Baldur’s Gate, Bloomridge District:
Gerrick Greystone reaches down to the shattered remains of the defeated Lich to pick up a thin golden crown, embedded with rubies. He rotates it casually, critiquing its craftsmanship.
“Good quality.” The dwarf says aloud, “Expensive.”
“The Stronghearts were wealthy.” Legion replies, startling the paladin who did not realize he was there.
“So you think the lich was once Demeran?” Gerrick asks him.
“But why come here now?” the dwarf asks
“There could be many reasons,” Legion says, but does not continue. Gerrick waits for a time and then when he realizes that the shade is not going to say more, he rolls his eyes and speaks again.
“Maybe you could tell me what you think is the most likely reason?” the paladin says, straining to remain patient.
“Demeran is looking for his phylactery. The lich cannot be destroyed unless it is found and destroyed as well. ”
“But we just destroyed him.” Gerrick argues.
“No,” Legion says, shaking his head, “he will rise again in the next ten days.”
“Here?!” exclaims the dwarf, shocked.
“Wherever his phylactery is, that is where the lich will appear.” The shade says matter of factly, “but judging by what Demeran said, he could not find his phylactery here, so this is where it must have been hidden originally.”
“That statue we found here last time. That must have been his phylactery,” Gerrick deduces aloud, “but if someone else in the city has it, we may have only delayed the inevitable here.”
“Correct,” Legion says, “Demeran may rise again and continue the rite. People will die.”
“Moradin’s mercy…” the dwarf mutters under his breath.
“Based on what Demeran said, I’d guess that your friend Sardis has it,” the mage adds, ” The question is whether or not Sardis is here in Baldur’s Gate or not.”
“Why do you insist on using, its name?” Gerrick says, his patience breaking finally, “that thing is no longer Demeran Strongheart.”
“Isn’t he?” Legion says calmly, his eyes meeting Gerrick’s. The shade finally shrugs and walks away. Gerrick lingers for a moment more before he walks around the ruined mansion looking for Bartholomew.
“You seem troubled.” Omarlyn says as he steps up beside his companion, Morpheas. The shader-kai is watching the fog evaporate, but his thoughts seem a thousand leagues away.
“Yes,” the monk says, his tone flat, “It is… a personal matter.” Omarlyn seems to struggle with whether to push his friend for more information, but just as he is about to speak, the rubble behind them topples into a minor cascade. Asturean, covered in dust and breathing heavy, is attempting to dig through the ruins.
“This was easier when I had the half-orcs to boss around,” the elf mutters to himself.
“What are you doing?” Omarlyn says as he moves away from Morpheus.
“Well this family was rich, right?” Asturean says as he pats dust from him legs, “They must have a hidden chest somewhere.”
“You don’t think some other opportunist would have found it by now?” Khan says skeptically.
“Other opportunists aren’t as clever as me… that is, I mean, not as clever as us.” The elf smiles as he gestures at the pile in front of him, “How about you help me move this?”
“I’ve some expertise in this sort of thing,” Omarlyn says, his eyes glinting with mischief, “I expect over there is a better place to look.” The thief points to a half ruined wall where the remains of a large fireplace can be discerned, “If there is a hidden strongbox, you’ll find it under a lose stone by the hearth. It’s a common hiding spot.”
Asturean and Omarlyn begin to sift through the rubble and are eventually joined by Morpheus, who rhythmically removes the debris tirelessly. The three work in silence until they’ve cleared a sizable area of floor space around the hearth, then they begin to crawl around and tap at the stones.
“Here!” Asturean cries excitedly, “This one has a hollow space beneath it!” Morpheus moves beside him and the two of them pry up the large floor stone to reveal a space beneath occupied by a medium sized iron banded chest. They lift it out of the hole, and in seconds, Omarlyn has the lock opened. The three lift the lid expectantly.
Inside is several small bags of coins and gems, but what catches their eyes is a valved horn plated in electrum that lies atop the other treasures. Asturean lifts the horn out delicately, his eyes wide in amazement.
“It’s amazing,” Morpheus says, awestruck. Omarlyn’s eyes narrow in as he examines the horn in Asturean’s hands.
“This is rare,” the thief says, “If it is what I think it is, the Elturgard paladins will pay a large sum for it.”
“What is it?” Asturean asks
“I don’t know if it has a name,” Omarlyn says, “But if that’s what I suspect it is, Torm himself had a hand in making it, or so legend says. It’s a revered item by those faithful to the Loyal Fury.”
“We should bring this to the others immediately.” Morpheus says, as he closes the lid of the strong box and then hefts it onto his shoulder. Asturean continues to stare at the horn for several moments, until finally Omarlyn nudges him out of his reverie.
“Right,” the elf says distractedly, a look of disappointment on his face, “we should bring it to the others.”
Gerrick finds the pirate turned cleric lounging on some broken masonry.
“Have you seen that statue anywhere?” Gerrick asks, speaking in a low voice so as not to be overheard, “You know… the one we took that caused the Bloomridge Incident… and then put it back…” Rhum stares at him blankly, his eyes glazed over.
“No”, the cleric says, and then belches loudly. Bart throws an empty bottle across the rubble field, “But I ain’t been looking too hard neither,” he says as the bottle shatters. Rhum smiles drunkenly at the dwarf, who shakes his head in disgust.
A few moments later, Asturean, Omarlyn and Morpheus arrive bearing their newly found treasure and explain their discovery.
“Maybe this horn can go a long way towards mending relations with the paladins, should we need them,” Gerrick says gruffly. Asturean appears crestfallen at the suggestion, and Legion moves in quietly to join the outskirts of the group.
“Well, the necrotic essence is all but dissipated here,” Morpheus says looking into the already thinning fog, “I guess that means the city is no longer under some shadowed threat.”
“I’m not so sure,” Bartholomew says, as he pulls out a black shafted arrow with green fletching from his cloak and begins to turn it in his fingers slowly, “It seems there are other forces at work inside the city.”
“You are correct.” A new voice says, as a lone figure slips out from the fog. The group grabs for weapons as one, but quickly relaxes when they realize the stranger is deliberately keeping his hands away from any of his weapons. He is dressed in dark leather armor, and is cloaked in a long black cape. The group spies many knives and two short swords hidden beneath the cloak, but the man walks forward slowly with arms outstretched at his sides, in an attempt to appear unthreatening.
“That’s close enough,” Gerrick says warily, “Who are you?” The man stops, but before he can answer, Omarlyn speaks first.
“Thieves Guild.” He says with confidence. The stranger cocks an eyebrow at the thief, and then nods his head respectfully.
“Damn them halflings.” Bartholomew mutters and spits insultingly into the dirt. The newcomer chuckles at this and shakes his head.
“No halflings,” he explains, “that’s an off shoot and not part of the official Thieves Guild of Baldur’s Gate. My name is Arthem, and I work for Nine Fingers Keene.”
“She’s the head of the guild,” Omarlyn says, his voice respectful, “many debates have raged on who holds more power in this city, Keene, or the Grand Duke himself.” Legion nods his head in agreement.
“The guild has remained out of sight and out of harm’s way during this conflict,” Arthem says, “we are no army, but things have spiraled far out of control, and Keene wants to do something about it.”
“Such as?” Gerrick asks gruffly, his hand still on the haft of his craghammer.
“We’ve been gathering information,” Arthem replies, “Even if we can’t act as soldiers, we can still assist. When I heard that you had returned, the heroes of Bloomridge, I set about to find you. We were ordered by Keene not to enter Bloomridge, but I couldn’t resist following you. I caught the end of the battle, and I must say, if anyone can restore Baldur’s Gate, it will be you men.”
“So this Keene hasn’t specifically asked for us?” Bartholomew asks skeptically.
“No,” Arthem responds, “but she’s expressed a desire to use the guild to help end this strife. You’re clearly men of action, and you’ve saved the city before. It seems you’re the obvious choice.”
The group looks at each other undecided.
“Please,” Arthem says as he gestures towards the city, “just follow me to Keene, at the very least, she can offer you valuable information.”
He looks at the group, his eyes hopeful…