Spiders are pouring out of the portal: more black scuttling swarms and some large flesh spiders with snapping, venomous mandibles. Elgold, quick as lightning, casts a necrotic spell around the portal. Ghastly hands reach up from the earth and drag the flesh spiders down to oblivion. With another magic word Elgold seals the portal and it winks out of existence, leaving only the remaining swarms to be stamped out by the party.
Once the last of the spiders has been squashed, everyone takes a moment to catch their breath. Then Haleth, now free of the metal spider’s influence, announces he needs some sleep. He drags himself over to the shade of a large stone and soon falls unconscious.
Beneath the morning sun Enna and Elgold pick amongst the remains of the spiders. Expertly, they find useful parts, such as venom sacs, that will sell well when they return to town. The wizard pokes at the inert remains of the mechanical spider and determines that it has no magical energy remaining. However, Enna feels uncomfortable in its presence. Elgold obliges her by using his fire magic to melt the thing into a vapour that drifts off in the breeze.
It is afternoon when Haleth eventually wakes up. He looks and feels so much better. The party have made camp and have kept watch over him. They have been untroubled by any unwanted visitors, though Enna suspects that they are still being watched by something in the treeline a mile away.
The group discusses what to do next. Enna would like to travel on to the place marked on the Sea Devils’ map found in the underwater cave. However, Ilwyn would rather return to the forest temple to search and loot it. Enna is reticent about this and convinces Elgold her scheme is better. But Ilwyn persuades Haleth that the temple would be a more profitable (and closer) target. In the end Caecius holds the deciding vote and elects to explore the temple.
Enna’s reticence seems to come from her belief that there is a great danger in the forest she’d rather not face. The dryads they fought beneath the earth represent a primal natural power more terrible in its own way than the gods the party worships. In spite of her fears the elf leads the way back to the temple of Lolth. The first time they’d seen it it had appeared to be a beautiful shrine to Angharrad. Now it appears as a squat and menacing pyramid in a shadowy glade.
Enna’s intuition tells her they have been tracked all the way to this place, but she cannot not see any enemies. Gingerly, the party activate their magical light sources and step down into the dark interior of the temple.
The old temple to Lolth seems as overrun by nature as when they’d last seen it. Enna, attuned to the subtle ways of nature, at first thinks that the forest has tried to conquer the spider goddess’s lair. But after a while she begins to wonder whether she had got it wrong all along. Could it have been that the temple’s malign influence is actually overpowering the local ecology?
There is no time to speculate further. Turning a corner into a corridor broken by protruding roots and vines, the group see the figure of a man in front of them. He is lying on the floor, injured and weeping. On seeing the party he reaches out imploringly.
“Please help!” he cries. “I managed to get away, but they are coming!”
“Don’t get close to him!” says Enna. “I recognise this man. This is another deception!”
“Who is he?” asks Haleth.
“He resembles a man names Boreas,” the elf replies. “He is a man I was sent to hunt down…”
“Enna!” cries Boreas. “Will you not help me? They hurt Eruwen! Did terrible things to her!”
Enna bites her lip, unconvinced by the performance. Carefully she asks: “Do you know why I have hunted you here?”
“Yes,” says the young man. “It is because I know the secret of the White Way…”
“What’s that?” says Haleth, his interest piqued.
“None of your business!” spits back the elf ranger at the fighter, who bristles. “This one is false,” she says, raising her bow and aiming at a point near the injured man’s left eye. “He’s another glamour, like the Lady Eruwen we saw before…”
“His wounds look real,” notes Caecius, closely inspecting the many cuts and slashes on the man’s body.
“And look, he bleeds!” shouts Ilwyn, gleefully darting in to slash at Boreas’s leg. Boreas cries out in pain and whimpers at the fresh injury, which wells up on his skin.
“But…” whispers Enna, her fey senses picking up every minute detail of the scene, “if he is real, how did he crawl here leaving no blood trail…”
The party falls silent, their eyes all focussed on the man whose pained face folds into a snarl.
“Why do you have to make it so hard!” he shouts. And then his form begins to flow like water and he sinks into the wall.
Moments later new shapes begin to flood out of the walls, appearing where any root or plant has broken through the stone. There are moving vines and the woody bulks of hamadryads advancing on them. Then the great form of a dryad emerges from a wall and begins to slash at Elgold, saying: “Why resist? Why do you not submit?”
Enna, standing by the wizard, jumps back and looses a biting volley into the dryad’s vitals. “Submit to what?” she cries.
“To the Lady Lolth, you stupid creature!” the dryad roars in pain just as Caecius charges in and knocks her over.
Elgold, free of the dryad’s distraction, makes a few deft hand gestures to magically armour himself then looks over to where Haleth and Ilwyn are desperately fighting a group of snapping vines and the hamadryads. Then he drops a blast of fire and a cloud of steaming acid directly on top of the fighter.
The plant creatures burn under the onslaught. So does Haleth who swears he now hates goblins, elves and wizards equally for all they’ve done to him recently. But with a few deft strokes he chops down the burning creatures.
While everyone is distracted by the magical explosion, the dryad absorbs herself back into the roots in the walls and disappears, only to emerge moments later near Haleth. Ilwyn, battling a vine that is trying to grasp and hold him with long plant tendrils, manages to fire off shuriken at the bloodied dryad.
“Don’t kill her!” shouts Enna. “I need to ask her where Eruwen and Boreas are!” But it is too late. The goblin’s attack shreds the dryad and its carcass falls to the floor, lifeless. The battle is over.
- 4 x Bloodweb Spider Swarms
- 8 x Flesh Spiders
- 3 x Hamadryads
- 3 x Greenvise Vines
- 1 x Dryad
- 100gp of spider parts.
Experience per Member
- Encounter 1 – 480 XP
- Encounter 2 – 350 XP
- Bonus – 400 XP
- Running Total – 16,633 XP (Level Up!)