Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #8: The Story of Echelon

The man we know as Echelon was born to a common prostitute in the merchant town of Omsjik. Although he never knew his father, his mother made sure he did not want for anything.  In order to accomplish this, young Echelon would be left on his own for long periods of time.  He learned to appreciate nature.. and his close companions, the pigeons that plagued Omsjik.

Despite his forays into the surrounding fields and forests, he was never more than half a day's walk away from his hometown.

It wasn't until the death of his mother that Echelon packed his meager belongings and set off on a life of adventure.

Just a past a days walk outside of Omsjik, he was waylaid by brigands and sold into slavery.

He found himself a far more competent slave than his owners were masters, as he was sold multiple times to pay off debts.  He eventually took residence on a pirate ship, cleaning pots and fixing dangerous rigging while the pirates plundered the coast of Afrik.

It was scrubbing the top deck with a brush no bigger than his finger that he first encountered Mohammad.

Mohammad was brown-skinned balding man from parts unknown who had a permanent smile on his face.  Mohammad explained to Echelon that even before he had been enslaved, he had understood the ruthless power of Tshang Hai Shing, a half-eagle half-god for the eastern lands who ruled the sea and the trade winds.   This god showering one with favor was more akin to a horrible curse, as earning its attention was known to cause shipwrecks and typhoons.
Mohammad, prior to his pirate slave days.
For weeks, months, possibly years, Echelon would let Mohammad's stories and faith distract him the drudgery of slavery.

One night, Echelon was awoken to Mohammad unlocking his shackles.  Tonight was the night they were finally going to escape.   The crew had celebrated more than usual, the night watch was passed out, and from from conversations with the Second Mate, the land off to the distance was actually the mainland.

Just as the duo was dropping the ship's launch into the water, the pirate captain appeared on deck, surprisingly half-sober.   Seeing his two prized slaves escaping, he went into a rage kicking awake his deplorable crew to capture them.  Mohammad had sabotaged the other boats on deck, so they had a chance.

Then the captain ordered the ship's catapult to open fire.    While most of the drunken pirates were incompetent at best, the catapult crew's skill was unblemished.  The third stone fired hit the stern of the launch, sending the slaves flying into the water.

Separated, the pair headed to the far-too distant shore.  As the pirates finally got a bead on them, a shark emerged from the water and clamped down onto Mohammad.  Somehow, he did not not instantly die, as he thrashed against the beast.
Mohammad's "last moments"
Before Echelon even had a chance to do anything (if he even could), another stone from the catapult struck the shark, it and Mohammad descending into the dark depths of the ocean.

Upon reaching shore, the pirates apparently giving up the pursuit, he dedicated his life to the fickle fate of Tshang Hai Shing... while staying away from the sea.  Perhaps he could raise pigeons and other friendly land-based animals?

DM Notes: The story above was handed to me by Steve, Echelon's player, a few mere hours before we started the session that makes up Episode #3 The Temple of Alasku.  As gonzo crazy a story as it actually was (a trademarked technique for Steve to this day), there is a ton of workable material to mine from it.  Bringing back Mohammad from the dead was only the first step. 


While many would consider Mohammad's death the fickle fate of his god, it is, in fact the exact opposite.  Tshang Hai Shing was rewarding his faithful with the protection of a shark, even if things didn't go according to plan.  Once Mohammad finally washed up on shore, his god blessed him with enough healing to escape the pirates, although he was now missing both legs.    Now part-healer, part-freak show, he has travelled the world, finally deciding to settle down just a year or two ago, when an offer for a newly constructed inn in the frontier village of Lansluck came available.   A frontier village far away from the "aid" of Tshang Hai Shing.

NEXT #9 - Welcome to The Brimming Stein

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