Wir, Eyre 18, 993 YK
Hohenheim vanished into the city to meet with Dr. Jones while Kaziim and Fenn set out to follow him. The remainder of the party searched the city for any clue that might lead them to a piece of the Ashen Crown.
Gin, Ixen, Josephine, and Ekhaas all found their way to a surprisingly intelligent and civilized ogre named Karg at Morgrave University. They conversed with him for a little bit and asked if he knew anything about where the artifact may be located. He searched through some of his texts, finally locating the information they sought in A History of Durasharn by Tasker d’Sivis. The book indicated that archaeologists had discovered it within the High Citadel, an old Dhakaani royal palace that had been sealed off in the Depths along with most of Duur’sharaat by Galifar I when Sharn was built on top. Initially, he was reluctant to give this information to the party, as he knew the citadel was in Daask territory and he owed them a considerable dept. Should the party fall on Daask’s bad side and Karg’s part in their quest be discovered, Daask may not be forgiving. They promised to not divulge his complicity to Daask and Karg then gave them the information.
Meanwhile, Rohagar searched for leads with her House. The Tharashk enclave hadn’t heard any rumors about the Ashen Crown, but given its description, they directed her to the Gatehouse in Carosten Park, where a small sect of Gatekeepers were said to live. Before she departed, Rohagar received a message from one of her House Phiarlan contacts: an old escaped bounty of hers, a Shifter named Xanth, that was recently spotted in the Depths. Tucking that information away, she made her way to the Gatehouse. There, she met an orc druid that she recognized as Orchok, the druid the party had freed in Darguun and later tricked. He didn’t appear to recognize her at first, answering what questions he could. Orchok knew a bit about the Ashen Crown.
He explained that Jazaal Dhakaan had built the artifact as a repository of knowledge for both the Dhakaani Empire and the Gatekeeper druids near the end of the Daelkyr Wars. The Gatekeepers wanted a way to preserve their traditions for future generations in a better way than their oral stories. Jazaal’s artifact let both allied groups store large amounts of knowledge about the Daelkyr and their invasion, but the Ashen Crown was lost when Jazaal died. His great artifacts were taken by others who were far less careful than he had been and their exact whereabouts were lost to time. Orchok hadn’t heard anything else about it, but suggested that Rohagar find an ogre name Karg at Morgrave University. She thanked him and began to depart when he politely asked that she please return his amulet if she ever sees it again, indicating he knew exactly with whom he had been speaking. Rohagar then met up with the others who had just spoken with Karg and everyone exchanged information. They all returned to the inn and slept.
Zor, Eyre 19, 993 YK
With no sign of Hohenheim, Kaziim, or Fenn in the morning, they readied themselves for a journey down to Khyber’s Gate to look for information. Gin advised them that it would be best to look capable and strong, but not to go overboard, as many of the inhabitants below would take that as a challenge. He also suggested that they refrain from taking any valuables with them that they weren’t okay with being stolen. After storing some of their goods with Rohagar’s House, they followed Gin beneath the city and down to Khyber’s Gate.
The city beneath the city filled a massive underground cavern. The buildings were built into the cavern walls, with networks of side tunnels extending outward with other shops and homes further into the walls. The city was tiered, with the top level being the largest in diameter, progressing down with each tier, until the bottom level consisted of buildings on the cavern floor, connected by streets and a system of catwalks spreading from roof to roof. The air was laden with dust and smoke. Most of the inhabitants were what the topside city would call “monstrous”. There were goblinoids, trolls, ogres, shifters, changelings, kobolds, and plenty of others down in Khyber’s Gate. Humans, Dwarves, and other standard humanoid races were the minority.
Uncertain where to begin, the party found the first tavern they could and tried to eavesdrop on conversations, listening for anything that might be of interest. Gin and Siegfried coaxed two shifters into telling them about some individuals that had gone missing recently. They were all members that had recently joined Daask. Rumor had it that one of Daask’s rival organizations was doing it to dissuade new members from joining. The missing members had been recruited at a Daask-owned tavern known as Shamukaar. With this newfound information, the party figured that Shamukaar would be the best place to learn more about Daask or find a way through their territory.
Shamukaar was a much nicer establishment than they expected to find. It was well-lit, clean, large, and even peaceful. At the entrance was a sign written in multiple languages indicating that violence and theft within the tavern would not be tolerated by Daask. The minotaur wielding a mighty warhammer standing inside was a good deterrent. They asked the friendly changeling bartender if he knew of anyone that might be able to lead them into the Depths. He remembered one individual that usually hung out with the “winners”. When asked what he meant, the bartender was surprised to find that the party hadn’t come to place a bet on the game. Every few nights, the tavern holds a game of Six Stones that anyone can place bets on. Hoping to meet the guide, the party went to speak with the bookie.
The bookie explained the nature of the game to them: seven participants enter the arena. They are not allowed to have any weapons or equipment aside from standard clothing. No magic may be used during the competition or in preparation beforehand. In this arena is placed a cockatrice that is set loose to attack the participants. No one is allowed to harm the cockatrice or to physically harm each other. Tripping and grappling is allowed. From time to time, other objects may be placed in the arena to add complications or provide assistance. The game continues until the cockatrice has turned six of the seven participants to stone. The last man standing is the winner. Ixen immediately placed two platinum pieces on an elven woman with 10:1 odds.
The party considered trying their hand at the game to get to meet the guide, but didn’t know what happened to the losers. The bookie explained that participants can purchase an oil of Stone to Flesh that will be used to revive them afterward or they can agree upon a “second” as collateral. A second individual agrees to be collateral. Should the participant fail, he will be revived after the game, but the second will be turned to stone in his place. In either event, anyone who remains stone after the game becomes property of Daask. After purchasing an oil of Stone to Flesh from the bookie at a “First Timer’s price” of only 200gp, Siegfried entered the competition.