Chapter 21; 22 and 23

Chronicles of Mace

Mace decides on the tactical fighting retreat, and begins backing down the tunnel still facing the Spider.  The Spider begins to follow so Mace begins to move a little faster.  The wounded Ranger tries to keep up with Mace as he moves, but they begin getting in each others way, and Mace eventually overtakes the wounded Ranger.  The Spider sees its chance and with a sudden burst of speed is on to the wounded Ranger.  There is little Mace can do to help the Ranger, for the Spider still turns its head towards Mace as if to warn him off.  Mace continues to withdraw, having not tried to hit the Spider again.  His retreat seems to have worked, as the Spider stops over the soon to be dead wounded Ranger, presumably to begin its cocooning.

 

Mace doesn’t fully leave the Cave entrance, but leans against the wall trying to stem the blood from his ear.  He fumbles for a healing tablet which he swallows now he has a little time to collect his thoughts. The effect is instant as a warmth moves around his body, and the pain on the side of his head begins to ease.  The weakness also seems to go, and he begins to feel up to the fight again.

 

He takes a few deep breathes and grips his Longsword tightly.  Moving back in to the web filled tunnels he retraces his escape route, and quickly comes upon the Spider which is busily pulling at the obviously dead Rangers body.  Spiders usually cocoon living creatures, but this Spider doesn’t seem bothered either way.  Mace watches as the Spider finds some difficulty manoeuvring in the tight tunnel.  Mace leaps in to the fray once more, and gains surprise on the Spider who must have thought it had seen the last of Mace.

 

The advantage is with Mace for the first attacks of this new battle.  Stepping forward still feeling confident, Mace swings twice before the Spider can respond.  Both attacks miss though.  The Spiders mandibles snap back as it tries a pincer attack in response, Mace steps back out of danger, and then moves in close again to attack.  The Spider and Mace move backwards and forwards in the tunnel missing all their attacks, until finally the Spider catches mace on the arm causing a small wound.  Mace continues to attack, but takes another wound on his arm in almost the same place on his Sword arm.  Maces Blur spell is still working and helping him avoid taking worse injuries.   The Blurred nature of his body is still confusing the Spider.

 

The Spider seems encouraged by its two minor successes and surprises Mace by taking a sudden step forward.  Mace doesn’t react quickly enough and takes a third wound in the same place on his arm, this time a lot worse though.  Mace steps back two paces now, stunned from the pain of having his forearm being bitten.  He can only try and dodge the Spiders next attack which he successfully does.

 

Mace feels as if he is weakening, and must finish this Spider off soon, otherwise he is going to be killed by the numerous wounds he is taking.  Two more attacks by each of them are dodged, and then Mace lunges almost recklessly with his Longsword.  Mace almost yells with excitement as his slashing movement low down, severs one of the Spiders legs.  The Spider falls forward from the sudden loss of the support.  A Green substance oozes from the body of the Spider where the leg should have been attached.  It seems to be in some difficulty, and cannot manoeuvre itself very well in the tight tunnel.  Mace sees this as his big chance, parrying one defensive move by the Spiders pincers, and thrusting his Longsword straight at the Spiders head.  The Longsword digs deep and the green substance spurts straight out.  The Spider collapses forward, its legs twitching as it now tries to retreats.  Its automatic actions though are not enough to save it, and after a few moments the twitching ends.

 

Mace uses his boot to free his Longsword, and crouches down to recover from the exertion of the fight.  His body is soaked in sweat, and his arms and legs are covered in the sticky web gathered up during the fight by rubbing against the walls.  A pool of green stickyness covers the tunnel floor now.  Mace sees that the Spiders body has collapsed on top of the now very dead Ranger.  Mace can see that if he is to explore the Spiders cavern he must climb over the Spiders dead carcass as it will be too heavy for him to shift on his own.

 

Mace takes another Healing tablet then begins to climb over the Spiders body, grimacing as its hairy body rubs against his hands, and making sure to avoid the green substance as much as possible.

 

Moving into the Spiders lair Mace launches into smashing the eggs to pulp.  As his Longsword hits them, they explode spraying the liquid everywhere.  Small baby Spiders, many in each egg fall on to the floor, and wriggle about.  Mace mashes his heels down on the creatures finishing their lives instantly.  This takes him five minutes before he has finished killing the Spiders spawn.

 

Mace now prepares himself for a search, but hears a familiar noise somewhere in the distance.  He can hear more clicking sounds, but they are coming somewhere some distance away, and he doesn’t think he is in any immediate threat, at least he hopes not.  Mace doubts another Spider could reach him there anyway, not without moving the dead body which wouldn’t be very easy.

 

He begins moving around the cavern first shifting the Spiders nest and searching.  The nest consists of leaves, lots of web, and bones.  The only item of interest is a Full Shield which Mace thinks looks a bit special.  It has a blue background with the faceoff a Lion upon it.  There is little of interest on the Cave floor so he turns his attention to the cocoons, slitting each one open in turn.  He almost vomits as gushes of liquid and decomposed bodies flood from the split cocoons.  The bodies have been inside for a long time, and the stench is almost unbearable.  The bodies are recognised as having been human once and Mace has to hold his breath as he recovers a mass of coins from one cocoon.  It seems to have contained several bags of money, but the bags had rotted.  There are 1,987BP and 5,113CP (Mace counted them later!!)  In one cocoon a set of Full Plate armour falls out, with the dissolved body inside it.

 

The liquid held within these cocoons must have been in preparation for the eggs to hatch, offering a food supply to the young spiders, and potentially the next army of Cremlan Mace muses.

 

Mace grabs all his booty, and takes one last look at the carnage he is leaving behind and revelling in his splendid victory.  The stench gets too much for him though and he darts out of the cavern and heads back to the entrance.  Breathing the fresh air at the entrance, he glances around wondering where to go next, as he doesn’t immediately see any of the Rangers.

 

He then hears some Rangers voices coming from the tunnel a little way along, and moves o see what is going on.  Four Rangers have fought their way in to what seems a Temple, and are in a prayer area, but all are holding defensive positions wondering what to do next.  Mace can now hear that the fighting is still continuing in the Woods as the skirmishing continues.  The defenders are seemingly fighting hard, although these advance Rangers seem to have found their way to the heart of this Cremlan stronghold.  Mace looks around gauging what they have discovered and wondering what to do next.  The four Rangers seem content to sit and wait, aware that a Temple such as this may have many dangers or traps.  Mace wonders if they should push on or not….

 

Chapter 22

 

Mace quickly looks around the area, and then calls to the lead Ranger, who as it turns out has no authority over the others apart from age and experience.  Mace explains what has happened re the Spiders and the death of the two other Rangers.  The man draws in some air between his teeth, giving of a slight whistling sound and shakes his head in despair.  The man tells Mace that they must seek revenge for their fallen comrades, but tells Mace they are not sure whether to push on or not.  The Ranger goes to talk to each of the other three Rangers to get a consensus of opinion, whilst Mace quickly swallows a Healing Tablet.

 

He feels the warmth of the Tablet, especially around his ear and Swordarm.  The Ranger returns and Mace tells him of the clicking noises made by the Spiders, and that even though one had been killed, there were sill noises from elsewhere in the tunnels.  Mace is keen to go after the Spider but tells the Ranger that it may be worse, having got this far, to secure their position with some defensive action.  The Ranger listens whilst looking all around, almost expecting a surprise attack, and appearing a little uncomfortable being within such an evil centre of power.  Mace suggests erecting a bonfire in the first cavern, which could be lit to avoid a Spider exiting and possibly attacking their rear.

 

The Ranger acts on Maces idea, shouting to one of the other Rangers to help Mace carry some benches into the other Cavern.  Mace lifts one end of the heavy benches, whilst the other Ranger re-sheathes his Sword and lifts the other end.  They slowly manoeuvre the bench into the Cavern where it is very gingerly dropped on the floor, breaking one end of it.  They carry two more benches through, followed by the curtain which Mace rips down.  He covers the benches with the curtain, and also piles as much greenery, leaves and twigs as possible on top of it.  A loud scream from the Woods outside soon remind them of the battle still going on out and around the Temple.

 

Mace tells the Ranger that he should stay by the bonfire once it is lit, and watch for any activity, and report back if necessary.  Mace uses his Tinderbox on one edge of the curtain and soon it is ablaze, the flames licking all around the benches which gradually show signs of catching light.  The Ranger picks up the piece of broken bench and uses it as a fan to force the smoke now being generated, up in to the tunnels and hopefully towards the Spider that still lives.

 

Mace tells the Ranger that the smoke may kill the Spider, as they breathe using osmosis.  The Ranger looks stunned and asks Mace what osmosis is? Is it a Magic Spell?   Mace smiles and tells the Ranger he will try and explain at some later stage.  He pats the Ranger on the back and leaves him by the bonfire.

 

Mace returns to the Temple, where the other three Rangers crouch low watching for any strange happenings.  Mace crouches at the entrance and tries to perceive any powers within the Temple (GM: 61 rolled … Perception failed). He gives up after a couple of minutes, having perceived no power source nearby.

 

Mace moves to the statue, and studies it closely.  There is no writing or symbols on it (GM: Successful Perception roll 19)  but he does notice that the Spear does seem to have a small space at the bottom of it, indicating that the Spear may in fact move.  Not wanting to touch it yet, he moves over to the pool and again checks for writing or symbols, but sees nothing (GM: Successful Perception roll 4) . However, Mace does notice that the Pool looks deep, and the surface is totally still.

 

Mace now carefully moves to the Wooden doors (GM: Failed perception roll 72)  but can find no cracks or holes to see through.  There is no lock on it either or handles for pulling the Doors.  Scratching his chin Mace muses that the only way of opening the doors from where he stands is by pushing them, but doesn’t feel ready to do this yet.  He moves back to the entrance and crouches low, still hearing the feint sounds of fighting within the Woods, although it seems to be dying down now.  The three Rangers sit patiently, having secured this area, they seem happy to wait for more of their number to arrive.

 

All hands suddenly turn as two sets of running footsteps can be heard outside, moving quickly towards where they are.  Whoever it is hasn’t come in to view yet, so mace has a few seconds to react if he wishes.  He has no idea if they are friend or foe!.....

 

Chapter 23

 

Glancing to each side, Mace makes a snap decision.  Uses loud whispers, and waving his arms, he tells Ranger 1 to move back a bit, ready to hit the newcomers from either side, or even better from behind.  The footsteps get louder and closer.  The second Ranger moves to a position that allows him to see who is coming.  Mace watches the second Rangers actions, and feels a shiver as the Ranger raises his Longsword in preparation for a fight.  Mace doesn’t expect any missile fire as the Ranger hasn’t dived for cover.

 

Ranger 2 holds his ground, as does Mace and Ranger 1 to either side of the entrance.  Mace casts Blur on himself, just as the two figures appear together in the entrance.  The Ranger facing the two foes hasn’t got to feign injury for the two run straight in towards the Ranger, both holding Broadswords.  Mace and Ranger 1 can’t react before the two men have passed them.  Mace now blurred moves quickly behind the two men as they move to attack the Ranger 2.  Ranger 1, a second behind Mace also moves forward quickly with his Longsword.

 

Everything seems to break loose at once, as the two Cremlan followers launch their attack on Ranger 2, who desperately tries to block blows heading towards him.  A fraction behind and still unnoticed Mace starts his strike with his Longsword.  The Ranger blocks the first attack, but can’t stop the second swipe as it rips into his thigh.  Maces Longsword, followed by the other Rangers Longsword both then hit home, totally surprising the Cremlan followers, who are totally unprepared.

 

Maces blade catches his foe just above the shoulder blade, hitting the man on the back of the head as he turns to see who has arrived behind him.  The man falls forward, straight onto Ranger 2’s blade, impaling him.  The second man falls forward from the impact of Ranger 1’s Sword as it hits him full power across his back, stunning him.  The surprise factor has proven decisive.  The man Mace hit crumples to the floor, still impaled, his body shaking violently.  The second man hits the wall, and turns just in time to see Ranger 1 lunge forward and stub him through the neck.  The Cremlan follower had struggled to lift his Broadsword to parry the Ranger attack, but it was too little too late.  A spout of blood spurts from Cremlan follower throat.

 

With the short and violent battle over, Mace sees that Ranger 2 is in trouble, a nasty gaping wound in his thigh.  The man clambers to a bench and rests himself on it.  Ranger 1 moves to his comrade, and hastily tears some cloth to try and stem the blood which is gushing from the wound.  The Ranger turns to Mace and tells him the blow has severed an artery, but he should be able to slow the blood as he has some 1st aid skill.

 

Mace checks the entrance as the Ranger works on his comrade, just to make sure that there are no other unwelcome visitors.  He jumps as two more figures appear around the corner; but Mace breathes a sigh of relief as he recognises them as Rangers this time.  The Rangers seems surprised to see Mace, but are also rather excited. They quickly enter, looking everywhere, and explain that they must hurry as a large army of Kobolds has been seen making their way to the Forest.  A small picket line has been set up at the edge of the Forest, but they wont hold and army for long.  As for the other Cremlan followers, about twenty have been killed, but at least that number have escaped into the night and Forest in small groups.  The Rangers have lost a few men, but these two Rangers are unsure how many at the moment, may be about seven.

 

Mace asks the Rangers to help him quickly, and after taking a quick look at the injured man, they turn their attention to the wooden doors.  They use their shoulders, and try kicking the heavy wooden doors, but they don’t budge.  Mace tells them to stand back as he moves to the Statue.  Mace had half expected the statue to come to life and attack them, but thankfully it hadn’t.  Gingerly he grabs the Spear and pulls it.  The Spear moves, and as it does the large wooden doors begins to swing open.  The Rangers take guard, ready for any surprises.  A smaller room comes in to view, but this one is taken up with a huge Spider statue, facing out.  Mace immediately notices that the eyes look unusual (GM – Perception roll – success). Mace waits a few moments, just in case the Spider holds a few surprises for them, then moves up to it, and takes a closer look at the Statue.  He then sees that the eyes are in fact hollow, and by peering in, he sees that there is enough space within the Spider for someone to look out of it.

 

The wounded Ranger has a tight bandage stemming the flow of blood from his thigh, and is now being helped to his feet.  The two Rangers, who arrived after the fight, having helped Mace with the doors, are now urging everyone to leave this area, so that they don’t get trapped inside, although they have probable got a little time before any of the Kobolds arrive.  It would take nerves of Steel to hang around within these rooms for very much longer, Mace moves quickly around this new room, checking for traps or anything of interest, but sees nothing that indicates anything unusual.

 

(GM: Much of the Kobolds and Spiders forces are controlled by a Player Character.)