Our journey began: 11th of Coldeven, 599 C.Y.
It is the 2nd of Richfest, 600 C.Y.
Alexia Aerogenesis, Human Cleric of Murlynd and Giselle, Alexia’s cohort,
Elerra Vae, Drow Cleric (Ellistrae)/Sorcerer
Flotsam “Sam” Stormsurge, Animan (octopus aspect) Rogue/Alchemist
Meroln Sands, Half-elf Fighter
Squizzles, Kobold Bard
Wilfred Fizzlebang, Gnome Summoner & Mekkatorque, his eidolon.
Deciding to brave it out, Elerra, Sam and Squizzles waited for Krog to appear, and demanded to see his superior. Sgt. Pador seemed at best vaguely impressed by Elerra’s pedigree, saying that they already had lots of Everhate and Tormtor, and that he supposed they could find a place for a Vae. After having additional guards remove the orc they’d poisoned, and replaced him with a fresh guard, Pador led the trio deeper into the barracks complex guarding the gate to the Underdark and into the upper works, where it was obvious that some “reconstruction” had gone on to make it friendlier to giants.
Passing through an outer office staffed by three human females whose spirits were obviously broken, Pador led them to his superior, a stone giant named Hadramak, whose rank was given as lieutenant. Hadramak seemed surprised that a drow had appeared at the gate, and also was subtly surprised that she seemed unaware both that the relationship between the drow and the giants had changed, and that she lacked information on how well their efforts to hold the lands they’d stolen fared. He asked if the drow had had another war and if they were looking to sell more of the losers into slavery, but seemed not to care much either way.
As the uncomfortable exchange ground to a halt, the trio finally made their farewells are were escorted back to the gate, which was locked behind them. Rejoining their companions, they sought another exit from the Underdark, eventually finding another tunnel that led to a ruined gnomish settlement where they camped for the “night”. Sam and Squizzles scouted further ahead, finding signs that a skulk also dwelled in the area, but never quite encountering it, although it did trigger the Alarm that Wilfred had set to alert the party in their camp.
The next day they climbed/flew/levitated up the 60’ chimney that led to the surface, noting the nearby (1-1.5 miles away) watchtower that had a view of the exit as well. making their way well away from the area, they bedded down for the day, reasoning that it would be better to travel at night,
That evening, as both moons reached their zenith overhead, Elerra, Wilfred and Squizzles all felt the First Mark as it imposed itself on the magical energies of Liga. Alexia’s staff became agitated as well, as this affected it’s special purpose. After some debate, the group decided that they would keep to the lowlands as they approached Tycha to try and connect with Allister Aerogenesis’ contacts in the Underground.
After almost a week of travel, the group arrived on the outskirts of Tycha, the last town Allister and his companions had visited before the fateful ambush at Lake Mala. Even at 4 AM, the town bustled with orcish activity, though the guarded “ghetto” where the humans dwelled was silent. Fearing to approach the city even invisibly, the group camped out in a stand of trees on the edge of the fields that surrounded the town. When Alexia renewed her spells for the day, she used a Contact Planar Ally spell and received a strange “ally”.
An orc with pale gray skin (instead of green) and hands that were dyed pitch black, wearing a serape, a wide brimmed hat (similar to the ones they’d seen many orcs wearing in the town) and a pair of pistols arrived with a burro. Squizzles recognized him as being one of the nalshavel, a rare, good-aligned orcish offshoot that followed their own subset of orcish deities known as the Zavik (the Enlightened); by the color of his hands, this one likely followed Torva, the leader of that pantheon. Given his task, his skin changed color to green as he rode off into town and returned several hours later.
“The Orc With No Name” told how he had sought out Tolmar Naz, the only other Underground contact the group knew of in town, who had confirmed that there were perhaps 500-odd orcs in the town, whose main duties were supervising the 800 or so remaining humans. A pair of stone giants dwelled in the large stone manor-house, with perhaps a dozen ogres and a trio of trolls also present. An elderly make drow was also known to dwell with the giants, in charge of anything “magical” the giants might need. He had also arranged a face-to-face meeting with the party and Tolmar, as they lacked travel-papers and could not expect to approach the town without them.
Later that night, the group met with Tolmar, learning that the traitor, Tangmar, had been promoted by the giants and had gone Pest’s Crossing to further serve the overlords in some capacity. As Tangmar had been the head of Tolmar’s cell in the resistance, he was currently cut off from the movement, but felt that his presence in town still served the greater good, as he was in a position to funnel extra rations into the ghetto to help feed the humans there. When asked about Allister, he had no specifics, but did state that when the nearby dwarven fortress of Deepholm had fallen, it had been re-purposed as special prison; it was possible he had been taken there.
As dawn approached that night, Elerra danced to the glory of Ellistrae, and prayed mightily for guidance. Her hopes were two-fold: Does Allister languish in the prisons of Deepholm? And is there an easier way to enter said prison that fighting their way past a legion of giants and their minions? Spending a Hero Point, her faith was rewarded. The first part of her vision served as a rough tour of the revamped dwarven city of Deepholm, now overrun by orcs and fire giants. Deep beneath the city, she saw a level of the dungeons where the “special prisoners” were kept; politely appointed apartments screened by Walls of Force, and she witnessed Allister seated in his cell. A nearby cell proved to hold a mind flayer, though it was obvious that the illithid had the freedom to wander the halls, which were guarded mainly by duergar.
The second part of her vision surged deep into the Underdark, to the very streets of Erelhei-Cinlu, namely a hovel somewhere in the Ghetto of Outcasts. There an ancient male drow could be seen with an odd golden key on a chain about his neck.
Knowing that visiting her home city was dangerous beyond measure, she elected to bring only Wilfred, who utilized his Hat of Disguise to appear as a drow himself. She Teleported the two of them to a location nearby that she was familiar with, and made her way to the hovel she’d witnessed in her vision, and knocked on the door for access.
The old man eventually let them in, and Elerra fed him a sob story about needing his key to help free the brother of a companion; even going so far as to reveal herself as a priestess of Ellistrae. To her benefit, the old man (whom both she and Wilfred noticed was growing visibly younger as the visit progressed) raised no alarms, though he did seem deeply amused that a noble drow female would debase herself to aid a male. Eventually he did relent, and offer her the loan of his key, if she would dance for him.
As she danced, she was quick to notice that not only did the squalid furniture in the (now reasonably young) man’s hovel move out of her way of it’s own accord, but a beam of what looked like moonlight shone upon her as she danced. Eventually she came to realize that she was dancing before Vhaeraun (drow god of thieves) himself. After making a hasty retreat with the key, she and Wilfred returned to their haunt overlooking Tycha, and, lacking any doors upon which to test the key, they all returned to Narwell via Teleport.
After testing the key and learning that it would size itself to any lock, and further learning that if used with forethought, could cause the unlocked door to lead to a specific destination, Elerra used it to open a door into a hewn stone tunnel, from which a wave of heat poured into their apartments. As we broke for the evening, the group was preparing to make their way through the door, to lead a rescue for Alexia’s brother…
It is the 4th of Reaping, 600 CY.