21 Hearth 508
The party decides not to fully butcher the dead rift drake that has just attacked them and was vanquished. They settle on only taking the teeth and claws.
The four guards that they took with them return to their comrades back in Qwast while the main party, Burask, Kortash, and Burkas Feldspar stay behind at the fissure.
The corners of the fissure can be used to climb downward at a slope. The party opts to use the corner to slide down. Burkas leads the way, followed by Surm (who uses climbing gear). Mõrvar slips and falls down to the bottom of the crevice. He finds himself in a cavern tunnel. Rilka, Savaric, and the two porters follow.
The tunnel slopes downward into the darkness. Savaric leads the way, followed by Burkas, Mõrvar, Surm, Kortash, Burask, and Rilka. They travel about a mile down the tunnel, Savaric finding nothing in his searches but a word written in what Burkas believes is Draconic on the wall. No one can decipher the word. Burkas says he doesn’t remember seeing that last time he was here. It could be left by kobolds, but it could also be left by what Burkas calls “Trogs”— troglodytes. Surm and Savaric know about troglodytes—they are reptilian humanoids from an ancient civilization that have degenerated. They also emit a smelly musk that can sicken their foes.
Surm makes mental notes of their directions as they go. When they come to a fork in the tunnel, Savaric marks it in chalk with an arrow pointing back the way they came.
They find themselves in a chamber drenched in an odious scent. Here, the party is attacked by a band of Trogs who attempted to hide in the darkness behind a series of stalagmites. They make short work of the Trogs, with most of them holding their breath throughout the battle. Savaric and Mõrvar did not, but they managed to fight off the sickness induced by the stench.
Savaric searches the room and finds more of the Draconic writing on the walls. They all then hear the slap of bare feet stepping toward the chamber. The party all hide behind stalagmites.
Seven Trogs come walking into the room. Surm, from his vantage point, sees an eighth Trog come skulking in behind them, obviously hiding. A fight ensues and all eight—including the skulker—are taken out. The skulker had a pouch with some gemstones in it that was taken. Then Mõrvar beheads all of the bodies.
As they continue on, the party is approached by 2 more skulking Trogs. Mõrvar, Surm, and Savaric see them hiding in the stone cavern. Mõrvar demands that they come out. Savaric approaches as well. He uses his prayers to produce a thunderclap that trips one of the skulkers. Surm attacks the other with magic missile. They make short work of the Trogs and Mõrvar chops off the heads of the bodies. The bodies are searched and pouches taken. Savaric marks the tunnel in Low Dwarven before moving on toward the next chamber.
Savaric steps into the next room and is suddenly enveloped inside a huge Lurking Ray. Rilka steps forward and slays the creature in a single, well-executed, strike. They find a hoard of treasure beneath the foul creature’s body. They then continue to the next chamber.
They come upon a chamber with many stalagmites and stalactites. There is a tunnel to the ‘north’ of the room and tunnel to the ‘south.’ Savaric barely hears the heavy breathing of a creature beyond the south tunnel. Burkas indicates that’s the way they need to go. Savaric activates Ilona and goes to see what is beyond the southern tunnel.
He sees, clinging to the side of the wall, watching the chamber entrance, a huge monstrosity with four arms and a vertically-aligned maw at the top of its head. He goes back to his companions and tells them going ahead is a bad idea. He then describes what he sees. Burkas indicates that the ‘north’ tunnel leads into the same chamber, but from a different angle.
At this point, the creature must have gotten tired of waiting for its prey, for a large forearm comes swinging out of the tunnel entrance. Its monstrous head pokes out and peers at the party. The party attacks the creature, while Mõrvar runs down the ‘north’ tunnel to attack the creature from the rear.
Finally, the creature is brought down by Surm and his spells. He identifies the creature as a Gug, a monstrous aberration of the deep places that is known to cruelly play with its prey. In the corner of its chamber, the party finds more treasure.
The party continues to move forward. As they move into an apparently empty chamber, the air sizzles with lightning bolts that strike Rika and Savaric, though they manage to move partially out of the way. Looking into one of the alcoves of the chamber, they see large centaurian spiders with Drow torsos standing in the entryway. Their spider-like faces are monstrous and strange. Two more stand behind them.
The party engages with the Driders and attack. Soon, two are dead and the back two are forced to clear their dead brethren out of the way to get to the party. Suddenly, another Drider appears in the chamber. Mõrvar attacks the new foe—only to find that it is an illusion. While Mõrvar engaged with it, the Driders cleared their path and then cast another lightning bolt at the northman.
“I’m going to eat your fucking soul!” Mõrvar declares and engages with the Driders. Finally, the monstrosities are slain and Mõrvar decapitates their bodies. They collect some pouches off of the creatures and pocket the treasure. They opt not to take the masterwork maces being carried by the creatures.
Burkas says that they are on the border of the fungal fields—chambers full of fungi that is harvested by the Drow for food, Here they will start to encounter Drow guards and other officials from the city. it is decided that this is the place that Burkas will take his leave of the party. He is paid 10 gold for his time and he bids the party farewell, heading back the way they have come.
The party then have a discussion and it is decided that the party will use false names while dealing in Ambraxaran. They then enter the fungal fields.
Soon thereafter, they are met by a troupe of Drow warriors lead by a female in a red sash. She wears a leather badge on her belt bearing the symbol of a wyrm. They are accompanied by 5 more Driders.
“Turn back, surface dwellers,” she says in Elven.
The rest of the troops ready their crossbows, aiming them at the party. Surm steps forward and speaks to the troops’ leader in Undercommon, indicating that Mistress Steeltusk (Rilka) wishes to trade in Ambraxaran.
“How do you come to know of Ambraxaran?” the leader demands.
“From weak Drow men that could not resist the Misstress’ techniques,” Surm answers.
“For one who would break Drow men, her guards are insolent,” the leader says.
“My mistress’ guards are loyal, fierce, and expendable,” Surm says.
The leader looks Rilka over and asks, “Do you have an agent in Ambraxaran?”
Rilka says something indecipherable to the leader and Surm ‘translates’: “My mistress is tired of talking. Let us pass.”
The leader frowns. “Your mistress must treat with me to receive an escort through the fields or turn back.”
Rilka attempts to intimidate the leader and Surm feigns fear. “My mistress will accept your escort.”
The leader then turns to her troops and addresses them in Elven: “Take them to the gate.” She indicates two of the guards and two of the Driders.
The Driders and the Drow take up the rear and the head of the party, a guard and a Drider at each end. They then lead the party deeper into the fungal fields.
Huge mushrooms grow in the these chambers, as well as phosphorescent moss. It is harvested by slaves guarded by Drow taskmasters. The slaves are mostly male Drow, troglodytes, and even some grey-skinned dwarves.
The troupe is stopped by another Drow leader wearing a red sash in a large chamber with a pair of wagons being lead by giant monitor lizards. This leader demands to know where these lowly guards are going with a troupe of surface dwellers. The guards indicate that “Captain Slerythyryxx” ordered them escorted to the gates of the city. The red sashed leader—apparently a Captain—lets them pass.
Finally, the troupe crosses all of the fungal chambers and emerges into a huge chamber. Up ahead is a plateau ascending from a deep and wide trench. On the plateau are stone spires and carved stone buildings—the city of Ambraxaran. Guards stand watch at one end of a long bridge that crosses the trench to the other side. These guards bear leather badges with a sword inside and five-pointed star. They wear blue sashes. Here, the guards from Captain Slerythyryxx turn the troupe over to the guards with blue sashes.
“What business do you have in Ambraxaran?” one of the new guards demands.
“Shopping,” Surm answers.
Rilka attempts to intimidate the guards and demands their names—through Surm as a translator. “We are of House Vanirys,” the guard says, “That is all you need to know.” The guard says that they will allow them entry after paying a ‘proper’ gate tax of 5 gold.
Then Surm indicates that they will let Imrith Illythis know that the guards at the gate were ‘so diligent.’ This changes their attitudes. The guard says that he ‘misspoke’ and that they will allow them entrance with a tax of 3 silver. They also send their regards to the Demonic Champion. Surm says that his mistress will forget you even exist, for which they should be thankful.
The guards advise them to douse their light, indicating Rilka’s falchion. They indicate that some may be “offended” by it. She binds her falchion. They then also get directions to Hrenivoc—the Pits district of the city. The directions indicate a tunnel passage heading down into the plateau.
They follow the directions and pass various structures built into the rock. They also encounter various denizens of the underground realms, including a beautiful humanoid with horns and a pointed tail who solicits Mõrvar. They move on and find themselves at the bottom of the passage in a slummy neighborhood. They see troops of Troglodytes marching through and figures wrapped in dark robes—some short of stature and some the size of most humanoids. These Surm identifies as “Dark Folk”, a mysterious race of humanoids that dwell in the underground realms.
Mõrvar puts up his hood as Surm asks about for directions to the Crimson Stain. He gets directions from one of the Dark Folk. They follow the creature’s directions and find themselves before a large stone structure with a wooden door stained red with paint or some other sticky substance.