Our brave adventurers once again find themselves in a precarious position. Though they have by the skin of their teeth managed to very briefly avoid the drow hunting party chasing them down, they know that no only is this respite only temporary, but that their grand plan of escaping these heartless and fanatical pursuers by cutting a rope only slowed them down. They drow were slowly floating across the cavern towards them like so much obsidian-hued angels of retribution.
And so they ran, plump adventuring lands pursued by sable drow lions. Through the twisting and turning corridors and caverns of the Underdark, unable to stop to clear their lungs. Ilvara’s thaumaturgically-enhanced voice boomed across the cavern walls, derisively scorning our heroes as it echoed across the unbroken darkness. This wasn’t just to frighten them, though her every word carried with it painful memories of her poisoned scourge. Not simply to taunt them, though her voice drained their resolve as easily as days of back-breaking labor in the Velkynvelve had sapped their strength. For as our more observant adventures had noticed, her magically fortified voice bouncing off the walls made it impossible to discern how far away she was.
Or how close.
Shuushar asked, then, how Ilvara had been able to locate them in the first place. This was something our adventuers had – oddly – never considered, and it seemed to spark a breathlessly panicked and slightly paranoid conversation. Theories abounded as to the mechanics the drow hounds were using to track the adventuring foxes. Some kind of spell? The armor or armaments they had taken with them from the Velkynvelve? Any type of item or artifact? The shrine to Lolth they had taken? The belongings of the drow elites?
Finally, someone thought to ask Eldeth how she had tracked them after returning from her fruitless search for Topsy & Turvy. The dwarven scout simply shrugged and told them that they left a fairly obvious trail to follow.
Perhaps it was the gravity of their current situation, and the proximity to those poisoned drow weapons. For as they continued running from seemingly tireless pursuers, her words seemed to finally reach our adventurers. And that epiphany struck our heroes to the core. And they began to recall previous, seemingly isolated incidents.
- A group of bandits in a set of duergar ruins, encountering armed adventurers identifying themselves as escaped prisoners
- Harvesting faerzress-suffused crystals, then using them
- Crafting weapons from skeletons in a boneyard, then leaving their old weapons behind
- Carving surface-world letters into the bodies of grimlocks
- Leaving clothes – perhaps a tunic, perhaps a sock – by a naturally occurring hot spring
- Leaving an arrow and a candle in a patch of brown mold
- Magically manipulating a drow trader, then leaving him before the enchantment wore off
- Stopping to attempt to remove a horn from a fallen minotaur
Slowly, painfully, they realized it wasn’t just the fact that they weren’t covering their physical tracks (although that idea, too, had never occurred to them) that Eldeth had been referring to when she mentioned that they left an obvious trail. She was referring to their wanton path of destruction they left in their wake. It wasn’t their bootprints.
It was them.
They were not traveling like escaped prisoners trying to keep a low profile. They may as well have been carrying a banner reading “Velkynvelve Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me” with a marching band singing “Ilvara: You Can’t Touch This”.
This realization, though, birthed a plan (as did desperation, if the look in the eyes of our heroes was to be believed). Could they create a false trail for Ilvara and the hunting party to follow? They could at least try.
Eldeth volunteered to make the false trail, taking Jimjar and (after some urging) Buppido with her. This would only succeed if someone attempted to cover up the actual trail our adventurers were leaving.
And let it be known that when none stepped forth?
It became John Willow’s time to shine.
The fighter volunteered to attempt to cover up the trail, absorbing some useful tips from Eldeth. But would it work? Would a seasoned hunting party fall for the ruse? As Sarith had pointed out (and the rest of the adventurers who had been the recipient of Velkynvelve’s hospitality could recall), Ilvara alone could tear through them like a spider through a group of plump flies, numbers be damned. Tension was high as they moved, waited, and prayed.
Miraculously, they heard Ilvara’s voice booming once more…but heading towards the false trail.
A wave of relief washed over our heroes, as it does over the foxes hearing the baying of hounds and horns moving in a different direction. The drow had fallen for the red herring, their keen sense of smell working to their detriment.
Our heroes quickly took advantage of the situation, heading to the nearest area of shelter they could find. They had been moving non-stop since they arose, and needed a moment to catch their breath, regain their bearings, and take stock of their situation.
Their much-needed rest, though, was interrupted by the sound of movement from outside the cave. Their fears of déjà vu were allayed, though, when they heard voices speaking in Gnomish.
Tospy and Turvy had returned! There was some initial suspicion as to how they had found the group, as well as where they had been. The deep gnome twins supplied that perhaps the story of their whereabouts was best saved for another time (they had seen drow close-by), but that it had been easy to follow a rather obvious trail to our heroes, with Topsy asking why they felt the need to carve letters into the heads of grimlocks.
Our slightly-embarrassed heroes headed on, eventually coming to a long, open cavern. They were greeted by a horrible smell hanging in the oddly thick air. And they discovered that smell had a source: Troglodytes.
The troglodytes, though, seemed to be moving slower than normal. However, they were still troglodytes, and attacked our heroes as soon as they came into view. Which, as this particular area was illuminated by faerzress, was sooner rather than later.
Undaunted by lowly troglodytes after escaping seasoned drow, our heroes boldly defended themselves, though they noticed their movements were slowed. One adventurer had a troglodyte in his sights, and fired three scorching rays at the hideous creature.
It turned out that the cause of the slowed movement for both the troglodytes and our heroes had nothing to do with magic, faerzress, or anything of that sort. No, this cavern had a natural gas leak. And as this fire genasi lit up the troglodyte, so, too, did he light up the entire cavern, which burst into spectacular flames as soon as the scorching rays left his fingertips. The explosion took down one adventurer, and did collateral damage to the troglodytes. And everyone.
In short time, the scorched adventurers were able to take down the burning (and most likely quite surprised) troglodytes. After dealing with the lingering effects of the gas, our heroes were able to find a secure location and take a long rest in their slightly charred clothes.
Players: Jobe, Quiddie, John Willow, Dwight, Orasu Withersoul, Nyzmyr
Enemies Defeated/Dealt With
- Troglodytes – 4
- Gas Leak
Potentiality For Adventurers To Realize That The Repercussions Of Their Past Actions Will Send Shockwaves Through Their Future Travels: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, baby.