The Broken Crown

"Survival was my only hope, death to all my only revenge."

After been arrested and questioned for a week, the sentence was pronounced. Lady Emeline Galanodel was found guilty of fraternisation with false messengers. She looked at the circus around her, this judgment was a true farce. Emeline was stripped of her Councillor privilege and asked by the High Priest of the Unbroken Circle to repent by becoming a priest or go to jail for heresy. She took the frock as the less worst-case scenario and showed a feigned obedience, keeping her true feelings in check.

Emeline was praying at the Moradin God shrine with intensity. She has worshipped Moradin for many years, finding guidance whenever she needed it.

“How dare they! How dare they arrest me while I am grieving the death of my husband. What do I care about a Raven queen usurper or not? Now I have also lost the only contact with Enna. Enna, my dear impetuous daughter, how do I miss you. This is an outrage! Please God, help me.”

And then she heard it, the Voice…. “O my Child, I see your soul is deeply troubled. Your pain is my pain. Take comfort in these troubled times. Bring chaos to these who cause us harm. Join me and defeat our enemies. Let those who cross the Black Hand meet their dooms”

Her heart and body were filled with warmth and all became clear. She felt so good but also, she knew that Moradin was not the one who spoke. Bane… Bane answered!

“Dear Lord, I will follow the path you lay before me but first I have to show obedience to get my freedom. Give me strength to serve you well and prepare our future battles.”

“So be it, my Child. Submit to me and spread the dark fear among our enemies.”

“I take the oath to serve you my Lord and to be your obedient servant.”

Emeline looked around, her eyes were in fire. She will get out of the Cathedral, find Enna and then, work out her revenge.”

And day after day, she worked hard on her false repent, gaining trust back from her fellow priests, devoting herself during the day to Moradin and at night to Bane, her true god. None suspected a thing. A lifetime spent as a politician served her well.

And then, the opportunity came…at last. Brother Kevroar Trannyth was mandated to investigate a burial ground by Heatherrock, on which worrying reports reached the Cathedral. Kevroar needed someone to accompany him and she was asked. She humbly accepted, but at night she prayed with deep fervour for what was coming ahead, putting her plans into motion.

When arriving near Heatherrock, a couple of goblins attacked their camp at night. Kevroar was slained but they spared her when in the action, she took out the Black Hand amulet to cast a spell. They just ran away. She reached the burial ground , slightly injured but alive…”

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Aarnekas: A Bestiary for the Curious Traveller (A-G)
A Guide by Wrenn Eldon Uptree Frogbother Prickleback

During my travels across Aarnekas, my companions and I have met a wealth of different creatures. The majority of those listed herein were intent on sending us to the Raven Queen – in Aarnekas it’s best to stay on the beaten track, though even that isn’t a guarantee of safety.

I’ve outlined everything we’ve encountered as of the 19th of Wine, 317 Age of Nine Kings. It’s important to note that I’ve not listed many of the humanoid races who have also tried to kill us during our travels, don’t always assume that you’re safe with folk you meet. Bandits, cultists, corrupt guards, and even innocent-looking priests can be deadly threats.

This first volume covers creatures alphabetically from A to G.

Aboleth

The Aboleth is an enormous creature of the deep, and while we encountered one we never got a proper look. My previous reading tells me that they’re huge and tentacled with a gaping maw full of sharp teeth.

You may find an Aboleth in the Inner Reft, making sea travel rather perilous – however you should be safer if you charter a vessel that hugs the shore. At the time of reading there may not even be an Aboleth any more, as the last Black Dragon we met vowed to hunt and kill the aberration.

Escape from an Aboleth is difficult if you’re on a ship. Advice on encounter: run away, or enlist the help of a dragon.

Beholder

The regular Beholder is a large pinkish blob which floats above the ground. You’d never tell this to its face, but it vaguely resembles a private part of the male anatomy; or it would were it not for the eye which occupies a large portion of the body. Above this central eye are several smaller eyes on stalks.

Beholders normally occupy large caves and dungeons, sometimes beneath cities. By avoiding these kinds of places, you can probably avoid ever meeting one. We encountered a beholder in the catacombs of Reynford, it may still be there so definitely be wary of that place.

Beholders are generally intelligent, but that doesn’t mean they can always be bartered with. In fact it’s nearly always best to avoid. Advice on encounter: run away.

Death Tyrant

The Death Tyrant looks like a giant Beholder skull with a glowing red eye, and is even more dangerous than a regular Beholder. I’ve had the misfortune of encountering one of these, but in the realm known as the Underdark.

Advice on encounter: run away fast, get somewhere that it can’t reach you. Even better advice is to never go to the Underdark.

Spectator

Spectators are like baby beholders, smaller and with a green tinge to their skin (though this doesn’t make them any less dangerous). They occupy similar environments to Beholders and thus are generally avoidable.

Advice on encounter: generally run away, unless you’re very tough. If you were intending on encountering a full Beholder then a Spectator may provide a good practise fight.

Black Pudding

The only Black Pudding we encountered was monsterous in size, but I’m told that isn’t normal. We discovered the ooze on Islæ Nægis where it had grown large enough to overcome its captors; while strictly in Igægi it merits including in this guide to Aarnekas due to proximity. Black Puddings resemble large black mounds of slime and may be difficult to spot in a dark place.

It’s important when fighting a Black Pudding not to use your standard metal weapons, as the monster is immune to their effects and can corrode them with its acidic body. We found fire to be effective enough, though if you have lime or another alkaline substance to hand then this will be much more damaging.

Advice on encounter: if you have magic, fire, or lime, stand your ground. If you only have weapons, it’s best to get out of the ooze’s way.

Bulette

A Bulette (or Land Shark as they’re commonly known) is a dangerous monster with the capability to flatten a town, it leaves destruction behind it and views almost anything that moves as food. The Bulette is shark-like in appearance, with a huge gaping maw and armour plating covering it’s hide.

We encountered a Bulette beneath Reynford and managed to disable it before it caused too much havoc. We did this through less conventional means, by poisoning the creature – a front-on attack was likely to leave one of our party dead. Advice on encounter: disable before it causes too much damage, or attempt to escape.

Cockatrice

The Cockatrice is an ugly beast, looking like a cross between a chicken and a lizard. Individually they’re not a huge threat but if you encounter a nest then it’s best to leave immediately. Cockatrice have the ability to turn a person to stone with even just a small scratch, my companion Jason spent the best part of the day as an impressive statue.

Advice on encounter: if there’s only one then you may be able to disable it, any more and you should take up a heroic pose – you’ll be holding it for a while.

Dog

Everybody knows what a dog looks like, but unless you’ve come face to face with a pack of hunting dogs then you may not know how dangerous they can be.

Advice on encounter: if one of your group has the ability to speak to animals, use it to confuse or befriend the dogs.

Dragon

Dragons are more enormous and magnificent creatures than a book can possibly get across. They are huge winged beasts with impenetrable scales and fearsome teeth and claws, the sharpness of which is only matched by a Dragon’s intelligence and wit.

In Aarnekas I’ve had the pleasure of meeting three Dragons. In all cases my curiosity has outweighed my sense of self-preservation, but only one of the three has promised to kill me.

Black Dragon

Black Dragons are one of the more dangerous of the chromatic dragons, known for their foul temper and burning acidic breath. Black Dragons are recognisable for their jet black scales and almost skull-like heads.

My companions and I were lucky – when we encountered a Black Dragon we quickly made it into its favour. We killed a giant Black Pudding that had taken over the Dragon’s lair, and we were rewarded with large diamons for our efforts.

I imagine in different circumstances we would have been killed immediately for trespassing on the Dragon’s island. Advice on encounter: don’t approach, if you must then show deference and offer your services.

Blue Dragon

Blue Dragons are recognisable by their deep azure scales and large frilled ears. These Dragons are considered vain by others, and the only one we met promised to kill us in a months time rather than immediately as a reward for rescuing it from a sinking ship.

It’s best to stay away from Blue Dragons, time will tell whether my companions and I survive our second encounter. Advice on encounter: don’t approach, if you have no choice then play to the Dragon’s inflated sense of self worth.

Bronze Dragon

Unlike the other two dragons documented here, Bronze Dragons are pleasant and amiable. They have beautiful bronze and green scales and once can be seen flying or swimming around the Inner Reft.

Advice on encounter: be respectful, but also enjoy the opportunity to speak to such a magnificent creature in relative safety.

Drow

Drow, or dark elves, are native to the Underdark and we found that they attack on sight. Although uncommon in Aarnekas, there’s every chance that a band of Drow could find their way here.

Advice on encounter: if you outnumber them then you may stand a chance, though if they have a mage it may be best to escape.

Dust Mephit

I’ve had the misfortune of being blinded by a Dust Mephit and so don’t have a first-hand account of what they look like. my companion, Salzar, described them as imp-like creatures shrouded in a cloud of dust.

Advice on encounter: cover your eyes before they have chance to blind you. As long as you have your wits about you then you should be able to make short work of them with all your senses intact.

Gelatinous Cube

Like a Black Pudding, a Gelatinous Cube will try to absorb a creature into its large transparent cube-like mass. Here it uses acid to slowly digest its prey. These oozes are difficult to see – beware floating items when traversing underground corridors.

Advice on encounter: do not approach alone, as nobody will be able to rescue you. If you’re in a group of strong adventurers, then you should be able to defeat a Gelatinous Cube.

Ghost

A Ghost is the soul of creature that is bound to a place or object from its live. They normally take the form of a translucent humanoid, and strike fear into even the hardiest of travellers. Ghosts also have the ability to possess the body of one of your companions, be wary of getting too close. As if this wasn’t enough, regular weapons have less of an effect on the Ghost’s incorporeal form.

When encountering a ghost, you can aid it by discovering its unfinished business – this will allow it to pass on to the afterlife. Advice on encounter: help the Ghost, if it’s aggressive then escape or use magic to defeat it.

Giant Rat

Giant Rats have a descriptive name, and not a lot needs to be said about them. Although their bite is painful, they’re fairly easy to dispatch or scare away.

Advice on encounter: attack unless you’re being swarmed.

Gnoll

Gnolls are hideous monsters who crave flesh of any kind, they have the face of a hyena and large teeth and claws which they use to tear into people. My group has encountered Gnolls several times, and we’d rather not meet any more.

Advice on encounter: be on your guard – if a pack of Gnolls get a taste for your blood then their attacks become frenzied.

Goblin

Goblins are smaller than most folk with green or grey skin and pointy ears. Goblins are abundant across a most of Odreïn, while not very dangerous individually their sheer numbers can make them a worthy foe – raining down arrows on a group of unwary travellers.

If the tide of battle sways out of a Goblin band’s favour, then they’re quick to turn heel and run. Advice on encounter: don’t let them surround you, if they only outnumber your group 2:1 then fight them off. Be aware that a band of Goblins may be acting as scouts for a more dangerous group of Orcs, Hobgoblins, or Bugbears.

Grick

Grick are worm-like creatures with barbed tentacles around its sharp beak. We had the misfortune to encounter a couple of Grick in our travels, both in dark caves and dungeons – you are likely able to avoid meeting one by avoiding these places.

It can be nearly impossible to spot a Grick in a rocky environment as they blend very well with the stone. Advice on encounter: be on your guard in caves and dungeons, if forced to fight then take out the Grick’s tentacles.

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An Old Man's Rhymes
from Salzar's Journal

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,
The moon will cover the sun in full,
… and Underdark release…

The Reaper must rise.

Pelor and Sehanine,
They spin and they spin and she waxes and he wanes.
The Depths,
Beware the Depths! Beware the Depths, one slip and you’re gone, and you’re gone.
Beware the ides of gathering,
Midnight at noon.

I think I know what I need to do when the time comes.

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The Ghost of the Mimic Ship
from Salzar's Journal

“Salzar, if this thing kills me I will haunt you.”

Today I tried to bring a ghost to its final resting spot without bringing harm to it. Whatever was on the ship was bringing emotional torment to it, and when it possessed Dhom, we were worried.
And then the ship attacked. A mimic! But then I summoned a thundering ball of power, tossed it at the ship… and a unicorn appeared.

And then we ended up in a bubble in the middle of the sea with a unicorn. I do not understand the nature of the magic I now wield, but sometimes I think my life is better for it.

Also, Serran aged a little after the ghost showed up.
Salzar sent Wrenn out to the City of Westreach to recover a Greater Restoration scroll, but gave up his secret to acquire this scroll. Now all will know that Jesh is a false prophet, all from the machinations of Salzar. I suppose that’s as good a tie as any.

We will leave Wrenn with Agatha for some time, invisible, to ensure she doesn’t steal the ship.

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Death of Milus
from Salzar's Journal

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

Milus, a mad cultust of the Reaper, met his end today in the sewers of a vast city. I suppose that makes it another task done.
Sacrifice a tie – the most difficult perhaps to perform, but we will see… I do hope Jesh will forgive me for what this does to him.
Betray a trusted friend – at least Enna is with the Reaper now.
Force someone to act for the cult – well, time will tell. I have plans.
Find the darkness – poor poor Milus. His mission will never be fulfilled, and no one will ever find out why…

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Season 2 Episode 6 Synopsis

The party explore Islæ Nægis, surrounded by acidic seas. A black dragon requests their aid; they defeat a giant Black Pudding to earn its gratitude

~

The party leave towards Erigælis on the Star of Reynford, and enjoy four days’ quiet sailing. As the black stain of Islæ Nægis is approached, an irate Captain Hadriel discovers the loss of his needed navigation chart, but the discovery that the party have acquired a copy persuades him that he can still approach the mysterious island to pick up an arranged cargo.

Wrenn and Seren join Hadriel and his crew on a shore visit, discovering that the strangely acid waters around Isla Nægis require the boat to be specially coated with lime wax. Suspicions are raised when the normal foreman isn’t present to greet them, and on finding the remaining unknown shocked dockworker accompanied by only empty boots. Joining Hadriel and a crewmember in investigating a pit to find their missing cargo, the pair find a human, terrified by a recent attack by a “smelly” something; despite his fear he is unwilling to leave and attacks the party who he insists shouldn’t be there. In the resulting combat Wrenn and Seren are joined by the crewmember, who introduces himself as Ali Jones as they discover the defeated human was wearing a Broken Crown amulet.

Exploring towards the top of the island, the party encounter a mature black dragon who introduces himself as Ved’troz. He challenges the group to clear the island of the “rot” infecting it for a reward, which our heroes are only to happy to assist with.

They descend into the pit, following eroding rope bridges down around a hanging large brazier, encountering more empty boots covered by an acid ooze which Ali discovers is highly corrosive, but which they find is also flammable. The party collects resources, defeating a mimic in the process, before using the brazier to set off a flash fire in the pit… which damages but angers the Black Pudding revealed to be filling the bottom. While initially discouraged as their physical and even fire attacks do little damage, attacking with lime wax barrels proves to counteract the acid neatly and the Pudding is swiftly polished off.

A grateful Ved’troz thanks them for clearing the source that was poisoning his island and its waters, rewarding them with diamonds and a promise to take out the Aboleth in the nearby seas.

Hadriel’s crew recover their remaining cargo from behind a secret door before the party returns to the ship, and sails on to the chasm anchorage of Erigælis, city of spires and bridges atop the sandstone cliffs.

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A glossary of Igægan Common

by Lorenz Jacobsen, Master Linguist, College of the Light of Ioun, Lower Askor, Kingdom of Askor, 137NK

Although it is much closer-related to Common than the other languages spoken on Odreïn, Igægan Common (or Cotidæn) is a very different language, despite the name (in fact, it is much closer than Common to Old Odreïan, owing to Igægi’s relative isolation). Below are several terms that might be of use to travellers in Igægi.

note: “æ” is not pronounced as a diphthong, but as a distinct vowel, similar to Common “bay” (although with a somewhat nasal quality)

Greetings & phrases

bæn dis – good day
bæn tærd – good afternoon, good evening
bæn nogt – good night
bænvændis – welcome
æ diæsis – goodbye
comæ æst? – how are you?
æm bæn – I am well
pærlest æsteris? – do you speak Common?
nit pærl cotidæn – I do not speak Igægan
si – yes
– no
i – and
pær fævis – please
grætis – thank you
mæ qæræ… – I would like

Numbers 1-10

un, dua, træ, qært, qint, sæxt, hæpt, ogt, nævt, dægt

Coins

cupræ – copper
argis – silver
æro – gold
platinæ – platinum

Rather than giving amounts in one denomination, as is usual in Common-speaking Kingdoms for small amounts, currency is always split into small numbers of mixed coins, lowest first. For example, where an Aarnekensian market trader might say “seventeen silvers”, in Igægi you would hear “hæpt argis i un æro”.

Food & drink

pæn – bread
ægua – water
bæra – beer
cærn – meat

Verbs

æstre – to be (æm, æst, æs, æmis, æstis, æsis)
hæstre – to have (hæm, hæst, hæs, hæmis, hæstis, hæsis)
fæstre – to do (fæm, fæst, fæs, fæmis, fæstis, fæsis)
distre – to say (dim, dist, dis, dimis, distis, disis)
pustre – to be able (pum, pust, pus, pumis, pustis, pusis)
pærler – to speak (pærl, pærlest, pærles, pærlis, pærlestis, pærlesis)

Negation & Tenses

Negation is constructed with nit + verb, e.g. nit æm, “I am not”.

Past tense is constructed with hæ + verb, e.g. hæ æm, “I was” or “I have been”.

Future tense is constructed with fæ + verb, e.g. fæ æm, “I will be”.

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Why did I get on the boat again?

Why did I get on the boat again?

Oh that’s right – my overwhelming sense of duty to protect the weak from the oppressors. Well, looking around the Melora’s Fury I can see there are plenty of oppressed on this ship – or not. All these people look like battle hardened sailors of varying degree.

Clearly reports that Xara smuggled children were wide of the mark. Instead it looks like a story of smuggled dragons – and possibly other beasts, magical or not. Guess that makes it alright then! Nothing to see here folks…

“No creature should ever be chained, that was exactly why I bumped that mage on the ship!” Yeah let’s go with that Jason, everyone will lap that up. Let’s forget the death threats the dragon offered up, that’s not important.

And to top it off, we are now headed to Erigaelis, a place I have never been and was never intending to head to! What we’ll find there is anyone’s guess.

Okay, being serious, at this point, I almost wish we had found children instead – then the sense of dread I have wouldn’t be nearly as bad. Unleashing a dragon on your own party (albeit a month from now) can do that to you I guess. Of course, I’m not worried about myself at all – battle is second nature to me, even against such a beast. However putting my comrades in danger because of my own actions…………that is unacceptable. I already have enough dead people on my conscience as it is, I don’t need theirs added to it.

Will Biithul even remember us a month from now? Maybe, maybe not. In any case, a month is a long time. Many things will have changed by then – we will all be much stronger – and should Biithul decide to keep true to his word, I’ll make sure I correct my mistake.

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Wrenn’s Story: The Star of Erigælis

Wrenn’s heart was making a bold attempt to escape his chest, thundering wildly as he leapt the gap between the sinking Star of Erigælis and Melora’s Fury. The last hour was a blur – he’d expected their sea journey to be uneventful, a break from the hectic and violent life he’d been leading lately. It was not.

Since his half of the group left Erinport, a storm had been building over The Reft. They were now battling gale-force winds as they unattached Melora’s Fury from the wreck of The Star. Wrenn took a moment to reflect on his life as he watched the unfortunate ship sink into the depths.

Wrenn had almost died today. He’d seen his fellow party members fall a dozen or more times, but never him – he was small and not an easy target, his reflexes were excellent. The Sea Hags, whose terrible faces he was still trying to forget, had made short work of him. Wrenn resolved to get better still at avoiding attacks.

Recalling the fight, Wrenn remembered that if it weren’t for Salzar’s quick thinking then he wouldn’t be alive, “that makes another life debt I guess”, he thought. He could name several other people he’d rather be indebted to than the old man. Still, he’d been glad of the wizard’s company when they explored The Star’s hold.

Meeting another dragon had been fascinating, no amount of reading could have prepared him for it. The sheer power and intelligence of the creature! Under different circumstances Wrenn could have spoken to it all day, imagine the amount of knowledge it could impart. Despite the looming threat of death, Wrenn was almost looking forward to meeting Biithul again in a month’s time.

Glancing over the now inflated crew of Melora’s Fury, Wrenn prepared himself for an uncomfortable journey. He’d have to guard himself with more watchful eyes around: his escape through the sinking ship had provided him with ample opportunity to loot, and he’d made a small fortune in mithril. Wrenn was also very curious about the shipping chart he’d found, and what the “X” might signify on a small island near Erigælis.

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The Struggle of Being an Intellectual
from Salzar's Journal

Today, I learned how dragons eat. We also signed a pact with said dragon that spells out only our deaths. Or it would, were the dragon not an honour-bound Blue by the name of Biithul will learn that he is far too cocky. I understand the need to be confident, but often such a thing is a downfall.

We travelled from the small, forgettable settlement, across the vast body of water that I have grown to hate. Wrenn proved instrumental in rescuing Jason and the bard, though I don’t think anyone else noticed. Perhaps they see me as the all-seeing mage that I am, and not the doddering old fool I pretend to be? Then again, perhaps not.

Hags assaulted our vessel, and were easily dispatched. I played on their hatred for each other, and convinced one to attack the other. The resulting blood bath was a beautiful thing indeed.

A sea monster attacked the ship we were sailing to. I convinced everyone to get off the Star (of whatever place it was named after – the part of the ship that had the name was already under the waves by the time we arrived) and board our vessel.

Finally, I was able to free Biithul from his bonds. No use letting such a magnificent creature drown under the waves. I also allowed him to devour the nameless mage that had him imprisoned there for so long… I do hope the Reaper will accept my sacrifice.

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