Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ballad of the Pigeon God #41: The War in Ruuna

They were too late.  Fluchton, and probably the rest of the Duchy of Ruuna was either in flames or smoldering ruins.  It was time to try to stop this chaos from spreading... or at least get home in one piece.

21 HepDec 1071 - Town of Fluchton, Duchy of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
The group headed down from the mountains towards whatever remained of Fluchton. Once they reached a main road, they were stopped and questioned by a unit of dwarven infantry.
Baron Echelon - Baron of Eding, Cleric of the eastern god of the sea, pigeon aficionado, very poor independent diplomatic consul.
Mellandria - Mage and Baronial scribe.  Considering taking her cut of the treasure and finding new career opportunities
Talis Makolin - Knight of the Pigeon for the Barony of Eding, Bard, Ladies Man, Baronial Bodyguard
Velandro - Ardent Priest of Akana, proselytizer to kobolds.

Skyforge had seized control the duchy, banning all travel by non-dwarves. No one had heard of Norm Dingleberry.  Martial law had been declared.
With no hope of saving the human duchy, and fearing repercussions from Crosdes and Ras-Prythax, they turned around and headed south into Skyforge.

24 HepDec 1071 - On the Road to Skyforge, Duchy of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
The diplomatic mission continued to face resistance from every dwarven unit they encountered. Luckily, Echelon's credentials originated from Crosedes, less they suffer the same fate as the Duke of Ruuna (covered in diseased goat hair and forcibly stuffed into a small box, the opposite fate that he had imposed on the dwarves.)

Talis was dispatched back to Eding to inform Lady Iris, and thus King Nevin of the situation.  His voice finally changed back from that of a high-pitched kobold back to his chords of vocal silk, but it would be others who would try to negotiate with the Skyforge on behalf of the Emperor of Ras-Prythax, and a plead for peace with Crosedes.

26 HexDec 1071 - Kingdom of Crosedes
It took Talis a good month to travel through the mountains of Skyforge and the gnomish hills of Masgoth to get home, but he succeeded in returning to Crosedes.  He bought the first fast horse he could find, and instead of heading towards the capital to find Lady Iris, he rode back home to the Chateau.  He remembered that she had accepted the role of Baronial Magistrate from Baron Echelon, but she had yet to arrive when the diplomatic mission left for Ruuna. He rode hard, barely stopping, which was fortuitous based on the news that had transpired since he had been last been in Eding.

29 HexDec 1071 - Chateau d'Echelon, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
When Talis arrived home, he first saw the remains of what had been decorations still tacked to the outside of the main house, a strange mixture of blues and whites on top of black.  There was no one inside the main house, so he ventured out to the barns, where a very shocked Felix and Brutus were delighted to see him.  They yelled to Dag the kobold to fetch Carthon.

Carthon's gaze upon the bard was one of disbelief and desperation.  He rushed Talis back into the Chateau itself, and escorted him down into the wine cellar.  The news would require secrecy and a good deal to drink.

After Talis confirmed Echelon's status as alive and well, Carthon shook his head and gave a nervous laugh.

"King Nevin died soon after you five left.  His brother Cervinal has assumed the throne.  You might remember him as the Dread Lord?"

Talis uncorked a second bottle, took a swig, and sat on the ground.

"Cervinal demanded all the nobles pledge allegiance to him.  Apparently, every noble did so, except Echelon, who was nowhere to be found."

"As if things weren't strange enough, King Cervinal *spits* had Echelon and Mellandria declared dead, killed while participating in unlawful diplomacy against King Nevin's wishes. I figured, if he didn't kill us all outright for revenge against his plans, he would at least appoint a new Baron."

"Funny thing, some court officials, knights, and generals, and a cleric of Akana came down from Hydincall and presented some very official looking papers to Lady Iris.  It seemed that the royal paperwork you guys had notarized at the estate of Poipon had a line of succession, or at least the paperwork they had in hand did.  The ink looked barely dry and since Poipon's death all the official papers are drawn right in the King's castle. Anyway, guess who he named Baron?"

Talis shrugged incredulously, "I don't know you?  Baron Felix?  Dag? What, me???"

Carthon closed his eyes and let out a big sigh.


"WHHHAAAATTTT!!!!!!  The freakin' Dread Lord gave a Barony to a ten-year old boy???  He can't read, can't fight, and he spends more time smelling the farts of Dag's kids... FOR FUN!!!!"

"I know Talis, but I'm amazed it's not as bad as we thought.  Part of the announcement was the King appointing Lady Iris as regent to the Baron until he's fifteen.  "Baron Timoth" and Jenny were moved up to Athelstane's old manor house.  The baronial troops there got evicted and a unit of royal light cavalry made itself at home there, alternating between rumor mongering here and patrols out to the Ruuna border."

"The biggest surprise of all is that they've left us alone ever since.  Timmy and Jenny come by every prayer day for a big meal, with the king's men pacing outside the Chateau.  The rest of us can seem to moved about with harassment... or a tail.  But it's better than being evicted, or killed."

"You can't see Timmy, though.  He thinks you four died in Ruuna and if we let it slip to him that you're alive, the king's agents will find out for sure."

"Wait, Carthon.  What do you mean, by 'you four?'"

"Norm's here, he made it back from Skyforge last week.  Spending time with Babette and the twins in her bungalow.  He's.... changed."

"He stopped speaking with his outrageous accent for once?"

"No, that's not it.  His voice is still as annoying as ever.  The humans in Ruuna caught him... shaved off most of his beard and let him go before the dwarves arrived.  He was a mess when he made it back, but he got into a fight with Dew, and immediately left for the capital.  Mohammad heard the fight and saw him leave.  Dew just seems very distraught every time I brought up Norm's name."

"As if all this wasn't a twenty pound pile of crazy shoved into a five pound sack already, the Dread Lord didn't just let him live, he loves the sonuvabitch! Knighted him on the spot, and he's been awarded the rank of general and a freakin' army to command near Lansluck, just in case the dwarves get frisky!"

"He's General Dingleberry?"

"He prefers Sir Norm, or General Norm."

"Talis, go speak to Norm now.  I'll get some grub for you if I can find Dew. She hasn't been the same since Norm got back.  Those two lovebirds couldn't take their hands off of each other before he left. It was disgusting."

"We need more of that love right now."

DM Notes:  This is what happens when you take too long finishing an adventure with a time limit.  I know, the dwarves in X3: Curse of Xanathon only threatened war, they never would actually act on it. Well boo-hoo on that idea.  Skyforge needs a quick and successful war to keep the clans happy.  Ras-Prythax is weak and will not risk an full-fledged embarrassment of a war with the dwarves over a quite provincial territory. 

Yep, good King Nevin I has died, under unknown causes *Dum dum DUUUUUM*  His brother was next in line, and so far has acted more uneven than crazed or vengeful.  Somehow Cervinal learned that Echelon was the de facto guardian of Timmy before Carthon and Jenny adopted him.  

Norm becoming a Knight?  And a General?  Just chalk that up to his outrageous French accent and a solid presentation.... maybe a little je ne sais quois?

RIP:  His Majesty, King Nevin I of Crosedes.   Long Live the Dread Lord!!!!

14 HexDec 1071 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes *FLASHBACK*
Norm Dingleberry, dwarven warrior and Knight of the Pigeon had come a long way since his days as a failed mushroom farmer.  Great warrior, windship pilot, and slayer of mythical beasts were three titles he had earned in just the last year.

Competent negotiator was not one of them.

He arrived back at the Chateau a beaten dwarf.  After hitching his pony, My Lyl, he went into the kitchen and tried to surprise the love of his life, the plump and voluptuous Dew.  However, she caught him sneaking up on her, had one look at his half-shaven face, and shooed him away with a tear in her eye.   Shaken by the encounter, he ran up the stairs to his room for a change of clothes, some supplies, and decided to run out of the Chateau and head towards Hydincall before encountering anyone else.

Of course, upon leaving his room, Echelon's legless mentor blocked his way down the hallway, muttering a song.

"Rough Seas, High Winds,
                     When I step out I'm gonna do you in..."

"Mohamma-ahd," the dwarf declared.  

"Hello Norman, you are back!  And a mess?"

Norm stroked his hand across a mess of stumble and clumps of full dwarven beard.

"I tried to negotiate ze peace between ze dwarfs and humahns. I never got a chance.  Ze stinkin' humans shaved most of my beard and would have put me on ze rack if not for the dwarves attacking.  Ze dwarves would not even talk to Norm.  Zey sent me back in shame.  Even Dew won't look at her little man.  I am so ashamed."

"Norman, you are a good and loyal friend to everyone here at the Chateau.  You are held in the highest respect with everyone here.  I curse the humans that dishonored you, and the dwarves who did the same. It is not your fault.  Take their shame and convert it to pride you deserve to hold.  Do not let them determine your life, each time you stand upon a hill, act as the king of everything you see.  You are above such trifling things as beards and human ignorance.  Rule the day, each and every one of them."

Norm nodded at the crippled cleric, turned back into his room, and shoved one item into his pocket before dashing down the stairs and out the door unnoticed.

A straight razor.

Next: #42 - Brothers in Arms

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