Phaedra Xaniqos

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Appearance

Silver-haired Phaedra has an angular face with a thin nose, high cheekbones, a sharp jaw and narrow, bright amber eyes.  Normally, these features would be considered attractive (and she is certainly not unpleasing to look upon), but the combination does not sit particularly well on her small face and wide forehead.   Her frame is slight, barely reaching 4 feet and 5 inches, but she is lithe and muscular.  Phaedra’s form is graceful, and her movements are fluid and precise.

Personality

The same cannot be said, however, about her social skills.  In the presence of other drow, she is rather stiff and speaks mostly only when addressed, preferring to remain in the background.  She does not have a penchant for the verbal back-and-forth between the drow.  This should be not confused with an impatience or lack of interest in the political maneuvering and mental games in which the drow engage; Phaedra enjoys such games.  She knows her strengths, and the pragmatist in her knows that her skills are better served in the background, in observation, rather than in direct participation.  She is always watching and calculating, intent on spinning her own webs.

Phaedra enjoys being alone, relishing the times when she can move around Erelhei-Cinlu freely, whether scouting, gathering information for the future, or executing a task for the house.  Endless, inane chatter aggravates her, and she has punished a slave or two for talking needlessly in her presence.  Unlike her mother, she has a taciturn and calm demeanor.

Clothing

Phaedra is partial to wearing leather and spider-themed accessories.  She normally wears leather armor tailored into a sleeveless dress with a short, pleated skirt, paired with arm-length gloves, thigh-high boots and a hooded cloak.  Her waist-length hair, mostly worn loose, is adorned with combs and clips.  She is quite fond of accessories and creates sketches in her spare time.  Her favorite piece is an obsidian choker resembling a web wrapped around her neck with a spider dangling from it. Despite her aversion to small talk, she is particularly fond of parties and occasions which give her a chance to display her fine clothing and jewelry.  Phaedra knows what looks good on her, and she uses that knowledge to full effect.

In combat, however, her weapons are her only accessories.

Pox Bearers

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With the upcoming council of the ruling houses, the ambitious Matron Mother of House Xaniqos is determined to make the best impression she can to prove herself worthy of her position as part of the eight ruling houses. The new-found glory of the ambitious house is slowly building up with every repair and the atmosphere is almost undrowlike positive.

Three days of relative peace have passed when, after the evening prayers, the four warriors are once again called to the chapel in full armour. They are greeted by Matron Mother Thandysha. Their next mission has to be conducted in deepest secrecy. If they are caught, they will be on their own. The Matron Mother explains the situation:

A group of highly contagious pox bearers, commanded by Vorn, calls the shots in the Ghetto of Outcasts. This guild gets its income by threatening other inhabitants and visitors with contamination with the incurable disease. The so called Pox Tax. House Xaniqos demands a share of these taxes, like House Everhate did before them. And now someone is spreading the rumor that House Xaniqos has a cure for the pox. Of course this is bad for business! Leader Vorn is suspected to be the source and has to be taken care of as soon as possible! The guild’s second in command will then step in to take over the Pox Bearers Guild.

The siblings promise to take care of this problem, after which Solaufein opens the door for them. They cross the bridge and turn left into the Ghetto of Outcasts. On their way to Vorn’s mansion, they pass beggars of many of the lower races and even some drow, most are covered in boils. Finally they arrive at their destination: a mansion which is looking surprisingly good, especially for a guild of diseased. The mansion has an upper-surface look, with two big doors in the front.

The Xaniqos drow deem it better to enter in the least conspicuous way. Phaedra spots two dark shapes exit a service door in a side alley and moves in to have a closer look. The door is ajar and when she enters, she finds herself in a bar. Four people are playing cards, while others are slumped against the wall. There is a door at each end of the room.

When Phaedra returns from getting the others, she notices one of the men has gone missing. She questions a male drow who is still sitting at the table about it, but he denies. The scout lashes out with her foot, kicking the chair from underneath the impudent dark elf.

You say there was no one else here and I say there was. Apparently one of us is lying… are you suggesting it is me, male?!

Fear flashes over his scarred face and he stammers,

Upstairs, Mistress, he went upstairs.

With a swish of her piwafwi, Phaedra straightens again, earning herself an approving glance of the cleric.

They all head through the left door of the bar and find themselves in an entry hall, a staircase on their right. After a brief inspection they discover another door which leads to a storage room, filled with barrels. Lilith tells her sister to jam the door to the bar. Then the four drow move up the stairs together, stealth no longer useful now their arrival has been announced. And indeed, upstairs a voice invites them into a large room. A smooth faced man in a piwafwi and robes is sitting behind a desk, while the drow from the downstairs bar is sitting in a chair on the right side of the room. He’s playing with a knife, his face flawed by an advanced stage of the pox. Near the door is a big muscled orc, with only a couple of marks of the disease.

Lilith addresses the man behind the desk – assuming it’s Vorn – and demands to know if he is spreading the rumours about the pox antidote. Any pretence of small talk is destroyed by the impatient tone of the cleric’s questions. Vorn soon admits it and sticks to his tale that House Xaniqos is indeed withholding the cure. As neither of them backs down, the conversation soon turns into a fight.

To make matters worse, two bugbears come running up the stairs. Daggers whoosh with astonishing accuracy and speed through the air. Alvra buries a javelin in the bugbear’s stomach. It goes down and doesn’t move again. Phaedra manages to kill the orc, while Lilith whacks the drow to the ground, but not before one of his daggers hurts the scout. The cleric is also wounded. Meanwhile Jharrath summons two earth elementals, who throw themselves into the fight. The fighter busies himself with the second bugbear, and the three drow and the elementals attack Vorn with spells and in melee. Finally Vorn goes down. His features and form change and what remains is a Doppelganger!

The younger sister searches the dead drow and finds a wristsheet. No wonder he was that quick. She takes the magic object very carefully, favouring her injured shoulder where a magical dagger is embedded.

The wizard investigates the bookshelves on the left side of the room and finds a scroll and a wand to detect magic. A faint aura triggers his interest, and after careful examination he finds a strange slot on the side of the bookcase, rune shaped. Jharraths rids Vorn’s body of magical bracers and a rapier, plus a healing potion, a scroll of confusion and a dagger. Vorn’s ring fits perfectly in the bookcase slot and when the drow turns it, a stairway opens, leading downwards. He also discovers a book on node magic, faerzess magic.

Lilith searches the desk and finds a couple of letters plus the key to a big chest in the corner. Another treasure awaits them there: two hundred gold pieces, five malachites and three pearls. The letters, addressed to Vorn, clearly indicate that House Xaniqos has a cure for the pox.

The party decides to return home, taking the exit staircase. It spirals down into an alley at the back of the house… where a big ogre awaits them with a club. It attacks and hits the already wounded Phaedra hard. In stead of fighting the creature, drawing attention to themselves, they head back to the Xaniqos mansion.

It is obvious the scout needs help, so Lilith heals her sister. Phaedra still feels sick and feverish, and her arm itches. The cleric’s face also buzzes with an uncomfortable feeling, but that slowly subsides. In another book Jharrath has found, he reads that what the sisters are experiencing, are indeed the symptoms of the pox! But – according to the book – a cleric of Lolth can remove the disease, though they will stay a bearer of the disease for life. Doppelgangers seem immune to the pox.

When they arrive home, Solaufein is already waiting and directs them towards the temple. He then alerts the Matron Mother, who listens attentively to their story. When she hears there’s an ogre on the loose, she immediately sends investigators to clear up this loose end. Thandysha is pleased with the news of Vorn’s death, the letters and the gold and gems. Phaedra and Lilith remove their armour and are examined by their mother. A spell removes the disease from the cleric, while a vial, handed over by a minotaur, cures the scout. The Matron Mother confirms Lilith’s question: House Xaniqos really does have the cure for the pox!

The four young drow pray to the Spider Queen and then head towards their rooms. Tomorrow they have to report to the City Guard and patrol the surroundings. In two days the Council Meeting will be held.

Lilith Xaniqos

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Lilith Xaniqos

Gender: female
Age: 28
Appearance: slim yet wiry, pure black skin; pointed ears and lavender almond-shaped eyes; 5.4 feet tall, 120 pounds. Dressed in tight-fitting black long skirts with high splits to enable maximum freedom in movement and a leather bustier with red silk accents, more revealing than concealing. There are tiny pockets hidden in this leather outfit. She wears leather bands around her neck and and holds her long white hair back with (sharp) hairpins, so it tumbles down her back in a nonchalant mass. In the throat band is hidden a holy symbol of Lolth.

The drow sweeps into the room, slamming the door shut. Utter indignation causes her eyes to flare red. ‘How dare they!’, her fierce voice resounds off the walls. ‘They will pay for this. House Xaniqos will NOT be played for a fool!’ Then she goes through the calming rituals she learned at school and kneels before the stone image of her deity, Lolth. Praying ‘Elliya Lolthu’ over and over again, she surrenders herself to the Spider Queen’s mercy. 

Meet Lilith, second daughter of the house of Xaniqos.

At the head of House Xaniqos stands the Matron Mother Thandysha, for whom Lilith has the utmost respect, though that is the only thing she feels for her mother. Lilith doesn’t really know her that well, since she was half raised by her elder sister Quarra, half by the clergy. Lilith has a younger sister who sometimes listens to the name Phaedra, and two brothers: Avra and Jharath. Ever since she was a child, Lilith has shown an aptitude for divine magic and has been studying to become a Cleric for many long years. These studies led her away from home over longer periods.

She has recently graduated from the Clergy school: a big step to reach her main goal in life: become a High Priestess of Lolth, as to honor the Spider Queen and thus bring wealth and influence to House Xaniqos. Lilith is determined to reach this aim in whatever way possible. She won’t let anything stand in her way, not even the tests of Lolth. In fact she’s looking forward to them, so she can prove to the Spider Queen that she is worthy to serve her!

Others might describe her as strong, proud and dedicated, quite bossy and stubborn. Also touchy and quick to anger. She is a born leader and expects others – lower ones like men and other races – to simply fulfill her demands and orders without hesitation. When disobeyed, she will not hesitate to swiftly set things straight. Lilith will not confide in others quickly, if she does at all. She’s learned early in life to trust in herself and in her faith in Lolth.  She will always act with the House Xaniqos’ interests in mind.

Lilith is a fervent disciple of Lolth and makes sure that all members of House Xaniqos are faithful in their devotion to the Spider Queen. And this – whether or not forced – preaching of the devotion to her goddess does not stop at the threshold.