Okay, now where was I in game? Right, Caroline the Fourth is crowned, Mom leaves to save her twin sister from the torture at the hands of demon-spawn… that’s about right.
Well, as tradition dictates, the Queen must request and receive (yes, you read that right, request) a vow of allegiance from the elected mayors of the larger cities/villages in her kingdom. In truth, this is a show of respect – The Queen respects the elected, and they acknowledge she is their sovereign and the work for her. This has historically been done by the Queen herself, she travels to each city – but, there have been instances where the Queen was unable to travel – and the Queen’s eldest brother or sister will travel in her place.
Caroline figures this is 1. A great vacation for Victor and his new bride, 2. Will let Mel see the kingdom she’s about to call home and 3. If Haven goes, it will get her mind off her kidnaped mom. So – she asks them to traipse off. Prior to game start – I sat down with Victor and Haven, and they played out picking Rose Guard to defend them on the trip. I gave them the run down on how each visit played out (basically, "Hi mayor! Swear? Cool! PARTY! Onward to the next). However, when they reached Stokesfield (which is a farming city, also housing the majority of the training grounds for the standing army) – a Captain wearing designation of the Road (the scouts and road protectors) rushes up to Haven, and with a wicked grin, orders her to do a mission – she is a soldier in her Queen’s army, coorrrrect?! Haven salutes and say “You bet!” Captain Hadrian Thornwood (who I describe as a rather grinning and handsome fellow) explains a small farming area south of here had some issues – he sent three men down there and they haven’t come back – “And you, with your connections Lieutenant, should be able to go see what adventure might be lurking, yes?”
Oooooh! Adventure! Haven is all for this, as is Victor. A colonel enters, orders the dashing Captain to exit please – and explains that Princess Haven should just disregard Captain Thornwood – he’s panicing over nothing. Haven quickly realizes this officer isn’t treating her like a soldier, but a princess – and honestly, she liked the soldier better. They send a quick note to their family to say “Hey – adventure?” And Felix, Aldric and Conner get sis to spend the gold for them a quick teleport to Stokesfield.
(I thought I’d say that all the major cities in Taur’on have a set of teleport circles set up. They are HIGHLY guarded, and aren’t cheap to use. But, they are the royal family – and who wants to wait the weeks it would take to ride it, heh?)
The crew sets south, realizing they are heading strait for an old tower that was held by an adventuring crew. Their leader, known as Stormcrow, was actually a male family member of theirs who adventured under the nickname to keep his royal name outta trouble. Neat!
They arrive, and find – GNOLLS?!?!? Holy snot! After two very bloody fights, they realize they have run out of healing surges (I was hitting like a champ.. it was bad for them) and they go to rest it off in what they hope is safe place. Fortunately, they bar the doors – so when the suckers start getting broke down a few hours later – they flee to another part of the underground – strait into a crypt… with its own guardian spirit. As the Gnoll leader chases them in – they realize the gnolls can’t enter. It is protected against those “not Taur’on” – be that citizen or actually of the blood? Who knows. But then again, the Gnolls are just gonna wait them out – and they didn’t exactly bring enough food and water to last that long in here. This is bad. The Gnoll leader speaks minotaur – which so does Conner – and Conner attempts to make parlay with them… however, the Gnoll’s second, clearly a necromancer, doesn’t seem to be having any of it. Haven insults her, she starts ranting about something (probably a “I want that human bitches’ head on a stick”) and the Gnoll Leader says “Seems you have as hard of a time controlling your bitch as I do controlling mine.” He and Conner laugh over their predicament – and the Gnoll Leader grins – “Why don’t we help ourselves? We’ll let our bitches fight this out!”
An agreement is reached – Haven (who has no healing surges) will fight one-on-one with the Gnoll Necromancer. The survivor wins and stays, the losers leave. A crowd of gnolls gather, including a pup, to watch the fight. Long story short – Haven wins. Barely. As she gets rather into her victory, the gnolls pick up the body to take it away (and the little gnoll pup is crying, hugging what must be his dead mom) – Haven begins to get irate she wasn’t allowed to take anything from the corpse. Surely the necromancer had some powerful items of some sort. LOOT DAMNIT!! She yells at Conner that she should have rights to the body – Conner translates. The Gnoll Leader (whose name is Warden) tells him, what does she want? Conner Translates. Haven replies, “Her most valued possession.” Conner translates exactly back. The Gnoll grins and says, “So be it!” He barks an order – and the gnoll pup is handed to a very confused and flustered Haven.
SURPRISE HAVEN! YOUR A MOMMY! AND HE’S FURRY!
Let it just be said, as a DM? I wish I could say I planned for this to happen. That somewhere my evil little mind I had designed the perfect trap. But no. That would be a lie. But the MOMENT that came out of Haven’s mouth? Oh YEAH! PUPPY TIME!
So, now Haven has a kid – (who actually took his mom’s amulet off her body before he was deposited into Haven’s possession). Through a bit of mimic (he’s a gnoll, he sure as hell doesn’t speak their language) they realize his name is Gnarl. Yeah, this couldn’t get any more awesome.
The next two hours of play – is the family trying to figure out what the HELL to do with this pup. He isn’t stupid, but he doesn’t “get” proper behavior. He hordes food, eats everything put in front of him. As the group returns home, reports to Captain Thornwood – the Captain gets a hoot out of his “new little furry princeling” – Haven realizes that having a furry son might affect her ability to date… seriously, the King of Mordova has a furry step-son? At this point, I’m giggling with pure DM glee.
They get home, and as they introduce the little furry fellow to Aunt Blair? She passes out. Grandpa and Salkana seem stunned, but figure, what the hell. Caroline? She’s trying her best not to freak, nor to giggle herself into stupidity. They finally think to figure out what the amulet little Gnarl took from his mom does. DM rolls… and begins to laugh herself totally stupid… fate loves me It allows for the wearer to choose one humanoid race other than his own, understand their language and gives them a disguise check to “fit in” among them. Lucky little fellow, isn’t Gnarl? :) As they turn it on, and help him get it working, grandpa decides to give him a bath.
The family discusses the problem of having gnolls in the area, even if they are leaving – and Conner informed Warden if he ever wanted, he could return and join Taur’on (after all, the guy kept his word). Conner then excuses himself to go tell his pretty Mordovan girl that he has a new nephew when Victor just grins at him and says, “Who do you think grandpa was gonna get to bathe Gnarl?”
They all run downstairs – and sure enough, little Gnarl is in the tub, howling himself silly – and washing him is the princess of Mordova, looking very put out and on the point of tears. She begs him to shut up, won’t he be happy clean? Gnarl sadly says, “But you killin’ my lice! What I eat when I get hungry if they dead!? I NEED my LICE!”
Did I say this game was awesome or what? ;)