Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “Scourge of the Slave Lords”
Still in pursuit of the crazy leader lady.
After getting all the rescued slaves to safety, Ezekiel and Raven collected their caveling friends to join us for the “battle”…though none of us knew where our enemy might be hiding. Some of the cavelings armed themselves with stone axes and such, but others just had their bizarre, unnatural claws. No two are exactly alike…and no description will do them justice.
We headed south down the passage, and the first branch-off we came to ended in a door. Raven and I hid behind the corners of the passage – just in case another lightening bolt came ripping out (you never know!) – and Ezekiel opened the door.
I could just barely hear a woman’s voice asking how he dared intrude (Ezekiel dares all kinds of things) – then Ezekiel called Raven up to join him. They say it was a beautiful, elfin lady in studded armor, who spoke with an imperious tilt to her head…but who answered all Ezekiel’s questions about Sudderheim without flinching or trying to bluster. Ezekiel says she was far too cooperative to be believable…but they didn’t get much time to evaluate the situation.
As soon as the cavelings noticed the lady was there, they surged forward, baying for blood. I think Ezekiel tried to stall them, but none of the ones present could talk with us – and besides, they were in such a frenzy I don’t think it would have mattered. Glad we haven’t had to fight them so far.
I moved up and saw Raven fighting an elf-looking man in armor – so I sent a few arrows into the fray. I didn’t see the lady at all…and no wonder. Before long, the cavelings all trooped past us, heading home, their hands and weapons dripping…and when I got in the room, I saw the bodyguard’s corpse – and a revolting pile of gak that must have been the lady. The cavelings may have a weak grasp on reality in other areas…but they have clung to the memory of who made them these stunted, misshapen travesties of humanity. Can’t blame them, in some ways…
With the excitement over for the time-being, we could examine the room. The male bodyguard came from a hidden door behind a mirror, which led to an arms room – practice dummies, racked weapons, and the like.
Opposite the mirror in the lady’s room, I saw the tattered pieces of a canvas. Ezekiel says it used to be a portrait of Marquessa – but the eyes seemed to be watching them, so he had Agnar destroy it (Agnar could get it unstuck from the wall). Raven dug behind where the portrait had been, and found a chisel sealed into a crack in the wall. Ezekiel thinks that’s bizarre enough to be important, so I have added it to the list.
A desk contained letters to potential slave buyers; a bed and wardrobe stood along one wall…but still, something felt off. Ezekiel said it was too easy – and certainly, for a lady who hurled lightening at us the first time we met, I couldn’t believe she’d let herself be boxed into a corner like this.
I squinted my eyes and concentrated, and breathed in the power of Ehlonna, and all the magic in the room started to glow. Ignoring my party members, I focused – and was surprised to see that neither the bodyguard nor the pulpy pile of Marquessa wore magical gear of any kind. Not so much as a magic ring…which seems very strange for the leader of an evil cult slaver operation. The chisel and the stuff we took from the captain of the guard also didn’t feel special.
However – while I was concentrating, we pulled out some of the other stuff we looted…and the amber vial inside the wood box, the scroll, and the coffer with the potions and ring all glowed. The shreds of canvas from the portrait also glowed…so maybe it really was a magical spying tool. Marquessa seems obsessive enough for that.
Finally, some kind of panel behind the wardrobe glowed. Raven took a look, and said there was a secret door, opened with a peg – but it took Lydia to open it. Maybe no one else did it right, or maybe it was waiting for someone magical…or maybe it was waiting for a girl. I doubt we’ll remember to ask the real Marquessa in the brief moments before we kill her.
Ezekiel went first into the secret passage – and called out that there was a glyph at the end of the passage. We all held back until he gave the all-clear, and Agnar helped him find the secret door behind the glyph (secret doors within secret doors! It’s like a secret society within a secret society!).
This, finally, had the look of a real leader’s quarters. The bedroom was larger than any of the others – and the bed was a huge, cushy, canopied affair. There was even a chandelier – and a fireplace. Ezekiel came out of the fireplace with soot on his nose, and asked Raven to look at the flue. They agreed there was something overly-complicated about it – and Ezekiel pointed out the soot was scraped off part of it in a suspicious way – but they couldn’t get there hands up there to push on it with enough force. Ezekiel said a poker would be perfect…but this fireplace mysteriously didn’t have a poker.
Ezekiel walked around the room with his magical trap-smelling, and spotted a couple more – on the wall by the bed, and in the corner of the room. While I appropriated some of the clothes from the dresser (not for me! You never know when they might come in handy!), Raven cracked open a wall safe at the foot of the bed – a purse, some gems, and…a very mysterious metal box. I wasn’t sure it was glowing…but it made my skin crawl somehow, and Raven and Lydia agreed. We’ll have to investigate it more closely when we have more tools at our disposal.
Meanwhile, Agnar pointed out a secret door in the corner. When Ezekiel opened it, a cloud wafted out of the wall at him – but he got his arm up in time to shield his face, and he rubbed the frost off his hands and ears before continuing.
The room beyond was right out of an Evil cult book if ever there was one. There’s a big ol’ five-pointed star on the floor, in what I hope is red paint, with candles and everything and an amulet in the center. Even Ezekiel wasn’t bold enough to step near it.
Workbenches lined the walls, covered with flasks and papers and measuring cups and other alchemical rif-raf. A couple of the drawers were trapped with glyphs, Ezekiel said — as was a section of the wall with, according to Agnar, yet another secret door.
Marquessa may be off her rocker…but she’s also crazy competent, or she’s got some insanely skilled person working for her. Like, how many secret doors does one person need? And if these doors finally lead back to the surface again, will Marquessa have fled by the time we get there?
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