In the Demon’s Den

Back at the mansion, Lilith and Phaedra talk to the orc cook. He is trembling, very afraid of his life at this point, and tells them that Jevan was in his kitchen for quite a while. After the drow cook left, nothing seemed out of order, but the orc did discover a couple of jars with new herbs. Phaedra escorts the cook to his mess kitchen to point out all new ingredients and secure them.

The Xaniqos brothers bring Jevan’s body in and call upon their eldest sister to perform a ritual that enables them to speak to the dead.  Quarra agrees, dying to know more herself. She admonishes Lilith to ask only very explicit questions and then plunges into her spell, concentrating hard. The High Priestess’ hands begin to glow and soon she calls out to the spirit of Jevan to come back from the dead.

Lilith asks Jevan’s corpse, who is helplessly caught in Quarra’s spell:

What is the name of the one who ordered you to poison House Xaniqos?

Amalika.

Her eyes widen in recognition when she hears the eerie voice. That treacherous betraying daughter of a… In a frosty voice, she asks:

And who gave you the poisonous herbs?

Bergen.

Bergen is a local merchant, known for his trade in poisons.

Amalika is the betrayer, the Matron Mother’s trusted adviser! It might well be possible that the Lady Thandysha doesn’t know anything yet about the missing Mask. It could even be that she never asked for the Mask of the Matriarch at all and that the alliance with House Godeep is only based on Amalika’s lies. Amalika’s influence on the Xaniqos politiques was big, since she was the adviser in the alliance affairs. We might have to reconsider all that has happened since the Council!

Provided with six hundred gold pieces and several healing potions, the Xaniqos siblings set out – Lilith in the lead – to follow the only lead left by the assassin.

Let’s find that bitch!

They march to the Demon’s Den and are greeted by a lot of noise and commotion. The Den is packed with many half drow, bugbears, humans with green cloaks – none are wearing house insignias – and it is really busy. Phaedra mingles with the crowd, quickly hiding her Xaniqos insignia. The Demon’s Den has a main entrance, a second exit at the back of the bar and another that probably leads to the cellar. A stairway is leading up to the first floor.

The Scout makes her way to the back of the establishment, when suddenly she spots Amalika, who is in the company of three others, two males, one female. The men look conspicuously like the assassin. The female is more common. Her features are harsh and she is constantly scanning the crowd, not drinking. Phaedra heads back towards Lilith and briefs her sister on the situation. The siblings place themselves in strategic places: Alvra stays at the main entrance, the wizard positions himself at the bottom of the stairs and the Scout dives back into the crowd.

Look at her, sitting there with a smug smile on her face. Nobody makes a fool out of House Xaniqos! Straightening her shoulders, Lilith walks straight towards the table where Amalika is still chatting, oblivious to the fact that the Xaniqos have arrived. The Cleric boldly takes the chair next to the traitor and sits down. Everyone tenses, ready to jump into action. The two assassins draw their wicked weapons.

Well, well, well, look who’s here! If that isn’t our dear friend Amalika! Pardon me if I’m wrong, but weren’t you supposed to be at the Council?

Hello Lilith, so nice of you to drop by. Are you looking for something?

Yeah, something and someone!

The Cleric notices the female’s weapon, which is dripping and pulsing with green poison. The woman introduces herself as Zaetha, owner of the establishment.

I must say, Amalika, I admire your scheming. Matron Mother Thandysha of course knows nothing of the Mask of the Matriarch, am I right?

Amalika nods, content with herself.

You have played your role of trusted confidante of the House of Xaniqos quite well. But where does your alliance really lie?

Haven’t you guessed by now? My liege lies with the House Aleval.

Allied with the Second House! The Cleric assesses the situation. The common room is filled with people and lots of bodyguards are circling the room. The assassins look like they know their way with weapons, as does Zaetha. Not a good place to settle the score.

Well, then I guess that’s it for now. I’ll be leaving, but this isn’t the end of it. Until next time, Amalika.

With her head held high, Lilith marches out of the door, followed by Alvra. Phaedra whispers in the passing that she will stay a bit longer to keep an eye on things. As soon as the Xaniqos have left, the atmosphere becomes relaxed again.

Outside they find their Wizard brother, who has been sent out earlier. They return home and report to Quarra. Around midnight, a large group of drow returns to the house. The Lady Thandysha strides in, pleased about the Council. There is good news: a possible alliance with both House Godeep and House Vae. She orders her daughters to join her later with a full report.

After an hour Lilith and Phaedra are summoned to the Matron Mother’s throne room. She is not so pleased anymore, and in the corner two unhappy minotaurs are sulking, their furs bloodied. The Matron Mother stares at her daughters.

Well, why don’t you go ahead and tell our Mother Thandysha  all that has happened, Lilith?

Quarra’s voice is silken, but the Cleric’s voice is even smoother when she replies

Ah no, Quarra, I couldn’t. Will you – as the elder sister – do the honor?

The high priestess glares at Lilith, but then explains about the arrival of Amalika, their quest for the Mask of the Matron Mother and the betrayal. Lady Thandysha is quiet for a few moments and then orders:

You shall strike back at House Aleval within a week. There is a private performer in the service of Matron Mother Mevremas. KILL HER! After that you will disappear for a while, and go to Dunspeirrin.

Dunspeirrin, also known as the City of Sunken Spires, is one of the wealthiest and best known Duergar trade cities of the Underdark. It has been fighting with kingdoms and groups around them for centuries. They war against Illithid every now and then, but are constantly engaged in a struggle against the Shield Dwarfs.

When Lilith asks her mother if Amalika could be double-crossing them, the Lady Thandysha replies that it might be possible, but they will take the risk anyway. Lilith rushes off to find her brothers. They should prepare as soon as possible for this trip, that will take several weeks.

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