Before a discussion can even begin at the stairs up to the 4th underground level, the Spymaster has already made up her mind. Genive selects a Scout; the Druid Faldorn shifts into Will-‘O-Wisp form; and these three alone head up the stone stairs, leaving the other Heroes behind. To wait, presumably, for as long as it takes for Genive and Faldorn to reconnoiter and come back.
The stairs are wide enough for five men, and as each flight ends, the platform offers those with Darkvision a glimpse into a wide, open shaft beside the stairwell. A collection of ropes hangs down the center. Cargo and other heavy goods would be raised or lowered in this open space. It is about fifty or sixty vertical feet between the levels of the 5th and 4th floors of the Moonwatch fortress.
Faldorn’s chosen form permits Invisibility as a natural state, and while flying as a Will-‘O-Wisp he is both unseen and completely silent. Genive must rely on her impressive Move Silently check and the guidance of her Dwarf Scout handler. As a group they ghost up the unlit, deathly-still stairwell, taking each flight of steps with extreme caution. They reach the 4th underground level.
This level, too, is quiet and pitch-black. To their left is the way to the Commander’s Office area; to the right, the entrance to a Storage Room. This room connects to the Commander’s Office by a different passageway. Genive and Faldorn opt for the Storage Room route, hoping they may avoid encounter. Neither Faldorn nor the Dwarf Scout sees anything in either direction.
As they sneak slowly down the passageway toward the Storage Room, Faldorn notices the difference in quality of this fortress level. The bottom floor of Moonwatch was austere, forgotten, and entirely utility in its appearance. Here, on what is the exclusive domain of Corinthian military officers of mid- to high-rank, the contrast is immediate.
Torch sconces, while dark, appear to Faldorn and the Dwarf Scout (both of whom have Darkvision) to be of high quality metal. The walls were decorated with murals and tapestries, all of which have been defaced or torn down. The floors, too, have a polish about them that, while marred with dirt, debris, stains, and signs of combat, suggest that under normal circumstances this area would be as close to elegant as a military might permit.
The group reaches the Storage Room door, and the Dwarf Scout notices a body lying against the wall, further down the hallway. It looks human. Will-‘O-Wisp Faldorn flies over and takes a look. The body is that of a Moonwatch garrison soldier, armored but not armed, dead of wounds sustained in combat, and dead of these wounds for about three weeks.
Faldorn returns. They enter the Storage Room, whose once-fine wooden doors to the room have been smashed down. Inside, a wide array of supplies has been rummaged and tossed around as miscreants came and went. Paper and parchment, unwritten scrolls and cases, charcoals and inks, linens, uniforms, clothing, toiletries; this room is a repository of all things needed to run a bureaucracy or see to the comforts of guests of discerning tastes.
On the left is a set of security doors, barring the way to the Commander’s Office. Genive could attempt to pick the lock, or make life much simpler by using the Chime of Opening, but she opts not to do so now. Theirs was to be a quick reconnaissance mission to find a safe route to the office area. This now accomplished, the group will return and inform the rest of their party.
Blinded by the complete dark and informed of the surroundings only by what she is told by the Scout or Faldorn, Genive’s keen ears suddenly hear something.
Faldorn and the Scout, able to see, are startled when a squad of five Duergar Rogues suddenly appear out of nowhere, and attack. Only Genive is able to react in the Surprise Round and at that, she is only able to tweak her magic ring to turn Invisible as a defensive measure. The Rogues, completely unaware of the invisible Druid and having seen the human Spymaster a moment before she vanished, set upon the Dwarf Scout.
Genive moves to outflank the Rogues and Faldorn sparks to life with electrical attacks against one of the Duergar, but it is nothing to distract the Rogues from dropping the Scout. They divide up when the Dwarf falls to the ground; three Duergar attack where they believe the Will-‘O-Wisp lingers (one even scoring a Critical Hit on a lucky swing), one seeks out Genive, and the other slowly backs towards the door.
Faldorn’s form, while granting a Miss Chance, is ineffective for offense. He becomes a Giant Scorpion instead, easily Grappling but not-at-all Poisoning the nearest Rogue. Genive comes to life on offense, sending a volley of arrows into the Duergar. She starts with the lurker near the door, drops him, and aims back into the thick of the Rogues struggling against the Scorpion.
The fight ends well for the Druid and Spymaster. No Rogues escape, and none come to aid them. Silence returns. Faldorn leads sightless Genive out of the room and back towards the stairwell. Before they turn off the passage to descend the stairs, both hear voices from further down the hallway, in the direction of the Commander’s Office. It is a number of voices, speaking Undercommon, talking in a tone and volume of voice that suggests no consideration for stealth.
Genive notes this, as she and her Druid ally quietly descend back down to meet the Party.