An unpleasant flash of consciousness, revealing a leering elven face and a sharp stab of pain.
Our mercenary colleagues gradually awoke to find themselves in a black and unfamiliar environment. Cylgar awoke with a bad attitude. Lucian awoke with amnesia. Drax awoke chained to a unfamiliar blindfolded elf. Upon investigating their confinement, they found themselves in a small dark dungeon cell, chained to each other by collars with glyphs that glowed to varying degrees. The room was utterly barren and their possessions had been stripped from them. Even their abilities and clarity of thought were denied them as a result of the collars. It wasn’t looking to be a good day.
The new elf, who identified himself as VeldrinChath, noted a Bugbear guard approaching and [Kyle] made ready to ambush. He managed to land a solid blow, but a word from the guard drove everyone to the ground with mind-rending pain. Lucian was the first to recover, but flirting with the guard didn’t gain anything of use – not even a date. They were in a Drow slave pen, destined for the mines, and escape wasn’t going to be easy.
The march to the mines revealed many others in their situation, but none of the groups seemed to have the same propensity of luminous glyphs on the collars. In the mine itself, they picked away at rock with veins of harder and darker stone. One of these shards was sharp enough to make for a potential weapon, so Cylgar concealed it for future opportunity. A scrap of cloth from the food bag was similarly stashed. Opportunities for using these, however, weren’t presenting themselves and plots of escape remained vague.
On approximately the third day, mealtime brought something new. A note had been hidden in the food bag for them. Although the note was written in elvish script, Lucian could not read the dialect, or perhaps it was the collar interfering. He spelled it out to VeldrinChath, who managed to make out the word “parade” but the gist remained a mystery. The following day, the allusion was made clear. The guard announced to the party that the tedium would be broken up by a parade. The group was led to a large arena where other groups of slaves were being gathered. Again, they noticed that none of the other groups had as many or as bright of glyphed collars. Indeed, the fact that their group was special was highlighted by the fact that they were placed at the front of the procession.
The enormous doors then opened onto the main street in the Drow city, Rel Gel. They were marched past the many Houses, each identified by their own symbols and regalia. Jeers and rotten fruit escorted them as they were led along. Suddenly, chaos erupted as members of a House (House of Onia Phrin) on one side launched themselves to the opposite (House of Tar Vor Ry). In the fray, the guard took a poison dart to the throat which was collected for future use. An albino Drow invited the party to follow for a chance for freedom. The group concealed by the members of the House were led down streets to a building at the edge of the city.
Once within the structure, they were introduced to their benefactress, the Matron of the House an albino drow named Phae Gos. They were told that their freedom would come at the price of agreeing to some task unspecified. As a token of sincerity, the collars were removed from the elves and deactivated from the others. Not having any better options, the party agreed. They were permitted to bathe and were given clean clothes. Cylgar took the opportunity to confirm that his shape-changing abilities could function normally again, although the collar adapted to his new form. Following a sleep period, the adventurers were again taken before the Matron in order to be given their task. The Matron wished to have a message delivered to Lord Baldon, and said that the essence of the message was that she was of a group of Drow in favor of separation from external influences and impurities, and that they would not interfere if Lord Baldon were to attempt to kill a certain priestess belonging to the competing mindset. The party would have to traverse the sewers to leave the underdark and would be provided with some basic gear. She provided them with a cylindrical codewheal with a faint demenour of magic to give to Lord Baldon.
The group was then taken to an entry-point to the sewers and told that they would receive their gear and have the final collars removed once they were all in. The barbarian leapt forthwith into the dark hole and the underlying grime, dragging by the neck the unfortunate druid chained to him. The elves climbed down a rope which was lowered into the hole.
The gear was then passed down and the hole sealed. The party divided and donned some basic armor and weaponry and examined the remaining adventuring gear and sparse magical items. In the lanternlight, it could be seen that VeldrinChath’s complexion revealed at least partial Drow blood, probably accounting for the Matron’s preference in addressing him for interactions with the party. As ready as they were going to be, they set forth through the narrow tunnel.
Lucian in the lead felt something grow taut and snap under his feet. VeldrinChath was unable to provide any useful information regarding what it was, so they waited for the rest of the party to join them. Soon, a subtle slushing sound showed they weren’t alone and they readied themselves for battle.
Before them stood a giant spider. The barbarian now in the front engaged it. Suddenly over their heads a web came from behind, entangling all save the blind elf. The barbarian faced the spider in the front. The druid fought the web and attempted to summon allies to aid in defending the rear. The blind elf cast slow-poison to protect the barbarian. Lucian struggled in vain to free himself from the web.
The battle proceeded quickly. Drax broke free from the web and squashed the front spider. In the rear, two very large and imposing bears arrived to make short work of what turned out to be two spiders there. When the battle was over, Cylgar milked one of the spider’s glands to envenom a weapon. The group continued down the tunnel
Eventually, they came to a metal grate. Applying their crowbar, Drax removed it, triggering an alarm which went out after some time. The party made use of their climbing kit to lower themselves into a large room receiving the contents of 2 similar sewage tunnels. The room deepened towards the center so they edged their way along the perimeter to the grate which drained the room. Another alarm was found and Lucian cast silence on it while it was triggered in anticipation of the efforts needed to remove it to continue their progress.
The next tunnel was slightly larger but the sewage was deeper. The group found they could make better progress if the floated with the flow rather than attempting to walk. As such, they made good progress until another grate blocked further advancement. Unfortunately the strong current made regaining a foothold a bit tricky. Fortunately Lucian was able to stop himself before he crashed into the grate. Unfortunately, Veldrin and Drax weren’t so successful and crashed into the poor elf. This tangle of bodies then succeeded in blocking the grate somewhat, causing the sewage to begin to back up. Cylgar added his strength to the weight of the offal and the grate gave way, spewing the adventurers out of the tunnel and down into the middle of the pool filling the room below.
As the party struggled not to drown, a large clawed hand emerged from the grime to grasp at Cylgar, the one member who had managed to swim immediately. Soon, except for Lucian, the others righted themselves and set about to engage their new foe. Cylgar robbed the beast of its concealment by making the sewage all-but-disappear (thereby saving the drowning elf), revealing it to be a filth-eater troll. Veldrin took up a flanking position to Cylgar and delivered a crippling blow with his longsword and Drax incapacitated the monster, making short work of what could easily have proven a very formidable enemy. In order to prevent regeneration, Cylgar burned the body – a process hindered apparently by the ring on the creature’s hand. When the deed was done, Lucian stepped forward to liberate this trophy and bore it into the next leg of the adventure.
Now, however, there was another grate blocking their egress. Furthermore, the sewage levels were beginning to rise once again. And it was still a long way to the surface.