After a while, the three barges that harbor the Xaniqos and their riding animals veer away from the other barges. Vuon and twenty warriors stay with them, while the other Kua Toas accompany the slaves – slaves who get only mediocre food and very short breaks. The Kua Toas move with military precision. Though Lilith immediately asks for Vuon, the Kua Toa waits a couple of hours before answering her call.
First you say that you were ‘heading this way anyway’, and now we are the only ones traveling in this direction? Where are the others going?
Are you worried, Priestess?
Of course not. Just curious.
The Kua Toa explains that the other barges are headed for places around the Glimmersea and that all is going according to plan. Nothing else to do than sit back and enjoy the view, which is very boring. The journey continues smoothly and three times a day the Kua Toas dive with their tridents to catch fish and collect seaweed for the lizards.
Four days later they see Blessed Seahaven in the distance. Vuon asks Lilith if they want to debark at the village or in the vicinity, since they want nothing to do with the ritual. Lilith tells the Kua Toa to disembark nearby. Though it is a smooth landing, the lizards get a bit restless, so their chains are deftly removed. Everyone is glad to be off the rafts and they quickly say goodbye to Vuon.
May the darkness be with you.
Where upon the Cleric replies:
And may the Spider Queen kiss you!
The Drow climb on their mounts and ride off. After two hours the familiar big gates of Erelhei-Cinlu rise up from the gloom and soon the bigger buildings are visible. Two more hours have passed when they are welcomed by the City Guards. The Xaniqos show their House insignias and are allowed to pass the gates, notwithstanding their looks. People make way for their party; whether that is because of their House insignias, the lizards or the intrusive sea scent remains unclear. With their hodgepodge clothing and armor they look a band of mercenaries. At the Noble Gate, they are halted by a female Cleric of House Thorntor, who denies them access. Lilith is fed up with the delay and it takes quite a bit of her diplomacy skills to gain access. They are allowed through under escort of the Priestess and ten of her armed guards so nothing happens on her watch.
When they arrive at the Xaniqos mansion, the Thorntor Cleric enters the house. Several patrols are guarding the premises, more than usual. Surrounded by the Noble Gate guards, the siblings impatiently wait until someone with authority acknowledges them. After an hour the Priestess emerges again, accompanied by Taldinyon, who has a big grin on his face. He nods to the Priestess and tells her they are Xaniqos alright. The guards move aside and finally the favored consort escorts them into the the house. Goblin slaves lead the lizards to the stables.
A lot has changed, Taldinyon say, please follow me. The House is bristling with activity. There are many Bugbear slaves and armed Drow patrol the corridors and hallways. Word of your arrival has been sent to the Matron Mother, so you might want to freshen up, Taldinyon suggests. But Lilith first wants to visit the Chapel. When she enters, her sister Quarra is leading a sermon for several praying Priestesses. Some seem familiar to Lilith from her time at the Clergy School, but others are strangers.
After several minutes, Quarra turns around and greets her sisters.
We have prayed for your safe return,
she says and then kisses Lilith.
There are new developments. Our revered Matron Mother has assembled more of the lower Houses to our cause. We have had some rough times since you left, but the Lady Thandysha has made wise and strategic moves. We gained fifty warriors, five Priestesses and over a hundred slaves. Too bad you weren’t around when these great tidings arose.
Good news indeed, Lilith says, but we didn’t do too bad ourselves either.
The travelers all go to their rooms to freshen up – Lolth knows they can use it – until a ruckus downstairs tells them that the Matron Mother has returned.