Exploring the caverns beneath Avignon further, looking for a different egress out, the party found another path deeper into the caves instead. Not wanting to delve into even greater depths, they soon found themselves without a choice — trapped by a gelatinous sphere, they fought off bloodsucking bats, before Kari stumbled into the yawning cavern below. The rest followed into the great dark.
Sprawling webs stretched throughout the cavernous chambers, softly illuminated by phosphorescent fungi. As they explored the deep, they were forced to fend off swarms of rats, but the first real test came from a giant spider that took the concerted effort of all to see fallen.
Nod found a way out, that led to a place they had discovered earlier, where dead henchmen of the Highwayman’s Lute lay. The cause of their demise now revealed. Nod scurried up and tied off a rope, but Elrian, after asking his magic coin, wanted to explore the Spider Lair further. The coin promised something of value to the party and he aimed to claim it. Nod discovered another band of Duergar had arrived, so he recoiled the rope and returned to his companions.
The party ran into another harrowing rat swarm. Peron supplied a burning flask of oil to incinerate their nest and Elrian finished them off with a wall of fire, before descending to another level. Here, Nod chased off another rat horde. It seems they fear Tabaxi. Then, Peron, searching their nest, found a halfling’s finger with a silver signet ring, decorated with a stylized letter “G”.
Finding another path, deeper still, the party was soon swarmed by spiders, smaller than the first, but the companions were overwhelmed. Soon, both Peron and Elrian were webbed, and Kari and Nod were hard-pressed… then the rats came, and the Mother of Spiders. Kari cut a wake through the horde of arachnids, while Nodnal freed Peron. All retreated up the narrow ramp, but a magical mishap from Peron’s attempted Wind Wall found Elrain and Nod unconscious and the party precariously endangered. They healed their companions, though nearly losing Nod through a mushroom overdose, but in the end, a well placed fireball put an end to the harrowing ordeal.
Exploring the Mother’s Lair, Kari lassoed two cocooned bodies and pulled them from their webbed trap, while Nod and Elrian investigated a treasure chest filled with odd curiosities that the skull of James Darkmagic III½ declared to be part of a Highwayman’s Lute sideshow, three of which he cautioned were “not as cool as me”.
Turning their attentions to the two cocoons, one was filled with a dead and decaying halfling, a fighter by the look of him, while the other held a halfling that still clung to life, but just barely. As they nursed him back to health, he revealed himself to be none other than Gillan Grenadier, the deposed ringmaster of the Highwayman’s Lute. The party learned the Lute was now in the control of a “fat little bastard” called Chunk Waggins, thanks to the machinations of his sometimes business associate, the Vistani dwarf Raetka Ralpartha.
to be continued