Chapter 6. Wolves, Titans and Dragons
Fhelen arrives at Dragonhold and reports that his lord, Krade Wolfhound wants to speak with them now that they have recovered all the pieces of the titan control panel. The party leaves for Vakni soon after. Arriving in the barony of Vakni, the party are given directions to Krade’s home of Wolfhound Manse before being let loose by Fhelen. The party soon learns that all’s not well in Vakni. The country is in grinding tensions with its neighbor, the barony of Ludoc. The barony also sits in the unpopular hands of the Baron Redven who has been bending a knee to the Ludocians, and supposedly the encroaching Gredixians.
The party explores the city and Scree ends up setting fire to the top half of the Baron’s estate. Bokora and Mathias end up in a sticky situation which Mathias is rescued from by an amazing jump performed by Cliff Edge. The party soon after also meet their first plague doctor. After their shenanigans, the party arrive at Krade’s home and base of the popular Wolfhound Knights. The party meet the mysterious butler, Valthuriel and the efficient and fiery drillmaster Morgan Dread. After a tour of the manse, the party arrive at Krade’s study where he is speaking to a clearly unwelcome guest. The man, a messenger from the Baron, lashes out at Valthuriel on his way out. Scree manages to pickpocket the man though as well as place a poisoned elvish apple in his clothes.
The party then meets Krade, a distinguished war hero and noble of long standing good reputation. Krade is at a difficult point in his life as it seems that the people are threatening to kick out the Baron and cause rioting in the streets.
Word around the city is that Krade should be the rightful Baron of Vakni as tradition states that upon the passing of the old Baron, the title and position is passed down to the oldest blood relative or the spouse of the oldest blood relative. Krade was married to the old Baron’s eldest daughter, Cheryl-Ann, the older sister of Redven. But a mere few months before the Baron’s death, Cheryl-Ann and Krade’s 1 year old daughter disappeared from the face of Farline while out on a ride through the countryside. The disappearance was chalked up as a bandit attack, and the ruined leftovers of the carriage were found as supporting evidence. But while it seemed that Krade accepted this explanation, the people of the baronies speculate and whisper rumors.
Now the people are turning against the Baron and want to install Krade as the new Baron. Krade though has publicly refused such ideas, always stating that he is a man of honor and loyalty. He also has much bigger problems such as the Gredixian Empire who are slowly expanding eastward. The Gredixians are slowed down by the many tribes of gnolls who live on the Suntouched Plains but are slowly conquering the tribes and turning them in to a unified marching army. Krade, having fought a unified gnoll army once before fears the worst for the countries of the Titan’s Run especially now with the Gredixians leading the march.
Misrov explodes into the room practically slobbering over the pieces of the titan control panel. With his life’s work’s completion in sight, Misrov takes the titan control panel back to his study for reassembly. Krade estimates the repair might take a week or two and invites the party members to stay at his home until the piece is completed. The party agrees and are given rooms in the manse.
Cliff Edge proceeds to try and woo the people of Vakni but is booed and heckled by the citizens of Vakni. Race relations in Vakni are poor, and many of the elves who come down from Larethion’s Woods are treated as second-class citizens. The elves are tortured, beaten and executed in public by mobs of hateful racists and cut-throats. Still Cliff Edge manages to make a decent performance and returns to the manse where Morgan attempts to seduce him.
Cliff then discovers that Morgan has a secret sensitive side that she feels she could never show to anyone except for an elf. Falling in love with the traveling bard and performer, Morgan attempts to corner Cliff whenever she can but Cliff Edge manages to escape the choking embrace of the drillmaster. Fearing her whip Cliff Edge claims that he needs time to sort out his feelings for the woman before he can commit himself and decides to ask Krade if Morgan could accompany the party back to Dragonhold. Bokora wanting to train a group of knights supports the idea, knowing that the drillmaster could prove useful.
Bokora also attempts to man up Mathias throughout their stay at the Manse. But Mathias doesn’t seem to understand Bokora’s instructions and ends up making a fool of himself or failing at his tasks. He also pursues Corn, though he refuses to admit any affection for her stuttering and changing the subject when she comes up. Bokora attempts to teach Mathias how to work the ladies before he is distracted by one of Krade’s maids. Deciding to bed the woman, Bokora asks the woman out for a late night romp through the city. Mathias meanwhile ponders what Bokora has told him.
Scree explores the city but mostly keeps an eye on Misrov who Chuugo is also watching with a keen eye. Eventually the party finds themselves at the dinner table where Krade has Corn seated beside him. Throughout the meal the lord can’t tear his gaze away from Corn and seems more interested in her eating of the food then of his own food. When confronted by this Krade admits that Corn is young and pretty and drops the subject at that.
At the table the party also hear about Krade’s relation to Councilman Antonius. Being on the council himself, Krade ended up butting heads with the blue dragon. Krade reveals that Antonius is wholly opposed to the reactivation of the Titans and that his policies and arguments to activate the Titans caused Antonius to turn the other council members against him, explaining why Krade decides to stay at his home in Vakni more often then in Nomeria. Fhelen chips in that at one point, Krade was attacked by Antonius in the desert. Krade put up a good fight against the blue dragon until he was struck by a lightning bolt that should have killed him. Instead Krade walked into a council meeting a week later and stated that the expression on Antonius’ face was “Priceless”
Later that night, Bokora goes out with the maid Shelly and Scree. They discover the Carnival, a barony traditional festival that occurs a twice every year at the beginning of spring and at the end of summer. With masks donned the revelers dance the night away and eventually Bokora and Shelly make off by themselves. Shelly takes Bokora to a favorite spot of hers but arriving there, they find a lynch mob about to murder a group of elven peasants. Bokora steps in wielding his newly forged spear and disguised at first as Krade, and then as the Baron. The attackers run in fear after Bokora changes form in front of them using his mask of disguise, and after he proceeds to kill them off. Bokora frees the elves and provides them directions to Dragonhold, a safe haven for them and their people. Bokora then spends his night with Shelly.
Meanwhile back at the Manse, after dinner Corn returns to her room where Mathias follows her and professes his love to her. Corn taken aback refuses Mathias’ advances who then attempts to force himself upon her. But Chuugo rescues Corn by kicking down the door, missing so badly he actually only breaks half the door and part of the wall the door is hinged to, and pulling the pants-down Mathias off of Corn. Cliff and Morgan arrive on the scene as Corn runs from the scene in tears. Chuugo follows her while Cliff remains behind to question the young squire. Bokora and Shelly arrive as well and after saying goodbye to Shelly, Bokora proceeds to discipline his squire scolding him for his idiocy. Scree arrives at the time but stays out of the way noticing that Valthuriel, the elven butler, is watching the whole event.
Outside Chuugo finds Corn set upon by a large wolf-like creature. Identifying the beast as a worg, Chuugo finds that Corn isn’t being attacked by it but instead seems to be comforted by it. When Chuugo cautiously approaches the large worg leaps away and escapes the Manse and into the city streets. Chuugo asks Corn what she was doing with the creature and Corn just stated she felt safe with it. As Chuugo watches the path the worg took, he remembers noticing a strange discoloration in the fur of the wolf. A long scar of white hair that seemed familiar.
Scree follows Valthuriel the butler through the streets of Vakni. At first Scree had believed the butler would report to Krade in his study, but Valthuriel arrives instead at where Bokora had fought and killed the elf lynch mob. Krade dismisses a shadowy figure who disappears into the night and Valthuriel reports the night’s events at the Manse and the growing relationship between Morgan and Cliff. Krade fumes when he hears of Mathias’ actions. He orders Valthuriel to dispose of the boy if he ever makes such a move again. Scree then continues to stay and witnesses Krade transform into a beast and run off into the darkness.
Returning home Scree chalks up much of what he had seen to the alcohol he had consumed at the Carnival but the next day reports to the rest of the party what he had seen. Chuugo suddenly makes the connection. A portion of Krade’s hair had turned white after being struck by a lightning bolt during the fight with Antonius. The shape matched the shape on the worg’s face. Before the party has time to contemplate this Cliff Edge is summoned by Krade for a friendly sparring match.
Cliff spars Krade and they both speak on the events in Vakni and the Titan’s Run. Krade reiterates the importance of stopping the Gredixian Empire by activating the titans. When Cliff references Antonius, Krade states that the dragon fears the Titans. After all, in the games of creation, Mjolnir created the titans to protect himself. Masterwork artifacts, the titans had the power to crush an entire flight of dragons and come out unscratched. Such a challenge of power unnerved Antonius. Krade then reveals that he has heard of Cliff’s plan to recruit Morgan Dread as a trainer of knights at Dragonhold. Krade agrees to allow Morgan to leave…if Cliff lets Krade keep Corn.
When Krade’s intentions are questioned by Cliff, Valthuriel reveals the story of Krade’s wife and daughter who were lost on the plains. When Cheryl-Ann disappeared, the Baron blamed Krade for her disappearance stabbing a dagger deep into Krade’s heart. Krade tormented by his guilt set himself to eradicate all threats to Vakni. Having already put down the gnoll uprising years before, Krade set himself to preventing Gredix’s reach from expanding and keeping the other greedy baronies in check. Krade was finally able to squelch his loss of his wife and child by coming to terms with the fact that they were probably dead. But Corn’s appearance is so strikingly similar to Cheryl-Ann that Krade’s memories have returned. Cliff demands to know what Krade means to do with Corn, to which Krade replies that he would keep her safe. Krade believes that Corn is his long-lost daughter who had disappeared with his wife so many years ago. The age is right and the resemblance was uncanny. Cliff Edge states that he has to think about what Krade has told him. Cliff Edge had found Corn in the hands of slavers…had Corn’s mother been sold years ago and the slavers had bred Corn to be sold as stock, judging her valuable by her mother’s appearance?
Bokora and Scree meanwhile come up with a scheme to take over the barony of Vakni. Scree sneaks into the baron’s estate one day and manages to find a book on the family history. After rewriting the history, Scree returns to the Wolfhound Manse. A day or so later Krade takes the party and the staff of the Manse out to enjoy the last and biggest day of the Carnival. At the Carnival, Mathias apologizes to Corn for his irrationality. Corn after a time forgives him.
Bokora leaves the city while the party is at the Carnival and calls his partner Dragonna. Mounting her, Bokora proceeds to wait until the Baron arrives at the Carnival and swoops down. Bokora challenges the Baron to a duel for the throne, claiming that the family histories show Bokora as the rightful heir of the family throne. To the surprise of the crowd, the Baron accepts the ludicrous challenge but has the battle fought by proxy. He chooses as his champion…Krade Wolfhound.
Krade, who had promised his wife that he would protect her younger brother, accepts the challenge and duels Bokora. Krade defeats Bokora soundly only for Bokora to suddenly disappear in the middle of the fight, thanks to an invisibility spell cast by Cliff Edge. The crowd cheers Krade’s victory but fall into silence when an arrow strikes Krade in the neck dropping him to the ground. The crowd bursts into action as Ludocian knights appear and attack the Baron and his men. From the rooftops archers fire down into the crowd striking both fighters and innocents. Chuugo and Cliff Edge fight their way through the crowd only to see Corn being carried off by the Baron’s bodyguard. The party makes chase. Scree sees Krade stand up and meld into the crowd then sees him collapse in an alleyway. When Scree approaches, he sees that Krade’s face is being consumed by what looks like the Black Plague. Krade though stands, up the wound in his neck already beginning to heal and his face beginning to clear. He quickly grabs Scree and proceeds to climb up the side of a building and confronts the archers who shot at him.
Across the way, the Baron stands over Corn threatening her life. The party proceeds to fight the Ludocian bodyguard and the Baron’s men while chaos continues in the streets. Krade and Scree defeat the archers and Krade, with Scree in tow, tries to make the jump to the other rooftop but makes it only halfway. He tosses Scree the rest of the way and yells out curses at the Ludocians. As Chuugo, Cliff Edge and Davy, proceed to fight the Baron’s men the Baron himself forces a vial down Corn’s throat who begins to convulse violently. Meanwhile Bokora and Mathias fly over the city, Bokora healing from his endeavor while Mathias demands that he should be allowed to fight.
Krade manages to reach the rooftop just as the Baron throws Corn from the rooftop. Bokora sights the falling Corn and casts a slow-fall spell on her preserving her. The party proceeds to defeat the Baron who admits to Krade that 15 years ago, in his quest for power, he attacked his sister and niece and had slavers capture them. He made sure his sister was killed but begged the slavers to preserve the girl. Krade, unsatisfied with the supposed pity and disgusted by the man, allows the party to kill the Baron.
The party find Corn in the alleyway, who seems to have lapsed into a coma. Her body is tainted by the plague which pumps death through her, and Cliff Edge uses the last bit of his cure-all to slow the deadly process. The party return to the Wolfhound Manse where they lay Corn down comfortably. When Cliff Edge questions Krade of the change of surviving Krade says “Very soon we will know whether she is my daughter or not. If she continues to draw breath, or grows still in the wake of death.”
A few hours later Corn makes a slow but sure recovery and Krade summons the party. He states that with the death of the Baron and the revelation provided him, Krade will be chosen to become the new Baron of Vakni and Corn’s surviving indicates that she is Krade’s daughter. Krade entrusts Corn’s safety to Chuugo and Cliff, stating that the baronies are too dangerous for family members of anyone with power. The past has indicated that. Krade also promises to provide aid to Dragonhold as long as the party fights the Gredixians but will have to focus on protecting his own borders from the Ludocians. Davy comments on the fact that the Ludocian bodyguard, after removing his helmet was revealed to be a Gredixian. The news is disturbing but the dangerous moments have passed.
Suddenly Misrov runs in to the room greatly excited. The completed titan control panel rests in his hands…