The moon hung at its apex and midnight had cloaked the land in a cold and starry expanse. The ruins of Varrell seemed to sit atop the world itself, reaching out for the heavens. All was silent as death save the party of ten cloaked figures that made their way through the ruins to the once proud empire’s seat. The ruined city itself was a massive circular warren, paved in ancient moss covered flagstones.
The figures worked their way through the tumbledown buildings and desecrated temples. Eight of the entourage were hired sellswords, brandishing bits of salvaged armor of copper and iron. Their gear clinked softly as they escorted the other figures. One was a meager guide, a haggard hillsman wrapped head to toe in furs of brown and grey. His eyes darted nervously and his breath was heavy as fear crept up his spine. He knew these ruins to be cursed, but the one who came with these mercenaries had brought a bag of gold, more gold than the poor hillsman had seen in his entire life.
The final figure that had given him the gold and spoken of the ruins in a hollow echoing voice stood a head taller than any of the other men. He was cloaked in black robes and a massive dark hood was drawn over his head, cloaking his features. It was as if the hood was a lightless void that drank in the shadow. The cloaked figured walked silently across the moonlit paving stones, almost seeming to glide upon wisps of shadow. Though he made no sound, he clearly brandished some pieces of armor. His shoulder pads were adorned in cruel spikes that gleamed wickedly in the moonlight.
They worked their way to the towns center, a circular yard of lichen and paved stones, eroded by time. The entire group paused for just a moment to beheld the one thing that was not in ruins in this ancient place. At the town’s center stood a massive looming statue, carved out of some ancient and rare stone. At one point, the statue looked like a struggling man, arms flailing as if he was aflame. Within ten heartbeats the statue had changed and flowed into the countenance of a looming demon, poised to devour the onlookers. It slowly transformed again into a man who sat slumped upon his knees weeping.
The sellswords and guide were paralyzed with fear as they beheld this bizarre wonder. The cloaked figure in black, merely glided over to the base of the statue and held his hand above its molding surface. Around his hand, dark energies played about and coalesced and his voice become an unholy and ominous chant in a spoken language no living mortal has ever heard. The statue suddenly became surrounded in a knot work of beautiful glowing vines of text and spell symbols. As the shadowy figure continued his mantra, the spell work turned black and began to hug the surface of the statue.
As the statue was morphing from one state to the next, the enchanted lettering seems to hold it firmly in place. It took on a gross countenance of some half man and half demon as the statue began to fracture and glow with hairline cracks.
The mercenaries and guide looked on in horror as the statue began to crack and tear itself apart. It was as if it was a flowing liquid worked underneath the surface of the stone and a black viscous tar substance began oozing from the cracks. The guide had finally lost his nerve and turned to run.
Cracks splintered and shifted across the statues surface and suddenly the horrid thing detonated, spraying the tar like substance clear across the entire town center. The guide was fortunate enough to be standing behind the mercenaries when it did, for when the substance hit them, it coated them entirely in a lively and animalistic fervor. Where the substance touched bare skin, a hissing sound pierced the night air and flesh sloughed of bone, turning to putty.
The guide ran in panicked haste as the mercenaries were devoured, the mere sight of the substance drove unexplainable daggers of fear through his soul and he frenzied to escape. Oddly enough, the guide notice that the cloaked figure had remained untouched, standing mere inches away from the explosion.
Mercenaries were engulfed and devoured down as the ooze quickly did its work, clinging to the remnants of their skeletons giving them some for of hideous and animated life. One of the monstrosities lashed its arm towards the guide and a whip-like tentacle lashed out and grasped the poor hillman’s neck. He screamed in terror as the horrid creature dragged him slowly back into the town square.
The cloaked figure ignored the guide’s cries of pain as he reached into the remnants of the shattered statue. Deep within the pulsing mound of fluid the figure pulled out a small plate-like object that seemed to be made of silver and scribed with ancient runes. As the figure held the plate aloft, the heavens seemed to darken and the moonlit night was cloaked in darkness. A fleeting eternity passed and the moon reappeared to bathe the world in a soft glow once again. The town center was empty save for a few pieces of the ruined statue, still transforming from the man to the demon…