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













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 5 - Into the Deep Wastes

Uktar 2, 1372 DR (1:30 PM) Szith Morcane

The party descends the web and enters the hole to the Bazaar. No merchants offer their wares today. Lining up in their usual order with Igor and Veracity in the lead, the adventurers exit through the passage in the back. It leads to a huge cavern, stretching back hundreds of feet. The floor is covered with tilting slabs. Many are covered with fungal growths or bulbous houses. A few dark figures move about between the fungus patches and the houses.

Following Solom's instructions, the party encounters nobody. The path leads into a tunnel. The party stops at a heavy swinging iron grate, padlocked shut.

"Let me look at that," says Hazen. He moves up and starts to examine the grate. Suddenly Veracity covers her ears. With a pop, a vrock, surrounded by mirror images, appears in front of Igor. It opens its mouth and emits a stunning screech.

Veracity draws her weapons and pops one of the images. Kress draws his weapon. Tebryn covers his mouth and yawns. "Ho hum. A vrock. Kill it," he says. Igor draws his weapon and strikes the demon.

The vrock lashes out at Igor with both claws and attempts to bite him. It misses him all three times and howls with rage.

Yol watches from the back with interest. Hazen wheels around, draws his weapon, and pops an image. Brianna cheers. Veracity strikes the true creature with the sword of Kas. Igor takes the opportunity to strike it with his great sword, slaying it. Its body dissipates into vapors. "I got a piece of the vrock. Good distraction, Veracity!" says Igor.

Tebryn shrugs. "Must have been summoned," he observes. "If it had been called, the body would have remained after it died."

"You are welcome, Igor," says Veracity. "How did the demon get summoned here, anyway? It went straight after you."

"Didn't I tell you?" says Igor. "While we were riding to Dagger Falls, I spotted a scrying sensor. Then, I heard words in my mind, saying: 'One of your companions is destined to serve me, fool. When the time is right, you will learn the meaning of vengeance.' I thought back: 'Maybe we all would like to serve you. Who are you?' but I got no answer." He laughs.

Tebryn also laughs. "Since you administered the killing blow to Dorina, I bet Irae scried you and sent this demon after you. She must think of you as a one-man army coming after her!"

Veracity stretches. "Of course, I killed Velasta and Zedarr."

"Don't forget me!" says Hazen. "I killed Velina. But, I am perfectly satisfied to not be noticed by Irae."

Igor laughs. "Bring her on! I can show her what I already know about vengence."

"All right, back to work," says Hazen. He examines the grate and lock. "No traps here!" He flexes his fingers, rubs his hands, and pulls out his thieves' tools. Veracity steps up next to him, holding the key she'd found on one of the officers.

"I'm ready to pick this," says Hazen. He spots Veracity holding the key. "Then again, we could just use the key." He steps aside, muttering to himself. "I've never understood the point of keys. They are so useless - they only work on ONE lock." Veracity opens the lock. The party moves through and Veracity locks the grate behind her.

The party is in a natural cavern which is eighty feet long and twenty wide. The walls, floor, and ceiling are all unworked stone. The ceiling varies from fifteen to twenty feet high. Stalactites hang down from the ceiling towards upward-stretching stalagmites. The floor is uneven, with scattered debris.

"Welcome to the deeper Underdark!" says Veracity.

The party makes its way slowly over the uneven floor of the cavern. Sometimes the cave narrows enough that the group must walk in single file. Sometimes it widens so much that even the drow with their superior darkvision cannot see the walls to either side. Likewise, the ceiling varies, dipping as low as fifteen feet overhead.

The floor of broken slabs and littered rubble is difficult. Occasional ice-cold streams cross the passage, forcing the group to wade. All in all, the terrain is difficult enough that the group only moves at half its normal overland pace. Considering Hazen's stubby dwarf legs, that amounts to about one mile per hour.

Having moved for the whole afternoon through the Underdark, the party has traversed a full four miles, when Hazen suggests that it is time to call it a day.

"Let's camp here!" suggests the lazy gray dwarf. "That was a good day's trek!"

"Surely we can press on?" says Veracity. "At this rate - your rate - it will take us weeks to get Maerimydra. Why start with a short day?"

"Hey, we started late!" retorts Hazen. "And we had to travel through Szith Morcane and fight that vrock before we even started this part of our journey."

"I am hungry," says Igor. "It does feel like evening to me. We may as well eat and camp. We can start earlier tomorrow."

Veracity sighs. "Fine."

The group eats its meal of trail rations and retires early. They decide to set watches through the night, lest some monster attack when all are sleeping. Hazen and Kress are to take the first watch, with Kress's glow gem. Brianna and Veracity have the second watch with no light. Tebryn and Igor will watch through the third period, with Igor's glow gem.

"Good planning!" says Hazen. "On each watch, we've got one person with brains and one with brawn!"

"Sometimes they're the same person - as on your watch," says Veracity.

"Yeah!" says Hazen. He frowns. "Wait..."

Veracity laughs. "Let's turn in."

The night passes without incident. At the end of the third watch, Tebryn and Igor wake up their companions. Everybody eats breakfast and the spell casters prepare their spells for the day.

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