Trinsic Tales:Metagame/Chapter 07
Chapter #7: Thugs, Mugs n' Hugs
<Capn_Ascii> "As we join our heroes, we find them having successfully navigated the mall, that cesspool of decadent Western capitalism."
<Nenni> "Let's have a look at the magic map. Is the picture of the character sheet moving? Will we have to secure it in the Farraday cage too to conceal it from the Archmage? Our former-selves did commission that safe room, and the author of the note did say they'd done everything in their power to keep the sheets out of his range / possession..."
- Cade hands the map off to whoever is sitting in the passenger seat while he drives, so that they can check Nenni's suggestion.
- Miranor looks at the map
<Capn_Ascii> Miranor: A quick look at the map confirms that the page icon from the Mall is now moving in tandem with the van's route. Whether anyone else has a magic map like this, you can't say.
<Miranor> "Yeah, it's constantly updating. We'll need to do something about that."
<Cade> "We'll put it in the cage with Cap until we figure out what it's for. He's...too gibbering to accidentally destroy it, right?"
<Nenni> "I think he might also be chained up."
<Capn_Ascii> Soon you're pulling around behind the laundromat again.
<Miranor> As soon as the car is parked, Miranor gets out, heads into the base, and moves to put Sheona's character sheet in the cage.
<Nenni> "Hopefully nobody /else/ has been watching a map like this for the last ten minutes or so, tracking the scroll's location. This van is a dead giveaway if someone comes looking in this general area."
<Miranor> "Not much we can do about that, if true."
<Cade> "If someone else has a map like this, we better also hope it doesn't have a great big 'BASE' sign on it like ours does," Cade points out sardonically.
<Nenni> "With any luck, the evil archmage is from an exotic timezone and was taking a nap while recovering from planeshiftlag."
<Cade> "Bringing Cap here is more likely to have gotten his attention, since he knew it was happening, then bringing the sheet here, I think."
<Miranor> "Also true. If he has this map he knows where the sheets are and would probably be doing more to get them."
<Nenni> "Yep, and then the next sheet and the next sheet - it all increases the risk."
<Cade> "Are we going to try for another one right away, or wait until morning?"
<Capn_Ascii> You climb down into the Basement of Solitude, where you find Gizmo waiting for you. He's holding a small metal box. "I figured you guys would be back before dark. Did you get the thingumy?"
- Miranor hands Gizmo the sheet. "Yes."
<Capn_Ascii> "Great. I'll put it in here." He slips the sheet into the box. "This'll shield it just like the room shields your friend. Who, by the way, has made two nonconsecutive attempts to gnaw on the door handle."
- Cade wonders idly about the flavor of door handles.
<Nenni> "Can we take that box with us? It'd be safer to conceal the other sheets the moment we have them in our grasp rather than tracking them back here each time, potentially jeopardising the location of the BASE."
<Miranor> "I concur with the cat."
<Capn_Ascii> "Yeah, that's the idea. Here." He begins to hand the box to Nenni, then stops, shakes his head, and gives it to Miranor instead.
<Capn_Ascii> "Just keep it closed and you'll be fine."
<Miranor> "I'll have to open it to put something inside, won't I?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Yes, but as long as you don't *leave* it open it's cool. Just don't forget to latch the lid shut."
- Miranor nods
- Miranor makes sure the box is closed.
<Miranor> "Alright, let's head out for the bar, unless anyone thinks we should wait."
<Cade> "I wonder if my dwarf self likes alcohol better than my normal self. I bet it does."
- Cade heads back to the van and drives everyone to the bar.
- Miranor enjoys the radio
<Capn_Ascii> You head out again as the sun sets. By the time you reach your destination, it's getting dark.
<Capn_Ascii> Your 'destination' turns out to be the block across from the town movie theater. There's an old tenement apartment building on the corner, and next to it what was once a brick storefront, though the store is now closed. According to the Internet, the bar is supposed to be around here somewhere...
<Miranor> "This looks vaguely familiar, but I cannot place it."
- Miranor looks around for the bar
- Cade pulls over to the side of the street and looks at the map, comparing the exact location of the bar to the buildings on the street.
<Capn_Ascii> Miranor: You approach the storefront, and hear muffled voices coming from down the alleyway.
- Miranor gestures towards the voices and leads on
<Nenni> "Cade: if we rapidly open and close the insulated box, we will see the other character sheet briefly appear on the magic map. Then we can see how close it is to the character sheet in the bar?"
<Sheona> "Aw, jeez, I hope we don't get into a fight..." Sheona mumbles as she tags along with her cats
<Miranor> "It's not like we don't know the scale, roughly. We know this town."
<Cade> "Ahhh...that's actually a really clever idea. Hang on to it for next time we can't find something close by." Cade hums the following song down the alley.
<Capn_Ascii> The alley goes back a fair ways before dead-ending, brick walls on three sides of you. The end wall of the alley has a security door, the sort that's made of metal and has a slot at eye level. The slot is closed. You can hear voices and the general sounds of carousing from the other side.
- Miranor moves to hide out of sight, so someone else entering doesn't spot him. He also listens carefully.
- Cade tries the door handle.
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: You rattle the door handle. It's locked, of course. The slot opens.
<Cade> "I wanna get drunk and pay you money to do it?"
<Capn_Ascii> The slot closes.
- Miranor sighs and gestures for everyone to Hide.
- Cade shrugs. "Well, guess I gotta go find my friend that knows the password." He heads back to the van to wait, out of the way, until Miranor can overhear the password.
<Miranor> "Hmm, yeah, we don't all need to be here... Nenni, can you listen for the password?"
- Miranor nods and joins Cade in the van.
- Nenni hops up onto a windowsill or somewhere equally inconspicuous and Hides in plain sight simply by not moving, rather than rustling about in bushes.
<Capn_Ascii> Nenni takes up position, while the rest of you go try to stay out of sight in your ridiculously conspicuous van.
<Capn_Ascii> Nearly a half-hour passes before someone finally shows up. A He's a goliath of a man, seven feet tall and mostly one huge slab of muscle. He's wearing biker gear, including the classic black leather jacket and boots, and has a buzz cut.
<Capn_Ascii> Ignoring Nenni, he lumbers up to the door and knocks.
<Capn_Ascii> "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker."
<Capn_Ascii> The slot closes, the door unbolts, and the man steps inside. The door immediately closes and re-locks.
- Nenni slinks back to the Conspicuous Van. "Well, it's more of a lengthy pass *phrase* than a password, as it happens. But we should probably wait five minutes or so, to avoid arousing suspicion."
- Miranor nods. "Very well. And I do the talking."
- Nenni reiterates the passphrase to the team.
<Capn_Ascii> *FIVE MINUTES LATER*
<Nenni> "What if the pass phrase only admits one?"
<Miranor> "Then we'll try something else."
- Miranor knocks on the door
<Capn_Ascii> The slot opens. "Passwoid?"
<Miranor> "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker."
<Capn_Ascii> The slot closes, and the door opens.
- Miranor heads inside
- Cade follows
- Nenni slinks through the door in the darkness also.
- Sheona tags along carefully
<Capn_Ascii> You all head inside, the bouncer (who seems to be hiding behind the door) not protesting at the size of your group. You pass through a small anteroom and into...
- Nenni sniffs the bouncer as he passes the door lintel.
<Capn_Ascii> ...utter chaos. It's the scummiest, dive-iest bar you've ever seen. It's loud, it's gaudy, it's filthy, and it's full of at least a dozen rowdy roughnecks of varying stages of sobriety. There are guys arm-wrestling, there are guys throwing darts, there's even a guy swinging from an overhead chandelier.
<Capn_Ascii> Through all the noise, the bartender stands quietly behind the bar. He's wearing sunglasses and a white sport jacket, and looks to be in his 50s.
<Cade> "Aren't password bars supposed to be the high-end ones?
<Miranor> "Let's not overthink this. Just do what we came here to do."
<Nenni> "If they don't advertise to patrons, they won't get the cash flow."
- Miranor looks around for the parchment they're looking for
- Cade checks for wall posters, napkins, and anything else that might be a character sheet.
- Nenni sees very little from ground level and doesn't really search visually for paper, more searching olfactory for known threats like mimics.
<Capn_Ascii> Nenni: Good god, the stink of booze and unwashed thug is almost overpowering in here.
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: The walls have a number of posters on them, most of them advertizing various roadhouses or metal bands. Everything looks old and tattered, but not old *enough* to look like parchment.
<Capn_Ascii> Sheona: You see much the same things Cade does, but something does catch your eye - the dartboard. There's a piece of paper on it with a (rather rude) stick figure drawing of a cop and the words 'The Man' beneath it. Two of the bar patrons are taking turns lobbing darts at it. The paper itself is about the right color...
- Sheona nudges the others. "Look at that dartboard."
- Miranor is momentarily blinded due to the vagaries of fate and ignores Sheona
- Cade looks to see if he can safely approach the dartboard without being nailed by a dart.
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: It's less an issue of darts, and more an issue of potentially upsetting the two (rather large) gentlemen using the board at the moment.
<Cade> Cade finds a napkin and attempts to draw a better figure of a cop.
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: *doodle*
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: You finish! It's...erm...well...
<Cade> "Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not an artist!"
<Capn_Ascii> At least *your* stick figure looks happier than their version.
- Cade wonders if casting Mending on a picture could repair it.
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: No. It woud just erase the drawing.
- Cade wanders off to the bar in search of beer and a hamburger.
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: Discouraged by your lack of artistic skill, you do what all great artists do eventually - attempt to drown your emotions in a downpour of booze. The bartender nods at you as you approach. "What will it be, sir?"
<Cade> "Whatever's on tap."
<Nenni> "If they have a Yellow Pages here, and they probably do, we could borrow it and tear out a page with a suitable looking illustration already on it, and offer that as a target."
<Capn_Ascii> He nods, and pours you a pint of beer. "Will that be cash or gold coins, sir?"
<Nenni> "The Yellow Pages will get replaced every year or so anyway, so it's unlikely to be too big of a problem."
<Cade> "Gold," Cade says, relieved they're accepting it.
<Capn_Ascii> "Two gold then, please."
- Cade hands them over. He takes a chug of the beer and is delighted to find that yes, beer tastes better when you have dwarven tastes buds.
- Miranor decides to make an attempt at a drawing, because it can't be that bad, can it?
<Capn_Ascii> Miranor: You pick up a napkin and pencil, make a few strokes, and somehow end up with a photorealistic oil-on-canvas painting of Bruce Willis from the first Die Hard movie in a badass action pose.
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: Wow, this is *good*. No wonder dwarves sit around getting drunk all day.
<Miranor> Miranor grins and waits for the guys to retrieve their darts before he approaches them.
<Nenni> Seeing Miranor's impressive improvisation, he adds, "Forget the Yellow Pages idea."
- Cade downs the beer, pulls out another 2 gold, and is about to slam it on the counter when he remembers he's the driver. "Aw shucks," he says, and puts the gold back in his pocket.
<Capn_Ascii> Miranor: One of the two dart-ers glances up at you approach. "What do *you* want?"
<Miranor> "Welll..." Miranor drawled. "I wanted to offer you this, as a target. Might be more... target-y."
<Capn_Ascii> "Yeah?" He looks like he's about to sneer and say something that'll cut you like a knife, but then he sees the painting. "...whoa. Damn."
<Miranor> "So should I go ahead and switch this out?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Uh, yeah, sure. Go ahead."
- Miranor does so
- Miranor gets out of sight of the... individuals, then takes a closer look at the parchment.
<Capn_Ascii> Miranor: You take the parchment and hang the painting up, which covers the entire dartboard. You then step towards the others and turn the paper over.
<Capn_Ascii> It's a character sheet alright - Cade's, in fact. Appropriate.
<Cade> "Hey, it's mine," Cade says, grinning. He looks at the parchment to see if it matches how he remembered building his character, or if there are any differences.
- Miranor nods. "Shall we head out?"
<Capn_Ascii> Cade: Everything looks to be in place.
<Cade> "Do we want to get a look at the bouncer with the accent first?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Hey, leggo!"
<Cade> "Or shall we ignore him?"
<Capn_Ascii> "No way, man, it's MINE!"
<Capn_Ascii> Miranor: You turn back towards the dartboard and notice the two 'gentlemen' have taken the painting down and are now playing tug-of-war with it, both clearly quite angry. "This thing's worth a fortune! I'm takin' it!" "Like HELL you are! This will look totally bitchin' in my mancave!"
<Miranor> "We leave. Before we get dragged into this fight."
- Miranor makes for the exit as rapidly as he can without looking like he's in a hurry.
- Sheona tags along quickly
- Cade follows quickly, too, but tries to sneak a peak at the door guy on the way out.
- Nenni conforms like a sheep.
<Capn_Ascii> The two men continue to argue as you thread through the tables towards the door. One of them loses his grip on the painting, and the other pulls hard at the same time, resulting in the piece of art flying through the air like a frisby.
<Capn_Ascii> It lands on the edge of a serving tray with an empty beer bottle on it, flipping the tray and catapaulting the bottle across the bar, where it smashes open against the back of one man's head. "Ow! The fuck, man!?" Angry, he reaches down into his boot, pulls out a bowie knife, and throws it with surprising accuracy at the two dart players.
- Miranor continues simply leaving
<Capn_Ascii> They both panic and duck as the blade sails over their heads and slams into a wooden column in the far wall. This slices a rope that was tied to the post, which runs up and over the ceiling beams and down to the chandelier. It falls, and both it and the drunken loon hanging from it crash down hard into a table directly beneath it. The man's face lands in a plate of hot wings, which causes him to immediately jump to his feet screaming as the wing sauce burns his eyes.
<Capn_Ascii> He runs around screaming for a bit before tripping over the painting and landing face-first on it, punching his head through the spot where Bruce's face is. He stands up and, still screaming, barges past your party and runs out the front door.
<Capn_Ascii> There's a bit of a pause, and then the bar patrons shrug, dust themselves off, and go back to carousing.
- Nenni looks hard at the front door. Was it left *open* after the last pass-phrase wielding patron came through it? Or is the drunk plastered onto the inside of the door, knocked out?
<Capn_Ascii> The commotion dying down, you quickly make your exit. As you go, you notice the front door is open. There's a rather frightened-looking dwarf hanging off the back of it, above a fallen stepladder. "What was *that*!?"
- Miranor just walks outside
- Cade goes up to the other dwarf, envelops it in a big bear hug, and says, "Brother!"
- Miranor facepalms
<Capn_Ascii> "Eh?" He seems confused, in that way that people who receive random hugs from strangers typically are. There's that long, awkward moment at first, then he grimaces and pats Cade's back hesitantly. "Um...hi?"
- Cade peers at him more closely. "You're a real dwarf, right, like me, not a normal dwarf?"
<Miranor> "We were home free..." Miranor grumbles softly to himself.
- Nenni warily skirts through the door, admiring the bouncer's determination in repositioning the step-ladder every time he needed to operate the slot or open and close the door. Nenni looks up to him, and there's probably not many who do!
<Capn_Ascii> The dwarf blinks. "I'm a real *and* normal dwarf, if that's what you mean. What other kind of dwarf is there?" He scratches his luxurious beard.
<Cade> "Have you...have you always been a real dwarf?" Cade asks.
<Capn_Ascii> "Ever since I was born. I mean, sure, there's the argument that I might just be some lame-ass elf in a magical reality simulator that's making me *think* I'm a dwarf, but that's overly philosophical."
- Miranor stands there and patiently waits for Cadellin to move on.
- Cade nods. Then he grabs the dwarf's hand and shakes it enthusiastically. "Well, nice to meet you, so nice to meet a fellow dwarf these days. Bye now!"
- Cade finally leaves the bouncer alone and heads out the door.
- Miranor continues to the van
- Nenni rubs appreciatively against Cade's ankle, and then makes for the van.
<Nenni> "Hey, Miranor, have you put the character sheet in the box yet? Best before we start driving."
- Miranor nods and puts said sheet in said box
<Capn_Ascii> Miranor: You put the sheet in the box. Don't forget to latch it closed!
- Miranor closes the latch. Did that really need saying?
- Cade drives back to the Base.
<Miranor> "Let's get some sleep. Then hit... I guess the library, in the morning."
<Capn_Ascii> As you approach the mouth of the alley, you can see your van parked across the street. You can also see a motorcycle on the side closer to you. It's currently tipped over on its side, lying on the pavement, looking rather badly scratched and dented. Mr. Hot Wings is here, currently being throttled by the huge biker Nenni eavesdropped on earlier, the man's hands big enough to encircle his entire throat and lift him clean off the ground. He doesn't look happy.
<Capn_Ascii> As you get closer, he glances at you, snarls, and bodily tosses the smaller man off to the side. "You." He points at Miranor. "I saw you make this." He then points at the painting, still lodged around the smaller man's head. "You did this to him. He tripped and wrecked my bike. Ergo, you wrecked my bike." Ergo? Huh. Surprisingly erudite for a biker.
- Nenni trots over to the sprawled dude and checks him for burns after touching all that hot chrome.
- Miranor ignores the individual and simply proceeds to the van
<Capn_Ascii> Miranor: You attempt to bypass him, but he steps out in front of you, blocking your path and looking down at you. "Where do you think *you're* going, little man?"
- Miranor continues to proceed around him.
- Nenni starts to lick the Hot Wing Sauce out of the poor victim's eyes.
<Capn_Ascii> "AAAAUUUUUGH!" He doesn't seem to appreciate it.
- Nenni thinks he's obviously not drunk enough, or not well enough domesticated to cat affection.
<Capn_Ascii> "You little *shit*...!" The huge man lashes out with surprising speed, grabbing Miranor by the neck and lifting him up into the air in a single-handed chokehold! He looks like he's about to crush the life out of him...
<Capn_Ascii> ...but then his boot makes contact with some of the hot sauce left on the sidewalk. *slip*
<Capn_Ascii> His foot goes flying out from under him as he loses his balance. Miranor drops back to the ground as the huge man skids, stumbles, windmills his arms, spins around...and crashes face-first into the side of your van, hitting with such force that most of his head pushes into the metal as if it were made of clay.
<Capn_Ascii> ---END SESSION---