At the Water's Edge
A number of up and coming figures of Solace are approached by Deryck Thacker, an adept of the Holy Citadel, to aid in a ritual. Each person is to represent an aspect of the Eight in the elaborate ritual of Raise Dead. Deryck Thacker seems amiable enough as he leads the group out of Solace. He makes reference to his notes a few times en route to find the way and after a couple of hours the group arrives at a beautiful meadow with a large lake. Once set up at the water’s edge, the ritual goes smoothly. With a few hours still left before sunset, the elf Able Truesense is returned to life.
As the group prepares for the return journey to Solace, Deryck seems quite pleased. He speaks for a while with Able in regards to some negative effects he will feel as a result of the ritual. It becomes clear that Able does not know Deryck nor how he became the lucky recipient of such a powerful ritual, but both Deryck and another ritual participant, an elf called Leofwin Halifax, seem to pay special attention to Able. When most of the preparations are completed, Deryck is discussing some pleasantries with the young girl who represented Air in the ritual, Hali. Also nearby is the stoic Dustin Torsvik, a Folk defender who stood for Earth in the ritual. Suddenly, the breeze brings a fouled smell of mildew and rot and the water of the lake rapidly recedes while a couple of puddles form at the feet of those nearest the water’s edge. Dustin appears to melt into mud while Hail evaporates into a vapor of steam. Deryck cries out in absolute terror, and as he does so, water gushes from his mouth. He continues to scream as water pours from his eyes and ears, ripping out through his skin. Parts of Deryck melt away as other parts explode into water vapors. Soon there is nothing left of him but a large puddle that quickly coalesces inward and rears up – a cold and viscous monstrosity.
During the combat that ensues, the mud that was once Dustin moves to protect others and the steamy vapors that were once Hali move as if to heal those most recently wounded. Unfortunately in their current states, they are more hindrance than help. On the other hand, the watery creature that burst out of Deryck is quite malevolent. All those nearby jump forward to slay the monster; Roj Hamilin deals a killing blow with his sword which causes the watery form to lose its shape and splash to the ground. As everyone recovers they discover that Dustin, Hali and Deryck are all missing. The water of the lake and the puddles that were once their companions are quickly draining down to reveal two mud encrusted towers at the bottom of the lake.
Following the last of the draining water towards the tower shapes in the lake bed, the party discovers that the towers are actually atop an old building that lies further below the muck. Moving in through what was once a window, they spot movement of some amphibious creature scuttling off down some stairs. Exploring the old Sanctuary, they encounter the remains of a bullywug tribe. Most of the others must have been able to escape before the water receded. The second tower reveals an old and wicked torture chamber that apparently could be filled with water. The victims were chained to the floor just out of reach of the waters’ surface. Finally back to the front of the Sanctuary, a long stairwell filled with scything razors and twirling blades leads to a large auditorium with a raised dais in the center. Upon it lie three bodies – Dustin, Hali and Deryck. Floating menacingly over the bodies are ghostly figures in ceremonial robes.
The young adventurers fight hard to destroy the malicious spirits and are ultimately successful. Both Dustin and Hali appear to still be alive but unresponsive to the party’s basic attempts to revive them. Deryck , though, is quite a dead ; a gaping sword wound across his middle. Strangely though, his skin has turned a light pale blue. Upon his death, the Spirits marked him. There may be more he is meant to do in this world. Soon enough it is discovered that the water is slowly returning from the depths surrounding this old structure. The party gathers the bodies of their friends, any items of interest and a few quick sketches and notes on some strange symbols on the dais. They leave the old Sanctuary, climb out of the lake bed and make a camp as it is now quite late. In the morning, the lake has refilled and the meadow is once again calm and beautiful.