Jerker, Nate, Azrak and Aderian returned from the swamp, covered in muck and convinced that the edict to stay out of it was probably made with good intent. Three of four of the creatures fought dealt poison which was made more significant by not having Ferris and his collection of anti-venom. Still, they considered the haul of loot from the Trolls to have made the trip worthwhile. They agreed to turn their attention back to the Tosasth Valley to search for the field of sandstone.
Tienarth greeted them as they led the horse back to the homestead. He’d worked with Hocuspo, teaching him the magic missile spell. The intention was to bring the young mage along. On the 22nd, Ollie and Ferris joined the rest of them, walking up to the ruined tower. Ollie spent some time digging in the dirt floor of the tower, contemplating finding or creating a dungeon underneath. Meanwhile, Tienarth transformed into a hawk and soared over the valley, searching for the sandstone. He found nothing of particular interest and met them at the tower as the sun was setting.
The next morning (11/23), they walked to the river camp and used the balance of the day to explore around the camp. They encountered no threats. Tienarth resumed his survey of the northwest end of the valley and came upon the ruins of a monastery (hex 0002). A cemetery lay next to a ruined church, it’s roof long collapsed. Narrow buildings extended out from the church to enclose a square courtyard. A group of humans made camp there and were busy sifting through the rubble.
Presently, a cry went out as one of the men spotted three gnolls. Bows were snatched swiftly, and arrows dropped one of the gnolls. The other two gnolls turned to run and disappeared into the forest. Tienarth related the story when he returned to the river camp for the night.
Deeming the monastery worthy of inspection, they left the road and climbed up in the mountains on the western side of the valley (11/24). From a higher elevation, they looked down on the ruins as the men there woke for the day, pestered by a leader to get moving on the day’s tasks. Tienarth cast a spell of invisibility on Ferris who walked down to spy on the men. He counted eleven fighting men and six men trained in thievery, plus a leader who was ordering the men to keep excavating the various rooms. The buildings seemed like dormitories for monks in the typical mission style.
Eventually, Azrak and Aderian marched down to confront the men. The leader was surly and described the ruins as his claim. Aderian countered that by right of might the ruins were now his, but he offered a contest. Planks were laid out as a crude table. Aderian and the leader hunched over and locked arms. If Aderian won, the men would leave; otherwise, the raiders would leave the ruins to the explorers. Naturally, Aderian’s enhanced strength was no match for the leader’s. He agreed to pack up and leave.
The leader explained they were searching for the lair of a bandit, Mettik, who was known to operate a gang doing crimes against the communities to the west. These villainies included burglaries and kidnapping. His lair was thought to be in or near a monastery. Having finally recognized Tienarth’s Raiders, the leader suggested they take on the quest to find Mettik.
Half of the day remained as the men walked off. Most the party began overturning rubble in the various rooms and finding nothing of value. Meanwhile, Ollie ventured outward. Presently, the trees gave way to a clearing. He spotted a slope of loose rock at the foot of a 200′ tall cliff. A cave entrance opened where the loose stone met the cliff face. Ollie returned to the group to share the discovery, and they all went back as a group. The sun hung low on the horizon as they stood at the bottom of the slope, looking up.
Suddenly, arrows cut down at them. One struck Tienarth. Three bugbears reached to nock more arrows. Instantly, the fighters rushed to scale the slippery rock slope. Ollie, Azrak and Nate bounded up to the cave with little trouble. Jerker and Aderian found the footing difficult and made little progress. The two mages remained on solid ground, as the fighter traded blows with the bugbears who had slipped on bucklers and grabbed maces. The mages fired magic missiles, Tienarth via his wand. For several long moments, Jerker and Aderian continued to fail to reach the cave.
Ferris, still invisible, circled around to the bugbears and attacked from behind. Unfortunately, his blade glanced uselessly off the mail shirt worn by the bugbear. His invisibility was ruined, and while he still had some advantage of position, he now noticed a large spider behind him. He spun to face it as his croaked out a magic spell. Light lept from it’s spindly legs and attached to the thief’s eyes. He was thoroughly blind. He struck out wildly.
The bugbears were worn down by many magic missiles, and Jerker also reached the cave aided by a spell of levitation cast by Hocuspo. The bugbears died from one too many magic missiles. Ollie and Nate stepped up next to Ferris to strike down the spell-casting spider. Aderian finally got to the cave as the monsters were slain. Nate healed himself by power of faith.
Ollie looked down into the dark cave. The 25′ wide cave rose up and then opened into a larger cavern just at the limit of his vision. He spied the face of a humanoid with a spider-like face.
Little conversation past before the fighters agreed to rush the monster. Ollie pointed out the thick webs, saving them all from a sticky trap. As Aderian, Ollie, Azrak and Jerker reached the crest, they looked down at the spider-like humanoid (an ettercap), then two huge spiders crawled out of the darkness, both focusing on Olllie. The ettercap bit Aderian. Venom flowed into the wound and he felt his limbs go numb. The spiders stung Ollie who also felt the numbing effects of venom.
The huge spiders were 15′ across. Hairy legs supported a grotesque blob of a body. Goo oozed from their mandibles. Ollie suffered wicked bites but shrugged off the venom. Meanwhile, Aderian took another bit from the ettercap and succumbed to the effects, falling helplessly to the cave floor. Azrak stepped up and began dragging the former pirate towards the entrance. A general call for retreat was made as Tienarth made it to the cave mouth.
Jerker stepped up to confront all three creatures as Ollie made a fighting withdrawal. The spiders began biting Jerker, but his body resisted the venom. He stepped back 10′ as Tienarth encircled the spiders in a wall of fire. Arachnid flesh sizzled under the purple flames. Enraged, the huge spiders pushed forward to escape, burning even more. The ettercap attempted to follow and was burned up.
Owing to their size, the spiders were single file down the cave as they pursued Jerker. Presently, Tienarth cast a haste spell. Jerker easily stepped away and then slid down the slope of loose rock. Ollie and Ferris worked together to retrieve anti-venom from a pouch. The next moment, he poured the potion into Aderian’s mouth, and he could move again. Most of the party had exited the cave, but Tienarth had just finished his spell. Ollie chose to stand in front of the old elf as the spider continued to approach. Once again, he was bitten by the huge spider but shrugged off the effects of the venom.
As the elf and dwarf scrambled down the slope, the spider pushed it flame-scarred face out of the cave mouth. Jerker hurled a boulder at it and popped its disgusting body like a blackened pimple. They all turned to flee, but Ollie cried out, “what of the treasure that must lie in that cave?!?” They paused to consider rushing back to the kill the remaining spider, but quickly dismissed the idea. Tienarth led them back to he ruins to rest.
Tienarth and Ferris offered what healing they had. In the morning, Tienarth expected to provide further healing. They rested overnight undisturbed. Thus ended the 24th day of the 11th month.
- Treasure: none!
- Combat 2,055 xp
- 3 Bugbear Guards 615 xp
- Aranea 205 xp
- Ettercap 360 xp
- Huge, Monstrous Spider 875 xp
- Characters 257 xp
- Aderian (fight, lead) 288 xp
- Azrak (rugged, underground, fight) 265 xp
- Ferris (surprise) 285 xp
- Hocusbo (avoid combat) 285 xp
- Jerker (fight, lead, in front) 290 xp
- Nate (fight) 285 xp
- Ollie (rugged, underground, fight, protect) 267 xp
- Tienarth (wilderness, avoid combat) 262 xp