Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Sins of the Father

Campaign: Krevborna, 5e D&D

Dramatis Personae:

  • Cassie Mabcrowe, teenage warlock with the blood of a fallen angel running through her veins
  • Father Encanto, a cleric belonging to an obscure cult of black-feathered zealots
  • Hideo, a monastic traveler from far and foreign lands who is troubled by the primitive customs of Krevborna
  • Margritte Fenrova, a wildling raider hailing from a tribe of wolf-blooded savages

The characters were brought together at a blazing bonfire that seems to have been waiting for them in the woods outside Piskaro. They are strangers to each other, but each had been guided here by prophetic dreams of a wedding that turns horrific. In the morning they ventured into the salt-blasted city of Piskaro and located the out-of-the-way chapel that each of them had dreamed of previously. 

Taking seats upon the pews at the back, they observed the ceremony--which proved to be a dull and monotonous affair typical of a wedding performed by the Church of the Saintly Blood. The bride was a lovely young woman, fair of skin and brown of hair. Her husband-to-be looked studious and ever so slightly dashing. Also present, at the side of the bride, was a white-haired man with beard and spectacles.

The prosaic wedding was interrupted precisely at the moment where the bride and groom were about to exchange blood and seal their union when all of the windows of the chapel shattered simultaneously, creating jagged entries into the chapel for a number of hound-faced fey and their hunting ravens. Each character was revisited by imagery from the dreams that had brought them to this place--brief snippets of bloody violence--and lo, a melee ensued within the hallowed chapel. 

Although the characters fought well with sword, axe, crossbow, and spell against the fey creatures invading the chapel, there were more of them than they could handle. The prospective husband died protecting his bride; she was captured and delivered into the hands of a tall "man" with antlers who stood watching at the door of the chapel. He retreated with his prize, and his hound-faced minions fled with him.

This led to a chase in which the characters pursued the antlered man and the captive bride across the canals of Piskaro. Each character ended up falling into the stinking waters of the canals at one point or another in the chase, slowing their progress considerably. Eventually, their quarry managed to elude them, exiting the city amid overturned apple carts and a small army of angry merchants plying their now-spoiled wares at one of the gates leading out of the city.

Returning to the chapel led them back to Lucius Korokov, the father of the bride. When pressed about who had interrupted the wedding of his daughter Elena and why she had been taken, he replied that in his youth he had made a pact with they fey: in return for magical power, he had promised his daughter to a captain of the Wild Hunt. It appeared that the captain had come to claim his prize, but Hideo could also tell that there was something that Korokov was hiding.

Even so, the characters agreed that Elena must be rescued. Encanto decided that the fact that Elena had been taken by members of the Wild Hunt was information worth pursuing. A little research in the folklore archives of Volomaas Library dredged up a number of tales about the Wild Hunt emerging from a particular grove within the woods outside Piskaro. 

The next morning the party set off for the woods. Margritte's tracking prowess caught the trail and they found themselves near the spot that had converged upon when they first met each other. Venturing further into the woods, they discovered a hill within a grove of trees; despite the otherwise sunny day, a thick fog hung in the air around the hill. After scouting the perimeter around the hill the group discovered an ancient stone door (obscured by thick moss) that was built into the hill. The inside of the hill proved to be stone passages that betrayed that the interior of the hill was much larger than the exterior hinted at. 

The party crept stealthily through the passages, silencing guards when they could not sneak past them, until they discovered the lair of the Wild Hunt and a bound Elena with them. Surprise was on the side of the characters this time, but despite their initial advantage of momentum their foes fought back viciously. Encanto was felled by warrior of the Hunt, but Cassie's training as a doctor (of sorts) helped her to staunch his bleeding in the middle of the melee, saving the cleric's life so that he could then save the downed Hideo's life with his curative magic. 

In the end, Encanto's crossbow bolts and Hideo's sword conspired to bring down the horned captain of the Wild Hunt. (Cassie and Margritte, for their part, had been busy bringing down the captain's fey host and their flesh-hungry ravens with a combination of hexes and savage axe cuts.) As he lay dying, the captain revealed that he had struck his deal with Lucius years ago because he knew that Elena was destined to be no normal woman; she was fated to be the Mater Monstrum--the captain desired to take her captive so that she could not fulfill her purpose of ushering in a new age of darkness in Krevborna.

A conundrum: do the characters return Elena to her father, even though he is clearly hiding something? Should they now safeguard Elena from her dark fate of birthing a horde of monstrosities? Is Elena's life worth saving if it is ultimately a threat to the lives of all within the land?