With the knowledge of Demise’s desire to perform the Rite of Arkantaash in Ashurta’s tomb, they return to the kruthik caves.

They follow the familiar tunnel leading to Ashurta’s tomb until they see light emanating from the crypt’s entry chamber. Ahead, they hear voices. “We’ll gather these animates to guard this entrance with you,” says a raspy male voice. “Then I will rejoin Demise to prepare for the ritual.” “Aye, Jaenus,” says another male voice.

A willowy male elf with a stylized skull tattoo on his face stands among kruthiks that have oozing wounds on their bodies. He bears a rod of black bone. Two heavily armed and armored humans stand nearer your entry point, their tabards and shields marked with the symbol of the Emerald Claw.

Encounter 28: Swarm Reanimation
Jaenus, Demise’s apprentice
2 Emerald Claw stalwarts
2 kruthik young zombies
3 weak kruthik zombies

The players move on to the next room. The iron doors at the end of the stairway are open to the lit room beyond them. This room is little changed since your last visit, except all the bones once in the alcoves are 8one. The fiendish statue is lowered into the floor, leaving the passage to the inner tomb open. Two Emerald Claw knights flank that doorway.

A black skull floats silently in an alcove, shadows dancing around it like smoke. A sallow doppelganger with Tikulti’s dark armor and rapier lurks in an alcove. A horned female humanoid with dark skin and darker leather armor skulks in an alcove, short flamelike blade drawn.

Encounter 29: Dark Lantern, Indeed
2 Emerald Claw stalwarts
Emerald Claw fireblade assassin

Tikulti makes a run for it, but is slain in the southern passage. Tikulti’s items include a +2 false blood amulet. Alain puts this on and assumes Tikulti’s appearance. The characters quickly plan their entrance into the next room, knowing that it is the main tomb room.

Encounter 30: Final Demise
Gydd Nyphret, dreadclaw soulbound
4 Skullborn ghouls
4 Skullborn zombie husks

Alain, as Tikulti, bursts into Ashurta’s Tomb room, yelling to Demise and the other enemies about the PCs in the next room that just attacked him. He positions himself behind one of the ghouls as the PCs run into the room, ready to attack.

Ashurta’s tomb is changed only slightly since you last saw it. No bones linger in the alcoves; instead, they are piled around the northern doors. Mummified corpses with Aereni tattoos lean in a few alcoves.

The immense statue remains in the center of the room, but a silvery circle of arcane symbols surrounds it. Demise stands to one side of the circle, clutching her black staff Several hunched, ashen corpses tattooed with Aereni designs stand between you and her. They bare fangs and flex their clawed hands as they eye you hungrily.

“Welcome,” says Demise.

“Thank the Host you’ve come,” says Gydd in a hoarse voice. Her hands are bound to Ashurta’s sarcophagus. She looks haggard and ill-treated. “Get me out of here!”

Gydd isn’t herself. She has hollow, milky eyes and a subtly feral look. Her flesh peels, exposing bone and clawed hands.

The characters have no choice but to kill them all, including the now evil and undead professor. There is no saving her.

Once defeated, they find Demise has +1 shadowdance robes and a staff of ruin. They loot the rest of the room, take all the ritual items and the Ashen Crown pieces Demise possessed, and leave the tomb, hopefully for good this time.

The crowd is thinning out as the Goblin Market begins to shut down. Then Tikulti’s voice suddenly comes through the sending stone. “The orb is found and taken,” he whispers. “We are making our way back now.” The doppelganger tells them there is no sign of danger below ground.

The players spot a familiar face in the distance. Demise is here, in dark leather robes, watching them with a thin smile. Nearby, three gnolls dressed in scale armor cackle as they charge forward. Whispering, two small humanoid shadows flit from near Demise toward you.

Encounter 25: Hated Face
Claw doppelganger darkmage
3 Graywall gnoll mercenaries
2 filching wraiths

Alain and Rick pursue the doppelganger and kill her, finding that she is not the real demise. During the fight, the wraiths steal the ashen crown necklace from Gennal and deposits it with Tikulti in secret, without the players’ knowledge.

They hear scraping from behind the screen of their market stall, signaling the safe return of Yeraa and the other seekers. “Friends!” shouts Yeraa, her voice ragged.”We have returned.” The Word bearers emerge into the stall, clearly worse for the wear. They are stiff and ill at ease. The Dark Lantern agent, Tikulti, isn’t with them.

Although the seekers wear the seeming of life, the players see shredded flesh clinging to exposed bone. Oversized claws extend from their gnarled hands. The creature that looks like Yeraa is not as they remember her. Darkfire traces her twisted form. Noticing your piercing gaze, mocking laughter racks her and she attacks.

Encounter 26: Dark Betrayal
Yeraa, dreadclaw darkliege
5 goblin dreadclaw reavers

Tikulti grabbed the orb and the circlet after he killed the Wordbearers, but didn’t take their other items before he set them on the PCs. A search of the corpses finds Yeraa’s +2 resounding bastard sword (level 7 item), Govaan’s +2 leather armor (level 6 item), Yeraa’s journal, and some gold.

Yeraa’s journal, a well-worn, leather-bound book, contains Yeraa’s notes on her quest for the Ashen Crown. It also describes the failure ofthe first Wordbearer team (one survivor) in Ashurta’s tomb, and the fact that “tomb robbers” stole Ashurta’s blade.

Her later notes speak of the PCs. The records are poetic, describing persons and deeds, and flattering. Yeraa also records that she plans to learn and perform the Rite of Arkantaash in Ashurta’s tomb, which is a holy site of ancient Dhakaan. The journal notes that Tikulti knows and approves of the choice to use Ashurta’s tomb – he seemed pleased and thoughtful when Yeraa suggested it.

In the book, Yeraa records how she met Tikulti in Rhukaan Draal, the capital of Darguun. It’s clear that she admires the knowledgeable and brave hobgoblin in more than a professional way.

Furthermore, Yeraa’s book includes the names of her contacts in Sharn, Graywall, and Darguun. Prominent among them is a trusted advisor, the seer Huugan of Rhukaan Draal. She planned to carry the completed Crown back to him.

The group then uses the sending stone they still possess to contact Tikulti, now aware of his betrayal. He responds, “The endgame approaches, and you still have something I need. I’ll take what I have to my comrades in Sharn. I think you’ve met my ladyfriend and her Karrnathi pawns? Anyway, play along and chase me if you have the guts. It should be interesting, at least, since I’ll be able to talk to Kalaes first. I wonder which of us he’ll believe in the end? I suppose you’ll have to find me and force me to confess. That should be fun. Of course, you could just hand over the Crown pieces. We’ll contact you when you get to Sharn.”

The PCs return to the airship to get back to Sharn. They lift off into clear skies, quickly leaving the town of Graywall behind. They head east across the sprawling plains of the frontier toward the pass between the Graywall Mountains.

They cruise just below the clouds, passing over the gloomy landscape that abuts the mountains. Suddenly a dragon plummets through the clouds, pulls up sharply, then hovers above the forecastle deck. The crew panics and scatters.

“Give me what you carry – all valuables and food. That will be sufficient tribute for me to allow you to live,” says the dragon. It snarls, and its mouth and horns dance with lightning as it lands on the deck.

Encounter 27: Sky Robbery
Blue dragon sky bandit

Defeated, the dragon retreats, though Gore tries to run off the deck to jump onto him to finish the job. He is stopped by his party members and their cries against it. They tell him how the Queen and the Dragon Riders have sent them on this quest. So killing a dragon would be a very bad decision. It could be come a Rider’s Dragon someday.

Upon their return to Sharn, the characters find they are not well-received. But the shopkeeps still take their business. They meet with Kaleas briefly to report and try to persuade him they are not against him and that Tikulti is the betrayer. Kaleas doesn’t seem to care either way. He just wants the crown. He says that whomever brings him the crown, he shall believe to be true.

Graywall passes below them, a sprawling mass of stone buildings and canvas workers’ shelters obscured by the smoke of wood fires and furnaces. The wall that surrounds the town shows signs of recent and ongoing construction. To the west rise new buildings; to the east are great quarries where stone is cut. Ahead,your destination is the foreign quarter, called the Calabas – or, as the locals refer to it, “the Kennel.”

Graywall has nothing resembling an airship dock, so Kordanaa moors above the House Orien enclave in the foreign quarter, where Delan has allies. Further, the Graywall Orien enclave can’t afford to turn away the Kech Volaar’s business.

Yeraa tells the PCs of the final missing component of the crown, and of the Wordbearers’ plans for retrieving it. “Dhakaani ruins are the deep foundations of Graywall, and it is there that our seers say Murkoorak’s orb lies. Rumor and legend place it beneath what has become the Calabas. Now, the circlet will show us the way.”

Emerald Claw agents have been spotted in the foreign quarter in recent days (though the PCs see no sign of them). Demise was here for a time, but she teleported to Sharn a day ago by way of the Orien enclave.

For the better part of a day, you walk the foreign quarter with Yeraa and her best seekers, as the circlet allows her to subtly sense distance and direction to the orb. In the end, they find themselves led to great public plaza. This is the Roar, named for the House Tharashk dragonne statue at its center.

Yeraa stops suddenly in a space between two tents. ”This is it,” she whispers, but when you look around, she taps her blade on the cobblestones. “Below. Two hundred feet or so. The orb is buried here.”

The PCs and the Kech Volaar must find some way to conceal an archeological dig they are about to undertake in the middle ofthe Roar. By night, the plaza becomes the Goblin Market, a great bazaar where monstrous races and humanoids rub shoulders and nearly everything has a price. The noise and chaos ofthe market gives the PCs and the Wordbearers the cover they need. The PCs use Yeraa’s idea and set up a market stall over the site ofthe dig.

By arriving early, the party lays claim to the spot Yeraa identified, quickly setting up the stall to obscure the dig site from all sides. The seekers already have the cobblestones pried up from the ground as other stalls begin tofill the space around them.

The Kech Volaar are experts at excavation, digging swiftly through six feet of grave! and dirt to find a cracked slab of blood-red stone. With pry bars and rock hammers, the seekers force an opening, revealing a five-foot-wide shaft heading directly down. The light of a shrouded lantern shows a rough rock wall laden with handholds and footholds.

Yeraa’s plan is for the Wordbearers to descend while the PCs hide their activities. She points to the PCs’ sending stone. With such an easy means of staying in contact, she has no fear of being ambushed below without access to help. Although Yeraa needs the circlet to find the orb, she does not object to leaving the cord with the characters for safekeeping.

Beyond the passage leading north from the goblin caverns, a 20-foot drop leads to a damp cave.

The party stands on a plateau above the floor of a wide cavern, looking out over a dimly lit chamber to the east. A small flight of stairs leads down on the far side of the chamber. In the center of the area beyond the stairs, a straight-edged, octagonal pool gives off pale silver light. A large group of undead creatures, all oblivious to your presence, is revealed in this bright illumination. A creature lingering by the far edge of the pool appears to be the leader of this foul crew. It occasionally speaks and sways, the others watching it closely like a rapt and macabre congregation. A gleaming golden gem hangs around the lead creature’s neck.

Encounter 22: Moon Pool
deathgaunt madcaster
2 deathgaunt lashers
deathgaunt drover
2 deathgaunt spiners
5 deathgaunt hordelings (H)

The gem that the madcaster wears is Zaarani’s solitaire. A search of the pool turns up some gold, a polished amethyst, and a pair of fist-sized moonstones that are carved with intertwining patterns and glow slightly. The deathgaunts threw these valuables into the glowing pool as offerings.

The Kech Volaar appear at the other end of the room, beyond the moon pool. Yeraa and her seekers have had a harrowing journey through the caverns beneath Six Kings. Although they were able to obtain a component of the Ashen Crown (Lurtaan’s cord), the goblins were less than thorough in eliminating the foulspawn and the restless spirits that guarded it. As a result, retracing the PCs’ route is the safer way out.

The journey out of the mountain is uneventful. The PCs show Zaarani’s solitaire to Yeraa; her reverence for the item is clear. Once both groups are outside, Yeraa orders the remaining seekers to scout ahead while she talks to the party. Yeraa has something to say, but does not want to do so in front of her followers.

She has had a change in attitude. Once her followers are out of sight, Yeraa offers an apology for her earlier suspicion. She admits that the PCs have proved the truth of their convictions by demonstrating bravery in facing Six Kings and recovering Zaarani’s solitaire.

Yeraa makes a formal declaration of alliance with the PCs. The town of Graywall, where the last piece ofthe Crown is hidden, is the Wordbearers’ destination. Yeraa says the Kech Volaar would be honored to have the party travel at their side.

Undead approach as the PCs finish up discussions with Yeraa.

From ahead comes a skittering of loose rock. Yeraa looks up, then quickly draws her sword with a snarl. Shambling up the path before the party are five of the Kech Shaarat hobgoblins you fought earlier, their mutilated bodies risen as horrid zombies. In the forefront is the dead BIadebearer leader, a scimitar clutched tight in his bloody hands.

Encounter 23: Dead Enemies
Chib Naersaar, bladebearer zombie
4 hobgoblin zombies
2 goblin zombie archers
3 zombie rotters

The Emerald Claw is the obvious suspect for having raised the Kech Shaarat warriors as undead, but any search of the surrounding area shows no sign of the Claw’s presence.

Yeraa is anxious to discover why her scouts didn’t return, leading the party along a side trail running up and around a low peak. There, the PCs not only find the Kech Volaar well, but they make a surprising discovery.

A dilapidated airship floats moored to the cliff face by a tight web of ropes and lanyards. The name “Kordanaa” graces its prow in faded black letters. The crew is a mix of humans, goblins, and hobgoblins, including a half-elf at the helm with the Mark of Storm on his forearm.

Yeraa is relieved to see that no harm has come to the seekers, but Tikulti reports that they and the crew drove off a Claw attack just minutes before. Although no lives were lost, alchemist’s fire arrows damaged two of the airship’s struts. Yeraa tells the PCs that Kordanaa has come from Graywall to pick them up. Now, that trip is delayed.

Delan, a taciturn House Lyrandar exile, leads the friendly twelve-person airship crew of Kordanaa. The captain has worked for Yeraa and the Kech Volaar for about a year now. From the crew, the PCs learn that the lower decks contain the crew’s quarters and the barracks for the Kech Volaar seekers and the PCs, converted from old cargo space.

It takes a day for the ship’s crew to make repairs, during which time the party realizes that the Emerald Claw’s tactics weren’t designed to seize or destroy the ship, but to damage it. From that conclusion, the PCs deduce that the Claw’s purpose was not to prevent their journey to Graywall, but to delay it.

The party knows that Demise and her agents have not given up their search for the Crown.

Goblin Slaughter

The party awakes to the faint sounds of moaning and cries for help. Rick opens the door to the main chamber and sees a small man lying prone in a small pool of blood. He approaches with caution, prompting the man for his name and situation. The halfling responds that his name is Cael and he’s been separated from his group. They were attacked by fowlspawn and he barely escaped with his life. He doesn’t appear to have any weapons other than a quarterstaff. Rick offers the man some basic first aid to staunch his bleeding and asks how he managed to escape. Cael says he’s a wizard and was the last into the room filled with fowlspawn, attacking from the rear of the group. One of the fowlspawn managed to get ahold of him and rendered his wounds before Cael could retaliate and kill it. Rick confers with the group and they decide to assist the halfling and let him come along with them through the caverns.

With a new member in the party, they set about deciding what door to open and traverse deeper into the caves. They decide to take the eastern door. A flight of stairs once descended 20 feet to a rough cavern beyond the door, but these have collapsed beneath a fall of rubble from the ceiling. Beyond this rocky slope, the rough stone walls are blackened as if by fire, and patches of rust-colored moss dot the smooth stone floor.

The darkness ahead is briefly broken by a flickering light like that of a candle. A ghostly figure of a goblin warrior appears, beckoning you to approach. The ghostly goblin’s face is a mask of pain and yearning, showing signs of a fiery death. Beneath that yearning, they sense a dark malevolence.

Encounter 20: Burning Vengeance
Goblin flame vent haunt
2 goblin fire phantoms
Fire bat
Flame vent trap

Throughout the battle, flames shoot from the vent in the middle of the room, harming the party members who stand  near it. The fire bat is stirred from its rest only when the flame vent trap first activates. It uses fiery swoop to attack before ending its move within the area of the flame vent trap, which it does not fear.

When the other combatants are dead, the party goes after the fire bat, attacking it with ranged abilities as much as possible, until Sabraxa finally throws an axe at it. And misses. And the axe gets stuck in the wall under the bat. They finally kill the bat and retrieve the axe.

The reenter the chamber in which they slept, and open the western door. They go down a staircase and the path widens. A wide, slow-flowing river divides the cavern they are in from another chamber to the west. On the opposite shore, a pale goblin in filthy skins crouches at the edge of the water. When it sees you, the creature hisses, drawing a pair of stone knives from its belt as it fades back into darkness.

Encounter 21: Lost Clan
Deep goblin curser
3 deep goblin stoneblades
6 deep goblin wretches

They cross the river and Cael casts a light spell to illuminate the cavern. The goblins fight to the death as long as the goblin curser is alive. As soon as the curser is killed, the remaining goblin stops fighting and tries to escape. The party runs him down and interrogates him. They find out that the goblins were until mind control by the curser and that they’ve just killed his entire clan. They let him go and he runs off into the caves. The party turns back and loots the bodies.  The deep goblin curser has a gold necklace with red garnets and 2 potions of healing. He also carries an ancient book with the Gentle Repose ritual in it. He has some residuum as well.

Fowlspawn Fiesta

From the passageway ahead comes the sound of distant combat. The clash of weapons rings out over shrieks, some in Goblin, others in a guttural tongue.

This huge chamber appears to have once been a barracks. Bones and debris are scattered across the floor, as are the rotted remains of what might once have been furnishings and weapons. Rotted purple draperies hang at intervals, some of them obscuring a number of stone benches. In the center of this chamber, a group of ghostly goblins engages in melee with a trio of hideously deformed creatures that have four arms and two mouths on their goblin-like bodies.

Bands of rusted iron seal these stone double doors. The massive mummified corpse of a creature that looks like a flayed ape with huge hands stands before the doors. A dusty spear is rammed through the corpse and into the crack between the doors.

Encounter 18: Barracks Brawl
Goblin Ghost Boss
2 Goblin Phantoms
3 Dolgrim Warriors

Alain steps into the room and surveys the battle. He critically succeeds in being stealthy and is unnoticed by the goblins and dolgrims. He lines up his target, the warrior in the middle, and shoots a faming crossbow bolt at him. The fire explodes on contact, setting the surrounding creatures aflame. Five creatures die screaming and burning in Alain’s flameburst of doom. The room now has one goblin and a bunch of flaming piles of ghost. Rick steps up next with his bow, still catching the remaining goblin by surprise, and misses. With the help of the team, the last goblin is defeated.

Some of the wealth of the warriors and explorers who died here over the centuries is scattered about the room. A search reveals a bone battle horn filigreed with gold hanging on the wall, and a broken game case and board on the floor. Scattered around the board are 20 bloodstone playing pieces and some gold.

The spear in the western door appears aged until it is pulled out of the door and the dust falls from it, whereupon it gleams with a dark hue. It is a +2 vicious spear.

They exit the area to the north. The cavern ahead is bisected by a rubble-strewn bluff. From beyond the downslope comes the flicker of torchlight and the echo of harsh voices.

Below the slope, the cavern opens northeast to a narrow fault passage and northwest to a set of open double doors. Prowling the darkness ahead are two deformed creatures like those you encountered earlier. With them is an enormous hulking foulspawn, its flesh glistening pink as though its skin has been flayed away.

Encounter 19: Foulspawn Scouts
3 Dolgrim Warriors
Dolgarr Berserker

After some ranged attacks from her teammates, Sariel jumps down the hill, somersaults in the air, and lands perfectly. Everyone stops and watches her with awe, then gets back to fighting each other. The berserker hurls Sabraxa at Rick, knocking him down and crushing him with the dragon. The Dolgaunt keeps grabbing the players and holding them with his tentacles with suction cups of doom.

Finally they break free and defeat the monsters. They exit the room to the east into a long skinny passageway.

Foulspawn Berserker
Foulspawn Seer

They lure the monsters back into the main room, attacking at range when possible. It is a long and arduous battle, with Gennal healing people so much that eventually they’re overflowing with health and practically barfing rainbows. Gennal also casts consecrated ground and puts it under the foulspawn. It follows them as they move like a holy hoover of death. With all of that, they defeat the foulspawn and rest in the lockable chamber for the night.

The cave mouth opens into a dark passage descending steeply as it follows a northward path inside the mountain. After about 80 feet, the tunnel dead-ends; two massive rubble falls have resulted from the collapse of the ceiling. Yeraa knows that the area the goblins and the PCs seek lies beyond the westernmost rubble pile, which can be cleared with an hour’s work. After they open the passage and move through the narrow tunnel heading west, a cavern opens up beyond the corridor. Veins of purple byeshk ore gleaming in its walls. To the northwest, you can see another narrow passage partly blocked by rubble but still passable.

”An ancient tomb lies this way,” says Yeraa, pointing in that direction. “Within stands the obelisk portal my seekers shall use to go deeper into the Six Kings’ vaults. You’ll go your own way from there, so we can all get home more quickly.” 

A rough-floored tunnel gives way to a large chamber. You stand among the rubble of its collapsed southeastern corner. The walls of this place are smooth dark stone, the ceiling arching 30 feet overhead. At the center of the chamber stands a six-sided obelisk. Dusty runes mark the structure’s sloping sides, its top rising to within 10 feet ofthe ceiling. Around it stand four other open hexagonal structures – broken and looted communal sarcophagi, judging from the bones and other remains littering the floor around them.

Yeraa steps close to the obelisk and says, “Saa’atchal” The weathered runes flare with a dull gray light.” Watch yourselves…” the goblin leader has time to bark; then she and all the Kech Volaar disappear in a blinding pulse of white. At the same time, shadow pools across the floor of the chamber. Skeletal remains here and there assemble quickly and rise. “Saa’atcha” means “Honored to meet you” in Goblin.

Encounter: Warrior’s Tomb
Hobgoblin shadow skeleton
3 hobgoblin skeletons
8 decrepit goblin skeletons

After the battle, through the sending stone, Yeraa reports to the party that the goblins were unharmed after teleporting to a similar tomb. There, they fought a few ghouls and found an area tainted with dark energy. She also tells them that unfortunately, the obelisk’s twin at that location no longer has the power to return the Wordbearers here.

A wide hall opens into a partially collapsed chamber, its southern extent buried beneath rubble. To the southwest, they glimpse an area with worked stone walls. The crumbling of this chamber revealed another level below. The floors and walls of the upper level are stained black as if by fire. A half-dozen dusty skeletons are strewn across the floor.

Encounter: Shattered Hall
2 force specters
Shadowseed hazard

The party takes a passage off to the east after clearing the room. A dozen strides ahead, a faint light rises, then forms into the shimmering figure of an armored, blade-wielding goblin in the passageway. The creature hisses at you, its face twisting to a skeletal leer as its flesh peels away. With a hiss, the phantom dives into the floor and is gone.

The irregularly shaped cavern ahead of you is a blaze of color. The steady drip of water is audible, coming from somewhere nearby. Gleaming veins of purple streak the walls, and the cavern’s floor and ceiling feature stalactites and stalagmites. Within those tapering stone columns, aarim scene presents itself. Like an image seen through fog, goblin bodies are trapped within murky crystal, their hands outstretched and their dead eyes wide with horror.

Encounter: Stone Ghosts
Deathgaunt madcaster
Deathgaunt lasher
3 goblin phantoms 

Two rubble-choked exits lead away from the lower section of the cavern. Each of the passages is blocked by a 5-foot-high fall of rubble. Only one creature can work within one of these narrow tunnels at a time, but both are easily cleared with 10 minutes of work. When the characters are halfway through the process of clearing the rubble from the passages the sound of combat is heard from ahead.

Plains have given way to a rocky woodland. The trees were once cut back from the road, but theforest has crept closer to the cobbles in intervening years. The Graywall Mountains loom in the distance, and on the mountains’ northernflank are the towering figures of the Six Kings. You notice that the foliage on the eastern side of the road ahead is disturbed, showing that more than half a dozen heavy or heavily laden booted humanoids passed into the woods here. They tried to cover their tracks. A thicket covers the forest floor in many places here. Sinister armored figures lurk among the trees, a cowled humanoid among them. Lightly armored warriors with bows also skulk in the foliage of the treetops.

Steel flashes, and armored warriors emerge from among the trees. They are clad in tabards emblazoned with the symbol of the Emerald Claw. A large human in plate, his dark beard hanging under his helm, holds his halberd aloft. “Leave none alive! For the glory of the Emerald Claw, their deaths shall serve our cause.”

Encounter: Emerald Claw Ambush
Captain Warrik (W)
Emerald Claw necromancer
Emerald Claw knight
2 Emerald Claw scouts
3 Emerald Claw troopers

During the encounter, they spot a face among the leaves of the forest – the broad, orange face of a hobgoblin warrior in dark armor. Two goblins in black leather armor creep nearby, watching the battle. They flee once they are spotted.

When only one remains, Sariel and Gennal interrogate him. He knows only that Demise plans on allowing the PCs and the Kech Volaar to acquire the Crown fragments. Then she plans to somehow steal those pieces. Captain Warrik didn’t trust her to succeed.

Among the loot found from the bodies, they find that Captain Warrik’s plate armor is magical and he carries a potion of healing. Sariel dons the armor, being the only one who can even lift it besides Sabraxa, who claims she has enough armor from her dragon scales.

The party arrives at the foot of Six Kings. A faint path winds up the mountain’s slope and slips between two low shelves of gray stone. As you crest that rise, you see figures ahead – armored goblins, all with weapons drawn. This war party is not the Kech Volaar seeker team that Captain Kalaes described to you in Sharn. These goblins bear the weapons and icons of the Kech Shaarat – the Bladebearers, a Dhakaani clan.

The lead hobgoblin is a bulky brute in battered black leather armor, a pair of notched scimitars slung across both shoulders. “I am Chib Naersaar. Saw you ambushed by Claw, eh? Goodfight you put up, for weak paleskins. Claw not Kech Shaarat, though. You leave maps, notes on Arkantaash. Flee back to the city with your small lives, or lose them here.” The party refuses to give up their notes on the Ashen Crown and prepares for battle.

Encounter: Bladebearer Standoff
Chib Naersaar
Bladebearer hobgoblin
2 Bladebearer sharpshooters
3 hobgoblin soldiers
2 hobgoblin grunts

The Bladebearers are fervent believers in their own martial supremacy. All fight to the death and the heroes march on.

They find the landmark that Captain Kalaes said to watch for. Beneath the third king, an outcropping of white stone points the way to a dark cavern. As you approach, figures emerge from hiding among the rocks. This band of goblins and hobgoblins resembles those that Kalaes described – they must be the Wordbearers. They don’t look happy to see you.

A frowning hobgoblin female in chainmail, with a bastard sword slung across her shoulders seems to be the leader. Another hobgoblin in dark leather whispers to her, giving you a meaningful look. From the tattoos on this hobgoblin’s face, and the bejeweled rapier he carries, you recognize him as the doppelganger Citadel agent, Tikulti.

The leader steps forward and speaks in a deep, feminine voice. “I am Yeraa, leader of these Kech Volaar seekers. Arkantaash belongs to goblin kind. Six Kings belongs to goblinkind. Name your price for Ashurta’s Blade, which I believe you have acquired. Then leave this place, and if you desire peace, do not return .”

They refuse to sell her the blade and try to convince Yeraa they’re on her side, without revealing their true mission.

Yeraa speaks again. “It is written that the destiny of Arkantaash is bound to those who seek and find its scattered fragments.” Behind Yeraa, Tikulti steps forward. “These folk have claimed Ashurta’s blade, and they have shown courage, honor, and forthrightness in their actions and in treating with us. Before we join in this quest, let us bond in spirit with the amalorkar.”

Amalorkar is a Goblin word that roughly translates as “honor fight.” The goblins prepare for this competition by padding their weapons for nonlethal combat. Tikulti coaches the PCs on how to do the same, and explains to them how an amalorkar works. Meanwhile, Yeraa prepares the amalorkar ritual circle.

Yeraa pulls a bag from her pack, opening it to slowly pour ash on the ground. On the flat bluff outside the cave, she spends several minutes outlining a wide circle of ash, open on the north and south ends. As she completes the circle, the ash flares and gives off a ring of thin smoke.

The PCs must now prove their worth to the Wordbearers in order to fulfill the Citadel’s mandate.

They win 4 of the 5 battles. The Kech Volaar greet the PCs’ victory with enthusiasm. To them, the characters’ right to join in the search for the Ashen Crown has been sanctioned by the spirits of Six Kings. The goblins treat the PCs as allies.

Though the other Wordbearers are friendly to the PCs, Yeraa remains aloof. She discusses business and of the possible dangers of the dungeon. “Hard to say what we might find there. Spirits still defending ancient halls from foulspawn. Lost goblin clans living in the darkness for five thousand years. Many bold warriors go into the caverns beneath Six Kings, looking for weapons or glory. Not so many come out again.”

Yeraa reveals that two Crown components are said to be deep within Six Kings, close to a magical location called the Moon Pool. Time might have changed this fact, and nobody can know if some monstrous force now has the items.

Yeraa explains to the PCs that she plans to use an obelisk that she knows is inside a chamber near the surface of the nearby cave. She thinks the obelisk should open a portal deeper into Six Kings. By using it, she and her seekers can go into another level where Lurtaan’s cord is hidden. At the same time, the PCs can seek Zaarani’s solitaire in the passages closer to the surface.

Yeraa gives the PCs one of a pair of sending stones. She keeps the other one and asks them to keep in touch intermittently by using the stone.

Road to Six Kings

With preludes and preparations out of the way, the PCs board the Lyrandar airship Eminence. On board, they have no duties. The trip north consumes one uneventful day. After they land at Ardev, they set off on the Orien trade road leading northwest.

From around a curve in the road ahead, they hear raised voices. On the road, three humans have captured a dark-skinned, tattooed goblin and are questioning it. Based on Captain Kalaes’ description, the party can tell the goblin is of the Kech Volaar. Although these humans are dressed as hunters or scouts, they wear cloak brooches that mark them as proud knights of the Emerald Claw.

Encounter: Emerald Claw Scouts
5 Emerald Claw scouts
Govaan, Wordbearer goblin

Sabraxa and Gennal stay with Govaan while Sariel and Rick interrogate the last Emerald Claw scout. He reveals that the Emerald Claw works for Captain Warrik and Demise. Demise ordered them not to interfere with those seeking the Ashen Crown. They don’t know why, but they know that Captain Warrik disagrees with Demise about this.

Govaan is unusual in that his skin is dark brown, mottled with lighter orange-brown. He is bound and bloodied. Saying only what he must in a reserved manner, he claims to be a mercenary returning to Ardev after a pilgrimage to Six Kings. They press and discover that Govaan is a Wordbearer scout trailing his comrades to report pursuit and other dangers. Govaan is unwilling to accompany the PCs, since that’s not his job. When they release him, he gives them a silver Dhakaani necklace.

They continue along the road. The plains here roll along, intermittently covered in thick scrub. In this region rocky spires, some flat on top, also rise from the grassland. In the distance, from the direction they’re traveling (northwest), they hear horns blaring. Those horn calls aren’t Brelish. They sound like war horns of Droaam. They probably belong to raiders who are preying on far-flung ranches and farms.

A hint of smoke on the breeze catches the party’s attention. Crouching low atop a wide stone spire amid some boulders, a single gnoll watches the road. The party approaches stealthily and circumvents the monsters to get behind them. A hulking minotaur blocks the road. Just behind it is a gnoll in chain, its khopesh and shield ready. Dried blood stripes the minotaur’s scale armor, shield, axe, and hair. The gnoll has similar decoration, along with piercings and ritual scars. Two leather·clad orcs lurk among scrub thickets to either side of the road. A small fire burns to the west of the road, heating a rough cauldron and giving off a thin plume of smoke. A human head sits next to the blaze. Seeing this, Gennal and Sariel can’t just move on without making them pay for murdering a human. Pelor demands retribution for evil.

Encounter: Turakbar Toll
Young Turakbar minotaur raider
Gnoll Mockery priest
Turakbar gnoll hunter
2 Turakbar orc marauders

Other than mundane equipment, the gnoll priest’s magic holy symbol, and gruesome trophies, the raiders carry gold and various jewelry. The minotaur also has a tiny ivory box intricately shaped like a stylized dragon skull. Inside its red velvet enclosure is more gold.

Apartment Hunting

The party receives a note from the professor the next day.

I’ve made a terrible mistake. Lady Dannae Ulyan is, I fear, not who she claims to be. She could be a threat to even those as resourceful as you. I’m afraid for my own safety, so I’ll be leaving Sharn tomorrow if possible.

Before I go, I want you to have copies of all my notes and tell you all I know. I’ll be spending the day preparing for my departure. Please meet me tonight, at 8 bells, at my apartment: Shava House 19. We’ll talk more then.

The attached key is to a wall panel hidden behind my bed’s headboard. I’ll keep what I mean to give you there until I meet you again. Use the key if something goes wrong. If I haven’t seen you before I leave, I’ll try to get the information to you somehow.

Gydd Nephret

They head to her apartment that night, in a thunderstorm. They find her door is slightly ajar.

Encounter: Postmortem
Skullborn Deathlock Wight
2 Skullborn Rotwing Zombies
3 Skullborn Zombies

Alain finds a crumpled note near the professor’s desk. “Dannae is Demise. Why Emerald Claw?” Gennal investigates the wall panel in the loft bedroom to find a note about Dannae and her servant Jaenus being members of the Skullborn – elves who practice dark necromancy in reckless pursuit of immortality. There are other notes on the Ashen Crown that the party already knows. Gydd’s notes mention an ancient goblin belief, shared by the Valaes Tairn elves, that either fate or the Crown itself dictates who comes to possess it.

The party goes to Captain Kalaes to get more information, collect new equipment, and ask for reinforcements. They are granted a shield for Rick, Catstep Boots for Alain, and heavy discounts at the city’s merchants. He also tells you to go by the barracks and see who will accompany you on your quest, and to tell that person that they will be compensated for their time in the form of their regular salary plus a bonus upon quest completion.

The alchemist gives them discounts on poison phials and and lesser healing potions. Rick hits up the enchanter for a weapon enchantment upgrade. The stable gives them cheap supplies for the horses. Then they stop by the barracks, looking for the biggest and strongest warrior they can find. Many soldiers are occupying the barracks, milling around, arm-wrestling, and other assorted mindless activity. However, there is a large dragonborn in the corner, reading a book.  The party exchanges glances and heads toward her. They greet her and she introduces herself as Sabraxa. They describe their quest, and diplomatically request that she join them, at the behest of Captain Kalaes. They tell her that the Captain has said she’ll be compensated for her helping them. She puts down her book and agrees, beginning to pack some things into a backpack.

The heroes, now including Sabraxa, return to the Captain to get their final orders and because Sabraxa wants to verify their story. The Captain does verify they are truthful and the she will indeed be compensated. Sabraxa requests a note with the city’s seal to be able to prove to important people they are who they claim to be, and not on the Empire’s side. The note is also written on special paper that changes to be completely benign when not read by those intended to see it.

Kalaes tells the party they will be going to Ardev in west central Breland by airship, then to the ancient goblin monument of Six Kings in the northern fringe of the Graywall Mountains. The town of Graywall is the unofficial gateway between civilized Breland and the anarchy of Droaam, but those who frequent the western reaches of the Brelish frontier know that civilization holds little sway within sight of the mountains. The road northwest from Ardev resembles any other Orien trade route.

« Older entries