Having defeated some undead and realizing that their neither is their target, Ecvaladra, Melina, Sparnok, and Travisk reconnoiter to come up with a new strategy. Speaking to the ghosts, they are able to determine that Malocchio must be a creature called a beholder, a large disembodied head with a single central eye and multiple tendrils, each with smaller eyes that can shoot rays of magic. At this point, another drow scout comes sprinting into the cavern where the heroes stand, out of breath. Behind him, two shapes emerge from the darkness.
“I found these two in the caverns while scouting. They say they’re with you,” he says, half suspecting them to be robbers. The first figure to emerge is a woman with an air of defiance. She acknowledges the party in a speechless manner. She is, in turn, followed by a male-model Machina (Warforged) who is strangely silent.
“Who are you?,” a voice from the party asks.
“We were sent by Giacomo,” the woman responds.
“Where is your proof?” asks Melina.
The woman reaches into her cloak and pulls out a scroll and hands it off.
“To Party. More for your cohort. Hope it helps! -G,” melina reads. “It’s also got a kiss pressed onto it in lipstick. Must be Collette. Why do we work for these people?”
“So are you going to introduce yourselves?,” asks Travisk.
“My name is Vilya,” the woman responds in a thick Glennish accent. All eyes move to the Machina, who is not entirely interested in introducing himself, but responds anyway, albeit in a terse manner. “My name is Kronk,” as he extends his metal hand and shakes the fleshy pink hand, squeeking a bit too hard.
With introductions aside, the party brings the two new comrades up to date on the occurences at the mine. While they talk, the two drow scouts speak to each other in their language and the one escorting the two new heroes pulls out something from his pocket. It looks to be an eyestalk with a tail.
Noticing this, the party turns to look. The drow addresses them in the Common tongue, “There are tons of these things by the natural caverns east of here. They’re completely harmless, though. These cannot be Malocchio. It must be something else altogether.”
After some thought, various members gather that these must be young beholders. Malocchio must be an adult one. After discussing whether to tear in or to go research the monsters, the party decides to go to the neighboring mountain, into the drow city, Bin’Drow Gris to use their library facilities.
having arrives at the mountains, the enter through a passageway, arches cut into the side so as to reveal glimpses of the drow city all along the twisting and winding way down to the main cavern complex. The city sits on top of an island in an underground lake and appears as three attached spiderwebs.
Once in town, everyone heads into the library. Inside, they are greeted by two librarians, Hartay and Shala. While they look for books, the more magically inclined heroes attempt to look for some books on beholders and Malocchio. They each try their hand at finding things, but Melina outdoes all of their efforts, having figured out how to use their complex library catalog. Among the items she is able to retrieve are some maps of the old drow city and a reproduction of a letter written by one of the ancient drow who managed to seal away Malocchio thousands of years ago.
“Hey everyone! I found something!” Melina exclaims as she brings forth the scroll. “Apparently, the people who sealed off Malocchio were able to do it by using some rods that absorbed the magic the creature shot at them. And then they built some columns that were just massive versions of rods reinforced with draconium.”
“I can show you those rods,” interjects Hartay. “The original artifacts are in the museum.”
Rushing to the museum before closing time, everyone crams into the exhibit. In a glass case, sit five weapons, a rapier, a short sword, a club, and two rods. “Clever. They’re rods of absorption built into the weapons,” Vilya states.
“Not only that, but those must be the columns over there. Or at least reproductions.” In the corner, there are two lead-black columns, studded with blue draconium, obviously plaster fakes. A plaque indicates that the four columns were set up in a square around the hole through which the Malocchio came from to terrorize the drow.
“The earthquake from the draconium explosion must have caused one of the pillars to fall,” says Travisk.
“Or perhaps it’s broken,” the librarian butts in. “Maybe they’re all broken!”
After some conversation, the party decides that in order to avoid an ugly combat, they might consider either making new pillars or fixing the broken ones. After a trip to the Wizard’s Guild it turned out that creating new rods like those used by the old drow heroes would take too long. Making new pillars would take even longer. The only recourse was to try to fix the pillars, reset them into their proper locations, or just kill Malocchio and all of its spawn.
Able to convince the curator to allow them to use whatever power remained in the artifacts to
reseal Malocchio, the party decided to rest and continue with their mission in the morning.
RETURN TO GRIS MINES
With a map and some artifacts in hand, the party manages to sally forth to the proper location. Passing through a corridor, they are able to make out in the darkness what looks to be a large number of eyes. The eyes do not attack, but seem curious as to who the intruders are. Everyone enters the cavern and takes notice that 3 of the pillars seem to be aligned around a huge hole, but that one lies flat on the floor, clearly knocked over by the explosion and ensuing?” in the guttural Common language of the deep stretches of earth.
“We are humanoids,” answers Ecvaladra, the only one able to understand this language.
In excitement, the eye stalk nounce up and down, yelling “Father! Father!” as if their father would be pleased by their discovery.
Almost immediately, a large green creature, like a big red ball with one large eye and tentacles, comes out of the hole, takes a look around around and screams, “Protect the young!” It screams and flies through the air, eating the young in its path.
A battle ensues, and shortly thereafter, a red version of the creature comes out of the hole and begins to attack. Together, the two balls attempt to zap all the creatures with the eyes at the end of their tentacles, but they are unable to do much. The red one flies back down the hole, yelling out, “Father!”
Meanwhile, Vilya and Kronk get an idea. Between magic and brute strength, they might be able to put the pillar back up before ‘Father,’ who they rightfully believe to be Malocchio comes. Travisk attempts to create a wall of ice over the hole to slow the beholder down, but within seconds, father disintegrates the ice with one of his eyebeams and barrels through.
Just in the nick of time, the fallen pillar falls into place. Malocchio has barely had a chance to try his beams on the party, when the magic of the pillars begins to flow again. Magical energy weaves its way around the pillar in a pattern and Malocchio is forced back into the hole. He tries to shoot magic from his multiple eyestalk, but it gets absorbed into the magical stream. His final words are “Kill the spare.” With very little trouble, a combination of might and magic take down the green beholder, who was already doing fairly badly by this time, as he’d been permanently blinded by Melina. At the end, one eyestalk, the brave one who greeted the party came out from behind a rock. Sending it through the hole proved useless, it would now keep anything from entering or leaving. Instead of killing the innocent creature, Ecvaladra decided to rehabilitate it to prevent it from straying along the wrong path.
After the end of the battle, the realization sets in that had they not set up the pillar, the battle with Malocchio could have gone much differently. Further preventative steps should also be taken towards securing the area. For instance, the use four pillars, while advanced technology thousands of years ago, is horribly outdated compared to today’s standard of six (and experimentally, eight or more).
Once they exited the caverns, the heroes were greeted cheerfully by the the villagers, miners, and Drow. That night, the festivities were like none held in ages.
Accompanied by the bards, everyone returned to Lassica, home of the College of Arcane Arts. Once there, they were received by Collette. Giacomo met with the group to be debriefed on the outcome. After this, he explains to them that he had another mission for them, which had been communicated to the party before returning. Instead, it turns out that elven students (all Glennish) have been disappearing or found dead.
“Such occurrences are not only unacceptable, but hardly good publicity in these hard times! I must ask you to investigate this for me, as my other platoons are already out and the new recruits I have here today are too new.”
After being summoned, Marco, Luca, and Hans enter. Some among the party notice an air or a twitch in Marco and Luca’s faces directed at Hans. Hans happily greets Ecvaladra, his date on the first night. She gives him a pinch on the rear end, but no one notices over the happy greeting being exchanged by Melina and the twin magic students.
Marco hugs Melina and whispers in her ear, “Don’t trust Hans Bowsr.”