The sound of several sunrods being activated fills the air and the light catches everyone momentarily off guard. Malek squints down at his handful of sunrods and shrugs, "Sorry, automatic reaction."
They look around, but before the rest of The Gray Hand has a chance to identify the room and what is in it, Kalavich throws down an empty keg, which splinters all over the ground, and burps loudly. He blinks a few times, "That's some mighty fine ale. Also, sorry about the splinters, automatic reaction."
As they make their way out of the storage room, they find themselves in a downright friendly tavern, complete with a portly bartender slowly polishing a glass mug. After a quick look around, they leave and when they step outside, they realize that the tavern is right in the middle of the crater where their tower used to be. Malek decides to go back into the tavern and have a little chat with the owner, while everyone else* makes a visit to Bahamut's temple to see if Vygcarraash's god might be able to help with his resurrection.
*Note: Yes, we split the party and it was fine! NO ONE DIED!
"Give me your finest."
The bartender looked up from polishing the mug and nodded. A few moments later, a cold mug of frothy ale slid across the bar.Malek took a taste and raised his eyebrows slightly with surprised appreciation, "Not bad. Not bad at all."
The bartender grinned and said proudly, "Brewed it myself. All the ingredients are local."
Malek took a moment to enjoy his ale and casually looked around the tavern, "Nice place you got here. How'd you come by it, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Strangest thing, there used to be a fearsome tower here and then one day it up and disappeared, leaving the crater you see outside. After the appropriate amount of time, I went and got the paperwork done to have this tavern built and have been here ever since. That was, oh, about a year ago or so."
They sat in silence for a few moments and then Malek slowly looked up and said, "So it was all legal as far as you know."
"Yup, as far as I know."
"I heard there was a tough group of adventurers that owned that tower. What happened to them?"
He furrowed his brow, "Yeah, yeah, what were they called...Billy, you're good at names, help me out here."
"The Black Palm?"
"Yeah, that sounds about right."
Malek took a long drink of the ale. "Actually, if I recall correctly, it was The Gray Hand. I heard they're pretty dangerous and bloodthirsty. Not someone you want to get on the bad side of, if you get what I mean."
The bartender looked solemn, "Well, I know I'm taking my chances, but a man's gotta make a living the best way he knows how."
As he finished his ale, he tossed some coins on the bar. The bartender's eyes widened at the hefty tip.
"Say stranger, how would you like your picture to be on my wall?"
Malek looked surprised but grinned amicably.
As he left the tavern, he wryly shook his head at his change in attitude and with a final glance at the tavern, set off to join up with the rest of The Gray Hand.
Inadia, Ctharyan, and Kalavich stood outside of Bahamut's temple after having spoken to their lead Priest, an elderly female Dragonborn by the name Taleya. She confirmed their suspicion that the resurrection problems were not just confined to the Underdark but were being experienced in Sigil as well. She told them of a time, several hundred years ago, when something similar happened and it was found out to be linked to Orcus and his followers.
It was decided that Ctharyan would infiltrate one of Orcus' temples while Inadia and Kalavich waited at the Old Wives Inn and listen in on the gossip around town.
A few minutes after Inadia and Kalavich got their drinks, Malek joined them. They heard talk about how the markets were doing well, that The Lady of Pain was holding an event next month and how some guy named Jack was successfully resurrected, a rarity these days.
As they were finishing up their third drink, Ctharyan appears at their table and places a tightly wrapped bundle on the table. No one blinks an eye at his sudden appearance, having expected it for the last 10 minutes.
"What happened? It usually doesn't take you this long to steal the clothes off someone's back."
"We ordered you some ale, but I drank it when you didn't show up. And then I ordered another one and drank that for good measure."
"Ugh...is that bundle dripping blood?"
The lull that followed caused everyone to suddenly notice that Vealkarion was no longer with them. When the hell had that happened...and why had no one noticed until then? Everyone shrugged uneasily but since there was nothing they could do, they put it out of their minds.
Ctharyan regaled them with what happened after they had separated:
"I found a perfect mark and tailed him for several blocks until he turned into a particularly dark alley. I was above him on the rooftop of course, but when I jumped to tackle him, I misjudged the air density here..."
He coughs furtively and takes a long draft.
"Anyway, he's startled and starts acting weird and chanting. The second he starts waving his hands around though, I knew shit was going down. So I cut off his hands. Then I took his clothes."
Dead silence. Then suddenly Malek starts laughing, "Oh man, that's good. I didn't think you had it in you. So what, you just left him in the alley to bleed out? That's rich."Kalavich and Inadia just shrug, "Well, I guess we'd better get a few rooms so you can clean up those clothes. Tomorrow, we should go look for sending stones so we can keep on contact before you go traipsing around Orcus' temple."
The next day, Malek goes to visit a tailor without the rest of the group's knowledge. Though he initially finds a mediocre tailor, he befriends the tailor and ends up writing a book about the history and influence of tailors in Sigil. Later on, he meets Artimus, the most renowned tailor in Sigil and in exchange for a copy of the book, he agrees to custom tailor new cloaks for The Gray Hand.
Ctharyan and Kalavich find a shop called the Drooping Eye that sells sending stones. Its dingy exterior makes its extremely sketchy interior even more fitting. After some negotiation, they walk out with six sending stones. The catch? They must be embedded into the flesh.
This announcement, when made to the rest of the group was met with incredulous groans but everyone resigned themselves to being stuck (hopefully) with a matchbook sized stone. Ctharyan puts his on his chest, right above his heart, Inadia puts hers on her left upper arm, while Malek puts his on his left forearm. And finally, Kalavich slaps his on his lower left gut.
The next day, Ctharyan, wearing the follower of Orcus' clothes, goes boldly into a temple of Orcus. After passing through the second set of doors, the stolen clothes disappear and the door is locked. The only thing in the room is a bubbling fountain of blood. After much discussion between the rest of The Gray Hand, Ctharyan decides the only course of action is to leave some of his blood in the fountain of Orcus and hope for the best. After saying a quick prayer to his god, Sehanin, he cuts himself and a few drops fall into the fountain. The good news is he manages to make it out alive and with some journals in tow. The bad news is that he's seriously tainted and cannot be cleansed at the moment.
The journals reveal that Orcus might not be behind the continued failed resurrections. Inadia decides to visit the arcane universities in Sigil and speak with experts in resurrections.
With the knowledge that the best arcanists were working on gathering more information, The Gray Hand reluctantly tookVygcarraash's hand and tightly wrapped it and placed it carefully in a bag of holding. They decided to set their sights on regaining their air ship and thus ventured back into the Material Realm.