The trip to Ostia Antica was uneventful, leaving the party saddle sore and restless after weeks of near-constant battle. Being forced to endure a four day trip with Ilario di Luna, the gleaming, river-side city was a very welcome sight on the horizon.
Though there was an opportunity for sightseeing in the Nazinian capital, the troupe decided to travel directly to the castle to report to the king. Having been expected, they were immediately granted entry, and the chamberlain took them to a place where they could clean up before meeting they were taken to the throne room.
While preparing to meet the king, the group got a visit from his son, Prince Sargon D’Falco. The prince questioned the group about their origin, their reason for being in Nazianz, and what they hoped to discuss with his father, but the adventurers proved reluctant to give details to anyone beyond the monarch.
When they were finally brought before the king, Agrapio D’Falco, they found him to be an older man, very thin, and though he had a regal manner, he was actually quite approachable. They admitted to the king that they were not the emissaries he had hoped to receive from Great Farris, then proceeded to ask for assistance on behalf of the empire, which had come under siege from the vile forces of Tiamat and her dragon hordes.
Before any arrangements could be made, Sargon came into the throne room, announcing that he had a visitor who would like to speak to the king as well. The creature that came into the room after Sargon wore black armor over gray, dry flesh, and looked upon those assembled with empty, black eyes.
The wicked bodak death knight, Lothar Suncross, approached the throne, revealing that he had come to bring down the royal family and add the people of Nazianz to his army of undead abominations. Sargon had only offered the death knight safe passage across the country in exchange for scaring his father into rescinding his offer to join the ecclesiastical empire, and as such, he was horrified to learn what he had inadvertently invited into their castle.
Black light filled the bodak’s eyes as he prepared to use his killing gaze on King D’Falco, but Sargon rushed forward to interpose himself between the undead warlord and his father. The prince’s life was saved however when Aiko stood before Lothar and let the creature’s gaze fall upon him.
Lothar’s black eyes drained the life from Aiko, replacing it with the chill of death, and as the dragonborn fell, time seemed to slow and then came to a stop, and Aiko saw a slight, robed figure emerge from the rear of the throne room.
The figure was small, child-like, and wore a black robe, ringlets of pure white hair spilling out from beneath the shadowed hood; in his hand, the boy clutched a black staff, topped with a lantern that resembled an hour glass filled with a sickening green light.
The entity revealed that he had been watching the group and their efforts, and he saw great things in their future; he said that he had wanted to make contact with them for some time, but due to his unique domain, he was unable to do so until that moment when Aiko’s life was ended.
Aiko asked the boy who he was, but the cloaked figure admitted that it had never been given a name. After a moment’s though, it chose to name itself Nerull – a name which the dragonborn recognized as the god of death from long ago, before the Raven Queen became a deity herself.
Nerull explained to Aiko that he intended to depose the Raven Queen and take back the old death god’s full portfolio, most of which had been taken by the other god’s upon his death. He would hold dominion over death and dying, as well as the undead, which would allow him to put a stop to Lothar Suncross’ rampage, and ensure that Orcus would never be able to come back to power. His plans would require assistance on the mortal plane, and as such, Nerull had come to the party to offer them the opportunity to become his chosen and aid him in taking the throne of death.
The dragonborn accepted the offer, and Nerull returned the life to Aiko’s body, allowing the wizard to rise again, just as his companions were springing into action to fight back against the bodak.
Lothar used a powerful alchemical concoction which reduced the king’s guard to agonized, shambling undead under his direct control; he also summoned creatures from the braziers in the throne room which resembled the still-glowing bodies of humans who had been burned to death. Finally, the bodak turned to face the party, drawing an ominous black blade from the scabbard at his side.
Before Suncross could engage the party, the tower shook with a great impact, and the window exploded as the head of a dragon, the face obscured by a bronze mask, crashed through. The dragon bathed Lothar in flames from her maw, but it was not enough to end the death knight. In retaliation, Lothar lunged through the window at the dragon, and the duo disappeared from sight as they fell away from the tower.
The party quickly dispatched Lothar’s minions, and during the fight, Aiko took the prince’s silvered, masterwork longsword, and Henrik found that Lothar had dropped his black sword while defending himself against the dragon, and had left it behind in his frenzied attack.
There was no time to celebrate their victory, as the group could see hundreds of shambling figures rising out of the river, metal frames glittering in the sunlight as they poured into the town, mercilessly killing any who stood in their way.
Shocked by what had transpired in his throne room, King D’Falco was slumped in his chair, gripping his chest and breathing heavily, clearly in great pain due to the stress of the situation. While his son stood by him, trying to comfort his father after his foolish action, Agrapio begged the adventurers to head to the scrying chamber beneath the castle, where they would be able to make contact with Ravinia, to ask them to send their forces to Nazianz’s defense.
The group agreed to help the king, but as they made their way through the castle, now overrun with undead, they decided to abandon Nazianz and escape to the harbor, where they would be able to commandeer a ship that could carry them back across the ocean to Everlasting Dawn.