Llathriel’s story burned in Tyranny’s memory: Described as purportedly dwelling deep beneath the surface world, in strange subterranean realms. They are said to be evil, “as dark as faeries are bright”, poor fighters but strong magic-users.
Tyranny scoffed, this Eloran must be well trained to handle a rapier and a crossbow the way he does when most of his race is feeble…. not that it takes great skill to point and shoot a crossbow, but the mark he had gained from Eloran’s rapier would not soon heal. Tyranny ran his index finger along the mark on his neck.
Llathriel starts her story in her youth, adventuring with a party of “Highborn” they investigate a strange alliance of giants that have been causing problems for the north forests. It’s not hard to follow the path of destruction from the North forest back to the giant’s base. In the giant king’s council room, they find a scroll which promises “powerful help from the Drow”, signed by an Eclavdra. Pocketing the evidence they continue exploring and find a hidden chamber, traveling down this chamber they encounter Drow priests in the lower level of the king’s hall.
Negotiations went south very quickly as the Drow begin opening fire and channeling a dark essence of shadow on her party, Llathriel smiled as the essence of shadow neared her. With a wave of her hand and an inaudible incantation the darkness shot back at twice the speed towards the shocked Drow priests. With most of them being consumed by the blast the remaining turned and retreated into the catacombs below the fortress.
Tyranny remembered the dark magic Llathriel forbid in their hidden city and how the Drow had openly practiced it in their own.
Having discovered that the Drow instigated the alliance between the races of giants and its warfare against them the “Highborn” followed the fleeing Drow into the tunnels leading northwest and deep into the earth, to eliminate the threat they pose.
The party continues to pursue the Drow in the shrine of the Kuo-Toa, meeting the Kuo-Toa and the deep gnomes (also known as the Svirfneblin). The Svirfneblin not being able to tell one elf from another ignore Llathriel’s party, probably because of their numbers, and let them pass freely mistaking them for other Drow.
As the party travels, signs of the Drow are noted all around; the Drow clearly freely pass through these subterranean areas, even though they are hated and feared by the other local intelligent races. The Drow and Kuo-toa trade with each other openly, but the Kuo-toa appear to hate the Drow as every few hours of travel they came across skirmishes between the two peoples.
The adventurers follow one of two subterranean passages leading out from the Kuo-toan temple to come upon the Vault of the Drow, a hemispherical cyst in the crust of the earth, an incredibly huge domed fault over 6 miles long and nearly as broad. The party eventually makes it to Erelhei-Cinlu, the vast subterranean city of the Drow.
Llathriel had heard of this fabled city from her keeper and now amazed at the sight to be seen. The “base” of the Drow did exist, and was much larger and menacing than the “stories” had told.
Despite the open hatred most races have for the Drow their city had no guard towers, defensive magical auras, enchantments, or moats. The party easily walked into the city where it is blatantly obvious slavery is heavily practiced here, many people wear collars made of steel and are chained to other slaves.
The “Highborn” continue exploring the city for a few hours, stopping only briefly to eat and drink. They discover even in the lowly status of dwellings that dark magic is practiced and abused for selfish reasons.
Further exploration of the city reveals that sacrificing animals and young children, of the other races that have been captured, to Lolth are very common and eating the remains is a standard practice, in some cases cannibalism.
At this point in the story Tyranny winces in disgust.
While the party is exploring the new enemy responsible for the alliance against them a civil war explodes. The House of Eilservs, one of the nobles, led by Eclavdra, turned from worship of Lolth to the Elder Elemental God when the city’s other noble houses allied against them after proclaiming that their mistress should be the Queen of all Drow.
Llathriel stopped her tale to explain that Lolth was no myth and was a very known presence of a deity with in the Drow, she had been seen before by one of the “Highborn” and had even lived to tell the tale after a quick sparse with her.
The House of Eilservs attempted to establish a power base through a puppet kingdom in the surface world dedicated to the worship of their new deity, which was seen as blasphemy, they were called heretics for their actions. If the Eilservs established a permanent kingdom on the surface their demands of supreme power in the Vault can no longer be denied, but this scheme was recently ruined when the other houses turned against them for their crimes.
Near the center of the capital city of the Drow the “Highborn” can see a temple with black flames. In the open temple an Astral gate can be seen. After about ten minutes of studying the gate with Arcana knowledge deciphers to lead to the Abyssal realm of Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders, goddess of the Drow elves, and instructions for the Drow are found in the temple. It seems the architect of the sinister plot to wage an unprovoked war against the elves was started by none other than Lolth herself.
The “Highborn” and Llathriel prepare themselves for what is sure to be an exceptionally difficult encounter with the “Demon Queen of Spiders”. One that would be the end of Llathriel’s adventuring party, where only Llathriel and Tyrnemitore would survive.