Well, what a time to be called away for dinner! Indeed, I seem to have lost track of things entirely, for as far as I was concerned I had only just sat down to take up my chronicle again when all at once it was time to eat. Really, it still amazes me how the hours do slip away once I am engaged in my writing. I’m afraid I won’t have long now before I must rest, but I shall endeavor to carry forward my record of this past day’s events as far as I can before I turn in.
I left off my account with our group all gathering together upon hearing a hushed voice across the length of that lavishly decorated room, beginning to make our way forward to the dais. Durgash was in the lead, striding ahead with his accustomed confidence, when all at once a skittering swarm of blackness seemed to erupt from beneath his feet. Fortunately, he was on the alert, and managed to skillfully jump away, avoiding any injury he might otherwise have taken.
As he landed, though, we all got a better look at the swarming mass of blackness on the floor before us, and I discovered to my horror that there was nothing of an arcane nature about it. No, instead we found ourselves facing a horde of spiders, all moving together as a single mass, in a most unnatural fashion. In that moment, I fear I lost myself briefly. All I could do was stare down in grotesque fascination as that writhing, squirming cloud of small black forms inched its way towards us.
Durgash, fortunately, reacted much differently than I. Seeing this new threat, he rushed forward without hesitation, turning his axe in his hands as he ran so that it was now held out flat before him. Then, with a roar of determination, he fell down onto one knee and brought his axe crashing to the floor, instantly crushing all but a handful of the small spidery forms.
Seeing this, Meg then reacted quickly and struck out with her knives at the few creatures which still remained, and in short order they managed to dispatch the entire swarm. For one brief moment, I must confess I thought perhaps the battle was over. Such large numbers of spiders are not often found together, after all, and with these now taken care of, I thought perhaps we would be able to focus on the source of that voice.
I should have known better, though, and even as I began to let out a sigh of relief, I caught more movement out of the corner of my eye. Crawling out from behind the statues now came four larger spiders; creatures that had grown to such an unnatural size it seemed impossible to believe even as I stared at them, for though their legs kept them low to the ground, their heads were level with my waist. They also seemed to move at an impossible speed, quickly rushing forward to surround us.
In the meantime, more black swarms seemed to spew forth from along the ceiling and behind the statues, filling in the gaps where their larger brethren could not strike. All this seemed to happen in an instant, and then I heard Lillabelle gasp in pain from behind me. One of the larger spiders seemed to have marked her as its prey, and as I turned to aid her, I saw that another had sunk its fangs into Durgash, while a third struck at Renbar.
Zahra was busy fending off a horde of smaller spiders near me, while Meg skillfully maneuvered herself between the two warriors and struck at the larger spiders where she could. Vi was similarly shielded by the presence of Renbar and Durgash, but appeared visibly repulsed by the whole situation, shakily firing arrows into the swarm that rushed in closest to her.
With so much happening at once, I determined to simply help out where I could and focused my energies upon that mysterious force of magic that seems to drive our world. I felt a familiar calm wash over me as I worked my arcane energies and summoned a wall of water, conjuring it out of the air directly between Lillabelle and the oversized spider that had been attacking her. That drew the creature’s ire down upon me, but freed up Lillabelle to focus on making some arcane attacks of her own against what seemed like an endless amount of swarming spiders.
I wished her luck as I fixed my attention on the large spider facing me, when all at once I felt a sting of pain in my side. Some of the smaller spiders in the swarm had moved closer to me when I wasn’t watching, and apparently gotten close enough to bite. Then, in that one brief moment of distraction, the larger one struck, rearing back and sinking its fangs into my shoulder.
As I cried out in pain, though, I saw a gout of fire shoot past me, and I knew Zahra was keeping up her attacks on the swarm. Doing my best to channel my pain and follow her example, then, I called forth a storm of lightning, blasting away a large number of the smaller spiders near me and forcing back the large one that had struck me with its fangs. In that moment, I looked over to see how Zahra was doing, only to find her gone.
Curious, I quickly scanned the rest of the room ahead of me and did not like what I saw. Even larger spiders had now appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and were advancing towards us. These foul creatures stood twice as large as the one that had just struck me, and behind them, near the dais, stood three shadowy figures of arachnids that loomed even larger. I must confess that in that moment, I began to fear that we might not make it out of this.
All was not lost, however, and even as I felt another attack strike me from behind, in my pain and despair I could see Durgash strike home a mighty blow, followed in quick succession by a burst of arcane energy from Lillabelle that simply tore through the creature. I also managed to spot Zahra at last as she unleashed a billowing stream of fire upon the line of advancing spiders.
Regrettably, though, the resulting damage did not appear to be as great as she had been expecting, and as two spiders turned to face her, she was forced to dodge away from the webs which they launched at her. Though she managed to deftly slip out of the path of the first one, the second struck true, and the last thing I saw as I turned back to the swarms now reconverging on me was her shocked expression as the webbing encased her entire body.
Determined not to give in, I struck out with another storm of lightning, and this time I actually managed to clear away all of the spiders in my immediate vicinity. Turning my full attention back to the main action, I looked over just in time to see Durgash dodge out of the way of a web attack aimed at him, while Renbar lashed out in a blind rage against two of the now smaller-looking large spiders. By this point, Renbar appeared much the worse for wear, bleeding from several spider bites and with a feverish glint in his eye, when all at once he too found himself enveloped in a web.
Lillabelle, who had been attempting to reach him, was forced to turn back. She must have noted as she did so that I wasn’t doing so great either at the moment, and kindly laid a hand on me, a look of concentration on her face. All at once, I felt a sudden rush of energy and strength as the wounds I had suffered began to knit themselves back together. Truly, those who study the healing arts are a boon to anyone they travel with.
I did not have much time to dwell on such thoughts, however, as all at once I noticed a familiar burst of flames in the distance. Still wrapped inside a web, Zahra appeared to have elected to burn her way out. The fire itself even managed to strike the spider nearest her before it faded, though from the look of the webs still encasing her, now weirdly melted and charred, she probably suffered a few burns as well.
Just then, giving out a cry of rage at having been so easily trapped, Renbar tore his way through the webbing that was currently encasing him. It was a marvelous feat of strength, and seeing him immediately rush forward to strike the first spider that he saw was inspiring. Sadly, in his frenzy of rage he seemed to have lost all regard for the world around him, for he didn’t see the spider’s next web come flying at him, and he promptly found himself once again falling to the ground, wrapped up tight.
Seeing two of the spiders now descending upon Renbar’s helpless form, I focused together all of my energies and managed to catch one with an arcane blast, crushing its head and sending its corpse sprawling, though regrettably this still wasn’t enough to save my companion. The second spider eagerly sank its fangs into Renbar, and at that point we could all see his struggling form fall still.
Almost in that same moment, there came another burst of flame from the webs encasing Zahra, blasting two of the three giant spiders skulking in the back of the room and drawing their attention. I glanced over to see Meg, wounded but attacking determinedly, intent on bringing down one of the large spiders. I also noticed Vi, struggling with her fears as she sent arrows one after another at the one that had just felled Renbar.
Another look over at Durgash let me see that he was also looking pretty battered at this point, though he was holding his own against two of the larger creatures. In fact, even as my gaze passed over him, I could see his swift and careful maneuvering send one of his adversaries tumbling over onto its back under the momentum of its own strike. Meanwhile, though, there still remained the dim form of a man over by the dais, with those three giant spiders before him, silently watching all of this.
Our situation was desperate, I knew, and determined that perhaps this situation called for some calculated risks. Unnoticed by any of the attacking creatures, I carefully reached back into my pack, searching for my old weapons of last resort. I didn’t know whether they would be enough to turn the tide, but I did know that I had to try.
Yet before my hands had fully closed around the vials I’d so carefully packed away, there came the sudden and unexpected blaring of natural trumpets, filling the entire hall. Their sound cut through all the noise and confusion of battle, and in the stunned silence that followed, a single voice rang out. “Nesnar!” came the cry, “thou shalt meet thine end!” At that, a troop of perhaps fifty soldiers came pouring into the room, and the majority of them all rushed past us, determined to strike down the figure standing by the dais…