When a player can’t show up, his (or her, if our group changes) character just doesn’t show up. Since I’m building encounters with some play, this won’t affect our sessions too much.
The party further explores the graxxian crypt. There’s a door at the far end – Sargok prepares to open it, and realizes that there’s someone in the room beyond: He can hear them humming. He carefully examines the door, and then kicks it open.
Inside, a Southron is finishing preparations on a body – it’s been tightly wrapped in linens, and he’s painting the same ash-gray paint along its meridians, in the same pattern as the body out in the hall. In the corner of the room is a tied-up nazon and a similarly trussed shadow elf child. Immediately, the Southron – decked in smoked-glass goggles – reaches for one of the several pouches at his waist, and finds: a handful of spell components. He seems to have been reaching for something else.
The heroes are taken aback: The Southron clearly is infected with The Plague. Despite the fear of infection, Sargok charges in, and quickly cuts the Southron down; meanwhile, Sigmund slips in and unbinds the captives.
During that fight, the body in the hallway stumbles to its feet and staggers toward the remaining party members. After a hard-fought battle, in which Olli is temporarily paralyzed by the body’s attacks, the heroes felled the threat with a hail of arrows, spells and rapier thrusts.
The party quickly takes stock of the situation. While they’re unsure if the body is similarly afflicted with undeath, they are certain that it resembles a Solar Knight – Adramalech’s mighty undead warriors. In the meantime, Malek searches the Southron’s body. To his chagrin, one of the pouches is filled with lumicite – and the stones’ magic sunlight fills the room. The body moans, and the party follows the better part of valor – they beat a hasty retreat to Klaeh’mak’s temple, where they can be treated for their exposure to the plague. During the retreat, Olli pushes one of the crypt’s free-standing pillars down, barring the door to the Solar Knight.
At the temple, the group is quickly quarantined in a room, along with a handful of acolytes and a visiting exodite, the head of the Umberstronxian Klaeh’makian church. The room’s magical energy provides nourishment and gentle cleansing of any plague, but requires three days to work.
At the end of the quarantine, the party is introduced to Lt. Gen. Faroukh of the Infinites. They tell him their first-hand experiences with the Solar Knight, the Southron and the crypt, and Lo tells of his kidnapping: He was assaulted at the same time as the merchants who were later turned into undead monsters, and there were at least three assailants.
Faroukh asks the party to join the Infinites as contractors, offering an outrageous wage – 200 gp up front and 1,000 gp a month, plus expenses – as long as they work to root out the cult that has obviously put down roots in Bazaar. Olli talks Faroukh up to 300 gp each up front, and the party agrees to this deal.