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It was a lovely day in the Spiderhaunt – the sword spiders played BWV 1043 on their swordy arms, the phase spiders phased about in lovely patterns, the ettercaps just stood around and looked gross, and so on. It was as lovely as a giant-spider-filled forest could be.

“The ground of the Spiderhaunt is sanctified and prepared” boomed an unpleasantly unholy voice, “Let the Massacre begin!”

Those words marked the start of Emnon’s Valentine Massacre. A ceremonial annual event that celebrated the more pleasant parts of Valentine’s Day, like murdering everyone around you.

The participants who arrived were plentiful, varied, and bloodthirsty:
Lumhol the Wight, Noirra the Paladin, Qijikai the Shaman, Niekofet the Paladin, Quinloc the Assassin, Bellin the Warrior, Rastensol the Warrior, Llyion the Thief, and Eioda the thief.

Of the divines present to witness the event were both Emnon and Panmorne.

As the crowd gathered in the Spiderhaunt, a few fiery words already started being exchanged. Emnon, speaking of Lumhol’s pending arrival, stated “The Wight comes”, followed almost immediately by Rastensol’s comment “Dibs!”. But despite the contestants being ready to rumble, they held their hand, as Emnon said that “Even a Massacre has to have standards”. Truer words were never spoken.

With the total gathering complete, the rules were spoken by the Unspoken: “Now, you will have time to scatter into Spiderhaunt –“. The rules had to be paused, as two particularly excited participants, both Niekofet and Qijikai, dashed out into the woods. Who needs rules if you have passion?
The unimpressed undead yelled for them to return, “Not yet!”. As they regathered, he continued: “You will scatter, and have time to prepare within. Leaving the Spiderhaunt is forfeit. No one is to take anything from the fallen corpses. You may find suitable alliances of whomever you want, and the last person standing is the victor.” With those words, excited discussion began anew.

“Now look, no everyone killing me, okay folks?” said Lumhol the Wight.
“A thief in the wilderness? Hardly fair” offered Llyion the Thief.
Turning to Lumhol, Bellin offered comfort, saying “Yer already dead, shut it”.
Emnon interrupted the party with the command to disperse and prepare, which the contestants did.
As they spread into the forest, gathering into minor alliances and discussion, the zealous Qijikai yelled loud enough for all to hear “Those of the Light, know this! Mine and Niekoffet’s mission is pure, only to eradicate the evil and then forfeit! Winners be damned!”. In response to this righteous and holy preaching, Rastensol quickly yelled back “Quitters!”. Emnon clarified for the holy brigade that “There are no forfeits here… Only bloodshed, one way or another, be warned”. After all, who would expect an undead god to play nice?

“Let the Massacre…. BEGIN!”

With those raspy words, chaos broke out in the already chaotic woods of the Spiderhaunt.

Niekofet and Qijikai dived on Lumhol, striking out while repelling his evil with ardent prayers. Lumhol pulled back only slightly, taking refuge in the Ettercap’s Nest while hoping to separate the annoyingly allied lightwalkers. While that did not happen, something else far more favorable did…
“Argh! I’ve sprung a trap!” shouted Niekofet, as he did just that. Impaled, broken, and also simultaneously on fire (that’s just cruel), he still dived at the undead Lumhol!

Lumhol continued to defend himself, fighting both Niekofet and Qijikai, but then his luck worsened. Rastensol the Warrior dived into the nest, immediately trying to hack Lumhol into pieces. Qijikai, seeing the chaos, shifted slightly to blind Eioda the Thief. Eioda, in the mean time, took at strike at Niekofet’s kidneys since he thought having him impaled, burning, and broken wasn’t enough!

As the chaotic fight continued, Niekofet fended his attackers away, striking out at the undead army while heavily focused on Lumhol, who is still attempting to deal with all three attackers.

Despire his attempted resolve, the Wight then took a flurry of blows from Niekofet and Rastensol, finally being finished by a flaming bite from Niekofet’s weapon. And so our first death of the massacre happens!

While unhappy Ettercaps begin to swarm on Qijikai and Niekofet, the targets begin to shift. Rastensol, previously helping the two fight the Wight, stabs out with his dagger and severs Niekofet’s artery. Bright red bursts of blood flow out, its color reminding us of the charm of Valentine’s Day, whether it’s a massacre or not.

Bellin, the height-sensitive warrior, leaps in as well – quickly assaulting Niekofet alongside Rastensol. Niekofet, still tired from his fight with the undead, is unable to fend off the onslaught. Rastensol’s cleaving axe finds its mark, and Niekofet falls dead to the floor. Our second death of the massacre!

Bellin, still hungry for battle, jumps on to Qijikai alongside Rastensol. And how briefly Qijikai resisted, as the cleaving fury of four axes slamming into him was too much – and Qijikai fell to Rastensol’s final strike. Our third death of the massacre!

The holy alliance of Niekofet and Qijikai, then, was broken alongside their corpses. While they did manage to bring down an undead, they fell to those far less dastardly.

Rastensol stepped out from the Ettercap Nest and ran directly into Noirra, who prayed for a flamestrike and found the prayer answered. Llyion the Thief sees the opportunity and joins Noirra against Rastensol, hoping to overwhelm the veteran warrior of Battle. Scuffling then occurred back and forth, filled with slashes, jabs, stabs, and lightning strikes – a glorified cacophony of screams and prayers.

Rastensol redirects, focusing now on Llyion, quickly slashing at his hamstring and attempting to land some vicious underhand strikes with his dagger. These strikes landed true, and Llyion quickly falls dead to the floor before Noirra can save him. Our fourth death of the massacre!

Now Bellin we haven’t mentioned just yet, as he was knee-deep in angry spiders after his previous fights. But having slashes his way through his equally-sized multi-legged foes, he made it to the fight! Pincering Noirra with his axes, he finished Noirra in brutal fashion. And so is our fifth death of the massacre!

Bellin decides to move, attempting to find his next foe. But instead he found something worse in the spider’s hatchery – traps! “Arch! I’ve sprung a trap!” he shouts as his vision blurs, his skin glows, a cleaver strikes into his muscle, a poison needle jabs into him, noxious powder flies at his face, and fire lights his clothes on fire. Karmic justice for his vicious axe-work of the other competitors? Who knows, but it looked pretty painful.

Despite looking like a walking pin-cushion, he managed to find Eioda and attemps to attack her, swinging his fists as hard as he does his axes. Eioda made a tactical decision to take the fists to the face, clearly thinking maybe she could bite off a knuckle or two. Sadly, it didn’t work, and Eioda’s punch-fated death is our sixth death of the massacre!

One competitor has barely been mentioned, for those with skills in observation. Quinloc the Assassin, now sensing his chance, jumps on the weakened Bellin and quickly kills him with a punch, allowing him to experience what Eioda did. Such is our seventh death of the massacre!

And so we have two remaining members of the massacre left un-dead (different from undead, clearly). Rastensol and Quinloc, both so close to victory.

Now, witnesses to this fight had varying recollections. The blows exchanged were so rapid and quick that none could quite count them, or know which fully landed. But all those watching knew this – both competitors were slowly dying. Both so near to death that a stray spider could have, by chance alone, become the true victor of the massacre. With connecting blows, blows of deadly force, missed pincers, broken wrists, and more… the fight continued. The moment became close as Quinloc made a quick withdrawal while bleeding. Had his wound not naturally closed up right then and there, the victory would have been Rastensol’s.

And so this moment seemed to hang in the air. Both competitors so close to death. Both waiting for the other to jump in, for divine providence to shift the field, or for a chance rock to fall and hit the other in the head.

But no, in this situation, the barely-alive Quinloc persevered by the simply fact that a sword spider found its gaze on Rastensol. With its vicious hacking, it made a corpse out of our wood-elf warrior, leaving Quinloc the victory! Such was the eighth, and final, death of the massacre!

With the mummy lord pleased by the blood spilled, and the contestants both glad and resentful, the Valentine Massacre came to a close.

Deep in the Spiderhaunt woods, two phase spiders sat side by side, pondering what they just witnessed. “What the hell was that about?” said the first spider to the second. “Therans”, the other replied while sighing and shaking its many-eyed head, “We’ll never know.”

Winner: Quinloc Han the Assassin

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