Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ballad of the Pigeon God #40: The Caves of Xanathon

The special diplomatic mission to Ruuna from the Barony of Eding was getting no headway in resolving the political crisis.  The duke gone mad was bad enough, but decrees that insulted the neighboring dwarves in Skyforge was turning the crisis towards a military bent.

Baron Echelon: Baron of Eding, priest of the Tshang Kai Shing, lover of pigeons.
Talis Makolin: Knight of the Pigeon, Bard, Lover, and personal bodyguard to Baron Echelon of Eding.
Mellandria: Baronial scibe, mage
Velandro: Ardent priest of Akana.  Trainer of a faithful family of kobold acolytes.
Norm Dingleberry: Knight of the Pigeon, dwarven warrior with an outrageous French accent.  He had already left for Skyforge to attempt to calm the irate dwarves.

11 QuaDec 1071 - Town of Fluchton, Duchy of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
With all the stonewalling by the leaders of Ruuna, the party went underground.  Through a series of ales, bribes, and back alley brawls, they discovered a secret temple to the fire elemental cults of Galmar. In Crosedes, such a church was permitted, but in Ras-Prythax, it was considered an enemy of the state, and with the current chaos in the duchy, it may have been for good reason.

After a variety of tough battles with priests and cultists in the sewers under the town, there were still no connections to the duchy's woes.  Talis did something completely out of character and prayed to his god, Modee (God of Music and Bards). Hitting his head against the wall, he somehow activated a large secret door and a dozen or more cultists came charging out!

Talis tried to warn the others who were down the passageway, but discovered he had no voice!

Talis took on all twelve while making a fighting retreat back to the party. Once he noticed the oncoming cultists, Baron Echelon summoned an insect swarm and wiped out them out in one fell swoop.

Inside the secret passage there was a hallway leading to a room with a wizened old man, who charged at them with a mace.  Caught off guard, they retreated out the door and Velandro cast a fire trap on the secret door.  The old man came through the exploding trap, badly injured, but appeared to become immediately healed.  Echelon hit him with blades of flame, but the slashes and burns quickly disappeared..  

He stumbled towards Echleon, grabbing him by the shoulders and uttering "My soul is deep in the ground but high in the sky."

Talis wanted to end the old dude's spiritual self-analysis, so he stabbed him in back, yet he healed up again!  However, he let go of Echelon and our heroes retreated. 

Melandria later figured out the old man's ramblings weren't random, but more of a riddle.  One that is deep in the ground but high in the sky would be in a mountain.  And with a few more clues they found, they confirmed that the Galmar cult's secret base was deep within the mountains bordering Skyforge. 

Some mountaineering supplies, and a lot of rations later, and they were off to find the High Priest Xanathon.

Somewhere along the journey, Talis' voice finally came back, but now he sounded like a high-pitched kobold!  The others had never seen the bard so religious before, constantly muttering prayers to Modee night and day.

31 QuaDec 1071 - The Low Mountains of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
The goings into the mountains were incredibly slow, despite good weather.   At some point, they were so distracted by trudging up a steep incline, that they completely oblivious to a party of ogres who barreled in and held Echelon captive!  Talis led the group on a valiant charge, killed the ogres, and rescued him.

35 QuaDec 1071 - The Caves of Xanathon, Ras-Prythax Empire
As they closed in on the location of the Xanathon's secret temple, the heroes were forced to fight their way through a chimera AND a manticore at the same time... and everyone lived! 

On the 35th, they finally found the Caves of Xanathon.  The interior was a large series of caverns with side passages walled off with many, many doors.  Echelon was hit by powerful fear magic and refused to continue.   Talis stayed with him and Mellandria and Velandro scouted ahead, without alerting the powerful undead prowling the halls. 
The Caves of Xanathon

Once Echelon recovered, they flew through the legions of wraiths and ghouls, mixed with some earth elemental magic from Xanathon himself.  They defeated everything, at some expense, as most of them felt much weaker after the combat.  Still, a pile of gold, platinum, and a giant ruby that most feared was cursed was there for the taking, and the cult that was somehow influencing the Duke of Ruuna was shattered.  They only hoped that the evidence that they uncovered would save the Duke and prevent a war from occurring with the dwarves of Skyforge.

18 HepDec 1071 - Town of Fluchton, Duchy of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
Looking down upon the capital from the high hills, they were too late.  Most of the town was on fire, legions of dwarves marched across the countryside to conquer the far parts of the duchy. 

DM Notes: Since this campaign occurred during my old campaign maps, I needed to build out the new Duchy of Ruuna out of my Epic Aerth campaign. In the original campaign (and module) Rhoona is a Viking colony the was just north of Crosedes.  In the new world, it's become a small duchy of the Ras-Prythax Empire.  It's poorer duchy bordered by four potential hostiles:  Crosedes, obviously the Dwarves of Skyforge, the Agenmoor elves are separated by scant miles, and the Gran Duchy of Vesthamm that happens to be ruled by Crown Prince Ernest, the heir to the Ras-Prythax throne. 

Ruuna does have three separate baronies under its fold.  Vestal and Abalone have their Barons who swear fealty to the Duke, while the Duke is also the Baron of Ruuna, which encompasses Flochton and the southwestern quadrant of the territory.   The two unnamed towns near the lake are independent towns/villages loyal only the Duke.. and Emperor.  Name suggestions are always welcome. 

1 QuaDec 1071 - Chateau d'Echelon, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes *Flashback*
Babette, former thief and street rat of Hydincall, was in great peril. She had lost count the number of times her hand was at risk of getting cut off if the town guard had caught her. The guards never gave her pause. The barbarian Rolf, staring her down as she botched her attempt to steal his coin pouch, gave her a lump in her throat and leaden feet. She had even managed to block out the knowledge that man was not meant to know while assaulting the Citadel of Kroxous on a completely different world. 

Compared to all that, raising two infant boys was absolutely terrifying.

Thanks to the help of housekeeper Dew Xyclone, who had become a wet nurse to help her, and Groeta, Dag the kobold's wife, she could breathe for a moment or two.  But today, no matter how hard she tried to be a good mother, she could feel nothing but darkness and failure.  She was being supported by the others in the Chateau, the father of her children lived on a different world (and had disappeared long before Babette had a chance to return home), the transformation into motherhood had hampered her skills enough that SHE noticed, if no one else did.  The official trip to Hydincall had made up her mind.  Giving the boys to Dew to care for and mooching off the wine cellar to drown her sorrows seemed like a fine plan.

Hey, it had worked for Talis (or so she had heard around the Chateau).

With little Darius and Yuri nestled into Dew's bosom, and the rest of the Chateau's inhabitants out working the fields or tending to the animals, Babette found a calm corner of the main building and began quietly sobbing.

Catching her breath, she could hear a muffled song behind one of the doors...

"I remembered throwing punches around
                               And preachin' from my chair"

*sniff sniff*  "Hello? "

"Who's there???  The all-powerful Mohammad is communing with his god, the terrifying Tshang Kai Shing!  Who dares disturb me?"

"I'm sorry Mister Mo, it's just me, Babette.  I forgot you live in the broom closet.  Sorry to bother you, I'll just le...."

"No-no-no-no-no-no-no Babette, wait!"  The closet door opened, two hands reached out into the hallway, pulling out the legless frame of Mohammad out on a small wheeled platform.  The little brown-skinned bald man's eyes took a moment to adjust as he continued, "I am sorry for my rudeness.  You never come upstairs, especially since the little ones were born, so I sensed something unusual.  How are you?"

"Tired, Mister Mo.  The boys never sleep and when they do I can't put them in their cribs.  Even in all the adventures I've been on I've never felt this type of pain and exhaustion."

"The beauty of life must be offset with pain.  It is the balance of nature.  Where are the boys now?"

"Dew has been a gift from the gods themselves.  She knows everything.  Groeta, the little kobold mom is helping too, although I don't let her help feed them like Dew does."

"Wait one moment, you let Dew nurse your babies?"

"Yea, Mister Mo, Sometimes, I'm... well, things don't work as well or they hurt.  And those boys act like their starving, Darius especially."

"Babette, my dear.  I am not a woman.  My great divine sphere of the mythos does not cover most things relating to fertility or motherhood.  But implore you, stop giving your children to Dew.  She has enough on her plate already, tending to the needs of the ungrateful mob that we are.  Perhaps a little help from Dag's wife would be okay, perhaps her boy and girl can help with blankets or playing with them while you nap.  Those boys are yours and their fate is your fate.  In fact, go use one of the 'bungalows' Felix helped build.  Peace and security.  Go see him right now.  I doubt they are all filled. "

"But Dew will be upset, she loves them as if they were her own."

"But they aren't, and that little bit of space will make her love them more when you bring them to meals, and when we're all together in the hall." 


Next #41 - The War in Ruuna

No comments:

Post a Comment