The Magnificent Seven

Wrunggel was in a bit of a bind. He and his six companions, Brother Josua, Victor Hellmuth, Sister Agatha, Reiner the Flame Master, Lars Deftly, and Florentin Grosskopf had been hired to do a job and they had done it. Now there was some concern that there wouldn’t be a timely finish to the task. The seven of them crouched in the small underground warren and debated their options.

Archduke Kovak of Maelonbourg had tasked them with finding the phylactery of a lich known as the Viceroy. With the help of one of the Archduke’s trusted henchmen, a ranger named Butch, and a bone fragment that was given to them by a steel dragon named Leopold Voûteacier, the group had used Sister Agatha’s divination powers to first determine the lich’s true name and then to track down the location of its’ phylactery. The whole ordeal had taken just over a week to accomplish. For the negotiated fee it was looking to end up being easy money.

Having found the phylactery in this dismal little underground burrow beneath what had been the lair of the dracolich Untote Druuna, Wrunggel and his friends had been told to alert the Troublemakers and they would come as fast as possible to finish the job by destroying the phylactery and the lich in one fell swoop. But this is where things had gone wrong. They had alerted the Archduke and his cohorts, and not one of them had shown up. Hours went by and still they hadn’t arrived, nor had they left word about what the plan was. This is the bind that Wrunggel was in. They were in the right place at the right time, and the consensus was among the seven that they needed to finish this job themselves.

Lars and Victor made it clear that they weren’t going to finish this job for only the money that had been promised. Wrunggel had to agree that this next step was above and beyond the call of duty, so he had Sister Agatha use the communication orb they were given by the Archduke’s henchmen to contact the Lord Treasurer. This happened to be the same Leopold Voûteacier that had given them the bone fragment. Eager to see the Viceroy stopped and the threat of his magical tyranny ended once and for all, Voûteacier agreed to pay more for the Viceroy’s destruction. In addition to that Wrunggel and his companions were given permission by the Prime Minister, Lord Jandel von Normand, to keep whatever loot they found in the warren where the phylactery had been found. The seven of them discussed their options and finally decided to go ahead with a scheme that Lars and Reiner had already concocted.

When they had been given this mission Victor and Lars had pooled their resources and acquired an emerald of enormous value. They had taken this to the local enchanter in Resurrection, a lovely older woman named Katrine, and she had cast two spells on it for a hefty fee. Victor had figured on footing the bill and making it back in whatever they were paid, but as it happened Florentin, Josua, and Agatha had chipped in to cover the cost once it had been decided upon. With this emerald in hand, all that needed to be done was to have a powerful spell cast upon it to cause a specifically targeted individual to be pulled inside the jewel, body and soul, to be trapped for all eternity or until the stone was destroyed or the enchantment was otherwise compromised. Now it was up to Reiner.

To say that Reiner was hesitant was a tremendous understatement. This spell was more powerful than anything he had ever attempted before, and this was just a little outside of his focus as an invoker. But after Wrunggel and Florentin had soothingly assured him it was going to be all right, and after Josua had blessed his efforts with a prayer and a spell, Reiner went ahead and cast the conjuring magic upon the emerald. There was a brief flash inside the stone, and Reiner handed the jewel to Lars.

Lars smiled evilly and took the jewel in his leather gloved hand. Moving as stealthily as a cat and twice as quiet, Lars made his way to the niche in the wall where the phylactery sat. The vessel was made of ornately carved and fancily engraved gold, with a carved emerald stopper on the top. This is why the group had decided to use an emerald for this. Carefully as can be imagined Lars set the enchanted emerald atop the phylactery’s emerald stopper. It was perfect. A casual glance would never have revealed the presence of the extra emerald.

Lars looked at the group who were still hunkered down in the doorway of the room. Wrunggel gave him a thumbs up and a toothy grin, and Lars rubbed his gloved hands together. Taking one of the gloves off, Lars very carefully reached out and ran his forefinger down the side of the phylactery.

The rest of the group dove back into the cramped hallway, and lars sprinted for the exit of the room with blinding speed. Just as he reached the doorway and flew from the room like the scoundrel he was, Lars could hear the magic crackling in the room behind him.

The Viceroy had teleported in, having been alerted to an intruder near his phylactery. Finding nobody here, the lich looked around the room carefully. Obviously, somebody had been in here, there were footsteps in the dust on the floor. His personal stash of loot was untouched, though. The two chests that his cache was stored in remained untouched and he could see the magical traps were still in place. But somebody had been here. The Viceroy was not a fan of surprises, and so he wasn’t going to stick around in case it was that damned dragon again. He had taken enough of a beating the last time, he wasn’t going to repeat that experience. The Viceroy reached for and grabbed his phylactery from the niche in the wall with both hands. As soon as his right hand touched the emerald balanced on the top of the phylactery’s stopper, the Viceroy instantly vanished. The phylactery clattered to the ground and the enchanted emerald flashed a bright green color and remained glowing on the floor next to it. Everything the Viceroy had been wearing or carrying suddenly fell to the floor as well.

A few minutes passed before Victor peeked into the room from the hallway. He looked happily amused and turned to his fellows in the hallway behind him. “It worked! It jolly well worked!”

The gang stepped into the room and Florentin gingerly picked up the phylactery in his gauntleted hand. “Fascinating.” he muttered. “Not a sign of his soul. This will need to be destroyed at some point, but we have ample time to sort that out.” Looking at Reiner he smiled and said, “Good show, lad. God has blessed you abundantly, and us as well.”

Sister Agatha picked up the trapped emerald and smirked. “Such a tiny thing to hold something so evil. What shall we do with this?”

Wrunggel said wryly, “I think there are people more skilled in keeping evil like this contained than we are. Agatha, you had best let your friends in the Council of Schönbrunn know of this development. We will take it to them if Archduchess Lersha will give us a ride on her spelljammer.”

Victor and Lars began gathering up the two chests. Florentin said quietly, “The rest of the chests are in the chamber beneath here. We can use the ledger to return what we can to those that deserve it.” It took all of them an hour or so to get all of the chests up to the surface and aboard the spelljammer. Lersha watched bemusedly as they brought chest after chest up through the shaft from the warren and stacked them in the hold of the Troublemaker. Florentin handed her the ledger book that had been with the larger stash of chests.

The semi-retired paladin said with a sweet smile, “There is a lot of coins that once belonged to the ancient kingdom of Maelonbourg. I would think that what the night hags hadn’t spent was left for the Viceroy to claim, and for some reason the lich had kept notes as to where it had come from. Maybe he had another scheme in mind, I don’t know. But you will be able to sort it out I’m certain and what was once Maelonbourg’s shall be restored.”

Wrunggel knew better than to take the lead on any negotiations, so he left that to Florentin. The old paladin chatted with Lersha for quite a while, and at the end of it the Archduchess had agreed to take them and the soul-trapped emerald to Schönbrunn to give it to the council along with the phylactery.

The other items that the Viceroy had been carrying were divided up among the seven during the flight to Geldenreich. Wrunggel was well pleased with his companions. Although they had not signed up for this task exactly, their performance had been nonetheless exemplary. For her part Lersha found the whole gang to be unbelievably cool. This was the sort of thing that had drawn her to her husband and his crazy friends. But this group was something more formidable. Lersha wasn’t sure what it was exactly, but it might just be that the Magnificent Seven had bothered to show up. Sometimes that is all it takes.