Belmarniss can now sorta muddle along in the local common thanks to aggressive use of comprehend languages to hand-translate books after roping a local into teaching her the alphabet. Also she hates teleport traps with every fiber of her being. Also she has figured out at this point that she somehow leveled in sorcerer instead of wizard during the business with the pirates and has no idea why that happened or whether it will happen again. And she has sold this stupid arrowhead to two different curio shops and given up as it seems to be cursed. And she just needs to keep doing what she does, she guesses, till she can teleport herself home. The Yawning Portal is a nicely ironic name.
Inside, a tall and regal winged elf in a golden robe sits on a large rock, her legs splayed, glowering at nothing in particular. When the party enters, she switches to glowering at them in particular.
"Yes, hello. Uh, welcome to the Underdark, my understanding is you're new here?"
"One way of putting it," she grunts. "You the welcoming committee? Drow I was expecting, rats and reptiles less so. Did they get cursed too?"
"...yes, actually," Jojo says. "But not, uh, proximally."
She snorts. "What're you here for, then?"
"Curious about the curse, actually."
"Yeah, point and fucking laugh. Come one, come all, look at the moron who fucked with Halaster because she thought having a cool magic toy made her a big shot." She spits on the ground. "Fucking wizards."
"Mm, Halaster slapped us all with a geas and not in a fun way."
The queen laughs, bitterly astonished. "Shit, what are the fucking odds? I - well, maybe I should back up. I was queen, right? Fucking... policy decisions and all that. But I had what you might call a secret weapon. The Mirror of All-Seeing. Artifact, pretty powerful but it wasn't a Mythallar or anything. It let me scry on people for free, punched through all kinds of defenses, let me do some neat shit through the scry too if I had my court wizard Petyr around to cast it for me. I used it to keep my city safe. But... power makes you dumb. Couple of weeks ago I thought, hey, this thing's pretty great, what if I spied on Halaster? Just to make sure he's not planning anything fucked-up. So I tell the damned thing, 'scry on Halaster Blackcloak'." She inhales deeply. "Bad idea. Turns out, he's doing just fine. Sitting at a desk, writing something. He twitches - turns, looks me dead in the eyes with this crazy grin. Then the mirror just - shatters. Into five pieces. I think that's what fucked with our heads, was the mirror breaking. Might've been what brought us down here too. Anyway, I suddenly couldn't stand to be in my throne room. It was - awful. I had to get away. So I ran to this fucking cave, and then - it was just a fucking parade of morons who wanted me to make decisions for them, like just because I was Queen I knew shit - I got them to fuck off by yelling long enough, but obviously that didn't work great, because here you fucking are."
"How... did the mirror shattering... conceivably do all this?"
"You use an artifact long enough, you start to get a feel for how it works. No matter how fucking dumb it is. The mirror - its big thing was seeing things, but when it broke it kind of fell heavy on the reflecting things side of it. Petyr visited a couple of days ago and he said he'd given up magic. Somebody came in and told me our cleric was worshipping Talona now and could I make him stop giving people who entered his temple various plagues. And I'm..." She gestures at herself in disgust. "It's all backwards, see?"
"That's a very stupid abuse of the metaphor, but I suppose I should take that up with whoever made the damn thing. I don't suppose it's repairable."
Shaori frowns. "...maybe. I - I think someone could do it if they had all the pieces - the five glass shards, and the frame - and they were a powerful enough mage. Petyr's given up magic, but maybe somebody got mirrored into a wizard?"
Her face screws up with pain, and she bites her wrist. "Fuck you," she says through a mouthful of arm. "-sorry, not, uh, not drow girl - curse doesn't want me - helping you. Supposed to be a crabby hermit."
"That's such a dumb curse. We can leave you alone in your hermitude soon's you tell us where the pieces are."
She screws her eyes shut. "The frame's in the throne room. The shards - mmm - one's in the wizard tower - the temple - the library - the - fuck - the merchant has one - and -" Her eyes snap open. "One's in this cave. Someone's here!"
A crossbow bolt flies out of the shadows towards Shaori, only for Jojo to snatch it out of the air and snap it between his fingers.
The crossbow's owner fades into view, swearing. She's a drow, wearing red and black armor. "Meddling fools!" she hisses. "Did you think the Valsharess would tolerate your interference? The mirror will be ours!"
Then, as Jojo goes to strike, she clicks her heels together and vanishes.
"Oh, for fuck's sake," sighs Belmarniss, starting in on her usual long-lasting pre-combat spells.
"I don't think she's coming back," Jojo says grimly. "I can't hear her anywhere, and - from what she said, I think she's going to try to gather the pieces of the mirror and bring them back to her mistress."
"Great," Garrus sighs. "Because an omniscient Valsharess is exactly what we need."
"Yeah, if we're going to have to fight her for them we might as well expect that. Shaori, where in the cave?"
"She had it," Shaori says. "She was just waiting for me to say where the other pieces were."
"Okay, so we definitely should expect to have to fight her. Which location's closest?"
"The library and the merchant are in town proper, just a short ways north. The temple is to the northwest of town, the wizard's tower to the northeast, and the palace to the north."
"Okay. Let's go to town," she says, "hit the library or the merchant, whichever we see first."
"Intrepid heroes sallied forth," Deekin says under his breath as they exit the cave, "or possibly just marched on? Deekin not sure."
Once they reach the town, the library is fairly obvious. It has a large sign with a book on it.