Following the party’s return from the Chamber of Eyes and the destruction of the Bloodreavers, they spent some time preparing more for their next steps. This included ordering a duplicate of the Tiefling dagger, speaking to Orontor, buying and studying rituals, and planning. In this time several members of the party had important dreams in which their respective patron god gave them important messages. Lia, Malagar, Arioch, and Reeyith each spoke of their dreams, though each also held a bit back for various reasons. All together it was clear that the gods were deeply concerned and had helped the party form. From Sehanine Lia learned that Lloth was using Vannyk (not his real name), a being far more powerful than they had believed, against the god Vecna. Selune confirmed to Reeyith that the Dark One of the Thalianth, cohort of Vecna, was a real threat and was responsible for corrupting Sidarlis. It was unclear whether this Dark One had escaped its prison or not. Malagar found out from the Raven Queen that the prophecy of “the one” and the Drow was real, and that he must protect “the one” with his life. She told Arioch that we must live to face Vannyk and that if we don’t stop him the universe would be destroyed. The party must find and protect a set of artifacts, including the Ice Scepter, from Vannyk and two of those artifacts are in the Labyrinth.
Once the fake tiefling dagger was ready the group went to the Drow named Gindar. He knew just where to look to discover it was a fake. Though it was easy to cast suspicion on Bairwin, he and Malagar had some unpleasant words. Eventually each discovered that they both were outcasts and both had turned away from Lloth. Gindar became an ally and provided the party, willing to give information in perpetuity for the 100gp and other reasons known only to him and Malagar. He also turned over the Drow stones once he received the real dagger, and offered 300gp for a nonmagical Skull Scepter he had once found in the Bone Chamber but which some Duergar had stolen from him.
After this the party decided to turn their attention to the Duergar and their slaving ways. The Duergar have a trading post in the 7 Pillar Hall, so Arioch and Reeyith attempted to infiltrate by presenting themselves as slave traders. The Duergar felt that they asked too many questions, never admitting their role in any slave trade. The rest of the group came up with a plan to try the slave trader ploy once more, using the fact that they’d killed Krand to their advantage. When the plan went nowhere, the group attacked the Duergar. One got away and one finally gave himself up (725XP, 70gp, 100sp, 8 gems each worth ~25gp, and a +2 orb). He provided a bit of information, including the name of their leader Markelmore and a bit about the path to the Horned Hold. A map of a substantial portion of the Labyrinth including a secret path to the Horned Hold was found in a desk.
The team decided to take the rest of the day off in the hopes that the Horned Hold wouldn’t still be on high alert the next day, and to get refreshed. Lia cast Comprehend Language in the hopes of overhearing some of the Deep speech used by the Duergar. With aid she did well enough to be able to speak the language. It took about an hour to get to the back entrance of the Horned Hold. Malagar scouted and saw a sturdy wooden portcullis with some guards behind it. The group crafted a plan to lure some out. She created a Silent Image of Kadhera, leader of the Duergar trading post, injured and dragging the body of Reeyith. Lia, hidden in the shadows, tried to imitate a hoarse version of Kadhera, demanding aid and assistance from the guards. This apparently did not work, as the lights dimmed and no one emerged from the building. A couple minutes later an arrow shot out.
The group waiting another minute but Malagar was getting impatient. He signaled to Lia and she activated her new Far Thought ability to speak to him telepathically. Malagar wanted to attack, seeing no other option. Lia turned her focus to each team member individually. Narata clearly wanted to attack and was barely holding himself still, while Reeyith and Arioch were against the assault. Lia tested the gate with her unseen servant, but with only 100 pounds of force the gate would not move. After another minute of discussion, Lia voted in favor of the assault since no other useful ideas had arisen. She timed the start of the attack and Narata and Berend charged the gate in an attempt to push it open. They failed in their first attempt and the enemies inside began using spears and crossbows on them.
Lia had everyone change their tactics with the initial failure to attacking the portcullis. Reeyith teleported inside and attacked, taking the enemies’ attention away from those outside, at least some of them. The assault continued until the door was almost broken and a couple of the enemies, now clearly orcs, had fallen thanks mostly to Malagar’s precise arrows. Once the gate was down the party was able to push in and continue to tear the enemies down until only three were left. The two orcs gave up but the Duergar scout fought til his death (1775XP, 196gp, 206sp, Skull Scepter; behind loose stone: 13p, 93sp, 4 small emeralds worth 10gp each). The team tied up the orcs for questioning, searching the building, and prepared to figure out how to hold it until they were ready to proceed.
Arioch looked to take another specimen, this time a nose, but as he cut it off it hopped out of his hand and started bouncing across the floor as he chased after it. He caught up and stomped it, picked it up, and it jumped onto his own nose. He looked over to see Lia grinning and snickering. Reeyith turned up an eyebrow, “a cantrip I see.”