"I'm unaware of their identities, we purchased them from House Parastric like everyone else does. If you need to get into the city proper to ask some questions I'll grant you leave - for a time - to find out what you need. They're expensive."
He looks to Beshtori, openly contemptuous of zir's exceptionally submissive stance. "Bring them back or kill them. As for what they can hope to have... it is hard to know the mind of a drider. However a strong, reliable servant can expect a life of comfort and some power within his own part of the house. They have their own politics, same as any other servants. But a drider's desires have never been of interest to me before."
House Parastric is a notoriously hated lesser house which is too useful to be completely shunned. Rather than being in Zirnakaynin, it sits in a cavern called the Moaning Vault to the south. There, their insane alchemists practice fleshwarping on anyone they can get their hands on. Their matron, Astranovidova is a famous beauty and is often seen in public with her drider daughter, Mardeis, selling transformation to any who can afford it.
Gaze still lowered, Brizree's eyes narrow: "Have they always served together in the same areas? Were they quartered together? Are there others with whom they've lived/served consistently? Have driders gone missing from any other house? What are Parastric's ambitions?"
Brizree fumbles to a halt, worried that <he> has given away how little <he> understands of drow politics and society.
The Paingiver seems irritated at some of Besh's questions and gives partial answers. "I have no idea what Parastric's ambitions are beyond money and power like everyone else. That said, the driders are stationed in a cave close to the house. The ones who went missing were on internal guard duty. As for going missing, of course. It's as common as any slave escaping."
With that, the Paingiver dismisses you to start your investigation.
The Matron's Audience Chamber
You head into a previously forbidden part of the house, the guards giving you unpleasant looks. Not everybody gets special missions. The audience chamber is spacious and circular, decorated with grotesque statues and glowing purple gems. A seat similar to the throne is atop a dais. It looks barely used. This is the last known location of the missing driders.
Two male driders stand guard here.
Detect Magic, taking 10 for 22 on Spellcraft to identify any magical auras I see.
Take 10 on Perception for 38 and Survival (tracking) for 32 as well.
Lyra scanned the room carefully, Vex's eyes mirroring her own perfectly as the pair went to work.
Saphren regard the driders, wondering about their abilities and such. Are they large? Armed with weapons? Bows? Armored? What do we know about them? What knowledge roll to know more?
Zoso has gleaned enough information since you've got here on driders. Drow practice an "art" called fleshwarping, physically transforming the bodies of creatures through strange alchemical techniques only known to the drow. Although some forms of fleshwarping are along the lines of temporarily or permanently adding limbs and claws, the most extreme examples are a total transformation of species.
Driders are the most notorious of this kind. Transformation is the most heinous punishment a drow can undergo, as the change into a drider shatters their mind leaving them intelligent, but bestial aberrations. Notably there is incredibly sexual dimorphism in driders. Male driders have faces halfway to that of a spider while female driders are more like centaurs, retaining their drow faces. Female driders are rare. Notably, driders breed true.
Driders are typically quite obedient towards drow, but they are typically very intelligent creatures which may have their own designs and goals. As such, driders are known to occasionally go rogue.
Driders can spin a web like a spider, and are also skilled sorcerers who enjoy the use of lightning bolt, levitate, and invisibility spells. They have a poisonous bite.
The driders before you are males and quite large. Their spider bodies have them towering over you, standing around eight feet tall with a very wide, eight-legged base. They hold weapons sized for normal drow - maces in this case.
You are watched silently by the two drider guards as Lyr undergoes a thorough investigation of the chamber. He can tell that there is a decent amount of traffic coming down from the stairs, which leads up to off-limits nobles' section of the house.
Although there are magical auras here, they appear to be typical abjuration spells and an alarm spell set on the stairs leading upstairs. Lingering auras from spells cast in this room wouldn't last long unless the magic was extraordinarily powerful.
Lyr manages to find a couple of secret doors which lead to what look like panic rooms, likely for the matron in the case of attack. However, there doesn't appear to be much else to find in terms of physical clues.
|Zoso the Forlorn|
Zoso relays the knowledge that he recalls and intuits telepathically through Vex as well. During which he watches the two male driders.
While Lyra is still investigating, Zoso approaches the Driders and looks up at them with curiosity. "Did you know those who went missing? Is it fair to say they are of the same builds as yourselves?" Zoso looks around and takes count of how many doors or windows would allow such large creatures to pass through them.
They may have been Polymorphed, these things are a bit oversized for the normal castle.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (14) + 14 = 28
The driders turn to face Zoso, their alien mouth parts clicking a little.
One turns to the other for a moment before turning to address the lot of you. Zoso's easy diplomacy seems to confuse them, probably unused to anything being polite to them.
"zshtYou are strange drow, but we are told to answer your questions. zzzWe did. There are only seventeen of us working for Vonnarcxxhhhh. They look as we do - in fact they are brothers three. succulentmoistprey Their transformation came from a betrayal to the hated House Azinrae. I believe whomever purchased them shhht appreciated the irony."
The driders stare down at you with their deranged eyes as they speak.
"Their names - Rikhrys, Ryldtrin, and Yazfein. If they had a leader, it would have been Yazfein. He had... too many opinions. Our lives here are comfortable, he thought otherwise. I am not surprised to see they have vanished."
After she'd done a sweep of the room, Lyra closed her eyes and focused while Zoso talked to the Driders.
A few minutes later she opened them.
I usually keep a spell slot of each level open. I'm going to take 15 minutes to prepare Locate Creature. I think we have enough information for it to work.
|Zoso the Forlorn|
Zoso nods to the others as the names are spoken. "Yes, I'm from out of town. But thank you, that is very helpful to know. One last thing, what were these opinions they had?"
Besh sidles up to Zoso, resisting the urge to tug at his sleeve. Standing slightly behind zir friend, but with eyes full of glittering curiosity, Besh asks (babbling a bit toward the end): "And where would they go to hide? Did you know them well enough to know their plans? Who did? How did they betray Azinrae? Was there anyone else involved? How were you transformed? Did it hurt?"
The driders seem properly confused by Beshtori, but seem happy to talk. It's unlikely drow give them more than orders. zzshht We..." The drider's head swivels around to make sure you're alone in the matron's chamber. "That driders were superior to drow, an ultimate form. That we should segregate."
He takes a moment to process Beshtori's questions. "I do not know where thchhh they went, but there are rumours of a community of driders to the east Zirnakaynin. Perhaps there, but we do not know where it is. As for their betrayal, they lead a revolt against Allevrah Azinrae when she murdered the former matron of Azinrae, Simovara."
Are you casting the locate object spell now, Lyr?
Sure. I have a name and I have seen an example of it's kind of creature up close. That should be enough.
The spell has a range of 720 feet centered on me.
|Zoso the Forlorn|
Zoso nods and turns away from the Driders.
If there are any servants or Drow in the room
"Have you heard any strange speak from the Driders, espicially in the last day or so? Any odd musings pertaining to east Zirnakaynin?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (9) + 14 = 23
Brenna briefly tugs at her armor, still trying to get the fit just right, as she waits during the questioning by the smart folks.
There are not, but you can find a servant of whatever kind you want without issue considering you've been living and working with them for a while now. Do you want to talk to guards or servitors? Recall the results of your your servant checks and who may like/dislike you.
Lyr casts his spell, concentrating. Unfortunately, the missing driders appear to be out of range.
"They aren't in the manor, or anywhere near outside it." Lyra said. The drider enclave seems like the next step she added via Vex's telepathic link.
|Zoso the Forlorn|
"The servants rather hate Besh and myself, but it sounded like you all had more luck with the guards. We should speak with them on our way out towards East Zirnakaynin." Zoso agrees verbally.
"They likely hate all of us. They show their disdain for you two outright because they believe you do not have the power to punish them for it." Lyra explained.
You head out of the matron's chamber in search of a guard to question. At the front doors stand two guards you've met in training. Covakis, the archer who manages to get a few shots in on Brenna, and Shoyle, a particularly clandestine female who always seems ready to stab someone in the back. Covakis is the one who speaks up.
"You look lost. What do you want, Lyra?"
As always, I encourage you all to explore ideas, find interactions, use skills, or whatever you so wish on this. I'm happy to reward engagement.
"We are tracking a pair of missing Driders for the First Daughter." Lyra said with a small shrug that showed that it wasn't a task she cared much for, but was doing her duty. "We need to speak with the guards who have had duty in the Audience Chamber. My first thought was to track down the last weeks guard rotation listing, but we haven't been around long enough to learn who writes them up."
Can someone with actual social skills take over? Zoso?
Briza nods once at Covakis and Shoyle. She keeps her eyes on Shoyle, even as she simply addresses Covakis, saying, "Nice shooting, Covakis. I wasn't expecting the one in the armpit."
|Zoso the Forlorn|
"Give us some names and point us in the right direction, in return I'll make sure you avoid anything I have a hand in cooking." Zoso adds to sweeten the pot on the information Lyra was requesting. With his best sadistic smile he holds up his left hand baring a fresh soft white scar from the kitchen a few days earlier that appears to have almost severed the man's thumb.
Made a roll earlier for speaking with guards/servants. Will reroll in case that's what GM wants.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (1) + 14 = 15 Awww drat, the guards might be into Drow flesh...
Brizree is fairly dancing on the tips of <his> toes, eyes darting from person to person, a "put me in coach" expression on <his> face.
Your earlier roll stands since it was for an encounter such as this.
They give Brizee weird looks, but Covakis lets out a somewhat cruel-sounding laugh at Briza's comment. "Hulking b@*#$ as big as you, hard to miss ain't it?" He turns to Zoso. "Paingiver's job, isn't it? but... moot point. We've both done our turns in the matron's chamber. Haven't we Shoyle?"
Shoyle has been eyeing Saphren a little strangely. "Yes we have."
"The missing Driders are named Rikhrys, Ryldtrin, and Yazfein. Were either of you on shift with them?" Lyra asked.
|Vex, Lyr's familiar|
|Zoso the Forlorn|
If they reply yes, Zoso will further ask
"Did you over hear any chatter between them? Even if it sounded like meaningless Drider dribble at the time?" Zoso continues to ask.
Sense Motive on Shoyle's look at Saphren: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (8) + 14 = 22
Still bantering with Covakis, Briza says to him, "Oh, I'm such a huge freak! I've never heard anyone say that before! In a hundred years nobody has ever told me that! Oh, your wit is bottomless and your insults so wounding!"
She chuckles and says, "Stick to the arrows, you're actually good with them."
Vex and Zoso keep a close eye on the two drow. Covakis looks over to Brenna, and seems to have interpreted her response as a kind of weakness. How he intends to exploit that is not obvious as he stays silent while Shoyle speaks.
"We've worked with everyone now," says Shoyle, sashaying around the group. "Driders talk nonsense most of the time, but that Yazfein. That drider was uppity. Been lashed before."
She stops, breathing into Saphren's ear. "Yazfein had a friiieeend. A friend in the city. I can tell you about that friend. But you have to do us a favour."
|Zoso the Forlorn|
Zoso tries to read Saphren's expression,
'This isn't going to be good..'
"We're listening." Zoso says hesitantly and waits to hear out this plan that is guaranteed to be deranged.
She grins. "You need your information now so we'll be niiice. Won't we?" She nips at Saphren. "Mellios. The cook. She's been telling tales she shouldn't. See that she's flogged. You'll thank me for it."
Swiftly, she leaves Saphren to address the rest of you. "But that will take some time, you need your driders now. Go to the Blind Eye in Zirnakaynin. A duergan - Vorjans Gost. He'll know what happened, they've let slip he's an ally to their kind. He won't sell his secrets for cheap, but maybe you can loosen his tongue."
|Zoso the Forlorn|
Zoso gently rubs his temples, then starts talking to no one in particular. "Damn, it's just a simple flogging though, think we really need to wait until after? Ahh, Paingiver's pleasure must come before ours, shouldn't it."
Bluff: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (5) + 14 = 19
"Deal, I'll remember this when I'm tasked with cooking again. Hell, if this goes well with Mellios maybe we can fix her treatment of Brizree and myself as well."
Zoso is content and ready to depart the guards now.
Back home and posting from a computer again. Sorry for my silence.
The ever observant Saphren tries to read the look from Shoyle then responds to her when she whispers in his ear. A favor for a favor. he nods, then offers Would you owe me for favors if this cook had an accident?
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (7) + 12 = 19
Back! Thanks for your patience.
She appears to be telling the truth as far as Saphren can tell. She raises her eyebrows. "If something truly foul would befall her, then perhaps I would be back in your debt. Just be sure the right people are implicated, whomever you decide they are. Now go, find your driders."
Assuming you're heading into town, let me know about anything youw ant to do before I push to the next scene.
|Zoso the Forlorn|
Oh, I dunno - I think sending Saphren and Beshtori out to Gather Information together would be hilarious
With Shoyle still eyeing Saphren like a ham, you bid farewell. Making sure your signets are well-displayed, you start on the trek into Zirnakaynin. Briefly checking with the Painlord, you're given some leeway to follow the lead. If you are gone too long, you will be contacted. Nobody has told you how long that is.
Without an escort watching over you, you can finally get a proper sense of the area. You are currently in Cocydavarin, the 'countryside' which is a massive cavern dotted with the houses of several drow noble families. Some shops have been set up as well along the cavern walls, selling boutique items to the drow elite. This cavern sits directly over top of the city core of Zirnakyanin. Several cleared paths lead through the main cavern, with sparse traffic. Most of the drow and servants here are clustered near the houses, which hundreds of yards apart.
From here, you have a few options on how to proceed. Directly before House Vonnarc is Nirvestas's Crucible, which is a deep pit that leads directly down into Zirnakaynin. It is an excellent option for those with climbing mounts, or those who can levitate or fly.
An hours-long trek by foot will lead you through the adjacent tunnels downward to the city. With a means of flight or levitation, you can instead take the shortcut, and head directly down through the holes in the cavern floor.
Finally, there appears to be a decent amount of traffic between Cocydavarin and Zirnakaynin. There may be a means of transit if you want investigate that route.
Options are on foot, fly/levitate/climb, or see if you can find a taxi. Lemme know.
I feel like negotiating for transit may imperil our cover, because they'll wonder why nobody in our group has an innate drow levitate ability.
Brenna thinks a bit and then says, "Can one of you cast a spell to lower us? That would seem most fitting, I think."