Saturday, August 31, 2013

Falling Ishtar ep05 : Dungeon World

07/28/2013
Falling Ishtar
Episode Five

"Marked"

Dungeon World

The presence of the Mark upon people brings the rise of fear and tension.  Through a magical ritual, Cairre reaches out to the populace of the City of Towers to try to calm them down, but acts of violence erupt as rumors spread about what the marked people happen to be.  Gil decides to try to reach out to the people, and addresses them through the same ritual that Cairre had created.  “Subdue them, but do not harm them. They are not aware of what they do”  But given the destruction of the tower and the death of the Duke himself, the City of Towers was now ungoverned and needed someone who would rise to take his place.

“For the first time, you are now truly free. Free to do what you will.  Free without the burden or rule or taxes.  What do you with your freedom will determine how history and all others of our kind will view you from here on out.  But remember, everyone will be watching.”

Gil's words reach out.  But with them, he shares a warning.

“And.. guard your freedom jealously.  Others will come to seek to take it from you in a variety of ways.”

The group gathers at the tower and discusses their options.  The Lady Unisa wants to Gonol as she believes that was where Roderick was staying.  Melisande suggests however that the evil Wizard was at the City of Flowers.   She recalled the smell of flowers in the air.  And the cavern-like chamber they were in which seemed organic.  There were legends of a great epic monstrosity, the Tarrasque, having been felled in Gonol during the Age of Myth.  Was the enemy encamped within?  “Bob says to Gonol,” Bjorn's words are spoke with conviction.  The visions he had been receiving from the God of Stone were, as far as he was convinced, undeniable.  “I owe Bob a favor,” Melisande admits, and the vote is cast to head to Gonol.   Given the limited time left to prepare, Hob starts going through the magical cache of Roderick with Melisande's help.  She notices that he identifies items faster than her.  She gets curious to how he is doing it.  

“I just know when I see a magical item,” he admits, not wanting to share the truth that his uncle was the Magus of the City of Flowers.  His family was one touched by magic, but unlike the rest of them, he opted to learn the path of the sword.

Hob finds the following items for the group.  A Cloak of Elevnkind for Gil, which would allow him to blend in any surroundings.  A Gauntlet of Giant Strength for Hob, which would allow him to Messily separate a body part of his opponent with the right move.  The Monstrance of a Saint of Bob for Bjorn, which granted him greater ability to protect those close to him.  A Circlet of True Sight for Cairre, which would strip past all illusions and allow him to see beyond normal sight.  And finally, the fabled Bardic treasure known as the Torc of Echoes, which allowed Bards to magnify their voices for greater effects.   These new treasures, plus the Ring of Patterns they had recovered from way back, would give them an edge against their opponent.

Visions reach Cairre.  The Magi of the Council are trapped.  Each try to send a warning to the others. Lodin manifests as eldritch talons rip at him.  Adon appears as a spinning coin that arrives and informs him that they have been betrayed.  The coin shatters.    Annika's message is through a fluttering feather of light.  She blames the humans for the folly, and reveals the Homelands are burning.    Incensed, Cairre pours through the tomes for a ritual he wants to use.  The ritual is to allow himself to become a vessel for Roderick's spirit as the Lich is virtually immortal unless somehow trapped.    Cairre realizes the necromantic ritual will need the blood of an elf, taken viciously with a mortal wound.  He finds the ritual he wants, an ancient one written by an archbishop named Lazarus during the Darker Ages.  The archbishop had used his ritual to trap a demon that had escaped the spiritual prison it was in, so he trapped it within himself to save the world.

Gil approaches Hob and hands him one of the Silver Lances that he had acquired from his journey with Bridgette.  He teaches him the key words for Greatsword, Warhammer, Spear and Lance.  Hob accepts the weapon, but focuses on the task he had decided to do for the day:  Gather the objects in the tower and help Bjorn discern which ones were evil.  Bjorn's Detect Evil is cast over and over again, as they segregate the magical items to two piles.    After intoning to the God of Stone, Bjorn sacrifices the evil items and gains both guidance and a blessing from his deity.  He sees the vision of six towers of stone rising around them, and a seventh tower of Silver piecing the eclipsed sky.  "This place is protected from the dark spirit Roderick's touch," he intones.

Melisande gathers the city's musicians and starts teaching them the songs that she uses to counter possession.  She uses her Torc of Echoes with a Mirror Image spell to hold a concert for them all to hear her song.  She knows that only Bards can truly weave their songs into magical spells, but at least she is giving the people hope.  When she returns to the tower, however, she finds an unexpected visitation.  The four elven students she was teaching have come to visit her.  They bear bad tidings.  The Homelands has been offered a chance to be spared of the impending doom, so long as they withdraw from the mortal lands.  And the Elven Council has agreed.  "We want to come back with us," the eldest, Ganymede, implores.  But Melisande chooses to stay with the group.  And as she, "turns away from the Sun" the magical nature of the Elves responds to her decision.  She changes, and her Sun elf features fade away as she becomes one of the Moon elves (the kind of elf that Gil is of).  "No wonder the Moon Elves age so quickly," Melisande realizes and bids the four farewell.

Hob sacrifices the Silver Lance in his possession, using its metals to start creating a whole new signature weapon.  As a blacksmith, he creates a massive war hammer that is stained with his own blood.  Bjorn smiles at the sentiment, clearly seeing how the fighter has truly embraced his faith in Bob.

Illure is sent into the portable hole to check on Cedric, who had once slipped inside.   Gil worries that the boy had gotten into more mischief.   The four guardians of the chamber seem to be dragons.  Young ones.  But dragons nonetheless.

Kirin has a discussion with Melisande, and she learns the druid seems to view everything with a lens of having a price, or an exchange.  The obsession towards value and wealth interests her.  "I am not used to thinking of things without a price," he admits.  And she tries to explain the concept of friendship to him.    By the time Kirin has opted to leave, Gil realizes that the four young dragons in the portable hole are of the color of the scales that mark Kirin's tell.

Morning comes.

Cairre speaks to Bridgette and tells her the truth he has uncovered.  They are siblings, and Roderick, as it turns out, is their father.  The Paladin is shocked, but realizes that would explain why she was not touched by the Mark even though she believed herself to be the first born all this time.

The group enters the Portable Hole and prepare themselves to face against the four dragons.  The four menacingly make their approach, but the group stands their ground as they attempt to parley with the great beasts.  When one charges forward to strike, Hob smashes at it with his warhammer, flinging it upwards to reveal its less armored belly.  He then lops off its head with a timed swing that messily splatters the body away from the head.  A second one looms closer, but Gil pins its head down against the gold with the silver lance, transforming it into a mancatcher with a single word.  Illure distracts the wyrm enough for Gil to position himself perfectly to trap the dragon.  That close, he notices the dragon has a scar over one eye.  He notices the intelligence in its stare.

The group resumes discussions, explaining that the man who trapped them inside was the evil Roderick, and that they were hoping to free the dragons to the world outside.  None of the dragons, however, have any concept of a world "outside".  And it seems, none of them feared the touch of death. Magical energies in the chamber resurrect the felled dragon.  "In here," One-Eye growls, "We are Eternal."  As the dragons resume their assault, the heroes kill a second one as Hob once again crushes a dragon's skull with a blow from his hammer.  A second dragon is fried when Cairre unleashes a spell.

"They are being brought back to life," the wizard realizes and traces the magic to the four statues that line the walls of the chamber.  Each statue represented one of the greater deities of the land:  Stone, Coin, Luck and Darkness.   Cairre considers trying to deface the statues to break the magic, but worries that it might not work.

The dragons change tactics however, and dive into the coins and treasure, striking like predators beneath the tall grass.  Melisande is caught by surprise by one assault but manages to strum the Silver Lute fast enough to raise a sphere barrier to protect herself.  Cairre is struck as well by another dragon, but a Silver Arrow launched by Gil stuns the dragon long enough for Cairre to cast a fireball into the wyrm's maw.  Illure swoops in, as directed by Gil, to lift Cairre away from the dragon while the ranger runs across the treasure to snatch back the Silver Arrow.  Hob grabs Bjorn and flings him upwards towards the ceiling.  From above, Bjorn uses the momentum to crash into another dragon below.  "For Bob!"  Melisande nearly bursts her vocal chords as she unleashes another sonic strike at the Dragon that dragged her through the treasure.  Had it not been for her protective sphere, she would have suffered the same injuries it did.  Her voice, does however, blast away enough of the treasure to allow her to clamber back atop the hoard.

But the battle seems to rage without end, as the dragons are raised from death by the magics of the room.  The Eternal Chamber seemed to live up to its name.   “We came to search for the Fallen star.  We moved to the depths of the earth.  There is no way out, the labyrinth is eternal," the markings read on the walls. Cairre ponders on how to deal with things.  At the bottom of the treasure room, Bjorn touches the stone floor and once again communes with Bob.  "Bob's guidance is clear," Bjorn calls out as a quick petition for guidance shows him where to go.  "The hole," he points at the distance, "Go to the hole."

They rush off out of the Eternal Chamber, and lose the dragons in the maze-like winding tunnels.  Soon, they find a cul-de-sac to set camp in and try to recover somewhat.  Wounded and exhausted the group tries to recover from the dragons' assault.  But even while camped the group finds no solace.  Shadows stalk them in the darkness, and sadly, dealing with these spirits draws the dragons to their location.  

The fight resumes, and the group is forced to find a way out.  As Bjorn casts Sever to disable one of the closest dragons, the others barrel through until they find a strange room with arcane traps.  With the exit in sight, the group tries to traverse the trap-laden room.  But miscommunication within the group causes the room to unleash its eldritch punishment, and the group is forced to exit at the far room.

No one expected that from that very doorway they were rushing towards, the Lady Unisa would emerge.  Cairre sees it as the opportunity he was waiting for, and thrusts the necromantically prepared dagger into her stomach.  But the words that follow from her lips catch them all even more off-guard.

Outside.  Roderick was not outside.
It wasn't even the City of Towers.

Cairre talks to the dragons, with one-eye seemingly becoming their spokesperson.  Cairre tries to convince them of the truth, of Roderick's evil nature, and of the freedom that awaits them just outside.  One-eye and one of the dragons agrees to accompany him outside.

Unisa bleeds from the necromantic wound.  Melisande and the two other dragons bring her to the Eternal Room under Cairre's words.  Unisa must remain alive long enough at least until Cairre succeeds in stabbing Roderick with the knife.  Through Melisande's songs, Unisa's wounds heal.  But through the necromancy, they never cease to bleed.

As the others pour out of the doorway, they discover that they are already at the Ruins of Gonol.  The underground city with its fallen temple to Bob had a doorway to the labyrinth maze.  And that same maze was linked to the Eternal Room which the portable hole opened to.  The group was at the destination they hoped to head for.  And the dragon Voarex was already there.

Illure and Gil leap into battle, with Cedric in tow.  The goblinoids charge forward, swarming to strike them down.  But Voarex had the upper hand, and the heroes were forced to act quickly to gain an edge.  As Cairre and the two dragons step out, Voarex howls and prepares to attack.  Cairre realizes the four dragons were not the children of Voarex.  In fact, Voarex relished at the chance to kill them at last.  They were children of Kirin, it seemed, and Voarex had been searching for the perfect opportunity to finally destroy the spawn of his rival.

As Voarex prepares to breathe upon them, Hob and Bjorn rush to stop it.  As Bjorn uses the monstrance to protect Hob, Cairre casts a fireball to try to deflect the deadly breath.  The backblow of fire, however, still injures them.  Frustrated, the dragon decides to end the fight.  It camps down its fanged maw upon Hob in a bid to swallow him whole.  But Hob strikes, thrusting his weapon deep into the wyrm's throat to kill it from the inside.  But the dragon's massive bulk falls upon them all, and very things quickly take a turn for the worse.  Cairre is pinned under the monster's bulk and while trapped is kept from being completely crushed by the Great Sword which holds the dragon's weight away from him.  He sees the younger dragons crushed and watches as One-eye transforms to a humanoid form to reach for his hand.   Bjorn is pulled free from the massive corpse by Gil and the two then pull Hob out from the beast, who happens to hold a stone war hammer in his hands: the very Artifact of Bob which was long buried in the temple's ruins.

As the dragon blood threatens to drown Cairre and One-Eye, the two feel the blood drain away.  A hole in the ground drains all the blood away, and as Cairre checks what the hole was, he finds it to be a strange feature built upon the very floor.  A feature on one of the stone tiles that still holds the sigil of the Temple of Bob.

But the dragon Voarex is dead.
And the heroes are alive, with possible new dragon allies.

"Five days," Unisa admits, "We have five days to stop the Lich Roderick."

Hob considers staying at the Eternal Room to watch over Unisa, and to gather possible magical items that the group can use.
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