Shattered Star #51: A Worsening Affliction

At the end of last session, we left our heroes after they’d just reached the top of the final escarpment barring their way to the centre of the island. The large square building was within their sight, when they got distracted…

The Shattered Star

 

A strange silvery glow emanated from behind a low stone wall and the adventurers felt compelled to investigate. Within the wall’s bounds they discovered seven pools full of a thick, viscous silvery liquid upon which floated a multitude of tiny black motes.

Nearby, a pile of 20 or so corpses was neatly stacked near a tiny plaque. The corpses were clearly those of villagers from Blackcove based on their clothes and hideously ugly appearance. All had been killed by a blow to the head. Narfu investigated the corpses and discovered another stone plaque nearby. Both were written in Ancient Flan and the redoubtable monk could not read it. Luckily Sarif could and he quickly determined the plaques described a ritual of sorts through which ancient teachers could be called forth from the pools to give a lecture on matters esoteric.

A brief discussion followed and eventually the party decided to enact the ritual. This Narfu did by thrusting a hand into the silver liquid and calling forth a teacher’s name. In front of the party, one of the silver pools began to move in a most deliberate way and a huge silvery blob rose from the pool. In short order it had formed the simulacrum of a learned man who then gave a stunningly boring—and long-winded—lecture.

After half an hour, the lecture concluded as the silvery man subsided back into the pool. However, this seemed to trigger another effect and a large silvery blog emerged from the pool and moved to attack!

Quick as a flash, Narfu dropped into a defensive crouch and Zainnis shot it. Instead of damaging the strange creature, the arrow cut it in half creating another identical blob! This caused consternation among the party until they released that bludgeoning weapons did not have the same effect. Shortly thereafter, one of the blobs caught Thaladan in its silvery embrace and began to crush the life from the heroic paladin. As his friends rushed to assist, Grooble’s eagle companion swooped into attack. It claw attacks, however, nearly caused disaster when two more blobs resulted from its strikes. Where the party had fought one opponent, they now faced four!

Meanwhile, Sarif—lurking at the back and taking no real part in the battle—got the sense that something unseen was lurking in the surrounding area. Casting his dust of appearance into the air, he discovered a will-o-wisp hovering nearby. Warning the party, he tried to shoot it with an acid arrow, but missed. In retaliation, the wisp—now visible—badly injured him before darting off into the ruins.

Back at the pool, Karelia had grown tired of the battle. She hurled two fireballs in rapid succession at the creatures and this destroyed three of the brutes, but also killed Grooble’s eagle. Then, the battle took a strange turn as both Grooble and Thaladan used their healing powers to restore their friends to health. Sadly, they both managed to catch the remaining creature within the effects and the battle raged on.

However, by now the creature was badly outnumbered and the party had its measure. Without too much difficulty they slew the beast.

As the sounds of battle faded, two things happened. Sarif was assailed by crippling stomach cramps and the dwarf could feel his internal organs seemingly shift within his torso. As he gasped in pain, eleven will-o-wisps appeared in the air around the party.

Despite this, for some reason, panic did not ensue and most of the party restrained themselves from their baser, more atavistic reactions. Sarif tried to shoot another will-o-wisp, but missed and in return it shocked him before darting away. Seeing the entire swarm had not attacked, Grooble cast comprehend languages and determined they were muttering between themselves. However, he couldn’t make out what they were saying.

Realising that to continue was madness, the party wisely retreated back to their boats. Worryingly, the wisps followed them, but did not attack.

Eventually back at the boats, Zainnis discovered tracks in the sand that suggested several dog-sized crabs had been scuttling about the beach. This was clearly not a good place to rest.

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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