Having finished dealing with the minotaurs, Aetadius, Kalissa, and Kasglan turn their attention to the large double doors out of the chamber, and find they have not been used for a very long time. Kalissa and Aetadius open the doors, revealing a hallway beyond, but they have only gone in a short distance when they hear a slithering sound, like reptile scales rubbing together, and decide to retreat for the moment. In the meantime, Sim has discovered a concealed doorway, that apparently has been used by the minotaurs, and the party decides to investigate this first. However, the passage beyond proves to lead upwards, to an upper storey of the guild hall. Making note of this is a possible return route, the party turns its attention back to the hallway past the double doors.
The passage slopes down and is wide enough for two people to walk abreast, and the party advances cautiously, with Bud in giant spider form moving along the ceiling. There are a few humanoid skeletons scattered along the walls, long picked clean of anything of interest. Large alcoves are set into the walls at regular intervals, most of which are empty. However, before long, Kalissa (who is on point) hears a reptilian whisper, offering to let the party pass unharmed if they sacrifice the cleric. The source of the whisper appears to be hiding in an alcove ahead on the left. As the party advances in formation, even more slowly and cautiously, Bud scuttles ahead to scout the opposition. As he passes the alcove, he sees a large (~14 feet long) serpentine creature, with a human-like face and particularly captivating eyes. The creature (a spirit naga) notices him but ignores him, apparently taking him for just another wandering monster.
Combat is remarkably swift. The party advances to just short of the alcove, Sim and Paxton step out to the far side of the passage to launch ranged attacks, and Kalissa, Kasglan, and Aetadius storm into melee. The naga attempts to cast spells but their targets (notably Kalissa) manage to shrug them off, and the naga soon lies dead. Kalissa extracts its fangs as a trophy, as the party recovers and divvies up a trove of coin and minor gems.
Continuing down the passage, the party eventually comes to another set of doors, which open onto a street on the fourth level of Elderburg. From a distance comes a booming sound, and the party is initially at a loss to interpret it, until Sim realizes that it is the sound of the upper levels of the city collapsing onto the ones below; specifically, the second level collapsing onto the third. Worse yet, as the fallen material increases the pressure on the floor of the third level, this too is almost certain to give way and collapse onto the fourth level, with predictably catastrophic results for anyone on that level. Kalissa mutters that she would not be at all surprised if the Arcanum’s agents have decided that destroying the city is worth stopping the Society, even if it means being subsequently unable to recover the city’s other contents. Sim’s best guess is that this will occur in seventeen candlemarks, give or take a couple, so the party decides to focus less on searching for interesting loot and more or finding a way down to the fifth level.
Still, there is some time to check buildings for supplies, and upon coming across an intact general store, the party decides to look inside. Inside, a pile of what used to be rugs or blankets has decayed into a large mound of dust, and as one of the party members stirs it, almost a dozen small creatures burst forth and attack the intruders. The creatures appear to be composed of dust, coalesced into a humanoid form, a few feet tall and with bat-like wings. Bud, still in spider form, manages to pin a couple down by spitting webs at them, but the others attack aggressively with a mixture of claw attacks, breath weapons of blinding dust, and in one case, a Sleep spell. Kalissa is blinded and succumbs to the Sleep, but Kasglan manages to get her back in action quickly by applying a Lesser Restoration with a slightly more forceful “laying on of hands” than would normally be considered seemly. As the party rallies and retaliates, the dust mephits quickly begin to fall, but this reveals a new challenge. As three mephits die in quick succession, each bursts apart in a blinding cloud of dust, rapidly filling the shop. For the most part, the Society members are able to withstand the effects, and Kasglan quickly takes cares of those who don’t. Even after the last falls to a barrage of Fire Bolts, arrows, and melee weapons, it takes a long time for the dust to settle, literally. A search of the store produces the mephits’ collection of coins, but little else of interest.
The party reassembles outside and proceeds down the road. The going is complicated by the now familiar obstacles of collapsed buildings and other fallen rubble, and the team periodically has to cut through other buildings to bypass such blockages. While moving through one such building, somebody on the upper floor hears the party, but their footfalls alert the party in turn, and both sides scramble to head each off at the stairs. Bud spits a web, blocking the stairs, and Kalissa and Aetadius take up position at the foot, as four rat-headed humanoids (wererats in hybrid form) appear at the top. Two of the creatures advance down the stairs to slash at the webs with their shortswords, while the other two ready hand crossbows. Sim looses an arrow at the latter, but fumbles his release and sends the arrow into Kalissa’s back. Kasglan is on hand to heal the wound, not least because he doesn’t want Kalissa to break off the shaft, as the arrow is Dwarven-made and enchanted. Bud plasters one of the wererats coming down the stairs to the wall with another web, and Kalissa and Aetadius begin to pound on the other. Paxton launches a Fire Bolt at the entangled wererat, setting fire to the web, which inflicts severe damage on the creature but spreads a horrible smell. However, apart from avoiding their bite, the wererats do not present a severe challenge and are soon overcome. Their lair on the upper floor contains some coins.
Emerging back onto the street, the Society presses on until they pass an especially large and ornate building. From the inscriptions over the door, Kasglan identifies it as some mages’ guild or society predating the Arcanum, and the party decides this is definitely worth investigating. During their search, however, they notice they are being watched; all they catch is a glimpse of single, large green eye peering at them before its humanoid owner bounds away. They start to ready themselves for pursuit, but this proves unnecessary as the observer quickly returns with reinforcements, and the party is set upon from two sides by half a dozen gruesome creatures. They are former wizards whose very being has been transformed by corrupt magic; still humanoid, albeit more slinky in form, they have grown clawed hands and (elongated) feet, and while their heads retain a roughly human skull form, they have grown a single, large green eye that takes up the upper half of their faces. As the nothics train these eyes on the adventurers, the latter feel the corrupting influence of the very gaze starting to rot their flesh. But while the nothics are relatively nimble, they are are not especially resistant to damage and the party’s counterattacks bite deep. Kasglan manages to disable one nothic’s gaze by inflicting Blindness on it, and the tested combination of spat webs and slung Fire Bolts softens up those enemies whom Kalissa and Aetadius cannot engage immediately. By the time the nothics lie dead, a few party members have been more than superficially hurt since the party left the third level of the city. While Kasglan tends to their wounds, the remaining members ransack the building, turning up large amounts of coin, over a dozen gems, and two unusual objects, or rather, sets of objects. One is a pair of what turn out to be Eyes of Minute Seeing, which are given to Kasglan; the other is a shattered stone tablet (albeit it with all its fragments present) about two square feet in size.With combined efforts, the party are soon able to assemble it into its original form, of which Kasglan makes a rubbing with paper and charcoal, before Paxton bags up the fragments and places it in his pack.
Interestingly, while the stone is not colored, the triangular emblem is clearly that of the Arcanum.
The party decides to press on again, but they have barely gone a few hundred yards down the street when they are surprised by six creatures materializing around—and among!—them. The creatures are large (10’ across) hunting spiders, but not quite of this world, with large (apparently) non-faceted eyes, and mostly whitish coloration with blue markings on their backs and forelegs, and able to shift in and out of existence (they are phase spiders, able to shift between the Material and Ethereal Planes at will). As they shift into existence, the quickest attack with bites; these are not particularly harmful in of themselves, but the spiders inject a debilitating venom, which brings their victims close to the point of collapse. Bud, who has been crawling along the side of a building, realizes that this is one foe he cannot use webs against (though fortunately his spider form also renders him immune to other arachnids’ venom), and scurries to rejoin the main body of the party, which is trying to form a defensive perimeter. Despite suffering great pain from a spider bite, Paxton manages to undercut the spiders’ greatest advantage by casting a Slow spell that affects five of them, and prevents them from being able to attack and immediately shift away (or shift in and immediately attack). Kalissa, Aestadius, and Kasglan focus their attacks on the single unaffected spider, and manage to rapidly kill it.
Thanks to Paxton’s intervention, the remaining phase spiders still present a challenge but are not quite the mortal threat they would otherwise be, and while a few of the party are quite badly injured by the poison by the time the arachnids are dispatched (two of them by Paxton’s use of his heaviest spell, a Fireball), severe incapacitations are avoided. Having been out on the hunt, the spiders predictably have nothing of value with them, and there is no time to try to find their lair, if indeed they have one. For by the time the party members and their gear have been patched up, only ten hours or so remain until the roof is projected to collapse.
With the party ready to move on, the session is ended. After all the combat this day, everyone feels a little more capable of their abilities (read: everyone advanced to 6th level).