The slithering tendrils of film lifted Mr. Long from the balcony and began to assimilate him into its form, strands of the silvery film gently wrapping themselves around his body.
"Here you all shall perish!" he laughed madly. "I offer you all as sacrifices for the glory of Yog-Sothoth!"
His words seemed to catalyze Derive into action. The swordsage leaped from the balcony, his blade erupting in flame as he fell upon the mass of film. Derive's sword cut effortlessly through the amorphous wad, and the fiery attack ignited the film. However, Mr. Long seemed unperturbed by the attack on his servant as it fully absorbed him.
The blob of film lashed out at Derive with a dozen flaming tendrils, but the nimble warrior effortlessly evaded them all. However, as the creature pulled itself fully out of the hole in the floor, the flames that engulfed it set the stage curtains and the movie screen alight.
"Nice going," Lupin grumbled loudly as he fired his pistol at the creature.
Derive shot an icy glare over his shoulder at the halfling. "How was I supposed to know film was flammable?"
Lucy remained on the balcony, peppering the film-creature with arrows as Derive and Lupin combated it from the main floor. The blob of film was slow and its attacks were easy to avoid, but the adventurers seemed unable to stop the relentless creature. The fire in the theater was growing and soon threatened to overtake the entire building.
"This isn't working," Lupin shouted, doing his best not to choke on the thick smoke. "We need a plan."
"Remind me to take Power Attack after this fight," Derive replied as he hacked off yet another thick tendril from the creature.
Lucy's arrows stuck firmly into the top of the beast, though to little effect. "Think we'll level up from this?"
Lupin nodded up at her. "Most likely, assuming we survive."
Suddenly, the creature slammed a thick mass of film into the balcony Lucy perched on, effortlessly smashing the wooden structure. Lucy shrieked in surprise as she fell, and winced as she landed on her feet.
"Are you alright?" Lupin called out to her.
Lucy nodded. "Just hurt my ankle a little."
Derive called out to his companions to get their attention. Looking where he pointed, Lupin and Lucy saw that the creature was ceasing its attacks, but its form was bulging and convulsing.
"What's it doing?" Derive asked.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Lupin answered with a shrug.
Lucy limped over to where her two companions stood watching the creature as it writhed and convulsed on the ground. Slowly, the convulsions subsided, and the mass of film lay still. Ignoring the hazardous flames around them, Derive cautiously approached the blob and poked it with his index finger.
Without warning, the massive ball of film violently exploded. The blast threw the adventurers back, smashing them into walls and theater chairs. A sickening groan resounded throughout the room just before the building collapsed.
Onlookers from across the street watched in horror as The Paradise Theater collapsed in on itself. Dust and smoke filled the air, and for a time all was silent.
Slowly, a tiny figure pulled itself out of the rubble. The patrons who had escaped from the theater cheered as Lupin emerged from the disastrous sight. He slowly got to his feet, his body aching. However, it only took him a moment to realize what had happened, and he frantically began to dig through the rubble in search of his friends.
"My friends are buried!" he called out to the bystanders. "Help me, please!"
The onlookers were slow to react, but one by one they began to file across the street and help the halfling dig through the rubble. Lucy was the first to be unearthed. Lupin's heart skipped a beat when her deathly still form was found, but one of the surviving theater patrons happened to be a doctor who assured the concerned halfling that she was merely unconscious.
It took several minutes of digging to uncover Derive, but he seemed to have survived the blast and subsequent collapse in much better shape than Lucy. He grinned excited at Lupin while he was being freed from the rubble.
"That was awesome!" he exclaimed.
Lupin could not help but laugh at his friend's exuberance. "You had to poke it, didn't you?"
"It wouldn't have been nearly as exciting if I hadn't," Derive replied with a wide smile.
"Hey," Lupin called out to his friends. "Come take a look at this."
A week had passed since the incident at the theater. Lucy had recovered quickly from her injuries, and Derive had invited both of them to stay at the small apartment he had downtown. Lupin was lounging on the sofa reading the newspaper while Lucy and Derive were in the kitchen making breakfast.
The other two adventurers joined the halfling in the living room, and Lupin tapped on the newspaper article he was reading.
"We are being lauded as heroes," Lupin said to them. "See here. 'Adventurous Detectives Save Hundreds From Theater Disaster'. We're becoming quite the local celebrities."
"Eww, I don't want to become a vegetable," Lucy whined, sticking out her tongue in disgust.
Derive smacked her on the back of the head. "He said 'celebrities', not 'celery'. Anyway, I was reading more into that book we found and I think we may need to talk to someone more knowledgeable about magic than we are."
"Why is that?" Lupin asked curiously as he folded the newspaper closed.
Derive pulled a scrap of paper from his pocket and showed it to the halfling. On it was a rough sketch of a strange symbol akin to having three 'Y's arranged so that the two prongs from each 'Y' made a sort of triangle. Inside the triangle was an eye that stared straight ahead. Looking at the symbol made Lupin's head hurt.
"Ugh, put it away," the halfling grumbled.
"Feels like a migraine when you look at it, too, huh?" Derive asked as he folded it up and stuffed it in his pocket.
Lupin nodded. "Yeah. Anyway, I think I know someone who could help us with that. I'll send her a wire."