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  #271  
Old Apr 28th, 2021, 10:18 AM
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Oh! You Pretty Things
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Lofwyr smiled, picked up Pegs, and spun her around in a burst of ecstatic realization when the pieces fell together. "Oh, Pegs! Thank pie indeed! I'm sorry but I'm going to kill your boss. Those fools are just keeping the stage warm for us. Doppelgangers, seriously they could've at least listened to us play once. It's embarrassing." He gingerly sat the main Meemaaw back down on her feet and scratched his head.

"Won?! Oh, no. Not yet. There can be only one Minstrel/Maxtrel!" The skald's cold steely eyes narrowed "We're going to destroy these clowns. Either with our instruments or fists, hell maybe both, but the real slashers are here to claim our prize."

As she whisked them off towards the stage Lofwyr punched each of the menstruators right in their stupid scowling mouths. "Dragar's dead you idiots." He sneered in passing. From stage right, Lofwyr was witnessing a waking nightmare. Watered-down, sugar-coated factory produced soft pop. Covered badly. The dancing was pretty decent though, he took note.

Lofwyr choked back the explosive rage, this would require a little finesse. It wouldn't do to charge out and start cleaving. Would it? He looked back at his friends, Snorkberth was nodding a little too eagerly. Was he still in his head? Jane was livid and ready to shred faces as well but most of the others were shocked. These fake thems were cavorting around making fools of them all. But the skald remembered what Beebs always said. Sometimes you needed to use your words, you can't always let your fists do the talking. This was his night, his way.

They needed to win this crowd to win the crown. Fortunately, they were all nothing if not entertainers. "Well, they've got the look but they ain't nothin' like the real thing baby." He turned to Guise with a wide toothy grin and gripped their shoulder until his knuckles went white. "Listen, we're gonna take that stage one way or another. If you and your friends want to walk away from this thing then I'm gonna need you to get Crispy and introduce us as the real deal. I know you remember what we're capable of so don't get any cute ideas. Then, you're going to confess, as the slimy tortle, how you conspired to rig the whole show. Or I'll split you down the middle in front of your buddies and the beautiful crowd." Something the skald has learned from his friends is that words can cut like a blade or crush like a hammer. Intimidation: 24 with help, 17 withoutHe hoped that he wielded them right this time.

Lofwyr reached into his pink bag and brought out Raph. That old turtle crossed the universe with him in just a half-hour back in that basement and now it was the turtle's time to shine. The skald winked at his bandmates and then, twerked Raph's head calling forth the impenetrable, magical deep dark black. He put a hand firmly on the back of the dop's neck and led him out for his fifteen minutes in the spotlight.

Confidently and blindly he led them out on stage until the aura of darkness swallowed the imposters. "Posers! You have insulted everyone here with this silly front. Begone or be struck down! The real slashers are here to take back what is ours! We bested Gods, killed evil mercenaries, and even cheated death to bring you all Music! Are You Ready?!?" With another twist of the turtle's head the darkness faded to reveal Minstrel/Maxtrel, the true and actual band, flexing and/or striking a dramatic pose with their instruments in a direct challenge to the false slashers. "Now, Who came here to see a battle?" Lofwyr asked of the crowd. Finally, he pushed imitation Crisp forward for his big solo. "Just remember, their lives are in your hands." He whispered.

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  #272  
Old Apr 28th, 2021, 10:50 AM
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Baron de Boom
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BdB, knitwork by @LostCheerio


"Jane, can you goo me to Crisp? Or... Hingalon, could I have a patch of that loincloth? I mean, it is a super adhesive substance by now."

By "goo me to" the Baron is asking, of course, for Jane's tentacles to slime the back of dop-Crisp's shell so that the Baron can stick himself on it, giving himself a prime and unseen (from the front) position for playing the faux-turtle's souffleur. If he goes with the loincloth piece, he'll basically try to stick it to Crisp and himself like one would use a command strip to hang a painting on a turtle's shell (as one does). A bit of a muscle press from Durza would also work wonders to stick him onto the shell.

One way or another, the Baron goo-adhesives himself to the shell and gives some last minute instructions to the dop before they go onstage.

Now, look, I'm about to say some things ... but don't think it changes anything about my friends' threats. They will totally follow through with them. I'm just asking you to consider something else. If you do this right, your band gets an honest shot at the title. Even if you lose, you've made your mark and can tour around the area without having to pretend you are us. Your concerts can be a series of covers from all of the best acts, ever. Like I said, your band sounded tight when I heard your set at the Pelican...you don't have to be fakes to make it. Don't you want to be "Guise and the All-Time Greats"? Doesn't that sound good? Ok, good luck and congrats ... now, we're going to go onstage when the lights go out, you talk when they go on, and you walk off stage when they go out again.

As soon as the lights go back on, they step on stage, Baron begins whispering the words to their Crisp.

"Tieflings and Transgressors ... Rockers and Rollers ... Villains and Vallosites! What a show, what a show, amirite?! But it isn't over yet!" [pause for dramatic effect] "I have just been informed that the winning band is actually the amazing cover band ... "Guise and the All-Time Greats"!" [pause for gasps of surprise] "I know, I know. What a shell-banger of a revelation! But ... this is not a scandal ... it is a treat ... because now ... on stage ... we have ... the real Minstrel/Maxstrel band ... and they are ready to perform in a special band showdown ... it's the genuine thing ... going up against ... their mirror rivals! And ... best of all .. you decide ... How do you like your Slashing? ... Slasher New ... or Slasher Classic! You've heard the new ones already ... so let me introduce ... the originals, the free-range, organic, bonafide, in-the-flesh ... Minstrel/Maxstrel Band!"

Now ... wait for the lights to go out, and we exit stage left. You made the right choice!



 


 
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Last edited by bananabadger; Apr 28th, 2021 at 10:55 AM.
  #273  
Old Apr 28th, 2021, 01:53 PM
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Hingalon
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Hingalon looked down at his much-loved, and only, piece of clothing. "Super-adhesive? I'm sorry buddy, it used to be, down in the sewers. Now it's dried out and sort of crunchy -- see? If I tapdance a little it pops and crackles. It's actually quite useful for the concert! But for your problem, it's better if you let Jane's tentacles do the job."

"Now, if you want to excuse me... our Lof has been more than convincing, but I think I have something to add. "

He approached Guisecrisp before Lofwyr started his shenanigans with the old magical turtle and BdB got Jane to stick him on the dop's bony shell.

"Hey, you! Dop! Lower your eyes, I'm down here. Yes, here. In case you're still on the fence about the whole 'do whatever we tell you' business, just remember. Those fingers. The ones hooked into your brain? Did it feel good? Because Jane will be happy to do it again."

"Then, check out that bardbarian. There's only one way to fully expose a dop -- not my fault, that's just the way it is -- and it's making them quit breathing altogether. Now, see those pecs? Those biceps? He can rip your polymorphed shell right off and suck your innards out like mussel soup. Makes a funny slurping noise."

"And finally, since we're speaking about having a craving for flesh. If you're still somehow stupid enough to think I'm not being serious... check out over your shoulder. She is dead serious. Also, dead."

"And you will be too."

Against their own judgment, Guisecrisp couldn't help turning their head and peeking above their own shoulder. She was, like two inches away from their face.

 



Hingalon's OOC and ActionsOOC:
Saving throws:
Free Action:
Move:
Action: helping the general Intimidation, in fact RPing all the way
Reaction:
Bonus Action:
Condition:
Concentrating:
Notes:


 
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Last edited by stepanxol; Apr 28th, 2021 at 01:58 PM.
  #274  
Old Apr 28th, 2021, 04:17 PM
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The ride on Dergu's back was not as satisfying as Spyder had hoped. He had tried to hold and play Genevieve around the half-orc's neck, but that proved impossible, both because of the bouncing and jostling, and also because his neck was just too thick. It was like hugging a mature oak!

The result was that when the band eventually made it to the gig, Spyder was not in a good mood and had to visit his happy place which, fortunately, was possible because of Lythienne and her parents.

"Oh, there you are," he murmured at the selection of other lutes that they had brought. "Were you worried? I bet you were, yes."

He stepped back and smiled at them and then brought Genevieve around in front of himself.

"This is Genevieve. She is very special and she's going to do the big number tonight, but don't worry, you'll all get a chance to play. Now, Genevieve? This is Camille, Nicolette, Vivienne, Margot and Fleur. You'll meet the others later."

He stroked the finish on some of the lutes, examined their strings, and generally got busy with typically Spyder things, right up until he heard Pegs' announcement. He went very still.

He had been aware of the music reverberating from the venue the entire time, and some part of his mind had been scoffing and feeling smug that at least they could beat that no problem! But Pegs had shattered that thought. In there, thousands of people thought that he was playing that trash! It was… discordant!

He stood tall, the other lutes momentarily forgotten. His fist was clenching so tightly that he could feel his own pulse in each of his knuckles. The hairs on the back of his neck seemed to be vibrating. Without being aware of it, a low growl had started deep in his chest. He was furious!

This must be how Lofwyr feels all the time, some small part of him mused. But the rest of him wasn't thinking at all. The whip must have sensed his anger and it reacted by coiling and clenching, its thongs running up and down his leg in excitement. It could already taste blood.

Jane Lofwyr and Hingalon had already reacted and were making their tame dop sweat. They had a plan. They had a plan! Spyder's heart hammered as he realised what they were going to do; they would storm the gig, and they would show everyone what real slashers sounded like!

He was ready. He had never been more ready!

Raph brought the darkness and Spyder moved forward with the others, each murmuring warnings about any obstacles they encountered. This was the bit of the show that the audience shouldn't see, the clumsiness and uncertainty that happened backstage at any performance. Props could get lost, drunken musicians could forget their cues, people could have complete nervous breakdowns, and it was all okay as long as it happened backstage. The important thing was…

…suddenly the lights were back and Spyder stood on the stage. He looked out at the audience, a far far bigger audience than he had ever stood in front of before. Around him the band, the real Minstrel/Maxstel, struck their poses and Spyder followed suit, dropping to one knee as he held Genevieve's neck high, his other hand held high above his head. He knew that the leathers were glistening in the stage lights and the polished silver on Genevieve herself sparkled.

Somewhere, the dop doing the Crisp impression was talking and Spyder wondered how the real Crisp would respond to this. He hoped the tortle would make a scene because, on his hip, the silver-tipped tendrils were still writhing, desperate for something to hurt.

He found himself prowling the front of the stage, the adrenaline was coursing and he couldn't just sit still. He played a quick riff, calling upon some magic to aid his performance, but the magic was overflowing so he turned back to the band and high-fived the first Slasher he found, boosting them too. He felt good. He pointed at Jane and grinned, and then danced with Durza before fist-bumping Hingalon. They had made it so far, there was no way they could fail now.

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  #275  
Old Apr 28th, 2021, 06:29 PM
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Triple Threat
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Between Lofwyr, Jane, and Hinga-Lily, Guise is feeling obedient.

Not for nothing, but they are a doppelbard. Not a bad performer. They step out with a tiny Gob clinging to their backside and deliver the speech like a righteous puppet. Guise is no Torm Belferon, that legendary host of PRANCING ON THE STARS, in which nearly naked Eladrin perform strictly regimented lawful military qua'drilles atop actual constellations in hopes of winning Immortality before they burn alive but---who is?

Guise kinda sells it. Guise is loud. Guise is excited. Guise is reasonably Crispy.

His band seems to recognize Guise, even as Crisp. They murmur excitedly back and forth, hearing BdB's idea. Yes, yes, they are DOWN for this. All of them except---

She steps forward. Faaux-Thienne, their mysterious lead singer.

The one who was at the bar that night but who DID NOT Bogart one of the doctored shots. The one who has led these dops all the way to a (fixed) victory. If we are going to DO this, she says. LET US REALLY DO IT!!!!! Because I know for a FACT OF SCIENCE THAT IS FACTUAL YOU CANNOT BEAT MEEEEEEE! And BAM. She let's her Disguise Self fall away.

 



Minstrell/Maxstrell
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On the other side, in the wings, just as the song finishes and the crowd goes nuts, you see ACTUAL Crisp come tearing up, flanked by those two Blue Tieflings, both bloody-nosed and sour.

Crisp is pulling Sending Stones out of his pack and barking orders into them and glaring in absolute stunned horror, but ---the crowd is going NUTS.

This. Is. Happening.

Band.

Just you. Your group magic. Your total love for each other. Your love for music. Your faith in yourselves and each other.

THOUSANDS scream, the crowd you always wanted. Your ambitions could all be realized...but I promise you, this is NOT a sure thing. And Band? THis is the end.

It is also a beginning. No matter what, win or lose, it is a beginning. Because we are exactly where we started.

We end as we began: Minstrell/Maxstell, a dead turtle, and total darkness.

What happens now?



 
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Last edited by Fillyjonk; Apr 28th, 2021 at 06:44 PM.
  #276  
Old Apr 29th, 2021, 03:27 PM
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Durza's preparations
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Artist credit: Dotswap

Nubby. UGH. All these years Nuvian has pretended that her life coach and her motherhood and her ridiculous husband have somehow wiped out how shabbily she has treated Durza in the past, and here's Nubby taking up her mother's mantle and trying to ruin Durza's life intergenerationally. Durza can't bring herself to feel angry about it, though. Nubby might be a pop-singing darling with a heart full of spite, but Durza is a better person with better lats. Whatever happens next, this will always be true.

All the band is here, their friends, their family. Spyder even dances with her! She feels finer than she's ever felt before. She moves between them all, trying to ignore the cavorting of Nubby and her Nobodies, offering hugs to Dergu and Jane's family and Pegs, and fist bumps to Snorkberth and Figgs and Kuqi. Slasher to Slasher she moves, Cast Eagle's Splendor on Lof, Hingalon, Justinwarm green hands on shoulders, buff green arms round waists. They can do this.

She takes Jane's hands and pulls her into a Bardic Inspirationpower spin, round and round and round until their vision blurs and their legs wobble and they thump into Lofwyr and Snorkberth like meat missiles. She turns to the Baron, already setting up his plans for the pyrotechnics, and Bardic Inspirationgrips his skinny shoulders tight, kneeling to meet him eye-to-eye. Her gaze is fierce and hot as she tells him, "Make. It. Count."

They can do this.


Action Block and Stat Block
OOC: I'm setting up my buffs in a preliminary post before making my real performance post

Initiative:
Saving throws:
Free Action:
Move:
Action: Cast Lvl 4 The target has advantage on Charisma checks.Enhance Ability: Eagle's Splendor on Justin, Hingalon, Lofwyr
Reaction:
Bonus Action: ... Use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can hear you. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d8.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration die, but must decide before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the Bardic Inspiration die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one Bardic Inspiration die at a time.
Bardic Inspiration on Dagger Jane and Baron de Boom
Condition: Bardic Inspiration (1d8) and Eagle's Splendor from Spyder
Concentrating: Enhance Ability: Eagle's Splendor (Hingalon, Justin, Lofwyr)

 



Last edited by bothers; Apr 30th, 2021 at 05:44 AM.
  #277  
Old Apr 29th, 2021, 05:46 PM
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Hingalon
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Hingalon by @LostCheerio

Nice. It was nice to feel the surging adrenaline rush of the stage, of the incoming performance, with the pressure of the Bardic Battle adding to it all.

But the nicest thing of all was the bonding, the feeling of the band members becoming as one -- of course they always were, in the dungeon as in the tavern, but never as much as in those moments.

While the teenagers were still prancing onstage and he was receiving Durza's attention and welcome magickal buff, Hingalon turned to Jane.

"Hey! Do you call that a clean saxophone? I know your fingers can dig deep in someone else's sinuses, but apparently you can't reach properly under the palm keys... and look, there's still some stuff in the bell... and what's that in the neck... straw?!?"

In a few seconds, with his little fingers, Hingalon had cleaned the saxophone and handed it back to Jane. "It's not as if the Baron serviced it with a full overhaul, but it should do. By the way, I hope you still remember that old song, I know the Truth? Wait for my cue and start from the bridge. You've always played it on soprano, but it will work fine anyway."

He held the ring around his thumb tight in his other hand. Everyone will give their contribution, even you.
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  #278  
Old Apr 29th, 2021, 09:10 PM
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Justin's preps
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Dragarstin was about to inspect his Southern Cleavage when he heard the garbage mall noises ahead.

The Fae? Did those underage jailbaiters actually get a slot? Nubby's girl be sneak- Hey that crybaby looks fam-

"WE MISSED IT!"

Four hands belonging to two purple tieflings barred the fae as fae bard's way.

"As usual, of course you needed ol' Daddy Dragarse to rescue your candy-wrapped baby-bottoms," he grinned, slowing down to chat but still moving. "Weren't y'all already signed up with Zariel tho? Don't worry hornboys, Daddy's gonna have a lil chat with Krispytorts. Toodles! Also, yup!" Justin added in the tiefling's voice at Lofwyr's passing comment.

Jus' good mood faded as he realized what had just happened next though. The horror. The tragedy! The gall!

"Fae NO. Cannot even. Uh-uh." The eladrin indeed could not.

But.

But butt.

Showdown! YES!

Jane and Lof had a plan, and even Hin and Bedeebs were already on it. Justin followed under cover of tortle-darkness, already mulling in his chaotic head what he wanted to do. He waited for CrispGuise to end his spiel, and for Nubby to shut the fae up. Then, he shouted in Dragar's voice.

"Y'ALL READY FO' DIS?"

Dragarstin whispered to Kuqi. "Let 'em see you, baby. Let 'em see you SLASH."

He shouted again, louder this time.

"ARE. Y'ALL. READY. FO'. DISSSSS?????"

Dragarstin whispered to Snorkberth. "RRRRRAMPAGE!!!"


Justin's Mechanics
Actions:
Bonus: using Bardic Inspiration on Kuqi and Snorkie
Reaction:
Concentrating:

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Last edited by ElderOblex; Apr 30th, 2021 at 01:09 AM.
  #279  
Old Apr 29th, 2021, 11:36 PM
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Roundabout
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Lofwyr rallied round his friends, both old and new, and the love was palpable. They have come so far already, maybe even grown a little along the way too, and no matter what happens this night have already won. He knows it. His friends and all their fans know it too. All that's left is to teach some fakers and a tweenybopper. No sweat. "Ok they may have talent, and moves, and non-threatening vibes but we have one thing they don't, each other! And something else their anemic offering is missing. Emotion, angst, and a heaping serving of danger!"

Truth be told they weren't bad. It was manufactured, sterile, and cheap but, it was catchy. This would actually be a challenge. That just makes the victory all the better! The skald looked over at the fuming tortle who was impotent to stop this in all his fury. Lofwyr smiled and pointed at Crisp then made a gesture of dragging his thumb across his neck and altogether forgot the scumbag existed for the next fifteen minutes.

Lofwyr the skald dished out fist bumps and high fives to all assembled slashers. He stopped at Bardic Inspiration! you get a d8Spyder and said "You have taught me more about music just tuning your lutes than these posers could learn in a lifetime. Your talent is deadly friend, let's slay."

He smiled at Bardic Inspiration! you get a d8Justin "Bro, they may have a couple of moves but you are literally dripping style all over this stage, let them drown in it." And finally to Bardic Inspiration! And you get a d8Hingalon the dreamy warrior. "You may be small but inside you, countless galaxies live and die. I've always been so loud I never noticed what was hidden beneath your quiet, these fools will never see it coming. Tonight you stand as tall as a giant my dude!"

Next, he Enhance ability: Eagle's Splendorgrabbed Dagger Jane by the shoulders and pressed his forehead against hers. "Jane, do you remember when you pulled me from that alley? I was singing for scraps and fighting dogs for a bed." He laughed at the memory "Well, tonight we will be plucked from the alley. Tonight we soar above the filthy city on black wings. Let's [REDACTED] melt some [REDACTED] faces off!" They ended the embrace by screaming into each other's faces as they are wont to do.

Then he approached the crusty old goblin who had been there, done that, and come back with a great story to tell. Was this really it, the last goodbye? Lofwyr felt tears welling up but forced them down. Not now, not before we send him off on his terms. Baron de Boom had been so many things for Lofwyr. A cool uncle figure who would tell you all the dirty jokes, a health advisor, and a moral rudder. It would be vastly different without him around but his lessons and sayings would live on forever. There would be time to grieve later, now was a time to celebrate. The Enhance Ability: Eagle's Splendorskald swept him up in a great bear hug "You are a legend my Gob and legends never die but, even legends can't escape my embrace! Thank you, for everything. Now, let's give this city a night to remember! Take my wings of chaos and fly off into your destiny! You're gonna blow their minds."

Finally, Lofwyr ran up and chest bumped Snorkberth. "Alright, my man! Let's give them what for, go all out. Tonight you are truly alive! Sing, dance, whatever you want. Work those cobwebs out and enjoy the modern world old top!" Well, here it is. The one shot everyone wants and it's ripe for the taking. Win or lose, what a story!

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  #280  
Old Apr 30th, 2021, 01:11 AM
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Dagger Jane, Eladrin Bard/Sorcerer
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Jane doesn't hate Nubby. Jane doesn't feel anything for Nubby. She absorbs the girl's spite and ire and turns it into distracted indifference, one of the only processes Jane's brain has perfected. Why get all lathered up over some teenager when she could be meadow-spinning with Durza? Or getting pedantic saxophone instruction from Hingalon? Or letting the Baron get an unopposed last wedgie in exchange for a too tight last hug?

Why get het up about this feisty little girl? Well, actually, Lazer gives her an idea!This gives her an idea.

Jane slips out to the front of the house. She pushes out a couple of Nubby-themed light balloons and casually gathers them into a bouquet, lounges against the wall and oozes over to the judge's stand. They're head-bopping, smiling. Het up? Who knows. But just in case, she waits until Nubby's song is reaching its dopey twitchy climax, and mutters, "Hey, boneheads, calm your t*ts."

Jane actually loves this spell. It's antithetical to her nature, in a way, but sometimes casting this on herself, or smashing herself into someone else's spell, like Durza, is the only thing that stands between her and hysterical exhaustion. Calm Emotions affects her differently than some other people -- it sharpens her, focuses her senses, gives her mental clarity. But! For the show, she wants to drain any vibes the judges may be experiencing: joy, toe-tapping, the desire to dance -- as a result of Nubby's act. This accomplished, she goes and nods absently in a saxophone way at Hingalon, rowdies up a hype circle with Lofwyr, meadow-spins with Durza, manages not to interrupt Spyder, prestidigitates a fart into Justin's pants, and hugs the old goblin so hard that if whatever's wrong with him could be cured by popping, it would be gone.


Action Block and Stat Block
 

 
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Last edited by lostcheerio; Apr 30th, 2021 at 01:39 AM.
  #281  
Old May 1st, 2021, 04:14 PM
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Starting off easyLofwyr toggled Raph again and the stage was engulfed in darkness. From somewhere deep in the black, a sound could be heard. Was it a voice? It seemed to seep up from the underworld, warm and sticky.

"It's all for the music,"

The darkness was once again swept away and Kuqi stood centre-stage, head low, the sound coming from deep in her chest. From off to the right Hingalon clapped his hands in a slow, steady rhythm and then Justin and Jane opened up on their instruments with notes so low and quiet that even here on the stage it was hard to tell if they were actually playing. Slowly but inevitably the sound built up, and Kuqi's voice grew with it.

"It's all for the music,"

The sound continued to grow and now Spyder joined in, the notes he played on Genevieve lingering and sounding high and bright in contrast to what had come before. Kuqi was looking up now, straight into the audience, a feral grin showing far too many teeth for comfort. When she sang this time she was joined by other voices, Lofwyr and Snorkberth, harmonising in such a low register it seemed like an earthquake had struck the concert.

"It's all for the music," and somewhere the ghost of Durza's voice whispered, "no way!"

Then Kuqi was moving, her grace and presence even enough to give Spyder pause. She commanded the stage. Every eye in the place followed each step and every gesture.

"One dream, one chance,
One prize, one dance,"


No cheap gimmicks were needed here. The band played their parts gently and straight, even Jane who, like everyone else, was watching Kuqi glide from the centre of the stage to the left. Her voice rose and fell, enunciating every syllable, projecting out so far that surely the whole city must be listening!

"One fated last… opportunity,"

As she kept everyone waiting for that last word of the line Spyder could see half of the audience lean forward. They were enrapt.

"It's all for the music,"

And now the band stepped it up, Spyder pounding out a bassline to get everybody shuffling. The music was a warm embrace just now, a seduction, inviting the listeners to lower their guard. Soon that would change, it would go from cuddle to cudgel, and the audience would be left reeling as their senses were overwhelmed and the music took direct control of their bodies.
BdB's Opening Solo
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BdB, knitwork by @LostCheerio

He hasn't taken center stage, but allows the magical spotlights to find him ... there, in the back, where he is focused on his instrument.

In size and in stage presence, the hurdy-gurdy is about as prominent as the aged, wrinkled goblin. Though slightly more temperamental.

But tonight, the Baron has placed rosin oil and new cotton swabs into the mechanisms. The central wheel rotates smoothly and the note-pegs slide effortlessly into position when tapped.

The hurdy-gurdy drones and the Baron taps the keys as his tune dances around the baselines set from Spyder's lute and Kuqi's voice. He finds each of them, and settles one string to each ... a sympathetic vibration that both echoes and continues his bandmates' lead sounds. He pegs Spyder's lute baseline at a D, and Kuqi's vocals cascading back and forth at a G. And then he took his third string along a series of progressions A, Bflat, C, D, E, F, Gsharp and A—it was an unnerving, diminished triad that sounded like a unicorn rutting with a toad. And every time his progression landed on the Bflat, he would flatten it just a bit more ... to kiss the A but not land on it. And he punctuated each these unsettling moments with fireball cantrips into area above stagebursts of flame.

He grinded and grinded, only for a short interval, but the sound was unsettling enough to prolong the dissonance, and seemed to call up Pyrotechnics cast as second level, smoke effectsmoke from the underworld. As the smoke drifts into the crowd, it clings to those in the front, 2x cast 1st level Faerie Lights on crowd in frontinfusing them with glowing lights that seem to dance in opposition to the assault of the strings.

And then, just like that, the progression rests around a clean A ... and what had been an unsettling sound becomes a clarion call of harmony. The Baron increases the tempo of his grinding ... prompting the rhythm to move faster and carrying the baselines with him. There is ... faintly, artifact skill of magical tinkering ... creates a repitious nonverbal sound, in this case emitting from his hurdy gurdy as a playback loop of his previous hookthe echo of the diabolical dissonance, but one increasingly pushed out—though not forgotten—by this cleaner sound. Figgs, standing next to the Baron, Figgs assist actionpicks up the punctuated beats from the playback and dances to it, just on the edge of the magical spotlight...a presence, a memory, a dull thudding on the floorboards at night.

As Figgs dances, the Baron unleashes the third string Kuqi help actionto chase Kuqi's vocalizations. The lead goblin singer is now racing her voice through a series of vibratos that flutter around the main melody—and the Baron chases the alterations, following a full fifth behind, but faithfully, playfully at each step. Then they begin full jumps of 8th and 16th notes, sometimes leaping an octave at a time.

But, let's be honest ... who came her just for the world's best and most unlikely mastery of vocals and strings? Well, maybe Jane's parents—they're won over. And, the Baron deeply believes this, at least 1/3 of the crowd will wake up at some point at some night at some time in the coming weeks, and as they awake, this haunting tune will quickly flee from their conscious mind, leaving them spooked and aware that they are missing something ... something that went like this? Or this? They don't know ... but they can't let it go. But that is for the future, the musical long game. Right now, the crowd came for a spectacle and a catchy tune. And there's still time in this solo to give them both.

The music screeches to a halt.

The spotlight lands on the Figgs who throws the Baron’s hurdy-gurdy into the air firebolt cantripallowing the Baron to nail it with a firebolt.

"Clap. Your. Hands". Figgs assist with PersuasionFiggs calls out. "Clap. Your. Hands." The Baron joins in. And together as the two goblins, joined Kuqi assist with Persuasionby Kuqi, establish a rhythm ... "Clap. Your. Hands."

As the crowd carries the rhythm, a few of its members rise up from various points of the audience and advance toward the stage—the brothers and sisters of Artificers Guild 729 have arrived! They aren't the greatest dancers. Some of them can't even hold a tune. But they show up for their members ... and they excel at what they do. Tonight, that has meant building gigantic stage puppets.

Oversized limbs, heads, tails and body parts begin descending from the stage ceiling, and the guild members assemble beneath them, creating larger-than-life performance size puppets that loom over the stage. At first it is unclear who or what the puppet is meant to be, but with the adjustment of this piece here and that piece there ... it suddenly clicks into place. A furious, dogged-by-his-own-self-importance Crisp.

"Oh noes! They are clapping their hands!" screams puppet Crisp. "Oh noes! They are going to ruin my shows!" he screams as his puppet arms flail about in a torrential tortle temper tantrum.

The guild members move the puppet over the audience and off the stage as the Baron, occupying the very center of the Crisp-head section, moves with them to control the puppet's voice and jaw which snaps in ineffectual repetitions. "Oh noes! Where are my teeny-boppers now!" And "Oh noes! We need more bubble gum, daddy!"

Good ol' school pyrotechnics, not magic. The artificers are in the house!An explosion!

The shell bursts.

Small copper coins and candies sprinkle the crowd.

And up above, from the remnant of the shell, emerges ... another Crisp-puppet, slightly smaller but just as angry. This is one, however, is dressed in the same school skirt, high socks and midriff-exposing Oxfords worn by Nubby’s backup dancers. It has taken the costume and exposed it for what it is, the ridiculous, lecherous fantasy of a pathetic, shriveled old man (or turtle). Exploitation of youth by those who hide unsavory secrets in their shells. "Oh Noes! They're rockin' down the house!"

Slowly, the puppet tortle's convulsions begin to match a rhythm emerging from the stage ... a tapping, a thudding ... an irresistible sound of dancing that overtakes the other sounds and becomes the melody.

The tortle-puppet twists its body and points back to the band.

Durza has taken the stage.
Durza's opening solo
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Artist credit: Dotswap
Durza takes the stage. Above her head, de Boom’s fire crashes over the crowd in shockwaves and she adds to it with the only thing she ever bothered to learn to properly spell - Cast Minor Illusionfive foot wide by five foot high, the letters ”M/M” in bright, bright white.

She doesn’t stay on the stage. After the claustrophobic confinement of the last few days, no mere 250 square foot can contain her. As night falls over Vallos, the world feels huge, every possibility branching off into infinity from this point in space. Monumental cosmic potentiality stretches out, tense and elastic, drawing her outwards into the world, into the crowd. She turns and winks at Lythienne —why not? Anything can happen tonight— and plunges into the heaving mass, the otherwordly surf of rats cresting and breaking at her feet. She dances so hard that her heart swells to the size of the universe, swallowing up everything and everyone in perfect peace, love, unity, respect.

The physicality of this orc and the heat of these hundreds of bodies pressed together is all the music anyone needs right now - Cast Enthrall on the audience.

… This is supposed to be a verbal spell, a “distracting string of words”, but Durza’s body does the talking, damnit
she draws attention like a naked flame in the dark. Durza weaves through the crowd like a twisty green ribbon, seizing hands and waists, grinning and whirling, dancing first with this stranger and then that one, introducing them to their neighbours and spinning off to the next. Rat waves part and close before and behind her, in perfect sync to her joyful thumping feet, never in the way, never missing a beat. One live rat clings to a braid as though it's a life raft in a storm. Durza reaches for every hand that stretches to her, and past, present, and future dissolve into every touch.

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She scrambles back onto the stage, hoisted by friendly Slasher hands, spins and spins again, and then Cast Hypnotic Patterna burst of multicoloured light showers the first few rows of the crowd. It won't last - nothing lasts. Not the music, or the body, blood and breath, not even the Baron, in the end. But while there are hearts to beat and hands to raise, nothing is ever truly lost.

Durza dances backwards into the waiting arms of her band, as Lofwyr steps forward with his dulcimer.
Endless, Nameless
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Normally, the hypnotic rhythm of Durza's dancing would put the skald into a trance like state and soothe his troubled soul, but not tonight. The cool night air, the heat of the crowd, and the knowledge of things to come coalesced into a rushing river of emotions. Lofwyr was riding the waves of energy. His heart hammered in time with the dancer's steps and at that moment he felt weightless, euphoric.

She twisted, turned, and burned a path back onto the stage all whilst lighting up the sky above. Now it was his turn, Lofwyr stepped forward with his old mountain dulcimer and his chiseled chin held high.

Traditionally, the dulcimer is played on one's lap or a low table, that is the way the Skald learned but he is all about breaking traditions. He holds it vertically, high and close to his chest, near his heart, with his left hand on the neck to work the frets much like Spyder and his lutes. Lofwyr plucked out a slow tune on the melody string with his thumb. Gradually, he brought in the other three strings building the tempo smiling at the screaming Meemaws who rushed to the front row. His strumming settled into an easy rhythm as words came to him from somewhere deep inside. Lofwyr wasn't much of a vocalist with his low gravelly voice but these words seemed important and would not be held back.

"This is the end, beautiful friends. The end.
This is the end, where have we been? The end."
The skald struck a power chord and launched headlong into an impromptu spoken word verse. He called out loud and clear, a godbourne voice echoed over the masses.

"A band woke up in a basement, they needed a heart to open the door. So they jumped down a well. Down in the dark, they met a demilich, and they walked on down the hall." He was not playing the dulcimer now, rather his arms were outstretched beckoning the crowd. Snorkberth crouched behind him and kept time by pounding the wooden stage with great hairy fists.

"They met a washed-up diva and a band of brutal bugbear mercs. The Slashers said 'Haters stand aside or we're going to kill you now.' Gods were toppled. And they walked on down the hall." Lofwyr smiled wickedly as he started strumming and picked up the rhythm again.

He turned away from the crowd as he played and faced Baron de Boom. Tears who would not be denied burst forth as emotions other than fury washed over the Skald. His voice broke slightly as he sang.

"This is the end, beautiful friend, the end.
I hope to look into your eyes again."


He strummed out a chord with familiar aggression as he sang the last word and turned around with a glistening face and poured everything into his dulcimer. Fingers flew and plucked like a panicked cat scrambling up a tree to escape a savage dog. His hands seemed to move on their own across the four strings building to a crescendo as a low growl rose from his heaving chest. Snorkberth danced wildly across the stage. Spinning, leaping, and pounding on the ground as if he was a direct conduit for Lofwyr's mental state.

The skald played a frantic solo like a man drowning in a sea of feelings, and in a sense that's exactly what was happening. His dulcimer Prestidigitation!appeared to burst into flames but he played through the rage. "It's all for the music!"

When all felt like it would break and send everything crashing down, he let loose a primal scream. Snorkberth tore his armor off and flung it into the crowd howling along with the Bardbarian. Sweating and shaking like at the end of a battle frenzy, Lofwyr settled into a diminuendo passage and slowly backed away giving the stage to his friends.
HINGALON AND LILY
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Hingalon was impressed. Justin had really nailed it, a perfect performance! As his words were dying down, the halfling made his move.

He had spotted an old, battered piano in a corner of the stage -- perhaps it had been used by another group earlier in the Battle? Certainly not by the teenagers. The halfling didn't really play the piano, but hey -- as long as he was concerned, hammers striking strings make for a percussion instrument. He quickly moved to it and lifted the lid, ready to hit whole bunch of keys with his balled fist to accompany Lily's voice.

With a nod, he told Jane to start playing in unison with her. A long-forgotten poem-turned-song, called I Know the Truth: incredibly, Jane had been able to learn it and actually retain the notes in her musical mind, more prone to explosive improvisations full of multiphonics than the actual presentation of a melody. In this case, though, she was able to play it in an uncharacteristically subdued, most poignant way.

As the eladrin blew the first notes, Lily seemed to multiply. She was on stage behind the piano, yet down in the audience, and perhaps in the whole city (her body still lying behind a brick wall in a basement, somewhere in the slums, withered and forgotten).

Each single member of the audience felt her voice whispering in their ear, just a few inches away, as if for a private performance:

LISTEN TO LILY
The wind is level now, the earth is wet with dew
The storm of stars in the sky will turn to quiet
And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, we
who never let each other sleep above it.
Justin's preening moment
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RIP Dragboi
In another time, in another place, Justilion Silmefuin would've interrupted Nubby and stole the show. Maybe even some knickers. It was easy as pie, no matter how much of a prissy prodigy the competition was.

Not now.

Not today.

Today Justin was not Justin, and Justin was happy to wait.

He wasn't even that upset anymore about the Nobodys Trying To Be Minstrel/Maxstrel. He knew who the real M/M was. He knew his band. Fae, he ADORED his band. Even if Spyder did kinda upped his minor pantheon game. S'all good, eladrin. Even now, he felt the intense Splendor washing over him as Durza's swole arm curled around his lean waist like a queen's embrace. Was Veren watching? Fae, let her see. Let her see how majestic this "art fart" group was. Let her see and be fae jelly.

So when Kuqi started crooning for their final act, Dragarstin waited for his moment. Oh, he harmonized and let out a low, monotone gargle that was somehow creepy and elegant at the same time, then it was The Baron's moment. As the mad old gob's diabolic dissonance droned and developed decibels, Justin joined Dragar's voice to the mix, interspersing moments of guttural tiefling laughter and high notes at the right moments.

Durza took the stage, and internally, Justin was enthralled. He hoists her, celebrates her as she cast the hypnotastic lights up onto the ceiling above.

Then someone sings the lines.

Our singer's seen eternity
Just ignore his planned calamity...


"Ooh ooh ooh ooooooohhhh," Dragar ooohed, sashaying his way over to Spyder. He did a little grindy-grind, then when the words turned to Just think about the music, he turned to the audience. Then a line cut clean across Dragarstin's center, and tiefling hands grasped and curled over make-up and pale demon-skin like a moth-eaten gigolo costume and Justin ripped Dragar's face and let the Disguise Self fall into tattered tiefling shreads. The crowd was Casting EnthrallEnthralled.

"It's ALL FOR THE MUSIC!"

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Then it was the other's turns.

But soon it was time for the elf-kind again, and this time Justin was looking straight at Nubby.

"OOOOHHH... Our elf-kind too," He grinned at the pre-teen not-quite sensation, flipping his perfect hair as he eladrin-walked provocatively to the center of the stage with face still turned to the half-orc half-prodigy half-brat. PrestidigitationPurple-pink sparks and confetti burst from long, elegant fingers as Justin sang the lines, "are brilliant... Jane!" Poof of sparks, as Justin turned to the adorable pig-tailed aboleth elbowstabber. "Spyder!" Poof of sparks, giving the drow space to get a riff off of his lutegirls. "...and Justilion..." Just a wink at the audience and a smolder, then quickly turning towards the Nobodies, the eladrin suddenly Fey Stepfey-stepped straight at Nubby's face and let his Pheromonic-Fueled Fae Fey Presence: 10' cube, DC15 Wis or be charmedPresence Be Known. His lips were very dangerously non-Yondalla-approvingly close to hers, but then he just smiles and screams at her face.

"It's ALL FOR THE MUSIC BABY YEAH!"

After a minute of performing, Justin went on to simply stoke the crowd, leading them in hand-clapping and torch-waving and whatever else his fellow Slashers want to get them to do, leveraging their + Persuasion, see MechanicsEnthralling Performance to warm up their adoring audience.

"SING IT! It's aaaaaallll for the music! SLASHERS! Bring the House DOWN! SLASHERS! No fops, no BOPS, NO MASTERS! SLASHERS!!!"
HINGALON'S SOLO
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Hingalon by @LostCheerio
After the eladrin trio, it was time for a percussion interlude. Hingalon had planned to use the glockenspiel, and told Lythienne to bring it, but when she arrived at the hotel she found that Jane had taken all the little metal plates off the glock's frame to play dominoes -- not the real game, the one where you make the tiles stand up and then let them fall one on the other in a series -- but then she got mad because it didn't work, since they were all of a different length, which is sort of like the idea with a multi-note instrument, and tossed most of them out of the window.

He had wondering what to do when, discarded under the stage, he had found the solution to all his problems: a cowbell. Yes, his interlude would've featured MORE COWBELL.

LISTEN TO HINGALON

After his solo, Hingalon called his bandmates to join a three-part musical war cry. He shouted the first line alone. Baron and many Slashers joined the second, while the third one was yelled full-volume by the whole band, plus Lily, Snork and all the others, with Kuqi adding an impossibile double-high coloratura on top:

We have already won

Those bands who trod this fabled stage

They're only scum!!!
Dagger JaneIt has been widely suspected that Jane can't actually play the saxophone. That's not true. She can. But there's a lot of other stuff to do while the band is on stage. Run around. Shriek into other people's microphones. Go get drinks. Pull down posters from the wall. Fall into the pit and be buffeted about by dancers. Look out windows and make demonic faces at people who aren't in the club. Pretend her saxophone is a live angry snake. But tonight, stunned into a kind of mute paralysis by the enormity of the situation and the size of the crowd, she finds herself in possession of an instrument and in the midst of a musical performance, and decides to play.

She plays Performance: 24 (13+7+4)competently. She executes Hingalon's commands. She makes the notes come out of the machine in her hands that match the notes other people are playing, for the very first time. It feels like she is in a dream. Yes, she is frozen into compliance by the breathtaking collision of sadness and exhilaration that's lighting up her brain, but as Minstrel/Maxtrel pulls off the most coordinated, organized show they have ever, ever done, she realizes: it wasn't just about spotlighting. It was about coordinating, not as a mad cacophony of unstructured sound, but as a band. The very act of working out the spotlighting has led them to this. And it sounds good.

Jane had cackled gleefully over all the disguises she would burn through during her solo: s*xy squid, s*xy octopus, and s*xy kraken, then tentacles, tentacles, tentacles all day. But now, as she plays, she uses up her spells to match the other Slashers. When Spyder solos, she goes drow, tattooed with webbing, wreathed in leather, and teetering on high heeled boots. When it's Justin's turn, she lets herself spring out to fit his vibe, pretty golden curls and pink skin, feathery tendrils and vines floating around her and out of the sax. Maybe she will be an orc for Durza. A hin for Hingalon.

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Yes, there is a crowd out there, and a Lythienne, and a Dergu, and stupid parents, but she doesn't want any of that crowd or any of those people. She turns inward, to the band. If she could create enough unison to make gravity, if she could keep the center firm, she would hold them there forever. But even as she thinks about this, standing still for once, playing the notes for once, in order for once, Jane knows she is a wild satellite. She can't hold anything. This will break. It's breaking now.

Lofwyr sings his raw skald song, and the words reach down into Jane's slimed and tired soul: This is the end. It's true. The band is over, at the very moment in which they have actually managed to be one. They can never keep Spyder after the world has seen him like this. Hingalon is spiraling into depths they can't follow. Justin is ascending in the summer court -- he won't want to go slumming with them much longer. She looks around for Baron. She would use her last disguise spell to be a goblin for him, but he has already gone, to get in position for his big send-off. Somewhere he's waiting. Lofwyr is crying, and Durza is dancing, and it breaks Jane's heart. Now Jane is crying and it's time for her solo.

Instead of the planned s*xy aboleth in seashell underwear, she burns her last disguise to put herself into the formal funeral robes of her eladrin folk. In her solo she makes the extreme sacrifice of playing exactly the notes she is supposed to play, in the order they are supposed to go. No joke honks or digressions into carnival tunes. And when she gets to the end she looks up and raises her hand. If she could say the word she wanted, it would be: Wait! But instead she says the word she should say, the right word, which is: Goodbye!
CodaAs the final few sax notes lingered Spyder strutted to the centre of the stage, his fingers, looking for all the world like a bird of paradise doing the most spectacular of courtship dances, skipping and dancing over the strings of Genevieve to keep the music flowing. One of the advantages of wearing dark glasses was that the members of the audience had no idea when you were looking at them, and so he had already taken note of a small group of beings in the front rows who seemed particularly susceptible to his style. He positioned himself right in front of them, putting his left foot onto the nearest monitor and leaned into the lunge. Cast Mage Hand so that it materialises down the front of the sexy leather trous.There was definite bulge there. In fact, there was significant bulge, and did it… did it move? Was it tapping along with the music as Spyder picked out a particularly strident refrain?

The closest fans screamed, some swooned, and there was a sudden surge. The audience further away didn't know what they were reacting to, but they screamed too and the roar swept throughout the arena. Yes, it was a cheap trick, but it worked, and surely that was all that mattered.

Kuqi came and stood back-to-back with him as he thrust Genevieve at the end of every bar, and her gradually fading lyrics, with Lofwyr and Snorberth's deep harmonies seeming to make the whole venue rumble.

"Music (it's all for the music),
It's all for the music,"


Spyder knew that the end was coming but he wanted to put it off as long as he could. He knew what the Baron had planned, and he also knew that nothing that would come in the future could match this perfect moment. Here, in front of these people, sharing his music with so many, his wildest and most fanciful dreams couldn't compare to this reality.

"Music music music (music),"

What do you do with ennui? Why, the same thing you do with any other emotion; you feed it into your music! As the song was coming to an end Spyder moved back, letting Kuqi remain in the spotlight at the front, and he poured his heart into his playing, wringing emotion from each and every note and pause.

"(Music) Ah ha ha haaa it's music,"

He didn't want to turn around right now. He didn't want to see the legendary Baron de Boom preparing his final blast, so he just played, nothing else existed except the music.

"It's all for the music,"
BdB's Final Blast
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BdB, knitwork by @LostCheerio

As Spyder and Kuqi drive home the closing lines, the tortle-puppet begins to scream along with them.

Aa ha ha haa, it's music
Aa ha ha haa, it's music
Oh noes! It's music!
Oh noes! It's music!


Furious at itself for losing its body to dance, to music ... to joy ... the tortle shakes violently ... and explodes!

Silver pieces and candies rain on the crowd.

And up above, from the remnant of the shell, emerges ... another Crisp-puppet, slightly smaller but just as angry. "Oh Noes! They're rockin' down the house!"

Furious at itself for losing its body to dance, to music ... to joy ... the tortle shakes violently ... and explodes!

Gold pieces and—say, there! what's this? the elite almiraji troopers in tiny, silk parachutes!—rain on the crowd.

And up above, from the remnant of the shell, emerges ... another Crisp-puppet, slightly smaller but just as angry. "Ah ah ah! We're rockin' down the house!"

Furious at itself for losing its body to dance, to music ... to joy ... the tortle shakes violently ... and explodes!

Gold confetti and stardust of the Baron rain on the crowd.

And up above, from the remnant of the shell, the musical matryoshka is no more. As the almiraji bop in the mosh pit with the crowd, there is only the echo of a voice. "Ah ah ah! We're rockin' down the house! The house! The house! The house!"
__________________
Life isn't letting up. I'm likely to be posting infrequently until August by the look of things.

Last edited by Lazer; May 1st, 2021 at 04:22 PM.
  #282  
Old May 2nd, 2021, 10:46 AM
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The Part That Matters Least



Band. You win.



The Parts That Matter Even Less Than Least There are other planes. Other realities. Other forms and ways of being. Maybe there, it goes down different? Possible.

You can find a multitude of other endings HERE.

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Maybe, on another plane where Lofwyr's rage holds sway, it went like this: Before the Baron could explode, Crisp hollered into a Sending Stone, and drank a potion, and swole up to twice his size. He saw you were winning, saw all his plan failing, and he came at you, flanked by two blue pacted-up Hell Tieflings. The Devil who owns allll their contracts, Mr. Chemosh, rose up from the floor, furious and hungry for your blood.

This guy is (well, was...) Mordanda'a Agent/Publicist. You might have met him in the sewers, had things gone down even more differently. On this plane, you meet him on the stage. The concert turns into a bloodbath. The crowd stampedes, panicked, streaming out of every exit, screaming off into the night, bloodied and terrified.

Maybe your Hin died in one of these worlds. Maybe Hingalon went to someplace quiet hoping to find Lily only to learn that she is right: you always end alone in a wall. No one comes, you starve even as you eat yourself up like an awful ouroboros.

Or no, maybe it was Spyder, called back to red sands and and darkness and a slap that comes with every kiss.

In a universe next door, spangled with Justin's glamour, all this happens, but here, it is Justin who dies. Veren steps in, furious, and crushes the city that crushed her crush.

left-aligned image
In an adjacent place, the Baron ran at Crisp, and took him in a forgiving embrace before blowing them both to smithereenies, and as he explodes, Kuqi opens up from the mouth on down like a horrid toothy flower. Petunia, called at last, surges out and leaps to snatch the small eternal center of him in her huge maw. How heavy is your soul, she asks around the Baron, and, oh, it is a little heavy. The past is present in us, always, even when we explode. The past pulls him straight toward Nessus. But he has a rift dog, who runs sideways, to Gehenna. And there is Pimples and a small band of revolutionary free-forever gobbos riding host of a poem-infested helldogs. Pimples is fomenting Gob-revolution in the Hells, freeing souls one by one by one. Join? The Baron is invited. Or take this dark rift over here, straight to the mystery of spangled paper? He can. Or---the rifts spread out, endless. Where to, Boss, the black dog says, grinning. And who knows what he chooses.

In yet another world, the stage blast kills everyone in the first two rows, and the stage itself becomes a fiery conflagration. Dergu, for once in his bespectacled life does not think. He only chooses, faster than flames, and he grabs up the girl he loves enough to burn for. He runs with her, just barely ahead of the boom, his teal back-skin melting and crackling as he shelters her, as she flails and fights at him with her immaculate arms, trying to go back and find her band, who are ashes, ashes ashes. Durza never forgives him, and she never dances again.

Or hey, maybe you win, but Jane is right. She wears her mourning clothes as the band takes the prize, and then it's a decade of crazy success and haste potion addictions and infighting and back biting because the center cannot hold past the moment when your gob exploded, and some of you die and some end up in rehab and some go mad and Spyder's crazy-perfect solo career is bile in all your abandoned mouths and those sweet, early years are only a dream that tarnishes and fades.

Or maybe...Maybe this whole world outside the Merc's evil god lair is a soft pink place. Explosions actually can heal some cancers, did you know? The Baron floats safely down, restored. Here Aboleths are calmed by song and victory. The band retires in full glory to grow organic hemp and host twin double orcs+Eladrins weddings with a picnic reception on Jane's parent's farm. Goddesses from minor pantheons bring a tiered cake covered in spangles of sugar and deviled eggs so delicious you can't stop eating them even though the hot sauce on top makes your eyes water. Lily is resurrected with new fingers. All rage fades to smiling, as a skald asks a rift dog to puke up Rarar and she is resurrected, too, and she loves new Snorkberth, and Band, they do the lift, and band! BAND! They do it to perfection on the sunny hillside with only a single dark cloud in the sky, and that one hovers over a drow so his eyes don't sting, and you all have the time of your life.

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But no. It didn't happen. None of this happens here.

Here, Nubby and her Nobodies stare, jaws dropping, all in love with you; they are musicians, after all. Crisp hears the weeping of his lost, best self in your song. He sees the truth those puppets told---and worse, the truth he heard in your music---it undoes him. The tieflings slink away in bitter shame, two blue Salieris. Mr. Chomas, Mordanda's agent, is never called on the Sending Stone. The music shames that tortle too deeply for him to grow and swell and attack. Instead, he shrunk, and slunk, and he is never seen again.

Band.

You win.

All of you together. Maybe math says something different?

No. It does not, though it was close ---27.5/29. Though maybe, if a different set of random rules been set, maybe you would have lost. But. The rules were what they were, here, and you won. And even if the math had been reversed, and you had barely lost, say 29/27.5, or even lost overwhelmingly, say 35/22, you would have won. Because what nascent Britney backed by liars can beat what you did here today? In WHAT Universe---

Hey, let's pick one at random. Let's pick a Universe that is represented by a woman of a certain age with the requisite cats and an exorbitant number of many sided dices and a collection of weird little yarn dolls she plans to display in a curio case her excellent husband is building. Here she sits, crying. She is crying actual human tears, shaking in a criminally expensive ergonomic chair, telling fiery death and tortles and devils to stand down, so moved is she by a story told by seven strangers, all working together, giving each other the best best words across a multitude of planes.

If this is theuniverse that matters---and it is---how can your song lose?

It cannot.

You win. Math says so, and Yondalla says so, (though she wants to work with de Boom to wrap the other six of you miscreants in full body condoms before feeding you vegan stir fry and making you get a good night's sleep---EIGHT FULL HOURS, yes, even all you ELVEN A-HOLEs! Eff that TRANCING! Go to BED!), and I say so, and I am the universe, and you have made me love you, love you, love you.

You are the best band ever.

So. What happens next?



What Happens Next
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Band.

You win.

At this pinnacle, with the crowd you always deserved weeping like a single living organism, reaching for you, in love with you all, ecstatic, catharsissed up the wazoo, maybe even changed forever---Lofwyr clicks his turtle.The stage goes dark around you and there is only the roaring of the thousands, only the last lingering notes, only Minstrel/Maxstrell in the black. Even the Baron is there with you, in the sweetness of falling candy pelting your skins, in the salt of his blood on your tongues, in the warmth of his green gobbets spackling your shoulders.

In this darkness, you each reach for another hand and find it. In the darkness, you find each other. And you always, always will.
__________________
DMing: Battle of the Bards Complete, Read Here!)
Fey Ghosts of Saltmarsh Started May 24, 2021, Read Here!
Playing: Fioravanti | Ingetrude "Tru" Frostblossom |Primble Thorn | Myrrh the Burned

Last edited by Fillyjonk; May 2nd, 2021 at 11:10 AM.
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