Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 6: The Citadel calls

After a few days of downtime, the party reconnected at Morgrave on Quentin’s urging to try to learn more about the Dhakaani relics they’d found.  Quentin had been put in touch with one Professor Gydd Nephret, and she was very excited by their artifacts.  She welcomed the opportunity to glean more information about them, but said it would take a couple of days, so the party parted ways again.

That night, Jak was at Jonah’s like usual when there was a knock on the door – an Orien courier, looking for him.  His delivery was a letter bearing the seal of the King’s Citadel.  As Jonah gave the courier a copper for his troubles, Jak eagerly opened it to find a summons from one Captain Saj Kalaes.  Though Jak had never known Kalaes personally, he believed that this summons meant he’d been recalled – that the Lanterns had forgiven him.  The summons ordered him to show up at noon tomorrow, and Jak had a good yet slightly restless sleep.

The next day, he went to the Citadel early, hoping to take advantage of a fresh invitation to the facility to check in with his former commander, Kendra Torval.  Unable to get past her secretary – or even to convince him to agree to tell Kendra that Jak had stopped by – it was clear that there was still plenty of bad blood there.  Frustrated but not defeated, Jak made his way to the waiting room outside Captain Kalaes’ office…and started panicking out as the members of his bug-hunting, relic-finding party started trickling in.  Convinced that he’d been outed, or that someone was messing with him, Jak’s paranoia was no match for Kalaes’ stoic secretary, and he urged the party to keep quiet and let him do the talking.  After a few tense minutes, they were finally sent into a small, windowless room, where Captain Kalaes was waiting.

The party received a warm welcome from Kalaes, though Jak’s was on the cooler side, and Kalaes made it very clear that Jak hadn’t been reinstated per se – rather, he’d gotten very lucky, and was getting a probationary second chance thanks to the party’s exploits catching the Citadel’s attention.  Kalaes revealed that one of the artifacts they’d recovered from the tomb under the Cogs was a piece of an ancient Dhakaani relic known as the Ashen Crown.  Tradition dictated that whoever held the Ashen Crown ruled the Dhakaani empire, and the return to the surface world of the inhabitants of the Kech Volaar had caught the Citadel’s attention in a big way.  Breland had determined its best hope for peace would be to support the moderate Kech Volaar in its quest to rule the goblinoid people, and the Citadel had been tasked with returning the Ashen Crown to them to further this end.

The most resistance to Kalaes’ request for the party to find the remaining pieces of the crown came from the refugee scholar Quentin, and, surprisingly, the hobgoblin warrior Aruget.  Both attempted to leverage Kalaes into agreeing to do something for the plight of the poor of the Cogs and High Walls in exchange for their help.  Kalaes made it very clear that this was not within the Citadel’s purview, but eventually offered to speak to the Brelish parliament on their behalf.  Aruget agreed without too many more attempts to bargain, but Quentin remained obstinate and suspicious, and Jak quickly grew frustrated with him.  As Kalaes left the room in order to give the party a chance to discuss the offer, Jak got down to business.  Telling Quentin it was a good offer and that he should take it, Jak eventually resorted to pleading, saying that he would owe Quentin a debt if they could all do this, and Quentin grudgingly agreed.  They called Kalaes back into the room, swore their fealty to Breland, and Kalaes left again to get the materials for their full briefing, leaving the party to wonder what they’d gotten themselves into,…and leaving Quentin with more questions about what Jak’s been hiding from them.

Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 5: The hunt concludes

After Lestok’s new toy (that whistle he was so impressed by) successfully lured the juvenile kruthik to their doom, the remaining beasts didn’t take the bait, and so the only way for the party to complete their contract of exterminating the queen and destroying the nest was to venture forward. They soon found themselves in a massive, gooey, egg-infested cavern full of sticky horrors that would make even the least fastidious adventurer flinch. As the group cautiously trickled into the nest, Jak declared that “last one in gets excoriated!” and dashed ahead of Kayde…and with that, Aruget, Lestok, Quentin, and Jak promptly ran face first into a face full of the kruthik queen’s acid. Aruget deftly soaked up the damage with his shield, Jak nimbly dodged out of the way, but Quentin was burnt, and Lestok took the full force of the attack, suffering burns to his arms, body, and most importantly, his eyebrows, and almost dying in the process. But there was no time to worry about him or his eyebrows, with the queen still on the rampage. 

Thanks to the power of friendship, smart tactics, and not small bit of luck, the party prevailed, culminating with Kayde shadow-shaping into the queen’s body and coming out with her heart in hand – a dramatic yet gross triumph he promptly regretted when he realized how dirty he’d just become. Jak and Quentin tended to Lestok’s wounds, and are pleased to say the gnome will live to fumigate another day. With that, the party set the eggs ablaze, and having collected all the necessary specimens for Morgrave, finally made their way back to the surface.

Back in the Cogs, they reported the destruction of the kruthik nest, and were met with disdain. Did they really do it? Did they actually get all of them? In a worrisome twist, they were informed that if the job was found to not be completed, the ir’Tains would hunt them down. Jak transformed into the uppity dwarf’s face and wished him luck with that, prompting Quentin to de-escalate the situation and get them paid and out of there. 

After a quick visit to Morgrave to drop off kruthik specimens, the party prepared to go their separate ways after a job well done.  They are now moving into several days of downtime, with much to pursue.  Will Jak and Quentin bond over their mutual connections to High Walls?  Will Lestok boast about his exploits to his arch-nemesis, Lenard from the alchemy department?  Will Kayde ever get to that party he’s been boasting about getting invited to?  Will Aruget…well, no one really knows what Aruget does.  Stoic one, that.