Kingmaker in Eberron

Book 2 Chapter 14 - Guardian Gods

Guardian Gods

Aka “Show me your Honor!”

When we last left our heroes they had negotiated entry into a small island kingdom of lizardfolk and discovered a captured human child strapped to a reed branch and buried up to his neck in a pit of mud. Realizing they were in a delicate situation, the group politely enquired as to the status of the child and the reason why he was here. The lizardfolk guards noted that indeed there was a non-drow scaleless child here and the he was chosen by their god to undergo trials.

“And uh…how long has he been undergoing these trials? And what have they been like?”

Oh, just a couple days or so. The lizardfolk told the tales of the trials of the young boy…there was the one where he was held upside down above hungry monitor lizards until he passed out…there was the one where he was forced to find his way through a swampy sea of reeds while avoiding crocodiles…

“And uh…how long does your god plan on testing the boy?” The lizardfolk shrugged. That was for their god to decide. As long as their king, Vesket received word from their god the trials would continue.

“We would be greatly interested in a meeting with your king…” They had been respectul guests so far, willing to leave their weapons outside the village, using diplomacy rather than brow beating and they didn’t immediately try to kill any of the lizardfolk after discovering a young scaleless child screaming its lungs off. A meeting with their ruler seemed the least they could do. Some of the lizardfolk guards emptied out a nearby mud hut of its resident family asking them to vacate the premises for a couple hours while they entertained some guests. A family of lizardfolk complete with a youngling bowed and graciously left for a bit so our heroes could have a place to wait for an audience with the king.

A pair of lizardfolk guards stayed with the group, tossing some small lizards on spits above the family firepit to get some food going. Not ones to bow out from trying the local cuisine the offer of sharing some of their Gur’kash meat was met with great approval…a simple glance at the state of the lizardfolk island kingdom was enough to realize they didn’t seem to have any kind of grazing animals or even any kind of farming techniques. Various symbols adorned the shoulders of the lizardfolk ‘braves’ that monitored the safety of the village, which Ogg recognized as similar to a system of medals or soldier ranks like a military would have (Profession Soldier for the win!) while Alanea recognized that these very symbols were similar to the symbolism sometimes used by the Sovereign Host deity Dol Dorn, god of Strength and honorable combat (Knowledge Religion!). This was not the first time our heroes had encountered strange offshoots of religious practices once believed to have been exclusively a part of Khorvaire…after all the Temple of the Elk they had found had language written in ancient Giant worshipping the deity of the hunt Balinor.

If nothing else this discovery regarding the lizardfolk culture reinforced the notion that they were a warrior-like honorable society that valued strength and proper forms of warfare, which meant they were unlikely to try and do something sneaky behind their backs. At the same time it was rather curious why they would be torturing a human child…from a warriors standpoint – or a warrior society anyway it made a few decent points. Where you find one outsider, especially a child, there are bound to be others. The lizardfolk had admitted to running into Drow on occasion and it didn’t sound amiable. One way to test how ‘strong’ the outsider could be would be to see the extent their young ones could go to. But still something wasn’t right about this.

One other remarkable aspect of their culture was the treatment of the deceased. The lizardfolk valued the strength of other warriors but once deceased well…meat was meat. There were no burial cairns in the small lizardfolk community.

Dox, for her part being a precocious troublemaker periodically kept changing her appearance in front of the lizardfolk causing no end to the confusion as to just what was going on…with the lizardfolk trying to keep up a polite diplomatic position and not insult their guests by asking just what the deal was.

About an hour into their shared meal the group was finally brought into the largest mud bowl in the village with ornate bits of bone and animal hide ornately decorating the outside of it. A pair of lizard skulls had been fashioned into spears crossing one another over the top of the door. Sitting atop a throne of mud and bones was a nine foot tall imposing lizardfolk wearing an impressive array of clan-tattoos adorning his scales. Introducing himself as King Vesket of the kingdom of Lizardfolk he welcomed these outsiders to his lands and wished to negotiate peaceful trade with these strangers in a strange land.

Getting to the point of the matter Vesket didn’t seem to be the type to dance around the large-sized mammal in the room.

“Ah…the young child. It is true we have been testing him. Our guardian god has seen fit to see the merit of this young (he paused) …boy? While I regret that someone of your kind has lost one of their young, I cannot go against the wisdom of our god. Xen’drik is a harsh land, and our younglings are taught at a young age to wander off alone is to invite all manner of peril. It is unfortunate that your kind has yet to learn this lesson – but it is one you should take to heart. The parents of the child should be publically punished for letting their spawn out of their sight.”

As a king, Vesket was responsible for the welfare of his people but also to act as royalty should – and in this case it meant not bowing and scraping to outsiders despite the matter in question being a child of another race. Ogg and Alanea cooked up a plan however…after all if the desire of their guardian god was to test the abilities of these outsiders, perhaps a grown warrior would do even better as a substitute. Ogg, who spoke perfect Draconic (dropping his usual ‘stupid speech’ act…which is rather hard to pull off in a language such as draconic anyways) asked if Vesket would consult his guardian god to see if a grown warrior – perhaps even the mightiest warrior of these new outsiders could be suitable as an exchange for the child.

Vesket nodded…it was a gamble, but they are a warrior culture. He would have to commune with their god to see if it would be an acceptable answer but one he would be able to accept. The group adjourned for a short time while Vesket communed with the spirits…coming back to the group a short time later with an answer.

“Stitsshak, our guardian god has agreed to your proposal. A battle of honor shall take place between two champions to determine the worth of your kind.” Ogg stepped forth.
“Gather your weapons and your courage, for it is I King Vesket that shall be your opponent. Be warned that you represent your people. If you yield, you yield for all of your kind. If you are slain however your defeat is yours alone.”

Alanea: So…basically what’s going on…?
Ogg: If I give up the fight I surrender for all of us. If I die, it’s just my loss.
Alanea: Oh…well then.

Ogg gathered his scimitar from his collection of weapons and readied himself for the battle to come.
There didn’t seem to be anyone with magical prowess in the entire tribe but having buff spells cast on Ogg was against the Cavalier’s personal sense of honor if not completely against the spirit of this duel. Boudreaux however was having none of it and cast a Barkskin on Ogg (Ogg for his part rolled his Will Save against the spell but still failed. His character Flaw came into play though since he was against the spell being cast – causing him to be Shaken for 1 hour)

Dox however was completely fine with using her Bardic Music to help him out – and with her Song of the Heart her Inspire Courage was an impressive 3/3.

Vesket brought forth his large trident and the battle started!

While the lizard king was larger than Ogg, the half-orc was faster! Closing the distance and landing a deadly blow with his first strike. Vesket retorted with leaning his body into the scimitars blade, twirling the Trident around, boldly declaring his combat ability and making strikes against the challenger to display his prowess. This proved to be Vesket’s undoing…Ogg declared “Less talk, more fight!” landing two more solid blows against the king. This was…quickly not going how Vesket expected.
(If you act like a Samurai, the dice treat you like a Samurai!)
Recognizing that his opponent had lost a lot of blood the only thing that prevented a killing blow to the lizard king was Ogg pulling back on his strength (not using Power Attack for that round)

In less than half a minute the greatest warrior of their tribe, and their kind had been defeated by an outsider almost effortlessly. The tribe was deathly silent. Alanea approached the body of the king to determine he was still breathing…casting a healing spell upon him to make him conscious.

“That…was unexpected. I admit defeat.”

A burst of green fire appeared in the sky with a large lizard skeleton bathed in it. This was the guardian god of the tribe – the great Stisshak! The lizard skull (which was the size of a full grown man) called for the death of these outsiders! Alanea recognized this thing…it was no god at all! This was a Will-O-Wisp! And a huge one at that!

The librarian adventurer called out the guardian god for the fake that it was…that for all of its bragging they had already won the duel honorably. The tribe was frozen in decision. Half of them seemed to be going for their weapons to obey their god while the other half were rallying to the side of their wounded king and the honor of these outsiders.

“Fine then…I shall prove the strength of the gods! The strength of Stisshak the guardian spirit of the Lizardfolk tribe of Vesket!” Battle was once again joined! The lizardfolk tribe erupted into battle, with ¾ of the tribe on the side of our heroes against the last ¼ who were still loyal to their guardian god.

Next time on Kingmaker…a Light in the Darkness!

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