Thursday, June 27, 2013

Zombies and Getting Time-Lost: An Update on Lord Vallasen's Castle

Strange things are afoot at Lord Vallasen's Castle.

My son, who recently turned eight, has been assisting me in chronicling the adventures of Lord Vallasen off and on for a while now.  Sometimes it's more like playing D&D, other times we're just riffing make-believe with him as the same character.  Regardless, it's canon. And that can get weird, especially during the adventures where I give him a longer leash on narrating the action.

Vallasen's adventures lately had been side-missions here and there while his recently-acquired castle was repaired, and mercenaries arrived to serve as his (small) garrison - they're hirelings, not a retinue per se, as Vallasen's only a 4th level fighter.  Lord Vallasen now has a dozen scouts in his employ (buckskins, rifles, etc), and he recruited one Major Hootenanny as his seneschal and fighting right hand.  Trusty sidekick Fish-Man is still around, although relegated to a less-martial role of late as the team gadgeteer; and faithful steed Wiggy-Bench (the animated park-bench) hangs out basking in the castle courtyard when not required for a quest.  Also worth knowing is that Lord Vallasen has done some more exploration of the stranger rooms of his new castle, and has some understanding of how to work the "Time Chamber" (which may be more of a cross-dimensional teleporter thing, he's not quite sure yet) and its portable recall device.

One of the problems inherent in owning a castle is that eventually it gets attacked by an army of zombies.  In Vallasen's case, the castle was besieged by a force of shambling zomboids early one morning, and the young lord found himself and his retinue surrounded by vicious, grasping claws.  Currently he thinks it may have something to do with the green monster he found in his kitchen, drinking all his soda - there may indeed be a connection between the furry beast (which was promptly slain) and the zombie army.  There was a mighty battle as the scouts fired down from the walls, but eventually they would have to run out of ammunition, so Vallasen hatched a multi-part plan.  Supposing that zombies cannot swim, Vallasen and Major Hootenanny heroically snuck out a sally port and lured a component of the zomboid force down to the river, where they were battered by the rapids (and Vallasen almost drowned before being rescued by Hootenanny; pay your retainers, people).  (Note to self - add "hapless zombie thrashing around in the water" to river encounter table)  They then returned to the castle to try to finish breaking the siege.  A few of the scouts had moved the one cannon up to a tower, and it was doing a good job of blowing away zombies here and there.  An entire crate of small spiders was dumped on the zombies in the meantime (spider venom sometimes causes zomboid flesh to melt, so this was partially effective).

Lord Vallasen then realized he might be able to use the gallon of magic peach nectar he'd acquired earlier to solve the zombie problem.  He didn't know what the nectar would do when it contacted zombies, but anything was better than the current situation, as both Vallasen and Hootenanny had been bitten, and would soon turn into zombies themselves unless all the zombies were destroyed.  As it turned out, the magic peach nectar, when dumped over the wall, turned some of the zombies into velociraptors.  Less than helpful.  However, Vallasen thought he might be able to convince the velociraptors to come over to his side, so he ordered Hootenanny and the scouts to bring up all of the meat furniture from his Meat Lounge and toss it over the wall.  Yes, the Meat Lounge - where the young lord kept his collection of things made out of meat.  Gone was the bacon end-table, gone were the beef chairs, gone was the porkchop bookcase.  But the plan worked - sated by the offering of meat, the velociraptors switched sides and started holding off the zombies.

More magic peach nectar was needed!  Scouts were dispatched to the peach grove outside the castle walls, but they came back with only a single rotten peach, as the trees were no longer producing.  Solving a problem as only an eight-year-old can, Vallasen ran for the Time Chamber, in hopes of going backward (or forward) to a time when there were peaches on the trees.  As usual, the Time Chamber didn't do what he wanted it to do, and Vallasen, Hootenanny, and a small group of scouts were thrown back into something resembling the late Triassic.  After dodging some immense dragonflies, Hootenanny spotted an immense peach-like fruit hanging from a tree in the are where the magic peach grove maybe-should've-been.  But before the huge thing can be pulled down, Vallasen is carried off by a pterodactyl!  The leathery-winged beast is driven off by a fusillade from the scouts, and Major Hootenanny catches his liege before he splats (that's two - seriously, be nice to your hirelings).  The giganto-peach is cut down and cut in half so it can fit in the 'summon radius' of the Time Chamber's recall device.

Mid-transport, Major Hootenanny cries out in alarm and pain - there is some prehistoric serpent biting his foot!  The darn thing must've snuck into the radius of the Time Chamber -- and apparently its bizarre poison mutates Hootenanny to have a snake-face.  Unfortunately all of the ruckus seems to disturb the time-transport, and the group ends up in a place that seems like the Edwardian period ("It's definitely 1919," said Lord Vallasen).  They quickly learn they are in a pocket dimension called the Magic Land of Neckties, which is ruled by a council of Necktie Wizards; and, strangely, there are some zombies here, too, acting as servants to the magocracy.  Weird connections!

Vallasen and Hootenanny acquire neckties so they can sneak past some zombie guards and...why did we do that again?  I seriously don't even remember, and it was earlier today.  Anyway, there's a chase scene as they abscond from the zombies and Necktie Wizards and leap back into the Time Chamber's field just as some jerk wizards throw energy blasts at them...   And of course there's no way that won't mess up the time-jump, right?

"Where are we, m'lord?" asked Hootenanny, staring up at the swirling violet colors in the sky.
"I'm not sure.  The readout is weird." Vallasen offered grimly.
"How weird?"  The grizzled soldier narrowed his eyes, anticipating an upsetting answer.
"The time-o-scope says we should be in the year 8080, but all the science readings say we are in The Time Before Planets Were Born."
"That's an actual time?"
"Oh, yes.  And we're really there.  For realsies."


Lord Vallasen (L) and Major Hootenanny (R), in disguise while operating in Magic Necktie Land.  Note the Wampus-hats, and that Hootenanny now has the face of a cobra thanks to mutation.

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