Our heroes and the Templars returned to Ronegarth, to deliver the news that the broo who had poisoned the Vilinar had been dealt with, but there was no sign of their leader, the witch Muriah. The Duke took this news with equanimity, but was distressed by the news of what had happened to Weis. He took his leave of the party, saying he had much to think about.
Ronegarth had had some visitors in the party’s absence. First was Jodred, a Sword of Humakt from Pavis. He interviewed Grom, whose deeds he had heard of, and consecrated him as an Acolyte. He reminded the new trainee priest that he had promised to bring the way of the sword to the trolls of the Gundahaak clan. Grom promised to get round to it.
The other visitors were far stranger – dragonewts! The party saw a Tailed Priest, standing on one leg, singing, guarded by two watchful beaked dragonets with klanths drawn and ready, while half a dozen crested dragonewts walked round him in a circle, occasionally switching direction. Daine told them that the priest was called Silver Whispers Descending (“no, I don’t know what it means either”) and that they came looking for the “fierce females of Fort Rone.” Silver Whispers [SWD] had been standing like that for a day without moving.
Eventually, SWD stopped his song in mid-note and came over to the PCs. He looked at the women and said one of them was the one he had been dreaming about, but he was not sure which, as all humans looked alike to him. He grabbed each woman by the shoulders and let his dragon tongue flick all over their faces, something neither particularly appreciated. He sad that Xaraya is not the one but Skye was – a dragontouched woman, he said. At this point, Skye suddenly realized she had no fear of dragons and that she could understand some of what the other dragonewts were saying.
The priest continued by saying that he had seen Skye’s future and that she would be present at the Dragonrise. Unless she wasn’t. (Huh?) At this point a Crested Dragonewt tried to interrupt; SWD drew his klanth and beheaded him in one move. He asked, “Was that impatient? I must decide whether that was Right Action” and went back into his guarded trance.
Duke Raus then reappeared and said that he had been consulting with Daryli and Jodred, and they had come to the conclusion that Weis was such a sorry place because it lacked a Wyter. They had agreed that Grom should, if he were willing, perform a Heroquest, the Making of the Storm Tribe, to bring strength to the village and secure it a guardian spirit. As a Humakti, Grom was not ideal for the role of Orlanth, but with Xaraya and Skye supporting him in spirit, he might be able to finish the quest.
That night, a grand feast was held, a combination of wake for Lady Varna and a celebration for the victory over the broos. Lady Jezra had rather too much to drink and expressed affection to Grom, but he had eyes only for the unattainable Marcilla. After the feast, Grom stepped forward and everyone began the incantations to propel Grom and his companions on to the Hero Plane.
Daryli told Grom that there were three things to remember: No-one can make you do anything, violence is always an option and there is always another way. Grom would have to demonstrate understanding of each of these principles as he gathers the tribe. He also reminded Grom of the legend: Orlanth overcame the doubting wheel, then helped Yinkin against the Plant Tribe, freed Lhankor Knowing from the Stone Tribe, defeated Vadrus in a test of strength, gathered the tribe and made them listen to him, then led the tribe in battle against the Night Tribe, after which they all acknowledged him as King. With a final wish of good luck, Daryli faded from sight and Grom found himself on the Hero Plane once more.
Grom found himself standing before Ernalda, who looked uncannily like Marcilla, and the Earth Mother told Grom-as-Orlanth to form a tribe from his friends and relatives so that he could challenge the Emperor.
First Grom faced the Doubting Wheel. The wheel was being pushed by strange figures dressed in wooden masks. It told him he should not make a tribe and rolled towards him. Grom remembered that no one can make you do anything and found a net in his pocket that he used to ensnare the wheel, which shrunk down so far that Grom put it in his pocket and walked on.
Next, Grom found Yinkin the cat god fighting with the plant tribe over the hunting grounds. Grom explained his wish to bring together his friends and relations to make a tribe. Yinkin said he might come to the moot if Orlanth helps him against Rustling Vines. Grom remembered that violence is always an option and drew his sword. The Vines manifested themselves as an Aldryami warrior with a wicked-looking bow. Grom charged the elf and dispatched him quickly. The elf left behind a sharp “lancet” as the Aldryami spears are known, but Skye said she didn’t need it. Yinkin said he appreciated Grom’s efforts and might bring the Cat Clan to his moot, but he walks by himself and all places are alike to him, so he might not.
Grom traveled on and found the Knowing God, captured by the Stone Tribe (dwarves). He had been imprisoned in a cube of iron. The Stone Tribe looked warily on. Grom considered trying to bend the bars, but Xaraya reminded him that there was always another way. Inspiration came to Grom to sing a song no-one had heard before. The bars of iron disappeared. The Knowing God agreed to make the Marks-on-Barks Clan part of the tribe, as long as it had fierce warriors.
Next Grom found Orlanth’s wild brother Vadrus, beating the bushes, looking for Yinkin to fight. Grom asked Vadrus to attend the moot, but Vadrus told him to get out of his way. Grom recalled that no one can make you do anything and challenged Vadrus to tests of strength. Vadrus, it seemed, was of equal strength and skill to Grom, and although the challenge could have gone either way, Grom won. Vadrus agreed to come to the moot “as long as that blasted cat wasn’t there.”
Soon, Grom and Ernalda stood before the moot. There were many other chieftans there, such as Issaries, Chalana Arroy, Humakt, Vinga (Skye manifested as the Loyal Daughter), Elmal and others, but they were all squabbling. It appeared that Grom/Orlanth had given them contradictory promises.
Grom was tempted to beat sense into the quarreling gods, because violence is always an option, but he decided that there was always another way, and asked Ernalda for help. She brought forth the Tribal Regalia and adorned Grom with it. The gods stopped fighting and many of them bowed before the majestic figure of Grom-Orlanth, although Vadrus and others snorted.
At this point the Night Tribe attacked, accompanied by a great Hell Monster. Grom and Skye stood against it, with Xaraya adding magical support. They defeated the monster handily and it agreed to serve Grom however he wished.
This was the point where the Heroquest should have ended, but as Grom was born aloft by his tribe in celebration, a great dragon appeared. Somehow, the PCs knew that Silver Whispers Descending had entered the HeroQuest. The dragon looked at all 3 PCs, even the ones that weren’t really there, and they saw a fast montage of images:
A beautiful woman with leathery wings
A naked male vampire, with runes and grime all over its body
A wizard’s tower at night, with lightning behind it
Deep dark caverns, with a glistening forest of fungus
A black broo with a bear’s head, its fangs drooling
A small girl full of malice
A bubbling pile of chaos
The Lunar hero Vindrman Sol Veir, decapitating someone
The Lunar Coders, staring at them
The baby they found suddenly growing into a golden adult, a god
The Lunar governor of Pavis shouting at them
A gigantic cradle floating down a swollen river, bearing a gigantic baby
A severe winter, bringing snow and ice even to the plains of Prax
AWyrm’s Friend and a God Learner, staring at one another
A striking red-haired Orlanthi Queen (Grom recognized her as Kallyr Starbrow)
A ship rising up to the heavens
A vast Dragon’s head, rising up and breaking out of a hilltop, devouring a huge building
Shocked by this vision, the heroes returned to the feast at Ronegarth. Daryli soon announced that a spirit was present, and wished to bargain with its conquerors. Xaraya undertook the negotiations, and the spirit agreed to protect the village of Weis, serving as its guardian. The spirit showed signs of terrible spiritual wounds in the past, and Xaraya felt she recognized it, but could not say how.
GM note: the heroquest was taken bodily from King of Dragon Pass. I worked out other options for success and failure for each section, but curiously the PCs took the route that leads to success in the computer game in virtually every case!