Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ballad of the Pigeon God #63: Awaiting the Oncoming Storm

20th of NonDec 1072- Chateau d'Echelon, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
It was unsure if the news had traveled to his enemies, but to the common folk of the Barony of Eding, they were equally relieved and worried about the appearance of the assumed dead Baron Echelon.  But he was not there to take back his title from the ten-year-old Baron Timmy.  He had the prophetic return of a God-King to worry about and the possible subsequent Apocalypse to prevent.

After smiting three score worth of bounty hunters looking his head (by royal decree no less), few people of ill intent even pondered bothering the eccentric cleric.  He spent most of his time using a long covered porch in the back of the Chateau as a war room, accepting guests, garnering intel from them, and barking back plans to execute.  Sitting at his feet was his wolf, Pathfinder.  The two shared an psychic connection, but the wolf knew things were better left unsaid and certain questions shouldn't be answered.

The Chateau's current owner, "Baron" Felix had been riding to the Cult of Apotheosis daily to return with a scouting report, but as a prominent citizen allied with Echelon, he was putting his life in danger.  He had met a young paladin of Akana, Sigard of the Slate Gap, and after much discussion with Echelon (and numerous attempts to confirm he was not one of the dread Spider-People dopplegangers that plagued the kingdom) he was offered the job of spy for the gathering masses.   The halfling villages also sent their finest riders on their fastest ponies to report to Echelon of the huge movements of monsters and tribes through the thick Nightwood Forest to the north.  Very oddly, most did not venture south to harass the halflings.  In fact, some of the orcs kindly apologized to the halflings for their intrusions, and quickly sped away.  Their destination?  Lake Apotheosis and the tombs of the ancient Ferasean kings.

23rd of NonDec 1072- Chateau d'Echelon, Kingdom of Crosedes
Sigard reported back that the Cult's encampment had swollen to be miles across.  Somehow, their priests were keeping the peace, even though King Cervinal,  "The Dread Lord" to our heroes, had ordered troops to patrol the ever-expanding outskirts.

Rumors from the far side of the encampment claimed that the Grimsong Clan of orcs from far-off Markovia had arrived along the river above the lake and had established a ferry service for humans and orc alike?  Surely, it must be madness, but madness had been par for the course recently.

24th of NonDec 1072- Chateau d'Echelon, Kingdom of Crosedes
Echelon's remaining adventuring companions were without their own worries.  Thorrin Slatebelt alternated his time between the small forge at the Chateau, and the much larger on in the village.  The dwarf was forging as many arrow tips, spear heads, while repairing anything the locals brought to him, free of charge.  He had befriended a mountain of man who volunteered to aid him at the village forge.  Beourn was a ranger from Ras-Prythax that had the same worries as the entire Chateau.  He was never vetted like Sigard, but spoke of "having the heroes and villagers backs," should the prophecy go south.

The strange eastern water mystic Kane did a variety of tasks throughout the Barony, healing pilgrims, aiding families departures before the 1st of DecDec and the appearance of the "God of Goodness and Light, and reinforcing some of the defenses of the Chateau.  No matter what happened, the Chateau, not the village of Eding was to be the last line of defense, in order to let the last few locals a chance to escape, should things to horribly, horribly wrong.

Echelon's mentor, Mohammad, was perhaps the most powerful holy man on this side of the kingdom, yet he still showed no signs of recovering from the moment he was able to become a conduit for his god, Tshang Kai Ching.  The divine power scrambled his brain, and the already legless priest still spend most days in a second story broom closet, hiding from the open air.    But when Echelon took a moment away from his back porch command post, he had noticed his teacher staring out an open window in the bleak winter weather.  For such a cryptic prophet, he seemed resigned to the fate of the world... and his friends.

26th of NonDec 1072 - Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Kane was never a heavy drinker, but with the impeding doom/divine nirvana merely eleven days away, a trip to the Blue Wizard Inn seemed to be in order.  Outside the establishment, the militia was doing their best job possible moving the mass of humanity moving towards Lake Apotheosis, but there was a different commotion distracting most people.  The remaining people in town were either too brave, too poor, or too stubborn, having survived goblin invasions eleven years prior, then a series of plagues, droughts, and tornadoes that preceded Echelon's rule.

It seemed that some of the stalwart old timers were chucking rocks at a gigantic (6'2") elf.  It took an appearance by Captain Torm Touchberry of the Baronial Militia to disperse the locals, but he was equally unhappy by the elf.  The elf was a former travelling companion of Torm's, a loudmouth elf cleric who nearly brought on the goblin invasion all by himself.  He and Torm were the only members of the adventuring party to come back and face charges of dereliction of duty in defense of the village, although this elf, Markuus Brightelm, disappeared before trial.   His arrival was a bad omen, and a worse one for Touchberry.  If Markuus was here to atone for his sins over a decade ago, something horrible was going to happen on the first of Undec.  Torm swallowed his pride, bought Markuus a drink, and the two caught up.

31st of NonDec 1072- Chateau d'Echelon, Kingdom of Crosedes
More reconnaissance confirmed orcs moving up from Masgoth, en masse, right alongside gnomes.  The lizardmen of the southern marshes were acting as police to the keep the two groups from interacting.

32nd of NonDec 1072- Chateau d'Echelon, Kingdom of Crosedes
Desperate pilgrims from Ruuna were first to report it, but actual barbarians from the distant plains of Galmar were peacefully riding down the road from Ruuna to find a late spot in the ritual.  Once word of them reached Echelon, he demanded an audience, expecting his friend and former adventurer Rolf Wolfsblood with them, but alas, he was not.

32nd of NonDec 1072- Chateau d'Echelon, Kingdom of Crosedes
Reports of kobolds, hobgoblins, and even an army of minotaurs were matched by rumors of King Cervinal himself nearing the Lake, along with a good portion of the Crosedes military in tow.

35th of NonDec 1072 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
In all the pomp and circumstance one could muster from a long, muddy early winter march, General Norm Dingleberry rode into Eding from the East, escorting nearly 2,8000 soldiers the dwarf had commanded while they freed the Duchy of Ruuna from the hands of the Skyforge Dwarves.
After a great ceremony, Echelon rode from the Chateau to greet him.

In two days, they would gather their friends and reach the gargantuan encampment of the Cult of Apotheosis (Cult of Light) to see the prophesied arrival of the God of Goodness and Light back onto this earthly plane of existence.    But for now, it was time to drink and regale their new allies with tales of their fallen comrades.

DM Notes: The Apocalypse is upon us, but for Echelon, Kane, and the others at the Chateau, there was only time to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  The arrival of Norm meant that there was still hope their other friends, many long missing, might return to aid them in their time of need.

Or the return of  God of Goodness and Light was legitimate and a time for great rejoicing!

The actual finale of the campaign was run at Griffon Games, the game store I managed.  We closed up early on a Saturday, brought everyone in with snacks and booze, and played till until completion. We did allow three new players to bring in some characters to fill in some gaps.  Sigard is a character run by Albert U, whose actual character name is lost in time.  Beourn was Matt B's long-running ranger, and Mike Dalcin returned to the campaign world with the same character he had played years ago, Markuus Brighthelm, a super strong wild-elf cleric with a loud personality and zero filter.  We may cover his exploits sometime in the future, but for now, the response by the long-time villagers to him was quite warranted.

Next: #64 - The God-King Arrives!

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