Return of the Runelords

The Apostate Devil
The City Outside of Time, Part 12

Delving further into the Realm of Frozen Tears, the Black Lions defeat a dybbuk and a haunt before getting drawn into an intense battle with an apostate devil.

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The High Mistress
The City Outside of Time, Part 11

Fireday, 7 Desnus, 4744

The Black Strays recuperate inside Vicky’s magnificent mansion. The wizard tries to commune with her patron, the Heart of Winter, to learn more about his request to claim black eye gems from a statue of Inkariax in the antechamber of White Death’s Diadem. All she is able to glean is that the gems are prized by Inkariax for more than merely their value.

Starday, 8 Desnus, 4744

Vicky asks Lucia about her relationship with her patron and whether she has been asked to anything seemingly trivial and petty. Rita butts in to note that the Redeemer Queen has often assigned trivial tasks. But Lucia says they were never asked to do anything petty that was also life threatening. Vicky informs them of her patron’s demand. They aren’t sure what the gems could be for, but Rita notes that gemstone eyes in sacred altars are used as ritual focal points for a wide variety of occult activity.

After preparing spells and enjoying a hearty heroes’ feast courtesy of Audrahni, the adventurers venture out of the mansion and back into the Frigid Menagerie. Lucia once again conjures up some taun tauns for them to ride, and they set off into the forbidding tundra towards the blizzard that looms over the Realm of Frozen Tears.

They decide to continue exploring the perimeter of the structure, moving in a counter clockwise fashion. Udrexa and Rita scout ahead and soon hear two bickering ice kytons on patrol. The pair sets up an ambush, but it goes awry when Vicky, unaware of their plans, calls up a ring of fire to separate the two kytons. Udrexa brings down one of them and Vicky prevents the other from retreating before he, too, can be destroyed.

But the fire and the fighting draws the attention of more denizens of the Realm of Frozen Tears. Udrexa is ambushed by an ice kyton monk, High Mistress Lyraesia, while ice golems called tearvault guardians advance on the party. Vicky uses reverse gravity to launch most of the golems into the blizzard and Lucia debuffs the enemy while trying to keep the party healed.

The High Mistress is a skilled opponent, but Udrexa gets the upper hand. The kyton monk nearly kills Audrahni and demands a parlay, but Vicky snares her with greater black tentacles. Udrexa delivers the killing blow, then finishes off the last golem with Elle.

Plundering the bodies, the party learns that the High Mistress had one of the pendants that are keys to White Death’s Diadem.

But before the adventurers can decide their next move, they become aware of an approaching creature. Ballitar is a drunken wayang, a small gremlin-like creature native to the plane of shadow. He tries to pose as a follower of Inkariax, but as soon as he learns the party are enemies of the kyton demagogue, he drops the act.

Ballitar is a wizard who used a faulty plane shift spell when returning from Riddleport and ended up in the Realm of Frozen Tears where he has been hiding for several weeks while trying to screw up the courage to flee.

He provides what information he knows about the remaining enemies and treasures in the ice fortress. The most powerful creature is a nine-headed troll woman who likes to collect things. She has a pendant and other treasures on the west side of the complex, and though strong is not very smart. There is a powerful devil women on the east side of the complex, near Ballitar’s hiding place. There are several other types of kyton loose in the structure, as well as some kind of ghost in the courtyard and a number of traps. He also tells them that the popobala they killed probably has a treasure stash in its lair.

The Black Strays thank him for the information and Lucia gives him a taun taun to flee across the tundra. The adventurers then circle around the structure clockwise until they find and loot the popobala’s lair. Nearby is another entrance to the fortress interior.

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The Ice Linnorm
The City Outside of Time, Part 10

Oathday, 6 Desnus, 4744

The day before traveling to the Shadow Plane, Lucia and Rita take a planar trip to Midnight’s Palette, the realm of Nocticula the Redeemer Queen. They release the soul of Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras. They also encounter two powerful marilith demons, the sarcastic Daria and the bubbly Mindy, old colleagues of Rita’s. Daria emphasizes that Lucia’s task is of great interest to the Redeemer Queen and urges Rita to continue her efforts to get back into Nocticula’s good graces.

Fireday, 7 Desnus, 4744

In the present day, Vicky and Udrexa inspect the frozen victims on display in the frigid menagerie, including a silver dragon, a lillend azata, and a planetar angel mutilated to be an homage to the fiendish demigoddess Doloras.

Lucia tends to the two fetchlings the party rescued from the kytons, Zeralisce and Zetar. Zeralisce warns that there is a dangerous blizzard over the Realm of Frozen Tears, so the only safe approach is on the ground. She also says that in order to access the antechamber of White Death’s Diadem — where they need to perform the ritual to reach Crystilan — they will need to acquire a special pendant that is held only by the top lieutenants of Inkariax.

After healing the fetchlings and wishing them on their way, the party ventures out of the Frigid Menagerie. Lucia summons some tauntauns to carry them across the jagged, icy landscape towards the enormous blizzard on the horizon.

With Udrexa navigating, it takes them several hours to reach the outskirts of the palace. They come across a grim vestibule, where six frozen bodies are suspended in the air by spikes of ice. Each has been stripped of all valuable save for a holy symbol of Iomedae, Cayden Cailean, Shelyn, or Desna, along with a taunting note written in Shadowtongue.

Beyond the vestibule, Udrexa finds a chamber slick with ice, with a series of holes in the ice where more bodies lie within frigid water. Her exploration attracts the attention of a colossal ice linnorm, which bursts out of the ice. It blasts the party with deadly cold breath, and the adventurers struggle to fight back.

During the battle, a second menace enters the fray, a shapeshifting bat-like monster called a popobala, which tries to ensorcel Ghera.

After taking a beating from Udrexa and Elle, the linnorm tries to retreat into the ice. Vicky pursues it using magic, dealing terrible damage. Udrexa dives into the supernaturally cold water and delivers a killing blow with her tail.

Meanwhile, the popobala reveals its true self and gives off a sickening stench. Ghera attempts to use unnatural lust to get the creature to rush over to Udrexa, but the monster turns the spell back on her. Elle manages to pin the creature in place with a spell and Udrexa finishes it off. While Ghera dry heaves as Audrahni comforts her, Lucia harvests parts from the monster.

The party scavenges treasure from the bodies in the frozen water and then teleports back to the relative safety of the Frigid Menagerie. Their spells and abilities largely spent, they retreat into a magnificent mansion to rest.

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The Frigid Menagerie
The City Outside of Time, Part 9

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.

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The End of Forever
The City Outside of Time, Part 8

Udrexa and Lucia Craft question Captain Dorn ‘Bolt’ Bolton about Vivi’s abduction. He explains how she was kidnapped from the bathroom at the Cracked Goblet tavern where she had been getting an after hours drink with him.

The duo investigate the tavern and notice a woman watching them from across the street. Udrexa catches her and they question the spy. She says that the Night Scales tied and gagged Vivi before putting her on a cart headed towards Lost Lane in Beacon’s Point, site of the Night Scales headquarters.

The adventurers recall that one of the “gray areas” missing from Staunton Vhane’s sewer maps was located near Lost Lane. They decide to investigate that first, suspecting that Vivi was taken down below.

An attempt at a stealthy entry to the hidden sewer complex is thwarted when Udrexa has trouble getting through the complicated lock. So the monk, the witch, and her familiar resort to just fighting their way through two dozen masked cultists.

In a grand chamber with a central pool of blood, they face down the majority of the hidden cult. Udrexa survives a quivering palm attack from an enemy monk, known as the Left Hand. The tiefling also barely avoids deadly magics being launched at her by a strange man with a glowing eye and an invisible wizard. Rita tears through the lesser minions, while Lucia tries to debuff the cultists and escapes from black tentacles.

Ultimately, Udrexa dodges a deadly attack from the man with the glowing eye and strikes him down. He is revealed to be the Forever Man himself!

As the battle comes to a close, Vivi arrives, having managed to free herself during the chaos. The spy in the cult, Risa Cassimel, also reveals herself, having waited things out in hiding. Risa confirms that the Forever Man was Staunton Vhane, the architect of Magnimar’s sewers.

Over a hundred years ago, he had stolen several doses of the rare life-extending sun orchid elixir and used them to unnaturally prolong his life. He kept this a secret from the rest of the cult, creating the myth of the “Forever Man.” But the elixirs’ effects have run out and he has grown frantic in trying to find some way to get more, which is what ultimately tipped off Risa.

His increasingly desperate activities drew the attention of the Lord-Mayor, so the Forever Man had the mayor killed to end his investigation. Staunton Vhane kidnapped Vivi because he was hoping to sell the construct woman to an artificer and raise funds to simply buy one of the priceless elixirs.

Udrexa deduces that Risa opposed the Forever Man because he was leading the hidden cult of Norgorber astray with his personal agenda. She communicates this to Lucia, who has Rita use flesh to stone to petrify the half-elf woman for further interrogation.

As they set about searching the cult headquarters, Udrexa and Lucia muse about what to do if they find the Abyssal artifact holding the Lord-Mayor’s soul.

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Masks
The City Outside of Time, Part 7

Udrexa and Lucia Craft steal Sheila Heidmarch’s invite to the exclusive Osprey Club. Disguising themselves as Lady Heidmarch and the Red Mantis Assassin Amronhe Dommor respectively, they infiltrate the masquerade at the club to seek out the man in the black cat mask. Rita disguises herself as a staff member once they are inside.

While there, they discover that their old rivals Hira Doss, Aliciette Cardoso and Damil Russo are there wearing peacock masks. The ex-Peacock Spirit Cultists are also there to see the man in the black cat mask, who they call the High Talon. They are looking to join a new organization that can protect them and offer Hira a path to regain her cleric magic, but they are a little worried. Udrexa learns that they have arranged a rendezvous with the hidden cult, and she plants tokens on them that can be used to help track them.

Lucia meets with the High Talon in the club’s casino. Over a game of Golem, she poses as Amronhe reporting that the “statue” and the “strays” are proving more troublesome to remove and she will need extra help. She also says that she gave the investigators a decoy of herself to throw them off for the time being. The High Talon arranges for reinforcements to be available at Lost Lane at midnight and he gives her a special black and gold chip to cash in for her increased fee. Lucia also learns that the derghodaemon they fought was provided by the hidden cult.

Meanwhile, Audrahni deduces that the dominated dhampir Jane has been afflicted with the feeblemind spell after their fight with the derghodaemon. The next morning, Audrahni casts heal to cure Jane while Lucia neutralizes the poison afflicting the elf.

Their breakfast is interrupted by a wounded Captain Bolt, who tells them that Vivi has been abducted by the Night Scales.

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Bug Hunt
The City Outside of Time, Part 6

Lucia researches the sewers of Magnimar at the Founders’ Archives and identifies three locations that are missing from the city records. One is in Beacon’s Point near the Night Scales headquarters, one is in the Alabaster District near the Osprey Club, and one is in the Keystone District.

Udrexa talks with Siov Cassimel about his daughter Risa, who has gotten deep in the Norgerbor cult but who has doubts about the Forever Man. Udrexa arranges to contact Risa the next day.

Udrexa and Lucia meet up with Vivi at a fancy restaurant in the Naos District called the Wandering Squirrel. Lucia and Rita realize that a waitress there is suspicious and when they confront her it becomes clear she is a Red Mantis Assassin.

Udrexa beats her unconscious, but their victory is interrupted by a giant, insectile derghodaemon sent to kill them. It savages Udrexa before being destroyed. The creature’s chittering cries also do something to the dominated dhampir Jane, leaving her empty-headed and drooling. Lucia examines the creature’s body after the battle and concludes that someone sent it after them.

Under questioning, the Red Mantis Assassin Amronhe Dommor admits that she was the one who killed the Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras and that she was contracted to kill anyone who got too close to solving the mystery. She poisoned the drinks that were served at the Wandering Squirrel, leaving Audrahni afflicted with a slow-acting poison that mimics the appearance of a wasting disease.

Amronhe reveals that her contact was a man wearing a black cat mask at the exclusive Osprey Club. She got a one-time invite, and was planning on impersonating a club member in order to return. Vivi insists that the assassin be turned over to the City Watch for prosecution of the Lord-Mayor’s murder. Amronhe says that she has carried out her service to the Mantis God and is unafraid of execution.

Meanwhile, Vicky releases the Shadow Librarian Sule from the confines of Xanderghul’s refuge and treats her to her first meal.

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The Dead Speak!
The City Outside of Time, Part 5

After learning the spells she was seeking and helping the elf Kina connect with her cousin Sado, Lucia takes her mother back to Roderick’s Cove. While there she hears some curious news about Sorshen and teleports to Korvosa to check up on Vicky.

The wizard has been busy augmenting herself with ioun stone implants. Vicky confirms with Sorshen that the Runelord is able to be in two places at once, which she is doing to draw the attention of Runelord Alaznist.

Vicky shows Lucia the personal demiplane where she has been storing the gold that was transformed from lead via the Philosopher’s Stone. It is too heavy to transport, so she is storing it there.

Rita has a private commune with the nalfeshnee demon Thizgumen about the best way to turn Lucia into a demon. They decide to do it piece by piece, like the Ship of Tarsius, to make her into a work of art.

Vicky later goes to her demiplane to confer with her patron, the mysterious Heart of Winter. It wishes her to clam two black gemstones from Inkariax’s palace in the Shadow Plane.

Meanwhile, in Magnimar, Udrexa, Audrahni, Ghera, and Vivi go to question the Lord-Mayor’s corpse. They disrupt an attempt by a Night Scales agent to incinerate the body.

With Audrahni’s help, Udrexa questions the Lord-Mayor’s body. She gets six responses:

  • He was attacked from behind just after speaking with Ashlin, something agonizing that touched the back of his head.
  • He believes that the architect of the sewers, Staunton Vhane, might have built more than sewers.
  • He was interested in the Forever Man both to stop his manipulations of the city and discover the secret of his immortality.
  • He has an informant in the Night Scales. Udrexa should talk to Siov Cassimel about his daughter Risa.
  • He has money stashed around the city. One such stash is at the Fox’s Blades. Ask Tilli for the private cask.
  • He knew Ashlin was spying on him and used her to pass misinformation back to her employer, Zalel Moghadam.

Udrexa collects the stash from the Fox’s Blades, which has gear suitable for their companions. She then heads to the Friendly Merchant to talk to Siov. While there, Lucia teleports in. She gets caught up on what is taking place and then asks to inspect the abyssal residue that was left behind at the crime scene.

Lucia concludes that the power is the byproduct of an abyssal artifact used to extract and store the Lord-Mayor’s soul. An artifact that could only be made with an abyssal runestone like the one Udrexa gave the Night Scales.

Udrexa also realizes that the woman in the red insect armor was most likely a member of the notorious Red Mantis Assassins, who are said to have all sorts of tricks to ensure their targets stay dead.

From there, they go to the Rat Piling to check on the monk Opal who Udrexa had left to watch over the empty coffins. The six coffins now contain six staked vampires and Opal is guarding a bound captive dhampir and her pet parrot.

The prisoner, Jane, reveals that the “Vampirates” are trying to corner the market in Thassilonian artifacts while demand is high. She insists that the vampire members of the crew only drink enough blood to survive and don’t kill anyone; her task for the crew is to keep an eye on them to make sure they behave.

Audrahni identifies Jane as a cleric of Besmara, the chaotic neutral goddess of pirates, but thinks that the dhampir is being duped by her “family.” Audrahni warns that vampires cannot restrain themselves in this manner, certainly not for long. Udrexa suspects that one of the artifact buyers is the Forever Man.

Vivi decides to question Jane’s parrot, Polly, and manages to get the location of the next auction out of her — Twilight Isle.

Lucia uses dominate person to compel Jane’s loyalty as the group decides they will bid in that auction when the time is right. The party prepares to take Jane to talk with Captain Sursha and Shira so they can locate Twilight Isle.

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The Game is Afoot
The City Outside of Time, Part 4

Udrexa and Emeq continue to investigate the death of the Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras with help from Vivi. They question witnesses including his paramour Ashlin (secretly spying on him), his bodyguard Angie, his chief of security Khonderian, and his assistant Valanni Krinst. They also find an abyssal powder at the crime scene.

While chatting with pigeons, Gwen gets a tip about the possible assassin, which Angie identifies as a woman in chitinous red insect armor. Emeq promises to keep Angie’s secret.

Meanwhile, Vicky works with Sorshen to collect information about the late Runelord Xiren and to find an alchemist to use the Philosopher’s Stone to turn lead into gold.

Udrexa also has Opal keep an eye on the vampire coffins in the Rat piling.

After concluding their questions at the manor, the investigators in Magnimar are left with several leads to follow up:

  • Question the Lord-Mayor’s body using the speak with dead spell
  • Research Staunton Vhane, the architect who built the sewers
  • Research the sample of the abyssal powder
  • Bring the chest to Ashlin and question her further
  • Infiltrate the masquerade parties at the Osprey Club
  • Search for the woman in the red chitinous armor
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Plots and Portents
The City Outside of Time, Part 3

Lucia meets with the witches of the Harrowed Society at Twilight Academy and gets her fortune read. She also tries to help the elf Kina catch the attention of her hopelessly oblivious cousin Sado. Rita secretly communes with powerful agents of the Redeemer Queen to seek answers about her own interest in turning Lucia into a demon.

Vicky consults with Sorshen in Korvosa, seeking more information about reaching Crystilan through the Shadow Plane. Sorshen has lost almost all memory of Belimarius, the Runelord of Envy, whose capital is locked away inside Crystilan’s time stasis. She suspects this is due to Alaznist’s meddling with the timeline using the Scepter of Ages.

Vicky offers to provide Sorshen with a simulacrum of Runelord Xiren, as a gift. Sorshen doesn’t say no.

Vicky also asks about the possibility of someone taking up Xanderghul’s title of Runelord of Pride, so that the Sword of Pride would stir from dormancy and could be used. Sorshen insists that such a path would only lead to the corrupt of the would-be Runelord and the Sword’s champion. Vicky suggests they find the Sword of Lust and make use of that instead, but Sorshen insists that her own Sword of Sin should be left where it is, somewhere safe and out of reach.

After seeing the Runelord, Vicky meets with her birth mother Lady Gia Amprei to catch up and to request her help in getting access to the research library in the Acadamae, Korvosa’s fabled wizard’s school. Vicky’s childhood friend Princess Ryah, a star alumnus of the school is able to get her inside.

Vicky is also considering leaving Elle behind in Korvosa, to help protect the city and to keep the simulacrum away from the greater dangers that await in the Shadow Plane and beyond. For additional insights on the realm of the kyton demagogue Inkariax, she consults with the Iomedaean High Priestess Laori Vaus. Laori explains that in order to access Inkariax’s palace of White Death’s Diadem, the party will have to acquire a pendant from on of his most powerful followers.

Meanwhile, in Magnimar, Udrexa and Ghera attempt to sneak into the mayor’s mansion, Defiant’s Garden, to find information about the mayor’s investigation into the Forever Man. They find evidence that a woman living in the house was spying on the mayor. They also stumble across someone trying to steal something from the mayor.

The thief is interrupted by Vivi, the special investigator looking into the mayor’s death. Udrexa knows Vivi, who was a friend of Belawara, and the two team up against the thief who is revealed to be a vampire. They track the vampire back to its coffin, hidden in the Rat piling of the Irespan—another ruin similar to the Cult of Yamasoth’s lair. Holding a stake to its heart, they interrogate it.

The vampire, dressed like a sailor, explains that he is a crew member of the Shadow, under Captain Sunshine Sue, who has been trying to get her hands on relics of Thassilon. There was a particular chalice said to be in the mayor’s collection that they wanted to get their hands on before the mayor’s possessions are dispersed to his heirs. The vampire also explains that Captain Sunshine is working with another woman, someone with who presented the Captain with a short sword. After that, the Shadow and her crew began acquiring these Thassilonian artifacts.

Udrexa feels like letting the vampire go, since he was so helpful. But Vivi is an officer of the law and insists he be arrested for breaking and entering. She drives a stake through his heart, which she is pretty sure will paralyze but not kill him. They then take him and his coffin to the City Watch. They leave behind six empty coffins in the Rat piling hideout.

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