High upon a remote, snow-swept mountain, far northeast from the closest human settlement, Arwic, the elf Starrbolt Wanderer looked upon the swirling green portal that led to the Black Death Catacombs. He had traveled here once before, in the company of the warrior woman, Tareese. Back then, the pair of adventurers had not dared to approach the portal, let alone enter, for it was guarded by giant insect-like monsters called olthoi.

Now, Starr listened to the chittering of the two bug guardians that he could see near the portal. "I wish Tareese was here," he confessed to the wind. "Or Vanidar...or anyone."

He raised his Aluvian wand and uttered, "Malar Ealoi." White, magical lights twinkled over him momentarily as he cast a spell to temporarily heighten his skill for enchanting creatures. Lights of various colors glinted off of the fallen snow as the mage cast more preparatory spells: Focus, Willpower, Life Magic Mastery, War Magic Mastery, Armor, Invulnerability, Piercing Protection, and Item Enchantment Mastery. Then, Starrbolt targeted his hooded Faran robe -- the simple cloth garment was the only armor that he wore save chainmail gauntlets -- and cast Impenetrability and Piercing Bane. Further enchanted by magical rings, bracelets, and a necklace, the elf glowed with eldritch energy.

Sighting the nearest olthoi, the elven mage waved his wand and intoned "Equin Opaj." His heart soared as he sensed the spell succeed, lowering the monster's resistance to magic.

"Cruath Quareth," shouted Starrbolt, and a black cone of magic enveloped the olthoi as it charged up the mountainside, making its carapace more vulnerable to bludgeoning damage. Behind his target, Starr noted two more olthoi advancing -- the third from the far side of the portal, unseen before the battle had begun.

"Zojak Quareth," the elf invoked, and a shock wave of magical energy shot from his wand to strike the lead olthoi, now closing fast. It squealed furiously and attacked fiercely with its giant digging claws, shorter eviscerating claws, and mandibles.

Starrbolt battles an olthoi worker at the portal to the Black Death Catacombs.

Starr's mystic defenses deflected all but slight nicking. Focusing on the fight, ignoring the pain, Starrbolt cast another bludgeoning shock wave. But, the bug creature fully resisted the magic spell. From either side, the other two olthoi rushed forth and stabbed. Their fearsome piercing attacks penetrated the elf's magical wardings to varying degrees -- one telling blow drew a moan from Starrbolt.

With elven nimbleness, Starr retreated up the mountainside. Silently he gave thanks for the enchantment of his ring of quickness, which enabled him to break away from the chasing bugs.

Two of the olthoi broke off pursuit and turned back toward the portal. But, the one that Starrbolt had attacked continued the chase. The elf slid to a stop in a snow bank and whirled, already casting a shock wave spell. Immediately, the olthoi was upon him, stabbing repeatedly, drawing more blood. But, the mage's bludgeoning war magic shook the carapaced monster. With one final spell, the olthoi fell, shattered.

Starrbolt cast spells to heal his wounds and rested to regain his strength. Then, he battled the other olthoi guardians. Eventually, he advanced toward the portal.

"One spell more," he murmured. "Quavosh Thiloi." The magic tied Starrbolt to the glowing, green portal, so that he could later return or even bring others.

What say you, elves of Dereth? Shall we gather a party and go to explore the catacombs and hunt the bugs?