Bebilith attack

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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.

Bebilith
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.

Really? A mindflayer?

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The Xaniqos pick up their weapons and are escorted from the premises, when Alvra asks

Mistress, are we in a hurry to return to our House? An acquaintance of Taldinyon has asked me to pick up a couple of items at the tower of Uliordell – a mindflayer – while we’re in the neighborhood.

Not now, Alvra. The matter at hand is of the gravest importance, we need to get back to the Matron Mother immediately!

Back at the mansion, the two sisters report to Lady Thandysha. She listens intently to what Lilith has to say, nods, and then turns to Phaedra.

House Vae has been in contact, and has assured me they had nothing to do with the slave trade of the Shar’ans.

Ah, so the venerable Flesh peddler acted on his own?

Yes. I was on the verge of breaking up our relationship with House Vae, but now… Your sleeping around has turned out right for once. Hmm, you might be useful after all. Our House could profit from this slave trade.
You are all free to do as you want until the Council meets.

The Matron Mother seems content.

While the cleric visits the chapel to pray to Lolth, and Phaedra takes care of some business, the wizard sets out in search of his brother. After checking out the fighter’s room, the arena and dining room, he finds him at the bathhouse, where Alvra is washing away the bugbear stench.

Mindflayer UliOrdel

Tell me, brother. How did you come by this assignment? A mindflayer? In what location can we find him?

I don’t know which tower exactly. I was advised to ask YOU for advice, Jharrath.

When Alvra suggests the four of them ought to be able to do the job, the wizard replies:

Brute force alone is not enough. You can interrupt the mindflayer’s casting, but only by doing a lot of damage, so his concentration is broken. And his force of will is enormous. Psionics are not bound to any House, they are independent. Let me think on this a little while longer.

Later on, Lilith approaches her brothers. Alvra is not at liberty to reveal the name of his client, but he does tell her that they will be looking for a special kind of gem. Asked for battle tactics, he advises don’t talk, just fight physically. The wizard knows where the illithid has its residence, and has a plan for entering the tower. But first he has to copy a special scroll to his spell book: pass wall. Lilith allows it, and a day later, they set out on the quest.

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

Stone Giant

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The day after their visit to the slave market is spent studying by Jharrath, while Alvra visits the merchant Nyttoris. Free to do as she pleases, the cleric still has to pay close attention to etiquette, since the Matron Mother is a very adept politician and an intelligent, ambitious and self-assured woman. And she won’t let a cleric of House Xaniqos be anything less.

In the evening they set out towards the slave market again. It is more quiet this time as business is slowing down. When they walk towards the dais, they are stopped by a male drow.

What are you doing here?

Just looking around, we might want to buy something. Or someone.

You can’t proceed, this is a private area.

Like the old drow yesterday, this male is also not wearing an insignia. Lilith steps forward and takes over the conversation, so Phaedra can scout ahead.

We were here yesterday, when House Tormtor was doing business, and we could walk around without any trouble. So what’s the problem now?

Meanwhile, her sister slips uphill, until she sees four kua-toas. One is wearing a headdress. They seem to be checking out slaves. In her excitement, Phaedra loses cover and is spotted by the fish-like humanoids. Her sudden appearance creates a commotion and Phaedra can hear them shouting in their watery language. The scout unobtrusively scuttles back towards her siblings, but it’s too late. With snorts and growls, two huge bugbear overseers appear. One of them starts to cast.

140928market

Jharrath recognizes the spell as ray of enfeeblement – they seem intent on taking the Xaniqos siblings alive. On both sides, coruscating rays spring from the bugbears’ hands, but they have no effect on the wizard because of his spell resistance. Phaedra also nimbly dodges the spell. Since his mistress hasn’t given the order to attack, the fighter stays alert in full defense. The wizard counterattacks with a spell of his own. Suddenly slime appears at the feet of one of the bugbears.

I’m warning you, don’t take another step!

Not wanting to waste their energy in an unnecessary fight, Lilith says:

Apologies on behalf of my intrusive sister. We did not meant to interfere with your business.

Seeing the reason in her words, the overseer is about to call off his bugbear guards, when two kua-toas appear around the corner. Dressed in leather, they carry no weapons but still look very capable. They are soon followed by a kua-toan priestess. Both monks give her a wide berth. Something tells Phaedra that she has seen this kua-toa before on their way to Blessed Seahaven. On the priestess’ command, the monks attack with flying kicks and flashing hand attacks – even in two directions at once, while the Xaniqos fight back with spiked chain, lightning and flame strikes.

Suddenly the humanoids pull back and a loud, clanging noise is heard from giant bars that are being moved aside. A huge shape, hulking, to not hit his head against the ceiling of the quarter he was in, appears and is easily recognized as a stone giant. At full length he is 12 feet high. The wizard immediately casts a spell, and a foul sludge seeps out of the ground, coating the area before the giant in a twenty feet radius. The scout’s chain is aimed at one of the kua-toas, while the bugbears make a flanking movement.

140928stonegiant

Assessing the situation, Lilith suddenly yells in a very commanding voice.

Stop this madness! We came in search of slaves, and now we are treated like this? Harassed without any cause? You will stop this at once, and we will leave.

The monitor, under the influence of the cleric’s diplomacy, orders his bugbears and stone giant to step back.

This is a terrible misunderstanding,

the drow says, holding his crossbow.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing happened.

Then four guards of House Vae turn the corner, in full regalia, spears and shields ready.

When we came looking for slaves, we were attacked by these kua-toas. Outsiders without the mandatory green cloaks. I don’t know how things work here, but in our ghetto that’s not allowed!

The cleric is indignant in her anger. The guards salute Lilith.

We will deal with this at once, mistress!

On their way back, Phaedra says:

Those were no Blessed Seahaven kua-taos, Sister. I recognized the woman from our trip from Looblishar.

Hmm, that’s interesting! Did you see the slaves?

Yes, but they were normal ones, nothing special.

The drow continue towards their home, deep in thought.

The Slave Market

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The date of the big feast draws nearer and the drow siblings start to feel at home in the Xaniqos Manor. Lilith, who has increased her status as a full noble of the house, is kept busy with social meetings and other activities that befit her station. At some point Phaedra pulls the cleric aside and tells her that she’s been keeping tails on Blessed Seahaven.

Something fishy is going on. There are Kua-toas present who don’t follow Blid Dool Poolp, and there are Shar’ans about. Do you want to check it out?

The cleric gladly takes the opportunity to get away from her social obligations for a while. Together they go in search of their brothers. Jharrath is in his room, but to get Alvra, they have to go to the training grounds. Many Xaniqos soldiers are training, and their brother is practicing with javelins: broken sandbags and splintered wooden dummies are silent witnesses of the fighter’s prowess.

You have ten minutes to freshen up and be ready,

Lilith orders. Everyone seems to be training fanatically. A group of eight drow is drilled in crossbow tactics. All goes smoothly and it is a sight to behold. Orcs hastily help don Alvra’s gnashing armor.

The four leave for the Ghetto of Chattel; both Alvra and Phaedra have been there more often. It is an interesting area, though some parts are not that safe. There are many slave traders, even mindflayers. Their miserable wares stare blindly into the distance; among them orcs, goblins, and even drow, some duergar, ogres and giant ettins.

When the Xaniqos continue uphill, they arrive at a big square. A cacophony of sounds greets them, where traders shout in undercommon, people talk and pull their weapons. The market is rather organized. In the middle of the square a group of six slaves is being sold, their fighting spirit broken. Only the bite of a whip can bring back some power to their dull eyes.

140921slavemarket

Among the visitors are a couple of kua-toas. They are not participating in the trade, but observe everything closely. Phaedra signals to her sister and quietly mingles with the crowd. Drow guards of House Vae patrol in groups of four. They seem to mind their own business, as long as no one asks for their assistance.

The slave traders with cheaper ‘wares’ bid against each other in loud voices. Lilith heads towards a dais where the more exclusive slaves are sold, but is not allowed any closer. House Tormtor seems to be looking for fighters. The cleric is told she can make an appointment if she wants special slaves, like spell casters.

Phaedra notices that an elderly drow often is assisting in the higher deals. The male takes notes with a large feather pen in a book, which a slave carries. He keeps an eye on all that is going on. Phaedra walks towards the ancient one and waits until he notices her. He doesn’t seem to wear a House insignia.

Greetings, Sir, do you keep track of the higher purchases?

Yes, I do.

And do only Erelhei-Cinlu inhabitants do the buying?

No, other cities as well. Looblishar loses as many slaves as they buy.

Does Blessed Seahaven also buy slaves?

No, they have never kept slaves.

But do other kua-toas buy them?

Yes, actually there’s a meeting scheduled tomorrow.

Phaedra continues:

And if we wanted a private audience at our House, could that be arranged?

Yes.

Thank you, I’m much obliged.

With that, the scout returns to her siblings and quickly informs them of her discoveries.

Top Ten Things Your Berserker Would Never Say

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One of these days years I’ll role play one of these! 😉

  1. If this wasn’t such a nice inn, I’d kick your ass.
  2. Do these boots go with this tunic?
  3. Sometimes, I just want to be held.
  4. Couldn’t we just talk this over? Violence never solved anything.
  5. Swords and alcohol don’t mix.
  6. Gee, I’d like to help you guys hunt down that rogue dragon, but Lance and I are going shopping for curtains this weekend.
  7. Thank you (as well as “please”, “excuse me”, and “so sorry, I would appear to have stabbed you in the stomach with my broad sword”).
  8. I think mages are the coolest.
  9. Wait a minute guys. Maybe we should think this over first.
  10. Ewwwww! Blood!

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text: 3rd Edition Palace of D&D

image: Points of Light