Shadowrun: Dark Ages

Night of the Efyl dead

The ritual was a complex affar. While Murdo and Fen set a break-wall of large driftwood fires between the group and the forest, Struman, Agnes, Cid and Elara began digging into the sand the ritual circle, following Efyls instructions. Orion, meanwhile, moved off back to the treeline to keep guard, having refused to participate in the ritual, despite his magic. Evidently he was fearful that some great disaster may befall the undertaking if he took part.

The others began with a nine-pointed star with the line joining tips of two of the points of the star making a parallel line to the sea – this Efyl termed The Gate. The tide was coming in and Efyl instructed them that they would need to make the circle close enough that as the sea came it it would enter The Gate and lap around the feet of the casters. The lines of the star were dug six inches deep in the sand so that the inbound seawater might be drawn along them by the rituals magic.

Struman, Murdo and Fen joined each point of the star with a line, except The Gate which was to be left open, while Efyl began instructing Cid, Elara and Agnes on their role in the ritual. The diggers then made three sides of a square, surrounding the the star, again leaving the gate open – a second constraint on those summoned. Finally, at every intersection of lines within the star, a two foot circle centered on the intersection was marked. Each mage was told to mark these points as anchors with the symbols of their tradition. Finally, the entire thing was marked with such things as the group had that could anchor magic, chief amongst which were the shards of dragon eggs that various members of the group had pocketed on their last visit to Hestaby the great. These, along with the leaves of the dark trees and totems from Elara and Agnes would act as pins for the barriers.

Finally, at the center-point of the star was build a crude symbolic representation of a closed eye, made of driftwood from the sea, clay fragments from Orion, gathered at the deserted and sorry Castle Dudehope and iron nails from by Cid. Stabbed vertically into the heart of the star like a spear it cast a long flickery shadow on the sand from the fires behind it. All in all the construction took some time to get right and by the time they had finished the last vestiges of the setting sun were only evident by the deep orange and purple uplight on the clouds. The driftwood fires lit everything with an eerie flickering light as Murdo propped Efyl up against the totemic eye. His strength was fading fast now, but with everything ready it would prove enough. He instructed Elara, Cid and Agnes to take positions within in three of the intersection circle anchor-points for the casting. The others he tasked with protecting those within the ritual from whatever the Old Man of the Sea may send to disrupt it – after all, he said, the Old Man was not accustomed to being summoned and would likely be displeased with the idea. Finally he instructed Murdo that he was to play a key role in the ritual. Once the Old Man of the Sea had been summoned he must stand squarely and impassably in The Gat position – his void of magical essence would then effectively bar thee Old Man from leaving, at least for a time. And with that he began the casting. Elara, Agnes and Cid performed their roles admirably and the tides and flows of magic began to fill the astral around the ritual space. As he seawater lapped over the outer edges of the gate and began to fill the channels the magic became pinned and, as Fen flicked his visio into the Astral, he could see great curtains of power begin to coalesce along the rituals lines and the closed eye began to crackle with green-blue electricity. Slowly, every so slowly, the eye began to open, leaving behind it the electric blue tracery of an iris and a pupil.

Meanwhile, Sir Arthur Fergusson had caught up with the group and from the tree-line watched, spy the fires on the beach and the strange goings on and hearing only snatches of of the ritual chanting. Frankly he didn’t know quite what to make of the situation. What had happened to these folks that drove them to this Heresy? He decided to move closer and, surprisingly, avoided the sharp eyes of Orion to make it all the way up to the fires before he was spotted. He saw the ritual, the odd looking creature at its center, the casters mouthing odd, heathen, words in a tounge he didn’t know as magic crackled around the ritual. Finally his eyes met those of Fen, across the ritual. Gazes locke for a second, it seemed that Fen would confront him, but there did not prove to be time.Moments later creatures began to emerge from the lapping surf, crabs, lobsters, fish, urchins, nudibrachs, eels and more. Most were not of a size to cause much consternation but then several larger creatures appeared, and seemed bent on disrupting the casters. Several giant crabs, a massive lobster, a huge spider crab, strange-looking jellyfish, a long dead sailors corpse, all moved with surprising speed up the beach intent on the caster nearest to the gate, the long-suffering Elara.

Fortunately Murdo, Struman and Fen were there to protect them and swiftly intercepted the creatures, destroying them with considerable efficiency and alacrity. Notably, int he battle, Murdo struck out at the creatures with the magical axe Cid had lent him for exactly this purpose and where it struct the creatures it wreaked until devestation. The Axe, known to be bane to spirits of water began glowing a deep azure as cut through the creatures, betraying the not-entirely-mundane nature of the beasts. The ritual continued to build, the central eye staring out to sea like the half-lidded gaze of some hidden giant, and the magic began to take its toll on the casters. Things were going somewhat more easily for their defenders. Three horrid man-sized creatures had emerged from the sea; a massive angler fish with grotesque spindly tall legs and a glowing bulbous growth the size of a head dangling before it, a giant sea snail, thick and fat, and a creature of driftwood, seaweed and rock from the deep. The creatures rushed toward the beach determined to disrupt the ritual but in an astonishing display of competence were cut down or smashed apart in mere seconds by the heroes of Dundee. [[:fen-mac | Fen] confronted the angler fish and struck the glowing orb so hard with his fist that the growth burst with a sickening pop and the creature convulsed, collapsed and was draw out to sea by the surf. Murdo bought the glowing Axe down on the snails shell so hard that it cracked cleanly in two with a loud retort, despite it being an inch thick, spilling the soft squishy insides of the creature all over the beach. So furious was their assault that the creatures barely landed a blow before returning the the ocean that gave them birth. The ritual continued to build. The circles around each of the anchors began taking on a dark indigo swirl shrouding the casters with wraths of shadow and the magic reached out into the sea and pulled the incoming swells of surf into the ritual through the gate and swirling around the feet of the party. Efyl stiffened and gasped in pain as the sea lapped around his propped up form and when it touched the eye the driftwood and iron construction the magic cracking around it cracked an iridescent red lending the now mostly open eye a baleful aspect.

This turned out to be somewhat prescient as, rising ominously from the water was a creature of myth and legend. A mighty luminous sea serpent, of sorts, pale blue with tassels resembling the gills of a salamander framing its head like a mane. The creature was huge, its a head the size of a wagon. With a sinuous flick of its tail the mighty creature curled through the surf, across the sand, and struck out with blistering speed at the drop-jawed heroes. Suddenly realising that they were in a fight for their lives our heroes flew at the creature but it proved as tough to hurt as it was to hit and several of their blows either missed entirely or struck the creatures tough hide but did little to harm it. The creature reared up and opened a mouth the size of a wagon wheel and, from it’s maw through a haze of steam that billowed out into the cold night air, erupted a torrent of scaldingly hot water directly at Fen. Extremely fortunately, Fen’s swift reactions and wary nature allowed him to throw himself out of the way at the last second and the water missed. Murdo flew at the creature with the Axe, which was glowing like a star in the night, but the creature – who definitely did not like to the look of the axe at all – coiled itself out of the way with an agility that belied its size. Struman unleashed a crossbow bolt that glanced off the creatures hid and the situation seemed fire. Fortunately, however, Orion joined the fight. He had seen from the treeline the creatures attack his friends and concerned that he was too distant to help he had previously begun running towards the battle. Now with creature focussed on Murdo and Fen, Orion drew back his bow and muttering incantations under his breath the tip of his arrow began to glow fiercely. He let fly and the arrow struck home, driving into the creatures armoured flesh. A ball of purple flame erupted from the side of the creature knocking it back and scorching its tough hide. This drew the creatures ire and it lashed out with its tail, knocking Orion clean off his feet and sending him crunching into a rock pool further up the peak. Blocked by the bulk of the creature, the other heroes did not see what happened to Orion and his crumpled form lay still on the rocks in the darkness.

With the serpent distracted, Fen used the opportunity to strike the creature a series of swift blown, the magic of his Chi lending the strikes the power needed to damage the mighty spirit of the ocean. Damage it, but not kill it and it now turned its attention to Fen. Once again it unleashed a spew of superheated water only for Fen to narrowly avoid the blast. Murdo and Fen attacked again but to little avail and then suddenly it reared up, seized Murdo in its maw and swallowed him whole! It evidently didn’t like the taste though as it immediately convulsed violently and threw up Murdo across the beach (the axe too, was regurgitated and ended up in a rock pool), leaving his collapsed still form on the beach as the creature writhed. The serpent was badly hurt now but it was closing on the ritual casters. Too late, however for the fighters efforts had bought enough time for the ritual to complete! The last of Efyls life and magic faded from the world, is life force sealing the rituals, the magic within the components of the ritual flared and the cage was complete, the blazing red eye lay fully open and fixed on the sea, calling for the ancient spirit to attend. A heartbeat later the serpent had vanished and standing bent next to the now magic-less lifeless driftwood eye was an old, bearded and bent man. He was clothed in a rag-tag of skins, netting, sailcloth and hemp, with no irder rhyme or reason to his attire. His shaggy beard, eyebrows and hair were all a washed out grey (not white) and moved as if submerged. Seaweed, crabs and other small crustaceans grew from his long hair as if perfectly happy lifting on him. His deep blue eyes held the depths of the deep ocean and knarled hands, looking as much like bleached knotted driftwood as living flesh, grasped a thin bent stick for supporting himself. A rough gravelly voice, that ground like pebbles on a beach or the surf on rocks, said “Well! I’m here aren’t I?! What do you want?”

Comments

NickSchurch

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.