We’ve been building up to this for a while. We all knew it was finally coming and the last couple sessions didn’t go quite as far as we were expecting. So, it took a while to get here, but it’s finally time to take on the spiders in this session!
The Lighting of the Forge
Finally after lots of hard work and trials the forge is ready to be re-lit. Koru, Sara, & Claire begin their ceremony. They draw strange symbols all around the hearth forge, even climbing in as part of the proceedings. After a lot of chanting and hand-waving the fire in the forge flares to life. The mood in the forge is suddenly very different, filled with excitement and wariness. Fergus stomps off in a huff, wanting no more to do with what’s going on.
Koru comes up to Flint and Karin, “It is done. The fire spirit is now bound forever to your forge. Now, please, we must rest.”
The humans are escorted back to their quarters while Flint & Kardin head off in search of the new forge master. Before leaving Kardin grabs a handful of forge stones, hoping to use them to carve runestones out of later.
They find Hrolf in the process of getting his quarters packed up. Flint and Kardin introduce themselves. He’s pretty intimidated at first — heroes of the hold and the son of Falur. It’s obvious he doesn’t have much confidence in himself (failed Circles).
Flint and Kardin offer to help get him moved into his new quarters closer to the forge. Along the way Kardin notices that in his arms is a very well-made set of smithing tools. It’s not fair for this upstart forge master to have such nice things, so when no one is looking he takes a moment to place them in amongst some crates in the hallway (failed Steel test for Greed, with I Must Have It invoked).
Along the way, Flint does his best to boost up Hrolf’s confidence. Hrolf takes it to heart. A little too much (failed Coarse Persuasion) and now believes he can do anything with the help of the new forge and won’t let anyone get in his way.
Flint and Kardin leave Hrolf’s quarters and head off to get some rest for the night. They’ve decided to make their move against the spiders in the morning, wrongly thinking that the Great Spiders are nocturnal (failed Great Spider Wise).
Flint decides to check on Delana before calling it a night and finds her consoling Arak, who is crying into his shoulder.
“Oh, Flint, we have to do something about those humans. They have magic that can mess with your mind. I know that Kardin must have done something with Halel!”
“Woah, woah. Slow down Arak, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What do you care about Halel?”
“I love her! Grahm was going to let me marry her if the Prince is pronounced dead, but now she says she’s always loved Kardin. He must have done something.”
“You’re not in your right mind, Arak. Everyone knows about Halel and Kardin even if no one will talk about it. You need to move on. If you’re ready to settle down with a wife, I’m sure Halel could find you someone suitable.”
“But, don’t you get it? She’s not in her right mind! They must have done something!”
“Maybe they did something to you. Listen to this nonsense.”
“Maybe… maybe you’re right. Okay, yeah. I’m, uh, just going to get some rest. I’ll go back to my quarters.”
It sounds kind of fishy to Flint and he doesn’t want Arak going off and making trouble. “Just a moment, Arak, let’s have a drink together.”
“Yeah, that’s a great idea. We really don’t drink together like we used to. I wish dad were here. You two never get along.”
“MMhmm”. Flint goes and finds a couple of mugs and fills them with ale. In Arak’s mug he pours some sleeping potion he has leftover from when he needed to keep Argus/Midnor unconscious.
They toast and drink and it’s not long before Arak is snoring away. Flint has Delana help him clean Arak up a bit — they shave his face and rebraid his hair and beard and straighten up his uniform. Flint hopes with some solid sleep and seeing himself back to normal that Arak might return back to normal.
“So why was Arak here?”
“Well.. well you’re never around! I don’t know how I’m going to take care of myself and Rutger’s orphans with you always running around.”
“What are you talking about? I’m doing work for the clan! Making a name for myself!”
“And while you’re doing that, I’m having to fend for myself and these orphans, so I had Arak bring up this case. It was my father’s. I may have to sell it just to keep going.”
Delana shows Flint an ornate box and unclasps it. Inside is a beautifully carved pipe and two ornate mugs.
Flint’s eyes gloss over for a moment (failed Steel test for Greed, I Must Have It invoked) . “You can’t sell that!”
Flint reaches out and pulls the case from Delana’s hands (successful vs. Power).
“What’s gotten into you Flint?” Delana slaps him. Flint slaps her back. “GET OUT! YOU GET OUT RIGHT NOW! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO THAT!”
“I DO. THIS IS MY DOWRY!”
Flint storms out of Delana’s chambers with the case in tow, Delana crying behind him.
Kardin gets a Message
On his way back to his quarters, a dwarf catches up to Kardin and introduces himself as Heden. “Listen, I, uh, wanted to talk to you about Rutger.” He looks around, nervous-like, “I don’t want to be seen together, can we go somewhere more private?”
Kardin gets a feeling something is off, but agrees to go along for now. Heden leads him out of the hold into the lower level of the ziggurat. That’s when Kardin notices a couple dwarfs come out from a nearby passage. He makes a move to get away, but Heden grabs ahold of him. Kardin manages to pull away (successful Power) and runs off, the three dwarves giving chase.
Kardin heads towards the humans quarters up here, hoping that whatever the dwarves have planned they don’t want an audience for. Unfortunately, the three are able to split up and harry him along, eventually catching him in a dead-end.
Kardin spins around with his axe and shield out. “Well? Go on!”
“We’re here to send a message. All you nobles thinking you can just go around beating up on innocent working class dwarves. That’s not how things are going to work anymore.”
They advance on him with small cudgels out. There’s a brief, but hard-fought scuffle, each side gets some hits in, but Kardin is pulling his punches, hoping to show them he’s not as violent as they think. They eventually reach a stalemate and the thugs realize they’re outmatched by themselves. They go to run off, “I’m no noble! I’m an outcast!”, Kardin yells after them.
Kardin waits a few minutes to catch his breath then goes back down below and finds the tools he hid away earlier in the day. He takes them off to his quarters and sets to work on the stones he pocketed from the forge earlier. He’s able to carve a set of usable rune stones. They’re not perfect, but they’ll do (failed Runecasting test to carve the stones, they’ll be +1Ob to tests in the future).
The next morning Kardin gets up and heads off in search of breakfast. Along the way Halel catches up to him all excited.
“Oh, this is fantastic! Father is holding a luncheon and everyone who is everyone will be there. You have to come with me so the other nobles can meet you.”
“But, uh, I uh. I can’t, Halel. Flint & I are going down to take care of the spiders once and for all.”
“It’s always Flint this and Flint that with you! Who are you in love with? Me or Flint?”
“Well, you of course!”
“Well, then, Flint can wait. We need to get you cleaned up and dressed for the occasion.”
All of Kardin’s fight goes out. “Okay, Halel. I just need to send a message to Flint so he knows. Kardin finds an artificer he knows <NAME?> and asks him to send a message to Flint, “We need to put off the plan until tomorrow. We can meet tomorrow morning before heading out.” The dwarf is happy to do it and does.
Flint receives the message and for a moment is fine to wait, but then he starts to think about all the glory he’ll get if he goes alone and succeeds (failed Steel for Greed) . He sends the messenger back with a message “Okay, I will see you in the morning.” Kardin thinks all is well and goes off with Halel to Gromm the tailor where she’s already had an outfit put together for him, it just needs a final fitting.
Talking to Dew
Meanwhile, Flint tracks down Arak who’s just waking up from his… assisted sleep. He’s looking well-rested and clear-headed. He’s looking himself over in a mirror, admiring his well-groomed face and neat uniform. Flint’s hoping giving Arak a job will help keep him focused and distracted and gives him the run-down of the plan to take out the spider queen. Flint tells Arak he needs to wait in the tunnel and collapse it when Flint runs in. Arak wants to be more helpful, by coming in to help, but Flint is firm. “I need you by that lever. Getting some breathing room from the spiders will depend on you being there.” Arak, ready to not disappoint, agrees.
Then Flint heads top-side to leave a message for Dew that they’d previously agreed on to get her attention). In the mean-time he treats a couple bolts with the venom from the venom sac he’d harvested.
After some time she comes up, alone. “Yes? Flint, is it? Where’s the other one, Kardin?”
“Kardin has other obligations. I’m here to warn you of something. Another hand-maiden calling herself Shard came to Kardin with promises of what she would do if she were queen.”
Dew is confused. “I don’t understand. Shard couldn’t be queen. Not unless our current queen died.”
“Exactly, that’s what I’m worried about. I believe she wants to make some plan to kill your queen. I thought you and your queen should be warned.”
“This doesn’t make sense. We’re sisters. That may be how you or the humans think, but we do not do such things.”
“Nonetheless, I’d appreciate if you’d take me to see your queen so I can deliver the warning. Leave it to her and the rest of you to decide on your course of action.”
Dew agrees and leads him down below.
Back in the hold Kardin his getting the full treatment — a shave, a haircut, a beard trim, new outfit, new shoes. Halel has a whole team working on him to get him ready for the banquet. At one point he gives some direction on how he wants his beard styled — just like he saw his father’s beard long ago (it’s an out-dated style, but Halel is happy that he’s showing any interest).
After some time Kardin is ready for the banquet and Halel says he’ll need to pay for the new outfit and styling. He grumbles, but agrees (successful Resources).
“Now, I have to go get ready.”
The Spiders’ Nest
Dew escorts Flint down below, talking a bit more about the structure of the Great Spiders. There are 8 sisters. One is a queen, the other 7 are hand-maidens, of which Dew and Shard are two. She says she’s putting her position on the line because she’s been advocating for the dwarves and how they could be good allies. She doesn’t think there’s any merit to Flint’s story about Shard, but he seems so sure that she can’t say no, either.
On the trip down Flint notices that there’s a lot more spider activity than he was expecting — they obviously aren’t nocturnal like he and Kardin had believed.
Dew leads him into the great room once again with spiders and webbing all around. A couple of the hand-maidens scurry away and after a few minutes the queen comes in. There’s still a few hand-maidens not in attendance (including Shard).
“Where’s Shard? Shouldn’t she be here?”
“The queen is willing to hear you, but unless she thinks there’s truth in your words, there’s no reason for Shard to be present.”
The queen lowers herself from above, with hand-maidens around her. Flint launches into the same story he told Dew, how Shard came to Kardin with talk of how she’d treat with the dwarves if she were queen and how knowing what they know that it would mean the current queen having to die. It seemed ominous so they thought she should be warned.
There’s some calm chattering amongts the spiders, but not quite the excitement or chaos Flint was hoping for as a distraction.
One of the hand-maidens says that Shard had come to them with a story of how the dwarves had some plans to act against the spiders. “Well, she’s lying! She came to us. Where is she, she should be here so I can confront here!”
“She’s not, dwarf. What is it you want?”
“What I want? Oh, very well. What I want is to say Shard says hello!” At this, Flint raises his crossbow towards the soft underbelly of the queen with his finger on the trigger. At the same time, Shard leaps through the air, putting her body between Flint and the Queen’s.
Flint takes his shot
At Captain Grahm’s luncheon, Kardin is a bit out of his league, but trying for Halel’s sake. His hair/beard styling get a few odd looks because of the old style, but overall he manages to not make any major faux pas (successful beginner’s luck Etiquette).
Grahm kicks things off with a short speech and then lets things take their course. There’s a lot socializing and drinking and eating. Halel goes around with Kardin to introduce him. Many nobles have heard of him, of course, but few had met him. Overall, he makes a good impression.
After some time Kardin hears a commotion in the hallway, he looks out the doorway and sees a large great spider like nothing he’s ever seen before. It’s almost like it’s rotting and partially desiccated, but it’s moving. It shambles past the door, peering in, and keeps moving. The dwarves are stunned.
“Spiders! Spiders in the hold!” Kardin yells to snap people into action (successful beginner’s luck Command)
Everyone snaps out of it thanks to Kardin’s quick thinking and Grahm starts barking orders. Kardin runs off, grabbing his axe & shield (no armor, unfortunately). Kardin’s convinced that disgusting spider is the so-called Rutger in another form, so he runs off after it.
Flint swings his arbalest up to take aim at the queen.
Dew reacts fast and tries to jump in the way.
Flint adjusts his aim just enough to miss Dew (successful Crossbow vs. Speed) and the bolt hits the queen right in the middle of her abdomen, injecting the virulent spider venom he’d treated the head with. She immediately falls and begins writhing in pain. Before she even hits the ground, Flint is making a hasty retreat.
Dew and a handful of guards give chase through the tunnels. This is the trickiest part of the plan, because Flint was never going to be able to scout out the route from the queen’s chamber to the collapsable tunnel. He’s at a disadvantage with the spiders knowing the tunnels so much better and now he’s got half a dozen coming after him, harrowing him from different directions.
He’s able to put some distance between them and he sees the collapse site coming into view. “ARAK! ARAK! GET READY!”
Flint dives into the chamber and… nothing. He looks back to see the spiders getting closer and that’s when he notices Arak’s body crumpled against the wall, pierced all over and bleeding. He scurries over and pulls the release to trigger the collapse just in time.
He goes over to Arak’s body to assess the damage. Arak is alive, but in bad shape. Flint’s no doctor, but he hopes he can stop the bleeding long enough to get him to safety. Of course, Flint has no idea what’s going on above.
Kardin’s chasing after the strange spider and manages to catch up with it. He sees the thing a little ways down the hall wrapping up a dwarf with its webbing, a couple others nearby. Kardin charges it with axe and shield, but the spider reacts quickly. They spar for a bit in the passage, but without the benefit of armor the spider manages to get its fang into Kardin enough to inject him with a bit of poison, just enough to paralyze him for a few seconds, which is enough time for the spider to wrap him up and leave him.
Kardin quickly regains use of his body and starts struggling against his bonds, but he’s wrapped up tight and even by trying to wiggle his axe, he’s not able to break free (failed Power), so he lays there in the passageway, forgotten.
Healing and Fighting
Flint doesn’t have much to work with, but he thinks he can at least stop Arak’s bleeding. He manages to, but it takes a while and he’s distracted (failed Herbalism). Behind him a huge spider drops down. Arak comes to just long enough to see the spider and Flint falls backward, firing upward at the spider as it falls on him. Because of the tight quarters (and luck) they barely do more than scratch one another, but without the element of surprise the spider gives up and flees.
Flint picks up Arak and heads up into the hold. It’s not long before the attack and chaos is apparent. He sees dwarves wrapped up on the floor and spiders and dwarves in battle. He knows where the healers should be set up so he heads that way. He finds the room barricaded, but they let him in. He leaves Arak in their care and heads back out into the hold to help against the spiders. He finds Grahm where the fighting is thickest and helps to make a difference.
The fighting is tough, but they do eventually win the day. The spiders flee, some with wrapped dwarven prizes. There’s some loss of life, but nothing catastrophic. The dwarves can recover.
Luckily Kardin wasn’t taken off and is eventually found (Die of Fate). In the whole fight there was no sign of Shard, but Kardin and Flint could feel her influence in what happened.
Between the death of the queen and the failure in the hold, it will be a long time before the spiders fully recover. They may still be a threat, but not a serious one. Not for a long time.
A really great session. We’d talked a bit between the last couple sessions about not bringing out Greed enough before. We definitely hit it more this time and it certainly made a difference. Flint is about a third of the way to making Greed 10. I’m excited to see what happens at 10, but it’ll be sad to see him go. I like burning characters out, though, so it’s all good.
We’re going to do another fast-forward to let the hold recover and get the forge going, so we’ve got a season of down-time to do some things. Probably some practice/training. Kardin’s character wants to learn spirit-binding from the humans, so that’ll be interesting. We also talked about the Prince coming back. He’s been gone around 8 or 9 months at this point (since the exile began and the parties were separated), so it’ll be interesting to see how much of his retinue has survived and where he’s been. And he’s a Prince, so you know he’ll be greedy and wanting his (un)fair share of everything. Should be interesting!
We’re also going to take a short Burning Wheel hiatus. We have a number of games we’d like to try out, so we’ll probably be doing some one shots to get a taste of other things. I’m excited about that, and I’ll be excited to pick this campaign back up.