Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #6 - Palace of the Silver Princess, Part One

Date: ???  Place ????

"Apparently we are not quite dead yet."  - Echelon

Echelon was the first to wake.  Correction, Pathfinder the wolf was the first to wake up, immediately seeking out his human companion.  A few licks to the face and the cleric of Tshang Hai Shing awoke to a weird hazy realm of white fog with an red light illuminating everything in the distance.  The others were tossed about in this area.  If it was the afterlife, the gods and mythologies were apparently all the same.  Most survived.

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 charmed wolf, Pathfinder.  Perhaps it was wise that his henchman, Carthon, and lovable village orphan, Timmy, were back at the Village of Eding.
Velandro - a pious priest of Akana

The newest members to the party, Odrune and Meudsopu, were gone.  All the grievous wounds received at the hands of the statue, the dark warrior, and the black dragon, were visibly gone, but they were all in a tremendous amount of pain and soreness.

But they were alive...

An ethereal being descended through the mist towards them.  Everyone had weapons in hand, but no one readied to fight. 

"I am the goddess Thendara, protector of the Valley of Haven.  But alas, the peace and prosperity of my domain has been overrun by evil and I must beg for assistance."

"The ruler of Haven was a fair Princess Argenta.  She lived in a palace of white, shining marble, which when the sun set, glowed liked silver.  Princess Argenta was beloved by all her people.  She was just, kind, and friendly to all."

"One day, the dwarves from Skyforge found a ruby the size of an apple.  As a token of their allegiance to Haven, they gave the ruby to Princess Argenta.  The dwarves named the ruby, "My Lady's Heart." The princess was so pleased by the gift that she invited all to attend a celebration to see the wondrous gem.  The dwarves were to be guests of honor and there was to be a grand day of feasting and fun."

"The day before the celebration, a strange visitor arrived.  He flew into the valley riding a white dragon. The rider was dressed all black.  He had pale skin, long blond hair, and a short beard.  Since Haven was noted for its hospitality, the princess invited the stranger to stay at the palace.  She also granted his request to escort her to the celebration."

"At midnight, disaster struck.  Dark clouds hid the moon, and a freezing wind blew through the valley.  The crops withered in the fields.  Cattle grew sick.  The valley began to die.  I could do nothing."

"From the palace came an explosion and parts of the walls came tumbling down.  When the dust cleared a ruby glow surrounded the entire palace."

"Haven now lies in chaos.  Raiding bands of orcs, goblins, and hobgoblins terrorize the countryside. The disaster happened so quickly that the people are confused and helpless.  Without their leaders, who are trapped in the palace, they have no courage to fight back.  The situation has become desperate."

"Haven is in dire trouble.  I do not know what caused the disaster , but I do know that the reason can be found somewhere in the palace.  Allies of the villains that has attacked Haven have challenged me and I am under siege.  I cannot help Haven, but you can.  You are Haven's only hope.   Find out the source of the evil that has overtaken the valley and destroy it.  I have enough power to get you through the ruby glow to the palace gates."

"Please decide quickly.  Already evil forces have detected my sending.  Will you come now?"

Echelon: "Between a choice to either go on some mission for the goddess or return to the place of their ultimate doom.   We take a vote and decide that life is better than death."  

One by one the party members gave an affirmative, until it got to Pathfinder.

"Yeah, Boss.  We should help the nice lady."

Echelon took a second glance, "Wait, Pathfinder, you can talk???"

The other party members stared at Echelon in utter confusion.

"Yeah, Boss.  Guess you finally figured out how to talk to me, most humans ain't that smart."

Echelon took two steps back and raised his hands.  "Sure, the wolf can only talk to me... that's new."

Unshaken by his new discovery, Echelon and Pathfinder led the group down the magical path piercing the ruby glow until they reached the portcullis of the lower levels of the palace.

"The glow also seems to kill everything it touches.    Fortunately the goddess cleared a path for us. Otherwise it would be a really short mission." - Echelon

The party lifted the portcullis and entered the palace.  As the portcullis fell behind them with a loud clamor, the ruby haze filled into the magic path.

They swept through the first few rooms, killing what seemed like random monsters:  a skeleton, a goblin, a rat, and a very angry man in red robes.

They moved into the library and could hear scurrying underneath the overturned bookcases, followed by ineffective.. shushing?  Ashe and Velandro moved forward to flush out the creatures, and they were met by four pairs of terrified eyes of a kobold family peering over a desk.  Ashe stepped forward, but Velandro stopped him, ordering him back, and telling the others to secure the double oak doors.

Over the better part of an hour Velandro, lured the little kobolds out of their hiding spots with rations and a few sweets he had in his packed.  Realizing the man wasn't trying to hurt them, the largest kobold wandered out, took the food, ran back some to the desk, and came back out armed with a tiny sword and broken barrel lid as a shield.
Dag the Kobold
No one spoke kobold, but through charades and jerky, it was determined that the bigger kobold was named Dag and the party had entered the makeshift lair of his family (Mrs Dag and two young).
At some point in their odd conversation, it was decided that Dag and Family would accompany the party on their mission.  A simple act of kindness may have earned Velandro faithful followers.

He wondered what it would take to have them convert to Akana....

GM Notes: I'm not that mean a DM, an overpowered final villain and no means to escape.  It was planned all along.  Thendara and Princess Argenta were quite familiar with Elwyn's black dragon ally, who had spent years trying to terrorize the Valley.  After being banished, the monster took up with Elwyn and plotted revenge.  When the goddess began to scrying the world for help, the dragon's connection with the valley drew her in, and the fight with the party made her save them.  The ruby curse of the valley shouldn't be as powerful as the dragon, or so she thought.  Isn't that comforting?

The current story path was suggested in B1-9 In Search of Adventure. The entire party (save Odrune and Meudsopu's  players) came back to the table a week after a TPK, expecting to roll up new PCs and then I threw the goddess at them.  Guess there's still a little bit more story out of these characters.

Pathfinder talking to Echelon?  Chalk that up to 50% Divine Intervention, 50% Black Dragon Lightning, but they now have a psychic connection.  Pathfinder can speak to Echelon psychically, but Echelon needs to speak out loud for Pathfinder to understand him.  Hilarity will ensue.

And now, the party has to solve the ruby curse, all the while escorting a family of kobold refugees.  

Next #7 - The Conclusion of Palace of the Silver Princess

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