Amaya heads north but checks herself a few feet from the magical darkness in the western shrine. Nova moves up behind the half-elf and listens for a moment but is unable to pinpoint the invisible drider in the darkness. “We are going to have to go after her or she’ll come back with reinforcements,” she says.
Nasti nods and enters the darkened room, unimpaired by the gloom, but she cannot get a sense of where the creature might have gone, either. “I can’t hear her,” she says, just loud enough to be heard. Immediately after, she hears the skuttering of large spider legs retreating and cried out, “She’s going west!”
Amaya sighs and under her breath says, “I wish you would really wait for us.” She heads into the darkness, using the tiefling’s voice to guide her past. The half-elf makes her way through the darkness and comes out the other side into a hallway. She continues west toward a T-intersection until she runs into something she cannot see.
“I think it’s in front of me,” she says.
Nova follows her cousin but moves more slowly and doesn’t quite make it out of the magical dark. Nasti draws up beside the human and her ears confirm Amaya’s suspicion. “She’s there!” The tiefling points. “Annnd she’s getting away,” she adds at the sound of the drider retreating to the south.
Amaya enters the intersection, focusing southward, and sees a giant hairy tarantula. “There’s a large spider but no spider-woman thing.”
“Maybe the drow part tore loose and dragged itself away?” Canter suggests helpfully.
Amaya rolls her eyes and heads south to engage the giant arachnid. The hallway widens to reveal a room where cobwebs hang from the ceiling and blanket the floor. To the east are pews running north-south. Despite the webbing, she can see that the mosaic footprints continue south through this room to a set of copper doors. As she continues south, a second tarantula the size of a horse comes into view, standing just in front of the copper doors. Undaunted, Amaya swings her sword in a two-handed overhead chop and draws spider blood.
Nova emerges from the darkness and rushes to the corner at the T-intersection. Eyes wide at the site of Amaya fighting two giant spiders, she evokes a ray of freezing energy that flies between two of the nearer tarantula’s legs. Her spell must have distracted the spider because it fails to strike Amaya with any of the legs it thrust at her. Unfortunately, the second spider advances and catches the half-elf in the breadbasket, with a hair leg, driving her to the floor.
Nasti catches up to Nova and sends electricity streaking into the spiders, which twitch a little as they are struck. The cousins see one of the webbed curtains shoved aside in the south of the chamber and hear Lanthurrae’s voice from just in front of the doors. Nasti and Nova exchange a tight glance when they recognize the cadence of a healing spell.
Amaya picks herself up and continues her attack on the first spider, striking it twice more, if not as viciously as before. Nova begins healing her cousin, trying to keep her propped up as she collects bruises from the oversized arachnids. Unfortunately, the spiders immediately knock the half-elf from her feet once more and begin to bite her with envenomed fangs. Nasti flings more desperate lightning before the cousins watch the southern doors open and close again, with the sound of Lanthurrae passing through them in between.
Despite Nova’s healing, the pain of Amaya’s wounds coupled with the spider venom finally overwhelms the half-elf and she falls. Nasti approaches, thinking to try to drag her fallen cousin clear, but Nova keeps a clear head and uses the last of her healing magic to revive Amaya so she can flee on her own agency. The half-elf grabs her sword then covers her cousins as they retreat. Fortunately, the tarantulas do not seem interested in pursuing, and a few minutes later the trio is safely back in the hidden camp.
Marwyn has food and drinks ready for them. “I’m getting better at this,” she says, eyeing her sister’s wounds with some concern.
“And we thank you for it,” Nasti says, collapsing in a camp chair that is more comfortable than it has any right to be.
“Look on the bright side,” Canter says. “Maybe Lanthurrae surviving will mean bad things for those mean wizards.”
“That wouldn’t be nothing.” The tiefling scoops the familiar into her lap. He makes a little chirp of professed indignance. “I hate to go back to town empty-handed.” She crosses her legs, looking pensive. “Do you remember Naryalla? That elf bard I was talking to at the Sly Wink?”
“Yep,” Nova says from the patch of ground where she reclines. “She looking to join an adventuring party by any chance?”
“If we live long enough to get back to town, we can ask her. But yeah, she works with this group of scholars who are always interested in acquiring magical artifacts and lore and stuff like that. I was hoping to find something down here that might get me in with them.” After a pregnant pause, Nasti says, “Buuut I won’t lie, this place has me rethinking this entire adventuring racket.”
Nova sits up. “NOPE! None of that. We can do this. We were MEANT for bigger things. I just know it. Our magic is for a reason. So, no more talk about giving it up.”
“Or else what?” Nasti’s tone is playful, but there’s steel in there somewhere.
“There is no or else. It’s just this. Us putting an end to the drow invading our homes. And especially demons doing the same. If we give up now, we will regret it.”
“Maybe we do need a fourth, though.”
“Yep. Everybody knows, three guys do not a rock band make,” Canter says.
Nova chuckles as the witch banters with her familiar. “Could be. How many other cousins do we have again?” she asks, smiling.
“None on my father’s side that I know of, and it’d be a Hells of a walk to find out,” Nasti says. “But you’re right. You’re right. I know you’re right.”
“I don’t know what this world’s gonna do,” Amaya says. “But I know one thing – that this is the life for me.”
“Let’s sleep on it and decide what to do in the morning,” Nova says.
“Agreed,” Canter says before Nasti can. He passes out on the tiefling’s lap, limbs pointed in random directions and belly up.