We find our heroes having just finished their exchange with Getsuga, a prominent dragonborn representative from the Sons of the South. The party spends some short time in the tavern seeking more information from Jeremy, our local contact with the Brotherhood of the Shortest Path. They ask him about anything else he might know about liches and how to defeat them. Jeremy informs them that a lich often maintains itself through the use of a phylactery. With that, Jeremy takes his leave and the party decides to do the same.
We decide to take Gluntz up on his offer of hospitality and return to his extravagantly appointed tent.There, despite their master’s absence, Gluntz’s attendants tend to our every need. Sufficiently pampered and cleansed, the party settles in for a much needed rest. Gluntz returns just prior to sunrise looking disheveled and exhausted. Shael and Narya engage him and discover that Gluntz’s efforts to sway the town have met with some unexpected resistance from his long-time rival, a man named AbuQir. It seems that as Gluntz sided with the south, AbuQir sided with the north. Gluntz laments the turn of events and idly wishes that this obstacle could somehow be “removed” before Bujarra is torn apart by conflict. Narya, in her characteristic bluntness, suggests that AbuQir be killed but Gluntz makes it clear that he does not want to be connected with any talk of assassination.
Shael and Narya wait for the rest of the party to wake before relating this latest news. The rest of the party is hesitant to commit cold-blooded murder on a man simply for his political affiliations and decides to have a talk with AbuQir. We quickly make our way over to AbuQir’s estate, a solidly constructed villa near the docks. There the party gains entry by introducing themselves as the heroes responsible for saving Balthazar, the Voice of Din. We then try to convince the young merchant that his best interest lays with the Sons of the South. AbuQir resists and Wren attempts to convince him through intimidation. Negotiations sour quickly but the party does manage to convince AbuQir to consider a trade deal with the south if they can deliver an offer within the day.
We quickly set out to find Getsuga and his dragonborn but discover before too long that there are now more dragonborn roaming Bujarra’s streets than yesterday. We manage to avoid a conflict with yet another surly bunch of dragonborn by openly declaring our affiliation with the Sons of the South. After more searching, we find Getsuga and negotiate from him a letter of marque offering AbuQir exclusive trade rights and favorable tax status.
The party returns to AbuQir’s villa but finds him absent. His guards escort us into the atrium where we first met him and we settle down to wait. Hours pass despite the guards’ assurances that AbuQir will return shortly. Night finally begins to descend and the party dispatches Aelar to scout out the docks and perhaps find the missing merchant. Eventually, the party grows impatient and resolves to leave, only to find the exit locked. Wren and Thomas proceed to kick down the door before they hear AbuQir’s voice behind them.
AbuQir, armed and at ease, eyes them from across the small garden. He reveals that he knows more about the party than he should. At this point, his guards enter from secret adjoining doors and combat ensues. His guards are revealed to be terrible mezzodemons from the Abyss and AbuQir himself is revealed to be yet another shape-shifting “skin-spy” similar to the one they fought amongst the Sandsingers. Memnon, Shael, and Narya are nearly felled during the fight, but our heroes eventually win the day and defeat AbuQir.
Attempts to bind the skin-spy prove difficult and the party’s plans to reveal its true nature are complicated by its ability to change its face. Hesitant to march a bound and beaten simulacrum of Balthzar out into the city, the party struggles with its next step. Shael cuts the argument short by killing the skin-spy with a blast of flame. We then proceed to burn down the rest of ABuQir’s house, but not before making off with a substantial amount of loot.
Gluntz appears unfazed by the singed and soot-stained band that tromps into his tent. In unspoken appreciation for their help in eliminating his rival in the city, Gluntz provides the party with an assortment of services to help get them equipped. The party then makes contact with Getsuga, hoping that AbuQir’s removal will prove accomplishment enough to avert the planned assassination of Balthazar. Getsuga informs us that things are coming to a head in Bujarra as a force of northerners has begun advancing on the city. Getsuga makes no assurances on Balthazar’s life if the city falls to the north.
The party resolves to help their side by clearing out the fortress that overlooks Bujarra. If the Sons of the South can situate themselves in a defensible location, they reason they might be able to halt the northern advance. Freshly rested, the party sets out the next morning to scale the steep path that leads to the entrance of the lich-haunted fortress. Once inside, they discover that the temperature drops dramatically. This frozen labyrinth eventually leads to a large cathedral-like chamber with a symbol of a black hand pierced by a single blazing dark eye. Still deeper, the party finally encounters the lich, pacing about with an ancient tome in hand.
The undead reveals his name to be Ismael. He apparently has some knowledge of the Incarnum plane, garnered from a recent visit with someone named Cardiz. Before the party can question him further, he retreats deeper into the darkness, beckoning the party to follow…