Read previous installment here. This short session is the resolution of the combat that began at the end of the last...
Day 5 – continued [investigation in 1707, plains, favorable weather, random encounter in the afternoon]
Posidonios is ensnared! The wires cut into his flesh – and, alerted by his screams, the inhabitants of the place crawl forward… Four grotesque, goblinish figures, their wrinkly sky parchment dry and spotted. Some are emaciated and skeleton-like, some are potbellied. Dry and twisted, like the plains around them. In fact, they seem to have emerged from the barren ground itself.
Duke Seneb and Eucarpus, who are scavenging nearby, also hear the scream, but don’t come running just yet… They approach cautiously, behind the cover of the wreckage. They split up, Seneb circles to the right, Eucarpus to the left, weapons at ready.
The four creatures move closer to Posidonois. They aren’t in a hurry, and savor the kill. “What do have us here?” one of them whispers in a raspy tone. “We have us here some fresh meat,” the others reply in unison. They bare their pointy teeth. Posidonios screams.
“Get away from him!” shouts Eucarpus and rushes forward, brandishing his scimitar. The creatures are startled, and turn towards the fighting-man. “Well-well-well…” intones their leader. “Say, intruder, if you like our place so much, why don’t you just… stay with us? F o r e v e r . . .” The creature’s yellow eyes light up with an uncanny suggestive force. The mind of Eucarpus bends to the demonic will. “Y-yes, I wish to become one with the dust,” he mumbles.
Duke Seneb jumps out from his cover and mutters a string of syllables in an alien language. A cone of clashing colors erupts from his outstretched left hand. Eucarpus and the four monsters cry out in pain, cover their eyes, and fall to the ground. Duke Seneb runs over to Posidonois and tries to free him, but the wires of the snare are hard to cut. Knowing that the duration of his spell is limited, Seneb instead starts slashing the throats of the unconscious monsters. The ground swallows the black ichor instantly, without a trace.
But one of the creatures regains consciousness and raises up, blood splurting from its neck. It lunges at Seneb, but misses. “Get him,” he gurgles, and, to Seneb’s surprises, Eucarpus, who is by now also conscious and standing, charges Seneb. Seneb deflects the blade at the last minute and starts backing away. Posidonios, although his movements are hindered, tries to throw himself at Eucarpus, but the wires pull him back and he falls. Seneb faces two enemies alone – and one of these enemies used to be his comrade. “Snap out of it! It is me, Seneb,” he shouts as he tries and fails to hit the monster. But the charm is too strong, and Eucarpus cannot overcome it. “Must… kill the intruders… the sacred place must not be polluted,” he mumbles and buries his blade deep into Seneb’s body. Posidonios manages to free one of his legs, and kicks Eucarpus – who loses balance and also drops to the ground. This gives a bit of space for Seneb, and the Duke delivers a final blow to the last remaining monster.
“What happened?” gasps Eucarpus. A terrible hypnotic weight lifts from his mind with the death of the last creature. His two comrades are bleeding or bound. The bodies of the four monsters rapidly desiccate before their very eyes.
Duke Seneb shrugs, and tries to staunch his bleeding. Then together they free Posidonios. “Creatures of dust, the very soil of this wretched land,” Eucarpus verbalizes the weird phrases that still echo in his head. Then he points at a hole in the ground. “This is their burrow…” The underground hole hides a small hoard of 4,000 copper scales and a silvery metal diadem. This last object buzzes slightly when touched, and arcane glyphs light up on its inner surface. None of the adventurers feel up to the task of trying the diadem on… so this artifact will have to be identified at a later time.
For now, they set up camp in the cover of the wreckage and wait for the night to fall…
Notes: the generator gave me "spotted Dryads" with a Reaction of 2 - Hostile, so this is where I took it. Murderous barren plain dryads.
To be continued!