More dungeon grinding. Wandering monster ambushes, puzzling poetic clues, and drow sacrifices. The party entered a pair of large lit rooms. The first with the mouldering corpses of long dead nobility where a cryptic poem was found and pondered. Attempting to follow the lead and to join up two places on the map the party briefly explored a side hallway only to find and slay a manticore. Fortunately, the manticore had a decent sized pile of loot and serious thought was paid to repaying the loan to the Guild. Rats swarmed over the body of the fallen manticore. Rufus gorged himself on dungeon rats and fell asleep. Most of the party was disgusted by the spectacle, except Glauben, who sang “The Circle of Life.” Giving up on the side halls, the party returned to the second of the large purple-lit rooms to find a huge spider altar to the spider god Selvetarm, a kidnapped moon elf maiden, and two drow guards.
Things quickly escalated. The first two drow guards fell in a round. After a brief respite, the rest of the drow group arrived with their evil priestess. Magic was slung about and soon 10 drow added three zombies and 20 giant spiders to the battle.
Drow are often formidable foes because of their superior equipment and innate magic. When the DM fails to properly use that innate magic, the drow still have their powerful technological advantage. Drow tend to be armored with magical suits of mithril chain mail and magical mithril swords. In a world such as this, where magic has been rare until recently on the surface, one would expect drow to have a substantial advantage. However, here they were fighting an uncanny group of battle hardened gnomes who have powerful sponsors. These gnomes have slain three dragons and bear the spoils of those victories into battle. In a contest of armor there are few that can contend with The Gnomes of Raer Baer.
After the battle the gnomes had captured the dark elf priestess. A difficult interrogation was followed by a long and intense discussion of what to do with the prisoner. Faced with a lack of detention facilities and an uncooperative prisoner, the party opted for an execution.
During the fight, the party had rescued Maith Slenderbow, a moon elf maiden of 40 years. She had been captured by the drow and was being magically interrogated. She was separated from her father, a bowyer, on a market trip to the port of Arconston. Clad only in a silken shift, the party armed her with a bow from their surplus and the magic leather curiass they had just found. After the battle and discovering the ordeal she had been through, Fatty fed her with cream puffs and bread and pastry which Maith hungrily devoured between sobs. After the interrogation and execution of the dark elf prisoner and the obscure revelation to the party that Maith’s father was most likely dead, Maith collapsed in a corner vomiting up the mass of sugar she had been fed and sobbing between convulsions.