One of the group, a plucky half-elf named Mye-kuhl Jancer, is busy dancing, despite the circumstances. A muscle-bound orc lets out a roar and shouts at Mye-kuhl to stop, "You hurt my head with all your tapping! If you don't stop, I'll wrap my hands around your neck and make you really start kicking!"
Mye-kuhl tells the orc, Krog, that he can't stop, "because the groove don't stop". The orc lets out another exasperated roar and punches the cave wall. Pleedleplop, a kuo-toa meditating on a nearby rock, says that they need not fight or worry, for the Sea Mother will see them through this in the end. Brublind the dwarf scoffs at this, pointing out that he doesn't see any sea around here. Pleedleplop motions to a tiny flow of water streaming down the cave wall without opening his eyes. "They are often small, but you need only open your mind to see Her gifts."
A bare-chested, moustachioed man with a cloak around his shoulders steps in between Mye-kuhl and Krog, cracking his knuckles and telling the orc to stand down. Krog stomps off to a corner of the slave pen and starts grumbling to himself. The man introduces himself to Mye-kuhl as Roland Leopold.
Roland is approached by a large, furry creature wearing fancy clothing, who slaps him on the back, "Good show, old boy, good show! Gave that orc a right scolding, hah, yes!" The creature introduces himself as "Lord Quagmiran Stumple, Esq.", an elven prince. Nylah Ventus, a blue-skinned tiefling with large antlers who's leaning against the wall lets out a laugh, and a gray-skinned gnome named Bingle calls out, "Who wants to bet that that quaggoth's just bonkers?"
Meanwhile, Brublind has gone over to a pacing myconid sprout, and suddenly hears a child-like voice as he steps into the cloud of spores around it, "I can't hear any of the others now. Oh, I must be really far away from home. You've gone and done it now, Sporp… stupid Sporp…" The dwarf introduces himself, causing the myconid to jump, not having expected anyone to talk to it. Mye-kuhl Jancer joins them, and tells Sporp that he shouldn't look so down, he's gotta "feel the good vibrations, baby!"
When Jancer starts dancing, the little myconid actually starts swaying along with him, pointing out that they never danced back home in the Grove. Jancer tells him that he's not in the Grove anymore, and Sporp nods and says that now he's "in the Groove". The necromancer laughs and tells him that if he keeps that up, he'll be a "real fun guy~!"
Nylah approaches the door of the slave pen, and calls out to the drow guard on duty, telling him that there are better things he could be doing while pressing her butt against the bars. He raises his hand crossbow and lazily tells her to back away before he gives her "a second tail". Mye-kuhl Jancer joins in on the seduction attempt, adding his own bony bottom to the line-up, actually getting the guard's attention this time. "Great, he swings the other way."
Before their efforts bear any fruit however, a drow with an acid-scarred face and a club-like hand missing several fingers enters, causing the prison guard to hop to attention. The scarred drow introduces himself as Jorlan Despana, and tells them that he will be assigning them their jobs today:
- Nylah, Quagmiran, and Bingle will prep dinner in the barracks.
- Roland, Pleedleplop, and Sporp will do laundry on the overlook.
- Brublind and Elspeth will be taken to Mistress Ilvara in the temple for questioning. Mye-kuhl Jancer is able to insinuate himself onto this group by offering to give the high priestess important intel of his own.
Nylah is able to get out of actual kitchen work by chatting up the three off-duty drow in the barracks, who are busy boasting of their various exploits. One of them claims to have soothed a whole tribe of hungry grimlocks with his musical talents, but when his bluff is called by his fellows, he chokes playing his spider-harp. Nylah claps for his performance though, getting a "I bet that compliment was a lie!" from Bingle. Nylah yells back, "Some food would be nice!" Bingle and Quagmiran glare at her from the kitchen.
Outside, Roland approaches Jorlan (who is personally overseeing this team), and tells the drow that he is a nobleman, "related to royalty", and that such menial labor is beneath him. Jorlan smiles and taps the mace-shaped badge on his lapel, pointing out that he himself is a scion of the noble House Despana, and knows how this game of "who's more important than whom" is played. The drow puts his good hand on the hilt of his sabre for emphasis, pointing out that he is the one with a weapon, and thus the one in control here. The monk notes that his entire body is a weapon and stares at Jorlan for a long while before choosing to back down and clean some spider-silk underwear. Meanwhile, Pleedleplop pours a bucket over his head and thanks his goddess for the feeling of flowing water against his skin once more.
In the temple, Brublind and Elspeth are strung up by their arms from the legs of a statue depicting a rearing giant spider. Shaela Vae, the junior priestess of Lolth at the outpost, tells Mye-kuhl Jancer to take a seat on one of the prayer mats arrayed around the statue before fetching the high priestess herself, Ilvara Eilservs. A drow male with disheveled clothing follows Ilvara out of her quarters, smiles at the bound dwarves, nods to Shaela with a "Dear cousin," and departs. Mye-kuhl Jancer thinks to himself that they must be "cousin-fucking".
Roland sees this disheveled warrior, who he learns is called Relonor, appear from out of the temple and approach Jorlan. Relonor taunts the acid-scarred overseer, pointing out how low he's fallen to be assigned to "cleaning duty". He tosses a bra in Jorlan's face, telling him to be sure to clean it, as it is "Ilvara's favorite, though I'm sure you already knew that." He laughs as he walks away and into the barracks.
Jorlan kicks a bucket off the cliff's edge out of frustration and orders Roland to go and fetch it from the spiderweb below. The monk does a backflip down onto the webbing, a feat that gets Sporp clapping in amazement and even catches Pleedleplop's eye. He grabs the bucket, but also spies some bones and a broken shortsword. He fumbles the blade however and drops it into the pool down below, where he is horrified to see it seemingly consumed by the water.
Pleedleplop (now sitting in a bucket and dunking laundry into the water between his legs) asks Roland where he learned such moves and is told about how the monk journeyed to to a monastery in the mountains in order to learn how to protect his wealth. Sporp asks some questions about what a "mountain" and a "sky" are, and doesn't believe Roland when he says that he comes from a place where there is no cave ceiling overhead. Pleedleplop tells Roland that he too is a monk of sorts—a monitor trained to protect the holy sites of his people.
Inside the barracks, Relonor approaches Nylah, fascinated to see that his men caught such a "captivating specimen". He asks what her other half is, and laughs when she says, "Human. Aren't all tieflings?" He mocks her ignorance and heads upstairs. The bard glares at the smarmy drow and gives a silent prayer to Beshaba to bring misfortune down upon him. A loud thunk, followed by a curse, are her answer.
A moment later however, Relonor returns, this time, fuming. He slams a detailed nude of Mistress Ilvara down on the table and demands to know which one of the three guards dared to draw such a thing. When none of them answer, he threatens to have all of them flogged when he brings it to the priestess. Nylah convinces him that he might offend Ilvara and lose her favor if he brought something so disrespectful to her. "You wouldn't want to displease your mistress… would you?" Relonor storms off to his quarters without another word. Nylah asks, "What's a girl got to do to get a drink around here?", and Bingle brings her a martini with toadstool garnish, saying, "I bet the two of us are gonna be good friends, lady."
Meanwhile, Ilvara puts Brublind and Elspeth to the question, letting her Tentacle Rod get dangerously close to Brublind's face. She releases dozens of spiders onto Elspeth's bare feet to try and make the tight-lipped scout more… compliant. Ilvara asks Brublind where his people are "keeping the Rod piece". The transmuter has no idea what she's talking about, but tells her that it is actually hidden "about twenty or thirty miles west of here" without missing a beat. The drow totally believes him and is actually taken aback at how freely he surrendered theinformation. She heads back to her quarters with Mye-kuhl Jancer in tow.
Shaela unties Brublind and Elspeth and says how much she hates Ilvara under her breath. The junior priestess forcibly heals the bites on Elspeth's feet, and then begins cleaning Brublind's beard. He asks her to stop, and Shaela notes that they want him to "look good for the slave-markets." "In that case, please continue." Elspeth gets nostalgic about her own beard, pointing out that she was "a right bonny lass" before the drow shaved it off. The scout notes that, while she's happy to have another dwarven face to look at, she isn't sure whether to bless Moradin for that fact or curse him, given the circumstances.
While Brublind, Roland, and the other slaves are taken back to the pen for the night, Mye-kuhl and Nylah speak with Ilvara in her quarters. Mye-kuhl convinces the priestess to loosen up a bit after a bottle of fungus wine, and the pair of them start dancing. He compliments the drow's dance moves, and she reveals that she attended thousands of banquets back in Urvae Ch'lloth, before she was sent to "babysit this miserable backwater". Nylah awkwardly joins in a moment later, and starts grinding on Ilvara. It doesn't take long for things to get a bit more… risque.
Just then, Relonor enters the chamber with a bouquet of colorful fungi, but drops it as soon as he sees the lewd spectacle in front if him. The two bards convince Ilvara to send Relonor away, and the dejected drow storms off once again, with Shaela chuckling at her cousin's misfortune. Mye-kuhl and Nylah call her inside, and soon, the junior priestess joins their drunken revelry.
Back in the slave pen, the others discuss the day's work. Both Brublind and Roland point out the major cracks in the armor that they observed. Brublind tells them that the drow probably won't be happy when they find out that he lied about this "Rod piece" they're looking for. Krog gives him a sarcastic "Great job" and starts to threaten him, but Roland steps in and tells Krog that they can kill each other later, but for right now, they have to work together.
The monk asks Bingle which of their drow masters he'd "run a con on", if he were to choose, and the gnome points out that Jorlan's "got some issues to work out for sure, and I don't just mean the messed-up face. Give him the right motivation, and I bet we could play him like a fiddle." He then pulls out a knife he pocketed from the kitchen and hands it to Roland, "I bet this'll help a bit too."
Back in the temple, everyone but Mye-kuhl Jancer has passed out. He hops out of bed and starts casing the joint. He finds a Wand of Wonder and two Potions of Healing, shoving one into the unconscious Nylah's mouth. She wakes up to the kiss of cold glass and the feeling of some mystery liquid running down her throat. The duo tear down the room's cobweb curtains and use them to roll Ilvara and Shaela up like burritos. They both cast 'Disguise Self', taking on the apperance of the two priestesses, and head over to the barracks, where Nylah saw a locked cabinet earlier that probably has their confiscated weapons and magic items inside it.
Mye-kuhl Jancer, disguised as Ilvara, calls for a surprise inspection as soon as they arrive, telling a thoroughly-dejected Relonor to join the line-up with the rank-and-file when he tries to take up a position beside the faux-priestess. Jorlan grins at this. Nylah, disguised as Shaela, heads downstairs to Relonor's quarters so that she can start her "inspection". She returns a moment later to get the drow commander to come and unlock a chest in his chamber for her, but as soon they get downstairs, he catches Nylah off-guard as he draws his dagger and slashes her belly.
Meanwhile, Brublind is able to discern the structural weakness of the pen doors by using his background as a mason. A drow appears and tells the prison guard to accompany him to the barracks for some sort of inspection, but the guard begins arguing, insisting that he can't leave. The slaves take this chance to make a break for it, combining their weight and knocking the door down. Roland rushes forward and lands a flurry of blows on the prison guard, while Brublind casts 'Enlarge' on Krog, who picks the guard up and smashes him into a bloody paste against the cavern wall. The transmuter is horrified at his handiwork and grabs Sporp, holding him tightly to his chest.
Mye-kuhl Jancer hears Nylah's scream from downstairs and sends Jorlan and two other guards down to see what is happening. Nylah tells them to grab Relonor for attacking a priestess of Lolth, while Relonor insists that this "Shaela" is an impostor. Jorlan smiles once again and wordlessly pulls out his hand crossbow, firing a bolt straight into Relonor's chest. His men drag the warrior back upstairs and toss him before "Ilvara". The acid-scarred drow begins to laugh.
"It seems your 'favor' was misplaced, Ilvara—this fool—your fool—has spilled the blood of one of Lolth's chosen. When the priestesses of the Fane hear about this, you'll be finished. You've embarassed your kind for the last time."
"The only embarassment around here… has been you." Mye-kuhl Jancer casts 'Fog Cloud', but is struck by a poisoned crossbow bolt. Nylah quickly casts 'Invisibility' on herself as the whole outpost erupts into chaos.
Back outside, the escaped slaves continue to push forward. Quaggoth warriors close to stop them, while another drow fires crossbow bolts in their direction. Roland grabs one of the bolts, spins, and tosses it back in the drow's direction, but accidentally hits Pleedleplop instead, allowing one of the quaggoth to start pounding on the fishman. Elspeth grabs a broken piece of the cage and stabs one of the beasts in the side while Quagmiran challenges it to some old-fashioned fisticuffs. Brublind casts 'Goodberry' and lets Sporp try one. The myconid admits that it really is a "good berry". Bingle grabs one, saying, "I bet it isn't that good," but is pleasantly surprised.
Mye-kuhl Jancer casts 'Mirror Image' and sends them running out of the fog in different directions while he runs up the stairs, ordering a confused-looking guard to "protect your priestess!" Nylah follows Relonor's trail of blood to where the commander has crawled and propped himself up against a cabinet in the kitchen. She grabs his dagger, drops her invisibility, and slits the drow's throat. The tiefling grabs his keyring and an amber-tipped wand from his corpse before joining Jancer.
Outside, Roland comes to Pleedleplop's aid, and the two monks are able to defeat the quaggoth. The giant Krog tries to stomp on the fleeing drow, but he evades the orc. Elspeth stabs him in the leg though and spits on the bastard for good measure. Brublind hands Pleedleplop a healing berry, and the kuo-toa thanks him profusely. The front door of the barracks suddenly bursts open and a drow guard drops dead from out of it, several crossbow bolts in his back. Roland wonders what the hell is going on.
Nylah unlocks the cabinet upstairs and Jancer tosses all the gear within out the window to their fellows (after scolding his tiefling compatriot for trying to take some as "a gratuity"). The bard jumps out himself a moment later and lands stylishly beside Brublind. Nylah hears footsteps coming up towards her and decides to join him. Elspeth is very happy to have her family's ancestral warhammer and shield back, Pleedleplop puts his ceremonial chitin necklace on, and Bingle pockets a statuette of a black hand wreathed in blue flames after giving it a kiss.
Roland enters the barracks to find several dead drow and quaggoth lying around. Bingle immediately gets to looting, but the monk spots more guards coming over the web-bridge towards the far entrance and runs to meet them at the door. Pleedleplop joins him as they double-team the attackers. One of the quaggoths hit Roland and he hits it back—the two share a moment of mutual respect.
Krog shouts "KROG'S COMIN' FOR YA'!" as he leaps across the gap towards the web-bridge, trying to flank the enemy. The web snaps as he lands, but the quaggoth step inside and the drow grab onto the side of the stalactite-structure just in time. The giant orc falls to the darkened cavern floor a hundred feet below all alone. Brublind listens for a splat, but can't hear over the battle and the waterfall.
The transmuter uses 'Thaumaturgy' to create a harmless tremor to try and shake the drow off, but fails. Sporp asks if those were the "good vibrations" that Mye-kuhl Jancer told him about. "That's right, baby~!"
While everyone else is busy fighting, Nylah decides to sneak back into Ilvara's quarters and grab some of the high priestess's things for herself. Shaela is still unconscious, though it looks like she threw up over the side of the bed at some point ("Poor dear…"), but Ilvara is awake and struggling against her bonds. Nylah makes a beeline for the drow's Tentacle Rod, but finds it hanging limp and flaccid from the shaft. She realizes that it only awakens when held by the one it is attuned to. She lashes the priestess on the rear with the noodle-like appendages, and is met with a kick to the jaw in response. Nylah knocks Ilvara over the head with the butt of the Tentacle Rod instead, knocking her out again.
The bard unlocks Ilvara's chest and takes her other possessions, including a "piwafwi" ("A what?" "You know, a piwafwi."), before waking up Shaela and untying her. Nylah tells the junior priestess what's happened. Shaela doesn't trust the tiefling, "we had our fun, but don't think I've forgotten that you're a slave as well", but Nylah reassures her that she hasn't killed any drow… "except your cousin, I killed him. Happy birthday." Shaela is amazed that Nylah knew it was her birthday and says that Relonor had it coming anyway. Nylah is surprised at her reaction, but Shaela reveals that that kind of thing is pretty normal in drow society. They hop on a giant spider mount in the temple downstairs and ride it outside.
Roland kicks the quaggoth he's fighting out of the door, and it gives him one last growl of respect as it falls to join Krog. Two drow guards, holding themselves on the outside of the structure and shooting through the windows with their hand crossbows, fire a volley inside and hit Roland. Brublind uses 'Heat Metal' on one of them, causing the flesh under his chainmail to sizzle like bacon. The drow is able to hold on however and climbs inside. Pleedleplop takes a crustacean shell off of his necklace and tosses it into the other drow's face, summoning a lobster there. The drow tries to get if off and falls to his death in the struggle.
Behind them, Elspeth and Quagmiran rush inside the barracks and hold the door fast behind them as a pair of giant spiders that crawled up from the web down below attempt to get inside. Meanwhile, Jorlan and his two men come back downstairs after not finding "Ilvara" and Mye-kuhl Jancer (no longer disguised) hits them with 'Color Spray', blinding all three. The drow mage is able to send four 'Magic Missiles' careening into the half-elf however, instantly knocking him unconscious.
The second quaggoth tries to hit Roland, but he grabs its fist. He tries to punch it in kind, but this time it grabs HIS fist. Rather than let this kung-fu spectacle go on, the drow mage casts 'Sleep' on the escaped slaves. Roland and Pleedleplop fall asleep. Brublind gives his companion a wimpy slap to try and rouse him, but the dreaming monk just feels a gentle breeze against his cheek… then he feels a weight like a boulder as the now-sleeping quaggoth's immense body falls on top of him, taking him to the brink of death.
Nylah and Shaela ride the giant spider to the top floor of the barracks and hop off. They run downstairs to find the place in shambles. Jorlan turns to face the newly-arrived duo and smiles.