After their time apart, the Scarred returned from their respective tasks with tales of success. Gerard Hammerstriker reached out to Crow upon his return, informing the ninja that Caelynn had departed Waterdeep and left to go north. Gerard knew nothing further, grumbling about becoming a messenger instead of adhering to his post as captain of the Valenier guard. Drinks were offered in recompense, however, with no time to waste, the group set about furthering the conviction of Higrath Dorwarin and potentially revealing the identities of the cultists on the Masked Council. There was also the matter of the Copper Plague to solve, but with the meeting with Mara Blackwood still a few days off, they resolved to tackle this issue first. Everything from Skullport, to open defiance of the Blackwoods’ wishes was discussed, but tabled until after the matter of convicting the corrupt sheriff. What was most needed was the testimony of Etha Kormallis and Devan Kormallis. To do that, the Scarred would need nothing short of a miracle.
A bit of research revealed that resurrections were known to occur within the City of the Dead, but only with the concentrated efforts of several aspects of divinity, or the summoned help of otherworldly entities. The party made an inquiry of The Church of Tyr, coming to learn the whereabouts of the Kormallis’ remains, as well as what it might take to resurrect them. The Kormallis’ had paid tribute to the Church of Tyr, and with the head cleric’s blessing, the party was granted permission to attempt a resurrection via the influence of The Church of the Raven Queen.
The party ventured to the City of the Dead and into the Kormallis family crypt. Closing the door of the mausoleum behind them, they began a summons to the Shadowfell, Ushen Valenier knowing the name of an entity possessing far greater power than he. Calling to Mitailis, the first Raven Knight, (see The Book of Fates) the priest was able to summon the aspect of death and entreat him for help. Mitailis protested, telling them that the two souls have passed, but further pleas convinced the celestial to aid them. Mitailis began a transference of souls, calling back the Kormallis pair, each passing second requiring more of Ushen’s will in exchange. With the help of his fellows, the priest succeeded, but one final obstacle stood between them a true resurrection.
“They require flesh,” Mitailis informed them. “You know the price.”
Ushen offered himself in response, and right behind him was Amkissra Bladecrest doing the same. Their world went black, as did the crypt as the other Scarred were left to wonder. When light returned to them, the Kormallis’s had returned, but Ushen and Amkissra were gone. Both nobles were stunned and horrified to discover they’d been brought back from paradise, their protests vehement that they wished to return. With some convincing from Roderick Theowin and Sarissa Runesblood, the pair were calmed somewhat, and ushered back to their derelict home now devoid of possessions auctioned off after their murder. The Scarred watched over them for the night.
The next day, the Scarred visited the Kormallis’s again, the pair more agreeable but no less perturbed at their return to the material world. Upon explanation of why they were summoned back, the couple agreed to testify against their murderer, but requested secrecy in doing so. There were still several days until the Higrath’s trial, and in the meantime, there were other matters to attend to.
Traveling through the city, the group was met by Caelynn upon her return from the north, the woman insisting that they come with her to Avernus, the first layer of hell, that they may investigate Zariel’s activities and the army she’d recently assembled. The monk was insistent that their efforts were save hundreds of lives, urging the group to come with her and return the means of her travel to the first layer. After some convincing, the group was able to persuade her to come with them to the meeting with Mara Blackwood, seeing their affairs before departing.
Upon meeting with Mara Blackwood, the Scarred learned that the noblewoman had gleaned nothing new of her brother’s involvement with the Copper Plague. She claimed that someone was trying to frame her family for the deadly sickness, urging the Scarred to find what was causing the sickness as they always should have been doing. Caelynn urged them to come with her now that their business was concluded. After meeting with Edgewalker, they made their way outside the city and activated the hell-bomb. Before they knew it, the looming crags and roiling lava of Avernus was their new landscape, including the towering mountain riddled with dragons that was the fortress of Tiamat. (See The Church of Tiamat) Caelynn ushered them toward Zariel’s fortress, but in the distance, two figures made their way toward them. Ushen and Amkissra hurried to reunite with their friends.
Brief pleasantries were exchanged as the group brought both priest and monk up to speed as to how they’d been reunited, but a sense of foreboding fell over the group when the nature of Ushen and Amkissra’s being was revealed. While the others were warm and corporeal, Ushen and Amkissra were cold, missing an integral part of their essence. Apparently, escape from Avernus for them wouldn’t be so easy. However, there was also the question of why they had gone to Avernus instead of paradise like the Kormallis’s. The answer became clear when the scars that had earned the group their title were recalled. Tiamat had marked the heroes, and now had pulled two of them down to the realm in which she resided. The Dragon Queen had now made direct attempt to thwart the party, angering both gods and devils in order to do so.
However, the information would have to be utilized later. Safety within the hells was always fleeting, and it remained to be seen if the party could discover Zariel’s intent and return to their world safely. Or if that’s even a possibility for some.