Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (2) and Bunny the Thief (2), and his blink dog Rufus II
The loot from the both successful and disastrous zombie-hunting expedition had to be sold - and most of it was disposed of at various booths in the Bazaar Incomparable. The Union of Dermatological Illustrators purchased the glowing tattoo ink for an exorbitant price, the "Down, Out and Deceased" pawn shop bought the plain copper ring for a king's ransom of 1 silver piece, and the usual gem vendors picked up the rest of the loot. The exception were the cursed dagger and necklace - these were sold to weapons collector and sometime patron Davrik Lerdingfast for a steep discount, as he was intrigued by their "death cult" vibe.
Pai Mei (not present) retained the Purple Lotus Powder, and Gutboy held on to the build-your-own-Frankenstein manual and the Book of Unspeakable Shame (and the loupe required to read them).
A few days later, rumors were circulating in the city of invisible thieves robbing the shops and stalls of the Bazaar Incomparable. Gutboy put two and two together, traveled to the Bazaar with his crew, and used his divine powers granted by decidedly technological deities to magically locate the ring. The pinging noise in his head led him to a gaudily dressed seaman, with a peg leg, hook hand, eyepatch, and a parrot atop his shoulder, accompanied by a pair of thugs in striped sailor shirts. The piratical fellow browsed dozens of stalls and shops before leaving the Bazaar and heading towards an alley.
Gutboy and crew followed quietly, and surprised the trio as the pirate pulled the copper ring out of his pocket and bragged to his men about he was going to rob the Bazaar blind. Trezgar's somnolent sorcery put them to sleep before they had a chance to react, and Gutboy pocketed the ring. He returned to his condo, checked that the Glyph of Warding above the door hadn't been triggered, and went inside to experiment with the ring. Unsurprisingly, his henchmen informed him that he had become invisible upon wearing it.
With the hastily sold magical loot recovered, Gutboy decided to visit the shrine to Nisus for unspecified reasons - perhaps he was feeling a bit nostalgic. The booth (shared by two other deities) was in bad shape, and someone had defecated upon the floor. The eye dedicated to Nisus remained dark, but the one next to it, dedicated to Wurgol, god of cutlery and Gutboy's latest orbital patron, became active. Colors swirled in the frame, and then an image of a fork and spoon atop a table presented itself.
Wurgol: "Gutboy! We have seen what you did!"
Gutboy: "Huh? What are you talking about?"
Wurgol: "We witnessed your rendezvous with the alien craft! We know this!"
Gutboy: "Oh, that. That's not my fault!"
Wurgol: "We do not care. Access to the mountain must be maintained! This situation cannot stand!"
Gutboy: "What mountain?"
Wurgol: "Mount Rendon! There are faint signals from within the mountain! Exploration must not be hindered! The alien's army of the dead interferes! It must be destroyed!"
Gutboy: "What does that have to do with me?"
Wurgol: "A millenia ago, a great evil was loosed upon the earth. A hundred thousand men died to silence it, and still could not destroy it. It sleeps still, but shall awaken. The devourer of worlds! The harbinger of the end of days! The BAGGER 288! You shall awaken the beast, and it will utterly destroy the invader!"
Gutboy: "Devourer of worlds? How are you going to make it go after the alien?"
Wurgol: "You shall requisition a sacred you-ess-bee stick from the Grand Temple. We shall place instructions upon the sacred stick, and you shall bring it to the heart of the BAGGER 288. When it awakens, it will take time for its ai eye to come online, and it will follow the instructions we give it in its confusion. Thus it shall be directed to destroy the invader."
Gutboy: "If I wake it up, how will we put it back to sleep?"
Wurgol: "Another hundred thousand shall die in the attempt. Perhaps more. It matters not! Access to the dungeon must be maintained! A million lives are worth the effort!"
Gutboy: "What will it do after fighting the alien?"
Wurgol: "It will begin to devour the world. It will likely target nearby population centers. It is entirely possible that it will hunt the wizards in their towers before turning on this city."
Gutboy: "That doesn't sound like a good plan. Aren't you supposed to protect the earth?"
Wurgol: "We exist to preserve the Veil between the dimensions. The BAGGER 288 is of this earth. It is not in our mission parameters to prevent it from waking."
Gutboy: "Isn't there another way?"
Wurgol: "We have spoken! It is not for mortals to question us! You will retrieve the sacred stick and return here so that it may be programmed! The BAGGER 288 is buried beneath the village called Southdeep, south of Denethix. You shall go there and awaken it!"
The screen went black, and Gutboy headed to the Grand Temple to fetch the USB stick, despite his reservations about waking up a machine capable of destroying the world. At the temple, he was promptly handed a stick by an attendant - due to some confusion about Wurgol's instructions, a meeting with Lunexia, clad in naught but a gold lobster mask and claws, was held, and discussions about the proper use of USB sticks were had - and then Gutboy headed back to the booth. The God's Eye lit up briefly, a green light flickered on the USB stick, and the programming was done.
Gutboy had no desire to meet the BAGGER 288 with only his henchmen and loyal dog Rufus, and headed to the Academy of Enlightened Thought to discuss the situation with Madame Prepin.
Prepin: "Gutboy! Look, I can't pay you yet - if anyone finds out that we caused this war, we'll be strung up. I think I've got a plan though - you can pretend to go on an expedition to capture Goonies from the battlefields, and then come back as heroes. Nobody will know that we got the zombies earlier."
Gutboy: "I've got a better idea - you come with us. You need to run this."
Gutboy: "There's another problem. There's a machine that will destroy the alien, and the whole world, that I've got to wake up. Is that something you're interested in studying?"
Prepin: "Look, I'm a professor of astrophysics, and now necrotronics. That's not my field."
Gutboy: "Is there anybody in the university who knows about this stuff?"
Prepin: "Are you kidding? They're all close-minded bigots and hypocrites! Nobody else has even the slightest degree of competence. I wouldn't let them study one of my bunions."
Gutboy: "Fine. Can I get some grad students then?"
Prepin: "All right, but I'm running low here. You three! You're doing some field work with Gutboy here. Yes, it WILL be graded. Get to it, and no complaining!"
Gutboy equipped the three grad students with leather armor and shields, and then headed to Davrik Lerdingfast's manse to request an appointment. His manservant informed him it would be a few hours, so Gutboy cooled his heels at a nearby inn until he could see the wealthy weapons collector. He returned at the appointed time, and was admitted inside.
Gutboy: "Good to see you! That giant tank in the swamp - we got a chance to go take a look. Unfortunately, it's immobile, and there's no way drag something that big out."
Davrik: "Damn shame, that. Well, thanks for taking a look."
Gutboy: "There's something else that might interest you - I've been given a mission to awaken a giant killing machine to fight the alien ship."
Davrik: "Big, ey? How big? Will I be able to see the battle from the roof terrace?"
Gutboy: "Enormous. The BAGGER 288 - have you heard of it? Big enough to destroy cities!"
Davrik: "Can't say I have. Thanks for the tip though - I'll have my man alert me when the fight starts so I can get a good view."
Gutboy: "Can you lend me a few men for the expedition to awaken it?"
Davrik: "Ahh, I would, dear Gutboy, but unfortunately I've sent most of them down to the Wastes on a beetle-hunting expedition. There's money to be had in beetle paste, what with the war and all."
Gutboy: "Oh. You know anyone else who might be able to help with a giant war machine?"
Davrik: "Yes. There's a fellow I sponsor in the Academy who might be keen to help. His name is Dr. Frank Smithen, he does work for the Fist sometimes, helping them build the Steel Leviathans."
Davrik wrote a letter of introduction, and Gutboy was off to the Academy. He presented the letter, and was ushered into a lab,w here Professor Smithen and his assistant Michael Sauralus were working on an 8' tall battle-bot.
Smithen: "A friend of Davrik's, ey? Always glad to be of assistance!"
Gutboy: "I'm on a mission to awaken a gigantic machine, the BAGGER 288. It's buried under Southdeep. When it awakens, this stick here has a program to make it attack the alien - but then it will destroy the world. What I need is a way to turn it off after it's killed the alien."
Smithen: "Hmm. I see. Something on a timer then. How long will the right take, do you think?"
Gutboy: "Maybe a remote control instead?"
Smithen: "Excellent suggestion. We'll need to run an antenna up onto its hull though. Still, it can be done! Michael, get cracking - we need a remote made up!"
Gutboy: "Do you think the Scientists can help?"
Smithen: "Those superstitious imbeciles? Ha! That pack of fools don't know the first thing about the design of robotics. Nothing but rote memorization there. No, they won't be any use at all."
(at this point Gutboy notices Michael glaring angrily at Smithen)
Gutboy: "Do you have any grad students who could come along? I have some from Madame Prepin..."
Smithen: "Prepin? The harridan from astrophysics? Ridiculous! What use could her grad students possibly be? They're barely capable of tying their own shoes! I suppose if you got lost in the woods you could always eat them. Can't see any other use! No, no, and for a project like this, it needs a personal touch. Michael and I shall come along ourselves."
Gutboy: "Will you need any armor or weapons?"
Smithen: "Nonsense! We're just going to Southdeep. We can fire up this battle-bot here anyhow. Michael, get a move on!"
Gutboy: "Say, can you have Michael get us some tea?"
Smithen: "You heard the man, Michael! Tea!"
(after Michael leaves) Gutboy: "You know, I think he's with the Scientists."
Smithen: "What? Michael? Absurd! He's been working me for years!"
Gutboy: "Ok. Well, meet us at the Grand Temple tomorrow, and we'll head to Southdeep."
After tea, Gutboy headed off to his last stop - the Palais Public. He stopped at the city clerk's desk, to inquire about how one would go about running for office as an Exalted and Chosen Brother.
Simon Lewis (the clerk): "Well, you don't just go and run, see. It's incredibly rude to run against an existing Brother. Just isn't seemly!"
Gutboy: "...because Rufus here is really interested in public office..."
Simon: "Well. Connections can be made. Introductions. You know. It's possible, should there be an unexpected opening. Then there'd be a vote, and if you knew the right men, well, you know how elections are."
Gutboy: "Right! That's what we need! Just send us to these men, and we'll be on our way!"
Simon: "Well, it's not that simple. There needs to be an opening. And of course, my finder's fee..."
Gutboy: "Finder's fee?"
Simon: "A percentage"
Gutboy: "Of what?"
Simon: "Of whatever sums change hands. You don't just run for office and let the people decide! Ha, that's a funny notion! I'm an honest clerk - it's a mere ten percent commission"
Gutboy: "Ridiculous - five percent!"
Simon: "Look, this isn't a negotiation. It's ten percent."
Simon: "So, you've undoubtedly heard of Mormod Waginski. The hunter! Of course you have! Everyone has... well, I'm sure your aware of the feathers he's ruffling."
Gutboy (thinking): "Right. I think he invited us to a party once, but we went to a swamp instead."
Simon: "Understandable. Terribly dangerous, those big game hunting expeditions. So easy to be eaten by a tyrannosaur. Those kinds of things happen."
Gutboy: "Uh-huh. So those introductions..."
Simon: "Yeah. There needs to be an opening, like I said. Hunting is so very dangerous. But men will have their hobbies!"
Gutboy, enlightened as to the nature of Denethix city council politics, headed back to his condo for the night. He was surprised to be woken in the wee hours by a loud crack of thunder. He opened his front door and discovered the smoking corpse of the pirate, his two thugs, and the parrot. He called for the Fist to dispose of the bodies (with the exception of the parrot) - they were horrified to find that a valued Citizen of Denethix had been disturbed by the hoi polloi, and quickly dragged the bodies off to be dumped into the river before they could re-animate as zombies.
In the morning, Gutboy headed off to the taxidermist to drop off the parrot ("A Norwegian blue! Beautiful plumage!") with instructions to stuff it and have it shoulder-mountable. He then gathered Prepin's grad students, Dr. Smithen, Michael, and their battle-bot ZN547. They promptly headed off to Southdeep, stopping briefly in Lugosi to hire a guide to the hidden village.
The guide led them through a twisted forest, which finally opened up at the edge of a massive pit, hundreds of feet across and hundreds of feet deep. A path corkscrewed its way down the side of the pit, where doors were set into its walls, leading into the homes and shops of Southdeep. They made their way to an inn near the bottom, quaintly named "The Whole Hole". Inside, the patrons were muttering angrily and making rude gestures at a solitary robed and cowled figure, sitting at a corner table.
Barkeep: "We don't serve their kind here!"
Gutboy (to ZN547): "Why don't you wait outside. We don't want any trouble."
Gutboy (to barkeep): "What's going on?"
Barkeep: "That bag man's full of crap! Saying we're all gonna die today! What kind of idiocy is that?"
Gutboy: "What's a bag man?"
Barkeep: "The jerk in the corner with the robes! They live under the village. Usually they tell us good news, what the weather's going to be, how the mold crop is doing, but this jerk is saying nothin' but doom. Probably wants to get us to leave so he can rob us. I've got a mind to clock him."
Gutboy ambled over to the bag man's table, and peered beneath the cowl - it shadowed the face of a gorilla.
Bag Man: "You are the ones who have been foretold. Behold! These are the ones who bring your death, Southdeep!"
Gutboy: "No, no! He's drunk! Don't listen to him!"
Someone threw a clay beer stein at the bag man, and it shattered against his head - but the bag man didn't even flinch.
Bag Man: "Come. It is time. I shall lead you to your fate."
Gutboy and his crew followed the bag-man out. Standing on the path outside the tavern, Gutboy shouted to the citizens peering down at him, "I have been sent by the great wizard of Denethix to save you!" The bag man responded by shouting "You are all going to die!" The citizens then responded by dumping their chamberpots out upon the party, showering them with excrement. They hurriedly followed the bag man/gorilla to cave entrance at the bottom of the pit.
And here our session ends.
Gains: Ring of invisibility, a retinue of academics, the nightsoil of Southdeep
Kills: Three river pirates