I Didn’t Want Bad News for Me, I wanted it for Them!

True to form the Viceroy’s good mood at hearing of Archduke Xan Kovak of Maelonbourg having been killed in battle was entirely too brief to be properly appreciated. The Viceroy had an extraordinary sense of who Xan was and there had been a time not that long ago that Xan had been an unwilling tool of the Viceroy. But the lich’s hold over Xan had been severed by a clever witch that had married the brash warrior and ever since then the Viceroy had been trying to exact some measure of revenge while trying not to get pulled into a lengthy scheme that would directly affect the goals that the Viceroy was being forced to focus on. It was not terribly difficult for the lich to locate Xan’s presence if it was really necessary to pinpoint the man, but something wasn’t right. There didn’t appear to be any hint of Xan’s soul anyplace on the Prime Material Plane or anywhere else that the lich sought.

This probably seems as if it would be only natural considering that Xan had been killed. The Viceroy knew better than this, though. Souls are rather like car keys; if they aren’t where you left them then they are someplace else. But they are always someplace. They do not just disappear into nothingness. If a soul isn’t hanging about the Prime Material Plane due to some cosmic malfunction or sinister haunting in progress, then it will be on its way to its eternal reward or punishment on some other plane of existence. It is going to have to be someplace along whatever path it would have earned during its mortal reign. But Xan’s soul was completely gone.

The Viceroy had called for as many necromancers as could be found in Mansterburg, and sent a magical summoning to Garstynnia the night hag for good measure. Night hags had a natural gift for finding and corrupting souls so perhaps Garstynnia could come in handy in trying to figure out what was going on. Garstynnia responded quickly to the Viceroy’s call because one would have to be out of their ever-loving mind to do otherwise. Within an hour the lich had assembled a formidable amount of expertise on souls and he didn’t waste any time trying to get the answers he sought. The vast majority of the mortal wizards that had come to help ended up being of little help, but a few had ideas that the Viceroy might not have an immediate use for but that might come in handy further down the line. Garstynnia herself was flummoxed entirely by the disappearance of Xan’s soul. She had met Xan once in person even though he hadn’t realized it, and it was through this acquaintance that she used her own formidable powers to seek out Xan’s spiritual essence. She too could not find any sign of it.

The anger that welled up in the Viceroy was almost to a boiling part. “How can the soul of a mortal man vanish without a trace beyond the reach of our magic? This is impossible!” The lich’s voice thundered through the room and the mortals within hearing range all cowered to one degree or another.

Garstynnia shrugged. “Perhaps his witch did something to prevent us being able to see his soul.”

The Viceroy glared at the night hag. “Impossible I say! We all could see him plain as day before his death! We should be able to find him now!”

One of the necromancers said with a shaky voice, “Maybe his soul is trapped where we can’t find it?”

Garstynnia and the Viceroy started to laugh. Garstynnia said with a sneer, “He isn’t a lich, it’s not like he has a….” and then her voice trailed off. She looked at the Viceroy with shocked surprise.

“A phylactery…!” hissed the Viceroy. “That miserable bastard has a phylactery!” His laughter turned to a growling scream. “Find it! Bring it to me! I must have it whatever the cost! Ten thousand gold coins to whoever brings me the phylactery of Archduke Xan!”

Word was sent out with unsurpassed speed of the Viceroy’s demand. Somebody just might get the biggest financial windfall of all if they played their cards right.