Twosday – Satyrday, 23rd – 27th of Midsummer
As Twoday comes to a close, Nikolias leads the Infidels up to the gathering in the Blackcove lighthouse. They were given two options to get there – make the treacherous climb up the path, or wait for a boat to arrive to row them across. Keela decides to fly up the path, while the rest decide to climb. Senkara slips on the damp path, cutting her arm and falling into the water – luckily, Gervus, the keeper of the lighthouse, comes along to row her and Nikolias across. He warns that there are a lot of beasts in the water lately.
All of the inhabitants of Blackcove (numbering, by now, less than forty) are living in the cramped space of the lighthouse. They all look similar to Gervus and Nikolias – pale skin and vaguely fish-like features. The group notices that most villagers are orphaned children and the elderly, and most of them were sick with a rasping, wet cough. Keela determined that the illness was not natural, and was most likely the result of years of seclusion and inbreeding causing a genetic problem.
The villagers hesitantly told the group that Gerlach, the alchemist that they were seeking, had begun visiting the old island of Nal-Kashel off the coast of Blackcove in an attempt to find a cure for the sickness. No one has seen him in weeks, and thick clouds began to form in the bay. Things, some vaguely human shaped, others giant tentacles, began to attack the shore. When asked what was special about Nal-Kashel, the party was told that it is an ancient city with a lot of old magic. It was damaged by the Cataclysm and left mostly alone until Gerlach began visiting it. The villagers then gathered numerous gilded trinkets and jewelry together, saying that if a solution could be found, then they would be willing to give these items in return.
The lighthouse then begins to shake violently, and the stormy weather outside increases. Giant tentacles begin shooting into the windows, snatching villagers to drag back out to the water. The villagers begin to panic, making the adventurers’ attempts to fight the creature that much more difficult. Between attempts to calm the crowd and convince them to move up to the next level and out of the fighter’s way, a few tentacles are severed, quickly being replaced by new ones. In an attempt to slice off another tentacle, Keela gets tangled in one of them, only to be saved by Senkara’s added strength. Enough tentacles are damaged that the monster leaves, prompting the villagers to gather twice the amount of golden trinkets as payment should a solution be found.
Mendsday dawns with the adventurers being brought to Nal-Kashel by Estian, the only villager with any experience near the island. He rows the group out towards “the wedding rock,” where tradition dictates that all newly married Blackcove couples go to consummate the marriage. When nearing the island, Estian violently transforms into a skum, rocking the boat to the point where Keela falls overboard into the giant jellyfish-infested water below. Estian dives in and swims away, leaving the group to pull Keela back to safety before continuing to shore on their own. Upon landing, Keela discovers that the island is tainted with a strange enchantment that will cause the adventurers to change as long as they are on the island. She also discovers a strong enchantment on the wedding rock itself – it essentially drugs the new couple, leaving them free to be mated with to produce new skum, who cannot produce their own offspring. This most likely accounts for the fishiness of the Blackcove inhabitants.
The Infidels climb to the next cliff-face of the island, where they are all tainted by the island’s enchantment – Cedric grows webbed fingers and his limbs grow sore, Keela begins to vomit, Senkara turns pale and fishy like the Blackcove folk, and Alyndra develops the wet, raspy cough that was seen on shore. In an attempt to save time, Keela sends Perin to explore the seemingly desolate island as they group surveys their surroundings. The buildings are in the architectural style of elvish seafaring towns, despite the fact that Nal-Kashel was an inhabited island since before the elves arrived on Aetheron, and the island was obviously once a center for magical learning. Perin returns to tell the group that the missing villagers, the ones pulled into the sea by the kraken-like monster, are on the other side of the island, digging furiously.
The adventurers climb up to the next level of the island, and begin to explore buildings. They find what was once an archive, with floating copper plates inscribed with knowledge of the island and its history. Unfortunately, the building is inhabited by three rust monsters, which almost immediately rust Senkara and Cedric’s weapons to the point of breaking, as well as disintegrating Alyndra’s armor into useless, rusted flakes. They quickly block the doors shut, and reorganize to find a better plan of attack. They reopen the door, manage to kill one of the monsters, but the other two are nowhere to be found – they have circled through a hole in the far end of the dome-like building in an attempt to sneak up on the group. They manage to take down the creatures rather quickly, and continue exploring the room as Alyndra fixes the damaged weapons with successive mending spells. Cedric looks among the floating texts that haven’t been ruined by rust, and finds an early chronicle of Nal-Kashel’s history. The group also finds a book about the Seventh Column, a secret group that was ceremonially drowned for organizing a coup against the island’s masters, as well as an incomplete chronicle of experiments changing humans into fish. A plate of glyphs turned out to be a minor crown of blasting, which went to Keela. They also found a map of the island, which they edited to show its current, half-sunken state. The amount of time currently spent on the island causes Senkara to lose a good portion of her hair as her eyes slide towards the sides of her head, while the rest of the group manages to stave off the worsening effects of the island’s ambient taint.
They exit the building, and notice a group of floating lights circling around the bodies of the rust monsters, as well as starting to circle around Keela and Alyndra. The prolonged exposure to the Night Terror in their systems was causing them to exude a slight panic, which drew the lights to them – they were will o’ wisps, once trapped in glass spheres to serve as light sources on the island but now free. The adventurers offer a trade to the creatures – if they gave information and guidance around the island, then the party would lead them to the many terrified people back in the Bronslaw Flats under the effects of the Night Terror to feed on their fear. The wisps say that Gerlach, who is now a skum, reworked the magical device inside the observatory, called the Orrery, to attack Blackcove. The nearby tower, known as the Growing Ruin, used to be inhabited by a skum astrologer who was the master of the Orrery. He had an ancient amulet he would wear that would help control the Orrery but when Gerlach went to find it, he could not. Gerlach also went often to the Quicksilver Graveyard in the center of the island, to access the power of the old masters, whoever that might be.
The group heads to the Growing Ruin to see what they can find. The tower seems to be growing out of the island itself, constantly shedding shale-like shards that rain down around the base of the tower. The group prepares to run through to the entrance of the tower when they are rushed by a large lizard. They quickly dispatch the lizard, Senkara takes a tooth for her collection, and they bolt to the tower entrance. The find a horn of fog inside, but no amulet – no surprise there, as Gerlach had searched already. Keela decides to cast detect magic, just to make sure it isn’t hidden anywhere unusual, and senses power coming from…inside the lizard. They cut it open and find the amulet inside his stomach. Keela, being the main magic-user, is given possession of the so-called armillary amulet, which provides protection against the Orrery’s affects as well as helps her to understand its workings.
The group climbs up another level of the island and goes to the observatory entrance. The building is empty, and the group decides to wait at the entrance as Keela enters the room so as not to trigger any adverse affects from the Orrery. Once Keela reaches the center of the room, looking at the whirling apparatus above her, two phase spiders appear. She doesn’t have time to react much before she is bitten and poisoned into unconsciousness. Alyndra makes it to her and restores her to consciousness, but Alyndra is affected by the Orrery – she now blinks between the Material and Ethereal Planes, which gives her the advantage of knowing where the spiders are when they phase out of existence. Senkara and Cedric enter the fray, with the Orrery giving Senkara a useful blur effect and leaving Cedric unaffected. Keela uses her ring of second chances to kick the poison out of her system, and then flies up out of reach of the spiders. Alyndra’s blink affect wears off as well, and she also resists the poison in her system. Senkara then triggers the Orrery, causing Cedric to get hit with a bolt of lightning as it misses her. The group sprints towards the entrance.
Now outside of the Orrery chamber, the group thinks they are safe until the phase spiders phase into being at the entrance. They are hit by the circling planetary spheres of the Orrery, and then phase outside of the chamber to bite Keela and Alyndra again. The adventurers kill the spiders, and flush the poison out of their systems yet again.
Keela re-enters the chamber, this time with her companions waiting at the entrance with bows at the ready. She spends the next five hours studying the Orrery with their cover, and discovers that to fix it, they must find a new crystal lens to replace the one that was shattered after Gerlach activated the Orrery. Without it, they could do nothing, as there are no extra lenses to be found in the chamber. The instructions they discover offer no replacement alternatives, merely the council to “ask your instructor for help in acquiring new equipment.” During that time, the group becomes even more tainted by the magical effects of the island: Keela’s organs start to shift and giving her the ability to heal more on every healing affect done to her; Alyndra begins to cough uncontrollably but can hold her breath for twice as long as normal, develops vestigial gills and labored breathing, and gains the ability to temporarily breath water; Cedric’s limbs grow longer as his bones warp, giving him more natural armor; and Senkara (already having transformed earlier) has her newly-positioned eyes to give her better peripheral vision.
The adventurers travel back to shore to rest and recover for the entirety of Foursday and Friday, and then head back to Nal-Keshel on Satyrday to find the equipment they need to stop the Orrery from affecting Blackcove. They land on the shore of the ancient island to have their way blocked by a gibbering mouther. As normal slicing weapons would not do it significant harm, the group had to forgo its usual tactics – everyone, that is, except Cedric, who hit it with his lucerne hammer. Senkara used Dulreep’s wand of acid arrow, Keela used her wand of ray of sickening, and they all hit it a few times. This all went well, until Keela tried to hit it with her staff and got bitten by it. This worried and enraged her comrades to the point where they quickly dispatched it into a puddle of goo.
Today, the 27th of Midsummer, marks six days since the Adventurers left the Bronslaw Flats, and the imperiled people they hope to save.