Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ballad of the Pigeon God #62: The Hour of Reckoning is Near!

7th of NonDec 1072 - On the Road to Omsjik, Kingdom of Crosedes
Upon gathering the intelligence and supplies they sought out, our heroes were en route back to the Chateau d'Echelon, to prepare for the apocalypse/god-king that had been prophesied.  There was less than month before its arrival, so they tried their best to overcome the inclement weather, pilgrims and the curious clogging  the roads, all wishing to reach the camp of the Cult of Apotheosis.

Echelon, former Baron of Eding, fervent priest of Tshang Kai Shing, de facto leader and inspiration against the Dread Lord, and until a few days prior, previously deceased.  Wielder of the trident, Wave. Oh yeah, he was still disguised as a woman.

Kane, an eastern mystic with elemental control of water.  He had discarded the adventuring, but upon learning of the resistance against the Dread Lord, dug out his old armor and took up arms.

Thorin Slatebelt, Dwarf blacksmith, sworn by General Sir Norm Dingleberry with the task of protecting Echelon.  So far, so good.

The mass of humanity (and other demi-humans) perplexed the party.  Not only was the travelling community peaceful and helpful to one another, soldiers and cavalry of the King (The Dread Lord!) was not only letting these heretics pass unmolested, they sometimes aided those in need!

8th of NonDec 1072 - Outside of Omsjik, Kingdom of Crosedes 
Nearing the town Omsjik, but before the fork in the road leading to their rendezvous at Maless Manor, the mass of humanity slowed to a near crawl.

Rumors pushed through the caravan of pilgrims about humanoid monsters from Markovia and elves from Agenmoor pouring across the border, all wishing to witness the arrival of the God-King.

News would stall the march, but a long series of wagon alongside the road was actually causing a near halt.  Atop the wagons were a series of convicted criminals, strung up on posts in the wagon, completely eviscerated.  Each had a sign below them with their names and details of their crimes.

Theft, Swindling and Abusing Poor Pilgrims, the offenses seemed minor compared to painful death.

The last wagon held the lone woman of the collection.  Disembowled like the rest, her sign read- Mellandria - Scribe and Forger for the Traitor Echelon Riemann.  Guility of Witchcraft, Heresy, and High Treason.  Bounty paid out to Sterling Riverbend.  

Echelon's head dropped.  He had sent Mellandria to Pojunct with Sterling.  He was a swarthy individual, but no one picked him out as working for the enemy.

Less than a mile down the road, the took and empty road to the left and head for Maless Manor.

The Manor was in far better shape then they had left it, much in part of their enigmatic Michael.  He sat in a chair, openly weeping, holding a small creature in his lap.  Upon closer inspection, it was Horatio, Mellandria's owl familiar, and it was barely alive.

Michael looked up, tears streaming down his face.  "The owl arrived two days ago, barely alive.  It lead me to the carnival of criminals down the road.  Did they really need to do that to her?  She didn't deserve any of it!"

He collapsed to the floor, still coddling the now-lifeless body of the owl.

9th of NonDec 1072 - Maless Manor, Outside of Omsjik, Kingdom of Crosedes 
The trio consoled Michael as best they could, but they left him in the parlor to find food and a warm bed.  The following morning, they resupplied, disguised Echelon as an ugly woman yet again, and headed for Eding.

Along the way they picked up the regular talk: humanoid and foreign armies marching on the Cult's camp, talk of forced conversions of Omsjik townsfolk, and some obviously overblown stories of quarter-ogre Sterling Riverbend, hunting down some of the heathen rebels against good King Cervinal.

"Mellandria was the first.  He's on the path of a heretical priest, a lecherous rake, and a shaved dwarf.  Total Losers!"

15th of NonDec 1072  - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Echelon arrived at Chateau, confirmed he was indeed alive (Wave the Trident helped confirm he was not a Spider Person).  He removed his disguise, mounted his horse and rode to the center of town.  He publicly announced his return and his intent to slay the King.  The royal cavalry garrisoned in Eding attempted to move forward and arrest him, but five separate groups of bounty hunters emerged from the group and assaulted the cleric for their own financial gain.

Displaying the skewering power of Wave for the first time in public, Echelon made short work of the bounty hunters.  The King's men stepped back and returned to the barracks.

Echelon cleaned the blood off of Wave, surveyed the bodies (Sterling was not among them), and declared:

"I have not returned to rule over you.  Obey Baron Timmy.  Obey Lady Iris.  Do not venture near Lake Apotheosis, even to quench your curiosity.  When the time comes, defend your homes if you must, but I beg that many of you heed my warning and flee far away, or even to the halfling towns, if that might be far enough.  I can not guarantee your safety, even with my power."

With that, Echelon hoisted Wave, and started walking back to the Chateau.  Upon a quarter mile, he turned around to fetch his horse.  Once mounted, he sped off to the Chateau, post-haste.

DM Notes: Echelon has returned to Eding, but not without discovering the betrayal by Sterling and the loss of the wizard Mellandria.  Fun fact: Since his first appearance, Sterling's goal was to recover Echelon or one of his compatriots, not for any love or allegiance to the Dread Lord, but for the almighty gold piece.  Couple that with Mellandria's player no-showing session after session... and Sterling's player scheduled to miss a month of sessions, I figured the pair journeying together to Pojunct was the perfect time for him to make his move.  

Maless Manor was more a safe place to stay and resupply, and I still don't know who or what Michael was, but I figured the loss of the wizard would crush him...

RIP:  Mellandria (and Horatio).   Damn you Sterling!

In twenty-two days, the God-King returns...

NEXT: #63 -  Awaiting the Oncoming Storm

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