Late evening, Ashtoven 28th, 602 AR
Well into the celebration for Longest Night
Once again the team heads for the Falling Star, where they meet with Cpt. Helstrom to report their findings. Upon hearing the news, he seems skeptical of the sheer numbers Alexia has raised, but has no doubt that an invasion of undead is coming. What Alexia’s motives, beyond raising her mother, are unknown, but it’s fairly obvious that is her goal. Plans are made to defend the city as best as possible, but without the authority to command any more of the Watch than he already does, Helstrom knows any defense raised will be inadequate.
While Stringer takes his henchmen to blockade as many of the sewer system and catacomb entrances to the undercity as possible, Helstrom and the companions take their evidence directly to the Watch Commander’s residence (and taking Durin from Watch custody on the way), forcing an audience with the man. The Commander is extremely doubtful of the tale of an undead army approaching the city, at the beck and call of a wisp of a girl, but Helstrom and Fynn convince him to at least order the other captains to follow Helstrom’s lead and begin pulling their men off the streets and place the majority in strategic locations around the city. Plans are enacted to take the city’s small army garrison to guard the cathedral island. The team has a few extra hours to prepare the city, and every resource is used. The team regroups and digs in on the island of the Cathedral of Morrow, stationing the army troops at both bridges, and holding fast at the tomb of Alexia’s mother, Lexaria.
Unfortunately, even the best laid plans are met with the hard reality that even on alert, the Watch and army garrison, even the few militia that can be mustered, are inadequate. At least the team had the idea that a frontal assault on the gates would not be Alexia’s likely attack point, and tried their best to limit access to the city from the sewers and catacombs, and the rivers are a huge vulnerability, since the undead don’t need to breathe or even swim. After long hours of preparing and waiting, just as hope begins to rise that maybe, maybe Corvis isn’t going to be attacked… the sounds of screams echo through the still-busy streets. Citizens, first in pairs or small groups, then larger and larger crowds begin to run frantically through the streets. Indeed, the undead are coming up through the catacombs!
Chaos engulfs the city, but the companions and their army troops stand their ground. Father Dumas and his three acolytes have joined them, the priest looking invigorated in his battle-gear, the lads in chainmail. Though the threat to his city has brought him some measure of determination, he still holds to the belief that Alexia is somehow not responsible, a pawn by some other person, using a young girl for some unknown end. Watching from the island as the undead rampage, checked only by the brave and often futile efforts of the Watch and a few brave citizens, their resolve is tested often through the assault. A small navy river warship, in desperation, is seen firing on both civilians and undead alike, while unknown to the crew a squad of skeletons climb the anchor chain, obviously intent on taking the craft and it’s cannon. A single warjack is seen escorted by a pair of Watchmen, only to be spotted later with two skeletons, wearing Watch helms and weapons, attacking it to little effect. Another river barge, this a cargo scow, is seen aflame and adrift, eventually crashing into the docks, spreading flames along that district and covering much of the river with thick smoke in addition to the traditional fog. Revelers are slaughtered, and thralls are seen wearing their costumes. Shamblers kill more revelers, and those fresh corpses rise to kill even more of the populace. Despite the horror and hopelessness, the urge to go and fight, to defend the city, the group holds their position, knowing Alexia will soon be coming to them.
Their faith holds true. After untold hours of watching the city burn and die, scores of undead march on the island. The garrison troops fight back, but are forced to withdraw back to the tomb, surrounded by hundreds of skeletal warriors, most of them simply walking out of the river onto the island. Barely a dozen paces away from the circle of armed humans, however, the undead unexpectedly stop in their tracks, and like a single organism, the horde drops to one knee…
Alexia and her four dead coveners fly out of the pre-dawn gloom, landing between the party and the entrance to the tomb. With a gesture, the witches erect a barely visible wall of force, then join hands and begin a ritual. Father Dumas assures the team that the magic sealing the tomb is impenetrable, but Alexia and her zombies prove him wrong, blasting open the door. Wrapped in her burial shroud, Lexaria Ciannor’s inanimate body floats out of the tomb into the arms of her undead sisters, and Alexia emerges bearing a greatsword of black metal, its blade etched with sinister looking runes. This must be the weapon known as the Witchfire that her notes referred to. She raises the blade in triumph, her scream of victory inhuman as her witches fly off with her mother’s body. Father Pandor Dumas has fallen to his knees, tears streaming down his agony stricken face.
Then, before anyone can act, in a blinding blue flash of light and thunder, a man wearing a greatcloak and bearing a lightning-wreathed staff appears behind Alexia, and stabs her with a dagger! Staggering forward, the Witchfire flies from her grasp, skittering across the cobbles towards the group. Fynn steps forward and takes up the sword, but immediately feels waves of the most coherent evil he has ever known rolling off it. The mysterious stranger is borne away by a swarm of Alexia’s minions, and is lost to sight.
Alexia staggers towards Fynn, pale and drawn from her wound. Extending a slender hand, she begs him, “Give me the sword. I have to finish what’s been started. Can’t you see that?” Bright blood has begun to stain her white dress. “Give me the sword, and I’ll let all these old bones rest. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
From a few paces away, there is another blinding flash of light and a crack of lightning. Unhurried, the stranger confidently strides out from the circle of shattered bones that had swarmed him moments ago. Approaching Fynn, he says “Do not listen to her, friends! Do you really want to give her what she wants? Look at what she has done!” Gesturing at the thrall army and the burning skyline of Corvis, he states “I am here to protect Corvis. She wants to destroy it. The weapon is mine, it belongs to me! Give. Me. The. Sword.”
Looking from one to the other, Fynn hesitates, then glancing at his friends and Father Dumas, he hands the hilt of the wretched weapon to Alexia. Father Dumas remains stunned, staring at his niece with an expression of soul-crushing failure on his craggy features. Alexia grasps the hilt, and smiling winsomely at Fynn, waves a hand, then flies off into the pre-dawn haze of smoke and fog. Her army, true to her word, collapses into bones and dust, the only threat left being the swamp shamblers still infesting the city.
The mysterious stranger, obviously a mage of some power, curses vehemently. “Fools! You have no idea what you’ve done!” then vanishes the same way he appeared, the smell of ozone left behind… and a medallion clatters to the ground in his wake, it’s chain apparently broken in his struggle with the undead. A medallion bearing the same eye-over-lightning-bolt design as they saw tattooed on the hand of a young assassin sent to kill them at Fort Rhyker.