Delban. Are you kidding me? According to the Revelations, “Delban might surprise the star-gazer with an impromptu flare”. And this alien sack of eyeballs hitched his cart to that sparkler? I’m not even sure it was Delban he was channeling. The green light made me think Gibbeth. If it was Gibbeth, that’d be something to worry about. I’ve always had a soft spot for Khirad myself, which “sometimes reveals secrets and gruesome insights.”
I’ve gotten ahead of myself though. I need to tell you about the children first. Screaming, wall- and ceiling-crawlers that acted like zombies while looking relatively uncorrupted, despite the possibility that they’d been here for centuries. We found the bodies first. In some area that they used as living quarters, they were all stretched out on their bunks in some kind of faery-story sleep. Essentially dead. But when we terminated the lockdown stuff started to wake up. Most of it supremely nasty. The kids were no different. The girl with the psychic-sonic scream seemed to be their leader, so I suggested focusing on her. Escher spent a lot of time healing up from the zombie smackdown. After the fight he looked so spent that Gaaki suggested we rest overnight. That leaves us with two days to find the dragon egg, based on what we know of the prophecy. While we rested I went through my spellbook and swapped in some new tools.
We found a holy book of Pelor in this room. It was well hidden in a locked box built into the wall. Some notes on various verses inside. Archaic references. It’s about the only sign of faith we’ve seen in this place. Of course, some of the things we’ve seen have made me reconsider the potential value of faith. I know some divine spellcasters that can do some useful stuff, but the auras permeating this place suggest they’d have to be able to do a lot more than bless me to make me safe. Nothing beats a good punch to the brain.
One of the journal scraps that we found mentions “Grue”. He was apparently one of the brighter “apprentices” here at the “Favd Facility”. In his room we found a picture, possibly taken in the observatory, of him and an older man. After all the confusion I’m going to have to sift through my memories carefully to see if the cranky old sot we later found in the observatory is the same man. The picture contains a calendar, and Escher was able to decipher a bit of their date-marking system. The picture is from their year, 226. One of the journal scraps is dated 229, and refers to the attack sometime in 227. Then there’s the journal entry from 398! That’s 171 years after the “attack”. Looking at the scraps, they could actually be written by the same person. Whatever star this guy sold out to, part of his pay was apparently a long life. After looking over his corpse, I’m not sure it was worth it. He’s got eyes in places people have no business looking.
I jumped ahead again. Sorry. I have to introduce you to Edward Lagar before we visit the observatory. Edward was trapped in the theater. Still is. Or rather, what’s left of him. Turns out Eddie tried to play his team for profit. Sold them out. Apparently to the “High Overseer of Facility Reet”. He got double-crossed and Reet got Favd’s research. Given the necrotic auras, animated corpses, and flesh-eating beetle swarms, I’d say Favd’s research is not the sort of thing we need more of in the world. Eddie says “enable the field and contain the artifact” so he’ll rest in peace. Makes me think the sparking we saw around Lord Ceross’s monolith may be some kind of containment field. Without it, the facility is permeated by the necrotic aura and corpses are animated. How the dragon gets mixed up in this, I’ve no idea, but I suspect that’s why ol’ Cloudchaser “delivered” the egg here. Fight the fire at the source and all that.
As soon as we read about the observatory, I wanted to go there. I’ve tried to hide my eagerness. When we finally get around to it we find the door has recently been torn out of the wall. And there is a crazy guy rifling through his notes inside. And he shouts at us to get out. When we don’t oblige, he starts throwing furniture at us. With his mind. Now that seems like a useful trick. Then he animates some orc corpses. Another good trick, but just necromantic. Not nearly as intriguing. We’re battling it out with orcs and dodging flying furniture when he sparks off a lattice of crystals arranged about the room. Focusing a beam of green light into a power source of some kind and bathing us in a really unpleasant aura. He says it is Delban’s light, but (like I said before) I think it’s really Gibbeth he’s gotten ahold of. He doesn’t seem interested in chatting about it. I try to hit him with a Sleep spell, but he shrugs it off like I’m a two-bit hypnotist. Bitch.
I figure out that taking the crystals out of the lattice might short circuit his aura. He gets really agitated about that. I’m still young enough that I enjoy annoying “adults”. And his “I’m a mighty entity” bit is getting on my nerves. Gaaki, Rage and especially Escher are beating on him, which gives me an opportunity to play with his toys. I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to get the crystal out of it’s container though. And, while I’m distracted by that, the situation is deteriorating. Our host has transformed himself into some eye-encrusted alien. I think I’ll call him “Blinky” from here on out. Blinky keeps reanimating the orcs (or what’s left of them after Gaaki and Rage get through.) I finally give up on the crystal. Escher steps in, and I try to get cover from the light, so I can hit Blinky with a punch to the brain.
Sir Daniel is rushing around making sure we still have the will to fight. He’s quite the cheer-leader. Gaaki hung a table over one of the crystals, which is pretty effective at shutting down part of the aura. Shadows, in this case, are our friends. I hop into a shadowy hideout that, based on the journal scraps, probably belonged to Blinky’s “companion”. Blinky is not happy about my choice of shelter. I figure anything that makes Blinky unhappy is good. I tell him, “my star is bigger than your star!” He says, “nuh-uh!” We’ve unloaded just about every trick we know on this guy. He’s returned the favor. Finally I get a phantom bolt into him that finishes him. As he’s expiring he assures us that Grue knows we’re coming.
Somewhere, perhaps beyond the partially-disassembled door to the dome room, there’s a dragon’s egg ready to hatch. And Grue. That name is oddly familiar to me. I remember a book, a history of some empire of sorts, that talked about grues.
“The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its favorite diet is adventurers, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its fear of light. No grue has ever been seen by the light of day, and few have survived its fearsome jaws to tell the tale.”