Dro… Spide… eh, Driders!

Another corridor stretches out in front of them, the distance lighted by a queer blue sheen. It could be moss or crystals, which can glow with a soft light. When her brother can’t detect any magical influences, she silently scouts ahead. The corridor broadens into a large hall with massive pillars in the middle, covered in quarts. Ever-burning torches mix the shadows with bluish light. Movement draws Phaedra attention, and she sees a drider hiding behind one of the stone columns. Half drow half spider, the creature seems to guard the place. Often they are fallen clerics or wizards.
Lilith orders Jharrath to summon elementals, and soon three of them appear in front of the hidden drider. But when they lash out, the drider disappears. It was an illusion. The arrow that strikes Phaedra is no illusion though. Arcane phrases call up a lightning bolt, which strikes the earth elementals. Two of the summoned creatures are able to jump aside, the third one vanishes. Phaedra’s eyes follow the lightning’s path back to a plateau.

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Suddenly another spell is cast and a second drider appears, hanging on to a pillar. The lightning ball sizzles straight into the corridor where the Xaniqos are. The scout nimbly jumps aside, while Lilith’s spell resistance enables her to shrug off the effects without any damage. Rolling his muscles, Alvra is fine too, but his brother takes the full brunt of the attack. He’s badly hurt and shakes like a leaf. With a growl, the cleric calls forth dark flames in her hand, ready to use them when she sees an opponent.

Phaedra tumbles past her sister and runs towards the other side of the very large cave.

Jharrath, move!

Frustrated the fighter returns his kukri to his belt, eager to get an overview of the situation. Jharrath steps into the cave and takes up position around the corner, and soon a blur distorts his frame. Alvra follows his siblings and sees the two remaining earth elementals at the foot of the pillar, waiting for the drider to come down from its height. With a threatening yet fluid movement he throws his javelin at the creature and scores a hit. Green pus oozes from the deep wound.

A third drider, bow in hand, climbs down at the far side and only Phaedra notices this new threat. Dark words trickle through the silence, barely audible. They remind her of a spell Jharrath uses more often. She fires her crossbow at the drider, but it disappears. Yet another illusion.

The other driders also take refuge in spells. The beast on the plateau sends forth magic missiles, aimed at the elementals, while the drider on the pillar casts a web at the Xaniqos. When all three easily evade the sticky substance, the drider climbs on top of his perch. Just the thing Lilith has been waiting for. Instantly she launches her dark fire at the drow-spider. Twice the creature gets hit by her sizzling flames and it screams in agony. Then it slowly topples forward, one of Alvra’s javelins embedded in its head.

Jharrath and Lilith, still standing under the cave’s entrance, find themselves under attack by a third drider. The beast had been hiding right over their heads. It lashes out at the wizard with two daggers, and claws scrape over Lilith’s armor – to no avail. Its bite attack also misses.

Leave, priestess, you will fail!

Several voices grind into the cleric’s head.

I will not!

Her determination to bring this quest to a successful end never wavers. She hurls another round of dark flames at the abomination hanging above her head. The flames burn into the creature’s flesh.

You failed the Mistress,

it hisses. The cleric retorts:

Eh, who exactly is the drider here?

after which the beast hangs its head.

drider

A little stone alerts the scout to impending danger and she quickly turns around. The drider – the real one this time – is surprised by her alert reaction and his arrow misses its target. Phaedra puts her crossbow away and – spiked chain in hand – awaits her opportunity to take out her opponent. The earth elementals come to her aid, only to get hit by lightning. The damage proves too much for one of the elementals. Phaedra again evades the energy bolt. The drider looks very frustrated and shuffles back a little. Immediately the Xaniqos drow lashes out with her chain and pulls big chunks of meat from the beast’s body. Green pus mingles with black blood.

Jharrath teleports, trying to get away from the imminent danger and finds himself face to face with yet another drider. Daggers are raised threateningly, but the wizard sees through the illusion. His arcane knowledge is too extensive to fall for these tricks.

Hurling his last javelin towards the drider that is threatening his mistress, Alvra takes his sword and stands ready. Meanwhile the conversation continues.

You will join us soon, we can’t wait.

Lilith rolls her eyes.

Do you always talk this much?

The beast fires a ray of enfeeblement at the fighter, and immediately Alvra feels his strength seep away, but his brother counters with a spell of his own to nullify the effects. Dark flames shoot from the cleric’s hand, straight into the drider. The smell of burning flesh fills the air and heavily wounded, it hisses in pain. Pondering on how the drider holds on onto the wall, Alvra aimes a tanglefoot bag at the creature. Goo splatters all over the creature. It tries to levitate to safety but is stuck. After retrieving his javelin from the other drider corpse, Alvra throws the weapon at their entangled enemy, while Lilith’s dark flames finally end the life of the beast.

An arrow flies past the wizard’s head. Fed up with the attacks, Jharrath hurls a fireball through the opening of the plateau. An enormous explosion rocks the cavern and they hear a loud scream, then silence.

On the other side of the cave the last drider suddenly jumps down, surprising the scout in the act. The drow falls backwards and the beast is all over her, biting her. Fortunately her natural resistance to poison is sufficient. She gets up quickly and lashes out with her chain. Feebly, the drider tries to counterattack, but its wounds are too severe. With one stroke, Phaedra ends its misery.

Dead silence surrounds them – the fight seems to be over for now. Lilith orders all to gather close and casts a healing circle, while her faith in the Spider Queen strengthens them.

 

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