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.”

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