Kobolds Possessed My Cleric!

A Dungeon World game recap

“Wake up!” hissed Mouse the Halfling thief having spotted shapes moving in the night woods. Caleb the cleric who had set himself to saving Mouse from himself roused and grabbed his shield and long club (ok it was a quarterstaff, but then he wouldn’t be able to use the shield, I hadn’t noticed at the time). Athena Mace, the person responsible for them all being at the edge of the kingdom grabbed her birthright. The axe was ridiculously large and covered with spikes but as the girl she had got to choose last from the seven familial weapons and this was all that was left. Athena’s governess Cassandra also woke. It was unclear to many why someone with that axe would need a governess but the properly Wagnerian bard took her job seriously. She grabbed her harp and made sure her rapier was handy. 

They came in low and quickly rushing in from the trees. In the light provided by a sliver of moon Mouse could see the fangs, the claws, the scaly reptilian hide… Kobolds! Shouting his battle cry “Not in the face!” a term that would come back to haunt him, Mouse charged the attackers and though clawed across the back quickly killed the two facing him.

Cassandra began to play a rousing battle tune to bolster her charge, completely ignoring the four slavering monsters rushing straight at her. Fired by the song and desperate to keep her governess alive Athena swung her enormous axe with all her strength and skill slaying all four kobolds in a burst of blood and gore. In an experience she had become used to in the years following Athena Cassandra was bathed from head to toe in kobold blood and assorted bits.

Caleb tried to drive off the two attacking him but one literally crawled up his shield and proceeded to almost bite through his shoulder. Mouse rushed to his aid and one of the lizards turned to face the thief. The kobold fell back from Mouse hoping that the thief wouldn’t see the trip snare he dropped but Mouse rolled out of the way at the last moment. Caleb blinded the kobold on his shield with a prayer of light. Barely able to see the kobold gave up and ran into the night. Athena tried to stop him but her axe struck a tree knocking it down but trapping her weapon. In the chaos they had forgotten about Cassandra playing away on her harp. The remaining attacker ran at Cassandra who sent him flying backwards with a swift kick and grabbed her rapier. As the kobold moved in again Cassandra ran him through.

They bandaged their wounds and moved camp. The rest of the night passed uneventfully. The next day they made for fort Trigon. Athena’s baby brother Apollo was stationed there and she had heard that they were having problems. The guards up on the wooden palisade were hostile until Athena announced herself.

Inside the fort things looked somewhat worse for wear. The soldiers were rough, ready, dirty, and more than a few of them wounded. Cassandra became very suspicious as they seemed far too wild for proper soldiers of the kingdom. They also seemed far too interested in the women. Then again, Cassandra had never been to a frontier fort in the middle of a conflict.

Athena quickly arranged to talk to the commander. He was a gruff, battle scarred veteran with skin like shoe leather. He informed her that the local kobolds were acting incredibly strangely. In decades as a soldier he had never seen this kind of organized persistent offense. They had launched several full scale attacks on the fort. His men were tired, wounded, and their numbers dwindling. In an attempt to find the source of the attacks he had sent his best tracker and all the men he could spare, five volunteers including Apollo, out a few days ago. No one had heard from them and he couldn’t spare any more men to look for them. The captain was overjoyed when Athena said that she and her companions were willing to try to find the scouts.

While none of the team where trackers they had the path into the woods as a starting point. Athena led the main group cutting brush with her huge axe. The enemy would hear them coming but it made for easy going for Caleb and Cassandra and anyone trying to follow the team’s trail would have no problem. Mouse was scouting far out in front hoping to spy any opponent before they spotted the group. Somehow Mouse and the kobold ambush missed each other. Mouse only spotted them as he looked back over his shoulder. They were about to pounce on the team. Mouse grabbed his bow and prepared to shoot, but was too late.

Kobolds swarmed Caleb and Athena as a deadfall swung towards the bard. Cassandra managed to run into the woods as Caleb cut one of the ropes swinging the log towards her. Athena took a huge swing at the kobolds to her left but once again knocked down a small tree. At least those monsters were blocked for the moment.

As the kobolds on her right moved in Athena used her axe to launch the tree at them crushing two of her attackers but exposing her back to the previously cutoff left flank. She disappeared in a pile of kobolds. Distracted saving Cassandra Caleb felt the slashes along his legs as the rear attackers moved in to ham string him. He could still stand but his right leg was in bad shape. As Mouse pulled back his bow string he heard a crack behind him. He spun and saw a kobold apparently just as surprised as he was. Unfortunately he had loosed his arrow straight up in the excitement. Thinking quickly Mouse beat the creature with his bow. Uninjured but spooked the kobold fled back into the woods. The only wound Mouse took was when his own arrow fell back on him. Free from all attackers Cassandra drew her rapier and moved around to help her charge stabbing one the kobolds trying to eat Athena.

Athena wrestled with the reptiles, crushing them beneath her, smashing their heads together and getting clawed and bitten in return. Cassandra tried to help and only stabbed Athena once. Finally one of the kobolds left the pile to attack Cassandra. The creature had a strange rune in red painted on its chest. It seemed somehow familiar to the storyteller, but in the midst of a fight she didn’t have time to think about it. Mouse’s second shot snapped his bow string. This was just not an archery day. So he drew his short sword and rushed back to his friends as quickly as his little Halfling feet could carry him. Caleb spun quickly making short work of two of his attackers. The spin had been too quick though and his right leg gave out dropping him to one knee as the others moved in on him. One of these was also baring the strange red rune.

Caleb tried to fend off his attackers but they each grabbed a side of his stick and drove him to the ground choking him with his own weapon. As he suffocated Caleb pushed with all his might. His air came rushing back as with a crack his weapon broke in two. Fortunately help had arrived as Mouse rushed in and slew one of the kobolds. Unable to rise Caleb grabbed the broken staff piece and tried to strike the other kobold. Slick with blood he lost his grip and the piece flew into the woods. The rune wearing kobold moved in on his unarmed and grounded prey. With a lunge Mouse leapt over Caleb but caught his foot on Caleb’s belt buckle and landed on his friend’s stomach with a thud. It knocked the air out of Caleb, but almost as if the kobold wanted to die it impaled itself on Mouse’s blade trying to bit the Halfling’s face off. Mouse ended up with nasty bite marks on his forehead and chin, but he survived.

Cassandra and Athena had meanwhile finished off their opponents and the woods became quite. As wounded as they were Caleb burned up his healing favors from Prometheus putting the team back together. Unknown to Caleb all of the divine activity attracted some “interesting” attention. Cassandra also soothed her charge by singing a rousing House Mace tune. Whether psychosomatic or not, Athena’s wounds did hurt less. With time to reflect on matters Cassandra mentioned that the most notable history of the area was the legend of Zorseez the dragon. Centuries ago he had travelled the world plundering for gold for his lair. Eventually he returned to this swamp where he was supposedly killed by a band of adventurers. However, the adventurers where never actually named. All of this was recorded in the famous Zorseex Cycle a work so famous that none of the others had heard of it let alone read it. This also reminded Cassandra of the red runes. They were of a style recorded in the Zorseez Cycle though their meaning was lost to time.

They proceeded more carefully finally coming to the swamp. Mouse found a trap where the game trail met the swamp. It was another deadfall. But the real trap was on either side where covered pits lined with dung smeared spikes were waiting for anyone trying to dodge the swinging log. Mouse stepped back and triggered the trap so that they could proceed safely.
Around the time they were thinking that they would never find the patrol the group spotted a ruined building out in the swamp. When they finally arrived they found a ruined temple made of stone some three stories tall. In front was an open courtyard surrounded by colonnades. The broken front doors allowed easy entrance so Caleb walked right in. Behind him a stone slab dropped into place trapping him with a heavy thud.

Worried Athena and Cassandra went looking for another entrance as Mouse climbed the building. Athena noticed the tripwire just as Cassandra started slipping into the pit. Athena threw herself at her governess and managed to haul the bard from the pit that was quickly filling with mud and water. Anyone trapped inside would surely drown. Of course she had tripped another trap and several darts stabbed into her body. Athena’s skin felt like a thousand burning bees were stinging her.

As they recovered from the sudden action Athena’s brother Apollo dropped from the roof of the building. He was trailing the shiny steel of his seven section staff another Mace family heirloom. Having helped raise him Cassandra noted that something was wrong he seemed to be under some kind of enchantment. Hoping that memories of home would snap him out of it she began to sing a Mace family lullaby.

“Macelings stand and fight
Take the strength to do what’s right
Wield your weapons of great might
Kill, kill, kill!”
Yeah, they must have had a messed up childhood.

Apollo hesitated for a moment but apparently the magic was too strong and he attacked. Athena brought her axe up to block the strike. But she was too close. Cassandra had seen them spar too often not to recognize that the staff would just swing around and strike Athena. Worried that the fighter would be injured the bard threw herself onto the staff causing it to wrap around her instead. Blood streamed down Cassandra’s face as her skull was fractured. Taking her opportunity Athena tried to bowl Apollo over but he had apparently been getting lots of practice and easily avoided the move.

Slam! Caleb was sealed in the temple. Patches of light from the holes in the ruined roof pierced the darkness. In the middle of the floor was a burbling pool. On the other side was a hunched figure in a cowl.
“We have been expecting you.”
“And who are you?”
“Come closer.”

As Caleb approached the figure it stuck out a clawed hand and hissed a spell. Caleb countered with his divine strike prayer. He struck the figure who pulled back with a hiss of pain but it was too late. Caleb felt cold sweep over him. The kobold warrior now sharing his skull felt huge though tailless. Mouse had made his way up to the roof and had been watching through the holes. Moving to help Caleb he had dropped down behind the kobold priest hoping to skewer him from behind but lost his footing on landing and his sword clanged against the stone.

The wounded priest called in lizard tongue to Caleb who began to move in on the thief wielding his only remaining weapon, half of his broken staff.
“Caleb, what are you doing?”

Outside Cassandra heard Mouse’s plaintive question and concluded that just like Apollo, Caleb had been possessed. While trapped and hurt she reached out to the priest singing a hymnal to Prometheus to aid the god’s follower.

Mouse ran between Caleb’s legs. The kobold warrior never imagining that any foe could slid beneath him was taken by surprise. But so was Mouse who went too far and found himself on the edge of the burbling pool. As Mouse turned to face Caleb he slipped and into the poaching warm water he fell. Caleb moved up and tried to make sure that Mouse went to the bottom with a hit from his broken staff. Mouse grabbed the stick and then both of them were sinking in the hot pool, downwards towards the great eye they could see below.

It was then that Cassandra finished her song even though Apollo had pulled the staff free to face Athena thus wrenching the poor bard in pain and leaving her barely standing. Her dedication was rewarded. Beneath the waters of the pool Caleb could not possibly hear the song. But Prometheus heard and freed his priest’s mind from the reptilian squatter.

Caleb tried to blast the great eye with his prayer of attack. All it did was blink but the resulting quake convinced him that they probably shouldn’t mess with the dragon. So Mouse and Caleb desperately tried to get out of the pool before they drown or were poached. Caleb shed his shield and they cut him out of his armor. Finally they hauled themselves out. They were drenched, exhausted, and bright pink. The kobold priest looked at them and raised his hand.

Athena and Apollo fought axe versus seven speeding staves. For a moment Athena pinned her brother bring his vicious weapon to a halt. Bleeding in the mud and muck with a tenuous hold on consciousness Cassandra tried one last time to reach the child she had sung to sleep on so many nights. He stopped and blinked, “Athena?” But Cassandra had stretched herself too far. Forced out of Apollo the spirit of the kobold warrior had rushed into her open mind. While Athena and Apollo talked, Cassandra quietly picked up the fallen seven section staff.

Grabbing his knife from Caleb, Mouse hurled it at the kobold priest but all the water caused his grip to slip and it scattered into the darkness. Mouse reeled backwards as thin magic strikes like the tooth of a serpent ripped into his skin. Caleb called upon his divine strike again but the kobold was ready for him and drained the power from his attack. “Foolish mammal!” Caleb was out of prayers and his shield and armor were at the bottom of the pool. At least he had half of his broken staff.

Cassandra/kobold felt that he could wield the seven section staff and for a few seconds it looked like he could. Then he ended up in the pit. Fortunately it was full of mud and so Cassandra/kobold was only slowly sinking to his doom. Cassandra fought against the unwanted presence in her head though at this point it didn’t take much. When the priest had drawn the red rune on his chest the kobold warrior had been told that should he die in battle he would come back in the body of a powerful human and be able to infiltrate and defeat the hated mammalian foes. Stuck in a female minstrel the kobold felt cheated and was willing to head onto the afterlife. Athena and Apollo pulled the now un-possessed Cassandra out of the pit.

Angered that his ecclesiastical rival had escaped control the kobold priest called to “grandfather” and raised the burbling pool to a maelstrom of boiling water. Mouse ran for his life towards the door and escape. Caleb ran the other way and while he avoided immediate death was now trapped in the corner. The kobold sent steaming doom towards Caleb who survived by taking cover behind some fallen masonry. However, the blast caused the corner of the building to collapse and Caleb was trapped beneath the rubble. Boiling water slowly dripped on his head as he hoped that his friends would rescue him.

Worried about the rest of the team, Athena and Apollo climbed to the roof of the temple. Cassandra decided to sit down for a bit and try not to bleed to death. From the roof they could see the watery destruction. So Apollo lowered Athena down using his staff as a rope. She landed just as Caleb was sealed in rock.

The kobold priest had spent too much time focusing on his rival. He suddenly realized that Mouse and Athena were behind him. With a reptilian version of “Eeak!” he tried to run. Athena cut his head in two the top landing on Mouse like a blood and brain filled hat as the Halfling ran the kobold through.

Gathering up the party they realized that the dragon was not presently coming after them. This gave them time to loot the temple. They found a few coins that had belonged to Apollo’s fellow patrol members. They had been fed to the burbling pool. The team also found an old, water logged chest. Mouse managed to hurt himself opening the chest as the wood just splintered to bits. Gold coins, goblets, and plates spilled out. Cassandra recognized the workmanship from a far off country several centuries ago. But gold is gold. So, having rescued Apollo they loaded up their packs with loot and headed back to the fort.

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