Morning is not announced so much as marked by gradations of light that are now a leaden gray. The swamp mists are heavy and are accompanied by light rain. Visibility in the mist is 20 to 30 feet at this time.
Mistress Bianca bolts upright and looks abruptly around.
Rikard Castleberry stumbles awake muttering about how he wished there was some sunlight.
Bart: Good Morning.
Mistress Bianca: That son of a bitch!
Rikard Castleberry: Mhmmmaahhya to you too Bart.
Rikard Castleberry: Eh?
Mistress Bianca: Where the hell is Darren?
Bart huddles over his cooking Lizard.
Rikard Castleberry: Darren is the lizard?
Mistress Bianca looks in the direction that Bart indicates.
Bart: How are you feeling Rikkard?
Rikard Castleberry: Oh you know, pretty much the same as always.
Bart: I was hoping you would be better.
Mistress Bianca picks up her staff and moves up to Darren.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, I slept ok, it’s just that I never rest all that well after being a partial BBQ.
Mistress Bianca waits patiently for him to see her before she does anything else.
Darren stands up slowly, soaked from the rain. In his left hand he holds the bag that contains the device.
Mistress Bianca holds a hand palm up.
Darren hands her the bag.
Darren: After breakfast, I would like a word with you.
Bart: I understand.
Rikard Castleberry: How’s that lizard coming along over there?
Mistress Bianca takes the bag and walks to the fire, lays her staff down and sits, fumbling through her bags.
Bart: Just beyond partial BBQ.
Bart tosses a spit to Rikkard.
Darren wipes the wet hair from his face and steps past her toward the inviting fire.
Rikard Castleberry happily catches it and starts to gnaw on the meat.
Mistress Bianca pulls out a book, opens it and begins to thumb through it checking back to the index repeatedly.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh my god woman, it’s way, WAY too early to be reading.
Mistress Bianca: I have an idea.
Light rain splatters upon the pages.
Mistress Bianca looks up and curses quietly and closes the book.
Rikard Castleberry: What is that?
Mistress Bianca (mutters): Wish I had my cloak still.
Darren opens his bag and munches on damp rations unhappily.
Mistress Bianca: An idea? It is a creative thought, of or possibly pertaining to a course of action or concept.
Rikard Castleberry eats a bit of lizard.
Darren: One best suited prior to an endeavor instead of after it.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh, I was hoping it was something useful, like how to kill a thousand spiders.
Bart: Or who visited us last night.
Mistress Bianca: That is not the idea I was having.
Rikard Castleberry: Wait, what?
Mistress Bianca looks sideways at Bart. I guess that should surprise me.
Rikard Castleberry: If there’s one thing I like less than a spear in the chest, it’s people I don’t know sneaking around me while I’m sleeping.
Mistress Bianca looks directly at Darren. Or people you do know.
Bart: Or ruining a good snare.
Darren tosses his rations into the fire and stands up quickly.
Darren: Well that is the point yes? Do we know each other?
Bart looks confused.
Darren: Certainly had I known that the plan was to get bested by spiders I would of happily refused this job.
Rikard Castleberry: See, that little part of the ‘plan’ wasn’t quite explained to me in the proper detail by Jorian.
Rikard Castleberry: I’m not exactly happy about it, either.
Mistress Bianca: Yeah well, welcome to the group. Touch my bag again while I sleep and I will tie you to a tree and throw you in that spider cave.
Mistress Bianca thinks about her words a bit.
Darren looks at her almost stunned.
Mistress Bianca: Damn I am too pissed to even threaten right.
Darren: Mistress, may I have a word with you…in private?
Mistress Bianca thinks about it for a moment.
Rikard Castleberry suddenly looks confused, as if he missed something while he was sleeping.
Bart: Just stay within shouting distance. Don’t know if our visitor had any friends.
Mistress Bianca: Fine.
Darren gestures over by the boat.
Mistress Bianca stands up and gestures for Darren to lead the way.
Darren steps to the boat.
Rikard Castleberry: Um, Bart, did I miss something again?
Mistress Bianca follows.
Darren stops, facing the water and collects his thoughts a moment.
Bart: Looks the same as when you and that waitress at the eel had that…..difference of opinion.
Darren turns slowly glancing at Bart and Rikard, then levels his look upon her.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh man, that’s not going to end well then.
Rikard Castleberry chuckles to himself.
Darren: (softly) It is obvious that trust does not come to you and I…easily.
Darren: However, to those two there, they trust you, they…count on you.
Darren: They nearly died yesterday and you and I with them.
Rikard Castleberry: On the plus side, this lizard was really good. Did you put something in it?
Bart: The rain actually helped. It allowed more of a smoky flavor. I was afraid the rub wouldn’t stay though.
Mistress Bianca: And?
Darren: They needed a leader yesterday…with a plan…Now I am no leader and I do not enjoy saying these things.
Rikard Castleberry: I wonder if there’s something that can be done with that? Some way to trap perhaps the dew from the ground and have it drip from on top, keeping the water in.
Darren: Each person has their gifts and I thought I had informed you of mine. Yet you have made no use of me, save for my crossbow which was little effect to those spiders from hell.
Mistress Bianca puts her hands on her hips and puts her left foot forward in that way that all women have that lets the guy know that she is about to make him wish he were fireproof.
Bart: It would take some set up. Maybe a leaf casing?
Darren: And the first thing you do when you rise is threaten me?
Rikard Castleberry: That’s what I’m thinking, it would have to be probably something setup in advance.
Mistress Bianca grits her teeth to remain calm.
Mistress Bianca: Are you finished?
Darren: Not completely…then there is the matter of pitting the wishes of the order against your allegiances to the guild in one full swoop. Again, putting them and I at risk should the order find out what your doing.
Mistress Bianca taps her foot.
Darren sighs seeing her impatience.
Bart: How do your bandages feel. Need me to look at them?
Darren lowers his gaze and wipes the rain again from his face.
Rikard Castleberry: If you want to, but I don’t think I’m bleeding again yet. You did a really good job patching me up when I was, er, well, unconscious again.
Bart: The spirits have much more for you to accomplish. I am just their instrument to assure you don’t slack off.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, I can appreciate that. I don’t know much about the spirits, but if they want to keep me alive, I think I like them.
Mistress Bianca: One, I am not a leader. I am as charismatic as a swamp dragon and I have a temper to match. Two, My friends and I have fought for the sake of others since we have met, this time we volunteered. Our folly is all of ours. Three, you didn’t use any of your skills, I used mine without being asked, Rikard used his, Bart used his, you did not. Four, you touched my stuff while I slept, there are things more precious to me then your soul in that bag, that was not a threat, it was a warning. Five, What I do with the guild and the order is nothing I wish to discuss. I have already said it all in my chambers with you and no one turned away when it was all laid out. You want out? Then go.
Rikard Castleberry: You know Bart, they seem to be quite upset. Did they go to bed this angry?
Bart: No but those tracks have him visiting her during his watch.
Darren: From what I have seen of those men, they would do what you asked them to and perhaps not realize such a precarious situation for themselves out of their loyalty to you. It is not difficult to see that they look up to you and garner your judgment highly.
Rikard Castleberry lowers his voice intentionally and leans closer to Bart.
Rikard Castleberry: His tracks, are they the ones from outside the camp you mentioned, or is there really someone else that was sneaking around here too?
Mistress Bianca: What you don’t understand is that it goes both ways. I am not their superior, I am their equal. I look up to them. They inspire me. You should not put them down by saying these things. They are not my army.
Mistress Bianca: The thing is, I never have to ask them to do anything.
Bart: There was someone sneaking about last night who tripped on of my snares. A booted man from town, he ran back into the swamp, I thought Darren would go after him.
Darren: I do not suggest that they are, but the result is still the same. And I am …sorry I did not take the initiative and speak up when I could of done some good.
Rikard Castleberry: Boots leave bigger prints than most, right?
Darren: I am new to this.
Bart: Depends on the feet.
Rikard Castleberry: I suppose it would be more or less impossible to track at this point?
Bart: We might be able to pick up the trail if we wanted to. The rain shouldn’t have hurt it to much and he was in a hurry so not being careful.
Mistress Bianca: The result is a mutual respect, They won’t do anything I am unwilling to do and I will not do anything they are unwilling to do. Our team is flat. As much as I will probably regret this, I…encourage…you to speak up.
Darren: I shall try to do so and…I took the device to keep it safe when Bart informed me of someone skulking about nearby though I only half believed him at the time. The spider we captured is all the progress we have. And I had not wanted to wake you.
Rikard Castleberry: Part of me is worried about someone skulking around, but if they wanted to harm us, did they have opportunity, in your opinion?
Darren: You appeared to have taken a lot in a short period of time.
Bart: Not and get away cleanly. They would not have known how badly we were wounded.
Mistress Bianca: I would rather you wake me. You take it without my permission, I better be dead a week past and buried for added certainty that I will not come back to life and stalk you.
Mistress Bianca: So we understand each other?
Darren: I assure you Mistress, such a thought will most likely keep me awake tonight should I survive the day.
Mistress Bianca turns and walks to the fire.
Darren follows her.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh good, you’re back. We were just talking about better ways to cook lizards.
Mistress Bianca sits down then looks to Bart and then to Rikard and when Darren isn’t looking holds her hand up with her index finger and thumb about a half inch apart.
Darren fumbles in his pack for his mirror and comb.
Mistress Bianca: We had a “little” talk.
Rikard Castleberry sighs.
Bart: Just like that waitress.
Rikard Castleberry: Exactly like it.
Mistress Bianca: So, we have a new friend?
Bart: More of an admirer from afar.
Mistress Bianca: Koran?
Bart: Too unskilled.
Bart: Do we try to introduce ourselves?
Mistress Bianca: Anyone else thinking it may be one of Hoyt’s men?
Darren: Would it make any difference?
Rikard Castleberry: Some, if it was a professional, he wouldn’t have left obvious tracks.
Darren: Do we break off and follow his trail or continue?
Mistress Bianca: Did he leave a trail to follow?
Bart: He did last night, haven’t checked this morning.
Mistress Bianca: Well the fog is still out.
Rikard Castleberry looks around.
Rikard Castleberry: Yes, yes it is.
Mistress Bianca: We could stumble upon him without knowing we were 20 feet away.
Darren: Such a thing could aid me against the eyes of the spiders perhaps?
Rikard Castleberry shrugs.
Rikard Castleberry: I don’t really know.
Darren: Well Bart would.
Bart: They will still be wary.
Darren: If I go to the webs alone to get samples, I might have a chance.
Rikard Castleberry levels his most serious look at Darren.
Rikard Castleberry: Do you think you can do it?
Darren: Well I know the 4 of us can’t.
Darren: I am willing to…try.
Darren gives a glance to Bianca.
Bart: Taking a web is akin to knocking on a door for a spider.
Mistress Bianca: I hope you can. Because if you want to, I don’t know how much help we can provide. I am really quite sore.
Rikard Castleberry: If I was a spider, which I’m not, I probably wouldn’t hang around there the next day, if we hadn’t arrived again.
Mistress Bianca: What is your fallback plan?
Rikard Castleberry: However, me not being a spider, I don’t know if that actually applies.
Bart: They are not spiders. They just have their appearance.
Darren: I’ll have to grab a handful of web and hope it shall be enough. I am guessing that water will damage the specimens so I will need to get them sealed if I have to jump into the water.
Mistress Bianca: In brainstorming there is no bad ideas right?
Rikard Castleberry: Hey if you want to go for it, go for it. I’ll be in the boat though, ready to get us out of there.
Mistress Bianca: What other ideas do we have?
Rikard Castleberry: Hunt down our mystery man, which honestly still isn’t why we came here.
Rikard Castleberry: We came for the spider-webs.
Mistress Bianca: Come on, who here has gone fishing?
Rikard Castleberry: Sure, but um, we just ate, I’m not really hungry yet.
Bart: We can find out who is following us. Recruit them into helping us destroy the spider-things.
Mistress Bianca: Sure we can.
Darren: However, I doubt they could help us much.
Mistress Bianca: Darren, What if you got close but not too close to the webbing.
Darren thinks on her words.
Mistress Bianca: I have a ridiculous idea.
Bart: Darren seducing the spider queen?
Mistress Bianca: Heh that would be fun.
Rikard Castleberry: No good, she has too much fur for his taste.
Bart: It would be a challenge for his skill.
Darren: A little fur I can handle, its the flaming jaws that would give me pause.
Bart looks at Bianca.
Darren straightens his mustache.
Rikard Castleberry: Think of it as just another hot experience with a lady.
Mistress Bianca: More like Darren stays in the water the whole time and throws something into the webbing tied to a rope or string, or whatever, like a branch tied to a rock for weight would grab a bunch of web when he pulls it back.
Darren: Hmm, the web appeared very brittle.
Bart: He would have to be quick. I would not want to be near the webbing if they shot fire at it.
Mistress Bianca: He could be underwater as soon as he threw it.
Darren: If the web touches water, it is likely that it would not be a viable sample then.
Rikard Castleberry: Why would a spiders own web be flammable to it? Wouldn’t that cause the whole place to burn down if 2 started fighting?
Mistress Bianca: Oh, it is quite flammable. We saw that ourselves.
Bart: They seem to flash too quickly for other webs to be enflamed.
Darren rubs his chin.
Darren: Give me 3 jars in my bag, padded nicely and let me try it my way.
Rikard Castleberry: Okey dokey.
Mistress Bianca: Your call. Can I tie a rope to you to drag you back if you go down?
Darren: No, a rope will burden my abilities.
Mistress Bianca: Ok then.
Darren: What is the matter Bart?
Rikard Castleberry: He wants to kill all the spiders.
Mistress Bianca: You want to go after the stranger?
Mistress Bianca: Bart?
Bart: I think it is foolish to continue with the mission.
Bart: But it is just one opinion.
Mistress Bianca smiles.
Mistress Bianca: See Darren?
Mistress Bianca: I do not want you to go unless you have a back up plan. One spit can kill you.
Darren: If I hear them ill drop everything and escape. In such a failure, we can try other methods then.
Rikard Castleberry: Good, then shall we pack up and get ready?
Mistress Bianca: How much time before the fog rises Bart?
Bart: Not long but it should not hinder us much. Better to get on the water before our followers know we are going.
Rikard Castleberry starts to pack up his stuff and bring it to the skiff.
Mistress Bianca: Ok then. Darren this is your decision, If you think you can do it. If not, well we would understand changing your mind.
Darren nods and begins to ready his gear.
Bart brakes down the camp.
Mistress Bianca grabs her bag and staff. All is ready.
Rikard Castleberry starts moving the skiff to the water, to get it ready to launch.
Everyone gets into the skiff and you pole over the river until it is close but out of range of those fiery jets.
Bart suggests the options available to Darren for his departure.
Darren: I’ll walk.
With the skiff now moved upriver, Darren may now execute his plan.
Darren removes everything from his bag and weaves 3 jars into a blanket.
Darren sees that there is enough room for a 4th jar and puts it in as well.
Darren shakes his bag to make sure it is silent.
The bag does not make noise.
Darren gives a nod to everyone and starts his move.
Darren stays close to the ground and moves slowly.
Darren hunkers down and barely exposes his face to the edge.
Bart whispers “Is he dead? He’s not moving.”
Darren slips back.
Mistress Bianca shrugs.
Ten long minutes pass as you see him look into the cave. Then he skulks back.
Darren raises a hand and holds up two fingers.
Rikard Castleberry holds up 3 fingers
. Rikard Castleberry whispers, “There are 3 of us in the boat, not 2.”
Darren moves up to the shore, near them.
Mistress Bianca (whispers): There are 2 spiders.
Bart: There are a lot more then that.
Rikard Castleberry: Ok, so?
Mistress Bianca (whispers): I know that. Darren should too.
Darren waves them toward him.
Bart: Does he want us to go to him?
Rikard Castleberry raises an eyebrow, knowing that this can’t possibly end well.
Mistress Bianca (whispers): Yes, lets go.
Bart poles towards Darren.
Typical soft mud-sucking sounds are generated by the movement.
Darren takes a step out into the water to stop them from hitting the shore.
Bart: How did it go?
Darren: (whispers) There are two spiders rebuilding the webs near the entrance.
Darren: It will likely take them a couple days to finish.
Bart: I told you there would be guards.
Darren: They are not sentries, they are builders.
Bart: They may be both.
Rikard Castleberry: I don’t see the distinction.
Darren: Once I saw a spider pop out, look about then pop back in.
Darren: That was a sentry, these did not notice me and were spinning webs.
Mistress Bianca: So they will when you start taking those webs.
Darren: If they notice right away.
Mistress Bianca: you are that confident?
Darren: I am…determined.
Bart: You will have to be very good to steal the web from a spider without him noticing.
Rikard Castleberry: What if you get above the spiders and take from up there? Would they notice that less?
Bart: There is no above. I looked for other entrances.
Darren: Look, it appears that it may take them a day or two to finish rebuilding the lost webs. After that, their might only be a sentry.
Darren: I think I can deal with a sentry.
Mistress Bianca shakes her head.
Mistress Bianca: Ok so we wait a couple days.
Darren: Its either that or we take out the builders and grab as much web in one full swoop.
Rikard Castleberry: That sounds like a terrible idea.
Bart: If we haven’t led the other group to the spiders.
Mistress Bianca: Well maybe we can watch and see if they come after the spiders.
Rikard Castleberry: We should go back then and um….
Rikard Castleberry: We should uh.
Rikard Castleberry: What was I saying again?
Darren: Well I could stay near in hiding.
Bart: Can you live out here?
Darren: I’m willing to stay until darkness, and then someone could pick me up?
Darren: We have to wait anyway.
Rikard Castleberry: If you want to wait here, we can track down our visitor, then come back.
Rikard Castleberry: Or you can come with us and do it, either way.
Darren: Ok, I’ll wait and observe the cave in hiding.
Mistress Bianca: Let’s all just wait here.
Darren: Any rules of engagement?
Rikard Castleberry: Always use a real diamond in the ring.
Darren: If we all wait here, they may not come in
. Darren: If they think we’ve left, they might take a look.
Bart: Usually before she is with child.
Mistress Bianca: Either way, fine by me, if they don’t come in would be the same if they did.
Darren: Then let’s hunker down and guard the cave from interlopers? If we do, we all have to be quiet or risk drawing attention.
Mistress Bianca: They, the spiders, probably can guard it better than we can…
Darren: Yes but if we can get one, they might be able to.
Rikard Castleberry: In fact, use the interlopers as bait.
Darren: And I have been meaning to ask, Who is Hoyt anyway? Who is he really?
Mistress Bianca: Even better, if they engage, we can determine who they are and we can clean up.
Mistress Bianca: A walking dead man.
Mistress Bianca: If I say, that’s Hoyt, kill him. Do so immediately.
Bart: Then do it again.
Darren: Sure, however, where does he hail from? Who are his kin?
Bart: He ate them for all I know.
Darren: Well could he achieve what we couldn’t here?
Mistress Bianca: Yes, undoubtedly.
Rikard Castleberry: Invisibility helps.
Mistress Bianca: Rikard plunged a spear through his heart and he survived.
Darren: He can turn invisible?
Bart: And probably some flame resistance.
Mistress Bianca: Oh, he is a wizard.
Rikard Castleberry: To be fair, he did the same to me, and I lived too.
Mistress Bianca: Details Rikard.
Darren: We…um…you plan on killing…a wizard?
Mistress Bianca: You did it first.
Mistress Bianca: Of course.
Rikard Castleberry: He blew me up in a tower first. It’s only fair.
Bart: I believe he is possessed by an ancient evil.
Mistress Bianca: That’s after he nearly started a war with the swamp-men.
Darren: Hmm, an ancient evil? Are these spiders not….evil as well?
Bart: I seem to run into more evil with this group….
Mistress Bianca: Anyway, if Hoyt is invisible he could go in and get the web and we probably wouldn’t see him either so, lets not worry about that.
Mistress Bianca: or spiders rather than web.
Darren: Well then I wish to remain close by and observe.
Mistress Bianca: We all should to some degree.
It is decided to hunker down at a distance of over 100 yards away from the entrance. The skiff is kept in the water and everyone sleeps in shifts. Rikard keeps turning the ancient spear trying to see the tip for some reason.
Darren decides to keep an eye out.
Late in the day the sun finally clears the fog and rain. It quickly grows miserable as you’ve come to expect. Night comes quickly. No spiders or interlopers are sited during this time. The hours of the night go by without event. The mists rise upon a new day without the rain. It is going to be hot today. You are already uncomfortable.
Bart sets up snares for the night upon the shore.
Darren decides to slink over and take a look at his 8 legged friends.
Darren sneaks to the entrance.
There are no spiders in evidence at this time. The webs are filled in however…
Darren waits for a sentry.
Minutes pass. Nothing.
Darren heads back to the group.
After only a couple of minutes Darren steps back from the entrance and skulks back again. As he reaches the group he steps on a hidden twig in the grasses, which snaps loudly.
Bart: Any news?
Darren: Shhhh, everyone get down.
Darren moves into some brush to see if anything comes.
A short time passes as Darren takes cover while the rest of the party looks somewhat bewildered.
Rikard Castleberry: Um, so.
Darren: They appear to be finished. I saw no sentry.
Bart: Did you get the web?
Rikard Castleberry: Great. Go burgle us some webs.
Darren: I was thinking of giving it a try.