The party began the session by leaving the caves and returning to the town of Dewton, where they run a small business (they own a tavern). They sent Aeon, the witch into training so she could level up and she returned with the ability to use magic and not just mix potions and some knowledge of superior potion making. Torvig, the dwarf, got his dagger identified and it turned out to be an enchanted dagger +1, so he gave it to Aristcritus, the low level thief. They then hired two henchmen to accompany them back into the cave system: Soc Kal (a humble woman wielding a bastard sword and wearing, of all things, a chain bikini) and Eirronsand (a foolish man with lots of energy who wielded a mace and wore chainmail).
On the way to the cave, the Gnoll shapeshifter transforms back into his Gnoll form and gives Eirronsand a real shock. He had already insulted Gnolls, back in the tavern where they met him, by calling them hyena headed idiots. Luckily for him, this Gnoll hadn't taken offense at that. Back at the cave entrance, they leave their wagon, and all their possessions on it, in the hands of their new hench-lady Soc Kal. Risky for someone they've only just met! Within the cave, Eirronsand insulted the dwarf when Torvig tried to tell him to be careful; that he had lost a foot to one of the beasts down here, but Eirronsand was undeterred, saying dwarves have tiny, fragile ankles. Later, he also insulted Railia, too, but she too choose restraint.
They re-enter the cave system proper, rapel down the ropes they hammered in with iron spikes, and continue their exploration. The bodies of the giant ants they had slain, and the giant beetle, are gone, but Railia cannot find any blood trail, even with her tracking skill, so they set off to explore at random. They find many passages that the dwarf notes slope downwards and backtrack each time til they have come across a cavern which a gigantic stag beetle, intent on eating them, emerges from.
A battle commences!
The elf fires rays of frost out of her finger tips into the beetle!
All is going well, until Raila joins the fight in close quarters and has her stomach ripped apart by the gigantic beetle. She collapses foward, dead and the beetle is hammered into oblivion by the remaining party members. Then, they cut the beetle up and carry bits of it with them in case they run into any giant ants.
Exploring a little deeper and hopefully to get some more gold, it is not long before the party happen across a giant mantis devouring four giant ants! The creature turns to regard them with malevolent, alien eyes and the party panics! They drop the pieces of the giant beetle and retreat quite a way. They are not followed.
They begin to make plans for how to defeat the giant preying mantis, knowing full well it has just slain four giant ants so it must be powerful. During the planning Aeon interrupts, explaining that she has phobia of insects and wants no part in fighting a giant preying mantis. The party agrees to leave her out of the battle, makes a plan involving burning oil and a bunch of spells, then prepares to fight.
The party move in on the mantis, intent on its death!
Eirronsand proves the bravest, fighting against it alone until he is joined by Torvig. The two thieves are scaling the walls and throwing shurikens into the beast, which turns its attention on the dwarf and scythes through his armour as though it were paper.
Tarantio joins the fight after the throwing the mythical Hammer of Dawn at the creature and also takes a heavy beating and is knocked backwards by the force of the injuries. Frantically drinking healing potions, both the dwarf and the cleric try to recover some of their strength, while their henchman Eirronsand is eviserated.
Eirronsand is dead, cut to ribbons by the preying mantis and its scythe like appendages! Tarantio attempts to put the fear of god into the creature with a spell - but it resists. The elf summons a pit viper to fight the mantis, but she can only keep it in this plane of existence for one round - not enough as its strike does not pierce the armour of the beast. Tarantio attempts to delay the mantis with his magic; to make it hesitate at critical moments - and it works!
The mantis bangs its head on Torvig's axe and is dazed - just the break the party needed! The gnoll, who has been battling it with a scythe in each hand, has one of them broken and pulls out his trident to try and stab the beast. Then, he switches to his net and tries to net it, but alas, his throw was not on target and it fails. Desperately, he throws his broken scythe at the beast - and decapitates it! Finally - the giant mantis is defeated.
The players decided that they best thing to do would be to retreat back to Dewton and sell their loot to raise two thousand gold pieces to have Raila resurrected. They make just enough and she comes back to life - but with a disorder. She now has an under the bed fetish, meaning she will never sleep on a bed, only under it! Still, it is much better than never learning anything, which was what she had been afflicated with the last time she was brought back to life.
In addition, they drag the carcass of the mantis to the smithy and ask if any armour could be made from it; Giles says yes, names a price but they cannot afford it yet. However, he agrees to preserve the body for much less and will make them a suit of armour that is stronger than platemail when they can afford it later.