The Year 1487 DR
Jack Murphy, the guild leader of "Jack of All Trades" an adventuring guild, has been staking out a lich's hideout for several tendays. Tasked with acquiring a particular object of interest from the lich, Zaldara Cordress "The Duchess of Rot", Murphy has worked hard on acquiring intel pertaining to the comings and goings of the lich, and the layout of the hideout.
On the night of this day, Jack along with four other members of the guild attempt to infiltrate the hideout, located in the Cloakwood Forest south of Baldur's Gate.
In the dead of night the black tower is scaled by the party. Upon reaching the private chambers on the topmost floors, the party starts searching for the artefact. One of the guild members, a stout female dwarf going by the name Inka, finds what she believes is the object of interest: A tome, hidebound with tanned humanoid skin. She attempts to snag it without afterthought. The already chilled room suddenly drains of anything resembling heat or energy, and a vile stench erupts from the center of the room. A beautiful woman, had it not been for a face half rotted away revealing skull and dead skin sagging from the cheeks. Her shape barely materialises before a horrid shriek accompanied by flashing red lights and more stench fills the room as Jack Murphy is expelled from it. No sooner is he gone before the other party members are subjected to immense torture.
Jack Murphy is dead, expelled from the tower's upper window by sheer force. And a dark pact is made between the rest of the party and the lich. The lich wants access to their thoughts, eyes, and ears. In exchange she will revive Jack and let them go. The members agree.
The Year 1492 DR
A phenomenon, which prevents the resurrection of dead, is dubbed the Death Curse.
At first it only seems to affect resurrection spells and rituals. However, it turns out those recently resurrected, are affected with a disease. The symptoms are much akin to the forceful parting of soul from flesh; the victims waste and wither, and then die.
It is not long until it dawns on the population of the Sword Coast that the curse takes away anyone who has ever been resurrected. As even the ones who has spent decades of life after a resurrection start dying, panic breaks out. The living crowd temples, medical centres, and soothsayers, while the dead are flooding the morgues. Rich families and individuals scramble to save loved ones who have once been resurrected. Those already dead are mourned in silence.
The leader of the small but renowned adventuring guild "Jack of All Trades", Jack, is one of those affected by the curse. He has only days to live.
A warm day. Jack Murphy is finally laid to rest.
Two guests appear at the funeral, bearing fruits of hope to a select few members of the guild. Jack, it seems, can yet be saved, but only with their help.
Four members of Jack of All Trades set out in the morning bound for the Cloakwood Forest aboard a small sloop called the Diviner. Accompanying them is Callbrax a short, gruff, halfling mage, with little sense of humour.
Their intention is to infiltrate the Duchess of Rot's hideout and gain access to her phylactery, a large hidebound tome. The tome and the Duchess, they believe, is the key to discovering the source of the Death Curse, and of freeing them from the Duchess' grasp.
It is with mixed feelings they go. The group's previous attempt at infiltrating her hideout led to the first demise of their guild's leader, and ultimately to their current predicament.
Having travelled down the Sword Coast they reach the cold dark forest. Above which looms Zaldara's, the lich's, tower. It's night when they arrive. They swiftly disembark, and Callbrax opens hidden entrance to Zaldara's basement as horns blare in the night signalling the beginning of the assault on the lich's tower. The party is hurried inside by the mage before he reseals the entrance. They are now left to their own devices inside the hideout of the lich they had once had a fatal encounter with.
In the hideout a larger cavern opens up before them. An owl familiar called Puppy Owl is sent through the complex to map it out. The party quickly discovers that entrance to the hideout is blocked by two doors, and that the monsters lurking in the cave is the least of their worries.
After unsuccessful attempts at getting through the doors, James makes a rash decision and shatters one of the crystal stalagmites that rises from the floor of the cave. The action instantly teleports him to a dark cell. He does not spend long there as Inka and the rest of the party smash down one of the stone doors and find his cell, only to be assaulted by severed claws.
In the same dungeons they find a former familiar of the lich, a pseudodragon called Elonast. They agree to let her out of the cell, and in return she takes them to the chamber where Zaldara keeps her phylactery.
Through hermetically sealed doors, and past an armoury with flying swords and a strange red shield. They eventually end up in a hallway that stinks of rot. Ghouls lurk there, Dimitri, and Sora makes quick work of the abominations. However, not without cost. The familiar dies to an strange toxin that fills the air in this hall. The loss is mourned, but the chamber containing the phylactery is finally found.
A strange chest, bound to the floor of the room by iron bands, one stone pillar on each side. The air crackling with energy. The party enters the room and attempts to open the chest. A trap is sprung, two apparitions drain the life out of the pseudodragon and start pursuing the party. Energy shoots from the pillars striking anyone who attempts to open the chest.
The spectres guarding the chest prove too much for the group, they scatter. Some flee, others fight. James fights bravely and in a last ditch effort attempts to break open the chest, yet fails and is killed by the spectres. The remaining members see no option but flight. The spectres on their tail they head for the armoury. Sora takes up the rear, an action which proves fatal. Now only two members left they flee as well as they can barely alive Inka and Dimitri make it out of the complex. Two more friends lost, left to die in the lich's hideout.