The party searches the room after the Mind Flayer disappears, but he is gone. Anthem discovers a journal written in Aklo and begins to peruse through it. It shows to him visions in his mind of another Mind Flayer living within the Sharp in the city, working in a lab to create a larvae that can survive outside of a host. There is also information about Szvek, but nothing of any consequence except he has been a recent annoyance and has been picking off devotees to the Mind Flayers. As he is comprehending this, the Mind Flayer suddenly uses this channel to tunnel into his mind and creates a telepathic link. He urges Anthem to join them; they would make excellent assets and would be rewarded with power and prestige in the city if they will double-cross Szvek. He gives them a password to the lab referenced in the journal (Master) and says to go visit it and get a better understanding of their power and control over subordinate beings. Anthem is a little worried about all of this and after the link is broken, tells what he has learned to the group. The party decides to head back to town and sort things out.
On the way back, directly past the gates, a guard hails Dante and says the Delver’s leader Enryn Ironhide wishes to speak with him. Dante and Almaris split off from the group for a moment to head to the Delver’s HQ and meet Enryn. The headquarters is a large building underground that houses a store of weapons, armor, and other necessities for venturing underground. To access the magical aspect of the guild, Dante and Almaris visit the in-house bar and speak with the one person with the passkey to enter, a barmaid that looks very unassuming. They are ushered into meet with Enryn, who sits behind a large desk and loudly and raucously greets them. He says the guild has been watching, and Dante and Almaris’s history of successfully leading adventuring parties, growing their latent magical abilities, and business acumen have shown that they are ready for an advancement in the guild. Due to Lam Vincente’s unfortunate passing recently, Enryn says he would like to promote Dante to Lam’s old position of mentor to new recruits and to have greater access to guild resources in his endeavors underground. The job comes with a stipend of 50g per month, access to the guild’s eyes and ears, archives, messengers, maps, and full access to their magical item trade network. Dante agrees to the new position and heads back outside with Almaris.
The party uses this newfound opportunity to sell some of their magical items that have been sitting in backpacks, as they are too rare and magical to be sold on the open market easily.
The party decides to visit Kressle and see if she has any information on the Mind Flayer and his lab in the Sharp. She only really recognizes Dante, Almaris, and Margit, but is happy to oblige for a small fee, as her “friends’ in that area will require some compensation. The party slips her some gold and she tells them to come back in the morning. The next day, she says her eyes and ears have told her that the place they are seeking is indeed in the Sharp, and appears to be some menagerie of creatures that could be a personal zoo, research lab, or something else. It’s all very secret and there’s not much information to be had on who operates it or its purpose.
The party heads off to where they think this menagerie is, and discover a large building with guards stationed out front. The guards try to shoo them off, but upon mentioning the password, and saying they are here to speak with the guy in charge, the guard lets them in. He leads them through a huge pair of double doors that appear to be heavily reinforced. The party senses a magical aura as they enter, some recognizing the walls being reinforced magically and also with some anti-magic fields. They are led into a room full of cages holding monstrosities. Cages hold brains with legs, floating brains with tentacles, creatures with multiple arms and legs, and others with mouths that open into what seems to be an abyss. They are led to a small room filled with furniture. A human stands in the room.
He introduces himself as Asredur, and he has been expecting them. The Masters told him they were coming and he is SO EXCITED to see them! He says they are to get the grand tour. The party asks what this place is, and he says they work to enhance various creatures here, magically and biologically. The party asks what kinds of creatures; he starts listing off rather happily they have a Chuul, a Gug, Intellect Devourers, Grell, and most recently a Beholder. The party is kind of taken back by the amount of danger kept in cells in the middle of a city district, but Asredur says not to worry, everything is safe. The cells are protected by magical wards and there are safeguards in place to lock the doors if any wards fail on the cells, so the populace would be safe. They ask why even have all of these creatures, and Asredur tells them the Masters have asked him to prepare a force to fight Szvek in the underground. He seems quite perturbed when speaking about Szvek, and when the party asks why, he says that Szvek has been hunting and killing off many of his fellow devotees, and he worries that if they don’t take Szvek out soon, he won’t be alive much longer with the way things are going. In the middle of the conversation, suddenly there is a loud bang and everyone feels extremely drowsy. The door locks and most members of the party are unable to withstand the sudden drowsyness and fall to the ground asleep. Asredur also suddenly drops to the ground asleep. Those that aren’t sleeping find they cannot move their bodies and are frozen in place; they hear screams, bangs, and screeches of metal outside. The lights go out. (In real life too! Haha that was fun to have everyone go "Oh crap..." as they all really sat in darkness for a bit.) Eventually the sounds die down and it’s deathly quiet, save for the random scamper of padded feet or the sound of something dragging outside the door.
As everyone eventually wakes up or regains mobility, Asredur seems to be in a panic. He keeps ranting that is must be Szvek. It must have been THEM! Szvek tracked them here! The party opens the locked door, breaking the magical lock enchantment, peeks outside and notices the cages that once held the variety of creatures outside are now open and no creatures are in sight in the dim light they dare use. There is the body of a dead guard outside the door. Asredur assesses the situation and mourns that they’re all going to die. They have lured Szvek here and the monsters outside will kill everyone inside. The PCs talk some sense into him to try to get him to clear his mind to the point he is looking for a solution. He says the only way to get out is to reactivate the enchantments and wards that keep the creatures locked up; they are sealed in a tomb until that happens. They will need to get a scroll detailing the ritual from the archives and collect the reagents for the ritual from the apothecary/storage closet down the hall. Asredur has accepted his doomed fate and says he will stay in the room and hope for their success.
Doud decides to reanimate the corpse of the dead guard with a foul looking syringe he has on hand and use the body as a meat shield as they venture down towards what Asredur states is the apothecary of potions and tinctures they keep in storage. They hope the reagents they need will be held there. The guard shambles randomly down the hallway before the injection wears off and he falls down at an intersection. Everything is still dark; faint rustling can be heard.
The party heads over to the guard’s body, and as they enter a side room, they are met by a floating brain and a brain with legs. They recognize these as a grell and an intellect devourer from Asredur’s description. They manage to fight them off pretty well, though they are definitely difficult to kill, but as Dante backs up down a hallway to get a better shot, he suddenly hears a door thrown off its hinges behind him. He turns to see a creature 3 times as tall as a man with 4 arms and an enormous mouth in the place of his face charging towards him. He recognizes this as the Gug that Asredur mentioned and it doesn’t look like it’s happy to see him. Almaris runs over to help him fight the Gug but gets knocked around a few times by the Gugs massive arms. The party eventually defeats all 3 creatures but take quite a beating. They proceed forward to the end of the hallway and unlock a door. Inside is a room filled with strange bottles, potions, scrolls, and more. They grab a their bag of holding and start putting everything in the room they can find into it as they don’t yet have Asredur or the ritual to tell them what is needed. They decide to head back to Asredu to have him help discern what is needed. (We had to turn the lights back on in the room as it was hard to see character sheets and the minis on the table appropriately; sorry it killed the foreboding mood!)
They approach the room where he was left hiding and discover the door open; they find a huge creature with tentacles coming out of its face chewing on his head; a grell and another creature with arms protruding out of random areas of its body stand nearby, also feasting on Asredur’s remains. Gore can be seen all around the room. The party quickly lets off a fireball into the room and closes the door but the creatures survive and attempt to follow. They don’t appear to be able to figure out the door, but suddenly the multi-armed creature (a Xorn) appears to swim through the rock next to them and gets a few hits in before they all converge on it and kill it.
The party ventures towards where Asredur stated the archives where, however they also remember when he was discussing the creatures, when he mentioned the Beholder he pointed in this direction. They proceed cautiously. Doors have been torn off hinges and cells are empty; they hear scuttling down the hallways and move slowly. They notice the front gate appears to be now covered in its entirety by a wall of force and an antimagic aura layered on top. The door is impassable.
As they hit the final intersection; they see a Beholder mercilessly using eye-beams to weaken a cell door. He seems impatient and frustrated, but is making progress on blasting the door off its hinges. The party runs down the hallway and turn away from the beholder to a hallway door slightly open on the other side.
They quickly slam the door shut behind them and find themselves in a room full of books and scrolls. There is a surprised human in the room, dressed all in black, who has been apparently throwing a large amount of documents into the fire and making another stack for himself. He is greatly surprised. He asks if they are also here to help Szvek destroy this place, and the party decides to tell him that they work for the Masters. He screams and tries to attack them, but Doud stabs him with a dagger coated with a sleeping poison and the man quickly loses his strength and falls to the ground, unconscious.
Suddenly, a large clang can be heard outside and the party is pretty sure the Beholder has blasted the door off of his cell. They wait nervously for him to attack them (he saw them run down this hallway and they are like sardines in a can, stuffed in this room. They quickly try to find the ritual to reset the wards and find it after a few minutes. The door doesn’t move and they don’t hear the Beholder outside. The cautiously peek through the door and don’t see him; but he has definitely tore the cell door off as it’s laying in pieces in the hallway. They quickly cast the ritual which should lock the doors to the remaining cells that are still closed. They proceed slowly towards the exit, as they are moving they hear a loud explosion up ahead. Ss they round the corner they see the huge doors to the complex torn largely off their hinges and see the Beholder briefly as it exits the doors and moves out into the unassuming city...
The whole "locked in a place filled with monsters, having to get to point A and point B" was inspired by Jurassic Park and Stranger Things Season 2. It was really fun as the tension was high with both the in-game and real-world lights going out, hearing how bad these beasties would be, and then being locked in a space with them, not knowing where they escaped to.
106 Resin and 159 Dwarvenite Sets/Packs Owned