We are at the shores of the Dark Lake, we do not know how far we are from Mantol Derith. We have been on our journey for sixteen days. A barge approaches. There are frog/fish-like humanoid creatures rowing the boat and approaching us. In my studies at Sorcere, I have heard of these creatures. They can dwell on land and in water. They often serve as guides and navigators in the Dark Lake area. Kuo-toa is the name of these creatures.
Our party is down to the five of our main party, and Qal-Deth’s two servants. There is room for this many on the barge. The leader Kuo-toa asks what we want, we tell him we seek passage to Mantol Dereth. He says it is 10 gp each. We haggle him down to 60 gp total. They help us on the barge and we take off.
After about five hours, we approach a structure, a massive stalactite. Lights emit from this stalactite, there appears to be a city within it. It is Mantol Derith. The Kuo-toa pull in and motion for us to get off. We do. We hear a feminine voice humming a tune from within a tent. We knock on the tent and a human emerges. The tent is near a path that connects to a road.
She says she is an agent of a powerful lord. Her name is Rystia Zav. She is a human from the surface, near a city called Nesme. She says she will pay us 500 gp for the password to get into Mantol Derith. We don’t know the password, but we don’t tell her that. Qarion asks Nalroz through his brooch, but Nalroz doesn’t know either. He says that if they’re asking for a password, there must be trouble.
We see another boat approaching from a different area. It looks more like a battle barge. It is loaded with 40 slaves that are manacled together. The barge is manned by Duergar slavers. We think there’s perhaps a dozen of the Duergar. We plan to follow them up to Mantol Derith and I will detect thoughts on the Duergar who lead the way in.
They stop and call us out for following them. We tell them it’s our first time to Mantol Derith. The leader guy is made nervous by us, he is scared. He starts asking us what house we’re from, I tell him to be on his way. I detected thoughts on him first, though, and he was thinking of the word “ghoct”, (dwarven word for 'stone') and that it was strange that we were entering from this side—Drow usually enter from another side.
We share this information with Rystia and she pays us the 500 gp. She offers to help us with knowledge of the surface world if we cross paths again. We enter together. She says her master sent her there to deal with Gazrene Duloc, a human merchant who deals in unusual items. She says she will introduce us. She is asking around on how to find Gazrene and tells us to do the same and that’s how we can find her later.
We see many different races here in Mantol Derith. We head in the northwest direction, where we were told the Drow enclave was. We start to see more and more Drow and think we are getting closer to the Drow enclave. A shadowy figure approaches us, a Drow wearing a simple leather garment and a tattered piwafwi. It looks like his house insignia has been defaced. He asks if we want to hire him as our guide in Mantol Derith. He says his name is Alzor. He will not tell us his story, and says that perhaps we should find another guide. He fades away.
The southwest enclave is for the Zhentarim—we have never heard of this race, but they seem to be a human race that is native to the upper Underdark. They appear to be merchants. We decide to separate and meet up again in one hour at a tavern. We’re going to explore and gather information. I look around and am in awe of all the cool stuff that is so much cheaper than in Menzoberranzan.
I cast Detect Thoughts and listen as I walk through. I get some tidbits of info about Ziroc. There appears to be some tension between the deep gnome and the dark elf enclaves—there have been some outbreaks of violence between the factions. The thing that really catches my attention — a conversation between a drow and a human about the Great Grazilaxx (with prehensile tentacles). A mind flayer who is obsessed with magic and arcane studies. He seems to reside in the Zhentarim enclave. He has a laboratory, so to speak, and he likes to trade in exotic magical items. He’s an outcast of his people because he prefers to dabble in the arcane and he seems to be a part of a secret society.
Qyuris, makes contact with Alzor and asks about the Ilithid (mind flayer). Alzor says he can take us to him. We all meet up and decide to get a potion or something to protect our minds before we go to see this Grazilaxx. We get directed to Ziroc, she’s like the main person who is kind of in charge of brokering for the drow. She is a very heavy-set, short Drow woman. She sits on cushions and attendants bring her delicacies and drinks, (a bottle of Evermead).
She welcomes us and has heard of our house. She invites us to join her for snacks and drinks. I will. She says one ring of protection would cost us 50k gp. We ask how much our trade items are worth:
Demon residue in glass vial—Goristro (that bull thing) demon ichor
3 flasks containing some Illithid blood
1 vial of ochre jelly extract
—300 gp (for all of the above)
1 potion of clairvoyance—4k gp
1 potion of greater healing—400 gp
1 potion of fire resistance—400 gp
1 greater piwafwi of fire resistance—5k gp
1 crystal rod—10k gp (she calls it a stone speaker crystal and is VERY interested in it)
We retreat to a private chamber to discuss what we want to do. We think she is lowballing the crystal rod. We decide to tell her that we will save our dealings until just before we leave Mantol Dereth. She offers to be our patroness while we are in Mantol Derith and provide for us whatever we need. We say we shall contact her by a raven messenger if we need her help.
Alzor takes us to the entrance to Grazilacks’ chamber. He wants to be paid for leading the party here, and Qal-deth attempts to intimidate him. Qal-deth is about to use his spell “command” to force Alzor to obey him, but then he realizes it would mean breaking a rule of Mantol Dereth, which does not allow the use of any magic during a transaction. Qyuris gives Alzor a gem that is worth more than what Alzor wanted, for Alzor’s continued service, to be our eyes and ears. Qal-deth does not like this and threatens Qyuris. This is a big deal and could have continued impact, but we defuse the situation and are going to move on. Qyuris will pay the house back later.
We knock on the door where Alzor has led us, then we enter. There are phosphorescent lantern things on the walls. There are macabre scenes of mind-flayers feasting on brains on the walls. A shape is levitating down from above into the room where we are. It is an almost 6 foot tall creature in tattered robes. It is Grazilacks.
Grazilacks tells us that Ilithid’s Breath is a new concoction made by the septs of Fanlinksol. The mind-flayer tells us that the sept of Il Goct is closely related to the House of Banre. Fanlinksol is an ancient city where the sept of Il Goct is. It is far away, two ten-days to the west of Menzolbaranzen. The brotherhood of the Black Lotus apparently trades in illicit goods in a black market of Mantol Dereth.
In payment, Grazilacks wants a cube from a wizard. He says we may take whatever else we want from the wizard, but he wants the cube. He imparts to our minds the knowledge of where the cube is, in a tower in a cavern just a brief journey away from Mantol Dereth. Qal-deth asks if Grazilacks will arrange our boat passage across the Dark Lake. He says yes. A brutish looking creature comes out from a nearby chamber, it is an almost feline-like humanoid, but mangy looking. Qal-deth says it’s a quaggoth. The mind-flayer gives the quaggoth a pouch and instructs him (it appears) in helping us. The quaggoth motions for us to follow. Grazilacks reminds us that he just wants the cube. Whatever else happens with the wizard or the wizard’s stuff doesn’t matter to him.
The quaggoth takes us to an exit tunnel that is used by the drow. There are a few barges there by the Dark Lake. We take a barge and travel to the path that will lead us to the tower. We head to the tower. Rylin goes ahead and scouts. We all continue on, with Qarion’s character leading the way. It is a huge tower. Qal-deth decides to try saying “Hail, The Tower” in all the languages we know amongst our characters. Nothing happens.
Qal’deth knocks on the door and it opens. He enters and says “Hail, The Tower” again and a creature asks who dares disturb it. It’s a winged creature, demonic. Qal-deth says that we want to trade with the creature’s master. It tells us to leave or die. Some gargoyle creatures
come out and start attacking the rest of us. The big demon thing disappears but then comes back and Qal-deth battles it inside the tower. The rest of us are still outside the tower.
Qal-deth successfully destroys the winged demon creature. There has been discussion about Commander Strike and some disagreement about how it works. Brendan and Joe have decided to table the discussion to outside of a gaming session. We successfully defeat the gargoyles and proceed into the tower.
We scan the room. There is an arrow slot in each wall and a ladder that leads up. Qyuris goes up one floor to scout, sees nothing of interest. The rest of us head up to the second floor and Qyuris goes up to the third. Nothing there. We all continue to the third floor as Qyuris proceeds to the fourth. Up there is a beautiful female human wizard in a chair next to a table. On the table is the cube. The wizard asks us why we are there and we say that we wanted to make a trade. She tells us to leave. We say no. She says perhaps we want this, and gestures to the cube, then grabs it and disappears. We will end there for today.
[We each get 730 xp for today’s session]