So a couple of sessions before the events of the flaming warlock, the party had been tasked to investigate strange lights and sounds coming from the masterson estate - about 10 miles north of the village they were currently in.
Having fished the mighty whiskerfish (see Here). The emboldened party marched down the rutted country road for the better part of the afternoon, when they noticed that the sun was setting far too early - and doing it amazingly fast! Moments after it sets behind the hills, it reverses course, and rises back up to midday - before doing it all over again.
Skill checks ensue, and the best anyone can do is that there is an awesome amount of arcane energy permeating everything around them, and spreading slowly from a center - right where they are headed.
With renewed purpose, the party sets out and is at the manor house in minutes! Here at the manor house, things are definitely out of sorts. The ground trembles, and the very air feels heavy as lead. All are struck with a "static" in their thoughts that makes it difficult to concentrate. The house is dark, save for a bright bluish light that seems to emanate from deep within. Occasionally, the tremors rise, and the house flexes and groans like it's alive.
Stealthily making their way through the empty house, the make their way to an observatory on the rear of the building. The light, and frenzied chanting, seem to be coming from within. Worried over what the flickering shadows and shapes might portend, the heroes take positions and kick down the door.
Inside is a scene that takes some description. A large, high-ceilinged room 40 feet wide by 80 feet long. Overstuffed bookshelves lining every available wall. At the back, a large mechanical contraption, seemingly assmembled from equal amounts brass and glass, focuses a moonbeam through a shard of crystal. The beautiful and scintillating rainbow of colors fans out and spins around a circle of runes and computations drawn out on the floor.
Nearby, jarringly out of place, sits a medium sized stained stone altar. It's occupant is mostly out of view, but several slender tentacles extend from it's bowl, dripping bluish ichor onto the floor.
Around the altar is chaos. Above it, a nexus of shaking bluish light pulsates - almost in time with the fan of colors emanating from the crystal. Standing below the light are three grey robed humans. They are gesticulating and chanting frantically, but are plainly exhausted. As they watched, one is struck by a blast of blue-white light from the nexus he was gesturing at. He falls to the ground, joining two others already there. One - a young man with blonde hair, looks up at you through dead, glassy eyes. Blood pooling around his head, as it leaks slowly from his ears and nose.
About this time, two things happen. First, the leader of the ritual notices a bunch of armed intruders in her inner sanctum. And secondly, she stumbles on her incantation. There is an intense blast of light, and a shape begins to...pour into the confines of the ritual circle. A viscous, semi-transparent goo - filled with clotted whitish chunks.
The party springs into action, and gets right on it with learning :) The arcaney types begin analyzing the scene, trying to figure out what is going on. The ritual leader pulls back her hood, and turns out to be a hottie! Slbeit, a hottie about to collapse from fatigue. "Close the rift...break the binder..." and her eyes roll back. In unison, the three mages fall to the ground.
The party flounders around a few moments, trying desperately to plug the pieces together, when the slop in the circle begins to move! It forms long tentacles, and the pieces of matter within are migrating together. Lightning ripples across it's entire body, as it begins casting arcs of purple lightning around itself.
Wherever these arcs strike floor, the floor disintegrates, and a bright blue-white glow can be seen. From the larger cracks more clotted bluish ooze can be seen issuing forth. The party exchanges "oh shit" looks and goes to work :)
The battle is intense. The beast hurls bolts of screaming terror, as well as rage, and confusion. It's tentacles are also deadly accurate. Every three breaths, it splits off more smaller "children" that harry the flanks. With a combat going on at the same time as a skill challenge (see here). After a VERY tense touch-and-go battle, the warlock breaks the last thread of arcane power holding the whole mess together.
The ritual unwound, the beasts are banished back to the far plane. As a reward, they are granted a few precious baubles of magic, and a fortune telling:
"The path ahead of you and your is a twisted on indeed. I see trials and travails - alongside victories and rewards. In your next tenday, you will touch a darkness that knows nothing of you - as well as find an evil that seeks you - but only if you seek it in return. Go now, and bring the light of dawn to light the way in these troubled times."
We'll get to dawnbringer, and their other adventures, a wee bit later. Until then - game well :)