Captain Kalaes Offer
You arrive at the King’s Citadel headquarters in the Ambassador Tower, in Middle Central Plataeu district, early the next day. Through great double doors of dark wood, you enter a circular antechamber with a marble floor bearing Breland’s national seal. Two other dark doors flank a small room divided from the main chamber by a low desk. Arrow slits pierce the polished stone walls – three on each side of the inner doors.
Behind the desk is a young male gnome with cropped blonde hair and a pointed beard. He wears a sharp dark uniform and cloak with a silver Brelish seal as a broach. He smiles.
Gnome: Welcome to the King’s Citadel headquarters citizens. How may I help you?
(Nodding to his companions, Mathas turns to the gnome and bows slightly)
Mathas: My name is Mathas. My companions are Tor, Vralwyn, Grayos and Graelen. We are here to see Captain Saj Kalaes, at his request.
(The gnome opens up a large book on his desk and then scans it with both his eyes and his finger)
Gnome: Aha, here you are. One moment please.
(The gnome then places his hand on an orb sitting on the desk. The orb glows for a moment and he then speaks into it.)
Gnome: Captain Kalaes morning appointment has arrived and they are waiting in the lobby.
(The orb stops glowing and the gnome turns back to the group)
Gnome: Please have a seat, he will be right with you.
(The gnome then begins flipping through some papers. A few moments later a large man with dark hair, and tan skin enters the lobby, from the right hand door behind the desk. He wears a coat of leather incorporated into a uniform like the gnomes if slightly fancier. A facial scar speaks of experience in battle. Rigid posture suggests a military background.)
Captain Kalaes: Thank you for coming. I am Captain Kales, please follow me.
(He leads you through the left hand door through a gloomy silent hall. Near its end, he opens a door and gestures for you to enter. The room houses a single ling table with about a dozen chairs.)
Captain Kalaes: Sit
(Captain Kaleas walks to the head of the table)
Captain Kalaes: Let me lay rest to any fears you may have. You’re in no trouble. You’re here for two reasons. The first is that you ventured into the depths of sharn and recovered a goblin artifact. I hear you did so to help the locals with a kruthik infestation, which means you’re brave. The fact that you’re sitting in front of me means you’re capable. Breland needs your skills helping us with a task related to the item you’ve found. That is the second reason your here.
(Vralwyn sits at attention displaying his Valenar discipline.)
Vralwyn: What does Breland need of us, Captain? Are we to explore more Goblin tombs?
(Kalaes flips through some notes and nods)
Kalaes: In a sense Vralwryn perhaps, but it is more complicated than that. In the goblin nation of Darguun, the Lhesh Haruuc holds onto power in the lowlands. In the Seawall Mountains to the east of that land, Dhakaani goblins plot their return to power. Among these factions is the Kech Volaar clan, the Wordbearers. These goblins are more moderate than most, interested in acquiring the right to rule by assembling goblin artifacts and building stable alliances. Although they cherish the return of a goblin empire, they lack the savagery common among their barbaric kin.
You might know that the Wordbearers, even now, seek the blade you recovered. they realize, as you might, that it is part of a mighty goblin artifact. They seek to reassemble this artifact as yet another symbol of their right to rule Darguun as the true heirs of Dhakaan.
We believe for many reasons, political and otherwise, that we should support the Wordbears’ ascension to power over their more aggressive cousins. To this end, we want you to help the Kech Volaar acquire the other pieces of this Ashen Crown.
(Vralwyn grimaces at the words “mighty goblin artifact” and visibly restrains himself from making an outburst. He takes a slow, deep breath before speaking. It is never wise to yell at a senior officer.)
Vralwyn: Are you aware that my people also have a claim to this artifact? The crown was originally of elven construction and should by rights return to them. I feel, uncomfortable, handing over a gift of my ancestors to Goblins, no matter how civilized they may be.
(Tor eyes Vralwyn looking for outburst …and is disappointed)
Tor: The important thing is do you have an idea where the crown is?
Kalaes: Yes Vralwryn, we are aware of the crowns original owners. However, Breland has no quarrel with Valenar and the elves have not tried to locate the crown in over 5 millennia. Perhaps someone such as yourself could convince the Kech Volaar to return it to your people once they come into power.
However, this is nonnegotiable. Once you succeed, you are to leave the crown in the hands of the Kech Volaar. They must have the complete crown. That said, you can keep in possession any of the fragments you recover until it is time to part ways with the wordbearers.
Also, we cannot let the Kech Volaar, OR anyone else know that Breland supports the wordbearers’ eventual play for control of Darguun. We need a neutral party. Which is why your here. Be assured that we will use your success for political advantage. Besides, why not you?
(Kalaes flips through his notes again)
Kalaes: Ah Tor. Yes, I have an idea where the crown is, and once you agree to aid Breland and swear an oath to the effect I will tell you more.
(Mathas leans forward in his chair, staring intently at Kalaes)
Mathas: So you wish us to aid them, and give up a item found by rite of conquest without recompense? That seems a bit absurd, if you ask me. Why should we care for a clan of upstart goblins that suddenly have grown a conscience? How do you know, Captain, they aren’t playing the part of peace until they assemble this artifact and make a play for domination?
(Kales flips through his notes again)
Kalaes: I would not say no recompense. Service to Breland is its own reward. But I’m sure you realize that the favor of the King’s Citadel, and thereby the crown of Breland does have certain intangible benefits? No? Know this Mathas they know you have recovered the blade and will come for it. Breland would prefer you to help us deal with this situation peacefully. We know many things Mathas, that is our job.
Grayos: Indeed, and speaking from a more cerebral plane, I confess I misunderstand some logic here. You… “appear”, good Ser Captain, to be dictating a great many things that we SHOULD be doing for you, for Breland, that certain parts are “non-negotiable”. Now that kind of talk is bound to chafe someone’s tunic for you see, we did not need Breland’s help acquiring this one piece, who’s to say we need it to find the others? Don’t misinterpret my tone, and it may be that most of your experience lies on the field of battle where it appears you have won a great many victories, or perhaps you are just unfamiliar with the act of bargaining. If you wish our help, perhaps you should grease the wagon wheel a bit? A bit of incentive goes a long way and so far, you have not even hinted at us keeping anything, no reward, other than a great, big, Brelish “thank you”.
Kalaes: Perhaps I was mistaken in thinking I was dealing with good and noble heroes. Willing to do what is right for the sake of Breland. I thought you above all else would understand Professor Grayos. Newly appointed to one of BRELAND’S premiere institutions. Instead I am dealing with mercenaries and scoundrels. And so what is it that you wish in return for aiding Breland in this?
Mathas: So that is the way you’ll play it Captain? I am not a slave to the crown regardless of what you believe. We have got where we are by our own merit, and not with the assistance of you or the crown. If you wish to place us in harm’s way, you will offer us more than a royal thanks, or you can pitch your need to the next band of lack wits that you come by, I for one will not have it.
Mathas: Supporting goblins. That’s just brilliant.
(stands and moves away from the table and to look out a window and cool off)
Tor: We are mercenaries …but we have honor. We will take on this task. What can you provide to assist us?
Kalaes: Ahh a voice of reason. Perhaps you will be able to convince your friends Tor. Until you all swear an oath I can provide you with no further information. I will leave you for a few moments to discuss it amongst yourselves and hopefully we can come to some reasonable terms.
(Captain Kalaes leaves the room, closing the door behind him)
(Mathas waits for Kalaes to leave)
(Mathas turns away from the window to Tor)
Mathas: I don’t like this. They’ll use us as pawns then discard us like rubbish when we are finished. What reason has he given to earn our trust?
Grayos: Make no mistake, Tor, he manipulates us. He talks of honor and nobility, but is he not suggesting subterfuge to meet his own ends? Trust me, if they wish to play musical thrones, we need to do nothing that leaves us with nothing.
(Grayos leans back in the chair, absent mindedly creating swirls of smoke)
Grayos: Besides, what has Breland done for you? They encroach on natural territories, driving wildlife further away from their hunting grounds and habitats. Does that not at least irk you?
Grayos: I’m not saying we shouldn’t accept. What I am saying is not to accept so freely. Mathas makes a solid point about lackwits. We are not said imbeciles. Let us come out on top. Let us seek recompense in what our original goals were before getting mixed up. I, for one, would not mind seeing a signed document to fund an expedition to a foreign land, perhaps Droaam, maybe Xen’drik? Perhaps Tor, you seek the safety of a habitat or group of people? Mathas, perhaps they can assist in recovering some of your past? All I’m saying is that we do have the resources of a kingdom here, does it hurt to ask?
(Vralwyn glares at Kalaes’ back as he leaves and then snaps his attention back to Grayos to listen to the discussion.)
Vralwyn: For all of Kalaes’ talk of honor, Breland had no qualms about hiring mercenaries during the Last War, nor do I suspect they will be beneath hiring them for the next. At least Valenar mercenaries have the honor to stay bought. I doubt their new Goblin allies will prove as trustworthy.
(Vralwyn pushes back from the table and stands. He paces the length of the table thinking.)
Vralwyn: I think Grayos has the right of this. If Breland wants this alliance so badly, let them pay for it in kind. They should make an alliance with us and meet our needs.
(Vralwyn stares out the window and shakes his head.)
Vralwyn: Ancestor’s guide me, but what’s the price of elven honor?
(Tor smiles deeply to himself …the Captain’s blood smells sweet and inviting)
Tor: Mathas, Grayos I fully expect us to be manipulated. Which is why I agreed. We needed a lead to the crown and this is it. My first duty is to you all, especially Vralywn. This crown is as important to him as it is the Breland King. However, that crown is another piece of our mission and the good Captain is the key. If we turn the crown over should be up to Vralywn.
(Vralwyn crosses his arms over his chest and bows to deeply to Tor.)
Vralwyn: I am honored to be part of your pack Tor. You have my strength at arms for as long as you need them.
Grayos: ‘’Especially to Vrawlryn’‘? Did I overlook something? Did you swear an oath of fealty? I can appreciate your acceptance of manipulation, and it’s good to hear there’s no illusion of nobility here. However, there’s no reason not to get something out of this. He requested us, not the other way. We have bones to barter with. He has the resources of a Captain for the King. We’ll have a lead to the artifacts to the crown no matter what, I say we get something in return.
Tor: Do not worry Grayos, I do not expect the same from you.
(Tor says with a big smile)
Grayos: The same what? I’m not asking you to betray something, I’m asking what’s the point in giving something away. You wish to volunteer us on the principles of nobility, and you claim fealty to us, but you wish to put us in harm’s way without recompense, and even sacrifice our hard earned treasures with only gratitude as payment?
(the door reopens and Kalaes re-enters. He walks back to the head of the table)
Kalaes: So, what is the verdict? How can I convince you to aid Breland in this task?
(Mathas sits back down at the table, visibly angry, but keeps quiet)
(Tor looks from his bloody palm to all of his companions)
(Kalaes taps his foot)
Tor: Based on my companions views …we must decline. Thank you for your time, but we’ll be leaving now.
Kalaes: don’t misunderstand me. I could take the blade from you right now. That is not a threat, it is a fact. If the favor of the crown is not enough then what is?
Mathas: Captain, attempting to bully us is certainly not a way to win favor. I have fought in more wars and served more kings in my lifetimes than you have in your short life, and I see you are used to getting what you ask for. I will assist you, only because I grow tired with this. First, you could do more than offer favor to those who could care less about it, that would be a start. You should have done your research and offered that which might be agreeable.
You want us to give up treasure that we fairly acquired because you simply ask us to. You ask us to do something without providing all the details without an oath. What oath do you require? That we’ll not speak to anyone of this task? That is easily given.
You could also realize that you called on us, we didn’t call you. You need us, we don’t need you. Make the deal worthwhile and tangible, or leave us be to go on our way.
(Mathas holds up his hand as if to tell the Captain to wait a moment)
Mathas: If you cannot authorize a better reward than words, then I suggest you speak with someone that can.
Tor: Please do not take this the wrong way. Among the group there is much mistrust concerning our past dealings with other organizations, and your ultimatum does not smooth things over in any way. We do not seek a conflict with you, merely our paths have a different destination. Perhaps later we’ll agree to help later, but now we cannot and I have taken an oath unto death to defend the choices of this group …but I don’t think I am supposed to die here, and neither do you.
(Vralwyn narrows his eyes at Kalaes considering if he is a worthy enemy.)
Vralwyn: You act for the benefit of Breland do you not? I too act for the benefit of my people. I would consider helping these wordbearers if they acknowledge an elvish claim to the crown and would surrender it if it were so decreed by the Valenar. As I have been recently reminded, my people have made no efforts to claim the crown in the last five thousand years. Surely we could wait a few more years.
(Vralwyn nods to himself.)
Vralwyn: And of course, having the crown found by one of elvish blood is only right and natural.
(Kalaes nods to Vralwryn)
Kalaes: I understand your hesitation Vralwryn, but without the wordbearers tenacity none of us would know the crown exists. Whatever deal you reach with the Wordbearers after they make their bid for control is of no concern to Breland. Know this Vralwryn, these goblins value honor above all else. I know you understand the value of honor. Perhaps you will be able to convince them to do what is right.
(Captain Kalaes takes a deep breath than sits down)
Kalaes: I apologize. You are right Mathas I am a warrior not a diplomat. I want you walk away from this as allies not enemies.
I completely understand your mistrust. Trust is something that has been seldom seen in these times. King Boranel is a great man and king, and I believe because of him the war came to an end. I serve because I trust the direction Breland is headed in.
I am going to break protocol and provide you with some information, so that maybe you will trust me further.
The goblins know that you have the sword and right now are planning on recovering the other pieces. They have a way of locating the rest of the crown.
It is unfair of me to ask you to sacrifice your treasure for nothing but promises, what would be sufficient recompense? Would 750 gold pieces upon completion of your task help sway you?
Grayos: Captain, perhaps you misunderstand us. Perhaps we are not communicating effectively. It is not that we don’t WANT to help, but look at the situation. You’ve commanded us here and tell us to help you with not only a lack of tangible rewards, but being WORSE off than we were. Mathas, Tor, Vralwryn, and Graelen are all gentlemen that hold honor in high regard, they are proud men, but that honor is not to you or your throne, and forcing proud men into doing things never gives the proper result. I’m not saying it couldn’t be earned, but you need to learn how to appeal to your crowd.
Gold we can recover during our adventures. Treasure we’ll find as well. Perhaps if you offered something that only the throne can offer, aside from the ephemeral “gratitude of the throne”. Maybe Mathas could use some assistance in uncovering parts of his past, maybe access to records or diviners. What about Tor, did it occur to you that maybe that robe of eyes was something that was thrust upon him involuntarily? Vrawlryn, I’m sure, has a request that the Captain to the King could easily accommodate.
We are not uncooperative, we simply are asking a bit of professionalism. As the deva has said, you called us, we did not seek you out.
(The captain puts his hand to his forhead and sighs)
Kalaes: Okay, you are right I called on you as I have a task for you. I’m offering you a chance to help discover the rest of the artifact. I’m also asking you to give up your already found treasure.
However officially you’ll be working on your own terms, if you complete the task and aid the goblins in recovering the crown. You will have gained allies here in Breland as well as probably the eternal gratitude of the goblins.
You want something, but it’s not treasure and don’t actually have something tangible in mind. So what exactly do you want?
Please let us finish these boring negations’ and move on to something more beneficial for both of us.
Mathas: Thank you Captain for your understanding. I believe that 750 gold pieces will be sufficient upon completion of the task. I was not looking to make a profit from this, only fair value of the sword, should we have to part with it.
(Mathas realizes he has no intention of giving up the sword, but instead has a desire to seek out the other lost pieces of the crown.)
Mathas: If my companions are in agreement, we can move on with other details.
(Mathas looks around the table)
(Tor simply nods his head.)
Grayos: Bah, keep my portion of the gold, I’ve little use for it. Apparently some of my constituents have changed their minds and are happy with gold. I, however, recognize the power behind the persons making the request for our aid, for my aid. I wish to request a favor, not just gratitude, but the opportunity to call on the ‘’nobility of Breland’’ to honor this favor, whatever it may be… And of course, it would be within reason.
Kalaes: okay now that we’ve finally dispensed with that let us move on.
As I stated before the Kech Volaar leader in Sharn knows that you have the blade, but the leader sees dealing with you is something she can do after finding the other fragments of the Ashen Crown. She is heading to a goblin monument known as Six Kings in the northern Gray Wall mountains soon. We want you to head west, meet her there and offer your aid. I’ll leave it up to you to come up with a plausible reason why you’re willing to aid the goblins. But remember they must not know that Breland is involved at all.
(Grayos claps his hands down on the table)
Grayos: Then i suppose this is settled. Any other business?
(Tor raises an eyebrow at Grayos …fascinating)
Kalaes: You should also know that we have an agent on the inside, hence why we know so much information. A changeling posing as a hobgoblin named Tikulti. He has tribal ratios around his eyes and on his chin and carries a distinctive bejeweled rapier. Tikulti will help you accomplish your mission but he must do so without revealing his true nature.
When you get to six kings, Tikulti tells us that the leader seeks two different fragments located there.
Tikulti told us that they’ll be going to a cave beneath the monument. An outcropping of white stone points into the correct opening. You will have to find out more from the Kech Volaar on site.
The wordbearers are a party of 8, 6 hobgoblins including Tikiltu and 2 goblins. The leader of the group is a female Kech Volaar dirge singer, a warrior bard named Yerra. Among the hobgoblins two are soldiers, one an archer and another a Mage. Tikiltu is posing as a soldier that specializes in traps. One goblin is a scout the other is a wolf warrior – a berzerker. The Wordbears like to wear tribal ratios commemorating their deeds. This distinguishes the from other goblin clans.
Also, it seems a few bands of Kech Shaarat Goblins, Bladeberers, are pursuing the Kech Volaar party. Tikulti tells us that he and his companions have already driven off one band. They cannot be allowed to steal the fragments of the crown under any circumstances. Consider any Bladebarers you meet as enemies. Their warriors brand themselves with blade shaped scars.
The Kech Volaar have access to a freelance airship, called the Kordanga, which will be dropping them off in Ardev and they will be heading the rest of the way overland. You’ll be flying to Ardev on a Lyrander airship an folia them overland.
You’ll be leaving in three days, just after the Kech Volaar. I want you on their heels but not to close. Any questions?