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

The Death of Maltassar Boggs

Ahead you see a row of lights in the darkness. As you approach, you identify the lights as lanterns like your own, hanging from hooks in a wall of ice. Before you is a long, low block of ice that looks suspiciously like a bar table. There are stools of ice in front of it, extending off into the darkness in either direction. Cloaked figures rest on them, muttering darkly and sipping from ice tankards. It looks like there’s a free seat just ahead of you.

The bartender is Hesphera, a human woman you knew from a case that went bad long ago, back before you drank the way you do now. She’s pale as death, but as beautiful as you remember. “It’s been a long time Boggs,” Hesphera says. “Welcome to the River Styx. What can I get you?”

“I think I’m going to need something strong,” you say. “What do you have?”

“Our home-brews are oblivion and reality.”

“I’ll try reality.”

“One ice cold reality coming right up.”

Soon enough a tankard is placed on the bar-top in front of you. The liquid in the tankard is a muddy colour and frozen solid.

“Cheers!” cries the patron beside you and raises his glass. “To reality!” You recognize him as the changeling, Yog.

“You’re dead,” you ask in confusion.

“I’ve been dead a long time. Died in an Emerald Claw prison camp. Interrogated and tortured for months, then executed. Have I introduced you to my friend here?” He points to the warforged sitting next to him. “Killed by the Emerald Claw as well. I didn’t know that warforged have souls, did you?” The warforged, Bearing, nods at Bogs in silent recognition.

The old man sitting at your right speaks up, his voice weary and his Karrnathi accent thick. “Nature abhors a vacuum. Craft a vessel, a soul vill fill it. No further invocations are necessary.” He shakes his head and tips his tankard to his lips. A few pieces of ice slip down into his mouth and he crunches them noisily. “Bitter. I used to laugh ven dey called me a soulless monster. I stopped laughing ven I met one.”

“Met one?”

“A soulless monster. Regent Moranna had begun to suspect that I and the Order were verking for anudder, serving a different trone. She vas determined to get everything she could out of me. So she sent him. My interrogator. A changeling. He vould appear to me as friends, loved vuns, grandchildren. His impersonations ver perfect. But I vas never fooled. There vas alvays an emptiness in his eyes, a hunger, a void vaiting to be filled. In the end, it did not matter that I could see through his ruses. His hunger was greater than my cunning. He learned it all: my secrets, my life, every desire, every memory I had, all devoured by him. I have never before met a more pahverful telepat.”

“Soon after he disappeared. Vanished. Dey vondered vut I could have done to him to make him break. Moranna began to fear me even more and hastily ordered my execution. But I had done noting. He left because his hunger had finally been sated.”

Yog sips at his flagon of swirling black oblivion. “I knew he was a changeling,” he begins. “But he was so convincing, there were times when he made me believe he was Kessler. But I knew. I knew Kessler was long dead. But I suppose it didn’t matter. He was Kessler. His impersonations are so perfect, he can’t even tell that they are impersonations. He believed. And in the end, if you can’t tell the difference and no one else can tell the difference, who’s to say you aren’t the real thing?”

Kessler nods. “Nature abhors a vacuum. Just as a lost soul searches for a place to rest, an empty vessel hungers for souls to fill it.”

“Look,” begins Boggs, “as much fun as it is reminiscing with you two, I’ve got to get back…”

“You’re dead, Boggs,” says Yog. “What makes you think you can go back?”

Hesphera, behind the bar, clears her throat. “I might be able to get you back there Boggs. Among the living. But not for free. You’d owe one of the powers a favour.”

“Well,” considers Boggs, “what choice do I have?”

“If you want to live?” says Hesphera. “None at all.”

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The Blood of Emerald Claw

Dex collapses from the strain of contact with Belashyrra’s alien mind. While unconscious, she has a vision of Yeraa on the Shores of Death, at the Border between Death and Dream. Yeraa asks Dex to promise “not to leave me here” and hints that Ashurta might be able to help. When Dex regains consciousness, she finds that the Second Wind is under attack by a young blue dragon. The dragon claims to be of “the blood of Emerald Claw” and demands the pieces of the crown for his “queen”.

Over the course of the battle, Captain Arasinya makes several ultimately futile attempts at aerial manoeuvres to shake the dragon loose from her ship, then orders Keyleth, the first mate, to go below deck and get the goblins up to help. Keyleth quickly discovers that the hatches have been locked. As the battle dragons on (I’m sorry), the wyrm realizes he is outmatched and attempts to flee. Arasinya, grabbing the wheel from the pilot, steers the ship into the fleeing dragon. The dragon collides with the elemental ring, catches fire, and falls dead upon the ship’s deck.

Practically frantic by this point, Dex attempts to find a way to get below deck. The party helps Dex open the cargo hatch and they descend. There they find a grizzly sight: Yeraa and her warband, dead in the mess hall. It appears as if they had been sitting down for a meal when they were taken by surprise. The goblins have iron daggers stabbed into their bodies. The dagger from Akitani’s body is removed for inspection. On the blade are magic runes and the pommel is decorated with the roaring, fanged visage that is the symbol of the Blood of the Vol. In some cases, the wounds from the daggers are clearly lethal. In other cases, the wounds seem non-fatal, suggesting that the goblins died from other causes. In the air hangs a faint alchemical smell belonging to a rare catalyst, which is not in itself dangerous.

Tinker finds the body of several crew members, the manner of their self or mutually inflicted deaths suggesting the use of mind control.

Dex, hunting for the assassin, invokes the “blind sight” power of her coat of eyes, allowing her to see through walls and illusions. She soon finds him lurking in a locked cabin, working on creating a pentacle on its floor. Hearing them outside the cabin, the assassin makes an arcane gesture and in the mess hall the goblins rise.

Tinker picks the lock and Dex bursts into the cabin. She threatens the assassin, who remains carefully mute. The assassin as it so happens is invisible, and wary of giving away his location to Tinker.

Tinker, uncertain of the assassin’s location or distance, instead devotes his attention to the pentacle that Dex is standing on. The pentacle is part of a linked portal ritual in progress. Tinker carefully rubs out part of the pentacle, preventing the ritual from being easily completed. Then seized with a sudden and illogical fear for Dex’s safety, he pushes her off the disabled pentacle.

At that same moment, the assassin become visible. Now that Tinker is no longer between him and the door, the assassin makes his escape down the hall, directing one the zombie hobgoblins to block pursuit. As he flees, Dex lands a couple of blows on him, but the assassin downs another vial of the invisibility potion and makes good his escape. Dex forces her way past the goblin in the door, but loses the trail of the assassin.

During the battle, Bogs receives word from Bonekeeper that “Yog’s tattoo has disappeared” from her body leading her to believe that Yog is dead. Each bone tattoo on Bonekeeper’s body is a link to another field agent. When an agent dies, their tattoo vanishes. Bogs suggests another possibility: that Yog/Tikulti has turned traitor. Bonekeeper admits this is a “disturbing possibility”.

Pounding and shouts from the hatch down to the cargo hold indicate to Arasinya that some of her crew is still alive and has been trapped below. She frees them and they ascend to help fight the zombie goblins, or rather, they try. The two deckhands are quickly struck down, the chaplan, Valna, is knocked unconscious by zombie-Yeraa. By the time the fight is over, of the four crew who joined the fight, only Higgs, the ship’s bowson, is left standing.

The party notes that Akitani, the goblin they removed the dagger from, did not rise to join the fight. Realizing that the daggers contain the spell that animates the zombies, the party manages to remove the dagger from Yeraa’s body. Once she is still, Tinker ascertains that Yeraa is indeed dead. Dex is sad, then angry.

Just as the battle with the goblins ends, the ship’s crew appears at the top of the cargo hatch and Keyleth, the first mate, throws lightning at Dex. The deck crew seems to be convinced that Dex is the necromancer attacking the ship and responsible for reanimating the goblins. Their evidence: the fact that she is one scary looking gnome and she commands a group of zombies (deathgaunts, stored in the hold).

A fight almost breaks out, but Dex and the rest of the party manage to persuade the crew to give the gnome the benefit of the doubt. The party climbs back up to the deck with the hope of finding the assassin. As soon as they do, the dragon corpse stirs and rises. An iron ritual dagger has been embedded in its chest.

Just as Bogs finishes climbing up on deck he receives a mental command from the unseen assassin. The assassin bids him to kill Higgs, the hapless bowson climbing up after him. Bogs resists and the psychic force of the compulsion crushes Bogs’s mind and he slumps forward on the deck, slipping into oblivion.

As the dragon attempts to devour Arasinya with typical zombie clumsiness, Dex climbs up onto a cabin and leaps onto the dragon’s back. She stuffs Tinker’s resonance crystal into the dragon’s ear. Arasinya strikes the dragon with a blast of thunder so loud that Dex’s ears are left ringing, the crystal shatters explosively, and the dragon’s head is taken clean off.

Aurora notices that one of the crew on deck is Valna, the ship’s chaplan, the very same Valna left unconscious in the mess hall. Realizing suddenly that the assassin must be a shapeshifter, Aurora roars out a warning to the rest of the party…

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Ship's Manifest

Manifest of the Second Wind

Crew (12)

Captain, Arasinya d’Lyrandar. (on deck)
First officer, Keyleth d’Lyrandar. (on deck)
Cook/Purser, Irann d’Ghallanda. (found dead in the mess: seems to have slit her own throat with a carving knife)
Pilot, Delan d’Lyrandar. (on deck)
Navigator, Pressly d’Lyrandar. (on deck)
Signalmaster, Frug d’Sivis. (on deck)
Engineer, Galen d’Lyrandar. (on deck)
Chaplan, Valna d’Lyrandar. (last seen securing the hold)
Bowson, Higgs d’Lyrandar. (last seen securing the hold)
Deckhand, Mialee. (last seen securing the hold)
Deckhand, Faral. (beaten to death with a club, found with club in hand on gangway below deck)
Deckhand, Chaedi. (beaten to death with a club, found with club in hand on gangway below deck)
Deckhand, Erdan. (last seen securing the hold)

Passengers (13)

Aurora (in the mess)
Tinker (in a cabin)
Dexdamoria Eldora Frumpkin (in a cabin)
Maltassar Bogs (in the mess)

Yeraa (found dead in the mess: stabbed with iron dagger carved with the symbol of the Blood of the Vol, but wound looks non-lethal, strange alchemical smell noticed in the air)
Tikulti (last seen heading below deck to find Yeraa)
Govaan (dead in the mess: iron dagger in left eye; alchemical smell)
Akitani (dead in the mess: iron dagger in right shoulder; alchemical smell)
Jezirpa (dead in the mess: iron dagger between left ribs; alchemical smell)
Murdaak (dead in the mess: iron dagger in back; alchemical smell)
Ulkuuz (dead in the mess: iron dagger through the heart; alchemical smell)

Sprot (last seen in Greywall)
Bearing (last seen in Greywall)

Cargo (10)

Blue dragon, name unknown. (dead on the deck)
Deathgaunts (last seen being secured in the hold)

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Tomb of Lurtaan

In the city of Greywall, beneath the market square, the party explores a sunken temple to the Sovereign Host and the tomb of Lurtaan hidden beneath it. Soon after entering the temple, Dex begins acting strangely. As it is later revealed, Belashyrra had contacted her through the creation she wore, the Coat of Eyes. As they descend, the party glimpses the desiccated corpses of dolgaunts, hobgoblins horribly transformed into eye-less tentacle horrors by Belashyyra, the Lord of Eyes. In truth, these corpses were undead, but telepathically ordered by Dex to hide or play dead. As they travel lower, Dex is warned by Belashyrra that not all may be right on the surface.

Contacting Tikulti, the party discovers that the sending stone they left with him is now in the hands of Graeb Shanks, the head of the Sharn branch of a criminal organization called the Daask. The ultimate head of the Daask is Shank’s mother, Khukri, who runs the entire organization out of Greywall. Graeb Shanks harbours a grudge against Maltassar Bogs, who stole a precious statue from the minotaur’s collection. Shanks informs the party that he was tipped off that Maltassar Bogs was in town and running a stall at the night market. He initially seems to believe that Tikulti is Maltassar Bogs, having determined that Tikulti, like Bogs, is a changeling with a magical tattoo. A reasonable mistake of identity, given the circumstances.

Shanks announces his intent to move a stone across the shaft leading down to the buried temple and then to execute Tikulti in the middle of the night market square. In order to save the life of Tikulti and the party, Bogs is forced to admit that he is the real Bogs. Shanks issues an ultimatum: come up and fight Shanks in a duel to the death, or stay down there forever.

In spite of the ultimatum, Dex convinces the party to continue and acquire Lurtaan’s cord. Using the coat of eyes, she commands the undead dolgaunts- deathguants if you will- to ascend and form a perimeter around the shaft, but not to harm the changeling.

The deathguants force the Shank into retreat. By the time the party surfaces, the night market is in chaos, the deathgaunts are happily munching on a few (hopefully not so innocent) victims, and Tikulti has made his way safely back to the ship. Fleeing from the city guard, the party reaches the airship and, inspite of Yeraa and Arasinya’s reservations, Dex brings the deathgaunts on board, keeping them for the time being in a fire-proofed cargo hold.

Yeraa orders Arasinya to fly the Second Wind to Sharn, “… please”, before retiring with her band below deck. Leaving the city of Greywall, the party is followed by another airship- an old fashioned airship with a black hull and large, blood red sails. Deciding to flee, Arasinya performs two rituals: a ritual that enhances the speed and strength of her vessel, and a second ritual to blow the wind against the pursuing ship. Arasinya successfully summons a storm and their pursuers are forced to draw in their sails, falling behind.

Unfortunately, the enemy vessel is captained by a blue dragon, a creature of pride, arrogance, lightning, and storms, and it desires no treasure more than the chance to place the Ashen Crown upon his ladyship’s head.

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To Graywall

In order to avoid a pointless visit to pawn shop that may not exist, Aurora admits to Yeraa that she has the circlet. The party offers to help Yeraa acquire all the pieces of the crown. Yeraa is suspicious of the party’s motives, but the party manages to hide the fact that they are working for the King’s Citadel. Aurora convinces Yeraa of their trustworthiness by telling her about the prophecy of Arik Blacktree, in which it was revealed that should the Ashen Crown fall into the wrong hands it could mean the doom of this world.

Tinker discovers that, curiously enough, his creator, the goblin artificer Sprot, and Tinker’s “brother”, the warforged Bearing, are travelling with Yeraa. Sprot has been hired by Yeraa to do some work for her, though Sprot has not explained exactly what he was hired to work on.

In order to test both the party’s might, and to see whether they have the gods’ favour, Yeraa challenges the party to an amalorkar, a traditional goblin ritual duel. The party emerges victorious, though Yeraa nearly succumbs to a magic poison cast by Dex’s bow. Thanks to the quick action of Tinker and Dex’s uncle, Yeraa survives. Though rueful of her defeat, Yeraa holds no grudges and accepts the party’s aid.

Still harbouring suspicion of House Lyrandar and Arasinya, Yeraa initially refuses to take Arasinya’s airship, opting instead to travel by caravan. After about ten days of travel on the road, the carvan reaches the capital of Breland, the city of Wroat. En route, everyone is subject to several hobgoblins plays and operas, Dex befriends the cook Tikulti (who is secretly an agent for the King’s Citadel), Tinker has a chance to spend time with his family and wrestle with questions of free-will versus determinism, and Arasinya may (or may not) have rescued an injured raven.

Finally, relenting, Yeraa chooses to take Arasinya’s airship, the Second Wind, from Wroat to the city of Graywall in the monstrous nation of Droaam.

Droaam is a land peopled by those unwelcome within the borders of any other nation. Ruled by warlords kept in line by the terrifying Daughters of Sora Kell, the nation is always on the verge of anarchy.

The land beyond the Byeshk and Graywall Mountains has always been a realm of mystery and menace. Though claimed by Breland, it was never truly settled by humans. Western Breland instead remained a land of deadly monsters- a place where questing knights could seek their fortunes battling savage beasts. During the Last War, monstrous bandits made increasingly frequent forays across the mountains and into western Breland. ln 987 YK. King Boranel pulled his subjects back from the mountains for their own safety. In that same year, three hags the Daughters of Sora Kell rose to power within Breland’s ceded territory. Declaring that land to be the nation of Droaam, the hags united the monstrous warlords under their rule.

Graywall is a charming city, a haven for war criminals, exiles, and bandits, governed by Xorchylic, the mind-flayer. The town is a conduit between Droaam and the rest of Khorvaire. Though the majority of its inhabitants are gnolls, orcs, and goblinoids, the foreign quarters, known as the Calabas, is built to cater to humans and other travellers to the east. Legitimate merchants come to Graywall to trade for goods and ores that are found only in Droaam, but the city is also the centre of a thriving black market. The Calabas is policed by House Tharashk, a half-orc dragonmarked house that mainly works as bounty hunters.

From his contacts in the city, Bogs learns that Demise and the Skullborn have been spotted in city. Worse, the city is hosting Graeb Khukri’s 300th birthday party. Graeb Khurkri is a minotaur who runs an international crime syndicate known as the Daask from the city of Graywall. To celebrate, many of the ranking members of her criminal empire have come to the city, including her son, Graeb Shanks, head of the Sharn branch. Graeb Shanks has put a price on Maltassar’s head that Maltassar would rather not see collected.

Using the circlet, Aurora discovers that Lurtaan’s cord, the final piece of the crown is located beneath the Roar, a market square in the heart of the foreign quarter. Unable to find any signs of an entrance, the party sets up a large tent and pretend to be a part of the night market. Outside the tent, the party sells their junk and makes a tidy profit. Inside, under the cover of the noise of the crowds and hawkers selling their wares, Yeraa and her band dig. Soon, the goblins have uncovered a shaft dropping down into the ruins.

Yeraa argues that the party should man the stall while the goblins descend to recover the legendary cord, but the party insists on going down with her. Instead, Tikulti alone remains behind to maintain their cover, keeping on his person one of a pair of sending stones so that he and Bogs can remain in contact. Into the depths, plunges Dex and the rest climb down after…

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Mallora's Return

The party rushes to Gydd Nephret’s lodgings to find that she is gone, arriving shortly after a winged zombie departed with someone clutched in its arms. Unfortunately, the apartment was not empty. Dala Arand and four zombies are waiting hungrily for the party. Dala Arand reveals herself to be Mallora, the necromancer that the party had fought during the Mourning, the very same necromancer that Aurora had killed. Mallora’s bid for vengeance comes to a sudden end thanks in part to a sudden indoor storm and a surprisingly realistic carving of an axe. With her dying words she swears the party will suffer the vengeance of “Erandis”.

Yeraa, who accompanied Dex to the scene, is impressed with the party’s skill in combat. No friend of either elves or undead, Yeraa is now inclined to think well of the party, but still wants to know where Karruuk’s Circlet is now and why the tempestuous sorceress stole it from Yeraa in the first place.

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Shadowing Dala Arand

Maltassar Bogs learns that Gydd Nephret’s elvish research assistant is in fact a greater undead that feeds on the living. Dala is likely responsible for the dried up husks of corpses that the Sharn Watch has been finding in the vicinity of (but never on) Morgrave campus.

Maltassar follows her to an apartment, where she is joined by Dannae Ulyan and Jaenus. The occupants of the apartment – eight elves in total- depart for places unknown. Maltassar discovers Drago’s diary, from which he learns that the Emerald Claw are working together with a group of elves known as the Skullborn, and that Drago and the other four Karrnathi had been watching Yeraa and her band. It seems that the Skullborn and the Emerald Claw are after the crown.

Meanwhile at Dex’s caravan

Dex discovers that her caravan has taken on a group of 6 hobgoblin and 3 goblin theatre performers. The caravan master, Warryn Alston, has suddenly decided to take his caravan north. Heeding the rumours of banditry to the north, Alston has asked Dex to help him hire on some trustworthy mercenaries to protect the caravan.

But the “theatre troupe” is none other than Yeraa and her band. Dex is invited to dinner with them and has a chance to talk things over with Yeraa. Yeraa is rather impressed by Dex’s exploits and tells her that she’d like the two of them to have a duel some time.

Later, at the King’s Citadel

Gydd tells Tinker in a state of panic that she’s planning to pack, leave the city, and go into hiding. She has learned that Lady Dannae Ulyan is in fact Demise, a Skullborn necromancer.

The Bonekeeper receives the news from Arasinya, Maltassar, Aurora, and Tinker with dismay and orders them to find Gydd Nephret and bring her into protective custody.

Overhead, a storm is brewing.

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Tea with Gydd Nephret

Aurora, Tinker, and Arasinya (eventually) meet with Professor Gydd Nephret. Gydd, as it happens, is having breakfast with an elvish historian, Lady Dannae Ulyan from Aerenal, and the lady’s associate, Jaenus.

Both Gydd Nephret and Dannae Ulyan are experts on the crown and are, respectively, able to provide the party with the crown’s elvish and goblins histories.

Originally, the Ashen Crown was made by the elves and was said to have the power to return long dead heroes to life and/or allow the wearer to commune with the spirits of said heroes.

When the elves invaded the continent, they brought the crown with them. When they were ultimately repulsed by the goblin armies, the hobgoblin empress claimed the crown as her own and it became the crown of the empire until the empire’s eventual fall in the war with Belashyrra, the Lord of Eyes, and his kin.

Before the fall, the crown was sundered into five pieces that were wielded by the Dhakaani Empire’s greatest heroes. Those pieces have come to be known by the names of those who last wielded them.

The pieces are:

Murkoorak’s Orb – found by Ijavik in a pawn shop with the help of Arik’s prophetic knowledge. Ijavik called it the “focus” and used it to arm first a bomb in a townhouse and then a second bomb under Morgrave University’s Hall of Psionics. Currently in Arasinya’s possession.

Ashurta’s Blade – found by the party in Ashurta’s tomb, used by Bren and Dex to slay the head of the cult of Belashyrra, and now in Yeraa’s possession.

Karruuk’s Circlet – found by Professor Gydd Nephret at a dig near the border of Darguun, the goblin nation. Stolen from the museum during the bomb scare (in all likelihood with the King’s Citadel looking the other way). Stolen from Yeraa, the hobgoblin “princess”, by Arasinya. Currently in Aurora’s possession.

Zaarani’s Solitaire – found by Dex in her mother’s wagon, apparently an heirloom of a sort. Currently in Dex’s possession.

Lurtaan’s Cord – a belt, location unknown.

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The King's Citadel and House Lyrandar

Bobomir “Bob” Kalaes and the “Bonekeeper” brief Tinker, Aurora, and Dex on the matter of Yeraa and the Ashen Crown. The party learns that Yeraa belongs to a goblin clan known as the Word Bearers, or “Kech Volaar”, as it is said in goblin. The Word Bearers are one of only two goblin clans that have existed since before the fall of the ancient goblin empire, Dhakaan. The Word Bearers consider themselves to be the bearers and keepers of Dhakaan culture and knowledge. Their primary intent is to see the rebirth of Dhakaani civilization by bringing true peace, stability, and prosperity to the goblin nation of Darguun. Yeraa claims to be a distant descendent of the last Empress of Dhakaan.

Haruuc, the High King of Darguun has a tenuous grasp on power and civil war seems likely. The King’s Citadel fears that a goblin clan that desires war might come to power. In particular, the Blade Bearers, the only other goblin clan that survived the fall of Dhakaan and the clan that King Ashurta once lead, and has called for war with Breland so that the goblins may reclaim their lost city beneath Sharn.

For the sake of Breland and the delicate peace of the last four years, the King’s Citadel is secretly supporting Yeraa’s bid for power. Yeraa is too proud to accept their help (and indeed, accepting their help would make her look like a puppet of a foreign power and thus destroy any chance she has of becoming the leader of Darguun). But Yeraa has hired House Lyrandar to provide her with an airship.

The Bonekeeper offers Dex, Aurora, and Tinker the job of aiding Yeraa in getting the crown. Dex turns the offer down, but Aurora and Tinker accept.

Tinker and Aurora learn that the Bonekeeper is a dragon that once served the King of Galifar before the kingdom dissolved into civil war and that she blames herself for some of the events that lead to the 100 years of conflict. The Bonekeeper is the head of the King’s Shadows, a branch of the King’s Citadel that Tinker and Aurora certainly have not heard of, though they may have heard of the Dark Lanterns- the King’s Citadel better known, larger, better funded, and as Maltassar Bogs would know, much, much more bureaucratic spy organization.

There are two King’s Shadow agents (at least) assigned to this mission- Maltassar Bogs and a changeling named Yog, who ironically enough is posing as the hobgoblin Tikulti in Yeraa’s band, the very same individual who in a state of panic after having lost track of Arasinya hired the five Karrnathi. Furious with Yog for mistaking the Emerald Claw agents for ordinary mercenaries, the Bonekeeper puts Maltassar in charge of the mission.

The Bonekeeper orders Aurora and Tinker to meet with Professor Gydd Nephret, the leading expert on the lore of the Ashen Crown, in order to gain the necessary background on the nature of the crown. Gydd Nephret is a civilian and has no clearance for any secrets, and so the party is to approach her as students or civilians with an interest in the crown but no official connections.

The party has suggested that Gydd Nephret ought not to be trusted given the role she is prophesied to play in leading to the end of the world. The Bonekeeper believes Gydd is trustworthy and that she played a causal role, but not an intentional role in leading the world down this path by finding the circlet in a tomb and bringing it to the museum in Sharn.

The party also asked the King’s Citadel to investigate and/or apprehend Dala Arland, which the King’s Citadel has agreed to do.

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The Interrogation

The party interrogated three captives.

Thadeon claimed that he and his fellows were mercenaries. They had recently done a job for Graeb Shanks, commonly know as the “Shank”. Graeb Shanks is a minotaur with a ferocious reputation and is head of the Sharn branch of what is sometimes euphemistically called the “Daask Trading Company”, but is usually just called the Daask. Maltassar Bogs was surprised to hear Graeb Shank’s name come up in the interrogation. Maltassar would seem to have history with the Daask and Graeb Shanks in particular.

According to Thadeon, Thadeon’s group, having made a “windfall” on their last job, were trying to avoid reprisal from their previous employers by seeking shelter in House Ghallanda. By happenstance, they witnessed the theft of the circlet from Yeraa and were recruited by a desparate Tikulti, a hobgoblin in Yeraa’s warband, to hunt down Arasinya and recover the circlet. Tikulti ordered Thadeon to lay an ambush outside the Temple in Blackroot, guessing that Arasinya might show up there. An altercation between Thadeon and Arasinya involving lightning and an exploding arrow left Thadeon dead, ending that particular interrogation.

Drago told the party that he and the others used to serve in the Karrnathi military, but they deserted in order to avoid having to “lie down not just our lives, but also our deaths” in service of his country. He claimed that they came to Breland to seek a better life, but fell into mercenary work.

Vorik, terrified by Aurora and Dex, cracked and admitted that they are agents of the Order of the Emerald Claw, a cult-come-spy organization that was once in the service of Karrnath. Roughly 30 years ago, Regant Moranna of Karrnath had the organization disbanded, outlawed, and key figures in the Order tried and executed. The leader of the Emerald Claw at the time was Baron Wultram Kessler. Charged with treason against the crown and conspiracy against the nation, Kessler was hung, then beheaded, then burnt to ashes in a very public execution. Vorik, strangely enough, claims that he and the others work for the Baron Kessler and that the Baron is, right now, overseeing the Order’s operations in Sharn personally.

Kessler is perhaps most infamous for his role in planning the attack on the city of Shadurkar. In 961 YK, nearly forty years ago, Karrnathi ground troops used soarwood skiffs to cross the sound that separates Karrnath from the nation of Thrane and stormed the coastal city, catching it unprepared. The Karrns pillaged the city, slaughtered its citizens, and raised undead troops to replace those fallen in the attack. It took months of siege before the Karrns withdrew, burning the city and the surrounding forests to the ground, and annihilating what was left of its population. Shadukar’s destruction is considered by many one of the worsts atrocities of the war.

After Vorik cracked, Drago told the party that the Emerald Claw was interested in infiltrating the Daask with the intent of using the organization to their own ends. Graeb Shanks, the head of the Sharn branch, is the eldest surviving son of Graeb Khurkri, who runs the international crime syndicate from Graywall in Droam, a land known commonly as the nation of monsters. Graeb Khurkri is very old and rumoured to be unwell. Graeb Shanks is likely to succeed her as head of the Daask.

Drago also informed the party that the Emerald Claw had, for a brief time, an alliance with the Cult of Belashyrra that ended due to the conflicting objectives of the Cult and the Claw. Since the end of the war, the Emerald Claw and the Cult of Belashyrra have been working against each other, attempting to thwart each other’s goals. Drago implied that the Emerald Claw had an interest in the Cult’s mind control artifacts, but was generally vague and evasive when it came to questions of the Emerald Claw’s own objectives. From Drago, the party gleaned an address, a “meeting place” for the Order of the Emerald Claw agents, located in a posh neighbourhood of Sharn.

Ultimately, the party allowed Vorik and Drago each a humane death and burnt the bodies of the Karrnathi to prevent the Order of the Emerald Claw of learning anything of this encounter.

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