Having secured the damage caused by the attack on the other Lightning Rail car, Castar and Ossul managed to locate odd pieces of technology in one of the dead Halfling raiders. First locating a Dwarven tradesmith, they learned that this did not belong in any simple machine but was likely created by an Artificer. Locating one aboard the Rail, they discovered that this component they discovered likely came from the shoulder of a Warforged who may have been travelling with the Halfling raiders – as no Warforged were reported as missing or killed on the train. Intrigued by this new clue, Castar immediately began scheming up the greatest investigative scoop of his life to date! Unfortunately, this got them no closer to their goal of hunting down Lukan Stellos.
Tending to the injured passengers, Teppic managed to stabilize the worst injured and bring them up and around, while Grolsh proved that there is nothing that a group of rushing around humans can do that a Dwarf favoured by the dragons who is idly strolling by injured people can’t do better. With the survivors all healed and recovered, they confirmed that a wolf was sighted heading towards a nearby ziggurat, and that none had seen a man matching the description of Lukan since the attack. Making awkward and unconvincing excuses, Teppic informed the conductor that they would not be rejoining the lightning rail and would be staying behind to look for their “friend” who may have “taken shelter” in the Ziggurat. Also he assured the other passengers that they were not affiliated with the attackers and had everyone’s best interests at heart, and attempted to buy some tents in case they had to camp out on the way back to Vathirond following this excursion. Fortunately, Joharra managed to be safely away from his awkward negotiations and acquired her own tent from a travelling Halfling trapper.
Setting off for the Ziggurat, it was early evening when the party finally reached the shores, and they managed to catch a glimpse of Lukan inside the temple, fading away as if taunting them to come in. The temple itself was surrounded by a shallow pool of water which would not ordinarily pose a problem to anyone who does not regularly wear 50 pounds of metal. However, just to be safe and to prevent drowning, Joharra supervised the group into building a raft to safely cross the lake. Depsite fear of there being underwater monsters, nothing accosted them as they went across. All of the monsters were inside.
In the first chamber they entered were a row of pillars on one of which was perched an otherwise unassuming cloak, and an unidentifiable moan. After entering, the moan increased to a point where both Castar and Grolsh were entranced by the sound, and the cloak was revealed to be some sort of flying, manta-ray like creature that used magic to confound its true location. Teppic managed to free Grolsh from the paralysis, and Joharra dispelled the illusion cast by the cloak creature, but Grlosh fell victim to panic from the sound and fled the chamber. Ossul went to chase him down to ensure no further harm befell him during the flight. However, with the party now split, the Cloak-creature envelopped Joharra and began biting her. Eventually, the party managed to pry the cloak creature off, and Ossul eventually pinned it to the ground where the majority of the attacks hit the creature rather than Ossul. Heavily beaten, the Cloak creature fled the temple, not having killed anyone but certainly leaving them uncertain as to what else may be inside.
The next chamber contained frescos of demons, and an altar with a narrow slit carved into it, along with thick chains securing the altar to the ceiling. Teppic identified this as reminiscent of an offerings altar, but was sufficiently disturbed by the imagery to advocate staying away from the altar. Unfortunately the mention of “offerings” led Grolsh and Castar to investigate the altar to make sure that they were not passing up any nice treasure. Grolsh found a small drawer in the altar that was trapped. Castar attempted to disarm the trap, and after regailing everyone with how they would fall to their deaths if the trap was triggered, managed to disarm it. However the drawer itself was empty, and they continued to the next room.
Having initially mistaken the altar chamber for where sacrifices were performed, they were somewhat satisfied to find that the NEXT room was the sacrifical chamber. They also found the minotaur zombie who was in charge of sacrifices, whom the party engaged in combat. Using several of the spells and smite attempts they were saving for Lukan, they swiftly disposed of the minotaur, with Ossul scoring a particularly impressive decapitation that finished the creature off. The next room held a mass of writhing centipedes that swarmed over Teppic, but was no match for a dwarf that breathed fire and then used brutal cunning to trick the centipedes into biting him and having his Dragon-granted fire shield destroy them.
The chamber at the very top of the chamber held Lukan, who seemed more passive and subdued than in previous encounters. Stating his goal was to have the party either kill him, or be killed by him, he suddenly leaped into action striking at Teppic to incapacitate the divine magics he wielded. Draining the Favored Souls connection and spells, he remained above the reach of most of the party and harassed them through running along the walls and striking at them. Castar also missed with his prepared spell, and the vampire appeared like he would be able to pick them off one-by-one. Summoning up lesser spells, and using a magic summoned whip to first weaken the vampire, both Teppic and Castar waited for Ossul to channel the last of his power into a powerful Smite against the vampire, and then they both channeled their energy into a series of powerful strikes that proved sufficient to slay the vampire. With Lukan dissolving into mist, Joharra realised that he would have to reach a coffin to regenerate or be destroyed for good. However the mist went elsewhere in the temple, and the weakened party had an hour to hunt him down until he would heal, and in their current state they were not prepared for another encounter with the powerful creature.