Chapter Twenty Seven –"A Spider a Dragon and an Ooze walk into a bar."

Chunk backs off from combat as the Spiders razor sharp spines attached to the large spiders legs slash at his calf, knocking him back and causing him to limp badly. He quickly trades places with Idjit, and the raggedy Ranger moves forward with the Orb weapon, knocking into the Spider with a blow that swipes a leg away, causing the creature to falter slightly.

In my helpless state, I am bitten and pinned still further, while Trixie Magic Missiles the Spider and Stumpy gets out the Hammer Sphere to release the ghostly hammers to strike at the creature from above. I struggle fruitlessly to escape, every slip and slide is countered by the weight and pressure from above indicating it is accustomed to prey such as me. Stumpy, still bound to me with his protective spell can tell that I am starting to weaken, but in the process of healing me, he takes a step forward and then falls down a pit full of web and old bones.

The pit opened by Stumpy now separates the spider and I from the party, and while Chunk helps Stumpy out of the pit, Trixie casts Greater Sleep, which thankfully I shrug off the effects from, but which the Spider hulking above me fails to do, crushing its weight down on me as it collapses.

"You have trodden on my friends and you will pay the price!" Trixie says in a booming theatrical voice as she blasts the sleeping behemoth arachnid with acidic blasts, while the rest of the party ready themselves to leap across the pit to attack. Idjit is the first to leap across, and smashes it hard, quickly followed by a sure footed leap from Chunk. Stumpy patiently watches all the leaping warriors cross the pit and taking a deep breath, leaps, and quickly realising he is not going to make it at all, promptly falls back down the hole into the sticky webbing below.

The attacks continue on the Spider, who after the first attack groggily awoke, freeing me as it turned to confront the warriors hacking away at it. I move just that inch or so back to allow others to be more inviting targets, while smashing at the Spiders legs, but its Trixie that gets the final blow as a slow moving barrage of Magic Missile strike the Spider in the eyes. With a scream and some flailing about, the spider drops, its legs curling as it becomes still. Looking around for Stumpy, Idjit notices the skin of the spider undulating, and suddenly it splits and thousands of spiders pour out and swarm over Idjit and I, also catching Stumpy down in the pit. Trixie scorches Idjit in an attempt to clear the spiders, which works, buts sets his hair on fire. I am burned free next, but Trixie has nothing left to help Stumpy, and so Idjit, Chunk and I pull him out as quickly as possible, all the while stamping on the things as they blanket the area. The spiders are relentless though, and are still on the stricken Dwarf, so we light oil and set fire to torches and begin to burn everything in the room, setting small spiders and webs alight to clear the area.

Trixie and I search around the cleared area, but find it pretty empty. I start to use the enhanced sight gained from the Kuo-Toa to search for ethereal creatures or anything else out of the ordinary. Our continued search however finds nothing, not even hidden within the webbing down the various pits.

Leaving, we move back into the main room while Trixie and Stumpy search the walls with their special Dwarven skills. After an hour of tracing her hands along the wall and fingering cracks, Trixie finds a door carved into the rock and showing me where the recess is, I open it, revealing nothing but a dark corridor within. We gather everyone together and move in, the path bending to the right and slightly downwards. A gong sounds in the distance, sounding louder as we continue onwards. The corridor soon opens into a large empty cavern, which has a large exit 20 feet wide across from where we entered the room, and about six feet from the floor. I can hear sounds in the distance, a scrapping noise of sorts, and telling everyone to be wary, we move in, checking the ceilings as we go. Trixie casts Light on a stone and the slingshots it into the room, but it lands revealing nothing but a steep slope leading to the other exit.

Rather than climb the slope, Trixie and I have been waiting to reveal our jumping prowess to each other, and with silent communication, launch a 'Jumping Mexican bean attack' Ollay!

We both land on top of the ledge, straight into the path of a charging Dragon that rushes Trixie and bites her. Idjit, watching from the far end of the room fires an arrow and misses, then another, winging it, while Trixie jumps down the slope, saluting me with a "jumping beans away!" as she drops off the side and runs back towards the corridor. Sadly, I am not as quick, and bare the full force of the Dragon, and clawed, buffeted with wings, whipped with the tail and then bitten, I drop quite dead.

The rest of the party run off naturally, and Trixie mentions that "We have plenty of time to run as the Dragon probably thinks that Tenpast is scampi to snack on". Idjit, caught between wanting to run really fast, while duty bound to protect the Cleric, slowly decides that enough is enough and hoists Stumpy over his shoulder before running with them both back to the entrance of the cave system near to the Troglodytes, with Trixie, hem in hand, running quickly behind him.

As they pause for breath, a booming female voice is heard that echoes through to the runners, saying that we can remove this dead plaything, if we leave this area and don't come back this way. It also adds the obligatory 'or else', adding that failing to do this will see us all hunted down. The three warily move back into the cave system to retrieve the corpse before moving back to the troglodytes.

The Troglodyte thanks them for the help in removing Bethnoc, and then reaches into a small recess to hand them a wrapped package that contains a book and some chain mail armour.

I am raised from my mangled state and Trixie identifies the items found before moaning quite loudly to the Troglodyte as to why we were given a spell book full of really rubbish spells.

Once we have rested and finished our preparation work, we move off in the direction that the Troglodyte told us, which apparently leads to a lower level. We have been travelling for a short while before we hear footsteps in the distance and as we rush round the corner, we see two groups of troglodytes and very large rats.

Idjit kills the first humanoid, and Stumpy charges the second, then there is a voice from the back that says "Does everyone need the practice or shall I just kill them all?" and without waiting for an answer, Trixie launches a spell and an acidic explosion of noise and ...that's basically it. Even the rats look around a little surprised as they are all still standing upright. She tries a comeback with "watch out, they are immune to acid fireball" but that fools no one as she frantically tries to recalculate the sums involved in casting a spell into the darkness.

The fight continues and the use there greater numbers to surround us, and I am bitten a little, before the Troglodytes let off a smelly fart that effects no one. Trixie casts Sleep again, getting one and then we mop up. I leap at one and strike it ripping its face off as I land, and Idjit cleans up the last one. All is quiet as we listen in the darkness for more enemies, but nothing is heard over our breathing.

That is until Trixie starts shouting out "I am Harssaf and I have killed your men, fear me Gunrolls!"

There is a brief silence, but Gunrolls does not magically appear to attack me, and we continue the search, finding a pit and two other routes out of the room. Choosing the first exit, we cautiously move out, and into the corridor. We have not travelled far before an Ooze is spotted, and while I run away, I point screeching like a small female Harsaaf. Trixie casts a "majestic elemental powerful superb regal excellent kickass spectacular scorcher" which does pretty much nothing at all, while the Hammersphere of Stumpy hits it over and over again as Trixie 'changes fingers' to a Magic Missile spell instead.

The Ooze tries to turn back, but another barrage of magic missile kill it. Stepping carefully over the mess, we move on until we get to a T-junction, following the smooth side before it comes round to a ledge, overlooking a massive ant like creature, currently being preened by other man sized ants. They sense me, turning to look upwards, but turn back to their task in hand. As they don't look very hostile, so I back off and we move onwards. The corridor is still smooth and we continue onwards until we can see that the corridor ends in a fiery glow. Looking over the edge, we can see at least seven troglodytes, all heavily armoured and wearing a crest that I can quite make the details out. While some are watching exits, although thankfully not above them, most are chatting and laughing as they surround a fire pit, which contains a roasted ant on a spit.

Idjit edges round the side to see if he can get a better angle on the room below us, but one of the lookouts spots him, and readies a spear to chuck just before Idjit darts back into cover. One of the group below does look like a leader of sorts, Idjit says, holding a white tipped spear. We quickly ready some spells, and with Trixie ready, she drops a Fireball on a large group of the Troglodytes, quickly followed by a Confusion Spell. I cast Master Air on myself preparing to fly at them, while the Troglodytes currently are standing around dazed or attacking each other with handy spears or cooking utensils, depending on who was holding what at the time.

The white speared Troglodyte, is also one of those attacking his own men, and sadly for his opponent, was holding what looks like an Ants leg. The Troglodyte cook defends as best as anyone can do with cooked animal, but the spear tears through the poor Troglodytes stomach and drops him to the floor amongst the pots. Stumpy has picked up Idjit and they both fly to the furthest point of the room, while the rest of us drop near one of the exits, so we are all around them.

We attack while four of the Troglodytes are attacking each other, with Stumpy finishing off the one I attacked, before hitting the one in front of Idjit. I show off my tumbling skills once more as I tumble through the massed combat and fire pit, before popping up with a "ta-dah!" hitting one in the back, knocking into another combatant before it is trampled underfoot. I then chase after a fleeing creature, but miss my strike, while Idjit hits one low in the groin, the Troglodyte falling forwards into his arms. He shrugs the dead creature off and strokes the spikes of the Orb weapon across the neck of another Troglodyte attempting to attack Trixie, who promptly screams as a fountain of blood squirts upwards. Trixie pushes the dying Troglodyte aside and then palm extended a mere inch from another Troglodytes face, fires a Scorcher at point blank, melting skin and hair as the creature goes up in flames.

Trixie is gently nudged from behind but this is not someone brushing past, but the smoky explosion of an Enervation spell hitting her shoulder. The instantaneous staggering effect of feeling very tired and bruised all over barely registers before the small Dwarf with bat like wings that has appeared hovering behind her, casts another Enervation spell which also hits.

The confused creatures still mill about, alternatively attacking one another or simply watching those being attacked, while I am still chasing the wounded Troglodyte running away. Trixie calls out that she is being attacked and casts Greater Sleep at the dirty looking Dwarf, but it appears to do nothing.

Stumpy begins to move upwards towards Trixie, and Trixie, now looking very old with heavy bags under her eyes, is using the wall to keep herself upright but is then caught in a sonic Agadors Scorcher barrage as the Dwarf shoots the spell twice.

The fleeing Troglodyte stumbles into a wall as it rounds a corner, and that's a fatal mistake as I slam into it, and let my club smash into its side. I pause for a second as it slides down the wall, entrails spilling, then fly back towards Trixie. Idjit kills another one, the crack of breaking bones echoing around the cavern, and moves towards the Spear wielding leader of the group, who has moved onto another of his own troop to kill.

Trixie, never a lady to give up, casts Dispel Magic on the dishevelled Dwarf, but a green light from his hand shoots out to intercept this spell and counter it. When Tasha's Laughter lands with no effect, Trixie now decides that it is time to give up, and with using her tumbling skills, leaps down from the ledge to the floor. Stumpy flies up and over the lip to the balcony above, casting Dispel Magic as he lands, and the silent pings indicate that this did work, stripping him of buffs, but the Dwarf merely smiles and vanishes, most likely through a Dimension Door.

I see the Dwarf leave as I emerge at speed from the tunnel, and so change course and charge the Spear wielding Troglodyte from the rear. As the Troglodyte moves into attack his own man, he leaves himself wide open, and from the increased speed and surprise of the attack he doesn't even see the blow that kills him as my spiked club embeds itself into the back of his head**. The Troglodyte left standing simply starts attacking me without pause, still under the effects of Trixies spell, but Stumpy lands on the floor next to it and smashes it into the firepit.

Played: 10th August 2011
First Draft: June 2013
Published: August 2013

** Critical!