Author note: I deliberately changed the rules about Azuredge. In-game you have to keep it as it is, but I decided it can be upgraded by Cromwell with some Adamantite and Illithium.
Margaret Dawn was true to her word and while Minsc, Boo and Aerie watched over the three former prisoners, she used her powers to heal both Mekrath’s and Darcin’s spine, but only after binding their hands behind their backs to make sure they were unable to cast.
"Okay gentlemen, now you’ll come with us to meet a friend", she announced, helping Mekrath up as Anomen did the same with the other wizard. "Where will you take us?", Darcin asked, split between the relief at being once again in control of his body and the anger at having become a prisoner himself.
"To the barracks, of course: lieutenant Aegesfield will be happy to put his hands on you". Edwin intervened, "There is also the matter of the Twisted Rune to be addressed", he reminded her, "Am I right in assuming you want to take care of it as well? (Of course I am: I’m never wrong)".
She bit her lower lip, "Well...I think that we should deal with it, yes. I mean, it wouldn’t be safe at all to have an enclave of such a dangerous organization in the city, no?". He nodded, "I guess it makes sense. Of course, I could point out that this city already houses the Shadow Thieves Guild and a Harper base, but I agree that the Twisted Rune is largely more dangerous than the other two could ever be".
"So you’re with me in this?". "Yes, I am. But I’d like to remind you that I’m still waiting for the powerful magic artefact you promised me in Brynnlaw (And I won’t let it drop until I have it)". The young woman chuckled, "Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about it.
As soon as we’ve dealt with the Twisted Rune, the others will contact our allies, while you and I will pay a visit to the Adventurer’s Mart to get your gift, okay?". He smiled with satisfaction, "Now I remember why I keep on travelling with your party, Meg".
"But before charging into the Twisted Rune lair, we must rest and prepare ourselves for the fight", she turned to Mekrath, "You mentioned a guy who means to achieve lichdom, right?". Mekrath nodded, "Yes, he’s lord Deril...".
Anomen’s eyes widened with shock, "Lord Gavin Deril?", he sputtered, "But how...I mean, sure, he didn’t have a good reputation: there were many rumors about his peculiar tastes and more than once a courtesan dressed in black leather and carrying a whip was seen leaving his house in the middle of the night...But this?
Consorting with lowly criminals and wasting innocent lives to, to...". "To become immortal and astoundingly powerful, yes, we know what lichdom implies", the Thayan said with condescension, "Why are you so surprised? It is not that common an occurrence, true, but it’s not that rare either. One of the eight Zulkirs in my homeland, Szass Tam, is a Lich himself". "Was that supposed to make me feel better? Because it didn’t work".
"That’s beside the point", their leader intervened, "If one of them is trying to become a Lich, I’m willing to bet all my money that there’s an actual Lich involved in this mess: they need someone who knows what he’s doing and who knows the ritual better than one of them?". Solaufein tensed, "I know of such creatures.
One of the noble Houses, House Jae’llat, counts among its members Deirex, one of the most ancient and powerful Liches of the Underdark. They are probably the most dangerous foes one can face, their magic can wipe away an entire army, I’ve heard". "And they are Undead, right?", Meg asked and he nodded. "They are, abbil".
"Then our magical weapons should be useful against them. Minsc, you and I will go to Cromwell’s shop to see if he can enhance both my mace and your axe Azuredge. Guys, I trust you to deliver these two scumbags to Aegesfield in the meantime, then you will go to the inn. Edwin, Solaufein, the two of you must memorize the spells against undead, both offensive and defensive, plus something to take down the Lich’s magical shields.
Jae, Aerie, I want you to memorize as many spells to protect us from negative energy as possible. The rest of you must buy all the scrolls and potions of protection against magic that you can find. Is everything clear?". They all nodded and she smiled. "Good, see you later then".
Cromwell’s shop was exactly as Meg remembered it: small, chokingly hot and filled with black smoke. The smith smiled at seeing her and Minsc enter the door, "Well, if it isn’t two of my favourite customers! Welcome, young ones, pleased to see you again! It’s been a while". She smiled back, "It has been, yes and we’re here to ask for your services once more". His eyes shone with anticipation, "What marvels have you brought me this time, mh?
Maybe some long-lost artefact of Netherese origins?". "Uh, no, nothing like that, sorry", she said, biting her lower lip to keep from laughing as their last ‘encounter’ with a Netherese artefact came to her mind, "We have these weapons, you see and we hoped you could empower them", she added, showing him her mace as the Rashemi took Azuredge out of his pack.
Cromwell nearly fainted, "What!", he exclaimed, "Moradin’s hammer, lad, do you want to give me an heart-attack? This...This is the legendary axe Azuredge!". Minsc smiled widely, "It is a good weapon, right, Boo?
Friend Hendak gifted it to us after we freed the children from the evil slavers". "You are lucky indeed, lad, to have such a generous friend. And to answer you, lass, I can upgrade it, but it won’t be neither easy, nor cheap". The Ilmatari shrugged, "Money is not a problem. What do you need to do it?".
"Apart from twelve thousand golds, I will need one kilo of Adamantite and three kilos of Illithium", the Dwarf said, a spark of sadness in his eyes, "They’re not easy to come by though, so I’m afraid...", he trailed off and his jaw dropped as she took five Illithium rocks and three Adamantite ones out of her Bag of Holding and placed them on a working table.
"Sorry, you were saying?", she asked, chuckling at his stunned expression. "How...Wha...Just who are you, lass?". "A lucky girl who wanders around a lot. Now, what about my mace?". He nodded and examined the mace, "The Mace of Disruption? I’m afraid to ask where you found this...
Anyway, I can enhance it too, with some of that Illithium", he added, pointing to the rocks on his table, "And seven thousand five hundred golds, of course". "What about we let you keep all the Illithium and Adamantite left after the making in exchange for you work?", Meg offered and Cromwell nodded so fast that his face became a blur.
"Deal!", he exclaimed, already making mental calculations of how much gold he could get for the precious metals on the market and grinning from ear to ear, "I will need some help with the work, but I’m positive we can finish it before sunset". "Sunset? But that would mean waiting until tomorrow to...Oh, well, we need to rest to get our spells anyway, so I guess it’s for the best. We’re ready to begin".
The Moon was starting to rise, when the Painbearer and the ranger walked back to the Slums, chatting happily about their empowered weapons. Minsc was enthusiastic and kept on turning the axe in his big hands with a wide child-like grin on his face, "Look at how it shines, little Meg! I’m sure that it will kick the evil Vampiress’ butt so strongly that she will never be able to sit down again!".
The young woman nodded, "I agree, my friend and I’m looking forward to giving her the butt-kicking she deserves for all the trouble she’s put us through". He gallantly held the door opened for her and followed her inside the Coronet, where they found Anomen sitting at their usual table.
As soon as he saw them, he stood and approached them quickly, "At last you’re back! I was starting to worry", he said, "Are you all right? Did everything go well?". His betrothed smiled softly and kissed him, "You’re so sweet, beloved.
And yes to both questions: we’re fine and our weapons are more powerful than ever!", she showed him her mace with pride, "Isn’t it lovely?". The knight took it and his eyes widened slightly, "Lovely is not the word I would use: it’s impressive. I can sense its power, it feels like...Like fresh water lapping at my hands".
Minsc cleared his throat and ostentatiously waved Azuredge, causing Anomen to chuckle. "And your axe is impressive as well, Minsc". "Yes, it is a great weapon for a great warrior, Boo says. I can’t wait to be home and show it to my Tabatha, she will love it! And I’m sure all the others at the Ice Dragon Lodge will be envious of my axe!
They will stare and say oooh with their mouths open and wish they had one so powerful and shiny too, but they will not have it, only Minsc will!", the Rashemi was beaming so much that Meg wouldn’t have been surprised to see him actually emitting light.
"You will leave them all to pick their jaws up off the floor for sure, Minsc", she patted his back, giggling, "But now we’d better go to bed, okay? You will have time to show your axe to our friends tomorrow, after we’ve had some rest and a nice breakfast".
He nodded, "You’re right, little Meg. Boo needs his beauty sleep too", his voice dropped to a whisper, that in his case meant it was only slightly lower than normal, "Don’t tell anyone, but if he skips his beauty sleep, he becomes quite ugly, with shaggy fur and bloodshot eyes and trust me, it’s not something you want to see!".
She swallowed a laugh at that, "Your secret is safe with me. Goodnight, my Rashemi heroes", she started to climb the stairs and gave Anomen an inviting smile, "Are you coming, honey?". The Helmite grinned and quickly caught up with her, wrapping an arm around her waist and whispering in her ear, "Not yet, my lady, but I’m planning to".