Marpenoth 29, 1372 DR (1:00 PM) Szith Morcane: House Morcane
The party collects its gear and makes its way down to the entrance room of the tower, where they are joined by Solom.
"We're off to take on Dorina," says Veracity. "The Bazaar is in the center of the web with House Morcane directly below it. I know that we could go back to the center strand and then climb down to reach the Bazaar and thence House Morcane, but is there a shortcut from here to either of those destinations?"
"There is no direct connection from the Inverted Tower to House Morcane," says Solom, "but there is a direct strand from here to the Bazaar. From there it's an easy climb down."
"Will we be harassed if we pass by the bazaar?" asks Veracity.
"It is still used as a bazaar," responds Solom. "We still do get the very occasional trade caravan and such. But, it's not considered a secure part of the city and therefore has no guards. You should be able to get by the entrance without problems."
"Hey, can we go to the bazaar?" asks Hazen.
Veracity rolls her eyes. "Do you want to go shopping, Hazen? We have more important things to do!"
"Hey, I like to shop. You can get all sorts of good things at a bazaar. You don't even need to spend money!" responds Hazen.
Veracity sighs. "Fine. We'll stop at the Bazaar on the way back."
"Can you help me see in the dark? If you do that, we can go past the Bazaar entrance without light," asks Igor.
"I don't even know the Darkvision spell," says Tebryn. "Why not let me polymorph you into a drow?"
"No," replies Igor. "As a drow, I would certainly be a less effective fighter."
Veracity gasps and stares at him. All the drow bristle. "What, exactly, do you mean by that?" asks Tebryn.
Igor holds up his hands. "Calm down. I didn't mean to say anything against drow as a race. It's just that I am extremely strong, and I was under the impression that the polymorph spell would not preserve my strength."
Tebryn lets out his breath slowly and nods. "Ah. You are correct. I have actually never cast that spell on a friend before - only on foes. I had forgotten that little attribute of the effects."
"We'll just have to let Kress wear his glow gem in the back, as usual, Igor," says Veracity. "Light will be suspicious, but we'll move by quickly and hope nobody notices."
"OK," agrees Igor.
The party lines up and prepares to depart.
"Good luck," says Solom. "Come back when you defeat Dorina."
Veracity nods and follows Igor out onto the web. The party shuffles across to the bazaar entrance and then climbs down the vertical strand to the entrance to House Morcane.
The party steps one by one into the entrance into a large room. As Igor, Veracity, Brianna, Tebryn, and Hazen enter, it takes all of their willpower to move through the door: a malign aura seems determined to exclude them. Once inside, a palpable air of gloom hangs heavily in the air. Yol has no problem stepping through the door. She feels the pall of gloom and smiles. "This place is unhallowed. Just like home!" But, as Kress tries to enter, a crackle of energy scorches him and he finds himself physically repelled, as if by a field of force.
"Hey!" exclaims Kress. He hovers in the air outside the entrance. "I can't come in!"
Tebryn turns back. He rests his eyes on Hazen. "You're visible, Hazen." He squints at Kress. "I think ..."
"Uh, Tebryn, there's a welcoming committee," says Hazen. Tebryn wheels around.
The room is large. The far wall is three segments of an octagon, with exits in the right and left faces. There is a hole in the ceiling with a web ladder going up to it. In the far end of the room stand two male drow vampires with four quth-marens lined up in front of them.
"Give me a break," says Igor. "Not more of those!"
The first vampire glares at the intruders. He pulls a potion out of a pouch and quaffs it.
Kress, hovering outside the door, draws his bow.
Hazen starts digging through his belt pouch, looking for something.
The second vampire hisses. He, too, pulls a potion from his pouch and quaffs it.
Tebryn mutters and waves his hand. His whole party suddenly seems to be moving faster.
Veracity says an arcane phrase and wiggles her fingers. Suddenly, there seem to be six of her, standing in a confused cluster. All six images draw identical sets of swords.
Igor moves towards the rightmost quth-maren, drawing his greatsword as he moves. He strikes the undead creature.
Igor's opponent heals a little bit and gazes at Igor. Igor flinches, but is otherwise unaffected.
The second quth-maren gazes at Tebryn, who doesn't even seem to notice the attention.
Yol incants and waves her fingers. Suddenly, there is a cluster of six Yols. All six Yols incant and gesture in unison, and a fireball blooms in the far corner of the room, engulfing three of the quth-marens and one of the vampires. Two of the quth-marens seem singed, but the vampire and third quth-maren seem unaffected.
Brianna smiles. "Another fine battle. Let me inspire you with heroic inspiration." She starts to sing.
One of the singed quth-maren completely heals and spits at Veracity. It misses, but the globule hits the ground, splashing Veracity, Tebryn, Brianna, and Yol.
"Ick!" says Veracity.
The last quth-maren repeats the actions of its peers, and repeats the results as well, splashing the same four people with acidic blood.
"Oh, ick!" says Veracity. "I hate these things."
The first vampire moves up to engage Igor. It takes two swipes at the warrior, missing both times.
Kress fires three arrows through the doorway at the other vampire, hitting once.
Hazen pulls out a small pill wrapped in silver paper. He unwraps it and swallows it, with a grimace. "This is not a gourmet item, but, at least those stupid undead can't see me now," he boasts. All of the undead completely ignore Hazen, exactly as they had been doing before he ate the pill.
The vampire that Kress had shot heals a bit and pulls out a javelin. As it throws it towards Veracity, it turns into a bolt of lightning, which streaks past her, Brianna, and Yol. Veracity and Yol both resist the electricity and Brianna dodges to the side. The vampire curses and throws its other javelin at the same target. This javelin also turns into a lightning bolt and, just as before, Veracity and Yol resist the electricity and Brianna dodges the bolt.
"Let me show you the RIGHT way to do a fireball, Yol," says Tebryn. He drops a fireball into the corner and engulfs both vampires and three of the quth-marens. Both vampires resist the fire, as does one of the quth-maren. Two of them take some fire damage. Yol raises her eyebrows. "MUCH more effective than mine, Tebryn," she observes, snidely. Tebryn scowls. "And for my next demonstration ..." He drops another fireball into the same spot. This time, all of the undead are scorched, some of them severely. Tebryn smiles. "Watch and learn."
Veracity runs up and strikes the vampire that had been attacking Igor, defeating it and forcing it into gaseous form. She wheels around and strikes the second quth-maren twice, once with each of her swords.
Igor strikes three times at the quth-maren he'd been battling, killing it. He steps over to the quth-maren Veracity had attacked and hits it once, slaying that creature as well. Veracity raises her eye brows. "Not bad, Igor!" "Thanks," says Igor, smiling.
Yol incants and three bolts of force leave her fingers and strike the remaining vampire. Two of them fizzle, and one hits, dealing a minute amount of damage. Yol scowls. "Perhaps another target ..." She incants again and sends three more bolts of force into the left-most quth-maren. All of these missiles strike home.
Both of the remaining quth-marens gaze at Igor. He resists the foul magic.
Kress fires three arrows through the door at the left-most quth-maren, slaying it.
The remaining vampire strikes three times at Igor, missing every time.
Veracity steps up to the vampire and swings at it three times. She misses twice, but finally hits it with her Life Stealer. Igor takes the opportunity to strike it and kills it, driving it into gaseousness. Veracity turns and hits the last remaining quth-maren with the Sword of Kas.
Igor steps up to the quth-maren and hits it twice, dropping it. "So much for the welcoming party," he comments.
Tebryn turns his attention back to Kress's plight. "Forbiddance. Kress, you are permanently excluded unless I can dispel this." He incants and concentrates. The aura of menace warding the door lifts, and Kress enters.
"Let's move along while we're still hasted," suggests Igor.
"OK," says Veracity. "That way!" She points towards the rightmost exit.
"Sure," agrees Igor. He trots out through the archway, his companions following.
The corridor extends thirty five feet through another archway. Immediately to the left is another archway into a room.
"Let's look," says Veracity. She enters the room to her left, followed by Brianna. The room is empty of furnishings, save for two sets of manacles hanging from the far wall. One is empty, but the other holds a female drow, hanging by her arms, slumped over. From the door, one cannot tell if she is alive or dead.
"Let's move along and come back. She'll wait for us," says Igor. he starts trotting down the corridor. Veracity and Brianna watch him leave but do not follow. Tebryn and Yol stand indecisively in the corridor and look back and forth between Igor and Veracity. "He'll need my glow stone," says Kress, and he and Hazen trot after Igor.
Veracity shrugs. "They'll come back, soon enough, when the haste ends." She walks over to the drowess.
The prisoner is a strongly built woman with wild white hair and deep black skin, clad in a simple black tunic and black breeches. She has no shoes or belt. She is stocky, but seems unnaturally weakened, somehow. Her upper arm bears a tattoo resembling Lolth's holy symbol. She slowly lifts her head and speaks. "Help me," she says.
Veracity says an arcane phrase and the manacles snap open, releasing the prisoner, who falls to her hands and knees. Veracity crouches down to support her. "Who are you?" asks Veracity.
"I am Dessa Sik-Morcane. As far as I know, I am the last living member of House Morcane."
"She can help us," comments Yol, coming into the room. "She would certainly know this complex."
"We are here to destroy Dorina and her clan," says Veracity.
"Heal me, equip me, and I will gladly help you against Dorina," says Dessa.
"You bet," says Veracity. "Yol, could you look her over, please?"
Yol examines Dessa. "She is unnaturally sickly. She's actually fully healed, but her robustness has been drained to a sliver. Vampires do that, if they are trying to create a vampire spawn. I can restore her, but not until tomorrow."
"We'll equip you, Dessa," says Veracity. "And we'll restore your robustness tomorrow. But, since we're taking out Dorina today, you'll just need to keep out of trouble in the back while we battle. Wait. Hmm." She ponders a bit and then smiles. "I actually may be able to help your robustness, some, today."
"OK," agrees Dessa. "Thank you."
Hazen, Kress, and Igor come trotting back through the entrance hall. "We made a full circle of octagonal rooms and corridors," says Igor. "There are a set of double doors leading to the center. I wonder where those go?"
"Into the main part of House Morcane," says Dessa.
"Yeah?" says Hazen. "What's up the web ladders?"
"The Fane of Lolth."
"What's a Fane?" wonders Hazen.
"A temple, Hazen," says Veracity.
"Yeah, don't you remember 'The Melted Fane', Hazen? On that Keraptis adventure we went on a few years ago," comments Kress.
Hazen glowers. "Then why not call it the 'Temple of Lolth'?"
Tebryn rolls his eyes. "They did, to those with a sufficiently large vocabulary."
Veracity turns back to Dessa. "Now that my companions are back, it's time to equip you and move on to destroy Dorina. In order to decide how best to equip you, I need to know something about you. What are your skills?"
Dessa looks at her through lowered brows and grunts. "I can fight well."
Veracity waves her hand irritably. "What kinds of weapons can you use?"
"I can use any weapon that doesn't require specialized training, just as any warrior," answers Dessa.
Veracity smiles. "Good. Now, let me find this ..." She rummages through her pack for a while and pulls out a small box. Opening it, she extracts a small black patch. She stows the box and displays the patch. "We cannot restore your robustness today, but our cleric will be able to fix you tomorrow."
"Your clerics can cast spells?" exclaims Dessa. "Ours could not." She glowers at Veracity. "Are you sure you're not one of them?"
"We are here to crush the followers of Kiaransalee," says Veracity. She points at Yol. "She is a cleric of Hel."
Dessa looks at Yol and then back at Veracity. She looks down at Veracity's holy symbol and then back up at her face. "And you are a priestess of Loviatar."
Veracity smiles. "That is my goddess. Yes, our clerics still can cast spells. We can restore your drained robustness tomorrow. However, for today, this patch will help you a lot. If I place this on your arm, vigor will course through you for at least the next three days. Possibly, for the next three weeks or so. During that time, your robustness will be enhanced, and you will not need to eat or sleep. At the end of this period of enhanced vigor, you will feel drained and weakened, and your vigor will be similarly depressed for four days."
Dessa ponders. "So, if you do not restore me, I will die, since I am but a sliver away from death right now."
"Yes," responds Veracity. "But Yol will restore you, tomorrow."
Dessa glowers. "Very well. Put on the patch. How do you do it?"
"Let's try this," suggests Veracity. She leans over and presses the patch to Dessa's forearm. The patch adheres and Dessa shudders briefly before sitting back with a sigh of relief.
"Yes!" exclaims Dessa. "I feel much better. I'm still much weakened, but I'll last longer. Thanks."
"You're welcome. And, now for some equipment," says Veracity. "Tebryn, would you open our cache of loot, please?" Tebryn unrolls his portable hole on the floor and opens it. Veracity rummages through it and pulls out a mithril breastplate, a ring, a cloak, a short sword, and a glaive. Tebryn folds up and stashes the portable hole.
Veracity displays the equipment to Dessa. "You are still by far the least robust member of this party. Therefore, I hope you will not charge into the front ranks of combat. This armor and ring will help protect you, should you have to get into close combat, and you can defend yourself with this short sword. The cloak will help you against magic. This pole-arm will let you attack foes from the second rank: we'll stand in front and you can aid us. In fact, I think we can enchant the pole-arm for you: I'd sure like it to be effective against vampires, should we find more of those!"
Dessa nods. "Very good. Thank you! I am eager to go battle Dorina. She slew my entire family." Dessa equips herself with the proffered items.
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