Dear Diary…the light at the end of the tunnel is blue and purple

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “Descent Into the Depths of the Earth”

We stayed at this campsite for a couple days so Master Oaklock could practice a technique with Heiron. I think they both enjoyed thinking about “normal” things for a bit. Heiron’s come a long way since we’ve known him.

Unfortunately, there’s bad news, too. Ezekiel asked Lydia to teleport back to Haven with a note (perhaps something to do with the node-gems, but he didn’t say so). She meditated for a moment, and told us that there’s some kind of arcane interference that won’t let her through. It’s hard to say if this place is shielded, like the dragon’s lair was shielded from scrying, or if we’re just too far underground for it to work. Lydia says the distance shouldn’t make a difference, since after all you can teleport between different planes of existence. Ezekiel took the opportunity to curse the demons who made him vulnerable to clerical magic…I think mostly out of professional courtesy. Master Oaklock asked Lydia to explain some things in more detail, and they spent quite a lot of time muttering in the corner, and borrowed one of my spare journals.

****

We came across a pit with two bodies in it. Raven agrees with me that there was probably a loose cover over the pit at one time. The bodies were a human and a drow – the human wearing a cloak of the exact same bright green that we saw among the property of the squid-men.

Ezekiel asked Raven to climb into the pit to check things out, and he told us the two had been garrotted (within the last couple days), and plundered of their weapons, jewelry, and belts. By the number and size of footprints, it was a huge band of small, bipedal creatures. While I was scanning the surroundings for any such creatures, Ezekiel leaned over and raised the human to life.

Ezekiel has asked me to remember to switch to the ring of truth when we’re going to question someone, but it didn’t do much good at first. This poor guy was so beat up, and his throat was so mangled, that even after Raven shared some water he couldn’t talk. He seemed very disoriented, though he did tell us he got jumped by many, many knee-high creatures.

He looked Suluese, so I asked Lydia to try talking to him. He seemed to like her a bit more, and after I anchored a rope at the top of the pit, he consented to climb out (needing much help from Raven). Ezekiel helped his throat and most of his wounds, and the man (named himself Xoris) seemed quite disconcerted by that. After Lydia shared her story, he shared (in Common) that he was here on business, and the drow was his business partner. I’m glad Ezekiel didn’t try to recruit him; someone who willingly consorts with drow is not our type. I suppose he probably didn’t have much choice…he says there used to be eight more in their party.

He also gave us some useful information about the city of the drow. Every foreigner must wear these distinctive green cloaks, and he even gave us his, since he says he’s not going back. He also gave us funny red glass things – almost like a shot glasses – and said to wear them on our eyes in “The Vault.”

Once we’d told each other all we could, Xoris headed back the way we’d come. Wonder what the kua’toa will make of him. Ezekiel told him that Sterich is at war with giants, but he didn’t seem to care much. Maybe he’s not expecting to make it that far.

Ezekiel asked me if he was telling the truth. I’m not sure what he was suspicious of, but X sounded the same the whole time he could talk.

**

We passed through a guard post today – a spiked wall thrown across the passage, complete with crenelated ramparts and sentries. The escape route is getting longer and rougher.

Lydia spoke with the guards, and they told us to douse our lights. So we got out the fabric covers and made sure all our shields were wrapped up tight. At least they didn’t make us dispel them. There were crystals stuck in the wall that glowed a faint blue, so we weren’t completely blind, but it definitely strains the eyes and nerves. Agnar said it didn’t bother him, except that the crystals and fungus are all so depressing.

The guards also told us we’d need to acquire more green cloaks, and warned us that the elves wouldn’t be popular in the city. I think they mentioned a place called “the tower” that we should reach before the city, and they have cloaks there.

Master Oaklock has been a bit twitchy since then, but I’m glad to have someone watching the shadows as much as I do.

****

During our march today, a drow caravan came out of a side passage and overtook us. Besides the drow leaders, they had over a score of bugbears as guards, not quite so many slaves (humans, orcs, gnolls, and the like), and a handful of the big lizards bearing packs.

Even at my best, I could never take so many at once, so I got really worried when Ezekiel accosted the leader as they were passing. But he only asked about prices for slaves, and after some discussion, the drow showed him his affiliation broach, and told him to find him in The Vault for further discussion.

Ez says eight of the slaves are Good aligned, and after all we have some ingots we have no other use for. I’m glad he’s restraining himself. Clatrial looked ready to take on the whole group if Aliana just gave the word.

Between them, and Raven and Mikael having no fear (except perhaps the social kind), we’re in a very unique situation. We’ve never met something we couldn’t defeat by throwing ourselves at it harder, and then bringing each other back from it afterward. I tried to talk to Heiron about it, but I don’t think he realized I was there.


Find the previous entry here.

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