Curse of the Eye Tyrant

Date Written: 
08/14/2022

Lilliandra the Half-Elf thief crept cautiously into the room, checking for traps. She was followed at a safe distance by the Human fighter Tauran and an Elven wizard named Arivul. The had just fought a small group of Goblins and retreated here to take a short break.

“Should’ve brought a cleric,” grumbled Tauran for the fifth time. “We wouldn’t have to stop every few minutes to catch our breath.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” barked Arivul. “None were around.” The group’s magic user cast Arcane Lock on the only door into the chamber, securing it behind him.

***

(Lilliandra attempts an ability check for Perception and succeeds)

***

“All Clear,” Lilliandra announced as she stood up straight. A moment later the room became illuminated as Arivul also cast a Light spell.

“Could’ve used that a minute ago,” griped Lilliandra under her breath as she got a better look around. The stone chamber wasn’t overly large but had high, vaulted ceilings like the rest of the dungeon.

“What do we say, short rest?” asked Tauran as he wiped the congealing green blood from his sword.

“Sounds good the me,” replied Arivul. On a hunch, Lilliandra decided to do a second sweep of the room now that it was well illuminated.

***

(Lilliandra attempts a second ability check for Perception and succeeds)

***

“Hey, I got something here,” the thief called out, noticing a well-worn stone much darker than its surrounding compatriots. She depressed the rock and was met with an oddly satisfying rumbling sound as part of the wall swung open, revealing darkness beyond.

“Secret room?” inquired Arivul.

“More of an alcove, actually,” said Lilliandra, peering inside. “Kinda tight, but there’s a wooden chest in the back here.”

“Goblin treasure, maybe,” said Tauran. “We found almost nothing on bodies…but we did find a key on the biggest one.”

“Let me check for traps,” said Lilliandra as she squeezed into the cramped space and began her search for hidden switches, pressure plates and tripwires.

***

(Lilliandra attempts another ability check for Perception and again succeeds)

***

“Looks good,” she called over her shoulder. “Goblins never were much for complex things like traps…they have more of a ‘hit it on the head with a stick until it dies, then hit it some more’ philosophy.”

Tauran and Arivul looked at each other, eyes raised. They couldn’t argue with Lilliandra’s logic.

“Hand over the key,” Lilliandra called over her shoulder. “Let’s pop this puppy open and see what we’ve got.”

“Wait, why do you get to open the chest,” Tauran objected. “Shouldn’t we roll for it or something?”

Even though the three of them had been adventuring on and off for the better part of two years, Tauran still didn’t trust the thief because…well…she was a thief. He trusted Lilliandra implicitly in a fight, and that she’d back him when the chips were down, but when it came to equally dividing treasure, he retained his doubts.

“You’re too bulky in your plate armor to even fit in here,” the thief called back, “and the wizard wouldn’t stand a chance if I accidentally missed any traps.”

Tauran relented and passed the key over Lilliandra’s shoulder. The next sound they heard was a loud ‘Thunk!’, then a ‘Ker-chunk!’ followed by a long creak.

“Well?” asked Arivul impatiently.

“Looks like it’s the Goblins’ treasure alright,” she called back as Tauran let out a loud “fuck, yeah!”

“We got some gold, silver and a few copper, plus a couple of scroll cases and a plate helm,” Lilliandra continued. She failed to mention the black leather drawstring pouch sitting on top of the pile. That particular item wound up tucked into Lilliandra’s leather armor for safekeeping.

“Hold on, dragging it out now,” said Lilliandra as she struggled to pull the heavy chest into the next room. Everyone began dividing up the loot and placing their share into their respective packs.

“Well this makes smacking those Goblins around a little more worthwhile,” said Arivul afterward as he sat on the ground deciphering one of the scrolls.

“Yeah, not a bad haul for a bunch of greenies,” growled Tauran. He was turning over the plate helm in his hands, assessing its quality. He would have to wait until they got back to town to get it checked out though...no telling what kinds of magic it might be enchanted with.

Lilliandra, meanwhile, sat with her back to the other two, apparently chewing on a piece of ration. The black leather pouch sat in her lap, hidden from the view of the other two. She untied the drawstring and peered inside; she spied what appeared to be a golden amulet on a finely wrought chain.

After a surreptitious glance over her shoulder, Lilliandra dumped the amulet out into her hand. She knew immediately it had been crafted from the finest gold. It was a heavy, crude disk roughly four inches in diameter; the surface was rough and bumpy, and the center of the amulet was adorned with a single, large eye.

Before she had a chance to examine the amulet any further, a bright spark jumped from the disk to her hand, delivering a strong electrical shock. Lilliandra jumped up and cursed, dropping the amulet on the ground.

“What happened?” asked Tauran immediately, seeing the thief holding her injured hand. “What was that?”

***

(Lilliandra attempts a Wisdom saving throw versus spells and fails)

***

“I don’t know,” the thief lied. “I don’t know what happened.”

Tauran and Arivul quickly moved over to where Lilliandra stood and saw the amulet lying on the ground. Tauran looked at the thief through slitted eyes. His instincts told him something was definitely amiss, but he held his tongue for the moment. The wizard meanwhile knelt down to examine the amulet, leaning in close but not touching it.

“Guys, I feel kinda...funny,” Lilliandra said quietly. The fighter and the mage looked at her expectantly as she rubbed her forearms. “Remember when we had that druid in our party...the one named Kestin...and he cast Barkskin on me to help me out during a fight?”

“Yeah, why?” asked Arivul. He hadn’t thought about the druid in ages, that had been so many adventures ago.

“Well, that’s what it feels like...” Lilliandra admitted sheepishly. “My skin feels funny...”

“I knew better than to trust a thief,” Tauran snorted while Arivul went back to examining the amulet on the ground. “Can’t trust even the best of them around anything shiny.”

***

(Lilliandra attempts a second Wisdom saving throw versus spells and fails again)

***

“Guys...?” said Lilliandra a little louder, a perplexed look crossing her face. She stopped rubbing her arms and moved her hands instinctively to her stomach, palms flat. “Something’s not right...”

Her two companions looked at each other, puzzled. Her eyes opened wide with surprise and Lilliandra suddenly began fumbling with her belt, her normally nimble fingers struggling with what was otherwise a simple buckle. A small whisper escaped her lips: “Too tight...”

***

(Lilliandra attempts a saving throw versus Dexterity and surprisingly fails)

(Arivul attempts a saving throw versus Perception and succeeds.)

***

“What’s going on?” asked the wizard, concern creeping into his voice. From where he was he realized the thief’s belt was growing tighter by the second. Lilliandra seemed to be in agony. Her hands were still clasping the belt buckle but the leather had already grown tight enough for her to have trouble removing it.

“I can’t...” she gasped loudly. At first it appeared as though the belt was shrinking, growing tighter around Lilliandra’s waist but it quickly became apparent that the belt remained the same; it was the thief, whose waist normally narrowed above the curve of her hips, who was growing wider.

“Get off,” she managed, desperately trying to unclasp the belt buckle. The leather band was now too tight, forcing the girl’s hands away from the belt as she gave up and cradled her abdomen. The buckle dug into her flesh, making the young thief squeal and grimace with pain.

Arivul and Tauran watched, stunned, as the belt grew more and more tight around the thief’s waist, seemingly without end. They both jumped as Lilliandra’s belt suddenly burst open with an explosive pop! As the belt fell to the ground, Lilliandra dropped to her knees, clutching her stomach.

“What’s happening to you?!” exclaimed Tauran. The thief’s clothes were now growing tight across her middle, threatening to tear as seams began to burst. The leather of her armor was stretched and pulled taut as the thief herself grew larger and more bloated. Lilliandra looked down at her expanding midsection.

“It’s still too tight!” she shouted again. A second later Lilliandra fell onto her back, struggling this time with the laces of her leather armor. Originally cut and formed to match her trim and slender figure perfectly, the armor bulged and strained as it attempted to contain the swelling trunk of the thief’s body. By now Lilliandra was having difficulty breathing, and the armor was beginning to squeeze painfully around her rib cage.

The fighter stepped forward to help out his companion, while the wizard opted to examine the amulet in an attempt to ascertain the effects it was having on the thief.

***

(Lilliandra receives 1d4+1 damage from constriction)

(Tauran attempts a saving throw versus Dexterity and fails)

(Lilliandra attempts a saving throw versus Dexterity and succeeds)

(Arivul attempts an ability check for Arcana and succeeds)

***

The fighter knelt down beside Lilliandra and tried to help her remove her armor, reaching over her now-bloated abdomen and tugging at the laces. He considered pulling out his dagger to just cut the ties when Lilliandra finally succeeded in untying the troublesome knot, releasing the hard leather armor from around her chest and belly. As Lilliandra drew in long, ragged breaths, Tauran lifted the armor off of the thief.

The sight of the thief’s body made all three adventurers gasp loudly. Lilliandra’s body swelled and rounded out starting from her collarbone, curving outward in an increasingly massive arc to where her abdomen met her thighs. Even her arms and legs, once equally lithe to match her originally-svelte form, began to thicken, remaining narrow around her wrists and ankles but growing wider the further up and closer to her body they went.

The once-spry thief struggled to move but only managed to rock side to side a little as she watched her rapidly expanding body.

“Uh-oh,” Arivul finally interjected. “I think we have a problem...”

“You think?” hissed Lilliandra, who was finding it difficult to even bend her arms and legs by this point. “What does it say, Ari?”

“I can’t make it all out,” replied the wizard, “but the runes I could make out say something about a ‘Beholder’s Curse’ or ‘The Curse of the Eye Tyrant’.”

“You mean the giant floating eyeball thing?” asked Lilliandra. Suddenly, she realized why the amulet looked familiar.

“What, she’s turning into one?” growled Tauran, reaching for his sword. “Or she’s about to have one explode out of her?”

“No, nothing so...final...I think...” Arivul’s voice trailed off. Lilliandra looked back and forth between her two companions, panic in her eyes.

“Help! Do something!” she cried out, her arms and legs held rigid and spread wide from her torso, which had filled out so much it began to raise the hapless thief up, causing her to wobble about. Threads and seams long past their limits began to pop and tear, forming gaps in the fabric revealing the Half-Elf’s pale skin.

Sword still in hand, Tauran reached out and tentatively prodded Lilliandra’s belly with his finger, feeling its growing firmness.

“Her skin feels...rubbery,” he finally said. “Like a balloon.”

“Wait...wait...” said Arivul, standing and turning away, cupping his chin in his hand as he attempted to concentrate. Tauran turned to face the Elven mage. Arivul furrowed his brow as he sought to remember...something.

“What? What is it?” demanded Tauran.

“Don’t pressure me!” Arivul barked. “There was something about Beholder physiology...” Thankfully, Beholders were so bizarre, and rich, that they were frequently hunted by eager adventurers. As such, their characteristics were well documented in collections and libraries.

***

(Arivul attempts an ability check for Intelligence and succeeds)

***

Suddenly, it dawned on the magic user.

“Tiusium!” Arivul announced, as though that explained everything.

“What?” said the frustrated Tauran, who wanted nothing more than to throttle the Elf. “What are you talking about?”

“Tiusium,” repeated Arivul as he turned back to face Tauran and Lilliandra. “The gas that Beholders produce to make them...” Arivul’s words trailed off as he looked over Tauran’s shoulder and saw that Lilliandra was gone.

“Guys...” came a tiny voice from above. Both adventurers looked up in surprise to see the Half-Elf’s inflated form drifting slowly higher toward the vaulted ceiling.

“...float,” Arivul ended unnecessarily.

“Lilli, what the fuck are you doing?!” said Tauran, seething by the turn of events, by trouble they’d gotten into, and by the avarice of his Half-Elf friend.

“What do you think I’m doing, you idiot!?” she yelled back as she drifted further and further out of reach. Her body was still filling out, becoming rounder and rounder as her arms and legs were slowly absorbed into the growing globe of her flesh. Most of her clothing was shredded and torn but thankfully enough scraps remained to provide her at least a minor amount of dignity.

“Great, now we’ve got a blimp for a thief,” muttered Tauran angrily to himself. Then to her, “Why did you take that damned amulet in the first place?”

“Because it looked old and important and magical!” Lilliandra retorted indignantly. “And I thought it would fetch a nice price.”

“You are literally blowing up like a balloon, Lilli,” Arivul commented with some exasperation as he watched her floating ever higher, her expanding form growing rapidly. “If you don’t explode, it’ll be a miracle.” But Arivul had his doubts. It seemed the curse was designed to be basically nonfatal.

“Oh, for God’s sake,” snapped Tauran, gesturing up at a helpless Lilliandra, “what are we supposed to do about this?”

Arivul watched as the thief became completely round like a giant ball. He could see her wiggling her feet and clasping and unclasping her hands nervously as she bobbed lightly against the ceiling. The magic user abruptly realized they were fortunate this didn’t happen outside, otherwise Lilliandra would be long gone by now.

“I guess we wait and see if the curse wears off,” Arivul speculated as he looked over at Tauran. “Might teach Lilli a lesson about being greedy when all is said and done.” Arivul looked back up at the thief. “At the very least, we’re not going to let you live this one down,” he yelled up to her.

“Long rest, then?” asked Tauran as he pulled his bedroll from his pack.

“Long rest,” Arivul replied as he pushed the cursed amulet back into the small leather pouch with a stick, then returned to the open scroll he left lying on the floor.

“Should’ve brought a cleric,” grumbled Tauran once again, thinking that Remove Curse would’ve been useful right about now.

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