Chaotic Crew:Campaign/Chapter 03
The Bed and Breakfast is certainly... cozy. Whereas the rest of the buildings on the block (and indeed, in town) are older and mostly made of brick, this one is built of relatively new pinewood. The whole building has been whitewashed to a glowing sheen; the exterior is spotlessly clean, without a trace of weathering. Rose bushes surrounding the porch are immaculately trimmed, while yellow shutters and pink curtains frame all the windows. The overall effect is an overwhelming sense of quaintness, and maybe a little nausea.
"...what'd I tell you about eating at places that are too clean?"
"I dunno, laddie, the last place was all right."
"We didn't eat there, either." Wolfgang walks in the door and looks around.
Reginar follows Wolfgang inside. "We did get some great ale, though. And troll spit, for that matter."
"Hmm..." Eleihoff mumbles, intrigued, as he surveys the exterior. Then he idly walks in, still holding his pet toad.
The interior of the building looks very much like something one would expect to see within a 19th-century Southern mansion. Oversized comfy armchairs and white wicker seats are arranged tastefully in the lobby; a large reception desk is nearby, with a service bell on it. No one is currently in sight.
Credance follows everyone inside while noting, "A-actually, that's a -um- an outdated view... Current theological research shows that -um- that actually tiny invisible demons li-live in grime and -um- stuff..."
As the others file into the sickeningly pretty building, Gideon shuffles off down the alleyway across from it. The other end looks like it opens onto one of the town's main streets. He is less than bothered... with his size, he's imposing enough to be left alone. So, he heads further down the alley.
Reginar looks into his bag at Credance's comment. "I suppose that explains why you always made me keep my room clean as a wee lad, Grandpa?"
"There's nothing like f-fighting off a bad case of food possession..." Credance rings the bell.
"Oh, you don't want to eat in a place that's filthy, but if it's too clean, they're hiding something."
"...hiding something?" Eleihoff settles himself into one of the oversized armchairs and lets go of his toad. It promptly hops onto his head and then onto the top of the armchair.
"Now, laddie, how can you hide something if everything's sparkling clean?"
"It's the food, Reginar. Honest." Wolfgang shakes his head and goes to the desk to wait beside Credance.
Reginar raises an eyebrow, then goes over to tickle Eleihoff's toad. "That's an adorable little fellar you have there, Eleihoff."
An almost musical voice rings out in the wake of the bell. "Just a MIIII-nuuute!" Moments later, a slightly plus-sized, middle-aged woman with blonde hair glides into the room from a nearby doorway. She settles behind the counter, flashing a warm, motherly smile. "Hi there, folks! What can ol' Jen do for you today?"
As Gideon advances, a zombie shuffles into the alley from the far end. This one looks different from the others Gideon's seen so far, though... whereas the other zombies all looked like ordinary (dead) villagers, this one is taller, beefier, and decidedly more combat-oriented. He's wearing light armor, and carrying a large spiked club... the moment he sees Gideon, he growls and begins shuffling towards him rapidly.
"We're looking for a particularly sagacious type person. You wouldn't happen to have any ideas, would you?"
"Well..." Jen looks thoughtful at Wolfgang's question. "If by "Sagacious", you mean "Old Coot", then I've got a pretty good idea." She raises an eyebrow. "And what might you want him for, dearie?"
"He apparently knows something about a portal in Worldstown."
Credance adds, "We need his help to -um- to save the world..."
"Ah!" Jen grins. "You're the ones who're trying to put a stop to all this chaotic business. I saw that story on the telecrystal."
"We're on telecrystal?" Reginar clucks into his bag. "Ya forgot to tell me about that, Grandpa."
"I didn't realize they'd started Reality Telecrystal season," Wolfgang muses.
Credance tells him, "They -um- interviewed the head p-priest yesterday."
"You don't know?" Jen blinks. "Well, there's a crystal set up in the den, if you'd care to see." She shuffles off through a doorway, beckoning the party to follow. Reginar follows her, curious. Credance shuffles after. Eleihoff gets up from his relaxed position, grumbling unhappily for a few moments. He then scoops up his toad and follows the group. Wolfgang snorts at the idea of being on reality telecrystal, and decides he might as well see what kind of drivel this is. If it's him singing earlier, he's going to be mad, but he follows the woman.
Gideon eyes the zombie, a fiendish glint in his gray eyes. A wicked smile slowly curls up his stubbled face and, in an instant, he's dashing over and swinging his fist at the zombie's face in really cool slow motion. The sickening, satisfying crunch of splintering bone he's expecting never comes, however... his swing misses the zombie, sending him stumbling past the zombie awkwardly. Gideon curses like a drunk pirate and tries to about-face, skidding along the way.
The zombie grunts... slowly he turns around and awkwardly heaves the business end of his club at Gideon's face. The zombie may look dangerous, but he's still painfully slow... Gideon has more than enough time to dodge out of the way as the club head slams into the alley wall, spraying brick dust everywhere.
"Oh great, one of you ****faces will actually fight!"
Jenny leads them into the den, a lavishly-furnished room with large windows forming one wall, bathing the room in sunlight. A large, shiny device, rather like an oversized mirror, hangs from one wall, with chairs and a couch surrounding it.
Credance sits on the couch. Reginar leans against the wall opposite the device, arms and ankles crossed casually. In a few moments, Wolfgang has found a chair and sat in it as well. Eleihoff walks around the room for a little bit and eventually comes to a stop in front of the mirror-like object.
"Flat-screen scrying?" Wolfgang gets a thought and looks around. "...what happened to Gideon?"
"He's likely off enjoying his troll spit, I'd wager," Reginar tells him.
Wolfgang sighs. "You guys tell me what you find out, I'd best go make sure he's not beating an innocent citizen somewhere." He gets up and heads out.
Meanwhile, Jen sets up the telecrystal. "Here you go, dearies." She snaps her fingers, and the "mirror" suddenly blinks to life with moving images. It depicts a group of rather sorry-looking people standing around outside the Church of All Worlds, discussing something amongst themselves. In the foreground, an Elven woman wearing robes and a headset speaks to the audience.
"Ooo, high-def..." Credance whistles.
After a moment, Gideon decides that charging is the most fun and lets off the most stress anyway. So, he decides to continue with that, a deep laugh coming from him. But, WHIFF! Again, he misses, flailing uselessly at the zombie as he skips past him and nearly collides with a nearby dumpster.
Wolfgang heads out in the direction they came from earlier. "Gideon!" He looks around. Across the street from the Bed & Breakfast is an alleyway... he can hear the sounds of a scuffle from inside. He rounds the corner just in time to see a mean-looking, armed zombie slam a spiked greatclub into Gideon's stomach. Gideon, oddly enough, just keeps smiling that vicious smile of his.
"Holy...! I'm coming, Gideon!" Wolfgang runs toward Gideon, drawing his weapon.
"This is Joanna Treehugger with Channel 6 News. Our latest story: earlier today, a group of adventurers was dispatched by the Church of All Worlds in a desperate, last-ditch effort to discover the source of the recent theological breakdowns. Already the group has managed to procure transportation, and is reportedly heading in the direction of Cityville.
"Channel 6 has managed to obtain an interview with an individual who witnessed the group's departure. Sir, what did you see?"
The camera pans over to a familiar-looking man. "Well, there I was, just mindin' my own business, when this jerk starts eyein' me and lippin' off. Tryin' to pick a fight with me..." The man starts to break down in tears. "He made fun of me... *sniff* What am I supposed to tell my family?" He starts sobbing.
"Oh no..." Credance buries her face in her hands and groans in embarrassment.
The reporter reappears, looking somberly at the camera. "Not the most promising of starts for this group of would-be world-savers. This has been Joanna Treehugger, Channel 6 News."
Wolfgang skids to a halt behind the zombie, yelling, "Cold steel and hot vengeance!" His weapon morphs into a greatclub... the second time he's gotten a weapon made of absolutely no steel. Gideon tries to knee the zombie, but doesn't do a very good job of it. At this range, Gideon looks quite drunk. Wolfgang's club whiffs as well, slamming into the nearby alley wall. The zombie looks doubly mad now, and lashes out at the new arrival. Gideon also looks mad and lashes out at the new arrival.
"Whut'chu doin'? S'my fight!"
"...whew... you're drunk, Gideon!"
Reginar moves forward and places a hand on Credance's shoulder. "Ah, cheer up, lass. When we manage to rescue the Switchboard, any misunderstandings will be cleared up."
"Oh, I'll show that news skank..." Credance's eyes narrow menacingly.
"Now, lass... let's not be hostile."
"Hum, what?" She looks at Reginar with wide, curious eyes.
"Never mind. Well, thank you for the information, Jen. Can you finish telling us about the... 'old coot', as you called him?" Reginar chuckles a little.
Jen is scuttling back and forth, busily dusting various objects in the den. "Oh, sure, sweetie." She pauses. "There's an old man named Saffron who lives on the edge of town... he's always claiming to be all-knowledgeable about things. Says he's traveled the planes at times..." She looks thoughtful. "Last I heard, he was headed for the graveyard outside of town... I think he's trying to put a stop to all this zombie nonsense."
"Thank you, ma'am." Reginar sighs. "Well, before we go talk with the sage, we had better gather up the rest of our wayward squad. They won't want to miss out on the information."
"Um, thank you Mi-Ms. May the Gods bless and k-keep you," Credance says.
"Aww, thanks dearie." Jen waves politely. "If you ever need a place to stay, be sure to come on back now, y'hear?"
"..." Wolfgang grits his teeth, then swings his club hard at the zombie, two-handed. "I want to keep you alive!"
"Like I'hd let shum zombie keel me."
The club slams home, striking the zombie hard in the chest. It stumbles backward, growling angrily... at the same time, though, something odd seems to be happening to Gideon... Gideon's skin seems to melt away, much to his chagrin. It becomes a formless, dark mass for a moment...