The last few days have been a surprising blur of events. First my companions briefed me on the Troubles at Home and of rescuing my uncle from the Grey Wolves. Also defeating and driving off the Aspari called Sissandra, exposing her plot to control the city of Akadimar. Also, even more disturbing, is that Almaran explained there was a new player in the mix. A very secret society called The Order of the Black Rose. They have been quietly hunting and killing witches for years with reasons unknown. A fact that he believed Thauth wanted him to know. What this all means and how this plays with the larger threat was still unclear. What was clear, however, was that this time of relative peace in Bantu Aspar was ending and the following days would again be full of peril.
The Alliance, whole once more, renewed our search for the crystals starting with the vault in the merchant district. The mysterious wanderer Ari’adne and her celestial companion Zort again accompanied us. An odd pair to be sure, with the Archon seeming to be the driving force behind Ari helping us as she does not appear to be a… um… people person. Still, her skill was needed as we tackled the merchant district vault and the foul creatures that lay inside.
The vault entrance was massive. A gaping yet slightly overgrown wound in the side of the mountain. It was nearly 50’ wide and 40’ high. As the norm I bade my companions to wait outside the entrance as armed with protective spells and taking mundane precautions against the midnight spores I entered this dark place. The tunnel was huge, still spanning 30’x30’ at is most narrow. The vegetation inside also was covered in ever increasing webbing. The combination made it difficult to see the walls themselves. As I made another turn, moving deeper into the cavern the light level dropped and I had to alter my perception to see in the dark. As I waited for my eyes to attune I heard a large shuffling sound. When I opened them I saw what seemed to be a 60’ length of the web covered cave wall detach itself and move in my direction.
I recognized what it was and abandoned stealth to quickly alert my companions of the dire beast that approached. Exiting the cave I shouted warning as I pulled my bow and mounted Moonshadow, immediately giving the cave mouth a wide birth. My enthusiasm to give space was catching and the others also were also giving ground as they heard something enormous approach. Like primordial creature of legend the colossal dire crocodile emerged from the cavern. It’s body was completely covered in webs with hundreds of black spots that moved around. It took a moment to see they were coin sized spiders. Its gate and movements were also odd and not a match to a natural creature, and perhaps muffled by the webbing by it was eerily quiet for its size.
Without a dire bat to set it against it was up to us to defeat this guardian of the vault. We launched a few flights of arrows at it but with its thick hide they had limited effect. Although the others had also back away the creature closed some of that distance and then… breathed a cone of spiders on Grune, Khaine and Almaran. The three where then distracted as they swatted at hundreds of spiders crawling all over their bodies. See my companions in trouble I rushed forward to grab the creatures attention. Ari hesitated a moment as she saw much of my blows get defected on the vermin infested creatures scales and see those same spiders swarm up my blade every time I hit their host.
Still our distraction worked… too well perhaps as the creature jerked its head at an unnatural angle to take several snaps at me and finally capturing my arm in its massive jaws. I had only one moment to realize the horror and was powerless as I watched hundreds of spiders spewed from its mouth, eye sockets and underneath scales to swarm up my arm covering and biting as they had my companions.
For what felt like an eternity I could hear was my race heart in my ears, and the chitter of the vermin on me. It took all my will power not to open my mouth as the spiders crawled over me as I desperately swatted away what I could. All the while waiting for the death roll of the croc that I knew would come. Tearing my arm from my body. It braced, then shuddered, then stopped moving. I heard words but the vermin were too distracting to pay attention to them, so it was a few more seconds of that torture before enough off of me for me to again take in my surroundings.
The creature was dead, or rather defeated as after some examination it was clear it died a long time ago. Its body animated by the thousands of spiders that inhabited its body. I had never heard of such things but Almaran had. He believed we were entering the material plane lair have an planar spider know as a corpse spinner. Also that there may be more defenders like this inside. A disappointing prospect to be sure.
With the sounds of battle stealth was no longer a priority so we entered together. We had only gotten slightly further in since my first scouting when we were attacked by vermin infested boggarts. These next round of guards not nearly was tough as the colossal croc, and while still a threat the close quarters worked well for Khaine and Ari who met out devastating attacks. And thus these guardians were defeated in short order. Searching the alcoves these guards appeared from rewarded us with the power stones we sought, yet deeper still we traveled until we met the master of this domain. Illgahari, the corpse spinner.
The intelligent creature spoke to us with arrogance and dismissal. It had killed countless souls over the centuries and felt we would be no different. In truth there was some concern of what we faced based on the thralls it created, but the world was at stake and we would not be thwarted. It was able teleport before and after an attack making retaliation difficult as it return to ceiling or wall high and out of reach. It could pick us off if we did not do something. It also used its webbing to great effect hampering our movement. I fact we made ensured to compensate for but aid those trapped as soon as possible.
It was Grune who turned the tied with a timely casting. Adding air to our steps we were able to walk and run across open space as if it were solid ground. This allowed is to close the distance on the foul creature no matter where it went. With heroic efforts we assaulted the creature and with a critical strike Khaine slashed through monsters abdomen causing a planar stone pop out and into his hand.
This battle was won, our goal achieved but the day was far from over…