Eyre 5, 1001 YK
The party defeats the sepid div they found in Zenzatun and his doru divs, and locate two more of the doors into the Eightfold Vault. They proceed further in, fighting off a black pudding and triggering a multitude of traps before reaching the chamber of the akvan div who first entered the palace before he became corrupted: Durzu Vatan. He wishes to help the party a little to get into the Eightfold Vault, because he is interested in its contents. He warns them of an undead guardian of the vault who will try to stop them opening it.
Sure enough, a skeletal eladrin named Parintar appears when they try to open the vault, attacking Derli and demanding they acquire permission from the entity in the maelstrom to release the vault’s seals. They agree, retrieve the forcecage-trapped Barrok by convincing him to drop his treasure, and then send Kaleth into the maelstrom room by stopping time. He speaks with the mysterious entity, which requires that he take some steps down something called the Black Road by going through the Path of Cleansing, a hallway in the palace. He goes with most of the party to find this hallway, while Derli enlists the aid of Durzu Vatan to fight Parintar and secure passage regardless of what happens.
On the way to the hallway, the party finds a massive death magic-infused worm called a nightcrawler which they must contend with while Kaleth starts walking through the Path of Cleansing. Girrrth and Barrok are swallowed by the worm, and the latter is killed. Zil’dejin frees Girrrth from the creature’s stomach after it is killed. Meanwhile, Derli fights and defeats the undead eladrin, securing the way through to the Eightfold Vault.
Eyre 5, 1001 YK
The sepid div the Eclipse Collective encountered in Zenzatun proclaims again that he wishes to transform the party into power for the soul battery. They talk to him to try and convince him to abandon his pursuit, and find that he is not particularly given to intelligent discourse. The div is eventually persuaded that there is a wealth of souls hidden in Zenzatun’s Eightfold Vault, for which he thanks the party. He then says again that he will feed the Collective to the soul battery. Feeling as though they are talking in circles, the party engages the div in combat. The battle is initiated when Kaleth throws the div back through time, trapping him in a confusing four-dimensional Chronocracy palace. The rest of the party makes short work of the flying heads that surrounded the sepid, the doru divs. Before the sepid can return, Derli inscribes a magic circle on the ground using his dragonmark such that when the div comes back, he is trapped inside the circle. The party, prepared for him, unleashes their full might upon him, killing him in his magic prison, clearing the way to two more doors of the Eightfold Vault.
The Collective proceeds further into the palace. They enter into a room shaped like a half-torus, with the longer wall displaying a gallery of images related to the history of the giant race that built Zenzatun. Some investigation reveals it to be trapped with some sort of complex mechanism, so the party chooses to rest for an hour before proceeding ahead. During this hour, a black amorphous blob approaches the party along the ceiling of the hall ahead. Girrrth stares up at it, squinting, until it drops on his head, burning him fairly badly. The Collective fights the black pudding despite its tendency to split and break apart until it ceases to be a threat. Then, against all sense, Derli proceeds through the trapped hall before the traps are disarmed, and is blown unconscious by arcing lightning midway through. Girrrth attempts to recover him, but he, too, is knocked out. The rest of the party manages to safely disarm the trap and recover them, restoring them to a measure of health before going further into the palace.
After winding around some changes in elevation and disarming several more trapped doors (as well as triggering one with Kaleth’s clone), the Collective locates the last two doors necessary to open the Eightfold Vault, as well as an entrance to some sort of theater, the entrance to which is covered in a shimmering curtain of light. Inside, a creature resembling a djinni with green skin and a black void where his legs would otherwise be is watching a performance put on by animate skeletons, laughing, clapping and crying at dramatically appropriate moments. He invites the party inside as they pass by, though some refuse to go in. Derli walks through the shimmering curtain, and through some investigation, Kaleth discovers that the “curtain” is actually a wall of suppression, suppressing magical effects that pass through it for some length of time.
Inside, the skeletons appear to have flesh and are enacting a gruesome display of violence for the creature. He is revealed to be the first djinni to have found a way into Zenzatun: Durzu Vatan. He explains that he has been trapped here for a long time, though the duration of his stay changes with each time he mentions it. He has become comfortable living in the palace and has accumulated most of the treasure there, save that which was in the room that Barrok stole from, as he claims that it is trapped. He talks for a while about the history of the place and makes it very clear that he will not allow the party to steal his treasure. He also mentions that he does not know what is inside the vault, but is interested in finding out, and is willing to help the party along a little to satisfy his curiosity. He warns the party of a guardian, a skeletal knight that was once an eladrin who protects the vault.
The party gets ready to open the Eightfold Vault, and position themselves along the doors. Drago Kraal and Nolash Tyreshnar take the doors at the entrance of the palace. Before they can open the vault, however, the guardian mentioned by Durzu Vatan appears and attacks Derli. Derli deflects the initial assault, and discovers that the undead knight, named Parintar, was a knight of the giant king that the palace was built for. It is his armour that Zil’dejin wears, and his belt that Girrrth wears. He says he will not allow the party to proceed unless the obtain permission from the entity in the maelstrom, the room sealed with pressure that the party encountered earlier. They decide to accede to this demand, but before doing so they stop by where Barrok is still holding his treasure and convince him to let it go, insisting they will help him get the treasure out later. With the party now accompanied by the dwarf mercenary, they attempt to communicate with the entity in the maelstrom by sleeping outside the chamber that contains it.
Zil’dejin is first to do so, removing his Dreamstone Amulet, but doing so only leads to Jochimus announcing his presence in Zil’dejin more clearly. Derli then tries, but his dreams are intercepted by Kashanshara, who strikes a deal with him similar to that she made with Conlon. She informs him that Tethris is the Hexblade of the Dragon Pact, and that he is seeking Derli to fight. Finally, Kaleth stops time to enter the raging storm inside the room, and protects himself with a bubble of force once he is on the walkway within.
In the middle of the storm is a humanoid shadow, dark not because of obfuscation but because its features and shape are rapidly changing. It tells Kaleth that it is the “last vestiges of those who walked the Black Road,” and that if he is to open the Eightfold Vault, one of the Collective must walk the Path of Cleansing, a hallway in the corner of the palace leading back to a platform in this room. He is sent out and informs the party of this fact, so they begin making their way to the hall.
Walking past Durzu Vatan’s chamber again, Derli is once again called within, and is told in no uncertain terms that it would be easier to simply defeat the skeletal knight, avoiding the potential catastrophe of walking the Black Road. He insists that Derli not simply allow a long-dead eladrin to govern what he does, and tells him that the knight will certainly agree to a duel. Durzu can summon the eladrin for Derli to fight, to which Derli agrees. The rest of the party goes towards the hallway indicated by the entity in the maelstrom, passing first through a prison still holding the skeletons of ancient dead giants and arriving at a massive pit.
From the pit emerges a colossal black worm, a creature called a nightcrawler — a negative energy-infused cousin to the purple worm. It seems to intend on preventing their progress, so they try to fight it off while Kaleth takes his first steps down the Path of Cleansing, being burned by the mysterious blue-white soul fire that is so common in this place. Girrrth and Barrok are both eaten by the worm which then attempts to retract into the pit, but it is killed before it can retreat. Zil’dejin wedges his glaive into the wall, piercing through the worm to keep it suspended in place and giving him enough time to recover an unconscious Girrrth and a dead Barrok, who has been partially dissolved by the terrible conditions in the creature’s stomach.
Meanwhile, Parintar is summoned and consents to a duel. The exchange is quick — Derli is well-equipped to resist much of Parintar’s magic, and defeats the undead being with radiant magic. Parintar dissipates before Derli can consume his soul as he intended, and Durzu Vatan informs him that this is because he is eternally bound to this place. He will return, but for now, he is gone.