Searching the lair of the hidden cult, Udrexa and Lucia find the engorged abyssal runestone that holds the soul of the late Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras. After some deliberation, Rita persuades them to let her keep the stone rather than release the corrupt politician’s soul where he could be revived.
Lucia spends several hours poring through the Forever Man’s records in his hidden sewer hideout. She learns about his efforts to manipulate the city’s gangs, merchants and politicians over the past century, as well as his more recent obsession with acquiring more sun orchid elixir to prolong his life.
While most of the major figures in the city were involved in at least some shady business, Lucia confirms that Lady Shiela Heidmarch appears to be clean. Another Sihedron Council member, Sabriyya Kalmeralm, has no dark secrets either — her questionable activities running a protection racket for the Bazaar of Sails is all public knowledge.
Lucia also learns that the Forever Man reported to extraplanar patrons, daemons known as the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart, who can act independently but are also part of the same entity with “three heads.” From what Lucia can tell, the party effectively decapitated the Forever Man’s hidden cult, with only a few members still at large.
Meanwhile, Udrexa and Vivi take the one captured cultist, Sister Farah, and the petrified Risa to the City Watch at the Arvensoar. There they find that Captain Bolt is processing another hidden cultist, the High Talon. Stripped of his mask, he is prominent merchant Tom Jellicle. He is being turned in by the trio of Damil Russo, Hira Doss, and Aliciette Cardoso, in exchange for amnesty for their activities as Peacock Spirit Cultists.
Hira Doss explains that the High Talon tried to get her to turn on her partners and join the hidden cult. But birds of a feather stick together, and the three of them share one heart. So they took down the High Talon instead. Damil tells Udrexa that the trio bears the party no ill will and he hopes they can move past the recent unpleasantness. She agrees.
Bolt and Vivi plan another date, while Udrexa links back up with Lucia to ask about what the cult has on her fiendish mentor Belawara. She learns that Belawara’s current state of magically imposed house arrest came after she brutally killed a suspected cultist operating out of the Mushfens. The Forever Man wondered if her journey towards the light was starting to backtrack.
Having acquired an impressive haul of treasure from the hidden cult, Lucia and Udrexa spend several days making sales and buying upgrades, including another augmentation to Lucia’s demon eyes. Lucia and Rita also consult with the demon Thizgumen about what to do with the abyssal runestone. The nalfeshnee demon advises them to release the soul in Nocticula’s realm of Midnight’s Palette, where it could choose to stay or depart.
Lucia also releases the dhampir pirate Jane from her dominate spell, warning her not to bring undead into the city again. Jane promises to make sure her aunts and uncles don’t return to Magnimar.
Meanwhile, in Korvosa, Vicky creates a simulacrum of the late Runelord Xiren as a gift for Runelord Sorshen. The Xiren sim is traumatized by her experience being tortured and killed by her successor Thybidos and she is wary of being made into a plaything for Sorshen. But Sorshen treats her warmly and insists that they will work together to build a new, better Thassilon.
Oathday, 6 Desnus, 4744
After more than a month apart, the Black Cats reunite at the Gryphine Hotel in Magnimar. Vicky shows off her ioun stone implants and they catch each other up on events. Their next move is traveling to the Realm of Frozen Tears in the Shadow Plane, to perform Runelord Xanderghul’s ritual in the antechamber of the palace known as White Death’s Diadem.
This will allow them to take a backdoor entrance to Crystilan, the City Outside of Time, which the Frozen Tears overlaps with on the Material Plane. It is in Crystilan that they will be able to study historical records untouched by Runelord Alaznist’s temporal manipulations and determine what she has done to alter history in her favor.
Fireday, 7 Desnus, 4744
Using the powerful spell plane shift, plus a magic item to help guide their travels, Vicky takes the party into the Shadow Plane. But something tugs them slightly off course and they find themselves inside a frigid cave, surrounded by ice statues of humanoids and other creatures, including a dragon, a winged serpent person, and an angel. The cave also has two raise stone platforms with dangling chains, where two gray-skinned captives are being tormented by blue-skinned fiends. They are kytons, the pain-obsessed servants of Inkariax, ruler of the Realm of Frozen Tears.
The Black Cats rush into battle against the kytons. The fiends have dangerous powers, including a touch attack that turns Elle into an ice statue, but Vicky is able to counter their more powerful magic. Lucia debuffs them while trying to keep the party alive. The kytons are no match for Udrexa, unable to see her after Ghera gives her greater invisibility.
When the dust settles, Lucia tends to the injured captives while the rest of the party takes stock of their situation on the dark, gray realm of the Shadow Plane.