Razoe the Fantra Paladin (3), his quantum henchman Boxer the Fighter (1), and his compsognathus Dino
Pai Mei the Wu Jen (3) and his stuntman, Colt "Rottweiler" Seavers the Type III Bounty Hunter (2)
Companions Razoe and Pei Mei had a need for adventure - but first, henchmen. Razoe's previously dead henchman Boxer reappeared once again, appearing both corpse-gray and healthy simultaneously, as he appeared to exist in the two states simultaneously. "I should've kept my job at the box factory," he lamented/stood silently.
While the not-quite-alive/not-quite-dead Boxer was an excellent resource for renewable henching, the duo had a need for further reinforcements. A few interviews later, and Pai Mei had hired the bounty hunter/stuntman Colt Seavers, who preferred to go by the nickname "Rottweiler". All he had for equipment was a bola, so the inscrutable wizard was forced to purchase armor and a more lethal wepaon for the bounty hunter.
One dilemma solved - and another arose - where to go for adventure? With only two PC's in the party, the dungeon seemed too dangerous, but a pair of broadsheets advertising lecture series at the Academy of Elevated Thought caught their eye.
The first, a lecture by Dr. Brian Falk, Professor of Criminology, theorized that crime was caused by defective bone structures, and promised reductions in crime through aggressive amputation. This did not appeal to the duo (perhaps due to their own less-than-legal inclinations).
The second was right up their alley - Madame Nicole Prepin, Professor of Astrophysics, was discussing her theory that the Green Comet of Undying Flesh was due to make another appearance in the skies above Denethix.
"The last appearance of the Green Comet coincided with a massive rebirth of the dead. Tens of thousands arose from their graves to devour the brains of the living. But that was in a darker age, an age of mysticism and confusion! Now, with the learning we've attained here at the Academy, we can harness these formerly deceased and usher in a new Golden Age of Prosperity! With the second coming of the Green Comet, the living will be free from toil and suffering. Our children shall sip champagne as they ride in air cars above fertile fields tended to by the less-living! To end this lecture, I would like to announce that the Academy is seeking non-academic assistance for our field work."
Her Utopian vision was deeply attractive to Pai Mei and Razoe, and the pair quizzed Madame Prepin about the job opportunity:
Pai Mei: "You need us to capture zombies, then?"
Madame Prepin: "No! Not zombies! I never want to hear you use that word, it's so prejudicial. I was thinking Morgue Pals. Or maybe Morticiafriends."
Razoe: "Where is the job?"
Madame Prepin: "The last time the Green Comet arrived, the Morgue Pals arose from a vast cemetery on a mountain far to the west of Denethix. It'll be at least a week's worth of travel. I'm authorized to offer each of you 1,000 gp if the expedition successfully brings back formerly-living-but-still-ambulatory specimens."
Pai Mei: "How many undead do we need to capture?"
Madame Prepin: "Please! Morgue Pals! A half dozen should be sufficient for initial trials. If we leave tomorrow, our arrival should roughly coincide with the Green Comet's appearance. Come up with a list of equipment you'll need and I'll see that the Academy provides it."
Razoe: "We'll need guns. And explosives."
Madame Prepin: "That's the one thing I can't get you. The chair of the Munitions Department has had it out for me for years now, he'll never cooperate."
Nonplused by the lack of things that go boom, Razoe and Pai Mei came up with a list of supplies, including a lighter-on-a-stick and a large wheeled wooden cage pulled by donkeys. The equipment acquired, the pair, their henchmen, a newly-purchased compsognathus, Madame Prepin, and a pair of grad students headed off into the wilderness. The trip to the funereal mountain was uneventful - a warband of moktars was heard, but the expedition simply skirted around them in silence.
Once at the mountain, they began following a trail to the cemetery at the top. At the halfway point, they found a smelly old man in buckskin clothes. He was busy manufacturing low-quality grave markers from tanned hides and sticks.
Pai Mei: "Who are you?"
Zeke: "I'm Zeke! This is my mountain! So, what are you doing up here?"
Pai Mei: "Madame Prepin, I think this one's for you"
Madame Prepin: "Oh, you've found a department chair out here in the wilderness? Tell me, what subject is this smelly bumpkin a professor of? I don't think so. Handle it, that's what you're paid for."
Razoe: "Do you live here alone?"
Zeke: "Oh, yes, it's just me, my wife died nigh on 50 years ago. Now I keep myself busy making grave markers for her, they don't last long. Buried her right over there, I did."
Pai Mei: "Well, I think we'll be moving on."
Zeke: "That's right! You'll want to head back down the mountain, bye, nice seeing you!"
Pai Mei: "We're heading up."
Zeke: "What? No! Don't! It's not safe!"
Razoe: "What do you mean?"
Zeke: "Their souls! They aren't at rest! I need to make more markers! They get restless! Can't you hear them?"
Pai Mei: "Can you?"
Zeke: "No! Sometimes! In my dreams! Don't go! You're doomed! DOOMED!"
Pai Mei and Razoe ordered the team to continue on, and Zeke rushed at the paladin. Colt "Rottweiler" Seaver flung his bola at Zeke, tangling his feet and tripping him up, and Razoe tied up the old man and gagged him. He then tossed the old man into the cage-on-wheels.
Razoe: "Hey, you grad students, go dig up his wife's corpse."
Grad student: "What? That's messed up. No way."
Razoe: "Well I'm not going to do it."
Madame Prepin: "You two! You want to pass this course? Listen to the man!"
The grad students reluctantly obeyed, and after a short time digging exhumed the bones of Zeke's wife. They tossed them in the cage with Zeke, who began sobbing uncontrollably. Razoe felt moved by his weeping, opened the cage door, and then beat Zeke to death with a rock. As Razoe had received no divine orders not to beat old men to death on the side of a mountain, his status as paladin remained intact - his oath and duty was to obey the gods in all their caprices and whims, not to uphold a moral standard that those divine machine intelligences themselves did not follow.
Grad students: "Aigh! No! What did you do that for?"
Razoe: "Ok, so there's two test subjects."
Madame Prepin: "You two! Shut up! This is science! You can't make a utopia without breaking a few skulls!"
Razoe: "When is the comet coming, so we can see if these two turn into zombies?"
Madame Prepin: "Morticiafriends! And it should be overhead this very night, according to my calculations."
The expedition headed further up the mountain, and reached a peculiar graveyard, with a few hundred grave markers. The markers were all made of rotting leather attached to thin sticks, with various names on them - "Bob", "Bob II", "Bob 72", "Linda 24", etc. The old man appeared to have been just making up names. In the center of the graveyard was a leafless, petrified stone tree, and beyond that, a cabin made of petrified wood.
As they approached, they heard a weird whistling noise. Pai Mei and Razoe became a bit nervous, and bravely sent the grad students to the cabin.
The pair poked their head in the front door - "It's empty!" "Then go in!" - went inside, popped back out - "There's someone in there, I hear music!" "Well find out who's playing" "No, you do it!" "There's going to be two more bodies in the cage!" - went inside again, and ran back to the expedition - "There's nobody playing music! You're the adventurers, you figure it out!"
Grumbling, the entire expedition headed to the cabin. The first (and largest) room in the cabin had several things in it:
a. A desk with a book on it, bound in leather, possibly elven. It is full of thousands upon thousands of names. The writing ranges from thousands of years old to possibly only 100 years old.
b. Fireplace w/ deer head mounted above it
c. Mirror, that for some reason doesn't reflect Razoe, Pai Mei, or Madame Prepin. The rest of the expedition is reflected normally
d. Trapdoor with a padlock
e. Clock, reading the wrong time (5:45)
f. A few easy chairs
They were puzzled about the mirror, but decided to move on and secure the rest of the cabin. There was a room with some travel bags and other gear that lookd to have been left recently, a room with a thousand-year-old painting of the current expedition standing before an altar, with a giant skeleton looking over it and an open door behind it. Razoe was depicted as sipping from a goblet as a light shone down on him from above. Razoe carefully poked it with his ten-foot-pole, but not carefully enough, as the ancient canvas suffered an inch-long tear.
They also heard music coming from behind a closed door. Opening it, the music stopped, and there was nothing in the room but a silent harpsichord. They closed it again - music! - opened again - no music! Then they had Boxer go in the room with the harpsichord, closed the door - music! - opened it! And there was Boxer, standing at the harpsichord.
Razoe: "Were you playing that?"
Razoe: "Don't do that!"
They closed the door again - music! - and opened it again. Boxer was once again seated before the harpsichord.
Pai Mei: "Did you play that?"
Boxer: "Oh, right. Sorry. Yeah, that was me."
Pai Mei: "How long were you playing?"
Boxer: "Oh, hours."
Confused, they called Boxer out of the room again, closed the door, and once again heard music. They opened the door, and saw Boxer somehow back inside, seated at the harpsichord.
Pai Mei: "How'd you get there?"
Boxer: "You told me to come in here while you closed the door."
The party, puzzled and slightly disturbed, headed back to the main room. They saw that the easy chairs had changed position, and were now facing inwards towards them. The clock had also changed time - it now read 9:28. Grumbling at the oddities, Razoe decided to get on with it and broke off the padlock on the trap door.
Razoe: "Ok, you two grad students, open the trap door."
Grad student: "No way! You're treating us like crap! You don't even know our names!"
Razoe: "Fine. What are your names?"
Grad students: "I'm F***, and he's You."
Razoe: "Well, F*** You, open the trap door!"
Under duress, the grad students lifted the trap door, and the eerie whistling sound from the graveyard was even louder coming from the darkness below.
Gains: Zeke's body, Zeke's wife's skeleton
Losses: the respect and admiration of a pair of grad students