Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 32: In your heart shall burn

As the dust settled, and the party took stock of their situation, Kayde suspected that continued lack of patrols meant a changing of the guard while Ivello feared that the witnesses might note that he fired on “Demise” first.  As the mysterious light flowed through Aruget’s hands once more to heal Kayde’s leg, the performer suggested they leave the tent burning as a distraction.  Aruget, not wanting the fire to spread, tried to put it out but wound up fanning burning ash to a second tent instead. As Lestok searched the bodies for the missing pieces of the Ashen Crown, and Yeraa’s speaking stone – hoping one of the two would lead them to Tik – Ivello searched “Demise” and found the most remarkable thing about the changeling’s body was a lack of anything that could identify them.  Keeping watch, Jak saw people starting to mill about, and heard shouts to the north, signaling that it was time to go as Aruget quickly closed Yeraa’s eyes and murmured a prayer over her.  Then, the sky began to explode as the fire Aruget started found a crate of fireworks, distracting the guards and causing more panic amongst the already wary onlookers.  As the party ran, Lestok asked Jak where Tik might go if he were injured, and Jak replied he could go anywhere from the shifter healer in Bloodstone, to Hahlo’s house of healing, to back to the Kordenga

Making their way back to the Gold Dragon Inn, Jak and Kayde disguised themselves as a hobgoblin couple to case the inside for danger, while the others cased the outside.  With no sign of Tharashk guards – or Tik – they returned to their rooms, with Jak requesting Zaraani’s Solitaire from Lestok.  As the gnome offered it with a flourish, Aruget tried to contact Tik through his speaking stone once again to no success.  Jak, pale and uncomfortable at the thought of speaking with Dolurrh, sat on the bed and called Yeraa’s name three times.  “Who slit your throat?” he asked the ghostly figure.  “I don’t know”, she replied.  “What happened to you in the tunnels?” he asked.  She replied that they had found Lurtaan’s Cord and were heading out when some sort of gas or mist enveloped them, and then she felt her spirit leaving her body.  Still not having the answers he was hoping for, Jak tried his last question: “was Tikulti with you the whole time?”  “Yes,” she replied, and dissolved back into the gem.

As Jak proposed they get some sleep before going to warn his Dark Lantern contact Thrandi of Tik’s apparent treachery, Ivello wanted to first find a crow to send a message to his Emerald Claw mole and Jak went with him, declaring that no one should be alone at this time.  Ivello whispered his message to the crow and sent it on its way, and then told Jak something startling: that he would never work with a changeling again for lack of trust, at least not if they didn’t show him their natural form first.  Taken aback, Jak reminded him that not all changelings were as open as he was, and that personas were not lies, but Ivello remained firm.  Aruget joined the conversation in an attempt to help Jak see Ivello’s side, which did not go over well, and the three went to bed without resolving anything.  Meanwhile, Kayde and Lestok searched Tik and Yeraa’s room and came up empty, but the inventive gnome rigged a noisemaker on the door so that he would know if anyone returned to it.  Eschewing even a few hours of sleep, he elected to keep watch, sustained by his Burning Harpy spice.

A couple of hours later, the rest of the party were awake, feeling a little rough but none the worse for wear.  They all decided to go to Thrandi’s shop with Jak, who insisted that none of them should enter the shop for fear that they would spook the old agent whose true identity as a Dark Lantern he had not revealed to them.  Back in the market, that early in the morning it was fairly empty, and Aruget noticed there was still a distinct lack of Tharashk patrols.  As Jak went through the open door of Brelish Ceramics, he found the shop empty.  Worried, he made his way down to the cellar, calling for Thrandi, and found the old man down there.  Afraid that he might have found Tik instead, Jak asked Thrandi about the gift he’d brought him the day before, and he answered correctly, but looked nervous.  Jak asked if another agent had come to see him this week, and he replied they hadn’t.  Before he could warn Thrandi that he was in danger, the old agent cut him off, saying that he was surprised Jak would come back after what he’d done as House Tharashk guards called out from the top of the stairs and entered the cellar…declaring that they were arresting Jak on charges of betraying the King’s Citadel!  

As Jak began shouting that it was all a mistake, that it wasn’t him, it was Tik, Aruget heard his cries and barreled into the shop to find a crossbow pointed at him with a command to halt.  When he said he was with Jak, the guard promptly told him to disarm and submit himself to arrest, but the blademark whipped out his shield to defend himself instead as a crossbow bolt slammed into the wall behind him.  Making his way for the guards at the stairs, Jak screamed for Aruget to stop as the patrol sergeant manacled him, which he was too shocked to resist.  Jak futilely tried to get everyone to stand down as Thrandi informed him that he was arrested on Captain Kalaes’ orders and that he would go back to the Citadel to face justice.  As Aruget made his way down the stairs, he identified himself as a blademark sworn to protect Jak, and said they wouldn’t take Jak without him as a crossbow bolt grazed his armour and he bull-rushed the guards at the bottom with his shield.  At the top of the stairs, he heard Kayde yell out that he demanded answers as a scion of House Phiarlan, to which the sergeant holding onto Jak yelled back that his house held no sway in the Calabas, and to stand down or be arrested himself.  Jak again begged his friends not to make this worse as Aruget lowered his shield.  As Jak pleaded with another guard to believe him, Thrandi told the young agent he was disgusted with him, and that he would pay for his crimes.  Jak replied that he would welcome being put under a compulsion to tell the truth, as that would prove his innocence.  

As Lestok weaved his way through the guards, saying Tik was on the speaking stone and wanted to talk to Jak, Kayde made an impassioned plea that he be allowed to do so, and a guard waved Lestok forward to hand her the stone as Jak feared what the traitor might say…

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: Tell a story of you and your best friend. If you don’t have one, what happened or why not?
  • The conversation about changelings and trust was actually all done in-character when the three of us returned from our mid-session break early. That was pretty cool, it just kind of happened. Turned out the GM who wasn’t at his seat was listening in the whole time, and we all got a bennie for our efforts.
  • Aruget accidentally spreading the fire was the result of a crit fail to put it out, followed up by Lestok spending a bennie to influence the story and put fireworks in the newly burning tent for one epic distraction. Amazing.
  • You may or may not remember Captain Kalaes from like…week six? He is the Dark Lantern captain who recruited the party to this mission, though as far as everyone but Jak knows, he is just plain ol’ Citadel.
  • So, uh, the thing that caused the one guard to be willing to give Jak the speaking stone was the desperate play of the “Love Interest” adventure card on my part. Jak is a professional spy, he is not above flirting with an asset to try to get out of trouble. I’m sure that having a lovesick orc on my tail will never, ever come back to bite me. If nothing else, the timely play of that particular card had the entire table in stitches, so it was worth it.
  • I love, love, love how the GM tailors the game to our characters! First, there was the assassination attempt as a result of Ivello having “Secret” as a major hindrance. And now Jak is in chains, branded as a traitor by an organization he is desperately, blindly loyal to. I can’t wait to see how this plays out next week. 🙂
  • I also love how the entire party is eagerly coming to Jak’s defense, because frankly, he’s a bit of an asshole and hasn’t gone out of his way to make any friends on this trip. It warms my little Grinch heart.
  • This week’s post title is part of a poem from the video game series Dragon Age. It is meant to reflect Jak’s blind loyalty to the Citadel and desperation to get back in its good graces even though everything’s gone to hell, and is also the name of a quest in Dragon Age: Inquisition in which the hero loses everything: “In your heart shall burn / an unquenchable flame / all consuming, and never satisfied.”

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