SC15.05: Red Hand of Doom Part V Prologue – Where Angels Fear to Tread

The level 15 Vale Heroes for this session

Sir Ulric von Kessel – Knight Inquisitor, Lion of Brindol, d10 rep;
Phoenix Pilandaros – Long Roader, d8 rep;
Seck Rustrau – Long Roader, d8 rep;
Cat Weasel – Long Roader, d8 rep

The Vale Heroes begin 6450xp below level 16 and end on 2375

Brindol welcomes the lovers, and even Seck

It has been a hard night below the Wyvernwatch peaks. The crew and passengers of the Liberator know they landed near one of the Holds, but found their secluded hanging valley monstered by a weird mutant troll!

Loot: Necrotic claw-chain Phlagellos.

Now, Lothair guides the Liberator down in a gentle and obvious path to land across the Elsir from Brindol proper, out in the pastures. This has been a thoughtful decision on Seck and Cat’s part. They are well aware that a good volley of ballistae would probably wreck their precious craft.

Taking the open-handed, obviously peaceful approach pays off. A contingent of city guards rushes out to confront them. This allows Cat to use his full heritage of charm. It only remains to decide who stays with the Liberator.

Using tact, and Seck’s slightly blunter way of putting it, and a DC20 Persuasion, Vir agrees to stay with the craft as guard along with Lothair. Elke Cat and Seck are escorted straight to the citadel, and given comfy quarters in which to freshen themselves and rest the night.

“I will take separate quarters” – Cat

<sensuous glow> – Elke

“For two, obviously. With bed and basin” – Cat

And so with – no doubt – pixies and fairies gamboling unseen amongst the rafters, the union of Cat and Elke is at last consummated.

No, I haven’t forgotten about Titania

DM

Seck has plans to shop for some good clothes but he learns that their arrival is the very night before the Council of War meets to make final plans for the next stage of the war. And what has brought this speeding up of the timetable?

DM Note

During the intervening 36 hours the prisoners Saarvith and Skather have endured questioning under a Zone of Truth. This is a drawn-out process relying on multiple attestions of lines of questioning. It’s something the One True Faith and Inquisition are well rehearsed in. As to Phoenix’s time in Brindol, I know that he plans to Carouse, which takes at least a day. In other words the two PCs in Brindol have been fully occupied for most of the previous day. Now, we check in on some specifics that have occurred, outside of the Carouse and Interrogation:

Phoenix at Axenhaft Security

“I usedta wear a set of umm… masterwork half-plate – want a new set – got busted – had to leave it behind…”

“Eyeyeyy…” – Eldremma, landlady to the Flaming Fist mercenaries, trying to catch up with this train of thought

“Oh and I wanna hire a sage, ‘cos I wanna learn all I can about the Plains Tribes – I bonded with this ancestor axe of theirs.”

“Eyy? Are they known by any other name, d’ye know?”

Phoenix takes some time to explain the Tribes’ own name for themselves (Cheynan), and how a sage will be needed.

History with advantage, Phoenix clears DC15

The talk goes on long and costs Phoenix a few beers. Eldramma believes he could buy basic half-plate but is most likely to score at the citadel armory, if he is indeed a hero of the Vale. After all that’s where the Lions of Brindol have their best equipment.

The Lions are Brindol’s elite, a professional armed force, led by Lars Ulverth

DM

During all the talk, while he spots the odd Flame Fist, Phoenix recognizes no old acquaintance. He gathers that the experienced mercs are employed training cityfolk, in the Cathedral grounds. What he sees here are likely to be new recruits.

Ulric

Standing discreetly in one wing of the Cathedral is the cloister of the Inquisition. Awaiting Sir Ulric is Tilton Bigot, Senior Inquisitor. While not on close terms with the “civilian” Ulric trusts him enough to broach the subject of Tredora’s hostility. Though, not all at once. Bigot has something on his mind, too:

“<Gyyaaaahhh> Yes, I’m <choke> in good health, praise <guock> be to The One! Ahheheh… have ye found any more <glark> heretics in yer travels across th’ Vale, young… Ulric? Or, tell me <hhuhhughh> have ye had any luck in bringing to book that wretched brother o’ yours, that’s been such a disgrace on yer <kaff glork> yer house?”

“Yes, my eh, brother’s seen better times but I’d prefer discretion on that score, if you don’t mind, Tilton. I have other matters in hand, more pressing questions.”

“Come… I was just finishing off a captive… but I’ll make time for you! <glakk glorkk> I understand <ggghhaahhh> ye have some prey – eh, sacrifices – to The One! Is there anything ye’d prefer them to be made into?”

Reminder: the prime source for all magic items is magic-assimilating creatures including humanoids

DM

“They are of course yours, once we are done with discovery! But of course, the Council will decide their ultimate fate – though I’m sure that dragonborn will be yours to deal with!”

“Come! Ye said Council! <gla-gla-glaggghhh> I eh… I smell the taste of eh… compromise in yer words brother Ulric – I think ye’ll find the Council has been eh… weakened without the… constant presence… of the Inquisition there! <Ahhyy gluuu sllssh..> I… the… <sllsshhh> delicious… <sllsshhh> delicious Tredora could do with some discipline… mehehh… but eh… we were talking about the Council weren’t we? I think you had best give them some guidance yourself!”

“As you’ve heard about Nimon Gap and events around it… is there anyone on the Council dissuading Lord Jarmaath? Anyone less keen to send reinforcements?”

Here, Bigot balks and havers. Though he wishes it were otherwise, he has to lay the primary blame at Lady Kaal’s feet.

“Lady Kaal??? That’s… unexpected! But you mentioned Tredora – her union with Lord Kerden seems to have strengthened in my absence – she seems to have more of his ear than I remember! Any concerns about his wellbeing? Is there aught you can say about her influence?”

“She is weak and compromising with the disgraced, disgusting, ab-races that are beneath our contempt and must be crushed into the rubble beneath our feet! Creatures like gnomes! I hear bad things – I hear bad things, Sir Ulric!”

“Yes we must keep the Vale strong obviously – but nothing that you’ve seen requires formal accusation and the full force of the Inquisition?”

“<Agggghhh> it has to be said that with the Elsir Vale at threat, Lord Jarmaath’s word protects her very effectively… if we could find solid evidence against her that would be a different thing!!<Eughgheh> I have in mind a few branding irons she’s not met in her time…. <huhubeenwantinghahhah sllsshhh.>

“But you feel… I mean we are here to root out corruption in all its forms! Lord Kerden himself! You do not suspect him of any… misbehaving… ?”

Everyone should be suspected… apart from you and me of course, brother Ulric hehehah!”

“Yes, apart from me of course.”

“…And me.”

Everyone should be suspected, Tilton.”

“Apart… ah apart… ahh… anyway… what else did you want to ask?”

“I was merely hoping you will keep a discreet eye on Tredora when I take my leave again.. the safety of the Vale comes first.”

“Ohhh the Inquisition always has its eye on that one… <huhahussllshhs>

“Yes, I’m sure it does. I’ll send the prisoners along with a guard, and you’ll do what’s required with them.”

“Ohhh yesss…. send them… to me…”

Zealous Inquisitor Digital Art by Ryan Barger

“Always a pleasure, Tilton…”

“And to you, Sir Ulric. May The One be with you.”

“And with you.”

“And stiffen… your iron hand… in… its… work…”

<You could do with less stiffening> – Ulric, as he walks away to find Soranna, possibly after taking a shower

Just once in a while it’s fun to really let go and chew the scenery. In truth, Tilton Bigot is a product of me having some water go the wrong way and randomizing the name on my FaNG Fantasy Name app. Completely ad lib. Roleplay is fun!

DM

Phoenix and the sage advice

Eldramma recommends Immerstal the Red, if we are speaking of sages. Old, very knowledgeable, a bit mad.

Immerstal the Red | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

“I’m a bit mad myself: barbarian: goes with the territory.”

Encouraged, Phoenix next proceeds to another urgent matter:

“Meeting someone of the lady persuasion, seeking meaningful long term companionship, must accept partner wandering away for long periods.”

“Ehhh… ’tis a good thing I’ve been about yer type a while or ye’d have me blushing… not really something I can cater for,” Eldremma protests, “but I’ll speak to Liara…”

Liara bosses the Flaming Fist mercenary company, headquartered here. She kind of knows Phoenix, though more by what Luskar has told her. I don’t think this will make top of her urgent pile.

DM

“Also,” Phoenix doubles down, “I once got on famously with a Plains tribeswoman just before she got murdered.”

“Ye c’d try praying – we have a full Cathedral here.”

“Sure, I’ll give anything a crack!”

“Sounds like it…”

Having heard the advice, prayer sounds good to Phoenix. Also, Ulric’s one of those holy types that might hang out about a temple or whatever. He might bump into him!

Council of War – first thoughts

Sir Ulric is in resplendent Lion of Brindol gear as he seats himself at the council table. Now, while Sellyria of Tiri Kitor is present as ambassador, the advice of Lord Norro Wiston and Captain Soranna is no longer needed. Lady Kaal and Sir Lars Ulverth are the civil and military advisors respectively, to Lord Kerden Jarmaath and High Priestess Tredora Goldenbrow.

This is to be a constructive council to decide the next steps. Over the intervening nights and day, the unwilling or semi-willing prisoners have been questioned. Sir Ulric has under his belt an intimate conversation with his live-in lover Captain Soranna, who has gathered information among the troops; and listened out for rumors of any among the St Pelor faction urging Jarmaath to ignore the rest of the Vale. All she comes up with is a deeper explanation for St Pelor (or more accurately Tredora) accepting any folk of any race, so long as they are good at heart. Tredora honors all saints, not too keen on the demons. In other words a goody-goody-two-shoes. Many a young man rubs one out overnight thinking of her, and many a courtier would vie for her: but her relationship with Jarmaath is an open secret.

Soranna also cues Ulric up to listen with an open mind to Lars Ulverth. The veteran leader of the Lions of Brindol is well known for his open disagreements with lord Jarmaath.

Phoenix and the moderately attentive Lion

The vast parkland of the Cathedral is turned to a training ground, with defenses being built stronger the while. Townsfolk that have elected to stay are trained here in matters of support; and the Watch and braver souls trained in deadly arts. Here and there Phoenix can see a Lion or a Flame Fist sigil, where trainers labor.

By now, he has got Eldramma’s advice completely back to front, and is seeking a Lion of Brindol, one of which contains untold equipment. He chooses a Lion, male, perhaps a supervisor; tapping a swagger-stick against an armored thigh. His light cape is pulled out by the blustering wind (the same that saw Cat and Seck in, yesterday eve). His eyes are blue-gray and his hair tawny rather than blond.

At first he assumes this ‘adventurer’ is from Prosser but amicably accepts Phoenix’ account.

“I have a militant bent, and I’m interested in this training. And, since I’ve been told to seek out your brethren, here I am. I want armor.”

Phoenix needs a DC13-18 span of Persuasion and manages DC6. His saving grace is his rep, so the Lion directs him to the citadel, where the armory is to be found.

So by this chance, Phoenix makes his way into the citadel in time to make the council, not at all by intent.

Council of War – a bold suggestion

Cat must perforce use Seeming to improve he and Seck’s appearance. It seems that they will not have leisure to buy fine clothing, as they hoped up to this point. Oh well… over at the table, Sir Ulric shines in his full Inquisitor Knight regalia. Cat nods to him and begins speaking casually. But Ulric motions the arrivals – even including the unexpected Phoenix – to seats. He nods:

“Members of the Council. Now that you have heard what the prisoners have revealed, and the news I have relayed we need to decide on a plan for the safety of Brindol, and the safety of all of the Vale.”

“Thank you, Sir Ulric, we shall,” says Lord Jarmaath, “but first, some formalities to get out of the way. A warm welcome and thanks to you, Seck, master of the trail… and to you… Cat… I see by your impeccable appearance that you are using a guise – but you are among friends! This is a tough life and we ah, welcome anyone who has toiled so hard in the service Brindol and of the Vale. We are indeed here to discuss a great step…” Here, he looks sideways at Tredora, then the other way at Ulverth, who scowls… “I believe that I can propose something that will seem drastic, but, hear me out…

“But first, what thoughts have you, the newcomers, on this situation we find ourselves faced with? You have braved the Dark Lord I gather, and seen to it that he is no longer ready to aid the invaders?”

“That’s true,” Cat affirms. “He has stepped back into whatever unspeakable realm he dwells in, by preference. He has disdain for anything with a heartbeat, and in this time, disdain for the Vale: he cares neither way. He does not care to be a tool for those that would serve our enemy. Thus they are weakened.”

Sellyria recollects lore of her people, going back to a time so ancient that they who are now Tiri Kitor were still one with the deep-woods elves of the Farwood: a time in which the Dark Lord menaced the entire region. She thanks the heroes for their service.

This is a callback to the wild-elf Forest Guardians, and the hidden wood-elf realm Elin Barad

DM

Tredora Goldenbrow leans forward now, and smiles at the adventurers. High Priestess Tredora is so beautiful it physically hurts to look at her. Cat and Seck are reminded of Helena, who may possibly share that unworldly lineage with Tredora:

“On behalf of the Faith: brave heroes, thanks.”

Lady Verrasa Kaal studies the two newcomers, hungrily.

“Thank you my lady,” Cat responds. “We may need to avail ourselves of the temple, shortly.

“With our destruction of the dragons, the hobgoblin armies are thrown into disarray…”

“Two of the three – not the third,” Seck interjects grimly.

“…We know Hobgoblins: they won’t stay that way, for long,” Cat continues.

“They will struggle to reorganize as it no longer has leadership. But the Nimon Gap army, though forced to retreat, did not lose its leadership,” Seck warns.

“That’s what I’m saying!!” Lars Ulrverth yells, banging the table. “We need to stand to the walls! Resist! Resist! Resist!”

Empire Earth 2 Screenshot 31 - PC - The Gamers' Temple
Ulverth is a keen RTS gamer!

As Cat begins to respond Jarmaath holds up a hand: it looks as though he has heard this argument many times:

“Bear with me. Listen. I agree the enemy is caught off-guard. Sir Ulric has told me a lot about what he learned from those two prisoners. What I propose or suggest – it can only be a suggestion since it is for you adventurers to undertake – is that you strike, while the enemy is disorganized, at the fane of Tiamat and end this infernal link between the warlord and hidden draconic power that should have been locked away forever.

dun dun dun…

“We have, thanks to the tangled mind of that Saarvith, enough information to get a rough map to the fane. And I understand you have a flying machine that can travel over the mountains, swiftly.”

“But at this point you would have to ‘interest’ the pilot of the machine,” Cat avers. “He may consider his service done. But since he’s a dwarf, appeal to him with gold.”

“Or through his kin,” Seck suggests. “He may have a roaming foot but his clan, that we rescued, wants a home.”

“Both approaches, together,” Cat amends.

Council of War – the heroes speak their mind

The hour passes, and then a little more. A few small wrinkles to Jarmaath’s broad idea have now been discussed. It is time for the Vale Heroes to decide.

Ulric: “I vote to follow Lord Jarmaath’s plan. We have gained allies across the Vale, and are here to protect the whole Vale, not just Brindol.”

Phoenix: “Totally agree. Not only about the others in the Vale: we’ve seen what happens when you just try to hold back those forces. We’d be overrun. We need to strike and diminish them before they get here.”

Seck: “You know me, I prefer to decapitate the enemy leadership. I’m for the temple.”

Cat: “So we are all in agreement. But we have a little more to discuss…”

Player vote: unanimously agree with Jarmaath, not Ulverth!

“Yes, the ship needs repair,” Phoenix observes.

“Not quite what I was thinking – that will have to wait for another day. A bribe and a promise to help the clan will get Lothair back with us.”

“That may work out better than we thought,” Jarmaath chuckles grimly. “Should we win, the hobgoblin hold on Windtop will be over, and the Windtop survivals will be free to return home.”

“But hear me out,” Cat says. “There is a distasteful topic before us. We have killed three dragons.”

“Heheh… we will open our armories and treasuries to you. Obviously wealthy adventurers such as yourselves would not stoop to leeching the Vale of its only resources, wantonly.”

“Not what I was getting at, but thanks… I count but three dragons dead, of five. Five? yes, five. We have not yet seen a white, nor a blue.”

“Believe me, I too feel that! Even now my intelligence services, such as they are, desperately wait on word from the north, of what became of a white dragon.”

“Any word of a blue dragon?” Seck wants to know.

“Only what we learn from the wily Saarvith’s own notes. He seems to have gone to lengths to spy on his master’s dealings. The gatekeeper to the fane is a blue.”

“Gatekeeper…. ahhhhgh,” Cat groans.

Poem contest Where is my blue dragon when i need him? - All Poetry
Definitely this

“I would like to take you up on the armories offer,” Phoenix ventures. “I seek good armor!”

“Hah! A man after Sir Ulverth’s heart! Lars? Can I leave this with you?”

“Well if I can’t fit these heroes to the walls, I can at least fit them for a fine funeral away!”

Phoenix finds himself dragged eagerly away by Lars Ulverth: a shopping trip into the armories is much more to the old timer’s taste than this wild venture!

General wrap

  • Lycanthropy can’t be easily removed sorry (Vir exits the campaign)
  • Elke’s curse is removed, her appearance returns to human
  • Magic and other gear is allotted to those needing such
  • The OTF clerics allot healing potions they have been putting up ready for the defense
  • Special potions: Resistance to Lightningx5, Hastex2
  • Immerstal the Red may be able to teleport the heroes back, keyed to a Sending Stone
  • Proper bathing and grooming proceeds, for all, before they go
  • Seck visits Rallor Paln and gains some off-books gear
  • Ulric’s companions to be granted formal authority, on successful return (this is privy to Ulric and Jarmaath only)
  • Elke and Cat, and Ulric and Soranna, double date somewhere nice, but Ulric insists on dressing as an Inquisitor, which brings the mood down.

Loot

Ulric gets a heavy crossbow. A really heavy one. (Vicious, Dragonslayer+1)
Phoenix gets half-plate+1, quick-discard, and Goggles of Night
Cat gets the loan of a Ring of Foresight

Other loot tbd

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s