Starting bright and early, the party makes a fresh start on heading back down to the south, avoiding any large towns and roads for the halflings safety. After several days of travel they come to the larger city that seems somewhat derelict and Zarik mentions that he recognizes the it as the city of Cibalae, a past trading hub that has long since lost its glory. At this point in its history it really is more of a town then a city in terms of population but it’s a safe place to be more or less as it does not get attacked very often.
While approaching the town slowly, taking care to hide the halflings as best they can when they suddenly hear some noise in the undergrowth of the forest is alongside and a gnome pops out. While well dressed his clothes are ragged and his hair messed up and appears to have been running away from something. Seeing the party he right away asks the party to take him with them, stating that people are chasing him and that he is just trying to get away. He seems to be telling the truth , and Shar asks him who is chasing him to which the gnome responds that highwaymen have been chasing him for days now.
Knowing that he has seen the halflings, the party threatens to hunt him down should he divulge to anyone about the caravan, Draka even going so far as get right into the small gnomes face and Zarik showing him Boney, saying that the skeleton was the last person to betray them. Shyr, Saneic and Khyber are horrified at the group’s actions and tell them to knock it off, calming the terrified gnome down before asking him his name. With the three party members around him, he takes Saneic’s and Khyber’s hands, thanking the two lovely ladies for saving him from their friends and introducing himself as Iantor the Magnificent, a traveling magician extraordinary!
With the new companion, the party makes the plans to keep the animal companions, Khyber, Saneic, and Shar behind in the woods with the halflings while the rest of the party heads into town to resupply and perhaps rest up at the inn, as Shyr mentions very much wanting to sleep in a real bed for a change. Heading into town however, is an eerie and unpleasant experience.
The atmosphere of the town is hostile and the party can tell they are unwelcome from the hostile body language of the residents. Etir, attempting to smooth over the party’s arrival, begins performing as they move, singing and tumbling around in an impressive display. Getting to the gates of the town, the guards demand they hand over their weapons, as strangers are not permitted to carry weapons inside the grounds of the city. Shyr manages to keep his by way of his standing with his church, and Etir keeps his from the guards thinking he is merely an idiot. They go to take Boney’s weapons but Zarik stops them, taking the weapons from the skeleton himself and handing them over to stop them from noticing the undead creature. A metal dwarf walks right up to Draka and states they may stay the night but she wants them gone by morning with their things. She then leaves, giving the party the very strong indication that the city hates strangers and the guards suggest giving their metal dwarf captain a wide berth.
While the inside of the city is more populated than the fields outside it, most of the buildings here are falling apart and clearly abandoned and the villagers are clearly avoiding any contact they can have with them. The one inn they manage to find is the ‘Dead Cleric Inn’ and they see a sign on the door prohibiting bards from entering. Sighing as they glance at their bard, they head in anyway, figuring at worse they get thrown out of the inn. A middle aged moon elf runs the bar and addresses the party curtly, though accepting their gold and granting them rooms, Etir just barely managing to avoid detection as a bard due to messing with people out of spite.
While in their rooms, Zarik discovers they are being scryed on, to which Shyr angrily goes to the bar keep and demands an explanation Suddenly confronted with an angry cleric, the barkeep tells them to talk to Emmeranne, the local wizard but that he has no idea who could be doing it. They send a horse with a note on it to the party members with the halflings to let them know of the scrying to which Khyber Shar and Saneic attempt to see if they are being watched as well, which to the best of their ability they are not.
Etir takes the form of one of the people he saw as they come in to talk to the locals and try to find Emmeranne, as Khyber decides to head into the city and see what she can find. She walks into a drunk, who begins ranting at her, saying all these strangers are going to bring down ruin on them, saying that whenever strangers stay, they vanish in the night and then some of the villagers will go missing shortly after.
Etir, now in the form of an elderly woman, manages to find Emmeranne’s home and knocks on the door to luckily find the wizard home. The middle aged gnome woman raises an eyebrow and laughs at the figure before her, telling Etir that while the shapechange is close, she can still tell its not who it appears to be. Teleporting him to the block the inn is on, they walk into the inn to the rest of the party as Khyber gets there. While talking Iantor is oddly quiet and tells Khyber in a hushed voice that he does not trust Emmeranne, he does not know why but she gives him a bad feeling.
Khyber lets slip the halflings are still outside town and Emmeranne offers to lay own some protective spells to help and teleports to where Shar and Saneic are. Convincing them she is there to help Emmeranne begins laying down some magic, though Shar keeps a watchful distrusting eye on her. Iantor still cannot explain why he is scared of Emmeranne so Khyber takes him and Draka to confront her at the caravans. Etir in the meantime manages to talk Zarik and Shyr into breaking into her tower to try and learn more about her.
While Khyber, Draka, and Iantor manage to get to the caravans quickly, they find everything alright. Khyber talks to Emmeranne about Iantor’s sense of dread concerning her, to which she dismisses it, saying she has no idea why Iantor does not like her but she is used to mistrust from the city folk. While discussing this with the party, one of the spells on her tower is tripped and she angrily states that her home was just invaded and teleports all the party members with her to her home, where she sees the three members who just come in through the door.
Angrily she says that if they had wanted to come in, all they had to do was ask her, not break in. Etir, Shyr, and Zarik sheepishly apologize and Emmeranne calms down, offering to let them stay the night. Most of the party takes her up on her offer, though Iantor refuses to even consider it and leaves to go to the inn. With a dejected sigh Shyr goes to stay with him, to keep him safe and the party tries to stop the cleric. They have an ominous feeling about the cleric staying at the ‘Dead Cleric Inn.’ He laughs off their worries and says he will be fine, watched over by his goddess. Despite this, Etir and Saneic go with them to watch over them.
Despite this however, Iantor is found dead in his bed, drained of blood with puncture marks in his leg. Shyr wraps the body in a sheet and carries it to Emmeranne’s tower to show the party. Etir, now suspicious, tells Emmeranne to prove she is not a vampire by undressing and standing in the sun. The gnome raises an eyebrow and states that she is not that easy to see naked but agrees to take off her jewelry. After standing in the sun she states that she will make the party breakfast and goes off to start.
Casting a spell, the dead gnome speaks, telling the party all it remembers is a hand covering his mouth and being taken outside, chased down, a searing pain, and then nothing. Discussing what they know about vampirism, they ask Shar what she knows, though she admits to not knowing much. They then turn to Emmeranne, who has returned with food and ask her. She tells them vampires can turn themselves into mist but that they can’t just teleport in and out of rooms. They then decide to try and bury him, and see if he raises, which Emmeranne is very much against. Etir goes to start digging when Emmeranne attempts to use her magic to get into his mind and stop him. The doppelganger gets angry and says that that was completely uncalled for. She then disintegrates Iantor’s body and yells at the party about not leaving things well enough alone before teleporting away.
In a panic, the party rushes to the halflings, worried for their safety, but discovering them in perfect health, if a little confused as to what is happening. Getting back into the city with their weapons, they head back to Emmeranne’s tower and break in again, Khyber managing to find a secret staircase and descending deep into the earth, until finally finding old stonework and coming to a ruined iron gate. The party pushes past and walks into an ancient crypt, their footsteps echoing of the old stone.