Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 34: Fly, You Fools!

As Ivello and Lestok approached the Kordenga, convinced of their cleverness in moving unseen, they stepped out of an alley near the Orien enclave and turned the corner straight into five Tharashk guards.  “Halt!” one of them yelled, as two more ran at them.  Ducking under his much larger opponent’s legs, Lestok boldly declared that they’d never take him alive, and threw a can of G.R.O.S.S. down to the ground…where it rolled along sadly, doing absolutely nothing.  Tangled up in the other guard’s grasp, Ivello managed to free his hands enough to unleash lightning at the enclave wall, sending scaffolding careening down on top of the remaining guards and pinning them to the ground.  All the while, he shouted at his captor to unhand him, it was all a mistake!

While Lestok ducked through the other guard’s legs again, Ivello and his opponent continued to ineffectually scuffle with each other, neither wanting to hurt the other seriously, though Ivello was unable to break the guard’s grasp on the front of his shirt.  As they continued to exchange blows that the other kept squirming out of the way of, Lestok unleashed a fresh can of G.R.O.S.S. on his own opponent and then took matters into his own hands, swinging the spray rod of his trusty Fumigator 9000 at the guard latched onto Ivello, yelling at him to let go as he cracked the orc over the head, knocking him out cold.  The guards who were still pinned under the scaffolding feebly yelled at them to halt in the name of House Tharashk, but Lestok and Ivello had other plans.  They bolted the rest of the way to the Kordenga where the agitated crew was waiting, with Othello hurrying them on board as the ship took flight.

Back outside the Tharashk enclave, Aruget and Kayde looked up to see the Kordenga take flight, heading off to the north.  With eagle eyes spotting Ivello on the deck, Aruget proposed that they make their way out of the Calabas district and into Bloodstone to avoid more patrols.  Confident in his magical disguises, but old habits being what they are, Kayde easily snuck past the checkpoint while Aruget relied on his old skills as a performer to feign drunkenness as he hauled Jak on his shoulders past the guards and out.  As they made their way into the streets of Bloodstone, a bird from Ivello landed on Kayde’s shoulder with a message: we made it to the Kordenga.  Meet us at the agreed location.  Everything go according to plan?  Kayde replied that everyone was present and accounted for, and they were making their way out of the city while Aruget’s attention turned to Jak’s bloodied state and ragged breathing – his head injury was nasty.  Ducking into an alley, he set Jak down and put a hand on his head, murmuring a prayer of healing to Dol Arrah as Jak, still in pain, slowly opened his eyes to see two unfamiliar hobgoblins crouched over him – Kayde’s illusion was still in effect.  Before he could panic too much, Kayde showed him the necklace that proved his identity as Jak cursed him out.  Reaching for a healer’s kit to take the rest of the edge of his wounds off, Jak caught sight of his own disguised goblin body and asked again what they’d done, chastising Aruget for the jailbreak while Kayde chastised him in turn for being an ass.  After being filled in on the current plan of going to the Kordenga, Jak questioned where they could go.  Their options seemed limited.  

Onboard the airship, Captain Delan grilled Ivello and Lestok to explain the message they’d sent earlier regarding the death of the Kech Volaar.  Ivello started at the beginning, explaining Yeraa’s plan and Tikulti’s betrayal.  While Lestok opined that a curse may have turned the agent against them, Ivello revealed to Delan that Tikulti was a changeling, and asked if the crew had been on and off the ship, to which the captain replied that some had indeed gone back and forth into the Calabas.  Relaying that Tik presumably had four of the five pieces of the Ashen Crown, and was likely to come looking for Zaraani’s Solitaire (still, as far as they knew, safely in Kayde’s pocket), Ivello suggested that Tik was on the ship already.  While he knew the captain trusted his crew, he reminded Delan that one of his crew had been an assassin.  Delan glowered and called Othello over, asking Ivello to question him about a story from their childhood that only he would know the answer to, a test Othello passed with flying colours.  He then ordered Othello to discreetly ask the crew questions to determine that everyone was who they said they were.  Confused but obedient, Othello nodded, and left to take care of his task.

About half an hour later, Kayde, Aruget, and Jak finally made their way to the Kordenga, with the party reunited once again after a very eventful twelve hours.  As the others made their greetings, Jak remained silent, fidgeting his foot along the deck.  Ivello told Jak that it was a good thing he was free, to which Jak replied that he was now a dead man more than ever, with no chances left to prove his innocence.  Ivello told him he could still live on the run, which Jak retorted that Ivello would know something about as Delan came up and relayed that the Orien enclave had been buzzing with news of yet another rare teleportation circle used that morning, going from Graywall to Sharn.  Lestok pressed Jak for news of what Tik had said over the speaking stone, and Jak shared the news of Tik having reported to Kalaes in person.  As the party debated their next move, Ivello suggested that they come clean with Delan about their true mission, and pressed Jak for the truth of who Thrandi was and why he’d burnt him.  As Jak fumbled for a way to explain, Delan came wandering back again and asked them where they wanted to go.  Kayde plugged for Sharn, which Jak was skeptical about…and then Delan very intently asked if they’d found any notes belonging to Yeraa, which immediately put Jak on edge.  Was this Tik?  He demanded that Delan show him his dragonmark, knowing that changelings couldn’t mimic those well, and the captain grudgingly rolled up his sleeve while Ivello pulled down his own shirt to compare the veracity of their marks and set Jak at ease.

Ivello, always the one with the questions, asked Delan where they might find others of the Kech Volaar, but the captain had no knowledge of that – Yeraa’s group had always remained separate.  He then mulled over the wisdom of trying to contact the Kech Sharaat, musing that the enemy of our enemy is our friend.  Lestok asked if Delan could take them to Yeraa’s base of operations, while Jak reminded him that Tik would likely go back to Sharn to keep his cover.  As the debate over where to fly to went in circles, Ivello declared that they should table the conversation until doing a thorough reading of Yeraa’s notes and letters.  While he, Lestok, and Aruget pored over the documents, Jak and Kayde decided to help Othello search the crew for any sign of Tik.  They came away confident that everyone was indeed who they appeared to be, and that there were no stowaways either. They also learned, in regards to the teleportation that morning, that the person who traveled had been a human…with a rapier with a red jewel in its pommel on his belt.  He had left at six in the morning, which would have cost extra being outside of Orien’s normal hours, and Jak and Kayde quickly recognized both the sword and the timing as being a clear sign that the “human” had in fact been Tik.

Hunkering down with Yeraa’s notes, nothing stuck out at Ivello as a solid lead, though he did note that there was mention of some trusted members of the Kech Volaar who they might be able to receive refuge and counsel from.  Meanwhile, Aruget focused on the notes about the Rite of Arkantaash needed to form the Ashen Crown.  While it could be completed at a number of different holy sites, it seemed that Tik had been pushing Yeraa to one in Sharn above all other possible locations.  As Ivello reverted back to his scholarly ways and became consumed with all the historical information in Yeraa’s journal, Kayde and Jak returned, with Kayde on edge and snapping at Ivello to focus on the problems in front of them.  Aruget quickly mollified Kayde by sharing a fantastic discovery he’d made: Yeraa had written a poem about Kayde’s exploits in the ilithid’s cavern.  As Kayde basked in the glory of a Dhakaani dirgesinger writing a poem about him, Lestok revealed to the group the plan he’d been working on: he would betray all of them to Tik.  He proposed to tell Tik that he needed a thousand galifars to start a new life, and would deliver him the Solitaire, but wanted to witness the crown being assembled.  The other suggested that would sound much too easy, especially for the paltry sum of a thousand galifars, but Jak mulled that Tik did indeed seem to think they were stupid.  Kayde suggested that, in the meantime, they use the Solitaire to try to contact “Demise” (and prove if the dead changeling was the real Demise), while Aruget proposed using it to question Lt. Sesko for information.

Kayde repeated his position that they should return to Sharn, as they had many ways to prove their innocence. Jak questioned what those ways were, saying that he wasn’t welcome at the Citadel.  Ivello commented that it seemed none of them were welcome at the Citadel anymore, to which Jak replied that it was different for him, asking Ivello why Thrandi had been so keen on arresting only Jak.  Ready to come clean at last, Jak opened his mouth to speak as the speaking stone he carried flared to life, with Tik calling out in a mocking voice “Oh, Jaaak!   Jak!”  Jak reached for the stone, once again fearing what he might hear on the other end…

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: Name one of your enemies, and if so, how did you come by that enemy?
  • At the end of last week’s session, Ivello and Lestok simultaneously crit failed their stealth rolls to approach the Kordenga unseen.  That played out at the beginning of this session as them being Surprised, and Tharashk having The Drop – and then the guards pulled the joker on the very first round of initiative.  In spite of that, they were comically ineffectual for a while – well, everyone was, until…
  • After a few rounds, Kayde from the sidelines played an adventure card we hadn’t seen before: “Let’s Settle This.”  It prevents all combatants from soaking wounds until a joker is drawn.  Happily, with the bulk of the guards trapped under that collapsed scaffold, that worked in our hero’s favour as Lestok immediately rolled a 24 on damage, instantly incapacitating the guard clinging to Ivello and allowing them to book it.
  • Ivello earned himself a couple of bennies this session in fun ways by rubbing the crew’s “trustworthiness” in Delan’s face, and then having what was narrated as more or less a flexing contest while comparing dragonmarks.  Lestok in particular likes to comment in character about what a different person Ivello is from his old alter-ego Quentin, and Ivello’s player has indeed been leaning into a bolder space. It’s so nice watching how characters have evolved over the months.
  • I did not like the tone of Tik’s voice when he called out to Jak.  It was too mocking, too smug, and too self-satisfied.  It seems Tik wants the pieces of the crown to be in Sharn, and Jak had never left Sharn before the events of this campaign – the city is ripe with backstory knives to be twisted.  I know exactly what I would do in my GM’s shoes. 😀  Why do I have to wait one more week to find out?  The suspense, it burns!

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