After an uneasy night’s rest, the party continued on, heading ever deeper into the Underdark. Making their way around the black lake, careful not to disturb any more of its residents, the party came to a tunnel that split in two directions- holding true to their “right is right” strategy, it was an easy choice which one to follow.
The tunnel lead on for quite some time, before opening out into a chamber of sorts, containing two statues and a large bronze door. Seven and Elyos were amazed at this find, suggesting it could be the long lost city of Ardenstone, which had fallen many years ago. The city was somewhat of a legend on the surface world, said to have great technology seen nowhere else. Seven informed the party that a remnant of the race that had built the great city still lived in Laath Themar as slaves.
Wandering through the city, the party found several feats of craftsmanship, from the floating lights that still lit the empty city, to an ethereal star map and a workshop full of unique creations- though they spent most of their time in the city admiring the underground Conservatory, a grove which contained a number of unique animals and plants, much to the delight of Elyos and Adama.
However, not everything in the city was as pristine and calm as the grove. One wing of the city seemed to be enveloped in a vast spider web, where the lights that floated through much of the city had been shattered and extinguished. Making their way through the webbed tunnels, the party found themselves in a difficult battle with a number of large spiders, an ettercap, and finally a drider- a dark and twisted creation of Yamara’s, combining drow and spider into one being.
The battle was fierce, with many party members brought low, struggling to stay up during the vicious onslaught. After felling the spiders and the ettercap, only the drider remained. In a frenzy, it struck at the unconscious form of Elyos- and though he managed to hold on for a few more moments, in the heat of battle his allies were unable to save him. Musof tried in vain to bring some sign of life back to his friend, while the rest of the party finished off the drider, a well placed arrow from Wylem finally bringing it down.
The party were at a loss of what to do next. Their friend and travelling companion lay lifeless before them. Was it better to continue on, or divert the journey to attempt a resurrection? Through Seven they had a way to Caerlin and back without much time being lost, however those precious hours could be the difference between their mission succeeding or failing. Finally, they decided it would be best to lay Elyos to rest in the grove he had so enjoyed; finding a spot under a large tree, close to the stream, they lowered Elyos into the ground. During the burial, many of the creatures gathered around, thanks to the urging of Adama. Two large fey creatures, half wolf, half plant, emerged from the trees, coming to sit by the grave. They promised to watch over the resting place of Elyos Vakata, just as they had watched over the grove.
After some time, the party pressed onwards, determined to succeed in their goal so that the death of Elyos would not have been in vain. Exiting the city and entering the mines, the party discovered the remnants of a brutal battle. Ancient corpses, large and small, were strewn across the wide walkway connecting the various mining shafts. Remains of constructs and strange creatures could be seen amidst the wreckage- evidence of the fall of Ardenstone all those years ago.
Eventually the party came to a small, ramshackle cabin tucked away in the shadows. Standing at the door was a hooded figure, who Seven identified as her contact, Mystogan. The figure soon turned out to be an illusion, with the real Mystogan stepping out from behind the party. He had been shadowing them for a while, stating one can never be too careful. In order to lead the party safely into Laath Themar, they would have to pose as prisoners, trusting Mystogan not to lead them astray. Though tensions were high, they agreed- Seven and Mystogan disguised Wylem so that he would pass as a full drow, the party were tied in a slave line, and they headed off into the city, leaving Seven behind.
Taking them through back streets, Mystogan managed to avoid arousing any suspicions, despite the mounting anxiety gripping Wylem. Arriving at the safehouse, he released them from their bonds, and the party prepared to spend their first night inside the city of Laath Themar…