Grillby, smiling like any Friday night, deposited an extremely grumpy Sans back into his DM chair at center stage to enthusiastic cheers. The studio was a mess: bones, spears, glittering navy fire, and bright orange flames littered the area behind their long table which was also trashed thanks to Papyrus’s vaulting run across its surface.
The four delinquent fighters looked sheepishly at the drinks given them; they shuffled through strewn papers and dice while rubbing the sore spots left from the bartender barging onto the scene to cut their brawl short with a few deft strikes.
“Oh dear…” DJ BluK mumbled over the beeps of him flipping through his files. “I need to call out the extinguisher bots. Sorry…”
“Don’t worry about it.” Azar squinted through his bruised left eye as he turned towards the turntable robot. “It won’t spread. Plus, it looks cool.”
A series of nervous chirps expressed Blookie’s doubts alongside a teary-eyed display face; however, the fire remained in place. He tentatively settled to watch what would happen.
“come on grillbz, why’re you holdin’ out the good stuff and sticking me with beer?” Sans gave his friend an accusatory look while he nursed his drink.
“You can have the good stuff as a reward for getting though the campaign, I want to see how this plays out.”
Grillby walked off the stage and into an unsold seat in the front row after depositing four pitchers of refill drinks on the table. Two held beer for Sans and Undyne while the other two contained double rum watermelon sangria for Papyrus and the twins.
Sans resigned himself to his second-choice product, riffling through his own papers before using his magic to right his setup. “alright, so everyone survived the test and were healed by the very nice dragon lady scientist.”
“SANS, WE STILL HAD SOME TURNS LEFT.”
“shh, bro, i’m the dm, i got this.” Sans pat his brother on the shoulder. “the dragon concedes that, while you make questionable decisions, you still have what it takes to survive the tower and hands over a map with a key.”
“Cool, so we’re done here?” Undyne asked.
“the dragon speaks up. ‘W-well, yes, technically you are but… But i-if you don’t mind, I-I was wondering if you heroes could do me a favor.’”
The group sat in silence. The crowd began to murmur in confusion as the pause stretched on.
“Who’s turn is it?” Keahi finally asked.
Sans shrugged. “i have no clue. let’s just start at the beginning and throw it to you.”
“Right, then I want to know what the favor is before we agree to it.”
“’W-well, I need someone to help take a project of mine to… to a friend. He lives on the trail! So… so there isn’t more work. I-I’ll pay too. 50g, four charisma ups, and the m-magical contents of th-this box. Oh! But you can’t open i-it until the delivery is… is complete.’ so, what’s your decision, undyne?”
“It’s on the way anyway, so why not?”
A chorus of agreement from the party soon had them leading a hand cart covered in tarp along the dirt road towards their tower destination.
“the dragon’s friend’s residence draws near. before you can reach it, another force of five bandits with three horses arrives to steal your cart.”
“I JUST REMEMBERED WE HAD HORSES OUTSIDE THE DRAGONS’ KEEP.” Papyrus smacked an annoyed hand on the table which caused its contents to rattle.
“Why’s there so many bandits in this place? Is there no guard?” Undyne furrowed her brow and frowned, the idea turning in her mind.
“If there was a guard, they wouldn’t need heroes,” Keahi said.
“Huh, I guess you’re right.”
“I roll to attack one of the bandits,” Azar said once the commentary died down.
“you land a hit, but your low attack stat does a quarter damage. the bandit returns the strike, but only manages to hit for 20hp.”
“I ROLL TO FINISH OFF THE WOUNDED BANDIT.” Papyrus’s die clattered on the table.
“hey, good job bro, you ko’d him.”
“NYEHEH! OF COURSE I DID.”
“My turn.” Keahi paused to ponder her options. “I don’t want to get hit, so I seduce the nearest horse to cut off their escape.”
Papyrus gave a defeated sigh but didn’t complain.
“you rolled a critical. the horse trots over and begins to mercilessly nuzzle you.”
“My turn! Let’s attack the next bandit.” Undyne jumped up to roll her die, promptly falling back into her chair when she managed a 10.
“the bandit moves faster, giving you 10hp of damage. you manage to strike him for a third of his health, but a pendant he wears deals recoil damage at half value if a strike roll is less than 16. you take an additional 30hp of damage.”
“No! What? Why did I hit the one with the weird thing?” Undyne whined her protest.
“well, i mean, you guys never check the area or declare which person you’re attacking, so i’m just watching the field and going with who’s closest.” Sans refilled his tankard with a lazy smile, watching Undyne go slack-jawed.
“Did you guys know this, or is Sans pulling this out his ass?” Undyne gave Papyrus a hard look. “Wait, does Sans have an ass?”
“TECHNICALLY? SKELETON BODIES ARE HARD TO COMPARE TO OTHER MONSTERS.”
“’sa real pain in the ass.”
“SANS, NO.” The younger skeleton glared at his brother before returning to his explanation. “I DON’T CHECK BECAUSE THAT GIVES THE ENEMY TIME TO STRIKE AND LEAVES THE TWINS OPEN TO ATTACKS. SO FAR, WE’VE NEVER LOST A CHAMPAIGN DUE TO A COMMON BATTLE. I WOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT IT.”
“Okay, so my turn. We should do a twin attack.” Azar was eager to ramp the energy up once more. “I think if we try, we can launch over and knock out another with our boosted attack.”
“Let’s do it!”
“BUT CONSIDER THIS: DON’T! YOU TWO SHOULD GUARD THE PAYLOAD, NOT HURL YOURSELVES INTO THE PATH OF DESTRUCTION.”
Any lessons the twins had learned during their brawl were tossed aside. They pulled a successful twin power spin, depleting the farthest bandit’s HP by three quarters. The audience applauded the effort. Their cheers quickly subsided; the wounded, who held the power of a peril’s might ring, struck back, plunging Azar’s hp to nearly depleted. To add insult to injury, another foe (who had made his way over towards their cargo) grabbed the cart and began to run off.
“WHAT DID I JUST SAY? I ATTACK THE PERILED ENEMY TO PREVENT ANOTHER ATTACK. UNDYNE, YOU GO AFTER THE CART.”
Papyrus succeeded in landing his strike while Undyne’s character took off after the cart. Her armor impeded her speed, though Sans let slip her endurance was higher. Azar used his turn to defend, causing an attack to be struck against Keahi instead, halving her hp. It had been a boosted strike: the enemy’s artifact raised his attack once the number of actively fighting party members dipped below half.
“Oh boy, this isn’t good,” Keahi lamented as she refilled her glass.
“MAYBE THIS WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU HAD PROTECTED THE BLOODY PAYLOAD!” Papyrus finished his own drink, stood, posed dramatically, and rolled his die. “I STRIKE DOWN THE BUFFED ATTACKER!!!”
The crowd cheered: his command carried through to his roll, felling the offending bandit. Papyrus bowed in a broad, sweeping motion before refilling his glass. He retook his seat.
“alright.” Sans polished off his second drink, pouring another. “there’s one bandit standing to fight, the twins are about to fall down, and undyne is still chasing the fleeing bandit who starts to curve his run in an attempt to shake her. the horses are horses and keahi, it’s your turn.”
“I think Azar and I should maybe do our twin healing? What do you think?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Their problem corrected, Undyne, who had begun to fidget, was up for her turn.
“I cut into the inner corner and cut the thief off!”
“you’ve successfully got him by the collar, stopping him and causing the cart to crash into his back.”
“GOOD! I’M GOING TO DEAL WITH THE LAST BANDIT OVER HERE!”
Gasps filled the hall: Papyrus rolled a 5, causing him to merely scratch his opponent. The situation worsening after Papyrus took a hit in return, activating the artifact which drew its strength from landing a successful hit.
“There’s only one thing to do,” Keahi said.
“I agree, there’s no other way.” Azar nodded sagely. He set down his glass and picked up his die.
“WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING? DON’T WASTE YOUR HEAL.”
“If we act, it will leave you open to attack.” Keahi grabbed her die, rising to her feet with her brother.
“You’re always helping us in tight spots.”
“And now we have the duty to assist you too.”
“IF YOU FLIRT, I’M GOING TO FIGHT YOU AGAIN.”
“Twin powers!” Keahi raised her hand high over her head.
“Activate!!!” The twins called out in unison; they cast their roll.
The audience erupted in cheers as they rolled double 17s, enough to smite their foe.
“It’s all you, Undyne!”
“Right! I attack the bandit I’m holding!”
“the close range guarantees a successful strike. congratulations.”
“YEAAA!” Undyne leapt up, encouraging a thundering cheer from the entire studio, including those on stage; DJ BluK even played a short victory jingle in the background.
Settling into a heap of nonsensical giggles, the team finally managed to arrive at their delivery destination.
“I KNOCK ON THE DOOR TO ALERT THE RECIPIENT.”
“a shuffling is heard from the inside before a white and blue sock goblin opens the door. he glances at your cart and grins up at you. ‘thanks, I’ve been expecting this.’”
“WAIT.” Papyrus furrowed his brow. He raised his hand to his chin, wracking his mind. “SANS, IS EVERY IMPORTANT NPC A RESKIN OF THE PEOPLE WE KNOW IN REAL LIFE?”
“Dude, you’re just now figuring that out?” Undyne shot a concerned look at her lieutenant.
“I HAD STARTED TO SUSPECT, BUT THE SOCK GOBLIN TIPPED ME OVER. FOR GOODNESS SAKES, SANS, WOULD IT KILL YOU TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING ORIGINAL?”
“what? art imitates life, paps.”
“AND I’M GOING TO PUT GUM IN ALL YOUR POCKETS BEFORE WASHING THEM IF YOU HAVE A RESKINNED FINAL BOSS.”
“OoooooH!” The twins lead the crowd in sounds of shock and scandal.
When the noise ebbed, Sans shrugged, his grin unfailing, and resumed his narration.
“the sock goblin looks you all over again. ‘looks like you took a beating. let me heal you up.’ with a green, glowing handwave, the goblin restores your hp and provides each of you with a temporary buff status.”
“Cool. Now we need to see what’s in the box!” Azar exclaimed.
“Good point. I use my turn to open the magic item box.” Keahi turned eagerly towards Sans to wait for their item’s description.
“you open the small box. inside you find a rock. it takes up one full slot in your inventory.”
“That’s it?” Undyne asked.
“SANS, DID YOU SERIOUSLY MAKE OUR MAGIC REWARD A ROCK?”
“No, guys wait.” Keahi waved for the others’ attention. “It’s magic, it’s got to do something. Undyne, use your turn to examine it.”
The examination lead to nothing apart from a smooth, round shape with a pale grey coloring.
“IT’S JUST A REGULAR ROCK.” Papyrus buried his face in his hands, his elbows propped on the table.
“Maybe the magic is inside! I break the rock open.”
“you broke the rock in half. you now have two rocks. they take up two full slots in your inventory.”
The twins’ chairs scraped beneath them as they pushed to their feet. They stretched out their arms, forming a ‘t’ with their bodies, then declared in a unified monotone, “Infinite rocks!!!”
For some reason, this set the crowd wild. Perhaps it was their stage presence. Perhaps it was the beer and wine sellers who had started to wind their way around the aisles. Neither seemed like a good reason to Papyrus, though the happy atmosphere and smiles of his friends were enough for it to glaze over him in a warm wave of merriment. Downing his glass and pouring another, it seemed their campaign was finally heading in a good direction.