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, sealed with the seal of the King’s Citadel. Jak eagerly opened it to find a summons from one Captain Saj Kalaes. Though Jak never knew Kalaes personally, he imagined that this summons meant he’d been recalled – that the Lanterns had forgiven him. The summons asked 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 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 freaking out as the members of his bug-hunting, relic-finding party started trickling in. Convinced that he’d been outed, or that someone was screwing with him, Jak’s paranoia was no match for Kalaes’ stoic secretary, and Jak 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 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 of the inhabitants of 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 clan of 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 got frustrated with him. Kalaes left the room in order to give the party a chance to discuss the offer, and Jak got down to business. Telling Quentin it was a good offer and 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 Quentin having more questions about what Jak’s been hiding from them…