Mutual Acquaintances

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In the next few days, the drow keep themselves occupied. Alvra spends his time training with bugbears. He would have liked to train with the lizards as well, but they are still back at the noble estate.

Interested in learning more about the area of Szith morcane, the cleric sets out to find a cartographer at the Palace of Scribes. Accompanied by the captain and two guards, she arrives unhindered in the district of House Shi’quos. The scholars give her entrance to the tower where the scribes keep the cards. An old scroll shows her the city of Maerimydra, which was built in the shape of a spider before it was demolished by the demon hordes. Szith morcane is only a small outpost of the prominent city.

Their wizard brother is in his lab in the district, while Phaedra mingles -anonymously- with the people. Though the quarter has been renovated, there are still enough outcasts and beggars around. One of them approaches the scout and tells her a mutual acquaintance wants to see her in the Hideaway, a place for runaways.

Do you know his name?

When the guy shakes his head, she asks him to describe the acquaintance.

He looks fishy, Mistress.

Intrigued, Phaedra follows the beggar. At the inn, the innkeeper Melash d’Falla points at the stairs.

Take a left at the top.

She taps on the door and a watery voice says “Who is it?” When the drow opens the door, she sees a familiar face. It is Vuon, the Sharran priest from Blessed Seahaven! Submerged in his bathtub, the kua-toa thanks Phaedra for coming.

 I need your help.

Oh, and why would we help you?

Well, a mutual acquaintance is going to be very happy.

kua-toa

There seem to be an awful lot of ‘mutual acquaintances’ today, Phaedra mutters.

The Spymaster will be grateful, Mistress, we serve the same master.

And what’s in it for us?

We will grant you access to some of the portals.

Phaedra nods at the kua-toa to continue.

Three weeks ago, an ogre-vampire appeared at our temple. He wormed his way in by telling secrets and many lies! He took my second-in-command, turned him, and has overthrown us. I need you to clear out the temple, Mistress Phaedra. Will you help us?

Before I can do that, I will have to discuss it with our Matron Mother. Enjoy your bath, Vuon, I will be back with an answer.

The kua-toa will stay at the Hideaway until she returns.

Phaedra goes back to the estate and asks for an audience with the Matron Mother. As it will take a while, the siblings pay a visit to Nyttoris Arms & Armor in the meantime, where Nyttoris is very glad to see them.

shop

The Xaniqos pile their loot on the counter. While they are waiting for Nyttoris to assess the items, a beautiful drow woman serves them snacks and drinks.

Well, well, well. You have been busy! Will I get into trouble with this stuff?

Nah, the former owners have passed away,

Phaedra answers with a wink.

As always Nyttoris is a graceful host and his daughter a good distraction in the negotiations. Eventually the Xaniqos siblings leave the store without their loot but with plenty of gold!

Back at the house, Phaedra is granted an audience with the Matron Mother. She tells Lady Thandysha that she is approached by a Sharran high priest of Looblishar.

He told me that his temple has been taken over by the Ogre vampire, and wants us to clear it out. In return he will give us access to some portals. If it’s the night portal, it could be helpful in our mission to find the Dark Fate rod. I could go back and ask him more information?

Access to an important portal could be interesting indeed.

Phaedra returns to Vuon, introducing Jharrath.

As you probably guessed, House Xaniqos is interested in your proposition. We want to hear more about the portals; which ones are we talking about?

Only the Spymaster can tell you, Master Wizard. You may choose only one, but you can pick a suitable one.

Can we talk to the Spymaster ourselves?

He is in Looblishar, it will take two weeks to contact him. But the Spymaster needs you, and not many can say that.

When Phaedra asks about the temple security, the former high priest draws a map with two secret passages to his old room.

What is the name of your former second-in-command?

Sloomike Goldskill, but I suspect him to be cursed now too. There are ten to twelve armed Kua-toas – three of them are whips – plus a couple of monks and fighters in the temple. By the way, Mistress, all connections between House Xaniqos and Blessed Seahaven have stopped and the trade deal has ended, due to the miscommunication with a female of Erelhei-Cinlu. A buffed one, and not too diplomatic.

Back home Phaedra talks to the Matron Mother again.

We will only gain access to one portal, but it will be beneficial. Furthermore, Vuon mentioned that our trade deal has been broken?

I know, Quarra told me; I’m afraid Vuon was not impressed about her diplomatic skills.

The Lady Thandysha likes Phaedra’s suggestion that they might be able to bring the trade back by helping the kua-toas and sends them on their way to deal with the problem.

By land or by sea?

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Warily the Drow again approach the portal, but this time all stays peaceful; seems there are no other drakes around. They lead the lizards through and for a moment, all are totally disoriented. When the sensation passes, they find themselves in a dark cave where several battle ready Kua Toa are waiting for them. When the guards hear that the Drow have been trading with the Duergar, they are allowed to pass. Once again they are back in the dark and gloomy city of Looblishar.

portal

At the temple they meet Vuon, who leads them to the throne room. In stead of Kerl Ooil, a Drow male is sitting on the throne – the one they met on their way to Dunspeirrin. Lilith tells him she needs passage to Erelhei-Cinlu overland with their cargo. Xothed Trizz ‘Lorlin makes her a better offer:

You can travel overseas, since Vuon is traveling with a big group to Blessed Seahaven anyway.

And how much will the passage cost us?

Because I have a special interest in your group, the passage will be free. All I ask is that I can call on you in the future, where you will have to hold your end of the bargain. The offer stands for two days.

The Cleric thanks Xothed with a curt nod and turns to leave. Vuon leads them outside. The Xaniqos are wary of the offer, but the sea trip will take them four days and by road it will take three weeks. Jharrath asks Vuon if there is a library. There is none, but there is a Kua Toa temple that has recorded history. Phaedra and Jharrath decide to visit it. Many eyes are watching them from the dark. At the temple, a priest dressed in gold reads the old tomes – necklaces made of seashells – to the Drow. On the wall of the moist and wet dome-like room the history of the Kua Toas is depicted in mosaic. The void, the nothingness, is worshiped in these scenes. The Priest tells them that Vuon was challenged to a duel and has won the right to lead the mission to Blessed Seahaven. These heathens need to join our cult, he says. Do you know that Looblishar means ‘Forsaken for Shar’, forsaken until the void comes? After the visit to the temple, the Drow go to the docks to take a look at the barges. Last time there was some activity, but now the port is buzzing with action. There are ten large barges, some of them are being loaded with chests and crates. Many Kua Toas are armed to the teeth. After observing the scene for a while, brother and sister go back to the Inn

Lilith has been questioning the bartender on the subject of the ritual. It seems that this year the ritual to persuade Kua Toas to come to the goddess Shar, is much bigger than usual. When the Clerk mentions the name Kerl Ooil, his expression becomes uncertain, and upon hearing the name of Trizz ‘Lorlin, a look of fear crosses his features. She goes to her room and prays for guidance to the Spider Queen, but the answer remains unclear. The Cleric is inclined to refuse Trizz ‘Lorlin’s offer for now and see how he will react. She doesn’t like to be forced into an uncertain situation and doesn’t trust the male one bit. There must be a catch to his offer.  After a night’s rest, where Jharrath and Alvra keep watch, the Cleric again prays to Lolth and casts a divination spell.

Will it be an advantage to House Xaniqos to embark with the Sharan Kua Toas?

After a long silence, the answer is

You will meet no peril on that journey.

Still rather cryptic, but Lilith makes up her mind: they will go by sea anyway. The extra 2.5 weeks would take too long, they need to get back to their House.

lolth

Phaedra and Lilith go back to the temple and inform Vuon of their decision to board. The Scout emphasizes that whatever happens in Blessed Seahaven, the Drow will be kept out of it! Vuon agrees and tells them to be ready in two hours. They pay the inn keeper and walk towards the port. Two barges are packed with cargo, three others are filled with slaves who carry crude weaponry, like javelins and spears. Three barges are still empty; it seems those are for the Xaniqos and their lizards. The animals are lead onto the barges – four per barge – and secured, while eight Hobgoblin slaves man the oars. Around fifty Kua Toas are in the water, swarming around the vessels. At the plateau above, the Drow male has appeared to see them off, accompanied by humanoids in cloaks. Vuon lifts his scepter and cheers, and is answered by the gathered Kua Toas – the exodus has begun.

The Portal

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The Matron Mother eagerly awaits their return, so the four siblings leave the Steelshadow mansion as soon as they have rested a bit, the men carrying the treasure chest and Phaedra holding on to the gems. They only stop at the Hammer & Anvil Inn to pick up their lizards. The beasts seem to be in excellent condition. They thank Ivar for taking good care of their animals and then set out into the Underdark, riding the big reptiles in single file. 

The Xaniqos cross the bridge, looking imposing but none too glorious. The Cleric is wearing shards of her burned robe and ill fitting dwarven armor. Still she likes the feeling of riding above the crowds in the streets; it is rather comfortable to travel this way. Alvra is an excellent rider and Phaedra and Jharrath also manage quite well. The lizards stay calm and are well trained, even in the ruckus of the busy bridge. They travel to the south of the town and set out into a remote area, south-east of Dunspeirrin. With the map, Lilith leads the way to the portal that will take them back to Looblishar and consults her sister every now and then to double checks if they still head in the right direction. Their mounts don’t seem to tire and the Underdark passages provide enough insects and fungi to feed them.

130601map

After a while the path gets rougher and it leads them towards a passage: an arc, twenty feet wide and very high. It is surrounded by walls and there’s no other way to pass than underneath the arc. It seems like they have arrived at the portal. The siblings stop at a safe distance and first take a short break. They secure the lizards there. When they proceed towards the arc, their vision is blurred, the closer they come to the entrance. At ten feet distance, there seems to be a streaming curtain of mercury in front of it and at five foot distance it resembles a mirror. Suddenly a mouth, then a head becomes visible in the mercury mirror, though nothing else happens.

Lilith tries out several passwords, like ‘Looblishar’ and ‘Steelshadow’, but to no avail. Then her sister says ‘We want passage’ in Duergar. A voice answers from afar and tells them they first need to solve ten riddles. Seven will grant them passage, ten means passing without harm.

Question 1:
I can have no color, though there may be darkness within. I have no weight and hold nothing, and if placed in a container it becomes lighter.

The Drow decide on the answer Space, which alas is incorrect. The correct answer was Hole.

Question 2:
Of all your possessions, I am the hardest to guard. If you have me, you will want to share me. If you share me, you no longer have me.

To their delight, they have the right reply now: Secret.

Question 3:
Alive as you but without breath, as cold in my life as in my death; never a thirst though. I always drink dressed in a mail but never a cling.

Again they know the correct answer: Fish.

Question 4:
I am free for the taking through all of your life, though given but once at birth. I am less than nothing in weight, but will fell the strongest of you if held.

Their answer is assessed as positive: Breath.

Question 5:
They flow and leap, but only as you pass. Dress yourself in darkest black, and they are darker still. Always they flee in the light, though without the sun there would be none.

And again: Shadows.

Question 6:
They come to witness the night without being called, a sailor’s guide and a poet’s tears. They are lost to sight each day without the hand of a thief.

Their fifth good answer: Stars.

The Xaniqos breath a little easier at this point. But then…

Question 7:
The more that there is, the less that you see. Squint all you wish when surrounded by me.

After a long discussion, the Drow decide on Mist, but the voice tells them the answer should have been Darkness. They have only one mistake to spare to gain access to Looblishar, and the tension grows worse.

Question 8:
The life I lead is mere hours or less, I serve all my time by being consumed. I am quickest when thin, slowest when fat, and wind is the bane of the gift that I bring.

The answer Candle is correct!

Question 9:
A spirited jig it dances bright, banishing all but darkest night. Give it food and it will live, give it water and it will die.

Though their solution Flame is on the track, the right and only answer is Fire. No more mistakes!

Question 10:
Lighter than what I am made of, more of me is hidden than is seen, I am the bane of the mariner, a tooth within the sea. Speak my name.

Fortunately they manage to solve this riddle together, and tell the voice it’s Ice. And that is correct.

They have gained access! The mouth says ‘You may pass’ and then disappears. All that is left is a void. Alvra mounts his lizard and Phaedra takes hold of the others, which are connected by a rope. When the portal doesn’t open and nothing else happens either, Lilith walks towards it… and sees a small thorny head poking through that looks malignantly at her. When she consults the Wizard about the creature, Jharrath tells her that it reminds him of a portal drake, small dragons that live in and near portals. They love to attack travelers who use the portals. Seems he is right.

portal drake

The little creature flies from the portal, accompanied by two other drakes. They are light gray, four feet long and have razor sharp teeth, as the Cleric is about to find out. One of them is attracted by Lilith’s weapon and it bites her arm. Another uses its spell-like ability and shimmers in the air. They converse in Draconic, figuring out some kind of strategy, and laugh in anticipation.

Jharrath summons a salt mephit and orders it to attack one of the drakes with a ten feet cone of salt crystals. Though its victim is angry, it doesn’t seem hurt. Alvra’s javelin has more effect and hits one of the portal drakes. It counterattacks with a cone gas attack from its snout, but stops when it is hit by a bolt from the Scout’s crossbow. The animal is not amused. Another gas attack hits the Fighter and the Salt Mephit, and both feel weaker and seem to lose strength. Lilith’s flail scores a hit on the one that has been gnawing her arm.

Suddenly there are four drakes where first there was only one; seems they know the spell Mirror Image as well as Blur. Alvra takes his two-edged sword and steers his lizard towards the drake that is hovering over him. His mount attacks with its claws and all of a sudden the mirror images disappear: the attack has taken the drake by surprise. Now all go into a frenzy to hit each other but they alll miss. When the salt mephit’s opponent evades its attacks, the Drow Wizard sends a Kelgore’s Firebolt. Try to evade that! He wounds one of the drakes heavily and it warns the others about Jharrath. Seems like they are magical creatures indeed.

Lilith is still fighting ‘her’ drake and hits it well with her flail and a fire burst. In reaction the beast again bites her shoulder and its teeth sink deep into her skin. Big mistake! Enraged, the Cleric beats the creature to pulp, while another Firebolt finishes off Jharrath’s opponent. Alvra’s lizard strikes with its claws and takes down the last drake from the air. The Drow Fighter cuts the body into tiny pieces before it hits the ground and then jumps down to retrieve his javelin.

The portal is clear!

2013-06-01 17.58.43

Clan Steelshadow

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Well, that wasn’t too bad. We saved our honor, finished the quest and are very popular with a large mercenary Duergar clan. There are two options: either we have a nice conversation with Thangarth Steelshadow, or we simple ignore these bunch of about three hundred Duergar. By the way, brother, what kind of rod is that?

A rod of grievous wounds, mistress. It can be used five times a day and will hurt anyone around the wielder.

Right. Then I suggest you don’t stand too close when I’m using it. Hand it over.

130510rod

Lilith studies the white rod, which is covered in carvings of intricate design. In her mind she repeats the activating command word the Wizard has supplied. The Xaniqos are walking the dark and gloomy lesser streets of Dunspeirrin, on their way to the Steelshadow clan house. There are no nobles here, only ordinary people, the unemployed, slaves, beggars and injured soldiers.

Cut from the living rock, the big mansion looms up within the shadows of the Underdark. Four Duergar are guarding the large front door. One of them ushers them inside when they announce they have an appointment with Thangarth Steelshadow. Seems Murgol has kept his word and they are indeed expected. The Drow can keep their weapons – as long as they keep their hands in sight. The guard leads them through a big hall, down a smaller hallway and finally opens a door to the quarters of the clan master. A more luxurious room, furnished with a stone throne and big tables. Two Duergar are guarding their master. Alvra notices that their (magical) equipment is immaculate, their stance capable.

A Draegloth, easily taller than eight feet, is standing behind the throne of Thangarth Steelshadow. Apparently it is happy to see them, because it’s wearing a big smirk on its dog-like face, an impressive greataxe in its claws.

130512Draegloth

A Draegloth has four arms: a pair of Drow arms and two longer arms that end in claws. It has crooked, muscled legs and a black dog’s face with white Drow hair. This half fiend is a mixture of Drow and Glabrezu. It has a gutteral dark, harsh voice and stays mostly on its own. Draegloths are used as bloodhounds. They love killing and rent themselves as mercenaries. Often they are rangers or rogues. The Drow formerly used them as Illithid hunters.

The half fiend – named Leargath – stares at the Xaniqos’ clothes, the acid on their piwafwis, Lilith’s Duergar armor and the nice brooches.

Of which house are you?

Lilith decides to answer truthfully.

We are of the House of Xaniqos.

The Draegloth nods at the clan leader, confirming the Drow speak the truth.

Do you perhaps have a particular interest in attacking my groups?

Thangarth’s dark voice cuts in. The Cleric retorts that her group was challenged and insulted, and that when they fought back, the Duergar Cleric ran off. She suggests it might be better if they make a deal that is profitable for both parties, in stead of fighting. Thangarth considers Lilith’s words.

Phaedra asks after the kind of business the Steelshadow Clan conducts.

We are in the trade business, we deal in mithril – in magical armors made of mithril. And since negotiations often take too long and are boring, it might even be possible that we sometimes loot merchants.  We sell our goods in Dunspeirrin and Looblishar. I have an ‘offer’ to make and we might have a problem if you don’t accept it. Meaning YOU will have a problem. During our recent escapades we encountered a lair of fire salamanders lead by an Efreeti there. He approached us before any bloodshed could happen and we made a deal with them: in exchange for mithril, they would create a special weapon for me: a staff. It doesn’t look special to an outsider, but one can summon elementals with it.

130514efreeti

Efreets originate from the Elemental Plane of Fire and are very malignant. They visit the material planes to harvest raw materials. They are in a neverending war with Djinni. An Efreet is made of basalt and congealed flames, is very tall and speaks undercommon. They are known for their tricks, have magical abilities and are proficient in illusions.

The group, carrying the last load of mithril to the fire salamanders lair and pick up the enchanted staff, was slaughtered and my search party hardly managed to get back alive. I want you to retrieve the weapon and kill this cursed Efreet, or send it back to its plane!

And what is in it for us?

Lilith asks.

You mean apart from your lives? Remember, you still have a bounty on your head! Your reward will be mithril.

Lilith employs her diplomatic skills and on behalf of the House of Xaniqos asks for the rights to deal in mithril with the Steelshadow clan. After a moment of consideration, Thangarth Steelshadow agrees. Then the Cleric requests to speak to the survivor of the search party. The Duergar appears – part of his skin burned – and draws them a map on a piece of parchment. They will have to go deep into the Underdark; the lair is on a not entirely solidified volcano.

The Bounty

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The injured dwarf tries to make his way back to his comrades but seems to be stuck now, so Phaedra moves towards the web to get a better view. Jharrath’s hands gesture in circles, readying a spell. Sparks of fire drip from his fingers. Alvra is about to take a shiny javelin from his pack, when again a voice cries out to his god and the web disappears. Suddenly free, the Duergar runs back to his party. The Scout now hears two others moving in, invisible once more. She signals this to her siblings and then is under attack by two axe wielders. Lilith charges full speed towards one of the Duergar and scores a hit, while Phaedra tumbles back – injured – and fires at the other dwarf.

Seeing a clear target, Alvra aims and throws his special javelin at their opponents – but misses. The weapon falls down. Meanwhile all enemies are in the tunnel and the Duergar Cleric casts sanctuary on himself, flanked by his fellow Fighter. Lilith is under attack now and receives two more injuries. She counters with a soundburst spell, dealing all Duergar damage – even the guy in the sanctuary bubble – and also stuns two dwarves.

Her sister drinks a healing potion, and then takes another, which makes her skin tougher – like wood. Two earth elementals are transferred to the mine and, at the command of Jharrath, attack the Duergar. The Drow Fighter rushes forward to stand next to his sisters.

Let’s go for the Wizard!

Phaedra hears one of the Duergar say.

The Drow Cleric sees herself confronted with a Fiend with claws, a big beard and gleaming red eyes. The first claw attack misses, as does the second. The Spider Queen must favor her today! Lilith makes use of the opportunity and counterattacks her opponent. She manages to damage the scary guy, after which she fully retreats until she stands next to her magic brother; the Cleric knows of a half-Fiend, but doesn’t know anything about its abilities.

Her sister steps forward to attack the Duergar Fighter, who is now heavily wounded. Jharrath casts black ten feet long tentacles to stop the advance of the enemies. And it works: all opponents are stuck and try to get loose. The tentacles squeeze, hurting their victims, and that proves too much for the already injured dwarf. He dies.

Alvra also retreats to where the Cleric and Wizard stand and waits there, sword in hand. The dwarves start to grow larger and try to get clear of the black crushing tentacles, but only two succeed: the Fiend and a Fighter. Lilith attacks the Demon with searing lights, but fails. Phaedra helps her by lashing out with her spiked chain and then moves back towards the others. Jharrath – pleased – launches a…

… and kills the dwarven Cleric and his buddy. The Fiend, not disturbed by the fire at all, says something in Abyssal and disappears from view. There’s only one Duergar left standing and he throws an axe at the Wizard. It hits. A doom spell, sent by Lilith, misses its target. The Scout moves forward towards the tentacles and stands ready.

Jharrath is busy using a scroll of invisibility, when suddenly the Fiend reappears and lashes out at him! Fortunately the Wizard succeeds in his casting anyway, while the Demon is visible again. Alvra and Lilith turn their attention to the bearded red-eyed creature, and Phaedra also takes part. She manages to kill it! A second fireball hits the remaining Duergar, and after a crossbow and two firebolt attacks, that one also dies.

Alvra reclaims his excellent javelin, while Jharrath picks up the dwarven Cleric’s magic rod to check it out – its former owner won’t need it anyway. On the Cleric’s body, Lilith finds a pouch filled with gems (four stones of 50 GP each plus 20 platinum pieces) and a magical full plate armor, while Phaedra comes up with 350 GP and six special throwing axes. She hands the weapons over to Alvra for temporary use, and for selling later on. All but the Fighter take a light masterwork crossbow.

When they get back to the mine entrance, Murgol is still waiting for them. He is very relieved to hear the delver is dead, but regrets that he doesn’t know the fate of his miners. The Xaniqos tell him what happened down in the mine, including the encounter with the hostile group of Duergar. Murgol doesn’t seem that surprised and warns them:

They must be Steelshadows. You seem to have a bounty on your heads! Do you have any idea how that might have happened? It’s not to be taken lightly to be the target of a foul mercernary band that has four to six hundred members. They won’t stop chasing you!

Lilith and Phaedra exchange glances. Seems there’s a nasty twist to their fight in Looblishar.

By the way, Murgol,

the Cleric says,

the delver mentioned something about a master. Apparently the monster has been hired to invade your mine. And when you go and look for the bodies of your slaves, keep a lookout for the bodies of four Duergar, but also for corpse of a Fiend.

A look of genuine surprise and fear crosses Murgol’s face.

Now I am sure: your attackers are Steelshadows. And that half-Fiend is a Durzagon!

The miner is grateful for the information about the delver and promises them he will set up a meeting with Thangarth Steelshadow, the leader of the mercenary band. Perhaps they can talk their way out of their predicament.

And old ‘F(r)iend’

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The stench of burned flesh is overwhelming in the confined spaces of the mine tunnel. The Cleric orders her sister to go and get Murgol, since she hasn’t spent that much energy in the fight. Phaedra immediately rushes off, silent as a Drow in stealth, and makes her way back to the entrance. Suddenly she hears voices that sound like they belong to Duergar… but she can’t see anyone! The Scout slowly continues towards the sounds of creaking armor and footsteps. When she is fifteen feet away, all goes quiet. Quickly she activates her House insignia and attaches herself to the wall, near the ceiling. Suddenly a cry of alarm, followed by an uncoming axe. She has been spotted! The Duergar who threw the weapon loses his invisibility by that act. Plus he misses, which makes him very grumpy.

Phaedra drops to the ground and casts a spell that lets her see invisible beings. Four more shapes appear from the dark: three Duergar and a warlock kind of demonic Duergar. Its head is bold and runes are drawn upon the sides of his skull. To the Scout’s surprise, one of the Duergar is the Cleric from Looblishar! Again she is the target of an axe, and this time it finds its mark. The half-Fiend orders her to surrender, which of course she won’t. Faced with these four opponents, Phaedra runs back to her siblings.

Meanwhile the Drow tend to their wounds. Jharrath offers his Nightscale armor to his Cleric sister, who again is without. With a short nod of appreciation, Lilith accepts the black armor. When Phaedra arrives with her message of advancing invisible Duergar, everyone gets back into battle mode. Alvra grabs a javelin, Jharrath readies a web spell and the Cleric buffs herself with extra strength. They all hear them coming now.

The first Duergar to arrive around the corner is one of the axe throwers. Phaedra shoots a bolt at him, but her crossbow seems to be jammed. The Wizard aims his web at their opponent and hits: the Duergar can still move, but only slowly, enveloped in webbings. A javelin, hurled by the Fighter, enters the Duergar in an uncomfortable place and the dwarf becomes very still. Lilith prepares for action, but she can’t see much through the webbings that block the tunnel. They hear distant chanting and then a few curses. Seems the enemy Cleric tried to get rid of the web, but didn’t succeed: Jharrath’s spell is too strong for him!

Road to Dunspeirrin

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The next morning the Cleric asks Sifarijn about the portals, as they are the fastest way to travel to Dunnspeirrin.

You can talk to Kerl Ooil,

the Vae merchant advises her,

he is the Spymaster of Looblishar and in charge of the portals.  Should that means of transportation not be available, then you have two options: either take the much used caravan route, or go for the smaller trail. It is more dangerous, with less chance for help, but there’s also less chance of being caught. They seem to be in need of slaves around here.
But stay clear of Oryndol, the city of the Illithid. And if you ever get in trouble with the King of the Giants, Kairnheim, then demand Dodking and make a claim to the Rule of Hospitality.

And, Sifarijn, where can this Kerl Ooil be found?

Why don’t you ask your sister? She knows where to find him.

With one eye on the scout, Lilith thanks the Vae merchant, after which he goes his own way.

Well, little sister, why don’t you lead the way? Seems like you have spent your time wisely.

Phaedra swiftly takes her siblings to one of the temples of Shar, while Jharrath tells them that some portals work by runes, and others even by poems. A Kua-toa grants them entry to a big hall, which seems to be buzzing with action. A good example of how information is the main trade here in Looblishar.

They introduce themselves to Kerl Ooil, a big male Cleric Kua-toa. Lilith asks the Spymaster if it is possible for them to use the portals to travel to Dunspeirrin, but in this, she is disappointed: there are no portals near the Dwarven city. And even if there were, only worshipers of Shar – Shar’ans – are allowed to use them. The whole hall seems to be listening in on the conversation.

Lilith thanks the Spymaster for his time, after which they move out, on their way to the Great Well. It seems like an oasis. Many charts and wagons are parked around it, and a lively market is in bloom. The Xaniqos see many Kua-Toas and Shar’ans mingle with the crowd, always on the lookout for new and interesting, profitable information.

Somewhat later they are ten gold pieces lighter, but in possession of an area map of the Underdark. It will take them five days via the larger road to arrive at the dwarven city; by the smaller one six. There’s a Duergar caravan leaving for Dunspeirrin, but they will not join the Dwarfs: if they find out their company just killed five of their fellow dwarfs, they will not be amused.

Lilith decides to take the smaller road and the Xaniqos travel towards the upper plateau and leave Looblishar behind. No one seems to be following them and the further they get away from the city, the ‘lighter’ it becomes. The Scout is in the lead, as always about twenty feet ahead, with the Cleric in her footsteps and the two brothers following behind. The first day passes uneventful. They keep following the small road, every now and then passing a side corridor. The path is uneven, surrounded by rocks and stalactites. The second day also passes in relative peace. But then…