The Rescue of Solafein

0

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

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

healing

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t kill the mage!

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

eldritch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chwuvain

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

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

You are in the city of Erelhei-Cinlu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The siblings go outside, where they meet Leargath.

What did you unleash?

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

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

A Warlock and his Tanar’ri’s

0

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

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

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

 

Laergath

What a fine mess did you get yourself into now?

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

I was just about to help.

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

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

warlockdrow

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

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

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

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

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

What are your wishes, Mistress?

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

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

 

 

Anybys Velifane

0

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

One, two… Principle missing!

0

Suspiciously eyeing the pentagram, Lilith tries to erase part of the circle. After a few moments she succeeds, thus severing it. She takes some time to heal herself and be ready for the challenges ahead.

The room of Thra’esue is bare, apart from a small stone table with parchments. Phaedra takes a chart of a graveyard with her. On the map directions have been indicated with arrows. Lots of humanoid skulls litter the floor. At the back is a locked door. Jharrath summons an earth elemental and orders it to demolish the door. With several power attacks, it splinters the wood. Inside is a sarcophagus, which – the lid pushed aside by the summoned elemental – reveals the resting body of the ogre. The cleric takes a vial of holy water and pours half of the contents in the giant’s mouth. His eyes snap open, and with a horrible scream, he pulverizes. No mist, no nothing; the beast is gone. In his sarcophagus  lie a pouch with three potions, a key and a magical chain shirt. The potions inflict moderate wounds when used.

130403sarcophagus

The drow now move towards the room of Mephisolis, the upper Principle. The corners of his room are decorated with big urns. Something clicks when the scout passes the threshold and she gets hit by an arrow full of acid. With Thra’Esue’s key she tries to open the door to the inner sanctuary, but it doesn’t fit. Jharrath gets the same treatment, when he tries to open the lock with a scorching ray. One of his Melphs acid arrow takes care of the problem: the door is gone. The inner room is lit by four ever burning candles. A huge jump brings Alvra almost to the sanctuary… almost. Another acid arrow finds its target.

Now the method to destroy the Principles is clear, the cleric decides to leave it up to her siblings to take care of the vampire ogre. Elegantly she throws the still half full vial of holy water towards her brother, almost into his waiting hands… almost. Fumbling Alvra fails to catch the little bottle and it crashes to the stone floor. Quickly he wets a piece of his robe with the remnants of the holy water, while Lilith scowls at him. He walks towards the second sarcophagus – lined in red silk – and pushes the lid off. It takes quite some strength and the help of the wizard to accomplish, but finally they succeed. The wet cloth is not enough to finish the ogre, so they cut off his head and set the corpse on fire. Principle number two is gone from this world.

In the coffin another key, a beautiful magic chain shirt and a ditto great sword stay behind. Phaedra decides to keep the chain shirt for herself, though she will have to resize it. There are also two pouches and two shiny flasks, containing a silvery liquid. Alvra recognizes it as silver sheen. With a mighty jump, the fighter manages to reach the safety of the central room. His brother isn’t that fortunate, his clothing damaged by the acid that’s still eating its way through the fabric. The fighter hands the pouches to Lilith, and she finds gold pieces and two blue sapphires, worth 3.500 gold pieces.

2014-02-16 17.05.51

Checking out the Principles’ third room, Lilith commands her shield to transform into a spider and sends the arachnid to investigate. When nothing happens, she walks in to and tries out the keys she has found. They won’t fit. Out of holy water, Alvra and Lilith coat their weapons in silver sheen and hammer down the door. A closed coffin awaits them, which proves to be empty though. Where is the third Principle?

The Xaniqos gather in the central space, where the cleric casts a mass shield of faith. She warns her siblings to let their guard down before releasing the spell. Then they continue towards the last door: the library. The key fits the lock smoothly, and inside there are several shelves with lots of books and scrolls. Two are especially beautiful, but when Phaedra tries to read them, she gets nauseated. The wizard takes her place and soon finds out these are magic scrolls about necromancy. He takes them with him.

In the room of the ghouls, Alvra discovers a pouch with a black opal. Hurriedly he leaves the filthy nest. The cleric once again checks out the central room and the pulpits, but there is nothing there. All siblings search for hidden doors and other hiding places, but there’s absolutely nothing. The bats have found a quiet corner and witness the search.

The drow decide to go back to the first room. The corpses of the two ogres are still there, but the body of the mage ogre has disappeared! Could he be the missing Principle? It must be. A trail of blood leads upwards, but when they enter the upper floor again, an occasional drop and boot prints in the dust are all that is left of the trail. Though they search the mansion, even the upper parts and outside, there’s no trace of the mage ogre. He must have regenerated. Perhaps he ran off to House Shi’quos, they simply don’t know. The Matron Mother can be content: the leader of the Principles is dead and the rest has been slaughtered.

Open Sesame

2

The doors won’t budge and have neither lock nor handles. There’s a gap between the two slabs of stone. Jharrath can’t detect any magic surrounding them, and finally his fighter brother simply bangs on the doors. They hear a loud cracking and the massive stone doors slide to the side. Two huge hairy arms appear in the opening. The arms are attached to one of the giant kind. Two horns protrude from his skull and a blue aura surrounds him. The wizard realizes it’s an ogre mage. Behind the mage are two more ogres, dressed in a hide armor. They both have a wooden club in their hands.

Holding a magnificent greatsword, the mage ogre turns his white eyes towards the drow.

What do you want?

Ogre Mage

His long black teeth ground the words into a jumble of sentences. Lilith tries to talk her way in by claiming they want to do business, but the ogre growls that they are of the wrong house – threateningly he steps into the corridor. When he reaches for his greatsword, Jharrath starts casting. Grease covers the floor and the mage goes down with a heavy thump. He’s prone! The drow wizard releases a Kellgore’s firebolt at the creature and ignites the grease. Apparently burning up and attacking at the same time is not a good combination, because the ogre mage only manages to hit the door, which leaves his weapon stuck in deep. The air is permeated with the stench of burning hair and flesh. One of the ogres tries to pull the mage to safety, while the other starts sliding the stone door back.

The cleric walks towards the beast and attacks. They need the entrance open! She evades a counterattack and strikes the creature’s arm full force. Her flail draws blood, opening the limb to the bone. Her sister joins the fray and lashes out with her spiked chain. The ogre screams in pain. Then a javelin whizzes past, splintering against the far wall – Alvra looks chagrined. When the ogre mage tries to regain his feet, the drow sisters pull their attention back to this more formidable opponent and renew their attack, but can’t prevent the monster from getting back up. The ogre’s skin is healing rapidly, but he’s obviously still in pain. Before he can regenerate any further, Lilith ferociously attacks twice and finishes him off.

Jharrath summons an earth elemental, which goes for one of the remaining brutes. Phaedra nimbly climbs over the carcass of the mage and tumbles towards the wounded ogre. Her spiked chain yet again makes another victim. There’s only one opponent left, and Alvra claims that one as his. His two handed attack provokes a vicious reaction though and with bone crushing force the monster’s club hits the fighter. Twice! Heavily wounded  he stands back while the earth elemental goes for the kill, but it takes a couple of scorching rays from the wizard’s wand to scorch the beast to death. Three huge cadavers bear witness to the passing of the Xaniqos drow.

An oaken table and chairs, straw pallets, small sacks with personal belongings – Phaedra finishes her search rather quickly. The harvest: 435 gold pieces, 3 gems, a large steel shield and a healing potion. Meanwhile Lilith strides over to Alvra and assesses his condition. She calls on the Spider Queen, and Lolth grants her healing powers which she uses on her brother. After subsequently drinking a potion, he feels good enough to beat out the dents in his armor.

Lolth, Spider Queen

Lolth, Spider Queen