Veil of Whispers 6: Child of a Messy Divorce

Posted on Feb 28, 2024 in Tales from the Table.
Part of a series called Veil of Whispers.

The group rescues the princess at last. Montgomery narrowly escapes death. Others don’t.

Date: February 24, 2024

Characters present:

Character level: 3/4

A Very Small Dungeon

The party had just stolen a very formal and official-looking airship. Findus took the wheel and set off toward the floating stone building above them, known as Skyhold Prison. Nobody pursued, and the magical cannons guarding the structure didn’t fire. It was almost too easy. They docked at the floating wharf connected to the prison, hopped onto the back of Hoola, the massive owlbearcat, and charged through the door.

For a prison, it wasn’t very large. Inside was a single room with five or six cells lining the walls. The group looked through the bars at the prisoners, finding the one they had come for: Princess Elloween, name still ridiculous. Before they could break her out, they’d have to fight their way through five moving suits of armor. To top it all off, a voice said “self-destruct in thirty seconds” the moment they entered. Most of those seconds were spent fighting the suits, but eventually the thought occurred to Monty: “Hey, maybe we should grab the princess and get out of here?”

Rosa smashed the cell door with her axe, grabbed the princess, and ran for the ship. The rest followed suit. They reached the airship and took off just as the entire building exploded behind them, killing the rest of the prisoners. With no time to waste, they set course for Emberfall. Despite the massive explosion, there was still no one to give chase. Instead, a panic was breaking out in the city below. It would seem that the king’s castle was on fire. They could see Olestra, the greasard, sliding down the street as fast as he could, trying to get away from the fire that was chasing him along the trail of slime he left behind. Serves him right, Monty thought.

That Was Greasy. Too Greasy.

On the ride back home, Princess Elloween spilled the beans on the whole plot. She explained that her mother, the queen of Emberfall who was originally from Stormhaven, had faked her own death and snuck off back home1. She wanted her daughter with her, so she’d ordered the Serpent Syndicate to kidnap her and bring her to Duskridge, presumably to blame the people of Duskridge for the kidnapping. There, they’d handed her off to Prince Valerian. Only it was really a doppelgänger, which explained why he hadn’t been himself lately. The real Prince Valerian had been imprisoned in Skyhold Prison which had just been blown up. Whoops. For a double whammy, Prince Valerian and his father, King Reginald, were both half-orcs who looked like cows, apparently related to Rosa. She took the news surprisingly well.

A a few days of travel, Findus noticed that they were being followed by another airship. One brandishing a pirate flag. It was approaching fast. It had cannons, which the party’s stolen ship did not. The group decided to turn the ship around, approach the pirates head on and shout “Parley! Parley!” at the top of their lungs. It worked better than expected, and the other ship stopped in front of them to talk. They saw a group of pirates, one of whom was a dwarf with a parrot on his shoulder, some kind of crown-wearing wizard, and Elloween’s mother, the queen of… well, I’ve lost track at this point. With them was also the greasard, held hostage.

The queen told the group to hand over the princess or they’d kill the greasard. No words could have delighted the party more. They’d been trying to kill that bastard every time they saw him, and now the queen was offering to do it for them! When it wasn’t effective, she instead turned her threat of violence toward the party. For once, the tables were turned. The party was being given a taste of their own murderous medicine.

Rosa burned some of the flowers she’d taken from the botanist—the ones that attract animals. The dwarven pirate’s parrot flew over to her, and she grabbed it by the neck, ready to snap it if the pirates tried anything.

Monty brought out the princess. He delivered a powerful speech about how the queen should stop being so selfish and consider what her daughter wants, and that if she truly loved her, she’d let her go. Apparently, the queen didn’t truly love her daughter, even with a persuasion roll of 18. Monty turned the tables back where they belonged and threatened to use his necklace of fireballs on the highly flammable greasard if the queen didn’t let the party go. In response, the queen and her pirate friends hurried to shove the greasard over to the party’s ship. They weren’t fast enough.

A battle ensued as Monty barbecued the other ship, setting it on fire and killing all the pirate minions instantly. The crown-wearing wizard cast a spell, and the greasard made some kind of move to try and counter it, seemingly ineffectively. As the spell took effect, the group felt their souls leave their bodies and enter other bodies. Monty was now controlling the body of the greasard, the greasard Rosa’s, Rosa Findus’, and Findus Monty’s. Rosa and Findus did the best they could to fight in their new bodies. The greasard, as Rosa, fought with the party for whatever reason. To be fair, he only knew about the first time the party tried to kill him, and he didn’t even notice when they stole all his money. He watched in horror as Monty, in the greasard’s body, jumped off the ship, plummeting thousands of feet to the ground. Upon landing, his soul transferred to the nearest living soulless being: a highland cattle2 grazing in a nearby meadow.

Rosa-as-Findus, Findus-as-Monty, and greasard-as-Rosa made quick work of the rest of the pirates. The queen was the last one standing, and she dashed for the wheel of the burning pirate ship while arrows rained from behind her. She turned the ship around and began sailing away, but Findus-as-Monty threw another fireball at her ship, which promptly exploded. All of this while the queen’s daughter stood watching, powerless to do anything.

With the battle over, the gang managed to make sense of who was whom, after which they took the airship down to find Monty-as-cow. They also found the body of the greasard, which was a very traumatic event for him. After they (somehow) brought Monty-as-cow back on board the ship, they noticed that their souls swapped back into their original bodies. This meant that they now had a regular cow with them and that the greasard had instantly died. There was much rejoicing.

But one thing still wasn’t quite right. With all the fighting going on, nobody had noticed that Hoola the owlbearcat and Princess Elloween had swapped bodies too, and they still hadn’t swapped back. The DM told us that the spell was supposed to be permanent, but the greasard’s attempt at some kind of counterspell had made it temporary for most of us. Guess he did one good thing in his life, at least. The party decided to head back to Emberfall and get help from the most powerful wizard in the city: Snetos, the king’s annoying advisor.

One More Quest Before Bedtime

The king was delighted to have his daughter back, but it didn’t take long before he noticed that she was really a freakish monstrosity in his daughter’s body. The party explained the situation, including how his ex-wife was really alive. Well, not anymore. But she had been. Before the party blew her up. Snetos wasn’t quite powerful enough to reverse the spell. He said that the caster must’ve had some kind of magical item to create such a difficult charm, and if they could bring it to him, he might be able to undo the spell. Of course, it had to be the crown the mage wore. Come to think of it, the DM had described the mage falling off the ship upon his death in a suspicious amount of detail.

“We’ll be right back,” said Monty after the group negotiated another sizable reward for taking on the quest, and the group headed back to their stolen ship. Finding the scene of the battle was no difficult task. They hadn’t exactly cleaned up any of the exploded airship parts. They landed the ship and brought their new friends—the highland cattle, whom they named Doris, and the parrot whom Rosa decided to call The Knife. They found the body of the mage, unfortunately crownless. Next to him was a set of giant, duck-like footprints leading to a nearby lake. The party followed, hesitantly.

A fisherman sat on the sandy shore of the lake. He turned out to be dead. The group heard the honking of a goose behind them. Turning around, they saw a goose with giant feet. Mystery solved. Rosa cast speak with animals to talk to it, but it just said the word “honk” over and over. Then something hugo rose from the water of the lake. It was an enormous, thirty-foot tall goose, with five heads upon its five necks. A giant goose hydra. And it was angry, as geese so often are.

Monty spread his wings and leaped high into the air. The goose attacked Rosa, biting with its giant beaks before she could get her barbarian rage on. It dealt an awful lot of damage. Findus jumped away from the creature and fired with his crossbow. Monty rained arrows from the sky. Rosa went unconscious several times, being brought back by a healing spell from Monty, her half-orc trait relentless endurance, and being very lucky and getting a 20 on her death saving throw. While she’d been unconscious, the goose was free to attack Findus with every single one of his heads. It took him down easily. Rosa drank some potions and charged at the goose, climbing its feathery body and holding on to one its necks while swinging her axe at the other heads.

Monty realized that they might have underestimated the beast and drank his potion of speed, becoming the speed demon he was born to be. He fired his arrows, now twice as fast, and the group had brought down two of the goose heads when Monty discovered that he’d forgotten an important detail:

Geese can fly.

Findus was still on the ground, failing his death saving throws at an alarming rate when the goose took to the skies and began biting at Monty. Rosa buried her axe in the head she was holding on to. The whole neck went limp, and she swung down on it like a vine, landing safely on the ground. Then another head attacked her, and she was down once more. Monty was no longer doing so well, and the goose sent him falling to the ground with one final attack.

The goose gobbled down Findus while Rosa was bleeding out on the ground next to him. I was rolling death saves for Monty who had landed a bit away from them. 14, 14, 19. He was unconscious but stable. It didn’t matter since the goose was about to eat them all. We had a homebrew rule that says you’re allowed to use an inspiration point not only before, but also after making a roll. It was introduced because everyone forgot to use their inspiration. I’d gotten inspiration earlier for telling a particularly bad joke3, which I had done solely to get inspiration, thinking I’d need it soon. I used it to reroll the 19 because getting a 20 was the only way for Monty to survive. In what felt like a massive déjà vu, I got a 20. Monty got back up, noticed that his friends were no more, and angrily threw a fireball from his necklace at the goose, killing it once and for all and giving his fallen comrades a fiery funeral. Then he launched himself into the sky, nearly breaking the sound barrier since the speed potion was still in effect.

Nobody knows where he went.

  1. If I’m gonna be completely honest, “a character you’ve never heard of was secretly alive all along” isn’t the most effective of twists. ↩︎

  2. Ginger cow, no soul. ↩︎

  3. Why do rogues wear leather armor? Because it’s made of hide. This joke is the only reason Monty is alive. ↩︎