Jessica did not look so well so I sent her home early. Our cataloging of the library donations was almost finished and I did not mind staying late. This set of books came from the home of a recently deceased local recluse named August Taylor. Seems his nephew had no interest in keeping his library when sorting out the estate.
It was midnight by the time I had everything recorded and sorted, but when I left, Jessica’s car was still in the parking lot, underneath the light post closest to the front doors. She sat slumped against the driver’s side door. Her skin had gone a sickly gray, and her pale green eyes were glazed over in a yellow film. A sharp wheeze rattled from her throat as she struggled to breath. By the time the ambulance arrived, she was gone. That…thing had already emerged.
Her head cracked open like a brittle egg dropped on the pavement. Something moved amongst the black sludge that drained from the opening. It was a sleek, inky looking thing about the size of a tennis ball. A myriad of tiny eyes glistened in the soft glow of the parking lot light before it rolled or sloshed off into the night.
I had collapsed into hysterics before the paramedics got to the scene, and when they saw Jessica, one of them remarked, “looks like another one. Just like August Taylor.”
Mythos sorcerers can go to extreme measures to protect their texts and journals from prying eyes. One method used by ancient sorcerers was to curse certain books in their collections as conduits to a strange entity outside of dimensioned space. Anyone reading these books without the proper protections or incantations open their minds to the entity’s influence with every word they read.
Once the link is established, a larva of the entity is implanted in the victim’s brain. It feeds on the victim’s body and mind and starts to grow. This process can take place over a few weeks or in a matter of hours, depending on how much of the cursed text was read. The victim goes through a general progression of illness, starting with an extreme migraine and growing nausea. Extreme vertigo and delirium, accompanying a graying of the skin, follows, leading to complete comatose followed by death. A yellow fluid leaks from the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, forming a thin membrane before hatching.
Book Lurkers are matured larva that burst from the heads of deceased victims. They are rather small and consist of a loosely bound glob of black fluid dotted with tiny compound eyes. When hatched, they flee from any source of light and attempt to find the darkest place possible. If multiple Book Lurkers are within a mile radius, they feel attracted to each other and will strive to form closely packed colonies.
If colonies are left undisturbed for 1D4+1 days, they send out a member to search for anything with written text such as documents, journals, books, carvings, etc. Once found, the colony will travel to the text and melt into the writing, thus spreading the curse.
They are immune to most physical harm, simply reforming after being splattered by impacts or split by cuts. However, they are vulnerable to magical assault and fire. Text must be entirely obliterated to remove the curse.
Infection and Gestation: Every five minutes spent reading cursed text without a form of protection, such as an Elder Sign, causes the reader loses 1 magic point and they must make a POW roll. Failure results in infection. Each subsequent five-minute interval increases the magic point drain by 1 and increases the difficulty of the POW roll (e.g., 2 magic points and Hard POW check at 10 minutes, 3 magic points and Extreme POW check at 15 minutes, etc.). With the loss of magic points, the reader starts to feel sick the more they read. Once infection occurs, the sickness erupts into a severe headache.
While infected, the victim can no longer gain magic points and loses 1 magic point every day. When all their magic points have been drained, or were all depleted from reading, the infection progresses. The victim’s skin begins turning gray as they lose 1D10 CON and 1D10 POW every hour until death. This results in a rapid deterioration of physical and mental condition. Should the infection be halted before death occurs, CON and POW will recover at the rate of 1 point/day.
If death occurs, the larva will hatch 1D4 minutes later.
BOOK LURKERS, Parasitic Larva
2D6 × 5
(3D6–2) × 5
5D6 × 5
(3D6–2) × 5
2D6 × 5
Average Hit Points: 5
Average Damage Bonus: –2
Average Build: –2
Average Magic Points: 10
Attacks per round: 1, Smoother (manuever)
Book Lurkers will almost always attempt to flee, but if they are cornered, they attempt to suffocate their attackers by filling the nose, mouth, and throat with their semi-liquid forms.
Smother (mnvr) 35% (17/7), damage 1D4/round (suffocation). Extreme Fighting (Brawl) check to remove a Book Lurker suffocating a target, with a penalty die if trying to remove a Book Lurker from themselves.
Dodge 75% (37/15)
Armor: Immune to Physical damage (except fire).
Sanity Loss: 1/1D4+1 to watch the infection progress in another; 1/1D4 to see corpse of a victim; 1/1D6 to witness a Book Lurker hatching; 1/1D6 to see a Book Lurker; 1/1D8 for recognizing that oneself is infected with a Book Lurker.