Last week on the Tuesday game...
Convinced by Craghammer's visions, the party decides to investigate the woods that the carriage is supposed to crash in. This proves to be a forest about a day's ride from the city, and when the party arrives at the spot, they find it to be warded somehow by Nystul's Magic Aura and... something else, some sort of je nei sai quoi that raises the hairs on the backs of their necks. Whispering a prayer to Krubivax, Craghammer reaches out with his god-granted power and senses the presence of undead several hundred feet beneath them, as well as a powerful undead hurtling towards them very rapidly.
The party immediately takes cover, and within moments a carriage identical to the one in his vision, right down to it being drawn by horses with glowing red eyes, appears. Frothy with sweat and fever, the horses gallop at an unnatural pace. But something goes wrong. A wheel snaps, the lead horses trip, and as the entire carriage comes to an abrupt halt in a tumble of fine silks and splintered wood, a single coffin lands squarely in the dirt, five feet from the front of the carriage.
Emerging slowly from the cover of shadows provided by Fenrir's Pass Without Trace, the party cautiously approaches the coffin. There's something scrawled on the back of the coffin in Abyssal, and the party members take point around Alistair as he begins casting Comprehend Languages from his spellbook as a ritual. Gradually, the magic takes hold of his mind and senses, and the words begin resolving themselves into a legible sentence that reads, "Property of Alatar".
Before they can further inspect the coffin, however, Serrano finds himself face to face with a pack of feral death-dogs: two-headed beasts drawn to the crash site by the overwhelming scent of death and decay. The party fend off the attack handily with minimal damage (save for Serrano and Alistair, who appear to have picked up some sort of disease from the death-dog's bite), but the blood spilled from the battle begins flowing towards the coffin, almost as if it was iron being drawn to a lodestone.
Arcane sigils carved invisibly into the surface begin glowing as the blood is channelled into it, and as the party watches in slight horror, the entire coffin smoothly comes upright and begins levitating about a foot from the ground. The lid swings open, and a well-dressed man - clearly a vampire, if the fangs, cape, and slicked-back hair were any indication - steps out of it.
The stranger introduces himself as Alatar (likely the same Alatar as the one mentioned on Alistair's sceptre) and, after an initial "misunderstanding" regarding the sigil of Krubivax on Craghammer's shield, tells the party that there is no natural way that his carriage could have fallen: they are too intelligent, too ensorcelled, and too well-warded to have simply tripped on something as mundane as a rock or overgrown root. Instead, one of his many adversaries must have laid a trap here for him. To underscore his point, Alatar brushes away the dirt from the spot his coffin fell onto and, as he speaks a word beneath his breath, reveals a pit trap beneath it.
If the party is willing, Alatar says, he has a simple job for them: all they have to do is go into the pit, kill his adversary, and present his head to him in the Drake's Nest back in Drandur. Looking at each other, the party agreed, and they began tying their ropes together to descend 60ft into the pit.
Once in the damp darkness of the pit, the party find themselves confronted by two well-mannered gentlemen, both of whom express mild surprise and exasperation at their presence. "This hole wasn't meant for you," one of them says to the party. "Nonetheless, since you're here now, I'm sure our master will be keen to see you."
Their master, as it turns out, wasn't quite so keen on meeting the party. Appearing as a giant face above a smoking cast-iron brazier (a brazier whose inscriptions appears to be quite similar to the one used by the former "court wizard"), their master scoffs at the party and tells the two to "kill them quickly, that we might return to our true purpose". The twins reveal themselves to be vampire spawn in command of a small army of wights, and a fight quickly ensues.
After a long and protracted battle, the party slays the two vampire spawn and begin searching the crypt that they've unwittingly fallen into. Unfortunately, Serrano's clumsiness triggers a gas trap that rapidly floods the room, leaving them with only time enough to loot a crown, cloak, and longsword from the central sarcophagus before being forced to flee.
As the party retreats out of the crypt, they try to return to the surface the same way they've come in, but find to their dismay that their rope have been cut...