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

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.


MatthewKelly MatthewKelly

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