After another restful sleep the companions once again prepared to leave the safe confines of their hidden chamber. It was only a short trek before they once again stood before the secret door and the mysterious sarcophagus that lay beyond in the secret burial chamber. Carefully the party entered the dark and dusty tomb. Shelves of dead could be seen along the walls of the chamber in the flickering torchlight. But it was the large sarcophagus at the chambers end that interested the party. The seal had obviously been broken, and the lid was moved slightly to the right leaving a slight crack along the edge. Then Sir Oakley suddenly recognized the tomb as that of Zarel, daughter of the founder of the abbey, Gardin the Hammer. It was then that Sir Oakley admitted that he too was a distant relative to this family bloodline. Further inspection of the tomb revealed reptilian scales that had apparently fallen from their owner. After some thought the group finally unwrapped the mystery of the tomb. It belonged to the female vampire the group had fought several days earlier. In that ensuing battle the female later turned into a half-vampire, half-snake, before finally falling in battle. This female vampire apparently worshipped Zehir making her a traitor to the abbey later in life, and in death. The fact that this individual was a descendant to Sir Oakley, as well as Gardin the Hammer, was a shock to all, including Sir Oakley.
It was now time to depart the catacombs of the abbey, the “Chalice of the Dragon” finally in their possession. Sir Oakley then led the group across the plateau to another building nearby called the “Hall of Glory”. The small building had partially collapsed. Rubble and other debris choked the inside. Faded frescoes decorated one wall, and a mass of webs cloaked what remained of the roof. There the group fought their way around several swarms of spiders, and two man-sized spiders that proved to have an incredible ability to jump long distances. From there the group moved toward the back of the building where they discovered a set of old wooden double doors. Once again Fin ignited his torch before the group began its decent. Below, a spacious chamber with a high vaulted ceiling was discovered. A wide hall to the left led to a gigantic pair of double doors plated with brass, and a narrower hallway on the wall opposite the stairs ended in a smaller set of doors. The walls were decorated with carvings of minotaur warriors and mystics set into arched niches flanked by decorative columns. The carvings were worn and some were broken beyond recognition, showing signs of great age, vandalism, or perhaps both. It was at that moment that the group suddenly realized that Rolen had gone missing, but after a short search the group proved unable to locate him. Nobody had seen him since they had descended down into the vaults, and nobody could be sure of exactly what had become of the half-elf.
The groups interest soon turned to the gigantic brass-plated double doors. Slowly the group pushed the huge doors open, revealing an enormous chamber glittering with flakes of gold leaf that still clung to reliefs of minotaurs and statues of human knights, all offering homage to a huge statue of a noble-looking dragon. The marble floor was adorned with elaborate designs that formed a path toward the dragon statue, accentuated by parallel lines of faceted stone columns. Each column was topped by a crystal section that gleamed brightly. A heap of treasure piled in one corner – where it formed the bed for a living dragon, its scales red as blood, and smoke trailing from its nostrils while it slept. Roughly a dozen kobolds also milled about the room. Four clad in armor that echoed their dragon patron. One, in robes, stood reverently beside the sleeping dragon. While the rest polished the treasure, or worked with picks in a rough-hewn tunnel at the far side of the hall.
Quickly the group stormed the premises, hoping to catch the unsuspecting enemy flat footed. But as they entered the robed figure standing near the dragon began releasing balls of fire from his staff, and then began attempting to wake the beast! Each companion knew that every few seconds would soon prove precious, for when the dragon awoke things would quickly change for the worse. Thankfully many of dog-like kobolds fell quickly however, and soon their numbers had dwindled allowing the group to focus upon the large dragon. But their was little time to react as the beast released its first blast of fiery breath upon several of the companions. Then a few short seconds later a second fiery blast! Many in the group were now badly burned.
Meanwhile, down the rough-hewn tunnel in the far corner of the chamber, a half-orc suddenly appeared. He wore shackles and chained upon his wrists and ankles, but that seemed to matter little, as he skillfully jumped and spun through the air knocking several kobolds unconscious.
As the group took notice of the prisoner, thoughts initially went to the half-orcs safety. But those worries were quickly put to rest when the group noted his apparent ability to handle himself on the field of battle. Attention then refocused to the pile of treasure, where the dragon now held the paladin, Fin, in its mouth! Then the beast once again began to inhale, before suddenly releasing another blast of its fiery breath. The paladins body now hung lifelessly from the jaws of the beast. But the dwarf, Mongo, refused to give up hope, and began yelling words of hope in the paladins general direction – all the while fighting to remain clear of the dragons deadly sharp claws. Amazingly Fin suddenly began to move, he was still alive! Motivated by this sudden moment of hope, the group began to move around their powerful enemy, and their attacks began to take their toll. The the dragon suddenly took flight, before landing in a more strategic location. Then another large inhalation could be heard before the red dragon suddenly released another blast of fire. Sir Oakley, Altain, and the half-orc were suddenly engulfed in the deadly flames! Then as quickly as the fire came, it diminished, but what remained stole the hearts of even the most battle hardened warriors. All three individuals lay motionless, their bodies blackened by the intense heat of the fire. Things had taken a turn for the worse, and more than one combatant was more than likely beginning to contemplate an escape route just in case. But the remaining companions continued to battle, refusing to leave their fallen companions for dead. Fin too was near deaths door, as he continued to struggle to free himself from the dragon’s deadly jaws. Then just as it was beginning to appear as though all hope might soon be lost, a dagger suddenly appeared from behind a nearby column, spinning through the air end over end. With a mighty roar, the red dragon began to waver, as the dagger dug deeply into the creatures neck, apparently finding a weak spot between the mighty creature’s scales. Then the creature suddenly collapsed! Fin, last seen flailing about in the dragon’s powerful jaws, had suddenly disappeared from sight. Underneath the large beast, the remaining companions found Fin bruised, battered, and bloodied, yet still moving. The paladin had somehow managed to survive not only the fall, but also avoided becoming impaled upon one of the dragon’s teeth as well.
As the battlefield fell silent, Robyn stepped out from behind a nearby pillar, dagger in hand and a grin of satisfaction etched upon his face. The rogue rarely faced an enemy face to face, yet seemed to show a knack for finishing off an enemy on more than one occasion. After tending to the fallen, the group began to make their way towards the heaps of gold coins that filled the chambers southwest corner. Mixed amongst these coins could be seen hilts of numerous weapons, a plain helm, and leather armor that appeared to be made of gold coins!? But it was the “Silver Chalice of the Dragon” that caught Sir Oakley’s attention. It was the second item the group needed to perform the purification ritual, leaving only the “Brazier of Silver Fire” to be discovered. The group could only hope that their quest was nearing its end.