Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #5 - The Bells of Chardastes

Our active characters at the onset of the episode:
Rolf Wolfsblood:  Bald-headed barbarian from the Plains of Galmar
Kane: Student of Eastern mysticism, controller of water.
Ashe - highly skilled elven ranger
Maloran Alberhold - human fighter, ladies man sans charisma
Talis Makolin - a rakish bard avec charisma
Echelon - a pigeon loving priest of an eastern god of the sea, escorted by his new unwanted henchman, Carthon, and lovable village orphan, Timmy to corral a host of animals.
Velandro - a pious priest of Akana
Aiko - a young female thief

30 SepDec 1069 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
A few weeks had passed since the lizardmen attack and the subsequent assault on their Castle in the Moors.  The party was living comfortably, but would occasionally go out to patrol the outskirts of the pine barrens.  Very rarely they would think they saw something off to the distance, but they never encountered another lizardman.

Things were getting quiet in town and our adventurers were pondering visiting other villages for work.. and to see if anyone else had encountered a "Dread Lord" like they had.  However, news that the Archbishop Adolphus of Hydincall, the highest ranking priest in the entire Church of Akana, was making a special trip to Eding,  He specifically requested the holy warriors within the town, and with Velandro's recent heroics, they humored his future meeting with Archbishop, and lame new job reading or writing, or something lame like that.

1 OctDec 1069 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Archbishop Adolphus and his well armed caravan arrived in Eding.  Lord Athelstane, Lady Iris, the manor guards, and village militia met him in the town center (re: outside the Blue Wizard Inn) for formal ceremony, then escorted him to Athelstane's manor house, where he would be staying.

4 OctDec 1069 - Lord Athelstane's Manor House, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Velandro was called for an audience with the Archbishop, and instructed to bring "his heathen allies" with him.   The other party members quickly bought some new clothes and they travelled out the manor house.  Oddly enough, despite her appearance at the Blue Wizard when Velandro gave the word, Aiko was nowhere to seen.

After the required pomp and circumstance, the Archbishop conducted a short service, then provided Velandro with a mission from Akana.

One of the holy artifacts of Akana, the Bell of Chardastes, was stolen by a rogue priest named Elwyn many years ago.  It was eventually recovered, but Elwyn was never caught.

It recently disappeared and Elwyn was again considered the prime suspect.

Velandro was tasked with assembling a team to Elwyn's last  known hideout, an iron citadel located deep with the cursed Nightwood Forest.  The first concern was retrieving the Bell, the capture or death of Elwyn would be a secondary goal.   The Bell would earn a 1000 gold reward.  Elwyn would be 1000 alive or 500 dead.

To aid with the recovery of the Bell, the Archbishop decided to loan out his magical attache to the party.  Odrune was a recent graduate of the magic university in Hydincall and was working off his debts by working in a governement agenecy... and the Church of Akana in Crosedes was a certainly a government agency.
After accepting the mission, the party was excused, save Velandro, who had a private dinner with the Archbishop.

The Nightwood was rife with goblins, and since no one in the party spoke goblin, they sought out anyone who could translate.  They found Meudsopu, a half-orc cleric (and thief), who was willing to translate for one-half a share of the treasure, and a full share if he was forced to heal anyone but himself.
Talis tried his best "I'm on a mission from a god" speech on yet another peasant girl.  Perhap he laid the "This might be my last mortal moments on Georic" line a little long, because by the time the got to "sweet lovin," her father interrupted, and it almost became his last moments on Georic.

Velandro came back to the group after his dinner with the Archbishop and boldly declared that they were leaving... NOW.  The party complied.

4 OctDec 1069 - The Nightwood Forest,  Kingdom of Crosedes
The group left the Blue Wizard complete with Echelon's animal caravan. Timmy was left at the Inn, even Echelon couldn't endanger a child THAT badly.

Crossing a ford in river, the went up a hill and came upon an abandone shack.  They group kept going, but Kane backtracked to investigate.  A few minutes later, he could be found trailing the group and mumbling to himself.  He said he was fine, and the others were more worried about goblins attacking.

As they entered the true forest, almost all the remaining light was blocked out by the tree canopy.  On top of that, each one of the casters (Echelon, Kane, Meudsopu, Odrune, and Velandro) suffered from a wave of horrible headaches.  The animals went berserk and it took everything from the other members of the party unaffected to get them under control.   Echelon recovered, took care of his animals

Realizing that his dictate from the Archbishop meant that they needed to leave town tonight, not travel the whole night, they set up camp for an abbreviated rest.

While some found a nearby tree, or set up their pup tents, all were fascinated (and annoyed) by the elaborate tent Echelon had purchased, and was in the middle of setting up.  He had a small pup tent, but his animals had a tent befitting a carnival.

Talis: "The sheep have better tents than us!! What's up with that??!!

On a late whim, and anticipating new spells in the morning, Kane mediated on his mysticism to detect evil.  Immediately, he began spasming then collapsing on the ground.  As others checked on him, it was determined that he was wracked with pain that took a long time to dissipate.

Kane: "It's evil...EVERYWHERE!"

5 OctDec 1069 - Elwyn's Sanctuary, Somewhere in the Nightwood Forest
Not many got sleep that night, between the watches, and the increasingly skittish animals.  Echelon decided it best if Carthon took the animals back to Eding (save Pathfinder).

A few hours later the treeline began to break and they themselves in front of Elwyn's fortress, a windowless building made out... of.. cold iron?

Talis:  "A voice calls out and tells us to leave but we ignore it."

The interior of the fortress was quite straightforward: A continuous hallway, with only a few side openings.  Some held supplies, some held obviously hostile followers of Elwyns, a few had altars dominate them, a bell on top of increasing value the further they ventured it.

They did their best sneaking around, despite triggering two traps and navigating out of a dungeon. Kane even donated some gold to some clerics in deep meditation.  "I don't know if they are evil. When they attack us, I'll take my donation back."

Near the center of the fortress, a wooden statue came to life and attacked.  Maloran and Rolf leaped into action, both having magical weapons.  Maloran longsword was quite competent, but Rolf was especially comically, a lumbering barbarian swiping at the construct with a measly dagger.

A measly magic dagger that no one remembered him getting from the loot sharing of previous adventures.  Loud accusation of thievery came from other party members, with Rolf providing a simple "Get bent, let's go," as the continued on.  Among the heated exchange Maloran found a "keen bottle" and immediately claimed dibs, in case thing shortly went south.

He did not have long to wait.

In what initially appeared to be the center of the odd citadel, a lone statue of Akana dominated the room, the actual Bell of Chardastes atop an altar in front of it.  As the group advanced, it began shooting lava out its fingertips, seriously wounding Kane and Velandro.

With the party focused on the statue, a dark clad warrior emerged out of the darkness, immediately slaying Odrune and Meudsopu.  His skill with a sword was unsurpassed, as he laid waste to the party. Most were laid out, going in and out of consciousness, a few using their hands to hold their guts inside while they desperately tried to wound the warrior.    Rolf then pulled out a wand, pointed it at the warrior, and he finally fell.

Echelon:  "Where the hell did THAT come from?"

As the warrior's body finally slumped onto the ground, a monstrous form emerged from the shadows: an actual Black Dragon!!!   Kane grabbed the bell and tried to flee.  The dragon immediately slew Kane.  Echelon grabbed the bell from Kane's body and tried to flee with Pathfinder , A lightening bolt came out the dragons mouth, killing the pair, and Ashe in the crossfire.

A second black dragon then showed up and began fighting the first one!  Adventurers fell left and right.  Talis Makolin, his body pinned to the wall by the original dragon crushing claw, managed one last survey of the room.  The bodies of all his fellow adventurers laid strewn across the floor.  All where dead, or at their last gasps of breath, save one.  Maloran Alberhold was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he managed to escape with the bell....

Then everything went dark....

GM Notes:  I like to leave write-ups with just a glint of hope, especially since the original  journal entry was written like that.  Alas, it was not to be.  The "keen bottle" that Maloran claimed dibs just moments before they entered the chamber of doom, was not the healing potion he hoped for, rather a convenient Potion of Polymorph.  A black dragon seemed an obvious form, although he gained none of the special abilities.  The actual dragon realized this a few moment after Talis' death and slew the fighter.  
So there you have it folks, five episodes in and we have a TPK.  To be truthful, the adventure, Elwyn's Sanctuary from B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond, can get tough.  It gets even tougher when converted from "Red Box" D&D to AD&D 2nd Edition.  

As the players filed out of the basement common area of the dorm, there was a mixture of genuine frustration, sadness, and some deserved anger.   The group just seemed to start gelling together, before the apparent betrayal by Rolf.  But as the week went on, our lunch table focused on two facts: (1)  Quests from the Archbishop of a major religion are sometimes suicide missions.   (2) At least Carthon the henchman survived.  

Echelon proved wise to give him two instructions: (1) If they did not return for two months, sell off all of Echelon's animals and the treasure  (2) Take care of Timmy the Orphan.  Somewhere, there's a post-credit scene where an honorable Carthon needs to tell the young boy the inevitable truth and all he can do to keep himself compose is to hold onto the weeping lad for all its worth.

NEXT #6 -The Omega and the Alpha 


  1. Sadly, I have no recollection of this session. Though the "Get bent" was a typical Rolf response. The dagger was his loot that he looted from the bandits in the swamp; if any other party members managed to follow him he would have shared with them. As he went alone, it was all from his labor.

    1. As the next two episodes will attest, "going alone," even in hereafter, has its advantages

  2. I don't know if I've actually said this to you but I did appreciate playing in your D&D game when I was able to. It actually inspired me to try running games and I found out I enjoyed doing so. So thank you, Vis.