Episode summary Edit
Their business in Mount Pillar concluded, the Party begin making preparations to leave, especially in light of Lady Hazemura's interrupted message. Daggerface detects that they're only 700 feet below the surface, so they dimension door up and with the aid of Draven's penultimate mass fly scroll, they begin the journey back to their plane shift portal.
At Little One's suggestion, Angel scouts ahead invisibly, which turns out to have been a good idea as a pale figure in a light leather jacket is standing in front of the portal, seemingly inspecting it. As this would mean he is capable of seeing the invisible, Angel puts some zombies between him and herself. Circling round, she sees the figure side on and recognises him from the Mount Pillar visions. It's Swayne.
Swayne glances over and clearly notices Angel, but does not appear overly concerned. Sensing an impending battle, the Party decide to form into two groups: the core four at the front and Daggerface, Mora, Black Sr and Zaheer at the back, flying above zombie range. As they approach, Swayne turns to face them and his entourage (two giant zombies like the one Morduval had, the lady in white and another eyeball man, looks like Swayne kept his promise) rises up out of the ground. Angel circles around to meet with the others as they land.
Upon landing, Black is surrounded by zombies. One Opalescent Glare later, however, he has a nice clear path. Little One also lands and attempts to engage Swayne in witty banter, but as an immortal evil overlord he's heard it all before and simply remarks that he'll have to "add them to the bait". Black gets the ball rolling with his Figurine of Wondrous Power, but it bounces of Swayne's Mindhunter runes. He retaliates by attempting mass crystalline memories on the forward group, but they all pass their will saves.However, that was only a swift action and with his standard action, he waves his hand and they disappear. The four heroes are trapped in the plane of shadows for two rounds and upon their return find that Swayne has crystalline memoried the entire rear group. Draven begins deliberating over whether or not it's worthwhile to use the anti-Swayne bolt, while the others start fighting the giant zombies.
Just as all hope seems lost, a black cloaked figure on a pale grey horse rides over the ridge. He starts handing out scrolls from his bag, giving Draven a scroll of ethereal mount and Black a scroll of earthquake, having him release the river from Mount Pillar so as to block Swayne with continuous running water. Rygax himself casts doomtide, noting that Swayne may have darkvision "to the horizon", but can't see through solid illusions. Little One and Angel kill the giant zombies blocking their path and everybody rides off under the cover of the illusion.
As they ride, Rygax explains that the only way anybody has ever defeated a Vampire King is by disrupting a large number of spirit shackles, and even then "only at great cost". He reveals that Swayne has about fifty shackles, but that only about thirty give him actual powers (many of them instead going to his lieutenants), but that a sufficiently powerful army may have a chance against him if a dozen of the most critical ones are unbound. He also has the party recount the entire Swayne encounter in detail, becomming very troubled when he hears about their journey to the Plane of Shadows, identifying the spell as the Curse of Netharin. As well as the obvious effects, it prevents them from planeshifting for a week, stranding them in the Shadowfel. It's possible that a natural portal will work, but a) there aren't any within easy reach and b) even if there were, Swayne knows all of them. He does have a scroll of restoration, though, which is good news for Angel and her dexterity score.