The Rescue of Solafein

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While the cleric is concentrating on her spell, the babau secretly makes its way towards Lilith and slashes in her neck with one of his stinking claw. Alvra, seeing his mistress bloodied, turns around and beheads the tanar’ri with a powerful swing of his sword.

Lilith walks over to the altar and finds Solaufein on the brink of death. Casting a full healing spell on the captain, she manages to bring him back. The information and testimony he can give might be crucial. They need to know the secrets he has yielded to House Despana. She unties Solaufein. Though his body is healed, his dazed mind will need time to recover.

healing

The vrock keeps following the wizard and reaches for Jharrath with its beak. At that moment Leargath manages to get through its defenses and wounds the monster with his scimitar, while Jharrath retreats in full haste back towards the circle. Where the wizard can take the narrow tunnels, the vrock is forced to follow the main corridor, so Jharrath casts caustic smoke near the entrance from that side. Alvra and Leargath position themselves near the two other entrances, while the wizard walks toward the south room.

To their surprise, not one but four vrocks enter the center room. Lilith casts a dispelling screen on them, but the spell is too high to nullify. Alvra and Leargath attack the creatures with their weapons and manage to get rid of the mirror images. Aided by the cleric, the three of them fight in melee, until a swing with the cleric’s flail sends the vrock back to where it came from.

Solaufein, who is slowly coming to his senses, tells Alvra that the dungeon is a place where House Despana worships demons. They tortured him and asked him for information about the rod Dark Fate.

It was also meant as a punishment for your victory in the arena, Alvra. The warlock was the one ordering the demons, though these were not allowed to go near his room in the south.

In the other room, the knock-out potion loses its potency and the Despana warlock slowly gets up. He flees to a corridor in the back, with Phaedra in pursuit. She yells:

Don’t kill the mage!

and charges him, trying to knock him down again. Her strike is well aimed. The warlock is badly hurt but not quite dead. The Despana dark elf is getting tired of the unrelenting scout and takes a healing potion while leaning against the wall. His ebony color returns and he scowls at Phaedra. Then Jharrath enters and aims a hail of stones at the warlock. The Despana looks mangled. He focusses on Phaedra and releases an Eldritch blast.

eldritch

The energy strikes the scout, but she immediately counterattacks and lashes out again. Her strike renders him unconscious once more. Phaedra binds and gags the warlock, and strips him of his possessions. On him, she finds a mithral shirt, a magic belt, the wand of fireballs and a magic ring with three gems: two still active and one spent. The scout follows the corridor where the mage tried to flee to and arrives at a hole in the ground. Apparently, this is the place where the Despana dumps the bodies of their victims.

When she returns to the south room, she finds Jharrath studying the arcane mage symbols on a door that is a few steps down.

This sealed door can only be opened in a magical way. And I don’t have the right spells for it. Perhaps…

Phaedra shows him what she found on the warlock’s body, and Jharrath recognizes the ring as a ring of spell storing. One gem is able to hold a portal, the other has a knock spell. He puts the ring on his finger and feels he now has access to the room.

The Xaniqos siblings gather in the chamber to decide what they will do next, while Leargath goes up into the warehouse to keep watch. Lilith orders her wizard brother to open the sealed door, and then drags the warlock back to the room with the pentagram circle. He is still out cold. Jharrath activates the ring’s knock spell and renders the arcane seal inactive.

Phaedra quickly opens the door and takes a peek. Inside it smells like a tomb. In the middle is an open sarcophagus with humanoid bones and a decayed armor. They seem to have belonged to a fighter. At the back of the chamber is a marble statue, and on it an upright hand. The wizard enters the room and circles the sarcophagus. A green mist rises, changing into a female elven warrior. Her face expresses utter hate for all that is living, malicious. By now the room is illuminated with a purple light that swirls around and in the hand of the statue. Phaedra and Jharrath both run from the room and try to lock the door again, but the female drow warrior escapes.

Chwuvain

Since the spirit doesn’t attack yet, Lilith asks who she is.

My name is Qu’Chwuvain. I have been slain and they locked me up in here. What year is it? Where am I?

You are in the city of Erelhei-Cinlu.

I am from Menzoberranzan, and was a famous warrior there. Where is the mage that kept me imprisoned?

Qu’Chwuvain works herself into a frenzy, so the cleric shows her to the next room, where the mage lies bound.

Here he is, but we still need information from him!

Lilith’s words fall on deaf ears though. They have hardly left her mouth, when the spirit swoops down on the mage, pulls a spectral sword and sticks it in the warlock, over and over again. She screams and keeps on screaming until the warlock is dead, so full of anger, hate and frustration, that Phaedra runs away in fear.

Since he was an enemy of yours, I thank you. But do not cross my path again. Now take me out of here!

Jharrath points towards the exit and tells her that the draegloth is an ally, while Lilith gets her sister back and leads her away from the mage room. She then takes the wizard to the sarcophagus.

Look at that hand, Jharrath. It is getting more real!

The Xaniqos wizard takes out his wand and detects magic, originating in strong waves from the statue. A voice in his head urges him to step closer, to come and touch it, but he resists and steps back. Phaedra is also under the influence of the hand and wants to go back into the chamber. The voice whispers:

Come and touch me. I promise to bring fame and fortune to your House. With me you will rise and flourish. Come and touch me!

Phaedra desperately tries to reach the room, but with a combined effort Alvra and Lilith stop her and drag her out of harm’s way. Jharrath casts black tentacles in front of the door and they run out. Once they are past the pentagram, the evil voice of the hand gets softer, then fades.

The siblings go outside, where they meet Leargath.

What did you unleash?

Ah, just a pissed off ghost, searching for the warlock that entombed her. And that mage now is dead. By the way, could you carry him?

She points at Solaufein. The draegloth grumbles, but gives in to the cleric’s request and walks out, together with the Xaniqos siblings and the Captain of the Guard. Somewhat later they arrive at their house, fatigued and wounded, but safe.

A Warlock and his Tanar’ri’s

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The Xaniqos fighter charges the vrock that Lilith is in combat with. He hits the demon repeatedly, after which the vrock releases spores, that bite into Alvra’s skin. Then it counterattacks with claw, beak, and talons! The drow is glad for the cleric’s protection earlier on. Lilith walks towards the monster and her touch attack leaves marks of negative energy. The creature screeches with pain. The fight rages back and forth, both sides evenly vicious in the battle, seemingly oblivious to the pain being dealt to them. Alvra is bleeding from many wounds, scratches and bite marks all over his body. When fungus starts to grow in his wounds and he feels very sick and weak, he retreats to take a potion.

The earth elemental fights valiantly, but the combined attacks of the other vrock and the mage send it back to its own plane. The demon looks up, in search of his next victim. Slowly he makes his way towards the entrance of the dungeon, where Jharrath is waiting.

Phaedra tumbles past the mage while staying clear of the circle. She lands in front of another room. Masses of blood and remains are strewn around the side chamber, the smell is awful. Behind her back, the second babau sneaks closer. Phaedra puts away her spiked chain and knocks an arrow on her short bow. When the small demon springs to attack her, she fluently steps back.

 

Laergath

What a fine mess did you get yourself into now?

Jharrath hears breathing in his ears and smells wet dog. Leargath is back! Haughtily he replies:

I was just about to help.

He and his mirror images teleport to the circle. The device with the levers is still there, but the creature handling it is gone. Jharrath pulls several levers to try and open the portcullis for the draegloth, but he only succeeds in opening two others.

The mage takes a wand ending in a red flame, and shoots a fireball against the wall above the summoning circle. Debris rains down, but the Xaniqos are not hurt by it – including the drow on the altar, who is indeed their lost Captain of the Guard!

warlockdrow

The enemy mage orders the vrock near the portcullis to return to the fight, and then hits Phaedra with his purple energy beam. The Xaniqos wizard recognizes this ability as a warlock’s.  The enemy drow chants an invocation to destroy their potions, but fails in doing so. Then Phaedra’s arrow finds its mark, and the warlock slowly topples backward. The knock-out potion she used on her weapon worked really well.

At the same moment, Lilith inflicts critical wounds on the vrock and sends it back to the demon plane. Quickly she checks on Alvra. The potion seems to have done its job, and she casts a strong healing spell to help him recover: she needs the fighter on his feet. She then heals herself. Alvra thanks his mistress and then walks back to help Leargath. Together they lift the heavy portcullis, their muscles trembling. The powerful drow gathers his strength and manages to hold up the gate on his own for an instant. But that is enough for the draegloth, and two seconds later, he is standing next to Alvra.

The remaining vrock attacks Jharrath several times, and one by one the mirror images disappear. The wizard steps away and recasts the spell. Now there are eight wizards facing the demon. He walks backwards into a corridor and calls forth a new earth elemental, that fights the vrock for him. Jharrath then casts a spell and incendiary slime covers part of the floor.

Phaedra repeatedly jumps away from the babau, but the tanar’ri is persistent. The scout disappears in a blinding flash, dazzling the monster. That doesn’t last long though. Again he looks for her and overcomes her invisibility. She tumbles away once more, puts her bow away and takes out her spiked chain. The babau, upset with the nimble evasive scout, makes himself invisible and searches for a new victim.

The Xaniqos fighter and draegloth walk towards the summoning circle, where the vrock and the earth elemental are in close combat.

What are your wishes, Mistress?

Kill that big demon, Leargath, and if possible, do not destroy the elemental in the proces.

Lilith then casts faerie fire on their opponent and outlines his body in sparkling light. Both Alvra and Leargath attack the vrock, but they can’t seem to damage it with their weapons. The demon flutters over the green incendiary grease by flapping its wings and menacingly approaches the mage.  The cleric casts a mighty dispelling spell, but the demon stays right where it is. Again under attack, the last of Jharrath’s mirror images disappears and he teleports to safety.

 

 

By the eight names of Lolth

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While Leargath is busy killing the last Despana guard upstairs, the others slowly make their way deeper into the dark passage. Phaedra, who is scouting ahead, catches a glimpse of a monster with leathery skin and red eyes. She is just about to warn the others when a scream of pain shatters the silence. Someone else is chanting, his voice rising and falling with the spell. Lilith quickly gathers her siblings in a close circle and uses a couple of spells to strengthen their party. Then the siblings follow their scout, chains softly moving against their bodies like a metal curtain.

In the distance, a purple glow lifts the darkness and a smell of decay is heavy in the air. When they turn the corner, they see a glowing summoning circle. In the middle, someone is thrashing on an altar, clearly in pain, while an arcane drow is pulling energy from his victim. Smears of blood surround the frightful scene.

1807cells

Our DM used this drawing of dark cells (by Alex J. Moore) to visualize the dungeon.

The Xaniqos wizard summons an elemental to help them, but almost loses his concentration when a claw reaches for him from the dark. Almost. 😉 The earth elemental attacks the mage in the starred circle. The drow nimbly evades, chanting:

By the eight names of Lolth, I invoke thee.
By the eight dooms of the spider queen, I summon thee.
Fill my empty vessel with your profane might, your limitless power, and your inexhaustible wisdom.

With those final words, the mage draws upon the essence of a demon. His appearance changes. His body grows feathers, his head becomes a beak and he develops half wings. He turns towards the elemental and purple light shoots from his arms. The sonic force blasts right through the elemental, dealing much damage.

Calling out to the Spider Queen, Lilith creates a shimmering, magical field around her sister, brothers and herself. In the distance, they hear heavy chains rattling. Somewhere near more gates are opening!

Jharrath finds himself face to face with another demon. The tanar’ri is bent, horned, with a big mouth and claws. Acid gelly coats its slimy skin and half of its head is filled with teeth. They have found the source of the horrid smell: a babau!

Babau

Phaedra steps forward from under the portcullis and attacks the babau with her spiked weapon. She hits the demon, but the chain gets stuck in the skin. It sizzles but stays whole. She is aided by her fighter brother, who attacks the beast from the other side, but the two-handed sword attack does less damage than Alvra expected. Back in the corridor, the Xaniqos wizard casts a spell on the tanar’ri and the creature is sent back to its plane, growling, hissing and seething with rage.

There is no shortage of opponents though: two vrocks step into view near the circle, most likely as a result of the opened cages. The birdlike demons attack the elemental, but it defends itself well.

Vrock

When Phaedra moves forward, she notices a device with multiple handles to the side on her left. A second babau, which is -she presumes- responsible for freeing the vrocks, is standing near it. The scout takes out her spiked chain and attacks one of the vrocks. Focusing divine power like a ray of the sun, Lilith also walks towards the circle, projecting a blast of searing light from her open palm that slams straight into the other vrock.

From the corner of her eyes, Phaedra sees the tanar’ri pull a lever, and with a loud clang the portcullis which they just passed, comes down. Alvra dives forward to be in the same corridor as his mistress, but Jharrath is trapped behind the iron gate! Quickly he casts a spell, and five more duplicate Jharrath’s appear.

Dungeons, but no dragons

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When dice have a mind of their own,

though the possibility is known,

still last weekend was absurd

and with death did we flirt.

The wench, courageous and undaunted,

with her fiery flail she flaunted

only to be put in place

her cleric level back to base

when quth-maren gazed into eyes

his will empowered through the dice.

In cowering fright on floor she crawled

and shivering with eyes red, she bawled

until her siblings saved her ass

and brought her back to mighty class

Then from the corner a new beast stirs

and yet another fight is hers.

A hellish spider from the abyss

bit her straight back into paralysis.

A second rescue attempt was made

lucky for her the fiend took bait.

The wizard, fighter and the scout

dragged her, found a safe way out.

And from the dungeon they fled in shame

just in case a dragon came.

 

Anybys Velifane

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The next day, the siblings arrive at the Isle of Scribes after a two hours walk south. The area is swarming with Shi’quos guards, and Lilith checks the parchment. It is safely tucked away, next to the 500 platinum pieces she has the freedom to offer to Anybys Velifane. Matron Mother Thandysha still seemed troubled by the prophecy this morning.

Multiple wizard towers shimmer with a metal sheen. The tower of the archmage is not the highest among them, but it is the broadest – very elegant in obsidian stone and well over hundred feet tall. When they approach the entrance, the captain of the guard halts them. When asked for admittance, Rhuadin is detaining their access at first, but prodded by the cleric’s authoritarian air, he soon returns with the message

The Archmage will see you now. Leave your weapons with me, they’ll be safe.

A flamboyant drow leads them up a winding staircase towards the second floor. They are welcomed by a very handsome though haughty lady, dressed in a silk robe. She seems to be Thandysha’s age. Lilith introduces herself and explains the reason for their visit, after which she hands over the scroll. Archmage Velifane is intrigued and is about to enter her study, when she looks at Jharrath.

I could use an assistant.

Without hesitation, the Xaniqos wizard replies

My name is Jharrath and I’m an aspiring wizard with many potentials. I’m honored to be of service!

Together they disappear, while the others sit down for refreshments.

Anybys

art by Carrie Best @ DeviantArt

The archmage’s study is an alchemist dream. Jharrath looks around in wonder and awe, while Velifane carefully unfolds the scroll. She gently touches it and then examines her fingertip with special spectacles.

Hmm darklight ore, highly unusual these days, how remarkable. And dangerous!

The archmage again bows over the parchment and chants a deviation spell. On her instructions, Jharrath carries several items – including a mirror – to a big table. The parchment is carefully spread out in the middle. Anybys focuses and casts a spell, unknown to the Xaniqos drow. Jharrath suddenly hears a male voice

You seeketh, and it wants to be found
It lies in a tomb deep underground
Ignorant guards of legs eight
Shield the world from darker fate

though the mirror image stays blank. Frustrated she mumbles I think we need to alert the Council.

An hour has passed, when they reappear in the reception room. In a distracted voice, the archmage recites:

Six hundred years ago, a war raged between drow. The war was triggered by Dark Fate, a rod infused with the intense hatred of a drider. Dark Fate found its way into the hands of drow cleric Alantria. It fed her hatred for drow, which ultimately resulted in a huge war. Alantria was defeated, but all was razed to the ground. Her body and the weapon have never been found. The rod has turned into a sentient being, with a mind of its own. If it falls in the hands of the wrong people, it could mean our doom! The discovery of this scroll is quite important, a matter of great urgency. Tell your Matron Mother that I’ll gather the Council within a tenday!

Jharrath offers his help for future necessities, which archmage Velifane accepts.

For a man, you were actually quite useful.

Lost in thought, she dismisses the siblings and adds a few punctuation corrections to the scroll. Now it reads:

150207prophecyplus

Attack of the Sahuagins

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The name Glimmersea is well chosen: although it is very dark, the waves shimmer with a light of their own. One of the Kua-Toas takes position in front of the vessel, another in the back and the third scouts in all directions. They are alert and take their quest seriously. The journey is very boring: the Xaniqos siblings can see only a few feet around the boat. The only visible things are stalactites and small islands and rock formations, which soon disappear into the dark again.

After two days, the Kua-toas gather more often, speaking aggressively among themselves, while their silver color slowly changes to red. Something is amiss! One of their guides hops into the boat and warns them of danger: a group of Sahuagin is drawing closer!

The Sahuagin are a lizard-like aquatic race, the predators of the Glimmersea. They hunt in packs, live to fight and hate Drow – especially spell-casters – with a vengeance. The Sahuagin society is patriarchal, with kings and princes. The law of the jungle rules: the strongest is appointed king.

Before long the Drow spot several rafts, fish heads bobbing next to them. The creatures have scales and fins and are as large as humans. Furthermore, the water is seething with sharks.

Jharrath casts a fireball in between the two front rafts and hits them well, therewith announcing his spell-casting abilities to the magic-loathing Sahuagins. Two Kua-Toas unite their powers and send a sizzling bolt of lightning towards the predators, shattering the last remnants of one of the four rafts. Lilith activates her spiritual weapon and directs it over the raft on the left, while Alvra readies for action.

The lizards clamber aboard their rafts and attack the sisters – Scout and Cleric – from a distance with nets. Both Phaedra and Lilith get entangled; the male siblings are able to stay free of the nets. When a Sahuagin tries to board the boat, the Drow Fighter attacks. Jharrath summons an Earth Elemental. Whereas Phaedra manages to escape, Lilith gets dragged against the edge of the wooden boat and is rendered immobile. Unable to join the fight, she hisses with frustration. Her spiritual weapon continues to do damage. Alvra is in a fight with the Sahuagin, while the Kua-toas are in deathly battle with the sharks in the water. More aquatic warriors climb into the boat.

One of their attackers is bigger than the rest and has an extra set of arms and legs. This must be the leader of the Sahuagins, since this kind of abnormality often comes with extra strength. The eight-limb beast dives into the water and joins the fray.

Suddenly a screen of smoke appears, forming an acid curtain between the boat and new attackers: Wizard in action. There’s a lot of confusion and hissing going on in there. The Elemental kills the first Sahuagin, and Phaedra slices another one. Alvra goes into a fit, hacking and slashing like a madman, resulting in a frenzied reaction of the beast, which is quickly cut off as the Elemental makes his second victim. Two more of the monstrous humanoids climb up from the water and attack Jharrath. The body of a Kua-Toa floats lifeless in the water, killed by a shark.

The Scout feels a thud near her feet and discovers she’s being attacked by crossbows. While the Wizard casts another wall of smoke – this one stationary – Phaedra attacks a creature in the boat and manages to kill it. Lilith’s spiritual weapon ends the life of another seawolf, and when the Cleric sees two muscled salamander feet next to her, she quickly redirects it onto this opponent. Alvra succeeds in severing a couple of threads of the net around his Cleric sister, which gives her a bit more freedom of movement.

More Sahuagin step through the smoke into the middle of the boat, chanting Flesh. They suddenly look very hungry and attack the spell-caster with their claws, causing deep wounds. Enraged, Jharrath summons a new Earth Elemental and together they pummel another Sahuagin to death. Taking advantage of the turmoil aboard, Phaedra completely cuts through the net that is holding her sister and frees her. Hurriedly, the Cleric tries to get her blood circulation working again. Her sister protects her by firing bolts at her assailant.

While the leader of the waterwolves disappears under water, Alvra hurls a javelin towards one of the few remaining raft-riders. The Sahuagin slowly topples forward, the net falling from its claws. Then the Drow Fighter is attacked from behind by the leader of the Sahuagin, whose trident is a frenzied blur.

Kellgore’s Firebolt – sent by the Wizard – ends the life of a waterwolf, and the sisters defend the boat against the entering of more Sahuagins, dealing blows on grabbing hands with flail and spiked chain alike. When Lilith kills one of the remaining Sahuagins, the Spider Queen grants her extra powers (Lolth’s Meat).

Alvra casts a globe of darkness on the leader, also obscuring the Scout and Wizard. Taking a few steps back, Jharrath orders his Elementals to attack in the pitch black, aided by the Fighter and his Scout sister. Lilith is outside the globe and throws the corpses of the slayed Sahuagins overboard. When she hears grunts and hissing, she dispels the globe of darkness to see what is going on. Alvra is not amused by this action – she has taken away his advantage to fight in the dark – but takes the opportunity to drink a potion. Eight-Limbs  jumps into action and bull rushes Phaedra overboard. Lilith attacks the scaled beast, soon joined by Alvra. The Drow Fighter manages to kill the raid leader, the last of their opponents.

The Cleric helps her sister back on board, who is followed by the two remaining Kua-Toas. One of them is heavily wounded and Lilith heals him as well as her brother. The other Kua-Toa jumps back in the water to retrieve Alvra’s javelin. The raiding party has been beaten off and the Glimmersea is quiet once more.

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>>  what came before

Blessed Seahaven

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Filled with the adrenaline of executing their Matron Mother’s wishes – and of executing the Bard – the siblings swiftly travel the Underdark towards Blessed Seahaven. It is a small village in and on the water, centered around a temple. The inhabitants, the Kua-Toas, worship Blid Dool Poolp, a great sea god – although sea monster would be a more correct term. Still the Kua-Toas gain special powers through their worship. The Glimmersea glistens in the distance, while a small lake is nearby.

The Kua-Toas have fish heads with vaguely human features. They are scaly, have webbed hands and feet and are armed with small shields and tridents. One could say they are very ugly. But they can fight! These cruel green creatures are very alert and well trained warriors. The skin color of Kua-Toas changes, depending on their emotions. When they are white, they are scared, and when in anger, red. The eyesight of these creatures is extremely good, they even see invisible things. Poisons can’t harm them, and though they are water creatures, they manage remarkably well on land. It is good the Kua-Toas are friendly towards the Honorary Drow.

The Xaniqos walk up to the temple and the closer they come, the more their noses are assaulted by a heavy rotting-fish odor. It completely permeates the air. They enter the stone structure and find themselves in a big hall. Even on the inside there is a water basin. A Priestess, wearing a gold cap and a pincer staff, is in the middle of leading a service. The Kua-Toas are completely devoted and in their eyes total fanaticism gleams. When the sermon reaches its crescendo, two acolytes drift outwards and return with a wretched creature: a captured goblin. The Priestess accompanies the acolytes towards the water basin and drowns the prisoner, offering its life to her God. The butt end of the staff striking the ground announces the end of the ceremony.

Then the Priestess introduces herself to the Cleric as Plill Seachild and respectfully bids them welcome. She was already awaiting the Xaniqos and tells Lilith that the trip to Looblishar will take four to five days by water.

It will be a dangerous passage. The Glimmersea is an underground sea; there is no wind to use as power for transportation. In stead travelers magically create wind, or simply row. There is a current in the lukewarm water since it is enormously deep and vast.

On your journey over the Glimmersea, you will be accompanied by three of my faithful acolytes. Afterwards they will continue on their pilgrimage to The Goddess, the Holy Mother. Oh, and by the way, I have a request on behalf of Sloomik Goldscale, my second-in-command. Could you give this letter to Vuon in the Temple of Looblishar?

Lilith examines the ‘letter’, a chain made of shells that convey a sound – a message – when moved through water. Plill doesn’t seem to be charmed by her very ambitious second-in-command. She continues:

The only God who holds sway over Looblishar is Shar, Mistress of the Night. And although there is a Kua-Toas settlement in the  city, alas they have left our real God. The city is utterly and completely dark and the only merchandise is information. Beware of the many dangers that lurk out there. Apart from intrigue, you might encounter bats, hookhorrors and darkmantles.

The Priestess leads the way towards a jetty, where several boats are moored. One of them is rather large, with six hobgoblins on board. The acolytes swim towards the vessel, and the Xaniqos wade after them. The boat has no cabin, no luxury whatsoever. There are only the hobgoblins, who turn out to be dead yet alive, and their oars. One of the Kua-Toas commands the zombies to row and off the party goes, heading out onto the Glimmersea.

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>>  what came before