The ginger smell welcomed her, wafting into her nostrils the instant after she materialized on the bridge’s end, with nothing but the Vastness of Darkness behind her. She turned, shielding her eyes as she looked up at the Spiral Tower’s impossible architecture, stretching up into the bluish mists high above. It was good to be home.
She strode in through the double doors, nodded at the obsidian guards that she knew so well from so many returns over the years. She flicked her wand out, waved the sigil in the air, and the walls shifted, revealing the stair steps up which she went. Once into the tower proper, she caught the notice of one of the Worker Bees, the little automatons that carried knick knacks and messages throughout the Tower, spoke a few words to it, and it buzzed away, sparks and sparkles in its wake. She knew that she’d have about an hour before an appointment could be arranged, even though her coming would have been known for some time— the Matron was always on top of such things— and so she took a Disc up to her chambers, sloughed off her outing clothes, deposited a few keepsakes, took a long-wished-for bath, and then got into her uniform. Seeing people in their uniforms made the Matron happy, and Leeloo liked it when the Matron was happy. She opened the door when the Worker Bee returned, took the message she’d expected, and made a few stops before heading to the Matron’s office.
There were the normal pleasantries before they got down to business, tea poured and shared and sweets and savories offered and taken. Leeloo thought, sometimes, that she went out into the world as much for these debriefings as for any other reason; the Matron knew how to treat her friends, and Leeloo was happy to count herself among that number, not least because the Matron also knew how to treat her enemies.
But the conversation had stumbled, somewhere. “Yes, Matron,” Leeloo said, taking her teacup and swirling it around, "I knew that you’d focus on the statue, and I did indeed say that we found the piece in the possession of a Drow witch. She seemed to believe that Lloth would rise up to control all the other gods, Tiamat amongst them. And with her claiming the backing of not houses, but cities of drow, I can see from where that overconfidence flows.”
“Do you think this witch is related to the previous one in Astazalian?” The Matron asked.
“Certainly, in that both are prongs in the same invasion, but they seem different in tone. As I said in my ”/campaign/happy-muggers/wikis/session-46" class=“wiki-page-link”>last report, we had to fight off a proper drow invasion force, supported by the three dragons I mentioned before. But that invasion was ushered in by Lady Vial, revealed to be a traitor to the city. She was no drow, but in what should have been her last moments she asked for and was transformed into a proper drider. So there is no doubt that Lloth knows what events are unfolding in her name. But Vial was an outside force, which is uncharacteristic of the drow, and doesn’t fit nicely with the horde that Estralizae and her nest seemed to believe in. The goblin uprising to the south of Astrazalian was bought off with promises to deal with the Drow, so their numbers are certainly strong."
The Matron nodded, then she stopped to listen to a Worker Bee that had buzzed in a moment before. She frowned at it, and it retreated. “What of this icy tower? Is it involved, or merely a distraction?”
“The magical snowstorm over Marth Forest was centered on the tower of my father’s demon-dealing acquaintance Draigdurroch, who seems to have unleashed powers larger than his abilities could control. He paid with his life, apparently at the hand of one of the Fey Lords, but I have not heard any take credit for the deed, not that doing so would befit the Lords. The storm was quelled when we were forced to destroy the Frost Giant providing protection to the Winter’s Heart (and yes, of course I have registered the last known location of the Heart with The Department of Dangerous Derelicts; I am not as ill-trained as I once was).” She smiled into her teacup; this was the banter she longed for when she was sleeping on rocky makeshift beds.
But then she recalled something she’d omitted. “Also, there was mention, by one of the Drow, of a King Stoneface, who seemed to be aiding their invasion efforts. I’ve heard the name before, but I neither thought him grand enough to be a threat nor memorable enough to recall most anything about him. Do you know more than I?”
The Matron frowned. “I do, and you shall not like to hear it, for it means that your stay with us shall be brief before I have another task for you to attend to. I had hoped to see a bit more of you without the aid of scrying. But it appears that there is to be no rest for the watchful.”