Return of the Runelords

Dead Things

Runeplague, Part 15

Wealday, 10 Calistril, 4744

The Black Cats return to Magnimar on a cold, overcast morning. There is an atmosphere of anxiety that hangs over the city, exacerbated by the town criers on seemingly every street corner who are denouncing the Lord-Mayor for the loss of Ilsurian.

The criers, who all seem to be employed by the same organization, allege that the Lord-Mayor has been spending too much time chasing relics and phantoms with the Sihedron Council to properly defend Magnimar from the number one threat next door—Korvosa.

Victoria takes a moment to contact the Sihedron Council secretary, Welben, via sending and schedule a meeting the following morning at 10am sharp. She then proceeds to get the party settled back into their rooms at the Gryphine while Udrexa and Gwen stable their horses.

The adventurers spend the rest of the day shopping and trading their goods. They decide to sell the enchanted leaves that the Erlking Vulpin gave them. Vicky has a strange momentary sensation that someone was trying to magically observe her.

That night, after the rest of the party is asleep, Vicky hears a strange tapping on the window pane of their suite. It turns out to be an intelligent juju zombie named Sebastian, who politely asks for Runelord Zutha’s Bone Grimoire on behalf of the nameless entity that commands him. After some back and forth, they arrange for a midnight parley the next fay with his master at the ruins of the Shadow Clock Tower in Underbridge.

An hour or so later, Udrexa quietly rises and slips out of the suite. She travels to the Friendly Merchant tavern in Underbridge and asks the tavernkeeper Siov Cassimel to arrange a meeting with her old contact at the Night Scales thieves’ guild, Orin Rasp. A meeting is set for 11 o’clock at night the following day.

Oathday, 11 Calistril, 4744

Over breakfast, Vicky updates the others about her encounter with Sebastian. They try to figure out what could create juju zombies in order to determine what they are dealing with, but the list is too long and includes everything from powerful undead to oozes to the fabled Sword of Gluttony.

The adventurers teleport in to Heidmarch Manor for their meeting with the Sihedron Council, but find only Lady Sheila Heidmarch waiting for them. She explains that the political fallout of the invasion of Ilsurian has poisoned relationships on the council. Ser Chammady insists it was not a sanctioned attack by Korvosa, but Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras refuses to believe her, which offends the paladin’s sense of honor. The Council is not meeting until things cool down.

The Black Cats update Lady Heidmarch about the high points of their activities—their alliance with Sorshen, the Cult of the Peacock Spirit attack in Korvosa, the destruction of the Brotherhood of the Seal, and the capture of Zutha’s Bone Grimoire.

Lady Heidmarch alerts them to another complication. Looking at Udrexa, she says that there was an attempted burglary of the Council’s vault several months ago. The burglars, agents of the Night Scales, failed to get in, but their mission appears to have been a distraction.

That same night, someone slipped a cursed paper into Lady Heidmarch’s desk. When she read the paper, she was afflicted with an enchantment effect that compelled her to remove Baraket, the Sword of Pride, from the Vault and deliver it to the Night Scales. It is now in the clutches of the thieves’ guild, if they haven’t already sold it to the most likely buyer, the Cult of the Peacock Spirit.

The Night Scales are a sizable organization and would be challenging for the party to confront head on. They could try to outbid the Cult, or simply kill the Cultists to take away the buyer.

Udrexa admits that she is meeting with her Night Scales contact that evening, and suggests that they could offer to hand Vicky over since the guild seems interested in the bounty on the wizard’s head. Udrexa insists this would simply a ruse.

That evening, the tiefling monk returns to the Friendly Merchant to speak with Orin Rasp. She gives him the Abyssal Runestone and asks what the Night Scales plan to use it for, but he refuses to tell her. However, her debt to the thieves’ guild is repaid.

Udrexa asks about Baraket, warning that the Night Scales are in over their heads with the Thassilonian relic. Rasp obliquely confirms that the Cult of the Peacock Spirit are the buyers. However, he hints that the Night Scales are planning to double cross them.

Rasp is willing to help lead Udrexa to the Peacock Spirit Cultists, for a price. Udrexa offers to give the Night Scales the chance to kidnap Vicky when the Black Cats crash the handoff. Rasp takes the deal and tells Udrexa about the meeting taking place the following night.

Following her meeting, the tiefling hurries to join the rest of the party at the ruins of the Shadow Clock Tower, where they are scheduled to parley with Sebastian’s master. Just before the appointed time, Lucia and Audrahni cast death ward on everyone to shield them from the negative energy and death effects undead are so fond of.

Sebatian’s master initially contacts them telepathically, but they manage to coax it into showing itself. The creature is an intelligent necromantic ooze known as a gravesludge. It is dead set on retrieving the Bone Grimoire in order to usher in the return of Runelord Zutha and a glorious new age of undeath.

With negotiations at an impasse, a fight breaks out. Sebastian reluctantly starts things by casting a powerful a cone of cold spell. Vicky quickly paralyzes him with a halt undead spell to shut down any further magic.

But the gravesludge has other juju zombie servants. Agatha, a berserker girl armed with a strange glowing falchion, rushes out to help the ooze fight Udrexa. Agatha also immediately starts flirting with Udrexa. Another zombie, the pirate Warrick, ambushes Vicky in midair but can’t get through her unflappable mien spell.

Gwen unleashes flame strikes on the ooze and Agatha. Rita, transformed into a sinister fey creature know as a whisperer, attacks with her tentacle arms. Lucia unleashes healing magic. Udrexa takes a beating from the ooze, saved only by the death ward. She finally turns the tables and destroys the gravesludge with a devastating blow.

At the destruction of the entity, Warrick immediately backs off from his attacks. Agatha, badly injured, sidles over to Udrexa and hits on her.

Vicky promises to help the juju zombies regain their mortal forms. But Lucia and Audrahni warn that it doesn’t work that way.

As they argue about the next steps, a trio of greater shadows attacks. One of them tries to strike Victoria with a fatal blow, but its negative energy attacks are useless against the death ward. The shadows are unable to do anything to the warded party.

Lucia unleashes her positive energy, wounding the shadows and destroying Agatha. Audrahni joins in. Gwen calls down a flurry of lighting from the sky. Udrexa finishes off the last shadow and Rita hunts down the fleeing Warrick to destroy him as well.

Vicky is furious that the others broke her promise to the juju zombies and storms off. The remaining Black Cats destroy Sebastian and then loot the zombies’ bodies. They realize that even Gwen’s reincarnation won’t work to restore creatures that were tainted by undeath. They collect the corpses for burial.

When they return to the Gryphine, they find Vicky sulking. She is also physically ill at having her promise broken.

Lucia studies the glowing falchion that Agatha had wielded and makes a startling discovery. It is in fact the legendary Sword of Gluttony, but the artifact is currently dormant with only a fraction of its power available.

Fireday, 12 Calistril, 4744

The next morning, Lucia reveals the sword’s true nature to Vicky and they have a serious conversation. Vicky explains how she is literally bound by her promises and recognizes the need to be more careful in making them. Lucia won’t budge over the issue of destroying the undead, despite Vicky’s protestations about free will.

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