Chapter 07: Casualty

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Session Number: 119
Date: Sunday 22 January 2012
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr10 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog11 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Lionel Rgr6/Wiz1/ArcA4 (Ash) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal11 (Craig) (kills: 1 small metallic bug)
Troll Wiz11 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBA

It is a little after midday. If the party are to venture out, they will be doing it without their spell arsenal.

"We could just rest now," Arrian says, "but I think our priority should be to get back to Elondel and inform the SpiderKillers."

"We owe Verithna a debt," Troll says.

"Indeed," Rowaine adds. "We all promised Verithna our help." The matter is settled; the party will head out with what they have.

"Give me a minute," Troll says. "In fact, make that ten. Ro, turn around." Used to these sorts of cryptic outbursts, Rowaine does as requested. Troll burrows into her haversack and retrieves the party's magical pigments. He starts sketching on the ground. It doesn't take long for his purpose to be made plain:


"We will be off, Verithna," Rowaine says. "We will return with tales of what we find."

"Good hunting," Verithna replies. "I am anxious to hear what you find."

Lionel retraces the party's tracks towards the pine and conifer where they found the last metallic spider. On the way, Troll has some thoughts. "I wonder whether these arachtria aren't really arachtria at all. They don't act like them. They don't seem to recognise and respond to me, as other ones have done."

Arrian ponders the point. There are physical differences, but they are subtle. The smaller creatures have antennae, unlike their larger cousins. Their squeal is similar, but not quite the same as the larger arachtria. "Perhaps they act differently because they are intelligent."

"Possible," Troll says. He casts his mind back to his dissection/deconstruction of one of the previous creatures and reflects with his regained knowledge of the arcane. He is convinced that they are indeed arachtria; their construction bears the signature. "I'd like to make contact with them," he says.

"Me also," Arrian adds. "And if we can avoid killing them, all the better."

"Abbey is particularly skilled with metals," Rowaine points out. "Maybe she might know more. Getting one to her might be tricky, though - a live one, at least."


Lionel finds the conifer easily and begins backtracking the creature's last steps. He points out where they originally picked up the creature's tracks yesterday. The tracks continue on for a further hour, dead straight, then cross a stream. The tracks continue on the other side. The stream loops back upon itself. The party spot a metallic glinting in the water of this return branch, twenty yards away. The stream is not wide or fast-flowing, but is reasonably deep. On approach, the party see a pile of very arachtria-looking metal under the water's surface. It is either a pile of several arachtria, or something they have not yet met… Rowaine cannot sense any evil about them, or in the surrounds.

"Keep away," Lionel warns. "Tracks." He immediately surveys the area and finds three or four sets of booted humanoid tracks, no more than three days old, that seem to be travelling to and from this area. There are no arachtria tracks, on either side of the river.

Closer inspection suggests the metal are individual small arachtria, maybe six to ten in number.

"Is someone coming here to activate these ones in the stream?" Arrian asks.

"Let's see how active they are," Troll says. He opens up the cage, then wades into the river. Rowaine immediately follows him, axe at the ready. "Help me with this, Ro?" The paladin stows her axe and helps Troll lift some of the metal out of the water. A single creature comes away, quite battered. Together, they lift it onto the riverbank. It weighs something like 60-70 pounds.

"How long have they been here?" Troll asks Lionel. The ranger takes note of the water speed, then inspects the silt buildup around the most upstream creature. "No more than a week," he replies.

Troll and Rowaine retrieve the others. Six arachtria now lie on the riverbank, all damaged, some more than others. The worst have legs that are near-severed. Rowaine lifts the least-damaged specimen and dumps it into the cart, closing and locking its lid.

"I really want to follow those humanoid tracks," Troll says.

"I suggest we follow the arachtria for a while, then return," Arrian says.

"I want to find someone who can talk," Troll argues.

"Which is our quarry? But do what you will." Both of the elves look at Rowaine. "The boots, to start with," she says.

Lionel takes point. He will arrange an arrow as infrequently as possible while maintaining a sightline to the last arrow - a distance of around twenty to thirty yards in these conditions. The others will follow behind, collecting the arrows as they go. When Lionel is nearly out of arrows he will stop and let the others catch up.

Troll suggests that Rowaine fly up on har and have a look at the surrounds. Rowaine takes Lionel with her. They climb about two thousand feet and see undulating forest with a broken canopy. A ridge lies to the east. Beneath the broken canopy is lush, rich grass and shrubs. There is no evidence of towns or anything that might give away the direction of the tracks.

Rowaine returns and the party start the arrow protocol, Lionel heading off and the others following after a couple of minutes. Four pairs of eyes fail to see Lionel's arrow; perhaps he misunderstood the instructions. They head back and barely manage to find the river. They try again and still fail to acquire any arrows. They return again and set out a third time, taking more care. Arrian spots an arrow in a place he swears he looked at before.

Now their eyes are in, the others manage to follow the rather obvious trail of arrows Lionel has left. The distance between arrows reduces as the trail turns to the right. After two minutes, they see Lionel ahead. He beckons them over.

"I will stay behind," Arrian says. "Rowaine, I suggest you do the same."


"Caution. Nothing more."

"I will go ahead alone."

Rowaine walks to Lionel. He stands beside a body of a male elf in woodlands gear, a bow on his back and a sword in his dead hand. His garb bears no obvious insignia.

"Look there," Lionel whispers. "Arachtria tracks. At least three distinct sets. They lead here in a bunch, then they head off in quite different directions."

"What about the humanoid tracks?" Rowaine asks. "Are they his?"

"I'm pretty sure they are. They keep going, both to and from this place."

Rowaine inspects the body. He seems to have died from many slashing and stabbing wounds, largely to his lower body.

"I'd say by the state of him that he's been here for a day, maybe two," Rowaine says. "Do you concur?"

Lionel examines the booted tracks. "Yep."

"What do you make of his clothing?" Rowaine asks, waving the others over.

"Well-made, but nondescript."

Arrian searches the body. The elf's weapons are of reasonable manufacture, although the longsword is in great need of sharpening. He bears no money and no documentation. "It looks as if it has been nibbled on," Arrian says. "His equipment seems untouched, what there is of it." He thinks for a moment. "I could Raise him…"

The party place the elf's body in the cart, then continue to follow the humanoid tracks using their newly formulated 'arrow protocol.' The party recover only two arrows before they see Lionel again, lying down on the edge of a rise, looking farther ahead. He motions for them to keep quiet, stay low, and approach.

The ridge marks a natural bowl-shaped depression, reasonably clear of foliage. They clearly see the other side about sixty yards away. There is an opening at bottom, 30-40 yards away, propped up with timbers.

"The tracks end here," Lionel whispers. "It looks like one person travelled a few times to this point, went prone and stayed for some time, then backtracked. It would be a good place to observe this depression without being seen."

"Are there any spider tracks?" Troll asks.


"What about the straight arachtria tracks we were following? Would they have passed close to here?"

Lionel sketches out the local landmarks on the ground, then adds the arachtria tracks. They more or less intersect with this depression. The party ask Lionel to circumnavigate the depression, searching for tracks and traffic. He takes his time, carefully circling around and returning five minutes later.

"There are a lot of arachtria tracks leaving this area, dotted all around the outskirts of the depression," Lionel reports.

"There might be a matre in there, spawning these things," Arrian says. "Perhaps it is using the metal that might be in the mine. Perhaps the reason the arachtria are not hostile is that they are scouts, gathering information for the mother."

"That might explain it," Troll says. "I wonder if the elf has been watching, seeing them emerge, killing them and dumping them in the river, then the arachtria have retaliated."

Everyone watches the opening in the depression. "I'm not keen on going into a possible nest without my spells," Troll says.

"I see no reason to hurry," Arrian replies.

It is around two hours after midday. The party wait and watch, looking to see if any arachtria come out. Less than ten minutes later, a group of three little arachtria emerge from the hole.

"Let's let them go," Arrian whispers.

"Didn't Troll say that they must all die?" Rowaine says.

"Not blindly."

The arachtria clamber out of hole, group very briefly then turn around and start moving out in different directions. One of the three creatures' tracks takes it perilously close to the party's vantage point. Everyone stays deathly quiet. The construct passes by, fifteen yards to the right, showing no sign of having noticed the party. It is surprisingly quiet. All three creatures leave the depression and continue in straight lines until they disappear in the foliage.

"That was close," Rowaine says.

"It would be interesting to see when the next lot come out," Arrian says. "Let's continue watching."

The party settle in. "Perhaps there are three matre down below," Arrian muses, "or one matre that is stockpiling arachtria before sending them out… But why would it do that if they are going in different directions?"

The party decide to wait for no more than an hour. Lionel ventures to the right to inspect the arachtria tracks. In the twenty yards he covers, he sees three or four more sets of tracks, older than the set just made. The markings that the creatures are making are all consistent with something moving away from the depression. None are returning.

The hour passes and the party have just enough daylight to return to Verithna's. Lionel thinks he will easily find his way back in the dark, so long as he has a light source. On the strength of this, the party decide to wait a while longer. Troll performs some mental gymnastics on the information Lionel has gathered and figures that there are around five new sets of tracks per day exiting the depression, or roughly one per five hours. Everyone agrees that that is too long to wait; they set off back to Verithna's.

Verithna greets the party as they arrive just before dusk. She looks at their cage, no longer empty. "Hmmmm. you killed another. I hope you didn't kill the elf as well…"

"We found him dead, killed by more arachtria. We also found a mine."

"Oh yes," Verithna says. "I've not been there in quite some time. That is a very old mine."

"I think they might be mining for material and sending out arachtria from there. We thought we would go back tomorrow."

"I doubt that they would find anything. That used to be an old goblin mine. They stripped it bare and moved on. It is not particularly big."

"We intend to go back tomorrow, after we resurrect this elf."

"You do? OK…"

"We have questions for him," Troll adds. "Would it be alright if we stayed here for the night?"

"Yes, yes, I think you can," Verithna says. "Would you like me to cast Gentle Repose on this person?"

"That would be very useful, yes."

Verithna casts the spell and after a spartan meal everyone settles down for the night.

In the morning, the party prepare for the miracle to come, then have breakfast.

"Verithna," Arrian says, "may we bring the body inside your house?"

"I would prefer that you didn't," Verithna answers. "Keep him outside, near the firepit." Rowaine and Lionel carry the body over. Verithna lights the fire with a flick of her fingers. Arrian casts his spell while the others stand nearby, weapons ready.

The elf gasps and half-rises in pain.

"You are safe," Arrian says.

"Argh!" the elf says. "Who are you?"

"Arrian, a priest of Corellon Larethian. His blessings are upon you, friend elf."

"I was dead…"

"Yes, but by the grace of Corellon Larethian, you live again."

"To what end am I brought back?"

"Two reasons: it is my responsibility, and also I wanted to … we are dealing with the arachtria in the area which I believe you may have had some dealings with..?"


"The metallic antlike creatures that attacked you."

"I know of no such creatures." Arrian thinks he is lying. He motions to Rowaine to Detect Evil.

"My name is Arrian. May I ask your name?"


"How did you come to be in these woods?"

"I was running an errand."

"What sort of errand?"

"Um, a message to get supplies for my family."

"Are they in danger?"

"No, they just need ordinary supplies."

Troll starts humming. "Look, if you are going to dance, you may as well have some music."

Mailaelin looks around group. Arrian and Troll notice that his gaze lingers a little longer on Verithna than the others. "Mailaelin, do you know Verithna?"

"Who is Verithna?"

"Why are you lying to me about being attacked by the arachtria?" Arrian asks pointedly.

"Can I just go, please?"

"Are you going to be safe?"

"I'll be the judge of that."

Rowaine detects no evil about the elf, shaking her head in Arrian's sight. "Are you sure there is nothing else we can do? I know that you want to hide something from us and you don't trust us…"

"What reason do I have to trust you?"

"I did just bring you back from the dead…"

"Do you have the faintest idea who I am?" Troll asks.


"Then we're good!"

"I'm not going to hold you here," Arrian says, "but there are dangerous things in the wood, including arachtria that have already attacked and killed you… I'm not going to stop you going back there, but I'm probably not going to raise you again."

"Arachtria didn't kill me."

"What killed you?" Arrian asks.

"Wolves." Arrian is obviously unconvinced. Mailaelin looks at his sword. "If I draw this, will you take me?"

"We will defend ourselves if necessary," Lionel says, his hand not straying from his weapon. Mailaelin puts his hands out in front of him.

"Why did you want to draw out your sword?" Troll asks.

"To inspect it."

"I'm happy for you to take your sword out," Arrian says. Mailaelin half-draws his blade, looks at its edge, then resheathes it. "May I have my arrows?" Lionel hands them back. Arrian offers a handful of imithrium arrows. "Have these too," he says. "They might be more effective."

"Good for killing 'wolves'," Troll adds.

"Well," says Arrian, "he doesn't want to tell us the truth and we can't force him."

"Who would you tell the truth to?" Troll asks.

"I have no reason to not tell the truth to you. I am in your debt."

"I know, but let's pretend."

"That is far too difficult a construct to disassemble here."

"Would you tell Sir Imothell Larellian?"

"He is a lord. Of course I would."

"We haven't introduced ourselves," Arrian says.

"I am less keen than you think to do that," Troll says to Arrian. "Is this information worth it?"

"I am concerned on a couple of levels," Arrian goes on. "I don't want him to go out and get himself killed. We obviously haven't given him sufficient reason to trust us…. Mailaelin, if my colleague were to take you to see Sovak is that something you would be interested in?"

"Pretend that you are lying," Troll says, "and that we are in fact out hunting something that killed you. We want to know any information you would have. You don't trust us to give that information. We could take you to see Slovak Larellian."

"Sovak," Mailaelin corrects.

"Sovak, sorry… All your elven names sound the same to me." Lionel rolls his eyes. Mailaelin looks at Troll funnily. "Do you think that would be a good idea?" Troll continues. "You don't have to, you can just go if you like."

"I choose to go," Mailaelin says flatly. "I do not rub shoulders with the nobility."

"Would you like some healing before you go?" Arrian offers.

"If you are willing… and if it is healing…"

"I'd like to remind you I have just raised you from the dead," Arrian points out.

"Do you want me to draw the pentagram?" Troll says. "Just kidding." The humour seems lost on Mailaelin.

Arrian looks questioningly at Mailaelin, who shrugs his shoulders and approaches. Arrian lays his hands on the elf's shoulders and utters a prayer to Corellon Larethian. Mailaelin's wounds heal.

"What was your name again?" Troll asks.


"I'll mention it."

"To whom?"


"You have dealings with Sovak?"

"We cross paths sometimes."

"He will not know me."

"No. But he will after I mention this meeting."

"As you wish."

"You are free to go," Arrian says. "Do you need food?"


"If you do see any of these spidery creatures," fer says, "you could come back and let us know."

"I'll be sure to do that. They sound dangerous."

"Anything else before you go?"

"My thanks."

"Give your thanks to Corellon Larethian."

"I shall." Mailaelin gets up, looks at each in turn, then leaves. He heads south.

What to do next? Avarriel? Elondel? Abbey? Trina? Troll needs to make contact - you cannot have a prince of the realm simply go missing. Rowaine wants to stay. Arrian will stay with Rowaine and Verithna while fer and Lionel accompany Troll back to Elondel.

"When you come back," Rowaine says, "can you bring a shield?"

"Sure," Troll says.

"And a backpack? And some food, water, and sunrods? I feel a little light right now…" A list is made. Troll then selects Lionel and fer and teleports to nearby Elondel.

"How may I be of assistance?" the tower's anthropomorphic personification says to his master. Troll gives the list to Elondel.

"I have been relayed messages from the wing at Abbey," Elondel says. "Your wife is curious as to your whereabouts."

Troll transports to Abbey and passes a message to Ethalyn to meet there.

"Where have you been?" Ethalyn says after arriving at Abbey. "I expected to hear from you before now."

"We had a bit of trouble." Troll describes the ambush outside the queen's towers and the party's subsequent memory loss. Ethalyn stops Troll and has a look at his neck. "My lord!" she says. "But it is dead, it is taken care of?"

"It is, but I wouldn't mind a second opinion."

"We must talk to my mother. If this happened on her very doorstep then what can they not do?"

"That's why I am here, to tell you about things so you can take it further."

"It's the Kanafels," Ethalyn says. "It must be."

"Well, I'm not convinced of that yet, but here's the thing. Whoever did this to us doesn't know that we are alright now, with our memories returned."

"Your friends are alright?"

"Yes. They have all had the thing inside their necks killed, and their memories have returned. but I wouldn't mind an independent verification of that."

"You must get Abbey to have a look at you, or Trina."

"I don't want to turn up at Trina and have rumours going round that we are ok."

"You don't know who to trust…"

"That's right. You, obviously; your mother obviously; and whoever you trust as well…"

"I'm so pleased you trust me," Ethalyn says.

"Your brother and a Larellian are at Elondel and I told them not to leave. How many SpiderKillers do you have going through there?"

"None, I did not think it wise."

"Oh shit, I knew I forgot something," Troll says. "We also found another variant of arachtria that seem to be coming from an old, abandoned goblin mine." He explains them in detail. "We plan to go back and deal with them."

"Do you need any of my men?"

"Having SpiderKillers there wouldn't be a bad thing, but I cannot transport a load of them."

"It is a journey of many hundreds of miles," Ethalyn says. "It will take some time to move a force there by normal means."

"Maybe we need to be the vanguard, and then tell you how important it is to get a more substantial force there. I can take one with me if you wish."

"Take your pick. I can name five that would be very much up to the task."

"One that you trust," Troll says.

"Ah, you wish to keep it quiet… Maybe it would not be a good idea. Strange… None of my force have encountered anything like you describe."

"I don't know if they are new, or something else. Based on the antenna, the fact that they move quietly, and that they run away rather than fight, I think these are some sort of scout."

"They run away? That's unprecedented."

"Indeed. I am interested in going down that hole and finding out more."

"Well, make your call, my lord. You can have my best man, or you can not. It is up to you.

"I will think upon that."

"Do you wish me to come?"

"No I think you are best here it might look odd if you were to disappear as well as me."

"Very well," Ethalyn says, disappointment on her face. "Do take the greatest of care. It worries me, it pains me. I may see if I can get a message to my mother, if my lord consents?"

"Yes. Like I said, I trust you and I trust your mother."

Troll asks Abbey to create an illusion of a tent that Trina can enter, outside her wing. He then asks Abbey to be present in the tent, and asks her to relay their imminent conversation to Elondel.

"Firstly," Troll says, "I'd like to know more about these new arachtria. Small ones. Little antennae."

"Little arachtria, you say?" Abbey says. "Yes, we have seen those before. A long, long time ago. But they did not have antennae."

"They behaved weirdly, too," Troll adds. "They didn't seem at all interested in me, for a start. All they seemed to want to do was run away."

"That's odd," Abbey says. "The smaller ones we have seen were used very similarly to the larger arachtria that you have previously battled against. They weren't that effective. They were too easily disabled and so their 'production', if you want to call it that, waned. They seemed to be cheaper for the matre to fashion in larger numbers and so in certain circumstances it was assumed that the matre thought it useful to create a lot of little ones for a particular job, rather than fewer larger ones. But they always worked en masse."

"Not in groups of one to three?"


"What about scouting?"

"That is not something I have seen the arachtria do," Abbey says. "If they do, it is in a very small area, controlled by a matre. Typically they cannot be controlled beyond a mile."

Troll pictures where they encountered these odd arachtria. "We saw them move at least six miles with no matre in sight."

"That is… new. That makes me uncomfortable. Hmmm. I wish I could see one, get in its head."

"I forgot."

"But you will bring me one?"

"Tomorrow. If I can get a live one I'll bring that back, but at the moment I can only bring back a dead one. You can have a few of them if you want. Now, what can you tell me about this creature that was in my neck?"

Abbey looks at Troll's scar. "It seems to have healed over, there is nothing much more I can do. You could talk to Elondel, he is better at these things than I."

Troll transports to Elondel, who confirms Abbey's information about the strange little arachtria.

"May I see your wound, sir?"

"You most certainly may."

Elondel inspects the scar on Troll's neck. His hands are quite cold. "Hmmm… This is very odd. These do something to your mind that would fit with what you have said. I sense that they have played with your mind, but now that they are dead they are no longer able to. I don't believe that they are a natural thing."

"They are created?"

"I cannot say for sure."

"Do you know how they came to be in my person?"

"They seem to be some sort of parasite," Elondel says. "Would you like me to tidy up the scar?"

"No, I'm going to get Trina to have a look."

Troll transports to the wing at Trina and summons the tree of life into the illusory tent. He explains to her the arachtria and the things embedded in their necks. Trina pays little attention to story about the arachtria. "I don't understand them," she says she says.

"What about the things in our necks?"

"They are not from here. From this world, this place, this existence. How long was it inside you, alive?"

"Three days."

"And it has done that already… It is not part of my world."

"Do you mean time or space?"

"It is not part of any time or space. It is from the other places."

"Excuse me, sir," Elondel's disembodied voice says, "I believe Trina means the creatures are from another plane or dimension."

"They did this to you in three days," Trina says. "It is good that they were killed because it seems that they would do more if time would have permitted."

"Take it out, are they gone?"

"It is dead, it will do you no more harm. Yes, I see some new mysticism cast upon you to remove it. But had they had a chance to grow, to feed upon you, to extend its roots into you, who is to say where it would end and you begin?"

"Would it control me?"

"It is possible."

Troll wonders about Theodric Kanafel - as far as he knows, he was given a thorough going-over by mages and clerics, no one mentioned any trauma to his neck. He rues that he did not check the elf that Arrian raised.

"Trina, can you check Theodric for these creatures?"

"Theodric Kanafel has been returned to Lady Kanafel, in Avarriel."

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