At the waterhole

The next day, Phaedra leads her brothers to a waterhole north of Erelhei-Cinlu. It is a place where caravans stop on their trek through the Underdark. The drow need to find out where and how the worm can be found.

Several caravans are camping there, but not as many as usual. The scout searches for the merchants among them and she picks out a group of poorer looking goblinoids. Their almost purple skin identifies them as Vril, the product of dark elf wizards’ experiments on goblins over many generations. Some are busy eating, others are fighting.

Vril

Phaedra goes to the barkeeper, buys a brew and sits down at a table. The goblinoids are frightened by her presence and half of them get up.

“Sit!” She takes a sip. “I’m surprised your caravan made it.”

“Our caravan didn’t make it: we’re the only guards left. Two days ago we were ambushed by a harpy and her gang of tree-like creatures. On a normal trade route just north of the city!”

The drow nods and continues. “Have you heard anything about a purple worm?”

The vril replies: “There’s a bounty for killing it! We are looking for work, and we were told that we should hunt this worm. But we don’t want to.”

“And who asked you?”

“Those orogs over there. They want to bully us into it.”

Phaedra looks up and sees a group of twelve orogs, a mixed species between orc and ogre. Fierce warriors and the best fighting slaves one can hire. The majority is watching a fight. One of them is wearing a magical enhanced full plate. Phaedra signals to Jharrath, who walks towards the provisional ring.

After carefully observing the contestants, he asks “What are the odds?”

“3 : 1 for the small guy over there. Why, do you want to place a bet?”

The Xaniqos wizard puts 15 GP on the small competitor and soon after all bets are off. It is a fight to the death and the crowd is in a frenzy. The orogs circle each other warily. The big one confident, the other feigns fright. Then in a flash, the smaller one pulls out a dagger and sticks it in his opponent’s eye. The big brute collapses and the audience roars. The mood is right and the drinks are plenty.

When Jharrath goes to collect his money, the organizer tries to swindle him. After a bit of negotiating, he still receives most of his money, and then makes his way to the orog in full plate, who seems to be the leader of the group.

“That was a nice fight!”

The orog nods. “Dere strong fighters in my group, yous will find no bettar!”

“Would you happen to know where to find a purple worm?”

“Dere is one three days from here. We have to kill da beastie and take back da stinger. There’s a reward of 10.000 GP; with that kind of gold, I can equip my men betta. Why yous want to no?” The orog regards Jharrath suspiciously

“Well, perhaps we could work together. We also need those glands.”

The orog grimaces. “Are yous able to do da?”

“Let’s say I have my connections.”

“Ow much yous wanna no?”

“How about 2.000 gold pieces?” the wizard offers.

“Yous make it 5.000, and da map is yours. It shows da place where the worm was seen. Give me da gold and no one will botha yous.”

org

Jharrath gives Phaedra a sign, and they return to Alvra. “5.000 GP is too much,” Phaedra says. “Make it 4.000, and add the option for future activities for House Xaniqos.” Alvra has another idea. “Just let them do the job, and then ambush them on their way back. When are they planning to leave?”

Phaedra heads back to the vril to find out, while the drow fighter now joins the orogs. He listens to their boasting and asks after their plans.

“We are going to defeat a huge worm and earn us 5.000 gold, promised by one of the pointy ear Houses. Da vrils are going with us!”

“Aha,” Alvra says, “and how are you going to do that?”

“We’ll use the purple ones as fodder, and then we’ll do some hacking and slashing.”

Alvra grins. “With all the partying going on here, you’re not leaving any time soon, right?”

The orog shrugs. “We’ll party tonight and leave in the morning.”

“Will you be able to get the vrils to join?”

“Psah, they gonna!”

“Why don’t you bind one to a pole in the ground?” Alvra suggests. “Break a leg and he’ll moan nice and loud, and lure the worm towards you.”

“Watta good plan!” The orog looks at the drow approvingly. “Yous wanna come along?”

Alvra claps him on the back. “Happy hunting!” and with these words, the drow heads back to his siblings. Together they return home to consult with their mistress.

Lilith talks to the Matron Mother about the things her siblings have learned at the waterhole. Lady Thandysha doesn’t want them to go and fight a purple worm. That beast isn’t worth the lives of four nobles! The cleric discusses the best course of action with Alvra. They will go back together and try to overbid the orogs, so they fight the worm and give the glands to house Xaniqos.

At the waterhole, Lilith is pleasantly surprised by the fighting spirit of the orogs. Together, the drow advance on the leader. Alvra is showing off his muscles, while Lilith offers the orog double the bounty that the other House has offered if they will give the glands to House Xaniqos.

“Da may all be fine an all, but who protect da orogs against da other Houses?”

“We will. And I train the fighters of our House,” Alvra replies.

“Then yous fight me. If yous win, we agreel!”

“And what are the rules? I just saw another fight and I wouldn’t want your group to go leaderless.”

“Haha fighta funny! Well, me don’t want your House without strong fighta eitha. Hows about we fight till we bleed?”

They walk to an open area, and soon are surrounded by orogs and vril. The orog leader has a massive two-handed sword and in his mind, he’s already won. But he hasn’t taken into account the agility of the drow! Alvra is the first to react and with a well-aimed thrust, he sticks his sword into the leader’s side. The audience greets this defeat with boos and hisses.

The orog grunts loudly and has to control his anger. “Fight is over, you fast for a fighta. Very fast! We have a deal.”

“We will meet again, at this place, when you have the glands,” the cleric replies.

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