During the party’s extended rest in the cave after defeating the frost giant scouts, Vesta has another dream. Her companions figured that she needed extra time to recover from her injuries during the fight and excused her inability to stand watch overnight. Little did they know, she was otherwise occupied…
Vesta finds herself standing in the same palace as her prior dream, although the people are absent and the hall is quiet. She is no longer a child, but her adult self. She stands before the sealed sarcophagus of the fallen king. She glances up to find a human man approaching. He appears to be in his late forties with shoulder length dark hair with wisps of gray. He is wearing regal clothing, but his crown is conspicuously missing. You recognize him as the deceased monarch from your last dream… the one you had called “Daddy”.“Vesta, my child” he says, walking towards you. “Vesta, you really must be more careful. I cannot afford to lose you before your task is complete. You’re my last hope.”
The man gives Vesta a quizzical look before continuing. “I am Demetrius the Seventh, Grand Emperor of Bael Turath. I believe you may have already met my daughter, Disperia.” As Demetrius speaks, Vesta notices in her peripheral vision that the surroundings dissolve into a view from a hilltop overlooking a great city built in the ancient Turathi style of architecture. “I apologize for disturbing your sleep by sending you dreams, but this has been the first opportunity where the ambient magical energies have allowed for direct contact. As you are my last living decendent, the task falls upon you to complete so that I may finally rest after all these years.”
“‘Finally rest?’” she repeats quizzically. “I know my history, Demetrius. I know that the nobles of Bael Turath were obsessed with power to the point of conducting a grisly, month-long ritual to extend their rule into eternity. I know that afterwards devils from the Nine Hells appeared, and the nobles gladly made pacts with them. Those pacts gave us our devilish features. Therefore, Demetrius – human – if you are my ancestor, you must be one of those who put power before your humanity. That ritual demanded the participation of every noble house, and those who refused where wholly slaughtered…” She stops and narrows her eyes as if trying to look through him. “Your daughter, Disperia, is both a tiefling and a vampire. Tell me why the father of such as she deserves peace. Tell me why a man who would exchange the humanity of his descendants for power deserves ‘final rest.’”
The human ghost chuckles to himself, amused by Vesta’s lecture. “The more things change, the more they remain the same. Tell me child: why is it that that the younger generations always think they know better than their elders? You’ll learn soon enough after YOU have children.”
As Demetrius talks, Vesta notices the Turathi city in the background burn and fall to ruins. He turns to her darkly, his face shadowed by the overcast skies. "You may serve the goddess of knowlege, but you still know nothing of your history. Everything you THINK you know comes passed down secondhand over a thousand years. Few if any histories have survived the generations, and certainly NONE written by turathi hands. Do not presume to judge ME. You weren’t there… I’ve lived history! I was the greatest Turathi Emperor in generations and my empire was expanding. I was a just and benevolent ruler… those dragonmen would have thrived under Turathi rule. If you uncover the Great Library at Vor Rukoth, you might actually learn something.
“I showed you the ambush where we were first defeated and I fell due to treachery. Those reptiles took my crown – the symbol of Turathi rule – and the empire fell to chaos. The petty noble houses scrambled to obtain power, giving the lizards the upper hand. Once all seemed lost, the most desperate turned to the infernal for assistance… and you know what happened next. The empire still fell, and our once proud people are left to bear that shame for the rest of eternity.
“My death led to the corruption and fall of Bael Turath. If I had survived, we would have defeated the dragonborn and united these lands under a single banner… instead the “tiefling empire” is all but forgotten to time and all that is remembered is slanderous. I don’t expect your pity, but reserve your accusations and judgement until after you bother to learn all the facts. Certainly you don’t appreciate being judged by the sins of your ancestors, just as I am not responsible for the misguided actions of my descendents."
“Fine.” The word spills from her lips without any emotion. “You say that as your last living descendant, ‘the task’ falls upon me to complete… That you can’t afford to lose me because I’m your ‘last hope.’ How can I be your last living descendant, when only just days ago I encountered my father, Dorian Kahlir?” She stares at Demetrius. “And what is this task you keep speaking of…” Her voice trails off and it appears as if she’s just had an epiphany. “…And does the name Vali’Ruml happen to mean anything to you?” Her eyes are penetrating and fixed on Demetrius, ignoring the unsettling surroundings.
“Vesta, you forget… the man you met, your father, my daughter, all the remaining members of our line… are dead. Or undead. It still saddens me to see what has become of Disperia. She was such a sweet young girl. Innocent. My death hit her hard. She became obsessed. Corrupted by that bastard husband. It broke my heart to see what she has become.”
The surroundings morph once again, this time into a ruined crypt holding the sarcophagus of Emperor Demetrius. “No matter. What’s done is done and there’s no use fretting about what’s past. My legacy is irreparably tarnished. I wish only to fade away to be forever forgotten by history. But for that, I need your assistance. My crown, the symbol of Turathi royalty and power, remains missing. Many have sought it through the years without success. It is an great artifact whose power enabled Bael Turath to flourish. It was also a family heirloom and my post prized possession. Its loss is a shame I have borne ever since. You and your companions are uniquely suited to to recover and return my crown. Once rejoined with my remains, I may finally pass on and leave the torment of this existance behind.”
The ghost of Demetrius composes himself and continues speaking. “I realize you don’t owe me anything and obviously you have suffered due to the actions of your ancestors. But remember, not all of your predecessors were vampires, or even tieflings for that matter. And not all were the evil monsters that the histories allege.”
“So… let me get this straight. The epic task that I need to complete to allow your soul to forever rest, is get your stuff back? Really?!? Didn’t they have the saying ‘you can’t take it with you’ back in your day? You say that you’ve had to bear the shame of losing the crown all this time… So what if I find it, and even return it to you? It doesn’t actually change the fact that you lost it in the first place! Really? The only thing keeping you here is because you lost your favorite trinket?” Vesta looks impatient. “And anyway, a trinket as powerful as you claim the crown to be should probably remain lost; out of the hands of those who would abuse it.”
The backhand takes Vesta off guard, snapping her head back to the side and bloodying her bottom lip. Demetrius glares at Vesta, fire in his eyes. He raises his voice, augented by his otherworldly nature. “Don’t test my patience, bitch! I will not be spoken to in such an insolent manner!” Demetrius calms himself and straightens his spectral garments. “You are young and naive. You don’t understand… but you will in time. Do what you will. My decendents have done nothing but disappoint and fail me for generations… you are no different. Even if you care nothing for my fate, just remember… others seek the crown as well.” Demetrius turns and walks away, slowly dissolving into the darkness. “Just pray Disperia doesn’t get her hands on my crown…”
Vesta awakens shivering, suddenly aware of the frigid cave where the party spent the night. Nobody notices her bruised cheek and the dried blood on her lip…