Chapter 14: Riders of the Whistling Skull Plot in Legends of Elohey | World Anvil

Chapter 14: Riders of the Whistling Skull

Plot points/Scenes

Riders of the Whistling Skull

Grolm 11, 578
about 11:00 a.m.
After breakfast at Juniper Flail Ranch, the SNAFU Posse gets an hour or so to sort themselves out whether they wanted that hour or not. They still need to move their rescuees somewhere safer, that's a fact; they still need to lay out a plan for themselves as to how they will defeat the hellish invasion currently on Whippetal Ranch.
But first:
Dishes have to be done.
Topiary Rex did not stay where Jesse Devonshire put him.
Princess Alfredo-Alston is hopping mad about the actual and the legal states of her family's ranch.
Hell Hand duo Bull Hester and Gore Hester want to take Princess Alfredo-Alston away with them, having first encountered the SNAFU Posse in Oatman Cavate with the intention to rescue their Princess from "the Moss Lich".
Griefgalls and other nastiness over the past many days have worn down the folk of Purgatory Gulch to the point that they must have tangible security if their minds and souls are to recover. Padre De Mario needs quiet time in the sun. Mayor Jaeke Blaze and Miss Roselli Amore are still trying to wrap their minds around the information that the home town they love has been critically damaged.

Riders of the Whistling Skull part 2

Grolm 12, 578
about 7:00 a.m.
As the SNAFU Posse and Whippetal guests gather around the breakfast table at Braunvieh Farm, having finally had two decent nights' sleep in a row plus a full day of healthy meals, they have a number of decisions to hash out.

Riders of the Whistling Skull part 3

Grolm 12, 578
about 7:00 p.m.
Funny thing about going exploring in the hastily-abandoned hidden workshop of an experienced alchemist:
The number one reason they tend to leave something behind them if they have to skedaddle is because it's more trouble to drag along than it is going to cause the alchemist to replace.
I tell a lie.
That's actually the number two reason an experienced alchemist tends to leave something behind while skedaddling.
The number one reason they leave something behind them while making best speed in a distant direction is, in fact





Let's get this organized, shall we?


The Factions


The SNAFU Posse -

Goal 1

- Came here to rescue the Bicchieri Caravan of Tarrargos at the request of Dacio Bicchieri
  1. Graves were spotted in the Scarred Land between the Last Stand of the Whistling Wind and Tarntaise Farm. Those graves did not have written labels, but
    • one was marked with the holy symbol of a Samakarii priest called by some "the Storm Shepherd".
    • Another contained the damaged spellbook of a deceased Stormborn sorcerer called by some "the Whistling Wind".
    • Three more Cuali caravan members were buried here, their graves bound over with living underbrush to ward away necromancy. (The deceased will someday turn out to have been Chiara Antonioli (trader), Gianmarco Endrizzi (inventory), and Grato di Tullio (inventory).)
  2. Three members of the Caravan are in comas, stored away in the care of Yiara the Naiad of Arjory Pond. Although the Posse did not collect names, those individuals are:
    • Delizia Filosa (cook)
    • Enrica Venier (wrangler)
    • Milo Vivirito (trader)
  3. Rescued from Hell Bovine custody at Agoseris Barn, then captured by Scaevola Aemula at command of Farvald Kerner, then rescued again in Oatman Cavate:
    • Rocco Medici, Guard Lead. He had gotten severely injured in his efforts to protect other caravan members from the worst of the demonic assaults, but Lee Chung and Miro Teague saw that all people rescued from Agoseris were healed up.
    • Ruggiero Bicchieri, Caravan Master. He had gotten somewhat injured in his efforts to protect other caravan members from the worst of the demonic assaults, but Lee Chung and Miro Teague saw that all people rescued from Agoseris were healed up.
  5. Also rescued from Evil Plant custody at Oatman Cavate:
    • Casto Trapasso, absolutely harmless member of the Caravan, who has spent all of the last three weeks doing nothing but try to keep alive one particular caravan member -- specifically:
    • Fiore Bicchieri, special appraiser.
    • Serapio Marzano, trader, almost unrecognizable due to the amount of time he spent working in the smoking chamber.
    These five people were deposited at Arjory Pond along with (most of) the other folks rescued from the Cavate. It seems likely that by the 13th of Grolm they will be traveling en masse to a city for support -- either Aquitaine, Morodar, or Thysbee.
  7. Yet to be found:
    • Eight more Cuali goblin caravan members!
      1. Ofelia Depace, accountant
      2. Giusi Medici, guard
      3. Liberata Pasquarella, guard
      4. Catia Di Sabato, mechanic
      5. Amedeo Scordato, mechanic
      6. Radolfo Spagna, wrangler
      7. Enecone Vannucci, guard
      8. Milo Vivirito, trader
    • all of the caravan animals: those that pulled harness, the poultry that would have been kept in the Cook Wagon, any guard animals or similar.
Status: Incomplete

Goal 2

- Set out to investigate the unnatural source of the inland, weeks-long hurricane.
Well, that for sure has been investigated!
It was the Last Stand of the Whistling Wind. It was the death of a powerful Stormborn sorcerer, possibly backed up by the divine power of his Samakarii best friend, versus the competing wills of a Pisky Alchemist with grade A devilry on her side and a nature-obsessed necromancer on the other side. Throw in one tiefling dryad for bad measure, and the scales don't just fall out of balance. They flip right over!
We can count this one as "Complete" if you like.
Every time we encounter someone closer to the center of the Troubles, we see the ultimate responsibility for the storm shift a little ways onward.
Status: Complete?

Goal 3

- Promised blacksmith Ranger Horn of Ore Else that they would attempt to rescue his partner Baldy Ironbender from the Hell Bovine Herd.
Succeeded; but in the meantime, lost Ranger to Hell Woolies.
Baldy was among those barricaded inside Oat Livery who were captured by Scaevola Aemula and brought to Oatman Cavate at the order of Farvald Kerner. As of the morning of Grolm 12th he is rescued again, believed to not have been made a host for a Griefgall, has had two meals and a night's sleep at Juniper Flail Ranch. He has been deposited at Arjory Pond along with (most of) the other folks rescued from the Cavate. It seems likely that by the 13th of Grolm they will be traveling en masse to a city for support -- either Aquitaine, Morodar, or Thysbee.
Status: Success!

Goal 4

- Promised Jackson Tarntaise that they would look for the missing residents of Tarntaise Farm, particularly
  1. Faylene Tarntaise, Jackson's wife, who Jackson saw standing before Scaevola Aemula in fascinated welcome before he was knocked unconscious
  2. but also including:
  3. Quentin "Pa" Tarntaise, proud patriarch of the family, who sold the Posse some of his Rutabaga Beer Cheese Soup and then showed off his prize Heirloom Rutabaga field to Jesse Devonshire
  4. Baylee "Ma" Tarntaise, who invented Tarntaise Chicken Rutabaga Gratin and who carefully preserved the Recipe of Uncle Ned's Rutabaga Beer Sticky Spice Ribs in the household cookbook
  5. Clem Tarntaise, a man so tough he can plough a field without a horse (albeit much slower!)
  6. Silas Tarntaise, friend to farm dogs
All but Faylene and Clem were within Oatman Cavate and are now at Arjory Pond. Clem is deceased, according to Silas. No one knows the fate of Faylene. Pa, who was a Griefgall host on the night of the 10th, seems to be a shell of the man that the Posse first met.
Status: Incomplete

Goal 5

- Signed a contract for all members of the SNAFU Posse to work for Jesse Devonshire, who in turn will work in the employ of Master Kerner's plant-based army, with the specific assignments:
  1. defeat the army of Hell Bovines and Hell Woolies;
  2. get revenge for the bottling of the Stormborn;
  3. get the Banshee's soul-tied symbol buried in the right place.
Status: In Legal Limbo

Goal 5

- Agreed to get Miss Melinda Naknirore out of her dire captivity in the attic of Alfredo House.
They left her at Arjory Pond at work on an alchemical project which is supposed to help "put this right".
With only Mr. Frederico Bianchi and Yiara the Naiad for ethical supervision.
Miss Melinda was gone by the time the SNAFU Guild returned with the rescued folks. She had indeed created a batch of healing potions for those in place, according to Mr. Bianchi, and Yiara had brought said alchemical concoctions down to her charges. Miss Melinda also had left behind instructions for creating a Subcutaneous UnDemoning Serum.
Status: Success

Goal 6

- Made some individual commitments that may spill over onto the whole Posse
  • Bruthazmus has promised to carry the Storm Shepherd's holy symbol -- and, thereby, her spirit -- back to the mountain of Dkar Po so that she can find rest.
  • Status: Incomplete
  • Miro Teague has solemnly sworn to get the Whistling Wind's bottle, bring him to Morodar and release him so that his spirit can find rest, and somewhere along the way enact vengeance on whoever is responsible for the Stormborn's murder.
  • Status: Incomplete
  • Jesse Devonshire has been Will-Bound into involuntary service to The Ministry which started off as service to Ministry Transmogrifer Farvald Kerner. Jesse is tied to a fairy fan-flower shrub (a cutting from the heart of the tiefling-dryad Scaevola Aemula's tree) which he carried along to Juniper Flail Ranch.
  • Status: Incomplete
  • Bruthazmus made a deal with Bull Hester that the Posse would go put a stop to The Hell Bovine King and associated demon army in return for cooperation on the night of Grolm 9th.
  • Status: Incomplete
  • Late in the month of Xerad, Lee Chung swore to Korovus, Chief of Shanktooth Clan, that Lee would take Chef as an apprentice in the ways of special cooking techniques and recipes, until Chef graduates to become Master Chef! This apprenticeship would take six months, until the end of the month of Jacal in 578. On the long winter night when both moons are full, Lee Chung is to return Master Chef to the Skanktooth tribe.
    This obligation has gone extremely well over its first half … until Chef vanished from Master Kerner's Chamber in Oatman Cavate!
    All of the Posse wants to find their missing kobold comrade, but Lee Chung must find him!
  • Status: Incomplete


The Hesters -

- Rode from Oatman Pass northward across the Dead Place and into Oatman Cavate at command of the King.

Goal 1

  • The King's major instruction was to pierce the heart of the Moss Lich's stronghold, break the Moss Lich's weedy grasp on the Alfredo Family scion, thus to clear contested claim of Whippetal Ranch from below the grass up to the summer skies above.
While the Hesters did see Princess Alfredo-Alston freed from the Griefgall and evacuate her from the Oatman Cavate, Princess seems to feel that the claim on the Alfredo Family's lands is still contested.
Status: Incomplete?

Goal 2

  • The King's secondary instruction was to break the Moss Lich's occupation in Oatman Canyon as much as possible. Halt the sunlight-intensifying. Disrupt the conversion of Hell Bovine carcasses into plant food. Ruin whatever the current plant-monster-in-development experiment may be.
Most of this seems to have been accomplished by the SNAFU Posse within fifteen minutes before the Hesters entered the Cavate!
Status: Complete

Goal 3

  • The Hesters themselves wanted to break free anyone they could and terrify those people into leaving.
    Before the King could give any Hell Hand orders concerning these souls!
Status: Indeterminate

Goal 4

  • The Hesters themselves want Princess Alfredo-Alston to use her metaphysical claim on the land to reject the demon-summoning ward, and possibly the demons themselves.
Status: Incomplete

Goal 5

  • The Hesters themselves want to save one another.
Gore Hester volunteered for the Hell Hand process because volunteers keep more control as hosts. If she did not volunteer, Bull would not be given the option to become anything other than a sacrifice.
Bull Hester volunteered for the Hell Hand process because Hell Hands are made in sets. If Gore was converted with another Ranch Hand, they would be parted forevermore -- never to know if the other was even still alive, much less still in any amount of control.
Thanks to the SNAFU Posse, some Rose Wafers, an expensive bottle, and some team tactics, they have been exorcised! Gore may be lacking shoes, Bull may be squinting under a persistent headache, but they are alone in their heads again.
Status: Complete!

Goal 6

  • Stay intact without violating the Ranch Hand Code.
The Ranch Hand Code says they ought to see their employer's needs through. Can they do that without falling back into the power of the Cloven Prince?
Status: Indeterminate


Princess Alfredo-Alston -

- never did like the notion of being a Damsel in Distress.

Goal 1

Reported by Jesse Devonshire and Miro Teague to have been last seen riding from Cliff Daisy Waterfall toward Sarsparilla Barn in hope of rescuing Princess!
Status: Incomplete

Goal 2

  • Recover the skull of Vítězslav de Alfredo, Princess's grandfather
Reported by Jesse Devonshire and Miro Teague to have last been in custody of Chica Alston who was headed to Sarsparilla Barn.
Status: Incomplete

Goal 3

  • Recover the deed to Sarsparilla Ranch
Last seen in the hand of Jesse Devonshire, who persuaded Princess to sign it over with intention of ownership passing to Master Farvald Kerner.
At the time, Princess was under the tranquilizing effect of a Griefgall implantation. She thinks a judge would probably consider it a valid transfer rather than revert it to her as having been performed under duress.
Possibly Jesse will hand it back over of his own free will, if Princess asks for it sweetly.
Alternatively, she may need to take it off his corpse?
Princess is having trouble making up her mind which is the smarter plan!
Status: Incomplete

Goal 4

  • Save the Ranch!

    This requires three steps:

    1. Get rid of the demons!
    2. Fire with prejudice! anyone who collaborated with the invaders!
    3. Recover as many head of cattle as possible, in a condition worth getting a priest-type to certify as "demon-free".
    Avenging her tortured brothers and lost employees would be a nice bonus.
When Princess says "with prejudice", she at minimum means to turn the guilty parties out into the uncivilized grasslands with not a hat on their heads nor a stitch on their bodies.
Bull and Gore have been nudging Princess to recognize that most deeds of "collaboration" will have only been survival tactics in traumatic conditions. Obeying orders is not "collaboration". Averting danger by answering questions is not "collaboration". Setting Mayor Blaze up to violate the town neutrality? That was absolutely "collaboration"!
Status: Incomplete

Red Herrings



SNAFU Posse Associates:


The Dead:


From Whippetal Ranch:



Have their own ideas on how The Troubles ought to be resolved:




Part 1


Part 2


Part 3

  • Rest up overnight at Hidey House
  • See to the secure disposition of the Alfredo Brothers
  • Get on the trail toward Sarsparilla Barn before Princess Alfredo-Alston decides "it's close enough to sunrise" and takes off to rescue her darling daisy-blossom
  • Arrive within hearing range of the Whistling Skull


Part 2
Slowest, Safest Path
Short of fleeing the area and abandoning all incomplete goals, the SNAFU Guild could take Miss Melinda's instructions and run around the region for another full day of component-harvesting.
Melinda Naknirore's Subcutaneous UnDemoning Serum ought to work! She's the one who put the demons into the cattle, after all. If anyone would figure out how to get them back out, it would be her.
And maybe some kind of bulb-and-dart arrangement could be made that will allow the Serum to be administered from outside polearm range.
There can't be more than 200 hellish cattle left on Whippetal Ranch, given the size and duration of that ash cloud right now.
And maybe half that much in hellish sheep.
And perhaps 5 Hell Hand Duos, not counting the Hesters.
Of course, while the Posse spends this time, the bad guys will not wait around idle.
But what worse could they be preparing?
Tricksome Approach
The idea is that Rose Wafers repulse evil creatures.
The idea goes on to say that demons are evil.
But perhaps the hosts are not?
If a demonic host who does not WISH to be a host were to consume a Rose Wafer, would the demon be repulsed straight out of the body? Sort of like dropping the temperature and then yanking out a Griefgall?
How hard can the demon fight to stay inside a host?
Once breakfast is cleaned up, the farm animals prepared for another full day or two alone, and gear maintained, perhaps the Posse has some ideas on how to contain a demon that gets tossed out of its host via absolute disgust mechanism.
Lee Chung has been making Rose Wafers in as big a quantity as he can find sufficient ingredients, since early this morning.
Would anyone like to take lead on setting up a test run?
Who wants to explain this idea to the Hesters?
Because it will absolutely have to be attempted on them both at once.
If this works...!
If this works, the Posse are smart enough to recognize that it won't work every time. Some demons will have the Fortitude to resist. And there's still the matter of getting the Rose Wafer into the mouths of three hundred Hell Critters, ten Hell Hands, probably more than that.
But it is a fighting chance!
If it can be combined with additional boosts to the party or hindrances to the hellish, then the SNAFU Posse just might be able to save the day in spectacular fashion.
Hidey Seek
Did Miss Melinda Naknirore really truly give all she could to set right her part in the Troubles?
When she left Arjory Pond, she may have gone to her hidden workshop.
Lucky Alston advised Lee Chung and Jesse Devonshire on where, roughly, to search for this workshop.
And if the Pisky alchemist is not there, useful tools for the climactic battle might be found there.
It won't be an extreme diversion from the path back onto Whippetal Ranch and across to its western edge. Not like going to Tarntaise Farm would be.
Part 3
Saddle Up or Settle Up
It's true that a looming deadline is not a reason to get careless.
It's true that no group of Pathfinders can right every wrong, nor ward off every evil.
It is also true that for every 8 hours a true villain acts without impediment, things are likely to have gotten more dangerous for the eventual heroic arrival.
Could some precious information or resource that was left behind in Miss Melinda's workshop be worth what it will cost decent folk?
Has the SNAFU Posse got a clear line drawn in their minds as to where the cost versus benefit equation breaks down?
That is not so easy to answer.
Don't rush, now.
But it might be time for celerity!

Articles under Chapter 14: Riders of the Whistling Skull

Cover image: by CB Ash


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