The Rescue of Solafein

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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

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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.

 

 

By the eight names of Lolth

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While Leargath is busy killing the last Despana guard upstairs, the others slowly make their way deeper into the dark passage. Phaedra, who is scouting ahead, catches a glimpse of a monster with leathery skin and red eyes. She is just about to warn the others when a scream of pain shatters the silence. Someone else is chanting, his voice rising and falling with the spell. Lilith quickly gathers her siblings in a close circle and uses a couple of spells to strengthen their party. Then the siblings follow their scout, chains softly moving against their bodies like a metal curtain.

In the distance, a purple glow lifts the darkness and a smell of decay is heavy in the air. When they turn the corner, they see a glowing summoning circle. In the middle, someone is thrashing on an altar, clearly in pain, while an arcane drow is pulling energy from his victim. Smears of blood surround the frightful scene.

1807cells

Our DM used this drawing of dark cells (by Alex J. Moore) to visualize the dungeon.

The Xaniqos wizard summons an elemental to help them, but almost loses his concentration when a claw reaches for him from the dark. Almost. 😉 The earth elemental attacks the mage in the starred circle. The drow nimbly evades, chanting:

By the eight names of Lolth, I invoke thee.
By the eight dooms of the spider queen, I summon thee.
Fill my empty vessel with your profane might, your limitless power, and your inexhaustible wisdom.

With those final words, the mage draws upon the essence of a demon. His appearance changes. His body grows feathers, his head becomes a beak and he develops half wings. He turns towards the elemental and purple light shoots from his arms. The sonic force blasts right through the elemental, dealing much damage.

Calling out to the Spider Queen, Lilith creates a shimmering, magical field around her sister, brothers and herself. In the distance, they hear heavy chains rattling. Somewhere near more gates are opening!

Jharrath finds himself face to face with another demon. The tanar’ri is bent, horned, with a big mouth and claws. Acid gelly coats its slimy skin and half of its head is filled with teeth. They have found the source of the horrid smell: a babau!

Babau

Phaedra steps forward from under the portcullis and attacks the babau with her spiked weapon. She hits the demon, but the chain gets stuck in the skin. It sizzles but stays whole. She is aided by her fighter brother, who attacks the beast from the other side, but the two-handed sword attack does less damage than Alvra expected. Back in the corridor, the Xaniqos wizard casts a spell on the tanar’ri and the creature is sent back to its plane, growling, hissing and seething with rage.

There is no shortage of opponents though: two vrocks step into view near the circle, most likely as a result of the opened cages. The birdlike demons attack the elemental, but it defends itself well.

Vrock

When Phaedra moves forward, she notices a device with multiple handles to the side on her left. A second babau, which is -she presumes- responsible for freeing the vrocks, is standing near it. The scout takes out her spiked chain and attacks one of the vrocks. Focusing divine power like a ray of the sun, Lilith also walks towards the circle, projecting a blast of searing light from her open palm that slams straight into the other vrock.

From the corner of her eyes, Phaedra sees the tanar’ri pull a lever, and with a loud clang the portcullis which they just passed, comes down. Alvra dives forward to be in the same corridor as his mistress, but Jharrath is trapped behind the iron gate! Quickly he casts a spell, and five more duplicate Jharrath’s appear.

Resurrected!

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Carrying their dead brother’s body and his belongings, the Xaniqos return home to Erelhei-Cinlu. The streets are swarming with Tormtor and Despana fighters, who guard the grand drow city, but none dare to stop the siblings. When they arrive at the mansion, Lilith orders the servants to take the wizard into the mausoleum and clean him up. She hopes the good news about the completed mission will balance Jharrath’s death: House Xaniqos is allowed to pick a portal in Looblishar!

They get rid of their battle-stained gear, freshen up and go downstairs to join their family for dinner. Lady Thandysha is present, as are Solafein, captain of the guard, and the house wizard K’yorl.

“I hope your brother has a good reason for not joining us?”
“He has indeed, Mother, he died,” Lilith replies.
Lady Thandysha nods. “I know, rumor is that the body of a noble has been carried into our estate”.
“And he smelled fishy!” Quarra snorts.
“And still we managed to free Blessed Seahaven of the vampire, so the trade commences once again!” Lilith’s words smoothly wipe the smug expression off her eldest sister’s face.

“Make sure the kua-toas take back the control over their village. The trade will be profitable enough to pay for Jharrath”s resurrection. I will lead the ritual myself in the temple of Erelhei-Cinlu, three days from now,” the Matron Mother says. “Until then you are free to do as you please.”

The siblings visit Nyttoris at the Arms & Armor and sell their loot. Lilith returns to her quarters, and finds a vestment of ebonsilk waiting for her. The beautiful magical garment is adorned with a large spider, and when the time of the resurrection has come, she wears it proudly.

When Phaedra and Lilith arrive at the temple, the Matron Mother is already there -as always dressed in finery- while Quarra is in full battle gear. Two more priestesses join, but no males are allowed inside. Alvra has to wait outside, together with Taldinyon and the guards.

The wizard’s body is gently placed upon the altar. Lady Thandysha sprinkles diamond dust as she circles the altar, working herself into a trance. She sends her prayers to Lolth and casts the resurrection spell.

A connection with the divine world opens up and Jharrath feels the telepathic link. He hears the voice of the Matron Mother, asking – no, demanding in a strong voice that he is to return to the world of the living. The wizard complies wholeheartedly. With hardly any resistance Jharrath is allowed to leave the plane of the dead and return to his body.

“Well, that was invigorating!” Jharrath is about to swing his legs over the side of the altar when he hears a raspy dark voice and is forcefully pushed back. A tentacled blob of melted wax appears, with eyes moving across the head. The filthy, writhing, oozing mass emits a foul stench. House Xaniqos is honored by a visit of a Yochlol, a handmaiden of Lolth!

Yochlol

The wizard stares in awe, beads of sweat on his brow from the exertion of the resurrection.

In a melodious voice, the handmaiden tells them that Lolth is proud of House Xaniqos, though they have never been really tested yet.
“Lolth grants your wish to bring this male back to life, but he had better be useful. In ten days, the Spider Queen expects a sacrifice, worthy of her respect. Do not displease her!”
“This altar will be dressed in the blood of our enemies,” Jharrath humbly replies.
Then the form is gone.

Lady Thandysha is ecstatic. “Today will be remembered as the glorious day that House Xaniqos was contacted by Lolth. This is fantastic: our House is rising, the Spider Queen is pleased with us!”
“Thank you, Matron Mother, for bringing me back. I will make you proud, I will make sure House Xaniqos is on the rise.”
“I never expected differently, my son.” Lady Thandysha traces his chin with her sharp nails, and a single drop of blood wells up. Jharrath swallows, and -after donning a spare robe from the temple- follows the six female drow.

Alvra, who has been guarding the temple doors, steps aside when Lady Thandysha appears in the door opening. She is practically beaming, and even Quarra seems happier than usual. They are followed closely by Lilith, Phaedra, and the two clerics. Somewhat later the wizard steps outside.
“Welcome back, brother. It seems you belong to the land of the living once again.” Jharrath’s grin says enough.

“Children, meet me tomorrow. I have an idea. From this day on, we will rise. We will not be the eighth house anymore.”

And with these words, the Matron Mother leads the way home.

The Battle Rages

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In a flash, an arrow embeds itself in the glittering mephit. The creature flutters to the ground, where it shows remarkable resilience. Alvra throws a javelin towards the hostile archer and follows the direction of his weapon. The enemy drow tries to take cover, which brings him closer to where Phaedra is hiding on the other side of the rim. She quickly replaces her arrow with another and awaits her opportunity.

Jharrath summons another, much bigger monster, which costs him dearly. His action has alerted one of the invisible priestesses and her footsteps come closer. A whispered spell calls down another flamestrike, hitting the Xaniqos wizard head on. The blast proves almost to be the end of him. Luckily Lilith quickly manages to heal her brother, and then strides forward to confront their attacker. With his last reserves, Jharrath strips the foreign drow of a layer of her protective spells. She counterattacks by conjuring a spiritual weapon over his head. A second archer appears behind the mephit and hits the creature twice, but is is still living. Tough little thing!

160610mephit.jpg

The Xaniqos priestess calls upon the Spider Queen to grant her strength and calls forth dark bolts, but the dark light sputters out, due to the drow’s inherent magical resistance when it reaches her opponent. The drow smirks and Lilith glares back, determined to make her pay. The cleric’s smile fades when the mephit uses its breath weapon and releases a ten feet cone of salt crystals. At its back, the summoned earth elemental takes on the archer, but after a quick thrust, it is sent back to its plane.

Jharrath surrounds himself with six mirror images. Suddenly a figure, dressed in black, appears behind Lilith and stabs her in the back, and another one attacks Jharrath – or so she thinks. Two mirror images shatter. Quickly the wizard calls forth another elemental, to engage the female backstabbing rogue, while the salt mephit extracts water from their surroundings, sending it as a weapon towards their opponents. But soon its powers are defeated and it is gone.

Meanwhile Alvra sees the first drow move away and charges after the elf. He hits her hard, but then hears another grating yet vaguely familiar voice behind him, dripping with hatred. It was a setup. Through charred lips from yesterday’s confrontation, the female utters the last necromantic syllables for her incantation and lays her hand on the fighter, but Alvra’s constitution proves to be too strong for the deadly spell. A bastard swords whooshes through the air afterwards, aimed at Alvra’s back. He sidesteps, assesses the situation and is soon in a life or death fight with the female fighter, while keeping an eye on the deadly cleric.

160610sword.jpg
Phaedra comes out of hiding and shoots the cleric with a poisoned arrow. She then drops her bow and takes out her spiked chain. A tangle foot bag keeps the charred cleric at bay for a while, but then the dark elf calls out to her goddess. “Slay this fighter, Lolth!” Alvra grabs the opportunity to quickly counterattack, but gets hit by a nasty spell. He barely survives and pulls back towards safety. His sister also tumbles back and takes a potion. The enemy cleric disappears in layers of mist, and Phaedra hears footsteps fading. She tracks the fleeing cleric for a while.

The priestess near Lilith starts casting, causing her magical weapon to grow larger with each second, but the Xaniqos cleric counterattacks with a spell of her own and strips away the magical enhancements. Frustrated the woman hisses and attacks Lilith with her morningstar. The Xaniqos is too heavily armored and shrugs off the attack. Lilith’s flail lashes out and hits not once, but twice. Her faith in the Spider Queen is justified, as with a powerful spell, she inflicts mortal wounds to the second cleric.

As one after the other mirror image disappears under the ferocious attack of the rogue, Jharrath summons more elementals. One of them grapples the rogue, holding her tight, while the others pound her into the ground. The wizard ends her life with Kellgore’s fire-bolts.

Alvra retraces his steps and finds his javelins. What he doesn’t find though, is one of the drow who fell in the pit earlier during the fight. He assumed he was dead, but he must have sneaked off. He walks towards Lilith and receives a full healing. “One of the drow corpses turned out to be not quite dead yet,” he reports. Lilith acknowledges him with a nod and then turns her attention towards Jharrath. Together they search through the possessions of the fallen.

 

Prying Eyes

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While Lilith patches up her wizard brother, Phaedra and Alvra go over the remains of their defeated enemies. They were very well equipped with magic weapons and armor, amulets, wands and potions. When Lilith searches the archer, she finds an obsidian bat form among the other equipment. The cleric scrutinizes the statue, and then asks Jharrath if it could be the sought after key to the portal. The wizard studies the object in the light of the dawn and confirms her belief: this is an activating stone.

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The cleric applies more healing to Alvra, while keeping an eye on the surroundings. The fighter is leaning against a wall. Someone is watching us, he signs. Lilith nods. At that moment, Phaedra return from patrolling the neighborhood. A flock of ravens is their constant company up above. I know, Lilith signals, but we can’t go back, we still need to find Dark Fate. Alvra, find us a defensible spot. Do it, quickly!

They travel on, until the fighter finds a shallow basin with a low wall at the back and bushes in the middle. Lilith creates a number of semi-tangible, visible magical orbs and sends them forth. These Prying Eyes have the specific instructions to scout for danger. The cleric leans back against the rim of the basin, as does Alvra, and tries to get some rest. Their brother finds cover under a bush. Phaedra hides nearby and keeps watch.

The day passes slowly, until the Prying Eyes wake their mistress and alert her to advancing danger: six drow are at 120 feet and closing in. Lilith sits up and signals to her siblings. They are surrounding us! Alvra gives his sister a hand, and with his help, she manages to climb out of the pit. The Eyes inform her that the enemies have advanced to sixty feet from where they were resting.

The cleric starts chanting and creates a shimmering, magical field around her companions, that enables them to avert attacks easier. She then casts a spell on Alvra, that makes his muscles bulge, and dresses herself in an magical armor of darkness. An anti-toxin potion should also help counter any sleeping spell darts. Jharrath drinks one as well. Lilith warns the others: through her Prying Eyes she can see that that five of the six enemy drow just became invisible. Among them is the cleric who attacked them yesterday. And she doesn’t seem to be the only cleric this time!

LilithJharrath.jpg

Alvra peeks over the edge, ready to jump into action. Drinking a potion that blurs her outline, Lilith takes cover behind a big rock, with her wizard brother near. Moments later he summons a salt mephit. Glitter dust swirls through the air.

Silently, Phaedra steps away, taking position on the other side of the rim’s top while hiding in invisibility. Then she hears footsteps next to her. She keeps very quiet and from the corner of her eye she sees an archer who takes aim at the mephit. The warrior is in full armor and dressed in black. Another battle is about to begin.