Week number 2 of the VAAS was fun. As you probably heard at the beginning of episode 106, we decided that this wasn’t going to be a game development/treatment. We received positive feedback on the first week and wound up taking this a completely different direction. This will now work a lot like a choose your own story that the listeners help decide the path our party takes. Think of this as D&D without the rules and math. I will act as your terrible DM. Sean, Joe, maybe Ben, and YOU will be the players. Each week we will use some user suggestions to change the direction of the story.
We will work through the story and decide some outcomes during the podcast and set up voting for our listeners to change our fates. You will be able to give suggestions at the end of the voting and if you are a producer level patron, you can give suggestions directly to me and I will do what I can to integrate them into the story. Last week we went over two suggestions from a producer and went with one and it changed the direction of the story.
This isn’t completely a random story. Each week I will gather up the votes, adjust the story, and write out an outline of what needs to happen and force the guys to play through whatever you have done to the story. Our challenge is to make it work. Please keep the votes coming! I suppose now is a great time to start the script summary for week 2…
Cuddles has just saved Alana and Yodi from a surprise demon attack on the way to the town where the duke resides. As the demons turn to ash from Cuddles’ sorcery, the energy of the magic and demon lifeforce mix and a nearby scarecrow suddenly comes to life.
In a dead field, off the main road into Meadowbrook (a large town nestled into the foothills of The Splitfoot Mountains), the group hears the sounds of a tortured soul amidst the rustling sound of the dried rotten crops swaying in the wind.
Cherry: “mmmmmmnnnnffff HAAAAA mmmmmmhAAAAAAA AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! NNNNnnnn”
The group turns to look at the field and can see the scarecrow has come to life. While its screams are muffled, it is clear the scarecrow is in pain and trying to say NO. The creature squirms on the pole it is chained to and wriggles itself free, falling to the ground with a thud. Slowly the abomination brings itself to its feet and begins awkwardly moving towards the trio pointing at the town.
Yodi: “By the gods that thing is alive!”
Yodi looks back at Alana and then to their mysterious savior. He is trying to grasp the situation and only can muster a few short words for his thoughts
Yodi: “What sorcery… how did you bring that… that thing to life?!? It is coming for us; it is angry and wants… revenge on someone”
Yodi quickly darts behind Alana like a coward.
Yodi: “It is your job to protect me so do it!’
Alana: (angrily) “Too old to fight? Hmphf “
Alana readies her weapon and begins to move towards the scarecrow. As Alana inches closer, with Yodi clinging to her leg like a scared child, their mysterious rescuer runs happily up to the stone wall on the perimeter of the field and gracefully hops over it. His movement is creepy yet calming as he finds himself face to face with the creature. Cuddles is attempting to guess her story as he tries to read her thoughts.
Cuddles: “Cherry! Your name is Cherry hahaha! What a pity you wound up in that nasty old scarecrow. (singing) Mildew and mold. Rotten and cold! Hahaha! How does one end up like that I wonder… mmahahaha”
Cuddles prances around Cherry and inspects her, poking and prodding her while mumbling to himself.
Cuddles: “Mmmhmmm. (slight pause) Oh! There are bones in there! Hahaha! (quietly clapping) Lovely! Yes, yes yes this is interesting indeed! (letting out a long-exaggerated sigh) Well we can’t have our own little straw golems running around now, can we? Cherry, my child, I hate to snuff out your new life so quickly, but we need to burn you now. The nice people of Meadowbrook wouldn’t be too happy about you, no they wouldn’t… hahaha”
Cherry moves her arms up in defense and shoves Cuddles, knocking him towards the ground. He lands hard on his back, laughing as she moves aggressively towards him.
Cherry: “Naaa Nmmm Naooooo!”
Yodi quickly pushes Alana aside and rushes towards the wall. He scampers over the side of the wall and uses the top of it to lunge himself towards Cuddles, who is starting a small fire on some dried plants. Yodi stamps out the fire and shoves Cuddles, who once again falls to the ground laughing.
Cuddles: “hahaha… ooooohhhh there’s some fight in you after all… (dryly) you are just full of surprises. You and your guide would be dead if it wasn’t for me you know. This, this is how you repay me? You shove me while I am trying to save this innocent town from the monstrous Cherry? (Cuddles narrows his eyes menacingly) Now let me get back to being a hero. I rather like this side of the fight after saving you two. I bet saving a whole town would really put a smile on my face hahaha”
Yodi throws up his arms.
Yodi: “STOP! Stop, this… thing…”
Cuddles: “Cherry (starts snickering)”
Yodi is indignant with cuddles.
Yodi: “Cherry… is clearly not a violent creature. And no one deserves to be put to death by fire. It isn’t right. I cannot let you do this. As uncomfortable as she makes me, it just doesn’t feel right.”
Yodi’s shoulders slump as he realizes he probably cannot reason with a madman.
Yodi: (defeated) “Please, sir, I beg you do not end her life.”
Cuddles begins to prance around Yodi and Cherry in a taunting manner. He laughs and mumbles to himself as if he is debating with another about how to handle the situation. Alana has just arrived and is heading toward Yodi to protect him. She brings her close-quarter weapons into a fighting stance and stands between Yodi, Cherry, and Cuddles.
Alana: “I don’t care about whatever magic or curse you put on this scarecrow to bring it to life. I am grateful for your protection earlier. Please, let me leave here with Yodi unharmed. We do not mean you any trouble and (Alana glares at Yodi) he is sorry for shoving you. If you must kill your creation, we won’t stop you.”
Cherry lets out another muffled NO. As if to show her surrender, she kneels on the ground next to Yodi and lowers her head. The base of her skull can be seen by Alana and Yodi. They both let out a gasp and take a step back.
Cuddles:” Ahhhh, you have discovered her hidden attributes! I find it odd that someone would use perfectly good human bones to make a scarecrow and still go through the trouble of filling it with straw. (making exaggerated movements as if in deep thought) I think I will let her live. I am bored with this hero stuff already. However, while you are here and fearing me, let me reassure you I only killed those demons because I HATE HATE HATE them hahaha… but it really was my pleasure. They seem to like our short, backstreet curious friend here.”
Yodi is visibly offended and crosses his arms with a “harrumph”
Yodi: “I… you…”
Cuddles: “Because they are interested in you, I am interested in you. I think I am going to tag along with you for a while. Welcome or not. I am going to be watching you. (looking at Alana) you have a problem with that Mary Sue?”
Alana: “Yes, I do. You and Cherry, here, are a MAJOR distraction. You both scream trouble (Cuddles screams the word TROUBLE in the background and laughs to himself) and we can’t be seen in town with either of you. unless you like pitchforks. IF you are going to bless us with your presence please address us as Alana and Yodi. Now, we have to get going. We are following a lead on a missing person that Yodi is looking for. We need to go to town to find information. Good day.”
Alana and Yodi begin to turn their backs and walk away.
Cuddles: “Leaving without learning my name… I am hurt. Boo hoo hoo. Actually, I cannot remember my real name so you can call me Cuddles. “
There is a long awkward silence. Only wind and sound of the footsteps of Alana and Yodi walking away can be heard. Growing impatient with the silence Cuddles begins to speak.
Cuddles: “You know, I thought you would get my hint that I was joining you either way. (eyes narrowing) I suppose I will be kind, like my mommy told me, and acquiesce your demands. Besides I think I may get to know Cherry a little better. She may be useful to me. (Pointing to the abandoned farm while looking at Cherry) That horse barn over there will be a good place for us to explore the ties that bind us. There are only a few rotting corpses in there, and you don’t have a nose, my dear, so the smell won’t get to you. Let’s give these to love birds some space hahaha”
Cuddles and Cherry begin to wander to the abandoned farm as Alana and Yodi continue to walk away. The duo head towards the road into town walking side by side. Yodi, curiously, keeps looking back towards the farm. As they reach the town gates two guards stop them.
Guard 1: “What is your business in Meadowbrook?”
Alana: “We need food and shelter. We plan on picking up supplies while we are here too.”
Yodi: “We seek information too. We are looking for someone.”
Alana glares at Yodi and turns back to face the guards.
Guard 2: “Supplies and information then. You may proceed. We like things quiet in Meadowbrook. Stay out of trouble and you will find your stay pleasant.”
The guards move out of their way and the gates of the town open. The town looks far larger on the inside than the outer walls let on. There are new residences along the left path leading into town, to the right are armor and supply shops. Down the main road there are 2 large inns and nestled in between them is an older looking building in a sad state of apparent disrepair. As Alana and Yodi walk down the crushed stone path the sounds of a bustling town fill their ears. The place is crowded with residents and visitors alike. Rows of traveling merchants line the main street and many town guards patrol the shops, pestering the merchants.
Upon getting a closer look at the building in between the inns it becomes apparent that it isn’t run down, but it is being made to look like it is a building abandoned in a swamp. The tavern name is “Swamplebee’s” and it is clear from looking through the front windows that it is filled to the brim with patrons. There are statues out front with the names “Shronk and Dankey” engraved under them. Underneath their names, a plaque has the quote “Two friends on another whirlwind adventure”. Alana stops Yodi as they near the swinging double doors to enter the establishment.
Alana: “I know some of the men who run this place. Follow my lead and they will get us the information we seek.”
Yodi protests entering the tavern so she scoops him up like a child and places him on her back, rushing inside. Yodi smacks his head on the doorway and lets out a scream. The tavern gets quiet as the patrons all turn around to see what the commotion was about.
Alana: (staring at the bartenders as she walks in) “Oi Cunts! The wee one and I need some information. Which one of you ugly twats runs this shit hole?!?”
The tavern loses interest as the bartender shoots Alana a wide grin. He puts down the mug he was cleaning and slaps his hands on the bar. It is clear he and Alana are friends and fond of each other.
Barkeep: “Alana, what brings you here? Off on another adventure tour with some inexperienced sucker I see. You’re looking as beautiful as ever.”
Alana: “Stop the flattery Joren, (winking) I wasn’t lying when I called you an ugly twat.”
Joren: (laughing) “Oh come on, you still owe me a date after our last wager.”
Alana: “You’ll never collect so long as you work at a dump like this. You really need to take my father up on his offer to work at the Chillwind. This town isn’t as peaceful as it seems, and you know it. That duke is up to something, Joren. No one could possibly live as long as he has naturally. There are rumors he died and came back to life!”
Joren: “Be quiet! He has spies everywhere now.”
Joren picks up his bar rag and the mugs he was cleaning and returns to work. He stares at Alana with a look of concern on his face.
Joren:” So, what was it you are trying to find out? (Glancing over his shoulders he whispers) It has to do with the duke, doesn’t it?”
Yodi: “Yes, I believe that he has stolen my precious Arisbath from me. She is the most important thing in my life, and I want her back.”
Alana: “She is an orc woman and that is as much as he has told me. I know it isn’t much to go on, but my father has heard that the duke is kidnapping people from around the country for some kind of ritual. Has the duke brought any orcs into town recently?”
Joren: “SURE WE CAN GET YOU SOME FRESH CUTS” (whispering) “Have you lost your mind? Don’t ask about him directly, I just told you he has spies everywhere” (talking in his normal voice) “Just come around back and we will show you the selection of meats, but let me tell you, picking your own comes with a hefty price tag.”
Alana and Yodi follow Joren to the back of the kitchen. Joren looks at his cooks and they nod and leave. A few moments later a barmaid comes to the back and Joren signals to her she needs to talk to Alana.
Barmaid: “What ya need to know ‘bout the duke? Make it quick love.”
Yodi begins to describe Arisbath in detail to the barmaid. Joren leaves the kitchen to tend to the bar again. The barmaid holds out her hand, clearly wanting a bribe to talk. Alana gives her some money and the barmaid smiles.
Barmaid: “Sure, I saw him…”
As she begins to talk a man bursts in through the back doors of the kitchen. He runs his sword through the heart of the barmaid and runs out of the doors. Alana blindly chases after him as he enters an alley, unaware of the group of men surrounding her. By the time Alana sees the men it is too late. One of the men knocks her to the ground while another hits her on the head with an empty metal mug. Alana falls unconscious to the ground. The men begin to mutter about them poking their noses where they don’t belong and offending the duke. It becomes obvious that these men were in the bar and overheard them asking questions.
Just as it looks like it could be the end for Alana, laughter can be heard getting louder very quickly. Laughing Cuddles stabs one of the men in the neck, clearly amused that he has nearly ended the man’s life. A second man strikes Cuddles with the same mug used to knock out Alana. Cuddles lands hard on his face and lets out an irritated moan but is struggling to get to his feet. As a third thug runs in to stab Cuddles, he is tossed like a rag doll by Cherry. Clumps of straw fly everywhere as the man smacks his head on the corner of a building, instantly killing him. Cuddles uses the distraction to finish off the man he stabbed by biting his neck like a vampire, tearing out a large chunk of flesh. Standing, Cuddles faces the last man who was standing over Alana, chewing on the flesh he has removed from the man he killed. He grins menacingly as blood drips down his chin.
The last man makes a break for it and leaves the alleyway. Cuddles wipes the blood off of his face onto the sleeve of one of the dead men. He slowly walks over to Alana and helps her to her feet with the help of Cherry. Alana starts to regain consciousness and begins to take in what she sees around her. Gasps from above the group can be heard. The windows of the nearby homes and buildings can be heard being shuttered as the townsfolk decide to ignore the end of the fight. Alana is visibly shaken by what transpired and starts to question Cuddles as to why he was there.
Alana: “I told you to wait outside of town. why are you here?”
Cuddles: “You win Cherry, she really didn’t appreciate our help. (Cherry nods in agreement and Cuddles slumps his shoulders, letting out a long sigh) Be honest, Alana, you needed us. Cherry seemed to know that you would, or at least that is what I think she was hinting at when she kept trying to walk into town. I hope the gate guards recover from our warm hello hahaha! I just wanted to see some action!
Alana: “(humbled) Thank you Cuddles, Cherry. I am sorry. I would have died without your intervention.”
Just then Yodi exits the building, wiping his hands on his tunic. It is hard to tell if he had been hiding in the kitchen or if he had just used the bathroom.
Yodi: “Thank you. It seems my protection is useless. You have saved her life more than she has even protected mine. (Pointing at the man running away) Should we chase after that miscreant before he informs the guards?”
Alana: “No, I am pretty sure our living scarecrow has scared any fight out of him. My guess is he will belly up to the nearest bar that isn’t Swamplebee’s and drink himself to sleep tonight.”
As the group begins to gather themselves the second thug lets out his dying breath. A wind enters the alley and a strange light leaves both of the men’s bodies and enters Cherry. Her body visibly begins to regrow her eyes and veins. Some muscular tissue is forming around the exposed bones. Cuddles laughs with glee at the sight and begins to look under her burlap sack clothing.
Cuddles: “Hahaha, muscle, veins, and eyes? ohhhh nipples before a heart?!? My how the burlap will chafe those. We should kill a few more men to see if we can get you all back together! (Singing) Stabbing and biting, tossing and smiting, all so you can regrow…”
Cuddles’ song trails off as everyone shoots him a disgusted look.
Alana: “We should find a way to sneak into the Duke’s mansion and see if Arisbath is being held there.”
Yodi: “I agree, and we need to be quick about it too!”
As they argue about how to locate and sneak into the mansion, Cherry begins to wander off down the dark alleyways and the group decides to chase after her. When they arrive at what appears to be a slum, they notice large clean gates surrounding a large building. Cherry stands at the edge of the alley and looks back to the rest of the group. When they reach Cherry, she points to the mansion and tries to say “Duke”.
Yodi: “This is the duke’s home?”
Yodi: “What should we do? How do we get past the walls?”
Alana: “I can wait until it gets darker and sneak into the guard tower. I will search for Arisbath and report back. We should rest up back at the abandoned farm and form a plan. I saw a sewer gate as we walked in, we could use that to sneak in and out of the town and avoid the guards at the entrance, since somebody probably killed them.”
Cuddles: “Hahaha we just said hello, I promise.”
The group decides to head back to the farm until dusk. The group uses the sewers as Alana suggested and they leave town without being noticed. Cuddles heads back to the horse barn and shuts himself in. Laughter can be heard as he mutters to himself. Cherry waits outside of the farmhouse, standing guard as she did in the field for hundreds of years. Alana and Yodi attempt to make some food in the abandoned house but cannot get the fire to properly light. Yodi mutters to himself about how useless his guide is and decides to take a nap.
Dusk comes and the group heads back into town. As they reach the alley that Cherry lead them to Alana begins to go over a plan with Yodi about how she will sneak in. Cherry stands there silently looking up at the main balcony of the duke’s mansion, her eyes never leaving the doors leading out to it.
Cuddles lets out another long sigh, clearly irritated with this pointless debate. He begins to walk out of the alley and towards the gate. Alana begins to chase after him, stopping him as he gets about halfway to his destination. Yodi follows slowly behind while Cherry stays in the alley. They notice the area is completely silent other than the noise of their footsteps on the road. Alana beings to feel uncomfortable and start to question Cuddles.
Alana: “What are you doing? This is insane. They will kill us for sure! We are supposed to sneak in.”
Cuddles: “Haven’t you ever just asked someone nicely?”
Alana: “I don’t really think the duke’s men will answer our questions.”
Cuddles: “You really were raised by an adventurer hahaha.”
Cuddles walks up to the gate and knocks repeatedly.
Cuddles: “Hello? Anyone home? Hello?”
A slat in the door opens up to reveal two eyes, a voice is heard from behind the door.
Guard: “What do you want?”
Yodi: “We want to speak to the duke; we believe he has someone we are looking for.”
Guard: “Why would the duke speak to you after you killed two of his men? Bugger off!”
The slat in the door closes and the guard can be heard wandering off. Cuddles approaches the door and begins to knock again, louder and more annoyingly, repeatedly saying hello. The slat opens up again and Cuddles pokes the guard in the eyes. The guard shouts an obscenity and the gates open up. The trio is greeted by 10 armed guards pushing in towards them. High up on the balcony the duke can be seen walking out to look at the commotion. His image is imposing, and he walks with an eerie confidence. Satisfied that the threat will be nullified by his men he slowly walks back into the mansion followed by what appears to be a muscular woman.
Cherry sees the duke and flies into a rage. She charges the gates as they begin to close. Cherry slams into 7 of the guards, knocking them to the ground. She takes the heads of two of them and smashes them together repeatedly, violently ending their lives. Cuddles finds himself face to face with one of the guards that Cherry didn’t knock down and he takes a large bite out of his neck. Cuddles beings to feast on the man as he stabs him repeatedly.
Yodi rushes in and begins stabbing one of the men Cherry knocked down with his forks. The isn’t doing enough damage to kill them but it is enough to hurt them immensely. He is furious that the duke appears to have Arisbath and he is demanding answers with each blow. Alana finds herself face to face with the last two guards standing. She draws her blades and beings to fight them. Alana slashes one man’s legs, causing him to fall to the ground. Cuddles rushes to the man and steps on his throat, choking the life out of him.
As Alana tries to subdue the other guard Cherry grabs one of the fallen guards and throws him at the one in front of Alana, knocking the man into Alana’s blade, killing him. Cherry, still enraged, picks up the smallest of the guards and begins smashing him into one that is below her feet, killing both men. Cuddles jumps on the man next to Alana and stabs his throat, laughing as he does so.
Alana notices that there are only 2 guards left alive and begins to plead with the group to keep one alive for questioning. Cuddles and Cherry ignore her as Cherry picks up one of them from the ground and slams him on the ground repeatedly. Cuddles charges the man that Yodi was stabbing, knocking Yodi to the ground. The man tries to make an escape. Cuddles lunges at the man trying to take a bite out of him. As he is lunging Alana draws a bow and shoots the man in the knee, effectively ending his adventuring lifestyle. Cuddles gets annoyed and walks away from the man. He has grown bored with the fight.
Cherry takes the body of the man she has been smashing into the ground and throws him over the gate in a fit of rage. The wind picks up and light begins to leave the bodies of the men as their life force enters Cherry. Her tongue begins to regrow as a thin layer of skin begins to form around her exposed muscles and veins. Alana gathers the guard they captured as the group heads back to the farm.
Cherry and Alana are outside of the farm guarding the doors. They are trying to communicate with each other, but it is ineffective. Alana is able to learn that the duke killed Cherry and stuffed her body in the scarecrow as a souvenir of his kill. The farm has been cursed ever since. Yodi and Cuddles are inside questioning the guard, who is tied to a chair. Yodi is trying to play good cop while Cuddles plays bad cop. This is not working well.
Yodi is stabbing the man in the shin with his forks demanding to know the location of Arisbath. The guard isn’t giving up any information. Cuddles decides he will take over as good cop because Yodi doesn’t seem to understand the process.
Cuddles: “I’m sorry my little friend here is being so mean. What he meant to ask was is that woman he saw an Orc?”
Prisoner: “I won’t tell you anything. You don’t want to know what the duke will do to me.”
Cuddles: “I don’t want to know what the little man will do to you. He is very angry. Maybe we should just kill you? I don’t know, is that fair”?
Prisoner: “Killing me will be a mercy. Please just let me go and I will tell you anything you want to know.”
Yodi: “Was that an orc woman with the duke?”
Prisoner: “Y y yes. But I don’t know who she is.”
Cuddles pokes the man in the eyes.
Cuddles: “Did you see me poke the other guard just like this at the gate? Hahaha”
Cuddles gets close to the prisoner’s face.
Cuddles: “Where’s the demon? A big demon. He is about 7 foot 6. Very muscular. Hahaha. He has red skin with a hint of blue. Where is he?”
Prisoner: “I don’t know of any demon. The duke matches some of that description though. Though he is evil, he is no demon. Please let me go now, I have answered your questions!”
Cuddles walks out of the farmhouse satisfied that he is on the right trail to find the demon. Yodi walks out excited to tell Alana that they have likely located Arisbath. As the two walk out of the house, Alana turns to them wanting to know what they found out.
Alana: “Is Arisbath being held by the duke?”
Cuddles: “Yes yes, but better yet, the duke may be a demon! Hahaha”
Yodi: “We must go rescue Arisbath!”
Alana: “And what did the guard say about gaining entrance to the mansion?”
Cuddles and Yodi look at each other surprised. Neither of them thought to question the guard on a way in because they had learned what they wanted to know.
Alana: “You never asked him and then you left him alone?!?”
Cuddles just laughs as Alana and Cherry rush into the house. The guard is gone along with the chair he was tied to. A set of drag marks can be seen leading to the backdoor of the house. The door is wide open. Cuddles and Yodi walk in and are amazed at the disappearance of the guard.
Alana: “Idiots, you left him alone and he escaped! Ahhhhh! Wait, how did he get out without us hearing him. Cherry did you hear him?”
Cherry shakes her head to say no. Cuddles laughs and begins to follow the scrape marks on the ground. He notices they continue out into the fields and head to the fence line leading to a bridge over the river.
Yodi: “Cuddles you are clearly some sort of sorcerer; can you light up the way? We need to find that man and whatever took him?”
Cuddles: “Hahaha, one giant torch coming up!”
With that Cuddles lights the fields on fire. The path lights up and it is clear that there isn’t anyone around. The fire grows immense and the group decides they should follow the trail and get out of the way of the raging fire. Bells sound off from Meadowbrook as the fires are noticed from the guard towers.
Okay, that is the week 2 summary. Please forgive the formatting once again. At some point, I will start checking these things for errors and maybe even tie them all together for you as a “season summary”. We shall see! Let us know what you think!