Seekers of the ashen crown week 36: Departures

After an hour at the Cracked Keg with no sign of Korbus, Jak felt that sitting around Graywall any longer would be pushing his luck.  With his disguise carrying him unnoticed past the increasingly large and active Tharashk patrols, he made his way out of the foreign quarter and was halfway through Bloodstone when a voice rang out in his head – Korbus had engaged House Sivis’ famous Sending services, something Jak had experienced only a handful of times in his life.  Her news wasn’t good.  Facing increasing pressure and scrutiny from her House Tharashk superiors regarding her role in the jailbreak, and her “failure” to track down the rest of the party, she found herself unable to leave the city.  She implored Jak to do whatever he needed to do to clear his name, and hoped that they could share a meal together when everything was back to normal.  Though the loss of Korbus’ testimony against Tik was a serious blow, Jak understood very well what it was like to be on your organization’s bad side.  Relaying this back to Korbus and telling her to stay safe, he continued his trek through Bloodstone and left Graywall behind again.

A half hour’s walk later, he spotted Kayde waiting for him at a trailhead when one of Ivello’s birds landed on his shoulder, asking after Korbus.  Jak tersely replied that she wasn’t coming, and sent the bird on its way.  Regrouping with Kayde, he shared his lack of success, while Kayde revealed what his business in the city had been: he had sent correspondences after Jak’s arrest to both his handlers in House Phiarlan and Captain Kalaes, and had received answers.  The good news was that House Phiarlan continued to support Kayde, but also directed him to retrieve the rest of the Crown for the Citadel as he’d been hired to do, finish the job, and put this mess to rest.  Having previously confessed that he’d told Kalaes they had evidence against Tik, he told Jak that Kalaes was demanding they return to the Citadel with that evidence at once.  Something about those orders didn’t sit right with the young agent.  Knowing how the Citadel operated, he couldn’t shake the feeling that Kalaes telling them to come back to prove their innocence – without rescinding the arrest warrant on their heads – was likely a trap, and he told Kayde as much.  Even without that slant on things, Kayde was determined to carry out his house’s orders, and the two of them continued weighing their options as they made their way back to the others.

Aboard the Kordenga, anxiously awaiting Jak and Kayde’s safe return, Ivello found himself wandering the ship when he realized that things were quiet – a little too quiet.  Having become accustomed to hearing Lestok’s idle stream-of-consciousness conversation, or listening to him having spirited interactions with the crew, he began to worry a little.  Going belowdecks to check the small cabin they shared, he found no sign of Lestok – and a note in his place.

“These “Lanterns” scare me beyond reason.  I’m leaving.  Don’t try to follow me!”

Not quite knowing what to think, Ivello headed back up on deck where he showed the note to Aruget and questioned the sailor on watch about the last time he’d seen Lestok.  The man replied that he’d seen him leave about half an hour after Jak and Kayde, and that he had looked unusually nervous for a gnome. Aruget insisted that they had to find him, to which Ivello reluctantly replied he was not sure that they could.  They had a responsibility to Jak and Kayde to stay put at the agreed upon rendezvous.  Aruget, still in shock, could find nothing more to say other than that he hoped Lestok would find his way to safety, and that they would be able to clear his name along with the rest of theirs.  Ivello laid a hand on his shoulder and replied that Lestok had enough courage for both of them.  He’d be okay.

When Jak and Kayde rejoined the Kordenga, they came aboard to find Aruget pacing the deck, which they had come to recognize as a sign that their friend was agitated.  Jak broke the news about Korbus, Kayde revealed the information he’d received from his House…and Ivello told them that Lestok was gone, handing Jak the note and not knowing what else to say.  Jak read it and cursed loudly.  What did that crazy old gnome think he was going to do, wandering a strange country hunted and alone?  It occurred to him that perhaps Lestok giving Jak his favourite coin, and Kayde, his prized whistle, might have been more than pragmatism.  He wondered if it had been his way of saying goodbye, and a wave of guilt washed over him as he read the note again.  It appeared that his revelation of the Dark Lanterns’ existence and purpose had been what pushed the already paranoid gnome over the edge.  Ivello, who had found an unconventional and unexpected kindred spirit in Lestok and perhaps knew him the best, insisted that he must have a plan. Many of his craziest ones had been successful, and Ivello chose to hope that this one would be no different.

With too many thoughts clamoring for his attention, Ivello’s mind turned to his concern for Korbus, and he pressed Jak for more of an explanation.  Kayde reminded him that the Houses were not beholden to the Five Nations, and if Tharashk chose to prevent her from testifying there was nothing they could do, while Jak reiterated that he didn’t want Korbus to get into any more trouble than she already was.  Ivello told Jak that he knew Korbus meant something to him, and that a Sending was very expensive, which showed that she obviously cared about him and felt it was important to say goodbye.  

With his head back in the party’s current predicament, Aruget wondered if Yeraa’s journal contained anything that would exonerate them, but Ivello – having spent several hours with the book – told him that was wishful thinking.  All it would prove was that Tik had done his job, and that Yeraa had admired him.   After going back and forth pondering returning to Sharn, and questioning why Tik hadn’t tried to blackmail or otherwise incentivize them to come to him, Jak tried to assure the others that it would be easy to travel the lower wards unnoticed, and that he had at least one friend left at the Citadel who might be able to help them turn the tables and set a trap for Tik.  Finding Captain Delan and asking him to bring them back to Sharn, the captain suggested that the safest thing to do would be to put them to ground at the village of Moonwatch, where they might be able to hire a smuggler to take them up the Dagger River.  Jak let out a deep breath.  After what had felt like an eternity, he was going home.

Ivello, meanwhile, was always thirsty for whatever information he could glean to help their situation.  His attention turned to Zaraani’s Solitaire, and he proposed using it to contact Lt. Sesko of the Emerald Claw, who Jak had killed in the market.  Knowing that spirits contacted by the Solitaire were not obligated to tell the truth, he suggested that he conceal his true identity from Sesko, and Kayde immediately seized upon this as an opportunity to put on a performance.  Transforming his face and taking the gem from Ivello, he held it up in front of him and summoned Sesko’s spirit.  As mist emerged from the Solitaire and coalesced into a ghostly face, Kayde demanded to know if the dwarf had completed his mission in Graywall.  As he finished his sentence, a sudden patch of turbulence rocked the Kordenga, causing him to break character and yell out “what the hell was that?”  The spirit replied that he didn’t know. Kayde cleared his throat and regained his composure, asking Sesko if he knew anything about the changeling in their ranks, who had stolen the Crown.  The spirit responded that the changeling’s name was Til, and that his orders had been to return the Crown to Demise.  At Ivello’s behest, Kayde asked his third and final question: when was the last time Sesko had seen his young scout Jeffin?  The spirit replied that Jeffin had run from a fight, and not been seen since.  As Sesko melted back into the Solitaire, Kayde suggested that Jak reveal to Tik that he knew him by this other name, which Jak felt would be unwise.  Them having the upper hand depended on Tik thinking he had the upper hand, and they should take advantage of the fact he considered them fools.  Kayde mused that he’d remembered hearing that if you said a changeling’s true name three times, they belonged to you, to which Jak sarcastically replied that it was true, and they also stole babies from their cradles.  Kayde, never passing up an opportunity to tease his friend, declared that he’d known it all along!

As they prepared themselves to return to Sharn, the party took stock of who in the city they could seek help from.  Kayde asked Aruget about the possibility of hiring more blademarks, and he was skeptical of the wisdom of entangling themselves with House Deneith, but suggested that they might be able to at least enlist the help of one blademark: his sister, Razu.  Jak mused that maybe, between Kayde’s house, Arguet’s sister, and his best friend and fellow Dark Lantern Thom, they might not be so bad off in Sharn after all.  As they spoke, Jak walked over to where the party’s gear was stashed and lifted Yeraa’s sword in the air, swearing that he would use it to bring Tik to justice.  Aruget pressed him to also take the ring of fire resistance they’d looted from “Demise”, joking that Korbus clearly thought he was “smoldering hot” while more seriously expressing his concern that Tik had it out for Jak more than any of them, and that any extra protection he could have wouldn’t go amiss.

A day and a half later, the Kordenga was in sight of Moonwatch, and it was time to part ways.  Jak thanked Captain Delan for all he’d done for them, and promised him that he would avenge the Kech Volaar.  Ivello made his goodbyes to Othello, giving him a big hug and something to remember him by: one of the little burlap toys Lestok had made for their ruse in the night market.  Telling Ivello to contact him through House Sivis if he needed anything, Othello asked if he wanted the Kordenga to go anywhere in particular to throw off the Citadel’s scent.  Kayde, impressed, asked Othello if he wasn’t secretly a Phiarlan, to which Othello winked and replied that no, he was a sailor.  Knowing Kayde a little too well, and warning him that his family was off-limits as objects of flirtation, Ivello asked Othello to sail the ship in the direction of Darguun, and Othello promised they would make sure to get spotted along the way.  Kayde boldly declared that he would write a play in Othello’s name, prompting Jak to reiterate Ivello’s warning.  With that, they left the Kordenga behind and began making the rest of the way to Moonwatch on foot, hoping that Jak’s experience with the less savoury elements of society would be enough to get them discreet passage into the city. 

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week:  How has your upbringing affected your worldview?
  • Lestok (both the character and the player) has left the campaign, which is why we did not search for him even though it would have been more in character to do so.
  • Sorry, Team Korbus. I know you were rooting for her, but fate had other plans. Don’t shoot the messenger.
  • Regarding Kayde encountering turbulence during his performance: remember how I said in my post about bennies that, where other tables use them to fish for raises, we joke that with our luck we are using them to fish for crit fails? Yeah, about that. Kayde actually rolled an initial success on his Performance check to deceive Sesko’s spirit, but decided to fish for a raise…and got snake eyes on his first try.
  • Poor Ivello. He’s been determined for a long time that it was in the cards to use, help, and/or redeem Jeffin ever since we put the fear of the Sovereigns into him back on the road to Six Kings. Ivello has tried numerous times to contact Jeffin with one of his messenger birds to no avail, but if what Sesko’s spirit said was true, this really is the end of that road.
  • Til. Who the heck is Til? Is that Tik’s real name? Is it the identity he’s created for working with the Emerald Claw? Are they a different changeling altogether, perhaps the one who was impersonating Demise? Was Sesko just really unobservant and always called Tik by the wrong name? Our characters are pretty well convinced that Tik is Til and Til is Tik, but really, they could be anybody! This is why my mother always told me to never trust a ghost.

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