Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 11 - The Truly Horrid Umber Hulk

Uktar 8, 1372 DR (Midnight) Deep Wastes: Lake of Shadows to Glouroth's Chasm

During the second watch, Veracity and Brianna sit quietly in the darkness at opposite ends of the camp, attentively guarding both approaches.

Suddenly, with no warning, the ground next to Kress rumbles and straight up through the rock burrows a truly horrid creature. Towering sixteen feet tall, it seems to be a hideous cross between a great ape and a beetle, with a hulking powerfully built body. Its arms end in huge powerful claws. Above its clicking mandibles it has two beetle-like compound eyes with two smaller eyes between them. All four eyes glare with malevolence as it leans forward and viciously claws Kress.

Kress stands and the creature claws him again. He draws his weapon and looks up at it. He gasps and stiffens, but pulls himself together enough to yell to his companions. "It's a gigundo umber hulk! Cover your eyes!"

Veracity, out of range of the monster's confusing gaze, conjures. "This is serious. Haste for all of us..." She yells. "Wake up! Wake up!" Hazen, Tebryn, Yol, and Igor all wake up.

Brianna gulps, but averts her eyes. She starts to sing an inspiring song of heroism as she sidles into the center of the party.

Tebryn stands. He stares directly at the monster. "It's all or nothing," he comments, as he incants. A thin green ray shoots from his hand and strikes the abomination, dealing a slight amount of damage to it. "Nothing, as usual," comments the mage, ruefully.

The umber hulk slashes Kress with each of its massive hands and then bites him hard. Kress turns white and falls over.

Yol gulps. "Perhaps it is your time to meet Hel, Kress, but I hope not." She averts her eyes and backs up to the fallen warrior. As she approaches, the monster claws her powerfully, gashing her painfully.

Hazen stands and stares at his cohort in consternation. He lifts off and flies behind the creature, drawing his weapon and muttering.

Veracity stares intently at the monster and gestures at it, to no obvious effect. The drowess frowns and draws her bow.

Igor stands, gazing at the ground. He moves up next to the umber hulk, drawing his greatsword as he approaches.

Tebryn continues to gaze at the monster. "Be blind!" he commands. The monster stares unblindly back at him. Tebryn curses.

The umber hulk gazes at Igor and claws him twice. The second slash was exceptionally deep and Igor blanches, but, stalwart warrior that he is, takes it. The monster bites him.

Continuing to gaze at the ground, Yol incants and touches the unconscious Kress, healing some of his wounds. The fallen warrior opens his eyes and looks up at the priestess.

Hazen meets the creature's eyes and stiffens. He pulls himself together and stabs it four times, each blow striking a vital part. With the creature momentarily distracted, Igor, too, slashes it powerfully.

Veracity shoots three arrows into the monster.

Igor slashes it one last time, and it falls. Both Yol and Igor leap to the side, but the huge body falls onto the unfortunate Kress, injuring him yet more.

"Whoah!" says Igor. He runs up to Brianna. "Please! Heal me!"

Brianna nods. She stops singing her song of inspiration and switches to a short tune of healing. With a touch, she cures some of Igor's injury.

Tebryn stares at Hazen and Kress. "Based on what I saw, I think that gaze got both of you." He incants, and fine motes seem to flare in a thirty foot cube around the creature, enveloping both Hazen and his cohort. "With luck, that should take care of it."

Kress pulls himself out from under the fallen monster. Staring at Yol, he ungratefully swings his sword at her, slicing her seriously.

Yol gasps. Staring at the warrior she had just healed, she backs off and withdraws as far as she can.

Hazen pulls himself together. He stares at his cohort in disbelief. "Why'd you do that, Kress?"

Veracity shakes her head. She incants and stares intently at Kress. She frowns, as if discontented with what she sees.

Igor moves up to Kress and disarms him.

Brianna's stares at Kress in disbelief. "Kress! How could you?"

"He's confused, Brianna," says Tebryn. "OK. No more wide-area dispelling. Perhaps if I concentrate on just that effect ..." He incants and points at Kress.

Kress's eyes clear. He looks down at his sword and up at his companions. "Uh. I'm sorry," he says, sheepishly.

Veracity gazes at Kress again and concentrates. He puts his hands up to his arm pits and starts to flap his arms like a chicken's wings, while hopping on one foot and clucking. Veracity smirks and stares again at Kress, who resumes his normal behavior.

He looks down at himself in confusion.

"Pull yourself together, big guy," says Hazen. Kress nods.

Yol creeps back. "Is he safe?" she asks, keeping her eyes on Kress.

"Yes," says Veracity. "Tebryn dispelled his confusion."

"OK," says the cleric. She scowls. "How about if we trade pearls?" she suggests. "I can do more curing, if I have the weaker pearl."

Veracity shrugs. "Very well," she says, and the two spellcasters trade their pearls of power.

Together, Yol and Brianna heal all of Kress's and Igor's injuries. Kress is very quiet as Yol ministers to him. When she finishes, he looks at her. "Sorry," he whispers.

Yol shrugs. "Don't apologize," she replies. "There is no shame in being an instrument of death."

"That was too close to death for comfort," says Kress. "Let's sleep late."

His suggestion meets no objections, and the rest of the night passes quietly.

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Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn.
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