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Dragon of Life ([personal profile] dragonoflife) wrote on May 22nd, 2017 at 07:59 pm

Live from New York, it’s ROCKVILLE D&D TROUPE! Balisar repeats names from other games to make Valan titter, while the DM refreshes them on the plot: the aarakoa serpent has summoned them. Off they head, observing the changes coming to the world – in a construction and road-building way, not a horrible magical way. An hour from the mountain, they spot someone running toward them!

Valan: Attack! Jump kick! Try out my new Stunning Fist! …no?
Balisar: You’re a monster!
Valan: Powering down – yes!
DM: “Raaw! Awww! Awww!” He lands, his wings frantically pointing back.
Balisar: What is it, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well?
DM: You take five points of eye damage as he pecks your eyes.
Valan: Eye damage?
Elkus: Ooh.
DM: Your eyes have one hit point. You’ve lost them.
Balisar: Aurianna… eye help please…

They set a grueling pace to follow the bird-man, reaching the mountain in good time, and meet a glasses-wearing birdman.

DM: “Aaawk! Weeelcome! Problems!”
Balisar: “Where?”
DM: “In the room! Shortly after we sent the message. Caw!”
Balisar: “Oh dear. Should’ve gotten horses or a wagon or something.” Note for next time, spend our worthless money.
Elkus: But I thought we were making pig farms!
Balisar: Only inadvertently.

They head into the main area, new terrain for all of them – this is a freshly-carved area to facilitate relations with ground-dwellers and traders, with a recently-uncovered cave in the back.

Balisar: It’s depressing when digging too deep is just ground-level.
Valan: Here comes the balrog!

The DM calls for Perception checks as they approach the door; Balisar begins a process of rolling poorly and firing dice that lasts the entire night and still never nets him a good roll. Tyr and Aurianna hear faint music through the door, like an echo still drifting through the air.

DM: The song almost feels familiar, but you can’t place it.
Elkus: (Oompa Loompa tune)
Valan: Durazh ardhul, durazh ardhul…

Balisar rolls Arcana and fires another die, rolls Arcana again and fires another die, but Elkus recalls a song he had written years ago…

Balisar: Evil Elkus! Evil Elkus!
Elkus: I break out in a cold sweat. “Uh-oh.”
Balisar: “Perhaps you need more basking in the light of SUNBLADE?”
DM: There was a time in your past, you remember it well, when you wrote a lot of music. Powerful songs.
Elkus: Power ballads.
DM: Songs that could sway hearts and minds, songs that could change the tune of battle. Bring whole towns together.
Elkus: I was a very ambitious first-level bard.

Elkus reveals this to the others, and they agree – future evil Elkus is surely to blame here. A brief discussion of the logistics of Elkus’s memory leads them to believe countersong might do the trick!

Balisar: “Sing the exact musical opposite of this song.”
Valan: Play it backwards. Summon a demon.
Elkus: “…you’re not very musically inclined, are you?”
Balisar: “It’s COMPLETELY legitimate.”
Elkus: “The complete OPPOSITE of a song?”
Balisar: “Yes. Notes go like this, right?” (making a sinusoidal wave with his hand)
Elkus: “No.”
Balisar: “Yes they do, that’s how sound works!”
Elkus: “That’s sound, not notes!”
Balisar: (making a sinusoidal wave with his middle finger) “They’re WAVES, yes? So you do the OPPOSITE wave and they cancel out, that is the exact opposite of this song.”
DM: Give me an Arcana, let’s see if you actually know this.
Balisar: 15! I still rolled a fucking 8.
DM: Your many guesses, you’re starting to come through.
Balisar: My player knowledge is overwriting my bad rolls.

Elkus debates what instrument to use against this song, but dismisses all suggestions (the bongos, Valan’s skull, a Stormtrooper helmet) in favor of the sham. He rolls a 23, producing a magnificent sound that silences the holding music. The door opens!

DM: Inside is just a lot of stillness. In the center, where the very familiar-looking pyramid is, sits a giant coiled serpent. Still. The room is barely lit.
Elkus: “This one is a bit easier to get to.”
Balisar: Is the egg still there?
DM: No.
Balisar: “There’s why.”

The serpent is petrified, held enstoned by the music, and with the music gone the spell is dissipating. Its jaw is not broken.

Balisar: “Can you accelerate this process with your songs, Elkus?”
Elkus: “I can try—“
Balisar: “DO IT.”
Elkus: “I think I shall—“
Balisar: (muttering) “Lecture ME on the nature of sound…”
Elkus: “I was teasing!”
Balisar: “…I have such spells that I will lay upon you!”
Elkus: “You’re too wound-up tight. And how ‘bout those calisthenics? We haven’t started those yet.”
Balisar: “I—I have got other things on my mind!”

Elkus baits Balisar until Balisar kabongs him with a guitar, ending the adventure. Elkus plays the countersong, and the guards and serpent all emerge from their stupor. The serpent reports that the one who had enspelled him had his face covered, and was bedecked in powerful magical armor made of dragonscale. Elkus looks to Balisar.

Elkus: I’m wearing you!
Balisar: I was just thinking that evil Elkus got syphilis, he got all sorey on his face so he just started skinning is conquests.

The serpent reports that evil Elkus is more powerful than prime Elkus, and also apparently has incorporated comedy into his performances.

Elkus: “That’s not me.”
Balisar: (through gritted teeth) “Yes, you would never play a joke on an innocent person.”
Valan: That’s mine!

Evil Elkus has the goal of saving the world with music. Balisar, searching for another exit, rolls Arcana poorly and fires another die. He achieves his high roll of the session, an 11, and determines that some sort of lingering nexus or portal exists where the egg is. He rolls a 3 on Perception and fires that die in turn as he gets a rock stuck in his ear, but he hears music!

DM: The faint sound of music again, very distant. As if it’s coming from deep within the earth itself.
Balisar: “Quickly, open this pedestal with your music, I guess is going to be the theme for tonight.”
Elkus: (miming opening the pedestal with his hands)
DM: No, there is no ‘secret door’. The remnants of magic and song is clear on the pedestal itself.
Balisar: “Music. Open. Elkus.”
Elkus: (just laughing)
Balisar: “Valan, punch it open, we can’t rely on Elkus.”
Elkus: “I don’t like being commanded.”
Balisar: “Well just don’t NEED to be commanded then!”
Valan: ‘I have Sunblade! I have pineapple. Pineapple Sunblade.’
Elkus: (muttering the Macarena) I rolled 24.
Balisar: You should be embarrassed at rolling 24 on the Macarena.

Despite his high rolls, Elkus vies with the magic here, but his viol trembles with the force. His hands go out of control, speeding up without his conscious control!

DM: Out of nowhere, the last three strikes, snap snap. The hammer slams through the instrument itself. You seem to be striking it harder than you intend to.
Elkus: …this is a violin.
DM: Oh, sorry. The handle itself seems to set on fire as the strings snap the last time. You don’t notice yourself but the others see you’re playing at speeds faster than anyone’s really seen before. Each note flying out faster than the other. You actually set it on fire with the pure friction of it.
Balisar: That sounded terrible.
Tyr: That’s a problem.

Elkus had come very close to opening the portal! He needs a better instrument. A long pause follows.

Balisar: ‘This SAW.’
Elkus: (mimes sawing wood)
Balisar: That’s not how you play the saw!
Elkus: ‘Now he’s making me do manual labor!’
Balisar: This JUG.

The DM takes a moment to explain the counterspell power Elkus is developing from these adventures. Then, the serpent speaks.

DM: “It appears your tool is not as powerful as his.”
Balisar: (bursting into cheap laughter)
DM: “Music to cut through the dimensions, even as thin as the dimensions are here, must still be great. Can you make an instrument?”
Elkus: “Nope!”

Silence. The serpent believes its whiskers will be sufficient to make a stringed instrument, but Balisar short-circuits the entire sidequest by creating an illusion of a drum.

DM: Before you… is a truly mystical… instrument. The strings seem to glow.
Elkus: That’s a weird drum.
Balisar: Really.
DM: I – I didn’t hear the word ‘drum’.
Elkus: ‘What in hell is wrong with you?!’
Balisar: ‘You’re the one playing the viol with a hammer!’

Nevertheless, Balisar’s illusory drum is surprisingly elaborate, and Elkus uses his own Minor Illusion to bang on it with a hammer. Balisar’s head detonates, but the cavern is filled with the music of many instruments as the portal opens. Elkus leaps through too fast and is cut in half when it closes, his legs feebly kicking their last on this side of the portal. In they surge!

DM: “I bid you farewell. Good luck. It’s too small for me.”
Elkus: ‘We’ll see about that…’
Balisar: ‘Don’t force the Quetzalcoatl through an entrance that’s too – you skinned it.’ ‘Oh, better wear it!’
DM: As the others watch in horror, Elkus begins his new adventures through the serpent’s stomach. A slow, winding adventure of pain and suffering.

Balisar bemoans his inability to be competent despite his best efforts, compared to some people who don’t need to try at all to be competent (much glaring at Aurianna). On the other side they are in darkness till Balisar casts Light on his staff, which reveals skeletons of bird-people and even the serpent on the pyramid is bones. They quickly test for undead with swift jabs, but nothing. The DM calls for Perception checks; Balisar rolls a 4 and fires another die. Aurianna takes five minutes to realize she’s supposed to be rolling Perception, then saves everyone by spotting footprints in the dust that lead in and out.

Balisar: “Well Tyr, would you open that door for us?”
Tyr: You want me to open the door?
Balisar: I’d like the person with d12 hit dice to open the door, yes.
Tyr: I will open the door.
DM: It’s not hard at all. The door seems to slide open. It’s been recently opened so it’s still a little loose. The rest of the room is much like the other. The tracks continue out, the room untouched otherwise. Along the walls, statues of creatures you haven’t seen before.

The game devolves into Arkham Horror almost immediately as they take note (and sketches) of an aquatic race, then send Tyr to the outer door. The DM calls for another Perception check as they approach the moonlit door – Balisar fires another die.

Balisar: I will use my powerful Investigation to search the door – and it’s a 10.
DM: He easily discovers for you that it is a door.
Tyr: Oh my gosh!
DM: It is a door that opens and closes, he gives you a very good explanation of said door. He’s proud of himself.
Balisar: No I’m not. You can’t make me like it.
Elkus: I will roll a 21, seeing him do a… “You skipped over that part. You skipped -- ! Get out of the way!”
Balisar: I’m trying to take the pins out.
Elkus: (blowing on the door)

A cheap laugh for all. The outside is messy with discarded food and a broken camp.

Balisar: “Your counterpart is a slob.”
Elkus: “I do this all the time. Are you calling me a slob?”
Balisar: “Apparently I am. What are you going to do about it?”
Elkus: “A dulcimer in the ear, if you don’t keep your mouth shut.”
Balisar: “Ha! There’s still a rock in there from earlier. It will never fit.”
DM: The door remains closed.
Balisar: “I suspect your counterpart is no less subtle than mine.”
Elkus: (eating random ground food noisily)
Balisar: (staring)
Elkus: (discarding what was left of his ground food)
Balisar: “I suspect your counterpart is even LESS subtle than mine.”
DM: As the trash flies, it lands perfectly in the same spot the other one was.

Balisar predicts Evil Elkus will have a giant tavern where he plays every night. They head out the door to find the terrain outside is quite different than their home world, and themselves at the opposite time of day. Balisar refuses to roll on Arcana, so Elkus steps up and determines that these other worlds are sort of ‘opposite sides of the same coin’. The town seems to be universal in these worlds, so they elect to head back that way.

Elkus: Survival’s one of the few skills I don’t have trained.
Balisar: But of course our barbarian has it.
DM: You have it, Tyr?
Tyr: No.
Elkus: Damn.

Tyr realizes he’s way short on skills for some reason, and Valan is nearly killed by a chair. They realize they’re on the trails of multiple people.

Balisar: “Perhaps Elkus found more use for his comrades than Balisar did.”
Elkus: Let’s hope not.
Balisar: SAME AS NOW AH HA HA HA HA – no. “Lead the way Elkus, we’ll be close behind you.” (a moment’s pause, then whisper-shouting) ‘We’re still right behind you!’
Elkus: ‘Why are you whisper-shouting?’
Balisar: (whisper-shouting) ‘Because I am trying to symbolize that I am like a hundred yards away!’
Elkus: ‘I never turned around and you started shouting like that.’
Balisar: (whisper-shouting) ‘I’m practicing!’
Elkus: ‘I see.’
Balisar: Major Illusion, we’re a hundred feet away.
Elkus: ‘Valan, keep an eye on this guy.’ (rotating a finger by his temple while whistling)
Valan: ‘You didn’t get that from the last dimension.’
Balisar: I’m RIGHT HERE! Oh wait, let me roll my Perception check. OH NOW I ROLL GOOD!

They continue on, finding the road leading along a cliff and the large town misplaces a ways off from it’s ‘home’. They declare themselves officially in Sliders, and further hypothesize how Elkus might have gained control over the town with his music. They spot a figure riding on a wagon!/

Balisar: Which one of us as an idiot will this be, I wonder.
Valan: I don’t drive no wagon. My feet take me wherever I wish to go.
Balisar: That last world, Elkus hoed dirt.
Elkus: “I was a bit of a fool in that one.”
DM: As you make your way closer, religious ornaments cover the wagon itself.

The figure on the wagon seems disinclined to speak, so Balisar hails her and asks for news. She relays that new land is being built on, though for now she returns to her flock.

Valan: “What flock is that?”
DM: “Oh, followers of the moonlight. It is so bright here.”
Balisar: (making ridiculous gestures)
DM: What are you doing!?
Balisar: She is the way of the moon, and she will punish us.

It turns out the gestures Balisar was making were quite the Rorschach test and no one interpreted the same way. The figure is covered, but by now the players have pinned this as alternate Aurianna… and with a Perception check, the DM describes how weathered and traveled she and her gear look, with no hint that she had ever even worked with the other PCs before. No evident evilness, no reason for conflict… so, unsettled by this, they continue on. Balisar is clawed by a cat, out of affection. They approach the town, though at this time of night the taverns are emptying and people are turning it.

Balisar: Surprised there are multiple taverns. I figured there’d just be one big one for Elkus.
Valan: No competition.
Balisar: Interesting.
DM: The docks seem to have closed down, no ships are coming in. There seems to be a small watch.
Elkus: It would be evil if I owned all of them…

A guard post awaits, and they are drawn inexorably forward by flavor text. Quickly they wonder if they should flaunt Elkus or hide him, and quickly decide to put Aurianna in front.

DM: As you approach the guard he seems to be fighting sleep. Waking up every now and then, a quick couple peeks and he’s back out, as if pretending to read the book.
Valan: I’m ALWAYS on duty.
DM: Reading a book, you’re not entirely sure what the book is.
Elkus: It’s upside-down. ‘See Spot run.’

Aurianna greets the guard, startling him awake. To their horror, the group is asked to sign their names to enter. Aurianna looks for her name, and finds one similar to hers – Annairua.

Balisar: Sukle.
Valan: So we’ll be looking for a peaceful city chap named Ryt.
DM: Peering through what you can make of the list, you can tell that not all the names are going to be on this front page. Actually you only make out your own name.
Valan: Rasilab.
Balisar: Rasilab the village idiot.
DM: “Thank you… Aurianna?”
Balisar: “Saribar!”
DM: “Saribar?”
Balisar: “Yes, it’s foreign. As you can tell I am.” Stroke my muzzle.
DM: “Uh, quite. Quite good. If you could sign the book please…”
Balisar: He can’t, he has a cat.
Elkus: (ridiculous accent) “Excuse me, as you say sir, I am holding cat.”
Balisar: ‘Quick, hold my familiar.’ An eagle in your hands.
Elkus: “Allow me to sign name of given. I am… Dresenko. Valadachmanas-Schnedernmickoff. “ That’s a pretty good roll on my Performance.
DM: He almost seems to be pretending he knows exactly where it is.

Elkus ties up the guard for forever with a ridiculous handshake and it starts getting excessively ridiculous as the guard tries to get rid of them all and usher them in. The town is quiet at this time of night, though one large central tavern seems to be the main gathering spot. There is no music at all.The town itself abuts a cliff and some buildings are even carved out of the cliff face. Someone is carving a church entrance there, no less!

DM: He’s very focused on the actual front of the thing, what will be the stoneworks of the entrance.
Balisar: Stone?
Elkus: Stone dragon.
Valan: I was not going to do it.
DM: Hanging by a self-made raft, he’s tinkering away. Still working through the night, carving what looks like an elegant statue, probably the head of his deity, the face of the one he worships.
Aurianna: Is it the moon goddess?
DM: No. It’s something a little different.
Valan: Tiamat.
Balisar: Elkus’s grinning face? “Oh, it’s so peaceful out here compared to the other settlements.”
DM: He seems to look around a bit as if he thought he heard something, then continues on his way.
Valan: He’s a typical stealth game AI enemy. Unless you attack him.

The man descends into their midst abruptly; Balisar pointedly repeats his earlier comments for his benefit.

DM: “Um.. hello?”
Balisar: “Oh, don’t mind us! We’re new! Just coming in to visit! Heard so much about the place!”
DM: “Huh. Quite. I’m just working on my project here, trying to make a grand thing for the Lady.”
Balisar: “Is SHE the one who brought peace and tranquility to this place?”
DM: “I guess… I mean, I would like to think it was her, but it probably wasn’t.”

They continue to ask leading questions of this guy, not getting much valuable information out of him… until he introduces himself.

DM: “My name is Nalav.”
Valan: You couldn’t have said before that he was a half-orc? Because I would have given him away…
DM: What you see—
Valan: Oh, he’s not a half-orc. He’s a were-orc. He’s a were-half.
DM: Now that you’ve taken a closer look at him on hearing his name, what you see is the opposite of what a half-orc would be. As if it was an orc with some kind of human elements in it. He seems shorter, not green, he almost seems like a perfect human, but his teeth are bigger, things are just a little off. Probably if it was during the day you might have had an easier time noticing the oddities, but the moonlight does him justice.
Valan: “You’re a sculptor.”
DM: “Yes. I was saved. I praise the deity, I make statues of her. I used to fight a lot when I was younger.” When you look at his hands, you can see they’re incredibly beat-up. They seem very thin, frail, like if you punched him even half-hard you could just shatter them into dust. “I can’t fight any more, but I can work the tools, I can work hard, praise the one who saved me from a life… but I don’t want to get into that.”

They inquire as to the leader of the town, and are told it’s the mayor. The statue-maker again tries to take his leave, and this time they allow him. The PCs tease Valan a little.

Aurianna: Are you just jealous because my evil twin wasn’t evil at all?
Balisar: …a little…
Elkus: She had a goatee and everything.
Balisar: There’ll be an evil one! Your time is coming!

They head off to the tavern (Balisar dubs Elkus ‘Lubchenko’.) The tavern is mostly empty, save for a dragonborn proprietor. He and Balisar greet each other, with the rest o the group snickering.

DM: “People see me as a hero around here—“
Valan: Oh god!
DM: “Quite a folk hero, that’s why I was given the tavern. People talk about me all the time. Yep. Yep.”
Balisar: (a very odd note in his voice) “Well, that’s very nice. We’d like rooms.”
DM: “Don’t worry. You’ll be protected here. Quite safe. Very safe. How many rooms would you like?”
Valan: (almost sobbing with laughter)
DM: “Is your friend okay, he seems very plastered…”
Elkus: “My friend just needs to partake in the whetting of one’s wheestle.”
Valan: “Oh, no, I’m very tired.”
Balisar: “So tired, everything is funny to me, and that’s how tired I am.” (extensive laughter)

They try to get two rooms, leading Elkus to cheerfully grin a Aurianna. They get three rooms. Balisar makes tracks for the room at top speed, while downstairs the bartender introduces himself as Rasilab and goes on and on about what a big-shot he is in town. They order food and drinks.

Valan: “Yes, food as well. Please bring it yourself.”
Balisar: You switched ethnicities…
Elkus: Yeah, a little bit…
Valan: “Our friend wouldn’t admit it, but he’s very hungry. Knock on his door so he can accept the food himself. INSIST to bring the food in to him yourself.”
Balisar: (actually leave the table)

Rasilab reveals the tavern is named ‘The Magical Sleep’, because it’s like sleeping on magic. Everything is a little magical here, but he’s mostly an incompetent mage.

DM: (yelling after the departed Balisar) “MY ARCANA ROLLS WERE REALLY LOW.”
Balisar: (returning with dessert)
Valan: Oh boy, What will we get? The pie or the knife?
Balisar: Plates for everyone. Fork for everyone. Pie for everyone. KNIFE FOR EVERYONE!

They head to their rooms and Rasilab brings them food and drink. They question if it’s poison.

Valan: That’s why it’s a magical sleep. Because the soup is poison!
Aurianna: But I’m soooo huuuungry!
Valan: ‘Must be dhe pretzels.’
Balisar: (cracking up)
Elkus: This man just fed us Combos!
Valan: That’s what you artificed in this dimension?
Valan and Elkus: Combos?!
Balisar: I’m a FLAVOR wizard!
DM: Paying attention to the Combos, you realize there is no hole. You don’t know how he got the cheese in there. It’s almost magical.

Their beds are enchanted to be restful, a fact which depresses Balisar immensely. They wake up to find themselves in a fight with the sun, somehow, while a ship unloads ghosts as the docks. They head down to get breakfast, taking a moment to verify that they aren’t eating weird spirit eggs. Elkus, in his wacky accent, inquires of his evil twin’s whereabouts, but Rasilab knows nothing.

DM: “Since I’ve been here, I don’t remember music…”
Valan: You killed music in this dimension, that’s what you did.
Balisar: Without music, there can be peace…
DM: “It’s like I’m trying to remember something, but I don’t…. I’m silly! There’s no music! It’s always quiet… and it’s good! Music didn’t make things great.”
Elkus: “From my foreign country am great musician. Allow me to play something for you.”
Balisar: (El Kabong sound effect)
Elkus: “Stop hitting me with my own instrument.” 19.
Balisar: You play him a rousing tune. (Katamari Damacy theme)
Tyr: Is that that, um, rolly-ball game?
Balisar: (cracking up)
DM: You begin to play. You hear the music as it leaves the instrument, fills the room. You play a song of joy.
Balisar: Tyr, guard the door. Valan, also guard the door.
DM: You hear nothing. You watch as he begins to play the instrument – wait, that’s the blow-horn one, right?
Elkus: I think a sham is kind of like a large flute.
DM: You hear the music, you hear everything you’re playing, you’re into it. YOU see him go through the motions. You hear nothing.
Balisar: “Why are you doing this to us?”
Elkus: “What are you talking about?”
DM: “That was most curious, I like the way you pretended. You really got into it. I could really visualize it!”
Balisar: “ACTUALLY play! That was – uuuugh.”
Elkus: “I WAS. I was!”
Balisar: “Let me create an illusion of what you sounded like.” (gestures dramatically and pointlessly)

Rasilab whips out his wand and turns it into flowers, to his great depression. Elkus forces Balisar to blow his sham, which sounds horrible. Only actual music is being suppressed. Elkus again tries to play, but no one can hear it.

Balisar: Minor illusion of a pure musical note.
DM: Floating above you… looks like probably an E-flat.
Balisar: Okay, I meant the actual SOUND of a note, you flaming jackass.

The group all gets a good laugh out of this, and the DM then properly describes only Balisar hearing the music and the rest of him just seeing him pointing.

Valan: “Doesn’t matter which dimension we go to, he’s still crazy.”
Balisar: I wonder if bagpipes count as music. I’m just saying. I like bagpipes…

Rasilab tells them that there’s a masterful maker of instruments in town, who could possibly repair Elkus’s viol. Everyone laughs at Rasilab’s insistence that he’s a hero, leading him to stare at them.

Balisar: “I just thought of something completely funny that was unrelated to this conversation.”
DM: “Oh, okay.”
Elkus: Hey! Um. I think he needs some of that… what’s the bad version?
Balisar: Of what?! Deception?
Elkus: Yes.

Balisar rolls an 11 on Deception, then blows Insight badly and fires another die. Somehow Elkus accidentally orders a shitton of illithid hookers. I DON’T KNOW HOW. Balisar takes off, while the rest dawdle to get their breakfasts; by the time they get out he’s worn a track in the street with his pacing. The DM describes the town, and it goes weird.

DM: A little shop—
Balisar: -- of Horrors, little shop, little shop of terror…
Elkus: ‘Feed me!’
Balisar: Oh man, Tyr really did get the short end of stick in this dimension! Tyrdry 2.
Aurianna: ‘Feed me, Balisar!’

In they head. No sooner do they enter than they are greeted exactly the way they expected.

DM: “Ha! Welcome! I am Ryt! The instrument-maker!” What you see before you is a man too large to be in the room.
Elkus: Is he muscular or is he actually just really fat in this world?
DM: He is ridiculously muscular. It looks like he could easily snap the building in half. “Ah! I am the instruments person! I make many good instruments here! I was – my people, they did not like me. They kicked me out. They said I’m not a good barbarian. But I’m good at making instruments of music! I sense… a broken one. It screams for help! Ah ha. I will have this fixed.” His arms from here down do not move, but his hands are a whirl of motion.

They chat up Ryt as he works, and he waxes rhapsodic on instrument production – and lets them know only one person is his customer. Balisar insists on calling Elkus ‘Lubchenko’, but it turns out Ryt can barely remember his customer, In the background, Balisar furiously motions and hints to Elkus, who ignores him.

DM: “Your friend seems to have trouble, I’m not sure…”
Elkus: “He tries to convey messages, but I like to make him sweat.”

Tyr and Ryt get into a staredown, but it turns out Tyr wasn’t listening the entire time. Arm-wrestling ensues; Tyr wins handily.

Valan: So the Tyr in this dimension just juices.
Elkus: Buckets of creatine won’t build strength.
DM: “So are you a barbarian too?”
Tyr: “Indeed.”
DM: “I bet you’re big around your people, like the best, right?”
Tyr: “Uhhh. Not really.”
DM: “Why?”
Elkus: “We don’t let him be.”
Balisar: (has been continuing to hint THIS ENTIRE TIME)
Elkus: I’m going to try playing the ditty that I used to counter the song before;.
Balisar: Oh good, I was about an inch away from sending the message in another fashion. Write it on a piece of paper. Give it to my eagle. “Go, Sol!” (mimes hurling the bird directly into Elkus’s face)

Elkus plays his epic song, leading everyone to do the Mario – and question if Lou Albano has any Italian heritage. (He does.) Even Elkus does not hear his own music at first, but with time and effort it increases to a roar in his ears. His instrument snaps with the effort, but Ryt openly cries.

DM: “Music. I have not heard it in so long. Can you hear it? The soft song across the sky. It’s so calming. It’s almost as if I forgot it was playing. Or maybe I never heard it.” But then just as sudden as it came, you can feel the silence returning. Encroaching, encroaching, and gone.
Balisar: Play it off!
Elkus: Hmm?
Balisar: The silence!
DM: The strings broke.
Balisar: He’s got other instruments.
Elkus: I’m down to two instruments!
Balisar: We’ve got a guy who fixes them right fucking here!
Elkus: Well, let’s keep going!

Ryt interrupts them, bringing out an lute of immense quality –its strings are dragon eyelashes, apparently! He offers to loan it to Elkus for a moment, and they spend a bit pondering how to game Ryt’s reaction into giving it to them for free. Elkus plays so magnificently that he transports himself to another dimension!

DM: In the distance you can see another. He too is playing an instrument. His is differing. It seems almost a little larger, more string. Each string a different color. The instrument itself seems to be made of scale and wood, a melding beyond your imagination. Its beauty without measure. The music seems to extend beyond him, beyond yourself. Through the distance, even though he’s miles away, it’s almost like he’s right there playing. You watch him, he watches you. Music dueling. The sounds beyond measure. A duel with time.
Elkus and Valan: (dueling banjos)
DM: And then it seems to fade. Your fingers stop, but the melody stays. The silence nearby is shattered. The music continues to play even though you’ve long stopped. You can hear his music. You can hear your music. It’s lovely. You recognize the tune because you’ve played it. You close your eyes for a moment and open them. You see your friends. For you it was but a moment. For them, about twenty minutes.

A pacifistic effect has descended upon them, which ANGERS them! Ryt finds his memory returning, and is able to describe evil Elkus, who has a hat and a mask. Balisar shakes his head at Elkus in disapproval.

DM: “The instrument on his back is beyond… I didn’t make it, I don’t know who did. It was as if a deity itself had made it.”
Balisar: Wait a minute, are we still on the hat?
DM: No.
Balisar: I’m just saying it would be ironic if a really good hat was his source of power and not the instrument.

Elkus signs a piece of paper for Ryt on his request, using his real name. Naturally, he gets the instrument for free!

DM: “Be sure to spread your tune, it’s a good one.”
Elkus: (darkly) “I’ll spread more than my tune.”
Balisar: “He’s implying he’s going to sleep with women.”
DM: “I understood that.”
Elkus: ‘I didn’t need that interpreted.’

Strangely, no guards are coming for them and no reaction has developed! Nothing is audible outside the shop, so they plan to take the show on the road. Elkus feels like he’s being watched. Out they head!

Elkus: “People of the town! Gather around and rejoice at the return of MUSIC!”
Balisar: Minor Illusion, gong crash! Minor illusion, gong crash!
Elkus: No one hears it.
DM: (sighing) You’re outside! I told you, the spell is inside! He made the big smell, you went out and -- (gesturing silently and stupidly)
Balisar: I didn’t know GONGS would count as music! It’s just BONG!
Elkus: Do lightning crashes.
Aurianna: Lightning crash, there you go.
Balisar: Yeah, yeah. Thunder! Thunder! Thunder-Elkus, HO!
DM: Lightning strikes you hard! It was only an illusion, you did not know that when he launched it at you! The shocks burn just as real. You find it difficult to play. -40.
Balisar: Minor illusion, a big arrow in the air. Minor illusion, a big arrow in the air. Minor illusion, a big NOTE! E sharp! In the air! Fucker.
DM: As you put up the many minor illusions, it seems like you’ve broken a few minor laws yourself, there.
Balisar: Eh.
DM: “Excuse me there, magic man! Get those magic things outta there.”
Balisar: “Ah – but FIRST!” (dramatically gesturing to Elkus)
DM: “We’re gonna get to him in just a second….”

Elkus… lets Balisar squirm for a moment, then intervenes to try to get the guard off him until the illusions vanish. The guard stares at him for a moment.

DM: “All right. You just keep yourself in check there, sir.”
Balisar: “But FIRST!” (dramatically gesturing to Elkus)
Elkus: (laughing)
Balisar: …Would you fucking play?!
Elkus: I’ve been trying to!
DM: This interaction’s enough to gather a large group of people.
Balisar: WELL, I’ve achieved my FUCKING GOAL. This must be how Valan feels every time he rolls an attack roll.

The crowd waits eagerly for the guard to beat up Balisar, while another guard sneaks up behind him. Elkus finally starts playing, and he feels the power of a countersong pressing in against him. He remembers a song of calming and control, which apparently involves either the Wicked Witch being dead, or the greatest and best song in the world.

Valan: Look into my eyes and it’s easy to see, two and – wait--
DM, Balisar, Elkus, and Valan: One and one make two, two and one make three, it was destiny!

The silence shatters, evil Elkus’s spell broken, and light and color return to the world, along with true emotions. The crowd bursts into violent crime and the PCs realize that evil Elkus was right all along. Or not. With a Wisdom check, Elkus subdues the preternatural pride welling up within him! The crowd is on their side, despite Balisar’s worries otherwise.

DM: Again, the world goes silent for you a moment. Everyone seems to drift away. In the distance you see the egg… and another egg. And another egg. These eggs are familiar, you’ve seen them before. One of the eggs you hadn’t seen before, but you know which one it was. And then another egg, just shadowy, just out of reach. Four eggs. And in the center, a figure, slowly making his way toward you. He moves towards you. Now he’s just out of reach. “You’ve come a long way.”
Elkus: “Not that far if you come to think about it.”
DM: “Not as much time for you has passed, has it.”
Balisar: (helpfully playing Golbez, Clad in Dark for the theme)
DM: “I guess for you it’s not that long ago.”
Valan: ‘You don’t belong in this world. Die, monster.’
DM: “I guess for you it’s only been a day since I grabbed the egg. For me it’s been about a year. Oh, I wonder what will happen when you return to your time. Will more time have passed, or less?”
Elkus: “By indication of your actions, probably an instant.”
DM: “Quite. I guess you’re here for that.”
Elkus: “Yes, we’ll be taking it.”
DM: “No.”

Valan nearly dies as his chair collapses, and the group forces him to swap before they have to undergo a homicide investigation. Elkus angrily accuses his counterpart, who claims he was only making a positive difference.

DM: “I wanted to create new ideas! New ways of peace! And it required action. And I took the action!”
Elkus: “The WRONG action.”
DM: “It matters not.”
Elkus: “It does. We are taking this egg, and will stop you in the process.”
DM: “He made me do it. It doesn’t matter. I had to beat him.”

Silence. Everyone looks at Balisar.

Elkus: I looked over there because I wanted to see his reaction.
Balisar: Stop blaming Balisar for everything!

Elkus remembers he has a rival, and his counterpart curses said rival even as he vows to protect the whole world. Evil Elkus challenges Elkus to meet him in the temple, and gives them a chance to leave without stopping them – he of course refuses to go without the egg, returning Elkus to reality and the cheering crowd. On that ominous note, the game comes to an end, with the characters given much to think about after seeing this particular iteration of the comrades.
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