At once the hag lifted the skirt of her tattered dress and a poisonous vapor exploded into the air, searing the lungs of BGA and Varis. As she retreated, however, Varis led the party in a swarming movement toward the wretched fey, and BGA kept his eye on her, chopping into her with his enormous axe when she lashed out at a nearby ally.
The hag proved somewhat slippery, though, as she escaped being pinned down by teleporting a short distance away after an unexpected sonic blast, a scream of horrific sadness and pain, that erupted from her throat and tore through those that attacked her at close quarters. She was lucky as well, redeploying her poisonous vapors twice more, a feat unheard of for those studied in the combatant ways of the fey witches. The party was nearly overcome as they surrounded the hag and she released her toxin for a final time, with all the party having to escape the vicinity or continue to suffer harm. Brandis himself was rooted to his spot, seemingly destined to die (once more) in battle, a heroic martyr emersed in the sacred act of battle. Kord blessed his faithful servant as his swift strike crumpled the hag into a pile, and her poisonous cloud disappeared.
All that while, back on the roof of the store house, Noddyl was keeping the hulking zombie at bay. When the hag fell, the zombie fell upon the heroes. Where had Noddyl gone? Was he eaten by the zombie in one swallow? Did he hide? Or run away? Dhalglish still hasn’t turned up…
The zombie was dispatched as an afterthought and the party gathered on the roof of the storehouse to look for Noddyl. He was nowhere in sight. As the group discussed their next step, undead of different types, skeletons, zombies, ghouls, and some dark, shadowy wisp of a figure, emerged from the streets and alleys connected to the marketplace. An instant later, a cyclops skeleton with a blue-glowing eye and a large undead doglike creature emerged from the battlement, atop which the Lich King Thizeroth stood perched, vulturously eyeing all of you.
Expecting to be threatened or squashed, Thizeroth surprised them with an invitation to tea. Seeing no other option, the party, escorted by the Lich King’s guards (i.e., the skeletal cyclops and his dog), entered the chapel, the foyer of which contained nothing but a glowing blue teleportation circle. Immediately, the whole group appeared in Thizeroth’s chambers and were welcomed at a long table, ornately set, and served tea by an unseen magical hand.
Though the tea proved bitter, according to Brandis’ brave report, the deal the Lich King proposed was even moreso. In his gravelly voice, Thizeroth explained that he knew the parties intentions, as he had studied the stars and knew the myths of the Ihniko from those he had captured, interrogated and tortured. He had also studied the magics that created the original destruction of the city of Ihniko and caused the tear in the three planes: the Prime Realm, the Feywild, and the Shadowfell. He was close to backwards engineering exactly how it happened and would soon be capable of replicating the terrible effect, but he needed more knowledge, knowledge that only one who was there and understood better the magics that were at play on that day. For this reason, Thizeroth stated, he needed the party to bring back the Ihniko King, Uridan. Uridan is mad, Thizeroth assured them, but he holds the key.
“Bring him back alive and I will spare your lives,” Thizeroth promised.
“But what will you do with this power?”
“Destroy the world,” replied the Lich King, “This one, and the next one, and the next one, and the next one, until they are all nothing but an ashen void.”
“How will you get us into the palace?”
“Magic, my dear boy. I told you, I have studied these magics for 500 years. You don’t do such a thing without learning quite a lot about something.”
“Well, why don’t you go yourself?”
“Because there are protective magics much more destructive regarding necrotic energy. If I were to pass through the portal I would be disintegrated instantly. For you, I can provide some protection, and as long as you don’t retune the portal, you will be able to return here unharmed. I cannot promise that you will remain unharmed, however, that is, unless you have the King safely bound and ready to be handed over to me.”
In all, a wholly fair bargain in the mind of a 500 year old, undead, egomaniacal wizard, but somehow gaining a pass on their immediate deaths as trade for the ultimate weapon of mass destruction and planar dismemberment didn’t seem right to the party. But without a moment to rest, think about it, or even resist, Thizeroth had the party agreeing to go along with his plan, as, at the very least, it promised to place them inside the palace of the Ihniko King, where they wanted to go.
The party gathered in the teleportation circle and were teleported into a large, empty hall. Statues of Ihniko elders and heroes were set into the walls of this room and seemed to watch the party. Before the party could move, the grand double doors at the other end opened slightly. They were hailed in an archaic form of Elven, the dialect of the Ihniko. Varis spoke up, introducing himself and his purpose, but before he could finish, arrows flew across the space. One zipped by him, but the other slammed into his shoulder. The grand doors were opened only to an arrow slit. The party tried to calm the Ihniko guards, but their efforts only seemed to heighten the tension between the groups, and the grand doors were shut.
After a time, the doors opened again, and with more measured and thoughful responses, the party explained their purpose, to help the Ihniko and free their King. They explained that they were not aligned with the eladrin, that they had, in fact, been sent by the only remaining Ihniko in the Prime Realm. They mentioned the Ihniko’s Record of Hate as proof of their contact with their people.
The party were cautiously let into Uridan’s many columned throne room. Eight elite archers stood next to columns. Two soldiers in fine elven plate, ornately decorated with a vine and floral design as well as the symbol of the Ihniko, stood in front of the king. A young elf, his greatbow in hand, stood proudly on the dais at the king’s side. A robed elf with a long crooked staff stood on the other side. The king, old, hunched in his throne, wearing silks of various greens and a tall crown with a large amber gem in its middle, looked, from under darkened brows, at the party. Though the party had won entrance into the room, the feeling they got was clear, they had not fully overturned the suspicion of those within it.
They explained the passage of time, the occupation of the Lich and his army, the crossing of planes, and the faces of a few in the room betrayed their belief in what the party said. The king stolidly stared at the group awaiting something to convince him he wasn’t still fighting a war he had to win.