The Eastern Fortress was secured, and the party began organizing the final assault on Anmor’s Tower. The next morning, as Shakaari rose to begin her morning meditations, her servant, the brownie Keets, approached her with a rather severe cat scratch on her arm. When she told her mistress that she’d received it cleaning Juniper’s room, the young wizard, more disturbed than angry, stormed over to the rogue’s room and began banging on the door, attracting both the attention of Marigold, Jinora, and Elvira (The men of the party were either sleeping, eating, or scratching their genitals; Akiara was still unwilling to leave her friend Ezra’s side).
When Juniper finally relented and opened the door, there stood Narhini, the Cat Who Lived, once again returned from Death’s eternal embrace.
A flurry of questions followed, none of which were answered to Shakaari’s satisfaction, and the mage was summarily evicted from Juniper’s room despite her protestations that cats aren’t supposed to rise from the grave this frequently.
The next day, Nilson VonCrosia, Grand Duke of Tesra, arrived, grand army at his back and a chicken egg between his fingers. Amongst his entourage were three Tesran Generals; Admiral Farinost and his retinue; the legendary sorceress Kleon, who’s withered old body harbored tremendous power; and a militant priest of Palenon, glowing bright with the power of his sun god. Griangi greeted these guests as formally as he knew how, and the combined group sat down to feast together.
Negotiations between the party and the nation of Tesra ensued; Grand Duke VonCrosia, in exchange for the groups efforts on behalf of Tesra, offered Griangi title to a small duchy at the north end of the Tesran Penisula which had lain fallow for some time, a reward our heroes gratefully accepted*. Some rather negative pronouncements were made by the Tesrans regarding Draima, causing Shakaari to speak up in the Combine’s defense; Grand Duke responded a declaration that all Draima wizards could toss themselves into the Abyss. Plans for the liberation of Chytri were laid, the logistics of the assault on the Tower were discussed, and the party’s various animal companions laid waste to the buffet.
*Note: the offer of this land, called Bellnesse, was contingent upon the party:
- Successfully liberating Chytri
- Handing over the ancient books arcane knowledge found beneath Draima
- Accepting any Tesrans who wish to migrate there
- Must take possession during Nilson VonCrosia’s lifetime
The party would be given:
- The abandoned town of Bellnesse, and surrounding lands
- A small trading fleet of 3 ships
Later, Marigold and Elvira heard Shakaari crying in her bedroom; the two women broke in to see what was the matter, and the witch attempted to stop the wizard from running away by anchoring her to the ground by her own shadow, but to no avail; the Voco girl simply teleported away.
That night, while the party slept, their souls were once again drawn into a mysterious other plane, and our heroes found themselves sitting in a sort of conference rooms before Hadrach, Anmor, and a man who was introduced as Lantern, the Oracle of Hadrach. This Oracle explained that there had been a great misunderstanding; Hadrach, himself, was meant to be the savior of all humanity, not its destroyer, but because the party possessed those artifacts which represented the better angels of his nature, he was behaving uncharacteristically violent. He begged the party to return these items so that the Warrior-King could be whole again. The party expressed its incredulity; the Oracle asked how Hadrach could prove his sincerity to them. Rothgar joked if he killed Anmor, he would join. In the space of an instant, Hadrach rose from his seat and beheaded the necromancer in a single stroke. He then rounded upon Rothgar and demanded his allegiance; when the archer refused, Hadrach stabbed him through the heart, his human countenance suddenly rotted away to that of a living corpse with flaming red eyes. The members of the party lept into action, save for Shakaari, who remained seated. The Mighty Griangi stood toe-to-toe with the Demigod, briefly holding his own before being chopped in half. Akiara’s whirling blades of death were bolstered by her friend, Ezra’s, sorcerous powers; still both were cut down for their refusal. Elvira’s druidic powers were brought to bear upon the living nightmare, but were found wanting. Marigold’s eldritch abilities were as little to Hadrach as Juniper’s advanced knowledge of anatomy. Jinora, bereft of horse but not bereft of sharpened steel and courage, challenged the undead monstrosity to single combat and was brought low.
Finally all that stood between Hadrach and his defeat of our heroes were the fearless bard, Jarbold, who stood his ground against the implacable foe, and the wizard, Shakaari, who remained seated at the table. Hadrach demanded the bard’s fealty, and was refused. With a swift, almost lazy motion, the orator’s head was separated from his body. He approached the young mage, leveled his mighty sword at her throat and asked:
“Will you serve me?”
Shakaari looked up, a hint of annoyance on her face.
“If you’re quite finished with your trantrum,” she replied, “can we please continue the negotiations?”