Chapter #921

previous chapter (#920)                                                                  next chapter (#922)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2006 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+   Belphanior     15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief        +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Otto           10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+                                                                         +
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven warrior                             +
+   Date:          9/3/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          late morning                                           +
+   Place:         an acid-damaged cavern somewhere in the Underdark      +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win."             +
+                                                    - Jonathan Kozol     +

                   CMXXI.  Eight-Legged Freaks

  Belphanior's group has returned to one of the gateways within the
Underdark, where the forces of Al-arakara previously did battle with a
band of drow.  Unfortunately, the dark elves left behind a guardian of

gigantic spider:  (quivering in place as dozens of smaller, ten-foot
  spiders scuttle across the walls and floor)
Skektek:  When in doubt, go for the leader.  (he points the Elemental
  Conduit at the big spider, grinning)

  The wizard's grin quickly turned into a confused frown, because the
powerful magical rod didn't emit a great blast of fire as planned.

Skektek:  (shaking the rod)  What the hell...?!?
Belphanior:  (grabs him by the collar and flies backwards)  We're got
  to move back - they're flanking us!

  They retreated aerially, back toward the alcove, which surprised the
first of the adventurers to emerge from the alcove into the main cavern.

Otto:  (looks up as Belphanior floats by overhead)  What the hell?
Belphanior:  Look out ahead - we've got spiders!
Mongo:  (tenses his legs, thinking about leaping up from the pitted
  cavern floor, then realizes that there's no need)

  It wasn't like there was anywhere to move "up" to or "out" of here;
the cavern was simply higher vertically as a result of the acid damage
to its floor.  The spiders were already scuttling into the rough pit
that was the cavern's floor, which suited Mongo just fine.

Mongo:  Spiders, huh?  (he hurls Stormcrest, pulverizing the nearest
  of the smaller, ten-foot-wide insects)
giant spider #1:  (it dies instantly, its head and part of its torso
  smashed into pulp by the force of the hammer's blow)
Otto:  (takes aim, firing a bolt at another spider which approaches him
  from the right)
giant spider #2:  (hit in the head, it quivers and staggers a bit as it
  advances, more slowly now)
Otto:  (smiles grimly as his enchanted weapon reloads itself with a new,
  magically-generated bolt)  Stay right there.  (he fires again, and the
  second missile joins the first in the spider's head)
giant spider #2:  (collapses, convulsing wildly)
Mongo:  (catches Stormcrest, then hurls it again)
giant spider #3:  (reels as the hammer punches through its torso)
giant spider #4:  (scuttles toward Mongo)
Otto:  Watch out!  (he fires again, clipping the spider's head)
giant spider #4:  (pounces on Mongo)
giant spider #5:  (moves toward Otto from the left)
giant spider #6:  (moves toward Otto from the right)
Otto:  Shit.
Ys:  (bounds forth from the alcove, sword held high)  Never fear, my
  small friend.  (he takes a mighty swing, cutting one spider in half)
giant spider #5:  (sprays green goop everywhere as its two pieces fall
Otto:  Thanks!  (he shoots spider #6, wounding it)
Razor Charlie:  (throws one knife, then another at the spider, causing
  it to back up and quiver in pain, even as it hesitates, unsure what
  to do next)
giant spider #7:  (joins the wounded spider #6)
giant spider #8:  (joins the other two)
Razor Charlie:  (realizes that his knives aren't going to be the weapon
  that kills any of these things, and darts aside with incredible speed
  as yet another spider darts at him)
giant spider #9:  (missing Charlie, it turns to follow him as he moves)
wispy thing:  (flies around the spider's head, hissing madly)  sssss!
giant spider #9:  (hesitates, confused by this tiny, intangible being)
Ys:  (brings his huge sword down, cutting the spider's head off)
giant spider #9:  (dies messily)
giant spider #6:  (along with spiders #7 and #8, they advance on Otto)
Belphanior:  Not so fast.  (he launches a sheet of flame which catches
  all three giant insects, burning their legs off first before igniting
  their bodies)
Otto:  Thanks for-

  Just then, the spider that had pounced on Mongo was somehow lifted
off the floor...

giant spider #4:  (flailing its legs madly)
Mongo:  (stands, holding the spider by one leg as he twirls it overhead
  in a wide arc)

  Unfortunately, the spider's body was relatively fragile (at least when
subjected to this abuse) and the leg broke free suddenly, causing the
main body to sail away into the depths of the cavern.

Mongo:  I'll be broke.  (he catches Stormcrest, then uses
  it to bash the wounded spider #2)
giant spider #2:  (dies, finally, as its head is reduced to black and
  green pulp)
Skektek:  (flying above, he aims a fist at the much larger spider in
  the background)  I'm not going to waste any time with the little ones.

  The thunder ring, which had seen less use lately after Skektek gained
the Elemental Conduit, still worked just fine.  A massive bolt of pure
electrical power shot forth, arcing through the webs and the darkness
and hitting the thirty-foot spider squarely in its main body.  A loud,
booming thunderclap accompanied the lightning bolt, shaking the cavern
and nearly deafening some combatants.

gigantic spider:  (flagellates wildly as the burning energy fries its
  body and ignites the webs nearby)
Skektek:  And there's an added bonus:  we get some light in here.  (he
  now brandishes his wand of fireballs, wondering if he can destroy some
  spiders without causing a backlash that burns his allies)  Maybe if I
  hit it just right-
giant spider #10:  (clinging to the cavern's ceiling above, it drops
  suddenly, knocking Skektek out of the air as both fall to the rough
Skektek:  (shrieks in surprise even as the fireball he just launched
  flies away in a random direction, its course ruined by the spider's
Belphanior:  Crap...hang on!  (he swoops down to help the wizard, but
  is swiftly intercepted by the webs cast down by another spider above)
  Dammit!  (he struggles with the webbing, but quickly finds himself
  becoming entangled)
giant spider #11:  (begins to reel in the snared prey)
Mongo:  (looks up, then cocks his arm back, aims, and lets Stormcrest
giant spider #11:  (loses its head, literally, to the flying weapon, and
  hangs there, suspended beneath the ceiling by its webs)
Belphanior:  (also hangs in place, about fifty feet below the dead spider
  and twenty feet above the ground)  Oh, great.

  Just then, Skektek's stray fireball hit the far wall, exploding with
a tremendous blast that had three major effects.  First, it incinerated
five spiders that had been lurking on that side of the cavern, even as
it bathed the party in a hot but harmless heat-wash.  Second, it set all
of the remaining webbing on fire, which served to illuminate the cavern
and reveal the dozen or so giant spiders that had not yet joined the
battle.  Third, it somehow weakened the rock of the cavern wall, for
dust and rubble began to fall from above.

Otto:  Well, that's not good.
Elgon:  (completes the casting of his spiritual hammer, and uses the
  magical weapon to bash the spider that attacked Skektek)
giant spider #10:  (turns its head and flails a few legs at the gnome,
  who quickly backs up out of harm's way)
Jenna:  (trying to figure out what spell of hers might be most useful
Ys:  Enough.  (he lines up a careful blow and splits the spider's back
  open with his sword)
giant spider #10:  (leaps off of Skektek and flops over onto its back,
  its legs quivering weakly)
Mongo:  (having caught his hammer, he slaps the dying spider, finishing
  it off)  Is Skektek hurt?
Jenna:  (already examining the unmoving wizard)  He's poisoned - it bit
  him a couple of times.  Cover me while I work some healing magic.  (she
  begins spellcasting)
Mongo:  Consider it done.  (he spots vague movement above, and hurls
  Stormcrest again)
giant spider #12:  (dropping from above on a line of webbing, it is hit
  hard, and swings in place, unmoving, like some bizarre pendulum)
Mongo:  We need to kill the rest of these spid-  (he gets conked on the
  head by a falling rock the size of a ham)  What the hell?
Elgon:  This place is collapsing!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Why?
Ys:  That fireball.  It was Skektek's fault, I'm afraid.
Elgon:  Damn...he must have hit a fissure or weak spot in the rock.
Jenna:  And he paid for it...I've stopped the poison, but we need to
  move him somewhere safe, where we can clean his wounds and cast more-
Otto:  Let's get the hell out of here.  (he looks up at Belphanior, who
  is slicing away the webs that hold him suspended above the ground)
Belphanior:  (watches bits of rubble fall all around him)  Almost done...
wispy thing:  (hovering near Belphanior, babbling helpfully)  sprrr.
Belphanior:  Well, thanks for nothing.
Mongo:  (to Otto)  He may not cut it in time, and I can't hit him with
  my hammer to knock him loose...(he looks upward, then throws the weapon
  at the spider's corpse, far above)

  The hammer hit the spider, which jiggled the web-line between it and
Belphanior far below, which combined with the elf's weight and all the
cutting he'd already done on the webs...and shook him loose!

Belphanior:  (falls for about five feet, then regains his flying
  balance)  Thanks.
Mongo:  No problem.  (he catches Stormcrest as it returns)  Let's get
  the hell out of here!

  They ran back to the entry alcove, Ys carrying the unconscious form
of Skektek over one shoulder.

Otto:  (catches the wizard's fireball wand as it falls from a pocket)
  He'd hate us if we let this get lost...

  There were some remaining spiders, but they apparently had better
things to do than chase intruders through a collapsing cavern.  The
group made it back to the gateway alcove, where Belphanior activated
the magical device.

Ys:  I wonder why this continues to happen...why big underground caverns
  and chambers always seem to collapse on us?
Belphanior:  Probably because we spend a lot more time than most people,
  in big underground caverns and chambers,
Otto:  (glances at the unconscious Skektek)  Not to mention that we use
  more powerful, destructive magic in said places.

next:       regrouping, and the next mission
released:   5/26/06
notes:      It's hard to make giant spiders non-boring after the various
  adventurers have encountered such monsters so many times in the past.

previous chapter (#920)                                                                  next chapter (#922)