Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 29: Taking care of business

Working his way through the market, Ivello met a vendor named Aaspar Riis who turned out to be a good contact for sourcing Dhakaani artifacts that he could sell to Morgrave, or use in his own research.  As the group returned to the Gold Dragon Inn for the night, Kayde remained on the lookout for a tail, but saw no one.

The next morning, Tikulti waved them over to meet in Yeraa’s room, along with the hobgoblin mage Marduuk.  While Yeraa explained that the shrine containing Murkoorak’s Orb appeared to be completely buried over, Marduuk proposed that they party set up a tent in the Roar to provide a distraction while the Kech Volaar dug.  They continued to be firm in their belief that only those of goblin blood could enter the shrine safely, for fear of death.  Kayde became very excited at the prospect of putting on a performance, while Ivello was more interested in the excavating process, and was concerned that they wouldn’t be able to finish the job in one night.  Marduuk reiterated that that was why they needed a good distraction, and was more concerned about concealing their tracks after the fact.

As the party spitballed ideas for their market stall cover, Lestok suggested selling pet rocks, while Aruget proposed demonstrating his agility through contests or dancing.  Jak let on that he had a contact in the market they could call on, but initially thought of him as a last resort, the memory of Thrandi’s scolding still fresh in his mind.  Marduuk added that it was important that the party looked like they belonged, and that he was eager to get his hands on the Orb as soon as possible.

Before the party went their separate ways for the day, Ivello pulled everyone aside, claiming he had something important from the night market to show them in his room.  Ushering everyone in, making sure the door was shut and no one was listening on the other side, he expressed his concern: how would Tikulti be able to go into the shrine, being a changeling?  Would his cover be blown by this, and how could they help him?  Lestok suggested making him ill at the last minute, but Aruget thought that might make Tik look bad in Yeraa’s eyes, and he might not want that.  Jak agreed, revealing to the group that Tik and Yeraa were a couple, and Aruget became angry and concerned about Tik’s intentions and honesty while the others expressed varying degrees of concern and interest about that situation in terms of Tik being an agent of the Citadel.  They went back and forth for quite some time, with Jak expressing in no uncertain terms that Tik was going too far with Yeraa, but ultimately saying that he’d talk to him about the problem of the shrine.

Separating for the day, Kayde went to the Twilight Palace, a beautiful hotel and theater under the joint control of House Ghallanda and House Phiarlan.  The clean, opulent surroundings immediately made him feel at home.  Minstrels played in the dining area, and after enjoying a drink, he was introduced to an old elf who was so prim and proper that he put Kayde on a good day to shame – Nadine Samare d’Phiarlan.  After some back and forth about the nature of Kayde’s next “performance”, Nadine provided Kayde with a tent, some costuming, and the suggestion to talk to the chef if he was interested in selling foodstuffs at the market.  Kayde then asked one last favour: the identification of Jalros’ Siberys shard necklace.  Nadine sent him into the Roar to see Talos, a tiefling artificer who identified the item as Kayde had suspected: it was a focus item attuned to the Mark of Shadow.

Ivello and Lestok were also in the Roar, which looked different during the day, but was no less busy.  Lestok bought some materials for making trinkets and suggested they keep an eye out for any vermin tunnels leading under the market, while Ivello kept an eye out for any buildings that might be abandoned that they could use that night.  As they wandered, all the shops appeared to be in business, and Lestok divided his attention by beginning to whittle trinkets.  Absorbed in his work, the old gnome tripped, spilling his bag everywhere and earning a splinter in his thumb that consumed all his attention for the next little while.

Meanwhile, Aruget attended to his prayers, then went to the arena looking for broken swords or statue pieces he could sell as souvenirs.  He easily found the old goblin in charge of cleaning up debris after the fights, and was excited to see him, convinced that he knew him from his time as a gladiator.  The old goblin was adamant that they most certainly did not know each other, became very irritated, and eventually told Aruget to check out the pile of debris in the Pit and leave him alone.  Aruget spent the next while picking through it, and came away with an armload of interesting bits and pieces.

Back at the inn, Jak pulled Tik aside to express his concerns about the shrine.  Tik claimed, much to Jak’s skepticism, that he had a magical artifact that would protect him, and that in fact already had.  Jak decided to trust his fellow agent, and left him to go to see Thrandi at Brelish Ceramics.  Pulling out his bottle from the night market, he grinned and told the old man he’d promised he’d be back to hear his story….and Thrandi laid into him, saying that he couldn’t be heard of casually associating with Jak if he ever wanted to get out of this backwater.  Taken aback but quickly reverting to business mode, Jak collected himself and asked for help with the market stall. Thrandi offered up a couple of cases of his own ceramics, which Jak happily accepted.  Jak told him to keep the bottle, prompting Thrandi to apologize for his outburst – he reiterated that he’d been a faithful servant of Breland for many years, and just wanted to go home.  Jak took his leave with one of the crates, and Marduuk came back from the inn to help with the rest.

By early evening, everyone had reconvened at the inn with their spoils from the day, and the party prepared to put on the most important show of their lives.

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: what is one of the craziest things you have ever done in your life?
  • The discussion over Tik and Yeraa’s relationship was actually quite long and involved, an possible the most intraparty roleplaying we’ve ever done in a session. The GM described it as, and I quote, “f*cking awesome*, and gave us all a bennie for it.
  • Lestok seems plagued by crit fails on notice rolls in Graywall, but the standout crit fail of the night was Aurget’s check to see if he remembered the goblin at the arena, leading to a wonderful exchange of “hey, you’re that guy, I know it” “I am NOT! You’re crazy!” and so on. Also, I’ve come to the realization that our GM really likes doing goblin voices, and I’m here for it.
  • As Jak’s “Shamed – Major” hindrance comes for the forefront in his interactions with Thrandi, that’s been an interesting time for me as a player, because the GM knows how to play mean. And it’s cool, we’re all friends here, but it’s definitely been flexing my roleplaying muscles to keep Jak stubborn in the face of it. And you know what? I’m also here for that. These are the things that make a campaign great.

Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 28: Men about town

Kayde and Ivello made their way through the Calabas to Hahlo’s house, both badly in need of the halfling’s healing services.  They found him finishing up with a goblin patient, and showed off their wounds, with Kayde getting scolded for letting his fester.  The fee for his service, however, caught Kayve and Ivello by surprise, and Kayde’s natural instinct to haggle kicked in.  Unfortunately, he went too low, insulting Hahlo, but him and Ivello persisted.  The healer became more and more agitated until the two finally gave up and paid him.  Mixing up assorted unguents and poultices as his dragonmark flared to life, it took Hahlo the better part of an hour to tend to their wounds – but Kayde’s infection and Ivello’s arm were not beyond his skill, and he set them both right.

Ivello apologized for the haggling, and he and Kayde took their leave.  He wondered aloud that they might not be the only people in the city looking for Murkoorak’s Orb, and suggested again that they find disguises.  Kayde agreed, and excused himself to go to the bank, agreeing to meet back up at the Gold Dragon Inn afterwards.  Walking alone through the Calabas, Ivello saw lots of orcs, half-orcs, and even trolls walking around in House Tharashk livery, and stopped to listen to a town crier.  The crier’s news included warning that foreigners who wanted to enter the challenge ring would not be protected by Tharashk, and that there had been some muggings and other crimes against foreigners outside the Calabas, but the district itself seemed safe enough.  The crier also spoke of the body of a goblin found in a back alley, believed to have been murdered by a human man with black hair and a scar on his chin cutting through a beard, who was still at large.  Most interestingly, he advertised the nightly goblin market in the Roar, where local vendors sold all sorts of goods uncommon in the Five Nations, and Ivello was reminded of his time in Darguun.

After stopping by a general trader, Jak made his way to the Gold Dragon Inn to set up accommodations and wait for the courier he’d hired to bring a reply from his Sendings to Captain Kalaes and Thom.  As he chatted with the clerk, Holiwell, he noticed a fun sight in the corner: a basket containing a blink dog, whose pups were running all over the place, popping in and out of sight.  He paid for the night’s rooms and went back to the dining room to get a drink and wait.

Meanwhile, Aruget told Lestok that he wasn’t planning to go meet the others at Hahlo’s, and didn’t recommend that the gnome follow him.  Trying to get Lestok to not do something like that quickly proved futile, and he conceded that they’d been stranger places together.  As they crossed the gates from the Calabas into Bloodstone, the whole feel of the city changed, its Five Nations vibe replaced by a mish-mash of mud huts and larger structures made for the likes of ogres and trolls.  They passed by two ogres in challenge rings, being taunted by the crowd, and as Aruget took in the sights and smells, he was glad to be home, and told Lestok he’d get him some real food, not that tourist stuff from the Calabas.  

His destination, the Broken Sword, was a tavern that catered to Five Nations exiles, mercenaries, and other such characters.  As the warforged bartender, Maul, waved them to a table, Aruget took a moment to size up the room and see if he spotted anyone likely to tell him more about Kalak, the troll his brother Dabrak had been working for when he died.  After buying everyone a round to loosen their tongues, he heard that Kalak had since become a lieutenant in Xor’chylic’s personal guard, and while he occasionally came into Bloodstone to watch the fights, he spent most of his time in the Throne district where foreigners were definitely not welcome.  Aruget asked Maul if the name Martigan rang any bells, and Maul replied that he came by frequently, but hadn’t been seen in a few days.  Aruget paid Maul to tell Martigan that Aruget was looking for him, and then took Lestok to the arena for old time’s sake.

They entered the arena to find the more prestigious gladiators training and engaged in practice fights.  Lestok pointed out a wall of statues that Aruget identified as victims of Six Stones, and Aruget expressed his disappointment that there were no fights that day, but invited Lestok to explore other districts if he wanted to.  Lestok, however, was feeling a sense of urgency.  He was worried that the Kech Sharaat may be following them, and also was fearful of how many days they had in Graywall before Jalros caught up to them again.  With that, Aruget agreed to return to meet the others at the Gold Dragon Inn.  

By dinnertime, the party had regrouped in the dining room, as some of their hobgoblin friends began filing in minus Yeraa and Tik.  Jak filled his friends in on the information he’d gotten from his contact, Thrandi, about Demise being in town.  They made some more plans about how to disguise Ivello, who bought a round for them and the hobgoblins, when Yeraa and Tik returned…and Jak noticed the duur’kala quickly pull her hand out of the changeling agent’s as they appeared in the door.  The two of them joined the group, and Tik said they hadn’t found the Orb yet, but they knew it was in the north end of the district.  Kayde replied that they were now in a race with the Emerald Claw, leading Tik to press him and Jak for more information about them. He advised Yeraa that they continue the search that night.  Kayde suggested that he could use his shadow form to plunge into the ground and retrieve it, but Yeraa replied that her seers had determined that only those of goblinoid blood could enter the chamber.  While Ivello pondered what use the party would be if they couldn’t enter the ruins, Tik and Yeraa got up to make their way to the Roar to continue their search.  Before leaving, Jak pulled Tik aside and warned him to be careful with Yeraa; she was a job, after all.  Tik replied that he knew what he was doing: his duty.  Jak couldn’t shake the memory of Tik telling him he’d grown very fond of his companions, and an older memory of his own time undercover, meeting a woman…

The night market was dimly lit and crowded with tents, bull of kobolds, goblinds, bugbears, gnolls, and orcs all hawking their wares.  As the party browsed around, trying to look inconspicuous, Yeraa reappeared and told Jak they’d found the Orb.  She took the party to a spot between two tents and declared it was there…hiding two hundred feet below the surface with no entrance in sight!

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: Name someone in your life that you have had a contentious relationship with, how that came about, and how it has affected you.
  • You know, I kind of enjoy these downtime sessions. It’s nice to have a break from the madness.
  • Ivello is totally into Tik+Yeraa. Jak, on the other hand, doesn’t like it one bit and thinks it’s going to end poorly. Place your bets now!
  • In-between this session and next, Jak did some shopping. He bought, amongst other things, a bottle to share with the surly old Dark Lantern, Thrandi, as promised – and what a shady vendor claimed was a lion’s tooth that would transform into an actual lion when thrown on the ground, which would fight for its master.

Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 27: What’s past is present

Huddled up in Kayde’s cabin to discuss their next move while Aruget guarded the door against any unwanted listeners, Kayde, Quentin, Jak, and Lestok decided that marooning Jalros in a small hamlet far from Graywall – as Captain Delan had offered, since he had a stake in dealing with Jalros as well – was their best bet.  Lestok proposed to Quentin that he get Enzo to drop his grudge by helping him regain his status in Lyrandar, but Quentin replied it wouldn’t be so simple as that.  He also declared that he didn’t want to be cowed by this experience – he was supposed to be living a new beginning. He wanted to be bold and brazen, and go by his true identity in spite of Enzo, and reintroduced himself to the party as Ivello d’Lyrandar.

As the Kordenga got underway for Graywall once more, Jak went up on deck to inform the captain of their decision when he was approached by Tik, his fellow Dark Lantern working undercover as a hobgoblin of the Kech Volaar, and not one known for his personality.  Tik, to Jak’s surprise, apologized for being so gruff on the trail, saying that he had feared blowing his cover.  Jak told him to think nothing of it, apologizing himself for being overly eager at seeing a friendly face in the wild, and shared some of his own experiences working undercover in Sharn.  Tik said he didn’t mind his assignment, for he’d grown fond of his companions, and he gave Jak a quick rundown of what they would face in Graywall before excusing himself to get back to his work.

Meanwhile, back in Kayde’s room, Aruget entered to check on his friends and Ivello thanked him for getting him back to the ship, having recently learned from Jak that he’d been thrown overboard while unconscious.  Aruget asked if he remembered anything about that, and Ivello said that he did not…and Aruget told the most fantastical story of a giant owl having scooped them up, prompting Jak to inquire if he was high.  After some speculation as to why and how a giant owl might come to Ivello’s aid, he buckled down and brought Aruget in on the information about why he was in hiding, and that Quentin was not his real name.  He apologized to the paladin for not being honest with him, and putting everyone at risk, which Aruget chided him for.  Jak got in Aruget’s face a little at that, defending Ivello by stating that they all had secrets. Faced with more of Aruget’s frustration, Ivello defended himself by saying they hadn’t had a quiet moment since leaving Ardev to talk about these things.  Lestok said to blame it on “Quentin”, for Ivello had a clean slate in his eyes, and Aruget declared that “Quentin” was dead.  Aruget demanded that no more secrets that would get them in trouble be kept from him.  Ivello swore on the Host, but Jak simply looked Aruget in the eye and then quickly looked away.  Lestok, meanwhile, realized that with “Quentin” out of the way, he would now be the sole credited author of their research paper!

As the Kordenga began its approach over Graywall, Aruget was astonished at how much it had changed and grown in the six years since he’d left.  Even from above, it was noticeable that the population of Graywall was very different from that of Sharn, to say nothing of how much the city had physically expanded and built up.  They quickly noticed their approach to a district that was much different from the rest – the Calabas, or the “Kennel”, which bore a passing resemblance to a Brelish city, and they wound up docked above a new building whose mosaic patio made out the seal of House Orien.  Asking the captain where in town he could find a taste of Breland – hoping to suss out the Citadel’s interests in the city – he learned that a friendly Brelish family ran the House of the Nine, the only temple to the Sovereign Host in Graywall.  

Yeraa and Tik gathered the party as the Kordenga made its final approach to fill them in on the next stage of her plans.  All she knew was that Murkoorak’s Orb was somewhere under the Calabas, and that the circlet they had recovered under the Six Kings would allow her to track it in a fashion.  Her party would make arrangements at the Gold Dragon Inn and then canvas the district, and she invited Aruget and company to do the same.  He declined, saying that they had their own business to attend to, and to contact them via the khyber shard sending stones once the Orb was found.  As the two parties separated, Aruget laid down some ground rules for Graywall: trading was more of a barter system than a monetary one, don’t get into an argument with a medusa or a harpy, and don’t eat the street meat.  As Ivello and Kayde left to find a healer, with Aruget following them, Lestok became separated from the group and promptly ignored Aruget’s last warning.  Buying some strange, spicy meat from a goblin vendor in exchange for two crowns and a pinch of his special harpy spice, the old gnome was pleased to discover that his dalliances with said spice had shored up his stomach somewhat, and he was able to enjoy his snack in peace before Aruget found him.  

Meanwhile, Jak had broken off on his own, looking for the local Dark Lantern contact.  He knew them only by a code name, and that they could be found at the House of the Nine through Kord or Cheyana.  He found them easily enough, gave his code phrase, and was told by Cheyana to go see Thradi who owns the ceramics shop on the edge of The Roar, a large plaza in the middle of the Kennel.  

Entering the shop, he found an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair and beard and an eyepatch standing behind the counter.  Again giving his code phrase, the fellow gave the correct reply and waved Jak down into the cellar.  After they made their introductions, Jak told the other agent – whose name was Thrandi – that he was new in town from the Sharn branch, and asked if there had been any trouble lately. Thrandi had indeed seen their old friends Lady Demise and Lt. Sesko in town, and that the lady had been asking about the Dhakaani ruins.  Jak mulled over that, asking where in town he could go for better equipment, and something clicked for Thrandi.  Sitting back in his chair, he gave the younger man a knowing look. “Oh…you’re Jak.”  Thrandi informed Jak that he’d heard about him, and wondered aloud if the Sharn branch was really “on top of things” or if Jak had been exiled to Droaam instead.  Jak, taken aback that the less savoury parts of his reputation had followed him all the way to Graywall, replied that Saj Kalaes trusted him, and that should be good enough.  Thrandi continued to pick at Jak, suggesting that no one hoping for a promotion got posted to Graywall, and generally accusing him of being a screw-up.  After a few uncomfortable minutes, Jak had the presence of mind to turn the tables, asking Thrandi how he’d gotten posted to Graywall if it was such a bad assignment.  The old man brushed it off, and Jak said he’d be back with a bottle to hear the story.

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: What is one special or unique thing about you?
  • Kayde has been carrying that wound penalty an awfully long time, and was thrilled to finally get to try his natural healing roll…until he crit failed it, adding a second wound which was narrated as the old one getting infected and festering. Happily, there is a Jorasco healer in Graywall.
  • Geez, why was that old guy so hard on Jak? How did his disgrace possibly follow him all the way to Graywall? I’ll tell you why…after talking to the GM, I realized that I’ve been playing his Shamed hindrance as Major rather than Minor. So there is going to be an interesting balancing act going forward balancing that with his Connections edge that gets him boons from the Dark Lanterns, but I know my GM’s good for it. 🙂

Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 26: The best-laid plans

Earlier that evening, before all hell broke loose, Kayde had taken a bath and gone to lay down and enter his nightly trance.  He came out of it abruptly about half an hour later to the sound of a great commotion – feet running, doors slamming, and someone yelling for Yeraa.  Throwing on some clothes and grabbing his new byeshk spear, he left his cabin and followed the running sailors onto the deck, where he saw a little trail of sticky orange footprints, a huge press of sailors and Yeraa’s people at the bow, and heard ethereal goblin singing.  Approaching the crowd, he found Lestok standing over Jalros (who was covered in G.R.O.S.S.), Quentin laying in Aruget’s arms with Yeraa’s hands on his chest and a huge pool of blood on the deck beneath him, Jak laying against the rail and also covered in blood, and the Captain demanding answers from him and Aruget.  He ran up to Jak, who sent him back belowdecks for a healing kit.  Opting to take the quick route, he melted down through the deck as a shadow and quickly returned.  As Delan continued to grill Jak and ordered the crew to restrain Jalros, Quentin begged Aruget to carry him over to Othello, but the crew insisted that he was fine.  Jak attended to his own healing, but the wound to Quentin’s arm was beyond his skill, and he enlisted Kayde to help get the beat-up druid to bed.  Lestok, meanwhile, slipped away unseen down to the brig to keep an eye on Jalros.  Quentin again begged to check on Othello, which Aruget did, confirming yet again that he was fine and sleeping off a blow to the head. With that Quentin finally fell asleep while Jak, determined to spend the night at his friends bedside, filled Kayde in on the events of the evening.

Down in the brig, Lestok found Jezirpa of the Kech Volaar guarding Jalros, along with the captain who demanded to know who he worked for, what he was doing on board, and why he’d attacked Quentin.  Jalros replied with nothing but a smirk.  Lestok attempted to intimidate the assassin, but his cold bare feet got the best of him, and he wound up making a spectacle of himself instead.  Laughing, Jalros finally told the captain that he knew what he’d been up to, and that House Lyrandar would not appreciate it.  He gave Delan an ultimatum: let him go, or House Thuranni would see to it that the captain lost his ship in the event of his death.  Delan replied by telling Jezirpa not to let Jalros out of his sight, and reached into the cage to gag him before going back up above.  

The next morning, Lestok discovered he’d fallen asleep during his watch, and woke up stiff and cold to see a new guard had replaced Jezirpa.  Jak and Kayde appeared, and Lestok filled them in on the parts of Jalros’ threat to the captain that he could remember, leaving out the bit about him being a part of House Thuranni.  As Jak rattled the bars of the cage with his dagger to get the elf’s attention, Kade noticed a dragonmark peeking out just above his collar.  Jak, unable to squeeze any information from Jalros, threatened to replace him, which elicited another laugh.  Kayde tried his luck, but was similarly shut down.  Frustrated, Jak threw his mug of hot rum at the cage, while Lestok had also had enough and began pumping up the Fumigator.  The hobgoblin guard quietly reminded them that Jalros was not to be killed, so Lestok busted out his trusty whistle in hopes of torturing Jalros with its shrill wails instead.  Jak and Kayde took that as their cue to go check on Quentin.  

They ran into Delan on the way up.  The captain told Jak and Kayde that Jalros had been on board for about fifteen months, that he’d been good crew and was well-liked…and that he’d made viable threats about what could happen in the event of his death.  Jak pressed the captain if there was anyone on board who was skilled at extracting information by more unsavoury methods, but Delan shut him down hard.  He gave Jak and Kayde the contents of Jalros’ pockets: a necklace with a Siberys shard in it, a cheap-looking one bearing seven dangling gemstones, and a pouch of five small glass balls that Jak recognized as smoke pellets.  Delan reiterated that he was reluctant to kill Jalros, but willing to maroon him.  Lestok, catching up to the group, revealed that he had a plan, but Quentin had to be in on it.

As Lestok jolted Quentin out of his slumber, he asked him how he’d like to live under an assumed identity – to fake his own death.  Quentin, disoriented, asked for a debriefing instead.  He revealed that he suspected Enzo of hiring Jalros, but didn’t elaborate why, and pressed the others for what Jalros had told them, and how he had gotten the drop on him.  Uncertain of Lestok’s plan, he suggested that Jak, posing as Delan, pretend to sell Quentin out in exchange for information.  Kayde stormed out, insulted that it was suggested that Jak could sell an act better than him, and found Tikulti turning Jalros’ room upside-down.  Tikulti said he was doing a more thorough search, and Kayde offered to help.  Eventually smashing through a hollow part at the back of a cabinet, they found some items and a letter.  As Kayde read it, Tikulti let out a sigh and seemed relieved that it was unrelated to their quest for the Ashen Crown.

As Othello came to check on Quentin, Kayde showed his friends the letter, which said that “House approval has not been acquired” for Quentin’s “removal.”  Jak seized on this as meaning that Thuranni had not approved the hit, which gave them leverage over Jalros.  Othello replied that it indicated Enzo’s grudge was far longer than either him or Quentin had realized, and suggested that it was House Lyrandar who had not approved the hit, a theory Kayde supported upon re-reading the letter, along with the realization that this letter was damning evidence against Enzo that should be presented to Lyrandar, as that seemed to be the only way to cancel the contract.  However, Jalros remained an ever-present problem, and the party hunkered down to consider his fate.

Back in Quentin’s room, he told Othello he was wrong about Enzo – still at large, and probably not in Lhazaar.  Othello replied that it indicated Enzo’s grudge was far longer than either of them had realized.  Quentin asked Kayde if he knew anything about the assassins that he might be not be letting on, to which he replied that Thuranni was not Phiarlan.  Discussing using the scroll of mind reading, Jak recalled through stuff he’d heard around the Citadel that when mind reading is used, it depends on the skill of the person using it as to whether or not it is detected by the victim.  Finding Lestok, he gave Kayde the necklace of firebolts.  They decided to go with Quentin’s plan to have Jak impersonate Captain Delan and talk to Jalros and “sell out” Quentin.  Delan was skeptical about their chances of success, and the group returned to considering faking Quentin’s death.  Kayde recalled from his own espionage training that, if Jalros was a Thuranni assassin, he’d be well trained not to break.  As Kayde re-read the letter, he realized that it was more damning evidence against Enzo than it was against Jalros.  The only thing that concerned him was that the assassin’s threats probably had weight behind them, and that he might have a contact he needed to report to or else there would be bigger problems.  Jak knew that the Calabas was run by House Tharashk and there was enough House activity there, including a growing Lyrandar presence.  Kayde reached out and demonstrated that he could disguise Quentin, as the injured Khorovar held up a mirror and saw a human woman looking back at him.  

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: What do you see as your greatest failure in life so far?
  • This was Aruget’s turn to miss a session, which is why mention of him is minimal.
  • The loot taken from Jalros’ cabin included a necklace of firebolts (which I’m sure we will use very well and will never backfire on us) and three scrolls of mind-reading.

Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 25: Ghosts of futures past

“Dabrak.

Dabrak.

Dabrak.”

As Aruget held out Zaraani’s Solitaire and spoke his dead brothers name, Dabrak’s face formed from the mist above the gem – ghostly, eyeless and grim.  Struggling to regain his composure, Aruget steeled himself and begun question the spectre, knowing from Lestok’s investigation that he only had four chances  

“Do you have any idea who might have wanted you dead?”

“Yes.”

The apparition volunteered no further information.  Determined to get an answer that would satisfy him, Aruget tried a different tactic.

“What were you doing all those times you disappeared from the arena in those last months, in the before…what happened?  Where were you?” 

The apparition replied, “I was working jobs for Kalak.”  

That got Aruget’s interest.  He knew Kalak very well by reputation: a war troll who lived in the same district Aruget and Dabrak had, who was responsible for a large part of the criminal element in Graywall, and who was feared by many.  Aruget paused again to collect himself, and try to piece things together.

“Did Kalak want you dead?”  “No”, the apparition replied.  “It was working a job for him that led to my death.”

With that, Aruget looked up at the sky, old memories swirling through the front of his mind.  He closed his eyes, and asked his last question. 

“Were you mad at me, at the end of things?  Did you hate me?”

“No”, the spirit replied.  “I had already been affected by the wasting sickness.  My death was coming soon.”

As Dabrak’s ghost began to melt and dissolve back into the solitaire, Aruget fell to his knees and wept, again turning to the sky, but smiling through his tears.  After a minute had passed, he made his way back to where Jak, Quentin, and Lestok were waiting.  Quentin comforted Aruget with the assurance that his brother’s spirit was not trapped in the Solitaire, but lived on in him, while Jak offered to help him out in Graywall if he chose to pursue more information about the job that got Dabrak killed.  Exhausted and drunk, with the encouragement of his friends he began his way back to the ship.  Lestok, it seemed, had slept through the whole thing.

As they boarded the Kordenga, Quentin elected not to go to bed right away, as he wanted to stay awhile on the lookout for the return of his messenger bird.  Lestok, eager to witness such a thing, remained with him.  As they spoke, the little bird did come right to Quentin’s shoulder, and he invited Lestok to listen in.  While all Lestok heard was the bird’s song and the sound of rushing wind, Quentin said nothing other than that the message hadn’t worked.  With that, he sent the drunk and sleepy gnome off to bed, wanting to walk the deck a bit more.  The night shift was very scant; he could hardly see anyone even in the light of the elemental ring.  Not seeing anyone at the wheel, he approached and reached out to place his hand on it, feeling the presence of the ship’s elemental stir at his touch.  

Making his way back to the bow of the ship, he heard a loud crash at the railing.  Moving to investigate, he leaned over the rail, but couldn’t see anything.  As he stood up, he felt a hand on his throat – and a knife plunging into his back – as a low voice whispered “Enzo sends his regards.”

On his way to his cabin beneath the bow, Jak heard the same crash Quentin had.  Knowing that his friend had remained on deck, he made his way up the stairs, calling out for him.  As he did, he caught a brief flash of movement, and called out again, but couldn’t see anything.  He heard a grunt as Quentin’s assassin kicked Quentin’s legs out from under him, plunging his knife into the helpless man’s chest this time, and yet the bow of the ship continued to look empty.  Continuing to walk forward, stomping the boards of the deck in an attempt to sense if anything was out of place, he suddenly saw a shimmering light in front of him that slowly revealed Quentin on the ground, blood pooling under him – and crouched over him, knife in hand, was none other than the Jalros, the elf Kayde had tried to seduce earlier that evening.

Belowdecks, Aruget and Quentin could hear Jak yelling, and Lestok concluded that Jak never yelled unless it was important.  Though he’d already removed his boots for the night, the old gnome applied his C.L.I.M.B. goo to his bare feet, and walked straight out the porthole and up the side of the ship while Aruget ran up the stairs after Jak.  By the time they made it to the bow, they found Jak imploring Jalros to put Quentin down or else.  The assassin complied…by dropping Quentin’s unconscious body straight over the railing.  Aruget sprung into action without a second thought, diving off after him, hoping to cushion his fall.  As Jak quickly managed to throw down a rope, hoping against hope that Aruget might catch it, he tackled Jalros to the deck only to hear Lestok throw himself off the ship as well.  As Lestok fell, he was greeted by the sight of a humongous shadow that swept in and snatched Aruget and Quentin before they could hit the ground.  Suddenly not falling anymore, Aruget found himself in the claws of a giant owl, still holding firmly onto Quentin.  Satisfied with this development, Lestok managed to grab the rope and climb back onto the ship, appearing over the rail just in time to see Jalros jam his dagger into Jak’s chest.  Pumping the Fumigator 9000, he unleashed a jet of fire at the assassin.  As flames engulfed Jak – who was still grappling with Jalros – he miraculously felt no effect, but he smelled burning flesh and hair and heard Jalros go limp and stop struggling.  “I yield,” the assassin begged.  “You damn well better,” Jak snarled, pressing his own knife to Jalros’ throat.

As the owl swooped up and gently set Aruget and Quentin down on the opposite end of the deck, Jak yelled for help.  Aruget, also calling for help, looked around and saw no one except the limp forms of a hobgoblin and Quentin’s cousin Othello, partially hidden behind a pile of crates.  As he carried Quentin over to Jak, unaware of Jak’s injury and hoping that he could help Quentin, Captain Delan appeared on deck demanding to know what had happened, and sent a crew member to find Yeraa.  While Aruget told their story and begged again for a medic, Lestok held the Solitaire out to Jalros and told him that he didn’t need him alive to ask him questions.  The defiant would-be assassin laughed, saying that his House would protect him.  Lestok responded by giving Jalros a face full of G.R.O.S.S. as Jak jerked his hands out of the mess and collapsed backward on the deck, struggling to breathe while blood bubbled up in his chest.  

Yeraa finally arrived on deck and, like the captain, demanded to know what had transpired.  Aruget told their story again, imploring Yeraa to help Quentin.  Instructing Aruget to set him down, Yeraa put her hands over the wound in his chest and began to sing as Quentin’s eyes fluttered open.  Unable to feel his right arm and struggling to speak, he looked around for his assailant, but couldn’t make out who the burnt figure covered in G.R.O.S.S. was.  While Yeraa moved on to repeat her song over Jak, a crew member came over and reported to Captain Delan that Othello and the hobgoblin were unconscious, but alive.  With Yeraa tired and unable to fully heal Quentin and Jak, the party turned their attentions to their remaining wounds…and what to do with Jalros.

Behind the Scenes

  • Quentin promptly declared this evening to be “our most Eberron session ever!” He’s not wrong.
  • Question of the week: Who is one person that you owe a favour to? What happened that makes you feel indebted to them?
  • Turns out this epic spotlight was the result of Quentin having a Major Secret as a hindrance! More on that next time.
  • Giant owl, you ask? The result of Aruget’s “Call in the Cavalry” adventure card. I am absolutely thrilled that this is how the GM decided to play it. It saved two lives, and was also extremely cool.
  • Lestok would like you to know that his C.L.I.M.B.ing good on his bare feet means that there are now small, indelible, orange gnome footprints up both the sides of the ship and on the deck. The captain is delighted!
  • No mention of Kayde because he couldn’t make this session, and the GMs rule of thumb is “one person down, we play, two people down, we cancel.”