Duergar Deals and Puzzle Perils

Session 18 February 2024

As Farryn brings up the Shadowfell and the unfortunate fate of the dragon, my mind drifts to thoughts of the majestic creature we encountered. The dark mage’s vile actions weigh heavily on me, especially knowing that Morph witnessed the tragic event.

“We survived, and I got my bag back,” Morph chimes in, trying to inject some optimism into the conversation.

“Well, I’m not that happy, I lost my other items still,” Farryn responds, his frustration evident.

“But then we have to go back!” Morph insists, his determination unwavering.

Farryn, ever the strategist, questions our approach. “How do you want to do that? The dark mage doesn’t have the capabilities to teleport us again,” he points out.

“We can disguise ourselves and infiltrate the base?” Morph suggests eagerly, his mind already racing with possibilities.

Turning to me for input, Farryn asks, “Gwen, what do you think?”

Caught off guard, I confess, “I was writing cool stuff about the dragon, so I didn’t pay attention that much… I want to go back, to find dragon stuff, but I don’t think disguising ourselves is cutting it.”

“Morph says scrying is an option, perhaps the arbiter,” I suggest.

“I think it’s annoying, because the Zhentarim has my bulette plate,” Farryn voices his frustration, his disappointment evident in his tone.

“I think we have to think about the advantages of going back sooner than later. Later means more regrouping, but more power, and sooner is that we are both weaker,” I contribute, considering the tactical implications of our next move.

“we can use Corvax!” Morph’s suggestion injects a spark of hope into the conversation.

Morph elaborates further, “Corvax is my friend. He tells me what to do. He told me that the Zhentarim were not good people. I wanted to leave, and then they threw me in prison.”

Farryn, ever the inquisitor, probes, “But what about the blue and purple light from the sword?”

“It is from my magic and training with sword fighting,” Morph responds confidently.

“What is the source of your magic?” Farryn continues his line of questioning.

“Corvax,” Morph answers simply, his trust in his companion unwavering.

“How did you meet Corvax?” Farryn’s curiosity remains insatiable.

Morph shares his tale, “Nice story. When I was little, I was sad and lonely. And then, I was very good at changing myself, but I couldn’t defend myself that well. With a wooden stick, I was fighting and training. I met Corvax, like a greatsword, in a dream. He found the sword in his second Zhentarim mission. When they let him keep the sword, he convinced them.”

“But how do we know that you’re trustworthy? We have Farryn Flamel here, who is a member of the Golden Cauldron… and he is…” I interject, seeking assurance.

“Oh, the ones that are difficult to the Zhentarim,” Morph responds, acknowledging the complexity of our situation.

Corvax resides within a sword and played a crucial role in awakening Morph after the dragon attack. The dark mage seems intent on delving deeper into the mystery surrounding Corvax.

As discussions continue, the dark mage contemplates a method to regain the ability to teleport. Meanwhile, Farryn ponders seeking assistance from the duergar to acquire a mithril half-plate to replace his current chainmail armor.

Amidst talks of various items and strategies, the dark mage retrieves his bag of holding, revealing crystals and scrolls. Alarmed by the crystals, I exclaim, “NOOO NOT THE CRYSTALS!” prompting the dark mage to swiftly return them to the bag with a mage hand.

In a humorous twist, Morph impersonates Farryn under the influence of drugs, appearing naked and mimicking Farryn’s behavior in the tavern. The drugs, named fractals, seem to induce unusual behavior.

After further deliberation, we reach a consensus that the second heist must take place the following day. Determined to proceed, we set our sights on seeking aid from the duergar.

Upon encountering Urm in the base, his despondent demeanor catches our attention. “He looks very depressed… Look at those dark circles under his eyes” he says, pointing at Morph. Morph, taking on the guise of Urm, remarks, “Well, you don’t look very well either.” Surprisingly, Urm responds, “I like him…” indicating a budding rapport between them.

We venture to the duergar, accompanied by Urm. Passing through the portal on level 19, we descend further to level 20, where little seems to have changed. The stagnant slime and viscous tar-like substance remain undisturbed.

Upon reaching level 20, we notice familiar lights, but our attention is soon drawn to Farryn as he begins collecting small, valuable-looking shards from the floor. I join in the search, eager to assist, but struggle to locate any shards myself.

Entering the wizard tower of Ezzat, Farryn’s search yields nothing of immediate interest. The purpose of the shards perplexes us. The dark mage speculates that they may have served as protection against Ezzat, yet they also seem to be a significant and unstable power source, prompting further research.

Morph inquires about the burnt areas in the tower, to which we learn that it was the aftermath of confronting the lich Ezzat. However, the reason for the shards being scattered outside remains a mystery.

I ask why we deferred from our normal plan to go to the Duergar. Farryn suggests that the shards hold monetary value, leading us to consider returning later to gather more. He contemplates extracting shards embedded in the walls for potential profit, even musing about using mud on the stairs to monitor any intruders.

Despite the diversion, Farryn’s entrepreneurial spirit remains undimmed as he sees another opportunity to bolster our funds. 

I interject firmly, expressing my concerns about our current course of action. “This is not the way to go. This is not how Farryn operates,” I assert, drawing from my knowledge gleaned from the books. “You need to do your job properly, and that is with better armor, not getting distracted by everything.”

Fortunately, my words strike a chord with Farryn, and he agrees to refocus on our mission. Together, we make our way to the duergar on level 21, Fazrian’s level. Two duergar allow us entry, and we approach a smith.

“Farryn Flamel is the name,” Farryn announces.

“What do you want?” the duergar smith grumbles.

“Mithril halfplate,” Farryn replies.

The smith retrieves the mithril halfplate with evident annoyance, tossing it onto the table. When asked about the price, the duergar’s initial demand is exorbitant, prompting a negotiation. Farryn counters with a lower offer, but the duergar remains obstinate.

“What do you know of it? Can you do it better?” the smith asks disbelievingly. Farryn challenges, presenting Grond, though the duergar is blind and unable to appreciate its craftsmanship. He feels Grond for a bit and laughs. He sticks to his asking price, insisting that the mithril armor is worth more than what Farryn offered for it.

After some back-and-forth, we finally settle on a price of 1750 gold pieces. Farryn struggles momentarily to produce the gold, but eventually, the transaction is completed. Despite the duergar’s grumbling, we leave with the mithril armor in hand, ready to continue our quest with improved equipment.

As we step out of the shop, I can’t shake off the unpleasant tone of the smith. Farryn wastes no time in directing us towards our next objective: finding Prince Valtagar, the man associated with Stalagma, the woman who transformed into the steel dragon.

Upon locating the prince, Farryn updates him on our recent acquisition of mithril armor and inquires about any further developments. Prince Valtagar informs us that they’ve been clearing the area of monsters, with the pit now devoid of threats but ripe with potential treasures.

Farryn also seizes the opportunity to inquire about the possibility of repairing the belt of cloud giant strength on this level. When asked about who could perform the repair, the prince points out that the blind smith is the one with the requisite skills. Valtagar explains that such a task would require a considerable investment of both time and money. However, Farryn suggests that the Golden Cauldron might be willing to foot the bill.

Sensing a potential job opportunity, Farryn asks the prince if the duergarr are available for hire and their willingness to assist in storming a fort (the Zhentarim base).

In response, we discuss logistics and compensation, with questions raised about the feasibility of involving the duergar in our plans. I can’t help but interject with a hint of sarcasm, remarking, “Oh, now you ask me?” However, the consensus leans towards proceeding without the duergar’s assistance. “The duergar might not be necessary,” the dark mage concludes confidently.

We go back to the same smith, named Lorgna.

“Lorgna, can you repair the belt?” Farryn asks the smith.

“If you made it, no,” Lorgna replies bluntly, eliciting laughter from both Morph and myself. Farryn dangles the belt in front of him until Lorgna reluctantly takes it. “Okay, it is awful, but it isn’t your work so it’s somewhat better. I can fix it,” he concedes.

As he inspects the belt, Lorgna mutters, “Words don’t fill holes.” Farryn responds with a playful retort, “Nothing is as fine as a little gnome, but beware of a bleeding tip – if it doesn’t fit, stretch it.”

After some consideration, Lorgna admits, “I am awesome and cool and all that, but I don’t know if I can fix it.” Farryn explains his intention to use the belt for two hours each day and inquires about the cost and potential modifications.

Lorgna offers to downgrade the belt’s potency permanently, suggesting options such as a stone giant belt, which he can guarantee will work, or a fire giant belt, which carries a risk of failure. Cloud giant strength is also feasible but with a higher chance of failure.

He estimates the cost for the stone giant belt at 500 to 600 platinum, with an additional charge for cloud giant or fire giant strength. However, the party deems the price too steep. Farryn expresses gratitude but declines the offer.

We walk through a hall adorned with pillars and a curtain made of dragon scales, likely from a black dragon, though it appears worn. Passing by a pillar, we notice a buff duergar statue with striking sapphire eyes embedded within its body. Morph approaches the sapphire eyes, but I quickly advise him against taking them. “But what do I do with the scale then?” he asks, holding up a piece of dragon scale from the curtain. I take it with a smile, deciding to keep it for myself.

Continuing our exploration, the dark mage leads us to where he had seen gold near stone golems, close to the location where we found the snail. However, instead of gold, we find puzzle pieces and a portal. The portal itself holds a puzzle piece, reminiscent of one Farrryn attempted on a higher level, which summoned an adult white dragon when he tampered with it.

Intrigued, we follow the dark mage, sneaking past stone golems and noticing scattered stone piles around the room. True to his word, there’s indeed a portal with puzzle pieces. The dark mage moves to identify it, revealing that the portal is a puzzle itself, with one piece out of alignment. Removing that piece opens the portal, but removing the wrong one summons a beholder.

Farryn scouts ahead and finds a colored puzzle piece in another room to the north, among a heap of similar pieces. We gather the pieces and assemble them into a rectangle, following Morph’s suggestion to start with the angles, then the edges, and finally the interior. The puzzle comes together smoothly, forming the silhouette of a blue dragon with reins, accompanied by the silhouette of Halaster riding atop the dragon. With the image complete, we prepare to insert it into the rectangle, but I advise caution and suggest identifying it first. Finding no traps, we proceed.

As the last piece is inserted, a red rune forms above the image. Suddenly, a shadowy goblin appears behind me and robs me of all my money. I am totally furious, and sad. I needed that gold to one day befriend a dragon… Now, that quest begins all over again… 

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