As alleykin necromancer Mrrurr arrives in Shadow Port, she senses an undead presence behind her on the Midland Sea, something prevented from entering the city by the Archmage’s wards. While new to life outside the Necropolis, she quickly makes a friend – Zeekiel, a ghost cat prowling the docks, drawn by whatever lurks out at sea. Mrrurr asks if the walls between life and death are weakening here as well, so Zeekiel takes her to Boneblossom Hill, the city’s cemetery, to show her what’s up.
The Ring a’Rosie Tavern is largely deserted after yesterday’s battle, so Max and Saga decide to investigate the address Brutus gave them. They find a nondescript warehouse in the Barrens, but nondescript in ways Max finds all too deliberate and obvious. Two guards try to send them away, but one of them turns out to be someone Max clashed with years ago, and they drop the pretence of legitimate business, telling the adventurers to come back this way tonight for Max’s death match with Brutus.
At Boneblossom Hill, Mrrurr finds the wards around the cemetery disrupted by necromancy, while an old, multi-storey mausoleum has been disturbed. She and Zeekiel search the mausoleum to find all the bodies missing, while someone is imprisoned within a iron deathtrap at the top of the sepulchre! Mrrurr calls up a swarm of ghostly rats, moths and roaches to pry the trap apart and free its prisoner, the druid Janus. He is still struck low by magic beyond Mrrurr’s ken, so he asks her to contact his wizard friend Tibié for help.
Back at the tavern, Max spars with Phaenna to prepare for his match, but one-on-one fights are not his forte, and Uncle Umm despairs over his inevitable slaughter. When Mrrurr arrives to tell of Janus’ plight, Tibié and Phaenna set off to help him, leaving Saga and Max to learn more from the strange, semi-dead cat-person and her invisible friend. Detecting traces of an unusual ghost passing through the tavern recently, Mrrurr learns about the Wyvern’s Egg and decides to help the others – or at least keep Max company after he’s killed by Brutus.
A garrulous goat-coach driver takes them back to the warehouse, where masked aristocrats queue to get in and watch some bloodsports. An elevator takes them to a packed underground arena overseen by Redknife, the hobgoblin leader of the Red Knives, and Mrrurr and Saga sit in a private box while Max prepares to face Brutus. Before they fight, the burly bugbear explains that this is vengeance for Max’s mother, the paladin Zarah Power, killing his mother and family decades ago.
But Redknife isn’t interested in a simple face-to-face brawl; she activates machines that put Max and Brutus on a platform above the arena floor, where panels tilt and shift as the whole thing spins around! Max uses his savage parkour skills to take advantage of the environment, defeating Brutus and throwing him down to the ground below. Badly wounded, the bugbear tells Max to do what he will – but Max refuses to kill his opponent and continue the cycle of grudges and violence.
However, Redknife likes grudges and violence for her audience. Mrrurr and Saga are thrown down to the arena to join Max in facing off against the gang boss’ latest invention – a pair of gigantic mechanical scorpions!