Session 21: Inevitable and Unwarranted Murder? Check.
The group cautiously make their way through the spider’s lair. The ground appears to be covered in some thick snow, and it slightly slows them down, though only Adriana, Sarah, and Pip notice. After a few minutes of careful passage, Adriana and Sarah realize that they are walking through an illusion: the ground below them isn’t earth or snow, but rather thick spider web disguised to trap any wanderers. They immediately stop, quickly motioning for the others to listen. Sarah points to the ground, whispering “it’s a web!” repeatedly, though Ali only thinks she is referring to the general trap the spiders have certainly set for them. Exasperated, he tries to have the party move forward again, and Sarah thinks that he has realized their situation as well, so she follows suit. Adriana, being the more perceptible of the two, instead stays where she is and demands that Ali listen. While she continues to point out that they’re standing on web, Joel finally listens to them and grows increasingly concerned. Mequil reaches down and picks up some of the web, but even with his goggles he thinks he picks up dirt, and he points out how useless the commoners are with a roll of his eyes. Angry, Adriana reaches forward and tries to stop Ali from walking away again. She causes him to go slightly off balance, and with an ominous noise the spider web fluctuates below their feet. The group freezes, and Adriana can hear the sound of movement from all around them. Before she can warn the others, the ground below the minotaurs and the Vanir bursts open, and swarms of spiders pour out onto the web.
Furious, Sarah and Adriana scream “I told you so!” at the group, before they are distracted by the spiders around them. Below the webs, now broken from the illusion, the PCs can see Ettercap crawling on the underside of the webs. Using his mask, Joel looks through the webs and sees dozens more web levels below them; the sides of the cavern are covered in holes and alcoves, some filled with more spiders, others with Ettercaps, and even more with egg sacs. Below him, an Ettercap reaches up and attempts to grab his leg to bring him down, but he manages to fight it off and stay standing. Meanwhile, Adriana is swarmed by small spiders, ranging from the size of her fist to as small as a thumbnail, but she bounces from foot to foot to keep them off. Immediately, a large snow spider—as large as a bull—lunges at her and wraps its forelegs around her torso while biting into her neck. Adriana instantly reacts, as she knew about the trap moments before it was sprung, and blasts the spider away from her, taking advantage of its grapple to hide her magic from the Vanir and minotaurs. Another Ettercap attempts to reach through the webbing to grab Sarah, but like Joel she manages to avoid it, and instead stabs it with her sword. Pip flies into the air during the panic and yells for everyone to close their eyes, as he has a brilliant plant. The PCs listen, though the others do not, and all of the nearby creatures are mesmirized as Pip begins to glow brightly while spinning and pulsing, creating a disco-ball effect as he sings, effectively charming all of the spiders and Ettercaps, as well as Osi and Mequil. On the edge of the cavern, Pip sees Oshenic uncloak, revealing that he was standing with his rifle out and pointed at one of the frost spiders. When the spiders all freeze, entranced by Pip, he lowers his gun and demands to know who used a charm spell. The PCs all point to Pip, while he happily replies. Oshenic yells at the group to run, specifying that the minotaurs need to carry Osi and Mequil to safety, and then he throws a grenade into the cavern. Upon exploding, it sets the web on fire, and the group runs while the spiders and Ettercap all shriek as they are burned to death.
When they reach the crevice edge, Oshenic helps pull his own group to safety, but he doesn’t offer any help to the PCs. They all watch as the Ettercap attempt to save spiders and egg sacs, prompting Oshenic to throw more grenades at them. Pip floats over to Joel and points out that his position of being the supreme baby killer has been usurped. Meanwhile, Adriana hears a small voice crying for help. When the others can’t hear anything, she realizes that the voice is in her mind, and she traces it back to a small alcove in the cliffside below them. Knowing that Joel can use his powers to easily climb through the spider webs, she has him investigate, and he finds a small silver psuedo-dragon, trapped among its dead siblings with clipped wings. He rescues it by burning the web, careful to keep his magic secret from the others, then takes a moment to send fire throw the nursery tunnel system, reclaiming his title as the best baby killer in the group. When he returns to the surface, a new spring in his step, the dragon immediately jumps to Adriana, crawling around her delightedly before settling on her shoulder. He introduces himself as Finn to her, while Pip seethes nearby and flies over to Sarah, clearly jealous of the animal, which is smaller than him and clearly allowed to settle on Adriana (while he was not).
Crisis averted, the group sets off again to the source of the signal. They quickly reach the edge of a lake, which contains a large glacier. Immediately, they realize that a Synodan ship has crashed into the glacier; below the ship, a cave was carved into the ice. The Vanir and minotaur tense upon seeing the ship and begin making preparations to fight the Synodans, with the minotaurs readying their weapons and Oshenic going to the water’s edge with a scope to look at out them. While the PCs talk to Ali and Peri, inquiring as to what the ship is (fooling nobody, as it is clear that they are lying about not knowing what Synodans are) and angering the group by asking to not fight, Oshenic pulls what appear to be marbles from his pocket, throwing them into the air. They immediately begin flying to the cave. Sarah asks what they are, and Oshenic refuses to elaborate beyond that they are scanning devices, pointing out that commoners are too stupid to understand the complex technology. Adriana then asks Pip for some elaboration, and he reveals that similar drones had flown into their tent the previous night to scan for magical energy while the PCs were sleeping. Sarah furiously confronts Oshenic, and when he doesn’t respond she shoves him roughly, causing him to fall into the water. The others instantly react: the minotaurs draw their weapons on her, Ali shouting at Sarah, and the remaining Vanir back away in fear. Sarah tries to defend herself, saying that she didn’t know he would fall in, as Osi and Val dive into the water to rescue Oshenic. Joel helps Sarah tie rope around herself, and she takes a running leap into the water to save Oshenic, turning partially into stone to help herself sink. Adriana notices dark shapes in the water swimming towards the group, and she tries to warn the group as the shapes are revealed to be killer whales.
Under the surface, an orca attacks Osi, as his white fur makes him appear to be a seal, and it visciously bites into him and shakes him. Adriana uses her magic to attack one of the remaining killer whales, as the other two had split up. As she falls, Sarah turns a hand into a blade and slashes the orca attacking Osi; though Osi and Val don’t notice her magic through the bloodied water, Oshenic looks up while trying to strip himself of his heavy gear. On the ice, Joel tries to hold onto the rope tightly, having Ali help him as Sarah sinks quickly. Behelam walks to the edge of the water, using his axe to send an energy beam into the water, hitting the orca, though it doesn’t let go of Osi and continues to bite into him. Mequil realizes that the probes sent by Oshenic are returning and, to prevent them from plunging into the water, he tries to use some tech to bring them to him instead. Pip shouts encouragingly, though he is still held in Adriana’s hand, as a ruse to prevent the group from knowing about Adriana’s magic. The orcas slam into the side, breaking it and sending people flying: Ali falls, and Joel almost lets go of the rope, while Mequil slips and Behelam turns to attack one of the orcas. Meanwhile, Val tries to stop the orca from continuing to attack Osi, but she ends up shocking the three of them with her electric weapons. Oshenic, finally light enough to swim without most of his supplies, swims up to meet Sarah with a strange look on his face, which she interprets as pleading for help.
The orcas continue to brutally attack the party, eventually dragging Mequil away screaming, leaving a bloody smear on the ice. Osi is severely injured, but the orca is shaken off of him with further attacks. Sarah finally reaches Oshenic, wrapping an arm around his waist and signaling to Joel to pull them to safety by returning her stone form to flesh. As they rise, Oshenic grabs onto Osi, and the orca slams into Sarah, attempting to rip her off of the rope (thus taking the other two with her). Seizing the opportunity, Oshenic reaches above Sarah and cuts the rope, letting her fall with the orca still biting into her as he shrugs. Furious, Sarah spins in the water, sending the orca at Oshenic. It immediately rips into him, brutually ripping him in half and dragging him, as well as Osi, into the depths. On the surface, the others see an orca playing with Mequil’s dead body. Adriana uses her magic to summon an illusion, a delicious seal, which distracts the other orca and leaves them alone. Sarah swims back to the surface with Val, who is visibly and terribly injured, and shaken from their encounter. They collapse on the surface, panting and covered in blood—mostly Oshenic’s and Osi’s—while the others attempt to ask about their companions. The group attempts to collect themselves; Val sobs into the ground, while Ali tries to comfort her, and Behelam and Peri appear shell-shocked. The group notices a dark swarm flying towards them: Pip recognizes them as Synodans, and the group tries to conceal themselves, but it is quickly clear that they will need to use magic.
Adriana tries to conjure an illusion, but it flickers away. When she tries to hand Pip to Joel, still feigning a lack of inherent magic, Ali stops them and tells them to stop pretending. Joel immediately conjures a dark cloud which shields them, and the Synodans eventually return their ship. As the magical darkness disappears, the PCs ask Ali about his meaning. He reveals that he knows that they are not commoners, as they can use magic. While it’s clear that Peri is not happy with them being humans, he merely shrugs when Ali tells the PCs to go their own way, and he doesn’t want to be around humans using unstable magic and further endangering his group. Sarah instantly points out that she cannot use spells, and he tells her (still using the “Little Bull” nickname) that she can join them, especially when she feigns surprise at “learning” that Joel and Adriana are humans. Joel decides to point out that they did not want to have any of this happen, saying that Loki designed them to be this way. The others immediately tense, and Ali charges at Joel with a yell, hacking at him with an axe and sending him flying to the edge of the ice. Joel manages to hang onto the edge, but he knocks his head, and is clearly close to death from the attack.