The Xaniqos Drow make their way out of the city and pass the same Priestess who granted them access earlier. She does look surprised. The new outfits have their effect: people look with respect at them and make way. They soon arrive at the City Gates and head north. The route takes them through inhospitable sceneries with less and less traffic and rumors are that further ahead there is a large empire of Undead north of the Dead Wastes. Geographically, the area is changing rapidly. The road becomes narrow and high walls enclose them. Caves are everywhere, some used, some old.
Phaedra keeps a steady lookout for signs of the fight and when they arrive at the scene, she notices that most tracks of the caravan have been erased. A broken cart, demolished with great force, is all that is left. Behind her, the Scout sees the cliffs where Erelhei-Cinlu has been built against. This side of the cliffs is very high, covered in deep gravel that leaves no traces behind. Most caves in the area are inhabited by small tribes, but these specific ones are too high. Only insects would live in the ones on the lowest level. When Phaedra examines the cart, she discovers pieces of web strands. Seems like someone has been trying to hide them. Jharrath casts a spell to determine if magic has been used, but the spell comes up negative.
Is the lizard able to climb this slope, Alvra?
the Clerc asks. The Fighter is fairly sure of it and steers his mount up the pebbles. The others follow as quiet as possible. When they are almost at the top of the hill, they see the head of a Goblinoid. It raises the alarm.
Alvra quickly urges his lizard forward to get a better grip on the unstable ground, and at the top encounters two surprised Bugbears. They don’t even get a chance to load their crossbows. Next to them is a form that looks like a human spider; a half Humanoid with legs and poison glands. The Drow immediately attacks one of the Bugbears and calls out to warn his brother and sisters. When Phaedra arrives at the top of the slope, she grabs her spiked chain and lashes out at the second Bugbear, killing it with one hit. The first Bugbear panics, throws down its bow and bolts, trying to reach the safely of the cave. Alvra sees his chance and lashes out with his sword, while his lizard finishes the job. Two dead Bugbears are lying still at their feet.
The other two Drow are still trying to reach the top of the slope, but Lilith’s armor is rather heavy and she concentrates on putting one foot before the other. When Jharrath sees the half Humanoid, he recognizes it as an Aranea, the result of a magical Drow experiment. The Aranea is a spellcaster like the Wizard. After a tactical retreat, it disappears into the cave.
The black maw of the cave opens up to reveal a path sloping upwards. Thought there are less pebbles than outside, the ground is still not suited for a charge. Alvra grabs his javelin and hurls it after the Aranea. When he follows with the Scout, smears of blood tell them that it is wounded. Be careful with this creature, the Wizard says, it is a Shapeshifter, beware of its spells. Further up, the cave widens and becomes higher. The Humanoid disappears into the distance. It is very dark and the floor of the cave is made of irregular stone.
Lilith, who has finally managed to make it to the top, walks into the corridor and goes after the Aranea. The trail of green red blood is still visible. Seated on his lizard, Alvra climbs the walls and manages to get in front of the Shapeshifter, but at the same moment he feels resistance, web strands touching his face. The Drow and his lizard try to break loose and warn the other Xaniqos about the webs, when two monstrous spiders sink down from the ceiling. Behind them a third spider-like shape appears, smaller than the others. It has long arms and a spider head. With one of his spells the Wizard tries to aid his brother by spreading a layer of acid underneath the spiders. When one of the spiders reaches the ground, the acid bites into its feet. Together, the Scout and the Cleric stand ready, while the Aranea casts mage armor on himself. A massive fight is about to start…