Starday, 29 Gozran, 4723
With the village in danger, our band of misfits have been deputized as emergency archaeologists. This was not what I'd intended for my trip to Belhaim, but I will do what I must.
You see, after we had recovered from the battle at the auction, Baroness Origena Devy summoned us to her manor for an emergency meeting. We were joined by the gnome historian Bassy, the Abadarian cleric, and the newly returned town sheriff Ben Hovy. It became clear that the 766,000gp indemnity that Aeteperax had demanded was far beyond what the town could pay. We confided in the baroness our suspicion that the dragon itself was some sort of illusion or trick.
Nonetheless, the town is acting on the assumption the monster is real. (It's flame drake ally certainly was!) The baroness has tasked us with venturing out into the Dragonfen to the tomb of Tula Belhaim, to retrieve dragon-slaying weapons she is said to have stored there. Bassy provided us with a key to the tomb, which had been passed down from her grandmother. We have also been asked to seek out the bones of Aeteperax to confirm that the dragon is truly dead.
I am no warrior, nor do I ever wish to be, but I was trained as a shieldmaiden. And after getting a taste of drake fire, I made a point of procuring a round wooden shield from Baccus the smith. There is no time to paint the proper sigils on it, as we depart tomorrow morning. So I must end my notes here and retire for the night.
Sunday, 30 Gozran, 4723
Please forgive the frantic nature of my scribbles, but my voice has been stolen and I just need to get some words out. It has been a miserable day, despite our progress in the tomb.
It started well enough, as we trekked out into the Dragonfen on a bright spring morning. Tagnus and I led the party, being the most skilled at wilderness travel. Maffei also volunteered to join us. She's given up reading the "Secrets of the Dreaming Dark," saying that the book was literally driving her made. The poor thing is still focused on trying to return to her home plane, and I hope we are able to help her.
The flora and fauna were fairly unremarkable for the first hour of the hike, but then we happened upon a rare sight: a moonflower! A carnivorous, mobile plant, found in only a half a dozen places in Avistan, and we had discovered a new site. I must return to the area for further study once this business is dealt with.
A short while later, we were ambushed by one of those man-bat creatures. A scout, perhaps, for our phantom villain? In any case, we brought it down with ease. Lennox's arrows, in particular, were quite deadly.
Finally, we reached the burial mound of Tula Belhaim, and made a startling discovery: the skeleton of a huge dragon was coiled around the hillock. Aldern investigated the bones and determined that the belonged to an old black dragon. Aeteperax, it appears, was indeed dead, his remains serving as a grisly trophy.
Unfortunately, Aldern's investigations stirred up something that lurked within the skull. A shapeless mass of flesh, eyes, and gibbering moths oozed out of the dragon's eye socket and towards our poor wizard. I was able to put myself between him and it, and drew its full attention. The vile thing howled a terrible, disorienting cry and oozed around me, leeching the strength from my frame. This allow the others to beat up on it, however, and I was finally cut free of the mess. Tagnus, thankfully, had some magic to restore my energy. And Aldern wasn't hurt, for which I am grateful.
Using Bassy's key, we unlocked the tomb and found that the door opened into a pit. Knives scouted down below, finding a statue of a rearing horse and a chamber with four child-sized sarcophagi. Once we had all descended, we began exploring the room. Corpse flowers had grown over the statue and the tombs. Tagnus took a scoop of earth from beneath the statue and a cut of the flowers, no doubt for some ineffable druidic rite.
I decided to investigate the tombs themselves, which all proved to be of Tula Belhaim's poor children—except for the last one I checked, which had something else entirely. Some horribly undead thing made from an agglomeration of rags and bones with a fox skull for a head leapt out of the grave and clawed at me. The little fucker stole my voice with some necromantic witchcraft and tried to trick the others into thinking we'd switched bodies. Its claws also drained the strength from my limbs, leaving me fatigued. After we dashed the creature to bits, I still found myself without a voice.
Tagnus assures me it will return later today, but as a healer his bedside manner is somewhat lacking.
After the ambush, Knives discovered a hidden door leading deeper into the tomb. The next level featured four sarcophagi of more of Tula's relatives, along with an elaborate mosaic of a dragon. Knives and Lennox warned us it was trapped, but only Maffei could undo the magicks placed upon it. At the back of the room were three pillars covered in alcoves holding funerary urns.
Because I learned nothing, I decided to pick one up. Tagnus did the same, which does not make me feel better. This angered the fire elementals that were bound to guard the remains, and we had to put those creatures down.
I'm frankly fucking miserable being unable to speak. I've been able to communicate so far by scribbling notes in chalk on my shield, but it is a pale imitation of a true dialogue. I hate this awful undead witchcraft, I'm tired, and I just want to get Tula's buried weapons and get the fuck out of this haunted barrow.