While Nikoli sits down to read books and to contemplate his existence, the rest of the team investigates the dungeon. They discover that they are on the main floor of a castle of some kind, with an unidentifiable statue in the atrium and runes on the floor of the adjoining chamber. The runes are used in dark magic associated with the Drow, but they are unreadable to the group.
While scavenging the main floor and the adjacent living quarters, Alrik discovers a set of carved black bracers. Terränis finds an expensive pair of glasses, a black wand with red-gold swirls, and a collection of jewels: 3 onyx, 2 zircon, and 3 other mineral jewels, which look like they will fetch a good price. Meanwhile, Fynn examines the corpse, but if she has discovered anything from her search, she doesn’t reveal it.
The trio ascends the stairs to a chamber that includes a central pit surrounded by four statues. On one side stands Tim the Enchanter (Pander), with a book on a plinth. On the opposite side of the pit stands another plinth, upon which rests a jeweled shield in the shape of a spider.
Alrik stumbles and draws the attention of Pander, who wears an organic blue multi-pointed star amulet and a horned helmet and wields a snake-entwined staff. He calls to his assistant, Tella, who casts a spell at him and unleashes a humanoid owl from its cage. Fynn and Terränis run past Alrik for the cover of a large statue. Alrik knocks the owl-man from the sky, but the bird recovers and attacks him. Terränis illuminates the Enchanter with Fairy Lights. After the Enchanter fails a Hold cast, he withdraws to the back of the chamber.
Tella attacks Fynn with a bolt of light, while Alrik rolls away from the Owl-man and sinks a crossbow bolt into Pander. Fynn attempts to grab the arachnid-shield, but it launches at her as she approaches and she barely manages to knock it to the floor. Alrik delivers a crushing Eldritch Blast to Pander, knocking staff and helmet away and smashing him against the back wall. The controlling spell on the Owl breaks, and he promptly shreds Tella with a talon attack.
Terränis discovers that the shield is an arcane magical object. As everyone watches in horror, the spider shield crawls on to Fynn and wraps itself through her armor, forming a symbiotic parasitic corset that makes her feel lighter. She immediately devours her rations of pizza, chips, and cream soda, then asks for sammiches.
Alrik and Terränis stabilize the enchanter in order to try and get information from him, while the Owl searches Tella as she bleeds out. The team discovers that the Owl man is Qiokh (Chuck), and that he was snatched from the elemental plane of Air by Pander, who Qiokh has now tied up and hung from the altar over the pit.
The three amigos examine the book, which isn’t in a language anyone present can read. However a letter falls from the book, which reads:
“Pander, Our patron will not tolerate much more of your tinkering. Produce results or your lease on the temple and its caverns will be revoked. Even you can be replaced. —T.”
Terränis believes they are in a Drow temple to Lolth, the Drow Spider Goddess. Alrik throws the bound and unconscious wizard over his shoulder and the three descend to the living quarters, where they join Nikoli the Heavily Read and Fynn the Newly Insatiable, who is eating all the sandwiches. They eat, take a short rest, and examine the items they have found. Terränis trades his wand for Alrik’s bracers.
Fynn announces that the Spider around her waist is named Shirley. The group now calls her Shirley Fynn, or Fynn & Shirley, as is their individual pleasure.
When they wake, Qiokh, Shirley Fynn, and Alrik discover that Terränis is now a two-headed dog. The dog snaps at Alrik, who has given him a gentle scratch behind the ear. Terränis changes back into his wood elf form, and reveals that he had been cursed and that his amulet that stopped his transformations no longer works because he has “control” over his shape-shifting. Alrik, feeling very fortunate to still have all his fingers, begs to differ.
Qiokh attempts to wake Tim, but his efforts fail.
Alrik, who has taken to talking to himself, borrows Qiokh’s altar book and goes off to read. The book appears to be a ledger of names and times. The times range between 1 and 12 seconds. When he shares this with the others, Qiokh notes that the last entries in the book match the times it took the last victims to be drained of life by the spider shield currently embedded in Fynn. All of the victims have been male, mostly human or elf, with a few dwarves.
The team becomes conflicted as to what course of action to take next. While Fynn wants to just walk away, the others want to explore the pit below the Temple. Qiokh and Alrik become suspicious of Fynn, concerned that she is possessed by the shield and could pose a threat to them or others. They capture her and threaten to kill her because they cannot tell if Shirley possesses her. She reluctantly reveals that she is a Shadow Thief who is trying to leave the guild.
Faced with a lack of good options concerning Fynn & Shirley, they release her and turn their attention to Pander. They successfully awaken him, but discover that his injuries have rendered him unable to easily communicate. What becomes clear, however, is that either they can give him a quick death now, or his former employers will give him a slow death later. After discovering that Tella’s brother Talon is some sort of Commander and is behind their abduction, they kill Tim quickly and head north from the temple.
As they go, Fynn explains to the group that they are in Amn, where arcane magic is outlawed. The enchanter has been buying prisoners for experimental purposes, including the two arcanists in the group and the druid who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fynn leads, Qiokh flies, Terränis takes his dog form, and Alrik and Nikoli follow.