Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #3 - The Temple of Alasku

Our active players at the onset of our episode:
Rolf Wolfsblood:  Bald-headed barbarian from the Plains of Galmar
Kane: Student of Eastern mysticism
Maloran Alberhold - human fighter, skeevey ladies man
Ashe - highly skilled elven ranger...  no longer smells like a skunk

24 HexDec 1069 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Our heroes didn't spend every moment feasting like kings each day and night after their visit to Caldwell Manor.  Rolf and Kane relegated themselves to a pick up a new hobby.  Fishing seemed combine their favorite activity of drinking without the need for drunken rowdiness at the Blue Wizard.  There would be time for fighting after the sun set.
Maloran picked up training sessions with the local militia.  His quick wit and quick blade seemed to win the men over, although his repeated advances towards Jenny, one of their leaders, brought fisticuffs he couldn't overcome.

Ashe tried to follow the route of Torm, without the years of forced hard labor.  He offered his services to anyone willing to pay.  Most caravans weren't hiring a "pointer" for guard duty, but they were less prejudiced against hiring elves to load and unload cargo.  It received little coin for his efforts, but it kept him busy,  as well as earning him first crack at any wares the merchants offered.  One such man offered a pile of torn maps and books as payment, and Ashe obliged.  Of course, he needed someone who could actually read to help him.

Enter our new adventurers.
Echelon - an odd sort, he seemed like some sage or scholar, but with a decidedly earthy smell about him.  The idea that he would leave the bar early to tend to his assortment of animal companions confused most in town, but he was spending coin on lots of animal feed, so most locals didn't mind.
People were confused as to why he used a trident as a walking stick, but no one wanted to ask him directly.
Talis Makolin - a rakish young man who seemed to follow the same god as Maloran, if either could find a god of drinking and womanizing.  The only difference between the two was that Talis was more effective with the ladies.... and he had a much bigger hat.
Talis Makolin
Echelon and Talis ascertained that the most of the books were useless.  However, both were intrigued by an older map of Crosedes.  The capital city, Hydincall was listed, as were most rivers.  However, the village of Eding was missing, replaced by something called Alasku, miles to the south!

Velandro  -  a pious priest of Akana, overheared the name Alasku and interjected.  "Alasku was a temple to Akana, as well as the name of the nearby village, but that was during the days of the old Prythax Empire.  According to the map, it's location was in the hills just before the lizardman marshes begin."
With Rolf and Kane preoccupied with fishing, the group decided to pick up two more individuals for their expedition:

Aiko -  a young female adventurer.  She didn't seem too eager to surround herself with lecherous, unprofessional men, but for an equal share, she would be willing to try and be tolerant.
They rounded out the group with one of the local orphans, a seven-year old boy named Timmy.  He was already familiar with the land around Eding going out for miles, so for a few coppers and some good food, the boy was willing to weather any danger.
25 HexDec 1069 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
The party had spent the better part of the previous afternoon picking up spare equipment and rations and soon after the breakfast the next morning, they met outside of the Blue Wizard to leave for the ruins of Alasku.

Then Echelon showed up, leading a menagerie of animals.  Two sheep, a cow, and three mules transporting crates of... pigeons and chickens.  With no one to watch his collection, it would come with them.  For some strange reason, the party agreed to the terms.

With no true trails into the southern hills, going was quite slow, hampered even more by Echelon's animals.  Night began to fall and they still hadn't reached the temple.

Timmy did have some milk and an egg for dinner, compliments of Echelon.

26 HexDec 1069 - The Temple of Alasku
Less than an hour after breakfast, the party arrived at what remained of the ancient village of Alasku. A few foundation stones could be found if you ripped out the underbrush.

Only one notable structure was stilling standing, a small stone hovel.  Its entrance was only blocked by a small (3-foot high) boulder.

Echelon hesitated.  "Everything said temple, not dungeon!  I can't leave my animals unattended while we're down there for who only knows how long!"

"Have Timmy watch the animals."

"Timmy?  Nice kid, but he knows nothing of pigeons.  How about you guys go down there, and when you get injured, come back up and I'll heal you."

"Waitaminute, you're a cleric?  Of a pigeon god?"

"Heheh, oh no.  Pigeons are my passion, by the life is dedicated to Tshang Kai Shing, Eastern God of the Sea.  It's a long story."

Amazingly, the others agreed to the conditions, and they all descended the stairs, save Timmy.

While the above ground levels had all but vanished for the temple, It's single lower level was superior stonework throughout and quite intact.  The party first found a natural cavern with a concealed entrance from the man-made passageways. It had access to an underground stream  and had space for everyone to hide.  Leading monsters out to a veritable feast of Echelon's mobile farm was not a good plan, no matter how annoying the "cleric" was acting.

They spent the better part of the day in a harassing series of maneuvers with a troop of bugbears that appeared to have taken over  a series of rooms.   They finally vanquished them, plus a small cohort of humans until they uncovered a row of jail cells.  The humans had the keys on them.  The party opened all the cells, finding a smattering of coins, an animated skeleton, and two prisoners!    The first, a half-elf named Xambi, begged for freedom.  The party unlocked his shackles and she dashed out the of the cell, up the stairs, running right past Echelon, heading towards Eding.

The second prisoner, a man by the name of Carthon, asked for the same charity, and received it.  He carefully navigated the hallways until reaching the stairs.  When he got to the top and saw Echelon, he quietly begged for food and water.  It took awhile to win over any response from Echelon, but when he offered to tend to the animals while he and Timmy slept, the drowsy eyes of Echelon could not protest the decision.

27 HexDec 1069 - The Temple of Alasku
No one had come up from the dungeon overnight, so Echelon woke to discover Carthon having already tending to the animals, and cooking up breakfast for the cleric in gratitude for his group's rescue.

Later in the afternoon, Timmy was quietly playing, digging up rocks and stacking them further around the hovel, when he froze in terror.  Three wolves were working their way to the camp!!! Echelon quickly drank two random potions that the group had left and tried to beguile the creatures with divine blessings. One of them stopped in its tracks, glanced at the cleric, stared at the other two wolves, and decided to attack the wolves until they ran off.

The lone, almost friendly wolf, stepped slowly towards the human, circled twice and laid down at Echelon's feet.  From that moment forward, Echelon called his latest animal to his menagerie, Pathfinder.

Timmy and Carthon were most impressed and began to willingly tolerate his eccentric behavior a bit more.

Down below, the party ventured into portions of the temple which had been sealed off for years.  Mobs of undead would pour out of each opened door, but with the blades of Ashe, Maloran, and Talis, and the Turning ability of Velandro, the hordes were whittled down.   Mid-day, they began encountering rooms that had been occupied recently, with storehouses and even a kitchen with a large fireplace with fresh soot.

Things culminated with one final door.  As they fumbled between picking the lock and bashing it down, someone from the other side of door unlocked and opened it.  She was a lovely women in her early twenties, dressed in a gown better suited for a ducal court than a ghoul-infested temple.

She introduced herself as Celeste and told a strange tale.  Her father was always frightened for her safety and had locked her down here for her own protection.  The room she resided in was painted floor to ceiling in a soft pink, and all the accoutrements expected in a bedroom of a young woman from a wealthy family was in it.

She refused to be "rescued" yet she proved no threat to the group.  She even offered some of the supplies in the storerooms, if they needed them.

Confused and unable to find other rooms or levels to search, the group took they spoils and headed back up to sunlight... and their new compatriots, Carthon and Pathfinder.

DM Notes: I don't remember the actual process which created Echelon's loyal companion, Pathfinder the wolf.  It had to be something involving a Charm Animal spell with some sort of permanence effect from the mixed potions, and I think the wolf completely botched its save.  Perhaps a little wild magic was thrown into the area around the temple for effect.  

Outside of the xp for befriending the wolf, Echelon didn't earn much this game, while the others cleaned up.  

The dungeon used was the sample one provided in the 1st Edition AD&D DMG.
As for our oddball NPCs?  Carthon, Pathfinder, Timmy, and even Jenny will find a place in the campaign.  Even the odd Celeste may appear again, answering the age-old question of who does lock their child up in a tower... er, dungeon.

NEXT #4 - The Castle in the Moors

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