PCs Present & Played:
Claus Drexol, Magic-User (Vegas)
Phillip Bachman, linklad
Lucien Courtet, infantryman
Lucien Courtet, infantryman
Tenkos, Cleric [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Pyreborn, ?? (Peanut Butter)
Viggo Pyreborn, ?? (Peanut Butter)
Last time the party reunited with Barthelm, killed all of the guards of Stilton, pulled down the cow cult arch, and lit Cooper Thornhill's cheese barn on fire.
Claus was lost in his books and fell asleep reading and missed all the craziness of the last session. Claus and Tenkos were discussing what to do in the basement library when they heard a horrific wrenching scream come from the central room of the basement. They tried to ignore it and keep talking but the sustained scream turned into ragged breathing. Finally Tenkos cautiously poked his head around the door and saw...
Viggo! Kind of. He was naked and charred and dazed and somehow still alive. The two awful cuts that ended his life were scarred over, sloppily, like a bad weld. His flesh was charred and had chunks of his chainmail melted into it. It was around this time that they noticed that the two bear traps Viggo usually carried had been melted and destroyed by the blackfire as well. It was a tough moment.
"Check to make sure he's not an undead monstrosity!" - Claus
"They got me and everything went black and then I felt fire in my soul, fire like I never felt before. Light, beautiful, burning light. And then you!" - Viggo
Claus hypothesized that Viggo could be some kind of human phoenix! Viggo didn't remember any of his family members dying and coming back. He remembered everything up until getting chopped down and standing back up again, somehow alive. Claus tested him with his iron-tipped cane (with no reaction) after Viggo began picking out the chainmail chunks and hurling them away with disgust.
Viggo was still naked which didn't bother him much but did seem to perturb his comrades. He acquiesced, grabbing a pair of trousers and boots from Thornhill's pile of discarded clothes and some leather armor from one of the dead guards. He considered taking a sword or shield but found that he no longer had any desire to use those kinds of weapons. His magic hunger boots survived the blackfire, so he fashioned a sack from old clothes and stuff them in along with his melted pile of silver.
Their friend somehow returned (though Claus was still suspicious), they turned their attention to the problem of getting out of the burning barn with all of Cooper's silver. Their first idea was to make more sacks from clothes, stuff them half full of silver pieces, and then pile body parts on top. They would then claim that they needed to study the parts for... plague science reasons? Then they thought they could just stuff a dead body full of silver! Then they mostly abandoned this line of thought.
Claus found a magic scroll in the library! He won't know what it's for until he takes the time to cast read magic on it but he tucked it safely away.
Discussion about what to do immediately, in Stilton, turned into a discussion about longer term goals. Tenkos wanted to go farther south into Ghallia and report in person to his prince, Fabian, with an eventual goal to head into Ghallia-That-Fell.
"If there was some way we could prove there were mutant cows down here... let's rebuild the arch!" - Claus
They could tell the fire upstairs was burning out. Claus dragged a bookshelf across the library entrance in an attempt to hide the rest of the books and they got ready to go up.
Tenkos went full on faceless (plague) doctor as soon as they got topside, mask and everything. He was trying to fake a minor outbreak and get everyone to go back to their homes. He had told the rest of the party to fashion makeshift facemasks (like bandanas) to help sell it, and it was kind of working, but there was also a building sense of panic. On top of the general fear of plague outbreak on this side of the river there was a sense of confusion and concern over the fact that Thornhill's daughter, who was supposed to be dead 9 months ago, looked very recently deceased.
Tenkos saw the local priest approaching in the crowd and called out to her. Auntie Mildred helped to corral everyone and send them back to their homes until the local prince's own faceless doctors could arrive. She also helped to emphasis that no one should bother the poor Thornhills and picked a messenger to dispatch to Prince Florent.
Sidebar: Since the priests are Father and Mother in stuffy oppressive Teutonia I threw out off the cuff that maybe priests in Ghallia are Auntie and Uncle. It was well received enough to keep it.
Mildred offered to take the party over to the church and house them while they waited for Florent's men since the inn was off limits. Claus' hirelings stayed behind at the barn, ostensibly to guard it but really to start loading as many books from the library as possible into the party's wagon. They had to dump almost all of their massive food stocks but it was a good trade in their eyes. (Mine too, they got a fair amount of XP and potential library value off those books).
Once they got to the church with Auntie Mildred they started laying it all out for her, what really happened. Tenkos was a little reticent at first until the Auntie started talking about her own research into the barn. She was the one who originally sold Thornhill the barn; for some reason the church owned the dilapidated building. Thornhill's sudden success and familial changes prompted her to investigate more and it seems like the church may have stamped out some kind of pagan cult 400-500 years ago. Claus asked if the church had many such seemingly abandoned properties on its books and Auntie Mildred got real quiet and just stared into the distance as the possibilities dawned on her. Horrifying realizations all done for the evening, everyone made to retire.
Except the party of course! Tenkos left a note with 100 sp explaining that he wasn't really here to investigate and that Prince Florent's people would be here soon enough. Claus' hirelings were done loading up the wagon by now and had swung it round to the church. They attempted to sneak their way out but woke up their host. Auntie Mildred sleepily caught them and tried to call after them but everyone just hopped into the wagon and sped off!
The passed near to Dourdain and felt the pull of longing and possibility from their dreams stronger than ever. "Hey let's stop and check it out JUST KIDDING."
They continue on through the night, not resting until the came to the very edge of Prince Florent's domain along the Great Cheeseway. They stopped in the town of Sortie just long enough to rest the horses and give everyone a chance to sleep. Tenkos did take the opportunity to send letters to the neighboring principalities describing what had gone on in Stilton under Prince Florent's nose as a way to shame the rival to Tenkos' own Prince Fabian. They also enjoyed the local Sortie specialties, spiced dried peas and fig pies!
Sidebar: donjon is the BEST.
They rode on as soon as they thought the horses could take it, finally crossing over into Prince Fabian's lands at the town of Mellur. End of session.
Sidebar: Given how Viggo's corpse got terribly melted by blackfire I approached Peanut Butter with an option to test out a class I've been marinating on for a very long time. He was very enthusiastic about the inspiration and possibilities and added that he'd like to play it close to the chest. A slow reveal sounds awesome to me, so it'll be cool to see how he shows his hand.
Sidebar: From an XP perspective the party killed it this session! 2k+ each, enough to immediately level Viggo Pyreborn to level 2. The pickings before that had been pretty slim, with only 3 out of the last TEN sessions netting more than 100 XP per PC. Then 11 sessions ago we had another 2k+ haul (11k total though, more PCs then), so it really seems like feast or famine. I wonder if this is typical for gold for XP games? Or is this partially because of my hands off approach towards refereeing and a generally slow pace?