Coppelia gave the group a new assignment – she pulled out a tray of books all connected by bendy straws – a phenomenon that Q recognized with an expression of dread. Before he could explain fully however, Codex got a cut on her arm and started bleeding ink which alerted her to the fact that one of her phylactery books was in the process being damaged. So she used her ability to track her books to lead the group to the one that was being attacked. This brought them to the Villain room and her phylactery book “A History of Italian Mobsters” – which was attached via bendy straw to an Army Recruitment pamphlet.
Codex , Harmonia Hook, & Tim Dresden were all curious about how to enter the book and Thomas Quick suggested that they try to go into Codex’s book as it might be easier for her to make her first jump into.
The jump was successful. Codex and Hook jumped into the previous chapter hoping to avoid the Capone massacre on the straw page and instead landed at the sight of a old age death of a Sicilian mobster. As soon as the man died, they were transported to Chicago at the beginning of the chapter.
The Cat on the other hand, transported himself directly to the massacre where he just walked up the steps toward the door that looked…. “off”. On his way to the door, he wove his way through the legs of a woman chasing a baby carriage and tripped her so badly that she fell onto her face, cracked open her head and died.
Q, jaded as he is, was still shocked by the violence of Capone’s attack and thus couldn’t manage to act until the cars were gone and the police had started to show up. Once that happened, he went after the Cat because he too had spotted the oddity with the doors.
Soon after Tim showed up and opened the door. When he did, the Cat slipped through like a cat does and only because he was expecting a straw and because he has claws was he able to keep himself from sliding down the straw on the other side.
As Tim tried to open the door further, there was a slight ripping noise and Codex, a few blocks away felt her would open further. Q heard the noise and told him to stop – then peeked through saw that the straw was attached to the page on that door but the left door was free and clear. They opened it, found the straw (and thus the Cat).
Meanwhile, with the tear in her wound, Codex was more motivated to move quickly, realized she could move at the speed of thought in her own phylactery book grabbed Hook and ported them to the church door.
The whole group jumped down the straw – some were more dexterous than others and thus did not hurt themselves at the giant accordion bend. Others, face planted into sharp plastic ridges.
At the end of the straw, they found themselves in a strange white void populated by military tableaux. In the void, they found it difficult to move without a narrative to move through. They discovered that minimal movement was possible through focus.
The soldiers were activated via pressure plates in front of them and said things like “SIR YES SIR!”, “MEDIC! HELP ME! MEDIC!”, “SIR WE WILL FIGHT TO THE DEATH SIR! WE WILL LAY DOWN OUR LIVES SIR!”, “CHARLIE SPOTTED AT 3 O’CLOCK SIR!” Codex talked to the scout and learned that Vizzini had been through recently and had “gone west”.
In the mean time, Q was realizing that something was off with the music that was playing. It wasn’t…. army music. And the speakers were Russian. He pulled out his map to try and locate the speakers. It gave him the hint that it’s all about the Morale!
While he was figuring this out, Codex contorted herself through the binding to the next page and Tim followed. In doing so, they found themselves dressed in disco attire. Codex looked around and realized that the page she had arrived on was not about morale, but about the appeals of leave. Time soon joined her – also in disco attire. They quickly agreed never to speak of it to anyone.
Eventually, the entire group was reunited in the last page of the pamphlet – the Morale section. The page read:
Keep it up!
The same song was still playing over and over – Semper Fidelis, the Marine Corp theme – and the page looked like a dead end. However, a box was discovered by the Russian speakers and it had many buttons – a red circle, a white triangle, a white square, a double white triangle pointing right, and a double white triangle pointing left. Someone hit the double triangle facing right and the song changed. The button was pressed several more times and then “Go West” by the Village People came on and a portal opened up in front of the group. As the song continued to play, the portal began to waver – obviously tied to the song and so they rewound the song and started it over so that everyone could go through the portal to escape the pamphlet. Codex, took the box with the buttons with her… just in case.
When they stepped out of the portal, they found themselves in the middle of what Codex and Q instantly recognized as the Fire Swamp from the Princess Bride – Vizzini’s home territory!
Q told everyone to be on alert for popping noises and ROUSes.
Hortencia asked “What’s an ROUS?”
Q replied “A Rodent of Unusual Size.”
Hortencia activated the narrative by declaring “I don’t think those actually exist!”
Q face palmed just as the obligatory ROUS launched out of the shadows to attack Hortencia from behind.
The battle that ensued was quick and deadly. Tim shot the ROUS in the face and blew its brains out, and the Cat tripped Hortencia who fell and hit her head on a rock and died. Thankfully, it was the Princess Bride and Q declared her “mostly dead” which stabilized her condition and allowed the heroes to escape the fire swamp and head to Miracle Max’s.
With some quick thinking from Q, the group convinced Miracle Max to help save “the dread pirate Roberta”. In payment, the Cat gave Miracle Max Hortencia’s pouch of pirate gold. Max seemed quite pleased with this. Hortencia was given a miracle pill which seemed to do nothing at all – but Q assured everyone would kick in when it was dramatically appropriate.
They left Miracle Max’s and headed to the castle with obligatory lines being called out after them – buh bye! BYE!
Upon reaching the castle the Cat turned invisible and scouted ahead. He brought back the report that Galinda, the Evil Queen, and all the other missing Villains from the bendy straw books were gathered in the Great Hall with Vizzini and Prince Humperdink. He also mentioned that a small orchestra was there playing the Marine Corp song and that it seemed to be helping Vizzini brain wash and recruit the villains.