74. A chat with the Kuo-Toa

Midday Bell, Ardu, 15th of Gurthweni

Cynan returns to Hagar and makes his offer of help.
“You are welcome to try Lord Harnanca, I can muster 50 warriors to go with you. Remember to keep some to guard the fortress if you take it. If you can’t, then we go back to the original plan and seal the tunnels with black powder. I’ll give you a week, if you don’t return by then, then I’m assuming you won’t be back at all. You can have whatever gear you think you’ll need. Thraim worked on the route down to the magic platforms so you might find your journey a tad easier. We hold the top of the tunnel by the great round lake with an island in the centre. The kuo-toa have tried to come up from the long lake below but we’ve killed any that get more than halfway up with heavy crossbows. How much time do you need to prepare?”

Cynan listens to all Hagar says and tells him they need 2 days to prepare then he returns and informs the group of all he has been told.
“I dislike the idea of facing the kuo-toa as we gave our word, if we take 50 dwarves down there we are asking for trouble. It shows a warlike intent and that is not what we need. I propose we go alone and maybe Gordon can talk to them perhaps some truce so we can rescue Thraim. If we do rescue him some humble pie is in order for him recompense for damages done and a treaty. However, it is your choice to make here so what do all you think?”

Kradorn shakes his head “Greedy stubborn dwarves. They should have blown the tunnel like they said they were going to. Next time we are going to light the fuse ourselves.” Kradorn grumbles.
“Volcanoes…ah. I have heard of such things. Mountain builders…although rather violent.” he comments after hearing of the refugees.
“If we go below. We should go as guests to an unknown land. Those fish things helped us and gave us safe passage. We should not treat their kindness with disrespect. If we go down we should announce ourselves. Carry a truce flag and negotiate for the return of the King. I don’t like the dark or those fish things. But we gave our word!” Listening to the others comments, and Cynan thoughts on their actions.

“My decision still stands. As I have said earlier, I will follow you whatever you decide to do.”

Gildor listens to the wise council the others gave and tells just the party quietly,”If we wish to negotiate perhaps a token may be taken to prove our good will and intentions to settle things peacefully. The fish people hold the fortress and control the devices possibly. Those should be disabled.”

“As much as I don’t like the underground and if we are to return there to save this foolish King. Then yes we need something of value… value to fish people. Which I know not what they would hold precious. This is beginning to sound like a multiple trip adventure into the darkness.” Kradorn replies
“Gordon did you get the idea or feeling what they might want? His weight in gold? Salt?”

Afternoon Bell, Ardu, 15th of Gurthweni

The afternoon passes into evening and the sky darkens to pitch, then just after Evening Bell, a soft grey ash begins to fall from the sky. By Mid-Evening Bell a good 3cm of the stuff covers the ground and roofs. It covers the sea too, reducing the swell and roll of the waves until they seem to be made of lead.

When disturbed the stuff is choking and the nose and mouth must be covered but slow, careful movement makes walking through it possible. The ash continues to fall into the night and when it finally stops 10cm of the stuff lies over everything like dark snow.

The skies lighten marginally but as it does the temperature drops.

Mid-Evening Bell, Ardu, 15th of Gurthweni

“Well, I don’t have much in the way of supplies, so before we go down underground I would like to supply myself with a few more items. Two days sounds more than enough.”

Kalam went out and about the town, in search of the items he had in mind.

But being past Mid-Evening Bell what few shops there are are closed for the night and Kalam returns frustrated.

“Saphiria my dear if you want to get a couple meals before we head below go ahead. This ash may not help you much or it may help you a lot. We have a day before we go into the tunnel or so”, comments Gildor. “Kalam I will cover any shortages you might have in getting your gear set up at least up to a point.” Gildor looks over at the others and continues. “I think I am all set to go but I can help any of you should you need it. What do fish people need, Food and water and a safe place to live. We have some intel on the orcs, Lizard men that were in the heat/furnace and Drow so we have some information they may find useful. Perhaps the dwarves and the fish people can work out an agreement to support each other and provide mutual aid if they chose to combine efforts on securing the Mindflayer lair. I am sure the Dwarven skills with underground dwellings might be useful.”

Talo nods and replies, “I say we head back down and negotiate the release of the king. Certainly, Gordon should lead that conversation.”
The dwarven cleric prepares by visiting the injured dwarves and the other refugees from across the sea, administering care as best he can.

“Y’know I don’t think the kuo-toa are gonna be in much of a mood fer a chat now that Thraim and his boys have already bin throwin their weight about. But we can try I guess. No idea what their emblem of truce and parley would be though. We can try the usual white flag I guess and see if that works. We can offer tribute but I have no idea what we can offer or what Thraim and his cronies would be prepared to stump up for.

Cynan can ye go back to Hagar and find out what they are prepared to offer by way of tribute, I’m guessing iron and steel goods would be a reasonable bargainin thing, maybe weapons to help fight against the drow.

Talo, can you go back to the temple, now that we are officially helpin out they might be a bit more talkative. We need t’know what bit lumps outta them warriors.” The gnome looks about the faces of his comrades, “An if talkin fails then we can hit em ard an fast wi all them 50 troops! Capture the standin stones at the end o’the long lake and secure that base before heading for the mindflayer fortress! Praps some big shields to cover our arrival would be useful, stood between each stone like, then push outside the ring to allow the next lot ‘o warriors in behind us.”

“Kalam you have 2 days to equip yourself, all your expenses will be sent to Hagar, I will so inform him. As will the rest of you it is time they realise there is always a price to pay. If we are agreed we head back in two days prepare yourselves as you so need”.

“Good on yea. Make that Hagar pay is a good idea,” Gildor chimes in. “Say since we have a couple days before we go perhaps the rest of us can clear some abandoned buildings/homes. I think there is a payment for doing so. If you’d rather just stay fresh for the trip down below we can skip the extra work?”

“I would have said that I have been paid for services rendered by Kradorn and others back at Harnanca, but in this case I am in agreement with you. It is only fair for us to pass the cost of this endeavour back to them.”

Morning Bell, Urladu, 15th of Gurthweni

Cynan returns to Hagar the next morning, informing him of their plan and the bills he is about to receive not taking no for an answer from the dwarf.

Hagar is quite prepared to pay for any equipment the party needs, within reason but they can also have access to the dwarves stores of weapons and armour if they need it.

Kalam trudges out through the ash and buys all three items (Shortsword, light crossbow, quiver with 10 bolts). In addition, he also buys the following: Backpack, Winter blanket, belt pouch (small), soap, towels (x2), shortsword scabbard, shortsword baldric, breeches (x2), Gloves, belt, tunic (x2).

Talo hears the talk of a crossbow and pipes up, “Kalam, I have a heavy crossbow and bolts to offer if you would like. Not sure if it is something you want or could use, but it is something I am willing to provide.”

Unfortunately the bolts are too bulky for the light crossbow mechanism.

The dwarf returns to the Great Temple and when he reveals he’s going down to try to save Thraim the dwarves are more forthcoming. They tell him that the bite wounds came from giant lizards they encountered in the farm cavern. They were ambushed by orcs in the forest and attacked by the lizards. The orcs were beaten off but several dwarves were lost.
Most casualties occurred in the Mind Flayer cavern while fighting the fish-men. Initially there were only a handful and they attacked the dwarves as soon as they saw them but were quickly defeated. Thraim began exploring and looting whatever he could carry but then he and several of his guard became trapped beyond the ring. A week passed and while food and could be passed through Thraim decided to explore the complex he found himself trapped in. Soon after that the fish-men attacked again in large numbers and only a handful of dwarves escaped. Two attempts were made to retake the Mind Flayers cavern but the first was beaten back at the walls and the second at the arrival disc. Since then, the fish-men have pushed the dwarves back to their current position on the shores of the round lake.

Kalam was ready with all his new equipment properly stored, fastened and otherwise secured. He waited for Cynan to give the signal to go.

Gildor tells the others, “Well, it looks like we may have a fight on our hands or if we can get the fish people to hold a truce we might be able to work a deal. I doubt the fish people want a two front war with the drow or possibly a three front war with the salamander people along with the dwarves. I say we take the 50 dwarves down. We need to consider how we feed/water such a large group though while we are down there as this may get drawn out. We could kill some crabs for food but at a risk to life and limb. Water from the lake can be purified I suppose. We’d need a defensible position and plenty of ammunition as well. I think for a peace offering we have the information to help the fish people and if they share the mindflayer dome they can probably defend the area against any threat. @ Saphiria – Be ready my dear we’ll be leaving soon.”

Kradorn wishes he had time to make it back to Harnanca to collect his pole-arm. But given the weather he decides not to risk his life or his steed. The thought of coughing up or breathing in the ash wasn’t appealing.
Covering his mouth and nose before setting out in search for any pole-arms or spears he might be able to collect before heading below. Paying a reasonable price for the weapons. Depending on his success he may need to search out help to carry the load below.

“Right then, if Hagar is picking up the tab let’s go see what the dwarves have got stashed away in their stores and what they’ll be able to knock up in the time we have left.” Hopefully they will be given free access to the stores so that they can see what is on offer, a quick Detect Magic will hopefully draw the group to anything which might be a little more interesting to take down.

Gordon will also continue on his idea for large shields to protect the transport parties as they teleport through the rings. He explains his idea to Cynan and the rest of the party, and to the chief armourer or quartermaster to see what can be done. It is obvious that the gnome is preparing for a fight rather than negotiation really. “I want 10 to 20 big shields, that we can stand in the gaps of the teleporting stones,” he sketches a rough diagram of what he means. “And then when we arrive, no doubt to a welcoming committee, those five move out and to the side and the man behind comes through with another shield to form a shield wall outside the standing stones,” he scribbles another little picture. “If necessary a third shield might be needed for each gap. But the idea is that the first lot through arrive and push out from the within the standing stones as quick as they can forming a shield wall around the stones and leaving the interior clear for the next lot of troops to come through behind them in a matter of seconds. I know it will require some drilling but I reckon we can get three lots o’troops through in a minute, ish. That should be enough to take on the fishmen on the other side and retake the Ithiliad chamber. Once taken and secured we can then go looking for Thraim! What say you all?”

“I like it Gordon. I think we need to be in a position of strength for a successful negotiation. Weakness is not a favourable trait underground and trying to start a negotiation without having first established a position of superior strength will be seen as such.”

Kalam tried to remember if he had observed any interactions between his former masters and the fish-men and any useful information he might offer the party with regard to dealings with them.

Mid-Morning Bell, Urladu, 15th of Gurthweni

Kradorn returns with a poleaxe, given by the dwarves from their stocks. It’s slightly shorter than normal but well balanced and st
urdy. As he returns to the Iron Crown a light snow begins to fall, quickly covering the ash. The air seems colder now than ever.
There are plenty of weapons and shields in the dwarves stores when the party go to look but none glow under the influence of Gordon’s Detect Magic spell. There is however a stack of black powder kegs, six in all and available to the party should they want them.

The dwarven force that will accompany the party consists of ten heavy crossbows, twenty light infantry and twenty heavy infantry. The crossbows and light infantry are in scalemail, the heavy infantry in plate.
The light infantry all carry shields and see no problem with Gordon’s plan to form a shield wall upon arrival.

Midday Bell, Urladu, 15th of Gurthweni

“Cynan, I just remembered some more information that will affect the approach you will take with regard to negotiating with the Kuo-Toa, if you are looking for a solution other than a confrontation. Kuo-Toa have a special hatred of humans, so I would suggest the humans among us refrain from leading the negotiation and from even offering any input, at the very least while there is a chance to be overheard. In addition, when trade was conducted with them the things they valued most were pearls and sea shells. I apologize for not bringing this up earlier, but my memory of time spent underground is still a fragmented thing.”

Talo spends his time trying to coordinate with that other dwarves in practising the shield wall for their incursion below. Once the rest of the party are ready, the cleric ensures his equipment is properly stowed and waits for the signal to head below.

An hour spent sketching the outlines of the landing platform and the standing stones in chalk in one of the warehouses and practising forming the shield wall soon sees the dwarves performing Gordon’s manoeuvre quickly.

“That is good to know Kalam perhaps there are pearls and shells here we can use I would truly prefer not to fight here if we can avoid it. However it seems that is the intent of all rather than negotiate.” Cynan prepares his equipment like everyone else else but with a heavy heart fearing that this is the wrong approach.

If Gildor is aware of the request for sea shells and pearls he says, “I’ll check the shops for the items and put them on Hagar’s tab and bring back what I can get in a bag. I’ll appraise them for quality to try and provide a good peace offering.

Kradorn cocks his head to the side as he overhears about the shells and pearls.
“Lets find some trinkets and pretties.” Kradorn says.
“Where is the best place to find these items.” Kradorn calls out. Making his way to the establishment. Hopefully negotiate a better deal given its to save the dwarven king.

Gildor and Kradorn struggle to find much in the dwarves stores or treasure vaults as dwarves don’t seem to value pearls much and have no interest in shells. He does find two small specimens in the bottom of a casket filled with various odds and ends, a pearl necklace and matching bracelet amounting to no more than 10 gold value.
One of the workers on the docks points them to the temple of Galenëartári, where they sell lucky charms for sailors and sea travellers.

Only one priest and a servant remain in the temple and are happy to sell whatever they have to Gildor and Kradorn. They have a collection of shells, small and large and a couple of nice pearls. The small shells cost 1 gold each the larger ones 5 gold and the pearls are valued at 50 gold each. The priest offers to sell the lot for 150 gold.

Gildor looks at Kradorn then tells the Priests, “Perhaps you don’t realize this is for your peoples sake we obtain these items. I’ll tell you what. Let’s call it an even 100 GP and put it on Hagar’s tab .” He argues till he’s blue in the face and checks to see if Kradorn want to argue a bit and if they won’t put it on Hagar’s bill, Gildor pays the 100 GP with one of his Amethysts.

Kradorn weighs into the mix of words. “We are the ones that saved this place. Led everyone away when the gates fell, through the darkness and beyond. We cleansed the lands of undead, orcs, goblins. The darkness trembles at the sound of our footfalls. Now you seek profit from us. If we fail to bring the Dwarven King back, those who control the tombs below will come forth and reclaim this city. Where will your god and profits be then.” pausing for a breath his knuckles whitening around his bow. As if the desire building within to knock the priest aside and take the trinkets.
“But if we are successful, your reward will be great. Your name and your god will be among the ones being praised for their effort and contribution to the greater cause of stability, life and growth. The path to make this port great again. To swell your flock and patrons.” Kradorn continues his attitude changing to light hearted and even smiling at the end as if in hope of the sun shining through the clouds…

The human priest reluctantly hands over the pearls and shells for the amethyst but isn’t willing to put them on Hagar’s tab.

Gildor turns to Kradorn and says, “Ready to go back with our haul and show the others?” Back with the others Gildor says, “He ye go. Pearls and shells. Not to bad for Kradorn and I. Saphiria we head down below tomorrow morn lass.”

Afternoon Bell, Urladu, 16th of Gurthweni

“Cynan, how much time have we got left until we need to go down? I was thinking of going to the shore and scour the area for more. It is a long shot, but sometimes you get lucky.”

“We leave on the morrow at first light you have until then.”

Gildor will check the meat shop and purchase a treat for Saphiria while they are gone. He has a lamb/sheep/ham wrapped that’s smoked or salted and cured that he can give her later adding it to Hagar’s tab. He picks up 2 large sack just in case there is loot to bring back up even though that’s not their mission you can never tell what might be in store for them. He places his gear so that it is as quiet as possible while he is in sneak and hide mode. He does some test to ensure it’s good. Using small cloth around his gear in is backpack or in his quiver or moss so they don’t rattle. After some successful runs testing how quiet he is he seems satisfied and hopes he did a good job. He checks in with Talo and gets a feel for how he and Saphiria fit into the group or where they will fit in the formation or how it will be used with everyone else that’s going. Gildor makes sure he has a good meal the night before and a good night rest after loving on Saphiria. “It’s going to be a little rougher starting tomorrow for a while my dear.”

Kalam went in search of more specimens for the kuo-toa, keeping the time-frame given in mind.

There are no access to the shore from Lands End, even at low tide the small harbour is under water and there’s no way down to the base of the island from above.

Kradorn moves to the stables, checking his horse one last time before they go below. Looking for the sun peaking through the clouds of ash. Hoping to catch a ray. The warmth before they go underground again. Then inside to fill his belly with a hot meal and good drink.

Morning Bell, Celebdu, 17th of Gurthweni

The party gather in the warehouse basement with the dwarven platoon. The air is cold and the 30cm of snow that has fallen during the night is still crisp in the early morning. Captain Munin introduces Daldin, Gomgol and Grunor sergeants of the Heavy Infantry, Light Infantry and heavy Crossbow squads respectively. All the troops carry rope, a weeks rations, lanterns and oil.

“If you’re ready gentlemen?” asks Munin before heading down the spiral ramp into the mines below Lands End. The journey is uneventful and the party pass several sections where ladders or ropes have been secured to make progress easier and the funnel leading into the tunnel where the party fought the carrion crawlers has been widened and steps cut into the rock.

They move down to the large circular lake and scrunch around the shingle beach to opposite side where a tunnel drops to the long lake below. Two dozen dwarves are stationed here with rocks piled across the opening leaving only a narrow gap to pass through and little cover beyond.

The sergeant on watch says things have been quiet with no sign of the fish-men in the last 12 hours. he suspects they’re down there somewhere however.

“Well this is a rescue journey. We know they are in there. Its best to just come out and try to talk with them. Before we force ourselves upon them. It will be so much easier with their help.” Kradorn comments to Cynan, looking at his polearm and thinking of the trinkets that they brought to hopefully
edge the outcome to their favour.

Gildor says,”Let me have a look.”
Gildor uses his spyglass and scans ahead through the opening. He relays what he sees to the others.
“Let’s move on through if it’s clear. We’re here to make contact anyway. Let’s just be careful about it.”

Cynan looks through the open space realising that the kuo-toa are probably watching them at the same time. The armed might behind him will give a false impression he knows this and also knows it is the wrong course of action. Saying a quick pray to Ringheru to guide his actions and his instincts he turns to his friends. “We are in the wrong to attack here in support of the dwarves they are the aggressors let us try to reason with the kuo-toa first wait here.”
Slowly climbing onto the barricade so as to be seen he steps into the open arms outstretched at his side his weapon sheathed moving slowly into the open he waits for a response.

As the paladin starts to climb the barricade Gordon grabs him and pulls him back behind cover, “Nay lad, ‘as thi not bein listenin? The fish’ed folk aint to keen on ‘umans and you’ll probably get yersen killed dead. Let’s see wot we can do t’start a chat wi’em.” With that Gordon will try to find a piece or rag of white (ish) cloth and tie it to the end of his wand, he gives his comrades a grim look and then heads for the narrow gap in the barricade.

“Cynan, Kradorn and Kalem you hang back a wee bit so we don’t get their backs up from the get go, Gildor make sure them ears o’yours are clear for ‘em to see an’all” Gordon slips the flag of truce through the gap first and starts to wave it gently from side to side before slowly emerging himself.

Kalam was about to do the same, but held back when one of the old party members intervened and reminded Cynan of the hate that Kuo-toa have for humans.

Gordon gets to the bottom of the tunnel with no sign of the fish-men but when he gets to the edge of the long lake he spies one of them moving in the water towards him. Cynan, Kradorn Talo and Kalam hide at the bottom the tunnel, ready to come to Gordon and Gildor’s assistance should they need it.

Talo is pointedly aware of his inability to bring any beneficial outcome to the negotiations follows Gordon. Helm under arm and axe sheathed as the closest expressions of passivity the dwarf can manage, the war-priest watches for any signs of harm toward the gnome. “I’ll help watch ye…”, the dwarf whispers. After a brief pause, Talo bashfully finishes, “Don’t worry, I won’t be sayin’ nuthin’. Hopefully, I won’t be doin’ nuthin’ either.”

“You have my thanks Talo, good to know I have friends covering my back.”

In the ancient gnomish language he conversed in last time they met the Kuo-Toa Gordon calls out, “Folk of the Long Lake I come under a flag of truce and none aggression, we seek to talk and arrange an end to the fighting here.” He waits for a response before advancing more than a few yards.

The Kuo-Toa stops and listens then vanishes under the water. Five minutes later four Kuo-Toa emerge from the long lake near Gordon. Gordon repeats his speech to the creatures and the largest replies a moment later.

“Gnome, it is these dwarves” he says nodding at Talo “that brought death to this realm. Many they have slain… but for each of us that returns to Mother Hydra, we have sent many of their pale spirits back to the green hell.”

“You talk of an end to the fighting? This is simply done. Leave and do not return. Any dwarves we find in our realm we will slay in the name of the great mother. Begone gnome. Return to your dusty halls.”

“Let us hope we can reason with the dwarves. There is a chance here to avoid more bloodshed. We get the Kuo-Toa to let us reach the king and get him back up and then the dwarves seal the tunnels, which is what they wanted to do anyway.” Kalam was whispering, not wanting to provoke the Kuo-Toa.

Gildor keeps his ears visible and assists Gordon as needed. He keeps alert and mentally considers his spell options and cover location if any are accessible. Gildor whispers “Gordon lets me know if I can help. I have the shells and pearls if we need them.”

Cynan watches and listens to all that happens, having trust in Gordon but praying to Ringheru all the same.

Trying to wait patiently Kradorn hopes that shells will be mentioned in negotiation for at least a safe… unhindered by them to search for the wayward King.

Gildor softly speaks up, “We would like to help you. We ask that we be allowed to retrieve the dwarves still here and escort them back to the top. We ask that you guarantee our safety while we get them and escort them back home. We have brought a gift so that you might allow this. We left in peace before and we will do so again if we can escort the dwarves back home.” Gildor looks to Gordon in case he wants to rephrase it in his translation and doesn’t show the bag until Gordon nods it’s ok or if it feels right to do so.

The leader listens to Gordon’s translation, turns to his companions and then faces Gordon again.

“We have no dwarves, we slew all we captured. You are welcome to take away their bodies.”

Gildor continues, “We will take the bodies with us then. There may be some yet still missing we would like to search for if they are not amongst the dead. Will you allow us to search for them if they lost down here? There are many strange transportation devices they might have used. We could assist you with some of the things down here so your people are safe too. An equal exchange of information could be developed.”

“There are no dwarves here, no living ones at least. We have searched the many chambers of the Illithids and found no dwarves. We will not allow you or the dwarves to wander around unescorted. Take your dead and leave.” Says the Kuo-Toa, his gills pulsing pink.

Kradorn rises slowly holding out the Poleaxe in a presentation manner in offering.
“We have treasure for permission for safe passage.” Kradorn says hoping they understand. “Who has the pearls and shells.?”

Gildor shows Kradorn the bag of shells and pearls, “I’ve got em Kradorn.” Gildor says to Gordon to translate “We have offering for peace as we gather the dead.”
Gildor relays to Cynan privately the situation and says quietly,”All the dwarfs are supposedly dead. We may want to send most of the dwarfs back up to minimize any issues gathering the dead. Up to you how we tell Talo and the other dwarfs.”

“Hush fellas,” Gordon addresses to his comrades.
Returning his attention to the now vexed Kuo-Toa, “My apologies envoy, I did not mean to doubt that you told the truth. But the greed of the dwarves has driven their King to overstep the mark and enter your realm unbidden having heard the tales of the slaves we rescued from the Ithiliad. They duped us into believing they were going to destroy the route to this land from the surface with their blasting powder. From what they tell us he has entered the heart of their complex and become trapped within the Ithiliad maze beyond their magic portal and was not able to return through it.” The gnome hopes that the fish man is calming and listening to what he has to say. “If we could have your leave to return to that realm and search for their King we will then be gone and I will personally make sure that the tunnels are destroyed. We bring tribute to your people by way of good will,” Gordon gestures for Gildor to produce the pearls and shells they have brought.
If the Kuo-Toa seems to warm to the proposition Gordon will try to negotiate that the party and a small number of dwarves be allowed, under escort if necessary, to return to the Ithiliad settlement to search for the King within the maze beyond the portal. He will also try to establish a boundary between the dwarves and the fish men during the time they are searching. The dwarves shall not come down beyond their current position, unless under a flag of truce to communicate, and the Kuo-Toa will in turn not attack them in that camp.

The Kuo-Toa leader takes the gift of shells and pearls without a word. He takes one spiral shell from out of the bag and examines it before giving the gnome a hideous grin full of inch long needle-like teeth.
He’ll take Kradorn’s poleaxe too if the human offers it. One of the other Kuo-Toa gurgles something in their horrible tongue as Kradorn approaches but the leader snarls something in return and smaller fish-man looks suitably chastened.

“I know of the portal you speak of, we have sent six warriors through it but none have returned. I will escort you and a small group to look for the dwarf king. As for the other dwarves, they may retrieve their dead but will come unarmed and must be escorted at all times. These are my terms.”

If the party and the dwarves agree to the terms, the Kuo-Toa leader will lead the party towards the transport disc while the dwarves disarm to follow on later. A truce will suit him well also.

Kalam whispered to Cynan as they were huddled in order to avoid enraging the kuo-toa.
“Cynan, I will suggest that you inform Gordon to give all the gifts we have brought, along with this warning: that if we leave without checking for survivors in places they don’t know about, if we leave without making sure that all are dead, then they will be in danger themselves. The dwarves will come down in force and exterminate the kuo-toa, every single one of them, young or old it will make no difference. Their race will be no more if the dwarves find out that there were survivors that died out of hunger because their representatives were not allowed to investigate as they intended to do. There will be no mercy. Give them the gifts I say and at the same time promise doom if they refuse to let us search for survivors. I would also avoid mentioning about the presence of the king, for this will strengthen their position and they may feel less inclined to negotiate. All the same though, if they already know, then our promise of doom for their race may carry more credibility…”

Kalam whispered to Cynan while both were huddled in order to appease the kuo-toa:

“They may have searched the Illithid places, but the dwarves we are looking for and their king will have used the magic circles. This means that they may still be alive. Eventually they will die out of hunger. If they don’t allow us to make sure and this happens after we are gone, then the whole dwarven army will come down to avenge the king and kill every one of them. It will be genocide and the dwarves will happily exterminate every single kuo-toa, young or old it won’t matter. Cynan, I will suggest you direct Gordon to give them all our offerings and communicate what i said just now. Gifts together with a promise of oblivion, this may catch their attention and make them decide on our favor.”

Turning to the party, “OK lads we’re on.”

“My thanks, I shall communicate your terms to the dwarven leaders and return with the response within the hour as the surface dwellers measure time. By the by, my given name is Gordon how should I address you?”

“You may call me Shoal Six Commander.” Says the Kuo-Toa disdainfully.

The gnome respectfully backs away, careful not to turn his back on the Kuo-Toa envoy as he is mindful this may show a lack of respect. Once a reasonable distance away the gnome breaths a massive sigh of relief at not getting his head stoved in, turns and returns to the dwarves with the conditions from the Kuo-Toa. If the dwarven leaders in the caverns doubt the Kuo-Toa’s word he makes it plain to them that they could have slaughtered him and his comrades where they stood this day without a problem but did not, they also allowed the party safe passage from the Ithiliad realm after their last venture. The gnome trusts the envoy’s word on these matters.

Captain Munin will send ten light infantry to collect the bodies of the dead, keeping the heavy infantry and heavy crossbows ready here, should there be any treachery at hand.

“Captain, if there is any treachery then I think you should march an army down here and destroy every last one of them, and my axe will swing next to yours.”

For the group heading in search of the King, Gordon suggests the party are accompanied by 10 of the light infantry, (OOC – red shirts) each with at least 2 weeks rations and as much water as they dare carry without encumbering themselves too much. The same advice would hold for the party as well for provisions.

Sergeant Gomgol organises 10 of his best men and doubles their rations and water. “How long d’ y’ expec’ t’ be doon thar?” He asks Gordon “The place canna’ be tha’ big?”

“Tis a strange place Sergeant, from the outside it looks like a domed building of reasonable size which you could search in a matter of hours, but inside the place is vast, and more! We explored down a passageway for more than a hundred yards and there were large chambers on both sides of us and the passage continued for the same again, though such distance should have been impossible looking from the outside. I fear the King is well and truly lost and it will take some searching to locate him and then find our way out again.”

Munin shakes his head “No Gordon, we know where Thraim went. He went through a steel ring in what looked like a workshop. We could see and hear him but he could not see us. Objects could pass through the ring but not return.”

Gordon spends a little time trying to blag some rations and water skins for himself having neglected to stock up before returning to the underworld.

Once stocked up he checks all are ready before they head back to the long lake and the (hopefully) waiting Kuo-Toa with the two groups. He signals everyone to stop whilst he goes to communicate with Shoal Six Commander, before he heads over he quietly casts Comprehend Language so that he might pick up anything said by the Commander and other K-T’s when they think he can’t understand them.

“Commander. The dwarves agree to your terms and have sent 10 of their number, unarmed, to collect their fallen. The rest of us are the Royal search party bound for the Ithiliad dome by your good grace.”

The Kuo-Toa nods at the first lot of unarmed dwarves but when he sees the ten dwarves the party intend to take with them he stops Gordon. “I will take no more than ten of you into the lair of the Illithid. Some of them must go back.”

Munin immediately steps forward “I will come with you.”

“An’ I!” says Gomgol.

“An I!” says another sergeant.

“And I too.” says the last sergeant with a smile.

“Good,” says Munin grimly “We have ten, that will do I think?” he asks Gordon.

“These are Daldin, Gomgol and Grunor, good fighters all.” he declares. The dwarf sergeants nod in turn to the gnome and Cynan.