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













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 2 - Dorina

Marpenoth 29, 1372 DR (1:00 PM) Szith Morcane: House Morcane

"All right," says Veracity. "Ready for the Matron Mother's rooms?" All agree and move over to the double doors.

"I think this needs multiple pairs of eyes, Igor," says Hazen, as he moves up to join Igor in searching for traps. "Agreed," says Tebryn. The three search the door. "All clear!" says Igor. "Yup," agrees Hazen. "You guys are blind," says Tebryn. "See that Glyph?"

"Uh, right," says Hazen. "Let me disable it." Everybody else moves hastily back from the door.

"Anybody want to start up some spells ahead of time?" suggests Igor.

"Good thinking, Igor," says Brianna. She starts to sing a song. Unlike her previous songs, this one is directed specifically to inspire greatness in Veracity. Veracity feels extra hearty and confident.

Yol also conjures two spells, one for herself, and one for Kress. "That's an anti-toast spell for you, Kress. You seem to attract fire," she comments. "Thanks," says Kress.

Igor applies his shoulder to the double door and shoves it open to reveal an octagonal room, fully forty five feet across, with a thirty foot ceiling. In the center of the room, a stone pillar rises fully fifteen feet towards the ceiling. On top is a throne of bone with a gaunt drow woman draped casually across it.

Veracity steps into the room and gazes up at the throne 15 feet off the ground. She steps aside to allow her friends easier access. Yol follows her in and steps to the opposite side of the door, chanting. Hazen sneaks into the room and stops near Yol. Kress flies through the air and strikes the drow with his battle-axe. Although it was a might blow, the axe swishes through the drow's body, as if it were air. "What," says Kress, staring. Igor flies up and duplicates Kress's feat. "Hmm," says Igor. Brianna comes up behind Veractiy and looks up at the pillar, still singing. Tebryn steps in and stops at the door, also staring at the pillar. Dessa comes in and moves to near Veracity.

"That's an illusion," says Veracity. "Ignore it. I wonder where she really is?" She starts intently looking around the room. Yol mutters and waves her hand and stares intently into the room. "Nothing alive, dead, or undead in this direction," she says. Hazen moves to the right wall and starts to search the room for other exits. Kress and Igor look intently around, puzzled at not seeing any sign of the real Dorina. Brianna continues to sing for her companion. Tebryn looks around for Dorina. Dessa shrugs, and moving to the wall opposite from Hazen, starts to search for secret exits.

"OK. What's with this pillar, anyway?" wonders Veracity. She moves farther away from the door and stares up at the pillar from a different perspective, followed by her singing companion. Yol turns and magically scans in a different direction. "Nor here, either," she reports. Kress flies up and stares at the ceiling. Igor lands next to Yol. "Check Dessa," he suggests. "I guess she's not in this room," says Tebryn. He starts searching the left wall, along with Dessa.

From some unknown spot, strange muttering is heard. A holy symbol of Kiaransalee lands on the floor, halfway between the pillar and the wall, near Brianna and Veracity.

Veracity stares at the holy symbol and her eyes narrow. "Are you invisible, then?" she asks. She mutters an arcane phrase and her eyes flash for a moment. Igor charges over to Dessa, intent on questioning her. Tebryn nods at Veracity. "Good thinking!" He mutters and waves his fingers and his eyes also flash briefly.

A wave of black motes descends momentarily on the room and everybody except the drow take a little bit of damage from negative energy. "Ugh." says Igor. A column of flame descends on Igor, but he dodges it. "Hey!" says Igor.

Veracity looks around the room with her enhanced eyesight, but sees no invisible creatures. Yol scans the final segment of the room. "She's not here, near as I can tell." Igor questions Dessa: "Where could she be hiding?" "I don't know," responds Dessa. "I've not been in here very often. This was the Matron's private room." Tebryn walks over to the holy symbol and stares at it. He looks back and forth between the wall and the pillar. "This was hurled from somewhere close," he comments.

Kress stiffens. His body plunges to the floor. "Ooof!" he grunts, involuntarily. A ring of whirling blades surrounds Igor and Dessa. Dessa is thrust out of the area of effect, but Igor is trapped within. "Ow!"

"All right," says Veracity. "I'll search this wall here." She moves over and starts intently searching for a concealed peephole or door. Yol looks north and waves her hand, muttering. She stares intently at the wall. "Nothing magical there." "I'll check out the pillar, Tebryn," says Hazen. He moves up to it. A mace emerges from the pillar and strikes him. "Hey! The whole pillar is an illusion! There she is!" Igor leaps out of the ring of whirling blades and runs up to Brianna. "I'm badly hurt. Cure me, please!" "Of course," says Brianna. She stops her song praising Veracity and sings a short healing melody. She touches Igor, curing a lot of damage. Tebryn stares intently at the pillar. He nods. "Ah. Gotcha!"

Dorina steps out of the pillar, mutters and waves her hand, and steps back into the pillar next to Hazen. She touches him. He starts, clutching at his chest, and glares at her. "Can't get me that easily!" Dorina scowls at him and hits Yol twice with her mace.

Dessa moves up next to Tebryn and studies the pillar intently. Veracity moves up next to Dessa and studies the pillar. Yol backs up and draws her sword. Hazen draws his sword and attacks Dorina, striking her. Igor moves up and simply swings his sword through the illusory pillar. "I can't see you, but my sword can still slice you!" "Go, Igor!" says Brianna. She starts singing a song of inspiration specifically for Igor. Tebryn mutters and a bolt of cold blackness whizzes past Dorina's shoulder. "Darn. I missed!"

Dorina swings her mace twice at Hazen, hitting only once. She leans over and touches his shoulder. He shudders, as a wave of negative energy courses through his body, leaving him weaker. He gasps.

Dessa smiles. "I see you now." She clutches her glaive, prepared to strike the vampire priestess. Veracity mutters and five missiles of force streak from her hand. All fizzle harmlessly when they strike Dorina. Veracity stamps her foot. Yol mutters and points to Kress. he stands up and swings his battle-axe through the pillar, missing Dorina. Hazen hastily backs away. Igor strikes Dorina and his vision clears. "About time! I can see you now, drow!" Tebryn incants and points to Igor, who starts moving with unnatural speed.

Dorina points to Kress and commands him: "Flee!" Kress runs out the double doors. Dorina turns to Igor and swings at him three times, missing every time.

"Aargh!" bellows the enraged Dessa. She swings her glaive fiercely at Dorina, striking her twice and missing once. Veracity steps up and strikes at Dorina three times, missing every time. "Why NOW?" she complains. Yol chants and touches herself, curing herself. Tebryn incants and sends five missiles of force at Dorina. Two of them fizzle but three strike her.

Dorina chants and waves her hands. She then attacks Igor three times, but misses.

Dessa seems wearied by her previous effort, but swings her glaive another three times at Dorina, hitting only once. Veracity strikes Dorina with the Sword of Kas. Igor takes the opportunity to strike her and she goes gaseous. Her gaseous form drifts out the double doors, just as Kress comes running back. "Where is she? Let me at her!"

"Hah, hah, hah," says Veracity to the departing gaseous vampire. "I don't believe for a moment that your coffin is out there. We should search the walls in here."

"Cure me first, Brianna!" requests Hazen. "Me too, please," says Igor.

Brianna sings three curing melodies, healing Hazen twice and Igor once.

"Thank you!" say the injured rogues.

Veracity is standing at a side table, looking with admiration at a large weirwood lyre inlaid with mithril. "Brianna, look at this!" Brianna comes up and expertly plays a short melody. "This is gorgeous! A masterwork instrument, and beautifully decorated."

"We'll search," suggests Igor. "You load up the loot."

Tebryn spreads out his portable hole and joins Hazen and Igor in searching the walls. Dessa looks dour as Veracity and Brianna place the lyre into it, along with a small jewelry case containing a dragon bone comb, a golden hair brush, a silver brooch bearing the emblem of House Morcane, and a small silk pouch of agates, but doesn't object.

"We found it!" says Igor, pointing out a secret door in the north wall. "Look at this," says Hazen, depressing a stone on the lower right corner of it. Quickly, the rogues depress stones in other three corners and the door sinks in four inches and silently rolls to the left.

The walls of the secret chamber are plastered white and its floor is tiled with flagstones. In the center is a large stone sepulcher covered in gorgeous shining copper leaf. The lid is carved to resemble a beautiful drow woman. Strong copper bands fasten the lid to the rest of the coffin.

"How do we open this?" says Kress. "Looks like we need to break the bands."

Tebryn holds up his hand. "Let me search first." He carefully examines it. "Look - another glyph. Hazen?"

"Yeah, yeah. I'm on it," says Hazen, rubbing his hands together and flexing his fingers. He works at it intently for a while. "That was incredibly difficult, but I think I got it."

"Just in case, let me try to dispel it. We'll hope that one or the other of us succeeds." He mutters and points at the glyph. It flares and fades.

"OK. Now we open it ... how, exactly?" wonders Kress. "Pry those bands. Hmm."

"Here's a thought," says Veracity. "She didn't come in here, did she?" says Veracity. "She was trying to lead us away from here. But, she must return within two hours, or she's gone, gone, gone. So, why not just guard this for a couple of hours?"

"Why not?" says Igor. The party sets up in a ring around the coffin and watches, conversing in low voices. Several times, the gaseous Dorina seeps into the door from the main room before hastily withdrawing.

(4:30 PM)

Finally, the time has passed. "She's dead," says Veracity. "Open it up." Kress pries some of the copper sheath away from the stone and Igor uses his longtooth dagger to cut a hole through the stone. He reaches inside and pulls out an elegant bone scroll tube and two small wooden coffers. One of the coffers contains platinum, gold, and silver coins. The other contains a clerical scroll, a wand, and a map. The scroll tube contains a letter.

Tebryn spreads out the map. "This will help," he says, pointing his finger from spot to spot as he speaks. "It's a map from Szith Morcane to Maerimydra. Look, the path goes from here to the Lake of Shadows. Must be big: it says to go along the north edge of the lake for seventeen miles and exit at this other passage east. From there to something called 'Glourath's Chasm', thence to 'Lich's Mire', and thence to Maerimydra. That's our route, I'd say! Three other passages are marked: One from the south shore of the lake and one west from Maerimydra, both marked 'To Azmaer's Folly'. One southeast from Maerimydra marked 'To Hap'".

"Azmaer's Folly is another name for the Twisted Tower in Shadowdale," says Brianna. "I'm not sure why, though."

"And look at this letter," says Veracity. "It's from 'Mother' to 'Daughter' and is written in Drow. I wonder who Dorina's mother is? In any case, it says this:"


Our Dark Lady favors my efforts, and my research proceeds well. Within five tendays, perhaps six, all will be ready for the Day of Great Vengeance. The Spider Queen is dead; we have already brought low the Spider-kissers and seized our rightful place in the realms of the dark. Now the Day draws near when we shall avenge ourselves upon those of the day-blasted lands, too, and achieve that ultimate triumph denied us so long ago.

While I prepare my Great Revenance, it falls to you to make ready the way. Harry the surface-dwellers, hunt them in their woods and fields, and take the measure of their strength. Do not concern yourself with putting them on their guard; our Lady desires their blood, their fear, and their dreadful anticipation of our ultimate act of revenge. With each slaying we grow in her favor and sow the seeds of our coming victory.

If they come against you in Szith Morcane in irresistible strength, slay as many as you can. Withdraw from the fight if you must and bring Zedarr with you, but as for the rest - they are to stand and die for the glory of the White Banshee. The battle for Szith Morcane will come to nothing when our Great Revenance comes to pass. If anything, our final vengeance is made ever sweeter by each fleeting, false hope our enemies entertain before it falls upon them.

Work great slaughter for our Lady's dark glory, my daughter. Soon I will come to you from Maerimydra with such dark and terrible might that all Faerûn will tremble before us.


"Wow," says Veracity. "Something big is going on here."

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