Bollock's Inquisitives

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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