground river, which seems to have cut into a bit of a large room. There seem to be some random passages off the river, and there are also a fair amount of old bones and an alarming lack of bat guano anywhere.
Oddly there's no sound of running water up here.
...Water at the bottom, hm?
Hand back the orb, Gravy.
The Gravedigger complies.
So much for that idea.
One could survive a fall with this, you see. Losing it in an underground river or drowning, however, are somewhat beyond its capablities to protect oneself from.
Maybe I'm just missing the obvious here, but if the rift is down there, and the zombies got... out... How did they get up here?
They must have climbed the hairs. All the little hairs. All the big hairs. The big hairs with the little hairs on them.
...That is curious. You're certain they came out of the cave's mouth?
Frezak (Gravy): I could heal Rhu. By slapping him.
Maybe they got carried out the river? Zombies wouldn't need to breathe...
Maybe they climbed up? Or there's some way ...
It's possible that the water is tainted. We observed a... similar phenomenon elsewhere. Though the rift needed to be in constant contact with the liquid to exert any ill effects.
Well, it had to be this cave because it's the only thing in common between all the affected areas. The kids would come in and hear voices, too. Said something about a whistling hole...
If it is in the river, that would be kind of not good.
I'll do what I can, but we need to be closer than this.
Rhu looks around for secret passages. (rolled 27 dungeoneering (natural 20)) He finds a lot of hair. Some interesting hair. He examines the interesting hair and it turns out to be a wall.
Rhu tries to hand the Gravedigger a wall. Then he opens a door in it.
It's not entirely clear whether or not the door is actually there, actually a door, or actually anything, but there is a passage behind it, which Rhu then proceeds to fall headfirst down into. He screams as he tumbles down an apparent flight of stairs. They're not exactly even stairs, and feel almost organic in a way, but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense since it's just stone that conveniently shelfed off into fairly elf-sized stairs...?
Oof! Oof! Oof! Oof!
Rhu finally stops falling at a turn in the passage.
...I think I found something!
Sometimes, his penchant for trouble also pays off.
He seems intensely irritating.
I seem to be developing a resistance to that.
Radek heads to check out the newly-opened passage, and George packs up his gear and follows.
All in all, it looks like a crevice. With steps. Going down. They feel a cool, wet breeze coming up, and hear the sound of water, far below.
Everyone winds up around Rhu. Someone helps him up, and the party heads down the stairs as a group this time, with Greibel now taking point, for whatever reason.
As they descend, voices rise around them, getting louder as they get closer, but they're disorganised, jumbled, and all a bit on top of each other.
INT. Cave cavern thing
The stairs spill the party out into another cavern. This one is dark and full of voices that nobody but Greibel and Amadi can understand.
George looks a bit pained, probably due to the voices.
(whispering to Greibel)
Can you see the weird shapes moving through the hair?
It's probably the mask, then. It's an odd mask.
The hello? echoes. The voices scatter in its wake like a swarm of tuna, then fill the emptiness again when the echoes subside.
Elloooo ellooo elloo ooo oooooo.
Amadi fades out and then comes back with ghosty noises instead.
Radek has a go at detecting the source of all of this. (rolled 32 arcana (natural 20)) He determines the oddities to be the magic effect of a hole, apparently in the next room.
This is it, alright. Be careful, all of you. There's something off about this one.
George puts on his industrial earmuffs and grumbles.
Amadi eyes the earmuffs with a very childish "I want one of those" look.
Without further ado, Radek goes into the next room to check it out.