Night ended more than morning broke. Very dim light entered as the heroes struggled to withstand the effects of this Domain of Dread. The despair took Xabier Bloodcaster to a knee. New life entered him when he downed a vial of condensed blood.
The townsfolk nearby were gathering up the scattered and torn remains of the boy who had died the past night in the streets. Shivon interrupted to interrogate the people about the best way into the castle.
When information was not forthcoming, Kissandi threw one of the citizens into the wall, knocking him out.
After throwing the boat’s young owner overboard, the party took a barge to row under the castle into Tomb City, to go to the Broken Library, along the edge of the Bleak Abyss.
After rowing under the castle, the group was rowing past a hasty burial and makeshift ceremony for Timmy.
After a short interaction with those burying the boy, an old lady pointed at the heroes, blaming them for fighting their undead relatives in the street and blaming them for the death of Timmy. Xabier brought his axe down through the old woman’s forearm, severing it. Before Scathe could save her, she bled out. Quickly considering their options, the other citizens began digging a second plot.
The heroes rowed up to the Broken Library, that literally leaned over the Bleak Abyss, parts of the library clearly had already be sucked away into the abyss.
Upon entry, the group encountered Nephigor, who they would later uncover was possibly a ghost of a devil. Nephigor made a deal with Xabier – Xabier’s soul for the return of his brother.
Lightning cracked, a ceiling board split above the group, and the dying body of what appeared to be Xabier’s brother fell down into the room. Xabier killed him to death.
Nephigor gave information and gave the party an option of how to get out of Sunderheart – to get the Wizard of the Tower to confront Ivania and while they fought, the heroes could escape by sailing over Grimriver Falls, that would take them into the River Styx.
The group gathered scrolls and books and took them to the Witch on Downing Street.
The Witch read and put some details together, but said she would need more information. The group agreed not to fight the undead on this night – the Witch suggested that many more would come, since they would have communicated somehow about the battle put on between the undead and the heroes the night before.
After a restless night, filled with horrors for some, the group rose and went back to get the boat. The boat’s owner jumped into the river and swam away before Kissandi could throw him back in the water. The group rowed back to Tomb City.
Kissandi and Scathe returned to the Bleak Abyss, used Scathe’s bag of holding and took everything they could find back to the Witch on Downing Street.
Meanwhile, Kal-Kathier, Shivon, and Xabier climbed the steep cliff, using their abilities to fey step, good teamwork, and sheer athleticism. Next, they cleverly used a raven, a rope, and ingenuity to climb the White Tower to the 6th/7th floor where a terrace and the only notable entrance could be seen.
Atop the tower they felt a sudden cold – and each took 10 necrotic damage. They went to enter the tower…
Meanwhile the Witch was uncovering much history of Ivania and Vorno, of the wizard who now was a lich and of a few possible ways to get out of Sunderheart and possibly save it…
Stories that the Witch on Downing Street said she uncovered in reading the many tomes, books, and scrolls from the Broken Library books brought by Kissandi and Scathe:
“When the devil-bound empire of Bael Turath was enthroned as ruler over half the world, Harrack Unarth glittered as the brightest jewel in its crown. Set within the granite cliffs of the massive Grimstone Mountain, Harrack Unarth was fed by the emerald vale nestled close to its gates and slaked by the sapphire waters of three rivers that cascaded spectacularly down the rock behind the city.
Wealth flowed into Harrack Unarth as steadily as the Grimriver flowed from it. Bumping boats and jostling caravans brought goods from far-off lands. Wealthy nobles from across Bael Turath built bright villas on the shores of the city’s pristine lake. It was known far and wide as a city of spice, pleasure, play, and love. And no love was more famed than that of the Harrack Unarth’s rulers, Ivania Dreygu and Vorno Kahnebor.
The story of their romance was legend. Sole heirs to two feuding noble houses, Ivania and Vorno prevailed despite violent efforts by both feuding families to stop their love. When the last envenomed dagger had fallen from a death-weakened hand, Ivania and Vorno unified their holdings and took control of Harrack Unarth, the city where they first met. Together they ushered in a festive age. Harrack Unarth became known as the City of Carousal.
Yet like most legends, hidden truths lurk behind the bards’ honeyed words. The Dreygu and Kahnebor houses spared no love for one another, but they were unified in their desire to separate the young lovers. The Dreygu family, often thought depraved by those who glimpsed its inner life, saw Ivania as a “troubled” girl. And House Kahnebor had long struggled to cover up the results of Vorno’s dark appetites. A rare tete-a-tete between Lord Dreygu and Lady Kahnebor led to a resolution to separate them before their infatuation had its inevitable destructive result.
Yet love, true love, grows stronger in adversity, and so it was with Ivania and Vorno. Once forcibly separated, Vorno cut a bloody escape from his own family. A nighttime raid into the Dreygu estate and another murderous flight set them on the path to a pauper’s life together. Yet their outraged families could not leave well enough alone. After two years of cat-and-mouse exchanges, ambushes, and assassinations, Ivania and Vorno reclaimed their birthrights.
The two left behind the cities of their births and brokered with the emperor for control of Harrack Unarth, the throne of which was recently made vacant by the drowning of the lord mayor. They held a lavish festival for their arrival, and the celebration never truly ended. Behind closed doors and high garden walls, Ivania and Vorno introduced many of their new friends to increasingly obscure intoxicants, decadent delicacies, and bizarre entertainments. Meanwhile Ivania and Vorno continued to pursue the twisted pastimes for which House Kahnebor had paid to silence. Those they brought into their deadly games rarely remained players for long.
The expense of the nobles’ parties fueled trade to the city, making it a hub of strange goods from around the world. The wealth and rarities flowing to the city drew the eye of the emperor, and Ivania and Vorno became frequent guests at his court. It’s said that they returned the favor by setting up secret debaucheries from which only the hosts and their Imperial guest returned.
When the emperor sought infernal ties to secure his rule, he knew to whom he should turn. Ivania and Vorno readily agreed to shelter the first tests of the devils’ bargain, but their delight at this prospect had more to do with the opportunity it presented than loyalty to their lord. With the devils close at hand, they could cut their own bargains.
Their accomplice in the secret pact was Nephigor, a devil assigned to oversee the first rites. What Ivania and Vorno sought was nothing less than unending youth. They wished to continue their lives together forever, and for this they would give up their souls. The years would not touch them. Contagion would pass them by. Only by accident or intent could their lives be taken, and when this happened, as Nephigor must have know it inevitably would, their souls would pay the price for the joys they shared in life.
When the nobility of all Bael Turath found their way into the devils’ bargain, Ivania and Vorno were already enjoying the benefits of their promise. Youthful vigor flooded through them and drove them to greater heights of frivolity and darker depths of depravity. While the rest of the empire reacted with horror and fear at the work that was being wrought, even while the city’s lakeside villas were emptied of aristocrats, the people of Harrack Unarth danced in streets strewn with their noble’s gold.
Yet time did take its toll. As the years collected into decades, Vorno, always fitful and prone to bouts of depression, drew deeper within himself and grew increasingly paranoid. He knew his habits had made him many enemies, and now any danger threatened not only his life but his should. A simple fall could set his spirit on fire for eternity.
Ivania, on the other hand, took vicious joy from living. She tried many times to draw the man she loved from the shadow that skulked through their palace on the river. At times she could evoke his old spirit, cajoling Vorno’s cruel streak out for deviant play, but these times came less and less often. The two lovers, once inseparable partners, became estranged.
At length, Ivania grew tired of Vorno, tired of his petty jealousies and his simpering attempts at affection, tired of his watchful shadow lurking on the edge of her vision, tired of his unwashed stink and his suspicious eyes. She resolved to tempt him out of his shell one last time.
Securing the most beautiful girl in the city, Ivania plied the coy young woman with jewels, silks, and exotic spices. Together they drank, ate, danced, and played, all under the hidden gaze of Vorno. With the blush of innocences still upon her cheeks, the girl fell into a narcotic stupor. Ivania left her then, knowing what Vorno would do.
The fiend could not resist. He took her, and when at last the predilections born of his youth overcame him, he devoured her flesh. Ivania had planned for this. She had hidden her toxins beneath the stupefacient spices and liquors. The girl had boiled with poison but blissfully felt nothing. The same could not be said for dread Vorno. He died as terribly as he had lived. Ivania Dreygu watched him die. In Vorno’s final moments, he saw in her eyes that not only had she willfully killed him and consigned his soul to the Hells, but that she had also murdered their love. Thus, a dark lord was born.
Harrack Unarth, City of Carousal, took little joy during the funeral celebrations. Many noted the lack of prominent faces among the crowd. As time elapsed the city fell into Shadow and curses were left on all that touched this place."
The Witch says there are three options…
1) Kill Ivania and the Ghoul (Vorno) attached to her back – this will only destroy them for a day, but during this time those involved in their deaths could leave through the Mists, escaping the Shadowfell. Unfortunately the undead residents of Tomb City will swarm over Sunderheart after a day, slaying with abandon.
2) Kill the hellbound that are within the wall and convince the Wizard of the White Tower to leave his home and confront Ivania and the Ghoul. While the loch and the dark lord battle, escape is possible by riding a boat over Grimriver Falls to splash down into the River Styx, and then find a way to escape the Noine Hells.
3) Permanently destroy Ivania and the Ghoul in one of the two ways:
a) by having Ivania say Vorno’s name and be remorseful for her betrayal, whereupon both of their souls will be transported to the Nine Hells to fulfill their bargain with Nephigor.
b) by engaging the Ghoul without fighting back or awakening Ivania’s will. Then lure the Ghoul on a chase though the River Palace to the room where Vorno was murdered and where Ivania first confronted the horror of her new existence. This dark complex lies deep in the least used area of the River Palace. There they must be slain."