Last time, we left the gold caravan headed to Waterdeep from Silverymoon camped at a campsite. Waking up for third watch of the night, Max, Ugrun, and Alfred discovered that Lyra and Allyson were asleep, and that the campsite was overrun with giant ants! Furthermore, the giant ants appeared to be taking the bars of gold and carrying them back down into the anthills which had erupted around the camp.
Gnf woke easily, as did Aprilane. At first, Gnf simply observed the ants, but Aprilane couldn’t observe much of anything, because it was dark! Max lit a torch from the embers of the watchfire, which had burned very low untended. Now that he could see that giant ant right next to him he smacked it over the head with his torch, and the fight was on. Ugrun equipped his shield and short sword and advanced to face down one of the larger warrior ants that had come over.
Most of the workers fled back to their home, but two warriors and some workers remained to defend the rest. Allyson and Lyra struggled awake, Lyra turning and tossing for several seconds while giant ants battled with Aprilane right over her head.
When the ants had been dispatched, a search showed some glass vials near where Allyson and Lyra had fallen asleep and a booted footprint or two nearby. Further investigation revealed some sort of ant-like smell on the gold bars, but not the iron camouflage. As the implications of this were discussed, a group of flying drones emerged from the largest hill and attacked, biting party members as they flew by them.
Once they were dealt with, the party advanced to the largest of the anthills and started climbing down. The descent was steep and somewhat slippery and at least a few of the group landed on their face in a big pile of sand at the bottom, in spite of the assistance rendered by others holding a rope at the top. On the other hand, Alfred and Aprilane decided they could slide down the slope on their feet, landing lightly.
And it was fortunate that they could, since a group of hive warriors and soldiers started attacking before they all reached the landing. Gnf set off a colossal Color Spray, dazing most of them, and stopping them from swarming around the party. The soldiers tried to grab and sting Max a couple of times, but the first was killed before he could manage it and the second missed Max once before being dispatched.
Continuing on, the party came across a group of humans, including Daval the guard from Silverymoon. The leader was a half-elf woman named Valsturia, and there were 4 more guards and a rather berserk looking dwarf woman with a big axe. They were inside one chamber, so Allyson, Max and Ugrun charged in, Gnf and Alfred filled in behind them, and Aprilane and Lyra stayed outside, firing in, and watching the corridors.
Ugrun shifted appearance slightly to look like a ram, and pushed one of the guards all the way back to the back wall, opening a path to Valsturia. As Alfred entered the chamber, a Cave Choker dropped from the ceiling onto him, grabbing him around the throat. Then, when Gnf tried to shoot the Choker, it swung Alfred around as a human shield, so that Alfred bore the brunt of the Rolling Thunder. Gnf also targeted Valsturia with the Rolling Thunder, which slid her over to in front of Allyson. Valsturia gulped hard and didn’t move, considering the ball of lighting ready to explode if she did, thinking Allyson the lesser of evils. She was wrong.
Meanwhile Daval tried to convince Allyson that Gnf was reallly the source of all her troubles, and that he had heard Gnf say that he hated half-orcs. Allyson just laughed it off though. This was after Daval had utterly failed to hide his movements from the party, so they weren’t taking him too seriously. However, he then did a more successful sneak and managed to stab Ugrun in the back while Ugrun had the remaining three guards engaged.
Gnf unleashed another big spell, downing two of the guards and wounding the third, but also getting Ugrun in the zone. Daval gave a pitiful appeal to those around him to spare him, and tried to flee. However, Lyra and Aprilane managed to cut him down at the cave entrance, having been too far away to be affected by his pathos.
After the fight, a search revealed several items, including Bracers of Mental Might, which went to Alfred, Parry Gauntlets (Allyson), Vigorous Resolve Vestments(kept for trade/sale), Goggles of Aura Sight(Ugrun), and a Pure Spirit Totem(Lyra). Along with a 700gp and 2 100gp-value gems. Also found were a ritual book and some ritual scrolls.
One of the scrolls was a ritual called Peaceful Slumber, while the other was Control Insects. The party concluded that the thieves must have put a scent trail to the gold, and used the Control Insects ritual to have the queen send out scouts to find it, letting their ant instincts take care of the rest. But that left them with the problem of finding the gold and getting it back out of the anthill.
At about this time, Gnf heard a voice in his head, the voice of Tulvin Narnari, the scholar with which Gnf had discussed unusual magical phenomena. Tulvin seemed quite angry, and said that he had gone through the planar boundary, found some elves who said that there had been a caravan including orcs and that they had killed some of the elves. Tulvin said that he owed Gnf, but Gnf and he were going to have a serious discussion.
Aprilane noticed that the thieves clothing had a bit of an anty smell to it, so they decided that the thieves must have blended scent with the ants to avoid conflict with them. So the party draped themselves in the clothing of the bandits.
This ploy seemed to work as the next chamber entered was in fact the queens chamber. The attendant ants examined the party and then ignored the party. There was a passage leading downward on the far side of the chamber, following it, the party came to a storage chamber with a big glittering pile of gold bars in it, along with some fungus and rubble.
Gnf, with Alfred’s assistance, summoned a Tensor’s Floating Disc capable of carrying the entire pile of gold (weighing about a ton) in one trip, and the party made its way back out of the anthill. They passed by a flurry of activity as the ants had discovered the bodies of the theieves and were cleaning them up. They had little trouble climbing out, and an hour or so of hard labor restoring the gold to the wagons and covering it with the iron ingots.