Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 30: Old “friends”, familiar faces

Our heroes and the Kech Volaar arrived at the market early in the evening and had no problem claiming the spot they needed to dig down to the shrine from.  As the party finished setting up their pavilion, they could hear the goblins already starting to pry up cobblestones.

Getting down to business, Lestok immediately began hawking his burlap toys, casting an illusion on them to speak, and quickly drawing a crowd of mothers and their curious children.  Aruget began warming up for an acrobatics display, testing his balance and playing with his shield, while Jak capitalized on Lestok’s crowd by selling some of Thrandi’s pottery to the adults.  Ivello decided to shape some of the dirt coming up in the tent into training dummies for contests of strength, which drew the attention of a passing Tharashk patrol that he was able to successfully distract while Kayde played the part of a salesman to perfection.

As Aruget began his shield dance across the front of the tent, the party switched gears from merchants to performers.  Jak accompanied him, singing a local song he’d heard at the Gold Dragon.  Lestok – surprisingly nimble – began juggling daggers, while Ivello got the crowd worked up in anticipation of Kayde taking the “stage”, brashly declaring he’d do an heirloom performance.  Meanwhile, the sounds of the excavation grew quieter and more distant, the only evidence of it being the dirt occasionally making its way to the surface.   

As Jak got on the bandwagon to hype up Kayde’s show, further muddying the elf’s waters by declaring his heirloom performance would be the soliloquy from “Lenore and the Dragon”, a small monkey across the way began screaming and throwing grapes at him.  Unphased, he stared the monkey down, picked up a grape and ate it, and continued with his task.  Kayde, meanwhile, was still rattled by Ivello’s declaration of an heirloom performance, a proud Phiarlan institution he didn’t have any rights to.  Fearful that word of it would get back his House, he rallied himself anyways and put on a good show.  While Lestok continued to juggle, now accompanied by dancing torchlight courtesy of Ivello, Aruget began drumming on his shield to accompany both the juggling and Kayde’s performance.  As the rise and fall of his drumming roused the crowd’s emotions, they seemed more taken by it than the soliloquy, much to Kayde’s dismay.  As Lestok cast one final illusion for the crowd, he declared that the first person to hit the monkey would win a toy, and it scurried back into the market and disappeared.

By this point, several hours had passed, and the crowd began to thin as vendors began packing up…and Aruget’s khyber shard speaking stone crackled to life, jerking him out of his drumming.  As he whispered to Jak that they were done, Lestok looked up to see the monkey screeching at a familiar face: their old nemesis, Lady Demise of the Emerald Claw. On the other side of the tent, Jak turned his head to spot their other old friend, Lt. Sesko, the leader of the group that had captured Yeraa’s scout on the road to the Six Kings.  He also realized that the Tharashk patrols, unusually quiet, hadn’t passed through in a while.

Jak sprung into action, grazing one of Sesko’s goons with a crossbow bolt, while Kayde melted into the shadows and Demise began walking forward as Lestok saw a tiny shadow dart off to her left.  Aiming her wand at Lestok, black, wispy energy shot towards him and he could feel his energy draining and his mind clouding as she stepped back into the alley.  Aruget called out to Jak that they had to hold the line to defend the Kech Volaar’s only exit, and he began his battle dance.  As Lestok split off to give Demise a face full of G.R.O.S.S., it slid right off her as if bouncing off some sort of magical shield.  Lt. Sesko and his group began closing in while Ivello hurled lightning at the gnolls flanking Demise, charring them into oblivion, and she retaliated with a skeletal hand flying out of her wand to grasp at him.  Lestok, joining Jak and Aruget in the battle with Sesko, pumped up his Fumigator 9000 and gave the bandits a good rattling with its crowd of green mist, but they remained on their feet as Sesko called out that the party wouldn’t best him this time.  From his place in the shadows, Kayde noticed a tiny humanoid shadow dart across the street to the other side of the tent, but elected to chase after Demise after before downing the elixir of Fernian breath he’d found beneath the Six Kings.  Ivello cast a burst of strength into his quarterstaff and followed him.  As the remaining vendors fled to the safety of their tents, Kayde closed in with Demise and struck out with his byeshk spear as she turned to face him.  Twisting out of the way, more black energy flew out of her wand, hitting Kayde in the face and darkening his vision.  “I live in the dark”, he retorted, striking out at her again as she tried to run.  

As Jak joined Aruget and Lestok to hold their position against Sesko’s squad, Lestok felt little hands grabbing at him and looked down to see the monkey and the shadow grabbing at his pockets.  After deftly managing to apply some G.I.N.S.U. to Aruget’s axe, he wrenched his can of G.R.O.S.S. away from the monkey and sprayed it all over the tiny fiends – and the Emerald Claw. As Aruget called the Tiger’s Blade back to his hand, Sesko came rushing into the fray, attacking wildly and slicing his axe across the hobgoblin’s arm.  Things were starting to look grim…

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: What story were you told growing up that you remember the most?
  • The scene of running the tent was done as a Dramatic Task. The assorted complications – the patrol, the monkey, Kayde’s hesitation at getting caught doing an unsanctioned heirloom performance – were all part of the mechanic of drawing clubs cards on initiative, which imposes a -2 on the roll and can end the whole task on a crit fail. I drew clubs three out of four rounds, and on the third finally decided to stop burning my bennies on new cards.
  • We needed a whopping 30 successes in 4 rounds…and we didn’t need to finish round 4. And that’s where we used up all our luck for the night, because we definitely didn’t carry it into the fight. 😀

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