Agua 14, 331
The Singing Mercenaries had just finished their battle with the Orcus cultists underneath the cathedral of Gardmore Abbey, and were lamenting their inability to save the profane ritual’s sacrifice. As they turned to leave the accursed room, the smoldering altar behind them erupted into flame, and from it leapt a risen spirit, who screamed that the ritual was incomplete, that he could not remain in the real world for long, and questioned the adventurers if they were the ones that had disturbed the ritual. Sensing an opportunity to learn more of what was transpiring around them, Valmir, Jett, and Winward used their knowledge of magic to bind the spirit, for a time, to the mortal plane, and questioned him, using threats to sever his connection to the world for all time to get information they wanted.
The spirit revealed himself to be a high priest of the cultists, and that he was being summoned in order to bring back the cult’s master, Kalarel. The spirit went on to explain that the cult had infiltrated the very fabric of the local land, that Faren Markelhay served the cult, and the cult would, in three days time, complete a ritual which would doom the entire region. The spirit could not reveal if Fallcrest’s Lord Warden was a willing participant or had been enslaved somehow. Convinced they needed to return immediately to Fallcrest, the Singers pondered a way to unbind the spirit from the ritual altar. They decided that Valmir could act as a host, and although they realized the risks involved, Valmir’s will proved strong enough to bind the spirit to himself with no ill effects.
Agua 15, 331
The next day, after resting within the catacombs, the party made all speed towards Fallcrest in hopes of stopping the madness they knew would take place in a matter of days. They returned to Omin Drumm, hoping his religious expertise would shed any light on the spirit they had encountered (and also because he was the only one they knew of who could exorcise the spirit from Valmir). The spirit confirmed to Omin that evil was afoot in Fallcrest, and also revealed the nature of the mysterious orb the party had found earlier: it was a storage place for the soul of a powerful cultist, although the spirit could not identify any cultist specifically. With nothing further to gain from the spirit, Omin banished it, screaming, back into the Shadowfell from whence it came. Omin prepared immediately to assist the Singers with assualting the castle, but they asked him to wait until they had gathered more information.
The party then went in search of Serim Saluzar, whom they cornered at a table at the Nentir Inn. They explained the situation to him, and asked if he had any way of helping them get into the castle. Serim told them he was not welcome there, but he could contact Janus Valorfast to see if he could aid the party. The Singers bid Serim meet them at the Temple of Sehanine with all haste, and then returned there themselves.
When they returned to the temple, they were once again met by Omin, who told them he could offer them aid, but with the understanding he would be sacrificing something for them. The party sensed this was what the old priest wanted, and accepted his aid. Omin thanked them, and told them he would return in an hour’s time. When the time had passed, Omin emerged from a side wing in the temple, not as an old man, but with his youth restored, clad in a full suit of armor and wielding a greatsword. The Singers marveled at this, but Omin told them not to question it, but to simply accept the gifts of Avandra.
Shortly after, Serim arrived with Janus in tow. Upon hearing that the Singers meant to assault Moonstone Keep, Janus became eager to help them, laying out a plan of attack to confuse the guards and to place them in position to easily assassinate Lord Markelhay, if necessary. Janus decided that, since he knew the back ways of the castle, he and Shikou could sneak along the Keep’s ramparts into a seldom used passage that would lead them into the throne room. Tattered and Omin agreed to disguise themselves as crazed maniacs attacking the gate, while Winward, Jett and Valmir would proceed into the keep, acting as if they were on business to see the Lord. The plan went better than any of them had hoped. Winward managed to convince Captain Nathan Farringway to allow them to capture the so-called “cultists” and bring them before the Lord, promising the Captain that he would be helping his lands.
When the party came before the Lord Warden, they accused him of working with the death cultists. In a rage, Markelhay demanded where the mercenaries found the gall to accuse him of such a thing. The Lord’s behavior was strange, and Jett, Winward and Valmir all realized this was due the Lady Allande, whom they realized was not human at all, but a Succubus who was controlling the Lord Warden. The illusion dispelled, a fight broke out in the throne room, as Captain Farringway attacked the demon controlling his master, and cultists began pouring out from the wings of the throneroom.
The confines of the relatively small room proved a difficult fight for the mercenaries, as their opponents made use of the small space to set up excellent defensive positions, and the succubus used her thrall as a living shield, forcing the Lord Warden to throw himself in harms way whenever an attack was directed at her. Eventually, the party was able to divorce the two from each other, mainly by means of Tattered forcibly holding the Lord Warden in place while Shikou pummeled the demon. After a pitched battle, the cultists and the succubus were finally defeated. As the succubus fell, her body, instead of dissolving, burst into a swirling black vortex. Several of the adventurers were immediately pulled into it, and some, most notably Shikou, bravely followed there fellows into it, not knowing where they would end up, only knowing that they had to stop the evil that was festering in Fallcrest.