The heroes finished collecting items and policing bodies, and new magical equipment was dispersed to “those that negotiated the best.” Kaelen, Lauryll’ana, and Vallatha were the biggest winners with Paran and Foxfire also receiving upgrades. Paran created a rope trick and the Wardens climbed in for a much needed rest.
Kaelen had first watch as the rest of the party took off their equipment and started to clean and repair their damaged and filthy clothing. After just under an hour in the rope trick it began to shudder and shake. As quickly as it started, it stopped.
“What the fuck?” exclaimed Paran. The heroes jumped to their feet.
The rope trick started to shudder again and instantly blinked out of existence. Suddenly, the heroes found themselves falling five feet to the stone ledge below. Heroes, equipment and armour were scattered from one end of the terrace to the other.
Behind where the rope trick had been stood nine Drow elves, seven male warriors bearing twin jagged edged long swords and two female wizards who began to unleash a torrent of icy stones which rained down on the disoriented and confused heroes. As the hailstones stopped falling, the Drow warriors ran forward to close ranks.
A vicious melee broke out as the Wardens of Steel drew their shields and blades, while the twin longswords of each Drow warrior began to slash and cut into the unprepared heroes. Lauryll’ana and Lassa took the worst of the blows, though Paran and Vallatha took slashes as well.
Baderon cast a spell of searing light which burst through one of the light sensitive Drow wizards and dropped her to the paving stones in a heap. The other was incensed and cast a fireball back at the heroes engulfing everyone in flames. The magical attacks combined with the repeated sword blows dropped the Mirran Panther, Lassa, to the ground, unconscious.
The battle shifted as the heroes recovered their wits and began to turn on their assailants. Paran hasted himself and his companions as he deflected a flurry of blows with his bladesong. Kaelen invoked his folding plate and was instantly encased in full plate as he stepped up into Lauryll’ana’s spot and she stepped out of the firing line. Sleep poison infused bolts peppered Foxfire who was immune to their dastardly effects and he returned fire in kind launching arrow after arrow into the ambushers.
Paran and Kaelen proceeded to carve through the Drow front line as warrior after warrior, including their leader, were dropped to the ground. The last wizard went invisible and disappeared as the two remaining warriors turned and ran as fast as they could.
A merry chase began which saw the Drow, and Kaelen, clamber up over the walls. The first Drow was dropped by repeated arrows from Lauryll’ana and Foxfire, while Paran flew gently outside the walls and unleashed a bolt of lightning on the second runner who was then buried by Vallatha’s sudden attack. The battle seemed at an end as Foxfire left Lauryll’ana to find his badly hurt animal companion.
The four heroes at or outside of the walls began their journey back inside as the Drow wizard, hiding in a building within the compound, unleashed her escape plan.
A wave of mental domination suddenly rocked Lauryll’ana back on her heels, but she was able to resist it. She turned and rushed at the barely perceptible wizard and bull rushed her backwards against the wall inside the canteen. A wrestling match ensued as Lauryll’ana grabbed the wizard, wrestled her to the ground and then proceeded to pummel her with blows until she fell unconscious.
“Holy shit! Are you ok?” asked Foxfire as he came over to the unconscious Drow.
“Do you want the honours?” asked Foxfire as he drew a dagger.
“No, I cannot kill an unarmed, unconscious enemy,” she replied as she walked past Foxfire, leaving him to the dark business.
The heroes once again dressed themselves in armour and regrouped on the terrace.
“We need to get out of here,” said Paran. “Who knows what’s coming for us next!”
“Do you think they were watching us?” asked Kaelen.
“How else would they sneak behind a rope trick and ambush us so completely?” asked Baderon.
The Wardens of Steel, loaded up to the gills with armour and weapons pilfered from the chapel complex, set out to leave the mythal. They ventured a mile or two north of the mythal where Foxfire found a secluded dell for the heroes to camp in. They began inspecting the items they’d collected from their ambushers.
The magical items showed all of the telltale signs of the strange underdark magical weave of other drow magical items, significantly different from that found in the rest of the chapel complex. They also found a note belonging to the leader of the small band.
The loot stowed and more understanding and slightly more confusion setting in, the heroes undressed and set watches, resumed their cleaning and preparations, and settled in for the night. The nightly watches passed uneventfully and the heroes woke up the next morning feeling refreshed. Spells were memorized and prayed for, and the heroes loaded up their equipment and headed back south into the mythal.
The Wardens of Steel explored the top plateau of Myth Bellavae as they headed further and further south. The full scope and size of Myth Bellavae was revealed as they finally were able to look out over the lower tier. It was quiet and the buildings were mostly heaps of rubble, a much worse state of disrepair compared with the upper plateau.
The heroes took in views of the Moon Gate before rounding on a large ornately-carved cathedral.
They ventured into the cathedral cautiously as they prepared for the worst. The long central nave, filled with ruined pews, stood empty. Doors stood open at the far end of the hall behind the central altar, and six large shrines lined the long central hall.
The heroes continued forward to the open door on the left, where they crept as silently as possible past a closed door and out to an open doorway which opened on to a large cloister. A small columned overhang rounded the edges of the huge circular space and a tall tree stood at the centre. Lauryll’ana and Paran both immediately recognized it as a Sacred Oak, native to the island of Evermeet. It’s long yellow leaves hung limp and faded.
“Holy shit, the big one is even bigger than Lassa!” exclaimed Kaelen.
“Back up…” whispered Paran. “Will they let us leave?”
Foxfire modded, “they don’t look interested right now, but be warned, they might follow us later.”
The heroes headed back out into the main part of the cathedral and began inspecting the shrines. One by one each shrine was searched, read and explored. Much to Lauryll’ana and Paran’s confusion, they didn’t recognize any of the names of these lesser deities adorning the cathedral. Reading the plaques they discovered the following Elven deities:
- Vandria Gilmadrith – shrine depicting war, justice and grief.
- Elashor Elathana – shrine depicting dancing, swords and protection.
- Maeralya Elaralei – shrine depicting music, harps and lutes.
- Nelaeryn Glynkas – shrine depicting flying elves and swanships.
- Aumanas Vaphyra – shrine depicting waves, water and ships.
- Keryth Zinfaren – shrine depicting animals.
The shrine to Elashor Elathana called to Paran while the shrine to Vandria Gilmadrith called to Lauryll’ana. As Paran inspected the shrine of Elashor Elathana he found a holy symbol draped over the statue’s feet. He hesitated for a few moments, unsure if it was irreverent or not to take it, but at last settled on taking the holy symbol. A profound holy feeling settled over him as the heroes walked out of the cathedral into the dim mythal light.
Across the street was an old training ground in which Paran’s hawk-like vision was able to find a bundle of magical weapons buried in a corner of the yard. The few remaining buildings at the south end of the top plateau had little of note except for a dilapidated chapel devoted to the Elven aspect of Selune.
The only thing remaining was an ancient stone bridge of questionable integrity leading across a huge chasm to a stone spire with a tall stone tower built on top of it. The front door stood open, but the entryway was filled with dark shadows.
The heroes hesitantly climbed the steps and entered the tower. Looking up, the insides of the tower, the floors, had crumbled away over the millennia and were heaped in piles of rubble all over the ground floor. On one side of the room someone had stacked up the stones and rubble to reveal a stairwell descending down into the depths below the tower.
The Wardens of Steel slowly descended deeper and deeper into the tower until they arrived at a circular room deep in the darkness below. In the centre of the room was a pool of rippling water which seemed to shift and shake to its own rhythm. The heroes had found an ancient elf gate! What secrets would lie within? Where would it take them?