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 Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below

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Jazman
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Location : Mostly next to a dragon.

PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:53 am

With the same focus that her target had, she took aim with her next arrow. Once Keitha had her shot, she let loose her arrow. The soft hum of the arrow flying through the air, was the only warning the drow had split seconds before it hit it's mark.


OCC: fire a second arrow at the same drow then take a quick look around to check on all the other players while I am grabbing for another arrow.
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:59 am

(Keitha - Shortbow attack on Drow Warrior 1 (AC 14): Hit (14))
(Drow Warrior 1 takes 4 Damage and is now Unconscious.)

The drow warrior turned from his close-quarters adversary just in time to see the fletching of Keitha's arrow protruding from his higher breast, wavering from the impact which bore his defeat. With the slightest gurgle escaping his lips, he toppled to his side. The enchanted webbing broke his fall scant inches from the earth, and his half-naked duergar opponent, satisfied at witnessing the collapse, turned to his comrade in hopes of bolstering her resistance.


(Duergar 2: Dagger attack on Drow Warrior 2 (AC 14): Critical Hit (Natural 20; Threat Check: 18))
(Drow Warrior 2 takes 8 Damage and is now Dying.)

In rearing back for a powerful stab, the warrior left his belly wholly exposed, a weakness which no duergar would suffer to pass unexploited. With her heels striking the earth mightily, the duergar woman plunged her crude dagger up through the links of Underdark steel and into the soft, gray midriff beneath.

Pushing her enemy back with the dagger's quillons, she sent him flopping into the empowered overgrowth, yanking her dagger free at the last moment. The bonds continued to snake around the duergar slaves and their ankles as she sought something on which to clean her blade.


(Keitha receives 250 Experience for helping to defeat both of the Drow Warriors.)


(Duergars 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 - Strength check (DC 20): 19, 7, 5, 8, 10)

Spitting and cursing in disgust, the eldest of the duergar slaves tore his way free, slicing at the web strands and leafy tendrils as he worked through to escape. With only the most fleeting of glances did he regard Keitha and address her. "So...ye nay seem duergar, an' ye nay seem drow. Who be ye to intervene so, maiden?"



Keitha>
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Jazman
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:12 pm

Keitha took a slow deep breath as the last drow warrior fell. Her hatred for them vibrated through her very soul like nothing else. She, however, did not forget that just because the drow where dead didn't mean she was safe. Keitha quickly scanned all around her and did a quick head count.

(OOC look to see where all 6 dwares are and their conditions.  If I can't see the one, I will move into a more defensive position with my companions. If I can see all them I still will remain alert.)


Keitha responded calmly back to the one who had spoken, “I am known as Keitha. These two are my travel companions.  We were nearby and heard the commotion  and came to investigate.  Who are you?”


(OOC:  See I didn't forget, Keitha or you guys.  Razz Very Happy )
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:37 am

(So it would seem.  Welcome back!  Smile )

Though his cohorts yet struggled and spat curses against Keitha's ensnaring magic, the eldest among them recognized the spell as being ultimately harmless and declined to resist.  He raised his voice boldly above the rasping din of the snaking, twining vines and addressed the ranger's querry.

"I kinnae speak for the whole o' this lot, but ye've spared us a return to the slave warrens--though mayhap but briefly--an' I shall honor ye for that, be ye elf-blood or nay.  I be Darmalgartr by name an' by birth: Darmalgartr the goldsmith an' Darmalgartr the gemcutter.  Surely ye've deemed us fled from the drow, but by yuir unscored skin I kin wager that ye've yet to greet the worst o' those who hoond us."

"Lorthelytt is the name what we keep hearing," Donovan interrupted with unusual civility towards the duergar.  "Be that the one of whom ye speak?"

Darmalgartr nodded glumly.  "Aye.  Dread Lorthelytt o' the shackles an' the lash.  When the hew an' cry goes oot, she descends from her spire in terrible Bathellor--o'er her fungal garden slaked in tortured blood--an' takes to the saddle of her bluidy great wolf spider, settin' her spurs to its shanks an' sparkin' the many copper studs of her ogre-hide snakewhip in an eldritch flame, to thrash the weepin' meat from our bones.  Whoe'er donnae yield to her in three lashes, she kills in six."

From the edge of the Entangle effect, Darmalgartr's comrade, having shed his invisibility, retorted curtly against the goldsmith in their native tongue, with harsh words which carried the sting of a rebuke.  But then, to the ears of the sunlit world, any word spoken in the gruff Undercommon tongue seemed to be a rebuke.

Darmalgartr raised his hand and dismissed his fellow's words--though not his piercing gaze--with a gesture.  Returning his eyes to Keitha, he rewarded her question with one of his own.  "But I must say that this b'aint yuir fight, half-elven kith o' the trees an' sky as ye be.  An' yet ye've felled a small band o' Lorthelytt's ain for our behalf, withoot bared malice for me an' mine.  What be yuir stake in this brulyie, to hie to our aid so?"


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Jazman
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:51 am

Keitha's eyebrow rose slightly at the exchange of words between Darmalgartf and his kin. None the many thoughts going through her mind showed on her face. Only a deceptive tranquil calm could be guessed.

"It is not too complicated really. Honestly, it is not so much that I helped you and yours but I have a strong hate of Drow. As for you lot, as long as you do not harm me or mine..." Keitha gracefully nodded towards her companions, "I have no reason to harm you. Make no mistake, if that changes so will my civility and I will punish anyone who would dare cross that line harshly and swiftly." Keitha took a moment to look each dwarf in the eye so that that could see her sincerity and to gauge their reaction to her words.

(OOC I will try and gauge their reaction and if they look like that they may stay mostly agreeable.... I will try and get their word that they will not harm me or mine if I release the spell. All the while preparing for a fight if necessary.)
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:12 am

(Unfortunately, the Entangle spell is not fueled by its caster's concentration; this independence makes it useful as a "fire and forget" sort of spell, but it also means that nothing short of an anti-magic effect (ie. the gaze of a beholder's great eye) or a nullifying spell (ie. Dispel Magic, Greater Dispelling or Mordenkainen's Disjunction) cast on it will end the spell early.  Fortunately, its duration will expire soon, and it's not a particularly life-threatening spell as long as no deadly enemies or treacherous conditions are present.)

Darmalgartr furrowed his gray brow and clenched his sinewy jaw, displeased with Keitha's words of doubt and suspicion.  "Ye wound our hearts, O bonny maid.  Though we ken yuir sort as soft an' lesser to our ain kith, we are folk of our freely given word an' we honor it always, e'en to such as ye.  Though the honorless drow should freely forge deception an' betrayal from broken oaths an' truths, nay proper duergar should stoop so low as they.  'Tis but one facet through which we pride our ain t'be nobler than they.  Pray withdraw the insult, if ye would."

With but a fleeting glance over his companions, Keitha knew at once that most of those duergar shared their elder's sentiment.  Only the duergar woman at Darmalgartr's side turned her half-shaven pate to him and uttered a few sentences of sharp Undercommon in reply.  Shifting in her stance as a wayward tree root writhed around her thigh, she returned her eyes to the ranger and her subordinates.

"Darmalgartr donnae see that yuir ways b'aint our ways.  Yuir kith bears but pebbles for honor an' integrity, an' the drow whom ye ken an' ween have nocht of either.  So we must try to unnerstand that ye havenae the least conception o' folk who keep their word an' spare e'en their foes from the indignities o' cowardice an' deceit."

His eyes widened with consternation, Darmalgartr was swift to curtail the sting in his cohort's words.  "...she means such withoot intendin' offense to ye an' yuirs, o' course."

"Bah!  We are aught if not honest an' naked in our meanin'," she promptly quipped in retort.

The goldsmith barked more caustic Undercommon at the duergar woman.  At Keitha's flank, Donovan clapped his meaty hand to his brow, the better to veil the annoyed rolling of his eyes.


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Jazman
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:36 am

Keitha mulled over the duergar's words while Darmalgartr barked at the woman. She relaxed her body and smiled slightly, first at the woman at Darmalgartr's side whom had just spoke. "I, regardless of my lineage or whomever I have had dealings with, am one that respects the truth. I will not take offense to your straight forward truth."  Still smiling her eyes moved to Darmalgartr, "I also didn't intend any offense to you or yours. I was merely trying to be honest and naked in my meaning, out of respect. Please excuse this clumsy tongue." Keitha politely gave a slight and quick bow to her head. She looked around at the effects of the spell,"The spell should release you very soon. I would like to continue our talk. We maybe of further help to one another.  Are you willing?"

(OOC: assuming that my speech soothed their delicate little egos.  Razz   As soon as the spell ends I would like to go and exam the bodies as soon as it is polite to do so with out ever 'showing my back to them' Check for anything valuable or magic. Also, I will try and find out more about how  long have they been here, where are they going, and I will take note of their wounds and general health conditions, etc. I want to appear to be relaxed and non hostile but still remain cautious )
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:29 pm

Keeping her recent skirmish with another band of duergar well in mind, Keitha knew better than to trust the duergar fully. But given their state and their plight against the drow slavers, perhaps even such bitter and hard-hearted dwarves would respond well to diplomacy. In her travels, Keitha herself had learned how powerful and undeniable the longing for one's homeland could be. And perhaps in that hour, even such typically cruel and callous folk as these duergar, tormented as they had become through hunger, chains, lashes and agonizing toil which even Laduguer himself would not permit, wanted nothing more and nothing less than the fulfilled hope of seeing their homes again....

The two duergar nearest the fallen drow warriors--Darmalgartr and the scarlet-haired woman--bore the wounds laid by drow steel. The sharp-beared duergar man nearest Keitha was unscathed save for the scorch-rayed pock marks of wizardry on his bared breast and one shoulder...surely the wounds of the common Magic Missile spell, Keitha reasoned. Such a spell served as a staple for many a wizard.

The Entangle spell still lashed and writhed; for the moment, it would impede Keitha's efforts to search the fallen drow elves for plunder or tools to aid her in her quest. Another of the duergar had worked his way free of the green tendrils and was creeping for the outside of the spell circle. Darmalgartr remained where he stood, focused wholly on Keitha as the vines curled around him; perhaps he had known the silvered chains of the drow for too many decades, and the gripping plants were but the tenderest caresses in contrast.

"I am willing, bonny maid," Darmalgartr intoned in answer, "and we pardon ye yuir differences with us. What would ye ken of us, then?"


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:53 pm

Keitha continue to scan the area and even tried to listen carefully for any other living being that might be in the area. She also continued to stay out of the reach of her spell but now was prepared to get closer to the bodies as soon as the spell disappeared.
Keitha looked back at Darmalgartr, “Good…..then if you would be so kind and explain to me how is it that you have come to this place being, what I assume as being, hunted by Drow?”
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Wed Feb 19, 2014 2:22 pm

At the outside of the circle, the strong and stretched gossamer strands from the wizardess' Web spell slowly crumbled to shimmering dust as the spell came to an end.  Perhaps Keitha's spell too would fade soon and leave her to her pickings.

The dwarf standing outside the twisting roots and vines seized his comrade by the wrists, pulling him to freedom.  The woman had by then returned to her curse-spitting and futile slashes at the vines.  And Darmalgartr, aged well beyond his many years, continued to stand stoic and half-naked among the ensnaring vegetation, staring deeply askance in thought.

"Mayhap ye understand that yuir sunlit world be as alien to us as our world of shade an' tunnel be to ye.  What most I ken is that our mountainous home rises somewhere to the Soothwest, among the mountains of this forested land thick wi' the wanderin' dead, where the sea meets the crags."

The Gargoyle Tail Mountains, Keitha surmised.  Keitha knew them and their dangers; though no gargoyles or other constructs wandered their passes and peaks, they were host to stone giants, griffons and other threats which Keitha had, to that point in her age, avoided.  The Gargoyle Tails had to be those of which he spoke.

"But what ye also mayn't ken," the seasoned dwarf continued, "is that the tunnels of the drow course 'neath the roots of this forest, the better to keep ears on their tree-born cousins.  What tunnels they keep reach all to the seas, where the water carved the first of the sea caves to which the drow elves, banished by the Elf-Father in a past age, sought refuge from the scourgin' sun.  The drow elves share a sea with us...the sea an' all its caverns and tunnels, eaten oot from the rocky sea shelves in bygone eras.  And there do we oft meet, slavin' from the other an' doin' battle when we meet resistance, enemies as we be.  Entire wars have come and passed with but wee notice--if any--from yuir sky-touched folk."

"Yuir greatest oaks have bored the hollow in which dread Bathellor rises, and we duergar have been shackled and put to work greatenin' that hollow further, and greatenin' Bathellor's reaches with it.  Their priestesses fear not collapse from tunnelin' too far, for the very crown o' that cavern sheens with web strands as thick as yuir trees, spun from Lolth's weirdful magicks.  But the threat remains to ye: can Bathellor grow so great from duergar slave-toil and the drow's hubris that so much of this forest be one day plunged into the black earth below?"

The old gemcutter stroked his beard in thought.

"It be a contradiction, that, for the drow fear this land.  The undead teem here in such numbers that e'en Lolth's priestesses blanch to face the lot.  When last they sent a Lolthan party to cleanse some catacomb miles to the Northeast where the rivers meet, the priestess leadin' them was cast back down into her tunnel, her blood drained to the last riv'let by a score o' fangs and a mockin' invitation carved into her gray and naked back with a keen blade of sorts.  Fire burns poorly in the Underdark, but her sisters were wise and did what they could to leave her as ashes, lest she rise from death and join her killers.  E'en no', the deep soil at times vomits forth its dead--drow an' duergar alike--to cause grievance to the livin', and Lolth's clergy keeps quite busy drivin' them from the walls and streets of Bathellor.   A leader among the slaves, Zauboth Ogor by name, has vision keener than diamonds, and he sees the time when Bathellor shall open her heart to the sky and invite doom upon the whole of us.  So he has taken us to this surface, that we might return to our homes in Morgarrod ere Bathellor falls.  E'en Lolth's magic can only support so much o' the bright earth above...not near as much as Laduguer's shoulders could bear, I would add."

"But if this land and its creatures cause you fear, then why have you fled to it?"

Darmalgartr nodded sagely.  "A fair querry, that.  But ye might say that we've the sense to get oot of Bathellor and her mines and tunnels while we can.  And with e'ery tunnel and corridor patrolled by drow warriors, the only sensible path of escape is straight up to the sky.  And if that means facin' a dozen vampires no'...better that than facin' a hundred more later, once the surface comes tumblin' in on us.  But the drow donnae ken the earth as we do, and in their arrogance they place too much faith in their wizardry.  Mayhap they can keep the sky from touchin' Bathellor.  But we duergar donnae wish to be there should they fail, for the drow would surely stay their own peril by tossin' us slaves to the hungry dead first.  To die chained and unfree to one's enemy, not to stand defiant and die proodly as a dwarf should...be there any lesser fate than that?"

Even then, something among the bushes seemed to creep low with a guttural, unliving moan.  Was it truly something monstrous, or were Keitha's expectations playing tricks on her?


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Jazman
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:50 am

Keitha never ignored her senses, regardless whether they were real or imagined. It is how she had survived up until now. She took to time to really look around and listen for danger before she answered Darmalgartr.

(OCC: If there is nothing that she notices wrong or dangerous then she will continue her conversation but remain on alert. I will continue as if she notices nothing wrong but if she does the following would  change to address the issue. Also if nothing is wrong as soon as the vines disappear i am going to want to plunder the bodies of the drow for anything useful)

" I believe I know of your homeland that you speak of. They are know to my kind as The Gargoyle Tail Mountains. I am also aware of their many dangers." Keitha pondered the many problems that these folk would have reaching their destination and also the likelihood that they would make it, especially hunted and in their state.

" Even though the horrors that you speak of down below the surface would have made your escape nearly, if not completely, impossible; you may not have an easier time above ground, especially without proper provisions and some one who knows the lay of the land. Your strength of character and determination will only get you so far, I am afraid." Keitha paused for but a moment, " If I may ask, did Zauboth Ogor, not only see the future demise of Bathellor but a way to get you all home? Are you to meet up with him somewhere?"
Keitha realized that they may be hesitate to answer the last question so she continue to explain her part of her motive in asking the question. "It seems to me that with what you have told me of the undead problem below and the vision of Zauboth Ogor, this problem will affect all of us, above and below. It is easier to fight a enemy you know then one you do not. Even in your homeland, if it isn't stopped you may need to fight this horror eventually. Do you agree?"
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Sat Aug 16, 2014 11:58 pm

(Keitha - Listen check waived.  She is a Ranger, after all....)

Beckoning for her companions--constant and erstwhile alike--to fall silent, Keitha bared a well-honed blade and crept low to the undergrowth.  And with ideal timing, the twisting vines from her Entangle spell withered, curled to the earth and diminished with a cacophony of groans and whispers near around her, the better to mask her approach.  With one deft motion did she grasp the brush and lift it with her free hand while reflexively leveling her steel at what she found there: a gravely wounded duergar, grasping his weeping belly and crawling feebly towards them.  The sweeping of the brush promptly drew his attention to the ranger and what threat she posed, and he ceased his crawling to raise a hand in his defense.

"Puh...pray stay your gnnn...huh...hand!  I wish ye nn...nnnay harm!"

Darmalgartr keened his ears and hastened near at hearing the voice.  "Ingorsent!  What have yeh...."

But Ingorsent silenced him with a hiss of warning, his alarmed eyes gone wider than aggie stones.  "Sss...still your voice!  They are near!"

"They?" the jeweler asked, lowering his tone.  "The drow?"

"Nay.  Them."

Darmalgartr leaned away, raising a bushy, white eyebrow to Keitha.  "Ingorsent was wi' Zauboth Ogor when we lost sight o' him...when the drow descended on us and scattered us.  If Ingorsent be here...yuir querries may need to wait, half-elven."

With a hushed tongue, Darmalgartr turned to his comrades and addressed them with a barrage of Undercommon words half-murmured and half-growled.  Ingorsent was furtively drawn from the bushes by the red-haired duergar woman, who began to treat his wounds with plundered ale and crude bandages cut from drow garments.  The surviving drow elves were harshly bound wrist to ankle, stripped of most of their clothing and treated for their wounds as well.


(Strakotha - Heal checks (DC 15): 24 (Natural 20), 7; 22)
(The Drow Wizardess is no longer Dying and recovers 4 Hit Points.  Drow Warrior 2 is no longer Dying but recovers no Hit Points.)

(Morrig Haun - Use Rope checks (DC 10, twice per captive): 17, 19, 11, 7, 11, 12)
(The Drow Wizardess and both Drow Warriors have been taken captive by the duergar.  But will they stay captive?)

(Darmalgartr and Kulrath take two rounds to don the chainmail from the Drow Warriors and arm themselves with the Drow Warriors' rapiers.)


(Keitha - untrained Appraise checks against five common items (DC 12): 21 (Natural 20), 9, 11, 14, 17)
(Keitha - untrained Appraise checks against five rare or exotic items (DC 15): 11, 14, 16, 12, 2 (Natural 1))


The Drow Wizardess' belongings are now Keitha's spoils by right; these include (in randomized order):
• 26 Liantefann (or White Spiders) and 64 Aksokaar (Skulls), the Platinum Pieces and Gold Pieces (respectively) of drow civilization.

• 2 green glass flasks of alchemist's fire, stoppered with bee's wax.  Keitha is unsure of their contents' quality or their value on the markets.

• A book of spells, bound in several patches of black batskin neatly stitched together, and plated at each corner with tempered iron.  Keitha cannot begin to estimate the spellbook's value, nor can she hope to speculate about its written contents with any degree of accuracy.

• A three-edged stiletto of drow make, its quillons and pommel pressed with spider web patterns and its grip bound in gossamer.  The dagger appears to be ordinary, and Keitha is unsure of its specific metal or its quality.  The stiletto's dark-hued burgundy scabbard--with its paired belt loops--are stitched from some sort of boiled hide, possibly harvested from a creature exclusive to the Underdark; Keitha cannot gauge the scabbard's value either.

• A violet potion in a vial of white quartz, stoppered with plain, tapered tin set with a corkwood ring.  It has the sluggish consistency of snail slime, and Keitha can see tufts of white fur and mushroom gills suspended in it.  She can't tell what the potion is or does; thus, she also knows not its market worth.

• "Anulettikyss' Teachings for the Menders of Flesh," a book bound in the gray skin of an unknown creature from the Underdark.  The book is written entirely in Elven (with drow dialect and manners of speech), and its pages boast a roughly equal number of paragraphs and pictures; the words are instructions on recognizing and treating various injuries as well as the symptoms of diseases and common poisons, and the pictures are a chirurgeon's sketches of muscles and organ systems illustrating the physiological differences among elves, humans, dwarves, illithids and other races; whether Anulettikyss the Chirurgeon extracted this lore from the dead or the living is, perhaps, a question best left unanswered.  Keitha has no idea of how much this book could fetch at the markets, but keeping the book and consulting it will give her justification to raise her Heal skill with any gained Level, even if she has not practiced that skill through hands-on experience.  When consulted, it can also grant a +2 circumstance bonus to any use of the Heal skill.  As noted, fluency in the Elven tongue is vital for this book to be of any use.

• Four pages from "The Cold Womb: Al-Shadan's Journal on the Undead," written in a Lebeqi dialect of the Common tongue and tied together with crossed cords of white gossamer.  One page is the foreword, the other three are handwritten entries with sketches about their subjects.  The line of tiny, torn holes along one edge of each page suggests that the pages were ripped from a book, though not forcefully enough to destroy the pages.  Surely any book collector or librarian would turn up his nose at such a ruined find, and the pages are likely to be quite worthless.

• A pair of black thigh boots with wisteria cuffs, lining and soles, cross-laced up the outer sides with purple gossamer.  The lining appears to be dyed bat fur, the leather is reptilian (apparently harvested from a large skink or similar lizard, then tanned and stained), the heels are wisteria-stained oak root and the soles are four layers of boiled lizard hide.  As Keitha quickly discovers, the soles are unusually thick for a reason: a hollow under the ball of each foot conceals a short, flat, spring-loaded dagger blade which ejects forward from beneath the toes, lending the wearer's kicks a nasty surprise.  The trigger for each blade is on the inside of the heel; clicking the heels together should be enough to eject both blades simultaneously, if desired.  Draconic runes burned into the leather ring each sole; the boots may be magical, but Keitha is not enough of a spellcaster to be inherently sure.  Though cobbled for elven feet, the boots should fit Keitha, even though they would be a size small and rather pinching around the toes.  The boots could easily fetch 120 Gold at the markets if mundane, or far more if enchanted.

• Two black barrowroot pouches packed with dried mooncap mushrooms, seared potato scallops, hard-boiled scarab eggs, slug jerky, dried bitterweed and lembas wafers...a drow elf's iron rations by any name.  The mushrooms faintly glow blue in darkness but are otherwise perfectly edible (with a slight almond taste).  As usual, the contents of one pouch can feed Keitha (or any other Medium-sized creature) for one day.  Keitha can keep the rations for her own consumption, or she can sell them off; someone with no aversions to eating drow cuisine might pay 2 Gold for each, or perhaps five times as much if they're starving or if they have a taste for the exotic.

• A round-bellied wine bottle blown from black glass, basketed in a brass weave, hung with a loop of braided gossamer and stoppered with a carved fingerbone taken from some humanoid creature.  The label is written in Undercommon, so Keitha may need a duergar or a drow to translate it, as it identifies the green, tartly aromatic liquid within as Skullport Vats' Jade Amulyrath Wine, pressed and fermented from only the finest Rulyrath water fungus.  This wine, being the Underdark's idea of a merlot or other dry red wine, is sour going down with an immensely bitter aftertaste...just the way drow elves like it.  As someone has already broken the seal and poured a glass of wine from this bottle, this wine's value is diminished but will still fetch 20 to 40 Gold in the Underdark, or up to four times as much with select buyers on the surface.  Or Keitha can instead keep the wine for herself; if she doesn't overindulge, there's enough of the green wine left to stave off her thirst for up to two days.

• A full-length, long-sleeved evoker's robe, black in hue and patterned with flames of ochre fabric around the hem and each cuff.  The collar rises well past the base of the wearer's skull and is patterned with icicles and snowflakes of white fabric instead.  If the blood is washed out and the holes from Keitha's arrows are mended well, the robe could fetch around 50 or 60 Gold; that's as near as Keitha can estimate its value, alas.  (Don't worry; the wizardess still has her undergarments.  Keitha wouldn't be cruel enough to take those too, would she?)



(Keitha may keep whatever she wishes of the Drow Wizardess' belongings--everything, nothing or this-and-that--and discard the rest however she sees fit.  The duergar honor Keitha's role in bringing down the wizardess singlehandedly, so they will not contest her claims on the wizardess' goods.  However, the duergar have also already rewarded themselves for their part in the battle by claiming and divvying up everything on the two Drow Warrior's persons and, with duergar being predominantly greedy and possessive, Keitha had best be ready to trade and bargain zealously with the duergar if she wants any part of those spoils.)

Soonafter, the old duergar emerged from the brush draped in drow armor.  The dark, elegant chainmail fit him poorly, loosely in some parts and constrictively in others.  But it would serve its purpose well enough; ill-fitting armor usually protects its wearer better than no armor at all.

"Some o' my cohorts feel tha' these drow should be put to death," Darmalgartr explained to Keitha.  "So bitter be their thirst for vengeance.  But if the drow ha' snatched Zauboth Ogor or others of our ain, we may be able t'trade captives for captives an' fetch them back.  An' mayhap these drow have answers for what yeh would ask, eh?"

But Darmalgartr's words were heard by more listeners than Keitha, as a leering voice gave note:  "Ask what you will and the answers shall all be the same: Doom comes for you.  To kill your lot would be an act of mercy.  All of ye shall be set with chains once more, but these chains shall be twice the sturdier and twice the heavier!  Lorthelytt shall see to that end herself!  Never shall ye see your graceless homes again, and ye shall toil for the glory of Bathellor until the muscles fall from your cracking bones!"

And then the wizardess' leer fell away, replaced with a hateful scowl as her narrowing eyes fell onto Keitha.  "And you, you water-blooded sow...for every arrow which you sunk through my skin, you shall writhe beneath my lash for an hour of each day!  Your whip-hurled blood shall paint the walls of my antechamber, and your hoarse screams and pathetic cries for mercy shall reach as far as the Demonweb Pits!  Lolth Herself shall laugh at your...."

But the entire camp fell warily silent as screams of sheer terror rose to the Northwest, too near for Keitha's comfort.  The screams were greeted with primal, bone-jarring howls bellowed by something not quite human.  And then, one scream faded into a retreating elven voice chanting panicked prayers to Lolth and her host, while the other scream fell to gurgles and stifled wails of agony beneath a coda of snapping teeth and ripped flesh.

With a cynical visage, Darmalgartr cocked his brow to the wounded fugitive.  "Be there somethin' which yeh bain't tellin' us, Ingorsent?"

With ashen face, Ingorsent gasped anxiously.  "I...I was followed...hoonded by two drow hunters.  I thought tha' I'd lost them...."

Darmalgartr bit his lip and turned to Keitha, gesturing to Ingorsent in an aside.  "An' the clod led them straight to us!  Bu' it soonds like somethin' caught them ere they caught us.  We should 'ave a swift eye of it, as I ween."

Without waiting for Keitha's approval, the jeweler snapped for his comrades to fall in line behind him.  Armed with their simple daggers and humble clubs, Grimmorth and Tagga Kynn followed Darmalgartr and Kulrath low into the brush, leaving Morrig Haun and Strakotha to tend Ingorsent's wounds and keep watch over the captives.  But for all their valor and curiosity, none of the duergar were as much a warrior as Keitha was, and she would be denied what answers she sought if they perished to the last.  Dismissing her qualms, Keitha led trusty Killian Fang and hesitant Donovon in after them.

Barely twenty paces through the brush did they come upon a clearing.  There squatted a decrepit hovel which Keitha had only glanced twice during her wanderings.  Its forester family lay long-dead from pestilence and hastily buried in shallow graves with uncut headstones, and Keitha had never dared to set foot inside the abandoned house that remained.  But here and then where she stood surveying warily through the scrub, two of those headstones lay overturned at the heads of disturbed graves which seemed to have erupted from within.

But what first she beheld was the carnage: a drow elf clad in torn umbral leathers lay in the wilting grass near a muddied watering hole, still twisting in his death throes as two corpse-monsters clad in mouldering forester clothes stooped over him, rending his armor with thick nails and sinking their protuberant teeth deeply into his yet-warm flesh, ripping away mouthfuls and swallowing them with horrid esophageal pulsings and swellings.

"...ghouls," Darmalgartr gasped.  "So tha's wha' the fool was babblin' aboot wi' that 'them' rot!  Bluidy ghouls!"

"We...we should leave...now," Donovon fearfully advised, drawing a slight guffaw of derision from the old duergar.

"We would need to flee far indeed.  Ask yuir ranger friend here: ghouls may no' have much left o' their noses, but those noses work keener'n wolves.  Soon as they finish wi' that hunter, they may catch Ingorsent's blood an' his sweat.  An' then they'll come for him an' for us."

Leaving Donovon to stew on the dilemma, Darmalgartr turned to their half-elven hostess once more.  "Well?  Ye're the ranger here, an' more of a huntress than the lot of us tahgether.  Those ghouls are between us an' Zauboth Ogor.  How do we go aboot this?"

The ranger knew her heritage well enough; elves were renowned for withstanding the paralytic touch of a ghoul's hide, standing fast where others would fall and find themselves at the meager mercy of the undead.  But Keitha was half-elven, and she had never been struck by a ghoul before.  Would her father's blood shield her from their waning touch, or was it too far diluted and no better against them than that of any human or dwarf?  Retreating and taking the longer way around the forester house may have proven to be a wiser course of action, but with a ghoul's perceptions sharp as they are, a circumventing path would need to be farther-reaching than most.  Would such a path give this dreaded Lorthelytt time to snatch Zauboth Ogor and return to the Underdark with her prize?

But if the ghouls held such prowess as hunters of living flesh, then how had Ingorsent slipped past them as badly wounded as he was?  Had they been distracted when he passed through, or was their reputation more myth than fact?




(Don't worry; I haven't forgotten Keitha's questions.  They'll just have to wait for a bit, that's all.)

(And don't forget to mention which of those goodies Keitha took from the drow wizardess, be it all, some or none.)

Keitha >
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Jazman
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:41 am

(OCC I will grab all of it for now, until I have a chance to go through it more thoroughly. I will give Donovan the dagger to use as an extra weapon for the moment. I also want to retrieve any of my arrows that I can, that are reusable)

Keitha quickly took in the lay of the land and weighed their options. She didn't like the idea of leaving these filthy undead undistroyed, only to have the ghouls come after them later. Also, Keitha thought it would be better to find Zauboth Ogor as quickly as possible, if she wanted to find the answers to her questions. These questions, she was afraid might be extremely important to find out.
Keitha turned to the group and spoke quickly in a quiet voice. "I don't believe it is a good idea to leave these ghouls to  possibly attack us later and from what I have heard so far it seems to me the sooner we find Zauboth Ogor, the better for him and us. We, at the moment, have a bit of an upper hand... if we work together. We can use this cover to ambush them." Keitha gestued towards the tree and then quickly glanced back at the ghouls before she continued. " Hide among the cover here. I will act as the bait and lead them into our trap, while doing as much damage as I can.  I will draw them  in between this tree," she gestured to the tree nearest to her and the pointed to the tree nearest to Killian, " and this tree. You can come in from behind and on the sides once they are past. Try not to let them touch or bite you, as you may already know, it can cause paralysis. Are you willing?"
As she spoke she readied her bow and arrow. She also put the a flask of alchemist's fire where she could easily reach it without having to dig for it.

(OCC Assuming they are willing to go with her plan. She will have Killian hide and wait near the tree he is by, along with Donovan. Once the the group is mainly in place she will make her way closer toward the boulders to use as cover to shoot from if possible.  If the ghouls spot her and start to advance before hand. she will attempt to shot both if possible with her bow before retreated and drawing them towards the trap. If they get to a distance where she is within the trap and they are fairly close, she will stow her bow and draw her scimitars.)  
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:35 am

(Keitha has taken 26 Platinum Pieces, 64 Gold Pieces, 2 flasks of alchemist's fire, the spellbook, the dagger, the violet potion, "Anulettikyss' Teachings for the Menders of Flesh," the four pages from The Cold Womb, the thigh-high blade boots, the two pouches of rations, the Jade Amulyrath wine and the wizard's robe from the Drow Wizardess.  The four pages turn out to be the foreword from a copy of The Cold Womb as well as Al-Shadan's entries on The Skeleton, The Slaymate and The Deathlock.  As with the healer's book or any other document, so long as they remain on her person, Keitha may consult these pages at any time.  The Party topic has been updated accordingly.)



Darmalgartr looked to his cohorts for concord.  Silently, the duergar nodded their consent, and the eldest faced Keitha in agreement.  "Aye.  Let us do that.  Kulrath and I shall flank this passage an' catch the ghouls between us when yeh rush through wi' them on yuir heels; the rest shall circle behind the ghouls an' block their retreat.  We shall keep an eye oot if yuir plan goes awry.  Now let us get to it an' put these wretches back into the dirt!"


(Keitha - opposed Move Silently check: 17)
(Ghouls - opposed Listen checks (-5 for distraction): 7, 13)
(Keitha wins.  She moves silently forward and gets one round of surprise against the ghouls.)

Killian Fang settled deeper into the brush, his furry nape bristling with anxiety as his friend crept low through the high grass.  With one fragile flask of alchemist's fire tucked beneath her belt from which she could effortlessly fling it after giving the flask a brisk shaking, Keitha's arrow was already nocked and leveled at her quarry by the time she leaned against the larger of the two boulders, stilling her breath for the shot.  And the eaters of the dead continued to bicker with each other in low, croaking tones, heedlessly arguing over who should get to devour the elf's liver as the ranger loosed her arrow and let it fly.


(Keitha - Shortbow attack on Ghoul 1 (Flatfooted AC 12): Hit (27 / Natural 20))
(Undead are immune to Critical Hits.)
(Ghoul 1 takes 2 Damage.)

The moment Keitha released her bowstring, her target grew incensed with his mate, tossing his sundered, fleshy snack aside and raising his arms in exasperation.  So rather than biting into the ghoul's head as Keitha had intended, the arrow instead sank into the bicep which had inadvertently risen to block it.  With a start and a turn, the ghoul hissed at the wound while his broodmate sniffed the air, bearing his ashen countenance in Keitha's direction.  It would not be long before the ghouls were upon her.  With her next arrow already nocked and drawn on a taut bowstring, Keitha faced a decision: stand her ground for a few seconds more and sink another feathered messenger of harm into that same ghoul, or retreat to the bushes and trees where her own allies lay in wait.



Keitha (Init 15) >
Ghouls (Init 7) > Charge Keitha and close for the counterattack
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below   Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:15 am

Keitha hissed in frustration as her arrow missed her mark. Without hesitating she readied her next arrow as quickly as possible and took aim. Keitha sent her next arrow flying towards it mark. She didn't even wait to see if this one hit it's mark but simply turned and ran to the place between the trees that would hopefully draw them into the ambush waiting. As she ran she readied her next arrow.  When she reached her mark she turned around and took aim and fired her next arrow.
(OCC after she fires the last arrow she is going to grab her swords and prepare for close combat as long as they continue to come towards her. If they alter their course and she can get another shot with the arrows off she will do that instead)
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Chapter Zero: The Black Earth Below
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