The Ashen Crown, the Lords of Madness, and the Queen of Death

Our Hearts Beat As One

Regaining consciousness, Dex finds a strange chitinous box in her hand. With a great deal of anguish, she hurls the box to the ground and stomps on it. It crunches under her boot and bleeds.

Fenmarel reveals that she has the last of Enoreth’s mind shards, which was taken from Tinker’s brother, Bearing, when he was killed by agents of the Order of the Emerald Claw. With the death of the previous captain of her airship, a foolhardy dragon, the airship and the shard in the dragon’s possession, passed to her. Fenmarel offers both the shard and her aid. She is willing, she tells Tinker, to leave the service of her Lady for a century or two in order to unravel the mystery of Tinker’s existence. Tinker decides to trust her and reattaches her legs. She grabs a spare sword from the Word Bearer tent and marches out to the boardwalk to help hold the line against the advancing Clan of Heroes forces.

Yeraa passes through the statue to rally her garrison.

The battle begins in earnest with “Silent Folk” assassins of the Clan of Heroes teleporting through the barrier, attacking the defenders and destroying the boardwalks which cover the runes that make up the circle. The Clan of Heroes druids provide supporting fire by hurling flame seeds into the circle. The Gathering Stone’s Kurmaac druids as well as hobgoblin archers from the delegations fire back. Cries of “they’re not dying” alert the party to the fact that their adversaries wounds are rapidly healing. Aurora, speculating that the Clan of Heroes may all be part troll, tells her allies that fire or acid might be necessary to kill them, or perhaps weapons forged from beshyk, due to their aberrant nature.

Meanwhile, outside the circle, Dex keeps the ferocious Korrga occupied, leaping between tree branches and tent poles as Korrga’s laughing sword destroys everything in his path. Wounded by Dex’s arrows, Korrga stumbles into the remnants of a canvas tent he destroyed and Dex sets fire to the tent, burning him alive.

The beholders move in and begin taking control of the minds of the defenders, directing those under their spell to destroy the runes creating the magic circle. In response, the Kurmaac druids begin to conjure a wall of thorns over the boardwalk. Falling prey to the beholder’s mind control, the party destroys the magic circle.

Yeraa returns with Ashurta’s blade and her garrison and fights alongside the party. One of the silent folk is decapitated, but the goblin rises again, blood slick tentacles rising from the stump of its neck.

Finally, the Silent Folk are defeated, the beholders driven back, and the Clan of Heroes delegation killed, permanently. But more Clan of Heroes soldiers are on their way.

Dex approaches the abandoned coffin. She notes the creepily realistic hearts that decorate the outside of the coffin. Her sense of unease grows. She lifts the lid. Inside lies a hobgoblin, the Clan of Heroes chieftain, Khaas, his eyes shut and his hands clasping his sword across his chest. In an instant, his eyes snap open and he grabs Dex by the throat and begins to choke her. Losing air, Dex grabs her flask of alcohol and dumps it on him, then drops a torch into the coffin. She manages to struggle free from his grip and, gasping, watches the coffin burn.

Dex looses an arrow into each heart on the sides of the coffin. Then taking the lid of the coffin, she crushes the heart in its centre under her boot. It crunches like a crushed cockroach and bleeds. Suddenly, the offer Drynn made her comes back to her, as well as the vision of her caravan and family’s death. Dex leans against the burning coffin and has a nervous breakdown.

The druids part the thorns, allowing Aurora and Arasinya to exit. Aurora notes that the Clan of Heroes soldiers seem strangely confused rather than hostile, as if released from a terrible spell the moment the hearts on the coffin were destroyed. Aurora approaches them and learns that they fell under Drynn’s control when they began to use his tools and weapons. The surviving members of the Clan of Heroes resolve to seek out the Gatekeepers of the surface world for guidance and depart, and after some confused milling about, depart, returning to their fortress.

Arasinya approaches Dex and learns of the vision Drynn gave her of the caravan. They resolve to find her family’s caravan as soon as possible and warn them.

At this moment, Arasinya’s airship, the Second Wind, passes overhead, heading from the Mournlands in the East and into Darguun, goblin country, in the West.

Meanwhile, in the circle, Tinker recalls that Enoreth, his ancient self, placed a spell on the Gathering Stone. He approaches the stone and touches it. Suddenly, there is not one Gathering Stone but four, each anchored in a different, distant place, and covered by an immense capstone to form a giant dolmen. One of the stones is in the forested hills overlooking the gnome city of Korranberg in Zilargo. One of the stones is on a mountainside, in the ruined city Paluur Draal, where Enoreth built his workshop. One of the stones is in Volaar Draal, the home of the Wordbearer clan. The last stone is the marshes to the south, in the midst of a small village of orcish Gatekeeper druids.

Yeraa begins directing the exiles to take refuge in her home of Volaar Draal, while the delegates retreat to the relative safety of the marshes. :earning of Dex’s vision, Govaan, the last surviving member of the band of goblins that travelled with Yeraa in Dex’s caravan, offers to go to Korranberg and ask after Dex’s caravan.

Arasinya returns to the Gathering Stone, distraught anew over the loss of her airship. Tinker realizes that if he puts in place the final mind shard, he would probably know enough about how he created Arasinya’s raven to modify it so that it would be fast enough to catch up with the airship. Fenmarel assists him in installing the last shard and Tinker / Enoreth sets to work. Modifying the raven in this manner proves trivial. Arasinya’s raven races off after the departing airship.

On board the airship, the raven gets the attention of the bowson, Higgs. Through the raven, Arasinya informs Higgs that the Captain Arasinya on board the airship is an impostor. Higgs calls the House Deneith muscle placed on the airship for security and they enter the captain’s cabin and confront the impostor. Realizing that the jig is up, the impostor throws herself through the window and uses a feather fall spell to safely reach the ground.

Guided by her raven, Arasinya tracks down the impostor, who proves to be Maria from Ikar’s caravan disguised by a polymorph spell. Arasinya kills Maria and returns to the Gathering Stone. By the time she arrives, the Second Wind is already waiting for her. Also, Govaan has returned from Korranberg. He reports that Dex’s caravan has not yet reached Korranberg, but is expected to arrive some time soon. The party resolves to travel to Paluur Draal to drop off Tinker and Fenmarel before travelling to Korranberg to find Dex’s caravan.

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