Struggle, Survival and Succession

Previously, the heroes had infiltrated the night master’s hideout and followed him, through a portal, into the Newport vault. There they found Xarrombus, the mysterious creature known in Kingsport as the Upright Man, the leader of the Steady Hand.

Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is in low sanction)

The heroes had decided that Xarrombus was a malicious force which formed an existential threat to the safety of the people of Kingsport. Just as they were about to confront Xarrombus, James decided that he wanted to parlay with the alien creature. Uncharacteristically, Quentin vehemently opposed James, claiming that it was too dangerous to allow to remain. And uncharacteristically, James did not press the matter.

And so, the heroes, supported by Jan the custodian, and Brandomiir, marched into the room. Only a few of them had already been able to lay eyes on the grotesque form of Xarrombus, but what they found when carrying some light into the room still shocked them.

To their surprise, the aberrant lords around the room did not pay them any attention and went on with their research, feverishly perusing the books on the shelves. Several people carrying a crown of flesh, including the night master, stood blank faced in the room. Some of them looked as if they had been there for a long time, their bodies emaciated and frail. Some of them were partially embedded in the calcified growth of Xarrombus’ tentacles.

A humongous eyeball was sitting on a bed of hard digits which disappeared in a dark mist which obscured the ground. The vertically slitted pupil, like that of an a lizard, was darting nervously around the room. Half a dozen smaller eyes, about the size of a human head, were floating menacingly in the orbit of the large eye. They had smaller tentacles spilled down at the bottom of the eyeball and they all seemed to be protected by a faintly blue glowing shield of energy.

Once it became clear that the confrontation would not be avoided, Xarrombus erupted a ruinous beam of energy from its great, central eye which struck the heroes, chaining like lightning, jumping from one to the other. The smaller eyes in the monstrous sphere’s orbit sent out their own beams of psychic energy, each having different effects. Each time a floating eye would project their beams their shield would temporarily drop, allowing them to be vulnerable to the attacks of the heroes. Swatting away the smaller eyes was always temporary, since new eyes constantly sprang up from the honeycomb holes in Xarrombus’ tentacles.

Despite the onslaught of damage and confusion Xarrombus caused, its central eye was susceptible to attack. James’ volley of arrows, Emrys’ barrage of telekinetic sorcery, Luca’s rapid eldritch blasts, and Quentin and Astrid’s blades, deft and savage, respectively, soon wounded the eye significantly that Xarrombus changed its attack. The large eye retreated into the bulk of Xarrombus’ body, and the hard digits closed over it, protectively. The ground shook as Xarrombus’ tentacles shifted and it raised its body up over the black mist, revealing a body covered with chitinous plates. Eyes still revealed themselves along the body, but the heroes found it nearly impossible to truly hurt Xarrombus.

Large tentacles burst forth from the ground which had large maws at the end of them. They would batter and bludgeon the heroes and occasionally swallow them whole. Those that were quickly found themselves slowly suffocating and eaten alive, literally, as they moved through Xarrombus’ digestive tract. They found, however, that they had just enough room to manoeuvre and attack from the inside, and Xarrombus seemed very displeased by that, belching and puking up the heroes as soon as possible.

Finally the heroes spotted the light at the end of the tunnel, since the heroes were battered, wounded and frustrated. Luca had lost consciousness. Jan had fought valiantly, until a blast from one of the floating eyes had disintegrated his arm. Brandomiir had spent the early part of the fight in a blind panic, brought on by the mind-altering beams from one of the eyes. For a long while it had not been looking good.

After several heroes had stopped resisting the mawed tentacles and had gone through Xarrombus’ gut, being puked up each time it became too much, Astrid drank a potion that gave her supernatural speed and practically dove into one of the maws. The cumulative damage done to Xarrombus’ insides proved too much, and Astrid carved her way out of the side of the great aberration.

With a last message, Xarrombus claimed that it missed the darkness of the void, and a final psychic ripple went out from it, as it died. That ripple touched the aberrant lords around it, who seized up and dropped out of the air. The people wearing the crowns of flesh dropped to the ground without as much as a sound; including Hamish. And the night master. When the ripple had faded away, the oppressive, psychic intrusion that Xarrombus had been applying on the heroes also faded, leaving them feeling relieved.

When the dust had settled, first aid had been given to those in need, and the reality of the situation set in, a group of people appeared at the entrance to the vault, headed by the day master. Mortified, the day master and his bodyguards walked past Luca, who was grieving over Hamish, and into the room where the body of Xarrombus lay. He was silent as he lay witness to the aftermath. The day master recovered from the shock quickly, and went to search for the night master.

When he found the night master’s body, the burly man knelt down and started rifling through the night master’s clothing. James came to stand beside him with his arms crossed over his chest, and when the day master was done he recovered a simple medallion on a golden chain. It looked faintly like those worn by the magistrates James had seen on his travels.

The day master regarded the medallion and looked remorseful, saying that the night master and he were friends once. He then placed a big hand that held the medallion against James chest. “Take it,” he said, “there is a lot of work to be done.” When James did not immediately take the medallion, the day master dropped it in his folded arms and explained that the only reason the guild had survived all the challenges it had faced was because the upright man was pulling the strings. Without Xarrombus the guild would be weak.

Without another word the day master and his body guards marched out of the library leaving the heroes to deal with the aftermath.

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