The Gray Hand managed to successfully reclaim their tower, but at what cost?
In the wreckage of what used to be their tastefully dark and menacing tower, Inadia had Vealkarion with his bright Elven eyes scour the rooms for reagents. He found more than what was needed to perform the Raise Dead ritual on Vygcarraash.
The motions to prepare for the 8 hour long ritual were by now rote and required only cursory glances at her spellbook. As she settled down to raise Vygcarraash from the dead using only his dried, leathery hand, Mo-mo flitted about excitedly, making sure everything was just as it should be. It had been a long time since he had been able to have a friendly conversation in Draconic and he was looking forward to having a nice long chat about all things dragon.
8 Hours Pass...
"...I summon you Vygcarraash to rise from your rest and rejoin the living. Your time among us has not ended and with the power of the Raven Queen, I compel you to draw breath. Rise!"
Suddenly there was a blinding flash and Inadia felt the shockwave of power rock her body and she blacked out. A while later, she slowly regained consciousness and opened her eyes, dread filling her core, and saw nothing more than the pitiful hand still laying unmoving in front of her. She got up slowly, wincing at the stiffness in her joints. As she looked around, meeting the eyes of the rest of the Gray Hand, their faces clouded as one with concern and dismay as she shook her head and stepped aside.
As they stood around all that was left of Vygcarraash, it was decided that the best course of action would be to return to Sigil and seek help and answers from more powerful wizards that specialized in resurrections.
With the tower freshly regained, they were loathe to lose it again, but they did not have the means to attempt to move it back to Sigil. They needed a way to get back to the tower, so with hopeful hearts they went to the top of the tower to inspect the teleportation portal that should have been installed before the tower's abduction.
Unfortunately, the portal was not functional. After Inadia inspected the portal and deemed it unfit for their use, she looked up and noticed with her darkvision a heat signature to the east.
With their options dwindling, they decided to scout it out. Inadia summoned Phantom Steeds and they rode in relative gaiety. They told stories of their blunders, hilarious now in retrospect, partly to ward off the gloomy, suffocating darkness that pressed in around them but mostly because The Gray Hand was always most cheerful on the road heading towards the unknown.
5 Hours later...
"Ho, who goes there?" A disembodied voice calls out of the darkness, followed a minute later by a stocky gnome in a guard uniform.
Five battle weary and gore splattered adventurers turned towards the gnome. Astride shadowy beasts that snorted impatiently and pawed at the ground yet left no trace, they were an impressive sight to behold, yet the gnome seemed to take no notice of their intense stare. They appeared relaxed, but were ready to fly into a murderous rampage at a moment's notice.
Malek dismounted and walked to a respectful distance from the gnome. He explained the situation and asked for directions to establishments that might be able to help them in their plight.
The gnome, whose name was Gnocnoc, after giving them the once over, was curt in his reply but pointed them towards the city of Hoosther.
When The Gray Hand reached the city gates, they were stopped by the city guards, but when they mentioned being sent there by Gnocnoc, the gates were quickly opened to them. They found their way to Yunaan, the city's head Arcanist.
Fortunately, he was very interested in their plight and agreed to help them try to fix the portal in exchange for being able to study Ctharyan's teleporting ability.
With that taken care of, The Gray Hand wandered the city streets and stopped at Yoarmaum, a classic dive bar tavern, which served delicious fried Umberhulk. After months of Everlasting Provisions, the taste of a freshly cooked meal was a refreshing change. They ordered some of it to go, to eat on the trek back to the tower.
Once back at their tower, they attempted to clean the place up a bit in anticipation of the arrival of Yunaan and his assistants, but quickly realized it was a task far beyond what they could handle in the amount of time given. By the time Yunaan arrived, they had barely finished clearing a narrow path through the piles of dead bodies.
Ctharyan was meditating outside when he heard the familiar shutter-opening sound of a portal being opened. A muted white arch formed in front of his eyes and as ornate gates smoothly opened, Yunaan stepped out, followed by half a dozen assistants all holding clipboards with a vaguely harassed look about them. An Arcane Gate from the city to the front door of the tower was nearly unheard of, yet Yunaan shrugged it off as a matter of course. If one were to look closely however, you could detect the barely restrained glee at being given the opportunity to try out the long distance Arcane Gate and thinly veiled pride at its success.
Ctharyan ushered the gnomes in, teleporting ahead of them, causing a chorus of ooo's and ahhh's in a successful attempt to divert their attention from the tacky and blood-drenched surroundings.
The next several hours were spent trying to keep out of the gnomes' way. They rushed about the portal, sprinkling powder here, chanting there, occasionally licking some bit of rock and constantly scribbling down notes on their clipboards.
Meanwhile, Yunaan sat at a table with the rest of The Gray Hand, sipping some watered down fey wine, and discussing other business. Occasionally he glanced up and yelled shockingly obscene curses at his assistants, causing them to scamper about with even more fervor than before. The Gray Hand asked about the possibility of keeping the Arcane Gate open for an extended amount of time, as well as the need to hire cleaners and workers to help put the tower into a tolerable state. As night fell, The Gray Hand offered Yunaan a room in the tower to stay and he spent half the night up with Ctharyan, testing his abilities and marveling at the sleek way he could blink in and out of existence. The next morning, before Yunaan went back to Hoosther for more supplies and to round up some workers, Ctharyan brought up, as an afterthought, whether he might know of anyone who could help them with Vygcarraash's resurrection problem.
Yunaan grew thoughtful and solemnly said, "We too have had unexplainable failed resurrections; it happens seemingly at random and we have been unable to control or predict which ones will fail. If we discover any information that may be of use to you, I will be sure to pass it on."
For the next several months, Yunaan and his team worked tirelessly on the portal. There were also always a stream of gnomes bustling about the tower, one day scrubbing away at the wraith stains on the walls, the next at the inch of dried blood that caked the floor from wall to wall in many of the rooms. It took them two days to haul away all of the bodies but every once in a while, a gnome worker would sniff the air and follow the stench to a rotting body that had been missed. The bones of the great dragon were evacuated, cleaned, and labeled in hopes that one day they might be reassembled in memory of its glorious life and death.
The Gray Hand became regulars at Yoarmaum, sampling all of the dishes but agreeing at the end that the fried Umberhulk was still their favorite. They could be found on most nights buying rounds of ale for everyone at the tavern and regaling them with tales of their travels and conquests.
Finally though, after several months of hard work, Yunaan announced that the portal had been completed with some experimental enhancements included. As thanks, The Gray Hand gifted the tower to the city of Hoosther and had Yunaan promise to keep their things for them until such a time that they could come back for them. They took with them Vygcarraash's hand and a few prized possessions and then set the portal for Sigil and stepped through.
Right before they entered Sigil, in the Inbetween, each member of The Gray Hand sensed a Vygcarraash-like presence, bellowing in the way only Dragonborns can. As they stumbled through the portal, everyone instinctively knew everyone else had also felt the same thing. They looked at each other silently, vowing to get to the bottom of this mystery and resurrect their fallen comrade.