Throne of Bloodstone

1 Flamerule 1364

Planning an inflitration

Dol’Varinn sits next to King Ruggardo. “We had a plan to destroy the drow city, from what you tell us it will not work. The stone there is too strong.”

The Svirfneblin gathered flash knowing looks around the glowing phosphorecent fungi pit that served as an informal gathering spot for those left in Burrock. Ruggerdo knew how the Vault’s exterior walls resisted every pick, axe, and spell. Only the waterways flowing through the Vault into the larger Underdark beyond seemed to have the ability to reveal openings in the solid mass of volcanic glass that shaped the Vault.

Seeing the concern on Ruggardo’s face, “Do not worry, we just need to come up with a new plan. I feel we need to see the city first hand, to better come up with a solution for it and the item that creates the darkness.”

“I presume your people have been close enough to the city to possibly learn a few things and if you have fought them you may have learned a few more things to help us.”

“If we are to go in in disguise, we need to know specific things about these drow and their city. Hopefully you can answer this for us. For starters, do they speak drow as we know it? Do they use the same currency as us? Have they started to carry coin with our kingdom’s markings?”

Ruggerdo nods to a small svirfneblin to the right of Dol’Varinn. The deep gnome rose and rubbed his hand on the top of his head, the slightest rumor of stubble being apparent on the top of his head. “I am Gavin Wellharn, pale elf. I was part of the last infiltration team into Erelhei Cinlu. My uncle, Olaf Wodehopper, and I went into the city just a tenday ago. They speak a dialect of elven that is intelligible to my ear, although their accent is very different from that which I heard you speaking earlier when you were fighting the beholders. I am no expert, but it seems like you should be able to understand them. They also use the undercommon that passes for a trade tongue in the land beneath the sun; I think their partnership with the mind flayers has helped them in that regard. I don’t know what language drow speak, I just know that this bunch is pretty clear to me. For money they have their own coin and they have a mint in the Ghetto of Foreigners where they melt down foreign coins to make their own. All of their coin has the imprint of their Queen, Lolth.”

“Is the city light with Fearess or some of the glow in the dark fungus we have come across?”

“Their city is not lit with faezress. I know of that dangerous radioactive rock and it is common down here but I haven’t seen it inside the Vault. We call it a Vault because it is so solid. It is like one big oval-shaped stone that just materialized here six moons ago. The Vault is brilliant and beautiful for those of us with darkvision. The phosphorecent fungus the rest of us use is there too, but in smaller quantities and carried mostly by foreigners.”

“Is the city exclusively drow? Do other races, like orcs, goblins, trolls, and giants walk freely in it? Is there regular traffic entering and exiting the city.”

“The city allows in foreigners. I can’t say I have seen many giants. Orcs are present, but mostly just in the gladiatorial arena. The most common non-drow are the bugbears. They have a lot of slaves, the drow, and their slaves come from a lot of different species; a lot of humans from up above but they mostly disappear off to Lolth’s temple. I have seen mind flayers, beholders, and duergar walking around freely. Slaves of the drow have been humans, dwarves, goblins, bugbears, other drow, and just about every kind of undead you can imagine. I hate to think what they would do if they broke through to Deepearth and took over the Thanatos Pool.”

“Drow are traditionally matriarchal, do the females rule here too?”

“I don’t know about drow traditions. I do know that these drow all serve their Queen, Lolth, and that her priestesses dominate. There are 8 noble Houses in the city and a ninth that has been sent up to the surface to harvest slaves from Bloodstone. Each House seems to be supervised by a Matriarch of the Queen. These agents of their Queen can take life whenever they like and they seem to be gathering a large number of sacrifices for her in her palace.”

“When researching the drow, we learned they like to use Adamentine weapons and armor. Given the drow you have fought, if we are pretending to be drow, will we stand out if we do not carry adamantine weapons or armor?”

“I don’t know how you will pretend to be drow. They have a complex series of hand signals to communicate with each other; we haven’t been able to figure it out totally except that they seem to be different for each House. Olaf was captured when he tried to use an access sign we learned from one House as we were investigating another House compound. I wish I knew where he was now, my illusions were barely good enough for me to escape. The drow do use a lot of adamantine but they know each other mostly by the House markers and hand signs. We never try to impersonate the drow ourselves; instead we just acquire the cloak of a foreigner by bringing in a merchant House marker to the Black Gate along with some reasonable trade items. That way, the guards treat us just like any other servant race pursuing some errand of one of the merchant houses. We usually disguise ourselves as duergar or dwarves. Svirfneblin aren’t killed on sight but we are harassed and tend to draw a lot of negative attention. I definitely wouldn’t go in as an armed elf, that seems to be a certain path to death given their artwork. As for gear, I can’t imagine that it matters much. The drow have acquired a lot of items from around here during their time here. They are greedy, evil thieves and assassins. You’d best have a really good plan if you plan on trying to take the city out.”

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