From outside, a heavy bell began to toll. Hols jumped to his feet.
“That is the alarm. Something is coming”
They crowded to the door of the longhouse and looked out. The village was in chaos, screams and shouts interspersed with guttural sounds filled the air. Groups of villagers were being dragged off into the ocean by fat-bellied sea creatures; the guards were being dragged out of the towers. A group of the creatures headed towards the PC’s, they had clawed, greasy fingers, smacking lips, chattering, pointed teeth and tiny, beady eyes. Harrylock readied and shot his left-arm mounted crossbow; killing the lead creature instantly; Sonny pulled and fired his buzzer at another. The creatures charged forwards and belched out a cloud of noxious gas whilst scything with their claws. Judson took a raking wound across the chest and the creature belched out another cloud of gas into his face; again he managed to hold his breath. Sonny wasn’t quite so lucky; using the verred that Judson had lent him, he plunged it deep into a creatures guts; the creature burst like a balloon and Sonny got the full effect of the foul gas; he doubled over, vomiting and gasping for breath. Two creatures attacked Galadiir; he was clawed but again managed to avoid breathing in the foul breath. He cast an Ice Onslaught and took down another creature and then formed his Sheen of Ice armour over himself and Judson. Another creature fell to Harrylock’s forearm blade and the last went down to a combined attack from Judson and Galadiir.* Finally it was all over; the creatures were all dead and the characters took some time to catch their breath.
Hols said “You see what we have to face, each night of the Haunting Tides. This is why we need your help”
Judson experimented with cooking one of the creatures; it smelt disgusting and tasted of burnt squid. He didn’t eat very much as his stomach churned and he was violently sick.
“So, they are still poisonous even when dead”, commented Sonny**
At this point there was a commotion near to the gate and in walked the woman in white.
"I had the strangest dream," she said in a sleepy voice. "I dreamt I fell for an eternity, and then I hit a lake of fire where I was torn apart by some powerful force. Then I was put back together again, and the next thing I know I am pulling myself up on the rocks outside the village, awake and wet.” Harrylock contrived to brush by her and decided that she was not a ghost. Hols was confident that the rest of the villagers and guards would be back by morning.
The following morning, as predicted, the missing villagers and guards were lying sprawled on the docks; half-asleep and soaking wet. None of them could remember anything. Judson was chosen to carry the signet ring found on Rando’s body back to Orrando in Mulen, whilst the others investigated the reef/island*** Hols introduced them to Soren, who owned the boat they were going to use.
“What is the name of your boat?” “It is called Soren’s Boat. I am Soren and it is my boat.”
“We are going to rename it “Queen Anne’s Revenge”.
“Why? Then no-one will know that it is my boat”
Soren rowed them out to the island; it was early morning; the sea was calm and a mist lay heavy upon the water. The island looked like an upturned hand made of rock, the fingers pointing upwards. The fingers were blurred; as they drew closer Galadiir realised that they were blurred because they were slightly out of phase. In the centre of the island, in the ‘palm’, was a small domed stone hut. Growing over it was a blue-green moss that Galadiir recognised as growing around dimensional rifts. They persuaded Soren to go into the hut first; then followed him in. There was a table, a chair, a fireplace and a bed. At the table was a skeleton, wearing the robes of a Aeon Priest; in front of him was a book made of some kind of synth. Galadiir pushed the skeleton to one side to get at the book; it collapsed to the floor and something fell out of the robes with a ‘clink’. Sonny picked it up; it was a cypher called a Reality Spike. He was already carrying two cyphers and the air around him began buzzing like a million wasps. He dropped the Spike and moved away. Galadiir gave Soren a Stim cypher; then picked up the Reality Spike. He then turned back to the diary. The priest was called Fankre and it was his diary. > It is the dead Aeon-Priests diary. The first date is over a hundred years ago, and it lasts for 15 years.
It begins when he arrives at the island. He is very eager, since the study of things out of phase with reality is his main interest. The island was renowned for its effects on reality.
At first the priest was fascinated by the various animals and plants on the island, most of which partly existed in adjacent phases to our own. There were some monsters too, but he had learned to stay away from them. His hope was to discover why so many such creatures were attracted to the place.
After a few years he states that the island had become plagued by monsters. He later discovers that there is a machine under the island which sometimes activates. The machine creatures monster in a different reality, and then activates an event in which all the out-off-phase things become hard reality, before phasing them out again (this part was quite badly written).
He discovers that when this event happens, it is possible to access the machine through a cave in the cliffs, and he even manages to shut the machine off.
A few years later his research is done, but he is afraid to leave, in case the machine starts again. As far as you can tell, he dies of old age, since he is noting his deteriorating health, and then the diary just stops.
There was nothing else in the hut, so they headed towards the ‘spires’, realising that they probably ‘phased in’ at nightfall. Soren stayed to look after his boat.
Meanwhile, Judson was jogging northwards towards Mulen. He had made good time when suddenly his head filled with buzzing, seething white noise. He stopped, clutching his head as the pain increased. From the shadows three cloaked and hooded figures; humanoid yet not human, with huge black eyes perched above a sharp, dirty yellow beak – Murden! The leader pointed a hooked finger at the signet ring; the intent was clear. Desperately fighting the pain in his head; Judson ran off to the north; using his running skill he was able to outdistance the Murden; from behind came a shriek of anger.
On the island; night had fallen and the spires slowly shifted into phase as the rest of the island phased out. A rectangular doorway became apparent in the base of the middle spire; as they watched a horde of the sea creatures poured out towards them …
* I love this Game! This combat was the first real use of GM Intrusions; basically each time the PC’s attacked a creature and missed I had the creature belch a cloud of gas, which meant the PC had to do a Might save or be nauseated (and take Speed damage). They started to build up a stock of XP; then went through a phase of bad die rolls and spent most of them on re-rolls (true comrades; they did spend XP on others re-rolls as well as their own.)
** Why wouldn’t they be?
*** Yet again, they have split the party up