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

The Eggs of Paluur Draal

The airship travels through the arch of the dolmen, arriving over the jagged mountainside and snow-covered ruins of Paluur Draal. Arasinya checks the ship over a bit and finds a bomb strapped to the mast. Tinker easily disables it, keeping the components. The party rests for the night, while Fenmarel and Tinker keep watch on deck.

Aurora takes the nearly catatonic Dex down below deck to one of the airship’s sleeping quarters and settles into one of the bunks. Dex does not sleep for a long time. When she does finally slip into unconsciousness, she dreams. In her dream, Aurora comes to wake her, but when Dex opens her eyes, half of Aurora’s face is missing, her skin is pale and her eyes empty and bloody. Dex fends off the zombie and then rushes out into the hall, finding all the crew turned into undead. Fighting her way to the deck she finds Tinker and Fenmarel there, standing watch. They turn towards her and open up the metal casings of their chests. Pale, rotting corpses begin to spill out from inside them in endless numbers, crawling towards Dex, their broken mouthes open wide, hungry.

Dawn comes and the party rises. Boggs rises slowly, groggily, after a hard night of drinking. Aurora wakes and finds Dex asleep, at last, but tossing, turning, and whimpering. Gingerly, Aurora goes to wake Dex, transforming into a panther and tapping the gnome’s cheek with her tail. Dex clenches Aurora’s tail in her fist, and Aurora’s yelp is what finally wakes her. Eventually, Dex calms down, but Aurora is left with a sore tail.

The party sets out to explore the ruins. They find the main street is lined with hidden pit traps. One seems to have been used recently. At the bottom of it are the day old corpses of a mostly gnome expedition.

Enoreth’s workshop is within a large square tower that rises high over the city, built into the face of a cliff. Burning their way through the dried daggerthorn briar that has grown over the entrance to Enoreth’s tower, the party enters the tower’s immense atrium.

The atrium is filled with religious iconography. Light comes from the glowing star-filled sky on the ceiling. Constellations have been traced out, but not the constellations known to the party. Each constellation is what appears to be a warforged. At the centre of the atrium is a towering statue of a dragon-winged Enoreth. Under the statue is in the inscription:

ENORETH RETURNS.
With Wisdom and Diligence
In the Spring
We Shall All Hatch Anew

Around Enoreth is a nest made from stone-carved skulls and filled with stone-carved eggs. One egg is broken open and a darling statue of a baby dragon is poking its nose out from it.

A set of stairs switch-backs up on the far side of the room. On each landing is a statue of a warforged, with a prayer mat set out in front of it.

Above the stairs hang giant eggs on chains. And in one of those eggs is Minron the Minotaur.

Minron is a disillusioned, alcoholic exorcist and paladin of Dol Arrah. He was on his way to Korranberg when he met a gnome caravan on the road. Invited to eat and drink with them, he soon shared with them his woes and cynicism. The gnomes persuade him to see their caravan’s fortune-teller. When he stumbles out of the fortune-teller’s wagon again, Minron is in a daze, unsure of how much time has passed but now certain of one thing: He must travel to the city of Paluur Draal because it is there he will begin to find the secrets that lie at the heart of the evil he seeks to unravel.

In Korranberg, Minron hires a group of guides to take him to the city of Paluur Draal in the mountains to the north. The journey is uneventful, but once inside the city things quickly go wrong. His guides fall into a pit trap and Minron himself is drugged by poison darts and is captured by kobolds.

When he awoke, he found himself in a dome chamber. From outside he heard the voice of a kobold telling him that, “You fail at life. You must be hatched anew. When Enoreth returns, he will forgive you for your sins and you will be break out of your shell.”

Using his strength and his horns, Minron made progress with breaking away the bricks of his cell until he discovered how high up he was. At that point, he decided to wait and consider his options. He did not have to wait long before the party arrived.

The atrium is full of traps, but the party manages to make their way across it. Aurora and Arasinya combine forces to get Minron safely down from his egg prison. Aurora raises up a stone platform to catch him and Arasinya summons a wind to blow his egg over the platform and slow his descent when he jumps out. They succeed. Minron crushes the platform with his fall, but lands (mostly) unharmed. The bit where he used his shield as a parachute didn’t really help. Unfortunately, he subsequently lost his shield into a pit when sledding down a trapped slide.

The party makes their way to the top of the stairs, reuniting Tinker with his kobold worshippers, and prepare to head back to the airship.

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You are Enoreth

Your memories as Enoreth snap suddenly into focus. You relax a little. A part of you- the Tinker part of you- had been afraid that you- the Enoreth part of you- had some awful secrets, awful cruel designs locked away hidden in his memories.

But you can see Enoreth clearly now. You can see Tinker- your life as Tinker- beside your life as Enoreth. When you hold those two lives together you see that they form a continuum. Even though you lost all your memories as Enoreth, your personality has remained much the same. You are driven by curiosity, your are brave, you are faithful to your friends, and you often been charitable, and you have never been cruel.

Perhaps Tinker is bolder, his life full of far more danger in a briefer span. Perhaps Tinker is a bit more directionless, unsure what he wants from this world. But that is unremarkable among one so young! Enoreth’s memories bring a sort of confidence in yourself, a feeling that after thousands of years of being, you know what life is about.

You remember creating the network of enchanted stones.

The first stone you enchanted was when you ended your stint as a librarian in Korranberg. Leaving was hard. You had young gnome students who looked up to you. But it seemed, with the death of Nim Alston Frumpkin, the only true friend you had there, it was time to move on.

There was this great stone just on the outskirts of the city. It was a beautiful thing, framed against the sunset as you made your way north. You thought, “Perhaps I will want to come back here.” So you decided to practice your magic upon it. You bound a complex, innovative spell to that stone that would allow you to create a link between it and another stone. There was no other stone at that time. The other stone would be wherever you ended up.

Where you ended up was in the mountains north of Korranberg in a ruined city that you would much later learn was Paluur Draal. At first it seemed abandoned, and so you named it the City of Enoreth upon the Mountain of Enoreth. Looking back on it now, it was a bit childish, or at least, naïve. Every mountain, even those seemingly abandoned, has a history of which you know not. You cannot simply place your name upon it.

But the name … stuck. At least, it became popular amongst the kobolds, who skulked about the ruins. You caught them attempting to steal from the workshop you were building in the centre of the city. You tried getting to know them the only way you knew how: by teaching. The kobolds, awed by your magic, soon began to worship you. The man of metal filled a void left by their former god, a dragon that the gnomes of Korranberg had slain. You did nothing to encourage the practice, but you didn’t discourage it either. They liked you, so it seemed harmless enough.

You enchanted your second stone in the heart of that city, just by the base of the tower that served as your workshop. It was there that you worked your greatest magicks. You studied yourself, the mystery of your own being, and took strides in replicating it. You created a number of people based on your own design: ultimately, working ones, though that took a long time. The kobolds worked the mines, providing you with the dragonshards that would serve as the hearts of the people you forged and the adamantium that would serve as their skin.

You remember also enchanting the other two stones. One by the ancient Word Bearer clan home southwest from here, where they settled after you lead them down from the caverns in the mountains near Paluur Draal. One by an orcish settlement up far northwest where you briefly studied druidic magic.

And you remember the ravens. It was in the workshops of Paluur Draal that you crafted the ravens- living spells, conjurations- crude imitations at first- but soon perfected, nearly indistinguishable from real ravens. You remember what they were for now. Their purpose was to serve as mobile spell platforms. Of course. A most important spell.

Fear grips you as you realize how long it has been since the last time you made any ravens. You built them to survive for centuries, but over time, they are destroyed by random misfortune or by their spells deteriorating. Many are likely behaving as erratically as Arasinya’s familiar and are not to be relied upon to work properly at all.

You must make more. Urgently. After all, it is the spell that keeps y o u alive. Mother needs you to take care of y o u r s e l f. If the workshop in Paluur Draal has not been destroyed, you could assemble more there.

But there is something that’s bothering you. Tinker you. Even with all of Enoreth’s memories available to you now, there are some things, just a few things, that are hard to think about. You try to recall more about the ravens and the spell they perform, how exactly it works, what it exactly it does. Or try to remember the faces and voices of the elves at shore, by the boat, at the beach, at the beginning of this all. But the thoughts just keep slipping from your mind like sand through your fingers at that beach long ago.

They can wait. Mysteries for another time.

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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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Drynn the Corrupter

You reach out through the Coat of Eyes, tapping into the link it has to other creations of the Daelkyr. You feel them, the hearts, all beating in perfect synchrony. You feel them in the chests of the Clan of Heroes delegation. You feel them in the Gathering Stone fortress, a distant white shape of walls and battlements lit under the moonlight. You feel them, many of them, under the earth, beneath the plain, and moving upward, beating like wardrums. You feel some hidden amongst the old ruins, scattered about between the fortress and the Gathering Stone itself. It’s ambush, you realize with a chill. They are bringing their entire army to attack the Clan-Meet.

And then you hear a voice. No, not a voice. Many voices. Hushed voices. You strain to listen. They are saying something over and over again. A few words. One word? It sounds like… your name.

“Dextomoria.”

Suddenly the members of the Clan of Heroes delegation all freeze. Their heads turn and the eyes of every one of them is upon you. Their stare is blank and empty. You feel an incredible lightness, as if your body was no longer there. Looking back on this later, you are fairly certain that this was the point when you collapsed.

You feel a terrible force prying memories free from your mind like gemstones from a cavern wall. It appraises each one, muttering to itself in a hundred voices, the words indistinct or unfamiliar. Finally, it gives them back to you, shoving each memory, shimmering or dull, beautiful or terrible, back into place. The smell of a pig roasting on a spit. The sound of gnomes dancing around the fire, singing, and playing their lutes. Cutting gems with your mother as child. The night when your cousin was bitten by that boar. Yeraa and her band, their bodies strewn on the floor below the deck. Belashyrra’s smile, like a rip in the seam of a mask.

There is the briefest of pauses, before it plants something else into your mind. More memories. Memories of things that haven’t happened.

Snow is falling. The flakes gather on the frozen ground, among the black ash of the long dead bonfire, and upon the colourful clothes and still, pale faces of the gnomes. The flakes melt where they touch blood.

The painted wagons are unharmed and nothing seems to have been stolen, but there are signs of struggle everywhere. There are spent arrows and crossbow bolts among the grass and studding the back of one of the wagons. There are broken mandolins, discarded pipes, and scattered food. It was in the midst of a merry feast when they were taken by surprise.

Krimp is covered in bloodstained playing cards, his throat slit. You try not to look at their faces. You stop yourself from counting the dead, from looking for your family. There would be time for grief later. Now was the time to hunt.

If any of the enemy were killed, the survivors took the bodies with them. There are wagon tracks leading away from the campsite. Another caravan. You follow them, the others trailing after you in silence. The tracks end a mile down the road. They just… vanish.

“I’m sorry,” says Arik. The halfling wipes away tears with his sleeve. “I should have warned you. I saw this… I saw this happening before it happened.”

“I know,” you say simply, your voice dead. “Belashyrra plucked this vision from your mind when you were his captive. Then he gave it to Drynn and Drynn gave it to me.”

Darkness. Sound and sight are abruptly yanked away.

A hundred, no, thousand voices murmur in your mind, “I offer you two gifts. The first gift was knowledge, and I already haven given it. The second is in your hands for the taking.”

There is a beautiful, ruby and onyx jewelry box resting in your palms. It is warm and you can feel something inside it, beating.

“I offer you a new heart,” whisper the thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of voices. “A heart that never feels pain. A heart that never ceases. I can give this to you and to all those you love. You and they will never suffer, never die. What you have seen through Belashyrra’s Eye to the Future does not need to come to pass. Know that I do not lie. These gifts are real. I have already given them to many. All I ask is that you break the circle around the Gathering Stone and these gifts are yours.”

Your eyes open. You are staring up at the star filled sky, lying on a muddy road. The sounds of shouting goblins is everywhere. You’re not sure how much time has passed. The connection between you… and Drynn, if that’s what that was, … seems to be broken.

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The Clan Meet

The party stands in a field dotted with trees. Behind them, Ikar’s caravan is racing away at top speed, elemental engines roaring. Ahead of them, a hobgoblin garrison charges, roaring louder still, swords drawn. Yeraa hails the goblins- her soldiers. Quickly, the party is surrounded by cheering hobgoblins, celebrating the safe return of their chief.

Hurriedly, the party removes the lid of the coffin to prevent the enemy from coming through after them.

One gruff hobgoblin steps forward from the crowd. “There she is!” he shouts, pointing at Arasinya and a group emerges from the crowd, hands on their hilts. Dex quickly intercedes to protect the sorceress. The group of angry goblins accuse Arasinya of hindering Yeraa’s rescue by locking them in the hold of her airship, then later, after they escaped from the hold, ejecting them (and the statue they used to get aboard) from her airship before flying off without them. Arasinya replies that while she put them in the hold, she certainly didn’t eject them her ship, or fly off.

Realizing that if Arasinya had, indeed, flew off with the airship, she couldn’t possible be here now, the hobgoblins demand a lock of her hair to prove that she’s not a doppelganger. Dex, eager to solve the dispute as quickly as possible, over Arasinya’s objections, cuts free a lock of the sorceress’ hair and hands it to the hobgoblins. The hobgoblins regard the hair for a moment and note that it does not change colour. They discuss the possibility that Arasinya could have been replaced with a naturally blond doppelganger, before reluctantly concluding that they had been hoodwinked by a doppelganger earlier.

As Arasinya comes to the realization that her airship has been stolen- probably by Ikar’s people- she is filled with fury. But by rescuing Yeraa, Arasinya has finally gained the hobgoblin chieftain’s respect. Yeraa expresses her deep gratitude to Arasinya. Yeraa notes that while she herself has promised not to come after Ikar, she can, in recognition and repayment of her debt to Arasinya, give Arasinya a portion of her garrison to command as she sees fit. With much cheering, Arasinya is hoisted onto the shoulders of a crowd of hobgoblin soldiers and is carried off after the fleeing caravan.

Meanwhile, the party decides that the coffin is too dangerous to leave even in its partially dissembled state. Tinker performs a disenchantment ritual to turn the coffin to dust. Aurora removes the legs from Fenmarel.

Yeraa suggests smuggling the statue to the Gathering Stone as a means of retreat or reinforcement should anything go awry at the Clan-Meet in two days time. Using a ritual she learned from her new book, Aurora enchants the statue to resemble an innocuous looking boulder. The hobgoblins travel through the statue and bring back materials to construct a pair of wagons for transporting Fenmarel and the “boulder”.

After a long walk, the party, statue, Fenmarel, and hobgoblins arrive at the Gathering Stone. Arasinya has already arrived- Ikar got away, his caravan crossing over into the treacherous wastes of the Mournland.

Dex discovers that she cannot approach the Gathering Stone. A boardwalk has been built in a circle around the Gathering Stone and all the tents of the Clan Meet are being set up inside the circle. For Dex and Dex alone, trying to cross this boardwalk is like colliding with an invisible wall.

On the night of the Clan Meet, the Clan of Heroes delegation is the last to arrive. They come bearing the coffin Khaas, their assassinated chieftain. The delegation halts just outside the magic circle of the boardwalk and Korrga, a half-troll half-hobgoblin leading the delegation, begins to rally the crowd. Over the past week, the Clan of Heroes has been offering miraculous healing to the clanless exiles living at the Gathering Stone. The Clan of Heroes has promised that these miracles are just the beginning, and by tapping the power of the Gathering Stone itself they will even be able to bring back the long dead. Korgga tells the exiles that today they belong to the Clan of Heroes and he promises them a glorious new future if only they destroy the circle protecting the Gathering Stone, which Korrga claims is a result of Word Bearer treachery.

Tinker, broadcasting telepathically, and Dex, using ghost sound, manage to get the mob of exiles to stop in their tracks before attacking the circle. Aurora warns the exiles that the purpose of the circle is to keep out aberrations: The Clan of Heroes are not what they seem. But the mob is more willing to believe the Clan of Heroes’ message of hope than the party’s message of doom.

Dex finally manages to get the exiles to begin re-thinking their position by demonstrating that she is unable to go through the circle because of her clearly aberrant vest of eyes. An exile who was healed by the Clan of Heroes is invited forward and he finds that he is unable to pass his healed leg through the circle. The exiles begin to have doubts, but Korrga insists that the circle is Word Bearer trickery. Aurora offers to give further proof: Under supervision, she will create a tiny magic circle that wards against aberrations and demonstrate that the Clan of Heroes cannot pass through the circle.

The tiny circle takes one hour to create. During that hour, Dex begins to feel uneasy. She spies pale moonlit shapes rising like party balloons from the Clan of Heroes’ fortress, rotund and writhing. She reaches out with her Coat of Eyes and makes a connection…

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The Voice of the Lady

The party dashes for the coffin, Tinker hanging back, hoping he can reason with Fenmarel, and Arasinya taking up the rear, her lightning ready and crackling.

Yeraa refuses to escape through the coffin until she has reclaimed at least Ashurta’s Blade, if not also Murkarook’s Orb. The orb, alas, is nowhere to be seen. Ashurta’s Blade, however, has now come free of its sheath as Fenmarel charges into battle. Bercilak, following closely, barks orders at the phantom crew, “Watch the captain’s back! She’s not dead and let’s keep it that way.”

The airship begins to descend.

As the party battles Bercilak, Fenmarel, and her spectral sailors, Boggs manages to sneak around some crates and catch Fenmarel by surprise from behind. He grabs hold of Ashurta’s Blade and tries to wrench it from her grasp, but her grip is quite literally adamantine.

But when Boggs touches the silvery-blue blade of the sword he instantly feels a connection to a slumbering, dreaming mind: the soul of the Ashen Crown itself. As he realizes that he has no hope of taking the sword by force, he pleads with the blade, warning it that one unworthy now holds it.

That sleeping soul must have heard Bogg’s words, for in an instant Ashurta’s Blade transforms from an immense sword into a tiny, glittering stiletto. It falls from Fenmarel’s hand and clatters to the floor.

Aurora lunges, grabbing Ashurta’s Blade and receives a punch in the face from Fenmarel for her troubles. Reeling, she throws the dagger to Yeraa, who catches it. In Yeraa’s hands, Ashurta’s Blade transforms into a bastard sword.

Fenmarel, fearing that she is in danger of losing both Ashurta’s Blade and Yeraa, charges in to engage Yeraa. Bercilak, attempting to guard his reckless captain, follows, but is cut down. Planting his sword into the deck to keep himself standing a moment more, he rasps an apology,

“I’m sorry my lady, I have failed you.”
“You are forgiven,” the child-like voice from the sword replies. “Fear not. I am on my way.”

The airship splashes down into unseen waters.

Finally, after battling dozens of ghosts, Fenmarel is left standing alone, and soon after that, the party manages to knock her out. Tinker suggests taking Fenmarel with them. The party decides to also bring Bercilak’s sword.

Dex and Yeraa volunteer to go through the coffin first, taking Ashurta’s Blade and Bercilak’s sword with them. They shut the lid and in moments hear the rumbling of an elemental engine and the jostling of a bumpy road. They try to open the coffin. They can’t. The lid won’t budge. Something very heavy has been placed on top of it.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, the party can hear reinforcements boarding. They try to open the coffin, but the lid is sealed firmly shut by magic. In a panic, they shut the door to their half of the hold and barricade it with crates.

From in the coffin, Dex begins shouting for Ikar. Ikar responds, but explains that they paid him for a one-way trip. He never promised to let them back through. Dex tries to frighten him into letting them out, but has little success with the unflappable half-orc. With herculean effort, Dex and Yeraa manage to lift the lid just enough for just a moment to wedge the blade of Bercilak’s sword into the gap between lid and coffin. With a groan, the enormous engine placed on top of the coffin shifts and the lid comes down hard on the blade. The blade does not break. Instead, Bercilak’s sword begins to give Ikar orders, insisting that Ikar leave Yeraa and Dex in the coffin to die.

But when Ikar realizes that Yeraa is in the coffin as well, he has a rather sudden change of heart. He explains to Yeraa that his part in her kidnapping was entirely unwitting and that once he learned that he had been complicit in her kidnapping he cooperated with her rescuers. He agrees to let Yeraa and Dex out on the condition that they do no violence to him and his men and that Yeraa calls off the host of hobgoblins pursuing his caravan.

After their begrudging agreement, Dex and Yeraa are let out of the coffin. The voice of the sword makes her displeasure with Ikar clear. Unconcerned, Ikar orders his bugbear and warforged bodyguards to put the sword in the coffin, shut the lid, and toss the coffin out of his wagon. Dex and Yeraa try to interfere, intimidating Ikar’s guards. Resolving to handle it himself, Ikar picks up the abandoned sword and finds that he cannot put it down. The sword laughs cruelly and Dex offers to cut off his hand. Ikar declines.

The coffin is hurled out of the moving wagon and Dex and Yeraa leap off after it.

Meanwhile, back on the airship at sea, the door is being battered in by glass golems. The golems are commanded by a familiar voice – the very same voice the party had heard coming from the sword. Tinker, curious, telepathically asks the unseen lady how she knew that the crown they had given her belonged to the Clan of Heroes.

“I should think I know very well the things I send my assassins to retrieve,” the voice of the lady explains.

“Oh, those were your assassins.”

The party pries at the coffin lid and to their immense relief, it comes open. Hurriedly, Tinker and the comatose Fenmarel, Aurora and Arasinya, Boggs and Sindarin, all escape in twos through the coffin. With a crash, a pair of glass golems, humanoids shaped from a jumble of jagged, broken glass, open a hole in the door wide enough to climb through and begin clambering over the crates and wreckage towards the coffin as the last two of our heroes escape.

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Captain Fenmarel

Dex enters the coffin next with Aurora riding with her as a spider. Once the door is shut, they are transported to the hold of the airship. Listening, she can hear Arasinya and Boggs speaking to the elves. Carefully, she manages to open the door to the coffin just a crack. The door, she notes, is held shut merely by a chain on a hook. She threads the tip of an arrow through a link of the chain and manages, quietly, to lift it off the hook.

Slipping out while the elves are distracted, Dex hides behind some crates in the cluttered hold.

Tinker enters the coffin next and rings the bell. Boggs, still posing as Ikar, is quick to explain that this is a warforged from his caravan. The elves let Tinker out, remarking upon Tinker’s unusual appearance and that “The Captain will want to meet him”.

Sindarin arrives last. The elves prepare to take Sindarin prisoner and to remove the coffin from the ship for safety when Dex and Aurora launch their surprise attack. Boggs as “Ikar” and Arasinya as “Maria” quickly join the fray and the hapless elvish sailors and their phantom guards are soon done away with.

During the battle, one of the ghost elves escapes up through the ceiling to the deck above, to warn the captain of the attack.

After the fight, the party tends to their wounds and begins searching the hold for clues. The elves seem to be Blood Sail sailors, a nautical elvish people who live in the Lhazaar Principalities of Northwestern Khorvaire. Some of the crates in the hold contain food and other supplies, but other crates contain strange junk and artifacts, likely salvage delivered from Ikar’s caravan.

Soon, the Captain arrives at the top of the stairs to the hold. It is a warforged of design remarkably similar to Tinker: ornate, finely crafted, and distinctly elvish looking. Unlike Tinker, she looks fully intact, with no parts scavenged from elsewhere. She carries Ashurta’s blade in one scabbard and a dynamic fullblade in her other scabbard. Her first mate is a crumbling desiccated corpse carrying a wicked looking sword with blood red runes glowing on its blade.

In a high, stuttering voice, the Captain introduces herself as Fenmarel. She demands to know why the party has boarded her ship. Warily conversing with her from behind crates in the hold, the party learns that the Captain has Yeraa captive, but is mostly interested in the Ashen Crown.

Tinker, curious as to what Fenmarel is and how she could be connected to his own past, begins to question the strange captain. Piquing Fenmarel’s curiosity, he learns that she is a construct created by Hanali d’Vol, an artisan of House Vol, before the house was destroyed in a civil war in the elvish homeland of Aerenal. Fenmarel was an attempt to cheat death. Within Fenmarel is housed the soul of an elf of House Vol who hoped to achieve immortality housed within an artifical body. However, Fenmarel never stirred. Presumed non-functional, Fenmarel was kept in a display case for centuries before finally a curious artificer attempted to dismantler her. The self-preservation drive given to her by Hanali, her creator, caused her to move for the first time, killing the artificer. Realizing that Fenmarel wasn’t inactive, simply disinterested in moving, expert elvish artificers then modified her to have other drives beyond mere self-preservation.

Fenmarel is surprised by Tinker’s existence, as she had assumed that Hanali had made no others, given that Fenmarel was seen as a failure. Even now that she is moving and has desires, she has no memory of ever being an elf. She believes that the memories are there- locked inside her- but that the memories are foreign to her artificial body and so cannot be interpreted by her. The elf, she believes, is thus effectively trapped inside her in stasis, unable to act. She speculates that the same could be true of Tinker.

Dex offers to give Fenmarel the Ashen Crown in exchange for Yeraa. Fenmarel agrees, ordering her undead first mate, Bercilak, to release Yeraa from her cell. The moment the cell door opens, a stool comes crashing down on Bercilak’s skull. Bercilak, apparently unable to feel pain, tersely informs Yeraa that her friends are here for her and that she’s being released.

Yeraa is taken to the top the stairs down to the hold. Dex ascends with crown in hand as Yeraa descends. When Dex reaches the top and hands Fenmarel the crown, Fenmarel wordlessly takes it and hands it to Bercilak. Bercilak holds the blade of his sword up to the crown. From the blade comes a child’s voice, speaking in elvish.

""Unfortunate. I had hoped that the Clan of Heroes crown would prove authentic. It’s a fake," the voice of the blade observes.

Dex and Yeraa flee down the stairs and the party races for the coffin as a dozen phantom sailors pass through the ceiling and descend into the hold, their chill, ethereal blades drawn.

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Ikar the Black and the Steel Coffin

Arasinya and Sindarin return to Yeraa’s fortress, armed with the knowledge that the House Thuranni assassins brought Yeraa to Ikar’s caravan and placed her in Ikar’s steel coffin. At the gate, Arasinya demands to be brought to her statue. Along the way, she explains the situation to the guards. Once Arasinya and Sindarin reach the cell in which the statue is kept, the guards reluctantly explain that the statue cannot be used by non-goblins. The guards send for the garrison, intending to handle the situation on their own. However, Arasinya and Sindarin tap the statue and vanish, finding themselves on board their airship. Sindarin, upon examing the statue, notes that it was designed to permit goblins and orcs to teleport, but oddly, also specifically allows Arasinya and Sindarin to teleport as well.

Arasiny and Sindarin make for Ikar’s wagon. Confronted with Dex and Arasinya’s accusations, Ikar opens up the door to his backroom, shows them the steel coffin, opens the coffin’s lid and reveals that there is nothing and no one inside of it. It is completely empty. He then locks the door, orders the caravan to pack up and depart, and tells the party to leave.

Arasinya does nothing of the sort: she sits cross-legged on Ikar’s carpet and begins chanting.

Tinker strikes a deal with the bugbear scrapdealer Mock for the pieces of Enoreth in Mock’s possession. In exchange for Enoreth’s soul shard, Tinker promises 500 gold pieces and to share with Mock any knowledge he gains on how the progenitor was constructed, such that Mock would be able to build warforged of equally fine quality. And in exchange for one of Enoreth’s arms, Tinker offers to pay for Ortov of House Cannith to graft the other of Enoreth’s arms onto Mock. Mock agrees and helps Tinker install the soul shard, but the sounds of a commotion in Ikar’s wagon interrupts them before Tinker can install the arm.

The confrontation between Ikar, his guards, and the party, nearly comes to blows. Thanks to a camoflauge ritual cast by Arasinya upon the party, Bogs manages to sneak into the backroom of Ikar’s wagon. Aurora also slips into the backroom by climbing in through the window. Aurora determines that the coffin is linked to another coffin just like it, elsewhere. Assuming the appearance of Ikar, Bogs steps into the coffin and shuts the door behind him.

Meanwhile, through a combination of intimidation and bribery, Dex convinces Ikar to let the party through the coffin. However, when they attempt to open the coffin, they can’t.

Bogs tries to get out but the lid refuses to open. A rattling of chains indicates that it is chained shut. Pulling on a rope dangling through a hole in the coffin, he rings a bell and soon an elvish ghost lets him out into a hold of a ship.

Back in the wagon, the door suddenly springs open and the coffin is empty. Arasinya jumps in next, closing the door behind her.

Bogs, disguised as Ikar, informs the group of elves- some living, some dead- that a group has attacked Ikar’s caravan, searching for Yeraa, and that the battle was going badly. The bell rings, and Arasinya is let out- disguised as Maria, Ikar’s necromancer.

The elves conclude that the best thing to do would be to cast the coffin into the sea and have “Ikar” and “Maria” explain the situation, in person, to “Her Ladyship”.

Meanwhile, Aurora is having second thoughts about this coffin thing. When Tinker steps forward to go next, Mock grabs him by the shoulder, warning him:

“We just made a deal. What good will that deal be if you die? If you go through there, you’ll die for sure.”

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Yeraa's Disappearance

The next day, the party (except for Bogs) meet with a confused bugbear under a lamppost. They quickly learn that the confused bugbear is just a confused bugbear and move on to the shady hobgoblin at the edge of the square. The shady hobgoblin asks what they want House Thuranni to arrange for them. The party floats a number of ideas- mostly involving musical performances for either Yeraa or House Lyrandar.

The shady hobgoblin decides he’s had enough of these clowns and tries to leave before the terrifying gnome that is Dex convinces him to stay at knife point.

The hobgoblin insists that he can’t arrange a meeting with the assassins, nobody gets to meet the assassins. His job is just to get job information from clients. He lets slip that there are seven assassins in town and that some of them are working on a Kech Volaar “Word Bearers” job.

Arasinya has her raven familiar follow him as he leaves.

The party begins investigating their other lead: the name ‘Ikar’, spoken by one of the elf assassins. They learn that Ikar’s salvage caravan had been in town as recently as yesterday and probably left town that morning, almost certainly heading for the Mournland.

The party returns to the airship and finds Bogs waiting for them. He had spent the night in Yeraa’s fortress and had been woken early that morning by a panicked guard, searching for Yeraa. Yeraa and, in fact, eight of the nightwatch guards, had vanished during the night.

The guard took Bogs to Yeraa’s quarters, not far from his own. There were some ominous bloodstains outside her door and inside the room, signs of a struggle- bed sheets on the floor, a shattered table, and more blood.

The guard directed his attention to a narrow staircase nestled in a cavity in the wall. “Secret passage. At first we had hoped that Yeraa had used it to escape. Maybe she tried. But now we think that’s how her assailants escaped. No sign of them in the passage. It goes underground and comes out in the town. We lose the trail after that, if you can call it a trail.”

Following the passage lead Bogs to a bookshop in town. The door out into the market square looked to have been forced open from the inside. After that, there didn’t seem to be much of trail to follow.

After Bogs tells them of all this, the party returns to the bookstore to investigate. Dex interrogates the shopkeeper, who tells her that the store is owned by the Wordbearers and that Yeraa’s secret passage was designed to be used as an escape route for Yeraa in emergencies. The store is locked but not guarded during the night. Furious at his failure to keep Yeraa safe, Dex leaps up onto the counter and levels the old goblin with a blow to the head.

Aurora finds a trail of necromantic magic and dried blood leading from the secret passage, through the bookstore, and out into the market square. Finally, the trail vanishes on the far side of the square amidst a smell of burning elemental engines. Bogs learns from the locals that Ikar’s caravan, which uses elemental engines, had been parked there just yesterday.

Arasinya and Sindarin choose to stay behind to try to track down the elf assassins. The rest of the party leaves on the airship to pursue Ikar’s caravan.

Arasinya and Sindarin follow the shady hobgoblin to a pub. Sindarin decides to wait outside while Arasinya, disguising herself as the elf assassin slain by Dex, enters and approaches the shady hobgoblin, who is already drinking heavily. Falling for her ruse, the hobgoblin tells her that he is meeting with the “Wordbearer” team tonight.

Later that night, a hobgoblin approaches Arasinya, touches her on the shoulder and tells her to follow, speaking in elvish. Outside, Arasinya meets up with four other hobgoblins, who all speak to her quietly in elvish. They inquire after how the Clan of Heroes job went and inform her that the Word Bearer job went perfectly, and add, with a laugh, that no one will be seeing Yeraa again.

The elves lead Arasinya to the stables. She waits for the elves to be distracted with mounting their horses before unleashing her lightning on them. Sindarin, running to her aid, helps fight them off. Arasinya knocks one elf unconscious and the other three, realizing the battle is turning against them, turn invisible and flee for their lives.

When the captured elf regains consciousness, Arasinya demands to know where Yeraa is. The elf refuses to answer. She cuts off one of his fingers. The elf mutters something in elvish and bursts into flame. Grabbing a bucket from the stable, Arasinya douses him in water. Sindarin keeps handing her buckets of water as the two of them keep the elf alive. Screaming in agony, their captive admits that they placed Yeraa in Ikar’s coffin before finally Arasinya cuts his throat and lets his body burn to ash.

Arasinya and Sindarin return to Yeraa’s fortress, intending to use the teleportation statue to get to the airship.

Meanwhile, the airship has arrived at the caravan. The party had decided to pose as customers. Dex and Bogs are having a chat with Ikar in his cabin while Aurora purchases books from a bugbear that smells like cheese. Tinker is loading a large, broken engine onto the airship with the help of the bugbear Mock. So far, no sign of Yeraa, but in the room behind Ikar’s cabin, lurks a steel coffin.

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The Return of Muffy

In the chapel of the Kech Ghalraac fortress, the party confronts Muffy, who is kept in a box on the altar. By confronts, I mean, attempts to interrogate, with the notable exception of Dex, who mostly just throws shards of obsidian at Muffy and laughs.

Muffy is evasive. She tells the party that she is merely one of the many spoils that the Kech Ghalraac claimed from Drynn’s citadel and that she now serves the Kech Ghalraac faithfully. She advised the Kech Ghalraac to return to the surface as the “time was right to reclaim what once was theirs”. The party warns Torrm, the druid elder, to be wary of Muffy’s advice and intelligence.

Dex tries using her connection to the Coat of Eyes to sense if there is anything strange, and realizes that she can feel the heartbeat of every orc and goblin of the Kech Ghalraac. All of their hearts beat as one, in perfect synchrony.

Leaving the fortress, the part makes camp by the airship. Studying the crown, the party determines that it is a fake, with only the power to make goblins more persuasive and to glitter brightly.

Dex and Arasinya travel back to the camp where Arasinya had left the elf spy, but discover that the Kech Ghalraac barghests have reached the camp first. The elf seemed to have escaped, but with the barghest on his trail and travelling on foot, it seems his chances of survival are slim to none.

Returning to the airship, the party discovers Yeraa and several of her guards waiting on deck. Yeraa used the statue she gave Arasinya to teleport from her home to the airship. Yeraa is pleased with what the party has learned and decides to call a meeting of the clan leaders in the capital to discuss the threat posed by the Clan of Heroes.

Yeraa and her guards touch the statue and vanish. Arasinya and Sindarin try to imitate, with no success. Bogs gives it a try and vanishes as well.

Arasinya contacts House Thuranni and arranges a meeting for the next day. The party (with the exception of Bogs) spends the night on the airship. During the night, Tinker studies the statue and learns all its secrets.

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