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Friday, June 9, 2023
RESURRECTION– VI. The Betrayal
For nearly a year, Korak the Grim and his Hellriders carved their way through the living civilizations of the realm of Shyish, driven by the wraith's obsession to locate the soul of his former master, the Necromancer Lord Nieman Kimmel. For all those who beheld it, the black coach at the head of the ghastly procession represented the end.
To the terrified citizenry, in the brief moments before they met their end, the coach merely appeared as a black carriage wreathed in shadowy mist. But those who could see beyond the veil of death perceived the coach's true nature– Its wooden frame was like a lantern, housing a blinding beacon of death magic that radiated from the sarcophagus at its center.
Korak's lieutenants watched as the power of the coach grew beyond their ability to control. They had been content to indulge their master's ambitions as long as they enjoyed the relative autonomy that his Congregation of the Crimson Shroud afforded them.
But they had yet to discover any sign of the missing necromancer's soul, and so much unchecked power would not be allowed to remain in play forever. They suspected that Lady Olynder had already taken notice, and that it was only a matter of time before She enthralled all of them, bringing Korak's reign –indeed, the entire Congregation– to a swift end.
The Banshee Queen Olivia, however, saw this as the end to her servitude. Because she was bound to Korak, she could not openly defy the wraith, but her handmaidens ensured that her will was carried out. They were her eyes and ears, and they had been everywhere, at every step.
Olivia had patiently watched as Korak and his cabal fabricated the simulacrum while her banshees delivered the coach that would bear it. It was no coincidence that the driver was one of the most treacherous morticians to have ever lived.
Because the necromancer's soul was apparently never going to be found, it made carrying out her plan that much easier. While Korak squabbled with his sub-commanders over the futility of his crusade, Olivia paid Stavros the Mortician the fee they had agreed upon. She drove off the relic bearers; Olivia had no use for another man's ancient trinkets. When Stavros expressed concern that he didn't want to be held responsible for the theft of the simulacrum, she had her handmaidens oblige him. Their spectral daggers tore the Mortician to shreds.
The Simulacrum had been bound with a shacklegheist chain that would capture any soul trying to inhabit the host body. Olivia was prepared for that– She summoned forth her Maidens of the Endless Elegy. As the Myrmourne Banshees were blindly drawn toward the magical aura of the simulacrum, they were consumed by the shacklegheist chain's ornate lock. One after the other, they were pulled in until the lock was full.
At last, with her plan at its end, the ritual of resurrection was performed. Awash in death magic, the Banshee Queen shaped the simulacrum to her likeness as her handmaidens brought forth her new raiment. Olivia's ethereal form discorporated as she arose in her new body, born again as the Vampire Queen Olivia von Koss!
The beacon was no more. The simulacrum was gone. Olivia was nowhere to be found; the link with her spirit had been severed and Korak could no longer summon her or even sense her. As the wraith pieced the clues together, his rage began to grow. He found the empty coach and the tattered remains of a black cloak. Korak detected the faintest shreds of the Mortician's spirit still clinging to the ethereal plane. He would have to reconstitute Stavros and deal with his failure later. At the moment, the wraith's attention was required elsewhere...