For this week half the party could not make it so I ran with three people then emailed the other three a summary of what happened to them. The story below is the other half of the story.
As you all cross the bridge over the chasm a gigantic creature rushes out of the mushroom forest right at the entire party. It is screaming and you notice over 20 small crossbow bolts sticking in it, as it crashes to the ground, dead.
Running out of the ‘trees’ right behind it is a dozen drow. Ten of them look to be standard guards but their leader is obviously important as you can tell by his fancy armour and clothing. He greets you as his men spread out all pointing handheld crossbows, keeping your party covered. He tells you he is Sor of house Sephiroth, the second house of Holoth. He mistakenly thinks you are mercenaries on your way to joining the first house, Gullion. He offers you to die or assist his house in overthrowing house Gullion as they are causing too much chaos, weakening the Holoth military forces and expanding too quickly. You all agree. They escort you to a small outpost and separate you into two teams of three, as small groups can move more unnoticed. He offers three of you to go into the guard house and wait.
You three remaining are asked to join Sor in his travelling caravan as he is heading into Holoth and can ‘smuggle’ you in as hired mercenaries. As you arrive at one of the city gates you get a very different feeling than when you were entering Embla. The great cavern is not as brightly lit here as Embla and the feeling is not so much of a bustling community but city during times of war. Most every creature is wearing armour, weapons and moving briskly with there heads down as if not wanting to be noticed. Surprisingly Drow, Dwarves, Surface Elves and many other races can be seen in the quick glance around you get while being whisked to house Sephiroth.
As you exit the coach you get a good look at the house and grounds, while others live in squaller being one of the most powerful houses give them space, light and luxury most will never know. Sor lavishes you with drink and food, sets you up in three of the most expensive rooms you have ever been in, the beds alone worth more than many entire inns you have stayed at during your travels.
The next morning you are called down to discuss the upcoming missions he has for you and explains you will be covert assassins, taking out House Gullion heirs to help cripple their power base so House Sephiroth can lead an uprising to destroy the first house. The ‘ace in the hole’ Sor has managed to procure is none other than Gal, the youngest son of House Gullion who has been studying his elder siblings to learn their habits and can provide limited support by manipulating the House Sephiroth staff schedule to minimize guards.
The first target is the eldest adopted daughter Maroena who was the second eldest of another house but as part of her pact to cripple her own house for Mother Maelora of House Gullion, she gained next in line for House Gullion. This is part of the same deal Gor now has with house Sor. Maroena is a bit of a party animal and this night she is having a soiree in Holoth’s Forest of the Gaoled uses a unique system for restraining high profile and politically valuable prisoners. Rather than just high walls and cells, many of the city’s most troublesome captives are held in the open, encased from the neck down in stalagmites that imprison them in cocoons of moss and fungi-covered stone that magically maintain them without the need for food or water. The columns transfer minerals and vitamins from the flora and rock by slowly and painfully leeching the life force from the victim, the exchange process keeping them physically alive but mentally and spiritually weak. What better place to celebrate her latest new found lover.
The three adventures head out to make sure they arrive fashionably late hoping the crowd will hide any misgivings given by their presence. Once there it was easy to blend into the crowd of Drow and others at the party. Siegfried being the bard and all around charmer approaches the hostess to try to get close. As soon as he speaks Maroena screams for someone to “Remove this retched male that dares to speak directly to her and separate him from his tongue while they are at it!” then laughs drunkenly. Siegfried makes a hasty retreat and is spared as the entertainment at the party distract everyone and he is soon forgotten.
Siegfried returns to his teammates a little disappointed but his tongue intact. It will be up to Althaea to make contact and arraign for Maroena’s accident. Right from the first eye contact, Althaea could tell she had Maroena’s attention, and that the idea of a female surface elf intrigued her. They talked, drank and danced for hours. Seigfried and Zannan got bored floating around the edge of the party and noticed a man in rather oddly clothes dealing drugs to some of the party goers. They decided to investigate and maybe make a few purchases.
In the meantime, the little diversion that is this soiree has started to wrap up. Singles, couples and multiple numbers all start leaving together. Maroena invites Althaea back to her newest after hours and residents in the Tower of Slave Mistress. A title she bears with much vigour, as the two of them along with Maroena’s entire entourage stumble to the tower, Althaea learns much from the babbling group.
- Maroena is just biding time to make a move of taking over the house Gullon.
- The matriarch Maelora has made a pact with something, she has been feeding souls in order to gain power.
- The entity is from another world and does not want anyone knowing it is on this plane
- Maroena has allies in a few minor houses that will assist her when the time is right for various costs (Of course).
When they arrive at this house of pain, Althaea is shocked to see the level of depravity that Drow are willing to go to for information from enemies and to punish the unfaithful. The lower four floors are small cells each containing one prisoner. It is explained that first, they use slave Illithids to find the prisoners’ greatest fear then, recreate it either in the cell or in the poor creature’s mind. Living unescapable torture until the sentence is up or they die. They climbed the central stairs to the fifth floor and the level of extravagance was unbelievable. In a large room gold and gem gilded, everyone flops down on pillows and cushions, nibbling on exotic fruits and drinking to their hearts desires.
Soon after arriving Althaea notices a strange female Half-elf approach both her and Maroena inviting them to Maroena’s, just the three of them. As they leave the main chamber and close the soundproof door Siegfried springs his trap, reviling himself as the female half-elf and Althaea cast silence in the area to prevent most spell casting. Maroena’s head in a moment of clarity actives her ring and a portal opens to Matriarch Maelora.
The Matriarch leaps to her feet and even though the portal 60 feet away the adventures can feel the building of heat from the largest fireball they have ever seen in their lives. Althaea turns to see Maroena dead on the floor and Zannan picking up the body while diving for the stairs down out of this place. Siegfried grabs Althaea’s arm and portals them outside the building, just in time to simultaneously watch the top floor of the building detonate in a monstrous explosion and Zannan run/fly out the front door with flames chasing behind him.
WIth the job done they return to their patron Sor of house Sephiroth to rest up for the next mission as there are still a couple more scions of Gullion to take care of before the final confrontation with Matriarch Maelora Gullion.