While the others were swinging picks in the light of Altons lantern, Aldo went back to check the door. He found the charred, ashen remains of Janiiras body. He looked around finding her boots, flaming rapier, and a blob of gold that had been the coins she had on her. Aldo took it all and went back to his comrades.
He gave the rapier to Theia, since it was too big for him to wield effectively. It was her turn to rest, so she gave it a quick test. She stopped suddenly and perked her ears up. Alton and Solvi stopped picking as a mechanical noise echoed down the hallway, followed by footfalls. Everyone grew tense, wondering what had come from the door this time. To their releif, it was the ever enigmatic Balvilli. He asked them what they were doing and informed them that a massive army had gathered on the other side of the stone. Aldo inquired about how Balvilli managed to get into the corridor. Balvilli had them follow him as he lead them down the corridor.
About halfway to the door he stopped, used his pack as a step stool and felt along the ceiling. He soon found a secret release and opened a passage on the ceiling, which he quickly climbed into. He motioned for someone to toss his pack up to him, then asked them to follow. One by one the party climbed up into a small crawl space and rushed to keep up with the quick moving dwarf.
They followed him for several minutes. The crawl space soon gave way to a tunnel network. Balvilli didn’t slow his pace for an instant. It was all Aldo could do to keep him in sight as he took corners suddenly. When Balvilli finally did stop, they found themselves at a well lit camp of some sort.
“Come out.” Balvilli said. A female gnome stepped out of what passed for a tent in the Underdark. She wore leather armor and carried two daggers, but played a high quality lute. The part of her appearance that made everyone in the party groan was her bright pink hair, held back in pig tails. She introduced herself as Pindlefoot, a minstral.
They discussed how she had survived down here for six months and how Balvilli could help them escape. Balvilli proposed an assault on the tower, since he couldn’t take it alone, in exchange for his assistance with opening the door. With everyone on board with the plan, all of them set off through the tunnels toward the tower.
At the final leg of the journey, an open approach to the tower, everyone who could hide did. Solvi alone proceded openly. As they approached a duergar at the top of the 80 foot tower called out to Solvi asking him to surrender. In response, Solvi threatened the total genoside of the duergar race for them “laying (their) dirty, filthy, grubby, discusting hands upon (him).” The cheif duergar sent a telepathic threat to the others who were hidden, but that only hardened their resolve.
Pindlefoot cast invisibility on Aldo. They waited a few seconds for him to get near the tower before they moved in. The four guards at the door fell quickly and they entered the tower. The circular tower was about twenty-five in diameter, and there was six more guards waiting for them inside. They posed little challenge to the party and after a quick fight, they moved up the ladder on the opposite wall from the door.
On the next floor, there was seven more guards, one of them was dressed like the clerics they had fought previously. The fight took awhile but little harm was done to the party. They looted bodies quickly and climbed the ladder up to the next floor. The ladders seemed to be staggered from one side of the room to the other. A process which repeated all the way up the tower.
As they climbed the tower they were faced with more and more enemies. Alton fell as they were clearing out the second floor. Pindlefoot cast a healing spell which stabilized him, but didn’t revive him. Solvi argued against using more spells on him, they left him and moved on.
The next two floors were so packed nobody could move. The other thing which made things difficult was the appearance of more clerics. They fought one on one until weaknesses appeared in the duergar ranks. Aldo quicklly exploited those weaknesses and caught many duergar off gaurd with his hammer. They eventually cleared the third and fourth floors.
On the fourth floor, one of the two clerics had used a wand of healing during the battle. Solvi grabbed it, using it to heal Aldo, Theia, and himself. The next floor was much the same as the previous two; fighting until Aldo could gain advantage. Clearing the fifth floor had taken a toll on Balvilli, he could barely stand and was having difficulty breathing. He stubbornly refused healing.
Attempting to climb up to the next level proved very difficult. A five foot walkway was all the room they would have as the tower reduced in diameter. Aldo bluffed a siege. They responded with incoming reinforcements. Balvilli set up a makeshift blockade on the other wall as Aldo climbed up the ladder.
Once the first enemy fell, Aldo made room for Solvi to climb up. The two of them fought their way around the tower, making room for Theia behind Aldo, firing arrow over his head, and Pindlefoot behind Solvi, playing an inspiring tune on her lute.
They soon enter the upper part of the tower, Solvi is hit with a psionic bolt as he opened the door. Three duergar stood before them in a fifteen foot diameter room, two of which were holding psionic energy in their hands. The battle was fierce and bloody. The one percieved to be the leader had just recieved a devastating blow from Theias flaming rapier when he shouted “MERCY!” He gave into their demands, handing over a large key and asked them to just leave Svittlehelm, apologizing repeatedly. Solvi fought the urge to kill him anyway, but decided against it.
When they tell Balvilli what happened, Balvillis face turned grim. “You fools!” he stated as he willed himself forward to accomplish his goal. The party, now with Pindlefoot in tow, made their way down the tower. Each floor was now flooded with duergar, which parted as they passed. Theia picked up Alton and they made their way out.
A sea of duergar awaited them, a single pathway flanked by dwarves lead them to the now open tunnel they had been in earlier. Aldo tinkered with the key and door. To everyones surprize, on the first attempt, Aldo had angered the door which sent what could only be discribed as three golems made of magma at the party. They ran for a bit. Solvi, being the slowest, was the first to turn to face them. The others turned to aid their comrade. The battle was over quickly as the spell which manifested the golems wore of. They take awhile to rest before trying their luck with the door again.
Alton woke up moaning in pain, which turned to screems of fright when he saw where he was. Theia calmed him down and explained what happened since he fell in the tower, as Aldo attempted to decipher the door. On his next attempt the door opened and they leave Svittlehelm, Aldo took the key as he left.
Just beyond the door, Theia spotted some tracks which were poorly covered. Solvi wanted to not follow them, everyone else wanted to. Reaching a compromise they rested in a nearby cave until they felt ready, then headed in the direction of the tracks.
After several periods of walking until they were tired then resting, they came upon a stone bridge. It was well lit along its length, even Alton could see better. Another period of travel had them stopped on the bridge. They set off again and reached a sixty foot long gap in the bridge. A voice called out from the otherside and asked what business they had. “Trade and rest,” replied Aldo. A metal latice bridge was used to allow them enterance.
“Welcome to Rido,” said the dero guard. “You’ll need to surrender your weapons before entering the city.”
They complied and were taken by lizard drawn cart into the dero city of Rido.