By Carey Sauerbrun
As the sun drops slowly from the sky, the small band moves about, gathering the remains...
Brendan moves over to the mule that Amber had purchased, where he retrieves both his miner's pick and his spade, and very shortly the dwarf and Authari have a good start on some shallow graves. Corin moves off a bit to a small rocky creek to the east and, with the help of Brianna, begins lugging some of the water-rounded stones back to the grave detail.
Meanwhile, Amber and Mililani move several hundred feet to the northwest and, finding a rather nice spot where several of the great pines grow closer than usual and another smallish creek chuckles down the slope, they set up a camp for the night.
As full dark rolls over the Marching Mountains , the last of the fallen adventurers are interred. The orcs are dragged away from the improptu cemetary and rolled down a gully, soon forgotten. Those that wish indulge in a field bath in the rather cold creek (it's maybe a foot deep - enough to get clean but there won't be any swimming). Settling into the dark camp, the small band trades tales and speculations on what they might find, and even if they're on the right track...
[OOC - the requirement is 8 hours of rest for mages to regain spells. They don't have to be asleep, and chatting around the camp counts. I'm setting the watch to allow Mililani to have last watch (for prayer purposes). Jeff, if her required prayer time is not first thing in the morning, let me know and we'll change it up next time. Watch length - approx. 1 hour and 20 minutes. Order - Authari, Amber, Brendan, Corin, Brianna, Mililani. That said...]
After everyone has settled down, the first half of the night passes smoothly. Just as Brendan is rousing Corin for his watch, both men hear something scuffling through the forest, not very far from the camp. Scanning the night, Brendan sees the scuttling form of what can only be a massive spider, scuttling toward the camp! "Spider!" the dwarf hisses to Corin, grabbing up his club...
[OOC - 8% chance of an random encounter, and you buggers finally hit jackpot. It's a large spider (it's legs span a good ten feet from one side to the other...) Mike, if you can, go ahead and post for Brendan. If I don't get a response after a couple days, I'll post for him. At this moment, only Corin and Brendan are aware of the threat - the others are racked out. Brendan has his leathers on, but no one else is armored.]
Not bothering to retrieve his armor, Corin quickly rolls to his feet, drawing his sword in the same motion from its scabbard. Straining his eyes in the darkness of the night to locate the threat – the low, banked fire providing only sparse illumination – Corin hisses to the dwarf, “Where, I can't see it.” Shuffling over to the fire, the ranger feels around for a branch with his off hand.
Briefly resting one end of the branch in the campfire – the dry wood catches flame quickly – the Tethyrian points the flaming stick away from him, turning a slow circle to view the camp and locate the threat.
As Corin moves to light the branch, Brendan, with a feral gleam in his eyes, howls, "Right There!!! Follow Me!" The dwarf is already moving, charging into the shadows with a bellow of excitement...
The dwarf's bellow, though, is more than enough to wake everyone else in camp.
As Corin's makeshift torch lights up, the ranger can see the faint outline of the spider that Brendan warned of. A massive creature, easily ten feet across.
With a growl, Brendan covers rushes forward to face the creature...
[OOC - alright, let's go into combat rounds. Everyone should be awake now, and can react in one more round. Let me know what you're going to have them do...]
Awakening from her light slumber, Mililani immediately clutches her morning star and punch dagger. She rolls away from her bed with the haste of Maskite thief in the night. She kneels and focuses all the available light through her eyes (low light vision) with the blessings of her elven heritage. She scans the immediate area for spiders to determine if there is more than one.
"I hate spiders," she utters with disgust in the darkness. Then following her first comment, a quick incantation can be heard as well.
Immediately, the night illuminates, with the area around the Mystran priestess filling with a soft light. The massive spider and the dwarf, now almost on top of each other, can be seen in the shadows, well outside the limits of the spell, but within the ambient light. Mililani can see them, and Corin, easily with her enhanced vision...
Even as she picks the combatants out, the spider, scuttling with appalling speed, snaps out with it's fangs and catches the dwarf in the chest, punching through his leathers easily. Brendan grunts, and his club, raised high to smash the spider into goo, slips from suddenly slack fingers to thud into the ground behind him. The dwarf crumples to the ground...
Immediately, the arachnid snaps out again, catching the dwarf in the throat. Brendan doesn't even flinch as the fangs enter his flesh...
Brianna, crouching in the tangles of her bedroll, rattles off a spell of her own, her eyes wide at how quickly the dwarf, who had commited himself to helping her find the Lost Harem, falls under the onslaught of the massive spider. With a gesture and a sparkle of sand being consumed by magic, she finishes her spell...
The spider, it's fangs still embedded within the dwarf's neck, pauses for a moment before it slumps to the ground awkwardly, overcome by the witch's Sleep spell.
Authari stumbles from his bedroll, and with a longing glance at his chain armor, picks up his battleaxe and moves toward the dwarf and ranger, able to make out the scene in the light from Corin's makeshift torch and Mililani's Light spell. In moment, he closes the distance.
So too does Corin, covering the distance quickly, but not quite soon enough to aid Brendan before Briana's spell takes effect.
Amber wakes up with sleepy eyes, with a dreamy voice she says "What ... What's happening?" She gets of her bedroll and grabs her spear that have been lying beside her all through the night. Looking around she sees what the commotion is all about and she says ´with a tired voice "Oooh I hate spiders." She begins to weave patterns in the air and a sphere of magical energy begins forming between her hands. Then, realizing that she can't really make out a target in the bad lighting, what with the largish shadow of the spider and those of the two men blurred together in the darkness from where she sits, she dismisses the spell before it can form.
[OOC - I used the tiniest bit of DM license here, but not much. The spider's first attack on Brendan would have dropped him like a poleaxed steer regardless, though I admit the second "attack of opportunity" as the dwarf falls was of my own doing. I also picked the sleep spell for Briana, not really thinking it would work, but the spider actually failed it's save. Lastly, I held off having you lay into the thing individually after it fell asleep, since that changes the situation slightly. You are no longer in combat rounds, though that might change quickly.]
Authari continues his advance, gripping his battleaxe in both hands. He covers most of the distance to the spider... [OOC - will be able to attack next round, Doyle...]
Mililani looks on in shock as the large spider slays her newest companion. She sadly shakes her head and, climbing to her feet, retrieves her crossbow and loads it. [OOC - fire on the next round Jeff...]
Amber, spear in hand, moves forward, closing the distance to where Corin stands over the sleeping spider...
At the same time, Brianna dons her mask and climbs to her feet, preparing to rush forward as well... [Jay and Dan - Amber will be able to attack next round. Brianna has two move equiv actions (mask and rising to her feet). She'll be able to close the distance next round].
Corin, after closing the final few feet to the monstrous spider [five foot step], carefully positions his blade against the massive spider's thorax and, with a vicious, merciless shove, sheathes his blade in it's body...
Though the wound is massive and the spider is obviously seriously wounded, it is just as obvious that the spider is still alive. With an agonized chitter, the great spider shudders awake...
[OOC - Corin got a coup de grace on the spider. Didn't do enough damage to kill it outright, and the spider made it's fort save. Continue with combat rounds!!!]
Amber continues forward with her spear ready. Closing the distance to the severely injured arachnid, the sorceress jabs out with her spear...
The spider however, shifting a bit, avoids the Calishite woman's thrust.
The young Rashemi witch slows her advance toward the fallen dwarf and reaches for her trusty sling. Placing a small lead bullet in the sling she takes aim at the huge spider...
The monster is large enough to allow the woman a target. The stone hisses through the air, but just misses the spider high to vanish into the dark.
Mililani and Corin move as one. The Mystran raises her crossbow and, using the same opening that Brianna tried to exploit, fires on the creature. Corin warily jabs out at the monstrous spider at the same time...
Mililani's bolt follows the Rashemi witch's stone into the darkness. At the same time, the spider manages to avoid Corin's defensive slash, raising two of it's legs out of the way of his strike.
Authari, moving up next to Corin and Amber, whips his axe out and down, even as the spider, deeply hurt, begins to scuttle backward...
He too misses, his axe passing between the spider's legs as it drifts away from him. In moments, the creature has retreated into the darkness, quickly moving into the shadows.
Even so, the creature's eyes can be seen glittering in the faint light of the torch and the spell of light surrounding Mililani.
The Mystran priestess chants and weave her hand before her. "In the name of the Goddess of the Weave, I utter misfortune and dread at thy minion of the Underdark." In the darkness of night, magic motes of sky blue, silver and lavender leave Mililani's fingers and unerringly move towards the spider...
As far as anyone can tell, the spell has no other effect...
[OOC – casts Doom]
Warily stepping forward, torch held high and his sword making defensive patterns in front of him, Corin advances towards the retreating spider. At the same time, Authari stalks closer to the spider, trying to move in close enough to land a blow with the axe, but unwilling to move beyond the light cast by the ranger's torch. As the two move toward the spider, the light of the torch barely illuminates the massive spider. It's mandibles, partially open, drip with Brendan's gore...
Brianna readies another bullet and sends it flying at the beast's glittering eyes. The bullet, whipping in just low enough, cracks into the spider's front and ricochets into the night. The spider chitters in pain...
Scuttling back again, the spider once more edges into the dark, with only it's eyes reflecting the light of Corin's slowly advancing torch...
With a curse in alzhedo Amder takes a a step back to put some more distance between her and the creature. Her hands begin to move through the air and she speaks the words that will relase the arcane energies.
The scintillating bolt of energy, guided only by the reflection of the light on the spider's eyes (which is enough to give a visual reference), sparkles through the night to ruin one of those dark orbs...
Recoiling from the magical strike, the spider vanishes into the night.
Only moments later, however, the leggy form comes back into view as Corin continues to advance with his lit torch. Turned partially away from the five remaining companions and with it's legs curled up under it, it's obvious that the great creature has succumbed to the sorceress' magical bolt. Not surprising considering how much damage Corin's blade had inflicted.
In moments, the others can easily see the fate of the creature. Brendan, now lying in shadows, remains where he fell. It's still late at night...
Donning her veil and robes, Mililani retrieves her mace and stands. She utters a soft incantation and within moments the studded ball of her weapon shines brightly with divine light. Fearing the worse, the Mystran healer can only surmise that he has bled to a poisonous death. If not he's closer to his god now, then he will be. She quickly makes her way to the fallen dwarf seeing if anything can be done for her comrade, even in the last moments of his life.
"Anyone injured," she calls aloud as she advances towards the dwarf. "speak up now and quickly."
OOC: Gonna use up another light spell. Carey, I'm gonna role-play through this one until replies come forth.
"No I am fine thank you" she says with a tired voice "is he...uhm dead Mililani?" she asks as she comes up on the priestess and their fallen comrad.
“I'm ok.” Corin says as he shines the light of the torch over the spider's prone form. The flickering light of the torch throws dancing shadows, yet within those shadows the ranger's eyes fall in a deeper darkness as his brows furrow in concentration. Kneeling down next to the dead arachnid, Corin briefly examines the creature before rising to his feet once more. “Hunting spider…” He softly says to Authari, “…that explains the swift acting poison… May the halls of his ancestors welcome him.”
Falling silent, the young ranger walks into the forest a little further, using the torch to light his way…
For a brief moment, Mililani pays no attention to Amber. Her mind occupied with the prayers to Mystra, Morodin, Berronar Truesilver, she utters them without interruption. "Rest well," she says to the fallen dwarf as she closes his eyes. "May the Mother of Dwarves guide you safely home. May the Father of All-Dwarves welcome you into His halls," utters with dutiful respect.
She then turns her attention to Amber. "Yes, he is. I pray to Mystra that no more spiders find our camp," she replies gloomily to Amber. "This spider's bite did him quickly, too quickly it seems." Mililani crosses the dwarfs arms over his chest and tidies the body without staining for hands. Mililani, looking at Amber, says, "Let's bring the body closer to the camp, come the morning we can bury him." Seeing Corin move towards the forest, she says, "don't push to far ahead. We don't if their are more in the night."
Turning to look at the priestess, Authari asks, "Should we not return his body to the village, to arrange transport to the halls of his family?"
Brianna comes to stand over the downed dwarf. She watches as Mililani tends to the body. "May you know eternal peace mighty Brendan," she says in a shaken voice.
Stuffing her mace between her robes and its sash, Mililani places her arms behind the dwarf's back and begins to drags the dwarf's body closer to the camp (hopefully with some help...). Once finished, she takes one of her torches and places the head of it into the campfire. It ignites quickly and she raises it aloft. "It's commendable that each of you wish farewell to our friend, but we need keep an eye on Corin. I'd hate see any other nasty surprises the night has in store for us or our mounts." She hints with this last word.
Using her elvish-aided vision, Mililani looks for the flicker and light produced by Corin's torch and advances carefully in his direction. Her mace is drawn and ready.
Mililani, Amber and Brianna maneuver their fallen companion back to the camp with some effort - the dwarf isn't light. At the same time, Corin moves off a bit into the night, taking his torch with him. Authari trails along.
The ranger soon discovers that this is prime hunting ground for the massive spider. Within two hundred paces of the camp, he can plainly see the spider's tracks scattered about. Within another couple hundred paces, Corin's torch light still occasionally visible to the camp, the two men discover the spider's lair...
The massive web, a good ten meters across and about that high, stretches between several of the great trunks in the area. Near the top, a dark, massive tunnel of web that must have served as the spider's personal hidey-hole gapes blindly in the flickering light. There are several (6) web-wrapped forms strung in the web - one practically lying on the ground and another a good eight meters up, with the others scattered about. One, it's feet only a foot off the ground and angles at about a thirty degree angle, is causing the web to shake a bit with it's continual twitching...
Hasnafar, from his position, is able to see that the torchlight is coming closer and closer through the darkness. The spider, for whatever reason, does not protest his jerking and twitching. Soon, the the torch is only forty or fifty feet away, and he can clearly see the two forms, men, cautiously approaching from out of the dark.
Once again, he thrashes around the best he can, but barely moves, and his loudest cries are muffled by the cocoon of web he is encased in…
Amber toils dragging the heavy dwarf to the camp, "Should we bury him now or wait until the sun rises and hopefully the others are back." She says while she sits down on the ground and then moves a step away when she notices how close she was to the too dead dwarf.
The priestess quickly retrieves the dwarf's blanket and places it over him. "He can wait for now. I'm going after the others," she says. The Mystran goes through her own belongings quickly and removes an unused torch. With her "mace of light" in one hand, she takes it with her other. She proceeds after Corwin and Authari.
Brianna turns to watch the priestess leave into the darkness. Turning back to Amber she says, "I have to get some rest if I'm to be of any use tomorrow." Not waiting for a reply she moves to her bed roll. Before laying back down she looks up at the tree that her raven familiar is perched in and says, "Tetch, good job vith being our lookout, you stupid bird."
Amber follows the priestess with her eyes as well. "I guess I need some sleep to, but I don't know if I will be able to." She looks at the covered form of the dwarf and moves over to her bedroll. Lying down and
closing her eyes she tries to fall asleep.
Looking in revulsion at the remains of the spider's repast, the young Tethyrian looks at his ranger companion and points at the still-moving bundle, saying, "What do you think, Corin? Perhaps the spider had an orc it couldn't stomach?"
“In that case it wouldn't be squirming anymore.” Corin steps towards the moving bundle of spider-wrapped something, “Let's see what the spider trapped, stay on guard!” With that warning to Authari, the ranger pulls a sharp, curved knife from his belt and cuts the webbing open a little. Enough to see through, but not yet enough to let out what is trapped inside…
As Mililani approaches with torch and "mace of light" in hand, she sees Authari and Corin in the dark wilderness. "I see our spider had a home and several meals," she says gruesomely. "Have you found anything of interest?"
As she approaches, she keeps a watchful eye on her surroundings, checking about and looking for more surprises like giant spiders and orcs.
“Just step a little closer Mil.” The Tethyrian ranger says as he peers underneath the webbing, “Looks like we might have come in time to save a life. Don't let your guard down yet Authari!”
Corin proceeds to cut the webbing open further, with a quick stroke of the sharp knife, the unfortunate victim's face comes free of most of the sticky stuff. “Hold still.” The ranger says in Alzhedo, but with a heavy Tethyrian accent as he frees more of the spider's anticipated meal.
"We'll need to take him back to camp once he's freed," she says. "I left the healing kit with my equipment." Corin can establish that her Alzhedo is accented, but Mililani is definitely from "outside" of Calimshan. "Will we check the cave out later? Maybe we might find something we can salvage."
“First let's see what we have here.” Corin replies to the Mystran priestess, switching back to Chondathan, in the light shed by Mililani's mace he continues to cut open the package. Risking a glance, the Tethyrian ranger looks around in the spider's lair, taking interest in any non-edible – for a spider that is – items lying around. “We might actually try to get the others up here, although the horses won't like the smell. This is a more defensible space compared to the open forest.”
Complimenting Corin's speech with Chondathan, The Mystran speaks. "Yes," she replies nodding in agreement. "It would be a better place to defend. However, I hope that the spider was a "he" and not a "she", Mystra willing." She looks at Hansafars bound form. "I'd hate to see size of the egg it lays."
The figure in the webs coughs a few times and draws in deep breaths. In Alzhedo, the figure says, “Spider... bite me, couldn't get out... need help.” The figure is very tanned, and when the webs have been moved aside, it is apparent he is wearing some sort of light robe...
"Mil, your help or Brianna's might be needed here, please go get them." Corin calls over his shoulder as Mililani holds the light nearer. Turning his attention back to the stranger, the Tethyrian ranger sheathes his knife and helps the spider's victim ou of the remaining webbing. Switching back to Alzhedo he says, "Well, you're out of the spider's clutches for now. Hold still untill our healers have arrived."
The figure nods, and replies in Alzhedo, “I'm… Hasnafar… healers, good idea. Hurt bad.”
The young warrior remains standing at guard with his battle-axe at the ready, alternating his suspicious gaze between the newcomer and the surrounding darkness.
Hearing Hasnafar's pleas for help only deepens Mililani's concern for the trapped man. From under her veil she softly bites her lower lip. "Mystra's Weave,"it's a miracle he's still alive," she utters in a mixture of concern and amazement to no one in particular (and in Chondathan too). She motions to her waist as if she is reaching for her healer's kit. It becomes quite obvious that it's back at camp. "I need to fetch my healer's kit." She takes two to three steps back then readies a turn. Corin then speaks.
"Do you want me to wake and return with the others? The last I saw they were bedding for the remainder of the night," she asks Corin in mid-turn and in common tongue. Urgency is now apparent in her voice.
"Here, you will need this," Mililani says as she hands Authari her spare torch as she leaves the cave. "You'll need more light once I leave." As she head outside, you can hear her say, "I'll be swift…"
In a couple minutes, Mililani returns to the camp to deliver her message. Amber and Brianna, not having fallen asleep as of yet with the memory of the massive spider and the corpse of their dwarven companion lying so close, respond immediately...
[OOC - as you see fit, Dan and Jay]
Meanwhile, Corin continues to cut the man in the webbing, Hasnafar, free of his cocoon, while Authari stands watch.
In moments, the captive tumbles to the ground, aided by Corin. The ranger can see that there's a nasty, swollen bite on the man calf, and he doesn't look good at all - pallid and wan. He's obviously been a victim of the spider's poison...
Standing guard while Corin cuts the spider's victim from the web, the young warrior's hand trembles slightly as he observes the stranger's condition.
"Do you think he'll live?" he asks the ranger.
"Wake up!" she says loudly (in common) as she makes a dash towards her healing kit. "Corin's found the spider's den and they've found somebody alive. He's sick with spider's venom and I need you to bring more torches." Rummaging through her belongings with urgent briskness, she grabs the healer's kit and says, "The den appears to be deserted. We may move the camp tonight." Once she has it, she turns and says, "Come quickly."
Amber gets up as the cleric returns to camp with news of the spider dinner. "I don't know what I can do but I come along for sake of not being alone here." she says and follows Mililani and Brianna back to the rest of the group.
Brianna moves in to stand by the others surrounding the newly released being. "Zere, zere, let me have a look," she says trying to comfort the wounded man. Kneeling down, the masked witch examines the man's wound. Placing her hand over the wounded leg she says a few arcane words.
"I have done all I can for ze pain. Mililani can try to help him resist ze effects of ze venom."
OOC: Brianna will cast cure minor wounds as many times as she can.
Seeing the woman cast spells upon him, and feeling somewhat better after each spell… Hasnafar smiles weakly at her…
The priestess frowns and shakes her head with Brianna's actions. "I'll need to teach you something about healing in days to come." Mililani sets the healing kit down besides Hasnafar and lights a spare torch. Kneeling next to him, she plants the torch into the ground and lays her "mace of light" close to her.
"When it comes to poison, it's best to leech the venom from the wound first before bestowing Mystra's favor. You have sealed the wound left the poison in his body." She huffs loudly as she opens the healing kit. "Now," she says as her fingers sifts through its contents, "I'll need to re-open the wound again and leech the venom from his leg."
The Mystran sifts through the contents of the kit and selects a small scalpel, a flat piece of leather, a jar, some powder, some herbs, two small flasks containing alcohol, and a small spoon. Oddly enough, she removes a flat circular tube made of rubber. Mixing the contents into two separate cups, she makes a foul smelling paste in one and a cold broth in the other. She then dips the small scalpel into one of the vials marked "sterilizing alcohol."
"Corin or Authari," she says as she looks at both. "I'll need you to hold him down and still as best as you can while a make two incisions along his leg." Once ready, she gets to work.
Having some experience with poison, Hasnafar realized what this priestess was about to do. When it looked like he was going to be held down, he shook his head and said, “I will be all right…” He grits his teeth and smiles at the caster who is about to help him…
Mililani attends to the spider victim's wound. There isn't any obvious improvement, but there isn't any deterioration either. Some time later, with his leg bandaged and the wound much improved (though there are some new incisions from Mililani's treatment) the man is able to climb to his feet. He is still obviously weak from the effects of the poison.
Brianna's spells (in spite of the new incisions) have done much to restore Hasnafar, and in spite of his weakness, he's functional again.
The small group leads the man back to the camp, pointing out the dead spider on the way, and telling him about the fallen dwarf. Hasnafar settles down using the dwarf's blankets for the night.
The remainder of the evening passes uneventfully. In regard for the spellcasters, the morning is spent in camp. By mid-morning, the women are ready to go.
Once her morning prayers and daily dress are quickly finished, the Mystran places her hands upon Hasnafar and chants her "stuff" in the name of Mystra and her Holy Mysteries.
Hasnafar smiles his thanks at Mililani and says, “Can someone help me get my belongings… also, some of those people up there are probably my companions that did not make it.
"I'd be glad to help," she replies in common. "That and we have a companion to bury as well."
At dawn Corin's first action had been to survey the immediate area about the camp. While not fearing any other large predators this close to the lair of the giant hunting spider, one could never be sure. Returning to the camp he overhears the conversation between the man rescued last night and Mililani.
“I have seen a suitable spot for burial.” The ranger says, “Just beyond that small rise over there…” Corin points towards a small copse of trees behind which the forest floor seems to slope down steeply, “…is an overhanging slab of rock. …The closest we have in the near vicinity to a cave.”
Amber awakes looking a bit tired as she scrambles up from her sleeping place and looks around at those gathered around her. "Good morning all" she says all tough her voice has no hint of this so-called good in the morning thing. Rolling up her bedroll she also begins to eat away on a ration pack from her backpack. Glancing over at the newest addition to the group she says in Alzhedo "I am Amber from Memnon where do you hale from?" Amber is clad in plain clothes including a pair of sturdy boots, leather skirt, a pouch belt, gloves, and a cloak. Her red hair is framed by a scarf, which really makes her green eyes stand out from her light golden tinted skin.
Moving over to his fallen companion, Corin kneels and gently lifts the dwarf in his arms – slightly grunting with the effort. Carefully the ranger makes his way over to the spot he indicated earlier. A massive piece of rock jutting out from the side of the hill. A young sapling growing on top of it, its roots having found a way in the small cracks and crevices that line the stone.
Corin places Brendan's lifeless body as close to the rock as possible, folding the dwarf's arms as much as possible across his torso, securing the club that rests on top of him. Digging in his pockets, the ranger produces two golden coins, gently he places them over the dwarf's eyes. Muttering a silent prayer towards the gods of the dwarves, Corin starts to pile stones and rocks against the body.
Amber kneels down beside the ranger and begins to help pile rocks to cover the opening and encase the dead dwarf.
Authari follows the ranger with his burden to the overhang, then after a slight hesitation, begins to help by fetching large stones for the burial.
Between the efforts of Amber, Authari and Corin, the final resting place for their fallen comrade is soon complete. Taking a few moments of silence before uttering a last farewell, Corin takes his leave from Brendan and returns to the campsite. Leaving the further investigation of the spider's lair to the others.
Brianna rises after sleeping late. It is apparent that she is sore from yesterday's journey. After eating a quick breakfast, and a quick prayer to the northeast, she goes to check on Mililani and Hasnafar.
Hasnafar smiled at Amber, “Hello Amber, as I said, I am Hasnafar, and I used to hail from Calimshan.” His olive complexion was a bit wane, due to the damage done to him by the spider, and his short black hair still had a few extraneous webs in it… but his amber colored eyes matched the smile on his face. His very plan clothes were in need of some sewing and cleaning.
As Corin, Authari and Amber take care of the fallen dwarf with as much dignity as they can manage in the wilderness, Hasnafar and Mililani head for the hunter spider's funnel web lair (once again passing the dead creature), trailed by Brianna.
The Mystran cleric, the spider's former meal and the Rashemi witch all angle across the slope to return to the scene of the previous evening's rescue without mishap, enjoying the smell of pine filling the morning air and a brisk breeze rustling the boughs overhead. After a bit of discussion, a simple solution to the issue of retrieving the bodies from the web is reached - and a torch is tossed into the web.
With a bright sizzle, the web practically melts away in the face of the flame. The web is consumed at such a rate that the flame does nothing to harm the trees the web is anchored to, and what few bits fall to the floor are easily snuffed out by the three alert watchers. All five bodies flare as the webs encasing them char, though it's soon plain to see that any damage the flames may have done is as nothing to the now released prisoners. All are very much dead, having been drained of bodily fluids by the spider.
Only one of the five is recognizable to Hasnafar - a mage that had accompanied him into the mountains. The others have obviously been in their cocoons for a while - they are little more then skin and bones, and even their gear is fairly well rotted away.
The dead mage, a young man called Lander, isn't quite as emaciated, but it's obvious the spider has feasted on him recently. There are several bites about his body, and very little blood in evidence.
A quick search of the area finds that the only valuables are in the posession of Lander - a small pouch.
After they burn the webs, and he collects his gear, he sees the pouch on Lander. Without opening it, he says, “Good… I see that Lander managed to pick up my pouch before he came to try to rescue me.”
In addition to the pretty rocks, tucked into Lander's belt is a tattered but ledgible scroll.
Seeing the scroll, he hands that to Miliani, “I know that Lander would have wanted someone else to continue down the path of Magic. I'd like to buy my friend next to yours if possible.”
Once the expedition to the web has secured the area (OOC - nothing else of value was found), they return to camp (OOC - if there is a desire to lay Lander and his new companions to rest, consider it done).
The day has progressed some, and it is now noon . Corin, Authari and Amber, looking a bit bedraggled after the effort to make Brendan's final resting place acceptable, straggle back in at the same time. The mood of the camp is rather subdued at the moment...
[OOC - The moment someone casts Read Magic, they will discover that the scroll contains ( 1 ) first level spell (Mage Armor) and ( 2 ) second level spells (Blur and Daze Monster).]
[OOC2 - All of you, please let me know exactly what items of Brendan's you are absconding (er - I mean leaving) with. I will update the sheets on my end - you update yours. Jeff, I've got the map kit covered. Also, please tell me who's getting what of the 'goods' from the web. Take your time in discussing it - but if no one tells me one way or the other difinitively, I will parcel it out to whomever I like. Heh!]
[OOC3 - with the addition of Hasnafar's request to bury the body of Lander next to Brendan, another bit of activity occurs, finishing up at about a half hour past noon . All are in camp at this time. Please continue to post from the end of this message (can't keep rewriting posts).]
While some of the group busy themselves with the burial of one of the spider's victims, Corin remains at the camp site, maintaining his gear. The soft rasp of a whetstone sharpening the edge of an already sharp dagger accompanies the crackling sound of the small campfire.
After the ranger's curved dagger has been taken care of, the longsword follows, as well as some arrowheads. The Tethyrian remains quiet during his activities; only after everyone – including Hasnafar – has returned to the camp does he speak.
“Next time we bury only our own fallen, I'm not planning to waste further time in activities that don't concern me or our quest.” Corin's voice is calm and neutral, but the look in his eyes indicate that he is serious about his words.
“Either we decide to continue from here and trek upwards along the trail in what few precious hours of daylight we have remaining, or we stay and prepare for the morrow. The spider's lair should prove some deterrent to most predators, but its absence will soon be noted. I'm not planning to welcome its replacement.”
Corin's eyes swivel to the masked woman, Brianna, “Lady, you wanted a guide and a guard to look for this Lost Harem. It's time you take the lead, or designate that role to one of this team. Without a leader we'll be less effective in whatever we'll face – and judging from what we have encountered in the short time we've been trekking, it will not be pretty.”
With that the Tethyrian ranger falls silent, letting his words register.
"I agree vith vhat you are saying," the young witch answers Corin. "Ve have vasted precious time. Ze Lost Harem is being hunted by many as ve speak. From now on ve only vorry about our own."
Turning to Hasnafar, the masked woman continues, "Ve are in search of Ze Lost Harem. Brendan had agreed to accompany us in ze search. His part vas an equal share of any treasure found. I offer you ze same, if you are villing to accompany us?"
"I agree as well but perhaps we should discuss this around the camp fire tonight instead of waisting precious daylight" the sorceress says as a matter of fact. " Adventurers can be pretty strong headed I have seen, it takes some one ever more bull headed to lead them"
OOC: I don't think I wrote this IC but Amber dosn't want anything of Brendan's stuff that's why she haven't commented about it.
Hasnafar nods, “That is very agreeable to me.” He looks over the belongings that people didn't touch of the dead man's… “Can I have both sets of tools, the caltrops and the dagger? I am a locksmith by trade”, he says with a grin.
"I'm ready to go."
Upon hearing Amber's comment,the Mystran says aloud, "I'm a follower of my faith and a healer. It's not my place to lead and, well, I can't even use the magics of the scroll. I haven't even completed my schooling and training in wizardry." She looks around and frowns slightly behind her veil. "The scroll case will keep the parchment's magics dry and safe. If Amber or Brianna can make use of them," she says as she looks at the genasi and the Rashemen Witch, "I would feel better if it were given to either, for now anyway."
Authari produces the rations and waterskin carried by the deceased dwarf.
"Shame to see these to go to waste, and maybe draw wild animals. Perhaps we should load them on the mule?"
"That's just fine, besides it always handy to have extra rations and water if some one looses their's." the sorceress says while opening the saddle bags on the mule." She looks around and then up on the sky trying to assess how much time is left on the day. "So are everyone ready to go?"
Not waiting for an answer, Corin rises to his feet while lifting his pack up at the same time. Glancing quickly at the assembled team he kicks out the small fire and walks over to his horse, undoing the hobbles from the night before.
"Anyone not ready is likely to meet the spider's succesor before long." The somewhat grumpy ranger comments as he starts to pick up the trail followed the day before.
[ooc: Corin will move ahead somewhat of the group to scout and read the tracks. He leads his mount rather then riding it. Carey, consider Corin to be very alert after the previous day's events. When in doubt about something he'll take ten to get a better reading.]
OOC: if it's fine by Authari, Amber will take care of the rations and water skin.
Amber stows away the items in one of the bags on the mule and sets out after Corin with the mule in tow.
"My thanks, lady. I fear that this mail weighs me down so much, a few more pounds would have me sink knee-deep in the ground if we should get a sudden rain-shower."
The small group moves on, leaving several shallow graves and cairns , a rather large dead spider, and, in a gully that most have already forgotten about, a couple dead orcs, and the rest of the afternoon passes easily. For the most part, the group continues to climb, and the terrain remains the same.
Corin soon picks up the trail of the larger group of orcs, with the occasional sign that one or two of the slaughtered party are being taken along, once more.
The rest of the day passes, and much ground, given the late start, is covered. Once again, the group sets up camp for the night.
Three more days pass.
In the last few days, nothing more than a few deer and, once, a curious bear, have been spotted through the trees. Each time, nothing came of the encounter (except for some fresh venison).
By the third day, Corin can tell that they've been losing ground against the orcs.
Just after noon of that same day, on the slope of a small rise that is crowned with one of the rare open areas that the group has come across, Corin raises a hand to halt the group. At the same time, Brianna and Mililani catch sight of what has caught the ranger's attention.
Placing his hand over the nose of his horse, Corin guides the animal backwards into the cover of the trees, whispering to Brianna and Mililani to do the same. Once more or less hidden from view of anyone near or in the open area, Corin relaxes a little and starts to hobble his horse. While he is occupied he informs the group.
“Looks like trouble ahead; an area, open to the sky above, several bodies strewn about men and orc alike. Amber, hobble your mule as well, we don't want the animals to move about too much until we learn more.”
Having finished with his horse, Corin rises from his kneeling position again. “Any of you spellcasters able to divine from a distance what could have happened up there? I'd like to try magic first before I get physically closer to investigate. The groups could have been fighting each other, or something else could have finished off the men and the tuskers.”
The Mystran does as Corin orders. She takes a position near Corin. "I won't be able to make much out at this distance. I need to be within sixty feet or closer, but I would like to try something. It may help." Mililani softly utters prayers in the name of the Lady of Mysteries.
The Mystran does as Corin orders. She takes a position near Corin. "I won't be able to make much out at this distance. I need to be within sixty feet or closer, but I would like to try something. It may help." Mililani softly utters prayers in the name of the Lady of Mysteries.
Amber pats the mule and makes it halt as well. Pulling her scarf down and drawing a hand through her red hair she waits to see what the others have discovered.
"I have an idea as vell," Brianna says before whispering something to the raven perched on her shoulder. With a quick ruffle of feathers the raven takes flight toward the opening. "Tetch vill gain a closer look."
OOC: Carey, Brianna told her familiar to fly around the area looking for anything that might be hiding in wait out there.
She exhales deeply as her divination passes. Once finished, the Mystran speaks, "There is peril in the area, but no hint of danger just yet. Have Tetch proceed with caution, Brianna. I still concerned about our recent discovery."
The priestess nocks her crossbow with a fresh bolt. "Something's amiss with this situation. It looks as if they fought amongst themselves before a greater foe entered the fight." He looks to Corin and speaks, "What type of tracks have you seen in the recent vicinity. Any that differ over human or orcish feet in the last few days.
"None then the tracks left by the tuskers." The ranger replies as he watches the raven flap its way to scout. "The scene up the slope looks to me more like the humans tried to fight the orcs. It is difficult to assess who the victors are."
Corin's eyes are hard an his expression is grim as he shares his thoughts. "I never got a good count on the number of tuskers we've been following. Judging by the amount of dead ones, I do believe that some got away. They might even have won the skirmish."
The Tethyrian looks at the assembled group, eyes going over each member of the small expedition, including the rescued Hasnafar. Then he seems to come to a descision, "Authari, set up a defensive position close to here, but stay well within the cover of the trees. I'm going to go towards the treeline and look again a little longer."
Looking Mililani and Brianna in the eyes he continues, "I'm not going to venture any further. I'll come back to see what your raven uncovered. Then we'll decide how to proceed. In the mean time, stay together and follow Authari's suggestions."
The young warrior stands a little straighter and nods his head in assent as he says "Aye, Corin", although his quick glance at the ladies appears somewhat sheepish. Authari then moves into the woods a bit, looking for a gully or deadfall that might servea as a natural barricade.
"I suggest we arm ourselves and prepare for trouble," she says. "Once we hear from the raven and Corin that it is safe, I'd like to move in an examine and see if traces of magic were used."
Noticing the warrior, Mililani smiles then laughs softly. "No worries Authari. You're in good company."
The rogue waits to see what the majority of the group is going to do before making up his mind, in the mean-time, he simply continues to keep watching the surrounding area…
Amber pats her mule and whispers comforting words in its ear. All tough by the look of it is more like she was seeking comfort from it just as much as she was trying to give to the mule. She follows after Authari all tough giving the man some ground she leads the mule in tow. "Do you need any help?" she asks the young man flashing him a brief smile, tough to Authari it more looks like a pleading one.
"You mean, sitting and waiting?" he says with a smile. I suppose if you can get the mule bedded down and out of sight, that would be for the best."
Amber nods at is idea and says "I can try and find a good spot" With that she begins to look around for a location where she can tie the mule up and still keep him out if view from the are where the battle took place.
Brianna's familiar, Tetch, wings through the air to find a perch in one of the trees edging the clearing at the top of the slope. It covers the distance in a fraction of the time that Corin, moving carefully, does. After taking a good look, it flies back to it's mistress.
Meanwhile, the others, under Authari's somewhat hesitant direction, try to find defensible positions to wait developments.
Corin is only a few feet from the edge of the rise (in fact one of the three orc corpses is only a few feet away, propped up against one of the last trees before the clearing), when the raven returns to his mistress. Moving carefully, the ranger inches forward, until he can peer over the rise into the clearing below... [OOC - private post coming, JP]
Even as Tetch finishes relaying his impressions to Brianna, the rest of the group is aware that Corin has just slipped over the lip of the rise, and into the open area. He was readying his bow as he moved...
Hasnafar simply waits to see what is happening... ready to go assist if need be...
Not knowing what to do next, Mililani takes a defensive position in the party's immediate vicinity and awaits a response from Brianna. "Well," she says. "Did Tetch find anything interesting?"
OOC: Mililani keeps her eyes and ears open and her mind focused on the safety of the party. She crossbow is poised and ready to strike at the first sign of trouble.
Turning to Mililani, Brianna says, "He feels it is pretty nasty up ahead, and zat zere is something zat might be important and urgent, but we need to get there quickly."
Looking around she asks, "Vhere has Corin gone? Ahh, never mind, ve must move in." Standing the young witch starts walking to the clearing with the confidence of an archmage.
"Shouldn't we wait until Corin returns, or signals to us?" asks Authari worriedly.
The newest member of the group says, “Or at least until we hear that something has gone wrong? He was scouting and you don't strike me as the silent type.”
"I agree, even if there is trouble up there. It wouldn't do us any good just barging in," the sorceress says with a quick glance towards the rasheme witch.
Pausing as she moves toward the clearing Brianna stops and turns to regard the others and their comments. "Yes, all of you are right, but Tetch told me somezing up ahead might be important to us and zat it is urgent and time-dependant." Reaching into a belt pouch Brianna brings out a small piece of cured leather and says a quick incantation.
"I vill move into the clearing. You just need to be prepared to move in fast, and hopefully Corin vill be ready as vell."
OOC: cast mage armor
"Brianna, I'm coming with you. It would imprudent if you went by yourself." Mililani readies her crossbow and follows Brianna out into the clearing.
Amber looks over at Authari and gives him a - do something look – while she ties the mule to a tree at a suitable location framed from the clearing.
The young warrior looks on in consternation as Brianna and Mililani move off after Corin. Shaking his head, he grumbles, "Father always said you'd be better off trying to stack water...", then looks at Amber with a shrug.
"Well, it's either stay here and wait for them to yell for us, or follow them now."
Amber sighs and checks so the lead rope is tightly secured with the tree and mule. Then she sets out after the rest. "Guess there isn't much choice" she says as she catches up with Authari.
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