The Broken Crown

Wrenn’s Story: An Orc Baby

Wrenn sat cross-legged and deep in thought. The woodland glade he faced housed a small shrine to Melora, where his family had worshipped for generations. On the other side of the clearing a pair of children were playing together, at around 8 years old they were already taller than Wrenn – half orcs grow a lot faster than gnomes.

The pine cone that the children were kicking around suddenly sailed over towards Wrenn and his small pile of books and papers. He smiled at their worried faces – his reputation as a loner combined with the wild imaginations of youth had lead to rumours: “Don’t go near that Wrenn, he’ll set the animals on you” or “That Wrenn’ll put a curse on you if you touch his books”.

Leaning over, Wrenn picked up the cone and tossed it back towards the children. They watched pensively as it came to a halt by their feet, then quickly ran away. He Laughed to himself. The half orc children in Benklur were especially superstitious, no doubt they were off to tell their friends how they had narrowly avoided being cursed.


Wrenn snapped back to the present. The piercing noise of an infant filled his ears, the chaos around him interrupting his reverie. Almost in slow motion he saw Enna draw her blade and Gethman’s fists start to glow.

A dozen possibilities flew through Wrenn’s mind as he realised what Enna’s intention would be with the child, something he could never let happen. He could not live with himself if he turned away and did nothing; he knew he could get to the child but there was no way he’d outrun the ranger; and despite their disagreements, he wasn’t sure if he could bring himself to kill her. Would it come to that? Yes. In defence of a child, an innocent.

With his hand drifting to his rapier, he was stopped by Jason’s voice – the more calm voice that was reserved for dealing with situations like this. What had Wrenn been thinking? His instinctive response would have led to a blood-bath. He followed suit and adopted Jason’s diplomatic tone.

“Enna, there’s not a threat here – let’s put away our weapons.”

It took some convincing, but between them the group diffused the situation. Wrenn was surprised when Salzar took the initiative and removed the baby from the equation by flying it away. He didn’t fully trust the warlock, but almost anything was preferable to Enna slaughtering the child in front of them all.

As she sated her bloodlust by killing an unarmed prisoner, Wrenn turned away. He found himself wishing they were on any other quest; one that didn’t involve orcs at all. He looked up in time to see Helge slowly backing away into the forest, nobody else seemed to have noticed. The look on the young man’s face told Wrenn everything – he was horrified.

Feeling a surge of respect at Helge’s principles and sadness that he might never see him again, Wrenn gave a nod. He hoped that his friend wouldn’t judge him too harshly; right now he wanted to join the monk and escape this madness, but he owed Jason a life debt. Wrenn would never tell him that, but he knew that one day he’d get a chance to pay the dragonborn back.

Wrenn took a deep breath and came to a resolution. He would reconsider his life once the debt was paid, perhaps the Lord Protector could find a more scholarly way for him to carry out his duties. In the meantime, it might be possible to do some damage limitation regarding Enna.

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Episode 10 recap

Salzar picks up the screaming orc infant. He instructs his raven-formed imp familiar to carry it to Grenscombe, there to leave it to be raised by the inkeep Stead. Meanwhile, Jason and Wrenn restrain Enna, while Helge slips off into the forest, disgusted at his friends’ conduct regarding the child.

The heroes continue north before they decide to finally turn east into the forest proper. It soon becomes clear they’ll have to abandon their horses in the soft undergrowth and broken terrain of the woods. They tether them together and leave them to walk the road. They trek confidently through the forest for some time, oblivious to the fact that they are quickly becoming lost.

After a few hours, they come across a set of bootprints, heading perpendicular to the direction they are going, which they believe is east. While Enna is inspecting the footprints, Salzar hears a high-pitched whine deeper in the forest. The adventurers resolve to follow the footprints, while Salzar’s familiar flies to inspect the noise. Some time later, it sees an alluring blue mote of light, which soon drains all life energy from the imp, severing the psychic connection to the warlock.

The party soon lose the trail, but not long after, stumble straight into the Obvious Goblin Ambush. True to form, they quickly dispatch the assailants, leaving the last member alive for questioning. Despite the goblin’s lack of Common vocabulary, he advises them that using the Broken Crown talismans won’t fool anyone, and only the (now very dead) captain knew the way to the stronghold – which he refers to as the Siegeworks.

The terrain grows hillier as the adventurers travel north, and the forest thins out somewhat. The afternoon draws on, and they spot a stone building in the distance; Enna senses two very strong orc-signals. They stake out until evening, spotting shapes moving along the walls but no other movement. At twilight they begin their assault, which quickly goes pear-shaped when they come under ballista fire, nigh-mortally wounding some of the party. Nevertheless, they reach the wall and successfully hide flush with it.

The Siegeworks is low and flat, roughly square in plan, with a three-story tower in the northwest-corner. Part of the southern wall is collapsed, and so some of the party clamber up it. At the top are the two ballistae, manned by goblins, but not for much longer. The rest of the party scale the walls (or at least try to). In the courtyard are two big hulking orcish creatures, who had been hauling a siege engine; Enna, with intimate knowledge of orc taxonomy, identifies them as orogs. They put up quite a fight, employing the formidable speed common to orcs to close the distance to the wall. But they prove no match for our adept monster-killing heroes.

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Episode 9 recap

Early in the morning in Grenscombe, the party awakes to commotion outside. The village is under attack by goblins, accompanied by a bugbear. Joined by two new adventurers, they drive the attackers away, but not before bard Seren is almost taken out by a well-thrown javelin.

On the road north, they notice notches carved into the signpost just outside the village, which Wrenn recognises as Orcish writing. It says MEET. Enna’s finely-tuned senses feel a large gathering of orcs, perhaps two dozen, in the hills to the northeast. The heroes decide to press on north and ignore the potentially lethal encounter.

Meanwhile, in Askor, Salzar (and his newly-conjured Imp familiar) enter the hidden door in the crypts of the Cathedral of the Pantheon. The stone spiral stairs lead down quite some way, opening out into a small chapel. Inside, cultists are already gathered, and Precept Edris conducts Salzar’s initiation ceremony.

On his way out, he employs the scrying services of an acolyte of the Raven Queen, using the lantern he “borrowed” from Wrenn to discover his whereabouts. He departs, defusing a confrontation between two factions of the city guard, and defrauds the city stables out of their fastest horse. Travelling through the Vale, he catches up to a party that greeted him on his way into the city, and discovers their leader is none other than Carlton Dragonborne, twin brother of his friend Jason. They are travelling the same direction as Salzar, towards Kirkston, but do not desire his company on the road, dubiously claiming they were on a covert mission.

The rest of the heroes march north for some time, before Enna detects a small group of orcs moving south towards them. They set an ambush, and kill most of the orcs, with Salzar arriving in the nick of time to aid them. The last orc confesses at knifepoint; there is a shortage of food in the valley, and word has passed through the clans that The Broken Crown can provide for them. They dispatch the orc, and hear a baby screaming. In a sling around the shoulder of a dead orc is an orc infant.

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Jason's Backstory - Part 1

My name is Jason Aurix Dragonborn
If you are reading this, then I am most likely dead. I wrote this note at the end of my apprenticeship – to remind myself of my purpose.
And to warn others should I fail.

I am the youngest son of House Aurix, based on the outskirts of Askor. In recent years my House rose to prominence in Askor for a variety of reasons, these mostly centering around its charismatic leader, Carlton Dragonborn. I would never proclaim to know Carlton Dragonborn fully, that’s just not possible, however I know him better than most – he is my twin brother after all. What I do know is that as of today, House Aurix only has 2 Dragonborn constituents. The books will tell you otherwise, that we number 24 strong, and that we are a small but prosperous Dragonborn family – but that was years ago. Now, all save my brother and I are dead – and I helped him do it.

To understand why this is, let me explain my beginnings. I had caring, wealthy, and well respected parents, a heritage of ancient royalty, and a twin brother who enjoyed similar interests to me – I never once needed for anything. My brother and I were educated by the best teachers Askor had to offer, befitting of only the finest Dragonborn. Additionally, we were both trained to fight with sword and shield from a very early age – a tradition in my House – and we loved it. We loved everything about battle.

We were being groomed to lead our House to a resurgence; to revive our fortunes and past glory. Our House and name had fallen in Askor, due to various incidents in recent history – these mostly self inflicted.

We had a deeply fractured family, each relation with their own agenda to lead the our once “Great House”. My father currently held the title of head of House Aurix, but for how long was anyone’s guess. What we desperately needed was stable and unified leadership, my parents hoped that one of us could help bring it.

It was at 16 that I realised I was good. I was talented with the sword and equally so with my studies. I even had some skill for the arts and most things I tried for. I knew this because I was always just a bit behind someone who was great, maybe even genius like. Carlton Dragonborn was the undisputed golden star of our family, and it was simple to see why. Whilst being just as (if not more) talented than I was, he had a natural air of confidence, coupled with a sense of ambition and quick intelligence. When we fought our regular sparring sessions, his ability to find new ways to beat me often left me tired and frustrated. Just when I thought I had caught up, he would seamlessly pull away, as if suggesting we were never really level at all.

A few months after turning 16, my father publicly announced who would lead the family after he passed away. It was of no surprise to me that he announced my brother to be the future 47th head of the Aurix House – a huge honor. The private rumblings from our extended family were expected, no surprise given there were a fair few older candidates who believed themselves to be the right fit in such a situation, but they did not publicly voice their opinions – yet. The loudest of these rumblings came from our uncle, Cadmus Dragonborn, who had served in the Askor military as a high ranking officer. He had discipline and leadership written all over him, and everyone knew it was only a matter of time before he made a move.

My brother remained unfazed throughout the saga, and it was around that point I gave up trying to better him. I now had to put the future of my House first, and if that meant playing second fiddle, then I could live with that. Honestly, part of me was glad that Carlton was getting the responsibility. He always seemed to get the result he wanted, and to get our family unified was going to be a small miracle – but one I believed he may be able to accomplish.

Nearly 3 weeks after the announcement, my parents left us to travel south on business.

That was the last time I ever saw them.

Two days into their travels, their carriage and soldiers were ambushed by a well prepared force along the valley route. News came back that there were 13 dead with no survivors, and that the whole site had been burning for an hour or two. Most of the bodies were horribly burnt by the time the first witnesses had arrived.

Upon hearing the news shortly after they had been ambushed, I was left devastated – a mere shell of my usual vigor. My brother seemed to take it all in his stride – he had to, he was now leader of our House. After discussing the details with the messenger – who mentioned the corpses were being transported back as they spoke – Carlton naturally realised that there were only meant to be 10 convoy sent along with my parents, so perhaps the extra (13th) corpse could provide us with a clue as to our parents murderers.

The extra corpse, which arrived later that night, was a lone Dragonborn with a long gash down the left side of his face. He looked to have died from multiple stab wounds, but that was irrelevant in my mind. There was only one Dragonborn I knew with a mark like that, and that was Cadmus’ son – Kalmin. Rage and fury immediately boiled within me – it may as well have been public knowledge that Cadmus would make his move for the head title, but like this? It was all too much. I needed to know – right now – whether he had ordered his son to kill my parents. Else I may well kill someone before the day is done.

As it turned out, that was prophetic.

Looking back, I didn’t realise at the time how much of a coincidence it was that Cadmus was staying at the House Manor. His own family were based a couple of hours hard ride on the outer estates of Askor, and he hadn’t had time to reach them. He had needed to travel to the city for work – but as I found out later, had been delayed – so had taken up lodging in the House Manor, as was his right.

He clearly hadn’t heard the news either, as when my brother and I came charging into his room, he was definitely surprised.

Before he could say anything, I demanded of him where his son was. Maybe the corpse we found was fake. I knew that Cadmus and Kalmin often travelled together, as they were both officers in Askor’s military. My tone obviously held some impact as he answered after a moment’s silence.

“I don’t know” he said, “he travelled down south early yesterday without fully explaining the details, but he told me he had found a fantastic opportunity for the House. In fact, he should already be home now….”

I didn’t believe it for a second, Kalmin never did anything without his father’s permission. His father knew where he was at all times. The timing of his arrival back home matched perfectly as well. Had he survived the ambush, Kalmin could have easily ridden back on his stallion to their estates by tonight.

I was about to retort when my brother beat me to it.

“Your son killed our parents Cadmus” he said. Then he smiled mirthlessly and added: “And for that we will destroy you”

I saw the panic in Cadmus’ eyes, then I saw anger. He looked at me then at my brother, as if really seeing us for the first time. And I swear – I saw the shame behind the anger.

He immediately pulled for his side dagger, but I had already drawn mine. With blind fury, I lunged and stabbed him straight through the heart.

We topled to the ground, and as the life drained from his face, he mustered up one last word.

“Used”

And like that, I started a civil war within our family.

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Episode 8 recap

The party awakes to a barracks in chaos, guards running around everywhere. A sergent hands leaflets out to the passing guards and a bell rings in the distance.

From her tree, Enna can see guards nailing posters to trees. The party meets by the east gate of the castle and decide to speak to Xander and drop off the stone of sending.

They find Xander in the king’s chamber, being sent there by a council member in the main hall. There is a sheet covering a body on the bed, and Xander explains that the king has died.

The party now has only eight days before Duke Rellis is likely to march on Ponterin and claim the throne. They are told to keep the king’s death a secret or there will be war across the Nine Kingdoms.

They leave for the stables, take horses, and ride towards Grenscombe.

Their journey is unveventful, aside from a short battle with some dire wolves. Arriving in Grenscombe, they make their way to the tavern and spend the evening there.

During the course of the evening, they take on two new party members: A young sorcerer named Gethman, and a bard named Seren.

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Wrenn's Story: Meeting Jason

Wrenn darted into an alleyway, wide-eyed and out of breath. He gave himself a moment to think, his mind was racing. He knew his best chance at survival was to climb onto a nearby rooftop – he surveyed the alley for a way to ascend. Nothing.

Suddenly the two guards, his pursuers, clattered around the corner. “Found you, yeh little shit!”, one of them yelled, his ruddy face set in a sickening smile.

Wrenn never pick-pocketed unless the need was dire: the risk of conflict was too high. This was his nightmare scenario, but he was running out of money fast in this new and unfamiliar city.

He never liked to target common people when it came to stealing, a few gold pieces missing could mean starvation for a working family, so he planned his targets accordingly. He’d first seen the young noble, his mark, two days earlier.

The man was intolerable. Wrenn observed him from a distance making note of his movements, when he was alone, his interactions with other people. He was exactly the kind of man who deserved to lose a few gold – foppish, arrogant, thinking himself better than everyone else. He was followed by two guards of his house at all times, but it should be nothing to slip past them. It wasn’t nothing.

Wrenn snapped back to the present, he ran straight towards the two guards which had the desired effect. One of them made a grab for him while the other stood slightly confused – Wrenn slipped between their legs and out of the alley, back onto the busy high street.

He knew they were right behind him. On flat ground they had the advantage of speed, being nearly double Wrenn’s height. He needed to get up high and spotted his chance: a pulley was being used to load barrels into a nearby tavern. Wrenn launched himself up onto a crate and grabbed the rope, quickly pulling himself up hand over hand. It was a moment too late.

Wrenn felt a sharp tug at one of his legs as the first guard pulled him away from the rope and flung him onto his back. He was winded. The second guard placed his worn boot on Wrenn’s chest, pain shooting through his ribs as pressure was applied. When he felt the first guard’s foot make contact with the side of his head, he saw stars, the realisation hit him: he was going to die.

He closed his eyes tight. Waiting.

The pressure left his chest as suddenly as it had arrived, punctuated by the crash of armour against cobblestone. He took a sharp breath and opened his eyes in time to see a huge scaled figure towering over him and one of the guards slumped on the floor.

The dragonborn drew his longsword in a fluid motion, the afternoon sun glinting off of his golden scales. Expertly he struck the remaining guard in the side of the head, using the pommel of his sword. The guard staggered. Before he was able to right himself, there was a blade at his throat and he was staring into the eyes of an angry dragonborn.

“I suggest you leave”, Wrenn’s rescuer threatened, coils of smoke curling out between sharp teeth.

The guards didn’t give it a second thought, they jumped up and sped away, back in the direction of their young master.

After watching them leave, the dragonborn bent down to offer a hand to Wrenn. “I’m Jason”, he said, “I imagine the town guard are being summoned as we speak – we should probably leave.”

Wrenn accepted Jason’s hand. Still shaken up from his near-death experience, he managed to stutter, “Thank you… I’m Wrenn”.

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Salzar, Alone at Last

I left the rest of the party temporarily, and am heading towards Asker to do some research on Nerull.
Met some hunters in the forest who have wisely agreed to help me, as I am quite lost.
Found a dead knight in the forest. Owlbears apparently stalk the woods, whatever they are. Owlbears, oni, and dire wolves.

I made it to the city with little problem, and have arrived at the library. Here, I have discovered two new spells.

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Lost In A Good Book: Chapter 1
Wrenn's Side Quest

Wrenn felt a weight lift as he parted ways with the rest of the group. He was enjoying their company and the change of pace from his normal research, but he’d not had much opportunity to bolster his book collection. Now he had a chance to, through a man named Devlin.

As he set off towards the North West quarter he realised it had been weeks since he last spent some time by himself. He was looking forward to it, and had been excited about his side quest ever since speaking to Content Not Found: hanalor.

Wrenn’s enjoyment was cut short when he turned a corner off of Ponterin’s market square – out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of red and a figure dart out of sight. Immediately recognising Enna, he rolled his eyes and pretended not to notice as she tried to scramble up a nearby drain pipe. If he couldn’t actually be alone, then he could at least pretend.

After a short walk, Wrenn was already lost in this strange city. He approached a pair of urchins who were chanting a nursery rhyme, hoping they could point him in the right direction.

“Hi, I’m new to this area and I need to meet someone…”, Wrenn began. “Mum says not to speak to strangers”, one of the urchins cut him off.

“Erm, I’m looking for some directions then I’ll be on my way”, Wrenn said, caught off-guard. The street kids in Geflesh were a lot more cheeky and he’d been preparing himself for that. “I’m looking for a man named Devlin”.

“Oh you don’t want to speak to Old Man Devlin, Mum says to stay away from him”, said the second boy. Deciding to change his tact, Wrenn replied “Then you’d better tell me where he lives so that I don’t accidentally bump into him!”

“He lives in the half derelict house down that way”, replied the first urchin, pointing down a side street. Chucking a copper coin their way, Wrenn continued on.

Almost reaching the western wall, Wrenn found the house that must be Devlin’s. It sat in a quiet corner, ramshackle and in dire need of repair. Deciding to approach this head-on, he strode up to the door and knocked, listening for movement inside. After a minute of waiting he peered up through one of the windows but could make out nothing through the grime – there certainly wasnt a fire or lantern inside.

Wishing he was under the cover of darkness, Wrenn made a circuit of the house, but couldn’t find another entrance aside from a small hatch on one of the back corners. He’d normally consider climbing through, were he alone, but knew that Enna would make a joke of it if she saw him.

Feeling a little defeated, he made his way back around to the front door and banged on it, harder this time. After a moment a croaky voice answered. “Yeeees?”.

Pausing for a second, Wrenn asked “Is that Devlin?”. “Depends who’s asking”, came the response. The man who must be Devlin spoke slowly and deliberately, almost as if he wasn’t used to talking.

“My name’s Wrenn. Hanalor told me that I should speak to you if I’m interested in buying or selling books”. Another moment’s pause, while the man on the other side of the door seemed to carefully consider Wrenn’s words.

“Hanalor wouldn’t have told you to speak to me, because I don’t sell books. I’ve got plenty of books but they’re mine”, came the slow reply.

Wrenn, not sure how to proceed, said, “I see, erm, and you don’t want to part with any of those books?”. “Why would I? They’re mine” answered Devlin, seeming confused at the prospect of parting with his possessions.

“Agh Fuck”, Wrenn muttered to himself under his breath. He’d need to change his tact if he wanted to get anything out of this interaction. “Can I maybe come in?”, he tried, “If you’re not willing to sell any then maybe you’d be interested in reading some of my books, then possibly we could swap?”.

“Barter?” was the simple reply.

“Something like that”, smirked Wrenn. “Got my eyes on you”, warned Devlin.

Wrenn wasn’t feeling great about the exchange so far, and was starting to worry about this old man. He didn’t know what he was expecting when he came here, but this certainly wasn’t it. “…maybe I’ll come back another time”, he ventured.

To Wrenn’s surprise, Devlin response seemed more keen, “Sure you’ve got nothing I want?”. “What do you want?”, Wrenn quickly replied – glad that his time might not have been wasted after all.

“There might be something, I’d have to bring you inside to tell you…”, croaked the old voice. Before Wrenn could answer, the door swung open as if of it’s own accord. Against one of the back windows Wrenn could make out the silhouette of a man. Cautiously he approached, more courageous knowing that Enna was nearby.

As he entered he was immediately aware of how squalid the single room was, everything was in disrepair and it looked like it had been this way for a long time. Along one wall was a huge bookcase, filled with old tomes, but Wrenn’s scanning of them was cut short by the sound of the door blowing shut behind him.

For a moment, in the light of the door, Wrenn had seen the man, Devlin. He had a gaunt and sallow face, with sunken eyes. He looked ancient and thin, as if the smallest nudge might push him over. Now he was plunged back into darkness.

“You mentioned a barter?”, said Wrenn.

A pause, while Devlin seemed to think deeply, “There is something I lost once”, he began, “Something I’ve not seen in a long time. Something out of my reach but, perhaps, within yours.”

“Is that a short joke?”, asked Wrenn, all-too-familiar with his party’s propensity for jokes at his expense.

“Have you been to the town of Grenscombe?", Devlin asked, ignoring Wrenn’s question. Surprised, Wrenn replied “It’s funny you should ask, it’s my intention to head to Grenscombe soon.”

“I lost something there once”, Devlin said thoughtfully. “What did you lose?”, Wrenn quickly asked – glad that the conversation was leading somewhere finally. Devlin, troubled, murmered “a trinket really, a drinking cup.”

Seeing where the conversation might be leading, Wrenn decided to speed things up a little, “Do you know where you lost it? Or how you lost it?”. “The game of dice poker isn’t for the unlucky. I had much to lose.”

“Who did you lose it to?”, asked Wrenn. “So long ago I can’t remember… She probably wouldn’t live there any more anyway.”, replied the old man. “Well maybe I’ll see if I can… what does it look like?”, Wrenn queried.

Thinking for a moment, Devlin closed his eyes as if picturing his lost treasure. “Ornate. It’s silver, jewelled with glass beads”.

Interrupting him from his reverie, Wrenn tried to clarify some details, “OK, and you definitely can’t remember her name?”. “Who’s name, sorry?” was the frustrating response he got.

Sighing, Wrenn told Devlin, “I’ll look for your cup, then maybe if I bring it back we can talk about a trade.”. Devlin inclined his head in a nod, and Wrenn turned to open the door, happy that this wasn’t a wasted trip. He’d be back later, hopefully with something to bargain with.

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Amphibious terror

They’d been on the boat for an hour or so now, and Helge had got used to the wind and salt in his face, if not the rocking of the horizon line, which was horribly reminiscent of sea-voyage that saw him set off on this meandering journey.

He and Jason had volunteered to row the small fishing boat they’d chartered, seeing as Wrenn’s short stature made him less suited to the task, and Enna… well, Enna hadn’t offered. Jason seemed to have no problem taking a break and wielding the strange artifact the arcane institute had dropped into his outstretched but clearly nervous hands, and the party was heading off to the next segment of the bridge.

Rowing along, thinking of what interesting herbs might be growing in the crevices of the stonework that formed the gargantuan bridge that roofed their path, Helge’s reverie was suddenly disturbed by Jason pointing out an object flying way out in the distance towards the north west. He hadn’t had time to focus on it before Jason jumped up, nearly dropping his oars, barking ‘Dragon!’.

The whole party froze to watch distant, but clearly huge, leathery wings contract into the creature’s body as it plunged into an impossibly fast dive into the sea, barely making a splash.

After a minute or so they resumed rowing, silently, tensely.

Before long they began to sense a rocking in their boat. Once again, Helge was choked by fear. He had read some thing of dragons, and knew that they varied greatly in size, shape, and… temperament. The party exchanged terrified glances, and, wordlessly, Wrenn bravely peered over the side.

There was an agonising moment wherein Wrenn waited for the giant, horse-shoe shaped crest of wave to resolve itself into some indication of what was now swimming directly towards them. With a sigh, Wrenn, presumably better read on dragons than Helge himself, uttered his relief: ‘It’s ok, it’s a bronze’. Bronze dragons are known to be good-natured, friendly and inquisitive, in general, at least. Helge relaxed a little.

Jason was staring open mouthed at the dragon swimming serenely towards the boat, and then turned to Wrenn as he heard him whisper: ‘Jason, do you speak dragon?’.

‘I do!’ said Jason, as if suddenly remembering, and immediately leaned forward and shouted what was presumably some sort of greeting. The dragon returned his greeting in common: ‘Well met’.

At this point, Helge saw Jason’s smile falter for a second, as he noticed the fierce grip Enna had on her bow, and the way her eyes darted all over the dragon’s body, looking for weak spots. Jason placed a scaled hand on her arm to bring her to her senses.

The dragon spoke with amity to Jason, perhaps recognising in him some sort of kinship. He asked for news on the days fishing and related to us with moving sadness that he’d been asked to steer clear of the towns, before wishing us well and departing towards open sea, causing the boat to rock violently once again as his mighty bulk broke free of the water.

Once the party had watched the dragon shrink some way into the distance, they all relaxed and saw the relief in one another’s windswept faces, sharing a bout of nervous laughter.

‘I thought it was going to kill us’, laughed Enna, still holding her bow.

Their laughter subsided.

‘Let’s just get this done’, said Jason.

The party rowed on with renewed vigour.

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Episode 7

As Enna was dismissed from the King’s chamber after she refused to take the King’s oath she went outside the castle to meditate on a top of a tree, being noticed by guards at the gate.

Jason, Helge and Wrenn are still in the King’s chamber where now King Stendar has fallen asleep. Xander, the Lord Protector of Aarnekas, is concerned about him. He led the 3 new agents downstairs to the Council room where he told them to report to him directly. They then walked together to the Barracks where they found Amara, the commander of the guards, they all introduced themselves. She found them an unlikely lot but showed them around and told the 3 agents that they are free to use the Barracks as they please.

Xander before leaving them, pointed at a tactical map, where in the 150 sq mi Forest, some enemy forces were most likely to be close to the mines the party explored previously. It is a 2 days journey back to the mines from Ponterin. Xander gave them permission to use the stables and they could reach the edge of the forest in 1.5 days if they ride at a high pace.
Xander also made arrangements with the armory shop in town for the 3 of them so they can be better equipped for their mission. He invited them to meet the Council at the Broken Lute Inn in a hour, at 5:30pm, so they could all discuss the situation. Enna is also welcome to join them.

The armory shop

The 3 agents took their leave and went to find Enna before they headed to the armory shop. They reached it at 4:45pm. The owner is a Dwarf called Serian. Jason is very pleased with the Dwarvish sun-steel plated armor that Serian presented to him. Jason also asked for a shield and chose a deep purple semi-cylinder one with a silver emblem of Kord: a sword with a lightining bolt crossguard. Wrenn then equipped himself with a polished black leather armor reinforced with metal. Helge refused to get equipped with any armor and Enna is already well equipped.

Serian noticed Jason’s magical sword and asked if he can have a look at it. Jason accepted but was wary when Serian was holding it. The shop owner’s deciphered the runes engraved in it and told Jason its name: Bekeli. Serian opened then a very large and thick book called “the Annals of Civil War: weapons and armors”. Jason learnt that this sword passed around from hand to hand a dozen times in the last few months of the war. Serian advised Jason to study the sword and to learn on how to use it.

The Broken Lute Inn

They then all left the shop to go to the Broken Lute Inn. On arrival, Helge checked that no Orc or half-Orc was in the main room to avoid a “Enna losing it” moment. They discussed their plans for the next days around few drinks and the 3 agents checked if Enna was on board with them. They briefed her about the mission in the forest. Early morning, they will take horses from the King’s stables and ride to Grenscombe that is one day journey. Then to Kirkston the second day to get to the mines from the North. She is quite excited to help as it is most likely to end fighting and killing Orcs. But Wrenn insisted that it was a scouting mission. Helge and Jason also told her she is invited to the Council meeting with them but they asked her to be “cool”. She agreed to play along. They decided to sleep in the city and to get started first thing the next morning, As the lodging at the Inn is expensive, the 3 agents decided they will sleep later at the Barracks, Enna will happily find a tree to rest.

The council

As 5:30pm approached, they saw Xander and the other members of the Council entering the Inn and going upstairs to the master suite for their meeting. The party followed them. Xander greeted them and before further introductions took place, he had a private word with Enna, thanking her for her help and her interest in the welfare of the Kingdom. One by one, the members of the Council were introduced to the party:

The 3 agents sat down at the table, Enna standing on the back. Xander expressed his concerns that the 317 years of peace is at risk as some forces are pushing Aarnekas and Askor against each other. The priority is to find the missing princess and to provide evidence that no foul play comes from both kingdoms but from a third party. Chardan has been researching the Aarnekas line of succession and there is none other than the princess or eventually, the Duke of Rellis. Rellis is now somewhere in the desert which is difficult to find him on short notice. Xander hopes that the King’s health will not deteriorate further in the near future. The agents asked if any soldiers were sent to the Forest and if they found anything. Xander confirmed he sent a few scouts in the Grenscombe area and that he has not heard from them for several days. Not learning much that they already knew, Enna and Jason left the meeting. Before Wrenn left with Helge, Xander talked to him telepathically, warning him not to trust any messenger or raven but to use the spell “sending” instead.

The 4 of them gathered in the main room of the Inn to have dinner. Wrenn shared with the others the exchange he had with Xander on the new spell to learn. The party then split after dinner. Jason and Helge decided to go to the Arcane Institute to find a way to learn the new spell. Wrenn set himself to see Devlin as he was indicated he could acquire books from him. Enna worried by his intentions, followed him in a distance but failing to do it inconspicuously.

The Arcane Institute

Jason and Helge knocked at the Arcane Institute door and met with the Arch-mage Amrota that was busy with a group doing magic practice. They explained that they needed to learn the spell “sending” and were ready to pay in solid gold. The Arch-mage after checking their backgrounds told them that unfortunately neither of them will be able to learn the spell directly.

Instead, she proposed to lend them an artifact in her possession if they agree to undertake a research expedition. The artifact is known as the Stones of Sending, it uses the sending spell between 2 people without requiring any extra spellcasting.
The research is about the bridge between Bridgefoot and Ponterin. It is not a natural creation but a magic one. The technique has been lost and gathering back the knowledge is important to the Arcane Institute. But people are suspicious when mages are investigating about it. But a dragonborn and a monk in a boat will not attract attention. There are 5 points under the bridge to go and collect the magical information and the expedition would take a day of their time.
Jason and Helge agreed to carry on the research as the Stones of Sending would help them to communicate with Xander in a secure manner. Jason received the Rod of Detection that will collect the valuable info over the 7 miles of the bridge, all he has to do is to visualize a section of the bridge in his head while pointing the Rod at each of the 5 points Amrota indicated him. She warned him to be careful when using the rod though and she gave them a week to come back with their results. They took their leave and headed back to the Barracks to rest for the night.

Both Jason and Helge got pretty excited by this quest but they will have to convince both Wrenn and Enna to join them as their initial plan was to go to the Forest in the morning.

Devlin and the lost trinket

Wrenn walked towards the shady part of the town. There are urchins in the street, singing a nursery rhyme:

The death of a king to open the way
Bastion’s fall at break of day
A call that mortal folk must heed
The scythe that comes to cull the weed

over and over. Wrenn interrupts them to ask the way to Devlin’s place, with a not-so discreet Enna in tow. The place is dark and looks creepy. Wrenn knocked and spoke to Devlin through the door about books he might want to sell. But Devlin does not sell books, they are his. Wrenn then asked him if he was open to barter as he has himself valuable books to show to him.

The door then opened and Wrenn, quite edgy by the surroundings and his exchange with Devlin, entered and the door closed automatically behind him. Enna, on the alert of foul play, moved by the door, ready to barge in, if she would have heard Wrenn to be in danger.

Wrenn could not see much of Devlin once inside. He just saw a silhouette. Devlin confided in Wrenn that he lost an item and if Wrenn brings it back to him, then they could negotiate something. Wrenn inquired how it was lost and where. Devlin explained he lost a drinking cup, in Grenscombe, a silver cup ornate with glass bead jewels at an unlucky game of dice. He does not remember her name, it was a long time ago and she might not remembering him either. Wrenn could not get much more details. As Grenscombe is on the way to the Forest, Wrenn agreed to look into it and promised to come back. As he exited the house, he bumped into Enna by the door. They walked away together and Wrenn explained to her the quest of finding the lost item.

Before both could part ways, Wrenn to the Barracks and Enna to find a tree, 2 soldiers approached Enna, one on each side. They asked her quite rudely if she was the one climbing trees and spying. Enna trying to keep her cool, explained that she was not spying but meditating. The 2 soldiers told her in a rather insulting language to go in a tree by the market square but not by the castle. Enna started to have her hands twitching closer to her shortswords as Wrenn was looking in horror to the escalating exchange. He diffused the situation by showing his agent token, so the soldiers left. That was a close one! Enna went by the market square and Wrenn headed towards the Barracks.

The Barracks

Jason, Helge and Wrenn caught up with each other while walking towards the Barracks. Jason started to explain the research expedition to Wrenn that they could do tomorrow instead to go to the Forest. Wrenn said he will sleep on it and better to discuss it further in the morning. Helge immediately tucked in for the night. Wrenn took his Civil War history book to read and Jason studied his sword. After more than a hour of studying it, something happened. A profound understanding passed back and forth from Jason and the sword. Jason knows now how to use Bekeli, the magic sword.

Next morning, at 6 am, the party found themselves at the stables. Helge explained to Enna the research on the bridge. Enna agreed with the quest, anything to get out of the city. Wrenn also agreed as he felt learning more about the bridge could be interesting. They asked for 4 horses. Both Enna and Helge did a back flip to mount theirs. Jason managed to get on his horse but not without difficulty. Wrenn did not at all. Enna then took him by the scruff of the neck and settled him behind her, which infuriated him.

The Research expedition

They rode in a hour to Bridgefoot They let the horses at the local stables and went to the fishery to rent a boat. They asked a Halfling there and after paying him, the 4 of them were on a boat.

Jason and Helge rowed the boat towards the first magic point of the bridge. Jason did as indicated, visualizing the section of the bridge in his head while pointing the rod. All went successfully. They moved on to the next point when they saw something really, really big, flying, diving and swimming towards them. The party started to get anxious when a bronze dragon appeared nearby their boat. Enna put one of her hands on her longbow but Jason calmed her down with his arm around her shoulders. The dragon turned to be friendly, asking for fish. But as the party was not fishing, he flew away.

The party was rather relieved and continued their route to the second point. Jason repeated the process and they pushed to the third point. They saw a large sailing ship, probably cargo going to port but nothing noticeable about it, so they kept rowing to the next point. Jason once more used the rod successfully. Same thing for the 4th and 5th point. All the magic information was collected. A great success.

On the way back, Helge started to be seasick so Wrenn and Enna helped rowing the boat with Jason.

The journey back to Bridge foot was going rather well when several dark shapes approached the boat: 10 merfolk coming their way. 5 of them encircled the boat and the other 5 stayed in a distance. They started to attack the boat and stabbed both Wrenn and Enna.
Enna badly hit, was infuriated and went on slashing 2 of them, a vicious looking one and another with a scarred face that Wrenn killed with his rapier. Helge sliced a sneering one and kicked him so brutally that he died crushed. Jason went on slicing a nose-less one.
Then the 5 merfolk that stayed away threw their spears all at once to the boat. Jason cast a protecting spell for Enna but the rest of them were hit. The 3 merfolk still alive from the first wave charged again. Enna pierced the heart of the vicious one, killing him instantly. Wrenn tried to slice more of them but with no success. Enna slashed at a tattooed face one that Jason killed in a swift movement. And finally, Helge punched the nose-less one so hard that his head caved in.
The rest of the merfolk dived to escape but Wrenn in a killing fury mode, shot one with his bow, hit him as he swam away.

Once the path was safe again, they resumed rowing towards Bridgefoot and arrived late in the evening to the shore.

They went directly to get their horses and rode back to Ponterin without delay. They arrived at 9:30pm to the King’s stables and walked to the Arcane Institute to give back the rod and get the promised artifact. It was very late so they met with Cassius as the Archmage was not around. He has been briefed on the research mission so he led them to the Archives where bookshelves go in all directions. Jason put the Rod of Detection is a case slot that showed in front of him and the rod disappeared from view. Then, Cassius opened a cabinet and handed over 2 stones inscribed with talking faces. A voice said “I do not give you but lend you the Stones of Sending.” Cassius precised that the stones are staying the property of the Arcane Institute but can be used indefinitely. He added that the stones also need to be attuned to their users and looking at Jason, he said: “the same way you have attuned to your sword, you know what to do.”

It was 10:05pm when they finally left the Arcane Institute to get some rest. They were exhausted but happy to have successfully achieve their quest. Enna went back to the tree by the market square. Jason, Helge and Wrenn walked back to the Barracks.

The next morning, they agreed to meet with Xander to give him one of the Stones of Sending and then to immediatley depart in the direction of Grenscombe.

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