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













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 14 - Ruallith the Arachnomancer

Uktar 11, 1372 DR (Midnight) Deep Wastes: Glouroth's Chasm to Lich's Mire

Veracity and Brianna's watch also passes without incident. The two ladies wake up Tebryn, Igor, and Yol, and retire to their sleeping nook. Tebryn settles down to watch the forward passage, while Yol and Igor settle down in the rear.

Igor and Yol sit in silence for a while.

"Are there any cities down here where you can buy stuff?" asks Igor. "Or do we have to wait until we return to the surface?"

"Oh, there are many cities in the Underdark," says Yol. "Maerimydra, for example. But, we hear that death and destruction has swept through that place, so I wouldn't assume there will be anyone there would sell you anything." She scowls at him. "Not that they'd likely sell to humans, any way."

Igor snorts, and the pair sit in silence.

(4:00 AM)

In the wee hours of the morning, Tebryn spots a female Drow with seven mirror images approaching cautiously. She stops about sixty feet away from him and stares at him. Behind her is strange construct: a smoothly sculpted stone statue of a spider, fully twenty feet in diameter and five high.

Tebryn ducks around the corner and crouches. He reaches out to shake Hazen's ankle. When Hazen stirs, he whispers: "Trouble coming".

Hazen jerks. " Huh? What?" he says, loudly. Tebryn shakes his head. "Idiot!" he whispers. "Quiet!"

The drow conjures. A thick opaque wall of webs appears, stretching from one wall of the cavern to the other, and reaching from floor to ceiling, separating Yol and Igor from everybody else. Her jade spider advances thirty feet, and now stands between the drow and the party.

Tebryn teleports back to Yol and Igor. They look up in surprise and start when they notice the wall of webs. "Trouble, guys," says Tebryn. "I'll take you back across that wall." He holds out his hands.

Yol stands and conjures some mirror images. She takes Tebryn's hand.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall, Hazen stands up and kicks Kress. Kress stands and draws his sword, looking around for a foe. He shrugs, and activates his glow stone.

The drow steps forward, right behind her pet. She looks at Hazen and Kress, and mutters an arcane incantation. A horrible scuttling swarm of hand-sized spiders appear, covering the two Dargasians, and spreading out around them for ten feet in all directions. Hazen and his cohort are slightly bitten.

The jade spider lumbers forward another thirty feet and shoots forth a web of glowing green energy at Kress. He dodges, but a force cage made of webs surrounds where he had been standing.

Igor takes Tebryn's hand and the mage utters an arcane word. The three disappear and immediately appear right behind where the drow and spider had been. Igor runs up to the drow, drawing his sword. He swings, and cleaves through one of the mirror images before landing a solid blow on spellcaster herself. She wheels around, her mouth open in shock and surprise at the unexpected attack.

Yol lets go of Tebryn's hand and pulls a small ball of guano from her spell component pouch. She hurls it at the jade spider and a twenty-foot radius ball of flames engulfs both the construct and a section of the swarm. The statue is completely unaffected, but the spiders in the swarm are reduced to ashes.

"Spiders! So, where are the girls? Going to sleep through yet another battle?" He activates his invisibility. Within seconds, the curtain to the alcove shifts aside and Hazen's voice screams at the sleeping damsels. "Get up! Giant spider!". Veracity opens her eyes and stares at him. Brianna sits up and rubs her eyes, before picking up her lyre and standing. "All right Hazen. You can leave now. We're coming." The curtain closes.

Kress moves up to the jade spider, drawing his long sword. He strikes at it, damaging it slightly.

The drow stares with horror at Igor and withdraws to the opposite side of her pet. She practically backs into Kress, and gasps when she recognizes her predicament.

Veracity stands up and fades from sight as she activates her ring of invisibility.

Tebryn chuckles. He casts a pair of silver pins to the ground and a lightning bolts starts at the jade spider and arcs to the drowess. Neither is affected in the slightest, and Tebryn scowls.

Igor flies up behind the construct. "This looks tough," he comments, as he activates his cloak of displacement.

Yol moves up and sends a volley of three bolts of force at the drowess. They all fizzle harmlessly when they strike her. Yol scowls, even more than usual.

One of the drow's mirror images pops and the formerly visible Hazen appears.

Brianna steps out of her sleeping nook and quickly assesses the situation. She starts to sing a hitherto unfamilar song, directed specifically at Kress.

Kress ignores the jade spider and steps towards the drowess. He swings his sword three times, cleaving through two images, and hitting the drow herself twice. With wide eyes, she stares at him and transforms into a gargantuan monstrous spider with three mirror images, filling much of the space between her pet and Veracity's sleeping nook.

The jade spider slashes powerfully at Kress with one of its fore-legs, injuring him severely. It slashes him with another leg and then bites him. His body starts to stiffen, but the warrior resists the petrification. "Yow!" calls Kress. "Talk about being between a rock a hard place!" He looks back and forth in consternation at the two spiders looming over him.

The curtain to the sleeping nook rustles and moves. Veracity's voice speaks an arcane phrase, and Hazen, Kress and Brianna all seem somewhat quicker.

Tebryn runs up behind the jade spider. He stares at the transformed drowess and utters a single arcane word. "Blind!" he says, pointing at the gargantuan spider. Its eyes turn milky.

Igor steps up to the construct and swings his greatsword at it three times, connecting solidly each time.

Yol moves up behind Igor and mutters. A disembodied hand appears, floating at her side.

Hazen stabs four times at the gargantuan spider, succeeding only in destroying its remaining three images.

Brianna continues to sing, and Kress feels a wave of greatness washing over him. He stands taller, and feels even more robust than usual. He swings his long sword at the construct, connecting with it twice. While the creature is distracted, Igor takes the opportunity to strike it again.

The gargantuan spider shrinks down again into the form of the drowess. She turns her head blindly in all directions, panicing, before retreating into one of her spider swarms.

The jade spider slashes Kress twice again. Each slash continues to bleed freely. It bites him, and yet again, Kress resists being turned into stone.

Veracity mutters and appears, her hand pointing at the blind drowess. Her face falls, as her spell fails to affect her foe.

Tebryn gazes at his companions. "You hasted that side of the battle? I'll do the same for this side." He incants, and Igor, Yol, and Tebryn all seem to be moving faster.

Igor strikes the jade spider twice and it slumps to the ground.

Yol conjures and sends her spectral hand over to touch Kress, healing a lot of his damage, and closing his bleeding wounds.

The blinded arachnomancer had backed herself into a corner. Perhaps she thought that the dense swarms of spiders would slow down her enemies and give her a chance to escape, but any such hopes were dashed when Hazen moved right up next to her and stabbed her with his dagger. "Ouch!" he yelps, as the hand-sized spiders swarm over him, but the valiant duergar stands his ground. Kress moves up next to his master and strikes powerfully at the drowess. With a single uttered word, she vanishes. "Where'd she go?" wonders Kress.

From across the cavern, Veracity watches the battle. When she sees Ruallith disappear, she nods. "Time to run, eh? But where?" she wonders. She looks to the left, down the passage through which the attackers had come. "Your lair may be that way, but if you go back there, we'll come across you soon enough." She looks back at the wall of webs and slowly nods. "But, if you think to escape that way, you'll succeed unless I chase you. You're mine!" Veracity utters an arcane word and vanishes. Only Brianna, standing fifteen feet away from her companion, notices.

The various fighters look around. "No more foes," says Igor. "Looks like the battle is over." He deactivates his cloak.

"She shouldn't escape death that easily! Let's see if she's on the other side of the wall." says Yol. She incants and waves her hand at the wall of webs. "That's permanent."

"I'd think she'd try to escape back to her lair," comments Tebryn. "Surely it's in that direction?" He points in the direction the drow had come with her spider.

"Perhaps she was on her way home when she found our camp," says Igor.

"Maybe," says Tebryn. "Or maybe she was just wandering. If she went back the way she came, we'll find her tomorrow. She's not going anywhere. She's blind."

"No, I think we need to go through that wall, immediately. What if she's escaping? Maybe we can burn through," suggests Kress. He walks up to the wall. "Hmm, Anyone have a fire?" He looks around and sees that some of the spiders are still smoldering from Yol's fireball. He runs over and picks one up. "Ouch! Yow! Oh!" he screams, juggling the red-hot coal before dropping it. He sucks on his fingers. "Come on. Fire, anyone? Hurry!"

"All right," says Igor, walking over to the wall. "But what's the rush?"

"She might be getting away!" responds Kress.

Igor hold up his hand and presses his ear to the wall. His brow furrows as he listens intently. He straightens his back and turns back to his companions. "I don't hear anything. What were you planning on doing, anyway? Just running off through the dark?"

"Come on, Igor," begs Kress. "Burn it! I want to chase her."

Igor sighs. He rummages through his pack and pulls out one of his nunchaku. When he utters a command word, one end of it bursts into flame. He smiles. "I've been wanting to try this out! Stand back." He applies the flaming end to the thick wall of webs, passing it back and forth, to no effect: not even a scorch mark appears on it. He utters another command word and the flaming weapon extinguishes itself. "Sort of like that giant spider's web in Szith Morcane," he comments as he stows the nunchaku. "Impervious."

"I must get through," says Kress. He draws his longsword and charges at the web. "Yah!" he screams, hacking wildly. Igor leaps back and stares at him in astonishment. Hazen's jaw drops.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall, Veracity had appeared just past Ruallith. Upon seeing her blind foe, she smiles grimly and draws her sword. Ruallith steps forward and bumps into Veracity. She freezes, and Veracity stabs her. Ruallith slumps to the ground.

Veracity crouches over her dead foe and reaches out to touch her holy symbol. She sighs. "Lolth. Would that you had parleyed, rather than starting out with an attack. Well." She stands and incants. She starts to scan the fallen drow for magical auras. "Hmm. Interesting cloak, unusual leather armor, a dagger with ... necromancy? And a boring old ring of protection, I wager." She quickly looks through her foe's pack and frowns. "Nothing." She leans over, grabs the drow's arm, utters an arcane word, and vanishes.

She appears with Ruallith's corpse at approximately the same place she'd left, outside her sleeping alcove, about forty feet behind the humans. She releases her burden and straightens her back, staring in astonishment at Kress's little display. Brianna spies her and runs over with a grin to hug her companion. Tebryn glances over at her and then down at the corpse. He smirks and looks back at Kress.

"Aargh! Yah!" screams Kress as he frantically slashes at the wall. With one mighty slice, he finally cuts his way through and dashes into the darkness beyond. "I'll get you!" he calls, as his footsteps fade into the distance.

His companions stand in amazement, shaking their heads.

"Considering that Veracity brought back our foe, I don't think Kress will find her," says Tebryn. He chuckles and walks over to Veracity, followed by Igor, Yol, and Hazen. "Is she dead?"

"I'm afraid so," says Veracity. "I couldn't resist stabbing her, although I immediately thought better of it. She'd likely be easier to question as a prisoner, than as a corpse. But, it's not easy to hold back."

"That's what you said with the fish-man," says Igor. "It certainly is easy to control yourself."

Veracity smirks. "That's what you said with the fish-man, Igor. If you think I'm easy to control, let's see you try!" She eyes him speculatively.

Tebryn hides a smile with his hand and turns away. Igor just smiles and shakes his head.

Veracity sobers. "But, you are right. If we want to question her, Yol will have to do it." Yol nods.

"Does she have any good stuff?" asks Hazen. He crouches over the body.

"Unusual cloak - not abjuration, so not resistance. Unusual armor - it's got illusion on it. Boring ring - abjuration, just like any ring of protection. And a dagger with minor necromancy in it." Yol looks up, her eyes gleaming. With a thin smile, she picks up the black serrated blade, and fingers it gingerly.

Veracity picks up the cloak and takes it over to Brianna. "Try this out!" Brianna removes her cloak and puts on the new one. She seems even cuter than usual to the eyes of all. "I think this is like my old one, but more powerful." Veracity smiles at her and nods appreciatively. "You should wear that!" Brianna grins back at her and nods.

"I could use it too," suggests Hazen. "Although, I am probably cute enough."

Veracity looks at him appraisingly and nods. "Yes. It would be wasted on you."

Hazen beams. "Right! Brianna should wear it."

"Look at this," says Veracity. She leans over and picks up Ruallith's holy symbol. "Lolth. But, she was clearly no cleric. Even if Lolth weren't silent..."

"Druid, maybe," suggests Tebryn. "Those swarms she summoned, and that shapeshifting into a gigantic spider." He frowns. "Well, that was unusual. I didn't think druids could shift into the form of vermin."

"That wall and her teleportation magic - seems arcane, not divine," says Veracity. "but, she's clearly no wizard. She doesn't have a spell book. A shame - I've never seen a wall of web before and it'd be interesting to learn it. She was a sorceress, I assume."

"Perhaps she left her spell book at home," suggests Igor.

"If so, home is close," says Tebryn. "No wizard travels more than a half day from home without his spell book. And if her home is within half day from here, it must be that way." He points in the direction Ruallith had originally come. "There's no way we'd have missed that huge spider construct in the direction we came."

"We can track her lair tomorrow," says Veracity. "You know, with Hazen's dog. After Yol questions her." Hazen brightens and nods vigorously. Yol also nods.

Veracity yawns. "Lets go back to sleep." She picks up the Ruallith's holy symbol and goes into her alcove, followed by Brianna.

"Where's Kress?" wonders Hazen. Veracity stops at the door of her alcove. She looks towards the wall of web and concentrates. "I think he's on his way back now, Hazen." She puts up the blanket over the entrance to her sleeping nook. "Stay out, Hazen. No more barging in!" Aside from a few giggles, nothing more is seen or heard of her or Brianna that night.

"I'll only come in if we're attacked again," says Hazen. He walks over to the sundered wall of web and looks through it, frowning. Several minutes later, Kress returns. He walks stiffly to his sleeping place and lies down. "I must return to my sleeping spot and sleep," he says. He closes his eyes and soon the sound of gentle snores fills the air.

Hazen looks down at him with a worried expression. "Something's wrong with you, big guy. First the way you charged off frantically, and then the way you returned and just fell asleep. Hmm."

Yol comes up. "Very strange," she comments. "You didn't even beg for healing, although you need it. I'll cure you, anyway." She conjures, twice, and heals some of Kress's wounds.

"Thanks, Yol," says Hazen. Shaking his head, the gray dwarf lies down himself and falls asleep.

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Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
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