Thursday, March 2, 2023

Good!Party: The Burning Gnome Festival

So, we’re going to try to retrieve Sacha and help him achieve redemption and apotheosis by becoming the Avatar of Helios. The party undertaking this quest is: 

  • Leira, the sorceress; his One True Love
  • Geddy Lee Geddy, gnomish bard, formerly of Sacha’s Crew
  • Eva, gold dragon, and Geddy’s loyal companion.
  • Tavros Fontaine, half-dragon paladin, who can’t keep his claws out of anything to do with divinity and also desperately needs to build more support for his claim to the throne. 

We sort out questions of equipment and head off to retrieve Sacha from the Wildlanders.They were given Fairflower as a spoil of war. There are tent cities outside of the town, occupied by the bandit tribes and their families who followed the armies. The city is completely overflowing with people. 

We stop an assault on the way into town, saving a young woman who is now grovelingly grateful to us. 

Eva notes that the guards could have intervened, and eats them. The girl is a local; the locals are being badly mistreated by the wildlanders. The other guards are very, very sorry. One of the elders of the bandit tribe comes out, and he was clearly pretty badass back in the day. 

Geddy: “We need the one they call Sacha.” 

“Oh, yeah, the White Knight. I wouldn’t hold your breath. The Blood Sisters were pretty irritated and threw him in the dungeon.” It turns out that the wildlander army was led by eight formidable sisters. They’re staying in the keep. He thinks Sacha’s probably dead already.

Also, it’s almost noon and that’s when they hold the executions. We climb on Eva and ascend to the skies, where Geddy promptly makes us invisible. The wildlander army is about 2,700 strong; they’ve completely overrun the city. The city is, of course, a complete mess; its population has basically doubled. The wildlanders don’t seem to be pillaging; they do seem intent on settling here. There are just waaaay too many of them.

The gallows have been constructed in the town square. There’s a crowd of locals looking traumatized, and then there's a crowd of wildlanders who are there to be entertained. The gallows have been used extensively; there are also well-stained chopping blocks beside them. Sacha is not in the line of people being paraded out. Geddy looks at the two groups, and casts Song of Discord on the wildlanders. Their crowd turns from a celebration to a riot, and the guards start packing the prisoners back into the dungeon. 

This what Geddy has been waiting for: he watches to see where they go. 

We follow.

There’s a building next to the keep that seems to be some sort of guard post or prison. More guards are running out to deal with the riot. Eva goes to wait overhead. We load up with Haste, Death Ward, and Veil (to make us look like guards). 

We open the door and stroll into a small room with a desk and a guy at it. The guy behind the desk looks up. “I don’t know you. What are you doing here?” 

Geddy: “Prisoner transfer from outside of town.” He sells it completely; apparently he has now been mistaken for Tiny Earl. However, he really needs us to get out to the gallows and deal with the riot. Clotilda the Blood Sister is on her way. We try to talk our way past, and finally Tavros loses patience and takes his head off. 

We move into the next room, annihilating guards as we go. There’s a stair down to another level, and Geddy can hear some guards talking down there. Tavros goes down the stairs and grabs the guards by the throat. They tell us that Sacha was taken away to be executed two days ago, but one of the Blood Sisters took him for her harem. Lulu is the one who has him; she led him on a leash back up the hill, on his knees. On the plus side, the keep is right next door, so if we want to find Lulu...

Tavros sets them back down and tells them to run. 

We go back outside, and hand off a pair of trout that used to be wildlander guards to some children outside. (Leira is pissed, and the guards didn't run away nearly fast enough.) We collect Eva, and enter the keep with Leira and Eva invisible.

Of the Blood sisters, four have spiked chains, and four are sorceresses. In the far corner, wearing nothing but a leash and a very form-fitting thong, is Sacha. He looks ill-used but intact. 

A Blood Sister turns to us: “What do you want?” Apparently the other king in the east has already sent an emissary to try to recruit them.

Tavros: “Well… him.” He looks at Lulu. “Will you fight me for Sacha?”

She reluctantly accepts, and we line up in the middle of the room. 

Lulu rages and charges into spiked-chain range, swings… and misses. Tavros takes her head off. 

The room goes silent. 

Geddy drops Eva's invisibility; there's now an adult gold dragon standing in one corner of the room, looking at people.

Tavros: “So, I assume we can count on your support?”

They want 75,000 GP to come over to our side; Geddy suggests that we can bring back their sister as well. We give them a mix of gold and magic items, meeting their price and resurrecting Lulu. 

We have rescued Sacha and recruited the Blood Sisters and the Wildlander army. We get Sacha’s equipment back, then return to Caristhium. We get Sacha cleaned up, and Leira gets herself cleaned up and into a nice new dress. Up next: we’ll need to visit the island of Solouro and undertake the Trials of Helios. 

Sacha spends some time in prayer with Clovis, and learns of his new quest. Sacha: “Leira, my love. I fear our marriage must wait just a little longer. My god has given me a quest, and I must ask you to support me on this quest – you, above all others. And I’ll give you a really, really nice ring.”

We head to Solouro, the island of the Golden Sun. It’s this very mediterranean-ish island, popular with rich vacationers. There’s a very old temple of Helios – almost a monastery – over on the west end of the island. Clovis hands Sacha this sealed document, and we teleport to the monastery. 

Some monks rush out and greet us; we make introductions. Sacha: “I must speak with cardinal L’ren.”

We go inside and have tea, enjoying the lovely weather, and we explain that we’re looking for the Temple of the Golden Sun. ‘

L’ren: “I know of its entrance, but there is no way to enter it.”

L’ren drops some exposition. This is one of the oldest temples of Helios, and they believe that the entrance is in the volcano, which is… mysteriously frozen. There are ruins encased in the ice, but nobody has been able to penetrate the spell barriers, let alone the ice. 

Tavros: “We can but go and look, I suppose.” 

Cardinal L’ren offers the full hospitality of the monastery to us. 

We stay the night, and wake up the next morning with Leira a day older and still not married. We head up to the caldera by way of teleportation at sunrise. From here we can see the entire island and the sea beyond. Beyond the precipice, we can see the unnaturally clean, flat sheet of ice about fifty feet down. It’s about four miles in diameter, and the ice goes down probably a very long ways to reach the bottom. 

Tavros encourages Sacha to pray. Sacha prays, and then asks if Leira might be able to melt the ice. Leira shrugs and casts Fireball. It make a crater, but the ice reforms almost immediately. Tavros suggests that with the business about the touch of Helios melting the ice, perhaps a Sunburst spell might work better. It clears a lot of ice, but it still reforms. Geddy, however, notices a body about twenty feet down in the ice. 

Leira drops a series of fireballs to expose the body, and Eva leaps down and grabs it. The body looks like an old priest, dressed in clothes of ancient fashion. He is holding a book: the Golden Book, the holy text of Helios. This one’s in a strange language, and Sacha can barely read it. Leira, who speaks about seventeen different languages, looks it over, and says: “Huh. This reads like old Formorian. And there’s a spell.” 

It’s called Rain of Fire, and it requires an extremely skilled caster; several extremely skilled casters would be better. The more casters we have, the more likely we are to succeed. Also, we’re going to need 450,000 GP worth of platinum to make enough magic oil to coat the 2 mile radius of the spell. That’s the bad news. Cardinal L’ren, however, is delighted by the discovery of this ancient holy book, and announces that the temple can donate 100,000 GP towards our goal; he can also call in monks and missionaries to apply the oil. 

We decide to throw a concert, with the Rain of Fire as Geddy’s background. Count Bayport, Baron Silvercliff, and Baron Clearsea all have a lot of money and are devout followers of Helios. We take Cardinal L’ren and have Eva fly us over to the castle of Count Bayport. The Count invites us in; he’s eager to meet with us. There’s a small wrinkle: there’s a small army of Solari who have retreated here and are protecting Bayport. 

Tavros makes his entrance and does his best to charm everybody, including the Solari. Then he tries to sell them on the idea of the concert, which isn’t going too well until Tavros suggests that Geddy give them a sample of his playing. Between that and a discussion of the religious importance of this ritual, we convince him; he donates 150,000 in exchange for choosing the name – Geddypalooza – having a luxury box, and getting his logo prominently displayed. Geddy counters with Burning Gnome Festival, and the deal is sealed. 

Baron Clearsea is much less surprised; he’s ready to see us immediately. We proceed inside amid much celebration. Tavros does more diplomacy, and has Geddy offer a sample performance. He offers another 100,000 GP in raw materials. Turns out there's a platinum mine on his lands.

On the way to Baron Silvercliff, we run into a twitchy guy who… works for Chuck. The vampire. From Evil!Party. They offer 60,000 gp for the exclusive right to sell drugs at the festival and tattoo Chuck on Geddy’s ass. After a bit of negotiation, we get up to 150,000 GP donated to our cause. We agree and head on. 

Geddy comes in with Baron Silvercliff and takes over the diplomacy, and nets us another 75,000 GP. We now have 150,330 GP for the party, and the 450,000 GP we need for the spell. Cardinal L’ren gets his people to put the platinum oil in place. Three of the powerful wizards that we rescued earlier show up for the spell, and one of them loans us an Amulet of Intellect for Leira. 

She casts the spell. 

Fire begins to fall across the caldera. 

Sasha, in the center of the volcano, is burning but not dying. Leira, watching from the edge, realizes that she could teleport down and shield him. She… 


She grabs his hand, and a little bubble of protection forms around them. 

Geddy launches into his twenty-hour performance, rocking tens of thousands of people while the fire rains down behind him and Eva provides additional pyrotechnics. 

By the end of the concert, Leira and Sacha are standing untouched on the top of a nine-hundred-foot-tall cylinder of ice. Leira has sacrificed a level, but for her sacrifice Sacha only loses one level and retains his incredible good looks. Meanwhile, Geddy has given the most epic concert in the history of Sol Povos, and Chuck has even summoned Balaam to mosh at the concert, because Pit Fiends love mosh pits.

At the bottom of the caldera is a temple, and the floor is engraved with a sun. The points of the sun end at symbols for the virtues of Helios; the opposite end has a sort of opposing image, with sacrifice as the theme. Sacha finds an amulet with the symbol for sacrifice; when he puts it on, the sigil for sacrifice lights up on the good side. 

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