Finally, at last, the drow advance camp. Four silk pavillions, twenty troglodyte slaves and some quite impressive guards. dangerous looking spiders in cages, some strange mutated beasts and scariest of all - Umber Hulks.
If you've never seen an umber hulk, all you need do is imagine the biggest person you know, replace all their fat with muscle, double their size (apart from the size of the head) then add giant goring tusks and claws that can carve their way through solid stone in a mere matter of moments. The Drow use them for tunneling, because they can burrow through stone almost as fast as a person can walk, and they're strong and relentless. Two of these beasts were chained up, attached to floating rods in the air far enough apart to keep them spreadeagled. There was little in the way of comfort, but they weren't going to escape.
Four pavillions suggested four Drow. Too much to deal with, especially as Argent's encounter with the fire suggested powerful mages, but the drow were away, and the camp lightly guarded. This would be the time to raid the camp, to see if we could find anything useful. The trick would be fighting off all those slaves at once, and quickly.
From our position we couldn't see too much more of what was going on, but Argent backed us away from the camp and showed us an item she had taken from the previous troglodites we had fought. It was a small metal collar, quite intricate in design, apparently all made out of one piece of metal, but interwoven to make a complicated pattern. I had noticed all the slaves had been wearing these during the fight, but had thought it an indication of status or the like. Argent explained that the device was a "slave collar" - designed to enforce obedience and loyalty amongst the slaves - A slave that acted against the wishes of the drow, or who disobeyed an order from the Drow would find the collar exploding rather violently.
The plan was simple, Argent was to simply place the collar on herself, having deactivated it's magical properties. With a prominent collar in place, she could easily walk into the camp and release one of the umber hulks from it's chains. The Umber Hulks, having necks too broad for the collar design, did not wear collars and were unlikely to have the interests of their captors in mind. The camp would fall into disarray and confusion, and with surprise and mayhem on our side, the fight would go smoothly.
The battle was short and brutal. The raging Umber Hulk drove our foes before us in terror and confusion, while Argent rained fire upon them. Terato fired a hail of arrows over my head while those who encountered Vincent just seemed to simply die in terror. I started to wonder if all of this was worth it, if the fighting and the killing was worth one little village on the surface, but these slaves were a people in torture, an existence they did not relish or want, and they could not be saved save through death. The tragedy was painful.
But was it worth it? The drow had left little behind in their pavillions save traps, and a few spare magical items that we removed. The Umber Hulks were released and sent after their former masters. Argent uncovered some transportation circle locations, one of which was marked "Dangerous Area. Do Not Enter." - that looked promising, a second entrance into their city. Marigold uncovered a hidden holy book, in one of the tents, scriptures of Veron, who Argent told me was an enemy of Lolth. Perhaps the Drow were not as unified as we thought.
We fled the scene before the masters returned, Anaris colapsed the tunnels behind us, cutting off any approach for a significant time.