The Sundered Sword

We begin on board the ship, having just decided that we need to head back to Easar and the cliffs that will lead to the Thaumaturgy. The ship is being steered by the Borderlander we allowed to live and the rest of us—save Jack—have holed up in the Captain’s quarters so that we can’t be seen while passing near the city.

Jack, definitely not trusting the man we’re paying to steer the ship, sticks to the shadows on deck to keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, the rest of us are trying to decide what to do about the Borderlander. On the one hand, leaving him alive is a huge risk because he’s seen our faces and can easily report us. On the other, Targoth feels that we have an ethical obligation to keep him alive since we’ve told him we would spare his life.

Aideena, during the discussion, recalls that she had a disease that made her forget certain information (“Oubliette Mind”) and wonders if we can’t somehow replicate that experience and make the Borderlander forget meeting us.

Eben agrees to help her discern the nature of the disease and how she might be able to give it to someone else. Originally, Targoth agrees to help with casting the spell on the Borderlander, believing it to be better than outright killing him—which is what some of the party are advocating.

During the hour that passes as we make our way back towards the Thaumaturgy, Jack keeps an eye on the Borderlander and Aideena prepares to cast the spell. After that hour, the Borderlander comes and informs us that we’re now close enough to row to shore.

Eben, about this time, pokes around the captain’s quarters and finds a mask of an eladrin face that looks incredibly lifelike. We are eventually able to determine that it’s a Doppelganger Mask and is good for one use only.

Solange then finds a vial which she tells us is Hair of Fairy Hues—a fairy hair that will turn someone’s hair a different shade more or less permanently (or, at least, until the hair grows out). Eben also discovers a charlatan’s kit, three unknown vials and an unknown jar, and a chest which contains 3000 gp, which the party divides evenly.

While these things are helpful, they don’t help us resolve the issue of what to do about the Borderlander sailor. Targoth has changed his mind about helping, raising concerns about the ethics of messing with someone’s mind when we’ve promised not to do anything to him, and there’s a sense of urgency about the party as we know that we can’t sit around debating the issue forever.

We make our way onto the main deck where Jack has begun prepping a lifeboat for us to use. Most of the party—save Jack, Aideena, and Eben—climb into the lifeboat. Aideena then addresses Dax—the Borderlander—and awkwardly tells him to go take a nap while he waits for us to return. Of course, we had not planned to return at all, since once we’re done in Easar, we were going to use the portals in Saresh’s office to get out of the city. Targoth had decided to tell the sailor we were going to return, though.

Dax doesn’t quite know what to do with Aideena’s suggestion and more or less politely rebuffs it. That’s when Solange comes up with the idea that instead of making him forget about us completely, it might be better to plant a memory or suggestion. The idea arises that it might be better to make him think we’re in a completely different city instead of where we actually are.

Aideena decides to implant the idea that Dax has dropped us off in Il Aren, and then attempts to ascertain if it was successful by mildly flirting with the man. It seems to when he suggests that they meet up later at an inn called The Flayed Man and no one who knows Easar well has heard of the place.

Jack and Eben row the boat to shore and we all climb out on the beach. The beach is narrow and comes to an abrupt end in some sheer cliffs 50 yards from the ocean. Janus Swiftfoot leads the party over to these cliffs and searches along the face for a moment before a section of it vanishes and a sort of doorway appears, beyond which is utter darkness.

Janus begins to lead us into the doorway, though I stop him short because I hear shuffling in the darkness, which appears to be coming closer. Janus is unsurprised; he tells us that he forgot about the sentries that protect his way into the Thaumaturgy. They won’t attack him, he says, because he has the proper amulet, but he’s confident that we can handle them.

We make our way through the doorway and don’t have much time before the elementals are upon us. Luckily, we are able to defeat them—rather handily as well—and continue to the Thaumaturgy and Janus’s room without incident.

He then formally thanks Targoth and me for participating in the jailbreak to rescue Kairon, and gives us gold worth 1000 gp, which we split with the rest of the party.

We wonder if we’re okay to rest in Janus’s room, given everything that happened at earlier in the evening at the warehouse, but Janus tells us that the wards to his room will protect us. He also tells us that he won’t be accompanying us further as he needs to go to ground himself.

Before settling in for the evening, we discuss what our plans for the next day are. Given that we want as much information about the Royal Archives as possible, we decide that we should gather the information that Professor Aviel Evervale demanded we give her before she would help us.

Janus then gives us four scrolls that he thinks will be helpful the following day: two of Change Self and two of Chameleon Cloak. We thank him and divide these up to party members who might need them.

We then discover that the unknown vials we collected from the ship are Potions of Mimicry, and the unknown jar is a jar of Unreadable Ink which is invisible to everyone save the intended recipient. The intended recipient will not be able to read it either, but will know the message when he or she touches the paper.

Solange then gives us a vial of Goodnight Tincture, which causes someone to go to sleep when it’s ingested. There are enough for two doses.

Solange and Helena then leave to make contact with some of the others and find out what happened to them. Helena extracts a promise from Jack that he won’t leave without seeing her again.

Janus leaves to go about some business and the party decides to rest for the evening with the exception of Targoth and Aideena, who spend some time learning new rituals, which include “Duplicate” and “Change Self.”

The next morning, we prepare to go to the Scriveners’ Academy in disguise.

Aideena uses her Hair of Fairy Hues to change her hair to a dark reddish color—similar to auburn, Targoth uses the change self ritual to appear human, and the rest of us don disguises of some sort to make our way to the Scriveners’ Academy.

When we get there, we see many students milling about, and we know there are three main areas: the classrooms, the dormitories, and the front entrance.

Aideena tells us that she spent a short time studying at the Academy before she transferred to the Thaumaturgy, so Targoth asks her where we ought to go first. He wonders if we ought to ask some students or if we should look in books first.

Aideena mentions that looking in books might call less attention to ourselves, but the students are probably distracted anyway so we’d probably be safe.

Ultimately, we decide to head to the library first to see what we can find. The library is large and there are a number of students inside. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to the ordering of the books, though Aideena thinks she remembers where the history section is, so we—with the exception of Targoth—head that way first.

In the history section, Jack is able to find a picture book about dragons, while I find a book in Common called Of the Fall, and Aideena finds a book in draconic (Iokharic) called The Early Days of Arkhosia. Meanwhile, Targoth asks the librarian for assistance. The librarian tells Targoth that Laetan has really cornered the market on books about Arkhosia, but that he might be able to find something in the aisle where the rest of us are looking through books.

The librarian proves to be mostly unhelpful and soon leaves. Aideena’s book is not useful, as we are researching modern Arkhosian history, not the early days, but the one I grabbed has some information. In the book, I find a reference to Drail being the third emperor and mentions that Berylith was the fourth. There’s really nothing else helpful in the book that I can see and I stick it back on the shelf. Targoth decides that he needs to go through the book as well and he spots one reference that I didn’t, namely that Vanadius was not the last emperor.

Armed with these pieces of information, we leave the history section and spot a couple of older students who are close to being professors themselves. Aideena approaches them in the guise of a first year and asks for their help.

One of the students remembers that Atrakath was male and that Berylith is not male if Vanadius is not female or vice versa. Then the student gets into a discussion with another student about Verdigris, the Green Dragon, who they say destroyed the Sunken City at Tarnebolge. They argue over whether “The Green Dragon” is a description or a title, and what it might mean if it was a title conferred on one who was not a dragon. The students walk off, completely forgetting about us.

Aideena remembers some history professors that she knew when she was a student, so she leads the way to the classroom area in the hopes of finding them. She uses the same ruse on them—pretending to be a first year helping a friend write a paper on the topic and needing the information—and at first the professors seem very eager to help and perhaps get us to do some research for them in exchange. Once it becomes clear what we’re asking, though, their enthusiasm dies quickly, though they still attempt to help. One of them remembers that there were more males than females and—combined with our knowledge that there were no consecutive males which we received from the advanced students—we know that the order must be male, female, male, female, male, female, and male. We also know that this means Drail is male because he’s third and that Berylith is female, which means that Vanadius has to be male and also not seventh.

The professors also remember that Ferrus comes after Osmus but before Iridian. The professors then hurry off, promising us that if we give them a week to look over their notes, they should be able to give us the correct order. This, of course, is useless, so Targoth asks a student in the classroom if he can help. He remembers that Atrakath was the last ?? and that is the last piece of the puzzle we need.

We go to Professor Evervale with the information that the correct order is Osmus, Ferrus, Drail, Berylith, Vanadius, Iridian, and Atrakath. She’s irritable and sarcastic, but agrees to provide us a map of the Royal Archives.

We head back to the Thaumaturgy and Janus’s room to inspect the map and make plans for breaking in and stealing the map.

We know that the Royal Archives is a well-known building and that it’s located in Whitestone Tor, which is a middle class to upper middle class district. We also know that because it’s a well-known building, it’s incredibly well guarded.

When we inspect the map closer, it becomes clear that the best and easiest way in will be to go into an alleyway that abuts the building, climb over a wall to an outdoor passageway, and then to sneak into the building through a door that leads to a basement. From there, we’ll have to take the stairs up to the top level and go down a hall to reach the Arkhosian room, which is where the sword will be.

Aideena suggests that she might be able to use her Duplicate ritual to leave a copy of the sword so that it doesn’t provoke suspicion when it’s missing, but after a fairly inauspicious attempt at duplicating the map, which lasts all of ten minutes, we’re not convinced it’s the best option.

After looking over the map and discussing our options, we decide it would be best to wait until night to break in as that will give us the best chance to get in and out without being noticed.

Solange and Helena do not return while we wait in Janus’s room and eventually we prepare ourselves to go to the Archives by using a scroll or ritual to disguise ourselves or, in my case, to change my shape.

We make it to the alleyway and wander through it, noticing that there are some guards patrolling the area. I walk along with Targoth; both of us try to help Aideena and Eben blend in and look like they belong while Jack keeps to the shadows.

The guards notice us, asking Targoth and I where we are headed. After Targoth uses a glib (and rather suggestive) limerick to imply that we will be busy for most of the evening, the guards flirt with me shamelessly, as I appear to be a lady of the night. I flirt back and play up that perception, teasing one of them until one of the other guards pulls him away and tells him they’re on the job. Targoth apologizes to me for putting me in the position and I tell him it’s all right because I’ll just kill something later to make up for it. We take our time until the guards round the corner and walk off, leaving the area guard-free for the moment.

Jack immediately scales the wall and ties a rope to the roof to help the rest of us get up there. Aideena climbs up first and makes it safely, then drops to her stomach to make sure no one sees her up there. I climb up next with no problem and Jack asks for my rope, which I give him. He goes over to the other side of the building and attaches it to help us climb down.

Aideena climbs down as Eben climbs up. While Eben makes it onto the roof, Aideena’s descent is much more difficult and she reaches a point where the second floor juts out above the first. At the point where she no longer has the advantage of a wall against which to brace herself, the sudden lack of support causes her to fall. I head down next, have the same problem and experience the same result—a fall that is incredibly painful.

Eben makes his way down and also falls. Targoth makes it up to the roof and, just as Jack is hauling the rope off the ground, two guards round the corner on the street and notice the movement. They fire a weapon at Jack and Targoth before Targoth asks them not to fire, stating that he’s a member of the guards from Docksides and he’s helping patrol the Archives on special assignment. The guards buy his bluff and the three of them spend some time discussing what happened at the jail in Docksides—whether Druuk was okay, how a bunch of prisoners escaped, and how the jailbreakers managed to get in.

The guards eventually wander off, none the wiser, and Jack and Targoth make their way down to the alley where the rest of us are.

We all head over to the door and Jack and I take the lead. We quickly and quietly open the door to a totally dark room. Before we take a step in, though, we hear snoring and try to figure out the best way to deal with taking out the guard and getting to the other side of the room without being able to see. We don’t have much choice, though, and decide to go in and try to knock the guard unconscious. Jack takes a step in and falls down, though he’s able to avoid getting too hurt.

When I notice that he’s fallen, I get on my stomach to feel around for a ladder, which I find easily. I’m able to make my way down quietly and quickly and then the two of us begin slowly moving towards the snoring. Unfortunately, we don’t make it very far before multiple guards awake, the light goes on, and we’re attacked.

I call for help from the rest of the party and we manage to block the exits, preventing any of the guards from escaping to secure help and reinforcements.

We manage to kill all of the guards save one. He surrenders to us, tells us his name is Burran and that he has a wife and child, basically using every tactic in the hostage’s book to keep his soon-to-be murderers from finishing him off. His plea makes many of us second-guess our recent slaughter. Burran agrees to help us with whatever we’re trying to steal as long as we’ll spare him. Jack really doesn’t want to do that, but the rest of us decide that having someone who knows the Archives so well and can help distract and misdirect the other guards is probably worth the risk.

While we quickly discuss what to do, Targoth hides the bodies of the other guards and Aideena cleans up the spilled blood. We ask Burran to lead us to the room with the Arkhosian artifacts. He does so, leading us up the stairs to the right floor and indicating that the room is at the end of the hall and on the right.

The lighting is dim and it’s impossible to really see the guards that are far away; in fact, we only know they’re there because they have torches. Burran tells us that all of the rooms have guards except for the one closest to the stairwell we’ve just come up, which is filled with weapons. We decide to make our way stealthily into that room and then create a diversion that will allow us to get closer to the room we need without being seen. We all make it into the room without being noticed except Eben, who is unfortunately very loud and attracts attention. Burran is able to cover, though, and throw the guards’ suspicions off.

Once he enters the room, he tells us we have to be quieter. We decide that we’re going to have to leave Eben in this room—he’s too much of a risk to come with us—and then we come up with our plan of attack after some discussion. We’re going to send Burran into the room across the hallway with a biscuit laced with Goodnight Tincture and have him give it to the guard. It should put the guard asleep and then Aideena will be able to create a crashing sound in that room, causing the rest of the guards to come running. The fact that one of their fellows is asleep in the room will hopefully occupy them for long enough for us to get further down the hall.

We lace two of the biscuits with the tincture—one for the guard and one for an emergency—and Aideena tells Burran to take a bite of the one without so that he’ll know which is which. He then takes the biscuit across the hall and we wait.

Jack gets a bit anxious and wants Aideena to make the noise after a couple of minutes, but Aideena hasn’t seen a sign from Burran and decides to wait five minutes. Near the fifth minute mark, Burran exits the room and signals Aideena. She makes a crashing sound and the guards come running. From where we are, we can hear them find the guard and exclaim over what happened. In the confusion, none of the guards notice us leaving the weapons room and making our way to a room halfway down the hall containing what appear to be the three skeletons and portraits of Dakkon’s prior kings. We hide and wait for the guards outside to move away.

Once these guards—who are moving more slowly—pass, we quietly make our way out of the room and towards the Arkhosian room. There is, however, one guard who has remained in the hall and a couple of guards who are still in some of the rooms near the one we want. We decide to use the other biscuit with the Goodnight Tincture on this guard as another distraction. Burran goes to over to him to chat and give it to him, while we use one of the scrolls of Chameleon Cloak to keep ourselves hidden.

Meanwhile, Eben has stayed in the weapons room and kept quiet. One of the guards, however, searches in there and Eben takes an elixir that makes him blend in with a display case. The guard never sees him and moves on.

Burran returns to us, giving us a signal that the guard is down. While we’re hidden, Burran is not and soon enough the guards discover the sleeping guard. I tell Burran to go with them to keep up appearances, which he does. He returns just as we see an opportunity to get into the Arkosian room.

The guards are now on high alert, aware that something is happening. They go checking the rooms and, once they’ve checked the Arkhosian room and have moved down the hall from us, we make our way there as quickly as possible. Burran is with us at this point and he tells us that we only have a few minutes. We find the Sundered Sword quickly, but it’s clear that we’re going to have difficulty getting it out and that a duplicate copy is going to take far longer than we have.

There are two levels of protection for the sword: arcane and mundane. Aideena looks carefully at the sword and is able to determine that there are arcane filaments emanating out from the sword to all of the guards—twelve in all, including one to Burran. As a test to see what will happen, Aideena magically snips the one connected to Burran. When Burran doesn’t react, she cuts through the rest of them, thus taking care of the magical protection.

The mundane protection proves to be a lot more difficult. The three pieces of the sword are held in place by huge bolts which no item we possess will fit, and which prove difficult to get a purchase on using hands.

Jack has a crowbar and we do our best to be as quiet as possible while using it to pry the bolts off so that the sword pieces can be wiggled out from behind bars, but despite our best efforts, the bolts come off loudly. We know we have very little time, so we go as quickly as we can.

I tell Burran to go and keep the guards out as long as possible and we are able to work on the second and third bolts while he runs out, ostensibly to hold off the guards. Eben hears the noise and, assuming that a distraction is necessary, assists us by pushing over a display case in the room he’s in, which creates a loud crashing sound. This forces the guards to go in two directions, which enables Eben to run in our direction.

Just as we’re finishing with the bolts and wiggling the last piece of the sword off the wall, Burran betrays us (although at this point he has no choice), sending the guards our way. They burst in and move to surround us. Jack darts to the window, opens it, and ties a rope on the ledge to help us get down, then slides down the rope himself. The guards scream that there’s been a break-in, to catch us and get reinforcements, as Eben runs into the room. One of the guards attacks me and hits me pretty hard, but I’m able to teleport out of the window. I begin to fall but manage to grab onto the rope and ease myself safely down.

Targoth gets hit by a few guards but is able to make his escape. Eben follows him, leaving Aideena as the last person in the room. She runs over to the window, turns to glance at Burran—who looks conflicted—and then she fey steps out of the window to the ground where we are. We immediately change our shapes and take on completely different guises. Aideena appears as a female human clothed in a peasant dress; Eben is a human male with a leather coat and Jersey good looks, while Jack becomes a female dwarf and Targoth is a female elf. I change my shape to be still human, though taller and with darker skin, hair, and eyes. I’m the only one who is unable to alter the appearance of my clothes, though, but I’m not terribly concerned.

Jack moves quickly away, while Targoth moves a bit slower and as though he’s had a good time that evening. I follow behind Targoth, sauntering down the street towards the main thoroughfare, and Eben and Aideena are last, strolling along and acting as a couple.

The guards burst out, but by the time they reach us we’ve pretty much reached the main street and blend in well enough that the guards don’t given any of us a second look. We are then able to make our way to the Thaumaturgy without incident.

When we get there, we see that Helena, Solange, and Jalmari are waiting for us. Jack, forgetting that he has a disguise on, runs up to Helena to take her hand. She bats him away at first, and then asks, “Fritz?” Jack removes the disguise and the two siblings share a moment.

Jalmari, meanwhile, is clearly looking at all of us closely, and I’m a bit excited to see him, so I remove my disguise in a way to look much as Jack’s removal did. Jalmari immediately gets in my face, upset, asking how I could do something so dangerous and thoughtless when people have just died. I’m shocked at his attitude and speechless at first, before I manage to say that I thought it was necessary because the sword we retrieved was in the prophecy.

He’s still upset and I don’t understand why, though I try to explain. I’m surprised, confused, and not a little hurt at his behaviour, but Solange puts a hand on his arm and confirms that the sword was in the prophecy and needed to be retrieved.

Jalmari backs off a bit and tells us where everyone has headed, and imparts the news that he hasn’t heard from Miden or the Allexis and fears they may have been captured or killed. We’re all stunned and Aideena’s face tightens. Jalmari then explains that it’s time we meet Prince Navuul and he’s going to take us to Riven to do just that. We’re to leave on a halfling boat shortly, though it’ll take a week to get there.

We tell him that we’d planned to use the portals in Saresh’s office to get close to the Dragonchain. Jalmari is immediately suspicious and wonders if we can trust this dragonborn, and then we explain that Saresh is Targoth’s mentor and has been since Targoth was very young. Targoth vouches for him, and Jalmari agrees that a portal would be infinitely quicker. He urges us on, telling us that we have no time to lose. Aideena leaves a note for Janus in the invisible ink that simply says, “We’re gone,” and we leave the room and head for the Scrivener’s Academy.

Once we get there and to Saresh’s office, Targoth knocks and we’re all a bit surprised that Saresh himself answers the door. He ushers us inside and to his private quarters. He tells us that he had no luck tracking down the dragonborn disappearances. We introduce Jalmari, Solange, and Helena to him and ask him if any of the portals go near Riven. Jalmari questions Saresh’s view on the king and Saresh says that he’s felt for some time that something was wrong. He then tells us that one of the portals goes to a place that’s only half a day’s journey from Riven and, since it’s early enough in the morning, if we leave now we should be able to make it to Riven before dark. We all squeeze into the portal circle. I move next to Jalmari and it’s clear that he’s treating me coldly. I still don’t understand why and am beginning to be preoccupied by it.

But before I can think on it too much, the portal activates and we find ourselves in a cave. When we step outside, it’s much colder and there’s snow on the ground.

We’re about to start walking towards Riven, but Jalmari mentions that his father has been in contact with some of the dragonborn clans and is nearby. We offer to send a message via animal messenger to his father and are able to wrangle a stoat for the purpose. The ritual doesn’t go as well as we’d hoped, though, so we’re not sure if Baron Kaldashar will receive the message. We begin our walk to Riven regardless, though, and Saresh tells Targoth that he contacted Targoth’s mother and she can probably be found at The Sleeping Dragon. Also as we walk, Helena wonders if we’ll be safe in the city, but Jalmari assures us that the city is under the Prince’s control and there won’t be any wanted posters up.

Sure enough, once we get to Riven, it appears as though it’s a regular city, and is a complete contrast to the one we just left. It’s orderly and composed and there are no wanted posters with our faces on them.

We head for the Guildhouse and Jalmari immediately wants to seek out Navuul, but Targoth says that he wants to find his mother first since she can reforge the Sundered Sword. Jalmari argues for a bit, but we—mainly Solange—are able to convince him that it’s important. Helena then pulls Jack aside and tells him that she thinks she sensed their father when they entered the city. She wants to find out if it’s true and Jack, reluctantly, agrees to go with her. I’m getting emotional, however, and very preoccupied and for a moment my shape flickers. No one seems to notice.

We decide that the first place we’re heading is the Sleeping Dragon. When we enter, we see a number of dragonborn patrons and most of them recognize and greet Targoth with a hero’s welcome. Targoth makes small talk with a number of them, explaining in broad and vague terms what he’s been up to and the things he’s learned, as well as the reason he’s currently in Riven. He asks after his mother and someone goes to fetch her, mentioning that Balthasar—Targoth’s father—is also around. Targoth also asks after the disappearances and everyone goes silent for a moment. Then someone explains that no one really knows anything about them. Dragonborn have been disappearing and no one ever hears from them again, but no one knows where they go, why, or how. A couple of dragonborn named Zajj and Kerna have also disappeared.

The lute player asks Targoth to join him on stage and they, along with Jack, play for the patrons.

Drinks are on the house and Aideena chats with some of the other patrons, Eben talks about the wonders of Kord and arm-wrestles with some other devotees, and I sit off in a corner, pretending to drink the drink I’ve been handed, and brood.

Soon after, Targoth’s mother and father show up and wave him over. All three, along with Saresh, sit at a table and talk. Targoth’s mother asks after the sword she forged him and Targoth explains how Druuk destroyed it with a swordbreaker and that he needs a new one. He then pulls out the pieces of the Sundered Sword and gives them to her, asking if she can imbue this one with the same magical properties that his old one had. She tells him she’ll try, but the properties already imbued in this sword may overwhelm what he had before. Targoth understands that and thanks her, and she tells him that his new sword should be ready the next day.

After that, the party leaves and Jack and Helena want to head to the Ragged Quarter to see if their father really is there. We all follow and enter The Feather and Stone. It’s dark inside and there aren’t many patrons. Near one wall there are two women in black knitting and at the bar is a man who is far too drunk for the early hour.

Jack and Helena recognize him instantly and go over to him. After staring for a moment, Jack tentatively offers, “Papa?”

The man looks blearily at Jack and says, “Fritz?” His eyes sharpen a bit when Jack nods and he says, somewhat wonderingly, “You might be. What’s it been? Fifteen years or more?” He then asks Jack how he found him. Jack indicates Helena.

Jack’s father then recognizes Helena and his demeanor changes slightly. He blames her for his wife’s death, saying that Helena running away—and his wife going after her—is what killed her. Helena is speechless and horrified, her worst fears confirmed.

Their father then asks why they’re there. Jack asks after the rest of the family and their father admits that Jack and Helena’s older sisters, Berthe and Marja, also found him.

Before Jack can really react, a cold, imperious voice says, “You do not understand anything, Fritz Hanswurst.” Jack turns and the women in black who were knitting have stood and are looming over Jack and Helena. Marja tells the younger siblings to sit—which they do, shocked—and she orders in a commanding, compelling tone for everyone else to leave. Everyone except for Targoth and me do, in a hurry.

The sisters start to explain to Jack and Helena what happened to their father: that he was a preacher of the entire pantheon to start with and was trying to bring worship of the Raven Queen back in vogue. But then he went too far after their Mama died; the sisters blame Jack and Helena for this.

Jack is listening to this, more sullen than anything, and Helena doesn’t really understand. Once the two sisters place the blame on Jack and Helena, Jack jumps out of his chair and yells that they always blamed him for everything.

They answer that they were right this time, too. They say that their father became an eater of sorrows and took on the guilt and sins of other people so they were able to die in peace. People loathed him and needed him in equal measure, and paid well, but that he took on far too much guilt and sorrow and it started turning inward, destroying the man.

Jack tries to tell if the two are telling the truth, if the Raven Queen really wants him to be here, and he gets the sense that this is something that has to happen, though there’s nothing telling him what he should do.

Jack then sighs and asks what they want from him. The two sisters tell Jack and Helena that they have to take on the sorrows that their father has accumulated. Helena volunteers to do it, and because of this, Jack very reluctantly agrees.

The older sisters tell their father to go to sleep, and he does, his face still twisted as though he’s in pain. They place their hands on him and close their eyes, then tell Jack and Helena to do the same.

When Jack does, the room grows darker and Jack is able to sense a darkness in his father, wrapping around him like a shroud. The sisters tell him to pull the darkness free, which both he and Helena do. Once they do, the sisters tell them that it’s done, and they are suddenly back in the here and now. Neither of them feels any different, but the sisters tell them that it will have a different effect on them; to their father, it was a crushing burden, but for them, the darkness is a weapon turned outward, a weapon that will be able to be of use to Jack and Helena.

The impromptu family reunion ends and the sisters tell Jack and Helena to leave. Jack begins to, and then turns to face them and asks about the old man. The sisters begin to say that this will help their father, but Jack interrupts, saying he doesn’t care about him. He wants to know about the Rag and Bone Man who keeps following him.

The sisters sneer a bit and say that the Rag and Bone Man sent Jack to them, and that his purpose is to look after lost and forgotten things. “You’re not quite so lost and forgotten now, are you?” they ask.

Jack asks if they’re done now and the sisters tell him to get lost. We all leave the tavern. As I exit, I march straight over to Jalmari and engage him in conversation as we walk towards the Keep and a meeting with Prince Navuul. Our conversation continues until we reach the Keep, when Jalmari turns to the party and says, “Come. We have to go around to a side entrance to see the Prince.”



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