HUNTER SPIDERS

These surface draw, believinB they have been forsaken by
their Underdark-dwellinB kin, lurk in the darkened reaches of
Harken Forest_ The poisonous intriBues ofErelhei-Cinlu pale
in comparison to the effort these draw will undertake in their
desire to return home.
Although they are primarily Underdark dwellers, drow
have been known to send raiding parties to the surface
to capture slaves and partake in all manner of intrigue.
Erelhei-Cinlu, an infamous draw city, lies many miles
below the Nentir Vale. Until recently, the two areas
were connected by a tunnel that surfaced in the Ogrefist
Hills. Three years ago, the tunnel collapsed a mile
underground. The draw suspect that burrowing umber
hulks might have triggered the collapse, and attempts
to reopen the tunnel have been hampered by the hulks
and other creatures. For whatever reason, the drow
houses ofErelhei-Cinlu have made only half-hearted
attempts to clear the passage. This situation has proven
problematic for a draw raiding party that has been
trapped on the surface since the tunnel collapsed.
The raiders, calling themselves the Hunter Spiders,
are members of House Despana. Upon discovering that
their road to Erelhei-Cinlu had collapsed, they made camp in the Ogrefist Hills, fully expecting the tunnel
to be cleared. After months of waiting, they became
convinced that Erelhei-Cinlu had abandoned them,
and they headed east into Harken Forest. This decision
was especially hard for the group’s leader, Ti’irtha,
the daughter of House Despana’s matron, Ilmirinza.
Ti ’irtha’s consort, Vhaelor, suspected that the forest
might contain another passage connecting to a major
Underdark artery called Torog’s Highway, because
Harken Forest had witnessed many skirmishes between
the elves, the eladrin, and the draw, and Vhaelor
believed there was a tunnel to the Underdark hidden
somewhere within. Ti ‘irtha turned to Lolth for guidance,
and the goddess led her to a corner of Harken
Forest known as the Spider haunt Thicket.
Temporary Home: North of the King’s Road, the
leafy boughs of Harken Forest grow thorny and dense.
Within, the Spiderhaunt Thicket is overgrown and nigh
impenetrable. Amid the thorny brambles lie the ruins
of ancient elven settlements, many swarming with
arachnids or haunted by undead fey. Though they range
far and wide, the Hunter Spiders call Spiderhaunt
Thicket their temporary home, skulking among the
ruins in search of hidden passages to the Underdark.
This effort would be long and tedious were it not for the
fact that they have captured numerous slaves.
Slaves and Demons: The Hunter Spiders haunt
the King’s Road, snatching travelers between Fallcrest
and Harkenwold. When armed patrols make it difficult
for them to carry out this tactic, the drow head north
and set up ambushes along the Trade Road between
Fallcrest and Thunderspire, although they face stiff
competition there from the Raven Roost bandits (page
90). When pickings are slim, the Hunter Spiders are
not afraid to creep into Fallcrest’s outlying farms under the shroud of night and snatch people from their beds.
Rumors of"white-haired demons with obsidian skin"
keep many people cowering under the covers all night.
Ti’irtha the Werespider: Control of the Spiderhaunt
Thicket did not come without a price. Shortly
after the Hunter Spiders arrived in the gnarled grove,
Lolth saw fit to test them. Exploring the grove alone,
Ti’irtha and Vhaelor discovered a small shrine to the
Spider Goddess in one of the ruins. Ti’irtha murdered
Vhaelor and spilled his blood on the spider-shaped
altar as an offering. Rather than show her the way
home, Lolth transformed Ti’irtha into a werespider,
which allowed her to assume the form of a hideous
black spider.
Small in Number: The Hunter Spiders have managed
to survive on the surface without losing more than
a few members. Still, they number only twenty-four,
including Ti ‘irtha. A handful always remain in Spiderhaunt
Thicket, overseeing the slaves while the others
set ambushes. The first hint of trouble for beleaguered
explorers in the area likely manifests as an enveloping
cloud of darkness. Before the prey can spot the
darklasher lurking in the trees overhead, masses of
summoned spiders swarm over the victims, using poisonous
fangs to deliver a multitude of bites. Suddenly,
only the hardiest are left standing. These unfortunates
are quickly brought down by the stinging lash of
razor-edged scourges, hauled off with the other broken
survivors, and quickly put to work scouring ruins for
signs of hidden tunnels to the Underdark.
The Hunter Spiders are willing to negotiate with
anyone who claims to know the location of a passage to
the Underdark. However, Ti’irtha is no stranger to the
art of deception, and she expects proof before upholding
her end of any bargain.

HUNTER SPIDERS

Saving Darkvale NickPassaro