As both Drow try to fight off the effects of the bolts’ substance, Phaedra hears breaking noises on either side of them. She grabs an object and throws it towards the sounds on her right. The stone – for that was it – instantly radiates a purple light that blinds everything in a ten feet area. In the glow the Scout sees a male Drow in a spider kit hanging near the top of a stalagmite. Growling fills the air. Something else is bothered by the light. Lilith fights off the effect of the poison and manages to focus again: the beasts are quaggoths! Savage warlike monstrous humanoids who will berserk at the slightest provocation. And three of them! The Cleric gathers her breath and emits a mournful wail, sending out a pulse of magic imbued with sorrow and sadness. Of the three, one seems to be blinded by the aftereffects of the purple light as he stumbles straight into the stalagmite, another is affected by the wave of grief and simply stands there. The last one charges full at Alvra, while Jharrath slowly topples to the ground, surrendering to a deep darkness.
The quaggoth’s claws miss the Fighter, and Alvra returns the favor by hitting the beast with his sword. Jhael’min moves to the other side of the road to get a better view of the fight. He seems to be content observing rather than participating. For now. More crossbow bolts come flying from the darkness. Lilith collects another dose of the Drow knockout poison, but again manages to shake off the effect. She knows that this poison works very fast and very effective. Her sister is hit as well and takes a potion. The cleric attacks the humanoid and lays her hands on the creature. Instantly its fur crackles and blisters, the beast seriously wounded. A slash of the fighter’s sword ends its life. The other quaggoths try to come to the aid of their comrade and claws rake deep into Lilith’s armor. She notices that the skin of the creature is white, apparently the fur is painted. The other is still blinded and its attacks are uncontrolled.
Suddenly the area where the scout was turns pitch black. And not a moment too soon. Phaedra hears footsteps coming her way and sees a dagger hurtling towards her. Though perfectly aimed, it misses because of the darkness. Well, it doesn’t miss entirely, according to the growls of one of the remaining quaggoths. Lilith sees how a beautiful dagger embeds itself in the creature’s body. No complaint on her side, she takes advantage of all the help she can get, even if given by their opponent. She tries to strike fear in the heart of the quaggoth, but in its frenzied state it is not affected at all. The humanoid tries to reach and bite her, but somehow overreaches and misses. Lilith immediately strikes with her flail and hits. The other quaggoth joins in the fight, but – still blinded – is not of much use. Neither is the wizard, who sleeps through it all.
Alvra carries the strongbox back down to the corridor, and does the same with his dead mount’s saddle and bridle. Phaedra points out it would be suspicious if a dead riding lizard was found in this cave. Combined with the missing Cloak of the Consort, it might lead straight to House Xaniqos. They decide to burn it all: the crates, bedding, araneas and the riding lizard. An incendiary slime spell in combination with a fire ball does the trick. An enormous explosion rocks the stone, and when the Wizard climbs back up to check out the area, all is scorched black. A mass of organic and inorganic stuff remains, reasonably unrecognizable. Satisfied, the Drow follow the corridor, the younger sister scouting ahead. She finds herself in a cave with ladders and ropes, leading up to a platform with a small pool of pure drink water. This might come in handy for future travels. They fill up their water bottles. Since it is a dead end, they retrace their steps and take the long and arduous route back. A lot of climbing and hoisting needs to be done and it takes them at least two hours to reach the spider carcasses again.
At the bottom of the slope that leads down from the cave entrance, the scene is unaltered. Or is it? When Lilith takes a closer look, she sees that one of the hobgoblin bodies has been turned over: someone has been here. Fresh bear tracks lead back the way they came from, but all seems quiet for now. After about an hour the siblings come upon a crossroads. The bear imprints lead to the right, but their city is straight on. The Cleric sees no point in following the tracks any further and takes the road towards Erelhei-Cinlu. To their right and left are paths filled with stalagmites, while high cliffs frame the way forward. Then the Scout spots a male Drow standing on a small rock at the side of the road. He’s seems to be nonchalantly waiting for them, his hands at a safe distance from his expensive looking rapier and dagger. The male is wearing a costly outfit and his whole demeanor radiates supreme confidence.
Greetings, I want you to lay down your weapons and hand over the cloak that you stole.
The adventurers immediately stand still, assessing the situation.
Please lay down your weapons, I will not ask again.
When Lilith asks for his name, he responds with
My name is Jhael’min Shi’quos.
Of course that does ring a bell. House Shi’quos, the Fourth house of Erelhei-Cinlu. And member of the House of the captive Drow whose throat Phaedra slit. The Scout, in a high state of alertness, hears a soft snort to the right. They might have caught up with the owners of the bear tracks. The male Drow, seeing the family crest on Lilith piwafwi, exclaims:
You are of House Xaniqos? That cloak belongs to our family!
Such a devious Matron Mother, the Cleric muses, she indeed never said anything about our House owning it or being entitled to it! Lilith keeps on talking, since the Drow seems genuine in wanting to let them pass, and throws her diplomacy skills in the game.
We know we took something that most likely doesn’t belong to us, but you must understand that we can not go back to our Matron Mother without it.
I’m sorry you feel that way,
Jhael’min says, whereupon both the Wizard and the Cleric feel the impact of a crossbow bolt. Slowly the world fades…
By now the Scout has arrived at the top of the ladder and tumbles past the attacking araneas. They try to bite and spit at her, but she manages to dodge the attacks. Her spike chain is ready. Alvra and his lizard appear at the entrance of the room, attacking, while his brother is still climbing. Lilith, still waiting for an opportunity to climb up, speaks the command word which unleashes the spider that is magically bound to her shield. It animates, and a fiendish spider joins in the attack. When Jharrath makes his way towards the top, the Cleric is finally able to climb up too, following her spider.
Both Drow and lizard are engaged in a fierce fight with the araneas. The araneas, unable to use their magical abilities in close combat slash, lash out, bite and spit, and finally Phaedra manages to kill one of the spider-beasts. Alvra is less fortunate and misses repeatedly. The Scout takes advantage of the distraction, makes a flanking move and green blood spurts all around: the third aranea is down too.
While she investigates the room, a male Drow, dressed in very noble clothes, descends the stairway. His chainshirt emanates a soft glow, then red then blue. He is wearing the insignia of House Godeep. It is very hard to focus on the dark elf. Meanwhile Jharrath is on top of the ladder, ready to cast a spell that calls forth his elementals, while the Cleric makes her way up too.
The Drow, gesturing with his hands, commands Alvra
Go away. Go back!
but the Fighter’s will is too strong, he stays put. This instantly enrages the unknown Drow. An incredibly loud shout echoes through the cave. The Wizard recognizes it as a hostile spell and summons his monsters into the scene. The ear-splitting yell proves too much for the riding lizard of Alvra, which dies of sonic damage. They all are damaged and deaf by this evocation, except Lilith and her spider, who are still in the shaft. Though Jharrath’s elementals attack the Drow, they can’t seem to hit him – each time he is slightly out of place. A displacement spell?
Arriving at the platform, Lilith sends forth her spider, but it can’t bite through the Drow’s armor. The Xaniqos attack, but both the spiked chain and the javelins bounce off a sort of invisible shield. An earth elemental manages to breach the defenses, after which a Kellgore’s firebolt delivers further damage, but only a little. Something seems to temper the pain. A Melf’s acid arrow comes buzzing back towards the Wizard, after which, under attack by the earth elementals and Lilith’s spider, the Drow disappears from view. Phaedra tracks him up the stairs. She sees a large cave, filled with more boxes and crates. It looks like a lair. The cave is floodlit. Alvra also walks up the stairs, sword in hand, while Jharrath – still suffering from the acid arrow – first casts mage armor on himself and then sends his elementals in pursuit.
The fiendish spider manages to bite the Drow, but the male discharges a bolt of electricity at the creature and it gets killed. It immediately transforms into a buckler, once again on Lilith’s arm. The Cleric has made it to the stairs and starts moving upwards. Already at the top, Phaedra throws an exploding object at the male Drow’s feet, but he doesn’t seem to be affected by it. He counterattacks by taking out a wand and sends two rays of pure fire at his opponents, missing Phaedra, but hitting one of the earth elementals. The Fighter sees his chance, runs up and aims his javelin at the Drow.
Lilith sees her Wizard brother halfway up the stairs; he looks awful. To keep him on his feet, she extends a faith healing towards him. Feeling better, he goes forward and aims a spell of clumsiness at the male. But the Drow has spell ready: again he opens his mouth and releases another horrible yell. The earth elemental, grabbing the opportunity, immediately attacks and succeeds in hurting its target, but the damage is done: Alvra, Phaedra and both earth elementals are deaf. the wizard seems to be less affected. Unlike his siblings no blood is dripping out of his ears.
Finally arriving at the top of the stairs too, the Cleric dispells the Drow’s magic protection, until only his shield remains. Alvra wants to charge, but is obstructed by one of the elementals. He walks around it and hits the now more vulnerable Drow. The earth elementals join in, as well as Phaedra. Lilith suddenly grows eight tentacles, feeling Yochlol’s blessing, but before she can get her tentacles on the male, Alvra kills him in a ferocious attack. Under their very eyes, the corpse of the Drow changes into an aranea. It was a shapeshifter!
The Scout searches the lair and finds magical bracers, a ring, wand, two healing potions and a lesser restoration potion. There is also a key. She throws the wand at Jharrath and then uses the key to open a strongbox. Inside are two thousand gold pieces, ten garnets – worth hundred gold pieces each – and a golden vial with a ruby stop. But on top of those is a cloak. It shimmers and glistens, reflecting light and colors. By its aura she feels this might be the object they were searching for! Worn by a male, this artifact’s effect must be overwhelming. Lilith claims the cloak from the hands of her sister, their mission accomplished.
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My choice is this one,
Determined to stand for what’s right in the Realms once again, Drizzt forges a new road north—toward Icewind Dale. Will his new companions follow? Can he fight the darkness alone? Either way, he knows now where he’s headed—back to the only place that’s ever felt like home.
Got to love Drizzt!
After a breakfast of stew and roast, the Xaniqos are picked up by Murgol and escorted past market and inner city to a wider area. Charts and piles of junk lie neglected in the midst of activity. The merchant leads them towards a very quiet spot, where they are greeted by a couple of Duergar. It is eerily quiet near the wide mine entrance, all is silent. This was one of the most thriving mines, Murgol says, it goes 2000 feet deep. And perhaps a beast is eating all of my ore and gems.
A railway leads the Drow into the deep. The mine is very dark, fifteen feet wide, and every hundred feet a lantern glows softly. Phaedra scouts ahead, followed by her sister, while the male Drow form the rearguard. All walk in formation next to the rails. After about twenty feet, the tunnel splits and the Scout takes a left. A staleness fills the air, loaded with the smell of stone. The dark Elf Scout stealthily glides forward, and even the Cleric manages to move silently – more or less – but Alvra’s new armor takes some getting used to. Sound travels far underground. When Phaedra walks on, she suddenly hears the light click of a pressure plate. In the distance a rattling mechanic clink resounds, coming closer and closer. Alvra and Lilith push themselves against the wall. A mine cart rattles down the track at full tilt, tipping over at the pressure plate. A series of explosions light up the tunnel and flasks of alchemist fire burn the area within twenty feet. The walls are shaking and the corridor caves in. Where once was a tunnel, now only a pile of rubble remains. It fills the opening from wall to wall and the railway is torn and bent.
The Scout, who was able to jump away just in time, examines the cave-in and declares it a dead end. She moves them back towards the other tunnel, where they take the right one. Again the Xaniqos move into position and walk down the path. That is, until another ominous click sounds under Alvra’s feet. Phaedra seems to disappear into the wall, while Lilith runs as far and fast as possible, increasing the distance between her and the place where another explosion announces the arrival of a second cart. The fighter and his brother also press themselves against the wall. Pieces of rock and fire hurt them in varying degrees.
When they encounter another split – to the right a smaller tunnel, five feet wide – Phaedra hears a low vibration in the stone, it seems like the stone is humming. She enters the corridor and observes the walls. They are smooth, like molted clay, with many round edges and curved depressions. This tunnel is definitely not dwarf-made. A smell of acid gets stronger with every step. The Xaniqos all walk in carefully, the Wizard calling up a protective Mage Armor. Jharrath then summons two Earth Elementals, which walk fifteen feet ahead of him.
When they turn the corner, two huge paws claw their way through the wall, sending one of the Elementals straight back to its plane. With a second blow, the other Elemental goes back to where it came from too. Seems like the Drow have found the culprit: a big head comes out of the stone, soon followed by a sixteen feet long and six feet wide tear-shaped brown body. It indeed is a Delver!
The Wizard lashes out with a persistent blade spell, but misses. Phaedra activates her house emblem and climbs the wall, while her sister calls upon the Spider Queen to grant her resistance against this foe, also fortified with a shield of faith. The Scout takes up position near the bend in the tunnel, while Jharrath returns to the main tunnel. There he summons three Monster Scorpions.
A chaotic and uneven fight starts. Lilith and Jharrath make themselves scarce, trying to stay ahead of the massive Delver, which is in pursuit through the stone. It follows them to the main tunnel, where the scorpions attack, doing only minor damage. The Scout fires her crossbow, but the bolts deflect upon its armor. The Cleric takes out a flask of Alchemist Fire and hits the creature straight in the face. The Delver is not much disturbed by it, but still it does some damage. The javelin Alvra throws simply vanishes. The acid that is protecting the Delver is strong!
The beast attacks Lilith and when its paw swipes across her armor, it pulverizes completely. Her armor, gone! That hurts even more than the wounds the Delver inflicts. A sizzling fireball, hurled by the Wizard, flashes past and burns through the beast’s skin. It’s payback time. Together the siblings renew their attacks with bolt and javelin. This time it seems to work. Still upset by losing her armor, the Cleric can’t focus enough to release her slashing darkness spell. But however hard they try, their attacks just aren’t enough to hurt it much, let alone slay it.
Alvra and Lilith retreat into the main tunnel to reflect on their situation. The Fighter tells his Cleric sister that their way of fighting is not effective. Meanwhile the Delver turns the other way and goes after the Wizard and his Scouting sister. She also gets hit by one mighty paw, but fortunately her armor protects her from the brunt of the attack. Jharrath is fast running out of spells, and throws a couple of earth elementals in the Delver’s way, though he knows they won’t do much good. The Scout casts two mirror images of herself to distract their foe, but since the beast has tremor sense, that’s not working either. She tries to get past it towards the main tunnel, while the Cleric calls down deific vengeance on its ass. Alvra’s kukri adds a bit to the damage. Jharrath again summons four creatures to provoke a reaction and manages to get back to his siblings too.
The Scout quickly drinks a healing potion and takes out her spiked chain, while Lilith attacks with her spiritual weapon, but to no avail. When Alvra’s javelin attack again misses, they give up the fight and race back towards the entrance. They need more weapons and have to get rid of the armor. The Delver’s acid is simply too damaging. Somewhat later the Duergar see a half naked furious Drow Cleric emerge from the mine entrance, followed at safe distance by the others.
No, not in shorts. In short! 😉