By Beth Griese
Date: November 21, 1998
|Borreau||Blonde Human||Tempus Cleric||Brian Smith|
|Lorivar Menasson||Short, dark, & hairy||Monk||Vaughan Herron|
|Nory||Gnome||Illusionist / Thief||Stu Collins|
|Verence Gallow||Thin human||Mystra Cleric||Kent Jenkins|
Quote of the Day:
"O Mystra, we offer you this bathroom set." -- Jim L.
To Garen Thundersson, cleric of Mielikki. From your faithful friend, Jade.
By the time I had finished making notes for you after our battle, we had scoured most of Eclavdra's rooms to see what she had held here. Verence was frosted so badly he collapsed when he tried to open a small chest of hers, but he didn't seem to mind it so much when he rooted the spellbooks out of it.
I took on the task of destroying every item to Lolth I could - the whirling blades she had created before we killed her made a handy way of tearing ceremonial robes, tapestries, and even thin wood to shreds. I used a hatchet to reduce Eclavdra's ebony altar to Lolth into kindling.
We went through a pretty complicated routine to open a thin metal box with a handle on it. Borreau's spells told him the box was trapped, and the trap was so intricate that even Nory couldn't touch it. But he could tell us that the trap would release a poison cloud of gas. As we debated the best way to open the box, Lorivar pointed down the stairs that Obmi and Verence had been knocked down during the fight and suggested we toss it down there to open. We all liked that idea, but we checked the bottom of the stairs first to make sure we weren't going to release poison gas on another prison level.
What we found made my stomach turn cold, which I wouldn't have believed five minutes before, I was still so fired up from the battle with Eclavdra. The bottom of the stairs led to a cavern room that was bigger than a festhouse hall, with glowing mists swirling through the space. Verence and Borreau decided, after some study, that the room was dedicated to a cross between Lolth and the elemental god of fire. Giant and drow-size pews filled most of the room, facing an altar with a triangle and cylinder above it. The room must have been built for a specific ceremony, since all the things like the bells and the carvings in the front reeked of magic. None of us liked the room or its unknown purpose, but for now, we knew what we needed to know - there was no one to be harmed down here if we opened the chest.
We attached the small case to a rope, threw it down the stairs, and then Nory summoned a spirit to open the chest. Sure enough, gas filled the bottom with an explosion into a cloud. The spirit was unharmed, of course, and carried the case upstairs. It held sheaf after sheaf of paper, most in drow, but some messages and maps we could make out as the plans for the Cormyr assault. Her entire battle plan and treaty agreements seemed to be held here. We carefully collected everything for return to Suzail and King Azoun.
W were long overdue for some rest. We picked our way quietly back to the titan's prison room, which seemed to us the most easily defensible place, and curled up for a fast rest. It was during my watch that our fast rest became a long, slow, interrupted rest. I heard, off in the distance, the sounds of clanging metal and barking noises. I woke Nory up, who was mostly just peeved at being awoken (those wizards sure love their sleep!), and though he said he couldn't cast anything to investigate the noise, he loaned me his ring of invisibility with a good deal of cursing. I took it and crept out the door. I still clung to the walls and the shadows, even though I know I was supposed to be invisible, and followed my ears.
Down a set of stairs we hadn't yet explored was a mob of gnolls. I guess they had realized that the masters were no longer home and were running riot. I crouched on the steps and watched them break through some double doors. The noise had risen to a deafening pitch - I'm amazed the rest of the Wayfarers didn't come running up my back - but everything was silenced in a heartbeat when the whole gang of lead gnomes were fried to crisps as they passed the door's threshold. The carnage frightened the rest of the mob, and with yipping and whining they ran away down another ramp.
Quiet fell so suddenly it seemed as noisy as the mob had been. Gnolls are not smart, and probably haven't been around magic enough. I've seen enough glyphs to recognize what it was that took out these gnolls; multiple glyphs across the door. The gnolls, I guess, also don't know that glyphs only fire once, and then are gone. I tiptoed forward and peered into the room they were assaulting. It was an elaborate tomb, with about two dozen stone, fancily decorated sarcophaguses inside, all giant sized.
I scrambled back to our room as fast as I could, no longer caring about silence. I woke up the rest of our party with shouts about the dead of the giants being disturbed. The fight with Eclavdra must have taken more out of us than I realized - everyone wanted to roll over and go back to sleep. I couldn't believe they could sleep when the dead could be raising behind our backs. It wasn't until I told them that, with them or without, I was going back to make sure none of those dead were going to rise, that Borreau stumbled quickly to his feet and, with both of us going, everyone else grumpily got to their feet, too.
Borreau cast a spell to check for undead, and my rousting of the party was for nothing - none of the tombs contained undead. At least I could rest peacefully now, and I hope the others felt the same way. We went back to the room and tucked ourselves in for some uninterrupted sleep.
With our "morning," we went back to the temple of drow and fire and destroyed everything we could. Now we had a quandary - should we go back to Suzail right away to report the news of Eclavdra's death, or should we continue clearing out what we could of the fire giant's warren? Verence cast a spell that let him ask for advice from Mystra. He asked if it was important to visit the lower levels of this place. Mystra's power told him that danger to our homeland could be averted if we did. That made the decision for us - we continued on.
We followed a trail of dead gnolls down the ramp beyond the giants' crypt to a level where lava bubbled from spots in the floor. It was hot as a summer day in a woodshack. But the strangest thing was the music... we could hear music down one tunnel. We followed it and found a steaming pool with a half-dissolved gnoll lying in it. The steam rose through huge pipes in the ceiling, which created the music.
Nory and Borreau spotted something flashing down one of the corridors leading from this room, so without any other guidance, we followed it. The flashing turned into a gleaming, which became a glow, which turned out to be mound after mound of gold and treasure. My heart sunk even as soon as I realized what the room ahead was full of, even before I saw what occupied it - this looked like every story of dragonhoard I'd ever heard come to life. Sure enough, we tiptoed to the end of the hall (I guess everyone else had the same thought I did), to see a dragon of dark, deep red curled in the center of the largest pile. He was easily as long as two or three buildings. Dark shadows marked the walls where the dragon had breathed fire to turn fleeing gnolls into cinder crisps and marks on the walls. Verence and Obmi both almost crashed right on into the dragon's lair, maybe because his sheer presence was so stunning, but we grabbed both of them and hauled ourselves back to the music room.
With a little quick consulting, Verence cast his spell for the advice of the gods again. This time he asked if the red dragon was the danger to our homeland. The answer said that our homeland's danger may not be averted by fighting the dragon. That was enough of an answer for me to decide that there were more important battles to fight somewhere else in this cavern system that would destroy the threat. To my surprise, Lorivar agreed with me. To my even greater surprise, no one else did. Sure, I can understand some of us - some gnomes of us - being a bit overtaken by the piles of treasure we saw. But even Borreau had that gleam in his eye that told me that he saw this chance for battle as Tempus' own gift handed to him. I was outvoted. We cast spells to make us as hard to hurt and as powerful as we could, and simply charged.
The dragon wasn't really surprised by us, although I hadn't expected he would be. Borreau, Lorivar, Obmi, and I scrambled across a lake of coins as best we could to reach the monstrous reptile. Borreau struck first, and the battle was on. Lorivar charged its tail and tried to attack by climbing it, but he was left mostly trying to pin the wildly thrashing tree-trunk-sized tail down. I buried my dagger deep in the dragon's neck, but it was like whittling a log - what would have been a killing blow to many creatures was an annoyance to the dragon.
The most amazing thing to me in fighting this beast was the intelligence in its eyes. I swear it was laughing at us as it concentrated, and suddenly where one dragon stood, seven shimmering images of dragons stood. It had cast a spell to make it impossible to tell the real dragon from the fakes. Our only way to tell was to waste precious swings on fake images to dispel them. I got lucky - my first chop with my sword cut into the real beast. Other swings took out fake images as the dragon pounced at us again and again. Nory summoned a herd of rats to try to distract and attack the dragon and its images, but the dragon had a response to that - it breathed. We had been hoping that it had used it breath power for the day on the gnolls. I wondered if my last thought on Faerun was going to be "Well, so much for that." Fire even burnt my throat as it blasted around us. But when the inferno passed, all of us were still standing, although Obmi had lost his footing on the coins and was sliding. The dragon was starting to show signs of tiring under our attacks.
Then the creature pulled out another trick; he started to ripple and change shape, his wings curling up and shifting. And with a thought like a bolt of lightning, I remembered the one thing about my sword, my poor sword that had gone through so much abuse and had lost much of the sweet edge it had when it was new. It was specially designed to strike shape-shifters in mid-form. If that ability was still in power, we had our golden opportunity.
There was still one extra image of the dragon. As quickly as I could, before it could finish changing, I drove the sword forward like a stake. I had a fifty-fifty chance of hitting the right beast, and Mielikki must have been smiling on me, because I hit the right one. And buried my sword to the hilt in its chest, covering me in blood and putting us all in danger of being swept across the room by its collapse. With a shower of coins, it fell to the floor, and the Wayfarers were left looking at a dragon corpse with wide eyes.
We didn't get a chance to celebrate. Even as we began to realize our fight was over, another, even worse one, walked through the door. In the form of 20-some drow women, all armed for battle. I pulled my sword from the dragon's body like a woodsman yanks an axe from a tree, and started to charge. Battle was still singing in my arms; I was ready to take on this entire cadre if we needed to. But as I charged through coins toward the drow, the woman in front demanded to know where the "renegade" Eclavdra was. That stopped my charge (and slowed down the run the others had begun, too), and with a sneer I produced Eclavdra's head.
That started an interesting conversation. They told us they were a hunting party sent to bring down Eclavdra and her followers, since she was acting outside the wishes of the city of Underdark. I didn't contribute much beyond insults - I tried to tell them that their work here was done since Eclavdra was dead, and they could take their filth back to Underdark. Their answer was surprising - they told us that this is part of Underdark, and the dragon Brazemal was one of the entrance markers to it. And besides, the lead woman said with a lot of contempt both for us and her fellow drow, Eclavdra had followers. About 200 of them, and these drow wanted to take care of those followers, surely in some unpleasant way.
It's probably not good of me to admit this, but I liked the idea of 20 drow women taking on 200 drow men in a showdown; I didn't see much way to lose with that. Borreau and Verence and the rest were seeing what other information they could give, including verifying that they had no interest in continuing to the surface (as if we could trust any word that came from their mouths). But still, it was enough. I shouldered my sword and told them to go ahead. They didn't look impressed with my permission, but they did move on, walking past us as we all fairly twitched, and then disappearing quietly down one of the many tunnels.
We were alone again with our dead dragon.
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