Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 1 - The Barracks

Marpenoth 28, 1372 DR (5:15 PM) Szith Morcane: The Barracks

Everybody moves into the room. "What carnage," says Veracity. She addresses the bodies: "I hate to say 'I told you so', but, I told you so!" "But you were wrong about it taking a long time," adds Igor. Veracity turns to him and raises an eyebrow. "I think that was Brianna's comment. I don't think she's used to how effective we are against even hordes of inexperienced foes, such as these." Brianna grins.

Tebryn chuckles. "Let's loot 'em!" he says. He searches all the bodies, with the help of Igor, Hazen, and Veracity. Like the drow who had emerged earlier from the hole, each has a white tabard adorned with leering black skulls.

"That's different than those drow up in the hidey-hole," observes Veracity. "Those had crossed rapiers beneath a spider. Different house, I assume, but most house insignia include Lolth's spiders. What's with this, I wonder?"

"What?" says Tebryn, looking up from the pile of loot. "Who knows. More glaives, more mithril breastplates, another two-bladed sword. Another key..." He pulls out the first officer's key and compares it to the new one. "Identical." He tosses the new key to Veracity, who pockets it. "Hmm. And another pair of slippers."

"Let's try those on. Each officer wore a pair of slippers. If they grant spider climbing, we may as well use them," suggests Veracity.

"Very well," agrees Tebryn. He tries on each pair of slippers in turn. Each set allows him to walk up the wall and on the ceiling. "Indeed. Who can use these?"

"Igor, Hazen, and Kress can fly at will. I have a set already. Looks like you, Yol, and Brianna. Three people, two pairs. You could cast lots," suggests Veracity. "Brianna, Yol! Come over here!"

The bard and the priestess had been tending to Kress's wounds and burns. Kress is grateful. "Thank you, Brianna! That was mighty good curing! You're good with those spells." Brianna grins and Yol scowls. Kress continues: "Oh, yes, Yol. Your spell helped too, even if it was a little on the ... wimpy ... end of cures." Yol looks at him intently. "Watch your words, Kress, if you want me to restore your robustness tomorrow." She stalks over to join Tebryn, Veracity, and Brianna, leaving a slightly pale-looking Kress.

Hazen comes up to him. "Don't sass the curing gals, idiot. Just 'cause the one is prettier than the other, don't you make it into a contest." Kress nods slowly. "All the casters seem to have little rivalries between themselves regarding their magical prowess, but I guess WE should stay out of it, eh?" "Right-o!" agrees Hazen.

Veracity displays two pairs of slippers to Tebryn, Yol, and Brianna. "spider climbing. Interested?" All nod. "Three of you, two pairs. Cast lots for them." This being done, Tebryn and Brianna admire their new pairs of magical slippers. Yol scowls, as usual. "Harrumph."

"Alright, are we done here?" asks Tebryn. He closes up his portable hole and stows it, as all gather around him. He looks around at the pile of bodies. "Damn, I'm good. Ice and Fire. Notice how I punched right through their spell resistance?"

"My spell resistance was too powerful for you, Tebryn," brags Hazen. "I was completely unaffected." Veracity rolls her eyes and looks away, concealing a smile with her hand.

"I didn't resist anything, Tebryn. You toasted me good," says Kress.

Tebryn smiles at him. "As I said before, I saved your tail. Besides, didn't Yol say that you and Hazen don't mind fire? She had no qualms about fireballing Hazen along with that spider."

"I mind it," says Kress. "But thanks - you did save me from a lot of glaives."

"Line up!" calls Veracity. Igor leans over and smiles at her. "I prefer 'Everyone ready? Let's go!' to 'Line up!' unless, perhaps, we're being observed by a large drow battalion," he says, as he proceeds to the far door of the room. Veracity scurries up to his side as the others line up in their usual order behind the two, with the exception of Kress, who takes a half step out of line and breaks pace by marching in a random cadence.

A passage goes both left and right. To the right descend some stairs. To the left the passage ends at a cross passage, with a door visible in the intersection.

"That way," says Veracity, pointing to the left. "Let's check out this level before going down." The party advances to the left and stops in front of the door. Looking in both directions of the cross passage, other doors are visible. "Let's check this room first," suggests Veracity.

The rogues search the door and frame but find no traps. Igor opens the unlocked door easily. The nicely appointed room within seems to be the sleeping quarters for the two officers. A brocade cloth splits the room into two semi-private sections. Each side has a sumptuous bed, a chest of drawers, and a writing desk. One desk is bare, but the other has a mass of scrolls and papers. Hazen fingers the brocade. "Very nice!" he comments. "Pack this up, Tebryn!"

Tebryn and Veracity look through the papers. "Duty papers," comments Veracity. "Rosters, guard duties, and such. Oh, hah." She chuckles. "It says that Jegredd and Kelnozz can't be trusted on duty together. Neither can Ilvarra and Ryltar." She raises her eyebrows. "You suppose they're sweeties?" She chuckles some more.

"What's this?" says Tebryn, picking up a bone tube sealed with wax.

"Let's search the rest of the room before you open that," suggests Igor. "You know - in case it blows up, or something."

"Fine," agrees Tebryn.

The party searches the chests of drawers, the desks, and the beds, finding nothing but clothing. Tebryn stows the brocade in his portable hole and picks up the bone tube again. "I guess they had all their treasure on them," he says. "Pity - you'd think there might be other things here. Well, now for this tube." He starts to remove the wax as the others quickly back out of the room. He pauses and smiles. "Scared?" He removes the wax from one end of the bone tube and pulls out a scroll. He unfurls it and looks it over. "Ah. This is a letter, in Drow, addressed to Indrizil and signed by Rhavauz. Let's see..." He runs his finger down the text as Veracity comes up and looks over his shoulder.

"Very interesting! The author says that she barely escaped the fall of Maerimydra. She says that the clerics of Lolth had everybody so cowed that when a horde of goblins, ogres, and giants attacked the city, they could hardly put up a resistance, since the clerics were powerless. But the author says that even so, they were holding on until House Chumavh was overthrown from within, and the whole city is now a temple to the Lady of the Dead." Tebryn looks up. "Any idea who that might be? Sounds familiar..." He frowns.

Yol smiles thinly. "Who else but Hel would merit that title?"

Veracity rolls her eyes. "How about any other female death goddess? Yol, as you know, most drow pay little heed to Hel's pantheon. And on this world, I don't think anyone does." She frowns and ponders.

Tebryn waves his hand irritably. "Never mind that." He looks back at the letter and continues. "There's more. The writer says she fled to the outpost of Szith Morcane, north and west of Maerimydra, but that this also is now ruled by the emissaries of the Lady of the Dead. She invites her ... cousin? What is this about the bond of blood? ... to come visit, but recommends she not display the symbol of Lolth, as priestesses of Lolth have a new role here which she'd not enjoy."

"So she was writing to a cleric of Lolth. Perhaps it was that priestess Veracity spoke to up above," suggests Yol.

"I think not," says Veracity. "That priestess said she was a refugee from Szith Morcane, and was fleeing from the invaders from Maerimydra. The letter writer assumes that her cousin doesn't know much about the invasion, and tells her that she has come to Szith Morcane."

"Right," says Tebryn. He studies the letter some more. "Yes, a priestess. She says that the Lady of the Dead would accept her cousin, as she had been accepted herself, and that her cousin must surely be considering something of the sort, what with Lolth's silence."

"Yes, the Lady of the Dead must be a goddess. To whom else would a priestess change allegiance, if her own deity no longer responded to prayers?" observes Yol.

"Ah!" exclaims Veracity. "I have it. If the Lady of the Dead is a goddess, then it must be Kiaransalee. The Lady of the Dead, the Revenancer, the Vengeful Banshee. She's the drow goddess of Death - and of Undeath. She used to be a mortal drow necromancer - but she ascended, somehow. Well. If her adherents have taken over Maerimydra and Szith Morcane, the black skulls on those tabards make sense: nice death symbols, eh? Although ..." Veracity frowns. "I think her holy symbol is something else. But, now I see what Loviatar meant when she said that she wanted to ensure that Lolth's dominion was not wholly subverted." Veracity smirks. "Although, I took that as a hint that some subversion into her cause might be all right."

Tebryn nods. "I like it. Good reasoning, sister." He lays down the letter and ponders. Veracity picks it up and starts to look at it more closely. Brianna comes up and leans on her shoulder, also studying the page.

"That was informative," says Tebryn. "We'd not known that Maerimydra had fallen. We are to go there and kill the cult in the Undying Temple. A good name for a temple to Kiaransalee, don't you think? Although why is it the 'Undying Temple', rather than the 'Temple of Undeath', or something? In any case, it sounds like the situation is grim. Well. Shall we move on?" He stands up and moves towards the door. All follow him except for Veracity and Brianna who continue to peruse the letter.

Brianna points to a phrase. "What's going on here?"

Veracity smiles at her. "Good catch, Brianna! Your knowledge of surface Elvish has been very helpful as you learn Drow, but you have spotted one of the areas where that language has degenerated from the original pure Drow tongue. The grammar works like this ..."

Tebryn sticks his head back in the room. "Coming, girls? What are you doing, anyway - teaching her Drow?"

"She's been working on it for months, brother. She's mostly got it." Veracity smirks. "She probably learned it faster than YOU did, Tebryn." Brianna grins at him.

Tebryn snorts. "Let's move along."

Veracity rolls up the scroll and inserts it back into the bone tube. She hands it to Brianna, who places it in her satchel. The two women follow Tebryn out into the corridor.

The party assembles outside the officers' room and heads right. At the end of the hall is a door.

"Let me look that over," says Igor. He searches it with care and shakes his head. "No traps!" He shoves against the door with his shoulder and the door opens easily, revealing a large room with six bunk beds. One bunk has just a bare mattress, but the others have rough linen sheets. For each of the eleven beds with sheets there is a foot locker. The party steps into the room and quickly searches the beds and chests. The latter contain mostly clothing, but one of them has an obvious false bottom. Igor pries it open and pulls out a golden comb studded with small diamonds, a scroll tube, and a wand.

"How odd," muses Veracity, handling the wand. "This looks like the barracks of some of the fighters we fought. Why a wand and a scroll?"

"Unless you care to speak with the various corpses and question them on that issue," observes Yol, "it will remain a mystery. Do you think it matters?"

Veracity laughs. "Hardly. Let's pack them up and move on. Shall we proceed the other way down the corridor, Igor?"

Igor smiles and nods. "Now, that's the right way to ask me. Sure!"

Veracity frowns and leans over to Brianna. "You think he's trying to modify my behavior?" she whispers, in Drow.

Brianna grins and whispers back in the same language. "If he does what you want him to, what matter if you have to choose your words carefully? That's part of what diplomacy is about - getting people to see things your way without feeling pressured into agreement. You and I both know who's really in charge here."

Veracity smiles warmly at her companion and moves up to join Igor in the front rank.

The party proceeds to the next door and Igor again searches. "Ah ha," he comments. "Now, this one is trapped - with magic. Can anyone use a spell to find out more about the magic?"

"Allow me," says Tebryn. He steps up to the door and pauses. "Do we have any items for which we need to detect the School of magic, as long as I'm casting this detection spell? How about that last wand?" Veracity nods, and pulls it from her pocket.

Tebryn mutters and waves his fingers. He concentrates on the door. "Yes...abjuration. A protective spell, as one might guess." He gazes at the wand and ponders. "Transmutation. Of course, without the command word, we can't use it, yet." He shakes his head and looks up at Igor. "At least it's not another death spell, like that trap Hazen set off. That would have been Necromancy. This is probably a glyph of warding or fire trap or something." He looks at the trap and frowns. "Perhaps not a glyph. We'd see an inscribed symbol of some sort, for that spell. Still. We should stand back and let you try to disable the trap."

All but Igor quickly back off at least ten feet as Igor approaches the door. Hazen retreats to the far end of the corridor. "Not that I don't trust you, Igor, but you can't be too careful with magical traps. I know that if you tried to disarm a magical trap that I had set, that you'd probably blow up the whole corridor." Veracity smirks and shakes her head at Hazen's bluster.

Igor makes some fine manipulations on the door with his thieves tools, his brow furrowed in concentration. "Hopefully, that did the trick." Sensing movement behind him, he adds, "Stay back! Magical traps are hard to spot and to disarm. Let me try the door alone." He shoves his shoulder against the door - and leaps aside as a five foot burst of flame explodes from the spot he'd been fiddling with. "I thought that might happen! I jumped just in time and it missed me."

"I told you so," comments Hazen.

Through the open door, the party sees four clean beds, one with a bare mattress, and three with sheets. A small chest stands besides the three used beds. The party enters this room and searches it. Each chest contains clothing, empty scrolls tubes, and other small items that a wizard might need, including a spell book. One also contains a bag containing six small pearls.

Tebryn steps up and examines the gems. "I see. These are just valuable enough to be used for identify spells. I'll take these, since I'll be casting that spell for our mutual benefit, soon enough." He pockets the bag of pearls, and stows the spell books in his portable hole.

The party proceeds to the next door. Igor searches it and, finding no traps, opens it up. It opens into a large rectangular room containing a large wooden table surrounded by rough stools. Casks of uninspiring food line the walls: pungent cheese laced with green mold, stale dried crackers, watered wine, and the like.

Veracity examines each of the barrels. "You know, I'd really like to find some barrels of fine Drow mushroom wine to bring back to Sigil. But, it would be too much to hope that we'd find anything worthwhile in the refectory of a guard post, like this." She fixes her eyes on Tebryn. "Leave room in your portable hole for rarities like that, brother. I am happy to bring back mithril armor and such, but we can find that in Sigil more easily than we can find Drow delicacies. At least, I have never found such, outside of the Underdark." Tebryn agrees.

The party searches the last door on this level. Igor finds no traps and opens the door, revealing another barracks, much like the other one, but with no treasure of note.

"Very good," says Veracity. Her skin throbs, and its grey color fades. "What? Oh. Well, I think I can wait to renew that spell. Shall we go down those stairs, now?" She moves up and joins Igor in the front of the party, and all march back towards the stairs. It's only a short flight down to a landing, where a long corridor turns right. There's a heavy iron door every ten feet with a shuttered window in each door. The party looks through each shuttered window in turn but sees nothing.

"A prison," says Kress. "We should free any prisoners."

Tebryn frowns. "Why should we? Not that I saw any, but they're not even our prisoners."

"Ah, but they could be our prisoners, Tebryn," comments Hazen. "Besides, think of the loot."

Tebryn throws up his hands. "The greed of the common man surfaces again, Hazen. What possible loot would be left with prisoners? I know that prisoners in my dungeon aren't allowed to keep anything valuable." He looks at the various party members who are staring at him and clears his throat. "Um. Assuming I had any prisoners of course. Hypothetical, you know. Right. Moving right along..."

He steps up to the first door and examines it. He pulls out the key he'd taken from the officer and tries the lock. "Drat. You'd have thought the officers would have the key to the cells, but this is not it."

"Allow me," says Igor as he steps up and starts to pick the lock. Tebryn backs hastily away. "Uh - don't you want to see if that is trapped?" Igor smiles at him. "Who would trap the door of a prison cell?" The lock clicks, and Igor pulls the door open. "See?" Igor looks over the interior of the cell, but finds nothing.

Meanwhile, Hazen searches the second door. "I'm not quite so trusting. No traps here..." He unlocks the door and Kress opens it. Nothing is found within that cell, either.

"We can be more efficient about this," comments Tebryn. Igor approaches the third door, Tebryn the fourth, and Hazen the fifth. Tebryn starts to carefully search the door of his cell, with Veracity and Brianna looking on with interest. Hazen carefully searches his door, while Kress looks on.

Igor stares at his companions. "I told you. Nobody would bother trapping a prison cell." He turns to his door, with Yol standing by watching him, and immediately starts to pick the lock.

With a loud pop, a large, red, glowing, serpentine creature with a hawkish face appears in the hallway next to him, bearing a huge metal long spear in its muscular red and black scaled arms.

"Let me heat things up for you," hisses the noble salamander. Its threat goes unmarked, as none of its foes understand Ignan. It concentrates and a fireball blossoms from its position, enveloping every creature in the hall. Igor, Brianna, and Hazen dodge and escape all damage. Both Tebryn and Veracity resist the magic. Yol does not entirely resist the fire, but takes some damage. And Kress, as with Tebryn's fire ball, takes the full force of the magical fire.

Yol mutters and steps up to touch Igor, whose skin glows briefly before fading to a redder tone than usual. "This should help you resist fire, Igor," she says.

"Thanks," says Igor, as he draws his sword and steps up the strike the elemental creature with a mighty blow.

The invisible Hazen draws his sword and runs up behind the salamander, opposite Igor.

Tebryn quickly scurries out of range, lest the salamander cast another fireball. He watches the battle with interest.

The salamander stabs Igor three times with his spear, striking all three times and dealing massive damage. It slaps its tail at Hazen, but misses him.

Igor strikes the salamander three times and it falls.

Tebryn looks at Igor and raises his eyebrows. "Do you mind if we search the rest of the cell doors?" he asks. "Uh, no." says Igor.

The party searches the rest of the cells, finding nothing.

"We seem to be done with this complex," says Veracity. "I see that Kress is burned, again. And Igor looks pretty beat up."

"Let me cure you, Igor," offers Brianna.

"No thanks, Brianna. I'll regenerate quickly enough, if we wait a while before proceeding."

"It's time for dinner, anyway," suggests Hazen. "Back to the dining hall?"

All agree, and the party returns to the refectory.

"OK, Tebryn, pull out that brocade and spread it on the table. We'll eat in style," suggests Hazen.

Tebryn glares at him coldly. "Are you nuts? This is a tapestry, not a table cloth."

"Aw, come on. Only the best for Hazen!"

Tebryn snorts. "No way."

The party makes a meal from the rations they had brought. Somehow, the guards' rations do not appeal.

Prev Top Next

Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn.
Created with
        Emacs Made on a