Ivan's vision swam with a mass of legs and clicking mandibles, the ants closing in on him
from every direction. "You said that they would be easy to kill!" he snarled, lashing out with
his whip. A deft move caught up 4 of the Bloodant's legs, bringing it to the ground. With a
cry of "Crunch!", Zildjian pounced on the downed arthropod, nearly cleaving its abdomen
from its thorax with his Viking longsword.
"One at a time they are harmless," Ama replied with considerably more cool than her
companion, "but perhaps it was unwise of us to disturb the nest." She nocked an arrow in
her bow before swinging it upwards and firing it into the sky. Ivan gave her a puzzled look
before quickly turning his attention to one of the Deathants summoned by its larger
brethren. He had to keep them from breaking through their front line of defenses, since the
support crew had a tendency to get...distracted.
"Pain!" Zildjian flailed his arms as a Bloodant clung to his back, probing with its mandibles
for something fleshy to chew on between the plates of his armor. A fine frost began to
accumulate on its antennae, distracting it long enough for the landsknecht to throw it to the
ground and kick it away. Mike cursed himself for not paying more attention during the "Ice"
module of his alchemist studies before noticing that the swordsman was limping due to a
gash in his right leg. "Shouldn't you maybe, uh, maybe do something about that?" he said,
directing his comment at the party healer.
Elsa, sitting cross legged on the forest floor, didn't even look up from her copy of "1000
Useful Tonics and Elixirs". "He'll be fine, I immunized him earlier". Mike was about to
resume chanting ("Bane of beasts, thy frosty...how did that go?") when a chittering sound
drew him to his senses. Spinning to face the sound, he found himself face to face with a
particularly large and thorny ant. Before he had time to panic, there was a faint whistling
sound, followed by a sickly crunch; the Bloodant was pinned to the ground by the arrow
Ama had sent up earlier. "Smash!" Zildjian finished it off, shaking globs of ant-goo from his
sword. Elsa idly waved her hand in his direction and his wound started to close of its own
Ama's smugness began to wear off and she calmly appraised the situation. They'd killed
almost a half-dozen ants of varying size and ferocity, but a telltale rustling in the
underbrush told her that there were more of them waiting in the wings to join the fight.
"Perhaps it is time to consider a tactical withdrawl," she said, indicating an opening between
the trees that was free of insects.
"But if we run, we lose our reward!" Ivan already had less combat experience than his
comrades, a sensitive subject that drove him to reckless decisions on occasion.
The survivalist showed no trace of emotion as she returned his look. "If we stay, you can
use the money to plan your own funeral." Zildjian grunted his approval of the plan, threw
Elsa over his shoulder and began running into the woods. Ivan followed reluctantly, trailed
first by Mike and then by Ama, who was attempting to efficiently conceal the party's tracks.
They crashed through the foliage for 10 minutes, the sounds of their pursuers distant but
"Stop!" Ama's warning came just in time to keep Zildjian from careening over the edge of a
pit into unknown horrors below. Elsa turned the page and continued reading, slung over his
"It's a dead end," said Ivan, whose bravado was gradually giving way to common sense.
"We can't go any further and we can't go back. Mike, get us out of here!"
The alchemist stood on one foot and started fidgeting. "Warp, right? Yeah, uh, I know that
one. It's, uh, oh wait..." He sat down on his haunches and started drawing figures in the
dirt. "What's the arccosine of negative one?" Ama noticed that the limbs of nearby trees
were shaking slightly; they didn't have much time. She pulled an arrow from her quiver and
"Hurt?" Ziljian shot Ivan a quizzical look and drew his sword again.
"Yeah, big guy, looks like it's time to go to work," he replied, uncoiling his whip.
All at once they were upon the party! Mandibles gleamed as Ama saw herself reflected in a
dozen pairs of compound eyes. Mike looked up from his drawing - "Oh, right, it's Pi!" There
was a flash of purple light and the scene dissolved, reforming itself into the alleyway next
to the pharmacy in Etria. The explorers dazedly put away their weapons and sat on the
cobblestones to catch their breath.
"Today, I think you learned something," said Ama. "Tomorrow, it is we who will have the
advantage." No-one said anything, and the only reply was the crinkle of parchment as Elsa
turned another page in her book.