So, little Gnarl is clean – the family has grown, and everyone is rather worried about this gnawing fear in their gut that things are gonna go bad soon. Smart, aren’t they?
Queen Caroline is kinda looking for an excuse to get out of the castle. She is, after all, a fifteen year old girl that honestly needs a bit of adventure every now and again ;) The opportunity presents itself – the Mayor of Mallad has informed her that the hobgoblins (Yep, those same hobbies that the crew met many episodes ago) have entered Mallad and gotten into a horrid row with a group of Byton Traders. A rather political mess has ensued. The Byton Merchant requested either the Queen or the Mayor of Orn (an elven woman that was once the leader of one of the army branches, and rather good at the political smoothing of things) be the individual that hears their disagreement.
Caroline tries not to giggle herself into happy – an excuse to leave home! She talks to the crew, and asks them if she’s nutters – they, also being happy teens, are totally up for this little trip! So the whole family heads to Mallad. Grandpa and Salkana included. And girlfriends and wives. They leave the Gnarl behind, however. He’s practicing with his new instructors and it might be a bit odd to have him around this early.
The first night is a good old Taur’onian hoot-a-nanny. Dancing, singing, more dancing. The crew convince Captain Thornwood (who they’ve all decided is a good enough guy for their sister) to ask the Queen to dance… since everyone is avoiding such for fear of insulting her. He gives them his best wicked grin, and takes Caroline for a twirl. The line then forms to the left. Everyone has a blast. Even more so when a fireworks cart explodes on the edge of the square. Scares everyone silly… but, it was probably just an accident. Right?
Caroline handles the hobgoby matter in court the next day – basically a “He insulted me, I punched him, then I got my ass stomped” type disagreement. (although there is a bit of a moment where big brother interrupts his queen, forgetting she’s more than his little sister – and she gets girly ticked at him – but hey, that’s siblings for ya). However, one thing is odd – the two men that attacked each other – one human, one hobgoblin – are both very ill from a fall flu. Like, sick as hell. In fact, the other hobgoblins seem to be under the weather, and other members of the Byton travelers are also sick. Questions are asked – seems the whole population of the jail is ill. Odd, that.
Questions are asked… The jail is next to the “hospital” – which is full of people sick with a fall flu. They aren’t getting better, a few have died. Stranger still, the hospital staff is fine and don’t seem to be contracting this illness. Darn weird, yeah? Is this a flu? Or is this a disease? Huh, damnit….
The Lady of Orn and Caroline sit down to discuss the problem… oH, and did I mention that the Lady of Orn’s son is Captain Thornwood? Poor Caroline, the guy you have a slight crush on just happens to be the son of one of your mayors.. ah well, so is the life of a queen. The crew, they are in “Investigation mode” hardcore. With a bit of work, they discover that every single person in the jail and the hospital – is infected with a rather virulent disease. Even more interesting, none of them have it….. until they leave the group for a few minutes. Upon returning, one shows signs (through magical means) of being infected… however, in just a few minutes – something has cured them. What the devil?
Lets trace it… the crew realizes the jail and hospital have one thing the rest of town doesn’t – they have their own separate well….. which… holy Raven’s wing….doesn’t have gypsy flowers on it. They start testing. Sure enough, the well with the Gypsy Roses is HEALING people of the disease… That is when they all also remember that Caroline has a gypsy rose that she wears all the time – Roland the Unicorn and their Deva Teacher Steven made it into a pendant for her she always wears… and it is healing anyone around Caroline. Constantly.
Wow. Those Gypsies know their shit!
Speaking of Gypsies, one suddenly shows up – out of the damn thin air it seems. He politely requests a meeting with just Caroline, Adale of Mordova and Tori of Wrathmourn. The three ladies enter the room. The crew is outside, talking a mile a minute – they need to figure out how many of their own country’s wells are not protected and move flowers there immeidately – hell, these things were growing around temples and on the river in Thorn – They just have to encourage everyone to drink the water from clean wells constantly. Seems the disease has about five days of dormancy – they you fall ill, and die in about four days to two weeks – depending on how well you fight. Mallad has lost a handful of people, they’ll have to move fast to shut down the borders to prevent the disease from moving further into the country. Holy crap… plague. Damn you DM! evil giggle
The door opens, Adale hugs Conner and tells him goodbye – she must leave, and walk out, she does. Tori runs to Aldric and tells him she won’t leave him. Her brother will understand. What the hell?
Caroline walks out, shakes hands with the gypsy who heads on out the door. She explains that the gypsy has told her and the other girls a few things – some of which they cannot share with anyone outside of the country unless they are willing to give their first born child up to the gypsies.
Conner is insistent about why Adale is leaving. WHY?!?
Caroline looks at Conner and says, “Because only a Taur’onian can be healed by the flowers of Taur’on. If she stays, she dies.” They all look to Tori, she smiles and says she will stay here. She considers them her family, too. This is her home, now. She has sworn fealty to Caroline.
Conner signs and accepts his girl is leaving. But hell, does the rest of the crew EVER accept such? Hell no. They go and tell Adale’s bodyguard – the stern elder soldier, Lennox (who they have all realized is a total badass, and also seems to have some magic item on him that is rather powerful). Maybe he can convince her to stay? He can deliver the information that Adale needs to give her brother?
That is when Caroline says, “No – we can’t tell. That is one of the agreements with the Gypsies. I cannot tell ANY other leader what I know about the flowers. It is theirs to learn on their own. They live or die by their own hands – not mine.”
But Lennox is told that Adale is leaving – he goes into her room to discuss the matter with her. A verbal fight breaks out, which most folks are kind enough not to eavesdrop in on. Lennox kicks open the door, informs Caroline he will be leaving in Adale’s place – she is to stay. Adale starts to argue with him again and he says, “As your FATHER, I order you to stay. You are no good to your brother and king at home. Here, here you are safe. Do as I tell you for ONCE in your damn life, Adale.”
She’s stunned. He just outted himself. The rest of the crew is staring dumbstruck. Father? But her father was murdered years ago! Wasn’t… he? Oh hell. Guess not. Grandpa smiles at him, “Well, I’ll be damned – thought that was you, Marcus. I’ll take care of your girl, you go help your son.” Grandpa Vardis and the though-murdered-once-king of Mordova shake hands. Lennox/Marcus stares at Conner, and says, “You are worth her, boy. Pray you stay that way.”
Well, ain’t this been “way to much interesting info” day??!
Conner hugs his girl – he’s gonna get to keep her. But, it is a hefty price she must pay. She cries, and swears fealty as a Tauronian citizen.
And the family goes into all out “what the hell do we do to contain this” discussion again… only to be interrupted by an explosion. Cause I don’t let them rest, folks. Hell no ;)
Seems something just tried to blow up the protected well. Gremlins. The town starts saving their roses, while folks start hunting invisible sabotaging gremlins. Damn, DM. Bad enough you give us an airborn death virus – but GREMLINS destroying the only thing that can save us? Yep. Suck it ;)
The crew heads home to Thorn, making plans and trying to figure out what they can do to save those that are guests in their kingdom (the Hobgoblins are given free passage out of the valley, with an invitation to come back when they are well) – Byton and Kaydian travelers are encouraged to return home. Either that or swear fealty to Caroline…. well, that or die.
That particular game ends there – with me telling the crew they’ll get a nice email from me detailing how bad the plague affects the rest of the valley kingdoms.
And the answer is? BAD. Long and short of it is, the South seems to be okay. Probably because they are a bunch of elf and halfling hippies that like flowers ;) The largest city in the valley? That wonderful town they were in less than a year ago? Glanmour? Yeah, half the population is dying of the plague. Entire villages are wiped off the earth. Citizens of one nation are fleeing to another – after all, if you see your neighbor is well, maybe the disease isn’t there, right? Poor souls don’t realize that the thing saving their people, little flowers growing on a well – won’t help them one bit. Rumors flood in – every country is having horrid issues… well, cept Taur’on and Proud Pony (Halflings love them some flowers, yo). They realize this don’t look good – after all – no two countries are as tight as they are with Proud Pony. Shit, people are gonna think they started this crap… not good.
And then, as they all sit about the dinner table on the 23rd of the Coyote – Captain Thornwood comes crashing through the doors. He’s covered in slime and gore, and he grins as Queen Caroline. “My Queen, what could possibly be worse than a plague upon your people?” Caroline blinks, “Uh, Victor’s chocolate ham-bread recipe?” Thornwood grins, “Try Zombies.”
Yep, Zombies. You died from the plague? On the 23rd of the Coyote you stood back up and did the zombie shuffle!