The world has changed, I smell it’s despair in the air, my feet sense its pain through the earth. For many years I have lived here cursed and forgotten but now my dear children something is coming.
The group had travelled for days and now found themselves on the mountain surrounded by trees, exhaustion taking over them. Targa took watch Nereida approached him slowly still not fully recovered.
“You should be resting”
“I can’t, not when it is my fault, we are all here and we have no idea what we are walking into” replied Nereida
“well we need help and from what I can tell this is how we get that, so don’t worry we are strong together than apart”
“Targa what if I have brought us to our deaths? I hear this stupid voice in my head all the time and he isn’t a good person”
“That is doubtful Nereida, but if it is then I hope that our story will be heard, and more people will fight the king now please rest.”
Targa sat for hours his eyes scanning the treeline for movement, his mind wandered to times when he would hunt the thrill of it the calm he felt there, then he thought of his father and the times he had spent in the woods and his heart ached at his loss. It was at this moment when grief threatened to consume him that the halfling Lorcan broke the silence startling the dragonborn.
“Geez it’s clammy in here”
“Lorcan what are you doing awake?”
“ah well I am rested surprisingly and not being in my little house has me on edge if I’m honest I’m not one for the wilderness laddie so why don’t you get some rest and let me take over I think we have a busy day ahead of us”
Targa bowed his head and joined the group for rest, Lorcan fanned himself sweat running from his brow and his breathing getting shallow.
“it really is hot in here, alright focus Lorcan, focus” he glanced at the group and his eyes lingered on Nereida he smiled.
“what would a girl like that see in a little guy like me, focus Lorcan focus you have a job to do”
The air changed a sweet smell filled the halflings nose and he grew sleepy, his eyelids were heavy and drooping, he slapped his face shaking off the sleep, but it was no use sleep took hold.
Targa awoke blood rushing to his head, he was unable to move, his eyes struggling to focus through a white haze. As his ears adjusted, he could hear the faint mumbles from his friends, his heart took a leap he had encountered this before.
“No one move, we are in trouble”
“No way Targa I would never have guessed” responded Aidene.
“when I get my hands on you Targa your going to have a problem.” Replied Ravana
“Actually guys, it’s my fault I made him go and rest. So, if you must punish anyone it’s me”
As the group began shouting at the halfling, Targa focused on each voice checking no one had been lost, then he focused he fully understood the dangers they were in. He drew upon his energy releasing cold air into the thick sticky tangle and using his great feet he kicked himself free falling to the ground, he rushed to free his friends. Galurak grabbed Lorcan by the collar and lifted him, Targa rushed over.
“now is not the time my friend” he said
“listen to Targa, he is wise” Lorcan said in a panic.
“You, you’re the reason we are in the whatever mess we are in”
“what is this stuff it is so sticky?” said Nadora
“it’s a web” replied Targa
“don’t be silly Targa spiders could do that” said Aidene
“erm Nereida I wouldn’t be so sure of that, look” replied Ravana
As they looked around, their eyes were greeted by a dark and looming woodland some of the trees were dying and a think white webbing covered every inch of the tops. The air was thick, and the sunlight was blocked by it.
“It is spiders, I’ve faced them before” said Targa
“well what should we do?” asked Galurak
“stick together and don’t touch anything it will only draw them to us”
“erm Targa” said Nadora pointing at Nereida
The half elf was now in the middle of a stream of black tar like water, which was winding and twisting over her skin holding her in place as she swayed against it. The group rushed to her aid but as they drew closer to her a wall of water sprang up surrounding her, Targa tried to freeze it and the half orc tried to attack it both were sent flying backwards. The group watched helplessly as Nereida was held within its grasp, then as suddenly as it had started, she awoke for the trance and walked from the water completely dry.
She looked at her friends a little embarrassed “I’m sorry I scared you all, water…. It lets me speak to him among other things”
“if we make it out of here you need to explain this” said Ravana
“the witch is near” continued the half elf.
“where, this place is one giant trap and we need to get out” replied Targa
“NO, we need to go in”
“in? you really are mad…. This is the home of giant spiders if we go in, we aren’t coming out”
“Targa, I know this is hard to believe but she lives in there at the heart of it all, we have come this far we must continue”
“I don’t like this…… and who is making that clicking noise it is annoying as hell” said Aidene
As she gazed around the group shrugged it off in protest and then they became aware of movement all around them, they drew their weapons readying for a fight as a strange screeched filled the air Nereida walked away from them.
“We mean no harm and we only wish to speak to the queen of these lands, the all mighty and powerful Ette”
A strange whisper responded “proceed but we are watching you”
The spiders kept hidden, but their shadows fell behind the group giving the impression that there was only one way they could go, they began walking saying close together with the clicking growing less as more spiders fell behind.
“we could go invisible and run for it” piped up Lorcan
“that’s an idea” agreed the twins
“we have come this far” said Galurak
“if it is a fight then it shall be a good one”
“your orc kind always with the violence” replied Ravana with a smirk
“be on your guard all of you” instructed Targa.
Ravana in her gazing around stumbled over a stone causing her to lose her footing and landed on a web, it was tough and sticky she struggled to free herself. As she pulled herself free there was a thundering sound of feet scuttling across the ground in the darkness followed by hasty clicking and the movement stopped. As the dwarf and the rest of the party peered through the webbing, they caught sight of a glint of light lightly shining on several eyes, Ravana backed away slowly.
“this is a mistake we should go” she stammered
“we had no choice” replied Nereida
“there is always a choice” snapped Ravana
“the choice was this or death”
“Great we are probably going to die anyway”
“lets just keep going” stuttered Lorcan
The woods grew darker like they had always been that way and knew nothing of light, the web was thicker now and in the darkness the half elf could make out spiders above there heads now but they were only babies, the webbing extended in front of the friends and as they looked it they took in the complexity of it and fear grew of what lay within it funnel. Suddenly a female voice echoed from it
“who wanders so aimlessly into my kingdom, a group of self-proclaimed heroes I imagine… too bad that none of you will see the light of another day”
Targa drew his blade and the others followed, Nereida held her hands out
“great Ette queen of the spiders and the most powerful of your kind, please allow us council and guide us” she said
“oh, it begs to be spared and guidance”
“I do not beg your highness merely ask, after all we have the same goal in mind”
The web shook and again the sound of feet could be heard, the group could only stare at the web tunnel. The baby spiders disappeared higher out of sight, just as the tips of legs covered in dark spiky hairs emerged from the tunnel. Next came the body of the creature the hair thicker and as it emerged from the tunnel pulling itself up to reveal the body of a women, a menacing set of fangs sat just below the waist. Her arms were exaggerated by the long claws on the end of her fingers
“a mind reader, are you? Well let’s see what you can do”
In that moment Nereida dropped to her knees her hands clutching her head, her mouth open in silent scream. The group moved to help but the queen spoke quickly
“if you value your friend, I wouldn’t do that” she grinned
“let her go” said Galurak
“you know I’ve heard enough from you” she clicked her fingers and Galurak fell silent.
Lorcan had a thought through his panic, and he removed a mole skin from his pack and through the water from inside over Nereida causing the spider queen to laugh.
“how stupid can you be to think that would help” she shot a web at the halfling causing him to disappear into the trees.
Targa made the air cold in his building rage, and she turned her attention to him
“well what do we have here…. I haven’t…… what…. what is this?” she began to scream in pain her body curling up from it.
A blue aura of an octopus now surrounded Nereida and she was now floating her eyes pure white. Her friends just stared in shock as a male voice left her lips.
“listen to the girl Ette or you will….”
Nereida fell to the ground panting as the spell ended, Ette quickly recovered a confused look across her face.
“I am sorry that he has chosen you child….”
“well my fate is no different from yours, but I will not use the power against you I only come to ask for help if you will permit it”
“I will listen”
“we are here because of the king”
Anger grew in the queen as she sent vibrations through the webbing, Nereida spoke with purpose
“please we are not here to fight we are looking to destroy him is all”
“destroy him…. He deserves to suffer for what he did”
“and he will I promise or else I will give myself willingly to you to decide my fate”
The queen laughed “your fate is already decided little one and I will not cross the God of the deep. But I can help you”
“the key to his destruction can be found on an island to the East, a forgotten land where dragons once roamed. There you will find a temple and with training they can teach you all you need to know. Although the dragonborn already has the power if only he could harness it”
“that is your suggestion…. Go to an island” said Aidene
“child there are trials to be passed to prove you worthy first and you with your cheek I am unsure if you would be”
“HEY, I am”
The spider queen laughed, then pulling a stick from her hair allowing it to fall over her shoulders she held a vile which she held out for Nereida, the half elf took it looking at Ette confused.
“a vile of my venom, use it wisely a single drop is enough to kill a man”
Nereida bowed thanking the queen
“now you and the dragonborn are free to go, as for the rest of you”
“wait… what? no”
“my dear girl you two are pivotal to the cause, but I will not allow such insubordination to exit my woods.”
“I’m sorry” said Aidene
The spider queen smiled, at that moment spiders descended from the treetops white poison dripping from their fangs. They landed on the ground their hairy legs sweeping over it as they advance on the group, Aidene pulled her weapon and swung at the nearest one slicing through its fang. As she looked at her friends smiling in victory a great fang of the spider queen sunk into Aidene skin and foam escaped her mouth. Filled with rage Targa sprang forward the queen shrinking away from the cold he picked up Aidene and retreated to the group they were surrounded.
“HEY ugly, did you forget about me…. you need to learn some manners yourself.” Called Lorcan
The spider queen scowled at the halfling, and nodded at the spiders, they began to reel themselves like they were attached to a fishing line.
“LORCAN RUN” shouted Targa
“in a minute” the halfling danced around the branches waiting as the spiders got closer then just as their hairy legs began to tickle his feet he jumped down pulling the web with him, the spiders screamed in pain as the suns rays burst through the canopy hitting the queen who shrivelled up into a ball on the forest floor.
“what are we waiting for let’s get out of here” called the halfling and they began running the web still attached to his arm letting more light in with every step as the web was pulled away.
The group kept running until they reached the outskirts of the woods, Targa placed Aidene on the ground as her sister ran over cradling her lifeless body. Lorcan didn’t waste anytime and began to work speaking words with Nereida helping both worked together on the girl.