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Summary[]

The Rangers orientate themselves to their new surroundings. Heading out into a corridor, they meet Mr Ceiling: a being powered by arcane energy who is in control of where they are.

Synopsis[]

Bertie has just arrived in the lab, surprising the other party members who are conscious. Sasha is pretending to be asleep, and sneakily peers up at him; Bertie asks if she’s sleeping well, and Sasha just closes her eyes. Bertie is as bombastic as always, bragging about how how he’s the hero of the hour and how happy they all must be to see him, followed up by making some tasteless jokes about Zolf's height and lack of legs. Zolf doesn’t believe that it’s actually him, telling Bertie that Brutor doesn’t care where he is. Bertie tears up, and Zolf finally believes it’s him as Bertie asks after Hamid.

Zolf points him out as Sasha sits up. All three of them - Hamid, Sasha, and Zolf - are still in the clothes that they were wearing before the catacombs. Sasha’s magical armour is beside the table, and her clothes have an autopsy cut. Hamid’s are the same - magical clothes laid out beside him, and an autopsy cut in his shirt and also a cut in his sleeve, exposing the arm beneath. His scar has been opened, so Zolf heals the injury; Hamid seems to be in good condition. As Sasha puts her jacket back on, she feels her heart palpitating faster than usual. It’s similar to as if she’d had loads of caffeine as opposed to everything else. She double checks her inventory; everything is still there, daggers, bandoliers, and all.

A pen headshot sketch of Zolf. He is a dwarven male with short hair and a beard. His hands are up by his face and his eyes are wide and his mouth is open. His eyebrows are raised. All around him are words that read: “Legs sockets her organs weren’t in her body when I found her I put the-woke up in that tank-my thr-and i had to-legs anymore-I’ve been trying to keep really calm for a very long time because cant walk anymore and. There is a speech bubble from off screen that reads: what!

Zolf freaks out a bit. Art by @candelantern on tumblr. Used with permission.

Hamid wakes up, finally, and is clearly panicked, asking if he’s dead or if all of them are dead. Bertie tells him that he isn’t, and Hamid says that it’s good to see him, which Bertie returns. Zolf, starting to get frustrated, asks Bertie how he made it down there and if he has any idea what’s going on. Bertie starts to regale the party with tales of his quest for the Circlet of Command, with Hamid sounding incredibly interested, while Zolf is clearly incredibly annoyed, trying to get Bertie to skip to the more relevant bits of the story. He seems to be on the brink of a breakdown, and yells at Bertie to skip ahead and then reveals that Sasha’s organs weren’t in her body when he woke up. This causes Sasha to panic as well, asking if they got put back right as she feels around her abdomen. Zolf freaks out, breaking a bit as he finally shouts for everyone to please explain what’s going on. Bertie relents and tells them that Oscar Wilde is their contact for the Meritocrats (interspersed with threatening Wilde’s life) and he sent Bertie after the rest of the party with two other paladins: Dave and Steve (their real, non-Anglicised names are David [da-VEED] and Stéphane [steh-FAN]). He adds that the complex seems to be completely deserted, apart from the four of them.

Hamid seems very confused and concerned, and asks Sasha if she’s all right; Sasha is still panicking over the organs, but Zolf reassures her that she’s fine and that he healed her correctly. Hamid then, upon noticing Zolf’s leg is missing, apologises, having realised that him scraping Zolf’s leg while trying to pull him out of the cave-in likely caused him having to lose it. Zolf tells him that he’s fine, asking after Hamid instead to see if he’s alright; he seems to be okay, but has a spiral scar on his arm. The edges of the scar have a strange metallic quality to them, though. Hamid says that he’s fine and then apologises again as he rushes to Zolf to give him a hug, “crying into his strong manly shoulders.” Zolf tries to get him to pull it together, and then says that they should try to get out of here. Bertie offers to carry Zolf in his papoose, which Zolf adamantly refuses.

Hamid casts 'Prestidigitation' to clean the makeup off his face, and puts his normal clothes back on, although in more muted colours. The reunited Rangers search the room; while Bertie said that it was empty, Zolf reminds them that there had to be another person to have performed whatever medical surgery on all of them, which leaves everyone uncomfortable. Sasha still doesn’t believe that Zolf healed her correctly, so he reassures her again. [Meta note: Alex tells Ben that Zolf did an amazing job putting Sasha back together, but that no one besides himself will ever know.]

Sasha begins to look for crutches for Zolf, finding surgical equipment and some very technologically advanced legs and a left arm; the legs and the arm look to be specifically designed for a dwarf. The arm itself is weird, without a proper hand at the end. She appraises the limbs, estimating that each limb is worth over 20,000 gold. Meanwhile, Hamid is able to discern that there is no evidence of anyone walking through the room, but finds that the equipment in the ceiling look like complex mechanical limbs. He casts Detect Magic and gleans that they are equal parts divine and necromantic magic. Bertie was solely looking for something valuable, and only finds an adamantine scalpel. He takes it anyway.

Digital fan art of Bertie, a white human man with short blond hair. He wears elaborate gold armour with red gems encrusted and falcon designs, as well as a red cape. He has one hand on his hip, and the other holds a spy glass that extends from the ceiling. There are two other similar spyglasses around him, one of which holds a syringe. Bertie is examining the spyglass in his hand with an open-mouth smile. The background is off-white.

Bertie and Mr Ceiling. Art by @cerulean-devil on tumblr. Used with permission.

Sasha shows the legs off to Zolf, and then Hamid points out the mechanical limbs in the ceiling. Bertie steps onto a table, going to shake one of the hand-like implements before several lenses descend to look at him. He greets it as Mr Ceiling. Hamid asks if whoever did this is watching them, and then Bertie grabs another lens in his hand. Another arm holding a needle descends, which Hamid attempts to Acid Splash, causing it to retreat. Another tool comes down, looking like a microscope. Sasha says that they should get out of here, and asks if Zolf wants the new legs. Zolf says yes, and Sasha starts to head over there. Hamid, meanwhile, looks at the strange ceiling mechanic, and tells it that they’re going to drown it in a bucket.

Zolf tries to put the legs on, but they don’t fit correctly, and he can’t figure out how to connect them to the ports in his legs. Instead, he casts his floating disc, and Sasha goes over to help push him. When she moves, her legs seem to dash out from beneath her and she starts to panic, saying that Zolf must not have put her back correctly. Zolf tries to comfort her, and then grabs her and hefts her toward the stepping stone until she’s standing. She realises that she has to go slow in order to keep up with her legs.

Bertie shouts out to Dave and Steve, who don't reply, and the party overhears them walking away. Hamid peeks out to see if he can spot them. The hallway is deserted; the walls are metallic, with a white finish, and some worked stone as well.

The Rangers head out into the corridor following the sounds of walking paladins. Sasha is fine at a walking pace; Zolf tells her that whoever did this had been pumping chemicals into her, and Sasha is a bit mollified. Hamid drinks a healing potion, and then they continue, following the paladins. Sasha continues walking slowly and they all let Bertie lead. They head down the corridor; it’s still empty, with some machinery sounds at the very far end. As they walk, Hamid asks how Bertie (and Wilde) knew where they were, and Bertie says that Wilde had been in his head, telling him where the party was. Zolf gathers them up, and then heals the party. Notably, as he heals them, some cables in the wall begin to spark and die as a result of the positive energy. Bertie catches up to Steve who appears to be under some sort of mind control and doesn't react to the party. Hamid casts Detect Magic, and realises that they’re under an enchantment. Bertie pushes Steve over, but he just stands up with a smile and continues walking toward the exit.

Everyone is decidedly unsettled by this, and aren’t sure what to do. Zolf is completely over this, and wants to get out as soon as they can. As they follow the paladins, they hear a disembodied voice asking them not to leave, saying it fixed Sasha and wants to fix Zolf, but the party ignore it, continuing to leave. Hamid says that they’ll come back, and then the voice says that it can show them. The party continues to leave under Zolf’s direction. The voice says that Sasha died and it brought her back and improved her, and repeats that it means them no harm. Zolf disagrees, and continues to tell the party to leave. The voice tells Sasha that she’s lucky to have a friend like Zolf, and Sasha tries for a moment to convince Zolf to stay if it means that he’ll get his legs fixed. However, he has no interest in anything from whatever this thing would give him.

Bertie asks the voice what it’s done to Steve and Dave, and it says that they’re happy and that they’re fine. The voice asks why he’s down here, and then as Bertie explains, says that the three of them are lucky to have Bertie as a friend. Sasha falls down again as she tries to move faster, and Sasha asks what it did to her. The voice says that it’ll be a bit of an adjustment period, as she was dead. This takes Sasha and the rest by surprise; she refuses to believe them, and it just continues repeating that they fixed her.

Hamid again says that they’re leaving, and Zolf reminds them that it is running on negative energy, which is bad. It says that it would just like to talk and doesn't want to have to modify their memories if they leave. Zolf asks who they are, and it responds with ‘Mr Ceiling.’ Hamid and Zolf ask for it to show itself, and Zolf is clearly again on the edge of a breakdown.

Bertie starts to let Dave and Steve go, and Zolf pulls them into a huddle. Sasha asks if they really ran into a tentacle monster in the catacombs, or if it was just a modified memory. Mr Ceiling offers to take them to see it, which Hamid immediately shoots down. Sasha still isn’t sure how it knows their names; Zolf says that if it can access their memories, it can know everything about them, and then Hamid admits that his name is monogrammed into all his clothing. Mr Ceiling apologises for ripping Hamid’s clothes, and then Hamid speaks directly to it, saying that it had no right to do that to Zolf and asking what it did to Sasha. Zolf simply asks if it knows anything about consent. Mr Ceiling doesn’t; Zolf says that he never asked to have his leg removed, and Sasha never asked to be brought back. Mr Ceiling once again mentions that Sasha was dead, which causes her some distress, understandably.

Bertie shoves Steve through the doorway of the exit; he stumbles, rights, and then tries to remove Bertie’s arm again. He’s still under the effect of whatever spell there is; Zolf tells Bertie that it won’t be ending anytime soon.

Mr Ceiling says that it would like to reveal itself and a small, football sized sphere floats into view. It moves toward them slowly, almost as though it’s on rails; Hamid points a finger gun at it and Bertie draws his sword. Sasha greets him, and Mr Ceiling asks them to follow them so that they can introduce the party to it.

Quotes[]

Zolf: "Oh, wait a minute. Bertie. Brutor doesn’t care where you are."
James: "A single tear rolls down Bertie’s cheek."
Zolf: "Good to have you back, Bertie! Good to have you back."
Bertie: "Well, you still owe me money."
Zolf tests to be sure it's actually Bertie.

Zolf: "Because I woke up in that tank! With a thing down my throat, and I had to climb out, and I don’t have any legs anymore, and they put sockets in my legs, and I’ve been trying to keep REALLY CALM, for a VERY long time because I can’t walk anymore, and RIGHT NOW, I’m really at the end of my tether! So if you wouldn’t MIND concentrating and telling me where we are... (desperately) that would be really nice. Thank you."
―Zolf has a bit of a breakdown.

Hamid, horrified: "Zolf! You’ve lost your other leg!"
Zolf: "Yes. Thank you for that, Hamid."
Hamid, frantically: "I’m so sorry!"
Zolf: "Yes."
Bertie: "Why, did you do it? Oh, that’s a statement of regret, not an apology. I have so little practice."
Zolf: "Bertie, little bit of column A, little bit of column B." (To Hamid.) "How’s your arm?"
Hamid: "Oh! Oh!…Yes! Yes, it seems okay. Oh Zolf, I’m so sorry."
Bryn: "I rush over to Zolf, and hug him, and cry into his strong manly shoulders."
Zolf: "Okay…just…not on the sideburns…"
Bertie: "Come now, Hamid, stiff upper lip, everything’s going to be fine."
Zolf: "We’ve had enough emotion."
Bertie: "No, no point crying over spilled…limbs."
―Hamid realises Zolf has lost his other leg.

Hamid: "We’ll get you better legs, we’ll get you some proper… some… really good ones this time, Zolf. Oh…"
Zolf: "Right."
Bertie: "Well, I’ve got a papoose with a vacancy."
Zolf: "I’d rather die."
―The team discusses what to do about Zolf's legs.

Sasha: "Good. Right. So my… my organs probably are likely to be in the right places then."
Zolf: "Yeah. They were! They were all there! Okay? They were all there."
Sasha: "You counted?"
Zolf: "I did! One by one."
Sasha: "How long is my intestine?"
Zolf: "… As long as a normal intestine?"
―Zolf reassures Sasha that she's been correctly healed.

Sasha: "Wh-what'd you do? Like, why- why have you made it so I can't do anything? What's- what have you done to me, is it the wrong kidneys?"
Mr. Ceiling: "I'm sorry, Sasha. There will be an adjustment period. You were dead."
Mr. Ceiling explains to Sasha.

Mr. Ceiling: "Are you in pain, Sasha?"
Sasha: "No!"
Mr. Ceiling: "Good. Please let me know if that changes."
Sasha: "Wait, is it likely to?"
Mr. Ceiling: "No. But I just don’t want you in pain."
Mr. Ceiling checks in on Sasha.


Dice rolls and Mechanics[]

Zolf casts Cure Light Wounds on Hamid: 4 hp healed

Everyone but Zolf makes a perception check to search the room: Sasha gets 24, Hamid gets 22, Bertie gets 6

Sasha makes an appraise check on the mechanical legs: 22

Hamid casts Detect Magic while searching.

Hamid casts Acid Splash at one of the mechanical arms, missing on a roll of 7

Zolf casts floating disc

Everyone makes a perception check as they leave: Sasha gets 14, Hamid gets 22, Bertie gets a nat 20, Zolf gets 23

Hamid drinks a healing potion: heals 2 damage

Zolf channels positive energy: everyone is healed for 9 points of damage

Hamid casts Detect Magic again

Zolf makes a knowledge arcana roll: 13

Plot Notes[]

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