|“||Sounds like our boys are having the SLIME of their lives! I can BEAR-ly contain my excitement! It's the Adventure Zone!||”|
Wonderland has revealed itself as a genuinely unsafe place for our heroes to be. Can they make forward progress in a cyclical game designed to extract raw anguish from them? Can they reach their distant goal before they've sacrificed too much? Magnus goes spear fishing. Merle is the MVP. Taako has a spot of bad luck.
During the battle with the Multiplying Regenerating Poisonous Slime and the Multiplying Flying Electrified Direbear, Taako experiences his bad luck from the Wheel of Sacrifice, and a washing machine-size chunk of machinery falls out of the ceiling and lands on him, severely injuring him. When he uses the spell Blink to move into the Ethereal Plane and escape the machinery, he sees the same small, big-eyed creatures he saw when he used the spell in the lobby of the Goldcliff Trust in Petals to the Metal, though instead of only a few, there are now hundreds of the creatures.
After the battle has ended, Merle attempts to heal the party, but finds his spell only half as effective as it usually is. And as soon as the spell is cast, the Vogue Elves chime in to let the boys know that healing is "cheating," as it is technically trying to get back something that was sacrificed, and the boys suffer necrotic damage equaling the amount that was healed, thereby canceling out the healing. The elves tell the boys to "smile, and show your opponents how well you did!" and a panel in one of the walls turns into a screen showing the group that betrayed them, two halflings who promptly flip them off.
The boys hear an unfamiliar voice coming from somewhere in the room. They follow the voice and find Cam, a disembodied head and fellow participant in Wonderland. He tells the boys that he's been in Wonderland for a while now and that he got screwed over by the person he was traveling with. He also explains that the Vogue Elves are liches who are using the suffering of participants in Wonderland to fuel their powers.
Once they realize that they are stuck in an endless cycle of suffering, Magnus calls for a group meeting in his pocket workshop. He tells the others that in order to break free of this "rigged game" they will have to change the game, and suggests that Taako come up with a code word they can use when they see an opportunity to do so. Taako suggests "sauté," and they all agree.
Cam asks to come with the party. Though he would be able to offer advice and information on Wonderland, the boys would have to take on his sacrifices when the time came, as Cam, being nothing but a head, really had nothing more to give. Magnus tries to get around the extra sacrifices by keeping Cam in the pocket workshop.
However, when they enter the room containing the Wheel of Sacrifice, Wonderland isn't fooled, and they still have to make the extra sacrifice on Cam's behalf. In addition, the elves explain that the sacrifices this round will be "a little bit brutal" compared to the last round. When Magnus asks if they can quit and leave Wonderland, the elves laugh and tell him that once you enter Wonderland you have to finish. Taako asks if they actually can finish, and the elves assure them they can. One elf apparently looks through some paperwork to see what it is the boys are trying to win in Wonderland, and when they find it they laugh, and the ringing of a bell is heard.
The Money Zone Edit
Sponsored by NatureBox
Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons and Dragons by Michael Witwer
Personal message for Lara, from Jesus and fam: Hi Lara! We are so proud of you. You just finished a wonderful thesis film and graduated! We are about to celebrate our fifth anniversary, and - oh yeah! Happy birthday! With all these events over these three months, hopefully we'll hit one of them. We love you, and wish you the best of luck with your internship, and we know you will have a bright future.
Personal message for Rebecca and Dwayne, from Kenny and Liz: Bix and Olive: Congratulations on your engagement from simpleton half-orc Dennis and your fumbling DM. Who'd've thought a bookish, possibly gay elf lady and a bumbling, sunburnt dwarf could make such a great pair? May your lives together be filled with 20's, and may you be strong enough to deal with the 1's when they come. Also, my hands are rats. Congrats!