Earthday, Wealsun 13, 552 CY (50 AN)
After gathering themselves following the last kruthik assault, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Emma, Peren, and Torinn investigate the chamber and determine that the egg chamber lies down the tunnel adjacent to the tunnel they entered. They establish an order and start moving.
After stooping and crawling through tunnels, they come to another open chamber. This chamber is filled with slime and kruthik eggs, as well as the skittering of tiny kruthiks. They note that something shiny hangs off a mucus sheet, and several adult kruthiks are hiding in the chamber. As Torinn steps into the doorway, the creatures rush forward to attack.
Only one makes it close enough to attack Torinn, but it manages to block the party in the entryway. Despite the swarms of kruthiks before them, Torinn manages to clear a path, and both he and Peren make their way into the chamber to confront the hive lord. Bezeldooz, Bosabrieln, and Emma hang back to provide support.
The battle is unexpectedly brief. Most of the smaller kruthiks are quickly destroyed, but the hive lord and a flying kruthik remain, as does a swarm of small kruthiks. As they focus their attentions on Torinn, the others manage to use the distraction to their advantage, handily ending the kruthik threat. The group then makes its way through the chamber, destroying all the eggs they find, but keeping one so that Bezaldooz can deliver it to the university. They also find a small, protective talisman — the shiny object hanging from a mucus sheet — as well as a torn pouch containing two healing points as well as 2 gold pieces and 38 silver pieces.
Convinced that they likely ended the kruthik threat and found all that was valuable in the tomb complex, the group moves through the kruthik tunnels until finding the entrance chamber. As they move to leave, however, they hear quiet voices ahead.
Peren scouts ahead to peek into the crumbling basement which intersects with the tomb. He sees five hobgoblins — four in leather armor armed with shields and longswords, and the fifth in scale armor and armed with shield and spear. Three, including the spear-fighter — who appears to be the leader — ride on bipedal, reptilian creatures recognizable as Clawfoot mounts.
Peren retreats to notify the other party members of the group, and after contemplating trying to find another exit, they decide to confront their foes.
The strike is sudden and decisive. As the group fans out in the room, they hammer the hobgoblins. Several die within seconds, and one of the Clawfoots is similarly killed in the melee. The boss turns to retreat, and a second (now riderless) Clawfoot turns to run with the pack. Peren charges in pursuit, hoping to capture a live Clawfoot to use or sell. The rest of the group follows and a well-placed magic missile, courtesy of Bezeldooz, kills the hobgoblin leader. However, attached as he is to the stirrups and saddle of his Clawfoot mount, his lifeless body is dragged out of the building as the Clawfoot runs away. The second, riderless Clawfoot is successfully knocked unconscious and captured alive. Bosabrieln attempts to calm it as it awakens, but it tries to attack him and the group is forced to knock it unconscious again.
The battered, dirty, slimy group drags their unconscious Clawfoot around in an attempt to appraise it. Asking around, they learn that a Clawfoot can fetch 680 gold pieces, and they determine the location of a stable that deals in Clawfoots. Bosabrieln returns to the inn so that he may bathe before the meeting, while the others wait to deliver the Clawfoot.
The group meets at the stables and Bosabrieln explains the situation to the Stable Master, offering to sell the Clawfoot. The man says that it is injured and obviously somewhat vicious; given the work he would have to do to make it sellable, he’s only offering 50 gold pieces for it. Bosabrieln talks him up to 60 gold, and the group accepts the deal.
Returning to the Rusty Razor inn, the group goes to clean up and rest while Bosabrieln regales the inn with tales of their adventures in the tomb complex. Everyone in the tavern is suitably impressed, and the barkeep offers them the day’s room and board for free.
The group then spends the rest of the afternoon drinking in the tavern, along with some gambling and general merriment.
The next day, the group awakens and goes downstairs to the tavern for breakfast. While discussing what they should do now that they don’t have any gainful employment, a messenger — likely a college student, by the look of him — arrives, looking for them. He indicates that a professor with Morgrave University, a woman by the name of Professor Gydd Nephret, would like to talk to the adventurers about the recently-discovered goblin tomb. They agree to meet her later, and send the student on his way.
A little later in the day, the group travels to the Morgrave University campus to find Professor Nephret. After asking around, they find her in a plaza near Shava House, the campus dormitories. A charming, bubbly, young half-elf, Professor Nephret introduces herself and introductions are made all around. She expresses scholarly interest in their findings in the goblin tomb. They explain what they found — that the tomb was dedicated to someone named “Ashurta,” that the complex was honeycombed with kruthik tunnels, and that it was guarded primarily by undead. Professor Nephret explains that Ashurta was one of the great goblin warchiefs in this region, long ago — probably just after the Dawn War, on the edge of prehistory. Ashurta, along with Karruuk, Lurtaan, Mukoorak, and Zaarani, controlled pieces of a legendary artifact called the Ashen Crown. She also explains that the journal they found appears recent — Bosabrieln explains the goblin corpses and how it appeared that there was a recent battle. Professor Nephret asks if she may keep the journal, which the group allows, and she further asks if she may examine the sword Peren carries. He agrees, though when she asks, he does not let her keep it. She finishes by asking if they may meet in two days so they can further discuss this discovery and her findings; the group sets a meeting for her apartment at Shava House, and they part ways.
The group spends the rest of day resting for the first time in a little while. Bezeldooz takes some time to research gnomes at the campus library, though he does not really find anything he did not already know. Bosabrieln similarly returns to campus, though in his case, he plays some music for the students and spends the night at Shava House with a young boy he meets.
The next day, the group notes that Bosabrieln did not return to the inn last night, and speculate on the matter as a rather out-of-place man of military bearing enters. He salutes and indicates he is a representative of the Citadel. He presents an official document and says that Captain Saj Kalaes wishes to meet with them later in the day, around the third watch. The group agrees, and the man directs them to the Citadel, indicating that they should also inform their fifth member of the development. He bows and leaves.
The group considers this development, and when Bosabrieln enters, they ask what he has done. He indicates he has done nothing to draw Citadel attention, so what have they done. However, they ultimately determine the meeting would have likely gone differently if they were in trouble.
Finally, they make their way to the Citadel in the afternoon. They are greeted by a gnomish clerk, who checks their appointment and summons Captain Kalaes. After a bit of waiting, Captain Kalaes enters, an older man with a facial scar and military bearing. He summons them to a meeting room and invites everyone to sit.
He explains that no one is in trouble, that he merely wishes to discuss their findings in the goblin tomb complex — namely, the artifact they found. That sword is part of an artifact known as the Ashen Crown, and it is being sought by a goblin faction known as the Wordbearers. Unlike the tribal goblins on the plains, the northern goblins are vaguely organized, forming the city-states of Darguun. However, they are torn by factionality; the Citadel and the noble houses of Sorgforge hope to stabilize the situation by throwing their support behind the Wordbearers, as the Wordbearers are the most moderate faction of goblins. If their rule is legitimized, Darguun may become a more civilized place. However, before this can occur, the Wordbearer’s rule must be legitimized. To this end, they are seeking the Ashen Crown; as an artifact of the ancient goblin empire of Dhakaan, it establishes a connection to the goblin kings of old. The Wordbearers are seeking the components of this artifact. He also explains that there is no payment; service is its own reward, but a boon from the noble houses of Sorgforge can have certain benefits. He then says that he will refrain from explaining more until the group decides if they want the job. He leaves them to discuss.
After a bit, he returns, and the group has decided to accept the job. He explains that the Wordbearers know the group has the artifact, but they figure they can collect Ashurta’s Blade once they have the other components. Presently, they are headed to the goblin monument of Six Kings, near the city of Greywald, hoping to seek two of the components that rest there. The group is to offer their aid in recovering one of the artifacts, though they are not to reveal their allegiance to the Citadel. They may develop whatever cover story they wish. The Captain also explains that they know all this from an agent on the inside, a doppelganger named Tikulti. He indicates that they will travel by merchant caravan to Vonseloth, and then cover the rest on foot. The caravan leaves in three days, and the Citadel can cover the costs of any equipment they need before the mission. The group agrees to meet back at the Citadel in three days.
As the group leaves, Bezeldooz takes the opportunity to speak to the gnome at the front desk. He learns that the gnome lived in Vonseloth before moving to Sorgforge and joining the city-state’s military.
The group then rests for the rest of the day, considering what to do next and what they may possibly discuss at the following day’s meeting with Professor Nephret. As night draws near, the group decides to make friends among the local bar patrons. Peren and Torinn go to bed alone, though Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln both find partners for the evening. Emma, in typical fashion, does likewise — though rather than carnal pursuits, she manages to convince a new friend for an impromptu sleepover.