Open City, Bleeding Heart

Season 1, episode 1: The One Thing Needful
A chance meeting draws four strangers into mystery and intrigue!

Mansion on fire

Prologue – 972 YK, the year of the secession.

Restas il d’Thuranni, assassin of House Phiarlan, brother-in-law to Apophre, played by Edbury
Apophre il d’ Thuranni, assassin of House Phiarlan, brother-in-law to Restas, played by Will
Kelilas d’Paelion – Head of House Paelion, a prominent familial line within House Phiarlan, played by Jon
Ki’lye d’Paelion, daughter of Kelilas, played by James
Unnamed infant son of Ki’lye, present but not played

The war among the Five Nations for dominion over the entire Kingdom of Galifar rages on, abetted in various ways by the mercantile powers of the twelve Dragonmarked Houses. Within these houses themselves is a microcosm of the larger conflict, although solidarity and unity usually wins out. Usually. On one dark night in the ancestral compound of House Paelion of House Phiarlan, assassins from House Thuranni of House Phiarlan fell upon the Paelion bloodline in an orgy of strangulation and throat-cutting. Heirlooms were seized and the compound was set ablaze. At the last, House Thuranni lieutenants Apophre and his brother-in-law Restas stood eye to eye with the head of House Paelion and his daughter and her infant son.

Despite knowing the location of the Circlet of Kelilas, a fragment of the ancient Elven artifact known as Liryana’tani – or Arkantaash, the Ashen Crown, to its later goblin masters of the Dhakaani Empire – Kelilas does not divulge its whereabouts or attempt to use it to bargain with the assassins. It is revealed that the child is actually not a pure blooded Paelion child, as it comes from a liaison between Ki’Lye and the Thuranni assassin Restas. In the final confrontation, all are mortally wounded except Apophre and the child. Apophre takes the infant, which he now knows to be his nephew and the fruit of Restas’s betrayal of Apophre’s sister, strips it of identifying marks and leaves it in an orphanage in the Lhazaar Principalities.

Armistice day celebration and pageantry

Present day – 998 YK, Armistice Day, Breland, city of Sharn

Cedric Burkh, human artificer, played by Jon
Reinbold, fire genasi fire mage, played by Will
Orlop, warforged fighter, played by James
Gift d’ Thuranni, elf assassin, played by Edbury

In a public square of one of the lower wards of Sharn, insurgents of an unknown stripe begin raining bombs on the city on its crowded, celebratory day. In the ensuing chaos, five travelers are pushed together in a tavern by Sharn security forces who are clearing the street: our four adventurers and Adolphus Maypole, oculist at large. Over casual drinks and conversation, Maypole invites them back to his apartment, accessible through the innards of the skyscraper whose ground floor they were then on. There, Maypole was struck down by assassins clearly conducting a search of his dwelling. Our adventurers rushed to Maypole’s defense, and defeated the assassins, only to discover that they were rotting undead moving under a cloak of illusion spells to conceal their true nature.

Conducting their own very thorough search of Maypole’s dwelling, our party discovers hidden in a small secret compartment a small scrawled note that reads “Dannae is Demise. Why Emerald Claw?”, and an ancient magical blade of some sort. Gift d’Thuranni also takes some papers and books belonging to Maypole, notably Maypole’s self-penned tome Diseases of the Eye. Then they call the authorities to report the murder, and all four of our heroes give statements to the police. Gift also gives notice of his intent to bid on Maypole’s property when and if it comes up for auction.

Our heroes return to their quarters for the night, but not before vowing to reunite the next day to inquire into this mystery into which they have unexpectedly been thrust. In the morning, Gift d’Thuranni wakes in his room in the Thurannni Club and is greeted by Stugsworth with his breakfast and the morning paper, the Sharn Inquisitor, which contains articles about the previous night’s terrorist assault, the murder of Adolphus Maypole, and a work stoppage in a Sharn foundry, all written by one Rinaldus Whetbone. Leaving the club, he reunites with his new companions and they set off to Morgrave University to seek professor Gydd Nephret, professor of antiquities.

Though she is on sabbatical, our adventurers track her down to her faculty housing in Shaver House, where they are met by the building’s RA, Dala Arand, who tells them Nephret already has a guest, one Lady Dannae Ulyan of Aerenal and her companion Janaeus. Our heroes charged up the stairs to Nephret’s room on the third floor – and found the door unlocked and the room empty. The began a search while a flustered Dala Arand tried to get them to leave. She departed and then returned moments to inform our heroes that the reason Professor Nephret was not in her room was that she was having tea with Lady Ulyan in the common area. The adventurers left off ransacking her belongings to join her.

The professor, Lady Ulyan, and her companion Janaeus, all rose to greet the adventurers pleasantly and politely, and the conversation turned toward artifacts. Ulyan strongly implied she knew the heroes possessed an artifact called Ashurta’s Blade – and that she would pay 2000 gp for it. After Ulyan departed, Nephret – who described herself as an expert on ancient relics of the Dhakaani Empire – told the story of Arkantaash, the Ashen Crown: originally an elven artifact that would give its wearer power over death, it had fallen into the possession of the goblins during their ascendancy. The goblins embellished the crown with an artifact of their own: Ashurta’s Blade. As their empire declined, the crown was broken into five pieces and the pieces were given to five goblin warlords to insure the crown itself would never entirely fall into enemy hands. That was over a thousand years ago.

Nephret verified that the blade our heroes had found in Adolphus Maypole’s home was in fact a genuine fragment of the crown, formerly possessed by Ashurta. She also revealed that as far as she knew, she was the sole living person with knowledge of how to reassemble the crown once all the pieces were reunited, which had been derived from her lifelong researches. She had committed this knowledge to paper in the ritual Rite of Arkantaash, which she gladly gave to the adventurers. Gift d’Thuranni transcribed the ritual on the first blank page before the title page of Diseases of the Eye. Our heroes give Nephret Gift’s address at the club and warn her that her life may be in danger.

From there they are summoned by Sharn’s chief of police, Captain Saj Kalaes. The adventurers are greeted and vetted by Corporal Bronal Tuck and then permitted to speak with Kalaes personally. He informs them of a task of espionage he’d like them to assist with: the goblins must reclaim Arkantaash, specifically the goblin voting bloc known as the Kech Volaar, the “Wordbearers”, well known goblin moderates who seek to legitimize their political power by possessing ancient relics from the heyday of the Dhakaani Empire. Competing with the Wordbearers are the Kech Sharaat, the “Bladebearers”, a martial but perennially popular faction in goblin political discourse that seeks to claim the crown for themselves or simply destroy it. Breland’s relations with neighboring Darguun are fraught with danger and peril, and it would be preferable if alliances could be struck with the numerous goblins of that state. No alliance is possible or desirable with the Kech Sharaat, so the Kech Volaar must come to ascendancy.

Above all, Kalaes stresses, the Kech Volaar must not know that the assistance they are receiving is coming from the state of Breland. This is why those with an official connection to Brelish military or politics cannot be employed for this task. The Wordbearers must not feel to be they are being guided or manipulated by a foreign power. With this, he gives them tickets for passage on the airship Concentration bound for Ardev with a layover in Galethspyre and wishes them good luck.

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Season 1, episode 2: The One Thing Needful
In which our adventurers take a pleasure cruise and participate in deck games

Airship trip

Present day ā€“ 998 YK, Breland, city of Sharn

Cedric Burkh, human artificer, played by Jon
Reinbold, fire genasi fire mage, played by Will
Orlop, warforged fighter, played by James
Gift d’ Thuranni, elf assassin, played by Edbury

From Sharn our heroes board the Concentration headed northwest along the Galethspyre line to Ardev. Once the voyage is underway, they realize that one of their fellow passengers is Janaeus, the manservant of Lady Dannae Ulyan. Unexpectedly, he greets them politely and engages them in gentlemanly conversation, revealing himself to be a survivor of the firebombing of Sigilstar in Thrane, while most of his family was consumed. At these words, Cedric Burkh froze. Janaeus complained of boredom and Burkh loaned him a book from his own library: a collected edition of the renowned Thranic poet Reardon Fairmont.

Meanwhile, at the same time that Burkh engaged Janaeus in conversation, Reinbold and Gift bullied the ship’s purser into revealing the location of Janaeus’s cabin, and they jimmied the lock and ransacked it, discovering little of value other than the business card of one Holben Ormont, dealer in antiquities.

After a short layover in Galethspyre, the party reboarded – realizing that if Janaeus also deplaned, he had not returned to the airship – and continued on to the city of Ardev. There, Cedric Burkh visited the city’s junkyards and cobbled together a jalopy out of old anbaric coach parts. It moved exceedingly slowly, but still allowed them to cover the 125 miles up the Orien trade road in a single day. Along the way, they were accosted by bandits and nearly killed. After successfully murdering all of them save for a single gnoll archer who ran off, the adventurers freed their prisoner, a goblin named Govaan, who claimed to be returning from a religious pilgrimage to the goblin monument Six Kings. The conversation was a bit of a cat and mouse game, with both parties suspecting the other knew more than they were telling, but the eventually parted ways amiably, and Govaan gifted Cedric with a traditional goblin craft necklace to show his appreciation.

Having to leave the road and continue on via a path through the forest, the party left their automobile by the side of the road, painted camouflage by Stugsworth and covered by a tarp, and marched into the woods.

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Season 1, episode 3: Under the Volcano
In which we discover how competitive young men can be, and our adventurers delve into the tombs of a foreign empire.

Military academy

Prologue ā€“ 989 YK, Cragwar Academy, Breland.

General Vinius Caprotan, human dean of Cragwar Academy, played by David
Wolfram Apgar – thirtyish warden of the Eldeen forest, played by Edbury
Epirus Golan, precocious gnome illusionist, played by Kevin
Ocelon Oion, elf ritualist, played by Will
Cedric Burkh, human artificer, played by Jon
Rollo, elf son of Thranic defectors, ex- of prestigious Rekkenmark Academy, played by James

Faced with five equally qualified candidates for entry into Breland’s premier institution of war learning, the Cragwar Academy, the school’s dean General Vinius Caprotan (retired) proposes to the applicants that they settle the five-way tie in a soldier’s fashion: by gambling. The general brought out his dice and all the students played Discretion and Valor for the right to enroll. Immediately Epirus Golan, the young gnome illusion prodigy, lost. After him were Ocelon Oion and Rollo, the latter of whom endured the veiled taunts of the general at the defector status of his parents. Finally there was only Wolfram Apgar, an older student in his thirties, and an adult in a roomful of young men and children, and Cedric Burkh, age 21, a poor farm boy from just outside Ringbriar who had already done service as an enlisted man in the Brelish army. After much gambling and chicanery, and when it looked like Apgar’s victory was assured, he rolled red and “died”, while Burkh cheated a little to edge his score into the winner’s circle, gaining a spot for himself at the academy, and dooming the other applicants to make other, less prestigious arrangements for their education.

The dark temple corridor in morning mist at 4 am licensed creative commons by stuck in customs on flickr

Present day ā€“ 998 YK, Breland, foothills southeast of the Graywall Mountains.

Cedric Burkh, human artificer, played by Jon
Reinbold, fire genasi fire mage, played by Will
Orlop, warforged fighter, played by James
Gift dā€™ Thuranni, elf assassin, played by Edbury
Hapax Amathos, sand and storm genasi swordmage, played by Kevin

Embarking into the woods, our adventurers encountered agents of the Emerald Claw under a Captain Warrik, a Karrnath veteran. They had clearly received intelligence regarding the party’s possession of Ashurta’s Blade. Warrik offered a civilized solution to the standoff: they play Discretion and Valor for the artifact. If the party’s player could beat Warrik before the sand ran out in his large hourglass, he would let them carry on their way. If he was ahead when the sand ran out, they would have to give him their piece of the Ashen Crown. Gift d’Thuranni accepted the challenge, but as soon as the Captain was ahead in points, the sand in the glass abruptly ran out. Feeling they had been cheated, our adventurers voided the terms of the wager and drew their weapons against the agents of the Emerald Claw. In the ensuing melee, the hourglass was knocked over and out sprang a man! He was named Hapax Amathos and was apparently made entirely from sand. Not knowing which way to swing his blade at first, he attacked the rampaging robot Orlop, but quickly saw the writing on the wall and allied himself to our adventurers. Orlop dug a trench and buried the bodies within.

Reaching the end of the forest line at the foot of Six Kings just before nightfall, our adventurers snuck up on a band of goblinoids making camp. These they discovered to be the party of archaeologists from the Kech Volaar they were seeking. Their leader was a female hobgoblin named Yeraa, and her band of merry explorers: Akitani, Jezirpa, Murdaak, Ulkuuz and Tikulti. Also present was the goblin Govaan whom the party had previously freed from captivity under a group of road bandits collecting tolls, who vouched for their character and good intentions. Still, our adventurers were required to prove their worth to Yeraa, and they engaged in the traditional goblin rite of Amalorkar, a simple friendly(ish) combat trial. Our adventurers won with ease, although some of the goblins did not appear to be trying their hardest.

Yeraa proposed they enter the Warrior’s Tomb together, splitting apart and taking separate roads to acquire the two artifacts concealed within. Yeraa proposed that her squad take a lower tunnel that our adventurers could not traverse (she didn’t not offer an explanation why, and the party did not ask) while our adventurers take a more direct route across the river and past the King’s Pillars to the main gate of the tomb. Not coincidentally, this gate was defended by an opposing squad of goblins, the Kech Sharaat, who had dug themselves in to lie in wait for their adversaries, not knowing there was an alternative entrance.

Our adventurers began to ford the river to gain entry to the tomb, and were set upon by the Kech Sharaat under the foul-mouthed goblin Chib Naersaar. Our adventures seemed to be getting the best of their enemies until they realized that they all appeared to be slathered in a musky kind of oil of some sort. It was then that a cloaker descended upon them and nearly claimed the lives of some of their number. Still, our adventurers again prevailed in their murder of the opposition. Orlop again displayed an almost pathological need to dispose of the carcasses cleanly and humanely, and buried the dead once more.

Our adventurers gathered up the cloaker’s balm for themselves and looked into the tomb for themselves, steeling themselves against their already considerable wounds and preparing themselves for what lies ahead.

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