It Came from the Sea
While traveling near the coast, a strong wind gusts over the land and heavy clouds form in the afternoon sky, portending a thorough drenching should you continue on your way. Fortunately, the nearby town of Stormswake offers a chance for rest and shelter.
Rain belts down across the water as you approach the entrance to the town, which is built into the side of coastal cliffs. A path made from wood is secured into the cliff face, leading around the corner to the town itself. A traveler’s inn sits on the edge of the water on a wooden pier, inviting you with the promise of a warm meal and a hot fireplace with which to dry yourself.
Not long after you enter the inn, it becomes obvious there is tension in the air. Locals grumble to their neighbors beneath their breath, others clutch at their mugs of ale with grim expressions on their weathered features. Should you inquire with the innkeeper about this, he glances around to make sure nobody is within earshot, before leaning in closely to speak in hushed tones.
“You’ve picked a bad night to stop by,” he says. “Two years ago, Stormswake was invaded by shambling monsters from the sea, but they were turned back by our priestess, Olaive. She’d only been here for a week, and was untested in battle, but she rose to the occasion and summoned great magics to help repel the hoard.
“You may wonder what that has to do with tonight? Well, the leader of that hoard cried that they would return in exactly one year to finish what they’d started, and that night, my friends, is tonight! People have been mulling over if it was a bluff or not. Some have left, but most stayed, either because they didn’t believe it, or they want to protect their homes.
“So, you’ve a choice, travelers; stay and maybe fight a hoard of sea monsters, or leave while you still can.” He goes about his work, leaving you to make the choice. Should you choose to remain, it may occur to you to ask about Olaive, and perhaps speak with her.
The innkeeper points the way further along the boardwalk, and then across a bridge within the cliff that takes you to a circular chamber where she resides. “But be warned,” he warns! “She has no patience for fools who waste her time.”
With these words of wisdom, you may choose to head to the temple to speak with her. Along the way, you see locals preparing themselves to fight, donning heavy leather armor, sharpening short swords and preparing simple wooden shields to hold back the monsters that could assail the town at any time.
In the temple, Olaive greets you but cautions that this is not a good time. “Doubtless you have heard of our plight. You should have left while you can, but if you intend to stay, we certainly could use the aid. I am preparing a spell that may repel them, as it did last time, though something tells me it may not be effective. Do what you can to aid the town, while I finish my preparations in the grove just beyond the temple here.”
The symbol of an ancient sea god hangs in the temple, though it is far older than any you have yet seen in your travels. It has barnacles, dried seaweed and shells of deep-sea creatures placed into a circular, shield-like device made from shipwrecked wood. Should you ask any of the other people in town, or her assistants in the temple about this device, they will tell you Olaive brought it with her upon her arrival.
Soon, a warning shout is heard! Creatures covered in seaweed, barnacles and octopus-like tentacles lumber from the depths, seeking to climb onto the boardwalk and attack anyone who gets in their way!
Should you join in the defense, you can fight off some of the hoard, but for each that falls, another takes its place. It seems Olaive’s spell might be the only hope for the town.
If you pull back to the grove, you see she is already in the midst of casting, but it doesn’t seem to be having any effect. Indeed, an insightful person might surmise that the spell is, in fact, drawing the creatures closer!
Sensing she’s been discovered, Olaive sneers and says she was sent here by powers beyond your understanding. “I mean to bring this town, this affront to the sea gods crashing down and its people to become as food to the creatures of the depths!” Her human appearance melts away to reveal a humanoid sea creature with large eyes and spiked fins!
She is a formidable foe, and you have no help from the townsfolk battling to stave off the invasion, but should you figure out that the wooden holy symbol on the wall of her temple is the source of her power, you can smash it to break the spell and drive back the horrid sea monsters!
With her plans foiled, Olaive (if she survived) will leap into the waters and dive away, protected by the power of the sea gods with the hope of returning to complete her work someday.
The assault will start near the inn, and gradually move forward through the town streets towards the bridge that connects to the temple. There are plenty of choke points for defenders to hold them back, but figuring out that Olaive is the one summoning them, and then fighting her to defeat will break the spell. After that, the sea monsters will disperse back to where they came from.
When Olaive arrived the first time to Stormswake and was casting her spell, she wasn’t powerful enough to complete it. Thus, the spell ended; sending the creatures back to the depths, and earning her the naive love of the townsfolk.
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