Rushing back to our safehouse, with Ivan hobbling in tow, we cleared out the two lower floors as quietly as we could. Then we crept up on the top floor, with Karl silently leading and weapons drawn; I helped the elderly Ivan to the roof. Where we confronted the younger ‘Ivan’. The charlatan smiled, got halfway through an explanation and waved his hands ebulliently – before exploding in a puff of black smoke. Yells from below told us of his reappearance; Karl and Heinrich gave chase, whilst I stayed on the roof to see if I could spy his movements.
… ten fat sprats for the temple of Manaan - donation.
Karl tells me that he only spotted the doppelganger by the urgency of his movement; he’d taken on the face of another and was pushing his way through the crowd of our aides. Karl, with a confidence I didn’t feel, shot a bolt through the crowd and into the fugitive’s shoulder, giving Heinrich a chance to catch up, so he could waft uselessly at the villain. I yelled at the crowd to get down, so Karl could get a clear shot. The fugitive, exposed and gravely wounded, attempted to dissipate again but, failing, turned to his heels instead. Rounding a corner, he bought enough time to lean against a wall, catch his breath and vanish utterly. Had we found our necromancer?
We returned to the safehouse perturbed. Now we had found our necromancer, it seemed imperative we mount a search to find him before he could raise more of the mighty piles of dead. We sent the brothers Rich out to find more deputies, which they did with alacricity; when they returned we assigned the Morrite brethren to search parties, to hunt out the villain, each team having a bell to ring when they found him.
… Grimoire: A Elucidation into Wizards and Other Evil Men, by Unwye of Ilian- personal use (cost 20S)
Finally, we went ourselves to find the Amethyst wizards and retrieve them to safety, now we were convinced of their innocence. Their house was empty; despite a careful search, I found little, but Karl’s witch-sight found something in Melinda’s bed; I sniffed and tasted it; bonemeal.
Then, outside, the screaming started; Karl, the fool, looked out of the window with his uncovered mad-eye and nearly went mad with fear. The street was full of ghosts, all the dead of the recent plague sweeping down from the ruins, infesting and attacking the living; the mad clanging of bells could be heard from all over the quarter. We all grabbed and lit torches and I threw one to see if the creatures took physical damage. My experiment was a success, as it passed straight through a spirit’s body; an unforseen consequence was that they turned as one, noticing us.
… a bundle of flaxen shrouds for Spittle – 7S
We fled, Heinrich almost throwing me out of a back window. They pursued, through walls, doors, the bodies of the population. We ran down alleyways, Karl firing bolts back through the horde as I stumped slowly on. Confused by the backstreets, I led us astray and we ended up at a dead-end; behind a bolted door were the Merchant and his bodyguards. My persuasion failing, Heinrich kicked the door down and we fled through the house, which filled with ghosts and then screaming men behind us.
… 500 bundles kindling (stupid over-order – who’s going to burn so much stuff?) – 50S
We arrived at the ruins to yet another gruesome sight; Melinda, naked, straddling the corpse of blustering Lucian, surrounded by magical defenses, channelling a stream of the dying and dead from the point of power beneath her; Davos ready with his purple scythe, but tormented at the turn Melinda had taken; and the dead risen at her command assaulting us. The fight was swift; Melinda froze Karl to the core then blasted him with a beam of light, but he kept fighting; Heinrich drove the confused Davos off with threats.
Then I spotted a rhythm in her protection, and told everyone to attack at the moment of greatest weakness; Karl peppered her with bolts, before Heinrich ran up, forced himself through the shield, clubbed her down, and kept clubbing long after she’d fallen in a mortifying display of ferocity. Distasteful as it is, Heinrich’s childish fear of what he does not understand does have its uses.
… clean linen for THEY’RE COMING…
With that the quarter fell quiet; well, moaning and screaming continued, from the dying and injured, but the spirit invasion was over. We put Davos, who we’d found unconscious and trussed up, in one of our iron cages overnight, just to use it, then handed him over to the Witch Hunter for a public trial and execution in the morning.
Two weeks later, the quarantine was lifted. We’d finished our census, kept some of the luminaries alive, and kept the population fed and healed. Now I just had to avoid dying long enough to enjoy our success.