In strode a figure draped in a black cloak. He proceeded to the center of the room and threw back his hood, revealing the grey head of Sildar. Sildar knelt to the floor, sword in hand and said “…the Black Spider has many hands.”
Nezznar says, in disbelief: “…Vyerith?”
Sildar, or whatever, says, “Master, I have killed the dwarf and the human warrior and hurried down here to aid you. There is now no one left who knows of our plans but these fools. Let us finish them, together.”
Nezznar releases the glass globe, allowing it to float next to him as a mage hand continues to keep it ringing. He beckons the the faux-Sildar to him, and says, “Vyerith my dear, why don’t you shed that ugly old man guise and take that lovely drow form I love so much?”
As Sildar strides toward Black Spider, Hank watches him closely. Ever since they rescued Sildar from the goblin cave, he’s been trying to hide the fact that he’s suffering from a cracked rib, but Hank’s seen him wince and favor his right side as we walks and hefts his shield. Hank sees that this Sildar before him is moving with the same difficulty.
[Hank has seen a lot of cracked ribs that he may have also caused]
“Master,” Sildar says, “I wanted to keep this face until the end.” Ander, still trapped in the sphere, shoots a to-the-point “WHAT THE HELL, SILDAR” message spell at the maybe-Sildar, who continues: “I want to see the looks on their faces as their dead friend slaughters them.” His gaze falls upon the halfing bard trapped in the bubble, and he gives them a sly wink.
Several things happen at once: Ander is safe in their bubble, and Mistria has no idea that this is Sildar playing a ruse, so having spotted the Black Spider when he began conversing with Sildar, has lit and hurled the dynamite at the three of them. Sildar, having not noticed the dwarf lighting and hurling dynamite at them, swings out with his sword and bats the tiny glass globe out of the air, breaking the resilient sphere spell just in time for the lit dynamite to land at Ander’s feet. Black Spider, having definitely realized that he has been deceived, plunges his staff at Sildar, narrowly missing a fatal hit on the old warrior.
Ander hightails it, while Hank leaps into the blast radius. As the dynamite detonates, he pulls Sildar over his shoulder and propels them both away from the blast, leaving the drow to take the full force of the explosion. The pillar is shattered and Nezznar is thrown against the wall. He feebly attempts to crawl up the wall but gets tagged with bolts and beams and axes and slings and every manner of ranged weaponry (and insults) from the party. Tipsy delivers the final “blow” however, by casting Tasha’s Hideous Laughter. The Black Spider slips from the wall and hits the stone floor, hard, wheezes once or twice, and falls unconscious.
Their master defeated, the remaining giant spiders scuttle away out the door to the chamber, leaving the party with a battered, knocked out drow.
The party berates Sildar a little for being so reckless, but in his defense, he and Gundren and Tipsy all got pretty hammered at that dwarf funeral and it really did seem like a good idea to him at the time. Sildar followed the carnage the party left behind until he was chased down the tunnel by some angry gnome armors. He slid down the rails on his shield, lost his crossbow in the chasm, and followed the party here.
They are worried, since both Taranion and Ander’s ring find it suspicious that a male drow would be working alone like this. Taranion especially is nervous that there may be more drow waiting in the wings somewhere.
For once, Hank hatches a plan. The other party members will pretend to be tied up, and Hank will pretend to be Vyerith, having actually come to the rescue and somehow subdued the entire party herself. No one is sure how this will work but figure it can’t hurt to try, and honestly everyone is pretty proud of Hank for getting over his fear of doppelgangers. They pretend to be tied up while Hank rouses Nezznar.
Hank: “Nezznar my love, it is I, Vyerith!” (passable deception check)
Nezznar: “H-how can I trust that it is you?”
Hank: “I’ll prove it to you!” open mouth kisses the drow (failed deception check)
Nezznar: “O-okay. Vyerith! I am…extremely injured. Please untie me so we can escape!”
Hank: “But what about the others?”
Nezznar: “What are you talking about? There’s no one left but us.”
Hank: Oh okay, then I kill him.
But Nezznar’s life is prolonged a bit longer when Ander wants to ask him something too. Nezznar gets really pissy, since he had been preparing a big monologue for the party expecting them to arrive and they just started blasting him and wouldn’t listen. Tipsy gives up on pretending to be tied up and slaps him with a mage hand, but he is undeterred. He has had no one to talk to but bugbears and crazy fishmen for weeks, and goddammit he is going to monologue now:
He had been a simple archivist in Menzoberranzan, researching magical items and artifacts. He grew fed up with how arbitrarily these artifacts were found and lost, until he found the history of Phandelver and its magic item factory. Having sensed the stabilization of magic in the realms after a century of spellplague, he made his move; he strangled the madame archivist in her sleep, stole her spider staff and a few other items, and fled to the surface with his notes on Phandelver. He bribed the Cragmaws to patrol the woods and roads for Gundren and any other interlopers, and hired Glasstaff to research the forge and keep Phandalin busy with his Redbrands. Nezznar was going to follow the Rockseekers to the mine, apprehend them and then seal off the mine from the surface again. He would then use the kuo toa to ferry slaves and supplies back and forth through the booming cavern, a treacherous waterway that connects to a small body of water in the underdark. As the mine became operational once more, he would control the flow of magical weapons and items to the underdark and beyond, as the realms’ wealthiest weapons dealer. But SOME PEOPLE hate ECONOMIC GROWTH, APPARENTLY.
So next they ask him about what the deal is with Taranion’s hand, which brings him great glee. Taranion shares his secret with the party: years ago, he was looking through ancient tomes and touched a book that burned his hand quite badly. He has spent years trying to magically treat the scar, but it remains, and he wears a mithril lined glove both to conceal the damage and protect him from other dangerous artifacts. Nezznar delightfully informs him that he is not merely burned, but cursed, by one of the deadly black tomes. He won’t say how he’s so sure, only that a member of the “Brotherhood of the Black Tome” recognizes the work of a tome. He asks if Taranion would happen to remember what he did with the book once he recovered, but the cleric won’t disclose its location. The party demands that Nezznar tell them how to remove the curse, but he states that no one can do anything without the secrets held in the tome that cursed Taranion.
With that, Danquayle decides that this drow is of no further use to them, and uses Lightbringer to turn the lights out for the Black Spider, for good.
From there, things move swiftly: Nezznar has little on his person but the spider staff and an iron key, the latter unlocking one of the doors in this chamber, the temple of Dumathoin. The locked door contains the elder Rockseeker brother, Nundro, starving but alive. He is grateful to be rescued and overjoyed to see his niece, Mistria. Another chamber turns out to be the quarters of Nezznar himself, containing a few treasures gleaned from the mine, including an electrum ale mug and some gems, as well as his journal and notes which corroborate his exposition about his plans. They drag his lifeless body with them back to the surface, grabbing the still unconscious Iarno Albrek along the way. They retrace their steps out of the mine, and other than a few skitters of giant spider legs in the shadows, all seems quiet in the mine.
Mormesk is nowhere to be seen, and neither is Chinny’s book. The flameskull sits alone in the middle of the chamber, and objects forcefully when Chinny tries to take it, “for good luck.” Chinny chalks it up as a loss, and leaves empty handed. Well, except for that whole “being imbued with wild magic power from the spell forge” thing.
Mosk is also nowhere to be seen, and worse, the bugbear seems to have used all the cart parts to fix himself a ride out of here and left the party in the lurch. There seems to be no way back up the tunnel until a contraption comprised of a geared hand cart and what appears to be approximately 4 animated gnome armors clatters down the tracks. The gnome armors latch onto the wrecked cart with two arms, and beckon the party to climb in with the others. Everyone climbs aboard, and the armors begin the long task of hauling the party up to the surface.
They reunite the Rockseeker bros. and present Vyerith with the mangled body of her “boyfriend,” the Black Spider. “BOYFRIEND!?” she screams, then demands to see the body up close so she can spit on it. Turns out, she’s not too happy about being groomed as Nezzar’s slave girl/muse. Doppelgangers, man! Who can tell with them.
Bruised and exhausted, but triumphant, the party looks out on the dawn of a new day. Phandelver is secure once again, and the web of the Black Spider has been unraveled. Their quest is finished…for now.
Defeated: 6 Giant spiders, 2 kuo toa, Garrblak the kuo toa whip, Nezznar the Black Spider
NPCs met: Nezznar, the Black Spider (dead AF), Nundro Rockseeker
Acquired: Nezznar’s Adamantine Spider Staff, Globe of Seclusion (the master item for Ander’s glass items), Electrum Ale mug (100gp), 190ep, 130gp, 15pp, nine small gemstones (10gp each)
Quests: Deal with Black Spider, rescue Nundro. All done! Well there is that thing with Taranion’s hand. And Chinny’s lost book.