The party looks around at the intricate stonework, covered in writings none of the party recognizes as it has not been maintained. Suddenly a rush of cool air swirls around them and the sound of claws moving over the stone can be heard as the feeling of dread sweeps over everyone. They all have the overwhelming feeling this tomb was never meant to be found.
From the darkness a voice rings out, calling for the party to halt their approach in an Ovidean accent. Draka, stepping forward asks the voice if anyone had come through here, hand on his chain ready to fight. The voice chuckles, stating that its mistress had in fact come through, and asks if they intend to fight in her lair. Draka grimly utters that they cannot leave and the voice laughs louder than ever.
Suddenly two massive brazzers ignite, revealing a wall with an opening, along with a raised dias on which a massive stone coffin sits. With better light, Zarik tells the party that the writings on the walls seem to be prayers to the gods and fey along with warnings stating that anyone here should turn back now. With the lights on the party finally sees the source of the voice and see a man in Ovedian armor standing in the gap with his weapon drawn.
Shyr sees this in grimly states that his name is Secundus Trebellius Priscian, a high ranking member of the Ovedian military who is very powerful. Draka warns the party that someone is hiding something with illusion magic as his dragon heritage allows him to see through it as the spell drops. Seemingly out of nowhere a legion of soldiers appears, all vampire, as Emmeranne finally makes an appearance. She asks the party if they’ll join her, speaking to each of them about their desires and wants, causing the party to resolve themselves even more for a fight.
The fight is long and hard as Draka and Shyr wade into melee to tear apart the hordes of the dead. Emmeranne points her finger at Zarik as he is struck with a ray, as he finds himself robbed of his magic and unable to bring it forth. As Draka and Shyr continue to use their magic and strength to fell as many of the creatures as they can reach, as Emmerane then turns her attention to Draka as she holds aloft in another hand a massive chunk of crystal. Uttering words that consume the gem another ray strikes Draka as blood erupts from his mouth, agony forcing himself to his knees momentarily as the spell wracks his body.
The legion swarm the party, focusing attacks on whoever they can reach and stepping over felled allies with no concern. Shyr grips his holy symbol and thrusts it into the air, calling on Vorishin and and turning a third of the vampires to ash with a blast of radiance. Etir pulls out a magic horn and summons forth a horde of barbarians as Khyber and Saneic fire on Emmeranne. Khyber’s arrows either miss of are swatted out of the air though Saneic’s missiles manage to strike her. Shyr calls out to his goddess again, blasting the lesser vampires into ash again as the light fills the room. Secundus continues to stand between the party and Emmeranne, unmoving as she turns Saneic to stone as the half fey targets her again. Zarik’s magic finally returns to him as Draka flies past Secundus and strikes at Emmeranne as she pulls out another crystal, though a much smoother one, and smashes it onto the ground and causing an earthquake to strike. Soon the chamber begins to collapse and Emmeranne vanishes as the rocks fall on top of her.
The party rushes back as Draka grabs Saneic’s stone body and Secundus charges towards them in a rage, screaming “NO!” as stones collapse on top of him as well. As the stones stop falling the party breaks back into the tomb to look for the two vampires. Reaching the stone coffin Shyr mentions that the presence of small altars to the gods and fey in one place is very odd and he can sense a darkness in here. Observing the coffin they can see that whatever magic was on it to protect it are now gone and the edge of the lid is moved as they peek into it. Throwing caution to the wind they open the lid the rest of the way as dark laughter suddenly echos around the room for a few moments before it fades. In the coffin lies a single dessicated hand, looking to be celestial in nature. Etir takes it, as pain wracks his body, and ties it to a staff before placing it in a bag of holding.
Managing to get back to the surface the party notes that the entire tower has come down and it takes some time to excavate themselves from the ruins. They search the tower but it seems that most clues have been ruined and only manage to find a few gems and such as town people start coming up to them and asking what happened, blaming them for the fall of the tower. Shyr dryly reminds the party they are not welcome in the city and they all agree to leave right away.
After traveling for several more weeks the party comes to Istrus, a military city bordering a massive desert and filled with darker creatures. The guards of the city demand to know what the party is doing here as Draka mentions that no one is allowed to walk all the way through the city as the gates on the other side are kept secure unless soldiers are being sent out. Shyr attempts to talk to the guards, but they react coldly to the cleric. As Shyr looks sheepishly at the party in apology another guard walks up to them and after confirming who they are tells them a noble in the city wants to speak with them.
Using the clout of the noble, they finally secure passage for the halflings and Draka goes with the guards to escort them. They halflings give Draka some gold and smile sadly at them, preparing themselves to be in darker lands from here on out. Returning to the party the guards then escort them to a noble the learn is named Mettius, a halfling scholar and eccentric who specializes in ancient lore and civilizations.
Finally getting to Mettius’ home, the party finds a house that is very out of the ordinary of Istrus. While most of the buildings are made of stone and seem to be created to withstand siege, this home is made of wood and has large windows. The guards knock on the door and a halfling answers, ushering the party inside, thanking the guards, and then closing the door in their faces as he takes the party to the dining room. He seems completely unfazed by the party and their animal companions and knows a disturbing amount of information about the party and their previous adventures.
He tells the party he has a business proposal for them and begins speaking about the Zheechdrians, the powerful enigmatic race who created the Warforged before the Deluge. He tells them that the race passed off their labor onto constructs, as well as the business of war, and eagerly began to work to find ways to push more and more of their menial tasks onto their constructs. However they soon became convinced to do more would require creating creatures who could think for themselves and soon gifted them with sentience. Soon a civil war broke out and the race and civilization ended when the deluge wiped them off the face of the world.
He explains that he believes that a new ruin may have been found in a dwarven mine. He asks the party to go down there and bring back proof of some sort that there is indeed a Zheechdrian ruin of some sort down there. He explains that it will be very dangerous and the mine shaft had been closed down due to several of the miners being killed as they explored it. He gives them a small manual on the civilization to assist in identification and hopes that at least one of them will make it back alive to tell him about it. Khyber then asks him that any and all information gleaned about the warforged be translated and a copy given to her so that she could read it, to which Mettius agrees.
The party will have to talk to the dwarves and see if they can convince them to let them in or sneak into the mine shaft. Etir then takes the hand out of the bag of holding and asks if Mettius knows anything about vampiric angels. Mettius shrugs and says that all he really knows about vampires is that the disease can only affect certain creatures, and celestials should be immune to it as they do not really die when slain. Etir nods and places the hand away, breaking into negotiating about the payment for this job. Mettius explains that he is willing to fund up to 50,000 GP for materials and items that will help them in securing what he wants, telling them they are to purchase the items and then be reimbursed from him. Anything past that limit he will not pay for however.
The party agrees to the terms and then leave his home to begin acquiring items and weapons, Khyber purchasing armor for Amren. Soon the party will head out to Dheg Kuldir, dwarven mining city and home to some supposed ruins of the Zheechdrain people…