Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Forty-Four

Ulrich's Return


11 Transformation 508

The newly reunited entourage arrives back at Lord Cannach’s estate. There he arranges for the party’s horses to be well-cared for and for them all to be housed and cleaned up and rested after their battles. There is to be a celebration in honor of their defeat of the Lich. Dinner will be prepared and the villagers that are also staying with him will be in attendance to dine with their liberators.

At one point in the preparations, Lord Cannach takes Surm aside and asks him if they collected all of the treasure from the ruin or if a return trip is order…

Surm says, “We have returned with the most portable treasures found. There are still furnishings of an antique nature, tools and equipment for alchemical and magical creations, and a vast library of books we were not able to decipher. We have brought a sampling of books for appraisal to give you an idea of what remains. At your leisure, I would like to have your people appraise some gems, jewelry, and the books so we can agree on a valuation of what we have returned with. If our cursory appraisals match with your experts, then I have been given leave to make an offer for your consideration that I believe you will find profitable and will save time for Captain Rilka.”

“I have some people in mind to do that very thing. I’m sure we can come to an agreement," Lord Cannach says.

The two adjourn to one of the side rooms of the estate were the goods have been laid out to begin their negotiations and appraisals while dinner is being prepared.

Surm also suggests that Lord Cannach send a regiment to Leodin to secure the hamlet and mines. It is currently unoccupied making the storehouse easy pickings for scavengers. Lord Cannach reveals that he has already sent a contingent of soldiers to do just that.

In the course of the appraisals, the question of the worth of the folio comes up. The man that Lord Cannach has doing the appraising manages to break the cipher that they are written under and announces that it is written in High Acheran. He also advises Lord Cannach that the writings are "worthless, the ravings of a deranged mind. Whoever this Ulrich was, he was a sick individual and you would never be able to sell these parchments for any sort of profit.”

Surm keeps his composure at the mention of the Ulrich name and he notices no reaction from Lord Cannach.

After the negotiations for the treasure and appraisals are complete, Surm offers to take the “worthless” writings off of the nobleman’s hands as they may serve as inspiration for Surm’s re-telling of this tale. Also, if he has no objection, he would like to send some of their soldiers to retrieve a journal of similar writings that was left at the ruins that would complement the folio well. Lord Cannach has no objection to him taking the folio of the “odious” writings nor in Surm sending soldiers back to the ruins to retrieve the journal. He does take the bard aside and tells him, “A more suspicious man, a more paranoid man, than I would make more of the interesting coincidence of this villain’s name and that of my benefactor. I am not a paranoid man. I count it an interesting coincidence and nothing more. I doubt a conspiracy would be so…obvious…as that. Have no fears on that account, my good man.” And he shakes Surm’s hand vigorously and smiles.

“I appreciate your faith Lord Cannach. I assure you the name is coincidental, but, I will confess, that coincidence does drive me to attempt to make sense of his mad ramblings and shed some light on this mystery.”

Surm excuses himself and finds Mõrvar. He tells him about the folio and tells him to take four soldiers and go back and get the journal from the ruins.

Mõrvar tells Alasir to ready four of the troops to ride with him and informs the remaining six that their number one priority is to guard Surm. Mõrvar bids the others goodbye and makes ready to ride in haste back to Leodin. Savaric says he will ride with Mõrvar and makes ready to move. Alasir sends Einar, Sorcha, Garth, and Halvor to ride with Mõrvar and Savaric. The six of them leave Lord Cannach’s estate at a gallop. Lord Cannach’s soldiers probably have a four-hour head start on them.

Surm then updates Rilka on the what was found out about the folios and where Mõrvar and Savaric have gone. Rilka raises an eyebrow but says nothing.

After the dinner, but prior to the end of festivities, Surm asks Lord Cannach to join him in the parlor where the goods have been laid out, saying, “Let’s inspect our boon again, shall we?” The nobleman agrees…

Later, Surm comes to Rilka with the good news. We have been given a bonus for a job well done; in lieu of the 500 gold pieces, Lord Cannach has gifted us four magical items off the top, before the split: Savaric will receive the flaming bow, Mõrvar will receive the Rod of Wonder, I will receive the Cloak of Resistance, and you will receive the Amulet of Natural Armor."

He continues. “Lord Cannach says that he will need to wait for the sale of the items in order to cash them out. He simply does not have that much coin laying about. However he is agreeable to allowing our group to purchase from the remaining magical items before offering them to merchants in the city as I propose. He also appreciates our generosity in allowing him to lay claim to the furnishings in the lair. I waived our claim to the remaining furnishings in recognition of the cost of experts for appraisals, hauling things in and out of the city, the general hassle of collecting what’s left in the lair, and his generous gift.”

Rilka clasps Surm on the shoulder for an excellent job of negotiations. “It sounds like Lord Cannach was well pleased with our success.” She says she is interested in purchasing from the remaining magical items, as may be others in the group.

“Since half our party and guards have now departed the City, we’ll need to figure out where we’re going to stay or wait until they return. Will Lord Cannach let us stay in his keep? Set up an encampment on his grounds? I don’t want to tax his hospitality…”

Lord Cannach overhears Rilka’s concern and says that he is happy to let her and her group encamp on his estate until her other soldiers return. “It’s no trouble at all. It’s the least I can do after such a successful partnership. Besides, I have to wait and pay you until after the goods are sold anyway. You may has well stay.”

Surm asks Lord Cannach if he could recommend a trustworthy and reasonably priced sage to research an artifact for us. Surm produce the green obelisk and show it to Lord Cannach. “This we found on a our previous venture. I would like to get the writings deciphered. I believe it is an object from an ancient civilization known as the Aedonii.”

Lord Cannach seems very impressed with the obelisk and its origin. He says that he would love to hear the story of how Surm acquired such a find. As far as a sage, he doesn’t know many—doesn’t have much call for them in his business dealings. But he did run into one at a dinner party not too long ago. Eoin Clyne was his name. He has a post at the University at the center of the city. He seemed very learned on a great many things and a interesting dinner guest. Reasonably priced? He couldn’t say. But if he can’t translate your obelisk he may be able to direct you to someone who can.

“Am I able to enter the university to call upon this sage? If so, may I use your name as a referral?” Surm asks.

“You can enter the public forum of the university and ask the monitors for Master Clyne. They will fetch him for you. You may certainly use my name as a referral,” Lord Cannach says.

Surm then gives an accounting of Karak Tuvar and the mysterious chasms throughout the fortress. He plays up the web shooting terror shrouded in mystery from deep in the chasm, and their luck of stumbling on to the obelisk, “a less perceptive group would have missed it completely, and yet, one might say it wanted to be found. Was it a lucky glance or an alien power from the obelisk that drew Savaric’s eye? I hope a sage will help answer these questions.”

Lord Cannach seems to enjoy the tale.

12 Transformation 508

That morning, Surm discusses with Rilka as to whether they should invest into research on the obelisk or not. " The Aedonii are an ancient race, so who knows what secrets it may reveal. I also believe a sage will almost pay us to get to study this thing, " he says.

Rilka thinks that there could be many secrets to be found in the obelisk. “While we are in a city with sages, we should explore further,” she says.

Surm, Rilka, Alasir, and Tarben all leave Lord Cannach’s estate and head into the city to go to the University to visit with Master Clyne.

At the forum of the University, there are monitors wearing black robes fluttering about, fetching things for the sages and asking people if they can be of service. Surm flags one down. Rilka keeps watch if anyone is taking an undue interest in them or their artifact.

One of the monitors approaches and says, “How can help you, sir?”

Surm says, “I am looking for Master Clyne.”

“Very good, sir. What can I say this is regarding?”

“An ancient artifact.”

“Very good, sir. Who may I say is calling upon him?”

“Surm Ulrich.”

“Very good.”

“Sent by Lord Cannach.”

“Ah, very good, then.”

After about ten minutes, a gentleman in fine robes, handsome in a close-cropped beard, in his early 30s comes walking up and introduces himself as Master Clyne.

Surm shakes his hand and says, “I’m Surm Ulrich. Lord Cannach says you’re the man to talk to.”

“Ah, Lord Cannach. Throws a very nice dinner party. So, walk with me,” the sage says. He leads the way, walking through the grounds.

As they walk, Surm says, “I have an artifact that I need translated that is of Aedonii origin.”

“That’s very interesting, indeed,” Master Clyne says. “There’s not very many such artifacts floating around.”

“And yet, this is my second time coming across one,” Surm says.

“Indeed,” Clyne says, clearly surprised. “If I may ask, where did you find such an artifact?”

“In the abandoned fortress of Karak Tuvar in the Daggerspine Mountains,” Surm says.

“Karak Tuvar? That’s a dwarven name,” the sage says.

“Yes, I don’t believe it was part of their treasures. The fort had been befallen some sort of attack. A natural disaster. Many chasms had opened, shifting some of fortress’ foundations. In one of the chasms, we saw this obelisk sticking out. So it had been buried even before the dwarves had been there,” Surm says.

“Well. What makes you think the artifact is Aedonii?” Clyne asks.

“The writing on it,” Surm says.

“It has script?” Clyne aks.

“Yes,” Surm says.

“Well, unfortunately, I am not versed in Aedonii script. However, I can tell you who is,” the sage says.

“That sounds like the information I need,” Surm says.

The name that Clyne provides is Mandreth Kerendal. He is with the University of Kalimsport. According to Clyne, he is the foremost expert on Aedonii script.

“Thank you, sir. What do I owe you for your time?” Surm asks.

“Ah, it is nothing,” Clyne says.

Then Surm, Rilka and the soldiers make their way out of the University.

13 Transformation 508

Surm, Alasir, and a couple of soldiers head to the marketplace looking for someone that is going to be heading to Kalimsport that may need protection along the way. Surm finds a merchant that is heading back home to Kalimsport. His name is Toliver Yew. He has a tent erected in the marketplace. Nearby is a box wagon. Surm and his entourage approach.

Yew is a short, pudgy man who sells a variety of brass items: lamps, trinkets, statuettes, etc. Surm makes his approach and introduces himself an asks him if he is heading back to Kalimsport soon and if he’s in need of an escort.

Yew gives Surm an appraising look and asks, “Who told you that?”

“Gentleman on the street, when I was asking around. Said you was heading back.”

“Well, I am,” Yew says, grudgingly.

“Well, will you be in need of escort on the dangerous journey all the way back to Kalimsport. I assume with a fortune from your all your recently-sold wares,” Surm says.

“Who told you about my fortune?” Yew asks, instantly suspicious.

“I’m assuming you did business well is all. No one told me,” Surm says.

“Well, yes, I did well. I’m a good salesman,” Yew says, chest swelling.

“Yes, I could tell when I walked up,” Surm says reassuringly.

“Well, I could use some guards. And I have heard your name bandied about,” Yew says. “What do you charge?” he asks, a hard look in his eye.

Surm does some quick calculations and comes up with a figure. “59 silver pieces per day. And for that, you get trained guards and expertise. Captain Rilka. Master Hunter Savaric. And Mõrvar, the White Death.”

“59 silver per day?” Yew says. “Alright. Done. I leave on the 20th of Transformation.”

“Do you want us to meet you outside the city gates or do you want us to meet you here and escort you through the city?” Surm asks.

“Escort through the city,” Yew says. “I want to be seen with the great Captain Rilka.”

“Excellent. You have hired well, sir. You will be the envy of all the other caravans headed south,” Surm says. Then he and soldiers take their leave.

When they get back to Lord Cannach’s estate, Surm takes Mahgnus aside and arranges to pay the soldiery.

14 Transformation 508

After an uneventful three-day ride from the outskirts of Aldasar, Mõrvar, Savaric, and the four soldiers arrive in Leodin in the morning. When they arrive in Leodin, they see the soldiers bearing the livery of Lord Cannach gathered around something near the center of the hamlet.

Mõrvar dismounts and instructs the soldiers to wait. He asks Savaric to do the same. He then makes his way to the gathering.

Lord Cannach’s soldiers are all dismounted and gathered around what appears to be one of their own. He appears to be dead and frozen in place, standing, with a look of horror on his face. Another of the soldiers is shaking his head in dismay.

“What happened here?” Mõrvar asks. He notices that the soldier shaking his head has pissed himself.

One of his comrades steps forward, a sergeant by the look of the stripe on his tabard. “We fanned out when we arrived early this morning, searching for any signs of interlopers. Rhudiard here,” he indicates the frozen man, “went to check out those houses.” He points to a line of houses. “He apparently encountered who he thought was an old man in rags coming out of one. He went to intercept him and ask him what he thought he was doing here when the man accosted him, yelling at him in the Court Tongue. Fortunately, working for a lord we’ve all picked some up and were able to understand him. He was yelling ‘Who robbed me? Who dared to accost my sanctuary?’ Well, Rhudiard was just standing there, shaking in his boots, but he managed to tell him it was Captain Rilka and the bard, Surm Ulrich. This seemed to anger the man further as he screamed ‘You dare mock my name!’ and then he slapped Rhudiard. Then he was stuck like this. Cilin here,” he indicates the man that’s pissed himself, “tried to come and separate the two but he got within yards of the old man and turn around and ran.”

Cilin, just shakes his head and says, “I…I didn’t know what else to do. I…just couldn’t face him. His eyes…those glowing eyes…”

“The man in rags just turned around and ran into the woods. The rest of us were trying to see if there was anything we could do for Rhudiard,” the sergeant says.

“What language did he speak?” Mõrvar asks.

The sergeant says that he spoke in High Acheran. It’s been the language of the royal courts since the days of the Acheran Empire.

Savaric dismounts and heads toward the group, ordering the soldiers to stay on alert. Once he gets to the group, he asks how long ago this happened and what direction the “old man” headed.

Mõrvar tells Savaric to track him—but do not engage. According to Lord Cannach’s soldiers, the man in rags headed almost due north. They came in from the northeast corner of the village. Mõrvar knows that High Acheran is the courtly language of the Southron nation of Achera, which used to have an empire that stretched almost all the way to Jossia. Savaric starts to track, taking his wolf Ghost with him. However, he advises Mõrvar that they will need the rest of their party. “I don’t have any magic arrows and I don’t think I can track this guy forever without being unnoticed. If he headed due north he won’t immediately danger anyone in the area. Giving us time to gather the group,” he says.

He finds a trail to follow and starts following it into the surrounding woods.

Mõrvar sends two of the soldiers, Garth and Halvor, back to Lord Cannach’s, to report to Surm that the Lich is back. They start riding back to Aldasar as fast as they can. He then has the other two soldiers, Einar and Sorcha, coordinate with Lord Cannach’s sergeant to set up a camp and form a defensive perimeter around the village. He then catches up with Savaric.

Mõrvar informs Savaric that he has the soldiers setting up a defensive perimeter because engaging with the Lich will just get them killed. “Also, this is a sensitive situation. Surm and I have recently learned this Lich is an Ulrich…..relations, I don’t know, but I must find out.” He, like Savaric, goes about trying to be stealthy in the woods.

Savaric says, “I understand you would want to look for answers on this matter, but we already killed him once. I don’t think he will be interested in a family reunion. Our best hope is that we can keep him away from any other villages until Surm figures out how to keep this guy down. As is, our only hope is to figure out where he is, where he is going, and take him down. Until then we are all in danger.”

“Don’t need to engage him unless I do. Twice I have faced him, twice I have bested him. Perhaps he will be more inclined to talk first this time. He isn’t a mindless undead, he’s intelligent,” Mõrvar says.

“This is a bad idea, we don’t even speak his language. He isn’t going to work with us, he is only going to be interested in killing us. Again, I don’t have magic arrows so this isn’t going to work in our favor. We need to retreat and regroup,” Savaric says.

“You have Edgefrost and we aren’t losing his trail,” Mõrvar says. “We can’t afford to lose him. Go back if you wish, but I’m not going to let him get away. I’m sure we will have to kill him again, but we are a week away from Surm and Rilka at the earliest. If we regroup, hell be better prepared. If I can learn anything from him before we kill him, it could help.”

Savaric then hears movement ahead of him, about a hundred feet from his current position.

Speaking in a hushed tone, Savaric says, “Quiet , Mõrvar, there is something up ahead.” He quietly draws Edgefrost as he asks Ilona to grant him invisibility. He also commands Ghost to hide.

Ilona giggles with delight and is happy to make Savaric invisible. Ghost hides in a nearby thicket. Mõrvar tries to hide.

Savaric then sees someone in black moving a hundred feet ahead, moving away from him. Mõrvar casts Message at Savaric and whispers “You sure there is something out here? I don’t hear or see anyone. I think I we need to hustle to catch up. We have a general direction. We are wasting our time and we are going to lose him.”

Savaric whispers back, “No, I see someone up head. We should silently track him. There is no way we can get the drop on him from this far back and he may hear us if you travel too close.”

The person in black has moved fifteen feet further away at this point.

Mõrvar Messages to Savaric, "Where is he? Should I keep moving or stay here? Is it him or someone just catching our attention?”

Savaric whispers, “No I don’t know, you should stay here while I try to catch up with them to make sure, just come closer to keep me in range of our link. Hopefully from back here they wont detect you.”

Savaric moves forward a bit faster, closing the gap between he and the man in black a bit. Mõrvar sneaks a bit closer in the direction he last saw Savaric and whispers his intention to do so to Savaric.

Savaric sees the form stop and turn around, facing in Mõrvar’s direction. Mõrvar now sees the form as well, about a hundred and five feet ahead of him. It turns and stares in his general direction—but not directly at his hiding place. It has baleful, glowing blue orbs for eyes and a deathly gaunt face. He is dressed in tattered black robes. He calls out something in a language neither of them understand—the only word they understand is “Ulrich”.

Mõrvar whispers to Savaric, “Stop and hold still…I see him.” He then uses the Message spell to speak to the figure first in Elven, then in Abyssal, then Leilioran, then Josslac, then Urkhani, and then Tradespeak in hopes of communicating with him. He asks him, “What is your full name?”

Then he whispers to Savaric, "Close in very carefully to just outside of his negative energy range which I think is 30 feet. Move to behind him so that if comes to attack me, you can come from the other side and be out of his spell direction. If he attacks me, attack him.”

When Mõrvar speaks in Elven, the figure responds—in High Elven. “I am called Ulrich of Barth, by those that dare utter my name.”

Mõrvar has never heard of Barth. He whispers to the figure once again, in Elven. "Why are you here? What are you looking for? What is your purpose? Answer me Ulrich of Barth, for I am not to be trifled with.”

The Lich responds, “You are insolent, mortal. I answer to no man. I am the stuff of nightmares, whelp.”

In the meantime, Savaric sneaks up behind Ulrich just outside of the thirty-foot range. As far as Savaric can tell, Ulrich has not heard him—he certainly hasn’t acknowledge his presence.

Mõrvar then casts Vanish and moves stealthily thirty feet to left of his current position. He Messages Savaric where he is and that they may be getting close to attacking him, but to stand by and wait for him to order the attack. He notices the Lich’s eyes flick over in that direction, but settle back where he had been.

He then Messages the Lich once again, in a calm and confident voice. "Ulrich of Barth, you know not who you even speak to. What exactly makes you think I am even mortal? You are an intelligent being; surely you know that even you can be destroyed, so why tempt fate? It is in your best interest to appease me and answer my questions. It isn’t wise to be hostile to an unknown entity whose abilities are beyond your comprehension. So, tell me, Why are you here? What are you looking for? What is your purpose?”

The Lich guffaws: “You use the simplest of spells to communicate with me and hide like a squirrel in the woods and expect me treat you with the respect of an equal?” He laughs. “An unknown entity whose abilities are beyond my comprehension? You are a fool with delusions of grandeur.”

Mõrvar then Messages again with a degree of cockiness: “It appears to me you were attempting to stealthily make your way through the woods I didn’t know that an all powerful immortal would need to be so careful. This squirrel has cracked your nut twice now. Your negative energy, walls of fire, fire elemental, Zombies and Ghouls have not come close to stopping me. Perhaps I made a mistake, I thought you were intelligent. It seems after facing me now on two different occasions you would have learned it is not you that should be feared. I don’t need more than simple spells to deal with you. My patience is growing short. I will give you one last chance before I turn your corpse into my nut to do with as I please. I only give you what little patience I have because you call yourself Ulrich, and I find that most interesting. I know that name very well, but not because of you. If you want to continue insulting me, then don’t say you haven’t been warned when you face my wrath yet again. So, for the last time, you can amuse me and answer my questions and satisfy my curiosity or you deal with me toe to toe. Remember, it isn’t me who attempts to hide like a coward behind a wall of fire. Now then, Why are you here? what are you looking for? what is your purpose?”

The Lich says. “By your words, I have puzzled you out. You must be one of the thieves and murderers who came to my sanctuary. Are you Captain Rilka or are you this Surm Ulrich I’ve heard about? Why would I reveal myself to criminals?”

Mõrvar whispers, “No thief came to your sanctuary, and I am neither of them yet in a way, I am both of them. Let us learn about each other.”

The Lich looks over at Mõrvar’s position, crying “No thief?!?!” He is clearly enraged.

Meanwhile, Ilona tells Savaric that he is about to become visible again. “Should I reapply the spell?” she asks.

The searing rays of fire come flying out of the Lich’s hand and hit Mõrvar’s position, striking him hard and true. Mõrvar casts Vanish and moves to the right.

Savaric attempts to overrun the Lich and knock him over. He manages to overrun him, but not knock him over. As he runs by, the Lich attempts to touch him, but misses. Mõrvar then casts Bull Strength on himself. The Lich then gestures toward Savaric and he and his gear morph and meld into a dire rat. He scurries away from the scene of the fight with the sound of Ilona in his mind saying, “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…”

Mõrvar casts True Strike and makes his way stealthily toward the Lich. The Lich is looking around and he says in High Elven, “Come out little squirrel!” He continues to look around.

Mõrvar attacks with Deathblow twice, dealing a great deal of damage. The powerful attack seems to shake the Lich up a bit. “I am no squirrel, I am Mõrvar Ulrich, twin son of Death!” he declares. Mõrvar hits him again for a great deal of damage and intimidates him again, keeping him in a shaken state. Then the Lich casts a spell defensively—five magic missiles spring forth and do minimal damage to Mõrvar. Mõrvar heroically goes next and attacks, yelling, “You will bow to me!” He attacks and hits the Lich again, continuing to keep it in a shaken state. The Lich casts defensively again. Beams of fire spring out from the Lich’s fingers and strike Mõrvar, doing a modicum of damage as Mõrvar manages to bypass some of the flames.

The Lich then attempts to touch Mõrvar and misses. Mõrvar then attempts attack him, misses, attacks again, and hits, felling him once again. He decapitates the Lich.

Savaric, still a dire rat, comes out of hiding. Mõrvar approaches Ghost and attempts to get Ghost to follow him, but is unsuccessful. Mõrvar shrugs and says, “Come on, Savaric.” He grabs the Lich’s corpse by the leg and starts dragging it out of the woods and into the village.

Mõrvar meets the perimeter guards, who are wide-eyed. He finds Lord Connach’s sergeant. He tells him, “Sergeant, I suggest you clean that place out while you have the chance because I don’t know how long this fucker’s going to stay dead.” He goes to his soldiers and says, “You guys, we’re here to secure the journal.” He throws the body up on Savaric’s horse.

“Yes, sir,” respond the soldiers and they mount up.

“Let’s get there, let’s get it cleaned out, and let’s get the fuck out of there before nightfall,” he tells the soldiers. They start heading toward the mine and the Lich’s sanctuary.

They go to the mining camp, then into the mines and then into the sanctuary. Mõrvar has the soldiers fire arrows across the entryways in case the traps have reset themselves—they have not. Mõrvar nudges Savaric-Rat and asks him to see if he can track the Lich and see if he rematerialized here in the lair and if he came from inside here. Savaric has a hard time tracking on the stone floor of the sanctuary—but they do find a lead-lined open panel along one wall in the pentagram room.

Mõrvar goes back to the mining camp and searches through ashes of the Lich’s previous body and finds nothing but ashes. Savaric searches as well and finds nothing.

Mõrvar, Savaric, and the soldiers head by to Leodin. He goes to the Sergeant and once again urges he and his men to head out, telling him that he will vouch for them if they head out. “I will not be here to save you if the Lich returns,” he says.

“You will vouch for us with Lord Cannach?” the sergeant asks.

“I will,” Mõrvar says.

The sergeant gives the order for the soldiers to mount up and move out. The load up the paralyzed man onto the back of a horse.

So Mõrvar and his soldiers and Lord Cannach’s soldiers all start heading back to Aldasar. Along the way, Mõrvar starts trying to peruse the notes in an attempt to decipher them. Despite all of his efforts, he cannot decode the notes.

Mõrvar also takes the Lich’s body and ties behind his horse and drags it behind them. He is carrying Savaric-Rat as he rides.

15 Transformation 508

Mõrvar and the sergeant’s troupe meet the group the Lord Cannach sent to collect the goods from the Lich’s sanctuary en route to Loudin. Mõrvar holds up the LIch’s head and announces that they need to turn back, that the village is not safe. The sergeant says, “Yes, it is not safe.” The gatherers turn their carts around and they start heading back to Lord Cannach’s.

17 Transformation 508

In the morning, Garth and Halvor come riding at breakneck speed up to the estate. Rilka and Alasir go out to meet them. “Master Mõrvar asked us to come meet with his brother,” Garth says. Surm comes and Halvor reports that “The Lich is back.”

“The Lich is back?” Rilka says, incredulous.

“The Lich is back. Apparently there was an attack on one of Lord Cannach’s soldiers,” Garth says.

“We were told to ride at top speed to report,” Halvor says.

Rilka realizes that Lich’s are the masters of life and death that have rejuvenative powers, but how those powers work, she is unsure.

“Where are Mõrvar and Savaric and the other two guards?” Surm asks.

Garth says, “They sent us to make report. Apparently the Lich went into the woods. Savaric went to follow-up.”

“Follow-up?” Surm asks.

“On where the Lich had gone,” Halvor says.

“Following the Lich?” Surm asks.

“I believe so?” Garth says. “We were sent to make report. We’re not sure what happened after that.”

Rilka begins cursing in several different languages.

“When we got to the village, Lord Cannach’s soldiers were surrounding one of their own. The soldier had been paralyzed by who they had assumed to be an old man rummaging through the village. But the old man was speaking what they called ‘The Court Tongue’ and struck the soldier and he was paralyzed,” Halvor says.

“Is he alive?” Surm asks.

“We’re not sure,” Garth says. “He’s frozen in place.”

Surm knows that the paralysis could be a spell or a spell-like effect and that the man may not necessarily be dead. It may not necessarily be permanent.

Rilka tells Surm to get ready to talk to Lord Cannach and Alasir and to get the soldiery ready.

Surm goes to find Lord Cannach. He finds the jovial nobleman who greats him heartily. “Surm! Good to see you!”

“Yes, Lord Connach,” Surm says.

“Have the men already returned with your journal?” Lord Cannach asks.

“No, some of the men came back early to make report,” Surm says. “It would seem that the Lich has reappeared. And it would seem that upon his reappearance back at the hamlet, he has already accosted one of your men. But I’m told that Mõrvar and Master Hunter Savaric are trailing it.”

Surm can tell that Lord Cannach is trying to keep his composure. Surm reassures the nobleman that they will be going into the city to do research to find a definitive way to keep the Lich down and that they will stay on-task until this issue is resolved. Two of their men are already on it, at great peril to themselves. They are seeking sagely advice on how to definitively destroy this creature, since apparently removing its head and burning its body is not definitive. They will not leave this task undone.

“We honor our contacts, sir,” Rilka says.

Lord Connach takes a deep breath, nods, places his hand on Surm’s shoulder and says, “What do you need from me?”

“Right now, all we need to do is research,” Surm says.

“We’re worried about our companions, we’re worried about your men,” Rilka says.

“As am I,” Lord Connach says.

“Anything that can come back from being decapitated and ashes, we need more information about,” Rilka says. “So if your resources can help us get this information quickly, that would be very helpful.”

“Well, this is outside my usual circles of influence,” the nobleman says.

“My initial thought was to return to the University. Master Clyne. He referred me to someone with the obelisk. Maybe he knows of someone in this area,” Surm says. “And we might purchase some of those magic items now on credit, before you’ve sold everything else, before everything is sold, as some of those things may be useful against the Lich.”

“Very well,” Lord Cannach says.

Surm has Garth and Halvor report to Mahgnus to get their pay. And then he and Rilka head into the city to go to the University to meet with Master Clyne. They pass through the forum, bypassing the monitors, who attempt to stop them, but Surm waves by them and they go straight to Clyne’s office. They knock on the door and hear a voice say “Enter!” They then go inside.

They see Master Clyne at a desk look up and blink at them owlishly, like he’s been reading for a long time, and he sees them and says, “Oh, Master Ulrich.”

“In all urgency, I need the foremost, most knowledgeable person on Liches in Aldasar today. Right now,” Surm says.

“Liches, you say?” Clyne says.

“Yes,” Surm says.

“Specifically, how to make them stay dead,” Rilka says.

“Yes, because apparently cutting off their head and burning the body doesn’t do it,” Surm says.

“Here on this campus, one of the Masters on the campus is also a priestess of Cereth. Her name is Fiona Olanan,” Clyne says.

“Can you get us there immediately?” Surm asks.

“I can walk you there,” Clyne says.

“How much do I owe you for your time,”

“Well, this appears to be an emergency,” Master Clyne says.

“It is, but this is twice that I’ve come to you and you’ve sent me to other sages. I assume you have some sort of finder’s fee or something,” Surm says.

“A full fee would not be applicable for such a service, but if you wanted to pay me a gold, I would be satisfied,” the sage says.

Surm pays him the fee.

“I thank you,” Clyne says and leads them to another building on the campus.

He takes them to a small building and knocks on the door. A female voice calls, “Enter!” Clyne pokes his head in and says, “Mother, do you have a moment?” The others get the impression that ‘Mother’ is her religious title. She is probably a Prioress, meaning that if she were not also a sage, she would probably run her own church. She says, “Yes, come in.”

Master Clyne opens the door and says, “These guests have an emergency that I thought you might be able to help with.”

“By all means, come in,” Mother Olanan says. Master Clyne excuses himself and Surm and Rilka thank him as he makes his way out.

Mother Olanan is a thin woman of middle years. Her hair is pulled back in a severe bun. She is wearing white robes, trimmed in gray.

“What can I do for you?” she asks.

Surm tells the story of Leodin, of how they found the Lich and how they thought they destroyed but it has apparently returned and how they are now looking for a way to definitively destroy the foul creature.

Mother Olanan leans forward on her desk and says, “A Lich is a foul creature indeed. They have done foul deeds to achieve their form of immortality. For each Lich these acts of depravity are different. And these acts have probably driven them insane. But for all of them, on act is always the same. It has probably created a phylactery that houses its soul. And when its body is destroyed, it recreates it. The only way to truly destroy him is to find its phylactery and destroy it.”

“What would it look like?” Surm asks. “Would it radiate magic?”

“It would,” Mother Olanan says.

Surm and Rilka discuss the various items they found and whether they radiated magic or not to see if anything they found could be such an item.

“How long does it usually take?” Rilka asks.

“Anywhere from one to ten days,” the priestess says.

“What would it look like?” Surm asks again.

“It could take many forms,” Mother Olanan says, “It could be a small box, a gem, a ring.”

“Where would the body recreate itself?” Surm asks.

“Near the phylactery,” Mother Olanan says.

“Then we must not have found it,” Surm says, “Because if he recreated himself near the hamlet, then its somewhere around there.”

“He’d want to keep an eye on that,” Rilka says.

“I’d assume so,” Surm says. “But I don’t know. Is it something he’d want to keep near?”

“It’s something he’d want to keep safe,” the priestess says.

“But’s not something he’d necessarily have to keep near,” Surm says. “So whenever he died, he’d be recreated wherever it is.”

“Can it be destroyed in the traditional way? Does anything special have to be done? If it’s a gem, can we take a hammer and crush it?” Surm asks.

“I don’t believe so. It’s simply a magical container. It has scripts of paper inside,” Mother Olanan says.

“So how can it be a gemstone?” Surm asks.

“It’s part of the ritual that creates it,” the priestess says.

“It will radiate magic just like anything else radiates magic?” Rilka asks.

“I believe so,” Mother Olanan says.

“Will it radiate evil?” Rilka asks.

“I believe so,” Mother Olanan says.

“I might be able to find it that way,” Rilka says.

“Is there anything else you can tell us?” Surm asks.

“Avoid its touch,” Mother Olanan says.

“What was reported to us from some of the guards was that another guard was paralyzed,” Surm says.

“That’s from its touch,” the priestess says.

“Is that temporary? Is he dead? How can we help him?” Surm asks.

“He is likely alive,” Mother Olanan says.

“Will the paralysis wear off?” Surm asks.

“It will not wear off, but it can be removed through magic,” Mother Olanan says.

“Do you know someone who can remove it?” Surm asks.

“I could such a thing given time to prepare,” she says.

“It will take three days to get there and three days to bring him back here,” Surm says.

“That would be time enough,” Mother Olanan says.

“Well, if you could prepare, that would be greatly appreciated. And I’m sure Lord Cannach would greatly appreciate it as well, as it is one of his men. So what do we owe you for your time thus far?” Surm asks.

“What you are doing is a service, but I, too have to provide services. My time is worth 3 gold,” the priestess says.

Surm pays her and thanks her.

“If the Lich has already reformed a body and we destroy the phylactery, does that still kill him?” Surm asks.

“No,” the priestess says.

“His soul will just go back to his body,” Surm says. “Will he know his phylactery has been destroyed?”

“He may,” Mother Olanan says.

“So he’ll just make another,” Surm says.

“He may, but the steps involved will be very difficult and costly for him,” Mother Olanan says.

“But he would be eager to do that, wouldn’t he?” Surm asks.

“He would be eager,” the priestess agrees.

“So destroying it is not enough; we have to make sure that he’s dead and then destroy it,” Surm says.

“They are difficult,” the priestess says.

“So I’m learning,” Surm says.

“So this man of Lord Cannach’s,” Mother Olanan says, “he’s being returned?”

“I’ll have to go get him,” Surm says.

“Come for me here and I will be ready,” the priestess says.

Rilka and Surm make their exit and head back to Lord Cannach’s estate. They report to the nobleman what they learned from the sage/priestess. They also tell him that she has agreed to dispel whatever foul enchantment has befallen his man. They will leave in the morning for Leodin.

Surm and Rilka exchange some magic items and Surm takes the rod of wonder into the city and sells it. Then they come back and purchase from the magic items collected on the quest. They are able to pay in cash instead of on credit.

18 Transformation 508

As preparations are being made for Rilka and Surm and the soldiers to head to Leodin, a great mass of riders approach Lord Cannach’s estate. It is the workers Lord Cannach sent, his soldiers lead by the sergeant, the remainder of the party’s soldiery, and Mõrvar, dragging something behind his horse and carrying a dire rat and a severed head.

Lord Cannach, Surm, Rilka, and Alasir go out to meet them. Rilka hugs Mõrvar and then punches him. “He came back. And so they know that we killed him, I drug his ass back,” Mõrvar says proudly.

“Where’s Savaric?” Rilka asks.

Mõrvar looks at the dire rat. “Savaric and all his items was turned into the rat. He knows who he is. He’s just a rat. No sooner than Savaric entered the battle, it happened.”

Rilka starts cursing.

Mõrvar turns to Lord Cannach. “I hope you don’t hold your men accountable for not following your orders, but I don’t think they would have survived if they had. I ordered them to come back with me. I do not think they would have been safe. in fact, one of your men has been paralyzed.”

“We have someone coming for that,” Rilka says.

“I hope Mother Olana is ready today,” Surm says.

Lord Cannach says, “I thank you for keeping the safety of my men in mind.”

“I think that was the point of our job to begin with. Protect your assets,” Mõrvar says.

Mõrvar reveals that he believes the spell cast on Savaric was Baleful Polymorph. Surm believes that it’s going to require a Break Enchantment to remove the spell.

Mõrvar tells Lord Cannach that he wanted to bring proof that he brought the bastard down. Surm says that their research has revealed that destroying the body isn’t going to work, that they’re going to have to destroy something called his phylactery that’s housing his soul and reconstituting his body.

Lord Cannach says that as far as bringing back the body, “The word of your troupe is still golden with me.”

Plans are made to burn the drug body of the Lich.

The party’s first plan of action is to fetch Mother Olanan and bring her to Lord Cannach’s estate. Perhaps she knows of someone that can cast Break Enchantment. Surm is going to need to cancel, or at least postpone, the job he arranged with Toliver Yew.

Surm takes Alasir and two guards with him to see the Ornish salesman. Rilka goes to fetch Mother Olanan.

Meanwhile Mõrvar stays behind at the Lord’s estate. He arranges to get cleaned up and get his clothes cleaned. The Lord’s staff end up putting the Savaric-Rat in one of the Lord’s kennels, as it is a disease-ridden creature. Mõrvar lets them.

Rilka heads to the University and ignores the monitors in the forum. She goes straight to the Mother’s cottage and knocks on the door. A voice calls “Enter!” and she opens the door slowly and sticks her head in.

“Mother,” Rilka says.

“Yes,” the priestess says.

“Our friends have returned and they have brought the gentleman that was paralyzed,” Rilka says.

“So soon?” Mother Olanan says.

“Yes, they ran into trouble, and our friends almost immediately came back so they weren’t that far behind. They are at Lord Cannach’s estate. We were hoping you could come and examine him,” Rilka says.

“Yes, of course,” the Mother says.

“Our other companion was turned into a dire rat,” Rilka says. “Some sort of Baleful Polymorph spell. Do you know of someone we can hire to come and change our friend out of this horrible shape?”

“So he was transmuted?” Mother Olanan says.

“Yes,” Rilka says.

“I may know someone who can help,” the priestess says.

“Well, we’re hoping to get our friend transformed back before taking care of this Lich and his phylactery once and for all,” Rilka says, “So time is very much of the essence.”

“I see,” Mother Olanan says. “There is a wizard by the name Ianes Redstaff.”

“Is he here at the University?” Rilka asks.

“No, he’s in the University district, but he’s not part of the University,” the priestess says.

“Well, I need to see him. May I escort you back. And perhaps we can stop at Master Redstaff’s along the way?” Rilka asks.

“Very well,” Mother Olanan says. She collects a satchel and settles it across her shoulders and walks with Rilka to her horse and two set off. Along the way, Mother Olanan says, “That is a Northron symbol, is it not?”

“Yes, I am a cleric of Bruni,” Rilka says.

“Courage, is it not?”

“That is one of his domains. Protection as well.”

“Um. A worthy domain.”

“I believe so.”

“That, too, is something Cereth would share.”

The two discuss theology a bit while they ride through the streets until they come to a ramshackle house with a sign out front that reads, in Tradespeak, “Ianes Redstaff, Wizard”.

“Do you know Master Redstaff?” Rilka asks.

“We are…acquaintances,” the priestess says.

Rilka knocks on the door. After a moment, the door opens and a man with long frizzy hair and a frizzy mustache and goggles stands there and says, “Yes, yes, yes!” in a slightly irritated voice.

“Master Redstaff?” Rilka asks.

“Yes,” the man says.

“I am Captain Rilka Lazarsdottir. I was hoping to find you. Mother Olanan said that you might be the wizard I’m looking for,” Rilka says. “One of our companions has fallen under a baleful transformation spell. He has been turned into a dire rat. That needs to be remedied as soon as possible. We’re actually going back there now. I’m bringing the Mother. We’re going back to Lord Cannach’s estate.”

“Lord Cannach?” Redstaff says.

“Yes, he’s the man who hired us. We’re taking care of a bit of a Lich problem,” Rilka says.

“Lord Cannach? Well. Huh.”

“Will you at least come back and examine our friend and see if there is anything you can do to help him?” Rilka asks. “He should not be a dire rat. I understand that we need someone that can cast Break Enchantment at a fairly high level. Would that be something that you might be able to do?”

He strokes his mustache. “I will help.” He goes back inside for a moment.

The Mother stands there and shakes her head. “Your mention of the lord probably did it.”

“Good. I don’t care why he comes. I need my friend not to be a dire rat,” Rilka says.

“Master Redstaff is a bit, mercenary, in his practices,” Mother Olanan says.

“Ah, so not so much on helping those in need,” Rilka says.

After a moment, the door opens and he’s got a battered wizard’s hat on his head, red battered robes, and he’s still wearing his goggles. He shuts and locks his door, drops his key in his pocket, and says. “Let’s go.” So the three of them head to Lord Cannach’s estate.

Meanwhile, Surm heads to the marketplace with the soldiers in tow. He heads to Master Yew’s tent and approaches the merchant. “Master Yew, sad news. Circumstances have arisen out our control and the last job we did was not as complete as we thought. Apparently Liches return quite frequently. However, we are going to complete the task we were hired to do for Lord Cannach, but it may interfere with your timeframe on leaving. I don’t know how set in stone your timeframe on leaving is and I cannot say on guarantee how long this will take. I am hoping we can get back by the 28th. If things go smoothly, I am hoping that we can put a final end to this creature. Because of the embarrassment this causes us and the inconvenience this causes you, then I will knock 20 silver off per day. You will still be escorted out of the city and into Kalimsport by Captain Rilka and Company. If you cannot wait, I understand. My apologies.”

Yew seems to mull this over, and then says, “Done!”

“We fully intend to find you here the 28th. If we are not back the 28th, apologies, but I will come and see if you did stay and we will honor our deal. If not, perhaps we will look you up in Kalimsport and we will regale you with tales and have a time of camaraderie. Good day, sir.”

The two groups arrive back at Lord Cannach’s estate at roughly the same time. Mõrvar has gotten cleaned up and is presentable. Lord Cannach comes out to meet his new guests.

Rilka takes Surm aside and warns him that Redstaff has been referred to as “mercenary.” She doesn’t know what he’s going to charge for his services.

Surm observes the wizard looking around, and gets the impression that he is mentally putting a price tag on everything that he sees.

Rilka channels energy to cure Mõrvar and Surm casts Cure Light Wounds on him.

The Mother says to Rilka, “Show me to the stricken man.”

Rilka goes with her to the parlor.

Redstaff claps his hands together and says, “Yeah! Show me the rat!” Surm gives him a cold look.

Surm takes Rilka aside and wants her to make it clear to Lord Cannach and Mother Olanan how much concern they have for his man. And then he says, “I go with, Redstick was it?”

“Staff. Redstaff,” the wizard says, clearly agitated.

Rilka, Lord Cannach, and Mother Olanan go into the parlor where the soldier is standing, frozen in time. The priestess goes forward and starts examining him. She steps back and says, “He’s alive.”

“Thank the gods,” Rilka says.

Lord Cannach sighs with relief.

Mother Olanan asks the two of them to stand back. She then casts a spell and suddenly the man starts moving again. He cries out, and says, “It was terrible!”

“Very glad you’re safe,” Rilka says.

“Come, Mother, let me speak with you a moment,” Lord Cannach says. And the two step aside to speak.

Rilka helps the soldier sit down and asks if she can perform a healing on him. He says she may. So she channels energy and heals him. He feels better. She sits and chats with the soldier as Lord Connach and the Mother speak privately. Rilka gets the soldier a drink of water, which he takes almost greedily.

Meanwhile, at the kennel, Surm asks Mõrvar why Savaric is in the kennel. Mõrvar says it was funny and that the nobleman’s staff insisted. Surm turns to the wizard and asks if he has a first name and that his name is Surm Ulrich. He says his name is Ianes. “So Ianes Redstuff, what do you think?”

Mõrvar lets Savaric out of the kennel.

The wizard gives Surm a side-eye, but says, “Well, he’s definitely a rat.”

“Yeah, of the dire nature. Formerly a half-orc. So can we fix that?” Surm asks, slightly perturbed.

“That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?” Mõrvar says.

“Yeah, I can do that,” Redstaff says.

“Well, let’s do it,” Surm says.

“Well…” Redstaff says, clapping his hands together and scrunching up his face, “…my services don’t come free. So there’s a bit of business talk we have get cleared up first.”

“Let’s talk,” Surm says.

“Let’s talk,” Redstaff says. “Now Baleful Polymorph is how this occurred, at least, that’s how it was described to me, by your other half-breed woman.” Mõrvar gives him a dirty look at that description. The wizard continues. “This was done by a pretty powerful spellcaster.”

“This was done by a Lich,” Surm says.

“A Lich?” Redstaff says.

“Yeah,” Surm and Mõrvar say.

Redstaff says, “So we’re talking, this is probably going to cost about 805 gold.”

Surm says, “I was watching you as we were walking through the estate and on the estate so I know that you’re recognizing where you are and who you’re assisting right now, so, how about we cut that price down to 400 gold and we get you a better introduction to Lord Cannach than ‘hello, goodbye’ and maybe, if you’re successful and impressive, will get you on the lord’s shortlist for his magical needs. That’s half your asking price but maybe a very influential patron.”

Redstaff says, “Six hundred and your fancy introduction.”

“Alright, but that’s the final price and you do till its done,” Surm says. “If this enchantment survives your breaking, you’ll keep trying until it doesn’t, at no extra charge.”

“And I’ll stay with you till it’s done,” Mõrvar says.

“Alright, clear out of the way,” Redstaff says, and he rubs his hands together.

He stands before Savaric-Rat and makes some gestures and says some mystical words and suddenly Savaric stands before them. In his mind, Savaric hears Ilona says, “Oh thank goodness.”

Surm summons Mahgnus and he fetches 60 platinum for Redstaff. Surm pats Savaric on the back and says, “I’m glad you’re back.”

Surm escorts Redstaff to the parlor and Savaric and Mõrvar follow. In parlor, Rilka is chatting the soldier, Rhudiard. Surm goes up to him and says, “Welcome back, soldier.” Rhudiard says, “Thank you.” When he sees Mõrvar he says, “Thank you, sir, for bringing me back.”

Rilka says, “Rhudiard was conscious the entire time.”

Mõrvar puts his hand out and says, “You’re welcome.” Rhudiard takes it.

Surm introduces the wizard to Lord Cannach. “Savaric has returned to us courtesy of Master Ianes Redstuff. Lord Cannach, Wizard Extraordinaire.” Redstaff bows with a flourish and doffs his hat.

Lord Cannach says, “Thank you, Sir Wizard, for your services.”

Redstaff says, “All in a day’s work, Lord Cannach. If ever you need the services of a mystical nature, you may call upon me in the University District. My card.” And he produces a card with a flourish of his sleeve, which Lord Cannach takes.

Mother Olanan shakes her head with disapproval.

Mother Olanan says, “Well, if that is all I have work to get back to at the University.”

“Would you like me to escort you back?” Rilka asks.

“If you would,” the priestess says.

The wizard says, “I understand you have a Lich problem.” His pronouncement is met with an awkward silence.

Lord Cannach says, “Had. Had a Lich problem.”

Mõrvar grins.

The wizards says, “Well, as I said, if you ever have a problem of a mystical nature, fell free to call upon me.” He turns to Rilka. “May I get an escort back to the city?”

Rilka nods.

Before leaving, and out of sight of Lord Cannach, Rilka welcomes Savaric back and then punches him. Then she leaves with the priestess and the wizard.

Surm excuses himself and he and Mõrvar head to their tent at the encampment on the lord’s property. Surm kicks everyone out of the tent so that it is just he and his brother inside. He asks Mõrvar for the journal. Mõrvar hands him the journal and then Surm slaps him with the journal. “What the fuck are you going after the Lich for? Damn!” he cries. “Did it occur to you that you may die? Did it occur to you that you may get Savaric killed or turned into a rat?”

“This Lich is going to find out that not even he can escape death,” Mõrvar says.

“That was extremely stupid,” Surm says. “And unnecessary.”

“We stopped him,” Mõrvar says.

“You came back looking like shit,” Surm says. “Which tells me you got close to getting killed.”

“But I didn’t,” Mõrvar says.

“But if you had, what would have come of Savaric? He would be a rat in the woods, we’d have no way of knowing,” Surm says.

“He’s resourceful, I’m sure he could have figured it out,” Mõrvar says.

“Yes, I’m sure he could have survived as a rat in the woods,” Surm says.

“I’m sure he could have figured out a way to communicate,” Mõrvar says.

“If he could get to us,” Surm says. “I’m sure he scurry back into the hamlet without the soldiers cutting him down. ‘Oh a dire rat! He’s full of disease!’ You think he’s going to be able to sit there and wait on us to come back?”

“We cannot control everything,” Mõrvar says.

“You can control what you do!” Surm says.

“Yes, and I killed him,” Mõrvar says.

“Or you could have just done what you were there to do and come back and said the Lich is back and as a group we could have gone to get him,” Surm says.

“We wouldn’t have necessarily known where he was,” Mõrvar says. “We tracked him.”

“Which you shouldn’t have done,” Surm says.

“Savaric attacked him, he attacked Savaric, I attacked him,” Mõrvar says.

“Which would have never happened if you hadn’t have chased him down,” Surm says.

“We wouldn’t have known where he went,” Mõrvar says. “It would’ve have been another week before we’d have gotten back. How much more prepared would he have been for us? How many ghouls?”

Surm sits down with the journal and tries to decipher the notes. He tosses the folios at Mõrvar for him to look at.

Later, Surm speaks with Lord Cannach and purchases the Headband of Vast Intelligence on credit. He also tells him that if he wants to send workers to the Lich’s lair to withdraw the goods, that their troupe will escort them their in the morning.

Savaric goes into the city and buys some magical arrows. Rilka returns from escorting the wizard and priestess.

Both Surm and Mõrvar contemplate how long a wizard can retain his spells without a book. Apparently, he can retain it until he casts it. They check to see if Lord Cannach has already sold the spellbook and it turns out that he has.

19 Transformation 508

The troupe, some of Lord Cannach’s soldiers, and a group of workers head out from the estate toward Leodin in the morning. Along the way, Surm works on translating the folio and the notes.

Mõrvar warns Alasir that the Lich cannot be affected by any of the soldiers that do not have magical weapons—which is the majority of them. And he also warns them not to get touched by the Lich. Alasir nods, taking the warning seriously.

Mõrvar greets the sergeant of Lord Cannach’s men and the sergeant says that he hopes they don’t run into the same trouble as last time. Mõrvar chooses to ride point. Rilka keeps her eyes peeled and makes the rounds through the entourage. Ghost trots on the outskirts of the entourage. Surm casts Magic Missile into the Ring of Counterspells.

25 Transformation 508

The entourage arrives in the hamlet of Leodin.

Over the course of the journey, Surm has manage to translate much of the notes and the folios. The “journal” is primarily notes on anatomy, how organs react to various stimuli. It appears that he was into vivisection. The sidebars are various rants about how the voices won’t be quiet, how he’s going to get revenge on so-and-so, “they’ll see—they’ll all see!”, etc.

The folio is a bit scattershot with more rantings and ravings. various diatribes about people that slighted him in some fashion, pontifications about his impending godhood and his conquering of the North and then his sweep of south and his march on Asdari. Once he gets used to the style, Surm can make sense of the folio. There are two main sections. One is plans for the building of the sanctuary. The second is the means of a ritual—known as the Ritual of Becoming or the Ceremony of Endless Night.

In Mõrvar’s opinion, this Ulrich is the one that has caused their “taint”, he is the reason for the life that they have had, he is the reason their family outcast them, he is the reason they were forsaken by Aeth.

The ritual has three main parts: Part the First is the body, Part the Second is the soul, and Part the Third is the phylactery. Then one performs the Ceremony of Endless Night.

Surm looks for details on the phylactery. It is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment. There is a drawing of the box. Surm shares the details of the phylactery, but nothing else of the papers.

The first part of the ritual involved summoning a heresy devil. According to his notes, the price the devil imposed upon him was sacrifice of one his sons—which he paid. His son was named Ulfric. The sacrifice was to summon a warmonger devil to unleash on a temple to Azumazran. The process he went through to prepare his soul for transference into the phylactery was journeying to a magical pool, desecrating it, drinking from it, and letting the now-corrupted waters flood his soul. According to his notes, the nightmares began after that…

Surm seems to recall their Uncle Thormax mentioning an Ulfric when talking family history

The second part of the ritual was preparing his body for transformation. He had spend a lot of money on exotic herbs and such for the elixir. Then he had to prepare the herbs of unlife which are grown in the corpse of a person of noble birth slain by his own hand seeded by his own blood under the light of the full moon. Then he had to make the water of unlife by soaking the corpse of a good-aligned person, once again murdered by his own hand, in unholy water, for seven days and adding this water to the elixir. Finally he had to make a torch of souls by binding the soul of a good-aligned person to a black sapphire worth a 1000 gold pieces and this gemstone would be used to heat the elixir during the main ceremony.

Then the phylactery is made.

During the main ceremony, which must be performed on desecrated ground, the phylactery must be placed on an altar. Then the soul must be prepared for its journey by whatever method suggested by the heresy devil. Then the elixir of life is prepared and heated by the torch of souls and drank.

This is only the beginning.

While the body is being wracked with the pains of its impending death—and hopefully, undeath—the potential Lich must complete the ritual that will place his soul within the phylactery. If he fails, then all his preparations are for naught.

Both Surm and Mõrvar are disgusted by the lengths the Lich went to in order to achieve its ends and do not share this with the rest of the group.

At Leodin, the group head for the central market hall and search it out for any signs of disturbance. They also fan out and search out the village. It does appear that some of the homes have been ransacked. The storehouse seems to be fine. Surm checks the food stores for any signs of discoloration, but doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. He calls over the sergeant and tells him that it is suspicious that the houses were broken into but the food was not, so as a safety measure, it would probably be best if no one ate the food. The sergeant says, “Very well,” and passes the word along to the rest of the entourage.

Rilka isn’t really seeing a pattern in the ransacking of the homes—she’s not seeing a lot of stuff missing, just a lot of things pawed through.

They decide to head into the forest. They order Alasir to have the soldiers set up a perimeter at the village and then the four of them start tracking into the forest. Savaric follows the trail left by he and Mõrvar over a week before. Surm casts Detect Magic along the way in hopes of finding the phylactery, thinking that perhaps the Lich has hidden the device in the forest.

Savaric manages to find his way to site of the previous battle. There are burn marks on the trees and signs of battle. Surm detects no magic in the area. Savaric tries to find another trail leading to the northeast. Savaric follows the trail for about a quarter mile and comes to a spring. In the spring are some flat stones. One has been overturned. Surm still detects no magic. Where the stone was, there is a square indention that is now filling up with water.

The party theorizes that after he was killed, the Lich materialized with his phylactery in the sanctuary, took it with him when he left, hid it in the forest in the spring, returned to Leodin, harassed the soldiers, and was heading back to collect it when Mõrvar and Savaric came upon him and Mõrvar killed him a second time. Savaric looks around for another trail and finds two—one heading back toward the hamlet of Leodin, another toward Aldasar. The trail to the hamlet is about a week old. The trail to Aldasar is about two days old. Now they believe that the Lich as rematerialized again and gone back to Leodin first, ransacked the homes, and then headed to Aldasar—and he has a head-start on them.

Mõrvar wants to ride hard for Aldasar and find the Lich. The party discusses what to do next—leave the soldiery and pursue the Lich? Split up and track him while looking for the phylactery? They finally settle on riding as fast as they can back to Lord Cannach’s in anticipation of the Lich attacking the nobleman’s estate. They explain the situation to Alasir and have their soldiers sit tight in Leodin. “May Bruni bless you and the entire group,” Rilka says.

“I will not disappoint,” Alasir says.

Surm goes to Mahgnus and says, “If we’re all dead when you get back to Aldasar, I guess split up the group funds amongst the men and yourself.”

“Oh, don’t talk like that, sir,” Mahgnus says.

And the four of them take off back to Aldasar.

28 Transformation 508

The party arrives at Lord Cannach’s estate late in the afternoon. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. Lord Cannach comes out and looks concerned.

“What news?” he asks.

“Well, based on the Lich’s trail, we were afraid he was coming back this way,” Surm says. “So we got back here as fast as we could. We left our men with yours, cleaning out the mine.”

“We’re glad to see you’re safe,” Rilka says.

“We were afraid, that based on encountering your men earlier, and their liveries, that the Lich may come to Aldasar,” Surm says.

“That’s troubling,” Lord Cannach says, “though we’ve had no trouble thus far. With sending some of my soldiers to Leodin, I do have a reduced contingent here.”

“Well, unless your soldiers are magically armed, they won’t be much help. They need magical weapons to strike this creature,” Surm says.

Mõrvar says, “He may be out there right now, watching.”

“Let’s start making a plan, then. Our only hope is that he comes here, otherwise we have no trail,” Surm says, “And we just left the only one we had.”

The party and Lord Cannach then gather and start making plans. First of all, they have the peasants working his lands gathered up and moved to the manor house. Lord Cannach says that he has seven soldiers at his disposal, but they do not have magical weapons. They may be able to be used as eyes on the ground. Surm believes, based on his writings, that he will definitely come after them. What they’ve done to him will be considered a personal affront. This leads to the idea of trying to bait him into coming, using themselves as bait. Finally, they decide to camp outside the barn on Lord Cannach’s property, with Savaric and Mõrvar hiding in the darkness, ready to ambush. Rilka and Surm will be laughing and having a good time at the Lich’s expense, trying to lure him in. One of the soldiers will be dressed in Mõrvar’s clothes, sitting around the fire, ready to run when the attack comes. Rhudiard volunteers for this duty. Surm also has his crossbow ready with a tanglebolt loaded and ready to fly.

Everyone gets into position and the waiting begins. Finally, later that night, they all hear a voice call out speaking in High Elven, say “Hello squirrel.” Savaric can tell that the voice came from about 100 feet away. He casts Gravity Bow. Mõrvar hears the voice about 60’ away. He casts Vanish and moves 10 feet back and five feet to the right. Surm casts Dancing Lights around where Mõrvar was. Rilka casts Bless.

Rilka starts heading in the direction of the voice. Mõrvar casts Bull Strength on himself and sneaks toward the voice, still invisible from the Vanish. Surm readies his crossbow and tells Rhudiard to head for the house. The voice calls out again in the same language, saying “Captain Rilka, Surm Ulrich, come face me!” Savaric has Ilona make him invisible and he stealthily moves closer to the voice. Rhudiard heads double-time toward the house.

Mõrvar waits for Rilka to pass him so that he can see in the light of her falchion to attack. Surm holds his attack as well, as he doesn’t have a target. Rilka holds her move and attack and calls out, “So you’re looking for Captain Rilka, are you?” The figure steps forward into the range of Savaric’s and Rilka’s darkvision. The sight of the Lich causes Savaric to be shaken. He says to Rilka, “Which one are you?” And Rilka says, “Does anyone understand this guy? All he says is ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…’” Surm discerns the direction that the voice is coming from and moves his dancing lights there. As soon as he’s in the light, Surm fires his crossbow and hits the LIch with a tanglebolt. Rilka moves forward. Mõrvar moves forward stealthily and attacks. “Hello, nut!” he cries as he attacks. Rhudiard exits stage left. Savaric fires two arrows at once and then fires again and again. The arrows bounce harmlessly off the Lich.

Rilka attacks the Lich twice with her Falchion and hits both times. The Lich then channels negative energy, but Rilka and Mõrvar manage to resist some of the damage. Savaric tries to command Ghost to attack and commands his bow to activate its flame power. Ghost, however, is uncooperative. Mõrvar attacks again, twice, and hits twice. Rilka notices that Mõrvar’s attacks are not as effective as they should be. Surm drops his crossbow and pulls out his Wand of Magic Missiles and casts it at the Lich. The Lich is hit with five Magic Missiles.

Rilka hits the Lich with her Falchion twice. The Lich attempts to cast a spell through the entanglement of the tanglebolt and manages it. Then he tries to cast defensively. And the Lich disappears.

Mõrvar casts Light on his greatsword. Rilka stabs the air around her to see if he just went invisible. Rilka uses her armor to fly around and look around and try and see him. She doesn’t see him. The others discuss the fact that undead can be more vulnerable to different types of weapons, slashing vs. bludgeoning or what-have-you. The Lich doesn’t seem to be bothered by piercing and Mõrvar’s slashing weapon didn’t seem to be as effective. The party then settles in to debate their next move.


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