Seekers of the ashen crown week 35: there and back again

As Tik – unimpressed by hearing Lestok’s voice over the speaking stone – demanded to speak with Jak again, the old gnome deftly avoided Jak’s anxious efforts to snatch the stone out of his hands and made Tik an offer.  He agreed that Tik held all the cards in this scenario, and opined that there was nothing left for him back in Sharn.  He didn’t want to share in his companions fate, and would accept ten thousand galifars to betray the party and start a new life!  Tik laughed and replied that he misunderstood the situation – that he seemed to think Tik wanted to bargain.  Lestok, discouraged, pressed the stone up to Jak’s hand as Tik called out for his fellow agent  yet again.  Yet more taunts, and Jak snapped at him to cut to the chase.  What did he want?  Tik gave him an ultimatum: come back to Sharn, or have the whole weight of the Brelish crown pursuing him.  Jak was un-phased – the Brelish crown was already after him; what did he have left to lose?  Tik laughed again.  He told Jak that he didn’t need to bargain, just to wait, to which Jak retorted that he’d be waiting a long time.  The traitor told Jak to be in contact if he changed his mind, and wished him “luck” with proving his innocence.  

Regrouping and sharing the information that only Lestok and Jak had been able to hear, Ivello worried that the Citadel might go after their friends back in Sharn if the party didn’t return soon.  It was then that Jak realized he did have something to lose, worrying about his friend and fellow agent Thom, and what the Citadel might be doing to him because of their association.  Kayde said that he still had cards left to play, but had to get to a bank or a Sivis station, and refused to go into any more detail. Ivello was unimpressed to learn that he was still keeping important secrets from them.  Conceding that Darguun was still an option as there was indeed a bank and station in Rukhaan Draal – as well as a notable Brelish presence – he declared that the time for keeping secrets was over, especially if those secrets might impact or harm the others.  And Jak decided it was time to come clean about why their situation was as bad as it was.

Spilling his guts to the party, Jak revealed everything: the existence of the Dark Lanterns, the fact that Kalaes, Tik, and himself were all among their numbers, and the fact that he had previously fallen into disgrace in the organization, though he stopped short at confessing exactly what he had done.  He revealed his concern for what they might do to Thom, who had already paid the price once for Jak’s failure, and was convinced that the reason things had gone as poorly as they did was because Tik was in good standing and he was not.  Kayde scoffed that he’d just known Jak had that kind of secret, and pushed again to go to Rukhaan Draal for his own mysterious purposes.  Ivello pressed him again to come clean, especially since Jak had, but Kayde held firm, which frustrated Jak as well – what was Kayde going to accomplish under all this secrecy?

Lestok, always listening, questioned how the Dark Lanterns wouldn’t know that Tik was a double agent.  Didn’t they know everything?  Jak shrugged; what could he say?  Tik was very good at what he did.  Always looking for solutions, Lestok proposed that they do something radical: turn themselves in.  They did after all have three scrolls of mind-reading that would surely exonerate them!  Jak knew that the Lanterns only occasionally used mind-reading magics to interrogate prisoners, and could often go to more extreme methods that he didn’t want to be on the receiving end of.  Latching on to Lestok’s idea, Ivello said that what they needed was a witness, and they had one: Korbus.  “Who?” Jak asked.  Lestok told Jak he was an ass, and the confused changeling got more and more agitated as the group pressed him: how could he not know who Korbus was?  Then, Jak had an epiphany: the guard in his holding cell had heard Tik confess!  After laying into Jak some more for his ignorance, the others finally made it clear that Korbus was the guard’s name, and they were talking about the same person.  Kayde confessed that, after Jak’s arrest, he’d sent a message to Kalaes telling him he had evidence that would clear their name – when he’d had no such thing at the time – and was relieved that this prediction had come true.  

Still determined to get to a bank and sending station, the party debated the safest place to land for such an endeavour, and eventually settled on the least safest place: Graywall.  Kayde would be able to get his messages there quicker than having to get them forwarded to another city, and with any luck, Jak would be able to convince Korbus to come with them on the Kordenga.  Ivello mused that the authorities were unlikely to predict them to return to Graywall, and by 9 p.m., they had made their decision to turn the ship around.  Jak and Kayde would sneak into the city for their respective business, while the others would remain on the ship, moored about an hour’s walk outside the city limits.  While Ivello sent a messenger bird ahead to inform Korbus of their plan and asking her to meet Jak at the Cracked Keg, Lestok gave Kayde his prized whistle to use as a signal in case of trouble, and sewed his coin with a hole in the middle onto Jak’s sleeve for Korbus to identify him with.  Jak promised the old gnome he’d get his coin back, to which Lestok replied that he would hate to lose it.

As they prepared to leave the ship around 7 a.m. the next morning, Ivello thanked Jak for trusting him with his secret, but said he wasn’t surprised.  Jak questioned which part didn’t surprise him: being a spy, or being a screw-up. Ivello smiled and reassured him that it was the former, and wished him luck with his task.

Splitting up at the city gates to avoid suspicion, Kayde relied on his natural talents to get past the guards, easily slipping into the morning crowd.  As he neared the gatehouse to the Calabas, he called on the powers of his dragonmark to disguise himself.  Unfortunately, finding that his mind and body were both exhausted and stressed from the events of the last couple of days, his magic rebelled, sending a jolt through his body and sapping his strength.  Undeterred, he relied on his training yet again, and made it to the bank without incident.  The dwarf at the desk showed no signs of being on the lookout for Kayde, and he was taken back to open his safe box which, to his relief, did contain a letter.  Making his way to the Sivis station, he found another letter waiting for him as well, and started making his way back to the Kordenga to read and share them with the others.

Jak, meanwhile, entered the city with the face of a random half-orc.  As he approached the main gates, he felt a little finch land on his shoulder – it was Ivello, with Korbus’ reply.  She was indisposed and taking heat for Jak and Aruget’s escape, but would try to send another message, to which Jak replied that he would wait for her at the Cracked Keg as long as he could. Making his way through the Calabas, noting that the Tharashk patrols had gotten larger, he easily found the tavern and holed up in a dark corner with his ale to wait…

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week:  Have you ever been conned or robbed?  What happened?
  • Remember when I said that our table spends bennies on what matters the most to us, and that Lestok in particular will happily spend all of his trying to make his latest plan come true?  He did indeed spend all four of his starting bennies on the opposed athletics roll to prevent Jak from snatching the speaking stone away so that he could “betray” us to Tik, beating Jak’s roll by 1 on his final try.
  • The guys had an absolute field day hassling Jak over never having learned Korbus’ name and being largely indifferent to her outside of making a useful asset.  Ivello won the night as far as they were concerned by scolding Jak that if he was going to get Korbus’ help, “you’re going to have to fake giving a shit about her.”  They are on Team Korbus all the way and I’m not convinced that, based on Jak’s situation and personality, this is actually in Korbus’ best interests.  I think they just like watching me squirm. 😀
  • You may have noticed a conspicuous lack of Aruget; that’s because he was unable to make the session.  Our standing rule with five players is one person down, we play; two people down, we cancel.
  • Kayde’s backlash from the critical fail on using his dragonmark to disguise himself was perhaps the luckiest crit fail he could have gotten during his infiltration – all it did was give him a level of fatigue, which all things considered, was the best possible outcome.

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