Embracing Bower Monastery & Skinfin Grotto - Nicholas Hite
The cliffside Embracing Bower monastery overlooks the ocean near the sleepy hamlet of Roston, where the resident monks revere an obscure but benevolent nature deity. Recently a rash of disappearances has struck the town, and some townsfolk have begun to cast a leery eye at the reclusive monks.
The monastery is bright and open. Bare earthen floors invite soft mosses to grow amid the square stone pillars of a great henge in the worship hall. During daylight hours villagers visit seeking solace and tranquility, but few notice the tiny flaws in the iconography that hint that the holy site is not what it seems.
Beneath the facade of a welcoming sanctuary, the monks are actually cultists of the Scaled Eye, and are obsessed with returning humanity to its primordial beginnings beneath the waves.
A trapped door hidden behind the carving of the sacred tree leads down into the caverns below the monastery where the cultists hold the captives they have taken from the local town. Under the direction of the faux-abbot, a disgraced chirurgeon named Norbert Easeman, they mutilate their captive villagers, cracking and spreading their feet into grotesque fins, and sewing shark gills into their necks in order to prepare them to “return” to a life in the depths. The experiments are typically fatal, and the waters teem with aggressive oceanic scavengers, drawn by the cult’s discarded failures.
The underground caverns boast a secret dock, allowing the Scaled Eye to feed their constant need for alchemical unguents and elixirs unseen by the townsfolk, a luxurious library containing grimoires on aquatic aberrations, and a surgical laboratory for their unnatural experiments.The caverns are connected with slick, slimy walkways, rickety makeshift bridges, and for the most intrepid adventurers, a swim through the airless tunnels in the icy depths.