The Hidden Dell


The well-trodden path leads towards the entrance of the cave. It looms ahead, dark and forbidding. The cleric sends forth another eye, directing it into the darkness. When it comes back, it relays the images of a deserted space, with objects piled near the opening.


The horses have been secured to metal poles outside the cave. To enter, the siblings have to pass them or lure them away. Lilith prepares an enchantment spell, but while they softly debate over the best course of action, the dire beasts get more agitated. The breeze must have carried their smell towards them. They can’t wait any longer. Phaedra moves stealthily closer and stays on the left side of the path, while the wizard chooses the other side, but the horses’ red eyes follow her. Lilith buffs the fighter with spells. His muscles pop up.

One of the horses finally manages to break free and canters straight towards the scout. The cleric immediately releases her spell, but the horse’s willpower is too strong; it doesn’t heed her suggestion. Jharrath summons a large earth elemental and places it right in the path of the charging beast. The elemental hits the horse twice on the head. The dire horse counterattacks and rears up on its hind legs, thrashing the summoned monster, its red eyes flashing. It must have fiendish blood.

Then the second horse breaks its tether and lashes out with its hoof, striking the wizard in the shoulder. Alvra, muscles bulging, draws his sword and slashes at the horse, but he doesn’t do much damage. The skin is too thick. Jharrath uses his boots and moves backwards, where he casts mirror image on himself. Four more wizards appear out of thin air.

Lilith looses a bolt, but it misses its target. Discarding her useless crossbow, she takes out her flail, activates its special ability and charges the horse. She cries out,

Lolth, give me the strength to slay this beast!

but the fiendish horse is not bothered by the extra fire damage. The wizard fires his wand of magic missiles and then summons five small elementals, while Alvra strikes again. This time he focuses and with a mighty swing of his sword, he hurts the fiend good. The small elementals are no match for the black horse. It seems to like fighting, and is trained to kill. The steed bites and kicks, sending two elementals back to their native plane. Lilith activates her rod of grievous wounds, and gets kicked by a massive hoof as reward. With a cry of rage, she focuses her divine power and projects a blast of light from her open palm into the steed’s head. The horse is trembling, exhausted and severely wounded. Then Alvra steps in and with another massive attack beats it to pulp.


Meanwhile the battle between the first horse and the large earth elemental rages back and forth. The other elementals join the fight, their master following behind. The fighter hurls a javelin towards the horse, followed by a frost breath attack by Lilith. But like the fire, the cold seems to do little to no damage. Jharrath summons a medium sized elemental, that immediately attacks. Alvra grabs his javelin and takes up position next to his sister.Together they attack again, both flanking the dire horse. Alvra hacks and slashes, and finally manages to slay the fiend.

The siblings slowly stand up, quiet returning to the battle field. Lilith heals both herself and her fighter brother, and hands him an extra healing potion. They are bruised and bleeding. Jharrath walks towards the cave: their younger sister seems missing…

Three drow against two horses. Phaedra looks back at her siblings. They seem to be handling the situation well, so she continues towards the cave. She creeps closer and closer, then hides and listens carefully. Taking a quick peek inside, she sees a fairly wide natural cave, artificially widened. She spots the crates, mentioned earlier by the prying eye. The remains of a campfire are cold and abandoned. The scout warily enters the cave. She moves steadily deeper, searching for traps, but finds nothing. The barrels contain food and trading goods from several merchant houses. A prison is built into the wall, the bars in excellent condition, complete with chains and a pit. It is empty. Phaedra checks out the back of the cave. Two bunk beds, a table, chairs and a hatch in the ground. She crouches down.


… the others walk inside. Alvra examines the empty holding cell; its neck clamps silent witnesses of the people who have been kept there. Searching for her sister, Lilith notices signs, which have been carved in the hatch.

Wait for me, I’ll be back.

She recognizes Phaedra’s signature. While her brother searches for clues near the bunks, she walks back towards the entrance to check out the crates. Like Phaedra discovered earlier, she finds food, silk, probably stolen. The drow decide to sit down and eat while waiting. Lilith takes her dinner over towards the hatch -her flail within reach- and readies for action, while Alvra positions himself on the other side, taking a defensive stance.

Suddenly the hatch opens and Phaedra’s head pops up. In sign language, the cleric asks her sister what she’s found out. The scouts looks businesslike.

I’ve got news!

And they keep on coming


The end of the corridor opens into a chamber, that contains eight straw beds, a wooden table, many wooden crates and a fire pit. Smoke is billowing around the room. As an arrow buzzes towards her, Phaedra realizes that it also holds a bugbear, even two. The second one shoots Lilith square in the chest. She counters with a spell, suggesting that the beast attack its mate. The bugbear doesn’t know what is happening, but obediently shoots its comrade in the face. And it keeps attacking until it drops dead, aided by an earth elemental that the Wizard sent forward. Then the bugbear regains its senses.

Phaedra slowly advanced on the first bugbear and takes cover behind the table. Meanwhile her sister is under attack by a third creature, that was hiding around the corner. The Scout turns and lashes out, striking hard with her spiked chain. The enraged Cleric smashes her flail straight into the bugbear’s face. Satisfied, Phaedra walks back towards her initial attacker, which is already under attack by the earth elemental and Jharrath’s missiles. Their brother has set his lizard to guard the entrance and mingles in the fight. Unfortunately – drained of his strength – he’s too weak to do any real harm, so it’s up to the Scout to kill another opponent in the end. 


They find all kinds of food and dried insects in the crates. These bugbears are very well stocked, equipped and trained! The room seems like a nice place to rest for a while. Phaedra takes the first watch and is relieved by Alvra after a couple of hours. His fatigue is gone, but he is not well yet. When the Cleric wakes up, she calls upon the Spider Queen to restore Alvra’s strength. Almost back to his old self, he gulps down an anti-toxin potion.

Further down the Scout sees solid ground. Alvra climbs back up to get the grappling hook and rope, and ties them to the platform. Tired of the delay, Lilith ties the rope around her waist and tells the Fighter to lower her down to the floor. A decision she regrets when she hears scuttling behind a thus far concealed web in the right corner. Then a huge hunting spider appears from the left, trying to break his fast with the Cleric.

Pull me up!

she hollers, but the spider’s fangs sink into her body. Her siblings quickly haul her back to safety. By now two eight-legged monsters are drooling in anticipation down below.

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Back onto the platform, Lilith drinks a potion that neutralizes poison, while the Wizard shoots a Kellgore’s firebolt at the welcoming committee. Phaedra joins in with crossbow bolts. One of the hunting spiders launches a web at Jharrath. As the Scouts cuts him loose, she hisses

Wizard, send your minions down there!

He grabs his candle and summons earth elementals to attack the spiders. The others help with crossbow, javelin and spells. A fireball kills the first spider, and Alvra steers his lizard halfway down to check out the retreating other. The spider aims webbings at the pair, and both get stuck in the sticky threads. Then a hissing, hurtling ribbon of pure darkness flies from Lilith’s hands and the monster rolls onto its back.

They have an Efreeti!


One of the Fire Elementals attacks Jharrath, while the other goes for the Cleric. Flames lick hungrily at her piwafwi, but fortunately the potion against fire saves her. This is not the case with the Wizard, who – stepping back – underestimates the reach of the monster and receives a second blow. He is severely wounded by the swing and the fire and his knees start to buckle. Phaedra and Alvra attack the flaming opponent to draw its attention away from Jharrath. Boldly the Fighter steps onto the solidified lava and lashes out at the Elemental – and kills it! The Wizard drinks a potion to recover some of his health.

Meanwhile Lilith again is hit by the second Elemental. She counterattacks and searing lights flow from her hands, straight into the monstrous giant, after which she takes herself to temporary safety and drinks a healing potion too.

A fierce fight develops between the four Drow and the Fire Elemental. A fight in which Alvra gets stuck with one foot in the lava, where hits are scored and misses are regretted, where mirror Scout images appear and the Cleric’s piwafwi disappears – Lilith can save her house insignia though. Phaedra’s piwafwi is scorched as well. A magic missile finally brings the monster down. One of Lilith’s potions returns a bit of vitality to the Fighter.


Warily the four walk under the arch into the next chamber and see two Flamebrothers and a Salamander working the anvil. In an open casket mithril shines and shimmers. They decide to attack from a distance and take out their crossbows; Lilith under the protection of an Armor of darkness spell. Jharrath casts black tentacles near the creatures and manages to capture one of the Flamebrothers and the salamander. The other Flamebrother stays free but to no use: together the foursome attack and a javelin thrown by Alvra finishes off one, while Phaedra shoots the other.

Lilith activates her Spiderbound Buckler and her shield transforms itself into a small spider. A Yochlol spell wills her body to form eight tendrils. The Salamander goes under in a shower of javelin, crossbow, soundburst spell and the by now famous magic missiles from the wand of the Wizard.

When they walk towards the anvil, Phaedra finds a chest with gold pieces and pearls, but nothing that resembles a mithril staff. When she walks towards a wooden oblong case, a thundering voice calls out.

I wouldn’t do that if I were you!

The Cleric has had it with this expedition and sends her spider towards the case. When nothing happens, she walks towards it herself and picks it up. Immediately a twelve feet long floating red torso appears. An Efreeti! Its two large hands come together in a spell craft gesture and fire erupts all around them in a twenty foot radius – like fireworks. Thanks to their quick reflexes they manage to shield their eyes from it while their potions shield them from the fire. The Xaniqos stay safe except for Alvra, who is blinded by the bright eruption. The Fighter activates a globe of darkness as counter measure, so he’s not at a disadvantage.


The fight rages back and forth. The Efreeti starts changing and becomes huge. Lilith attacks with her tentacles and scores several hits. The Scout’s spiked chain adds to the creature’s damage. A medium Shadow Viper appears and attacks, guided by Jharrath. When Alvra hears the monster scream, he lashes out and manages to hit the Efreeti. Enraged, it punches down on Lilith with a giant fist and floats upwards.

Unable to reach the Efreeti at this height, the Cleric holds the case with the staff safely against her chest, calls back her spider and walks towards the arch that leads back to the entrance: they have what they came for. Phaedra grabs the gems from the chest and joins her sister, yelling


to the still blinded Fighter. A shimmering wall of fire erupts in front of the sisters, blocking their escape. Jharrath fires another magic missile at the hovering form and Alvra – once his blindness lifts – hurls a javelin and manages to break the Efreeti’s concentration: the curtain of fire disappears. Heavily wounded and angry, the monster’s last words

I will be back!

bounce against the walls of the suddenly empty cave.

Besides the three green emeralds, two star rubies and three silver pearls she already found, Phaedra discovers another five hundred gold pieces in the chest. They decide to take these with them, but leave the large supply of mithril. Lilith finds a magic flail, which glows with fire, and of course a beautiful staff in the wooden case. The potion lasts long enough for them to escape the tunnels of fire.

When they report back to Thangarth, he is very happy to hear about the retrieval of his staff, which – as turns out – can call forth a Fire Elemental. The clan master is delighted to hear the Efreeti has been chased away and tells them they can keep all they have found. The Steelshadows will retrieve the mithril themselves. Thangarth hands Lilith a map with the location of the portal that will take the Xaniqos back to the vicinity of Looblishar. The use of the portal is payed by the Steelshadow clan. And though trade will always be possible, Thangarth hopes he will never lay eyes on them again.

Into the Heat


As they seem to get closer to the action, Lilith calls on her Deity and strengthens her siblings and herself with a Mass Shield of Faith. She then blesses Alvra with additional spells of Bull’s Strength and Healing, for the Fighter doesn’t look well.

Phaedra sets off to explore the tunnel and arrives at a larger cave. The heat is oppressive. She sees two little Devils who seem to be having fun fooling around: one is a squat brutish miniature human, made of stone and lava; the other of water and steam – both with wings. There’s also another Fire Salamander. When Phaedra describes the smaller creatures to Lilith, the Cleric recognizes them as Fire and Steam Mephits.

130526 Lair

The plan of action for Phaedra is to lure the creatures back towards the others one by one. She tiptoes to the entrance of the fire cave and shoots at the Fire Mephit, but the bolt doesn’t seem to hurt much. When she steps back to reload, the Steam Mephit follows, yelling,

Away, intruder! Away, intruder!

and blows steam in her face. Fortunately the potions helps deflect the heat damage. The Fire Mephit picks up the bait too and follows on her heels. The Scout rushes back to her siblings, warning them of the approaching Mephits.

The little Devils fly around the bend of the corridor and one duplicates itself: suddenly there are three Mephits! The new one is no challenge for Alvra though: he kills it with one mighty blow. The Steam Mephit can’t see the humor of that and also attacks, but the Fighter is on a roll and with a second blow wounds this opponent severely. When the winged creature tries to escape, Alvra kills it. Phaedra tumbles back and two hits with her spike chain end the life of the third creature.

Fire Mephit  Steam Mephit

The Scout returns to the cave to see if she’s able to get more opponents to chase her. Two more Fire Mephits are hovering above the lava, and though she tries to tempt them by shooting bolts, they don’t follow her. The Fire Salamander orders the two to stay put. Phaedra then attacks the salamander and step by step it comes forward, until it charges. Because of Lilith’s shield spell, the charge misses and the Scout fully retreats into the corridor. Its failure finally lures the beast into following her and the Drow are ready for it.

Again it goes for Phaedra, but Alvra interrupts and scores a hit. All Xaniqos now attack with chain, magic missiles and flail. Alvra’s two-handed sword is especially effective. After Phaedra manages to trip the beast, Jharrath finishes it off with his wand of missiles. The Fighter takes the salamander’s spear as substitute for his incinerated javelin.

The Drow all march into the cave now, where the heat is like a blow to the face There’s much hissing of the lava. The remaining Mephits stay at a safe distance above the fiery liquid. Lilith cautiously moves forward, followed by her Fighter brother. Up ahead is a passage to another cave. They all walk slowly towards the arch when suddenly the fire takes shape on both sides of the walkway and two Fire Elementals rise to the surface.



As soon as the show is over, the Xaniqos siblings pick up their gear and go outside. When they see Charicide leave the Hall of Shadows, they follow her and the troll to the Silk Curtain. The streets are crowded with mostly Drow nobles, but there are also a couple of non-Drow and a few Duergar. Such a contrast with their own district.

The Silk Curtain turns out to be a very big, luxurious house of pleasure, where one can find more than just carnal joys. Again Aleval solders are patrolling the neighborhood. Guttural sounds and cries – either of pain or rapture – fill the air. The four hide their house insignia’s and boldly walk past the two men who are guarding the door. At the top of the stairs is a big white salon, where an albino Drow is entertaining the guests. Spicy aromas, comfortable chairs – the whole scene breathes an air of luxury. On the second floor a hostess approaches. Lilith asks her which offers are currently available in the Silk Curtain, and it seems there are plenty of possibilities; even a surface elf is to be had. The Cleric demands the best private room in stead, so she can decide on her entertainment for the evening in peace, hoping that room will be close to the Bard’s.

A male Drow leads the way to their quarters, upwards, past a lot of rooms. Not many guards are around, and there are only one or two bouncers. He opens the door at the end of a corridor and reveals a big room with table, huge bed, a dancing-or-other pole, brazier, a torture rack, handcuffs and other useful stuff. The window opens onto a balcony. The room in the opposite corridor has probably the same design.

The siblings are going to use a ruse: Lilith is very ‘bored with her two males’ and wants to exchange them for some fresh meat. Silently Phaedra checks out the hallway: only servants and three guards who are enjoying a glass of wine. The Cleric sweeps out of the room into the corridor and boldly walks past the guards, into the adjacent corridor. When a female Drow – whip in hand – approaches Lilith and asks her to lend her the ‘slave’ brothers, the Cleric refuses, declaring she still needs them, and moves on. ‘Maybe later!’

On the other side, the bored looking troll is sitting outside a door, similar to their own. The giant takes up half of the hallway.

I want to speak to your Mistress, Troll. What is your name?

I am Zorg.

Well, Zorg, open that door!

Can’t do that, Mistress, my Mistress will be very displeased with Zorg.

I’m sure your Mistress is very interested once she hears of these two tasty and strong males.

Though the giant hesitates, Lilith can be very convincing and manages to sway the troll. When Zorg knocks on the door several times, it opens and a melodious voice shouts ‘I told  you I do not want to be disturbed!’ A male Drow slave is bound to the pole, handcuffed. The Cleric uses her diplomatic skills and offers Alvra in exchange for the already used and drugged slave. The Bard assesses the Fighter – strong, with much stamina – and agrees to let him in. The door closes again.

Inside, the woman introduces herself as Ariana. Alvra estimates her as beautiful but deadly, gracious and cunning, not overly muscled. But then her voice sounds again, very sweet and alluring this time, and his attention wavers.

Now, male, you may lay your clothes and gear on the table near the window. You are going to undress for me…

Meanwhile the others are still outside, with a giant troll in front of the door. Lilith tries to talk Zorg into getting a drink at the bar – he must feel very thirsty and hungry? – but it won’t work. Next she pretends to hear his mistress in distress, but the troll is stubborn and stands his ground. He is not going to disturb the Bard again. When Lilith tries to put a blinding spell on the troll and fails, the giant gets suspicious.

What are you doing?

I’m trying to enhance your hearing, you deaf troll! Your Mistress seems to be in danger.

Zorg would hear more if you stupid woman would not talk so much!

Outraged, Lilith lashes out at the giant, who stumbles backwards and falls straight through the door. The Xaniqos follow it into the room and find their brother, dancing and slowly undressing. He’s in a total trance, oblivious to what is happening.

A massive fight erupts. Phaedra tumbles past the troll – getting hit in the process – and slashes at the Bard. Charicide counterattacks and casts an enchantment on the Scout, so Phaedra feels the uncontrollable urge to giggle and bursts out laughing, unable to stop. The Wizard, still in the hallway with his Cleric sister, evokes a puddle of slime underneath Zorg’s feet and the massive beast drops down. It won’t stay down for very long though. The Cleric unleashes a spell that negates Charicide’s magic, so Alvra stops dancing and the Scout can control her laughter. Shaking his head, the Fighter finally comes to his senses. He snatches a javelin from the table and aims it at the Bard. It narrowly misses. Suddenly faced by an angry Scout and a deadly Fighter, Charicide’s magic flares again and four more illusionary Bards appear around her.

Jharrath is battling the troll with a ray of flame, which seems to do much damage. When the Wizard subsequently fails to summon a monster to help them out, the troll regenerates and attacks Lilith with full force. She throws a bottle of acid in the giant’s face and steps back. Jharrath’s second try is successful and soon Zorg is surrounded by three creatures, who keep it busy.

An eerie sound fills the room – Charicide has gotten her hands on her lute – and again Alvra falls for her spell. He sits down dreamily and sways to the music. Phaedra keeps a clear head this time and slashes at the five ‘Bards’. She manages to destroy three illusions, while Lilith heals herself and then fires bolts at the troll. Jharrath summons two more elementals to try and take the troll out.

The Bard screams at Zorg to come and help her, but the giant is too busy defending itself. She changes her song to encourage the troll, causing the spell on Alvra to fail. Together the Wizard’s creatures manage to kill the troll and Jharrath finishes it off for good with Kelgore’s fire bolt. No more regenerating for this troll!

Lilith climbs over the carcass and gets out her flail. Alvra – his wits once again restored – activates his piwafwi, jumps on the bed and attacks the Bard from behind; he destroys the last fake image. But the Bard is not defeated yet and casts a spell, after which the brazier sparkles into huge fireworks: colored lights fill the air. The Fighter jumps off the bed and continues his fight, blinded. Charicide is surprised and steps back, giving the Scout the opportunity to lash out. Finally she kills the Drow.

Phaedra also slices the throat of the drugged Drow, who is still tied to the pole, bars the door, and then the Xaniqos escape from the balcony. They disappear into the night and manage to leave the city without being recognized.



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