12/28 Session Recap
You know an adventure that begins with a vague request by an unknown drow is NOT going to end well for someone. It ended rather well for our adventuring party which was of course quite smashing, and it ended in a bad way for the Red Wizards of Thay. This is good for us in the short term, but could potentially see us even more hated (and hunted) by the Red Wizards in the long run. But I skip ahead, so let me begin the recap where it started.
Nikola (our ranger) was heading home one evening, once again alone and once again at least partially in his cups. The appearance of an unknown drow at his side provided some instant sobriety. Drow seem to have that effect on non-drow races, especially on the surface of Faerun. He introduced himself as S’ilthantiz of Clan Maknatz, and implied that he was related to Nik. Oh, and yes, that the services of our intrepid little group was required. In the Underdark. Right away.
OK, so it turns out S’ilthantiz is kind of related to Nikola. He is apparently a second cousin to D'nayin, Garrity’s mother and Nikola’s adoptive mother. We don’t have much to go on, although the Red Sword is mentioned. Well, that’s the only enticement Nikola needs to head out on some damned fool quest to god knows where doing god knows what.
We are told to seek out a gnome by the name of Arte at the Dragon’s Ladle in Mulsantir. Traveling overland in Thesk and shadowing The Golden Way from Tammar to Two Stars, we manage to avoid patrols and prying eyes. One night a wagon is heard passing nearby, prompting us to investigate. Callum detects evil, but it is unknown who on the wagon is evil. With Garrity flying air cover above, the party charges into action. The wagon quickly springs ahead, but is forced to slow thanks to a blade barrier placed by Posht. One horse perishes in the whirling blades, while the other veers off in time along with the wagon.
The wagon guards fight back, but are forced to abandon their vehicle to us when the tide of battle turns in our favor. A search of the wagon shows us that we have intercepted a Thayan wagon, laden with treasure and ancient artifacts. Well, we do find a modest stash of loot, but no artifacts. The mere thought of sticking it to the Thayans, even in such a minor way, gives us reason to smile.
On the western shore of Lake Mulsantir we manage to draw the ire of the locals when one of the ferry guards challenges Nikola, probably just for looking at him or some minor offense. Instead of backing down or playing it cool, Nikola acts all tough and Palau wades in, blades flashing. The half-orc guard is cut to ribbons by the ill-tempered Halfling and panic and mayhem of the ferry landing ensues. The party scatters and melts away, using spells to bypass the ferry and head across the water to Mulsantir.
We rendezvous with Arte the gnome, but end up staying at the Dead Dwarf. Innkeeper Milo Hintar runs a decent joint and we manage to lay low until we venture into the Underdark, thanks to Arte.
As we head deeper into the Underdark, we of course encounter several natives who think we are their next meals. A greater basilisk and a pair of beholder/illithid hybrids give us some trouble, but we overcome the foul fiends. A manual of bodily health is recovered from the floating horrors, providing Nikola with a boost to his constitution.
The party finally reaches the drow city, and are ushered in to meet with S’ilthantiz and his people. There, it is learned that the drow are still mightily pissed at the Thayans for their earlier meddling that led to the destruction of Sith Morcane, along with the usual plots and machinations common to naughty types like drow, Thayans, Zhents, etc. Our part is to help the drow locate the mind flayer who is linked to Nikola. If they can triangulate on him, that should lead them to the high-value targets they wish to take out, or so the theory goes.
We agree to help, but mostly out of self-preservation. If we can rid Nikola of the constant beacon in his head, we suddenly make it that much harder for the Red Wizards to keep tabs on us. That, and no one in the party feels bad about sending a bunch of Thayans to their doom. Karma is a bitch and whatnot. So if we find ourselves temporarily allied with the drow, so be it. We know how to play their game, so we’ll be watching our backs the whole time for good measure.
For Callum, the dilemma was gut-wrenching. Here he was, in the Underdark, helping the drow to strike a major blow against his fellow surface-dwellers. True, the target is the Thayan brain trust, which somewhat deflects the sense of complicity and betrayal the paladin is feeling, but still…there was so much evil present, it was hard not to feel bad for the servant of Kelemvor.
Maybe it is just the taunting, the mere presence of cruel demons, loathsome driders, and the cruel servitors driven before the drow overlords that gnaws at the paladin’s soul. Callum steadies himself, and tries to focus on his comrades rather than allowing himself to be distracted by the overwhelming stench of evil that assails his every nerve. Kelemvor will be busy today, of that much the paladin is sure.
The party is able to pass some down time in the wonderful drow bazaar. A few minor weapon upgrades were completed, and Palau traded his Horned Ring for a ring of invisibility. I don’t think I would have traded a minor artifact for a lesser item, but we’ll only really miss it if we ever find ourselves back in Undermountain.
A series of spider-web portals are activated, and the drow assault force begins to take shape. If it weren’t for the evil nature of most of the players involved, it would have been a truly marvelous sight for any eyes to behold. From the seething masses of cannon fodder to drow regulars to elites such as powerful demons and drow high priestesses, we can tell this is a force to be reckoned with in any corner of Faerun. And if they can do this against the Thayans, they can do it against anyone. Food for thought.
Finally, the attack is launched. Target: Thaymount, the seat of Red Wizard power. There are multiple citadels and fortresses upon the plateau, and each one is attacked by a dedicated assault team. Stealthy drow appear, raining down poisoned bolts and spells and flashing blades. Massive demons shrug off spells and tear through defenders in sprays of blood and gore. Supporting drow spellcasters augment their allies with various spells, and send Thayans to their doom or scrambling for cover.
Dragons and other mounts/pets are visible as well. Flying creatures engage in dogfights, and stricken victims fall from the sky, plummeting down to land among (and sometimes on) the swarm of combatants below.
The battle against the Thayans unfolds...
Our heroes attack the small keep where the illithid we are connected to should be found. The defenders are fighting as expected – no quarter given, none asked for. Our frontal assault gives way to attacking from above, and we soon breach the keep’s defenses. Inside, chaos and confusion reign. We encounter a pocket of defenders who put up a good fight, but we are able to come out on top. Even when we finally meet the mind flayer we are hunting, it is more relief than dread. We kill him, and the link with Nikola is finally severed!
"You're suffering from a Vulcan mind-meld, doctor."
The final scenes of the battle played out rather dramatically: the party was worn down, spells nearly exhausted, and still the Thayans fought on. Escape via teleport and similar means was impossible, so the party would have to slink away and hope they could make a break for it. Trapped in the heart of Thay, fighting Red Wizards, and keeping watch on our drow “allies” is not the best of situations to be in. And then came the dragon…
The ancient red dragon was dead, felled in combat somewhere above the outposts. It plowed into the keep, more or less shearing it in twain, burying the living and dead under tons of rubble. Our stalwart adventurers were tossed around like dolls, stunned and even trapped in the debris. Nikola found himself on the ground outside the keep, thrown clear by fate or luck. As he rose, he sensed he was not alone.
Also rising from the carnage was none other than T’See Larak! The drow was gravely wounded, missing one arm and suffering numerous cuts and gashes from head to foot. Even in such a state, the drow still glowered at Nikola with sneering contempt. “Come, weakling, let me send you to the lower planes. You have been seeking the Red Sword, and now you have found it. Allow me to show you how it works.”
With that, the two wounded combatants leapt at one another, eyes aglow with hate and fury. Nikola’s two-handed attacks were turned aside by the drow, which only made the ranger dig deeper into his resolve. “Your time is over, assassin.” said Nikola, as he slowly wore down the wounded drow’s defenses. “You have been hunted down and betrayed by your own kind. The Red Sword is mine!”
Nikola’s thrusting feint with his short sword worked, and he sent the keen edge of his longsword into the drow’s torso, skewering him just below the ribcage. The Red Sword fell from T’See’s grasp, and thudded onto the charred earth as the dead drow toppled over.
The party, battered and exhausted, gathers itself up and seeks refuge inside the ruined keep. Inside a wizard’s chamber, a portal is discovered. Garrity casts analyze portal and is able to activate it. Escape is at hand! The adventurers make the leap, leaving behind both the Thayans and the drow to finish what they started. I’m sure the Thayans will be looking for some payback down the road, and I wouldn’t put it past the drow to consider us loose ends that need to be tied up at some point. But for now, we are safe and the Red Sword is ours! Or Nikola’s, as he is quick to point out.
D&D coma. Life is good!
All in all, a good time was had by everyone. For my son Frodo (aka the painting prodigy), it was his first time to hang out with us during a gaming session. I didn't know how he would do, honestly. I figured he would hang out for a few hours, eat some food, drink some pop, and eventually get bored. But he stayed the entire night! He ate some chili and cornbread, drank many root beers, and had a selection of chips and snacks to choose from. When he wasn't rolling dice for our DM or me, he read The Two Towers, watched TV, and eventually passed out in a comfy chair. When it was time to head home at oh-dark-hundred, he was good to go. Next time, I think he wants to play! We'll see what we can do about that.