Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ballad of the Pigeon God #66: The Fall of the Pious

For a breakdown of what's transpired, check out the Ballad of the Pigeon God Page.  The "Apocalypse" starts with Episode #64.

1st of DecDec 1072 - Lake Apotheosis, Kingdom of Crosedes  (Continued...)
The much anticipated "Return of the God-King" had turned into the ruse that some of our heroes had suspected it was.  The spider-god Baraxus the Destroyer, was still towering over the lake from which his disguise had been revealed.  While the forces of chaos poured forth, destroying the few forces of good on the battlefield,  Baraxus summoned forth huge spider webs to block the approaching heroes and their allies.  Webs fifteen foot high and as strong as steel instantly appeared along the edge of the lake, skewering some of the lesser heroes who mounted an early charge.  Others were permanently stuck inside the web's maze.
by Johannes Voss
Echelon, the priest of the Eastern god of the sea, Tshang Kai Ching, and his allies, Kane, Sigard, Thorin, and Beourn (in black bear form) all managed to stop short of their charge before becoming ensnared in the webbing.  Kane could use his water elemental powers to harass the spider-god, but their only true distance weapon was Echelon's trident Wave, and the chance of losing that would reduce their chance at success from a cold day in Hades to absolutely none.

When they had fought Baraxus before, on what appeared to be his home plane, he was a formidable, but defeatable foe.  His gargantuan size and his lack of actions other than those of purely defensive, meant that it was the same god, only in more terrifying (and larger) guise.  It was time to find their friend Norm Dingleberry with his troops and fall back towards Eding to regroup and stage a counter attack against him and his minions.

Meanwhile, the King of Crosedes, the "Dread Lord" himself, Cervinal was locked in an sword duel  with the King of Aragain, William I.  Somehow, William was wielding The Blood-Brand, the legendary sword of the ancient Emperors of Feraso.  He who held the sword controlled the entire continent, and that would certainly put a crimp in Cervinal's plans.

The fight attracted quite an audience as Cernvial's elite heavy cavalry stopped their slaughtering of innocents to watch.  William's personal entourage of Rurik the Viking, Fiame the Cleric, the myrmidon MacKay, and a host of lesser hangers-on also stood transfixed on the fight.

Despite as many dirty tricks as an evil king would be expected to harbor, William finally dispatched the King of Crosedes, sending him tumbling face-first into the mud.  The King of Aragain took a moment to rest before delivering a killing blow to guarantee Cervinal's death.  He breathed deeply as he raised his sword and said,  "First we will destroy the Dread Lord, then we shall send Baraxus back to his hellish realm, and finally we can unite the old kingdoms of the Fereasean Empire under one banner once again!"

While the kings had fought, The Blood-Brand's arcane runes glowed with a dull red.  But when he raised the blade high above his head, the runes began to glow brighter and bright, turning near white. 
Unlike our heroes who had quested for the blade, William had not done any true research on the artifact, relying only on rumors and myth. 

The Blood-Brand had been cited in writings from the First Fereasean Empire, but commoners knew nothing of its latter companion weapon, the Dagger of Mymindosa.  The dagger, commissioned by Emporer Rurik III of the Second Empire, could call monsters towards the champions of old so they could fight them for sport.

The Dagger was safely within the crypt of Rurik III, delivered there by the old acolyte of Elmshire, Ozark.  The dagger, outside its protective case, drew the humonoids and monsters to the lake.  The threat of prophecy, even with some secret auguries to the shamans, kept them in check until the reveal of Baraxus.  The sight of the Blood-Brand made the clans go into a frenzy. 

Most charged directly at William, his cohort, and the late Cervinal's elite heavy cavalry, who still stood there with mouths agape.    But a still sizable group of goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, trolls, and a few ogres targetted the General Norm Dingleberry's 2,500 man army from the fort at Lansluck.  Still in a defensive position, Norm ordered a retreat back to the defenses at Eding, a long bloody march indeed.

The combination of the sword and the dagger didn't just rile up the lesser races.  Over the far cliff face, swooping out of the Nightwood Forest, and  high above the laughing visage of Baraxus, was the largest black dragon anyone had ever seen in Crosedes.    The ancient dragon Paludis had been awakened from a centuries old slumber, and was quite.... hungry.  She did not completely fall sway from such petty human magics, and proceeded to feast upon the remaining innocents who were trapped within the melee.

Echelon's party did spot the dragon, but as they waded through units of trolls and sadistic blackguard mercenaries, they realized that they had been cut off from Norm's army by the hordes of monsters persuing them.  Attacking them from the rear to reach the dwarf seemed foolish, but was the only course of action to escape and regroup at the old Chateau outside of Eding.

But the unthinkable happened.  Hacking and piercing their way through the unsuspecting clans in the rear of the monster army, the whole unit turned around and began charging the few heroes...

But after a few hacks and a couple slashes, they realized the humanoid armies weren't charging them.  They were fleeing from something....

Within a few moments, the goblins and other monsters had passed them, a few stragglers being slain by swords and skewered by arrows from the largest collection of elves anyone had ever seen.
Emerging from the elves in pursuit was a long lost friend.   Ashe the Ranger was one of the party's earliest members, originally adventuring with Kane.   He had been part of the prophecy to obtain the mystical weapons to use in the apocalypse, but when the time arrived to quest for the weapons, he had disappeared with his brother, Binklen.

With Echelon and Kane inquiring about Ashe's timely appearance with his cohort, the elf could only smile.

"My brother convinced me not to get tied down to silly human prophecies.  We elves have sporting events that take longer than some nations' longevity.  Anyway, we uncovered the spot our ancestral line disappeared to during the Barbarian incursion.  I figured a bunch of pissed off elves from the Winnebago tribe could pack a bigger punch than any old sword."

"I dunno, Ashe," Echelon retorted, "Prince William's holding his own over there with that toothpick."

King Williams was still across the battlefield, slaughtering droves of monsters with The Blood-Brand.

Echelon continued, "Anyway, it's great to have you and Binklen back!"

His brother scoffed, "It's Binkley, always has been, if you ever talked to me..."

"Waitaminute," Kane interrupted, "Your name is Ashe...Winnebago?"

Meanwhile, with his holy warriors protecting his flanks, Velandro charged Paludis the Black Dragon.  Stopping short, he pulled out a vial from his belt and drank it.  A few moments later, the dragon's rending of common peasants had ended.  Fighting back what appeared to be tears, the dragon smiled at Velandro, and after a few unheard words between the two, she turned and flew at Baraxus at full speed.
"I've had this potion a long time," Velandro thought, "Let's hope it lasts as long as we need it to.

Paludis' spit a particularly potent streak of acid at the god, burning it's current form.  Before the dragon could reach Baraxus to engage in melee, the spider god rolled in the lake to the left, caught the beast with his magic webs, and took a particular sadistic glee as he pummeled Paludis into the lake bed.

Rising up from the waters, Baraxus scanned the battlefield and found the cleric that dared used puny human magicks to send a brilliant dragon to an embarrassing end. Part of the dragon's acid attack had sprayed over his 20-foot walls of webs and had melted sections.  Even with these huge gaps, the gargantuan Baraxus lept over the wall, landing right in front of Velandro.  With a single stroke of one of his legs, Baraxus impaled the cleric through the chest, then flung him like a ragdoll into a pack of snarling, almost feral ogres.  Within moments, the ogres had Velandro rend limb from limb.

With Velandro's now-panicked holy warriors as his next target, Baraxus was about to make another leap, when a huge burst of flame hit him in the back.

Expecting a charmed red dragon this time, Baraxus turned around and was surprised by a single man, floating thirty foot above the spider-god's forty-foot frame.
He had vaguely elven-esque ears, but the green skinned man in dark crimson robes had all the mannerism of a very haughty human.

Kannex, the Red Mage from Talislanta, had arrived.

DM Notes: I beg the reader's pardon, both fan and casual, if I repeatedly mention in these notes, that everything from Episode #64 until the completion of the campaign all occurred in one gaming session.

To complete my college campaign, I closed up the game store I managed, Griffon Games, and invited all current and former players for an invitation-only game that would be run to completion.  I also invited a few of my favorites from the store for some added goodwill, hence the random appearance of Sigard and Beourn during these final episodes.  

With food, drink both alcoholic and otherwise, and Carmen Burina playing in the background on repeat, we began.  

Velendro's player, Nate (known to us as TOWN... The Other White Nate) had returned from Western Pennsylvania just to play this game.  Unfortunately, he brought zero food and focused more on a Gatorade/Vodka combination than his character.  Well before his big moment came, Nate was passed out under the table.  

I do have a petty streak towards players not focused on the game, hence his death at the hands of Baraxus.  

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ashe's player, Matt had arrived with only the notion that his character should bring elven reinforcements.  He bid his time while I slogged through 12+ players running around, and picked a perfect time to reveal himself.  Fans of the series have probably ascertained that he won't be the only one to do that.  

RIP: Velandro 
Rot in Hell:  King Cervinal, the Dread Lord

Next: #67: The Battle Shifts

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