The party gathers in the room with the locked door. Torgosh, Ta’kel and Spradlock count to three and simultaneously charge through the shabby barrier, sending splinters of rotting driftwood cascading out in all directions. Before anything can be discerned about the dimly lit interior of the passage ahead, there is a sudden cacophonous chorus of shrieks and chattering sounds as a massive swarm of bats comes swooping out of the opening. They disappear towards the cave entrance, and everyone silently prays that the Spirit is far away, for if Imryn Tarr is anywhere in the vicinity, their presence is now known.
Leaving Aramas in the previous room, they proceed carefully, followed by the hostages who are too afraid to remain behind, down a short hallway which bends to the right and opens into a small cave. Rhomack grabs a torch from the wall before entering, and holding it up in the dark, the group can see that there are two large pools of water on the opposite side, one to the right and one to the left. Aside from the water and a large accumulation of bat guano, the cave is empty.
Levna stays close to the middle of the group. Though she’s curious to see what might be in the depths, she has no desire to become dinner for some strange monster lurking under the surface.
Any tracks or signs around the pool of water, animal beast or otherwise?
There are signs of bats aplenty, but other than that, nothing Darius can see.
Ta’kel walks up and stops about 10 feet from the pools and looks around the edges. If there is nothing he picks ups two rocks, backs up to about 30 feet and tosses one in each.
Ta’kel steps forward in the dim torch light between the two pools of dark water. He kneels down slowly and selects a small stone. Then something catches his eye.
There is a very faint ripple on the surface of the water in the pool to the left. A rush of terror surges through him as he glimpses the slightest hint of motion from a large, distorted shape beneath the surface. Just as he leaps backwards with a shout, there is an explosion of salty water, as a gigantic, hideous, aquatic spider hurtles from it’s lair. Landing in the spot Ta’kel had been standing a split-second before, it rears up, exposing it’s razor-sharp incisors, and lashing it’s limbs through the air with a loud hiss that sends water and flecks of venom spraying outwards.
Levna screams and reflexively throws her knife at the spider, “Let’s leave this thing and lock it back in its lair!” She starts to back out of the room.
Ta’kel moves backward and fires his bow at the creature, yelling at the rest, “Get out!” He retreats and makes for the door.
Torgosh grabs the front end of the stretcher and starts to drag the corpse out.
Rhomack grabs the rear of the stretcher and agrees to beat a hasty retreat.
Wide eyed and with sound effects Darius’ feet catch air and pedal, kicking up dust before he accelerates out the door!
“And some secrets should stay that way!”
Torgosh takes one good look at the spider, and without hesitation bolts back to the previous room, grabs the stretcher with Aramas’ body and begins hauling it out of the cave. Spradlock and Darius follow close behind and help the gnoll with his task. Ta’kel begins to retreat and fires a shot at the monster that goes wide, while Mayuun backs up with him, growling, her hackles rising in alarm.
Levna and Rhomack, confused by the sudden commotion and the flight of the party, are the last left standing in the room. The spider sizes up it’s prey and pounces aggressively at it’s nearest target, which happens to be Rhomack, hurling it’s nearly 8 foot frame through the air at the humble priest. Rhomack reflexively throws up his shield, managing to keep the beast’s snapping mandibles just inches from his face. Under the weight of the monstrous creature, Rhomack topples backwards to the ground, crying out in shear panic as poor Levna stands just feet away. Rhomack shouts and shouts and then suddenly realizes that massive form on top of him has gone limp. Levna’s jaw drops as she realizes that the priest’s sword is protruding from the other side of the now motionless horror. Rhomack’s combat training has paid off indeed.
Blinking, Ta’kel exchanges glances with Mayuun, then moves cautiously to to help push the creature off of Rhomack and help him up. A look of obvious respect on his face, Ta’kel grins slightly at Rhomack, “Easy enough,” and pulls him up.
Ta’kel looks around the room one more time for anything the spider might have kept there and, if finding nothing says, “We should go.”
Darius relieved that he wont be lunch for a spider takes a torch and moves closer to the pool. Using what little light in may cast, Darius peers and prods with his quarterstaff into the pool trying to see if the spider perhaps accumulated anything of value from previously unlucky victims.
Darius approaches the pool on the left from which the spider emerged and begins to poke about in it with his staff. In the dim light from the torch, even Darius’ “eagle” eyes can’t make out much below the surface of the murky water. Bumping along the bottom of the pool, the staff is suddenly freed of contact for a moment as it passes over a section that is seemingly deeper than the rest.
Not wanting to press his luck, Darius returns to the party…
“It’s deep, deep enough for another spider! Let us leave this this place!”
Upon exiting, Darius turns his attention to the freed captives.
Darius shares his water with them and gives the all a reassuring smile.
“My name is Darius, you are safe now. Is there anything you can tell us of those pirates? What did they want with you?”
“Up and out.” Ta’kel advises they leave. He’ll bring up the rear with his bow. The freed hostages between him and the two carrying Aramas. “Gather at the top, then down to the boat.”
“Agreed. We should go. We’ve accomplished our mission to save the captives. We do not know what that ship might be plotting.”
Deciding not to risk further encounters with potential venom slinging denizens of the cave, the party gathers to process out of the pirate hideout. With Torgosh and Rhomack carrying the body of brave Aramas, and Ta’kel taking up the rear and keeping an eye out for anything that might be following them, the group makes it’s way once more in to the light of the afternoon sun on the beach. Though they couldn’t have spent more than an hour in the cave, it feels like a lifetime has passed.
The Spirit is still nowhere to be found, and a bitterly cold wind is still buffeting the face of the island. The party decides not to waste anymore time on the desolate rock of Skelik Isle, and quickly ascends the path on the bluff, passing by the now frozen corpses of their slain foes. As they climb, Darius asks the captives what they knew of the pirates motives, but the Saltburians are exhausted, frightened, and seem to have little idea of what their captors intended for them.
Half an hour later, having descended the long slope, the party meets back up with the Sea Nymph crew members who are waiting by the small skiff that bore them from Saltbur. Greatly fatigued and having suffered several painful injuries, it is hard for the weary adventures to stay awake, huddled together for warmth as the crew rows them back to town.