Land of Oz: We're off to see the Wizard
One by one, the crew materialized in short proximity of each other. Steven, Chris, Mark, Luke, and Topher all found themselves in a grassy plain. Though first Steven saw a wilder, longer grassed plain, the view quickly vanished as he approached the same world as the others.
Looking around, the crew first noticed that the ground around them was neatly dug up in an imperfect circle, with an arrow pointing forwards, similar to the astrological sign for Mars. Stuck into the ground at the crosspoint of the circle and the arrow was a plastic sword. Steven, being the first to arrive, pulled the sword from the ground and noticed it was very similar to the bokken he had owned back home. And looking closer, he noticed a small capital "J" in faded whiteout on the bottom of the hilt. The sword was indeed James' Bokken, and it appeared that he had left it there as a sign of where he could be found. After stepping out of the circle very cautiously, Luke, Mark, Chris and Topher agreed with Steven's assumption, and they all began to walk.
The group got to talking, and told each other brief summaries of their individual adventures. Of peculiar note was the time difference each spent. Steven had trained with Deekin Scalesinger for nearly a month, while Chris believed that he spent around 13 hours, Topher assumed the passage of about 8 hours, and Mark and Luke noted only around 2 hours of being separated from the group. Perhaps time passes differently for each world, they pondered. Two other occurrences also brought some concern: One, that Topher appeared to have lost considerable weight. Two, that all five had marked increases in memory. They could recognize knowledge within their own minds reaching perhaps 4 years into their future, or a possible imagined future on Origin Earth had none of these events occurred.
While walking, Chris brought up the suggestion that the group needed a name. They needed something to identify themselves when questioned, in case the opportunity arose. The five threw out a few laughable names, then settled easily on something that they felt captured the feel of them all: Gongshow:Gaiden. Gongshow, for the events they had in the past, and the events they were likely to accomplish in the future would likely be wrought with hilarity, luck, and randomness. And Gaiden, for the Japanese word meaning "Side story," as given the epicness they believed themselves to be capable of, this could be naught but a sidenote in their eventual story. While the Gongshow would soon be truer than they could imagine, the Gaiden side story would be far from it.
The group, with their new name, approached a small village. Though small, the village was curiously colourful, and only mere seconds after reaching the village did Steven immediately recognize it as the Munchkin Village of the Land of Oz. His inclinations were confirmed when the group saw the house Dorothy had landed in, albeit weathered from time.
Asking the first Munchkin they found about James or any other humans like themselves, the group learned that many fitting that description come through, but were encouraged to try the tavern down the street for more information. The group split, with Topher, Luke, and Mark going to the tavern, and Chris and Steven going to the local doctor.
From the bartender, they learned that indeed James had been there and left something with the bartender for either "Benjamin or Steven." The three grabbed Steven from the doctor's office, and brought him forth. Thus Steven was awarded a letter, summarizing the fact that James had arrived with Kendric and Nathan, but when they left with the first planeswalker to ask for some help he remained around for a few days. After nearly a week passed without signs of any others from his world, James heard rumour of planeswalkers in the next town. Thus, James left his note, and hoped for their arrival, but would not return to this town.
After getting a drink, the crew ventured onwards along the Yellow Brick Road. Before long, they hit a crossroads. to the next town, only to find that James had left with a group of four adventurers on an airship, described only as a pirate, a blue elf, a little boy, and a cloaked man. The tavern owner here who had seen them leave suggested that the crew try to seek the Wizard of Oz, a man who could surely help them find their friend.
To see the Wizard
Thus the friends set off further along the Yellow Brick Road, in hopes of it leading to the Emerald City. Walking over rolling hills, the group found themselves in front of a small apple orchard. Obviously, Topher decided it would be a good idea to throw some rocks at the trees.
So the trees fought back. The now Angry Apple Trees threw many apples at the group as they ran through. A few of the group picked up some apples on the way. Nobody took too much damage.
They continued on for a while, and eventually found themselves at the edge of a grand field of flowers. After debating for a moment, as they recognized this field as that from the movie Wizard of Oz which put Dorothy and the Lion to sleep, they decided to trudge forwards nonetheless. Almost immediately, the group - besides Chris - began to feel tired. A few steps further, and many of the group had fallen asleep. Chris, seemingly the only one immune to the effects, helped to drag his teammates across the field, one by one. Upon asking Chris why he was apparently immune to sleep, he suggested perhaps the possibility that he is no longer constituted of normal molecules, but instead of pure Chaos itself. The group shrugged, and continued forth.
They approached the gigantic doorway of the palace, and pulled on a rope in front of the door. A small circular hole in the door swung back, and a man inside spoke.
Man in Palace: Read the sign.
Steven: What sign?
Man in Palace: The sign on the door, plain as the nose on your.... oh...
The man then put out a sign, and shut his window. The sign, reading: Bell Out Of Order. Please Knock, led the group to knock confidently on the door. Pleading their case, and pronouncing themselves as a group of planeswalkers called Gongshow:Gaiden, the man let them in.
Man in Palace: Now why didn't you say so...? That's a horse of a different colour. Come on in.
While the conversation was happening, Topher had run back to grab a few of the sleep inducing flowers, and while the door was open, Chris decided it would be a bright idea to stick a stone in the hinge of the doorway. The man cleared the stone away, and muttered to himself.
Free to roam the city, the group received a change of clothes, some medical supplies and food, as well as a full night's rest. Complete with their new gear, and fancy green duds, the group confidently walked up to the door to the Wizard of Oz. The same man blocking their entrance before spoke.
Man in Palace: Nobody sees the Wizard. I've never seen the Wizard.
Topher: Come on.
Man in Palace: Not no way, not no how.
And he quickly ran into the doorway, and locked it behind himself. With the rest of the group unsure of how to proceed, Topher stated his plan. With his newfound Teleport ability untested and as of yet unsuccessful, he decided it would make sense to try to materialize himself on the other side of the doorway.
With all of his focus, and all of his Will, he failed spectacularly, and teleported exactly three inches forward. He turned to face the group, and to their horror, Topher was bloodied, and leaking blood profusely from every pore on his face.
Just then, the door swung open, and the man, crying, spoke.
Man in Palace: Al-alright, you can see the Wizard, just don't try to kill yourself...
As they walked slowly down the corridor, they heard a booming voice.
Wizard of Oz: Come forward.
They entered the room, and were found standing in front of a giant green glowing disembodied head surrounded by flames.
Wizard of Oz: I am Oz, great and powerful. Who are you?
Topher: We are here to-
Wizard of Oz: The great and powerful Oz knows why you have come. You, Topher, dare ask me for a heart?
Topher: I... what?
Wizard of Oz: Bahaha... kidding of course. The great and powerful Oz has every intention of granting your request. But first, you must prove yourselves worthy by completely a small task. Bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West.
As each of the group pondered this, they knew they had expected nothing else. Though, searching the room, they found only two things: a completely dismantled power panel that should have been what gave the Wizard his appearance as a disembodied head, and a Hot Air Balloon in moderate disrepair. Thus, they came to believe that their only option was to fulfill the Wizard's request. As they began to ask questions, they were faced with no more information.
Wizard of Oz: GO!
After getting another quick rest, and a full meal, the group set off again along the Yellow Brick Road from the other side of the palace.
To see the Witch
Before long, the group reached a dead, black forest, that would be described as sketchy at best. At the entrance lay a sign, reading:
<-- 1 Mile
I'd turn back
if I were you!
So naturally they kept on. After a few minutes of walking, the sound of wings and monkey calls filled the air. They prepared themselves for battle, and were quick in their victory. Of note, Mark's summoned owl fought bravely, Steven threw some kunais more or less accurately and found a piece of stone in his sack, Topher used his Flame Wreath, Chris swung his sword more than anyone else attacked at all, and Luke sucked the last life out of a couple of monkeys, rousing a bit of suspicion from his comrades.
They moved on, and climbed a climbed a small mountain to find the Witch's castle, surrounded by a constant stream in and out of Witch Soldiers. The group huddled in a small alcove, and debated about how to break in.
As bad idea after bad idea flowed from their brains, Chris turned to find five Witch Soldiers preparing to ambush them. Again they fought. The close quarters provided a bit of difficulty, but they emerged victorious nonetheless, and subsequently found themselves with the perfect disguise to sneak into the castle.
However, it appeared that the Wicked Witch of the West had known of their arrival, and had been waiting for them. Fighting four more soldiers, and the Witch herself, the group found themselves in a bit more than they had bargained for, when the Witch was unable to be reached. They knew they needed water, and that she would fall without problem if they could only get a small amount on her. But without an ability to reach her, they would certainly fail. Thus, as the rest of the group attempted to battle the soldiers, Mark summoned his owl again, and gave it his waterskin. While the Witch used dark abilities to confuse and disorient the party, even so much as to convince Chris to attack his own team, she did not notice the owl sneaking up beside her. With a triumphant squeeze, the owl released enough water to destroy the Witch, and the soldiers relented.
Witch Soldiers: The Witch is dead. The Wicked Witch is dead. Thank you, brave men.
To see the Wizard... again
They entered the Emerald Palace without a hitch, and started towards the castle. However, a thought occurred to them as they approached the doors. Would it be a good idea to give the Wizard all three of the Witch's potentially powerful potentially cursed regalia? Would it not be better to hide the other items? Or destroy one, so that another Witch doesn't rise up in the place of the Wicked Witch of the West?
Entering the room, they found a short, stout old man in front of them, ecstatic to see them. They handed the broom without question.
Wizard of Oz: Thank you, thank you. I had hoped you would return unscathed. How can I ever repay you?
Chris: What would you give us for the hat?
Wizard of Oz: You have the hat? What do you want for it? I can give you power.
Steven: Don't give him the hat.
Wizard of Oz: Give me the hat.
At which time, Chris began to charge a Chaos Bolt, Topher Teleported, and Steven moved towards the Wizard. Much to Steven's chagrin, the Wizard did not take kindly to this, and blew a hole right through him.
The Wizard turned his gun back to Mark, and sensing no further cooperation pulled the trigger again. Topher vanished and reappeared 40 feet backwards while his left little finger teleported 3 feet forwards. As Mark fell, the Wizard pulled the hat from Mark's robe, and placed it atop his own head. Chris released his Chaos Bolt as the Wizard shimmered and changed form, revealing himself to be the Joker. With no effort, he batted away the Bolt of energy, tipped his hat, and vanished.
As Chris and Topher rushed Steven and Mark to the hospital, Luke took a look around the once-Wizard's room. Chris helped the doctor to repair the bullet wounds, and Steven, barely conscious, used his Cure Light Wounds to help.
Topher headed back to see what he could help Luke with. As Topher snooped around, he discovered that the Hot Air Balloon in the corner, while somewhat disassembled, would light flame in close proximity of the Witch's Broom. Luke found a strange old Grimoire, which he quickly hid.
The group took a day or so to rest up and heal, while the people of the Emerald Palace set up the balloon for them, as well as organizing a festival to celebrate the journey that "Gongshow:Gaiden" was sure to encounter.
As they gathered their things into the balloon, and collected the untied ropes, the group wondered to themselves where they would go next.