Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Seekers of the Ashen Crown, Part 14

Waterday, Reaping 12, 552 CY (50 AN)

Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Emma, Peren, and Torinn prepare to go into the hallway beyond the lowered devil statue. They leave Tikulti tied in an alcove, throw a cloak over him, and sneak along the passageway.

Peren sneaks ahead and listens at the door. Soft chanting is heard, and they recognize Demise’s voice.

The group tries to stealthily open the door, but the bone piles around it give them away. Ashurta’s tomb is as before, although a series of silvery runes have been painted on the floor surrounding the central honor statue in the room. Demise stands next to the circle and welcomes them, while Professor Nephret — who is tied to Ashurta’s sarcophagus — shouts to them. They see four rotting corpses standing in the far alcoves while three rotting corpses with tattoos, fangs, and claws stand between them and Demise.

Demise starts by launching a toxic cloud where the group stands, forcing them to flee the cloying, poisonous vapor. Torinn and Peren tangle with the ravenous undead in melee, while Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Emma hang back. They are inevitably caught by the toxic cloud as it moves, forcing them to separate.

A fourth clawed, ravenous undead emerges from an alcove to flank Torinn. Those who are scratched by them find that their extremeties numb and they are unable to move.

Professor Nephret frees herself and makes a dash for the exit — and then she doubles back to claw at Torinn, apparently having been slain and raised as an undead monstrosity.

Torinn decimates the ghouls and zombies with his axe, while Emma holds them at bay with holy power. The Nephret-thing falls quickly before this onslaught. As Bosabrieln steps forward to challenge Demise, he starts slinging spells at her, but her magics are mighty and she drops him where he stands. Her poison cloud similarly sends Emma into unconsciousness, who was unable to flee as she was paralyzed by a ghoul.

Thinking quickly, Bezaldooz conjures a ghostly hand of energy to grab Bosabrieln’s last healing potion and deliver it to Emma. As she awakens, she prays and returns Bosabrieln to consciousness.

As the last of the undead is destroyed and the warriors are no longer paralyzed, they turn their attention to Demise.

Peren lashes at her quickly, but she is much too swift. However, the combined onslaught of the five adventurers is too much, as she is beset on all sides by blade and spell. Finally, she assumes a ghostly form and flees, bolting for the exit. Peren charges after her, and smacking her with the flat of his blade, he brings her low.

Quickly, the group strips her as they did Tikulti, finding the remaining Crown components of Karruuk’s Circlet, Lurtaan’s Cord, and Murkoorak’s Orb. The group also takes some ornate artifacts she has, and Bezaldooz determines her robe and staff to be magical. He takes them.

The group rests and returns to the puzzle room to find Tikulti awake and attempting to free himself. The group knocks him out again and after covering the pair with their cloaks and tying them up, they march them back to the Citadel. They also retrieve Professor Nephret’s body and take her back to the Citadel as well.

The group arrives at the Citadel, and they meet with Captain Kalaes. His guards take Demise, Tikulti, and Professor Nephret’s body. The Captain then addresses the group, thanking them for their service and reiterating that the matter will be investigated by the local magistrates and justice will be served. He further asserts that he would like the Ashen Crown to be delivered to the Wordbearers. Bosabrieln explains that the Lost Children of Nebelun may have some contacts, and Captain Kalaes is about to ask them for assistance in the matter when his gnome secretary enters the office.

The gnome explains that someone is here to see the Captain, and when the Captain tells his secretary to explain that he is busy, the gnome responds by saying that the travelers claim the matter is urgent and that they are expecting that the Captain is speaking with a party of adventurers. They also wish to speak to these people.

He beckons them to enter.

The gnome leaves, returning with two robed humanoids. One, clad in white, priestly vestments and bearing a holy symbol of Pelor around his neck, is a grandfatherly old human whom Emma recognizes as Abbot Aelius of the Temple of the Guiding Light in Jepson. The other, clad in dark robes that reveal his chest and arms, is a humanoid and lank, dark hair streaked with white. He is lean and somewhat muscular, and his left arm is wrapped in bandages from shoulder to fingertips, then wrapped in an iron and mithril chain, and then wrapped with a leather thong attached to a box on the back of his left hand. The initial impression is that he is a drow, although he does not look wholly correct; some recognize the telltale signs of a shade, a human who undergoes a ritual to bind his or her soul with shadowy essence. Bezaldooz recognizes him as Adeptus Gloomblight Spellweaver of the Wizard’s Tower in Jepson; Adeptus Spellweaver is not a member of the faculty, instead operating as a groundskeeper and the Keeper of the Vault, the Tower’s storage for dangerous artifacts.

Emma and Abbot Aelius exchange greetings and hug before he introduces himself to the group. He then defers to Adeptus Spellweaver, who introduces himself and presents a letter of marque from Duchess Jepson, indicating that their business is official. He then explains that transporting the Ashen Crown should be unnecessary; the artifact, as many are, is sentient, going where it wants. It is the destiny of these adventurers to hold it for a time before it moves on, in which case it will go where it needs to be.

Captain Kalaes defers to this wisdom.

Gloomblight Spellweaver then explains his other purpose for contacting the group. The Duchess Jepson has two jobs for them; the payment for the first is the offer of the second. The first job entails the recent rise in kobold raids in the area. Apparently, a group of kobolds have formed a cult around a white dragon, Vilustuminen the White, who recently moved to the area. This dragon is known for the extensive burn scars across his body, leading the group to suspect that it is the same white dragon they met on their first day of hunting goblins.

The kobolds are apparently based out of the Caverns of the Ebon Maw, a series of caves in the base of the Hoarfrost Mountains.

The second job, which will be explained further, involves the rise of weird monsters in the Black Moor swamp. In addition to the strange creatures attacking Duchy Jepson’s northern steadings, these creatures are pushing the bandits in the Black Moor south.

These two problems have forced Jepson to evacuate the farms to the north, bringing the citizens within their walls.

The group accepts and Adeptus Spellweaver indicates he will remain in town no longer than two weeks, giving them time to prepare. He will be staying at the White Nymph Lodge if they seek him.

Abbot Aelius then addresses Emma, saying that since she has traveled and grown, he has determined she is old enough to accept this gift. He gives her a letter and tells her to find him before he leaves tomorrow.

With no further questions, Abbot Aelius and Adeptus Spellweaver take their leave. The group does so shortly thereafter, and Captain Kalaes indicates he will communicate their success to the town’s noble houses and get everyone in contact.

The group returns to the Rusty Razor, and over a meal, they discuss their future together. Bosabrieln brings up the prospect of determining a name for their adventuring party, and they finally agree on his suggestion, henceforth calling themselves the Shields of the Sorrowfell.

Emma also shares the contents of the letter, evidently a letter from her parents, and by Abbot Aelius’ description, found with her when the temple found her as a baby. The letter addresses her as Valna, and explains that there village is surrounded by goblins and their kin, which seem content to starve the village out rather than attack. Before the elves attack as a last resort, Emma’s mother plans to cast a spell to send her to a place of safety.

Strangely, while describing this, Peren has a fragment of memory from when he was very young, a time of strife in his village and a forced march with goblins before his slavery. He doesn’t mention anything.

Emma asks that the Shields of the Sorrowfell now refer to her as Valna.

Later that evening, Valna has dinner with Abbot Aelius, and he explains that some of the acolytes took to calling her Emma in an attempt to divorce her from her tragic past, but again, since she has become older and traveled, he felt it was high time to give her the letter.

The next day, the Shields are eating breakfast at the Rusty Razor when Seldalerya enters the tavern, carrying a rucksack over her shoulder. She explains that Zorphen sends his regards, and that Zelazadda wished to send them some things. She gives Bezaldooz a copy of the formula for smoke powder, Bosabrieln a copy of the Sending ritual for his book, Valna a set of oinments and incense for religious rituals, and says Peren and Torinn can fight over the musket. Torinn takes it, the bullets, and the sample of smoke powder that is sent with it. She wishes everyone well before leaving.

Some people do a little shopping at the market, and after some discussion, they decide to meditate with the Crown pieces in Ashurta’s tomb so that they may learn the Ritual to restore the Ashen Crown. The next day, they return to the goblin slums and spend the next five days in the tomb. Despite the stifling conditions and the odd dreams, they remain and Bezaldooz copies and performs the Rite of Arkentaash.

With the Ashen Crown whole, they decide to use it to resurrect Professor Nephret. Calling upon their noble connections to provide components for the ritual, the group obtains Professor Nephret’s body from the Citadel, takes her to her apartment, and Peren performs the rite. She awakens an hour later, surprised and bewildered but alive. The Shields of the Sorrowfell explain what has transpired in her absence before leaving.

The Shields of the Sorrowfell then continue about their business before leaving for Duchy Jepson.