Netal the Elf (2)
Mongo the Fighter (2)
Gutboy the Cleric (3)
... and Dr. Giggles began slicing wildly into Gutboy's body with a filth-encrusted scalpel, calling to his troglodyte nurse for clamps, staples, and sutures. The operation was done quickly, and he waved a vial of smelling salts under Gutboy's nose. The clown-doctor cried "Success!" as Gutboy groggily awoke. Gutboy said a quick prayer, and the sutured wounds healed without a scar, the stitches falling out of his flesh.
Dr. Giggles: "Hmm, this went even better than usual. I am truly a master of medical science."
Gutboy: "Science? Do you know those guys who shout 'Science!' all the time?"
Dr. Giggles: "No, I'm afraid I'm the only one down here who cares for science. I had to abandon my brutal brethren, for all they desired was butchery."
Gutboy: "Where did you learn medicine?"
Dr. Giggles: "I learned at the feet of the hologram of Dr. Quartermaine, in the Learnatorium"
Gutboy: "Where's that?"
Dr. Giggles: "Back with my brethren, the Painted Men, far to the southwest of here."
Mongo: "Well, we've got to be going, I've got an appointment"
Dr. Giggles: "Really? I didn't realize you were in the calendar! Please, disrobe..."
Mongo: "No! Not with you! We've got to go!"
Dr. Giggles: "Well, Nurse Ratched will take your co-pay. Please escort them back to reception, nurse"
The players followed the troglodyte nurse back to reception.
Nurse: "What insurance do you have?"
Gutboy: "Nisus Underwriting"
Nurse: "I'm sorry, we only take Miami Mutual..."
Gutboy: "Ahh! Nisus Underwriting was just acquired by Miami Mutual"
Nurse: "Oh, then that will just be the co-pay, 20 gp please"
Gutboy: "With the merger, the co-pay was reduced to 5 sp"
Nurse: "Not until I get some paperwork from Miami it isn't. 20 gp."
Gutboy searched his pockets, but came up empty. Mongo was likewise broke. Finally, Netal coughed up the cash, and the players headed west, deeper into the dungeon, looking for a way out.
The first room they came to was a large circular chamber. The walls were lined with transparent cylinders, stacked four high, with scaffolding to reach the higher cylinders. Each cylinder had a seam in the front, and it looked like most were empty but for pieces of foam with body-shaped indentations. They saw that a few in the distance were occupied. Grim fantasies of zombies or worse lurching out of the cylinders filled the party's thoughts, and they decided to try a different route.
They headed back to the offices of Dr. Giggles, and tried a side corridor - this lead to a room filled with ordure and bone fragments. They inspected the filth for movement carefully, suspecting danger, and then Gutboy looked up at the ceiling - a horrendous monstrosity was making its way towards them from above! The creature's central body was 10' wide, with a large snail-like foot, a monstrous fish head, and dozens of 20' long tentacles.
The tentacles reached down and wrapped around Mongo, yanking him up to be bitten by the fish-mouth. Other tentacles flailed at Gutboy and Netal, but they danced out of the way. Netal recited his sleep spell, and the snail-fish-tentacle-freak was put into an arcane slumber, still clinging to the ceiling. Its tentacles slowly unrolled, lowering Mongo gently to the floor.
Netal, completely enraged, ran into the room with his bow out, planning on shooting the sleeping monster in the face and killing it. Gutboy and Mongo convinced him to leave instead - they were deeply afraid that a single arrow wouldn't be able to kill it, and the thing would awaken again and slaughter them all.
The party returned to the circular room with the cylinders. Looking around, they saw three bodies in cylinders at ground level, and a another way up on the fourth level. They also saw that the room extended farther north than their torchlight revealed, and a control panel to the north as well. They briefly examined the floor-level cylinders, which contained:
1. an unmoving painted man, apparently frozen in time while struggling to escape
2. a beige humanoid whose head was mostly occupied by a mouth full of 2" long fangs
3. a human male, with no skin
They decided the cylinders were absolutely horrible and best ignored for the time being, and probably not some sort of "magic healing cylinder" as they had hoped.
Following a tunnel southwest from the cylinder-room, they came to an empty stone chamber. They began searching the walls - and Gutboy was startled to see a pair of stone eyes watching him from the wall. The eyes quickly receded back into the stone, but that was enough to spook the trio - they headed through another exit out of this room. Joyously, they found that they had reached the stairs up to the first level.
The trip out and back to Chelmsfordshire was uneventful - the few wandering monsters they met ignored the party entirely.
Back at Chelmsfordshire, they found that an entrepeneurial merchant named Fitzy had set up shop selling adventuring gear. They quizzed Fitzy for a bit, and discovered that their former henchman Slezgar, leader of the Excellent Elven Edventurers, had been flashing gold around, and more adventurers were heading towards Mt. Rendon, going through the forest and easily avoiding the Fist patrols. Gutboy told Fitzy to let him know if he saw Slezgar, and Fitzy quickly agreed.
At the sole Chelmsfordshire tavern, the Muddy Cup, they saw a few of the Unyielding Fist drinking away their salaries, and a pair of scruffy looking adventurer-types. The adventurer-types barely spoke to the even-scruffier looking trio, but after a round of drinks was purchased, the Fist got chatty. Gutboy asked for employment, and heard that a lieutenant in nearby Louisburgh was offering a 250 gp reward for information on a missing relative of a city councilmen.
Gutboy's lack of cash was beginning to cramp his style - so he began sizing up the barkeeper, wondering what kind of coin he might be hiding. Mongo and Netal talked him down, however, as the village was clearly no great source of wealth. They marched to Louisburgh instead, dreaming of the sweet reward they'd earn.
As they approached Louisburgh, the stench of rotting meat filled the air. Gagging, they went to the Pig's Bride Inn, and talked to Hulk, the proprietor, and learned the stench was caused by the nearby spinefruit orchards, and that the lieutenant they were looking for was named Armidon, stationed a few hovels down from the inn. They quickly dropped by for a visit, but failed to impress the lieutenant and his two men.
Armidon: "Well, look at this. As if this town doesn't smell bad enough already."
Gutboy: "Hi, we're here about the reward"
Armidon: "Oh, that's fantastic. Looks like we can all just pack up and head home now, a couple of hobos are going to do our job for us"
Gutboy: "So who's missing..."
Armidon: "Helmut Gargon. Some councilor's wife's cousin. Supposed to be coming up to check on the spinefruit. I could be down at the mountain where the action is, but no, some idiot has to get himself lost and now I'm stuck in this stinking hole."
Gutboy: "How much is the reward?"
Armidon: "Ha! Like you'll find him! I've been looking for three weeks, and you'll just march in and find this idiot. Get out of here already."
The party headed back to the Pig's Bride Inn, and began chatting up a well-to-do looking gentleman at the bar.
Fred: "Name's Fred Mebs. I grow spinefruits."
Gutboy: "Do you know Helmut Gargon?"
Fred: "No, can't say that I do."
Gutboy: "Does he own an orchard up here?"
Fred: "No, of course not! If he did, I'd know him. I already told you, never heard of the guy."
Gutboy: "So you've never seen him?"
Fred: "Like I said, no. Never seen him. What's this all about?"
Gutboy: "There's a reward for him. Say, do you have any work you need done?"
Fred (motioning them to a more private table): "It just so happens I do, quiet-like. See, what I need is bodies. I'll give you 10 gp per body."
Gutboy: "Well, how fresh?"
Fred: "Well, they just need to be a little juicy, that's all"
Gutboy: "So no mummies?"
Fred: "No! No! They need some juice in 'em. Don't want to know the details either. And don't bother heading to the cemetery, that's all emptied out."
Gutboy: "OK. 20 gp a body"
Fred: "No. I said 10, and I meant 10"
Gutboy: "How about goblins or morlocks?"
Fred: "Don't know what a morlock is, and there aren't any goblins round here, so I can't say how well they'd work. Tell you what, I'll give you 5 gp per goblin."
Gutboy chewed this over, and agreed on behalf of the party. They then quizzed the bartender a bit on who the local spinefruit farmers were, and got four names: Mebs, Ungol, "Sleazy" Phil Turner, and Darinius.
There was brief talk about stalking the nearby farms and killing peasants for their valuable corpses, but eventually they decided to follow up a few leads on Helmut's disappearance instead. The party headed out of town, and followed their noses towards the manor-houses in the orchards. They stopped first at the Ungol house, and asked Gar Ungol if he knew anything about Helmut - but Gar denied knowing him. They then headed towards the Turner house and knocked on the door.
"Sleazy" Phil: "Yeah?"
Gutboy: "Do you know anything about what happened to Helmut Gargon?"
Gutboy: "He went missing, he was coming up to check on the spinefruit harvest"
Phil: "Well, I can't say I know anything.. but... you might want to check out that Fred Mebs."
Phil: "Just a word to the wise. Mebs. and Ungol. Check out their orchards."
Gutboy thanked Phil, and the party headed to the last household - the Darinius manor. They knocked on the door, and were answered by a gruff man gripping a shotgun. Netal's eyes grewed wide as he stared at the shotgun. A fit of greed overtook him, and he began casting a sleep spell. Mr. Darinius, shocked, raised the shotgun and fired with both barrels, but missed and only took out chunks of his door. Netal completed his spell, and Darinius fell to the floor asleep. The party could hear running footsteps from somewhere in the house, so Netal grabbed the precious shotgun and the trio fled down the road.
They decided that it was too dangerous to stick around in Louisburgh, and headed back towards Denethix. Once they reached town, they had a few nasty surprises.
Netal headed back to the Tattered Heel, where he had a deal with the innkeeper for free lodging. When he got there, he found that the door was sealed with yellow crime scene tape, and a soldier of the Fist was standing guard outside. Written in blood on the front door were the words "WHERE'S KROGO?" - Krogo being a slave owned by Netal, who had died several sessions earlier.
Gutboy and Mongo headed back towards their apartment, and Mongo was shocked to see that his evil book, which he had left sitting in his chair, had mysteriously changed shape - it was now much smaller and had vile looking arcane symbols upon its cover. Gutboy, due to his basic literacy, recognized the horrifying symbols as being normal letters of the English alphabet, reading "Diary of Janet". He quickly paged through the diary - most of it was occupied with their neighbor Janet's unrequited love of her roommate Chrissie, but at the tail end it described going to the party at Mongo & Gutboy's, where she was very upset at Chrissie for running off with Gutboy, and she was fascinated by a strange comic book that Mongo had. After the party, it apparently occupied all her thoughts, until the last entry, where she wrote that she was going break into their apartment and take the book. After this entry, scrawled in a different hand, was a message: "MONGO, YOU ILLITERATE BUFFOON! I WARNED YOU, AND NOW YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!"
Mongo quickly figured out that the book had gotten sick of him not obeying the book's evil instructions, and had decided to target Janet instead. Mongo & Gutboy headed down to the landlord's apartment to discuss the break-in - but no one answered the door. Mongo smashed the door down, and they rushed inside, and found that the Ropers weren't there. Gutboy, broke and sensing opportunity, grabbed 140 gp in costume jewelry and ugly vases.
They then headed over to Jack, Janet, and Chrissie's apartment, and knocked on the door. Jack answered, but he hadn't seen the girls in two or three days - he couldn't remember exactly how long because he'd been on a bender.
They later hooked up with Netal, and shared their stories. Mongo headed down to speak to the Fist soldier at the Tattered Heel and ask what had happened.
Mongo: "So what happened here?"
Soldier: "Oh, wow, that was really gross. So get this, we hear about all this blood, and we're called down, you got this bloody message on the door, I go in, and there's blood everywhere. No body though. But! But! There's a brain sitting on the bar. Just a brain! We've seen it before, see, sometimes the Society of the Luminous Spark kidnaps a slaver, usually they just disappear, but sometimes the brain gets left behind. Weird. Don't know why they'd go to all that trouble, cutting out a brain and leaving it. This guy wasn't a slaver though. You know anything about this?"
Mongo: "Me? No, no, not me..."
And so our session ended, with new opportunities, new enemies, and a double-barreled shotgun.