Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ballad of the Pigeon God #43: Spiders in the Vineyard

After just discovering the long-lost fathers for Talis Makolin and Echelon were the same man, the death of that very same man, the possible assassination of the good king, and the ascension of a man who had previously referred himself as the "Dread Lord,"  it was a rough week back for our heroes.

Oh yes, the new evil King declared our heroes dead, and gave Echelon's barony to a ten year old boy. It was not a rosy picture.

8 OctDec 1071 Chateau d'Echelon, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
With Talis Makolin getting an escort to the Blue Wizard Inn by friend and ally Torm Touchberry, the others decided to give up the idea of hiding on their estate, get their extended Chateau family together, and let everyone else know what was going one.  Of course, despite Baronial Regent Lady Iris aware of the heroes vitality, they wanted to keep this secret from the young Baron Timmy and his adoptive mother, Jenny d'Echelon, who normally resided at the Baronial manor.

A meal was prepared, as everyone revealed the shocking news of the heroes' survival.  The estate was abuzz, along with a few questions, such as if Talis was revealed to be alive, as a half-brother, would he take over as baron instead of Timmy.

(Okay, only Talis brought up such a point, but it was a valid one.)

Such jovial ribbing was stopped cold by Dew Xyclone, former noblewoman/rescued captive/now dutiful serving woman of the estate, as she delivered a platter to the table, picked up the carving knife, and quickly sliced the throat of Carthon d'Echelon. Carthon's nearly severed head slammed onto the banquet table and Dew's body morphed and contorted. She was a spider-person... again! And this one could cast magic!

The dining room turned to chaos as most normal residents scattered for cover and none of the heroes had brought any weapons bigger than a dagger with them.

Ultimately, Norm Dingleberry needed to run the creature through with a broken chair leg before it finally fell.

Talis was still at the Blue Wizard, working on his third bottle of wine with Captain Touchberry and listening to the sweet singing of Ariel the Bard.  Norm came in with the horrible news of Carthon's death and a spider-person in the house and even that couldn't sober the bard up.

9 OctDec 1071 Chateau d'Echelon, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
The following  morning, the party acted on some frothing comments made by the Spider-Person Dew before she was killed by a chair leg.   They ventured off to an old overgrown vineyard on the edge of the property.  Scouring the entire tangled mess, they decided to set it all on fire, to flush out any other spider-people. 

11 OctDec 1071 Chateau d'Echelon, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
With the flames still smoldering, a detachment of militia and Chateau inhabitants searched the vineyard again. They found the bodies of Dew and two townsfolk buried under the ash of where a thicket once stood.  Upon learning of real Dew's death, Norm destroyed the kitchen, then packed up to return to Lansluck, only muttering to himself that he must take full command of the Southern Army, and flush out any Spider-People.

He did spend one moment of clarity with Talis to arrange a password in the language of Cymril, just in case either got turned into a spider-person.

RIP: Carthon d'Echelon and Dew Xyclone (and two NPC peasants)

DM Notes:  By the end of this episode, the fall of Ruuna and possible dwarven invasion spreading further into the lands of man was the last thing on everyone's minds! 

The Kingdom is doomed, spider-people are everywhere, and loved ones are dying.  Not a good place to be right now.

To be honest, once I finished episodes #42 and #43, I sent a message to my players who are helping me fill in the blanks from the journal:

"You guys leave the country to go on one little diplomatic envoy, and the DM starts going all Game of Thrones on your asses."

The deaths of Carthon, Dew, and Winston (Talis and Echelon's Dad) threw the brakes on any sort of planning they had barely started.  Some of our key PCs are going to be distracted by war, family, and spider-people, and the rest need to help with the harvest so no one starves over the winter.  The loss of Dew (main housekeeper), Carthon (the Master of the Chateau),  and Winston (Sherriff loyal to Echelon), creates turmoil in the barony. 

So it makes sense that next episode goes completely off the rails...
Finally, the one question I thought of while writing out the last two episodes was "Why didn't Pathfinder sniff out the spider-person doppleganger Dew?"  Pathfiner, for the unfaithful reader, is the intelligent wolf with a telepathic link to Echelon (See Episode #3 for a first appearance).  The journal specifically said that Pathfinder and Velandro's kobold acolyte Dag did not accompany them to Ruuna, so they obviously stayed at the Chateau. 

First off, let's just call it DM oversight.   Too many moving pieces to keep track off.  But Pathfinder either stayed by Echelon's side, or stayed out of sight.  There would be few opportunities for him to sniff out the imposter.  As a retcon, I might even go far as to say the wolf ironically helped worked the folks and herds of animals on the estate, assisting the farmhands, the Dag family, etc, and spent the hot summer days and nights relaxing by the barn, a definite deterrent for any other predators who come by.

NEXT #44: What really happened in Ruuna - Echelon's Side of the Story

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