Last last week on the Saturday game...
Hot on the trail of the Hooded Man, the party finally reaches the entrance of an ominously large cavern within New Forest. It's been a week, but this is the closest they've been to catching the Hooded Man ever since they started tracking him down. With a spring in their step, the party gave chase...
Right into a loose rock floor. As the shifting rocks triggered a small avalanche, the party could do little more than just hold on for dear life as the world skidded and spun around them. It was only after sliding for what seemed like hours - moving past layers of rock strata that changed from orange to dark blue to black - that they finally stopped with a violent jolt.
The scene before them was as alien as it was foreboding. Although they did not know it at the time, they had tumbled into the drow city of Szorafein, the City of Executioners and one of the four major cities of the Underdark. Ruled by three great drow Houses - the Wind that Howls Below, the Whispered Last Word, and the Twisting Road - Szorafein is currently in the midst of preparing for the Winter Festival and failed to notice four dirty, muddied travellers from the surface world. Stealing cloaks from a nearby cloak room, the party managed to get themselves cleaned up and, led by the elven Xian, set about picking up the trail of the Hooded Man once more.
Following the trail led them to the Prison, whereupon the rest of the party pretended to be the slaves of Xian. Inside, they encountered a fellow prisoner, a duergar by the name of Jit, who told them why yes, he did know the Hooded Man that they are hunting, and that he belongs to the House of the Wind that Howls Below. What he was doing on the surface is a mystery, but Jit suspects that whatever he was up to, it was surely in service of some greater scheme for the House.
Their conversation at this point was rudely interrupted by the guards, who had just realised that the party were not who they claimed to be. With Jit in tow, they managed to fight their way out of the prison and disappear into the city proper. Their path was now clear: if the Hooded Man was working for the House of the Wind that Howls Below, then that was where they were going.
Sneaking into the House's meeting hall, they discovered that Jit's claims were true. The Matriarch was planning a massive raid to capture slaves from the surface and bring them down here, to Szorafein, to sacrifice en masse to Lloth during the Winter Festival. The Hooded Man had gone ahead to not only pave the way for the raid, but to also sow paranoia, death and destruction amongst the surface dwellers, that they may be completely wrong-footed when the raid happened.
When the meeting dispersed, the Matriarch and the Hooded Man had slipped away into a side chamber to continue a private discussion; and the party, of course, decided to follow them. This proved to be a mistake, for although they had the Hooded Man trapped, he was only more dangerous when forced into a corner.
Summoning forth a hound and a rapier from his living shadow, the man let his familiar engage the party while he faded into the darkness around the room. Xian tried to distance herself from the shadow hound, but in doing so, she inevitably ran right smack into the Hooded Man... and into his enchanted pact-blade rapier, instantly knocking her unconscious. With his blade pointed right at her heart, the Hooded Man shouted at the party to get their attention and gestured menacingly at the fallen sorcerer. "Surrender now," he said, "or I will kill your friend right where she lays."
"We'll never surrender," Zaki said.
The Hooded Man stabbed the sorcerer through the heart.
With a scream like glass grating on steel, the rapier gathered together the shattered soul of the sorcerer and pulled it within itself, capturing it and storing it within its grey adamantine heart. The party continued fighting with renewed vigour, but just before they could take him down, the warlock - beneath a cloud of magical darkness - managed to flee and summon reinforcements from beyond the room.
As the Matriarch's guards swarmed the room and restrained the party members, the last thing they see is the dead sorcerer's corpse being dragged out of the room before someone hits them on the back of their heads and the world goes black.