Eyre 10, 998 YK. Summoned to the Black Arch garrison in Lower Tavick’s Landing, Bollock’s Inquisitives are hired by Sergeant Lional Bondle to investigate reports of disappearances and, strangely, reports of people coming back from the dead in Fallen, a slum district of Lower Dura.
When they get to the neighborhood’s access walkway, they are stopped by a group of young hoodlums headed by a female shifter with red dyed fur. The gang makes it clear they don’t want meddlesome adventurers poking around Fallen. When the inquisitives explain their purpose, the gang members burst out laughing, amazed at people putting stock in unfounded rumors. All, except for one. He looks terrified as he says the rumors are true, and that he’s seen one of the returned. The rest of the gang groans, as he starts to recount the sighting to the inquisitives. Ultimately, the inquisitives are granted access, on the promise of not being too intrusive. Introducing herself as Tuara, the gang’s leader escorts the investigators to the location where the gang’s witness claims to have seen one of the returned.
They end up in front of a bakery. The store is closed and there is no sign of life from inside. The gang member recounts how he saw the late baker’s wife through the window a few nights before, kneading some dough. She’d been dead for about a month at that point. After knocking and getting no answer, Basil picks the lock and they step into an small, empty house. Some of the clothes are gone, but nothing else seems suspect. There is no sign of struggle, the bed is made, the idol of the Sovereign Host sits, undisturbed, on the mantle. Tuara tells the inquisitives that the shop had been closed for a few days, rumor was the baker was ill.
They meet with a neighbor, the old lady who initially reported the case to the watch, at her house across the street. She recounts having seen the baker’s wife walking towards the shop from her window a week before, and how she saw her and the baker leave with baggage the night before. The baker looked weak and sick. She also tells them the baker’s wife had died from a wound sustained in a cart accident.
Back outside, they manage to find faint tracks in the mud of a couple leaving from the baker’s house and heading to the borough’s main thoroughfare, where the tracks become indistinguishable from the rest.
The inquisitives then head to a missing young man’s apartment. There they meet with his landlord who tells them about how the youth had lost his girlfriend some time before going missing. She had died from a treatable illness, for they were too poor to afford House Jorasco’s services. The apartment is humbly furbished, adorned with a small table with four chairs, an old wooden bench, an idol of the Sovereign Host and a faded painting of the unlucky couple. The landlord’s wife claims to have seen the deceased girl a few days before the young man vanished, but she says she thinks her mind was playing tricks on her.
The group moves on. They decide to head to the city’s crematorium to find out if any of the bodies had gone missing. Flashing the letter from the Watch authorizing their investigation, they manage to get the manager’s collaboration. After a few hours asking questions of the staff and going through their paperwork, they find no one suspicious and paperwork that confirms that both bodies were cremated. Puzzled, they return to Fallen.
While walking on its main street, they find an old, dilapidated chapel to the Sovereign Host. Remembering the prominence of the Host’s symbols in the victims’ lodgings they decide to have a look at it. Though you can hardly tell in the lower levels of Sharn, night has fallen and the chapel is closed. They knock and the door is opened by a short mousy man holding a broom, the chapel’s sexton. The inquisitives present their letter and ask to be let inside. They then begin to question the sexton. The man’s nervous demeanor betrays the fact he knows more than he lets on and, when pressed, he admits to seeing the baker and his wife enter the chapel and head down stairs where the priest has his apartments.
Heading down they find an older chapel with an elderly priest in a chainmail kneeling in front of the altar. Sitting on the benches are three couples of cadavers: two chubby middle-aged persons, two younger-looking corpses and a woman and her child.
The inquisitives confront the priest. While he admits these are the people they are looking for, he denies killing them. He claims they came and let themselves die. Basil accuses him of raising undead, a serious crime from his Flamite perspective, but the cleric also denies that, saying his “master” is the one responsible. The group demand to speak to this “master”, but the priest says he is not to be disturbed. The inquisitives question his motives, and their suspect says his master, an envoy of the gods, returned grieving faithful parishioners’ loved ones to life because of an admiration for love, the greatest of all emotions. The returned were however temporary, and the grief stricken relatives chose to let themselves die with them. The group argues with each other, some supporting the grief stricken’s right to choose and others appalled by the abuse of these people emotional state. Ultimately, the fact that one of the victims was a child settles the issue, the group decides to put a stop to these returns.
As they tell the priest to surrender, he invokes his gods and the 6 dead bodies rise from their seats. The priest hurls bolts of divine wrath at the inquisitives while the corpses charge at the invaders. The battle rages for but a minute, leaving the priest unconscious and the undead destroyed.
After the battle, the group notices that the bodies of those thought to have been returned to life seem to be made from a patchwork of mismatched parts.
Searching the chapel, the inquisitives find that the bottom of a column can be pushed down, revealing a passage beneath the floor. As they climb down, they see that the column’s base is floating in the air. In fact, the hallway they find themselves in is littered with floating pebbles and rocks of various sizes. Rampart pushes a few aside, seeing they are not fixed in the air, but simply do not seem subject to gravity. Maathezar, remembering Sharn’s special link to the plane of Syrania, theorizes that they must have found one of the manifest zone’s “hot spots”.
The tunnel ends on a mass of fallen rocks. The side of the tunnel is open and the a slope of rocks and pebbles leads down into a wide chamber. The walls and ceiling of the vault are made by partially collapsed towers of Dhakaani design. On a small hill is a chapel. The floor seems to be an old cemetery.
Hard at work among the graves are two large zombies. The pieces they recover from the graves are in turn picked up by a pair of ghosts and brought up to an altar where they are sown together.
As the inquisitives take in the grisly scene, a portal seemingly made of shadow opens in the chapel’s entrance. Through it steps what appears to be an Angel of Valor, according to Zair. However, the angel somehow looks… wrong. Habitually wreathed in flame, this one appears to be made of black, acrid smoke, with small embers drifting through his form. On every single one of the “feathers” forming his wings are tiny chains, clinking softly, like wind chimes, as he steps into the room.
He looks up at the stunned inquisitives, his featureless face unreadable, and says “Oh. We have guests… My servant would not have let you through peacefully. I hope none of you were seriously hurt. Pray tell me, is my servant alright?”
“He is”, says Maathezar, “we just knocked him out. Who are you and what are you doing here?”
“My name would mean little to you.”
“Still, I would like to know who I’m addressing.”
“I am commonly called Aluriel. I am here to share the gifts I possess with mortals in need.”
Asking more questions, the inquisitives get the angel’s story. He used to live in Syrania, but was banished after delving into forbidden magic, cursed to remain imprisoned in a small manifest zone. To him, love is the most powerful and noblest of all mortal emotions. He had found himself admiring its strength and wanting to preserve it. So he had studied magic in the hope of learning how to return the dead to those who loved them. Unbeknownst to his fellow angels, the place he was thrown into was also a manifest zone of Dolurrh. Seeing it as a sign of approbation from the Gods, he continued his work, ultimately discovering how to temporarily return the dead into corpses that were not their own. However, such creations had to be fueled by the life force of those who desired them, leading them to slowly deteriorate. When they could not take any more, the returned would leave, but often, their still living loved ones would come with them, preferring to die than to live without their love.
The group was torn. Sure, Aluriel was leading innocents to their deaths, but if they went willingly, who were they to interfere. Basil, however, saw no romanticism in the matter, rather the exploitation of emotionally distraught people for a madman to live his fantasy. In the end, the fact that one of the victims was a child led the group to adopt the shifter’s point of view. When they told Aluriel they could not let him continue, he simply chuckled.
“I am bound here, but the spark that gives me life is still in Syrania. If you should scatter my essence, it will eventually reform, and I will resume my work. I do not understand why you want to stand in my way.” Looking meaningfully at Karnak d’Vadalis, he says “some of you understand the pain of loss, and the loss of meaning it takes from one’s life.”
Sensing no lie in Aluriel’s words, Maathezar telepathically suggests to his allies to fall back for now while they research his claims and come back prepared. The others agree and the group takes its leave.
They spend the next few hours looking for answers at various chapels, ending up talking to a planar specialist at the Great Hall of Aureon in the University district in Upper Menthis. The scholar, Father Bertran, listens with growing interest to their tale. When they are done, he confirms that the angel’s tale is quite possible, but he tells them that it would be possible to banish him by finding the focus of his imprisonment, throwing it through the portal to Dolurrh and performing a ritual to close it permanently. He offers to perform the ritual for free, but puts down the condition that he be present to do it himself, pleading the rarity of such a hands on experience. The group agrees and head back down to Fallen with Father Bertran in tow.
They confront Aluriel. He proves a worthy foe, summoning spirits taken from Dolurrh and charging into battle with fiery blades and flanked by his large zombie minions. When they manage to vanquish him, his form dissipates, leaving behind his chainmail and the chains who bound his wings. Father Bertran identifies the binding chains as the focus item. He performs the ritual, and Aluriel binding are cast into Dolurrh, hopefully for all eternity.
When the group climb back out of the passage, they find that the Priest they had knocked out is dead. Careful examination shows that he was quite sick. Maathezar suggests that Aluriel’s presence was all that kept him alive. They report their success to Sergeant Bondle and claim their pay.