Having been “invited” to yet another midnight meeting, this time by Kalida, the Necromanceress (invoiving yet another innocent, but now terrified, waif), Wally andlSigmarund take off to try to find a jeweler. Since Kalida insists they bring the Soul gem necklace and exchange it for the life of kidnapped Barrick, the group thinks that having a passing facsimile of the necklace would be useful – especially since Valdric refuses categorically to take the real one with them. Meanwhile, Valdric starts the long limping walk to the Garden of Morr, where he plans to leave the real necklace for safekeeping.
Wally and Sigmarund find an old, nearly deaf jeweler locking his shop up for the night. His inability to correctly make out anything that they say leads them to use a visual aid (a chalkboard) to show him what they want. After some searching through his inventory, he produces a silver necklace with a black gem that could pass. Certainly someone who knows the real soul gem only by description would accept it, though not someone who had actually seen it before. The old man wants 2 GP for it, but Wally bargains him down to 50 SP.
With only a few hours to go before the midnight meeting, everyone catches an hour of sleep at the Red Bull Inn. With an hour left, it occurs to them that maybe, perhaps, they might want to have a plan. The note handed to Valdric by the waif told him to come to the Westlandplatz at midnight, and without the many friends that accompanied them the last time (meaning, perhaps the gaggle of guards and the flock of stevedores they had brought). Wally take a hiding place in an alley from the platz, while Sigmarund climbs to a rooftop.
Sure enough, at midnight, a Strigany 20 yr old girl and two armed men approach them, one of them leading a donkey. The girl tells them they brought the donkey for Valdric, knowing he has a limp, since “its going to be a bit of a walk”. Valdric, not knowing what else to do, mounts up. They pass through the silent nighttime streets to the west gate. Wally and Sigmarund, expecting an ambush, not a trip out of town, follow, keeping out of sight..
Meanwhile Barrick awoke, his head pounding. Blindfolded, hands tied behind his back, feet tied and sitting on a barrel, he listens to the voices of two women. One soprano voice he recognizes as Clarisse, the other sultry voice is unknown to him. The two voices discuss how he is their hostage, to draw his friends to them with the necklace. But clearly they have no intention of anyone living through the event, as Clarisse wistfully says what a shame it is that he will need to die, as “he is quite a handsome one!”. He also learns that Tharin, the dwarf he has been chasing for seemingly forever, was caught trying to assassinate the Captain of the Garrison, Captain Marcus Baerfaust, and is now in the dungeon at the castle.
Barrick also becomes aware that he is somewhere inside…perhaps a barn, from the smell of horse and manure. He hears male voices as well. Maybe three of them.
Clarisse becomes aware that he is awake, and saunters over “You’re awake, darling. I was just saying to my friend here, what a shame is it that we will need to kill you.” She shocks him to a higher state of alertness when she brazenly sits on his lap facing him and strokes his face. Blindfolded, Barrick smells her hair and skin, and realizes that that cleavage that he couldn’t take is eye off before is likely 4 inches from his nose. “Now there Barrick, wouldn’t you like to have some fun before the night ends?” she asks and give him a deep kiss. Something…well, several things, stir in Barrick.
Hey boys, you should look down here " a nearby voice calls out “I think Clarisse is going to give us a show, like the old days”
Barrick starts talking, telling Clarisse how they made a mistake thinking that kidnapping him was going to bring the others “They don’t care about me, and I don’t care about them. I’m just a bounty hunter, on a job and looking for coin. I’d just as soon as work for you as for them.” He starts to convince her, enough that she stands and pulls off his blindfold, but not enough to agree to let him go. “Lets get them and the necklace here first, then we can see about what to do with you.”
Back with the others, they pass through the west gate and proceed down a wooded road. Wally and Sigmarund do their best to follow secretly behind them, but are spotted. The Strigany girl seems completely undisturbed and just shouts out “come on, I knew you would be there. Come out and come on – we have an appointment to make.”
A farm with a burned out farmhouse but intact barn comes into sight in the moonlight. Apparently, this is their destination. Sigmarund realizes that the last thing they should do is have this encounter at the place of the sorceress’s choosing, so he grabs the girl and presses his pistol to the back of her head, insisting that she freeze. Wally approaches, his pistol also drawn. She tries to escape and dart away, but fails and is pushed do her knees, the pistol in her mouth. She starts to cry, but tells her companions to go to the Barn and tell Clarisse what is happening. Valdric dismounts from the donkey and hides behind it.
Eventually they comply with Sigmarund’s demand that they bring Barrick out. Clarisse unties his feet and has him walk out of the barn and down the road, her pistol at his neck. Followed by her companions, Big Albert, two crossbowmen, three swordsmen, Kalida the Necromanceress and a dark figure that always follows her. They stop in sight of the party, on the road with stands of bushy trees to either side.
Meanwhile Barrick continues working on Clarisse, saying he will prove that he can be trusted and that if she lets him go, he will get the necklace and bring it to her. Sigmarund starts a countdown from 20, threatening that he will blow the girl’s brains out the back of her head when he reaches zero. Clarisse finally comply s, pushing Barrick towards them (cutting his wrist restraints in the process).
As Barrick moves forward, the swordsmen and crossbowmen slip out of sight behind the scattered copses of trees. Seeing this, Sigmarund renews his treat to kill the girl.
Not liking how her minions have lost control, at least in her eyes., Kalida draws her hands together and releases a bolt of energy towards Sigmarund. It misses, but gives the girl the distraction she needs to break free and run towards Clarisse. Sigmarund charges forward, stops behind a pile of rocks and fires hot lead towards Kalida, hitting her hard in the shoulder. Meanwhile, Wally runs forward and lets his own shot go towards the Necromanceress, hitting her again in the arm, She falls, but big Albert darts forward and pulls her to safety out of sight of the combatants.
Swordsmen emerge from the trees and charge at Sigmarund while appearing crossbowmen let loose bolts towards him from the other side. In the center, Clarisse fires his pistol at him Caught in a blistering crossfire, Sigmarund proceeds to take down the swordsmen, the ranged fire bouncing off his armor. Wally runs around the trees behind which Kalida hides and finding her, kills her with a shot to the head.
During all this Clarisse, joined by the Strigany girl, slip out of sight into the darkness.
It is over only moments after it began, when the surviving outlaws run, leaving two of their comrades dead on the field. Kalida’s bound ghoul, once unbound, attacked the nearest target, Big Albert. The two of them had nearly killed each other when Wally found them and dispatched them both. Clarisse was nowhere to be seen, though the distant sound of galloping horses suggested that she may have made a clean exit.
Silence settles over the countryside, the four men (and donkey) standing in the moonlight. Valdric looks down at the fake necklace in his hand…..