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ZEITGEIST The Hounds - a Zeitgeist Campaign


Mixed, but mostly.good. One player in particular really didn't like the feeling that there was no chance to "win." On the positive, they HATED Leone,.so are looking forward to a rematch some day. The drama of an NPC being killed right in front of them as a warning had an emotional impact, and the fact that they were able to glean some info from the papers and to retrieve the npc body to get him raised gave a sense that their efforts weren't entirely for nothing helped. They also enjoyed the unfolding mystery of Leone and the shadow man seeming to be familiar with each other and maybe even aligned, but not on exactly the same team or with some rivalry, plus Kell who seemed to be playing all sides and who may have sold the Doctor's location to all three factions. Overall they were really good sessions despite some (planned and intentional) frustration.

I think they enjoyed this more than being tricked and toyed with at Kell's theater. At that one the initial chase (the stolen "baby") made them think there was going to be combat (I did it in combat rounds once they started chasing), so then when they faced overwhelming force in the theater there was that sense of frustration but without as much fun building up to it. It retrospect, I would have done that more as a montage. They did enjoy the tension and internal struggle of deciding to cut a deal with an utter scumbag like Kell, though.

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Session 16 (5-6-21):


We bandaged ourselves up back at headquarters, requisitioned a few new items, and made our way out to our cutter and the night’s activities. We found the wharf we were looking for and held our ship back quite some distance from it. I sent my familiar in high enough that it would be out of their sight but where it could still be helpful in tracking them. At the appointed time, the ship left dock and we followed.

It was a difficult thing with our lights out to safely navigate the waters as well as keep up with our target. But, luck was on our side as we kept up and soon saw another ship up ahead that our target seemed to be moving next to. We thought we had a chance to send Gyldiel in to sabotage their rudders before making our play but, unfortunately, we must have gotten too close as we heard voices on the ships calling out about us. Well… I guessed it was on…

Gyldiel still did his thing and, I hope, disabled the rudders enough for us that these ships weren’t getting away easily.

The tough part is we were still a little too far away to close the distance quickly and we were badly outmanned and outgunned. We took heavy fire and I ultimately decided getting to them as quickly as possible was our only recourse. But, that meant figuring out a way to slow down quickly too… nothing for it I suppose… RAMMING SPEED!

It didn’t quite work out as well as I’d hoped. The luck we’d had with us on the tail was quickly turning to the other side. When we connected on their ships, Vic and Sylvia both were dumped out into the water while none of our enemies met the same fate. They scrambled up and out as quickly as they could but it still felt like hours. The fight was intense. It didn’t seem to be going all that well for us… what can we do...
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Once a year our adventuring group (which started in person many years ago, but now is scattered from Atlanta to Anchorage) gets together in person to play over a long weekend. This will be a long entry, even though it was written later so is a bit less detailed:

Marathon (5-12-21 to 5-16-21):

The fight with the smugglers wasn’t going well. Hopelessness isn’t an emotion I feel but I could see it on my companions face. I’m not sure the moment it happened, but the fight eventually turned our direction and we brought our enemies down and retrieved the shipment as well as a note worth 10,000 gold that was going to be the payment (these were both later held up as Crissilyr claimed they both belonged to them).

The next day, we made our way to McBannin’s mansion to begin the ascent to the top of Cauldron Hill. We were crossing our fingers hoping the skyseer would arrive as we hadn’t seen or heard from him in a few days. Sure enough, about ten minutes after our arrival, he showed up with a retinue of orcs. One was the shaman he told us about who cast the binding spell on Sylvia, Gyldiel and Vic.

McBannin gave us the goat blood we needed to make a ring at the top and we set off. We made it to the top not long before sundown, made our blood circle around some large, man made stones and waited for night to fall.

It was awful. Hideous creatures came out from all over as the skyseer focused on the stars. Luckily they found the blood and followed it around and around. But… that was still nerve wracking. It took a nasty turn when the Shadowman showed up and threw a light into the middle of our camp. This seemed to wake the ghosts up from their blood circle and it was like they saw us for the first time. (This did lead to the discovery of Nevard’s ability to bestow Skyseer Guidance AKA “Sky Guy” which was… awesome)

It led to a fierce fight with monsters that we eventually won but not before the Shadowman got away.

The Skyseer finished his vision which was pretty disturbing as it involved destruction in the city and three figures sitting atop Cauldron Hill. Our allies that had been bound to him had a vision of their own which was about a fire being set in Parity Lake that destroyed Nevard’s nephew’s factory.

In order to get down fast, we lept off the top and Bell cast a spell that floated us down. Not long after arriving at the bottom, a former student at the academy I knew showed up with a military force quite surprised we’d been the cause of commotion at the top of the HIll. McBannin also showed up and led us back to his house to perform the cleansing ritual.

Leaving there, we ran to Parity Lake to see if we could stop the fire from happening. We found two red dragonborn and a few others with a wagon of explosives. They tried to jump us but we took them out and arrested them for questioning later.

After a long night, we slept in, reported back to Delft and went to our office to discuss next steps. While there, a bird came to the window pecking. Letting it in, it was a message from Gale saying she’d meet us and we could follow the bird. Taking her up on the offer, the bird led us to the Cloudwood and to a well known area with a waterfall.

Gale appeared at the top of the falls and flew/floated down to us. She told us she hadn’t been responsible for any of the arsons but admitted to some unspecified illegal activity. She said there was something awful going on and she’d sent Nilasa to find out what. That’s what got her killed. There was a conspiracy of massive proportions going on and much of what we’d investigated the last several days was connected. She gave us a book with a spell that allowed us to cast a divination that would tell us whether there was planar energy nearby. This would help us find locations where bleak gate energy was strong.

When we got back to the RHC, Sylvia and I received a letter from Morgan Cippiano inviting us to breakfast the following morning. We talked to the Wire, our organized crime unit for more info on him and made plans for the next day.

We decided we needed to talk to the Danoran Security Chief again and thought we might want to invite him to sit in on the meeting with Cippiano to show him he should work more closely with us. We found him leaving the embassy and instead of inviting him to the next day’s breakfast, we decided to have the convo now. He took us to a wine bar and gave us some good insight into his personal investigation but also let us know clearly he had too much to lose to continue on. But, he wished us well and we parted on friendly terms.

Sylvia and I made our way to Cippiano while the rest of the crew hung back outside of his territory. It turned out to be a pretty frustrating meeting as he wanted us to release some of his men in a tit for tat since we’d let some of Kell’s men out in exchange for help finding the Doctor. But, Cippiano wasn’t offering anything specific. He wanted us to go first in a show of friendship… not smart on our part if we went for that “deal.” So… no thanks. We left after only a short conversation.

We got word Nevard was planning some kind of rally at midday and we were assigned to attend and keep him safe. Traveling to the location, we cast the planar spell and noticed bleak gate energy leading to a row of warehouses. We also found witch oil bubbling up in small amounts in the middle of the street.

Following it, we found a warehouse with strong bleak readings. Inside was a group of workers shredding paper and a golem guarding them! The golem was really tough. A portal opened in the middle of the fight and the workers jumped in. Finally, after we realized the golem could best be hurt by radiant energy, it fled into the portal itself pretty wounded. We found plans for some kind of cat creature infused with witch oil… not good.

Making our way to the rally, Nevard and some of his posse stepped up on stage and began to speak. But, almost immediately, jaguar creatures infused by witch oil jumped out of portals on wagons and began going after Nevard. Other men in white masks that turned out to be disguised skeletons also attacked. We fought hard and defeated them but Nevard was mortally wounded. He whispered a vision to Vic about needing to evacuate the Nettles as Cauldron HIll was going to blow. Then, he died. Good night sweet skyguy...

Gyldiel stood up and proclaimed to those left in the crowd who hadn’t fled yet what Nevard told us about the Nettles. People, even more panicked, began to run off presumably to tell friends or family in that area.
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Marathon Session, cont.

When we returned to RHC headquarters, Lady Saxby burst into Delft’s office while we were reporting. She was quite angry about Gyldiel taking it upon himself to make the Nettles announcement without first coming back to ask permission. Gyldiel tried to push back and Delft defended him but Saxby demanded Gyldiel turn in his badge.

Sometime later, we found out Delft deputized Gyldiel to help us finish the investigation which Delft fully expected to be fired over for going behind Lady Saxby’s back. It probably wasn’t appropriate but we’d get a lot of enjoyment over teasing “Deputy” Gyldiel.

There was a lot of debate in our group as to whether or not to give immunity to the arsonists for information on who hired them. Vic was particularly vocal about not letting them get away with the murder of so many citizens. Bell and Sylvia were more on the side of how many it could now save… in the end, I mentioned we could maybe have the best of both worlds. If my magic worked, we could potentially get him to talk without giving up anything.

So, we brought him up to a cell and I cast Suggestion after Bell Mind Slivered him… it worked! He spilled the beans and gave us a lot of information including their secret hideout with a letter from whoever it was that hired them.

When we found the letter, it was signed MM and it also matched the writing of a letter the Shadowman had given me earlier. Gyldiel and Vic both connected “MM” to Mayor McBannin. We couldn’t know for sure until we got a sample of his handwriting though and so we traveled to his manor hoping to get it.

He was coming out of his home as we approached and a dance began between us and him. We tried to convince him we were here for his aid and if he could write a letter we could take with us to other authorities, we could help with the evacuation of the Nettles. He, on the other hand, seemed like he knew the jig was up. We went back and forth for a while before another large earthquake hit and a geyser of witch oil burst from the ground into the sky. That’s when he told his employees to kill all of us.

Over the course of the fight, we found out not only that McBannin apparently is a witch (he cursed Gyldiel and centipedes came out of his mouth), but also that he’d cast the binding spell on most of his servants.

Vic and others tried to shackle McBannin while we also tried to take out his people trying to kill us. McBannin was eventually shackled and our enemies scattered. He told us we needed to go down into his lab and “fix” something if we wanted to stop this disaster from occurring. He said the lab was downstairs in a storage shed but we’d need his necklace to “pass through.”

Chaining him to a tree, we found the shack as well as more necklaces carried by a woman killed in the earthquake. It was good we did as the necklaces allowed us to pass into the Bleak Gate realm which housed the lab we were looking for.

Witch oil jaguars attacked us when we got down which turned out to be really bad as they almost took us out. In the end, it was just Bell and I still up. We woke our companions up and Sylvia drank a VERY expensive healing potion and we pressed on.

We found Doctor Von Recklinghausen in a room hooked up to anesthesia. When we woke him up, he didn’t remember anything after he was taken from us. I gave him a sword and we moved on. There was a machine that seemed to be a pump for the witch oil we found pooled below. I can’t tell you much about it but Bell figured out what needed to be fixed and which levers needed pulling in order to stop the impending explosion. But, before we could relax, we heard the lift lowering and the doctor called out someone was attacking us.

It was the shadowman and a couple of thugs. The shadowman turned out to be McBannin’s butler, Cilian Creed. Another tough fight ensued and, at the end, Bell yelled to a hiding Creed that he’d blow the witch oil if he didn’t come out. This got Creed’s attention and he came out just long enough to be knocked into the oil below. But, this was after he recognized Gyldiel and said, “I died because of you!”

With the danger averted and the shadowman dead (hopefully), we made our way back upstairs. I noticed a lab coat with the name Stewart on it… could it be Kaja Stewart? I’d only run across her name on my hunt for the Ragman but with her specialty in extraplanar runes… this would make some sense…

We were disappointed initially when we found McBannin freed from his chains but we later learned he was still picked up by soldiers and imprisoned.

His trial was set for the following day… that was really fast… and we were called to testify. But, when the time of the trial came, there was no McBannin. Fearing something had gone wrong, we returned to the RHC to find it abuzz. Apparently, McBannin had killed himself. When we questioned the guard, he said McBannin smoked a cigarette staring off into space and then casually beat his head against the wall until he was dead. The Spirit medium (who is apparently a ranger) came down and told us something interesting. He said his soul was gone BEFORE he died… what the heck does that mean?

Anyway, Delft told us we’d probably be needed in a couple of days but to lay low until then.


Marathon session, cont. (other projects)

We decided to take that time to help a lizardman we’d run into days before. He was a crazy shaman but, strangely, not only did Gyldiel want to help him… Vic wanted to as well… I’m not sure I’ll ever figure out why “by the book Vic” was so enamored with this quest but it got us out of town for a bit which I think we all really needed.

He led us into the swamp and told us a necklace (Fangs of Oatali) had been stolen and needed to be retrieved. He said a priestess had taken it and many of his tribe were following her now. We had a small fight with a very large snake that I was, unfortunately, not able to charm.

We then made it to his village and I tried to sneak in and steal the necklace without a fight. But, alarms went off (creepy heads on sticks actually) and the fight was on. The leader, wearing the necklace, threw a fireball at my friends and later summoned forth a huge crocodile… yeah take me back to the city please… We defeated them though and took possession of the necklace (It was later decided I’d wear it).

The Shaman said we’d need to take it back to Oatali’s temple. Leading us there, we found an underwater entrance. The shaman promised the temple itself wasn’t underwater, just the front door. Ok… dinosaur fight!

After killing dinosaurs, we entered the temple and found several rooms including one with a multicolored orb. Bell said it was very dangerous and so we avoided it and found a friendly priestess who’d been imprisoned. She said the evil priestess and her guards were down the hall.

We had a short fight with the guards and then found the priestess in the inner sanctum of Oatali’s temple. She was a VERY tough foe. It turned out she was yuan-ti like me and she did not like me at all. She kept calling me a traitor which could have something to do with the necklace I’m wearing… or maybe something else.

After finally taking her down, I placed the necklace upon an altar and an image of Oatali appeared. She thanked us for helping and then gave each of us a blessing… very cool. She also made Asi sprout a rainbow pattern and identified him to me as a couatl… also very cool.

And that was that. We returned to the city. Gyldiel was reinstated but assigned “special duties” away from our team. Delft was suspended for a month. Sylvia was reassigned to a different team looking into accounting fraud… gross. And, Saxby had us start directly reporting to her.

We had some downtime as our new assignments weren’t quite as taxing as our previous ones. So, Vic and I (Bell some too) dove back into the Ragman case. Fortunately, there was a bit of a break as we got word there was a survivor.

We found where they had him and, pulling some strings, got in to talk to him. He didn’t want to talk at first but Vic healed some of his wounds and he settled down. He told us he’d been at a bar and was attacked when he left. He described the Ragman as 5’8 to 5’10, young looking, wearing several layers of tattered clothes… but also carrying a really nice pistol and also wearing really shiny shoes.

We went to look around the bar where he was attacked and almost left without anything until I noticed a crawl space that looked a bit odd. Looking inside, there was a body… It was a couple of weeks old but it was the Ragman’s work for sure. He held an organ in each hand and his entrails were draped around his neck. I didn’t realize I was doing it, but I came to screaming and with my team looking over me. Apparently, the body triggered a flashback to the death of my brother Asi…

That was about all we were able to track down this time but I could feel we were close to catching this bastard...


Conclusion of our marathon weekend:

Chapter 3: Illuminati… I mean, Obscurati?

A few weeks later, Lady Saxby assigned us another crap “case.” We were to work security for the weapons expo which is a month long weapons fair here in the Central District.

We met the head of security on the first day and followed her on a tour of the expo. While walking though, Vic noticed someone tailing us… a red headed woman who Vic said was an expert. We tried to trap her but she saw through it and disappeared before we could find her again.

Later on, we walked through “Gun Alley” and Bell bought a badger gun… which is a really, really literal name… anyway. We also came across what was called a “Nocks gun.” It was incredibly powerful but would knock down a normal person. I had the idea of having it mounted on a wagon… hmmm...

Around that time, we heard screaming nearby. Running to offer aid… awful, weird creatures were attacking people. One was a giant mouth with teeth but no body. Others were flying insects but with elephant trunks and beaks. There was someone with a staff casting spells at them but every time he cast a spell, another would appear.

Fighting without Gyldiel and Sylvia sucks. The creatures came straight at me and despite my best efforts, I went down during the fight. Vic brought me back up and we eventually wore them down but it was tougher and longer than it would have been without the rest of the team.

After the fight, Rock Rackus, famous musician and personal favorite of mine was there. He’d helped kill some of the creatures and so I thanked him, told him to contact us if he remembered seeing anything else and… also if he’d give me his autograph.

RHC showed up a short time later, including Sylvia and Gyldiel, and began examining the scene. The military showed up including Colonel Harlock who taught a class of mine back at the academy. He asked if they could take the creatures and, in exchange, he’d send his report directly to us as soon as he finished. We agreed.

When we questioned the mage with the staff, he told us he’d just bought it from a person. In order to get access to this person, you had to go to a trinket stand and say, “I’m here to buy an anniversary gift for my wife Ethel.” Well… off we went to find this trinket stand...


Session 17 (5-20-21):

Gyldiel was our nominated choice to go to the trinket stand and say the passphrase… he came out with the meet location so I’m sure it went smoothly with no hiccups… :|

But, while he was in there, Sylvia and Vic noticed a boy trying to steal my coin purse from me. Sylvia grabbed him by the collar as I stood there and shook him down. He had two other purses on him… one which contained an iron amulet like the ones we carried allowing one to pass to the bleak gate. She demanded who he took this from and the boy described a man wearing purple pants and other nice clothing.

We found him a short time later and were able to apprehend him. He admitted to being one of McBannin’s house staff who had taken several valuable items from the manor and selling them off to whoever he could. He told us he sold the staff the mage bought to the seller we’re supposed to meet with tomorrow. He also sold her a couple of other items as well. He also admitted the seller is the woman Kaja Stewart… interesting.

The next day we met at the deal location and, sure enough, it was Kaja Stewart. She had a bodyguard with her and so we sent Gyldiel ahead so as not to arouse suspicion. The rest of us hid and I tried to move ahead a bit to get into a better position.

That didn’t quite work as they eventually spotted me. Gyldiel did a good job pretending not to know us though and Kaja was tricked into believing he might actually be on her side.

She had a couple of thugs in hiding who jumped out at us as well as some strange robot creatures that almost looked like dogs but who were very bad boys as they had guns mounted to their heads.

During the fight, the ground was super slick which made it difficult for my companions. Also, Kaja’s original bodyguard turned out to be some kind of automaton that took some of the hits for her she was supposed to take. Nevertheless, we destroyed the dogs, took out the bodyguard, and eventually brought down Kaja after she showed off a number of interesting and powerful firearms.

We arrested both her and Gyldiel hoping he would be able to get something out of her before we questioned her as police. We recovered a sword and an amulet that looked similar to the staff that she, presumably, was going to try and sell to Gyldiel. Let’s see where this leads...


Session 18 (5-27-21):

(Rock’s record label :))

After returning to the RHC and locking both Gyldiel and Kaja up in adjoining cells, we retired for the evening and a nice long sleep. The next morning, we began by splitting up to cover more ground in our investigations.

Sylvia and Vic first went to the Museum of Natural History to ask the curator, Hans Weber, what he could tell us about these Ancient items. It turned out he knew quite a bit about what these were and how they came to be in the city. A dig had been commissioned by a secret benefactor and a person by the name of Xambria Meredith had been put in charge. Sometime in early summer, the 3 items now in our possession were sent back to Flint from the Ziggurat being investigated. Shortly thereafter, Meredith’s team was killed and her benefactor supposedly went missing. Meredith herself, is staying in an apartment mentally recuperating at this time.

Weber went on to say that the items belonged to the university and that he would tell us where Meredith was staying and who her secret benefactor was if we’d return the items. We told him we surely would but they were involved in an active investigation at the moment and we’d have to work out the details.

Bell and I were on fair duty at the time but when Vic and Sylvia came to relieve us around noon, we headed out on our own investigation.

We started with Rock Rackus but… unfortunately… he kind of admitted it may very well have been him who accidentally killed the man in the audience. We told him we’d do what we could but it seemed beyond us to get him released at that point.

When we made it back to the RHC, a couple of constables from “The A Team," another group (the one assigned to MacBannin’s case), approached Bell and I and asked if we could take a walk. They said just us because teams weren’t technically supposed to cross pollinate like this and we could all get in trouble if Saxby found out.

They took us to a warehouse in Parity Lake and showed us a grisly scene of murder. There was a body probably a couple of months old with its head bashed in and a highly advanced golem nearby torn to shreds. There was also an iron ring close as well as amulet chain links like the ones on ours that allow passage through these gates. Also, the dead man had iron spikes that had been bent precisely around his wrists and ankles. Looked like our friend Quital had something to do with this.

Strangely, the golem head was still magical and so Bell grabbed it to research as time allowed.

When we got back to the RHC this time, we left Gyldiel to work on his con while the other four of us gathered and shared our day’s adventures. We also decided to run some tests on the 3 items in a controlled environment to see if they all were cursed or just the staff. Turned out the amulet and sword seemed to work just fine. But, when Bell used the staff again, a different but equally odd monster popped out… or should I say two monsters.

They gave us a really tough fight and I thought we were going to have to call for help at one point but we took them down, stored them in the morgue and prepared to tell Saxby almost everything in the morning.

That night, each of us received a letter telling us to release Kaja “or else.”

Circling back up in the morning, Saxby said she’d put a detail on each of our houses. She also said the museum indeed had claim over these items but that the staff would be stored by the government since it was so dangerous. But, Hans followed through on his promise with Meredith’s address as well as the identity of the benefactor… a man named Caius Bergeron.

Meanwhile, Gyldiel had developed good rapport with Kaja. Lorcan Kell was her current benefactor but McBannin was her boss before. The 3 items all came from him and they had been delivered by a tiefling in early summer (Bergeron is a tiefling). McBannin was not happy the tiefling had come calling it a “breach of protocol” but that was all Kaja could really overhear.

Gyldiel, Vic and Bell took fair duty while Sylvia and I went to chat with Professor Meredith. She told us that her team had explored most if not all of the ziggurat and had come upon the large, golden seal Bergeron had been so insistent they find. Once they did, a team of 3 tieflings and 2 humans showed up. The tieflings were spellcasters which is highly unusual for them.

When they arrived, Meredith claims she returned to a nearby village to restock on supplies but when she came back to the dig site, all of her team were dead and those Bergeron sent were gone. She believes they killed her team and that Bergeron knew about all of it. Strangely, there are gaps in her memory including the exact description of the seal as well as the layout of the ziggurat. She told us Bergeron was famous for commissioning these kinds of digs and that he’d even funded an expedition for Rock Rackus.

She also told us of a theory I couldn’t quite follow her on. She seemed to believe the Ancients perhaps traded with otherworldly beings rather than create the items themselves. She had some good points and she brought up the name, “Egal the Shimmering, Lord of the Golden Legion.”

She seemed very trustworthy but she was also insistent that if we found anything else out, to make sure to come back and tell her. That makes sense as an investigator herself but… she said it three or four times and it struck me a bit wrong. We’ll see.

Bell and I later returned to Rackus and asked him about Bergeron. He did, in fact, remember him and told us Bergeron hired him to go to a ziggurat and look for a large golden seal… interesting… there’s something to this…

Also, while at the fair, the other three got an invitation from Mr. Pemberton to some fancy event in his fair tent that evening. I suppose we’ll see what that’s about...


Session 19 (6-3-21):

The next day Vic mentioned she’d had a visitor the previous night. It was the dwarf who’d been at the fair and accused Rackus of killing the bystander during the attack. He said he didn’t want to kill Rackus but someone was offering a lot of money to see it happen. He said the clan mark on Vic’s arm is what made him decide to provide her this information.

That evening, we made our way to Pemberton’s party. It was interesting. Seems like the real and only reason he invited us was to show off some early model golem like “things” that you controlled yourself. He said the RHC or military might want to think about investing in them. But, seeing as how we didn’t make those sorts of decisions…

We left the party and headed to the real party. Sylvia had discovered today was Bell’s birthday and so we’d arranged a surprise party and I had Graphine invite all of Bell’s family and closest friends. It went well to start. His mom did make a very strange and kind of mean speech about Bell. But, she used the phrase, “Bell’s inner dragon,” which I fully intend to make fun of him over for a very long time.

It got interesting when a man Bell knew challenged him to a duel. Apparently, it’s activity like this that drove Bell to enlist in the RHC to begin with. Bell handled the man with relative ease. He was told never to try this again and the night went on.

Soon after, we learned Delft had been reinstated and we were under his charge again. Telling him everything we’d learned so far but also that we felt we were at a bit of a dead end, Delft told us to “take a vacation” and check out the ziggurat in the High Bayou.

So, we took a train up there and rented a boat in a small, local village. Hours into our journey, we were attacked by Ettercaps and large spiders. But, not wanting to be dinner, we fought them off and gave chase when they ran, not wanting others to fall into their web… plus… maybe treasure… :)

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