Arriving safely at Iman’s mansion, the group found the door locked and barred shut – in light of the ongoing chaos in Caire. Aira unlocked the door and aged the wooden bar across it into a rotten pulp, allowing Ed to bash the door open. Guards came rushing downstairs to investigate the commotion. Once Ed explained who the group was, the guards rushed them up to see Iman as the noble was expecting them. Iman listened intently to what the group had learned and what the High Priest was doing to protect the city. His immediate reaction was to suggest that they contact the Hero of Byblos to bring his party to the aid of Caire. There were sending scrolls in the basement of City Hall which would suffice.
Many in the group were anxious to identify the source of the enthrallment of the citizens of Caire – believing Imhotep to be behind it – but Iman insisted that they focus on contacting the Hero. Everyone agreed to this; some less truthfully than others. At this point in the conversation, Gorg entered the recently re-barred door (unknowingly breaking it), causing quite a commotion. The conspicuous goliath was the only member of the group who Iman specifically instructed his guards to identify so Gorg was led from the broken entrance into the meeting.
Imam wished them the best of luck in charging at the likely source of the ongoing calamity. Despite the presence of thralls all over the city by this point, the guards made it safely to the cellar of City Hall. Briefly searching the cellar rewarded them with the chest of the city’s sending scrolls – for emergencies only! Aira, Kirisame, and Ed helped themselves to scrolls of their own, behind each others’ backs, before collectively engaging in the sending ritual. Their message to the Hero of Byblos was this:
“Caire under attack by group controlling dominated citizens. Chaos. Assistance required immediately. Domination contagious. Can be resisted. Imhotep suspected. Origin city hall. Guards are resisting.”
With their duty to Imam accomplished, the group was unsure of the next course of action. Ed was keen to destroy the source of the thralls; Meriele wanted to return to protecting the citizens; Aira and Kirisame wanted to leave but relished the challenge of fighting a powerful foe; Gorg wanted more torches. They were divided. Ultimately, Ed swayed the group over to his daring plan, convincing Meriele that it was the best way to save the city and the others that it was their interest to assist.
Stealthily approaching the upper levels of City Hall, the guards eventually found the council chambers. On this brief exploration, they noticed the sky outside suddenly darken as black clouds appeared overhead. Listening closely just outside the doors, they heard chanting from the other side. Almost as soon as they started listening, it stopped. With the hour at hand, the guards barged into the chambers. Before them – floating several feet above a round table – was a tall, finely-dressed lich. It turned around in surprise as Ed promised that the foul, undead creature would soon meet its end. The Lich only laughed. Gorg charged at the floating creature, swinging his massive chain in its direction. The heavy steel merely struck the Lich to no effect. Reacting to the change in the situation, Aira and Kirisame unleashed a flurry of magical energy at the Lich. These efforts were similarly thwarted by the seemingly invulnerable being. Meriele looked ahead with her sixth sense. She relayed to the others that streams of energy were connecting the Lich to other points in the city. Gorg, in what little wisdom he had, recognized these as “soul binds”, linking some perishable object to souls. This would give the Lich total resistance to anything of this world.
Amused by his attackers failed efforts, the Lich assured them of their demise as he gathered energy for an attack. Everyone ran for the door – except Gorg who jumped out the window of a six-storey building. Moments after they had cleared the door and turned the corner, the guards felt the sting of tiny pebbles and a wave of heat as the nearby wall exploded under the energy of a powerful elemental beam.
Regrouping with Gorg in some random alley, the group resolved to contact the Hero to inform him of the turn of events. Completing the ritual, Ed began to speak but did not feel the familiar connection to a distant place. His sending was being blocked. Meriele used the “opening” made by their ritual to reach whatever magical source was blocking them. She discovered to everyone’s dismay that the city was enveloped by a cloister spell – one that prevents all teleportation, scrying, or sending across its boundary. Furthermore, environmental magic had created a storm along the same edge. Anything trying to flee by air would likely be vaporized in a flurry of lightning then dispersed by gale force winds.
With escape out of the question, it was not hard for the group to reach a consensus on pursuing the three binding points of the Lich. The strongest of these Meriele identified as near the Temple of Anubis to the south. The other two were in the North-East and North-West, being also significantly weaker connections than the southern one. They resolved to break the NE bond by killing whatever creature had its soul linked to the Lich.
The guards arrived at the location when everything was quiet. As a strategy, Kirisame and Aira flew into a high window to move around on the rafters, attacking from above with their various magics. At the same time, Gorg would barge through the main door with Meriele and Ed to draw the hordes together for area attacks. This went less than perfectly for the ground crew, who found themselves fighting toe to toe with a massive ogre. Gorg was brought within an inch of death while Meriele was roughed up pretty badly. Ed, however, revealed himself to be a vampire, needing to suck the blood of the thralls to recover the many pints he was losing. This sustained him through the battle, much to the disgust of some.
Aira was forced into a similar revelation when the heavy damage of bloodsucking stirges gave her incentive to unleash her demonic powers, protecting herself with scorching fires. Now in her true form, she almost effortlessly killed the flying stirges and took down the ogre with a well-placed dazzling ray. With the death of the beast, Meriele could sense that the connection to City Hall was severed. They had come one step closer to freeing Caire but the task before them seemed insurmountable without the help of the Hero. The guards would do whatever could until he arrived.