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

Demise

An ominous clattering heralds the arrival of a heap of skulls and shattered bones shaped crudely into the form of a man. An ancient, rusted sword is clutched in a haphazard assemblage of too many finger bones. In goblin, the apparition calls out for vengeance against the defilers of his tomb. The wrathful ghost of Ashurta joins the party!

With a burst of wind and a clap of thunder, Arasinya drives back the ghouls and engages Demise in a duel of magic- Arasinya’s storm against Demise’s clouds of poison. Maltassar Bogs is struck down by Demise’s dark magic, and his still living body becomes a puppet under her control, joining the fight on the enemy’s side.

Meanwhile, at the far end of the tomb, Professor Gydd Nephret successfully struggles free from her bonds. The other captive, Sprott, is, however, too well tied. Without a blade to cut him free, Gydd makes for the exit of the tomb without him, but apparently comes under Demise’s spell before she can escape, and like Bogs, begins to attack the party.

After a lengthy battle, Demise’s ghouls are slain and Demise herself is badly wounded. Cornered by a vengeful ghost and an equally terrifying gnome, Demise decides to flee. Using the pentacle she prepared beforehand, Demise attempts to call forth a portal to escape. Thinking quickly, Dex dumps the contents of her water skin onto the pentacle, causing the ink to run and disrupting the spell. Demise attempts to run for the doors, but is felled by Ashurta.

Tinker frees Sprot form his bonds. Sprot, overcome, breaks into tears. He informs Tinker that his brother, Bearing was killed by the Emerald Claw in Greywall and Sprot was captured because they hoped he would have the knowledge to aid Demise in reassembling the crown. Gydd was being held for similar reasons, as the university’s expert on the ancient goblin empire of Dhakaan. Free of the magic that was compelling her to attack the party, Gydd quietly slips out the door of the tomb.

Ashurta reveals that he knows how to perform the Rite of Arkantaash, but would prefer to share it only with Yeraa. When he hears of Yeraa’s death, he suggests that the crown could be used to revive her. He thanks the party for helping him exact vengeance against Demise, who defiled his tomb, defeated his guardians, broke every bone in his skeletal body, and left him in a heap atop the pile he keeps of his defeated enemies’ skulls. As a last request before returning to slumber in his coffin, Ashurta asks that Dex place the head of Demise out in the antechamber, on what’s left of the pile.

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