The Broken Crown

Pympen Bonecrusher
journal of Dread Admiral, Za'kir Dragonslayer

Today, Pympen solved a problem. This one was impaled by a Bone Devil – a terrifying creature. This one also used the elemental gem that they were using to hatch the dragon egg to assist the fight. Almost dead, Pynpen managed to keep Za’kir the Dread Admiral, Dragonslayer, alive. Very impressive.
Tunnin agrees. Tunnin is very impressed by the way that Katsu handled herself, and is demanded this one gives her a nickname. We are not sure. Katsu Froth-mouth? We are unsure.

This sword that Za’kir has received. It is invisible, and very interesting. We are not sure what makes it so sharp – so sharp that it can cut through bone and steel – but we like it. Perhaps we will keep it, even if it is a little heavier than we are used to. Still, with a bit of training, this one will figure out how best to swing the blade.

And now this one seeks to approach two hooded figures. This is curious. We are not sure about — why are they clasping arms? Perhaps it is better to strike swiftly and not wait. The others are not following – why?

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Regrets

Oh no, not again.

Pympen had only been with the party for five days, and in that time they seemed to bounce from one situation to another, with barely a chance to take notes in between. He should have seen this one coming — a mysterious tunnel under an old ruined temple, and a skull in the middle of a room littered with bones; but when he thought he could laugh at the strutting Tabaxi, it had seemed too much of an opportunity to intervene. And now it was too late, again.

As the bones stirred into a new form, he twisted the staff in his hands, squinting at the spells in the low light. There was no denying his focus had improved under pressure; he was able to reach out to the weft more easily than ever before, and the spells he had sworn at in the monastery now took wing and flew off his tongue. Some of it was probably the rivalry with his new companions, and not wanting to fall short after their tales of dragons and mystical beings; and some of it was that war magic had never really felt at home in books.

But it was all happening too fast. The documents the Heroes had collected gave them less than a month, but it wasn’t enough — he needed to contact the monastery, and Sister Elidyr. If he fell now, they would never know the danger until it was too late. He had told himself there was no way to get in touch yet, but some of the spells were in his notes and he hadn’t gone through them in their too-few rests; if he was honest, he was enjoying the secrets again.

They had warned him, as he had turned from Moradin’s path to the practical knowledge and study, that wizards liked to know things for the wrong reasons. And Pympen ashamedly knew he had been hoarding knowledge, hiding the news of the cult, and of the teleportation circles, and of the Nine. The heroes should have told the elders in the towns they had travelled through, and sent word out, and enlisted aid; as the teachings went, knowledge was for sharing.

As he concentrated and drew on the weft again, feeling he would have need of it, Pympen also muttered a swift prayer to Moradin. He would change, if he had the chance to.

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Jorg Badgerbanisher
journal of Dread Admiral, Za'kir Dragonslayer

This one has learnt from Pympen Spudslinger that Jorg, the priest of Kord, was the one to banish the beholder… during which time the beholder was transformed into a badger. Tunnin reminded this one that great deeds come with great names, and so Jorg has been named Jorg Badgerbanisher to commemorate this great achievement. This one and Pympen laughed for many minutes at the idea.

The Spudslinger earned this title from a vessel, encouraging this one to befriend him. The merchants company he speaks of, this one is certain they have been attacked by Captain Skyes. It is a shame that we may be responsible for the short one’s friend’s deaths, but this is the nature of privateering on the Reft, and there is not much we can do outside of that.

Also, Katsu Shadespinner, for the comment of Jorg “being surprised at him not wanting to get involved in other people’s business”.

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We discovered a ruin. This interests this one, because Jorg was keen to have us take the lead and search for traps. An easy thing to do, but a puzzle has been found. Tunnin is speaking with us to help decipher what is going on.

… but we do not stay in one place for too long. This one and Pympen explored further without the assistance of the others, only to discover a sword embedded in a stone, with a skull crowning it. Well — treasure can only remain unlooted for so long, yes?

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Washed Ashore
journal of Dread Admiral, Za'kir Dragonslayer

This one awoke on the shore this morning. There was fighting, an unmarked, unflagged ship assaulted us. We do not remember what happened from the wreck, but we are glad that we and Tunnin are safe.
We do not recognise the sands. This is not Aarnekas or Igaegi – the seas of sands are too vast. Has our prophecy come true? Fair winds and warm sands?

Some initial scouting has revealed this to be Kamendas. The stars are aligned to mark only the passing of a few days. The journey has been too short for a distance too long, and Tunnin is hungry. Only a few days. We fish, we prepare a meal, and then we search for a settlement.

We are good trackers, and we will teach Tunnin how do be, too.

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AMS The Wrath of Kord
journal of Dread Admiral, Za'kir Dragonslayer

It will be good to be back upon a vessel again. This one travelled to Reynford quickly, eager to make some coin in order to find our way back to the Heroes of Woodcrest. We should not have slept so long – we were not expecting to find them gone in the morning. Today we arrive and seek a dock.

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Bos’n?! A quartermaster? How dare they make the Dread Admiral Za’kir Dragonslayer a mere bos’n. Do they not know the thousand tales this one has to share? Why do they not quake in fear from the most skilled swordarm of the Reft? This one wrestled a kraken with our bare claws! Captain Skyes would twist in her casket — that is the expression, yes? — from this dishonour they serve us.
No matter. Doing privateer work is easy money, and with Za’kir aboard their vessel, they should not have to worry about storms nor boarding parties nor dragons. We have hoisted the Askor flag and now seek to track an Erinport Shipping Company vessel in the Reft Sea. The water is ugly as usual, but we have our Tunnin to keep us occupied.

Today it is said that we see a vessel on the horizon. A target. We prepare for war! The Dragonslayer is ready, and Tunnin is more excited than we remember it ever being.

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From the journal of Pympen Spudslinger Inknose Roottimber
17th of Slaughter, 317NK

It appears that Sister Elidyr was correct — the rise in undead activity is not some new magical disease or necromantic practice, it is a symptom of something much bigger. The Heroes of Woodcrest have run into the Cult of the Sealed God again and again, and now it appears Archmage Amrotha was researching the same topic. I wish I had talked to her when I could; I must stop being so cautious.

The scattered documents that the Heroes have collected refer again and again to two things — a War of Wishes many ages ago which sealed a pantheon member in the Underdark, and hints of a prophecy about that entity being released during a recurring eclipse. And now we have a name — Nerull. I feel almost like this is some elaborate jest concocted by by new companions, because surely such an event would be cataclysmic, and the eclipse is due within a moon; but they seem only bored by the documents, which were haphazardly piled together and certainly appear genuine.

Although I curse their poor filing, the Heroes themselves have proved more than the thieves they originally professed themselves to be. They use a name which towns close to Woodcrest barely seemed to recognise, yet Lord Protector Xander treats them like old relatives. They appear to have defeated a dragon recently, judging by the tooth Arannis was waving around; a juvenile, from the size of it, but far larger than anything I have faced.

They acted with honour in Grenscombe; it was a strange day of entrapped angelic beings, a coven of hags in disguise, and assassins by night, and while they were definitely bloodthirsty I feel I can trust them. Jorg is protective of the group, to his own downfall at one point, and Kord entrusts him with significant power. Arannis seems to forget what happened yesterday, but remembers centuries ago; I need to see what he can recall that may aid us. Katsu is a surly reclusive barbarian at first glance, but under that surface lies both intelligence and magic – and possibly something darker? Gnaerk appears the most simple, acting the jester while hitting like a runaway cart, but in this company I feel there is more to him as well.

They are investigating the Cult, and seem to have a knack for running into long-hidden information. I must make myself useful so I can keep travelling with them… and must get this information back to the monastery, I fear that when the eclipse arrives we will all discover we are not ready for what is coming.

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Katsu's Dream

Katsu had not slept well. Her dreams had often been troubled recently, by visions of the dark woman with feathers obscuring her face. This time though, the visions which had become familiar were mixed with something else, something less benevolent. The nightmares came quickly and were full of shrieking, howling voices and coiling, contorting darkness. There were glimpses of people that she had known, just momentary, and not really them, but disfigured, and distorted, and then.

The familiar woman was back again, talking of the same subjects she always did, of ancient gods and terrible consequences, but these words were comforting compared to that they had replaced. Each time she came her words were more purposeful than the last, as though the importance of the task were not being imprinted deeply enough into the mind of the barbarian, and this time the powers that she granted were of a different kind than those to which Katsu was used.

The ability to beguile a person, to sway their thoughts and feelings using only words, was not one for which Katsu had had any need thus far – she had found her own methods of persuasion to be effective enough. The means to change herself, her appearance, now that was a different matter, as that stupid meeting with the elf in Erigælis had proved, and Katsu was intrigued to discover how different a world in which she was not reviled for her outward form could be.

But then the woman with the feathers was gone and the dark, twisting, nightmares were back, and screeched on until finally it was morning and Katsu awoke feeling drained, exhausted, worse than when she had gone to bed, and the memory of losing an arm wrestling competition to Gnærk did not improve her mood.

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Jorg's Story: Arson

Jorg was looking forward to some arson. Run to Grenscombe, break into Roselind’s house, find Devlin’s cup, burn the hag’s house to the ground. It was sometimes refreshing to lean into the Katsu and Gnaerk way of doing things. It was effective at least and this plan didn’t involve murdering anything mortal.

As the group rushed through the wood, adrenaline was coursing through Jorg’s body. He was excited. What could be closer to Kord’s path than defending a small town against a coven of witches? The party had been particularly successful in driving them off just now, Jorg wondered whether their luck could be attributed to freeing the celestial. It was certainly the right thing to do, and perhaps Kord was smiling down on him for helping to unshackle a being of light. He glanced to the sky briefly, allowing himself a tusked grin.

Ideally the hags would reach Grenscombe at a similar time. Jorg had enough ego to enjoy the thought of casting the fiends down in the town square, with an audience of grateful townsfolk. It would be a fitting end to this country jaunt. Then the Heroes of Woodcrest would accept thanks; they’d gather together to wave farewell, and then disappear in a flash of arcane light. Jorg could almost hear the bard’s tales already.

Jorg smiled at his fantasy. Childish, yes, but hope could be a driving force. “Let’s pick up the pace, we’ve got a house to burn down!” he called to his companions.

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Jorg's Story: A Prayer for Dhom

The others had left quickly, all keen to put the fight behind them. Jorg wasn’t ready yet, he had a duty to perform. Silently he knelt by the pile of clothes and supplies that had been his companion, a light film of dust had settled around the remains – this was all that was left of Dhom.

Jorg bowed his head and spoke softly, “Almighty Kord, I ask for your aid”. Silence was the reply, though Jorg had faith that his god was listening. “Here lies the remains of a man who undoubtedly deserves a place in your halls. Dhomgrim Stoneheim.” Jorg struggled for a moment to keep his face set in a solemn expression. “We didn’t discuss the gods much, in our time together. I do not know if he was a religious man, but I do know that he was a moral one. He’s shown great courage in battle, as well as the restraint that is required for one not to stray into chaos.”

Pausing for a moment, Jorg added, “if he already has a place elsewhere, I ask you to guide his spirit there. Don’t let him come to any harm on his last journey.”

“Thank you.”

Jorg stood, lifting the clothes and armour. He gently placed them atop one of the nearby sarcophagi, arranging them into the rough shape and size of his companion. “Dhom, I don’t know if this will work, or if it’s even necessary… but I don’t think I could cope with facing you in undeath.” The cleric took two copper coins from his pouch and placed them where Dhom’s eyes would have been. He muttered the familiar incantation, protecting the body of his friend against being brought back.

As a last sign of respect, Jorg took a scented candle from his pack and placed it next to the remains. He lit it, nodded his head, and muttered “rest in peace, Dhomgrim”.

Moving back to the equipment that lay on the ground, Jorg started to pick out the important papers that Dhom had kept neatly organised. He found the letter that he’d entrusted to the dwarf not even a week ago, still sealed of course.

Jorg placed the papers in his own pack and turned to the piles of gold and gems that the party shared, gathering them up. He had no interest in them right now, but he knew the group would need money to continue their quest. The rest he left, it would feel like grave robbing to take any of Dhom’s personal possessions.

As Jorg reached the door into the next chamber, he turned back one last time. He instinctually reached for his holy symbol for comfort, it was warm to the touch. Jorg nodded one last goodbye and stepped out of the room.

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Jorg's Story: Trust

“It’s funny how much you question the loyalties of others when you’re not fully honest about your own”, Jorg mused to himself. Trusting Dhom with his letter home had not been easy, but of all the Heroes of Woodcrest, the dwarf seemed the least likely to peek. Jorg watched carefully each time Dhom rifled through the papers that the party had amassed, mentally preparing himself to see the seal broken.

Now was such an occasion. As Dhom tried to find more sigil sequences amongst the papers, Jorg caught a glimpse of his letter. Still sealed. Good. He need not watch really; Dhom was forthright enough that he’d probably confront Jorg directly if he had read it.

Jorg hoped his silence about his past didn’t raise suspicions about his motivations with the rest of the group. There was no questioning his loyalty, surely – he’d healed each of his comrades many times, and nobody could mistake his hatred of the cult. Yes, he was fine. He tried to stop introspecting.

Katsu had surprised Jorg today. Just as he thought he had her figured out, she started casting spells, nothing he’d seen before. It seemed that she might have secrets of her own. He made a mental note not to let his guard down too much around her.

Arannis remained a mystery. One moment he seemed lucid, and at other times he didn’t seem to know where (or more importantly when) he was. His reason for being with the group was perhaps just because he didn’t fit anywhere else. In stark contrast was Gnaerk, who clearly and vocally stated his wants and needs on a regular basis. Jorg appreciated this, he really should make more effort to help his companion find his brother; it seemed this quest might align with the larger mission anyway.

Jorg was snapped out his thoughts suddenly, as the world folded in around him. A second later he was in a large room with vaulted ceilings, staring down the shaft of a spear. The teleportation rod had worked.

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