After the Tournament, the Heroes gathered more information and rumors about the goings on and general life of the Denzik fleet. A few consequences of the introduction of a powerful persona with a heavy purse became known.
After the necessary preparations, dire warnings, omnious portents and hiring of disposable poor people by some, the journey was on.
With a metal contraption, glass and crystal technology the large expedition made it to the large vault, or tomb to some, that was raised from the sea floor.
It bore damages from a battle with a seacreature from ages past, hinting that even the past prior to the Anathema (assuming the timing was correct) was not a peaceful paradise.
As they entered, the interior resembled a sandstone cavern as one might expect in the sandy deserts of the South. Remnants of people long dead were found. Inscriptions in a flowery dialect were found, pointing the way to three different exits. Further examination however by the scholars among the Heroes, hinted that these descriptions of the paths to be trod should be interpreted in a more sinister and dour way.
Using this information the Heroes strode forth to the passage that promised the least death, but did promise hard work and struggles. Deadly traps and judgements awaited them. Shortly after entering, Adamant Azon and Black Spear split from the group. The party was put in fantastical scenarios by magic as a way of testing their various skills. One time they would need to direct a raft through a storm at sea, the next they would need direct the passage of a caravan over rivers of lava.
After long travels and losing many to the deadly and tricky traps, they found a mention of 4 items, a Spear, a Shield, a Horn and a Laurel in obscure poems. This allowed them to ascend to a higher hallway and skip the rest of the tests.
This hallway had originally promised the just reward for those who felt themselves elevated or noble. The party managed to figure out the traps of deadly destruction in the form of almost invisible balls of blades, points and scythes that would roll through the corridor.
Then they found a bas-relief that spoke of a wise and old king that led humanity in battle against evil creatures in ancient times. This king rejected all tributes and treasures, instead choosing only a normal horn, spear, laurel and shield from among them, and took them as his symbols.
A few more stories spoke of how the King was originally a manifestation of light and justice in a draconic form, and out of respect for the humans that impressed him so, took a human shape.
At the end of his long rule, he hid his symbols of power in the world, returning it to humanity, in order to have it guide humanity when things were dire.
With amazing insight and skill, they found a few secret handles on this bas-reliefs and managed to dis able to the traps and gained access to a being calling itself the Guardian. The Guardian had a form resembling of the original shape of the Wise King. It accepted the Heroes and few of the others that accompanied them as worthy, although Song of Might fell off a large platform, to his doom.
As the conversation with the Guardian went on, it asked if they wanted him to release the lock. As such, it opened the Second Jade Prison. It also mentioned that the First Jade prison was breached, the third was taken over by an unknown power, described as corrupted, and the fourth one was normal and revealed that the prison was inpart also a manse, allowing for many of the fantastical things they had experienced.
As the Prison opened several flits of light streaked towards the sky. A few choose the heroes and thus they Exalted.
They found themselves engulfed by blazing pillars of light, however the marks of the Anathema adorned their brows. Understandably they began to panic. Including those Exalted were Wild Sparrow, the linguist and scholar from the East and Seven Corals, the Lintha ‘Trader’ who was hired as a trapspecialist.
After talking it over, they agreed that they still felt like the same person. Much was talked about suicide, the power proving too much for them and the need to hold each other intact.
In the end they swore personal oaths not to reveal the exalted nature of the group present to others, which was enforced as a sacred oath by Wild Sparrow.
Once the light cooled down, they rejoined the others, carriers and disposable people they had left behind. They crossed paths with Adamant Azon and Black Spear, not much time was spent conversing as once he heard of the Guardian, he rushed past the party.
A few of the more keen-eared amongst the group, heard rising water and figured that in a few hours the Vault sink to the bottom again. They explored a few more of the hallways and their newly exalted nature allowed them to overcome most traps easily.
Swift Cloak wanted to warn Adamant Azon of the sinking, but spotted the Guardian slain. A red sword jutted from a wound of the Guardian and Adamant Azon was drinking from the blood.
Realizing that this act was infact an abomination he fled the scene and together with the group, decided to trap their sponsor inside the room before fleeing to the surface.
As they left the Vault, they saw a gaunt and decomposed version of the giant creature that had first sunk the Vault, attack it yet again.
With a weight from their shoulders, the party returned to the surface and tried to carry on with their normal lives and get used to their Exalted nature.
From here time passes a few months in to the few future, where their true journey will begin.