The Lair of Fire

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A distant rumbling – much like a volcano – helps to camouflage the noise they might be making. When Phaedra comes closer, she notices the two shapes are no Duergar, but a kind of salamander with a human torso and snake-like lower body. One of these Flamebrothers sees the Scout and runs further down the corridor, but the Drow is quicker and drops down in front of it. Lilith charges to help her sister, but misses her attack. A magic missile sizzles through the air and hits one of the Flamebrothers, while Alvra is less lucky with his javelin. The beasts attack the Drow females and the fight rages back and forth. The creatures use both their tail and spear and Phaedra gets hit. The Drow intensify their attack and draw blood with flail, javelin and missile. When two more salamanders appear from the corridor, the Cleric activates her wand and releases a circle of hurtful energy. The wounded creature’s wounds are torn apart and it drops down, dead as a stone.

Jharrath presses onward and launches another magic missile, while the Fighter pierces the second guard with his magical javelin. When the Cleric subsequently releases her spell, a hissing, hurtling ribbon of pure darkness flies from her hand and strikes the salamander hard. Nothing remains – not even of the special javelin. This display of power chases away the new guards, who retreat into the delivery place, and gives them a moment of time to drink their fire-resisting potions. Not all do so though…

Lilith orders the Wizard to send an elemental into the next room to trigger an attack by the Flamebrothers. The sisters walk forward, accompanied by Alvra, and follow the summoned creature. While the salamanders are focused on the elemental, Alvra peeks into the room and sees that someone, or something, is watching the fight farther down. Phaedra shoots one of the Flamebrothers with her crossbow and scores a full hit. A spell of blindness hampers the salamander further, and together the Cleric and Fighter manage to kill it.

130523salamander

Another one attacks Lilith, but the potion she took protects her against the fire damage – damn useful, these potions – and while it’s thus busy, one of the Wizard’s magic missile ends its life. The last Flamebrother is under heavy attack by the Scout, who strikes hard with her spike chain. The flame quickly runs out of the beast.

The earlier spectator turns out to be a Fire salamander, that joins in the fight. The beast is as tall as the Drow and has a large tail. It doesn’t much like the ray of frost the Wizard sends. When it tries to grapple Alvra, the little mouths on the Drow’s breastplate gingerly bite into the Fire salamander’s tail. Alvra manages to free himself, but suffers another spear attack by the beast, while the tail lashes out at the Cleric. The elemental’s time in the Underdark has run out, so Jharrath summons three new ones. In a vigorous attack these beings kill the Fire salamander.

In the next room they see the torn up body of a Duergar on the ground – the dwarf has been tortured and scorched. They have found what’s left of the group that went to pick up the magic staff for Thangarth. A rack contains weapons in good condition, and in the Duergar’s clothes Phaedra finds a heavy pouch with two hundred gold pieces.

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.

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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.

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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.

Famous last D&D words

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Of course it’s evil, kill it!

It can’t talk to us like that!

What do you mean, how many hit points do I have?

Was that thunder, or were you rolling damage?

No really. I can do this.

Okay, if I max out this round and win initiative next round, maybe…

I open the coffin…SLOWLY.

Boost me up.

You mean it was a GOOD dragon?

I’ll steal the 20+ level mage’s pouch.

What the hell, there’s six of us and only five type VI demons.

A wish? Okay, genie, make me a ham sandwich.

Hey, all I need is a two or better to save versus poison.

YO! Grendel! Your momma wears combat boots!

I dunno what a tarrasque is, but it can’t be TOO tough.

What do you mean, the dragon wakes up?

Wait! What do deathspells do?

Go ahead and drink it.

I’ll never surrender.

It was a joke.

Hey guys, where are you?

I mix the potions and drink.

There’s no such thing as a bottomless pit. Everybody knows that.

Featherball! I mean, featherrrr……..

Do you realize what you just did?

Tell me this is an illusion.

What do you mean, my spell expired.

I’ll cast Fireball.

Let’s go in.

Let’s not go in.

I follow them.

I stab the dragon and tell it to get off me.

I drink the bottle marked POISON on the off-chance that it’s the extra-healing potion.

I kill it.

No problem.

Let me handle this.

Whaddya mean, a pentagram only has FIVE sides?

What a useless scroll. It just says, HASTUR HASTUR HASTUR over and over again…

I though YOU brought the food!

Why is your torch flame turning blue?

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!

Trust me.

I never get lost.

He hit me for HOW MUCH?????

They’re only kobolds!

Hey, this chest just bit me!

I try to move silently in plate armor…

I didn’t find any traps!

Wonder what this button does?

Don’t worry, he’s probably just first level.

This 250′ wall has so many holes, it should be easy to climb.

I’ll just close my eyes and walk up to the dracolisk holding up my mirror.

Can I eat this green slime?

What’s your alignment?

My character WANTS to go out in a blaze of glory.

I’ll just walk up to the dragon invisibly.

Why is this man speaking in sign language?

This type of undead can’t drain levels.

I’ll open the door, sneak up on him from behind and backstab him!

We’re in luck! The dragon is sleeping.

That’s only a statue.

There’s no trap on the door, so let’s open it.

I have this dungeon at home, I know where everything is!

Don’t worry, the DM won’t hose me.

The DM’s an idiot.

We’ll untie the prisoners and lock them in the closet.

I see HOW MANY wights?!

It was only the wind.

Don’t worry, wyverns don’t attack unless they’re provoked.

You watch the door, I’ll take out the Gas Spore (Beholder) that’s guarding the treasure.

A Nightmare, huh? I’ll attack for one round and prepare to run.

I’ll take off my armor so I’m silent and slip past the dragon.

They need a twenty to hit me, I’m invincible.

I throw a rock at the eight-legged lizard to get it’s attention.

Who’s the bitch with the spiders?

We killed all monsters on this level.

I’ve been here before. There are no traps in this section.

Well …, I’ll touch it again.

I’ll scout ahead.

I attempt to disbelieve.

I know if I draw a card I’ll get the VOID.

My first arrow MISSED the magic-user pointing at me? OK, I shoot again!

Where’d that thief go now?

Hey guys…wait up.

Trap? What trap?

So what?

Ya know, since our druid’s been so obnoxious, it would probably serve him right if we set his precious forest on fire.

A creature with two BABOON heads on a scaly REPTILIAN body? With TENTACLES for arms? Hunh. Must be some stupid wizard’s magical construct. Let’s kill it.

OK, O Mighty Odin, as long as you’re not gonna answer my prayers, I’m gonna tell ya what I REALLY think of ya!

No, I’m sure there’s some stipulation that says a disintegrate spell won’t work if the spellcaster casts it on himself. Here, I’ll prove it.

Oops, I spilled flaming oil on my beard. I’d better wash it off after we kill this fire lizard.

Well, we know he’s LAWFUL evil, so he should keep his word when he promised not to betray us.

So I’m safely across the pit? Whew! For a minute there I was worried that you might remember my encumbrance penalties.

Thank God!! A hobgoblin camp up ahead! Maybe they can help heal our wounded!

Don’t worry! The chances of me blowing a climb walls roll twice, at my level, are infinite small.

Well, *I* trust our party thief, and if he says this door isn’t trapped, that’s good enough for me.

So that giant fell into the pit? I’ll jump over it and get his treasure.

Me first. Me first.

Try me, sh*t breath!

Oops, sorry…didn’t mean to disturb you.

Come on, we haven’t found any traps so far.

Diamonds … Gold… Saphires!!! Terry! Terry, we’re rich, we’re rich, we’re fabulously wealthy!!!! Terry…Terry…??

Let’s walk this way.

Hey folks, follow me, I remember the way to the dungeon exit.

I never get to have any fun!

You mean they get to use the critical hit chart too?

Hey, I know a dragon when I see one.

What do you mean the whole room we’re in detects as a trap?

Hey you! Frost Giant! How’s the weather up there?

Just watch, I bet I get the one item that’s cursed.

I’m invincible!

A sign labeled ‘pit’? I walk up to it.

No problem. That’s easy!

Hah! I’m not dead yet. I still have five hit points.

I don’t care. I have a Ring of Regeneration.

Yeah, I know it’s dangerous, but think of the experience points.

I stand right underneath the Fire Giant and point my wand straight up.

I wonder what’s in here?

He wouldn’t try that trick again!

Just because you’re a dragon doesn’t mean you can push ME around.

What do you mean trolls regenerate!?!

Here kitty, kitty, kitty…

I’ll open it.

It seems easy enough.

I think he can be trusted.

Those noises are probably nothing.

I’ll pull the lever.

Money!

Magic is for wimps.

Oh. He’ll miss. Just look at my AC.

Hey, where’d all the big spiders come from?

AGAIN!?!?!

I’ll use my taunt skill.

Your mother was a Gully Dwarf.

My God will protect me.

You don’t look like a mage!

It’d be stupid to trap this!

Here, hold this rope while I go down.

Well, if you didn’t belch, who did?

I know an illusion when I see one.

There’s a smell of gas, huh? Well, my lantern is hooded. It ought to be safe.

I cast a lightning bolt at the ochre jelly.

Lightning bolts don’t ricochet off stone walls, do they?

A ballista? What’s that? How many dice of damage does it do?

So what if he calls the guard? A backwater town like this can’t have a very big militia.

What do you mean, ‘Your wand ran out of charges’?

Oh these, I’ve fought them before…”=

He looks like a sunburnt elf?

All that noise we heard and there’s only one drow here?

You’d have to be a GOD to smile after that hit!

Take out a Beholder’s eyes, and Bingo!

I can’t possibly miss…

I go through the door… Wait, I check for traps!

Don’t be silly. That kind of monster NEVER follows you.

Is this one really able to breath fire?

What do you mean, ‘How many hit points do I have RIGHT NOW??

Come on, EVERY evil wizard’s tomb has a way out!

It can’t be a beholder, we’re only first level!

When nobody’s looking, I go back to get some more gems.

It’s an illusion. No spell can reshape the side of a mountain like that. I disbelieve and walk off the 500’ cliff.

He’s only an ordinary 15th level magic user.

CLICK! What do you mean, ‘The trap WASN’T armed.’? What was that Remove Traps roll for anyway!?

How was I to know that that orc would tell the truth about us not wanting to come in here!

What do you mean, ‘Green slime ain’t always green.’?

Nah…the game’s just started… he wouldn’t put a fatal death trap in yet.

You don’t get Humanoid 8th level wizards. He’s only bluffing.

(To Angry Red Dragon) Did anyone tell you you had bad breath?

There’s HOW many Githyanki sleeping bunks in this chamber?

A red WHAT swoops out of the sky at us?

I’ll swim across.

I throw the rock into the dark cave.

I run down the hallway alone.

I’ll use the wand of wonder.

I want to check out the magic tome.

Hmm…I’ll try Chain Lightning.

Ok, the dragon’s asleep. You guys wait back here with bows and stuff. Getafix and I will go up in front of it and cast light on it’s eyes to blind him, then we’ll blow his brains out with psionics.

Garth, you be the anchor. I tie the rope around myself, take the slack [700′] and jump in.

There’s only ten kobolds and there’s eight of us. Attack!

I dive through the fire.

Follow those lights!

There’s a company of 100 barbarians guarding the pass. ‘I don’t think they want us to cross these mountains.’ ‘So what?’

It’s only a naga.

I’m not going to waste spells on THEM!

That’s right, I’m going to polymorph into a pergrine falcon and attempt to land on the back of one of the 12 griffons flying above us.

I think we can take it down.

There only a pack of kobolds.

Does a three save?

C’mon guys – he can’t kill all of us!

I use animal empathy to calm the charging Triceratops.

There’s only three of them. Watch the one that looks like Death, though.

Just because you can breathe fire doesn’t mean you can push *us* around.

Hmm…how do we know you are the REAL Angel of Death?

Hey, it’s only a black dragon, a vampire, and a lich…. and we’ve got a horn of bubbles!

I sneak up to the Lich and pick its pockets.

This is a wimp dungeon.

What does this lever do?

If I were you, Demon, I would sit back down!

That purple robe really clashes with your burning eyes…

Bow to a Demon? Never!

Elminster, you old fart, I thought you were really mad for a minute.

What do you mean I turn into a bug?

Oh, please! Vampires have so many weaknesses, you can’t help but kill them!

What do mean feather fall wears off?

Okay, we’ll attack the small boulette first.

What do you mean, the Wall of Ice vanishes?

They CAN’T have initiative!

You’ve got 80 hit points; YOU open the treasure chest.

The Hall of Blades? Hey, I’ve got an 18 dex.

What do you mean my axe bounces off him? What’s Stoneskin do anyway?

C’mon guys… how bad could it be?!

Cmon guys, it was only a rumor, there’s nothing here.

So what, I have the artifact!

Ok, so theres a few more of them.

But I just got a little prick!

Did he say he had Plate Mail +5? I stop running and fight him!

Hey, do you guys think that this might just be an illusio… (whack)

I pick the lock on the magic shop window.

We charge!

And the ultimate famous last word:

Oops.

Which ones did you use and lived to tell? 😉

Source: Third edition palace of D&D

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!

Dunspeirrin

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When the Xaniqos are rested, they again travel the winding corridors of the Underdark, until they arrive in a huge domed paradise of stalagmites and stalactites. An immense abyss opens up before them, a long broad bridge connecting the tunnels to the dwarven city of Dunspeirrin. They have made it to their destination! Of course, Dunspeirrin lacks the sophisticated appearance of a Drow settlement!

Carts are crossing the bridge in both directions, transporting a never ending stream of goods like coals and gems from the mines, slaves (even Drow), Goblinoids, Svirfneblin and of course many Duergar. A cacophony of sounds emanates from the city, the noise is overwhelming after the relative silence in the abandoned smaller Underdark tunnels. The people of Dunspeirrin don’t pay much attention to the Drow, being only a few among the many who travel and trade here. Dunspeirrin is always at war, either with Shield dwarves over their mines or with their ancient enemies the Illithid. The place itself is always busy with mining resources for weapon forging.

SvirfneblinIllithid

There are several guard posts stationed on the bridge, while others are patrolling – marshall law rules in this town – but the Xaniqos pass unhindered, walking through huge massive open doors. Once closed, this city is an impregnable fortress. In the city, the noise is even louder, a chaos of sounds, sulfur and coals. The blows of blacksmiths resonate in the heavy air.

In the middle of an open plaza is a large market with pens, filled with animals and slaves. In this city a word is a word, and a contract is a contract. Ninety percent of the traders is Duergar. They look at the Xaniqos Cleric with a sense of admiration and respect, and Alvra’s armor is also viewed approvingly. Lilith’s Scout sister Phaedra attracts little attention, so does the Wizard; the Duergar are not into magic.

Spiders, rothé, lizards (both draft and riding animals), ratites, amphibians, dragonflies, praying mantises, beatles – there’s an enormous variety of animals. Amid the chaos, Alvra spots a pen with twelve riding lizards. Two Duergar are standing in front of them, one is covered in dust with soot on his face, the other looks like a guard. The merchant introduces himself as Murgol Coalhewer.

These beautiful animals are about four years old and trained in combat. Each costs 2000 gold pieces, including riding gear.

The lizards are not the least troubled by the noise around them. Alvra knows that an untrained lizard is worth 500 gold pieces, plus an additional 1000 gold pieces for the training. Lilith asks the merchant if her brother can check on the lizards, which Murgol allows. All seem to be fine and in a good condition.

The Cleric offers 10.000 gold pieces for eight riding animals, but to her surprise the trader offers her another deal: all twelve lizards for 10.000 plus a service.

In the past week one of the mines failed to bring up coal, and neither did we receive any messages. I have sent in two enforcers, but they still have not returned. There might be a Delver at work, a huge dungeoneering aberration. This beast is quite rare, it is an underground delver that is very fond of stone. The nightmare of every miner. A lair would be a disaster. Their skin is acid and any contact will eat through metal. The beast is neutral in attitude, but will fiercely defend its territory. My claim on this particular mine is too good to leave it and find another; the investments have been to costly. What is your decision, Cleric?

Delver

Lilith agrees to his proposal and asks if there’s an inn where they might stay. Fortunately Murgol’s cousin, Ivar Hammerhead, runs the Hamer & Anvil Inn. They will recognize Ivar by his lack of hair. The trader will meet them there the next morning and escort them to the mine, which is situated on the outskirts of Dunspeirrin.

The inn is filled with 99% Duergar, who are drinking, eating and gambling. The bald dwarf will make room for the Xaniqos and feed them with rothé stew. When Jharrath inquires after the herbs he uses, the Duergar smirks. We just roast them, that’s it. And the beverages are mainly beer and wine. Ivar then spits in a glass and ‘cleans’ it with a towel, whereupon the wizard asks for a bottle of wine. Closed. Chateau de Mithral Hall 😉

The inn keeper then sends two Duergar upstairs to clean and clear the rooms for his new customers. Five minutes later another Duergar rolls face-first down the stairs, soon followed by a semi-clothed dwarven woman. They hastily leave the establishment, booed by the clientele. It would have been better if they had paid for their room. Lilith and Alvra visit the market again to replenish their potion stocks. In the evening the Xaniqos siblings go upstairs to their rooms, which are dusty and not really clean, though the sturdy latch on the door compensates for the untidiness.

Even more spiders

1

The strands are particularly strong and the dark Elves have difficulty hacking through them. The Fighter manages to cut the strands with his kukri. They progress slowly since the work is arduous. Clicks and clacks of small spiders resonate all around them. The creatures seem very sensitive to sounds. After sixty yards, a thick layered curtain of webbings blocks the entire passage. The air is filled with spider talk and feels oppressive. The Wizard hurls a fireball straight into the mass and burns away five full yards, thus roasting a couple of small spiders.

When they press onward, they suddenly hear a new sound. A flapping sound. A very ugly creature sails around the corner and Alvra identifies it as a (poisonous) spider eater. The species likes to place its eggs in paralyzed prey, so their offspring has something fresh to eat. The Fighter takes aim and throws his javelin at the flying insect-like beast. The spider eater tries to drive its stinger into Alvra in a ferocious attack. The corridor is filled with heavy angry buzzing. Phaedra, still carrying her spiked chain, lashes out at the beast, while Lilith attacks with her flail. Both score a hit. They soon get help from their brother, who fires Kelgore’s firebolt into the spider eater. Distracted by the combined attack, the animal misses Alvra with both stinger and mandibles and tries to fly away. But Alvra’s two-sided swords ends its life.

The Fighter notices a broad ledge and climbs upwards to inspect the spider eater’s lair. He finds five big purple stinking slimy eggs. Two of them disappear into his bag, the other three are smashed to pulp. All that is left are the remains of tiny small spider eater embryos. They will never live to see an Underworld day. Alvra climbs back down again and reports to the Cleric that he has destroyed the layer, not speaking a word about the two eggs in his bag.

Onward they go, with the Scout in the lead as usual. There are no more heavy webbings in front of them, though both sides of the tunnel are covered in spider silk. The hum of the spiders increases and before they know it, both brothers are stuck. Again. Immediately a swarm of small spiders comes down from the ceiling and attack the male Drow. Phaedra tries to hit the agile arachnids, but misses. Lilith smashes one of them into bits and pieces with a mighty blow, soon followed by a second. The Scout also manages to hit them now.

Two spiders bite Jharrath in his calves and the Wizard feels a paralysis taking hold of his legs. His spell fails. Alvra is being battered by four spiders at a time and one of them manages to crawl under his armor. He also feels the mandibles of the little beast. Their sisters are now under attack too but manage to avoid the poisonous effects of the bites.

Suddenly a huge spider appears, with fur and bladed mandibles that end in razor sharp points – and attacks the Fighter. Fortunately Alvra hears the approach and ducks instinctively, an action which probably saves his life, for the sword spider lashes out with all eight legs simultaneously. Lilith hits the beast with her spiritual weapon, after which the arachnid scuttles away.

Up ahead, two more large spider forms become visible. These have a small body and long, spindly legs, while yellow saliva drips on the grounds. Phaedra agrees on Alvra’s assumption that these are spitting spiders, which spit blotches of poison towards their victims. The Wizard casts a protective mage armor on himself.

The sword spider again comes near Alvra, who counterattacks with his kukri, hitting twice. The monster disappears into the heights of the tunnel, after which Lilith redirects her spiritual weapon from the sword to the spitting spider. The small spiders seem to finally give up on their fight, falling to the ground and crawling away. Then suddenly the sword spider jumps down on top of the Fighter, wounding him severely. His whole body is imprisoned by the eight razor sharp legs. Alvra’s brother come to the rescue and launches Kelgore’s firebolt onto the creature. To the Fighter’s relief it incinerates. He shakes off the ashes and quickly drinks a healing potion. Then he tries to escape his ghastly prison of spider legs, in which he finally succeeds.

One of the spitting spiders has found a target in Phaedra, spits and hits her neck. The glob has a devastating and paralyzing effect on the Scout and she lashes out at one of its legs. The fight surges back and forth, but in the end Phaedra finishes it off, though the fight has taken a heavy toll on the Scout.

The other spider tries to hit the Cleric, but misses. Jharrath uses his wand of magic missiles to hurt it, giving Lilith the chance to cast a shield of faith on herself. She manages just in time, for a set of formidable mandibles clicks close to her flesh. Her spiritual weapon continues to do damage, as does another magic missile. Jharrath too gets hit by a blotch of poison and is severely hampered by its effects. Together the siblings hack and slash at the last monstrous spider. It finally is killed by another missile.

Panting, the Xaniqos stand up straight and eye the havoc around them. Lilith is able to counter part of the effects the spitting spider’s poison is having on her sister and cures some of Alvra’s wounds. A long rest has to do the rest.