The Delver

1

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.

alchemist fireThe 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.

Delver

 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.

Charicide

1

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am Zorg.

Well, Zorg, open that door!

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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