Bollock's Inquisitives

S02E04 - On The Prowl
A simple investigation aiming to catch a rabid animal attacking citizens of Sharn gets complicated by the involvement of a poisoner and the agents the Church of the Silver Flame that are on her trail.

Eyre 19, 998 YK.

Eyre 20, 998 YK.

Eyre 21, 998 YK.

to be completed

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S02E03 - Small Graces
Bollock's Inquisitives are hired by the watch to look into reports of people coming back from the dead in Fallen.

Eyre 10, 998 YK. Summoned to the Black Arch garrison in Lower Tavick’s Landing, Bollock’s Inquisitives are hired by Sergeant Lional Bondle to investigate reports of disappearances and, strangely, reports of people coming back from the dead in Fallen, a slum district of Lower Dura.

When they get to the neighborhood’s access walkway, they are stopped by a group of young hoodlums headed by a female shifter with red dyed fur. The gang makes it clear they don’t want meddlesome adventurers poking around Fallen. When the inquisitives explain their purpose, the gang members burst out laughing, amazed at people putting stock in unfounded rumors. All, except for one. He looks terrified as he says the rumors are true, and that he’s seen one of the returned. The rest of the gang groans, as he starts to recount the sighting to the inquisitives. Ultimately, the inquisitives are granted access, on the promise of not being too intrusive. Introducing herself as Tuara, the gang’s leader escorts the investigators to the location where the gang’s witness claims to have seen one of the returned.

They end up in front of a bakery. The store is closed and there is no sign of life from inside. The gang member recounts how he saw the late baker’s wife through the window a few nights before, kneading some dough. She’d been dead for about a month at that point. After knocking and getting no answer, Basil picks the lock and they step into an small, empty house. Some of the clothes are gone, but nothing else seems suspect. There is no sign of struggle, the bed is made, the idol of the Sovereign Host sits, undisturbed, on the mantle. Tuara tells the inquisitives that the shop had been closed for a few days, rumor was the baker was ill.

They meet with a neighbor, the old lady who initially reported the case to the watch, at her house across the street. She recounts having seen the baker’s wife walking towards the shop from her window a week before, and how she saw her and the baker leave with baggage the night before. The baker looked weak and sick. She also tells them the baker’s wife had died from a wound sustained in a cart accident.

Back outside, they manage to find faint tracks in the mud of a couple leaving from the baker’s house and heading to the borough’s main thoroughfare, where the tracks become indistinguishable from the rest.

The inquisitives then head to a missing young man’s apartment. There they meet with his landlord who tells them about how the youth had lost his girlfriend some time before going missing. She had died from a treatable illness, for they were too poor to afford House Jorasco’s services. The apartment is humbly furbished, adorned with a small table with four chairs, an old wooden bench, an idol of the Sovereign Host and a faded painting of the unlucky couple. The landlord’s wife claims to have seen the deceased girl a few days before the young man vanished, but she says she thinks her mind was playing tricks on her.

The group moves on. They decide to head to the city’s crematorium to find out if any of the bodies had gone missing. Flashing the letter from the Watch authorizing their investigation, they manage to get the manager’s collaboration. After a few hours asking questions of the staff and going through their paperwork, they find no one suspicious and paperwork that confirms that both bodies were cremated. Puzzled, they return to Fallen.

While walking on its main street, they find an old, dilapidated chapel to the Sovereign Host. Remembering the prominence of the Host’s symbols in the victims’ lodgings they decide to have a look at it. Though you can hardly tell in the lower levels of Sharn, night has fallen and the chapel is closed. They knock and the door is opened by a short mousy man holding a broom, the chapel’s sexton. The inquisitives present their letter and ask to be let inside. They then begin to question the sexton. The man’s nervous demeanor betrays the fact he knows more than he lets on and, when pressed, he admits to seeing the baker and his wife enter the chapel and head down stairs where the priest has his apartments.

Heading down they find an older chapel with an elderly priest in a chainmail kneeling in front of the altar. Sitting on the benches are three couples of cadavers: two chubby middle-aged persons, two younger-looking corpses and a woman and her child.

The inquisitives confront the priest. While he admits these are the people they are looking for, he denies killing them. He claims they came and let themselves die. Basil accuses him of raising undead, a serious crime from his Flamite perspective, but the cleric also denies that, saying his “master” is the one responsible. The group demand to speak to this “master”, but the priest says he is not to be disturbed. The inquisitives question his motives, and their suspect says his master, an envoy of the gods, returned grieving faithful parishioners’ loved ones to life because of an admiration for love, the greatest of all emotions. The returned were however temporary, and the grief stricken relatives chose to let themselves die with them. The group argues with each other, some supporting the grief stricken’s right to choose and others appalled by the abuse of these people emotional state. Ultimately, the fact that one of the victims was a child settles the issue, the group decides to put a stop to these returns.

As they tell the priest to surrender, he invokes his gods and the 6 dead bodies rise from their seats. The priest hurls bolts of divine wrath at the inquisitives while the corpses charge at the invaders. The battle rages for but a minute, leaving the priest unconscious and the undead destroyed.

After the battle, the group notices that the bodies of those thought to have been returned to life seem to be made from a patchwork of mismatched parts.

Searching the chapel, the inquisitives find that the bottom of a column can be pushed down, revealing a passage beneath the floor. As they climb down, they see that the column’s base is floating in the air. In fact, the hallway they find themselves in is littered with floating pebbles and rocks of various sizes. Rampart pushes a few aside, seeing they are not fixed in the air, but simply do not seem subject to gravity. Maathezar, remembering Sharn’s special link to the plane of Syrania, theorizes that they must have found one of the manifest zone’s “hot spots”.

The tunnel ends on a mass of fallen rocks. The side of the tunnel is open and the a slope of rocks and pebbles leads down into a wide chamber. The walls and ceiling of the vault are made by partially collapsed towers of Dhakaani design. On a small hill is a chapel. The floor seems to be an old cemetery.

Hard at work among the graves are two large zombies. The pieces they recover from the graves are in turn picked up by a pair of ghosts and brought up to an altar where they are sown together.

As the inquisitives take in the grisly scene, a portal seemingly made of shadow opens in the chapel’s entrance. Through it steps what appears to be an Angel of Valor, according to Zair. However, the angel somehow looks… wrong. Habitually wreathed in flame, this one appears to be made of black, acrid smoke, with small embers drifting through his form. On every single one of the “feathers” forming his wings are tiny chains, clinking softly, like wind chimes, as he steps into the room.

He looks up at the stunned inquisitives, his featureless face unreadable, and says “Oh. We have guests… My servant would not have let you through peacefully. I hope none of you were seriously hurt. Pray tell me, is my servant alright?”
“He is”, says Maathezar, “we just knocked him out. Who are you and what are you doing here?”
“My name would mean little to you.”
“Still, I would like to know who I’m addressing.”
“I am commonly called Aluriel. I am here to share the gifts I possess with mortals in need.”

Asking more questions, the inquisitives get the angel’s story. He used to live in Syrania, but was banished after delving into forbidden magic, cursed to remain imprisoned in a small manifest zone. To him, love is the most powerful and noblest of all mortal emotions. He had found himself admiring its strength and wanting to preserve it. So he had studied magic in the hope of learning how to return the dead to those who loved them. Unbeknownst to his fellow angels, the place he was thrown into was also a manifest zone of Dolurrh. Seeing it as a sign of approbation from the Gods, he continued his work, ultimately discovering how to temporarily return the dead into corpses that were not their own. However, such creations had to be fueled by the life force of those who desired them, leading them to slowly deteriorate. When they could not take any more, the returned would leave, but often, their still living loved ones would come with them, preferring to die than to live without their love.

The group was torn. Sure, Aluriel was leading innocents to their deaths, but if they went willingly, who were they to interfere. Basil, however, saw no romanticism in the matter, rather the exploitation of emotionally distraught people for a madman to live his fantasy. In the end, the fact that one of the victims was a child led the group to adopt the shifter’s point of view. When they told Aluriel they could not let him continue, he simply chuckled.

“I am bound here, but the spark that gives me life is still in Syrania. If you should scatter my essence, it will eventually reform, and I will resume my work. I do not understand why you want to stand in my way.” Looking meaningfully at Karnak d’Vadalis, he says “some of you understand the pain of loss, and the loss of meaning it takes from one’s life.”

Sensing no lie in Aluriel’s words, Maathezar telepathically suggests to his allies to fall back for now while they research his claims and come back prepared. The others agree and the group takes its leave.

They spend the next few hours looking for answers at various chapels, ending up talking to a planar specialist at the Great Hall of Aureon in the University district in Upper Menthis. The scholar, Father Bertran, listens with growing interest to their tale. When they are done, he confirms that the angel’s tale is quite possible, but he tells them that it would be possible to banish him by finding the focus of his imprisonment, throwing it through the portal to Dolurrh and performing a ritual to close it permanently. He offers to perform the ritual for free, but puts down the condition that he be present to do it himself, pleading the rarity of such a hands on experience. The group agrees and head back down to Fallen with Father Bertran in tow.

They confront Aluriel. He proves a worthy foe, summoning spirits taken from Dolurrh and charging into battle with fiery blades and flanked by his large zombie minions. When they manage to vanquish him, his form dissipates, leaving behind his chainmail and the chains who bound his wings. Father Bertran identifies the binding chains as the focus item. He performs the ritual, and Aluriel binding are cast into Dolurrh, hopefully for all eternity.

When the group climb back out of the passage, they find that the Priest they had knocked out is dead. Careful examination shows that he was quite sick. Maathezar suggests that Aluriel’s presence was all that kept him alive. They report their success to Sergeant Bondle and claim their pay.

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S02E02 - Diamonds in the Rough
Bollock's Inquisitives are hired by Cane to find a killer terrorizing his employees.

Therendor 28, 998 YK. A messenger shows up at Bollock’s Inquisitives asking the investigators to meet with Cane at his establishment as soon as possible. Having nothing important on their agenda, the group heads down to the Dragoneyes district to Cane’s Diamonds.

When they get there, Cane greets them warmly and takes them to his office in the nightclub’s back rooms. There he explains that three of his girls have turned up dead over the course of the last month and a half. After trying to resolve this issue through his men, he found that muscle doesn’t make a good investigator and has thus decided to hire professionals for the job. One girl, he explains, could have been a fluke, two a coincidence, but three is a spree. He wants the culprit identified, after which he says he’ll handle the rest. However distasteful this last implication is to some of the group, they agree, lives being at stake and the pay sounding right.

The first victim was a new arrival at Cane’s Diamonds. The young girl had been found stabbed to death in her room at Cane’s establishment in the morning after a shift. She had been seen after tending to her last customer, which ruled him out. The second victim was Natasha, one of Cane’s longstanding employee. The woman had taken the new arrival under her wing and had been deeply troubled by her death. She was found stabbed to death in her apartment three weeks after the first murder. The last victim, Sophia, had been found this morning in her apartment, also stabbed to death. Cane’s employees had carried the body back to his establishment and it had been kept on ice ever since.

While Karnak and Rampart search the first victim’s room, Maathezar performs an autopsy on the last victim and Basil and Zair question the bar’s staff.

The search doesn’t turn up much until the two investigators find a hidden cubbyhole that faintly smells of ammonia. The autopsy finds that a first, precise knife strike killed the victim, and that the other stab wounds were postmortem. Also, the girl’s blood seems to contain traces of narcotics. By questioning the staff, they find out about the mentoring relationship between the newcomer and Natasha, and that Natasha and Sophia were very close friends. They also learn of Clara, another girl who was close to Sophia and Natasha. Seeing as she could be a potential fourth victim, the inquisitives decide it might be worth checking up on her, as she is not working at the time of their visit.

They walk over to Clara’s apartment. She initially refuses to let them in, but after Maathezar soothes her anxieties, she allows them inside her surprisingly cozy lodgings. She is visibly terrified by the happenings at Cane‘s and answers the inquisitives’ questions to the best of her abilities. From her, they learn of Cane’s affiliation with the Boromar Clan, a notorious criminal syndicate. She also informs them that the Dragoneyes district is controlled by the Tyrants, a rival criminal group with which the Boromar have had an uneasy truce for a few years. This new piece of information could indicate that the truce might be coming to an end. Clara also suggest they question one of the barmen who had been seen fighting with two of the victims, the newcomer and Natasha, shortly before they were killed.

As her shift is to start soon, the group escort her to Cane’s Diamonds. There, they meet with Cane and confront him about his criminal ties. He tells them he didn’t want to steer their investigation towards the gang war conclusion, but admits that it might very well end up there. They ask about the Tyrants and whether any of their agents killed in a similar manner to the victims’ wounds. Cane admits he knows of one member of the Tyrants, nicknamed Rage, who used to kill in the same way, but that he was killed during the last war between them and the Boromar.

The group moves on to questioning the suspicious barman. Though the interrogation turns up motive (he was getting close to the newcomer and wanted her to quit so they could be together), he proves to be an unlikely suspect, as he crumbles in a gibbering heap of grief when the subject of the girl’s demise is brought up.

The inquisitives move on to searching Natasha and Sophia’s apartments. Each search takes a couple of hours. Neither turns up much, except for two things. In Natasha’s apartment, they find a trunk that smells faintly of ammonia and that has scratch marks on the inside of its lid. At Sophia’s, they find a hidden crawlspace that also smells of ammonia. This leads them to the conclusion that the killer kept his victims alive for some time before disposing of them, most likely, Maathezar posits, to extract information from them.

Acting on a hunch, they decide to search Clara’s apartment in her absence. A thorough search turns up a a large hidden cupboard in which they find… an unconscious and emaciated Clara. Leaving her at the nearest Watch post, they rush back to Cane’s Diamonds.

When they get there, they ask the bouncer if Clara is still inside, but he tells them she just left. He points down the street where she is walking with another of the club’s bouncers. She spots them and, pulling a blade from seemingly nowhere, stabs the bouncer in the chest and runs off into the crowd filling the streets of Dragoneyes.

They run off after her. Rampart tries to barrel through the crowd, yelling at them to get out of the way, to little effect. Basil lithely ducks and weaves through the crowd, keeping the assassin in sight. He sees her change her appearance and informs his colleagues as he continues the chase. Karnak sends Frostbite ahead so she can use her scent to keep on the assassin’s heels. He follows behind as quickly as he can. Zair points towards the assassin and yells “thief! thief! A reward for anyone who stops her!”. A cry answers her offer ahead “she’s here! this wa-” but is cut off in a gurgle. Maathezar asks the locals about the layout and heads off to try and cut off the murderer’s escape. After a few minutes of hot pursuit, they lose sight of her, only to finally catch sight of her as she enters a small nondescript establishment guarded by two changelings.

Walking over to them, Maathezar, Rampart and Zair try to get in, but the guards tell them that their “kind” is not welcome. The establishment is for changelings only. Zair still unwilling to reveal herself to her companions, tells them she thinks she can get in, but needs to speak to the guards alone. While the others hang back, she shows part of her true face to the guards and explains to them that the group is a mark and that she doesn’t want to blow her cover. The guards believe her claims and let her in. The group is impressed by what they perceive as her skill with diplomacy, but Maathezar, ever the perceptive one, finally infers Zair’s true lineage. However, he opts to keep the information to himself.

Inside the establishment is a bar and double doors that leads to changing rooms staked with clothing of all sorts. Asking around, Zair finds the murderer and sits at her table. Zair asks the assassin why she did the killings. She answers that the truce has stood for long enough, and that she can say that to her employers. The inquisitives then asks who she should say the message is from. The assassin grins and simply answers “Rage”. Zair senses no deception in the other’s claims, so she leaves.

As she is about to exit the establishment, she asks the bouncers to throw her out violently, for the sake of her cover identity. The bouncers gleefully agree, and toss her out. In her usual clumsy manner, Zair ends up flipping over the small table the guards were playing on and falling flat on her face. She then gets up, walks back to her colleagues and relays what’s she learned.

The inquisitives head back to Cane’s Diamonds and tell Cane that Rage is back. The warforged nods and says “then it’s war”. He thanks them for their work and pays them their fee.

Later. A changeling walks into the back room of a small store. In the room are shelves filled with strange roots and herbs, ceramic pots, small sculptures made by clawed hands and a door on the far wall. In front of the door, four orcs are sitting at a table, playing a simple game with wooden tiles. They glance up at the new arrival, obvious dislike, but also a tinge of fear, visible on their ugly faces. One of them gets up and knocks on the door in a special, rhythmic way. The door opens, revealing part of the Troll that was standing behind it. He lets the changeling through. The large hallway on the other side of the door leads to a warehouse. In the warehouse, many orcs, some gnolls and a few humans are working at unpacking very illegal goods from crates stamped with a logo familiar to most Khorvairians. A female tiefling is supervising their work. The changeling walks straight to her.
“It’s done”, she says, “they went for it.”
The tiefling grins. “I know”, she answers, “the Boromar have already made their first move.”
“Soon, the Tyrants and the Boromar will be at each other throats, leaving you plenty of room to expand. I told you I was worth it”, adds the changeling.
“Time will tell. Though for now, I’m satisfied with your contribution, Tuss.”
The changeling smiles. Poor daughter, she thinks as she recalls the day’s events, you’re as hopeless as your father.

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S02E01 - Leaders and Followers
Bollock's Inquisitives are hired to find a missing teenager. After questioning her entourage, they discover unexpected complications to their job.

Therendor 23, 998 YK. After a few weeks of painfully boring jobs, mostly chasing lost pets and cheating spouses, Bollock’s Inquisitives are hired by a couple whose teenage daughter, named Shana, didn’t come home the night before. The Watch has refused to investigate as they say the girl hasn’t been missing for long enough, but both parents are exceedingly worried. Originally from northern Breland, they moved to Sharn a few months before, after having made a fortune by finding a dragonshard deposit on their farmland. Their daughter having fallen in with a group of rebellious girls at her school, the parents suggest that avenue of investigation to the inquisitives. They also point them towards the girl’s tutor. After the parents leave, Karnak d’Vadalis says “I bet she’s been captured by a cult and we’ll find her tied to an altar somewhere.”

The talk with Shana’s friends proves unproductive. The girls are belligerent, condescending and uncooperative. However, Maathezar notices one of the girls, Ester Davilla, seems ill at ease. He informs his teammates via his telepathy and they decide to see her alone once the school day is over.

When they see her tutor, a grad student at Morgrave University named Daron, they learn Shana was hiding a boy from her parents called Josten Pendleton, nephew of the headmaster of Pendleton Academy, the school she went to. Daron suggests they should talk with him, as Shana went to a party at his place on the night she disappeared.

They find Josten with his friends in a park just outside the Academy. Watching them from afar, Rampart notices he seems to be favoring his right side and is using his hair to conceal a black eye. When they split up to go home, Zair approaches one of his friends and uses her feminine wiles to press some information out of him. The teenager tells her Josten and Shana left the party together, but that Josten came back 15 minutes later looking like he had taken a beating. He didn’t see Shana again, but he laughs off the idea that Josten had anything to do with it.

The inquisitives move on to Ester Davilla’s house where they have a talk with her alcoholic mother. When the girl comes home, she shows genuine concern at her friend’s disappearance and shares what she knows. She says Shana was flirting with two boys, Josten… and Daron, her tutor. The latter was also present at the party.

They head back to see Daron and catch up with him just as he’s leaving his office. He admits having been at the party and says he caught Josten being forceful with Shana. He intervened, pulling Josten off the girl and physically showing him his behavior was unacceptable. He says Shana was traumatized, so he took her to a friend’s house to recover. The inquisitives insist he bring them there and he complies.

The house is in the lower levels of Sharn. They go down into the house’s basement and emerge into a large chamber that looks like an old temple. A large crowd of robed figures and standing ahead of them, facing towards a platform on which stand five robed individuals and a dazed-looking Shana. Behind them, in the shadows is a large creature. Daron takes advantage of the inquisitives momentary surprise to run off towards the crowd yelling “we have company!”

The head priest yells “Faithful, protect the Great Mother!” And he and his acolytes fall back, taking the large creature with them. The group notices a small figure from the platform heads off in a different direction, but the crowd, grabbing knives and torches rushes at them. “Told you so”, says Karnak as he hefts his blade.

The battle with the cultists is brutal. Though they are numerous, they are not trained fighters and they fall like flies before the inquisitives. Disgusted by what they’ve seen, the inquisitives take no prisoners. After the battle, Karnak finds a dying Daron. The tutor says “she was going to be reborn, to be perfect…”, the Vadalis wastes no time and ends him.

Shana has been left behind by the cult leaders and is obviously drugged out of her mind. They cover her with a cloak and put her out of the way. They head deeper into the catacombs to pursue the leaders and this so-called “Great Mother”.

They end up in a large room with two large pools of water and offerings littering the floor. In front of them stand three of the cultists. The leader says “you may have slain the faithful, but the Great Mother will destroy you!” Behind him and out of a pool of water rises a large tentacled creature with two heads, hundreds little feet and a large abdomen. Ooze pours out of the cultists’ orifices and form weapons in their hands: a long whip for the leader and claws for the other two.

Basil Tulsi reacts first, sending an arrow that turns into a flock of bats that strikes at the crowd. One of the clawed abominations explodes in a burst of ooze. Basil heads for a side corridor, but ends up face to face with a dwarf wielding ooze katars. The fight is joined by all sides. The Great Mother exudes ooze that the leader uses as a weapon, striking his foes far away. After a brutal battle, the Great Mother is dispatched and then her dismayed followers. Out of the Mother’s abdomen crawls out a bunch of small oozes that dry up and die as they meet the open air. When the cult leaders are slain, ooze drips out of their eyes, noses and ears. After looting the room, the inquisitives head back to find the smaller humanoid that headed in a different direction.

Behind a screen in the main temple, they find a tight little passage. They squeeze through it and end up in a spacious living room. From an adjoining room, Basil makes out a muted conversation, which he relays to his comrades.
“As expected, the gestation period is still too long and led to our being discovered”, says a high pitched voice.
“Indeed”, answers a deeper one, “it seems your initial assessment was accurate. Gather your notes and report back to me, we need to take your observations into account for the next phase.”
“My notes have been transferred to a portable medium, I just need to destroy the originals. I will be by your side shortly, master. But first, I need to dispose of the guests in my parlor.”
“If it will amuse you, but don’t waste too much time, they are irrelevant.”

Having been discovered, the group moves forward to engage their enemy, but as Basil steps forward, a coat rack suddenly shifts, growing tentacles and grabbing him. A strange looking gnome appears in the doorway at the end of the room. “Greetings!” he says with a mad grin, “let’s have a bit of fun together!”

One of the couches shifts as well and from the end of the room a large translucent shape oozes forward. The creatures are identified by Karnak as two mimics and a gelatinous cube. The three aberrant creatures block the way while the gnome bombards the group with spells. However, the creatures prove no match for the inquisitives and they soon surge towards the gnome. He sends a spark along the wall to his bookcases, putting them on fire. After a brief melee, he bows to his opponents, acknowledges their strength and, with a mad laugh, teleports away. Rampart lets out a howl of frustration.

After recuperating what they can from the gnome’s library, they head back to the temple and take Shana Tuncay back to their office and, when the drugs finally wear off, to her parents.

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S01E12 - Household Chores
After being cleared of treachery by the King's Citadel, the group trade favors with the viceroy of the Ghallanda enclave to obtain the final piece of the Ashen Crown.

Therendor 12, 998 YK. After the fight with Demise, Rampart stuffs Frostbite‘s body into the group’s bag of holding and hoists Karnak onto it’s broad shoulders. They give Tikulti some clothing and set off, hoping to leave Ashurta’s Tomb behind them forever.

When they get to Sharn’s lower levels, they are quickly surrounded by a group of agents from the King’s Citadel and taken into custody. They suffer through a lengthy interrogation. After hours of questioning, they are brought together in a conference room. Captain Saj Kalaes joins them, returning their possessions and telling them they’ve been cleared of all charges against them and that Karnak has been sent to the Jorasco enclave for treatment. He also informs them that the Citadel has decided to bury the Ashen Crown Operation, but that they are still bound by the pledge they swore at their mission’s outset. He finishes by telling them that Demise has been spotted entering the Ghallanda enclave in Sharn’s mid-levels.

Worn out by their battles against the Emerald Claw, the group decides to rest for the night and discuss their next move in the morning.

Therendor 13, 998 YK. The next day, the group gathers at their office. They bring Orryn up to speed without mentioning the Citadel’s involvement. He tells them he knows the viceroy in charge of Sharn’s Ghallanda enclave and that he can get them a meeting the next day. The group opts to rest one more day, electing to spend some of their credits in one of the city’s taverns.

Therendor 14, 998 YK. The group meets with Keslo d’Ghallanda, viceroy in charge of House Ghallanda’s operations in Sharn. They express their interest in Demise, but the viceroy politely informs them that she is under his House’s protection, as are all their guests. Negotiations prove unsuccessful until Maathezar notices that the viceroy is carefully choosing his words, putting emphasis on the fact that people are protected by his House’s charter. Pursuing a hunch, he inquires about the Karruk’s Circlet. Keslo tells them that unfortunately, items do go missing from storage from time to time. A particular item could be lost, in exchange for a couple of favors. The group agrees.

The first favor involves recovering a shipment from Q’barra stolen from a ship in the city’s docks. Keslo d’Ghallanda provides the group with the hijackers’ hideout’s location. After scooting the location, the group assaults the warehouse. They subdue the criminals and recover the shipment, that turns out to be a rare and very illegal drug from the swamps of Q’barra. Despite their misgivings, the group turns the shipment over to House Ghallanda.

The second favor is to sully the reputation a three establishments who refused to get a Ghallanda certification. The first one is a club in the Dragoneyes district. A covert inspection by Basil Tulsi reveals some severe breaches of Brelish health regulations. The second establishment is a bar called the Big Barrel Inn, run by Harom “the Bear” Cobbler and his wife Germaine Cobbler. Finding the place and its owners quaint and pleasant, Maathezar decides to convince the owners to apply for a certification. The last establishment is in the Upper levels of the city. Rampart and Karnak capture and then release a dozen rats in its kitchens, ruining the place’s reputation.

Having accomplished their tasks, they return to Keslo d’Ghallanda, who hands over the Ashen Crown’s final piece.

The group returns to its office and, curious about the full crown’s abilities, perform the ritual to bind the pieces together. The full Crown, while undeniably powerful, proves to be underwhelming as compared to its reputation. However, it grants them the ability to use the Raise Dead ritual, which they use to return Yeraa to life.

They bring the Wordbearer up to speed on the latest developments. She thanks them and, exhausted, retires to rest.

Therendor 15, 998 YK. The group meets again with Yeraa who tells them she’s decided to leave the Crown with them. Her people say its destiny is linked to those who find its pieces, and the dirge singer is convinced that they found the Crown for a reason. Taking the bodies of her fallen comrades with her, Yeraa leaves aboard the Kordanga to return to Darguun.

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S01E11 - Unfinished Business
The group follows Tikulti to Sharn. There, they face off against Demise and her minions in a familiar setting.

Therendor 11, 998 YK. The group is taken to Sharn aboard the Kordanga. During the trip, they consult Yeraa‘s journal and deduce, using the clues dropped by Tikulti in his message, that Demise is planning on performing the rite of Arkantaash in Ashurta’s Tomb.

Therendor 12, 998 YK. Delan drops them off in Cliffside, and they make their way into the Cogs.

When they get to the Tomb entrance, they see light ahead and hear voices. Jaenus, Demise‘s apprentice, is standing at the tomb’s entrance with soldiers of the Emerald Claw and a group of reanimated kruthik corpses. Seeing no point in delaying the inevitable, the group engages the forces and quickly disposes of them. Jaenus tries to flee in the end, but he is cut down by Rampart.

Further into the tomb, two Emerald Claw knights stand guard. Basil spots three more creatures waiting in ambush. When the battle starts, one of these creatures turns out to be the traitor Tikulti. Though at first he taunts the group, playing on their feelings towards the Wordbearers, his attitude changes when the fight starts to go against him. A surrender is negotiated and he swears to exonerate them if they spare him. In the end the group agrees and he helps them dispatch the last of his former allies.

The group ties him up and proceeds to Ashurta’s Tomb, where Demise is waiting for them. She wastes no time with talk, she plans to kill the PCs and claim Ashurta’s Blade. Karnak and Frostbite charge in first and are quickly surrounded by ghouls. The fight is closer than the other ones. Frostbite is killed and Karnak falls to the sustained assault. As her minions fall, Demise is forced to acknowledge her defeat. She turns translucent and flees, passing through the wall. In Ashurta’s sarcophagus they find all the pieces of the Ashen Crown, except for the circlet, which Demise was wearing when she fled.

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S01E10 - Dark Betrayal
The Seekers find the pieces of the Crown under Six Kings. They move on to Graywall, where they are betrayed.

Therendor 10, 998 YK. After touching base with the Wordbearers through the sending stone Yeraa gave them, the group gets under way.

As they travel trough the ruins, they come across a group of foulspawn scouts. At first they spot two dolgrims and one hulking foulspawn that Karnak identifies as a Dolgarr, but as soon as the fighting starts, one more dolgrim and a dolgaunt emerge from a nearby room to join the battle. The monsters are killed except for one dolgrim that escapes when it sees its companions fall. Rather than pursuing the quick-moving creature, the adventurers decide to continue on their way.

They follow a few corridors and find themselves in a large cavern. A small river flows through it, this one thankfully not boiling. On the river’s other bank, they spot a pale goblin in rags drinking from it. When it spots their light source, it hisses at them, drawing stone knives and backing up into the darkness. When the group moves closer to the river, a volley of arrows is shot into it. A roar fills the cavern as a dozen or so voices start yelling all at once. It stops suddenly and a high-pitched voice resonates through the cavern, speaking in broken goblin.
“This is stone blades territory. You no look like bad things or bad dead things, so we give you chance. Leave here and no come back and you live.”
Basil translates for his companions. Maathezar says that negotiation might be possible. As Basil is the only one fluent in goblin, the task falls upon him despite his lack of diplomatic skill. Maathezar and Zair guide him through it as Rampart and Karnak use their observations to give him leads. Through concerted effort, they convince the goblins that they can be allies and are welcomed by the tribe. The tribe’s shaman tells them of the Moon Pool and the bad dead things, undead foulspawn, who live around it. He tells them they are welcome to Zaarani’s solitaire if they can return the pool to his tribe’s hands.

After bidding their farewells, a scout of the tribe leads them to the entrance of the Pool’s chamber, but refuses to go any further. He wishes them luck and leaves.

Inside the room is a dozen of the undead creatures, standing around the Pool, being led into some sort of ceremony by one of them. The Priest wears a large gem around its neck; the adventurers’ prize. Seeing no sense in delaying the inevitable, the group engages the creatures, using a ledge’s higher ground to give themselves an advantage. The battle is bloody and vicious and the higher ground proves less of an advantage than was hoped as some of the foulspawn can fire bone spines from the backs, but ultimately it doesn’t prove enough to stop the five experienced warriors and the wolf. The group claims the solitaire and are soon joined by the Wordbearers who emerge from a passage leading further down into the complex. One of them, however, is missing. The old warrior Ulkuuz has died during one of their fights. Saddened by the loss, but emboldened by their success, the two bands make their way back out of Six Kings, stopping along the way to tell the Stone Blades of their victory.

When the caves under Six Kings, Yeraa asks to speak to the group privately. She sends her Seekers on ahead to the airship. Zair, eager to see it, goes with them. Once they are alone, the hobgoblin apologizes for her earlier mistrust. She thanks them for their help and for having proven themselves true friends of the Wordbearers. Maathezar warns her that now that they have most of the pieces, they should be careful as the Emerald Claw will no doubt try to seize them. He also tells her that he is worried that one among either the Wordbearers or the airship‘s crew might be working for their enemy, keeping an eye on them. Yeraa objects to the notion, saying she trusts her seekers more than them. She cannot, however, be certain of the airship’s crew. She promises to be careful.

As they go to leave, they hear noise coming from the valley’s entrance. The Bladebearers are back, but not as they once were: they have been reanimated by the Emerald Claw’s necromancers. They draw their weapons and engage the undead creatures. The zombies are quickly dispatched, but the necromancers are nowhere to be seen. Thinking the ship might be the other target, they rush off.

They climb up the steep slope and a dilapidated airship comes into view, faded black letters spelling out Kordanga on its hull. Zombie cadavers and a few dead Emerald Claw warriors are lying on the ground as the Seekers and Zair greet the others. They too were attacked, archers trying to set the airship on fire with alchemist’s fire arrows.

Closer inspection of their targets show, however, that the attack was meant to damage and not destroy the ship. The group is introduced to Delan, the Kordanga’s captain. He tells them his crew will need a few hours to complete repairs before they can get under way. Once it is done, they do.

Graywall comes into view a few hours after their departure. The small town is bustling with activity. As the entrance to Droaam, the town is in a phase of expansion, and commerce is flourishing within its walls. The ship comes to rest over the Orien enclave, where the captain has friends.

As the Wordbearers go reconnoiter the city, the group tries to find some information on the Emerald Claw’s activities in the town. They find a group of Znir pact gnolls who, for a few coins, tell them they have seen emerald Claw warriors in the company of an elven woman in the city. From the woman’s description, they ascertain that it is Demise. Since the day before, however, they haven’t been seen.

The Wordbearers return, saying they found the spot they need to go. They will need to dig under the Roar, Graywall’s most popular marketplace. Their plan is simple: they will dig and then enter the ruins they find to retrieve the last piece of the Crown will the adventurers run interference for them, ensuring they are not disturbed by the local authorities.

Early in the evening, they leave for the Roar, finding a good spot and setting a merchant’s stall, which they stock with trinkets picked up during their previous delves and from the Kordanga. While the Wordbearers dig, the others distract the passersby. Basil and Rampart work together to put on show, attracting attention. Karnak and Frostbite do the same in another spot. Meanwhile, Zair and Maathezar tend the stall, turning attention away from the work happening behind its draperies. Soon, the goblins reach a large stone slab that they remove using crowbars, revealing a deep shaft. They climb down and head off in search of the Ashen Crown’s last piece.

After about half an hour, Tikulti contacts the group through the sending stone, telling them they got it, and that they’re heading up. That’s when the adventurers spot her. Demise is standing across the market from them, grinning. She is flanked by three gnoll mercenaries wielding vicious looking flails. They howl and charge forward, one at Karnak and the other two at Rampart. As Karnak dodges the flail’s sweep, he feels something cold at his back. A wraith appears behind him. Another one appears next to the warforged. The fight rages as some bystanders run for cover, and others cheer on the fighters. When Karnak tries to call on Zaarani’s Solitaire’s magic, he finds it is no longer in his possession. He warns the others, but they can do nothing but keep on fighting. Eventually, their foes are brought down. Demise falls last, but as she does, her appearance changes to that of a changeling; another of the real Demise’s pawns.

As they recover from the attack, they hear noise coming from their stall. The Wordbearers emerged. “Friends”, says Yeraa, “we have returned”. They are grinning, but something is off about them. Barely concealed are still-opened wounds and stains on their skin. A feral look of hunger in their eyes, they charge the group, claws extending from their fingers. The adventurers are forced to fight, as the undead Wordbearers taunt them. One by one, they are brought down, every one who falls an icy dagger through the hearts of their new friends. When the fight is over, the group finds that all the Crown’s pieces in the Wordbearers’ possession are gone, as is Tikulti. Maathezar‘s worst fears have come to pass. Only Ashurta’s blade remains, clutched tightly by Rampart.

As a Tharashk patrol comes into the square, the group picks up the fallen Wordbearers and flee the scene. They make their way back to the ship, where they have to explain to the crew the terrible events that have come to pass. As they ponder their next move, the sending stone comes alive. Tikulti‘s glib voice comes on and he says "The endgame approaches and you still have something I need. I’ll take what I have to my comrades in Sharn. I think you’ve met my lady friend and her Karrnathi pawns? Anyway, play along and chase me if you have the guts. It should be interesting, at least, since I’ll be able to talk to Kalaes first. I wonder which one of us he’ll believe in the end? I suppose you’ll have to find me and force me to confess. That should be fun. Of course, you could just hand over the blade. We’ll contact you when you get to Sharn." Resolute, they leave Graywall behind, heading to their final confrontation with grim thoughts of vengeance.

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S01E09 - Horrors Under Six Kings
The Wordbearers and the PCs split up to recover the two fragments of the Ashen Crown hidden under Six Kings. As they descend into the depths, the seekers face the legacy of the daelkyr war.

Therendor 9, 998 YK The next morning, the two groups have breakfast together to discuss their strategy for their delve under Six Kings. Yeraa tells them the goblins will be taking a portal to a room deeper into the vaults to recover Lurtaan’s Cord, while the adventurers will be travelling on foot to recover Zaarani’s Solitaire. She hands them a stone, saying it is linked magically to to one she holds. These sending stones will allow two-way communication between them. She instructs them to check in periodically, as they will do the same.

The two groups make their way into the cave at the base of the third King. After an uneventful walk down a few winding corridors, they emerge into a large tomb. An obelisk stands in the middle of the room and four broken sarcophagi, doubtless robbed centuries ago, lie nearby. The floor is littered with broken bones and rubble. The goblins quickly surround the obelisk. Yeraa tells the adventurers that it is the portal they’ll be taking. Without further examination, she says “Saa’atcha”, and the goblins vanish in a flash. As they do, shadow pools across the floor and the bones rise from their rest. A dozen or so skeletons get to their feet and charge at the remaining intruders.

The skeletons mob Rampart and Karnak quickly, except for one wreathed in shadow who hangs back. Basil draws quickly and, calling upon his bow’s power, unleashes a bolt of lightning at a nearby goblin skeleton. The bolt explodes upon impact, sending sparks to the others nearby. Five skeletons crumble to dust. Karnak and Frostbite go after a bigger, tougher looking hobgoblin skeleton wielding a rusty scimitar. Rampart swings in an arc around itself and the floor rises up, engulfing the feet of the skeletons surrounding it and shattering two of them in the process. The shadow skeletons summons a bolt of necrotic energy and launches it at Karnak, but his armor softens the blow, enchanted as it is to provide protection against that foul type of attack. Maathezar slips forward and engages the shadow skeletons. Having learned from their past experiences with the undead, the group makes short work of their foes.

Double doors stand on the tomb’s southern wall, their lock having been broken long ago. The group pushes them open and heads deeper into Six Kings.

They find the next room is partially collapsed. Dark spots on the ground are identified by Karnak as shadowseed, a plant that grows in Dolurrh manifest zones. In the rubble in the lower portion, they spot a shiny surface reflecting their light. From afar, it looks like a dagger or spearhead. When Rampart climbs down to investigate, the group is ambushed by three wraiths who come out of the walls. One pins the warforged down in the room’s lower part and the other two attack the rest of the group, pushing them into the shadowseed. Though the room is soon obscured by the plant’s spores and Zair is pushed from the ledge down to the lower part, the group manages to destroy the undead creatures. The shiny surface turns out to be a magically enhanced spear. Maathezar claims it and the group continues its delve.

Farther into the caves, they come face to face with a translucent goblin. The ghost hisses at them and vanishes into the floor. They continue cautiously and emerge into a room that sends shivers down their spines. Large stalactites with byeshk veins fill the room. Inside them are goblins trapped in their final moment of agony. Their twisted expressions betraying the fear and utter horror of their deaths. Some of the shapes begin to move and goblin ghosts move to attack the adventurers. From deeper into the room, twisted dolgaunts join the fray. Their rotting flesh and open wounds betray their undead nature. The battle drags on as the creatures maneuver to use the stalactites for cover, but the group proves their mettle and dispatches the abominations.

As they travel deep under Six Kings, the air grows strangely warmer and humid. They eventually emerge in a large cave where a boiling river flows inside a 40 feet wide and 30 feet deep rend in the stone. Two large rusted cables span the gap, the wooden bridge having rotted away long ago. The group ponders how best to get across. They can’t swim across without suffering serious burns. They test the water’s depth with a weighted rope and find it’s about 5 feet deep. Basil nimbly walks on one of the cables and makes it to the other side without slipping. Karnak secures Frostbite to his back and tries to cross by climbing the chamber’s wet walls, but they prove too slippery for him and he falls into the river. He manages to get to the other bank and to scale it, but suffers some manageable burns for his troubles. Rampart takes Maathezar onto its back and tries to cross on walls like Karnak. Its grip proves better and the two make it to the other side. Basil and Zair secure another rope spanning the river so she can use it to zip across. However, during the attempt her harness gives and she falls into the boiling waters. She gets to the other side with some difficulty, but manages to get up there with only superficial burns.

They follow a long hallway to an old barrack. It is empty, the furniture long gone. The metal doors, though rusted, still stand. They secure the room and stop to sleep for a few hours.

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S01E08 - The Seekers of the Ashen Crown
The PCs fight their way out of a poorly executed ambush by the Emerald Claw, face off against a Kech Shaarat unit and finally reach the Wordbearers.

Therendor 8, 998 YK. As they reach the bottom of the Graywall mountains, the badlands give way to a rocky woodland. Neglected in the recent years, the undergrowth has crept closer to the road where it was once kept clear.

Towards midday, Rampart and Karnak both spot the glint of metal in the heavy foliage next to the road ahead of them. A little over half a dozen humanoids seem to be hidden, waiting. The two adventurers quickly inform their comrades and the group comes to a halt under the pretense of stopping for lunch. Using Maathezar’s telepathy, they consider how to deal with the ambush. After a minute, the matter is settled when the armored warriors step out of their hiding spots. Many of them wear tabards with the symbol of the Emerald Claw. Their leader, a bearded man in chainmail wielding a nasty-looking halberd, yells “Leave none alive! For the glory of the Emerald Claw!”

The warriors charge ahead while two archers hidden in trees send a volley of arrows at their quarries. A necromancer steps out from the underbrush and sends a bolt of necrotic energy at Rampart. The warforged takes the hit and moves to engage the leader in melee. Karnak and Frostbite engage the lesser warriors, cutting them down with their coordinated attacks. Zair uses the distractions to channel her magic to push the Claw fighters into disadvantageous positions and thus giving openings to her allies. Maathezar stands with his back to Rampart, striking at the enemies trying to flank his allies. Basil stays back, helping his companions with well-placed shots to keep them off-balance. The Claw unit is disciplined and well organised. They put up a good fight, but they lack the adventurers’ skill, and soon only the captain and the necromancer remain. The group makes sure to take the captain alive, but show no mercy is shown to the mage.

They loot their foes’ corpses and remove the captain’s weapons and armor. They tie him up and then wake him. They try to press him for information. He talks, but more to gloat about their inevitable defeat than to answer the group’s questions. They threaten him with all manners of gruesome deaths, but he laughs in their face. Maathezar realizes that it is not because he doesn’t believe them, but because he truly has no fear of death. With the religious fanatic’s certainty, only actual torture could pierce his bravado, something the kalashtar is unwilling to even suggest. Without any more use for him, Karnak gives him a quick death.

After actually having lunch, the group gets under way again. The reach the mountains and enter the pass that should lead them to Six Kings. As they emerge from a narrow chasm, the mountain opens in front of them and they see a large lake. On the lake’s other bank are the Six Kings. Taller the Sharn’s towers, carved out of the mountainside, the six gigantic hobgoblins look to the horizon. The group takes a moment to take in the sight. It is a wonder that thousands of year after their construction, the Kings still stand as proud as the day they were completed.

They continue and the path takes them back into the mountains. As they travel through a pass flanked by tall cliffs, they find their path blocked by a group of hobgoblins. The one in the lead is wearing leather and carries two scimitars. The others are wearing chainmail and carrying shields and longswords. From the blade shaped marks on their bodies, the group deduces they are Bladebearers, the Wordbearers’ rivals. The leader says in common: “I am Chib Naersaar. Saw your fight with Claw. Not bad for weak paleskins. Claw not Kech Shaarat, though. You leave blade, maps and all notes on Arkantaash. Crawl back home with your small lives or lose them here.”

The adventurers scoff at the Bladebearer’s proposal and draw their weapons. The hobgoblins surge forward. Three of them charge head on while the others go up to the low plateaus on the group’s sides to try and surround them. Despite Naersaar’s confidence in his martial superiority, the Bladebearers end up proving less of a challenge than the Emerald Claw. Only one of them gets away by fleeing towards the battle’s end. As proof of their victory, Karnak takes the leader’s scimitars, hoping this will help them convince the Wordbearers to accept them as allies.

As Captain Kalaes had told them, they find an outcropping of withe stone at the base of the third king. Near it is a path to a clearing beyond which lies the entrance to a dark cavern. As they approach, a group of 6 hobgoblins and 2 goblins, one of which they recognize as Govaan, emerge from the shadows. From the description the Citadel had given, this group must be the Wordbearers. Their leader, a female with a two-handed sword strapped to her back, steps forward. Just behind her is a male with facial tattoos and a bejeweled longsword; the Citadel agent Tikulti.

The leader speaks with a deep feminine voice. “I am Yeraa, leader of these Kech Volaar seekers. Arkantaash belongs to goblinkind. Six Kings belongs to goblinkind. Name your price for Ashurta’s Blade, which I believe you have acquired. Then leave this place, and if you desire peace, do not return.”
Zair speaks first. “We did not come as rivals or foes. We simply wish to help you in your quest for the Ashen Crown. We have come a long way to meet with you and we believe we could be of great help.”
“We have fought off a band of your enemies, the Kech Sharaat, and also a few groups of the Emerald Claw. You have many enemies, some friends wouldn’t hurt,” adds Maathezar.
“It is true”, says Govaan, “they freed me from the Emerald Claw”.
“Yeah, you sure don’t need more enemies, better take us as allies, keep from that happening”, says Rampart.
“Your threats won’t serve your cause here”, says Yeraa, but she seems to have softened her tone somewhat. “If you’re not after the Crown, what’s in it for you in this?”
“We were hired by a professor at Morgrave University to research Dhakaani ruins”, says Zair, “we’d be content with archaeological finds, mapping the tombs, documents and such other minor artifacts.”
“I’ve been in many an underground complex and know my way around the different hazards that can be found there. I assure you, we won’t slow you down”, adds Karnak.
Rampart glares at the Kech Volaar warriors, hoping to weaken their resolve in opposing the alliance. As it does so, it finds the goblin female is glaring back intensely. Dressed in loose hide armor and wearing a wolfskin cloak, the goblin’s knuckles are turning white as she grips her waraxe. The two lock eyes and start to grumble. “You looking for a fight?” asks the warforged.
“Always”, answers the berserker.
“Enough!” orders Yeraa. “You can fight after this matter is resolved!”
After carefully examining the Kech Volaar’s leader, Maathezar realizes she is hesitating in part because she doesn’t want to seem weak by accepting outside help. “With all the forces arrayed against you, it would be foolish to refuse help given in good faith. There is wisdom and strength to be found in negotiating an alliance. We can follow your leadership if you should decide it would be the best course of action.”
“You seem sincere…” says Yeraa.
Tikulti steps forward and puts his hand on her shoulder. “It is written that the destiny of Arkantaash is bound to those who seek and find its scattered fragments. These folks have claimed Ashurta’s Blade, and they have shown courage, honor, and forthrightness in their actions and in dealing with us. Before we join in this quest, let bus bond in spirit with the amalorkar.”
“Yes!” agrees the goblin warrior, “I would love to test these would-be allies!”
The rest of the group nod their assent.

The goblinoids show the group how to properly pad their weapons for nonlethal combat. As they get ready, Tikulti comes to them alone. “Well done”, he whispers, “I’m glad to see you’re professionals.” He resumes at a normal volume. “Now, to the business at hand, the amalorkar is a honor fight in which two groups of warriors bond through battle.” He points at Yeraa, who is pouring ash in a rough circle. “Two combatants, one from each side, enter the ring. You can win in three ways: knocking your opponent out, pushing him out of the circle or hitting him and not being hit within the next few seconds.”

When Yeraa finishes the circle, the ash ignites and gives off a ring of thin smoke. She then steps inside the circle as the first combatant. Karnak d’Vadalis steps forward for the first round. The two begin circling each other. Counting on his superior reach, Karnak tries to keep obstacles between Yeraa and himself. She moves forward, steel clashes against steel and she retreats. They circle again. She moves again and he slashes with his glaive, landing a solid blow, but she uses the momentum to her advantage, slipping into his defense and landing a blow of her own. Karnak pushes her away and retreats to a better position. Yeraa comes in for another attack, but he fights her off. As she moves in for another strike, he catches her with a thrust and then dives behind a boulder and rolls away. He gets back up quickly and manages to stay away long enough to avoid getting hit, thus giving the first round to his team.

In the second round, Akitani, the wolf warrior, steps forward. “Come on tin man. Let’s see what you can do!” Rampart chuckles as it steps into the ring. “Bring it on, little one!” The goblin roars and charges forward, holding her axe high above her head. Rampart stands its ground, blocking the goblin’s downward strike with its shield. It then slashes low with its longsword, catching the berserker in the ribs. She rolls with the blow then charges again, hitting the warforged in the leg, but the construct takes the blow without flinching. It thrusts at the goblin, landing a glancing blow. She moves in close, grabs its arm and bites down on it. Rampart shakes its arm, trying to dislodge the gnawing goblin, but she holds on, so it brings her close to its chest and lets itself fall, crushing her under its bulk. The force of the blow knocks Akitani out for a minute, granting a second win to the PCs’ team.

The round puts Govaan against Maathezar. The kalashtar moves to the middle of the ring and kneels down, closing his eyes. Sensing a trap, the scout advances slowly in a low stance. As he moves to strike, Maathezar swings at him with his halberd. Govaan dodges and retreats, circling around as his foe kneels back down. Hiding behind boulders and then moving silently ahead, Govaan moves in for another attack, but as soon as he gets close, Maathezar thrusts in his direction landing a solid blow. Govaan staggers back, caught off guard. He recovers too slowly from his surprise, and the victory is given to Maathezar’s team.

Zair steps forward as the fourth fighter. A young hobgoblin warrior steps into the ring for the Kech Volaar. “I am Jezirpa. I was hoping I’d fight the warforged, or perhaps the human with the glaive. You don’t look like a warrior…”
“I’m not”, says Zair. “So try not to hurt me too much.”
Jezirpa scoffs, “Aye, I’ll make it quick.” And with that, he charges forward. Zair blacks the first strikes with her shield, falling back with every hit. As she nears the edge of the circle, she stumbles and falls.
“Pathetic”, says Jezirpa. “I hope I get another round.”
He raises his sword to put an end to the match… and Zair grins and kicks at his legs as she conjures a bolt of force. The bolt strikes Jezirpa in the back, sending him staggering out of the circle.
When he recovers, he his red with fury. “You cheated!” he yells, moving menacingly towards the Zair. Another hobgoblin warrior, older and with only one eye, steps in front of him.
“Place the blame with yourself for not seeing through her deception. You must be prepared for anything the enemy can throw at you. Now, stand down before you bring shame to our clan.”
For a second it looks like it might come to blows, but Jezirpa heeds his elder’s advice and sits down on a boulder, muttering to himself. Four wins for the newcomers.

The fifth and possibly last battle pits Basil Tulsi against Murdaak, a hobgoblin mage. The mage uses his magic to try and force Basil out of the circle, but the shifter proves to cagey. Dodging among the boulders, he stays behind cover and pelts the hobgoblin with padded arrows. Ultimately, he lands a few arrows and then stays out of sight until his victory is confirmed.

When the battle ends, the Wordbearers cheer their new allies’ victory. To them, the Six Kings have blessed their alliance.

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S01E07 - Complications
A new player enters the race for the Ashen Crown: the Emerald Claw. The PCs get under way, but the road from Ardev to Six Kings proves to be challenging.

Olarune 27, 998 YK. As they leave the Citadel Tower, the resentment is palpable. Karnak sums up the general sentiment. “I was beginning to like one of the nations”, he says, “but that’s done for”.

Later that day, a messenger comes by their office carrying a message from Gydd Nephret inviting them to meet her the next day at Shava House on Morgrave’s campus.

Olarune 28, 998 YK. The Professor meets them in the lobby of Shava House and brings them to a communal sitting room. Two elves are waiting for them there. The man bears a stylized skull tattoo on his face and his loose shirt shows glimpses of his withered chest. The woman stands gracefully, bowing to the group as they enter. She wears fine robes, some ostentatious jewelry and an ornate Aereni funerary mask.

“This is Lady Dannae Ulyan, from Aerenal, and her servant Jaenus”, says Gydd.
“It is not my wish to intrude, but I would be honored to stay. I can tell you much of the Crown’s elven origins.”
For the next hour, the group discusses the Ashen Crown, known as the Crown of Remembrance by the elves, and its origins in Aerenal. During the conversation, Lady Ulyan offers to buy Ashurta’s Blade from the group for 3000 gp. They refuse and the elf politely takes back her offer.

Therendor 1, 998 YK. Late in the morning, a messenger comes to the group’s office with a package from the Professor. In it is a letter and a brass key. The letter explains that Nephret has found out that Lady Dannae Ulyan is not who she pretends to be, but could in fact prove to be a danger to them. Gydd is leaving town, the key in the package is to a wall panel behind her bed where she left all her notes on the Ashen Crown. She asks that the group come see her at 8 bells that night so she can fill them in. Afraid for her safety, the group decides to head there straight away.

When they get to her apartment, the door is locked. They knock, but get no answer. They head for her office. They get in, but she is not there. A colleague tells them Professor Nephret didn’t show up for her class that morning. They head back to her apartment.

They find the apartment’s door ajar. Basil slips inside. As he quietly scouts out the apartment, Dannae walks out from the kitchen, her eyes locking on him despite his attempt at remaining unseen. Her form flickers as she speaks “the professor isn’t here, she is with my mistress now, but that need not concern you for long!”

From a mezzanine two zombies with grafted bat-like wings spring into the air and dive at Basil. He rolls out of one’s path, but the other careens into him, shoving him through a door and into the Professor’s home office. In it are two other zombies lying in wait. They charge at the scout, reaching hungrily with their rotting arms.
Hearing the racket of the fight, the rest of the group move in to engage the undead. Zair hangs back outside the door, using the cover of its frame to unleash her spells from relative safety. The Dannae reveals itself to be a wight using an illusion to conceal its true nature. It drops the spell as the group charges in, sending Karnak stumbling back in surprise. Rampart and Maathezar engage the flying creatures. Another zombie comes running down the stairs to the mezzanine to join the fray.
The fight lasts barely more than a minute, but it is a gruesome affair that leaves the apartment soiled with blood and rotten flesh.

After having dispatched the undead, the group search Gydd Nephret‘s lodgings thoroughly. Behind the bed’s head they find the hidden panel. Inside the small space it conceals are the Professor’s notes on the Ashen Crown and a leather bag. Attached to the bag is note from Gydd that reads: “the items herein could be of help to you in your quest for the Crown. -G”. Inside the bag is a trans-dimensional space holding five magic items that are quickly distributed among the adventurers. Maathezar also finds a crumpled piece of paper under the desk in the office. On it is written: “Dannae is Demise. Why Emerald Claw?” As they contemplate these dire tidings, they know one thing for sure: the competition for the Crown has just become stiffer.

Therendor 2, 998 YK. Before leaving Sharn, the group meets with Captain Kalaes one last time. As he gives them the mundane equipment they requested, he tells them about some new intelligence that has gotten to his desk. The Emerald Claw want the Ashen Crown. They’ve deployed forces to this end, led by a Skullborn elf named Demise. Though most of this information was discovered the day before by the group, Zair asks about the Skullborn. The Captain tells them the Skullborn are a group of Aereni terrorists obsessed with getting to immortality, at any cost. Though an alliance between them and the Emerald Claw seems to fit on paper, this is the first such collaboration known to the King’s Citadel.

After concluding their meeting, the group heads to the Lyrandar enclave, where they board the airship Eminence. Their trip to Ardev takes most of the day and is without any complications.

Therendor 3, 998 YK. The group leaves Ardev, travelling by the Orien trade route towards Droaam. Their first day of travel is difficult, but uneventful.

Therendor 4, 998 YK. On the second day of their long walk, as they are travelling on the side of a tall cliff, they hear raised voices from beyond a bend in the road ahead. Basil moves silently ahead to see what is going on. On the road are three humans in scouts’ clothing. They cloaks are held by brooches bearing the symbol of the Emerald Claw. The are questioning a goblin that is tied up. Basil also hears some movement from atop the cliff, suggesting additional foes. The Emerald Claw’s scouts’ demeanor suggest that their prisoner isn’t cooperating.

One of them draws a short sword and steps towards the goblin with a smile… and is hit in the back by an arrow. As Basil draws another one from his quiver, his allies move forward. The Emerald Claw turn towards the newcomers in surprise. Rampart picks up a rock and tosses it at the scouts, channeling its gloves’ magic into it. It hits one of the scouts like a boulder and the scout howls in pain. Two scouts charge the group, short swords in hand, while the one behind draws a strange looking arrow. He fires it in between Maathezar, Karnak and Frostbite. It explodes into a ball of fire, catching all three in the blast. Two more arrows like it come from the top of the cliff and the group sees two more archers standing atop it.
Despite their fanatic disregard for their safety, the scouts are quickly brought down by the concerted assault of the group.

The goblin looks at the warily as they approach him. He thanks them for the rescue and asks to be untied. They answer by asking who he is and why he was taken prisoner. He says his name is Govaan and that the scouts thought he knew some people they were looking for and didn’t believe him when he said he didn’t. Maathezar sense falsehood in that statement, but doesn’t feel any malice from him, so he agrees t untie him. The group pursues with their line of questioning, trying to find out if Govaan knows the Wordbearers. He claims he doesn’t, but Maathezar reads his body language and thinks he is lying. The group tries to convince them of their good intentions, but the goblin stubbornly sticks to his lies and half-truths. In a show of goodwill, hoping it will help them down the road, they decide to let him go.

Therendor 6, 998 YK. On the fourth day since they left Ardev on foot, the group hears the sound of horns in the distance. Zair recognizes them as Droaamite war horns. Though they are getting closer to the land of monsters, they are still too far to be hearing sounds coming in from Droaam itself. Whatever the source of the calls are, they are inside Breland.

The flat plains give way to forested badlands as they near the Graywall mountains. Late in the afternoon, Basil and Karnak spot a gnoll standing on a tall hoodoo, watching the road. He doesn’t seem to have seen the group, so they take cover to discuss their options. Basil moves ahead to scout, staying hidden in the dense foliage. He finds a camp near the gnoll, in which is resting a tall minotaur, two orcs and one more gnoll wearing a holy symbol around its neck. The holy symbol is unfamiliar to Basil, so he returns to his companions. Zair recalls having heard rumors in Ardev about raiding parties coming into Breland from Droaam. As they can be a danger to unwary travelers and trade caravans, she suggests taking them out. Basil objects, arguing they should try to avoid conflict as they know very little about the so-called raiders. Zair settles the matter by stating that the raiders hail from the forces of the warlord Rhesh Turakbar, a demon-worshiper that likes to sacrifice the prisoners his raiders take to the Horned King, Baphomet. With this new information, Basil changes his mind and the group moves on to discussing strategy.

The group sneaks as close as they can to the raiders’ camp and then charge the rest of the way. By the time the gnoll on the vantage point has alerted his comrades, the adventurers have reached the base of his stone spire. The minotaur roars and charges forward. Rampart raises its shield and stands its ground, blocking the raider’s path. The collision is brutal, but the warforged stands its ground. Maathezar, Karnak d’Vadalis and Frostbite move to surround the minotaur before his allies comes to his help. The two orcs charge ahead, engaging the group’s melee fighters. The gnoll priest stays back, calling upon his Demon Lord to strike at his foes, flaying Maathezar‘s skin with his magic. Basil and Zair focus their fire on the minotaur as well. Through their combined attacks, the group quickly brings down the raider captain, despite the fire from the gnoll archer on the hoodoo and the orcs ferocity. When their leader falls, the priest and the orcs flee through the underbrush. The gnoll archer is not as lucky. Stranded on its vantage point, it puts up a good fight, but is brought down by the group’s attacks.

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