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"You didn't have to ask what we're doing with our Charter because we told you," Ilya says, raising an eyebrow and looking at the hermit with a smirk. "Still, Viktor, I hardly think it will risk countless lives to bring the old man some berries..."
"I tire of this lunatic," Zinovia whispers to the group. "If we happen upon some of these fangberries that he desires, then we can consider our options. But for now, let us be on our way. It is not our task here to make pleasant conversation with every misbegotten inhabitant of the Stolen Lands."
In the hushed, whispering council initiated by Zinovia, Estanos interjects, " We should, indeed, be on our way. I keep hoping we'll stumble upon the lost temple Brother Jhod asked us to find. And we can little accomplish that standing here, conversing with this apothecary."
" With regards to his errand I, at least, have no concerns about the man. I feel nothing ill in his manner; only... interesting," the priest finishes with a shrug.
Viktor nods in agreement with the others. "Indeed. We should move on. It is likely that we will find these fangberries in the course of our explorations," he says. "We can return at that point. However deluded, he may be a valuable ally in these uncivilized parts."
The old hermit waves you away with his hands, as if you were large and undesirable flies. "Yes, yes, come back with berries. Don't get eaten. That just makes the animals bigger and then I might get eaten!"
8-9 Gozran, 4708
You set out once more, heading east across the expanse of plains, much like those that have come before. They slope into rising hills dotted with copses of trees, often cut by millennia of harsh winters into rocky cliffs and ridges. Soon, as the hilly plains continue, you come to the edge of your Charter's jurisdiction. From the top of a hill, you can see that, to the East, the region known as the Nomen Heights rise higher still, with cloudy mountain peaks in the distance.
You turn back Westward, travelling south. The hills give way once more into the familiar flatlands that you have spent much of your time traversing. Spring has brought forth wildlife and even many of the few stubborn hunters out of hibernation. You spot the occasional man walking through the grass, inevitably headed up towards Oleg's Post with a brace of rabbits or a skinned dear over his shoulder.
10 Gozran, 4708
On your fourth day on horseback since leaving Oleg's Post, as you near the forests of the Greenbelt, the grasses of the plains turn to green scrubs, gravelly dirt, and the ever-present mosses that cling to rocks and the trunks of what few trees there are. The sun shines brightly, and cool gusts of wind swoosh through the air.
At noon, you see a strange sight. On a patch of plain that seems like any other, lie an assortments of bones. They are laid out in no particular pattern or semblance of order, but instead lie randomly, strewn. The recognizable ones seem to be those of animals: a large elk skeleton fallen on its side, and several deer skulls...
Your keen eyes note that, at the centre of the strange boneyard is a circular patch of earth unlike the rest, slightly darker than the rest. And then, as you look at it, it moves, sliding up a few inches, as though the circle has been lifted up like the lid of a jar. And from underneath, you catch a glimpse of eight pairs of beady black eyes watching your party. The earth closes shut again.
"What a nice man," Tireas says in a dull voice as they continue on their way.
As the group approaches the newest location, Tireas comments, "That's odd," as he viewsthe animal remains, wondering what could have caused it. When he notices the slight shift of the earth however, he takes out his blade and quietly says, "Watch out. Keep your eyes to the ground."
Preparing an action to attack anything advancing at Tireas
Avatar by A Rainy Knight
DMs get experience too, you know. Every time a player dies, they level up.
"The ground?" Ilya says, sounding skeptical. "Whatever for? I doubt the earth is going to suddenly decide to try and swallow us up. Or has anything in particular inspired your new fear of dirt, Tireas?"
Viktor scowls, about to bark a retort at Tireas, but stops himself. The demonspawned is probably right, he thinks. Ilya isn't prudent, and if there is some peril lurking it is best to remain quiet. The paladin says nothing, but rests his hand on the pommel of his sword and scans the terrain.
"What have you seen, Tireas?" Zinovia weaves her fingers, touching her amulet. Her already pale flesh grows yet more white, draining of blood, and her choker glints red. "I will summon up a creature to draw out whatever is the threat."
Assuming Tireas tells her, Zinovia will summon an infernal dog as close to the source of the threat as possible.
Zinovia summons up a black dog, its eyes red and hellish, with bristled fur, near to where Tireas spotted potential danger. It barks once, a warning. Then with a rumble, the ground opens up in front of it, shifting. The top layer of soil forms a lid over a deep pit, and it is pushed up by long black legs, roots trailing behind as the trap is revealed. An enormous black spider has pushed it off, and now speedily leaps from the pit. Its mandibles crunch down on the dog. In a flash, the spider retreats, back towards its hole to feast. When its meal vanishes without warning back to whichever hell it was pulled from, the spider hisses in anger. Its eyes focus beadily on your party...
Big black circle is the pit.
Grey spots are rocks. They can provide cover if you're behind them.
"I say we wait for it to come to us. Zinovia, Ilya, Father Estanos... you may wish to stand back a bit." Tireas speaks as the predator octuple eyes them down. "Cover us while Viktor and I have some fun."
Preparing another action + a 5foot step if the Spider gets near Tireas or Viktor.
Staying put in the meantime.
Avatar by A Rainy Knight
DMs get experience too, you know. Every time a player dies, they level up.
" Aha. A pit -plus- something else. " Estanos says, trying to remain calm as he reaches out and grips the ninja's hands even as they hold on to the hilt of his sword." Sarenrae, guide his aim."
Moving as Tireas suggest, he takes a step backwards, away from the spider, so that he can still reach either of the two 'warriors'. He shakes his head as he says, " You know, I honestly feel bad for the poor thing. Its no idea that what its doing right now has doomed it. What must that be like..."
5' Step 'down' after casting Magic Weapon on Tireas' katana. Slice and dice.
Zinovia laughs darkly. "It is a mindless beast which would likely have devoured us without a second thought. I shall not mourn its passing when we prove ourselves stronger." She steps backwards, sending a bolt of magic flying towards the spider's eyes.
Step back and to the right so that she ends up ten feet back in the column of squares currently occupied by Viktor.
"Eugh!" Ilya exclaims. "How horrid! I suppose this is why we've been chartered. Who'd want to live in a place swarming with great hairy spiders? Best do our jobs then," he says, knocking back an arrow as he looks at the vermin with a look of mild revulsion on his face.
The giant spider recoils, struck my Zinovia's evocation and Ilya's arrow, though the latter nearly misses. Viktor's sword comes crashing down on it as the paladin charges in, while Tireas is prepared for battle by Estanos' magic.
With a hiss, the spider bites at Viktor, its mandible's clicking. But rather than going for the kill, it clamps onto the paladin, holding him. And then, latched to the paladin, the monstrous arachnid begins to retreat into its burrow, dragging Viktor forcibly behind it until he is poised over the pit. Despite his struggles, the vermin is too large and strong. He is held out over the pit, and then released! He hits the bottom with a crack, landing in a web-covered nest rife with desiccated bones. The spider looms over him on the edge of the pit...
"Viktor!" Ilya screams as his friend is dropped into the pit by the giant spider. Unable to see his fate, the bard runs forwards frantically. If he's alive, the spider mustn't get back in it's pit, he thinks. Extending his hand and mouthing an incantation, an opalescent sheen coats the ground under the spider's eight legs.
Moving forward twenty feet and casting Grease on the four squares that the spider is on. DC 14 Reflex Save or fall prone (and get Tireased if it tries to stand again )
" Wait, Viktor! That's what it wants-," the words die in Estanos' throat. Too late. Too late. He can only look on in horror as the Paladin vanishes from sight.
Now, however, rushing forward is the only solution they've got. Hurrying after Tireas, Estanos stays just behind him, his eyes locked on that pit, already trying to think of ways to get down there fast enough to help Viktor in case he's on death's door.
Taking a move up to the hex just 'below' where Tireas winds up as the result of his charge.
Viktor grunts in pain as the spider's mandibles bite into his flesh. Suddenly, he finds himself crumpled at the bottom of the pit. Shaking his head against the pain, he raises his shield defiantly. Abadar protects me, foul creature, he thinks. By his will, I shall not fall this day.
Zinovia's eyes widen as Viktor falls. Damnation! He may be a fool of a paladin, vermin, but he is my fool! To prove her point, she sends a wave of searing pain emanating through the spider's meagre brain.
Ear-piercing scream: (2d6+1) damage and stunned. Fort DC 18 for half damage and no stun.
The party rallies to Viktor's defence. Tireas runs up and delivers a deep slice into the spider's thorax. Its eight legs give out under it with Ilya's spell, a sight that would surely be comical were it not for its monstrous size. Zinovia's spell finishes it, sending it into a painful, spasming death.
It takes everyone a few minutes to free Viktor from the web-lined pit, but, with the use of a coil of rope and the horses' strength, it is an easy task to pull him up. During his time in the pit, Viktor finds the corpse of a humanoid, fully skeletal, with a few inedible scraps of leather armour remaining, as well as a silver amulet with the familiar stag's head icon. Alongside it is a stained piece of parchment, a crude map marked with a picture of a claw-shaped dead tree atop a hill with an X drawn beside it.
Loot: Stag Lord amulet, 25 gp, a map.
Looking at the map, you decipher that it likely refers to an area south of you (F4 on the OOC map).
The rest of the day passes without incident. Estanos' healing mends all injuries, allowing Viktor to easily continue.
Seeing as there isn't any more activity, I'm going to assume Estanos has more than enough healing to get Viktor back to full HP.
If there's anything you'd like to do with the spider scene, by all means, post it at the beginning of your next post, or write about it in a journal.
11 Gozran, 4708
The next day sees you move further south in your explorations. The hilly plains and highlands of your previous travels turn to a more verdant grassland, where blossoming flowers, berries, and brambles grow amidst seas of tall green grasses.
At sunset, you pass by a pair of low hills that rise from the plains, each rocky, as though pushed up from the earth only recently.
You catch a glimpse of something unsusual: an opening between the two hills. It is a narrow, gash-like fissure that seems to be the beginnings of a cave of some sort.
Estanos diligently tends to the paladin's injuries; it isn't more than a few minutes before he's back on his feet, feeling as fit as a fiddle. Miracles on demand are wonderful.
~ ~ ~
Cantering along, Estanos is half daydreaming when he spots something out of the corner of his eye. Shaking his head, he pulls up alongside Tireas and taps him on the shoulder, and nods his head at what he has spotted. " A moment, please. I think... yes, there. Look, can you see it? A sort of a cave?" He points it out, hoping that his eyes aren't just playing tricks on him. " What do you think? More spiders? "
Zinovia sighs, her pallid face contorting in an expression of distaste. "Whatever it may be, it will be unpleasant and laborious. But as our purpose from the outset has the same characteristics, I see little reason not to investigate. Shall we proceed?" Unless she meets with any objection, the wizardess spurs her horse towards the area Estanos has indicated.
The sun sinks between the pair of hills as you turn your mounts towards them. The cave Estanos spotted is a fissure in the side of one of the hills. It is craggy, jagged granite, half buried by the hill's grassy topsoil. It is difficult to see far inside, but what the sun's faint rays reveal is the beginnings of a wider chamber inside. You can make out a low ceiling with several small, hanging stalactites close to you, while the rest of the cave falls away below this into blackness. A few furry bats flutter up out of it, the first to venture out on their night hunts.
"Well, a cave, how fascinating," Ilya says, sounding vaguely bored. Then he jumps as the bats fly out. Smoothing his doublet and blushing, he returns his attention to the entrance. "Light. Yes, of course. This will do," the young man says, picking up a rock from the ground which suddenly glows brightly in his hand.