Fight at the riverside


Hearing the tumult from within, Phaedra immediately gives chase. When the cleric appears, she see her sister running towards the river and also heads in that direction, followed on her heels by the male Xaniqos. A lot of splashing indicates where Theo entered the river.

He’s getting away! Phaedra alerts the others in sign language. The wizard casts one of his spells, dispelling the male’s magic, and a shape becomes visible in the swift current. The scout jumps after him and swims to the other shore, while Lilith loads her crossbow.

When Theo’s outline is lightened by Alvra’s fairy fire, he realizes he’s been spotted. And if he was still in doubt, that hope vaporizes quickly when two earth elementals materialize behind him. The monsters grapple him, but Theo is a tough cookie. It takes four more small elementals to finally pummel him unconscious. Phaedra binds his wrists and feet, and with a long rope Lilith and Alvra pull the drow back towards their side of the river, the scout supporting his head to keep him from drowning.


They move him to the bushes, where Lilith starts her interrogation. Luckily the curious spectators from the inn have gone back inside.

“Why did you run?”

The drow doesn’t say anything. He seems to be more scared of his boss than of the Xaniqos siblings.

“OK, Alvra, cut off his finger.”, Lilith orders. Theo gives her a calculated stare.
“What’s in it for me?”
“How about a slow or a quick death?”

When Alvra puts his rapier under the dark elf’s fingernail, he gets ready to talk.

“Last chance,”, the cleric repeats, “what’s your name and why did you run? Why are you really here?”
“My name is Vaarz, and we live here with a large group for profit. There’s lots of gold to be plundered from passing caravans. Our leader is a drow cleric, and we live about 6 or 7 miles south of the inn. We live a rather good life. The two women in our company have killed everyone and put a curse on the humans, so they take excellent care of us. You are the first drow we have seen in a long, long time.”
“What does your leader look like, what is her name?”
“That I don’t know, but she is an older priestess,” Vaarz says, hesitating slightly. “I can show you the way to the Hidden Dell though.” Lilith arches her eyebrow.
“And why are two men guarding that tower over there?”, Phaedra pits in.
“They’re guarding the former church of Pelinor.”

Alvra searches Theo’s piwafwi for hidden treasures and weapons. The cloak is magical, and the rapier is of a good quality. A small crossbow and a quiver with darts, plus a healing potion are also among his possessions. Lilith finds a wand, an antitoxin, a tanglefoot bag, a thunder stone plus a small, very thin arcane spellbook.

“If you want to get back to the Underdark, you will have to go to the Hidden Dell, since the mistress has the key to open the portal. But if they attack, I suggest you run! There are twenty drow and four of you. And you are in no shape to run.”

Vaarz has a point: the Xaniqos are exhausted and hurt. Phaedra manages to find boards for a make-shift bridge across the river. They make camp in bushes, away from the road, where Lilith heals those who need it. During her watch, Phaedra sees a flock of ugly ravens fly before the moon. They keep circling, like they are searching the lands, and she can only hope they haven’t seen her. She wakes her brother.


“I’m not really used to surface birds, but I saw ravens who didn’t act like ravens should.”

Alvra notices them too and calls forth a globe of darkness to disguise their whereabouts. In the middle of the night, again the flock of birds patrols the skies, after which they seem to return to the village. They make a lot of noise, but stay out of range. The night is full of unknown sounds anyhow, but despite the chirping, rustling, and the ever-present wind, they manage to sleep a bit.


Old Stinky’s Place


Phaedra wakes up with the smell of meat in her nose. Finally the effects of the drow sleeping poison wear off. While she shares the plate with the wizard, Alvra brings her up to date. They follow the fellow’s instructions, taking the road towards Old Stinky’s Place. On their way, they meet an old man and woman.

“Better go inside,” they say, “there’s a storm brewing!”

Lilith and Alvra continue towards the inn, while the wizard follows. It is in bad shape, overgrown and full of moss. The fighter gazes through the blinds, crooked on their hinges. A fat man is serving behind the bar; two others are playing darts, but without the darts. At the far end, a drow —all dressed in black— is talking enthusiastically with two others. Jharrath notices that none present have shadows, except for their fellow dark elf.


When the cleric steps inside, the drow man cowers a bit, trying to make himself inconspicuous. Alvra assesses the man’s skills.

“Now what can I do for you? Do you need food? A room?” Lilith looks at the broken stairs and then back at the bartender. The place is in shambles. “Just a drink for now.” She accepts a mug of ale.

“Why aren’t you at the party?”
“Because I don’t dance,” the drow cleric says sharply.

Her brother joins her and asks for food, whereupon the inn keeper offers him a plate of stew.

Alvra, who’s been keeping an eye on the unknown drow, notices that the guy only has eyes and ears for his sister. He hardly participates in his earlier conversations with the two humans. The fighter straightens –making his presence a bit more threatening– steps closer to the other male drow and asks,

“What brings you to Old Stinky’s Place?”
“I live here, further down the road. And you?”
“Ah, we’re just passing through.”
“Hmmm, yours seems to be a small group.”
“As far as you can see, yes.”
“You’re accompanied by a cleric, and your hungry friend over there is no fighter. Hmm, quite odd.”

Alvra ignores the remark.

“Why do you want to live above grounds?”
“Why not. Here I have everything I want. And it is one of the nicest villages around.”
“I don’t believe you, there must be something else.” Alvra stares at him.
“OK, let’s say it’s a lucrative environment.”
“By lucrative, you mean looting?”
“Yes, that too. But we’re also being conveniently spoiled by the former residents.”
“Why are they still here?”
“That’s because of the curse – I know the person who has delivered it. But we don’t exactly mind. In fact, it comes in quite handy.”
“What do you call yourself?”
“I’m Theo. What’s it to you?”
“Ah, so you are the joker! Ton mentioned you. Come on, let’s hear a good joke.”

Alvra stares at him expectantly. The other drow looks around, slightly baffled.

“I had no idea I was famous? But I don’t know any jokes.”

The fighter decides to throw in some bait.

“Do you know a drow female with a difficult name? Ton advised us to contact her.”
“Sorry, I can’t help you.”

And with a quick gesture, the drow drinks a potion and disappears. Alvra grabs his sword and swings it where the drow has been standing mere seconds ago. The two ghosts jump aside, startled and a bit scared.

Old Stinky speaks up.

“Hey! We do not tolerate this kind of behavior in my inn!”
“Do accept our apologies,” Alvra replies, “making trouble seems to be in our culture.”

His words restore a bit of the earlier amiability.

The younger Xaniqos sister has been scouting the surroundings, keeping to the bushes and greenery. On the other side of Old Stinky’s Place is a collapsed tower, also in a bad shape. Phaedra sees broken benches and a lot of rubble. She notices that several slabs of stone are deliberately positioned over the pieces of stone and mortar. When she sneaks inside, she sees two human guards patrolling the site. Could this be an entrance?

She heads back towards the inn entrance to rejoin the others, when suddenly she feels someone bump into her. She sees no one though. Acting immediately, she activates an ability and sees a strange drow taking off towards the stream.

The Barn Dance


Inside, people are eating, very cheery and very happy. A band is playing a merry tune on a stage. One of the two armed guards invites the drow to step inside. Lilith asks him some questions, while Alvra tries to sense his motives.

“What’s going on here?”
“Ah, just a harvest party, with our boys and girls dancing and having a good time.”
“And what is the name of this settlement?”
“It is Friezford. Why, I thought you knew? Do you not belong to the other drow party?”

The smell of food wafts through the open door, and Alvra’s stomach growls.

“Someone walked through that wall earlier,” the Cleric says.
“That is ghosts you are talking about!” the guard says. “Stop scaring these fine folks and get out of the rain. Come inside! You look like you could use a bit of meat on those bones.”

The fighter takes a quick look through the door and sees a dance couple slowly disappearing into the ground. He hand signals his sister. Concentrating, she senses that none of these people are really on this plane. The cleric nods to Alvra and steps inside. While Lilith takes a bowl of fruit and eats with small bites (after making sure it’s not poisoned), her brother heaps his plate with meat. The large mug of ale goes nicely with it.


“So how do you like this party so far?” One of the party members addresses the drow.
“Well, the dancing is a bit odd,” –the drow sees men and women line up and duplicate each other’s moves– “and the music is not what we’re used to, but the meat is fine. What kind of animal is this?”

They banter back and forth, and after a while Alvra asks after the other drow party.

“That would be Ton and Theo, the guard says. They are part of two families who live in the neighborhood. And yes, there is also a woman, but her name is not… what did you call her? Amalika? No, but it is a strange name. If only I could remember… But how nice that you’ve come! Here, you should try this too: it is roasted sheep!” He doesn’t seem too fond of gossiping.

To Alvra, the meat tastes like rothé, and that’s good enough for him.

“You were saying about Theo’s family?”

But the guard seems done talking about the dark elves and starts a long story about farming. The fighter interrupts his story and tries again.

“What are these drow families doing here?”
“I don’t really know. If you want more information, you should go to Old Stinky’s Place. He knows everything. It is down this street, to the left before the stream. Your brother hangs out there often, because –shhh don’t say I mentioned it– they serve heavier drinks over there.”

Lilith, who has been observing the conversation, steps out again and orders her brother to bring food for their siblings. She is done with all this ridiculous merriment.


An unexpected party


With the wolves at a safe distance, the Xaniqos take a moment to catch their breath and heal themselves. Meanwhile the wind picks up and dark clouds roll across the sky. Big fat raindrops fall upon their upturned faces, while lightening etches paths of fire across the sky.

What sorcery is this?!

As in reply, a thunderclap echoes through the trees. When nothing bad seems to happen, they continue on their path through the dark forest. Her eyes on the tracks, the scouts follows the imprints. Hours pass, and the trees become less dense. A valley opens up and in the clearing, they see a big building with a thatched roof.


There seems to be movement inside the barn. Phaedra signals the others to stop and keep their distance, but Alvra, intrigued by the new world that surrounds him, is oblivious to his sister’s sign. Lilith has to drag him back behind the tree cover.

The scout sneaks towards the shuttered window and takes a quick peek. Light and music spills from the structure, and people are dancing to merry music. Two drow are piling food on a cart. On her way back to report to her cleric sister, Phaedra sees people walking down the road towards the barn. They look like human farmers and speak common.

Hmm, it is strange that drow are mingling with humans,

Lilith says,

Go back and see if you can find out more.

Phaedra obeys and runs back to the barn under cover of the night. Another human nears the building, wearing armor. Is there a party going on? Suddenly she hears a male voice.

See you next time!

and a guy walks straight through the wall. The music swells and laughter roars through the night. Two more women approach and disappear into the house. The party is getting more boisterous by the minute.

It is a very weird house, and the wall seems to be fake!

Upon his sister’s words, Jharrath steps out from behind the trees and casts a spell to detect magic. Then he is spotted by a man who comes around the corner.

Hey, come inside! It’s cold out here and we’re waiting for you.

The guy gestures towards the building.

Come along now, it’s warm and cozy. The hostess has prepared a nice dinner, there’s lots of food and drink. Plus company!

The wizard tries to sense the guy’s motive and though he seems to be sincere, Jharrath still doesn’t trust the situation. The man is a bit too pushy towards a total stranger.

Yes yes, I’ll be along in a short while. I need to smoke a pipe first.

The two women who went inside earlier, step out with flushed faces.

Come on, dance with us! Don’t be so shy, we don’t see you enough!

And -overflowing with enthusiasm- they try to hook arms with the wizard. Too close to his liking, Jharrath teleports to a safe distance.

Wow, that is SO neat. Tricks! You just HAVE to show this to the others. You’re a pro, come on inside.

Alvra and Lilith are watching the spectacle from the edge of the forest, ready to intervene if necessary. Phaedra checks out the other side of the building and sees two drow, dressed in black, who are hauling a large bag onto a cart. One of them looks up and yells,

Who are you? Where do you come from?!

From the woods,

the scout replies, trying to sound nonchalant, but the two male take off at full speed. When Phaedra peeks into the bag, she sees lots of food: potatoes, cakes, fruit. She chases after them, but gets hit by two bolts. The last thing she hears before she becomes unconscious is “Take her!”. Drow knock-out poison works fast.


Jharrath is close enough to see what happens to his sister. He immediately takes out a candle and walks towards the still form of Phaedra. The women grab him again, and because of the ongoing exorbitantly cheeriness, the wizard suspect an enchantment. The wizard summons a large elemental, and he orders it to pick up his sister and carry her towards the trees. Upon seeing the elemental, the drow in black run away.

The armored human takes out his sword and pokes Jharrath.

Come, you must help,

He hits Jharrath with the flat side of the sword; the blade is icy cold.

Take her inside!

The male is getting very insistent, and two more appear. The situation is getting grim. Lilith, who approaches at the first signs of trouble, notices that the human’s feet don’t leave any tracks and they feel unnatural. When Alvra pokes the shape with his finger, it goes straight through. The ‘humans’ move back into the house. What is going on here?


The Upper World


With ‘Elliya Lolthu’ Lilith ends her reverie. They all feel better after resting a couple of hours, and the cleric is able to restore her brother’s strength. Jharrath identifies the spiked chain they found earlier as the ‘Living Chain’, a magic weapon that enhances the user’s ability to trip an opponent and hands it back to Phaedra. She stows it away for later use. After examining the portal, the wizard concludes that there’s no turning back at this point. The gateway is magically locked, and they need a specific object to unlock it. Over the portal is an insignia of a bat, could this be the domain of House Shi’quos? The only way to find out is to move forward.

The drow once again pass the fake wall, keeping an eye out for the aranea’s, but the room stays quiet. Another passage takes them into a corridor, which gradually slopes upward. As usual, Phaedra scouts ahead. Drafts are picking up and the temperature is dropping. After about an hour, they arrive at another wall. Phaedra concentrates and focuses her will in the firm believe that this wall is also an illusion. Without hesitation, she steps through…

…into a world that is alien to her. Her drow eyes are not used to the bright light -though it is only night- and she sees trees and ferns, insects and birds, the sky! She has never seen the likes in her whole life. Soon the others follow. They have arrived in a large coniferous forest. Mountains loom overhead and a light fog obscures their whereabouts. The Xaniqos siblings have reached the Upper World!


It is cold, it’s bleak and damp. Everything seems to be constantly moving, and it is so open. The drow, used to the confinements of the Underdark, feel very exposed. Alvra turns and searches for landmarks. The portal is situated in a little nook of the mountain wall. He carves two circles in the bark of a pine that is standing in front of the portal, and Jharrath marks the cliff with an invisible mark. This way they can always recognize the entrance to their own world. With a quick step back through the portal the cleric makes sure their way to the Underdark is not blocked.

Three pairs of deep footprints can be seen in the marshy ground. Whoever they are following must be heavily armored. Lilith speaks in a hushed voice,

These tracks are the only clue we have and we can’t go back. Sister, lead on and let’s hurry!

The Xaniqos set out into the forest, with Phaedra tracking ahead. All are on high alert. The silence of the Underdark is only a memory. There are lots of unfamiliar sounds; crows shriek, insects buzz and the wind howls through the trees. Silently they pass through the trees, silent as ghosts.


Suddenly all sounds stop. The scout freezes, trees surrounding her on all sides. In the eerie atmosphere, a different kind of howling arises. Wolves! She runs full back full speed to warn the others, while the howling comes ever closer. Lilith casts a mass shield of faith and together they wait, taking cover behind the trees. The wizard summons two earth elementals, just in case. Then a huge antlered dire elk comes crashing through the undergrowth. Hunted by a pack of wolves, it tramples over one of the elementals, destroying it in the process. With a mighty bound, it leaps clear of the mess and runs on. The dire wolves, large, skinny and very hungry, turn towards the new and perhaps easier prey. But they might be mistaken…

The pack attacks, biting and tripping, while the Xaniqos fight back with sword, flail, spiked chain and spells. A large elemental, summoned by Jharrath, joins their defenses. Phaedra drives her opponent mad by repeatedly teleporting out of harms way. Teeth and weapons draw blood. When two dire wolves go down, the silhouette of huge new wolf appears on the edge of the fighting scene. It throws back its head and howls, command in its voice. The others immediately heed the alpha’s call and tactically retreat, though they never stray far from the drow.


Looks can be deceiving


The siblings feel the spider toxin course through their bodies, but are able to suppress the effects. The scout searches the cave and finds two pouches underneath a web: one with three hundred gold pieces and the other with two beautiful gems. The black opal and the topaz must be worth at least a thousand gold pieces! A mighty composite short bow is also part of the loot.




Then Phaedra hears the fading sound of heavy boots. Amalica is getting away! She approaches the wall where the bebiliths first appeared and sticks her head through without hesitation. When spiders can walk through walls, so can she. On the other side, the Despana female -her face contorted with hatred- makes an exit. Spiderwebs and junk litter the area.

Suddenly sobbing fills the silence.

“This sucks!”

It sounds like a woman in distress.

Jharrath strides to the other side of the illusionary wall. A female drow is pounding the floor, hitting it with frustration. Her clothes are nondescript, a rapier next to her. With tears in her eyes, she sobs:

“I’m betrayed on all sides.”

“What is wrong, milady?”

the drow asks, but the crying only gets worse.

When Lilith steps through the wall to join the wizard, she almost gets stuck in a web. Jharrath looks up and from the corner of his eye sees a humanoid form dangling from the ceiling. His eyes widen in alarm: it’s an aranea! All pretense is gone, and while the spider-like foe jumps down towards Lilith and attacks her with its rapier, the ‘woman’ -tears dried- changes into her spider form and lashes out towards the male drow. Jharrath conjures an elemental and counterattacks, while the cleric hits the aranea repeatedly and successful with her flail. She manages to evade the creature’s weapon and bite. Her brother is not that fortunate and takes a nasty bite in the shoulder. To prevent any further damage, he casts a spell which makes his contours blurry.


Alvra, also caught in the web that’s covering the entrance, manages to cut himself loose and witnesses how the aranea -wounded by the cleric- flees the cave in full retreat. His reflexes kick in and he swings his sword towards the creature, while his sister puts her flail to good work. A javelin sails after it as a parting gift.

The second aranea, hit by the wizard’s ray of clumsiness, Lilith’s flail and the elemental’s pounding, also climbs towards safety and together the creatures disappear. Jharrath is feeling weaker by the minute. The party moves back to the first cave to tend to their wounds and the drow decide to spend the night under Phaedra’s watchful eyes.

Bebilith attack


The portal looms ahead, dark, and four times as high as the drow. On the other side is a moderately big cave. Three steps lead down to a surface that is littered with rubble and old weapons. Deep scratches line the walls up to thirty feet. Sarcophagus lie shattered, desecrated by grave robbers. When they carefully proceed, the sisters see movement on the other side of the corridor. Phaedra catches a glimpse of a head and a hand, when a voice says:

‘So nice of you to arrive, you’re smarter than I thought you were.’

The Xaniqos freeze. That voice… It is Amalica, the treacherous Despana! What is she doing here?! Jharrath immediately casts a fireball spell, and a tremendous explosion rocks the cave. A high-pitched, inhuman scream erupts, accompanied by velvet laughter – though Amalika’s mirth sounds a bit forced.

‘Have fun with our allies. I’ll see you in the afterlife. And Alvra… we’ll meet again!’

Chanting reverberates in the cave, and a huge demonic spider appears. Phaedra takes a healing potion and moves slightly forward. Upon the wizard’s spell, ten feet long black tentacles shoot from the ground, but the creature still approaches, unhindered by the writhing barrier. Alvra’s javelin bounces off its chitin armor, but Lilith’s magical flame strike hits, causing the fiend to thrash in pain. It positions itself between the Xaniqos. Phaedra lashes out with her spiked chain, aided by her brother. The fighter draws dark blood with his sword. Jharrath activates his boots of dimension stride and steps away, while the cleric’s body suddenly erupts with eight tendrils – she has cast Yochlol’s blessing.

Another demonic spider steps through the illusionary wall. It throws a web towards the scout, sticking her against the wall. Phaedra succeeds in escaping the sticky strands, but a second bite attack poisons her. She drinks an anti-toxin, while her sister evades the attacks of the first spider. Jharrath counters and a fireball roars straight towards the fiend. He is aided by his brother, who yet again swings his sword in a successful attack. Since the large black tentacles don’t hinder the spiders one bit, Jharrath dismisses them and summons a large earth elemental. He orders it to aid Phaedra against the second bebilith. The wizard calls up an arc of lighting, but to his dismay the creatures are invulnerable to the spell.

Lilith’s tentacles strike hard several times, but the spider returns the favor and its claws rip through the cleric’s armor. Severely injured she retreats towards the portal, but the spider follows her and with one more attack renders the cleric unconscious. Phaedra tumbles to her aid, but misses her attack. The elemental breaks through the spider’s guard and with a mighty blow kills the bebilith. In the same swipe, it engages the other spider, so the wizard can cast a healing spell on the cleric. Soon Lilith is able to get up, drink an anti-toxin and heal herself further.

Finally their combined attack is successful: they kill the last bebilith through both physical and magical force.

The Darklight Mine


Two days after their return from the mind flayer tower, Phaedra is summoned to the Matron Mother’s chambers. With a clipped

What are you still doing here? Didn’t I make myself clear enough? Was there anything you didn’t understand perhaps?

Lady Thandysha expresses her displeasure.

My apologies, Matron Mother, I will leave immediately!

Phaedra rushes off, in search of her siblings. She orders Jharrath and Alvra to meet her at the front door, fully packed, while she waits for Lilith to finish her reverie. Together they walk towards the gate.

The Council, convened by archmage Velifane, is trying to work on the prophecy through scrying. The Matron Mother has a another, very good idea though. On the prophecy scroll were traces of darklight ore, and it must have been a significant amount. There used to be an old darklight ore mine, west of the city. Lady Thandysha wants us to search for clues there. It is an inactive, collapsed and unstable mine. A long while ago, close to a century, a deep dragon named Vaterian tried to expand the mine, which resulted in a cave-in.  a real setback, since we used to be on good terms with Vaterian.

Soon they pass the gates of Erelhei-Cinlu and turn right towards the west. As soon as they are out of sight of the wall, Alvra puts on a mask. The dark green material covers the upper half of his face, and it is adorned with decorations. Phaedra asks her brother what the mask is for.

It should help me against mental attacks. I survived hitting our sister once in confusion, but I don’t think I will make it a second time.

Though the Xaniqos travel through an area they haven’t been to before, the scout really knows how to find her way. After a couple of hours, they pass a big stone in the middle of the path. It has deep gouges on eye level – fresh, by the looks of it. The scratches seem to be made by the claws of animals. Phaedra scans her whereabouts wearily.

Finally they arrive at a cave complex. Most are filled up with sand, but one looks like a mine entrance, sixty feet up. Phaedra eyes the unstable surface, and decides to climb with speed. The stones start to slide, but the nimble drow succeeds without any problems. By the pieces of rotten wood, rusted pickaxes, gravel and stones, she knows she’s in the right spot. At the top of the slope is a small opening, and in the dust she sees tracks of two-footed humanoids.


After signalling to her brothers and sister to come up, Phaedra cautiously enters the cave. After a few steps, the ground suddenly gives way and only her excellent reflexes prevent her from falling into a fifty feet deep gap.

Catching her bearings, Phaedra walks back towards the entrance. She notices that the others are struggling to reach the top. She takes out her rope, digs herself in and throws the other end towards the cleric. With her sister’s help, Lilith manages to climb up the hill. The males arrive soon after, Alvra’s gnashing armor somewhat dented, while the wizard’s robe is torn.

The drow make their way into the dark entrance. Where Phaedra easily passes the pitfall, the fighter takes his time. Slowly but surely he makes it across the gap. This is not an option for the cleric in her heavy armor. She takes it off, hands the pieces to Jharrath and jumps the ten feet after a run-up. After activating his boots, the wizard and the cleric’s armor appear on the other side as well, and, aided by her sister, Lilith is soon back to her full-plated self.

Mindful fighting


Phaedra is hit by the mind flayer’s psionic blast, which she manages to repel. It still feels nasty though. Eight lizard-like creatures swarm from the statue and head towards the scout. The beasts resemble two-legged lizards with long, flexible tails. Having no neck, their massive mouths with three mandibles are attached directly to their bodies. The ethereal marauders utter an irritating whining sound.


With her crossbow at ready, the scout ducks behind the statue. The others arrive at the landing too and see their sister surrounded by muzzles with legs, but before they can jump into action, another psionic blast hits the room. Lilith and her wizard brother are safe, but two marauders are not that fortunate. They freeze, while the others disappear. Phaedra tumbles past them and casts a spell, so she – and only she – is able to see these ethereal creatures.

Alvra, having passed a living room on his way down, finally finds his siblings again. He almost bumps into the wizard on the stairs. The fighter continues towards the opening and sees a mind flayer, the drow sisters and two open mouths.

A sizzling fireball whizzes towards the illithid. The statue and part of the wall are blackened, but the mind flayer isn’t bothered at all. When the cleric launches a flame strike, the octopus head vanishes, only to reappear behind Jharrath. The wizard feels a presence next to him and uses his boots to teleport. Now he ends up in the room with the silver strands. Like his brother before, Jharrath passes a room with an ice sphere of crystal clear light on his way down. A large, unearthly beast with spikes is caught in the middle of it. As he watches, a flash of ice cold light shoots towards the dark elf. Fortunately it misses. The wizard realizes a demon or devil is trapped in there. He continues downwards on the staircase, back to the other drow.

The marauders attack the scout, who lashes out with her spiked chain, killing one of the beasts. Alvra is attacked as well, and puts his sword to good use. Lilith clubs a marauder to death, when she feels slithery tentacles on her head. They try to get a hold, but can’t get a grip. The cleric tastes the mind flayer’s frustration.


Phaedra and Alvra notice what is happening to their sister. Another marauder bites the dust, killed by Phaedra, and returns to the ethereal planes. Alvra charges the mind flayer and scores a hit with his sword. A filthy, purple substance oozes from the illithid’s body and a yell resounds in their heads. Again and again the drow slashes at the humanoid, aided by Lilith. The mind flayer focuses all his mental energy in a mind blast. The cleric is not affected, but Alvra is stunned. The last marauder also attacks Lilith, but only manages to add another scratch to her armor. Phaedra tries to advance on the illithid, but her brother stands in her way. Her spiked chain kills the last yapping muzzle. With a mighty swing of her flail, the enraged cleric kills the mind flayer.

Eight pearls are embedded in the statue, and when Phaedra pries them out, the statue becomes dull. There is no gem though. After a while, Alvra has recovered enough from the psionic blast to search the mind flayer’s repulsing corpse. He finds some gems, but not the right one either.

There are more rooms upstairs: a living room, a room with an ice creature and one with strange strands of webs. Perhaps the item we seek is there.

The drow resume their journey to the top of the tower.

Inside the tower


Situated in a remote part of the isle, the illithid’s tower soars 150 feet in the air. Though high, it is not particularly pretty. The windows, which are at least forty feet up, are made of dark glass. The structure emanates a forbidden atmosphere; it is clear that the illithid does not want to be disturbed. A group of Shi’quos guards passes, and though they seem somewhat curious, they continue on their path.


Jharrath circles the structure and then decides on a part near the back of the tower, away from curious eyes. He focuses and releases his spell at the tower’s stones. A section of the wall suddenly seems to disappear, big enough to let one person pass. Darkness greets them.

Lilith, empowered by her faith in the Spider Queen, casts a blessing on her siblings and herself. A sea-blue nimbus of light blossoms momentarily about their heads and shoulders, strengthening their resolve. The wizard complements this with a mage armor spell.

Javelin in hand, Alvra cautiously enters the tower. It is dark, moist and quiet inside, and the ceiling looms twenty feet over them. The drow follow the wall and see a winding stair at the end of the corridor. Halfway through, Phaedra feels a pressure on her head, as do the wizard and cleric, but they manage to shake off the effect. Apart from a strange feeling of temporary disorientation, they’re fine.

Alvra on the other hand, suddenly finds himself in another room. The others are nowhere to be seen. Long silver strands adorn the ceiling in a web-like construction, the walls covered in arcane symbols. When he feels the urge to walk down the stairs, he resists and stops at the top, listening carefully.

With his brother missing, the wizard deploys his wand of detect magic and senses a large pulse of magic, high up in the tower. He also discovers several weaker, moving auras. The Xaniqos climb the first flight of stairs, which opens up in a big room. There they are greeted by an umber hulk.


The scout takes out her spiked chain and climbs the wall of the staircase, while Jharrath hurriedly summons three elementals. Just when the earth creatures engage the umber hulk in a melee fight, a second insect rushes at the cleric. Its massive claw tears at Lilith’s armor, and the force of the hit rebounds through the tower.

Alvra – alerted – descends towards the sounds of battle, while Phaedra arrives at the next floor. Furniture, wood, clothes, shelves, a dissected carcass of a griffin, arcane diagrams, scrolls and many other things. A large map with markings covers the wall of the room.

That is Erelhei-Cinlu, and I suspect the markings locate nodes.

the wizard says, his eyes gleaming.

Rushing up the stairs, the cleric glances into the room, and then continues upwards, together with her sister. They arrive at yet another landing of a round room. In the middle is a bronze statue, ten by fifteen feet. It has an abstract form with protrusive points. Behind the statue, a black portal opens, and a big nasty octopus head appears. They have found the mind flayer. Or more accurate, it has found them!