When Milacent was back to full health, the party returned to the Crow. They came back under cover of darkness, and entered through the hidden window they had found, bypassing the Tower Girls entirely. When they made their way back to the ant mounds they found, much to their chagrin, that the ants had been replaced with spiders. Fortunately, these were not the as bad as the giant black widow spider that had nearly killed Milacent. These were smaller and weaker, with less potent poison. The party tore through them with relative ease, and then through a group of mites that showed up for support. As the party looked over the collection of puffy blue bodies, a thought occurred to Theodore.
“You know,” he said, “I can’t speak Undercommon, but I can cast comprehend languages. Then at least we can understand what they’re saying.”
“They’re saying ‘Die, gnome, die!’,” Milacent responded with as much contempt as she could muster.
Milacent just rolled her eyes.
They made their way to where the giant spider had almost killed Milacent, and found a passageway leading away from it to the south. Here Theodore had a chance to try out his plan, as they found a slightly larger mite, wearing a single bracer as a crown. Theodore cast his comprehend languages, then watched in horror as Milacent stabbed the ‘royal’ mite through his chest.
“Wait!” Theodore exclaimed, rushing forward to heal the mite before it died. When it was no longer in danger, he tied it up and began asking it questions, starting with “Who are you?”
Theodore had been hoping that even though the comprehend languages spell didn’t translate his words into Undercommon, his tone and body language could allow some communication. It was a long shot, but not completely unfeasible. It did assume that the creature they were talking to was reasonably sane, and it quickly became apparent that was not the case.
“What sort of emissaries are you, attacking and binding King Zuuga?” the mite demanded. “Release me at once or … GNOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Scratchy sat back, incensed. Why no love for the goblin?
Theodore tried to talk to ‘King Zuuga’, but the mite was just hearing gibberish, and his answers weren’t much better. Eventually they just decided he was no use to them, but they didn’t kill him. At Zelcor’s insistence, they left King Zuuga bound and gagged but very much alive. “When we leave this place,” Zelcor declared, “I’m going to take him with me and keep him as a pet! He can teach me Undercommon, even though it’ll mostly be about ways to insult gnomes.”
Everyone shook their head, then continued onward. They found another set of stairs leading downward, and at the foot found two corridors, one choked with cobwebs, the other clear. “We go this way,” said Scratchy, pointing down the non-cobwebby path. He scouted out about fifty feet, finding a corridor lined with numerous iron cell doors. He was just about to check the doors when no less than four pale yellow spiders scuttled toward him out of the darkness. “Help!” he cried, and the rest of the party rushed up to save him. They made it out with minimal injury, but Scratchy was rattled: he was the one who was supposed to be ambushing people out of the darkness. “We go the the other way,” he declared.
At this point Zelcor had an idea. “The spiders are immune to mind-affecting spells,” he said, “but they still see.” He proposed creating an illusion of a glowing humanoid through the webs. The spiders would see it, come out of hiding to attack, and the party would kill them from a distance. Everyone else enthusiastically agreed.
Using Zelcor’s plan, they worked their way down the the cobwebbed corridor. They successfully lured into the open and slew several spiders, squashed about a dozen egg sacs, and burned their way through maybe a hundred feet of webs. At the other end they found a raised pool with suspiciously clear water. “It’s a trap!” Milacent exclaimed, and shot an arrow into it. When no water weird emerged to attack them, the party approached the pool carefully. It radiated magic, so Theodore decided to take a sip. Instantly, he found that some of the weakness he’d been suffering since getting bitten by spiders earlier was gone. Milacent, also slightly weakened, still refused a drink.
Making their way past the pool, the party found another set of cells, and in one of them, a living occupant. What kind of occupant, however, was a mystery. About the size of a human, it stood on two doglike, backward-bent legs. Its long arms ended in razor-sharp claws, and mouth full of crooked teeth sat in its skull-like head. As soon as it saw the party, it flung itself against the iron bars of its cell, snarling and clawing and trying to get at them, but the bars held. Scratchy took his horsechopper and stabbed at it from out of its reach. It took three good hits, but the thing eventually died.
“You think that thing’s been in there since the fall of Thassilon?” Theodore inquired.
“A better question is, are there more of them ahead?” Scratchy answered.
Leaving it behind, they continued onward. Presently they reached a high-ceilinged room where an emaciated cave fisher attempted and failed to snare one of them. After killing it they found a pouch tied to its leg with a bracer matching the one King Zuuga had been wearing, a dozen polished rocks, and 23 tiny teeth. While Scratchy examined the rocks to figure out if he could sell them to anyone who wasn’t a mite, Theodore looked around the room a bit. It had clearly once been a worked stone room, but now was crumbling into a more naturalistic cavern. In the south wall was a once-secret door hanging askew from a broken frame, right beside a mold-slickened statue of a beautiful woman holding a ranseur.
Theodore stared at the statue for several minutes. There was something about this statue, something he should know …
“Ah hah!” he exclaimed, “It’s Alaznist! The runelord of wrath! Watch it everybody, there may be magical guardians around here.”
“I hope so,” said Scratchy, “because then we’d be done with these horrible spiders.”