In the morning they are greeted by weaponmaster Taldinyon, who is waiting for them in the chapel of Lolth. He has new orders from the Matron Mother of House Xaniqos. Lady Thandysha needs a lot more slaves and has given directions to a goblin tribe that is living further away. This tribe is better organized than the group they captured the day before, and they are to bring them in alive and in reasonable good health. There are also problems with the rothé herds on an island, which is pestered by a vermin infestation and they have to swipe the island clean of everything. The island rothé are herded by thirty goblins and two drow guards. There is also a small herd on the mainland. Both assignments have to be finished within two days.
Taldinyon hands Lilith eight bluish bottles and a pouch with money for the trip. She gives her sister and brothers each two light healing potions, so they have a better chance to stay alive and be of use. The cleric decides to take on the vermin assignment first.
This time the four Xaniqos drow take a left turn after the Great Gates, where there is a lot more traffic, until they arrive at a big lake. They find a boat, staffed by a drow and four goblins. The boat master, recognizing their Xaniqos badge, is willing to take them to the other side. He tells them that the north and west of the island is infested by medium sized cockroaches, six feet long. They are dangerous, fast, tough, and have tremor sense. Some can even fly. They like to make their lairs in damp warm places. Great!
The drow guards on the island lead them to the three entrances of the caverns, which are ten to twenty feet wide. Phaedra listens and hears scuffling feet at the second entrance, water in the third opening. When she peeks into the middle one, she can see a tunnel leading straight onward, decorated with many stalactites. They send one of the goblins into the cave, telling him to run and then quickly come back. After a bit of encouragement, he actually walks in and returns with another goblin! Frightened he tells them there is a dead cockroach inside.
The upper entrance is next. Now they send both goblins into the tunnel… but only one comes back out, chased by a very fast cockroach. It releases an awful stench but none of the drow are affected. The beast runs towards Alvra and tries to pierce his armor. Lilith attacks the huge insect and damages it with her flail, after which the beast transfers his attention. To her. Stepping back she casts faerie fire to distract it. The scout smashes her spike chain, while – protected by his mage armor spell – Jharrath casts flare. This dazzles the beast and the drow fighter immediately grabs this opportunity to finish it off. ‘Stupid bug!’
They decide to check on the third opening next. The ground slopes down towards a twenty feet wide space; in the middle they see two bodies lying. One is still moving. Not because it is still alive, but because of wriggling giant maggots underneath. Next to the wall there is a basin of water. The wizard pulls the body away and Lilith orders the goblins to spear the maggots. Suddenly one of the goblins is dragged upwards by tentacles, up to something that can be best subscribed as a floating towel: a magical darkmantle! After casting faerie fire on it, Phaedra even spots a second one.
With a fighting combination of crossbow bolts, a javelin and a hail of stones the drow manage to kill one and wound the other. Suddenly the surviving creature casts a globe of darkness. Damn! Everyone takes their melee weapons and stand ready. A very high sonar echoes through the cave, and immediately after the scout is attacked by the darkmantle. Fortunately she manages to shrug it off. The beast drops to the ground and after several misses, the cleric hits something, fighting blind. For long breathless moments nobody moves, then the drow and goblins slowly back out of the cave. When the darkness dissipates, they discover two dead darkmantles. One cave cleaned out.
Phaedra checks out the middle cave and finds a dead cockroach (just like the goblin said), two dead goblins, crude weaponry and a small satchel with a few coins. Cave number two is also safe. Which leads them to the cave where the big bug came from. A big bug coming out of a big cave. Interesting possibilities…
Their anticipation proves correct: the tunnel forks into two separate, smaller passages. Soon clicking sounds resound against the walls and another cockroach scuttles closer. Jharrath casts dancing light on the insect and then releases Kelgores fire bolt, which hits the cockroach, destroying one of the beast’s mandibles. It immediately attacks the scout who happens to be in front and pierces her armor. Lilith calls upon the Spider Queen to give her strength and suddenly her empowered flail is dripping blood. She kills the cockroach with one hit, but soon another insect sibling decides to check out what the fuzz is all about.
Meanwhile another bug is attacking the rear of the group, but fortunately Alvra is alert and manages to damage it badly, even killing it in the process. The others are not as fortunate and miss attack after attack. They are very annoyed with themselves and drink healing potions to recover from their wounds. These cockroaches are as tough as their chitin armor! The drow fighter investigates the other corridor and finds himself at a crossroad. After a hit by Phaedra, the insect decides to retreat and finds itself face to face with Alvra, who doesn’t hesitate. Another bug down.
The drow regroup and move forward, only to reach another fork in the tunnel. Something is moving around in the left tunnel. As if the new walking cockroach is not enough, there is a second one there, flying! A bunch of bolts and javelin buzz through the air, but all miss, while the roaches do not. This is truly pathetic. The wizard suddenly summons an earth elemental, which powerfully attacks one of the bugs. Phaedra is so pissed about this late initiative that she crushes a cockroach in total fury. After more bumps and misses, Lilith finally shoots the last one. Deadly silence is the result.
They take care of their wounds as well as possible, during which the scout tells her wizard brother never to hold back a spell like that in the future. Lilith fills a couple of empty potion bottles with cockroach puss to make poison with. When they walk back into the ‘open’ air – if there is such a thing in the Underdark – the guards take further care of them. The youngest sister advices the guards to regularly check the caves, to prevent new vermin to nestle. Then the cleric leads them back to the city, wounded and filthy. Everyone moves out of the way for the party. It was a dirty job and a dirty retreat.