Shurrin the fighter/rogue, Serai the sorcerer, Aliya the monk, and Mara the cleric of Lothian had been to the Necropolis once before. They had gone there seeking an odd old man named Igor Reichstav, who seemed strangely preoccupied with the flies that were so prevalent in the vast cemetery. Through him, they found out important details about the rat men and the location of their warrens.

But Igor lived in an old crypt on the very edge of the place. This day, they had to go right to the center of the foul Necropolis. To get help, they enlisted their friend Feruch, a paladin who had joined a group called the Keepers of the Veil. The Keepers specialized in hunting and killing undead, so Feruch seemed an appropriate ally to bring along.

They sought a circle of standing stones bearing a special magical mark: the mark of Alchestrin, a long-dead wizard who had once imprisoned the soul of a woman they sought to rescue. The standing stones would point out the location of Alchestrin’s tomb. After much searching, the group found the mark on a crypt and went inside.

To the surprise of no one, the crypt was filled with hostile undead. After much exploration of an entire underground complex beneath the tomb, they discovered that this was not the tomb of Alchestrin at all: Some of the crypt’s walls had been built with the (repurposed) standing stones they had sought. Fortunately, thanks to an ancient carving in the crypt, they were able to learn where the stones had originally stood. So finally they arrived at the old hill where a few stones remained. Erected long before the entire area was a cemetery, the old sarsens surrounded a stone plug. Deciphering writing atop it, the adventurers realized they could remove the plug only at night—a scary proposition in the Necropolis.

They went back to the city, where they promptly fell under attack by Vai assassins. The Vai apparently were still unhappy that the group had stopped them from killing a young woman named Phon. After fending off their attackers, they discovered that Phon was now missing. Could this have anything to do with Helmut Itlestein, the priest with whom Phon was having an affair (and the father of her unborn child)?

The adventurers could dredge up no leads as to Phon’s whereabouts, so they went back into the Necropolis to try their hand at removing the plug. On their way, they came upon a small lake with a bridge reaching from the shore to an island. They had found Clasthamus Isle: a place controlled by a powerful druid named Andach and his young half-elf disciple, Hennam. Andach kept this sacred isle free of undead by the power of magical stones in the bridge—the Stones of Thamus. Heartened by the discovery of this new ally in an otherwise terrible place, they trekked farther into the Necropolis. Their plan was to go to the standing stones and wait there until nightfall.

They never made it. They encountered (and waylaid) a Forsaken courier who carried a message stating that the “Vault of the Kython” had been found and the “Night of Dissolution” would soon be at hand. The note—from a high-ranking member of the despicable, undead-loving Forsaken—was an attempt to gain support from Lilith, an influential member of the Fallen (the Forsaken’s earthbound demon allies). Apparently the Forsaken wanted the demons to help them with whatever it was that they were doing, but the leader of the Fallen, Raguel, seemed slow to act on the matter. The Forsaken were clearly in league with the chaos cultists the adventurers had already encountered. Something big was afoot.

But before they could give it much thought, demons and Forsaken leaped upon them, capturing the characters and taking them straight to the worst place imaginable: the Dark Reliquary, home to both Fallen and Forsaken.

Meanwhile, the Company of the Black Lantern members grew tired of the dungeons around the city’s Prison and bribed some Prison guards to sneak them out on a supply boat. Once in the city again, they decided to look into the individuals they had linked to the Vai assassins who had attacked them by mistake, thinking that Sercian was his twin brother Serai. They found a connection between these brigands and a man named Malkeen Balacazar. Malkeen was the son of Menon Balacazar, a power crime lord who dealt not only in typical malfeasance—extortion, gambling, prostitution, and simple theft—but also in items relating to black magic and dark, forbidden things.

After being thoroughly scrutinized by Malkeen’s (probably vampiric) bodyguard, some of the company met with the younger Balacazar and wound up working for him as bodyguards for his nephew. It seemed that someone was out to kill this nine-year-old child while he performed in a play at the Cloud Theater.

In a thoroughly comic escapade, the Company of the Black Lantern sought to safeguard the cast of the wholly awful play “The Boy who Could Sing”—an oeuvre clearly written around Malkeen’s nephew. (The plot made no sense but was just a showcase for the young boy to keep his uncle—the theater’s chief benefactor—happy.) Hired thugs did indeed make an attempt on the boy’s life but were thwarted by the efforts of the “heroes” in the crime lord’s employ.

The Company of the Black Lantern wondered why anyone would try to kill the lad. Was it because of the strange runelike mark on his face? Clues they followed up afterward led them to a strange conclusion: The forces hired to kill the boy had been contracted by Helmut Itlestein.

Next Time: Breaking out of the Dark Reliquary with the help of an orcish god of fire! The two groups work together! Confrontation with Helmut Itlestein!