Thursday, July 18, 2013

Falling Ishtar ep04 : Dungeon World

Falling Ishtar
Episode Four

"Firstborn and Only Child"

Dungeon World

The First Month since the Dragon Plague.

With the Duke Thomin dead, the group realizes they may have to consider their actions very soon.   With Cairre stuck having to recover, he instructs Bjorn and Melisande to work together in separating the magical items into two areas:  Good and Evil items.  Lady Unisa is given the position of Seneschal, a position she gains thanks to the Magus' backing.    There's no denying that Cairre has started to approach things with much more confidence now, almost as if his life as an apprentice is far in the past.

Hob is helping out in sorting the magical items and finds himself recalling his family.  He had come from a family of Wizards, but unlike them, he found the passion behind wielding a blade.  There was no denying that they, however, could help in identify the items.  The others had no idea that the Magus of Goodness, Brother Lodin, was actually his uncle.  He knew it would mean sending a messenger to the City of Flowers and that they would want some form of service in return.

Adon gains a new respect for Cairre, who embraces the the role of the Magus well even if he is still currently bed-ridden as he recovers from his broken bones.  Bjorn's magic as well as Melisande's songs have healed him of his injuries, but have not relieved him of his tortured condition.  As a gift and show of confidence, Adon removes his own Ring of Wizardry and offers it to Cairre.  "It is only as strong as you are, but when you are strong, he is greater than you realize."  They discuss more about the other Magi and Adon admits that Barbarians have been attacking his region.  The wildmen claim to serve under the Banner of the Green Wing.  Adon has to leave and protect his own territory.

Melisande and Gil discussing payment of debts.  Melisande realizes that many of the bags of coins she had gained from the Elves have transformed into acorns, leaves and seeds.  While valuable to the Elves, these clearly were not real money.  Just Glamoured objects.

Gil makes plans to leave within the second week.  Determined to get out of the suffocating city, Gil decides to invite Cedric to go with him.  He also considers asking Bridgette to go.  She berates him about being too trust worthy of elves, and reminds him of The 100 Year Wars.  In that story, the Sorcerer class was wiped out by jealous elves that did not desire a line of humans who could cast magic at will.    The Council of Magi was born to protect humans who practiced Wizardry.  The Dragons, however, whose blood that had mixed with humans to become Sorcerers, oddly sided with the Eleves.  Bridgette tells him she wants to visit a Silver Lance Armory in the North.  To prepare themselves for a battle with dragons.  Cedric bemoans his frustration that the Ion Stone doesn't work and throws it as he complains.  That's when it activates and spins around him.  "Maybe you had to insult it to make it work," Gil teases.

Cairre, finally healed, takes the chance to return to the Tower.  In his absence, it seems Bjorn and Hob have transformed the tower into a "Temple of Bob".     He overhears as he walks towards the tower the rules of the temple:  No shoes must be worn inside, No money can be carried inside either (all coin is to be left behind in a box outside), and No windows or lights can be brought into the Temple.  Darkness must remain. Fed up with the temple being commandeered by others, Cairre casts a Light spell to illuminate the Temple's ground level, but the Ring of Wizardry empowers the effect to cause every stone in the temple to shine with light.  As he steps inside, he sees that every brick in the ground and second level of the tower had been marked with the symbol of Bob.  Using Presdigitation, Cairre "wipes" away the symbol and warns Bjorn, "If you displease me..."   Bjorn and Cairre quickly come to an agreement, and Bjorn clarifies that only the first two levels of the tower have become a temple.  When Cairre realizes this means his kitchen in the second level has been removed, Bjorn quickly explains the food has been all moved to the attic where Gil used to stay.

Bridgette, Gil and Cedric arrive, and the Paladin speaks with the Magus while Gil preps for the trip.  Bridgette and Cairre exchange promises to be allies, with Cairre carefully wording it for the Paladin to be forced to protect even the elves in the group, given her racism towards them.  Bridgette however gets Gil to also swear to "Do whatever is necessary to make sure she does not lose her vow."

Bjorn intones on Bob through the next few days to separate the Good and Evil items in the tower.  Melisande, learning from Cairre's tutorials on being a wizard, eventually successfully identifies a magical armor which legends called The Carapace.  A silver bug-like chest plate is pressed against a person's skin, and it erupts into an armor that shifts and reallocates to conform to the wearer's needs.  Hob is given the Carapace to use.  They also identify a second magical item: The Forester's Friend, which allows one to endure the dangerous environments that a Ranger might encounter.  Melisande decides to let Gil have it.

All the evil items are then gathered on the balcony roof deck on the tower.  Hob pours mineral oil over all the items while Bjorn communes with Bob to sacrifice the items in his glory.  Worried that strange energies or powers may be unleashed in the destruction of such evil things, Melisande hurries downstairs and retrieves the Silver Lute.  She plays a song to envelope the items in a protective bubble.  And the items are lit up.

In the distance, Gil, Bridgette and Cedric exit the city.  They see the sudden bright flash of light coming from the city and consider this to possibly be from the Magus' tower.  "There is something i wanted to tell you," Gil starts as he tries to talk to Bridgette, but the Paladin shushes him, "Duty must come before personal interest."

They do not see how the powerful energies are gathered by Cairre to serve as a ritual to wrap the Magus Tower in a protective barrier.   Or how Bjorn gains Bob's attention, and the Tower is blessed with his protection as well.

The Second Month.

With the tower's protections, dozens of dead imp bodies now litter the tower's vicinity.  Rumors have also spread in the City of goblins sneaking around in the shadows.  Cairre starts to worry how long these imps have been sneaking into the tower, and how much has been stolen under his very nose.

Hob is bothered that his family has still not replied to his request.  He later learns that the messenger owl he had sent with the note was inadvertently eaten by a hungry Druid.  Kirin admits he did not know the owl carried a message.  And adds it was delicious.  Kirin, however, seems to have a penchant for making deals and accepting challenges.  So Hob offers Kirin a deal "Deliver me safely to my family, and in return, I will owe you."  Kirin agrees.

Cairre demands for the head of the Temple of Coin to show up.  There were events perpetrated by members of that Church which were no longer acceptable.  More and more, Cairre slipped easily into the role of the city's Magus.  Given the Coin refused to honor Lady Unisa's role as the Seneschal, Cairre had messengers sent to inform the head of the Coin to meet him at the Magus Temple.

Gil talks to Bridgette about the vision the green dragon had given him.  The three continue their journey to the Armory of the Silver Lance.    As they find it, Gil is puzzled why the Armory looks like an Elven Sanctuary.  He learns from Bridgette how in the 100 Year War, the Silver Lance would capture Sanctuaries and convert them into Silver Lance Bastions against the Dragons that allied with the Elves.  She asks Gil if he had ever met "a Good Elf" and when Gil dodges the query, Bridgette shares how she was once was contemplating suicide when she noticed at the cliff a massive crack suddenly in the landscape.  Water poured out, like a silver line in the darkness.  She took it as a sign.  Cedric admits he cannot find a way into the Armory, and that's when Bridgette smiles and explains, "To open it, we need to spill some Elven Blood."  She talks about using a vial with elven blood to open it.  But Gil cuts himself a small cut to use his own blood.  It opens the Armory.  Bridgette does not seem to notice (or pretends not to).

The Coin Headpriest arrives, accompanied by a throng of followers.  Defiant as expected, the Headpriest questions even Cairre's authority, and suggests that he should summon the Late Master Roderick to speak on these matters.  The Headpriest, it seems, knows some Necromancy.  As he begins to cast Speak to the Dead, Cairre prepares to Dispel the Magic if need be.  But the spell fizzles.  Cairre's eyes widen in horror:  Speak to the Dead would only fail... if the target happened to still be alive.  

An old man visits the temple grounds, accompanied by two middle aged but not that sightly daughters.  The old man asks about the possibilities of salvation and offers to donate his many lands for the Church of Bob to use as they see fit.  Bjorn is overwhelmed at the support and strength the faith is gaining.  He accepts the donations and realizes this may mean moving out of the Temple eventually!

Kirin and Hob are flying across the landscape, making their way to the City of Flowers.  They talk about things and Hob draws out from Kirin how alien he seems to view the world.  For Kirin, the world is such a massive living thing that thrives in such an expanded lifecycle that humanity is almost unimportant.  "Man are tiny things with such short lives.  The cocks and pussies of the wild," was Kirin's description of them, almost equating them to mere flowers that are pretty to look at, but irrelevant to the greater picture of the system.    "If that's how you view us, you're the one with a problem," Hob retorts and he finds himself wondering if Kirin is an Elf that is pretending to much to be a Dragon, or a Dragon that has truly embraced pretending to be a humanoid.

Melisande left the tower, hoping to find any truth to the rumors of the goblins, only to see one which happens to be overjoyed to find her!  "Goddess!" it yelps then leaps upon her, and upon touching, the two vanish from the City of Towers.  Melisande comes to and finds herself back in the Dragon's presence.  The chamber is strange, almost ribbed, and organic.  And the scent of flowers fills the air.   The Green Dragon Voarex does not threaten her though.  Not when another guest is present:  Melisande's mother.  She welcomes Melisande to the gathering and shares the story to why she is allied with the Dragons.  She shares how when she was young, and Melisande was but a child in her arms, the Silver Lances had cornered her and Melisande's father.  They prayed to Bob but he did not answer.  They prayed to the Coin, but it did not reply.  Finally, as the Lances slew the father, she prayed for the Dragons to help.  And Voarex did.

Melisande is told to remove all her items and clothing, a direction the elf takes very wrongly.  She fails to pick up on her mother's attempts to steer her to do something.  Melisande realizes the goblins have been gathering things from the City of Towers.  Her mother admits, not just the city of Towers.  But from all the cities out there.  Melisande realizes the whole thing.. it is a ritual.  Melisande's mother tells her that the ritual will target all the first borne children in the cities.  Melisande realizes she is a first born child.  When the Mother uses Telekinesis to hold her daughter in place, she telepathically tells her the truth:  That while she is honor bound to fulfill her side of the bargain, she hopes Melisande can try to stop the dragon to regain their line's honor.  Melisande is shunted back to the Homelands.

Gil and the others are in the Armory and more and more Gil is starting to realize something is very wrong.  As Bridgette proudly shows the Silver Lances, the main armament of the organization, she talks about how the Secret Language of Silver is used to make the weapons more effective.  With a word, she shifts the lance to a dagger.    Gil realizes the word Bridgette spoke was in his homeland's language: the language of the Silvan Elves.  He wonders if the Silver Lance never knew that there were three kinds of Elves: the Silvans of the woods, the Soltari of the High and the Quani of the Dark.    He stares at a portrait of Athena, the first of the Silver Lances, and realizes the woman's ears cannot be seen as they are hidden by a silver head-dress.  The woman's eyes, however, are slightly almond shaped.  Just like his.

The Ritual is unleashed.

If you are a firstborn/only child, then you must roll +Con.
*10+ you have cheated Death.  You remain marked but it's effects are far weaker than expected.  Or you realize you were not truly the firstborn child in your family.  Choose one: You are currently Weak, Sick or Scarred.
*7-9 - You have escaped death, but are Marked by the Ritual.  The effects are pronounced when they are unleashed.  You are currently Weak, Sick and Scarred.
*6 - You die a horribly slow and painful death.

All around the land, people drop to the ground in intense pain.  Many die, but surprisingly many others survive.    Kirin hears Hob howl in pain, and the fighter falls off the Dragon.  Kirin catches him and gently brings him to the ground.  Many are Marked and survive.  To Bjorn's happiness, those within the Tower/Temple of Bob when it happened are unscathed.   Cairre rushes to the Seneschal and learns that Lady Unisa herself is panicking over what has happened.  Cairre prepares a Ritual as fast as possible to address the City as a whole.

The results make the following weeks terrifying.    Many of those who are unmarked begin to grow suspicious or frightened by the ones with the Mark.  Acts of violence erupt as someone seems to have started the rumor that those with the Mark are servants of the Dragon.

Gil, Bridgette and Cedric make their way back as soon as they are able.  Bridgette is surprised that she was not struck by the Mark, given she is the only daughter of Roderick the Black.   They pass a few burning towns and can see people literally attacking others as a mob, hoping to "kill those who are marked" before they cause greater trouble.

Hob finds himself lost in a dreamlike state.  He hears the mountain speak to him.  He sees glimpses of the Ruins of Gonol.  Of a massive Stone Hammer in its depths.  He awakens to find Kirin looking at him worriedly.  He had been struck midflight, and Kirin had decided to bring Hob back for his own safety.  The City of Flowers was not welcoming visitors.  They too were struck by the Ritual.

Melisande awakes at the edge of the City of Flowers.  She cannot recall what transpired when she arrived at the Homelands.  She vaguely recalls being Exiled by her Elders.

The violence gets worse all over.  A messenger from City of Flowers brings Cairre and Unisa word that 27 deaths happened at the Ritual's zenith.  Brother Lodin's brother was among those who died.  Cairre realizes that man was Hob's father.  In the City of Towers, 28 deaths were noted.      Cairre casts the ritual, and through it, every person in the City of Towers sees his manifestation as a three-dimensional illusion.  Cairre reassures the people that he is doing what he can to stop this.  He warns them that the Dragon may be involved.  He asks them to remain calm and let the guards do their jobs.

Bjorn is in the tower when Melisande and Hob return.  Kirin is forced to fly away when some people begin stoning the dragon, thinking it to be allied to the dragon threat the Magus had mentioned.  Melisande annoyingly tells them how her own mother is behind the ritual.  The group soon is together and Hob is devastated to learn about his father.   Cairre gives the messenger from Flowers a massive recount of what had transpired, and Hob adds his own message to be sent.  Bridgette offers to accompany the messenger.

"He may be alive," Cairre admits.  With Melisande's mother working with the Dragon, and possibly behind the Ritual, they have yet to resolve how Roderick fits in all this.

In the nights that follow, the streets grow dangerous.  People gather with torches and despite Cairre's words, become violent mobs that seek out those with the Mark.  Many of the Marked begin to come to the Temple, asking for sanctuary.  While the others try to determine where the Dragon may be, given how Melisande's description does not match the ruins of Gonol, Hob heads down to the lower floors and uses the Looking Room.  Inside, he asks to be shown, "One of the Dragon's Servants," and the True-seeing abilities of the Looking Room show him an ally of Voarex:  Lady Unisa.  The shock stuns him from speaking.

A stranger steps into the Looking Room.  The stranger, seemingly knows the riddle answer, and upon entering mutters something peculiar.  The stranger does not recognize Hob.

The alarms go loud as the Sanctuary of the tower is disturbed.  The group hurries down to find Roderick holding Hob by the throat.  Bjorn is forced to a stop, the undead causing him to delay.  Gil and Melisande move to strike, but Melisande's song goes awry and strikes even her allies down!  Finding an opening, Gil distracts Roderick long enough for Hob to see the necklace around the undead wizard, and grab it to rip it off.  But the blade which nearly decapitates "Roderick" slices into a woman's throat instead!  The woman drops, near death, as the others realize the Roderick they saw was merely possessing a vessel!

Melisande thinks the enemy is hiding in the gullet of a sleeping Tarrasque, buried under the City of Flowers. Legends talk of a massive monster called a Tarrasque brought to sleep by the  poppies growing around the City of Flowers.  The group enters the Looking Room to try and trace Roderick, but what they see is a confusing constant shifting image of various people instead.  The common trait, they all have the Mark.  When Cairre sees a citizen with the Mark tempted to draw a blade and attack the dwarven family they had met before, Cairre panics and launches a Fireball.  The Fireball erupts in the Looking Room!

The group rushes out, gasping for air and smothering flames on their clothes.  Cairre is barely done apologizing when Gil suddenly turns to attack Bjorn!  Unable to control his own motions, Bjorn attempts to Turn Undead in his panicked state.  The turning works! Gil is freed from the possession, and interestingly the mark even vanishes from view.

The Looking Room, however, has been damaged.

As the group gathers outside, Kirin arrives with Unisa in tow.  Roderick begins to confront them all, leaping from Marked to Marked, as he taunts them in the discussion.  Bjorn and Melisande attempt to dispel the magical domination but neither succeed.  The people of Towers nearby, however, now undeniably see that the Mark does allow Roderick to possess them.  And in many ways the fears and hate of the Church of Coin towards the Marked has suddenly become a valid concern.

"Give me Hob," Roderick sneers, "And in exchange I will offer you a single week of peace in this City."  Cairre and the rest are ready to say no, but the gathered masses of people cry for yes.  Clearly, being non-adventurers, the fear and panic has them thinking only for themselves.

Unisa confesses to having been party to the Dragon.  She admits she was not aware of Roderick's hand in all this.  When accused of selling out to evil, she defends her choice telling them the Dragon wanted thousands, yes, but in exchange the rest would be left alone.  It was a hard choice, but a better one.  The group starts to surmise that Melisande's mother may have corrupted the Ritual to work for Roderick.  The Dragon might just be as much a pawn to Roderick as he was before - he just does not realize it.

Angered by the events, Unisa clamors that the group strike immediately.  She stresses how the Dragon and the others are still reeling from the Ritual's misfire.  To strike now is to embrace the advantage they have.  Cairre offers they stay one day to complete some other plans before they leave.    Cairre does not explain what, but the other suspect it may be related to both the magical items, and the other Magi.

Gil realizes Cedric, once again is missing, and heads off to find him.  He finds Cedric in a house in the slums.  He had gone off to check on his family, worried the Ritual had Marked them as well.  He discovers those in the slums use their own kind of magic, a strange quixotic kind.  And have used it to hide from the Looking Rooms all these years.  He talks to Cedric and his mom about their upcoming quest against the Dragon and possibly a Lich, and she shares a story about her old adventuring days with her husband.  He was a thief, it seems, and she was a bard.  The boy, Cedric, however, was not their son.  Instead he was the son of another man, a halfling thief.  She knows Cedric would never forgive her if she kept him home.  She reminds Gil to watch over her son and gives them three potions to take for him.

Melisande's mother stares angrily at the Lich.  Roderick grins his eternal grimace and reminds her that she has a huge role to play in the coming war.  "My armies shall need a Mother of Monsters to bear them.  And you have just been chosen."  In the further chamber, Voarex growls in frustration.  Her vengeance will have to be stalled once more.  Her old master, Roderick, has returned.
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