Loot at Last

I spy...spiders.

Last time on TEPCO Watch: In our first-ever battle as a group, TEPCO decimated a swarm of over-sized spider folk lurking in the forest. In our moment of triumph, something peculiar happened. The last spider, weak from our assaults, turned tail (spider butt?) to run toward a strange clicking in the distance. I get the sense we’re all lucky the little bastard didn’t survive. Hansel knows quite a bit about the whole nature deal, and even he couldn’t identify the creatures making the sounds. He did let us in on an old dwarven legend about “Spider 2.0” – some type of hyper intelligent spider. We shared sideways glances and silently, unanimously, mocked the idea.

After a brief rest, our blood was still hot for the slay, so we followed the weakling spider’s example and moved toward the strange clicking. As we went, I started to notice thicker webs along the way. No surprise there. It’s not like any of us thought we were heading for mermaids. We kept our eyes up, not about to let another swarm drop from the trees and catch us unawares, but up wasn’t where we found our next battle. Lo, it was a cave! You know what caves mean. No? Well, I know what caves mean: loot.

The cave mouth was webbed over. Did I mention we mocked the idea of “intelligent” spiders? I mean, really. If TEPCO had a hideout, we wouldn’t exactly paint the swag stag on a banner and use it to conceal the entrance. But that’s another point for another day. Most of us debated the virtue of charging on through while Andraste, bless her heart, wondered out loud where spiders get their dish soap. Tali was in favor of sneaking in, but Chase assured us cutting any part of the web would alert our enemy.

Our final words to one another before the charge were heartening. Tali entreated Andraste to be a bit less useless this time, which was fair considering the highlight of Andraste’s last battle was when she missed so badly she wound up prone in a tree. (It IS a highlight, because somehow the motion counteracted the poison in her system. But uh, she’s not what anyone would mistake for an “asset” just yet.)

In the end, we cut the web and charged.

We were promptly poisoned and blinded for our trouble. The hazards of charging into a spider-infested nest of doom, I suppose. Battle Number Two was on.

I always thought my weapon was the bow, but this battle made me wonder. Twice while I was blind, I put my short sword directly through an enemy’s eye. I won’t pretend that didn’t feel a little badass. Reminds me a bit of a song I know about a little assassin girl named Arya…

Anyway, I wasn’t alone in my badassery. Tali took out an eye of her own with a dagger throw. I’ll bet she distracted the thing with her cleavage. Maybe that’s how she practices. Eyes trained on the chest are easier to hit? Scary little halfling with that arm (and chest), either way.

Chase made a critical blow too, with something he calls the “Thunder Ram Assault” which doesn’t sound pleasant at all. (“That’s what I call a Wednesday!” Petter chimed in from his cozy place in the enemy’s web.)

Most of the battle is a blur. I thought I saw Hansel turn into a sock monkey, and when I looked again I’m pretty sure he was a giant chipmunk. I’m told I lost consciousness, so maybe that had something to do with it. The dwarf — not Hansel, but the other one, Balty — revived me. I never thought I would be so glad to have the little ones along. Dwarves are always so gruff, harder to cheer with the lute than most, so I have a perfectly natural disinclination for their company. But Baltasar, I’m telling you, saved our butts more than once and that makes him okay in my book.

The spider venom did some wicked nasty stuff to the group’s abilities. We’re usually decently quick, but I suspect the battle was so close because the poison slowed us. After I got hit, I never felt quite right again until I slept it off much later. (At one point Andraste realized she was slower than usual and asked for confirmation. “Am I slow?” she said. I replied with the only appropriate response: “Do you have to ask?”)

Even with my healing songs and Balty’s talent, half the party was bloodied or worse a couple hours into the battle when Tali finished off the biggest spider in the cave.

“And I helped!” Andraste shouted triumphantly.

“Shut your hole,” Tali said. “You didn’t do a damn thing.”

Andraste probably never heard. She was too keen on wooing my pen. “Put that in the record book!” she pleaded. “That I hit something!”

I told her my “record book” is a serious document intended to record the essentials of our journey for the scholars of Trinity. (In fact, it’s about two parts song scribbles, one part diary, but the margins usually ARE strictly for the recording of essentials. I wrote it down anyway. Andraste might make a good song yet.)

Oops. Is Petter woefully absent from this part of the tale so far? Oh, wait, no. That wasn’t a mistake. Our beloved narcissist managed to get himself stuck in a web for approximately 90% of the battle. He could be heard shouting “Fucking finally!” repeatedly when he eventually made a kill. I suspect he only fought his way out of the web to begin with because Andraste was waning. Even Balty wasn’t sure she would make it, and he’s full of tricks. From a totally practical standpoint, I wondered aloud if Andraste’s death might be for the best, but it didn’t matter in the end. She came back to us. (Petter sobbed.)

Hansel was the weeble of the day. It’s hard to tell sometimes, as dwarves are about as tall as they are thick to the average person’s eye, but by my estimate he was down and out more than the rest of use combined. Turns out he’s not half bad at plotting, though. It was his quick thinking that helped us end the battle. (“It’s not just a hat rack!” he said with no small amount of glee as we followed his advice. Later, he related his frequent desire to dig a hole in his backyard and pretend he’s a carrot, so we’ll call it even on the whole hat rack business.)

Anyhow, we all made it out alive. The spiders did not. I call that victory.

And to sweeten the deal? As I suggested before…loot! A faithful list of what we discovered in the spider stink hole:

- 6 (+1) Onslaught Bolts (to me!)
- 4 Onslaught Bullets
- 297 gold
- 469 silver
- 18 copper
- 1 rhodochrosite stone-looking thingy
- a feathered mask (dibs!)
- 3 martial practices (embalm / ointment)
- 4 oils of lasting flame
- a magical dagger (which obviously went to our MVS, Tali)
- a backpack of concealment (Chase ended up with possession, because Petter is a bitch.)

We handed out the things we want to keep on hand and put the rest in our cart. And so ended our sophomore battle.

Until next time,
— Arrow



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