Title: Angels, Demons, and the Nobility
Date: Mid Davor, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: Greff and Felix meet the King of Rakore, and then meet a dwarf who knew of a demon-turned-angel for the Dark God.
Afternoon of the 17th of Davor, 1332 Avard.
During their days of travel, Greff and Felix had had plenty of time to talk and consider and ponder things. Greff realized that he had not received a shipment from Donald the Miller in some time, and guessed that Donald was scaling up production and experimentation. The lands around Rustos would be perfect for wine, as well, if only Greff could obtain some of the rare Nabrolian grapes to grow there. An overland trip to River Crown's Clan of Caerne farm hold would help hide Rustos' part in Green Fist operations. Rustos' people enjoyed being isolated, and Sir Turos would also prefer it that way. Felix helped encourage Greff and his dreams, and it occurred to the eladrin mage that Torilda could go to Rustos every other week and assist Donald with figures and orders, as neither Donald nor Sir Turon had that kind of a head for numbers.
Neither Felix nor Greff had ever been inside Mount Basilisk, before, but they had no trouble getting their mounts into the stables built into the mountain and then winding deeper into the First Gallery. Inside the First Gallery, Greff made friends with a Rakanus baron by the name of Grimhammer, and his entourage of warrior-priests. Each of them had a warhammer with the sigil of Galgiran on the business ends of their hammers. The Grimhammers were responsible for security within Mount Lavanor, and Greff had earned considerable kudos with them after the werewolf incidents the month before. Greff's armband from Father Bryan opened the door, and a shared love of drinks and fungus steak did the rest. Hours later, Baron Grimhammer and his warriors escorted Greff and Felix out of the First Gallery, in and out of the Second Gallery, and to the King's Gallery. The priest at the entrance to the King's Gallery performed an inspection on the soul of everyone who went in; without the inspection, the wardings into the King's Gallery would destroy anyone that Galgiran could not approve of or who did not atone in Galgiran's eyes. (This was one way the orcs of the Tikranor Duchy had proven their worth to Rakore, despite their slayings of many dwarves.) Greff's soul was weighted by the many killings he had done earlier in his life – some of them not a year before. Greff, however, had faith in what he had done for Galgiran, dwarves, and all the people of Rakore. Despite the priest's warning, he strode across the threshold – and was not burned to ashes. Baron Grimhammer and his people never had a doubt, and they all went in to the King's Gallery.
One of Hershel's personal kobolds from Maleah's Mercantile met them there, and escorted them to the Ducal Mage's small room off the King's Gallery. There, Greff and Felix updated the owner of Meridian Explorations on what they had done, and caught up on the goings on of the nobility. Hershel's plan had nearly backfired. ME had helped him become a better Ducal Mage, and several other dukes considered having mages of their own. However, they also wanted their own equivalents of Meridian Explorations. Hershel had no problem with the other Ducal Mages having assistants, especially those trained in the arcane who could help police the mages in the kingdom. The owner of ME decided that the only way to prevent competition on the level he envisioned, was to make ME such a presence that no one could compete with them. The 10,000 gold pieces the team had confiscated from Maester Jaimee would help go a long way towards making ME to formidable to compete with anywhere in the kingdom. Felix had to tell Hershel the sad state of the Meridia's Gift at that point, the ship foundering in the mud and beginning to rot, without a crew to float her. Hershel pledged many fixes and more funding, and was glad to be back in charge of the enterprise, even pledging more money to help Murdoch complete his ship that much faster.
Afterwards, Hershel showed the ME team off to as much of the nobility as he could. They met hundreds of nobles, from thanes to dukes, barons to knights, representatives, escorts, and more. Greff's mind expanded at the insights, despite having to tell the story of how he and others from Meridian Explorations slew giants on the south slope of Mount Basilisk what seemed like hundreds of times. Felix and Greff both looked for prospective members of ME, following their aggressive recruiting clues from Hershel.
The team managed a coup that night, getting the Thane of Boulderdash to force his barbarian bodyguard to join ME. The bodyguard had apparently been saved as a young slave by the thane, and then pledged his barbarian life to protecting the thane. The thane was ready for the teenager to go out and see the world, and transferred his debt to Felix and Greff and ME. The teenager scowled at the situation, but his honor left him no real choice but to join. Kralik wore a light leather jerkin and kilt, and was a man that could run down a deer. Formidable with the spear and the atl-atl, he was also good in hand-to-hand combat.
The team also made a near-coup from Duke Dwarfkiller, the orc general in charge of the Tikranor Orcs. One of Dwarfkiller's contingent was a ranger with the characteristic mohawk of the orcish elite. Felix recognized much of the symbology that went into the orc's leather armor, and Greff was able to open up conversation with him, familiar as he was with orcish customs and language. The mohawk known as Johr Antkiller seemed interested in Felix, as well as Greff, and Johr proved just as keen and intelligent as the mohawk Thalsk Noshadow back in Teras. While they proved unable to lure Johr away from Duke Dwarfkiller's service, the mohawk at least seemed very interested in Meridian Explorations, and indicated that he might try to join at a later date.
Felix and Greff swept round the King's Banquet, meeting and greeting many people – and found themselves introduced to Feldspar Graniteshoulders, King of Rakore, Clan Chief of the Warkore Clan, Duke of Mount Basilisk, and Master of the Fire Crown. Indeed, the king's crown was made of yellow and red gold made to appear as a circlet of fire around his head, the flames the highest on his brow, where perfectly cut gems of sphene through the light in the room about as though the crown really were on fire. Sitting on one arm of the throne was the king's cane, a residual reminder to all of the Traitor that had tried to slay him on the throne and left one leg forever scarred and limp. Despite the damage, King Graniteshoulders was still a formidable stonemason, smith, and warrior – his lack of a neck and broad shoulders making him a formidable dwarf. The king was interested in meeting the two, and studied the two representatives of ME with a keen eye – Greff in particular, as Felix was nominally a member of Lok Magius. The three of them exchanged pleasantries, and found out that Felix's mother was present; she had already arrived some days prior, and made an impression as a waspish elven princess. Felix was polite and diplomatic, but could tell the king's opinion of his mother – and he agreed. Felix asked to speak with the king's chamberlain when it was convenient, about a matter for ME, and the king was quite accommodating.
Later, when the chamberlain met with the team, they asked him if he had ever had contact with Fomorian giants. The chamberlain led the team off into a secluded alcove, and explained that his Ironwill Clan of hill dwarves had lived on the south face of Mount Basilisk for several centuries. There had been a clan of giants on the southeast face of the mountain, and the dwarves and giants had fought during all of that time. The fighting was mean, low-brow, and beneath contempt, and yet had never evolved to the level of total war. It had almost become ritualized combat, where young dwarves proved their worth by killing giants, and young giants proved their worth by killing dwarves. During the War of the Undead, the giants simply disappeared, their village empty and abandoned. The Ironwill dwarves had assumed that the undead killed the giants, and left it at that. Afterwards, when Rakore was founded and the diversity of the kingdom increased with each passing year, the Ironwill Clan came to regret their actions against the Fomorian Clan. It was a blemish upon their honor, for they felt responsible for the loss of the giants that would have proven a boon against the ogres. When the chamberlain and the other Ironwill dwarves had heard of the killing of two of the Fomorians at Koultriss, they became curious. The clan was willing to reward the team for an investigation into the fate of the Fomorians, in fame if not in fortune.
The team was grateful for the information, and asked about a dwarf by the name of Margrin Stonegrudge. The chamberlain arranged for a meeting, later that evening. The dwarf that visited the team was elderly, his white beard reaching to the ground, his posture stooped, and many wrinkles upon his wide brow. Margrin walked with a cane which he gripped with white-knuckled ferocity when the team asked him about Valen Talross. Given ME's reputation, and the way the Ducal Mage had handled everything so far, Margrin decided to tell Greff and Felix something he had not told anyone else in nearly a century. Valen Talross and his group had been explorers and adventurers in their day, but they retired after finding a cave full of treasure and the bones of centuries of treasure-seekers. At the heart of the treasure was a four-armed, tentacle-faced, elven-eared beast with wings, made of stone. The stone beast was a demon that the Dark God had raised in service to the position of angel. Most of the Dark God's priests were dead, his angels dust, and the souls of his followers departed from the world. But, the angel-demon remained, still killing and collecting souls, even though turned to stone. Valen and his fellows had never encountered such evil, and it killed several of them, hurting others with wounds that would never heal. Only a powerful priest of Curiss, Margrin said, might remove the taint of the Dark God from the world. If the team brought him such a priest, then he would divulge the location of the angel-demon. Until then, they should be wary – for other things remained in the world of the Dark God that should not still exist.
Near midnight of the 17th of Davor, 1332 Avard.
Dinner was homemade(ish) Salisbury steaks and mashed potatoes. There wasn't any combat that session, or the session before, but we still enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. I enjoyed finally revealing the fabled treasure that had lured Valen Talross both into and out of adventuring. The whole campaign began with a quest to find Valen, and the campaign may end with Valen's treasure.
It was good to see Felix and Greff able to interact with and hold their own against such high-ranking individuals. Bill vacillated for long minutes with Greff, before pushing Greff to walk through the wards of the King's Gallery. He said that Greff had no doubts, but Bill had considerable doubts. I had already rolled to see whether Galgiran would smite Greff, or not, and I let Bill know that his fate was already decided. I was proud of the way he handled it, and proud that he was willing to take that next step – even if it meant the end of Greff GreenNotOrc.
RPG System: Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.
All characters are 16th level.