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RP:Days Gone By

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Part of the Township Troopers Arc

This is a Warrior's Guild RP.

Summary: The Warrior's Guild continues to rest at the estate of House Dragana following their perilous mission to the Haathian Ruins. Old wounds are reopened when Lionel faces the citizenry's continuing distaste toward him, although he chooses not to explain the tension to companions Emrith and Kreekitaka. The three return to the dark forest near Vailkrin's border, after Lionel reports disappearing bordertown villagers. There, they confront the murderous arachnid survivors from Haath, and Emrith reveals a terrible truth.

Vailkrin: Hanging Corpse Tavern

Emrith is sitting at one of the Corpse's many tables, hood drawn up, hands folded on the smooth tabletop in front of him. The hood casts Emrith's face in shadow, and has the added benefit of hiding from view the tiny construct of shadow, in the shape of a spider, perched lightly on the back of his neck inside his collar. The man's silver-engraved ring is clearly visible if one should look at his hands, and it seems to give off faint pulses of weak, greenish light. He is silent, brooding, but his eyes move ceaselessly across the tavern's interior. There had been a message, a summons of sorts, but Emrith has been here for hours, occasionally deigning to drink something he orders without thought or care. His head and heart both are troubled, but the alcohol he has imbibed has dulled the edge of his anxiety; he has taken a page from Larewen's book in this regard. So he sits, and he drinks, and he waits, and he listens. When Kreekitaka enters the establishment, the spell-blade merely favours him with a single cool-eyed glance; the crab-man is not why Emrith Kohl is here this evening.

Lionel has been here a while, and he hates it. His face is thick with disgust, although who can tell? Dark-robed and cowled as he is, the slender man is a shadow with two emptied mugs of ale and half of another. He's seated far in the back of a particularly bustling evening at the Hanging Corpse, vampires crowding tables throwing dice and sampling from the necks of their neighbors. Representatives from half a dozen other races all stay conspicuously close to their own ilk, and a small woman with hair the color of a moonless night is playing an old, old song on the piano.

Kreekitaka didn't like Vailkrin either. The entire aesthetic of the place screamed of Vehknrnian ideals and bad juju and the -only- reason he'd forced himself to come here was for a chance at the spiders. Unfortunately, it seemed the message had arrived a little too late and that he'd missed all the good action. Which meant that all the good pre-battle high he'd been riding had come crashing down into a missed-battle impotent rage. The crab king was having to consciously avoid going Full Kylo as he very brusquely shoved his way into the tavern to see if he could locate Lionel or anyone else who might have gotten word to him too late. "Yionoh!" he thundered, before he'd even quite entered the room, hoping to startle someone--maybe into reacting with a weapon, to give him an excuse to beat someone down.

Lionel brings an open palm to his mouth, then slaps his own forehead with it, knocking the cowl from his scalp as he shakes his head in sheer astonishment. Formerly loud-mouthed vampires twist and turn uncomfortably, casting narrowed eyes upon the Hero of Hellfire as they espy him in their favorite establishment. Denizens from other lands cover their expressions with their mugs, but their wide eyes cannot be so easily concealed through glass. The woman at the piano abruptly adds a finishing flourish to her tune, not halfway through its traditional composition. The Hanging Corpse goes dead silent. Vailkrin is the worst place in Lithrydel for anyone to shout Lionel’s name. Lionel takes a big, strong sweep of his ale, topping it off in one tremendous gulp, and then he tosses ten gold marks to his table -- well over fifty times his bar tab. He’s strolling toward Kreekitaka as gingerly as he can manage, now, and the cautious vampires -- some are even hissing -- are beginning to spend more attention on those coins than on him. Perhaps ten years is enough to let bygones be bygones. For some. A pale man with a head almost as angular as a rectangle and a nasty scar for a nose rises from his seat and seethes a command to the Catalian. “If I see you here again, human, I will remind you what you did to my family.” Lionel twists his lip, tilting on his foot to examine the aggressor. “Did I do that to your face, too?” Audible gasps are heard from several onlookers. “Emrith, if you’re in here, meet us outside,” Lionel continues, giving the crowd a cursory scan but failing to find his ally. “Steadmen?” He salutes, and the one-eyed barkeep nods back, arms crossed in a reminder to all patrons that Lionel is welcome in the Hanging Corpse no matter their protests. “Keep the change.” Lionel tosses another five gold marks upon the counter, and a wiry woman makes to grab them but the barkeep grabs her hand instead. By now, the most hated face in the city is out the door, motioning for Kreekitaka to join him.

Emrith is up and out of his seat in a blur of motion, moving to the door so fast that he is apt to have reached it nearly at the same time as the Catalian. He pushes through that heavy portal, then takes a deep and totally unnecessary breath of the air outside. It is neither warm nor cold, that air, bearing the faintest tang of blood from the fountain far to the west. Emrith uses that olfactory signature to calm his anger. He will not lash out. He will not attempt to dress down his superior simply because Lionel's summons has made the spell-blade feel a great deal like a heel-hound. This reaction might well be overwrought, in any case, and he has a clear enough head to know it. Still, there is noticeable tension in his voice when he addresses the hero of Hellfire. "I trust there is good reason for this?"

Kreekitaka was right about to chug potions and wade into the vampires. Lionel would have needed to drag him out of there, and it's altogether probable that the Corpse would have needed entirely new furniture afterward. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on whether or not you're Kree), nobody made a move and he was free to simply turn and follow Lionel to the north. Emrith preempted his question, but it was with the wrong context, probably. "I was yefTAH! ouTAH! of HHHTHe fighTAH! -again-. HHHTHe messenger wiHHHTH HHHTHe summons was yazy an' syow. You have one chance TAH!oo convince me iTAH! was noTAH! inTAH!entionoh." He crossed his arms and did his best looming. "I came here, TAH!oo HHHTHis haTAH!eDAH! pyace, for a fighTAH!, an' I am noTAH! yeaving wiHHHTHouTAH! one, one way or anoHHHTHer."

Lionel scurries over to a a stone post many paces from the door to the Hanging Corpse, propping a leg up ostensibly for balance and support. In truth, his thigh wound hasn’t fully healed yet and the amount of hasty exertion he’s continually placing upon it is causing it to sore. Noticing Emrith hot on his tail, and more importantly, noticing his tone, he lofts a brow. Does no one frakking respect him anymore? Lionel has never craved power, but for the power to defeat his enemies. But he’s beginning to feel pangs of irritation at these things, nevertheless, even when bitter tones are reasonably tempered. Too much is at stake from too many sectors here in Lithrydel for so many people to get snappy with him on the turn of a dime. “Yes,” he answers curtly. “Villagers in Vailkrin’s outer reaches have been going missing over the past three nights. It happens to have been three nights since we got back from Haath. It doesn’t feel like a coincidence. Not when those outer reaches are all so close to the forest. I suspect something survived -- and I need backup.” This seems like the perfect segue into a response for Kreekitaka, and it should be mentioned that Lionel appears completely nonplussed by the Uyeer king’s showy proclamations. “Yeah. I need backup.” A simple reiteration. “You want a fight, buddy? Let’s go find one.” He stays leaning against his post, easing the tension in his neck. “Most of the crew’s still bedridden and it doesn’t sound like more than a few stragglers.”

Emrith glances eastward, toward the edge of the city of the undead and the bulk of the forest beyond. He shakes his head, and the little shadowy spider on his neck digs in its claws, causing him to flinch. "No, not a coincidence, I think," he says, voice perfectly reasonable, "but still tense. "Greater threats," he murmurs, "are in the wind. Greater than words which need speaking." Emrith appears to be unarmed at present, but he can make nearly anything into a serviceable weapon. His rune-inscribed staff is still back at House Dragana. "I had heard some of these rumours myself. There is enough in that forest, and villagers often turning up missing, that this may be a case of...of jumping at shadows, if you like that expression. But your supposition may be well-placed, at that."

Kreekitaka considered this. Some fight was objectively better than no fight. And since no fight was his other option here--that or an illegal one--helping people was the better option. "Fine." He snapped his jawblade out of its holster and spun it once, testing its weight in his claw. It felt good. This was going to be glorious. A weapon designed for cracking exoskeletons against creatures armed with the same. "I am reaDAH!ee whenever you are. HHHTHis is going TAH!oo be," you're gonna say 'glorious' again, aren't you, "gyorious." Dang it, Kree. Stop stealing my narration! "PoinTAH! me aTAH! HHHTHem!"

Lionel regards Emrith placidly. “Greater threats than these are on the horizon. In fact, they’re here already. We’ll need every ounce of our being to combat the dangers still to come, and even then, it very well might not be enough. But for tonight, we should see whether these disappearances are happenstance or arachnid malevolence, I agree.” It may be the most sincerely solemn thing Emrith has yet heard Lionel say. A man like Lionel casts a wide shell full of wit and cynicism to cloud the depths of his despair. But when a partner in peace mentions greater threats, and in the wake of all the things he has recently seen, Lionel will spare no verbal jests. Or perhaps it’s just this city. Lionel watched two-thirds of the Allied Forces burn here eleven years ago -- and thousands of residents, at that. It was the beginning of the darkest period in Lithrydel’s modern history, and now the realm’s inhabitants stand on the precipice of tragedies renewed. Lionel knows it. He can feel it. Especially here. This thought prompts a distinctly somber look even as Kreekitaka’s loudness rings in his ears. He kicks off the stone post, suppressing a painful little jolt by clenching his teeth. “Will do, Kree.” Back to the quick little answer pattern so soon, Lionel? As the trio of Warrior’s Guild officials presses through the forever-night of the Dark Land, crossing the bridge and heading past the bordertowns, the air grows thicker. The townsfolk are all inside for the evening, windows shuttered and lamplights painting a dim yellow through the space that peers out past the wood. It’s as dead a region as the name implies. They enter the forest without much ado, Lionel’s steps made softer on the leaves. He’s not sure if Kreekitaka can muster stealth, but he hopes so.

Vailkrin: Dark Forest

Emrith takes a moment to snap a low-hanging branch from a dead-looking tree. It appears festooned with spiderwebs, but the spell-blade hardly cares; the bough is stout on one end, jaggedly pointed at the other, and will serve as a rudimentary spear. he hefts it, twists his wrist, then continues walking. He registers but does not mind the chill of the forest, listening to its peculiar night sounds all around him; he haunts these pathways often now, and the screeching cries, liquid thuds and hoarse bellows, heard here and there, no longer trouble him. Nevertheless, he lowers his voice; there is no sense in bringing down all of the denizens of the dark upon them at once. "It is my experience that no single person knows the half of all the harm levelled against them at any given time. For every thing they know, or think they know, three are poised to bite." A perfectly blank, unreadable countenance marks these words; is it a threat, a proclamation of some kind, or merely idle musing? Emrith masks a stumble with a mutter about unseen tree-roots; in truth, his little black companion is taking its toll, drop by drop.

Kreekitaka had to holster the jawblade as they walked, and he made no effort whatsoever to hide how noisy he was as he moved. In fact, he didn't even bother whispering. "GreaTAH!" he said, quite jovially, in response to Emrith's rather dark theorem. "HHHTHaTAH! means more exciTAH!menTAH!. YeTAH! HHHTHem come. In facTAH!, yeTAH! HHHTHem rain on us!" He raised a claw and snapped it loudly, then opened it and drew it towards himself--an invitation gesture, to the entire forest, for them to come at him, bro. "HHHTHe amounTAH! of HHHTHem maTAH!ers noTAH! so yong as my cyaws are sTAH!aineDAH! by TAH!omorrow." Sheesh. Kree, I'm starting to get embarrassed typing out all this scenery-chewing hamminess. Dial it back a notch or seven?

Lionel gives a token deferential shrug, but follows up quickly with a confirmation. “I wouldn’t say no to that analysis. Even now, I’m quite certain there are six distinct threats to my life of which I have no knowledge.” How right you are, Lionel. He winces at Kreekitaka’s complete disregard for quietness, and that wince grows into a full-fledged grimace. But the moon’s rays don’t penetrate more than a few scattered beams this deep into the forest, and the Catalian’s distaste for Uyeer theatrics will likely go unnoticed. “A bit louder for the kids in the back row?” He snarks, his left hand cradling the prismatic scabbard which holds Hellfire within. Something catches his peripheral and Lionel kneels, brushing aside an assortment of twigs to reveal a vampire’s chewed right leg. The stench assails his nostrils, and a clutch of flies speeds past him on their way out from the crime scene. “These incisions look like mandible marks,” he observes. His grimace never left, and it’s on full display now. With a sigh, he stands upright, glancing around. “I think, Emrith, that these are no mere shadows.”

Emrith bends down to investigate the unearthed vampire remains, nodding in businesslike fashion. "They are consistent," he confirms. "And not shadows." Lionel, it would seem, was more right than he could know. Even as Emrith himself is straightening, six wolf-sized chitonous shapes erupt out of the darkness without a sound, pouncing from tree-branches far above. These are weavers, and though they have no pit trap in which to imprison their prey this time, their ability to spray webbing with nearly pinpoint accuracy, even in the dark, is uncanny. Emrith is warned of the descending threat by the displaced air which buffets his face. "Lionel! Behind you!" The spell-blade does not know the precise nature of the threat until something warm and sticky splatters against the side of his hood, clotting there and bunching the fabric. "Weavers!" he shouts. He would know the smell of that secretion anywhere, having nearly met his end by it. By now, the six weavers are on the ground in a rough circle around the three of them, spraying webbing in toward the center, meaning to bind arms, legs, claws...anything that will severely hamper the movement of their quarry. These spiderwebs are scarily strong though, more than capable of disabling any or all of them should their reactions not be quick enough. Emrith leaps free of the ground as a glob of webbing elongates into a rope that passes harmlessly below his feet, then whirls, dropping into wind stance and using his stout branch like a spear. These particular spiders may be very good at what they do, but each by each, they are fairly frail, awkward and weak. "Be quick, or we are all dead!" he shouts. "Be quick!"

Kreekitaka was already moving as the weavers materialized from the darkness. The first thing he did was dump his entire supply of potions into his water tanks. The second thing he did was to haul his jawblade from its holster. In the middle of both, he was lunging towards the rapidly-forming circle. Sure, maybe some of the webs got on him, but he weighed almost half a ton all told, and his broad body caught most of the webbing that struck him. It was gross, but it wasn't too hampering--and the jawblade was dropping as he closed the gap. If the spider wasn't quick enough, it'd rapidly find over a hundred pounds of bone and metal coming down on its cephalothorax with as much force as the uyeer could bring to bear on it. This wouldn't be the end of his attack, however--any cracks in its shell would swiftly be exploited as the jawblade was rotated around and the teeth on the other side were employed to hook into the shell and rip it open, perhaps tearing the creature entirely in two.

Lionel heeds Emrith’s warning almost instantly, his first impulse being a quick hoist from his prone position as he swivels around to face the enemy. He does not remain upright for long, however. Immediately surrendering his knees to the cold ground, he slams himself down so that his ankles are sprawled across the leaves and then he lets himself fall backwards. Laying as flat as he can, he watches as the spray of webbing passes over him with mere inches in-between, holding his breath not out of need but for fear. Lionel applies too much pressure on his wounded thigh in the swift leap, causing him to stutter back ever so slightly while he pries Hellfire loose from its scabbard. One of the spiders in the burgeoning circle seems to recognize his momentary lapse in acrobatic acumen; it widens its jaw and moves to devour him with a horrifyingly hasty jump. Its two front legs are lost in a burst of flame midway to its prey, as Hellfire billows its namesake to coat the steel and Lionel swings the weapon in an arc. The horizontal swipe becomes a vertical slash with grace, its wielder pausing the strike to lift the sword’s edge up deeply and take the spider in its thorax. It flails its remaining legs in agitation, and reaches out with all six in unison to wrap around him. A trail of flame on the ground boosts Lionel back to a safe distance, but one of those legs claws into his side in transit, cutting him. The spider won’t be cutting anyone else ever again, however, for Hellfire’s coated little inferno explodes in Lionel’s departure, immolating the beast wholesale.

Emrith is in his element in close-quarters combat like this. Targets are plentiful, and Emrith, unlike Lionel, has no leg-wound to lame him. He springs and sprints, hops and twists, dark-adapted eyes keen for the sight of incoming blobs of binding silk. One spatters the outside of his right leg, but with nothing else to which the limb can be bound, it is merely an annoyance. Another sails within inches of his face. The spell-blade sees Kreekitaka taking vast amounts of the stuff and snatches in breath to shout, but is forced to annex this plan when one of the weavers springs nimbly at him from behind. A ducking cringe is the only thing that saves the spell-blade from being bitten, or worse; an upward snap of his spear-arm sends the weapon plunging into the arachnid's belly. He drops both spear and carcass, plants a boot in the head of another spider rushing close for a flanking attack, and with the space this affords him, shouts, "Kreekitaka! You cannot hold out that way. The web will get into your claws, your shell, any part it can reach! They're smart! And if you're bound, you're dead!" Emrith hurries toward Lionel, intending to aid where he can, stepping inadvertently on the still-smouldering corpse of the spider that Lionel has killed. Emrith has killed one himself, and it looks as if the Uyeer has done for a third. A fourth is staggering drunkenly after Emrith's snapkick to its head, and the other two are currently scuttling around behind a screen of trees, no doubt trying to get a better point of vantage from which to remount the ambush. Emrith swoops groundward and snatches up another branch, this one much shorter and sharper. Well, this will not be his first time fighting with the equivalent of a stiletto. His mind flashes to Talyara for a moment, and he winces; it was not so long ago that he had been teaching the witch how to use short blades...and now here he is, fighting for his life with the very same.

Kreekitaka grunted and rippled his paddles at the warning. Hmm. The stuff did seem to retain its stickiness even after some time on him. Deciding to take a small risk, especially given the spiders' retreat for the moment, Kree tipped a bit of water out of his tanks and let it wash over his torso, intended to dilute the adhesive and allow the stuff to be easily shredded off and discarded. While this process was working (or not, he wasn't quite sure how effective it would be), he started slamming his jawblade blunt-side down against the forest floor, repeatedly. "Perhaps HHHTHey are smarTAH!. Perhaps. However, I suspecTAH! I am yeTAH! cyeverer." It was around now that the first drops of his potion mixture were beginning to work their way into his system and he rolled his shoulders with a -very- satisfied "Mmmm~" sound. "I have broughTAH! power overwhehming, an' HHHTHey have broughTAH! gyue." The weapon continued to slam into the floor, building up energy with each ringing blow.

Lionel shoves Hellfire tip-first into the ground and bends at the knee, completely still. He holds this position, watching the scurrying weavers flit through the trees as best he can maintain. These are human eyes, after all, and even years of tracking experience can only summon so much depth perception and grasp of contrast in a forest this dark. It’s enough, however, to give Lionel the edge when he successfully lures one of the survivors to leap at him from behind. It travels a considerable length in that leap, giving him just enough time to duck and then blast more flame into the dirt and strafe to its side, swinging sharply downward and impaling it. The spider screeches, hisses, and bares its fangs down upon the Catalian, and it’s all Lionel can do to punch those fangs squarely and break one. Then he’s ducking again, and blocking with the blade, and slicing into his foe every fifth or sixth block with well-timed and erratic acts. This becomes a battle of attrition, but Lionel has the upper hand, and slowly but surely the spider is dying. Elsewhere, however, the true arbiter abruptly reveals herself. Having silently stalked down from the canopy with a web of her own quick making, a spider the size of a house -- with legs outstretched, a tavern like the Hanging Corpse -- freefalls in an effort to land on Kreekitaka. She’s spent the last several seconds secretly above him, and if he does not move rapidly, she’ll strangle him with her thick-plated legs, squeeze the breath out of him with her thick-plated hide. Her entire body seems to electrify as she falls; zapping whatever she comes in contact with. And a deep green poison mist follows in her wake, spreading out to blanket the area and threaten both Emrith and Lionel as well. “Kree, get out of there!” Lionel shouts, kicking up still more flame and rushing to his ally’s aid…

Emrith is fixated on the remaining weavers to enough of an extent that he is not paying attention to the forest above. He is not precisely within range as the enormous spider falls, is at no risk of being electrocuted by its touch, but that fetid breath bathes him, even at a distance, and its stink burns his eyes, his nose, his throat. Emrith instantly pulls his hood down over his face with his free hand, attempting to block the vapour's access to all vital orifices thereupon, but this leaves him unable to see or smell his surroundings. This is quite obviously not a good turn of events...but Emrith is not just an ordinary elf, either. His dark passenger scrabbles and scratches at the back of his hood, finally wriggling free and plopping to the ground. It skitters away without a sound, a blotch of darkness within the greater blackness, making straight for the enormous arachnid in the clearing. Without being detected, it leaps, it latches, and it begins an almost gleeful feeding, swelling noticeably as it does so. The little thing is not near strong enough to do mortal damage, but every little bit counts; even the lightning with which the greater spider is wreathed will empower its new parasite. Any and all living things, even those which owe allegiance to it, must feed the spirit of the Everspider. Emrith's ring begins to pulse more insistently now, and something very peculiar begins to happen. Ripples of shadow begin to spill down over his hand, then to ooze up his arm. Soon they have encapsulated him completely, and they are still growing. Legs appear, then eyes; Emrith is completely lost to sight within the body of this shadowy arachnid, which turns on its spindly legs and rushes toward the larger threat. The spell-blade is borne along inside it, helpless to escape but not powerless to direct its attack. He moves his limbs, and the spider's legs mirror him, assailing the house-sized monstrosity with flickering speed. This blackness, this conjuration, seems to be spending itself slowly, unfurling just a little each time it strikes its prey, but peculiarly, it seems to possess at least a rudiment of awareness, since it casually bats aside a skulking weaver, punching a neat black hole in its chitonous back. Emrith, to put it lightly, was not expecting this. He had no idea that he would end up in this arrangement, cocooned within this creature, like the hand of a puppet-master yanking the strings of a half-sentient and malevolent marionette. But here he is...and for now, he is not taking bodily harm. The shadows protect him somehow...but they cannot last forever. Whatever Lionel and Kreekitaka might do to this thing, and to the other various threats nearby, it had better be fast, or the spell-blade's arachnoid mantilla of protection will unspin, and leave him next to helpless within death's reach.

Kreekitaka suddenly, partially thanks to Lionel, became aware of a much, -much- juicier target dropping down on him, and was in an absolutely perfect position to deal Maximum Damage. The jawblade’s final arc against the ground terminated in being held above his head in both claws, braced at a slight angle, with the flat side facing upward. And as the spider continued to plummet towards him, he pressed the blue button. You’d think, for the effect that button has, that it would be red. Nope, blue. Whatever. The point is, it’s a button that doesn’t get pressed too often. This spider, however, gives him no reason to hold back. With a sound like a point-blank lightning strike, the booming echoes of thunder rippling out across the area, a just-barely-visible wall of force exploded outward from the uyeer’s metal plate, smashing into the spider with all the collected energy from the blows he’d rained on the ground and on the little weaver. Such a shockwave passed almost without harm through hard tissues like exoskeleton—however, the internal organs it passed through would be a different story. Soft things compressed, ruptured, exploded. It’s possible the spider might find itself mortally wounded before it even hit the floor. Perhaps not dead outright, but likely dying. The shockwave would have a few other effects as well—it’d likely disperse the cloud of toxic gas, but the angle at which Kree fired it allowed the recoil to shift him several feet, getting him out from immediately underneath it. His body flowed with the movement, rolling to the side, and then he used that as winding up for a colossal overhanded blow using both claws to whatever joints the thing had between two of its legs. Like before, cracks would be exploited—the crabman was starting to gain momentum, and shifting slowly into full Rip And Tear mode. Emrith’s transformation into another spider was taken note of as well. “Yionoh,” asked Kree, voice entirely unconcerned aside from a bit of confusion, “has EmriHHHTH been eaTAH!en by anoHHHTHer one, or is HHHTHis someHHHTHing new?”

Lionel | The large spider absorbs some of the blast from its Uyeer enemy’s cunning attack, the ripples on its fur pointing outright and allowing the magical energy in its physiology to take the brunt of a point-blank beam of destruction. As Lionel and Emrith are now aware, the insectoid race haunting Lithrydel’s underground is the result of an ancient experiment gone horribly awry, and that experiment involved a great deal of magic, some of which has never been replicated by any civilization since Haath. The spider still seethes, some of Kreekitaka’s attack making its way into its insides, which burst and send too-sharp waves of pain. Hellfire’s repeated stabs and Emrith’s wicked unexpected manifestation assault the beast from all sides, but what pains it most is a tiny parasite it cannot see, yet it feels a certain bizarre familiarity toward. As the poison mist cloud swerves into the west from Kreekitaka’s actions, it moves too quickly and overwhelms one of the only remaining weavers. Tragically for the weaver, it is susceptible to this as well, and it spins in a dangerous confused circle as it perishes long before its killer. Lionel himself is predominantly preoccupied with what has become of Emrith. Narrowing his eyes, he makes out what appears to be a weakening of the apparition around the elf, and correctly deduces that time is of the essence -- although he has no idea what will happen once that apparition fades. “Let’s end this,” the Catalian growls, vaulting up to land atop the leader of this pack of murderers and gripping Hellfire’s hilt in a motion of impalation. He repeats that motion as the spider leaps up onto her web in retreat; Emrith may be holding on, too, and the Everspider surely is, but Kreekitaka at least is presumably still down below. He might want to avoid the steady stream of fire and lightning which escapes the spider’s widened mouth to blast him, but she can’t do much about the human on her back, and at last Lionel has cracked the plating and he’s carving into flesh like roast beef. She kicks her legs in agony and falls, not dead but not long from this world.

Emrith is dragged upward, unable to fight free, as the manifestation within which he rides battens onto the retreating spider. Up into the web they go, Lionel perched on the beast's back and Emrith's construct gripping three of its legs...and with a tiny parasite still nipping away just behind its head, virtually untouchable under the circumstances. As Lionel's blade begins to hack into the meat of the great monster's back, Emrith's vehicle of ascent suddenly does something new. It bursts upward and away from him, leaving him to fall free with a scream. That spider-like mass of shadows suddenly compacts into a thin whiplike cord of inky darkness, losing all prior shape as it streaks up and over the spider's head to latch onto the parasite, which is gorged and swollen and full of the essence of life. When whip meets parasite, a gristly ripping sound presages the release of a tremendous burst of energy into the poor spider's neck, shearing through it like a hot blade through a snowdrift. The head falls free with a sick, wet thump, and the backwash of life essence suddenly streams into Emrith's ring. The elf feels a rather painful jolt of magic even as his body bonelessly hits the earth; the Everspider, whose spirit dwells within his ring, has fed well tonight, and tendrils of force and light stream toward the downed elf, focused on his splayed right hand. He groans, sits up, spits dirt out of his mouth. "That," he says shakily, "is an experience I do not ever want to repeat." But he fears that this will not be the last time he is to be an unwilling rider within that black, arcane spiritual body. "Lionel? Kreekitaka? Are you all right?" Emrith is still holding that twig in his left hand, and he drops it with a look of sheepish disgust. "I hope I did not scare you." He takes a step, stumbles, then rights himself. "This...was worrisome. But perhaps we have done for whatever has been assailing townsfolk."

Kreekitaka had just gotten finished removing an entire pair of the colossal spider's legs when it started to retreat back to the canopy. He made a noise of frustration and spun the jawblade so as to hook into its carapace and ride it up as well, but only succeeded in prying the creature's body open even more. He watched it carefully, dodging out of the way when the fire and lightning came down and again when it fell from its webs to hit the ground. The creature's decapitation was... bizarre, certainly, and Kree still wasn't certain about what the heck was going on with Emrith, but now he had concerns regarding the thing's other end. He turned to its abdomen and started slamming it with blows as well, trying to split the creature's backside open. "DAH!ibs on HHHTHe heaDAH!," he said conversationally as he kept hacking and tugging at the carcass, wanting to get inside it.

Lionel throws Hellfire straight into the trunk of a nearby tree, careful to ensure he’s willed the flames from its steel before it connects. He does this so that he’s free and able to fall into a calculated roll and minimize the impact as he returns to ground level, and despite his injury -- aching thigh and now a cut across his side -- he still manages a deft display. Rolling back up a touch too quickly, he feels a dizziness come over him, so he grabs Hellfire’s hilt again to prop himself up, then yanks it out of the tree trunk and sheathes it. He’s already rushing to Emrith, keeping a few meters’ distance but eyeing him with a look of deep concern. Meanwhile, Kreekitaka’s slicing himself off a nice spider shank or what-have-you. It makes for an odd moment, the crustacean’s loud hacking and sawing while the Catalian studies the vampiric elf worriedly. “What… what was that…?” Lionel’s voice is barely more than a whisper. Kreekitaka will have reached the spider’s sacs of intestine, now, and a faint ozone smell will permeate from those sacs. “You don’t seem to have expected it, and that’s the part that scares me. It scares me for you.” Beyond the spider’s intestine is a thick layer of a substance that seems like fat, but it reacts to the jaw-blade by dissipating into steam and smoke and clumps of strange residue. That residue has a harsh mix with the intestine, and with the remainder of the creature’s organs which Kreekitaka will soon behold. It begins to melt them. Lionel extends his hand for Emrith, brows furrowed. “It worked out in our favor this time, but that… shadow… well, it didn’t much seem to care about you once our enemy was out of the picture. I know a thing or two about that kind of… relationship, myself.” Halycanos, the Ishaarite spirit of fire which gives Lionel’s sword its power, has been his able partner for well into twelve years now. But it wasn’t always so. The collection of organs Kreekitaka has reached include some charred tissue and stomach lining from the blast they sustained, and when the oozing residue seeps into them, something terrible ignites. A tremendous ear-snapping pop resonates from the carcass, and all at once the spider’s cells combust in an astounding magical failsafe. The creature simply explodes, spewing ooze and blood and guts in a wide sweeping radius and cancelling out any further words from Lionel.

Emrith :: One moment, Emrith is standing next to Lionel, shakily upright and relatively unhurt, listening to the man express his concern. There is even the beginning of a rueful smile on his lips. And then the pop sounds, filling the air with vaporized bug-guts and chunks of muscle tissue and the gods only know what else. "Nine hells!" Emrith shouts in elvish. Gobbets rain down all over him, all over virtually everything in the vicinity. He darts a quick, angry look at Kreekitaka. "Did you do that?" Not waiting for an answer, he turns back to Lionel. "I have done everything short of ripping off my own finger to be rid of this thing. One way or another, I think I have a companion. And I think the only way to deal with it is to formulate a plan. It plants surrogates with which it feeds. That much I know. It often creates one to ride at the nape of my neck, draining me a little at a time. It is not precisely dangerous, for now...but it is going to get worse. I dreamed, Lionel. The other night, in House Dragana, I dreamed of a world covered in tiny, black spiders, with Grrya Dama-Ka standing to the sky at the center of it all. And I fear that, in the end, that is what may happen. We killed its body, but not its spirit." He waggles his right index finger. "It lives in here, and it is bound to me. I found it, or it found me, and one way and another, this will have to play out."

Kreekitaka was swimming in spider guts even before the explosion. Digestive tract... here were the web organs, he made sure to be gentle with those and try to extract them as carefully as he could, even as the creature's own enzymes started to break it down. Fortunately, his potions managed to keep his body healing even though digestive juice swirled around him. He grabbed the least-affected organ and hurled it away before continuing his search--come on, where were the -eggs-?--and then everything erupted right in his face, sending him staggering backwards. The taste was... actually not unpleasant, if you can believe such a thing, but it was obvious he wasn't going to accomplish much more with this. "Maybe?" was his response to Emrith's query, and he stalked off into the brush to find his discarded web organ before returning to the others. "I never puTAH! much sTAH!ock in dreams," was his comment to that, and then he moved on to start trying to loot the webbing from the other spiders as well. "In my dreams, I am goDAH!-king of everyHHHTHing. Such is noTAH! reayiTAH!ee an', I accepTAH!, yikyee impossiboh. So I see no reason why your dreams of spiDAH!ers oughTAH! TAH!oo be a prophecy."

Vailkrin: Bordertown

Lionel is covered in spider guts. He takes it in stride. He has to. Lionel’s life has thrown far worse at him, after all. He cannot allow himself to scream at the midnight sky for ruining his image. “We’ll get to the bottom of this,” he says, shoving intestine from his cheek. “I’ve learned it’s safer for everyone involved to just assume anything pending that might be bad, will be bad. And this seems distinctly bad. I’ll assist in whatever way necessary when the time comes to rid ourselves of this menace.” The plural ‘ourselves’ is intentional; Lionel will not have Emrith believing this is only -his- problem. It affects all of them, perhaps the entire realm. As such, it will be treated with collaborative diligence. He sighs, shakes his head, and leads the way out of the forest, his thoughts consumed by so many threats. So many things, plaguing Lithrydel of late. When the three guild members reach the border town, a heavyset vampire greets them near the gates not far from the bridge. He wrinkles his nose at their condition, but stares at them knowingly. “Is it done?” Lionel nods. “It is.” The man nods back. “You’d best be on your way, then, O’Connor. Your name’s still poison in this land. This changes nothing.” Lionel, still covered in spider guts, permits himself the ghost of a self-deprecating smile. “I think I’ve had my fill of Vailkrin,” he tells Emrith and Kreekitaka over his shoulder. “Tell Larewen thanks. You’ll know where to find me.” Lionel steps into the night.

Emrith accompanies Lionel to the edge of Vailkrin, but remains only long enough to hear the man's parting words. He offers none of his own, but the nod he gives the reatreating catalian is a modestly respectful one. A moment later, the spell-blade clasps shut his cloak, disappears from sight and re-enters the forest, the better to return to his home within the walls of House Dragana. Something insidious has happened, and Larewen will need to know sooner rather than later. A threat has been vanquished, some townspeople avenged. Emrith wants a strong drink and a hot bath, in that order. Make that two drinks. The guts and hunks of flesh will just have to wait. Here is a man ghosting through the forest with oblivion on his mind.

Kreekitaka checked the water level in his tanks. He'd be running out soon, especially so after using some to get the webbing off of him. Which was a shame, because he was still riding the high of his potions and feeling utterly invincible. Still, he supposed the potions would have to do for strength to help lug this sack of loot back with him. All the web organs he could gather, some fangs, a couple of other tissue samples from the big electric one. Sadly, the head had been too big to carry, so he'd settled for the ripped-open front half of the weaver he'd butchered. He was gonna have it stuffed and mounted to a wall someplace. The rest would be for his casters to examine.