Blood moss

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Back at the Xaniqos mansion, they quickly pack and set out on their second task: collecting blood moss. According to the map, there are three options for their travels: follow the inner sea, travel through the swamps or take the broader but longer trading route. They decide on the latter.

As always, Phaedra scouts ahead. Their trek through Erelhei-Cinlu isn’t very eventful, and Phaedra finds them a fine route in between the Upper and Middle Underdark. They pass many caves and spend the night in an uninhabited one. Lilith takes first watch and her sister the second, but nothing happens.

On the second day, the scout spots two very big humanoids in the distance, who move awkwardly. When she focuses, she sees that the figures are twice the size of a drow, and are covered in spines. She returns to the others, and the cleric decides to move back to a side corridor they passed earlier. No use in engaging in a confrontation if it is not necessary. Alvra casts darkness in the corridor to hide them. Soon they hear heavy footsteps passing, and the jingle of armor.

Phaedra waits until the sounds fade completely and sets out in the direction of their goal. They arrive at a wide high cave, illuminated by the fungi. The ground stretches before them, soft and packed with dense moss. Jharrath informs them that they probably should find a smaller cave for locating the blood moss.

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They follow airborne spores towards their origin and find the entrance to a cave complex. The ground turns wetter and kind of oozy. “We’re getting closer,” the wizard whispers. The entrance is about 5 feet wide. When Phaedra passes, she notices that mushrooms react to her presence by releasing even more spores. She treads carefully. Soon the cave becomes wider, and there’s a path winding through. The vegetation is becoming wilder, with jelly and spores. The scout steps into a puddle of green gunk, that quickly changes into a gelatinous cube. It tries to trap her, but her quick reflexes save her.

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Lilith walks past the stuff, deeper into the cave, keeping her distance from the green ooze. Jharrath takes out a candle and summons an earth elemental. The stone beast pummels the jelly. The acid splashes but doesn’t harm the elemental. Phaedra knows her weapons are vulnerable to the acid, so she tumbles back and looks around, searching for blood moss. She moves on towards the next cave. Alvra stays in the original corridor and keeps checking the main hall.

The cube reaches for the cleric, and quickly she jumps aside. Lilith calls forth a darkbolt, but it fizzles out. Again the ooze reaches for her, but the earth elemental pummels the creature until once again it is a harmless looking puddle. Jharrath signals “It might be dead, but I can’t be sure.” He orders the elemental to step on the ooze. Nothing happens; it is indeed beaten.

Phaedra turns another corner. Fungi grow thick and high on the walls, and some kind of path meanders through the space. There’s a heap of rotting vegetation in the middle. And it moves! Jharrath steps forward to stand next to Phaedra, and they are joined by the elemental. the wizard recognizes the mound with vegetation arms: a huge shambling mound, fungi colored.

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It is intelligent, carnivorous and predatory. Two huge, armlike appendages stretch towards Phaedra, wrap around her and slam her against the ground. Then they grapple her and pull her towards the mound. Lilith moves forward and shoots searing lights into the beast. It won’t release her sister though. Phaedra can’t get loose but keeps attacking the tentacles. Jharrath moves out of the earth elemental’s way and fires his wand of scorching rays at the huge plant. The shambling mound slowly squeezes the life out of Phaedra, so Lilith steps closer and heals her sister. Working together, Jharrath, the elemental and the scout attack the same tentacle. It unwraps itself, too damaged to hold on, but the other appendage is still squeezing. Again Lilith casts a healing spell, now affecting her whole party positively. Finally, after a charge from Alvra, more searing lights of the cleric, and a new elemental attacking, Phaedra can tumble away from the monstrous plant. Pummeled by the elemental, burned by Jharrath scorching rays and an attack by Alvra’s sword, the beast finally lies down and dies. Lilith again has to heal Alvra, who is badly wounded by the fight, plus hands him a very strong healing potion.

Lilith buffs her siblings with a strong conviction spell, which should raise their resilience. Behind the remains of the shambling mound, they see red fungi. It looks like the blood moss they are after, but it is not dense enough. Mist wafts on the underground current, phosphorescent fungi and red moss is all around. Phaedra again takes the lead.

At the side of the room, huge mushrooms grow from the wall. There is moss in every color. The smell of lemon, bread, and decay is heavy on the air. Then another cave opens, with at the far end a thick blanket of blood moss. The room seems poisonous. There are a lot of spores afloat in the air. And when the spores almost settle on the ground, another gust of wind blows them into the air once more.

The drow halt at the entrance of the blood moss cave. The earth elemental is unaffected by the floating spores and walks in. Suddenly tentacles shoot from a heap of leaves. Another shambling mound, though this one is slightly smaller and doesn’t have a fungi color. The elemental gets into a fight with the plant and, aided by the drow, kills it. Quickly Jharrath summons more elementals and places them at strategic points throughout the room. At the back, a third mound appears and captures one of the elementals. Lilith and Phaedra take out their crossbows and shoot at the plant.

Yet another creature appears at the back of the room: a huge glistening treelike creature, oozing acid. Phaedra doesn’t recognize it, beyond that it seems to be a sentient being.

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The creature attacks the elementals, and Lilith immediately counters with a flame strike. A column of fire roars down on top of the ent, and one of Alvra’s javelins scores a hit. The creature roars and releases a 60 feet cone of spores, enveloping the cleric, wounding her severely. She retreats to heal herself, while her siblings keep up the fight with crossbow, spiked chain, javelin, sword and kellgore’s fire bolts. When she is recovered enough, the cleric calls down another flame strike on the treant. She then attacks the respawning shambling mound with her flail and does extra fire damage. Three more summoned earth elementals kill the vegetation.

Alvra is under attack and becomes engulfed in the tree-like being, the roots dealing acid damage. Lilith attacks the ent with her flail and the added fire damage sets the ent ablaze, which ends its life. An almost respawning shambling mound withers and dies.

190309redmossIn the treant’s carcass, they find a drow mission blade, that has protection against acid.
Lilith and Alvra leave the spores zone, where Lilith does a full heal on Alvra. Jharrath, Alvra, and Phaedra shovel the blood moss in a bag. They search the remains of the shambling mounds and find a collection of gold and gems – obviously of no use to these creatures.

 

The Fang of Lolth

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The tunnel echoes with their footsteps, while the drow make their way deeper into the maze of the Underdark. At some point they realize something or someone else is near! Babbling and scornful chuckling reverberates from an alcove up ahead. Phaedra sneaks closer to check it out, when suddenly a female voice calls out:

Don’t try to hide, I can see you!

Phaedra looks inside the small cave and strains her eyes, but sees only old webs, stalagmites and spider nests. Then a figure in black drops from the ceiling and lands ten feet away.

Don’t make funny moves and lay down your weapons!

Her voice sounds rusty and is of an irritating level, like she’s not used to talking. The others draw near. “Who are you,” Lilith asks.

I’ve been watching you fight those nasty followers of the Lady of the Dead. They don’t worship Lolth like I do.

The woman looks humanoid, but has very long arms. It is a drow, dark, with wild hair and multifaceted eyes. Her fingers are also long, and her clothes adapt to the background. The drow in black is very nervous and she keeps everyone in sight, her eyes darting everywhere.

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Lilith knows that some priestesses go very far in their devotion to Lolth, and suspects this is one of the Fangs of Lolth. These devotees slowly transform into a spider through their worship.

I used to live in Maerimydra, when the evil priestesses of Kiaransalee banished me. So I came here. But I’m sure this is a test: in the end the Spider Queen will reward us!

The Xaniqos cleric quickly agrees, and prompts her to continue.

I have been to Szith Morcane many times. There are other entrances, entrances that are not guarded. I won’t go up with you, but I can tell you where they are. There are hundreds of drow in the city. If you follow this corridor, it will split up eventually. To the right are very hungry driders. And if you go to the left, there’s a very large cave with undead vermin. Priestesses have been transforming them for Szith Morcane. I would recommend you go the left. After that, the corridor will lead you to the upper city of Szith Morcane. It is a very filthy place, and something is guarding it. Something foul! There are no safe places around here; even this tunnel is being patrolled often.

The dark lady starts to get agitated when the siblings move too close to her backpack, so they keep a healthy distance. When no further information can be gained, Lilith starts praying to her deity,  and the woman calms down.

Notwithstanding the ever present threat of the Kiaransalee, the Xaniqos siblings decide to rest, too tired to move on. Phaedra keeps watch. After a few hours, the Fang picks up her backpack and says goodbye, whispering “May the Spider Queen give you strength to defeat your enemies.” “Perhaps we’ll meet again,” Phaedra replies. The dark drow disappears into the dark. The scout wakes up Alvra and settles down for a bit of sleep herself.

When the others wake, the Fang of Lolth is gone. The spell casters feel rested and together they follow the meandering corridor of the Underdark. Their scout is in the lead, constantly checking her surroundings, but all is peaceful. Finally they come upon a split in the road, where they take the left fork.

It is opening into a very wide passage. The sound of many scurrying feet ripples through the air, and they are closing in fast. Stalagmites and stalactites obscure their view. The wizard summons three medium earth elementals, while Lilith holds her holy symbol aloft and casts a spell. A silvery radiance dances from her hands and leaps over all party members, strengthening them. The cleric takes her flail in her hand, while Alvra draws his sword.

No less than twenty medium sized spiders come rushing forward! Phaedra activates spiderclimb and scrambles up the wall. One of the earth elementals attacks the passing spiders and smashes its fist down. The smell of decay fills the air and a white fluid seeps from the carcasses. Lilith’s flail also successfully finds a target. Then her sister calls out.

These are only the forerunners; behind them is a huge spider with a gigantic thick belly. Green slime oozes in its wake. Smaller spiders are originating from the larger beast!

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The cleric groans. She recognizes it as a husk spider, an undead creature that is formed from the carapaces of monstrous spiders and animated by dark magic. The priestesses of Lolth are known to create the same monsters.

The husk spider lumbers towards the earth elementals and attacks with its mandibles. It drains the energy from one of the elementals. As a result, it gets even stronger!

The scout enters the cave climbing and looks around. She sees no other creatures at the moment, so she makes her way to a niche, fifteen feet long, where she can stand on. While Jarrath activates his boots and teleports back to safety, Lilith rebukes the smaller spiders: eleven spiders cower in fear and are unable to attack. Her fighter brother jumps in and starts slaughtering them.

The huge spider charges one of the earth elementals, and while they are thus engaged, the cleric releases a flame strike on their asses. Severely wounded, the arachnid pulls back behind the stalagmites. Jharrath, protected my mage armor, encourages the remaining elementals to keep on killing the rest of the smaller spiders. They seem to have a good time.

From her high perch, the scout observes how the husk spider escapes and climbs down. It ran that way, she signs to the others. Together they slowly make their way into the giant cave and search the corner where the arachnid is hiding. Jharrath moves his elementals forward, while Lilith baths the corner in faerie fire. There’s no spider though.

Suddenly the beast attacks from above, charging Alvra with a bite attack. Phaedra tumbles back and slips, but manages to keep her distance. Quickly she takes out her spiked chain. With a handful of ashes, the wizard shoots a Kellgore’s fire bolt, and Lilith projects a blast of light from her open palm, straight into the beast’s torso. The husk spider is wobbling on it’s eight legs. Alvra moves in for the kill, and with three powerful strikes, the beast is on its back. The cleric takes a good look at the carcass. “It’s a widow maker,” she says, “very aggressive beasts.”

When Phaedra searches the cave, she finds a dead drider and his short sword, which looks valuable enough to take with them. When they move forward again, the cave ends in a narrow corridor. They keep left and walk on. After a long journey through empty caves and ditto walkways, they come upon another large cave. This one smells dreadfully.

The scout moves ahead and then stops. In the middle of the room there’s a mount of bodies in various degrees of decomposition. Some are down to bare skeletons. And something has been eating them!

 

The Hidden Dell

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The well-trodden path leads towards the entrance of the cave. It looms ahead, dark and forbidding. The cleric sends forth another eye, directing it into the darkness. When it comes back, it relays the images of a deserted space, with objects piled near the opening.

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The horses have been secured to metal poles outside the cave. To enter, the siblings have to pass them or lure them away. Lilith prepares an enchantment spell, but while they softly debate over the best course of action, the dire beasts get more agitated. The breeze must have carried their smell towards them. They can’t wait any longer. Phaedra moves stealthily closer and stays on the left side of the path, while the wizard chooses the other side, but the horses’ red eyes follow her. Lilith buffs the fighter with spells. His muscles pop up.

One of the horses finally manages to break free and canters straight towards the scout. The cleric immediately releases her spell, but the horse’s willpower is too strong; it doesn’t heed her suggestion. Jharrath summons a large earth elemental and places it right in the path of the charging beast. The elemental hits the horse twice on the head. The dire horse counterattacks and rears up on its hind legs, thrashing the summoned monster, its red eyes flashing. It must have fiendish blood.

Then the second horse breaks its tether and lashes out with its hoof, striking the wizard in the shoulder. Alvra, muscles bulging, draws his sword and slashes at the horse, but he doesn’t do much damage. The skin is too thick. Jharrath uses his boots and moves backwards, where he casts mirror image on himself. Four more wizards appear out of thin air.

Lilith looses a bolt, but it misses its target. Discarding her useless crossbow, she takes out her flail, activates its special ability and charges the horse. She cries out,

Lolth, give me the strength to slay this beast!

but the fiendish horse is not bothered by the extra fire damage. The wizard fires his wand of magic missiles and then summons five small elementals, while Alvra strikes again. This time he focuses and with a mighty swing of his sword, he hurts the fiend good. The small elementals are no match for the black horse. It seems to like fighting, and is trained to kill. The steed bites and kicks, sending two elementals back to their native plane. Lilith activates her rod of grievous wounds, and gets kicked by a massive hoof as reward. With a cry of rage, she focuses her divine power and projects a blast of light from her open palm into the steed’s head. The horse is trembling, exhausted and severely wounded. Then Alvra steps in and with another massive attack beats it to pulp.

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Meanwhile the battle between the first horse and the large earth elemental rages back and forth. The other elementals join the fight, their master following behind. The fighter hurls a javelin towards the horse, followed by a frost breath attack by Lilith. But like the fire, the cold seems to do little to no damage. Jharrath summons a medium sized elemental, that immediately attacks. Alvra grabs his javelin and takes up position next to his sister.Together they attack again, both flanking the dire horse. Alvra hacks and slashes, and finally manages to slay the fiend.

The siblings slowly stand up, quiet returning to the battle field. Lilith heals both herself and her fighter brother, and hands him an extra healing potion. They are bruised and bleeding. Jharrath walks towards the cave: their younger sister seems missing…

Three drow against two horses. Phaedra looks back at her siblings. They seem to be handling the situation well, so she continues towards the cave. She creeps closer and closer, then hides and listens carefully. Taking a quick peek inside, she sees a fairly wide natural cave, artificially widened. She spots the crates, mentioned earlier by the prying eye. The remains of a campfire are cold and abandoned. The scout warily enters the cave. She moves steadily deeper, searching for traps, but finds nothing. The barrels contain food and trading goods from several merchant houses. A prison is built into the wall, the bars in excellent condition, complete with chains and a pit. It is empty. Phaedra checks out the back of the cave. Two bunk beds, a table, chairs and a hatch in the ground. She crouches down.

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… the others walk inside. Alvra examines the empty holding cell; its neck clamps silent witnesses of the people who have been kept there. Searching for her sister, Lilith notices signs, which have been carved in the hatch.

Wait for me, I’ll be back.

She recognizes Phaedra’s signature. While her brother searches for clues near the bunks, she walks back towards the entrance to check out the crates. Like Phaedra discovered earlier, she finds food, silk, probably stolen. The drow decide to sit down and eat while waiting. Lilith takes her dinner over towards the hatch -her flail within reach- and readies for action, while Alvra positions himself on the other side, taking a defensive stance.

Suddenly the hatch opens and Phaedra’s head pops up. In sign language, the cleric asks her sister what she’s found out. The scouts looks businesslike.

I’ve got news!

Attacked by Mushrooms and More

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The interior of the cave is lit by a soft glow. There are various types of minerals, plants, roots, small and large fungi; all signs that they are on the right track. They cautiously continue along the path, when suddenly the violet fungi start to move. They sway from side to side and attack the drow with their roots.

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Jharrath takes a step back and casts mage armor on himself. Four tentacles try to get a hold on Phaedra, but she takes out her spiked chain and hits one of the creatures square in the cap. Another is sliced to pieces by the fighter, while a third is beaten up by the cleric’s flail. Magic missiles kill yet another, and soon all that is left is pulp, especially near Alvra. He glares at the leftover green mushrooms, but those don’t seem hostile.

Swiping the residue off their weapons, the drow continue into a larger section of the mine. There are tracks in the dust, and Phaedra signs to her siblings that there are more violet fungi ahead. A sour, reptilian scent is heavy on the air. Wooden beams support the space. On the left, the way forward is blocked by rubble and more fungi, so the scouts turns around and walks to the other side. The tunnel is lower there, and looks more rickety. Bones are strewn across the floor – big bones, huge bones. It seems like they have found the remains of Vaterian, the dragon

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When Phaedra chances a quick glance around the corner, she sees an albino drow with red eyes. It seems like he has been watching them for a while. It is one of the szarkai – age old enemies of the drow – wearing a large bastard sword. He looks like a fighter, and soon proves to be one too. With a swipe of his sword, he scores a hit on the female scout. Lilith sees what happens and counterattacks. Focusing Lolth’s divine power, she projects a blast of light from her open palm, which slams straight into the white drow. He screams with pain. The wizard follows up with magic missiles, while Phaedra tumbles back and lashes out with her chain. Heavily wounded, the szarkai pulls back into the shadows of the cave and disappears from sight.

Alvra, who is following the blood trail, is hit by two cross bolts. Ignoring his wounds for the moment, he spots the injured white drow and charges, but the attack ricochets off the bastard sword. His sister doesn’t miss though, and the spiked chain kills the creature.

Be careful, somebody shot at me!

Alerted by her brother’s warning, Phaedra whirls around and sees two more white drow with heavy crossbows. They are taking cover behind two mushrooms. She warns the others and then advances on the crossbow snipers, but overreaches with her spiked chain and lands in the middle. The szarkai drop the crossbows, grab their swords and swing at Phaedra. Fortunately, they miss. Jharrath’s Kellgore’s firebolt slams into one of the albinos with ravaging force, giving the scout the opportunity to use her ability to appear in a safer spot.

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The white ones, robbed of their target, scream. Lilith launches a bolt of cold darkness from her hands, but to no effect. When she tries to plant the suggestion to attack one another in their minds, they won’t obey. The fight rages on by missiles, swords, spells and chain. Using his house brooch, Alvra increases his strength and kills one of the szarkai with a mighty blow. Two earth elementals, summoned by Jharrath, finally manage to kill the third.

The fight has taken a heavy toll on two of the Xaniqos siblings. Their wounds bleed with a yellowish glow and they don’t feel well at all. Both Alvra and Phaedra are slowly losing their eyesight due to the very potent poison, and the fighter loses a lot of strength as well. He drinks an anti-toxin. The cleric calls upon her deity and manages to return some of Alvra’s strength and remove his blindness.

Apart from the bastard swords and heavy crossbows, the albinos were wearing good magical armor and shields. Alvra also finds a small flask with a yellowish substance in it. Lilith – adept in the use of poisons – takes the bottle from him and applies the substance to her flail. After consulting with her brother, she smears the darklight brew also on one side of Alvra’s sword. Then she carefully tucks the flask away.

And they keep on coming

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The end of the corridor opens into a chamber, that contains eight straw beds, a wooden table, many wooden crates and a fire pit. Smoke is billowing around the room. As an arrow buzzes towards her, Phaedra realizes that it also holds a bugbear, even two. The second one shoots Lilith square in the chest. She counters with a spell, suggesting that the beast attack its mate. The bugbear doesn’t know what is happening, but obediently shoots its comrade in the face. And it keeps attacking until it drops dead, aided by an earth elemental that the Wizard sent forward. Then the bugbear regains its senses.

Phaedra slowly advanced on the first bugbear and takes cover behind the table. Meanwhile her sister is under attack by a third creature, that was hiding around the corner. The Scout turns and lashes out, striking hard with her spiked chain. The enraged Cleric smashes her flail straight into the bugbear’s face. Satisfied, Phaedra walks back towards her initial attacker, which is already under attack by the earth elemental and Jharrath’s missiles. Their brother has set his lizard to guard the entrance and mingles in the fight. Unfortunately – drained of his strength – he’s too weak to do any real harm, so it’s up to the Scout to kill another opponent in the end. 

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They find all kinds of food and dried insects in the crates. These bugbears are very well stocked, equipped and trained! The room seems like a nice place to rest for a while. Phaedra takes the first watch and is relieved by Alvra after a couple of hours. His fatigue is gone, but he is not well yet. When the Cleric wakes up, she calls upon the Spider Queen to restore Alvra’s strength. Almost back to his old self, he gulps down an anti-toxin potion.

Further down the Scout sees solid ground. Alvra climbs back up to get the grappling hook and rope, and ties them to the platform. Tired of the delay, Lilith ties the rope around her waist and tells the Fighter to lower her down to the floor. A decision she regrets when she hears scuttling behind a thus far concealed web in the right corner. Then a huge hunting spider appears from the left, trying to break his fast with the Cleric.

Pull me up!

she hollers, but the spider’s fangs sink into her body. Her siblings quickly haul her back to safety. By now two eight-legged monsters are drooling in anticipation down below.

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Back onto the platform, Lilith drinks a potion that neutralizes poison, while the Wizard shoots a Kellgore’s firebolt at the welcoming committee. Phaedra joins in with crossbow bolts. One of the hunting spiders launches a web at Jharrath. As the Scouts cuts him loose, she hisses

Wizard, send your minions down there!

He grabs his candle and summons earth elementals to attack the spiders. The others help with crossbow, javelin and spells. A fireball kills the first spider, and Alvra steers his lizard halfway down to check out the retreating other. The spider aims webbings at the pair, and both get stuck in the sticky threads. Then a hissing, hurtling ribbon of pure darkness flies from Lilith’s hands and the monster rolls onto its back.

With its feet in the air

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Alvra guides his lizard over to the ladder and investigates the mechanism. It seems to move up and down, not horizontal, but there’s one lying next to it. The Fighter directs the wooden structure to the other side of the Abyss, creating a bridge for his siblings. With the help of Phaedra’s grapple hook and rope, they make a safety line to get down the slope and soon all four Drow are reunited on the east side. Lilith checks out the bugbear corpses and finds very powerful bows, as well as beautiful morningstars and chainshirts. She gives the collection to Alvra to carry them home.

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Yes, my sketching abilities are superb. What? Oh, let’s call them unique then 😉

When the sisters climb down the ladder, they are being shot at. Phaedra gets hit and tumbles down the ladder – right on top of the ettercap’s fat belly. The creature is as dead as a doornail, lying with its feet in the air on a sort of platform. When the Scout surveys her surroundings, she spots the archers – two bugbears – standing on the wooden structure, which is about ten feet wide. She takes out her spiked chain and readies.

Jharrath fires his wand of magic missiles at one of the bears, and the beast returns the favor with an arrow. Taken aback, the Wizard drops the wand, which falls down the ladder and lands on the platform next to Phaedra. He scolds the bugbear with every Drow curse he can think of and gets back up to cast Mage Armor on himself. Lilith climbs as far down as she can, while Alvra steers his mount down the west side of the abyss. Then the air around Phaedra shimmers, and five more Drow appear next to her, looking very similar to the Scout, right down to the spiked chain.

Of course the bugbear can’t withstand such an excellent challenge. It drops its bow and charges full ahead with its longsword. One image fades out of existence. The other beast joins in and smashes another mirror image to pieces with its morningstar, then another. Alvra hurls a javelin at the creature but misses, and his second attack barely misses his Scout sister. He orders his lizard to attack, but it doesn’t do any damage. The Scout shows him how it’s done and kills one of the bugbears.

Just when Lilith steps onto the wooden structure, the Wizard attempts to descend in double speed. He fails to hold on to the ladder and drops down. The Cleric steps aside just in time. Now both her brother and his wand are lying at her feet. She activates her flail and… goes for the remaining bug bear. Her flail’s special ability sets the beast on fire. Phaedra finishes it off with a mighty swing of her weapon. 

The platform is empty for now. Phaedra hands Alvra the excellent looking longsword of the bugbear, while Jharrath picks up his wand. The Cleric uses her healing powers on both Drow brothers. She still might need them.

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Deeper Down

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Phaedra loads her crossbow and walks down the riffle, while the spells casters stay atop. The aranea is nowhere to be seen. The monstrous spider on the right has landed in the caustic liquid and is thrashing about. It attacks in a frenzy. Though the claws are almost eaten away by the acid, its jaws close around Alvra in a bite attack. The Fighter immediately drives back his lizard and drinks a healing potion.

Suddenly a fire ball erupts near the still hanging monster, killing both spiders in one take. Jharrath aimed his spell well. The remaining ettercap stares and stares, unable to believe this turn of events. Then it spits a web over the lizard and runs off. Lilith casts a spell of blindness on the creature to prevent it from sounding the alarm. She seems to succeed, since the ettercap stops running. Alvra’s mount bites through the webbings, free once more. Phaedra climbs the walls, while Jharrath dismisses the acid caustic mire. Then the ettercap too suddenly disappears from view. The Scout goes after to investigate.

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At her feet a slope of smooth damp stone ends in an abyss, twenty feet away. There’s still no sign of the ettercap. On the other side of the abyss is a wooden palisade, cluttered with bales and barrels – a watchtower hovering over it. The draw bridge is hanging useless on the other side, the pulley unreachable. Phaedra signals her sister to come closer. The slope makes it impossible for them to cross the black abyss, so the Cleric orders Alvra to go to the other side over the walls and ceiling. Halfway the Fighter gets stuck in another concealed web and even his considerable strength isn’t enough to pull free.

The Scout spots the missing aranea on the other side of the fissure, gesturing in a strange way. She shouts a warning to her brother, who is a sitting duck on his immobilized mount. Not a moment later Alvra is hit by three magic missiles; his lizard by an arrow. The result of another attack by a bugbear, which is hiding behind the crates. Jharrath sends a mephit over to the other side, while the Cleric casts dancing lights to reveal two more archers.

Though Phaedra tries to wound the aranea, the beast hurls a ball of acid at the poor trapped lizard. In an attempt to break free, Alvra surrounds himself with darkness and orders his steed to bite through the web, but to no avail. His sword has more success and he slowly advances again.

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Meanwhile the fight rages on. A fierce breath attack by the mephit damages the bugbears, while Lilith’s ray of slashing darkness hurts it even more. Phaedra takes a stone from her backpack and throws it at the feet of the aranea. A sound like thunder echoes through the cave. Then two earth elementals materialize near the bugbears, and pummel one to death. When the salt mephit gets hit, it flies upwards and surprises the aranea with glitter dust. The spider creature is momentarily blinded. The Wizard’s fire bolt ends its life, while Lilith uses a darkfire spell to kill another bugbear.

When Alvra dispells his darkness, he is confronted with a hovering mephit. He instantly attacks, aided by his lizard, but the mount misses and is barely to hold on to the wall.

You idiot, that’s MY creature!

the wizard yells at his brother. Fuming, he dismisses it, while his earth elementals kill the last bugbear.