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?


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 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.



It is morning in the Underdark. The four Xaniqos siblings meet up with their eldest sister. Quarra is in a rather good mood and has ordered breakfast for them all. In the middle of the conversation about the Council, Quarra swallows her food, clears her throat and sneers to Lilith

You realize that skin kite scar on  your face is permanent, don’t you, sister? I can imagine you are upset…

Nostrils flaring, the Cleric replies

Upset? I consider it an honor to wear this battle scar, which I received during a fight for the benefit of the House of Xaniqos. And for the Spider Queen herself!

The others keep their eyes on the food and eat. It wouldn’t be wise to get caught in the middle. Suddenly a queasiness washes over them, nausea surging in and out. Then their eyesight blurs and one by one they pass out, except for Alvra and Quarra, who are less troubled by what’s ailing them. The High Priestess gets up, indignation and temper ravaging her face.

What the hell is happening here? The foo… We have been poisoned! Where’s the cook?

But the drow cook seems to have sneaked out. Quarra stalks the room and strikes down the serving slave, beating him to death in pure rage. Suddenly a loud shrieking erupts from the direction of the women’s rooms. The sound is ear piercing. The Fighter lifts his head, struggling against the effects of the drugs, and notices how his brother and youngest sister are gaining consciousness again. Lilith is still totally knocked-out. Quarra sinks into a trance and starts praying to their deity Lolth. Slowly a greenish glow appears, which envelops her hands. With the aid of the Spider Queen, she heals her sisters from the poison. Jharrath has to manage on his own, the weak male is unworthy of her blessing.

Lilith comes to her senses, no longer sick, and also Phaedra feels alert again. When she hears the deafening wailing, she shouts that there might be an intruder! After thanking Quarra, the Scout runs up to her room, accompanied by Alvra, while Lilith races towards the kitchen to take charge downstairs.

In the mess hall, Lilith is greeted by sounds of moaning and retching. Seems almost everyone in the Xaniqos household has been poisoned. After interrogating the most lucid ones, she discovers that the missing cook has fled the mansion. She immediately sends two guards after him.

Find him and bring him back. Alive. I need to have a talk with that bastard.

The guards hurry off and quickly the Cleric organizes a group of twenty more or less able warriors to patrol and guard the mansion in case of an attack.

When Phaedra and Alvra arrive at the women’s floor, the shrieking stops. The Scouts’ room is a mess, everything has been searched. The door to Lilith’s room is also open and offers the same view. Could it be possible they have been searching for… she gasps. The mask!

Go to the Treasurey, Alvra, and see that it is safe. Run, male, RUN!

She then turns to check her sister’s room, which has been devastated. Darts are scattered on the floor, and in the middle lies a small green snake, chopped in half. Lilith must have kept a pet snake, she won’t be pleased when she finds out, Phaedra thinks. A trail of blood  leads from the room into the hallway. Seems both traps worked properly, but they didn’t stop the intruder from entering.

The Scout follows the blood trail towards the throne room, its doors wide open. She quickly looks inside and assesses the situation. Two Minotaurs are stalking around. Seems they saw something, or someone, enter but can’t find the intruder. He or she has vanished into the shadows. Phaedra orders the creatures to guard the door – the only way out – and listens carefully until she hears shuffling to the right side of the room. It is dark. There are many places to hide.

To Alvra’s amazement and horror, the Treasury is deserted. Where are the Honor Guards?!  When he sees two house guards patrolling, he orders one to stand in front of the Treasury door, and sends the other to Quarra to report the missing Treasury guards. But then Amalika strolls in, alluring as ever. She seems happy to see him again… until she hears what happened. She orders Alvra to open the door, which is not locked. Amalika checks the treasury and a cold rage grips her: the Mask of the Matriarch. It is gone!

Go and inform Quarra about the disappearance at once!

All frivolity has vanished. The Fighter knows better than to argue and hurries back to alert his eldest sister himself. On his way down, he runs into Jharrath. The Wizard doesn’t look well, the poison still active in his body. Quickly Alvra fills Jharrath in on the latest developments. The wizard waves his brother onward and then turns around to head for the throne room to aid Phaedra.

The Scout, one of the minotaurs safely blocking the door, loads her hand-crossbow and grabs an object from her backpack. By now she hears shuffling and panting from the dark, and it’s coming closer. Quickly she shields her eyes and then throws a flash pellet in the direction of the sounds. The intruder cries out in anger and agony. When Phaedra tentatively opens her eyes, she sees a male drow, dressed in black, who looks wounded. The dart trap must have been aimed well.

Don’t let him get away, close the door and keep it shut until I tell otherwise,

she snaps at the minotaur. Phaedra then tries to trip the intruder, but somehow he evades her. Dropping into a defensive crouch, he still has trouble focusing due to the light flare. In his hands a rapier and a dagger. This man is no novice to fighting. Again Phaedra attacks, but to no avail, she can’t seem to hit the man.

Knock him down but try not to kill him!

As the other minotaur moves in to obey, the man in the black cape suddenly lunges at Phaedra. He wields his weapons expertly and wounds the female with his dagger, after which he again crouches into a defensive position. The fishy smell that comes from her wounds tells Phaedra that she has been poisoned, again. She feels a rigidity settling in her joints.

A voice at the door hisses to get the minotaur’s attention.

Open up, it is me, Jharrath. Let me in!

Since his mistress only said not to let anyone out, the minotaur figures it is OK to let someone in. The Wizard pushes past the big guardian and sees a dark figure in combat with his sister and another minotaur aiding her. The assassin blocks and counterattacks, but when the Scout sees an opening, she finally manages to trip him.

Knock him unconscious, don’t kill him!

she yells, but again the drow breaks free. Jharrath casts a spell that slows him down, but only a little. The assassin lunges towards the Wizard and his rapier pierces Jharrath’s shoulder. Again he casts a spell and suddenly a huge web appears, catching them all. Phaedra, alert as ever, delivers a blow to the intruder’s head. For a moment no one moves, and then the drow male’s eyes roll slowly backwards.

Clerics have come to the mass hall to heal the suffering. Having done all she can at the moment, Lilith returns to Quarra. She arrives just in time to hear the bad news from Alvra. They all hurry towards the treasury. Quarry looks worried. This could be a huge problem; the Matron Mother needs to know as soon as possible.

Go back to the Council of the Eight Ruling Houses, Amalika, and inform Lady Thandysha that the quest for the Mask of the Matriarch has failed. Not a word on the infiltration of the house though!

Failed?! Lilith and Alvra exchange a meaningful glance, holding their tongues.

To be continued!