Making their way through the steaming jungle for several more days, the group continued searching for any sign of the lost giant city. Stopping to get their bearings, Anton slipped in the muck and slid down a hidden slope, followed by Arsen who tried to save him and Baph who was caught in the tangle of feet as they went down. Tierel and Ral slid gracefully down the slimy embankment behind them, and helped everyone to their feet again. Looking up to get her bearings, Tierel almost gasped as she finally beheld the lost city of Pra’Xirek, revealed in the caldera before them.
Discovering they had fallen onto an ancient aqueduct, they began following the above-ground trail towards the city as the sun set in the distance. Approaching closer, they were suddenly ambushed by Drow from all sides, and Arsen and Anton went down almost immediately, overcome by the poisoned weapons the dark elves threw. With the two front-line fighters dropped, the rest of the party was quickly subdued, and unconsciousness took them.
They then did something they did not expect to do – they woke up. They were in an underground cavern, tied hand and foot on the ground, and surrounded by a dozen Drow. In the middle of the room was a female Drow, obviously the leader, reclining on a large palanquin borne on the backs of a half-dozen male slaves. As the leader stepped off her transport, she examined the group as though she were examining cattle, and then waved her hand casually. Waves of agony overcame the group and they writhed on the ground in terrible burning pain. Finally, the Drow Matron relented and the pain vanished.
Satisfied that she had their attention, she addressed Tierel, informing her that she and her male slaves were now her slaves, and they would do her bidding or suffer endless agony, thanks to the Blood of Vulkoor that now flowed in their veins. Tierel quickly agreed, and Matron Ghyrra informed them that they were to enter the city and find a way to undermine the giants who occupied the city under the mistaken impression that they owned it, and not the Drow who obviously had more right to it than they. The Matron informed them that their possessions would be returned to them, and they would leave immediately.
At the gates of the Drow encampment, the group examined their gear and found it all present, with one exception – the Dream Stone was missing. Asking the guards about it got only a blank stare and an uttered threat. Clearly it was not going to be returned. Before leaving the Matron informed them that there was a series of tunnels beneath the city that was the safest way to travel. The ancient giants forbade their slaves from walking freely in the streets unescorted, but to save them from having to follow their slaves everywhere, the giants created underground passages that allowed them to move around the city and do their master’s bidding. In the centuries since the city’s collapse, the Drow had created and marked several hidden entrances into and out of the tunnels, and the group quickly learned to identify the markings.
Moving through the underground tunnels, they were ambushed by lurking monsters, swimming in a knee-deep trash pile. A quick battle later and they were none the worse for wear, although they moved through the tunnels much more cautiously now. As they passed into the city, they stuck their heads up every now and then, trying to get a feel for where they were in the gigantic ruin. The city’s architecture towered over them everywhere they looked, even the shattered ruins of long abandoned buildings seeming powerful and impressive. Towards the middle of the city, they saw a floating castle or keep, hanging hundreds of feet in the air apparently still suspended by the magic of the ancient empire thousands of years earlier.
On one occasion, Tierel spotted a giant encampment near their sewer exit, but with no giants present in it. As she approached, she spotted some snake-like humanoids also searching the giant camp – yuan-ti. Coming up carefully, she gave a quick search to the camp and found little of value, even to giants. In the middle of the clearing, there was a large stone with a blue lightning bolt emblazoned on it, apparently a focus of worship for the primitive giants. As she returned to the underground entrance, a lone giant spotted her and Arsen lept from the underground to distract it, nimbly dodging around it’s powerful but clumsy strikes as Tierel quickly dove back into the safety of the tunnels. Although he was easily misleading the giant, Arsen sensed that it’s swings were coming closer, and ended the battle by jumping between it’s legs and into the sewer himself. The confused giant, losing track of his slippery prey, lumbered back towards the camp leaving them in safety.
Back underground, Ral was disturbed to hear about the presence of yuan-ti in the city, and the rest of the group discussed the possible value of recruiting the giants to help them free themselves from the Drow Matron, when suddenly another terrible shot of agony coursed across their bodies and an illusion of the Matron appeared in the tunnels. Berating them for daring to conspire against her, she demanded that they bring her proof of their loyalty – she described a temple in the western section of the city, and a black and gold dagger that lay hidden within. She gave them twelve hours to bring the dagger to her, or face even worse punishment. With another jolt of pain, the illusions vanished, and Arsen started planning their route towards the dark temple.