To Alvra’s relief, two of his javelins can be salvaged. The relief doesn’t last long though, for soon he feels sickened. The others tend to their equipment and investigate the cave. Then Lilith hears a dark voice inside her head.
Continue your journey alone!
This time she feels she must obey the command. There’s only one way forward. The cleric tries to crawl through the opening, but it is too narrow: she will have to take her armor off. Phaedra helps her sister shed the metal protection. Her way leads upwards and she has to fight her way through debris. Then she finds herself in a small room, fifteen feet in diameter. Something is staring at her, best defined as a swollen tumor, bristling with spider legs. The abomination seems to be in eternal agony. Lilith suspects this is one one she was looking for. There still seems to be some drow awareness left. Contorted by pain it says:
The Spider Queen warned me you would come. You have failed her!
I don’t believe a word you say.
The Shunned lets out a wail of agony – the noise ear splitting – but Lilith is determined and believes wholeheartedly in Lolth. Her faith shines strong and she is not affected by the wail at all. The cleric counterattacks with two darkbolts, but she doesn’t succeed: her spell fails. Mumbling
I knew it, this is my chance,
the creature attacks, but something magical stops her. Frustrated she steps back. Lilith immediately lashes out with her flail, adding extra fire damage, and hits the creature twice. Suddenly a swarm of spiders floods from the Shunned’s mouth. The hairy spiders swarm towards the cleric, but her fortitude proves too strong. The Xaniqos merely shrugs her shoulders and concentrates on her opponent. She calls on her deity to grant her Bebilith Blessing, but again the connection to Lolth seems severed. Nothing happens! The Shunned tries to sink her teeth in the Xaniqos, but misses. The spiders it set loose on the drow swarm all over Lilith, but so far they don’t harm her.
Another flail attack misses, and the extra bonuses she was granted, also disappear. The Spider Queen does not seem interested in this fight. With her rod of grievous wounds, the drow finally is able to make a statement. The Shunned hisses
Surrender! Lay down your weapon!
but Lilith laughs at her, her resolve is high. To make a statement, she attacks with her flail and scores a hit. The Shunned controlled spiders don’t seem to like that and bite the drow. The Shunned also sinks her teeth in the cleric’s side, but two more flail attacks end that bite feast quickly. Lilith feels sickened though, especially after another attack of the spider swarm. Again the creature bites her and a wave of weakness flows through Lilith’s muscles. Grinding her teeth, she ignores her wounds, takes a tanglefoot bag and aims it successfully at the Shunned: the beast’s movements slow. That gives her the strength to handle her flail again, but before she can get ready for a second attack, the Shunned’ face changes into the image of Phaedra.
Sister, it’s me! This is a trick of the Spider Queen, don’t fall for it!
Lilith’s faith never wavers and with determination she lashes out with her flail, putting her whole strength – at least what is still left – into the attack. She scores a full hit. The creature’s face changes back to the Shunned. Then the spiders disappear and slowly the creature topples forward. She is dead.
The cleric falls down on her knees and bows her head to her deity. Gratitude fulfills her. This time her prayers are answered.
Your faith in me has been very strong, Lilith. You have not doubted me, and you should not. Return to your house and know that you have pleased me.
The bites on her arm transform into a spider mark under her skin. She crawls back through the corridor, where she is greeted by her brothers and sister – they seem happy she made it. When Phaedra helps her don her armor, she notices that Lilith is covered in tiny spider bites, and a mark on her arm is bright red.
In the ghetto, the Xaniqos siblings are not bothered on their way home. They arrive back at the gate, where the Matron Mother already is waiting. She seems pretty interested
Welcome back. You succeeded in the test of Lolth. House Xaniqos is blessed with yet another High Priestess. You make us proud!
Even Quarra realizes the importance and kisses her sister on the cheek, while lady Thandysha kisses the other.
This experience has taught you a lot. Wear this amulet to remind you of that and may Lolth bless you with her eternal wisdom. Go and rest. Next week there will be a party in your honor.
The siblings sleep well that night. When Lilith wakes up, she notices that the wounds on her arm changed into two circles, enclosed by eight smaller dots. It resembles a spider bite, encircled by spider legs.