We’ve picked up the momentum we lost over the holiday period, and ready to keep going with our Weird West D&D game! After all, we need to finish by April; I don’t think I can complete with the new season of Game of Thrones…
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev), Father Jeb Underwood (Joe).
An’ naturally I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.
Last time, the Dwytes tried to help the Selai-Thua clan with their little problem, if you can call being attacked by blood-crazed demon-worshipping berserkers a little problem. They ran into some trouble, and had to retreat back to the clan village. Thankfully, Jeb had returned from doing whatever off-screen, and was ready to pitch in.
The day starts with Night Hawk, the clan leader, approaching Jeb and the Dwytes. He says that after long hours of meditation, he believes that the best course of action may be to go and see a mysterious aelfar shaman called Speaks-With-Stars.
“She is old and wise, and can see the tides of the spirit world in a way that even I cannot. Maybe her counsel will aid us against both the Fihanna-Fimh and these Quiet Brothers who hunt you.”
He tells them that Speaks-With-Stars lives on the other side of Spirit Lake, and offers the group a boat. Moon Chaser, his apprentice, volunteers to go with them to show them the way. With no other immediate options, Jeb and the Dwytes agree that it probably couldn’t hurt to go and see this shaman and get a bit of plot advancement.
They cross Spirit Lake, and on the way Moon Chaser explains that the lake is the most sacred place in aelfar lands; the People believe that the spirits live deep below the surface of the lake, and the waters reflect their mood. Thankfully, the waters are calm, and after a few hours of John rowing, they reach the far shore. Moon Chaser takes them through the forests, and tells them a bit about this shaman.
“She is one of the oldest of the People. Some say that she is older than the clans. Some even say that she is not one of the People at all, but one of the spirits who takes a mortal form to walk among us. Many times before, clan leaders have gone before her to seek her wisdom. In fact, Spirit Eye, the last time our clan spoke with her was when you came to our lands. The chief was unsure whether to accept the help of a human, but Speaks-With-Stars persuaded him.”
Jeb just rolls his one eye at that. He’s not particularly impressed with all this rambling talk of pagan nature spirits; after all, he is a man of the LAWRD.
They come to a clearing which may as well have signs up that read MYSTERIOUS OLD SEER LIVES HERE. Sitting cross-legged in front of a simple tent is an aelfar woman. She doesn’t seem old as such; she isn’t hunched or wrinkled or anything, but she definitely has a spooky, immortal air about her. Think a more “tribal” (for lack of a better word) Galadriel.
“I do not know if she has ever spoken with humans. Perhaps it is best if I go first. Please, remember to show her respect.”
Moon Chaser approaches and grovels in front of the shaman, and says that she’s brought human allies of her clan, seeking guidance. Speaks-With-Stars beckons them forward, and they all sit in front of her.
“Ah, Spirit Eye. And the brothers of the House of Dwyte. Such brief, mortal things, you humans, but the spirits have been speaking of you three for some time now. Your deeds echo in both our world and theirs. Moon Chaser here says you have come seeking guidance. Speak.”
Who are you?
“I am the last of the First Clan, the first of the People who walked these lands. I was old before the brute duergar landed on our shores, old enough to recognise the ripples of an echoed history. The duergar perished and faded away, as did the holkhar before them, and the dromians and orrok and kyth before them. As you humans will, and the others who follow in your steps. Only the People and the spirits persist.”
Why are the Fihanna-Fimh working for the Quiet Brothers?
“Because they were scared and desperate, and that made them foolish enough to believe the lies of demons. They are slaves now, empty shells of what they once were. Their clan and way of life is dead. The spirits no longer walk with them.”
Can you tell us more about this strange “nightmare metal”?
“It is not of this world, or of the spirit world. It comes from the darkness between them. It is the spore of the Great Worm, what your people call the Devil. It scattered the metal across the land to harm the spirits of the world, long before even the time of the People. These Quiet Brothers are seeking it, just as the duergar did, hoping to use it against us and our spirits.”
What are the Quiet Brothers planning?
“They seek total domination of these lands, a world offered up in tribute to the Great Worm, a world of greed and tyranny without the light of the spirits. I see a sky as red as blood, without sun or moon or stars, forever.”
How do we stop the Quiet Brothers?
“You have all you need. You have your strength, your wits, and your faith. Miracles have been accomplished with less.”
Will you help us?
“I am bound by the laws of the Great Spirits. If change is to occur, then it will occur. But yes, I will help. I believe the Great Spirits will not mind if I give the wheel of Fate a slight nudge.”
The guys talk some stuff over; obviously they’re worried about the Fihanna-Fimh and Quiet Brothers roaming the forest, clearly something needs to be done about those guys now before they can move on to bigger targets. John suggests uniting the other clans so that they can fight together.
“A noble goal, but it will be difficult to reach. The clans so value their independence, but perhaps it is time to come together as one People once again, as they did against the duergar.”
Speaks-With-Stars gives them a stone on a cord, inscribed with a strange rune. She tells them that as long as they carry the stone, the other clans will know that they speak with her authority and approval. She also asks, out of nowhere, if Jeb still has the ceremonial knife that they recovered from the basement of the Dwyte home. He says that he does, and she tells him to keep it close, as the time to use it for its true purpose is fast approaching.
“Now you must leave. I sense the approach of the Fihanna-Fimh. There are disadvantages to all the clans knowing where to find me.”
“Then you’re not safe! Come with us!”
She laughs and assures them that she’ll be fine. They hurry away as they hear the distant sound of war cries. They hop back into the boat and start rowing back across Spirit Lake.
“Will she be alright?”
“If she knew that they were coming, then there is nothing to fear.”
As they row, they discuss ways of how they could contact the clans. They hit on the idea of using the telepathic powers that Moon Chaser and the other shamans have. She warns them that she hasn’t tried contacting the shaman of another clan before, but she theorises that if she uses all her strength to essentially shout as loud as she can into the wibbly-wobbly-whatever-realm, then someone’s bound to hear it. She prepares herself and casts her mind into the spirit realm to deliver her message, and things immediately seem to go wrong as she starts shaking and convulsing. The water – out of nowhere – starts to get choppy, tossing the boat around, and John and Magnus struggle to keep it steady.
Jeb decides to help by using his healing touch on Moon Chaser. It backfires horribly; he takes a chunk of spiritual damage as he makes contact, and is knocked off the boat into the churning water. John dives in after him and drags him back onto the boat before he sinks.
“What is it? Is it workin’?”
“Too well, I think.”
With a final scream, Moon Chaser goes down and goes down hard; she’s bleeding from the eyes and nose and practically comatose.
Figuring that the death of another clan member under their supervision won’t reflect well on them, the group row as quickly as they can across the lake’s rough waters (Jeb sulking all the while about being cold and wet). At the other side, a group of Selai-Thua warriors are waiting for them; they take the unconscious Moon Chaser and hurry her back to the village.
Night Hawk is less than pleased. Not only is his apprentice hurt, but he’s really not keen on the whole “unite the clans” thing. But Jeb manages to smooth things over, showing him the carved stone that Speaks-With-Stars gave them.
The next morning, there’s no improvement with Moon Chaser. Things seem to be uneventful, until a Selai-Thua scout runs in the camp and frantically babbles about a group of armed warriors from another clan – the Biel-Tan (yes, yes, I panicked again) – who are rapidly approaching. The Selai-Thua aren’t exactly super-magic-unicorn-best-friends-forever with the Biel-Tan, so Night Hawk decides to meet them at the village entrance with some of his braves, and gets the other people of the clan to hide away. Jeb manages to convince the chief that he stand with him and meet the Biel-Tan. John and Magnus decide to stay close, ready for any trouble should things go south.
At the village entrance, Night Hawk and Jeb meet with the Biel-Tan warriors, one of whom is enormous, undoubtedly the champion of the clan. His name is Stone Bear, and he is a prick.
“Ha! I wished it were not true that a clan could fall so far, but here you are consorting with a human!”
Night Hawk tries to talk Stone Bear down, but the big dude’s not listening. He rants on, saying that the Selai-Thua are degenerates, and their “disruption of the spirit world” (Moon Chaser’s little trick) only proves their descent into madness. He goes on to say that the Fihanna-Fimh were right about them, and their “blasphemous ways”.
“The damn Fihanna are workin’ with humans too, you fool!”
But Stone Bear dismisses it all as lies and slander; as far as he and his clan are concerned, the Fihanna-Fimh are still their allies and the Selai-Thua are the ones who have turned to the worship of evil spirits. It seems that the Quiet Brothers may have gotten their claws into another clan and led them astray!
“Night Hawk of the accursed Selai-Thua! You are no longer of the People, but my chief has granted you a mercy; if you leave these lands by sundown and never return, then you will be spared. Resist, and we will destroy you.”
Night Hawk is shocked by this; his people cannot hope to stand up to the warlike Biel-Tan. Jeb then cuts in again, waving the stone from Speaks-With-Stars.
“Look, we have the shaman’s symbol! You can trust us!”
“Never! You may stolen it, or killed her and taken it! No human, the decision is final. Leave, or die!” (turns to leave) “We shall return at sundown. Pray to whatever dark spirits you now serve that we do not find you.”
Jeb suggests a trial by combat between champions to decide the fate of the Selai-Thua. Stone Bear just laughs it off and continues to walk away. And that’s when Jeb hits below the belt.
“Yeah, figured you were too scared to fight like a real warrior.”
Stone Bear roars with anger and storms back, and shoves his way into the village, followed by his warriors.
“John? You been practicin’ with that cavalry sabre of yours?”
“You’re the clan’s champion. Fightin’ that big fella. Keep up.”
“I’m… wait, what?”
But there’s no time to argue! Stone Bear draws out a circle in the ground, and the Biel-Tan warriors take away John’s guns, leaving him only with his cavalry sabre. Then the Biel-Tan warriors hold Night Hawk, Jeb and Magnus at arrow-point, with orders to kill them if they interfere.
Before John steps into the ring with the aelfar bruiser, Jeb gives him the ceremonial knife. “It may help,” he says. He may have winked under that eyepatch. We’ll never know.
A duel of champions, deciding the fate of a whole clan! Seems like a good cliffhanger, doesn’t it? It’ll certainly give me some time to find some good house rules for running a one-on-one duel…