Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Seekers of the Ashen Crown, Part 9

Freeday, Reaping 7, 552 CY (50 AN)

The next morning, the group awakens. After breakfast, they continue onward toward Six Kings.

After some walking, they find the area where Captain Kalaes indicated the Wordbearers can be found. A white outcropping of rock leads the group to a cave nestled among the tall cliff faces. A band of hobgoblins and goblins meets the group; by their look, they are likely the Wordbearers. They look displeased.

A female hobgoblin — clad in chain with a bastard sword slung across her back — appears to be the leader. She assesses the group, frowning, as anonther hobgoblin among them — by his tattoos and rapier, he is likely Tikulti, the Citadel’s doppelganger agent — whispers to her. She finally addresses the group, offering to purchase Ashurta’s Blade and send them on their way.

Among Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Emma, Peren, and Torinn, they determine that she does not wish to appear weak by accepting aid, nor does she wish to leap into things hastily. They convince her that they can aid her with their strength of arms and knowledge, and they further suggest that accepting their aid would not be weakness, but wisdom.

She ultimately agrees with their argument, and Tikulti suggests that the groups should bond in the amalorkar, a sporting ritual combat. The groups agree and the hobgoblins and goblins begin padding their weapons for the engagement. Tikulti shows the group how to pad their weapons as the leader, Yeraa, prepares a circle with magical ash. The rules are that a fighter loses if he or she loses consciousness, is pushed from the circle, or is struck without quickly returning the blow. The first side to win five bouts is the winner.

The groups prepare to field their champions for ritual combat. Torinn faces Yeraa, and after an arduous battle, manages to strike her without her returning the blow. Bosabrieln next faces Akitani, a female goblin barbarian. She swiftly charges at Bosabrieln, who loses when her strike disrupts his concentration, preventing him from returning her strike with his magics. Emma spars Govaan, the little goblin they saved on the road to Six Kings, and though he is a skilled rogue, he eventually cannot return her strike. Peren faces Jezirpa, who waits for Peren to come to him. Peren charges him, and though he does not knock the hobgoblin warrior from the ring, he does manage to interrupt his strike with one of his own, defeating him when he cannot return the blow. Bezaldooz engages Murdaak, a hobgoblin mystic, who is swiftly defeated when Bezaldooz hits him with a Magic Missile empowered by his orb — the waves of fear send Murdaak fleeing from the ring. Finally, Peren faces Ulkuuz, another hobgoblin warrior. This time, he charges at him and knocks him from the ring.

With the group having won five bouts against the hobgoblins, the hobgoblins are quick to accept such skilled combatants. Yeraa is more reserved, but proceeds to explain that they wish to enter in the caves and tombs beneath Six Kings through the cave behind them. Yeraa expects to find an obelisk which will transport them deeper into the caves. She hopes to use this obelisk so the Wordbearers can travel deeper into the caves and find Lurtaan’s cord. Meanwhile, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Emma, Peren, and Torinn will seek Zaarani’s solitaire in the upper passages, hopefully clearing a path to the Moon Pool. This should neatly also provide a return route for the Wordbearers and the others to return to the surface together.

After the day’s battle, they agree to camp in the small pass in the shadow of Six Kings. Bosabrieln does speak with Yeraa about bardic lore, as Yeraa sang while fighting Torinn, and the others mingle with the hobgoblins. Yeraa also gives the party a sending stone to stay in contact throughout the caverns.

The next day, everyone awakens, eats breakfast, and begins to penetrate the caves. After clearing some rock falls, the party arrives in a larger chamber containing four large, communal sarcophagi and a large, central obelisk covered in runes. The runes are Goblin runes. The groups fan out to investigate, determining from nearby pictographs that the obelisk is indeed a teleportation obelisk. Bezaldooz also determines that the obelisk is tainted with necrotic energy, and that activating the obelisk will likely have ill effects on both sides of the teleportation effect. Yeraa agrees, saying that the stone does seem tainted with dark energy, but that they still plan to use it — and since it appears to only work for goblins, the other group cannot use it. After exchanging farewells and allowing Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Emma, Peren, and Torinn to take positions, Yeraa touches the obelisk, chants, and the hobgoblins and goblins disappear.

Amidst the rubble and debris in the room, old bones clatter to life as a surge of dark energy escapes the portal. The area is suddenly filled with the din of battle. Clamboring goblinoid skeletons manage to pummel on Bosabrieln while a fast, shadowy skeleton casts globes of dark energy at Bezaldooz. Despite the swiftness of their attack, everyone has relatively defensible positions and manages to hold their ground. As skeletons fall, the group is able to move and breathe a little more easily. Finally, Emma stops attacking with her mace and blasts of holy energy, instead moving into a central location and calling upon the power of Pelor to smite the undead creatures. Goblin skeletons crumble while the larger skeletons are frozen in place. Peren and Torinn engage the survivors while Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln throw their magics at the survivors. Emma moves into melee with the shadowy skeleton, and the fight ends swiftly.

After the group has taken a moment to rest, they contact the Wordbearers through the sending stone and establish that they have teleported to room deeper in the complex. It is tainted with dark energy and they fought several ghouls, but everyone is fine at the moment.

Content that all is well for the moment, the group prepares to press forward.