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After our Return of the Runelords campaign, we started Strange Aeons… I'll try to keep a journal from… a nameless someone's perspective (it will eventually become obvious) and stick to it, like I did for our Shattered Star campaign.
A time, a place, Carcosa
It hit them like a wave, like a dream, like a nightmare. The yellow fog engulfing the world, the screaming wind, the shapes in the mist, the wet street, the leprous walls of crumbling buildings. And the Tatterman, pounding closer and closer from the fog, assailing their sanity, slashing them to ribbons. The blood-covered cobbled street…
They woke up, or at least they thought they did, to the sound of the tortured man calling for help. Chaos followed. A scrambling of the shapeshifter with Mrriaál grappling her, Lorena making the scalpel the shapeshifter held fall to the ground. Claw, grappling, globs of acid being hurled. Chaos. And finally a dead, horrific, shapeshifter reverting to its natural asexual self. The tortured man was now dead. They were hurt. Badly. Tam's magic healed them. Little did they know. It would become obvious soon enough.
Bit had already started to change, it was eating her already. The others didn't know. They would.
No way out from this subterranean series of cells but a vent through a cold furnace and a chute over a mount of dead bodies, ripened beyond their time. They chose the vents leading to a boiler room, where they infringed on the territory of a zoog and its rat companions. Rats in the walls… Mrriaál and the zoog eventually talked and they agreed to leave the creature's territory.
In the hallway beyond, a barricade, warning crossbow shots. Humans at last! But why were they shooting? The humans would not let them through, crossbows ready. Too many shapeshifter. On the barricade, they didn't trust them and forced them away. Words did not help. On the barricade, they were too scared, they had been through too much to take any risk.
Down the dark hallway, rooms buried under rubble, the half collapsed walls of the Briarstone Asylum. Yes, that's where they were now, the Briarstone Asylum, Ustalav, Golarion, another place. Their place for then.
Corpses in the rubble. Asylum patients, doctors, visitors. And shapeshifters. All dead but one that almost fooled them, pretending to be a wounded old nurse. But it didn't. Paranoia has its virtue. But leaves you all alone.
A dead body that animated. Remnant necromantic magic. Haunts. Echo of events to come.
An old laundry room, an undead creature, attached to a wall, eating a corpse that was the only barrier preventing it from eating a crazed asylum patient. "Zandalus sees," he screamed. "Praise!" The undead creature gone, they took no risk. Subdued the crazed man. And moved to the only other door out of the laundry.
- Bit, against the torturing shapeshifter
- Mrriaál, against the torturing shapeshifter
Sanity point losses:
- Bit: 1/37
- Lorena: 1/40
- Mrriaál: 2/29
- Tam: 1/38
- Bit, an android conjurer with an ambassador familiar that changes between a parrot and an raven [Azriel the druid in our Return of the Runelords campaign];
- Lorena, a halfling sorcerer (wildblooded) who despises light and live by and for shadows [Szarlej the drunk cleric in our Return of the Runelords campaign];
- Mrriaál, a fighter (brawler) with the Wildling feat and that looks like a merge between a woman and a cat [Ice the mermaid bard in our Return of the Runelords campaign];
- Tam, an osiriani cleric (evangelist) of Horus, shy and unaware of all he can do [Akkumsah the monk in our Return of the Runelords campaign].
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this is my journal because Tam told me if you write things down then you can remember them when you need to and Tam is very wise just like Bit is very smart and Lorena is very small and I need to remember because something is wrong with my memory because I am very very stupid and useless
so I will start with the earliest things I remember
that is being in the cage I was bred by the Mistress she bred me from a half-ogre and a leopard using BAD EVIL MAGIC but I didn't come out the way she wanted so she put me in the cage next to the other failures
and she did the tests which hurt very much to see why I was so bad and I tried to escape sometimes but she always caught me
... that's pretty much everything I remember until what happened today
I guess I should start with the dream
it was a very bad dream
I was in an alley and it was the time when the evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table and I went through certain half-deserted streets the muttering retreats streets that followed like a tedious argument of insidious intent and there was something pursuing me in the yellow fog
there was something big in the yellow fog that rubbed its back upon the window-panes the yellow smoke that rubbed its muzzle on the window-panes and licked its tongue into the corners of the evening and lingered upon the pools that stand in drains
so I ran away I ran before it could slip by the terrace and make a sudden leap
and the bricks were made of flesh and the streets were rotting beneath me and a voice said "Me" and I thought "Me?" and a voice said "Up" and I thought "Up Me? Me Up?" and the thing in the yellow smoke that slid along the street rubbing its back upon the window-panes was getting closer and closer
and there was no time there was no time for all the works and days of hands
and a voice said "Save" and I thought "Me Up Save? Save Up Me? Up Save Me?" and I thought is that like "Wake Up Save Me"? is this a dream?
and then I woke up
I woke up in a cage so that was normal but MR BEAR WAS GONE
so I screamed and screamed and screamed
and Bit was in the cage with me and Tam was in another cage and Lorena was in a third cage but I couldn't see her and I didn't know their names until later and I can't remember how I got in there it wasn't the same cage as the cage the Mistress kept me in
and outside the cage there was a woman with a knife cutting up a man on the table so that was normal and he was the one screaming "Wake Up" and I was screaming back because MR BEAR WAS GONE
and the woman came over to tell me to stop screaming and she was wearing my face because I guess she could prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet
so I grabbed her through the bars
and Bit walked right through the bars which is pretty neat and she got the key off the woman's belt and let us out and Lorena did something to the woman's knife which made her drop it and I thought oh no I am in here with BAD EVIL WIZARDS
but i thought the woman with the knife was probably worse than the BAD EVIL WIZARDS what with the knifing and taking away Mr. Bear so I kept hold of her and started punching her and I did that for a while
but after a while she got away though and I had to come out and punch her and Tam did stuff to make my punching better and also tried to save the guy being knifed but he died
and Lorena squeezed out through the bars and she and Bit threw acid at the woman and the woman clawed me until I was almost dead but I was able to take One Last Punch and then I fell over but they told me later that I punched her so hard that she was able to take One Last Punch which knocked out Bit but then she fell over too so that was the end because Tam and Lorena were still awake but she wasn't
and then Tam did something although he didn't know how he did it which made me feel better and I said "How can that be magic if it made me feel better" and they told me that there is Good Magic and that they are GOOD NOT-EVIL WIZARDS
anyway we looked around and I found Mr Bear and I gave him a good long cuddle
so we introduced ourselves to each other although we all kind of felt like we knew each other but none of us could remember how we got there or much of anything at all
it was like the moon had lost our memory and was smiling alone all the torches seemed to beat a fatalistic warning someone muttered and the gas lamps guttered
and a parrot came out of Bit's shoulder and I tried to grab the parrot but it flew away and everyone told me not to do that which seems unfair
so we searched and found an enormous pile of dead bodies in another room
and then we found a furnace which we thought maybe we could climb up so I took my armor back off and tried it I should have said that I found my armor too along with Mr Bear
and I climbed up into a room where I saw something glow and heard something skittering so I went to the door and opened it and someone shot me with a crossbow!
and then the rats and a cat-rat creature came out and attacked me and we were fighting and Tam came up to help me but then I could understand the cat-rat creature I think because my father was a leopard and the cat-rat creature just wanted us to leave so I said sure because I like animals I think because my father is a leopard
anyway the others came up and we went out into the hall where people were warning us not to come into the hall and we found out they thought we were shapechangers like the woman downstairs who when she died became a horrible monster
so we talked to them and asked them to remember the time they knew what happiness was and let the memory live again
but they WOULD NOT LISTEN even though we said we were not shapechangers and we argued for a very long time and finally they said if we killed a bunch of shapechangers they might believe us
so we went away and some big centipedes attacked us right in front of them and Lorena made the centipedes all greasy and then we killed the centipedes
and then we went farther and a woman came out of some rubble and said "Oh I am hurt" and Tam went to help her walk but I was suspicious because of what the guards had said so I tried to grab her and I missed and it was a good grab so I knew she wasn't a wounded old woman so I said "Kill it kill it!" so we did and it was a shapechanger so I took the body back to the guards and said "There's one"
and it made more sense to me why the guards were so stupid because being stupid was smart in this place
and we saw a body moving in the rubble so we went to help but it attacked us even though it was dead but its hands and head crawled towards us and when we killed them its intestines attacked us too
I am starting to think something is wrong with this place
and we went on and found another dead person eating another dead person so we killed them both even though only one was moving and there was a not-dead person too who said "Zandalus Sees" and "Praise" and nothing else and we thought he might be a crazy person because the guards who didn't let us pass told us this was a crazy person place
anyway we knocked him out
and now we're standing before another door but we're not sure whether to open it because we're hurt and Lorena can't make things greasy anymore and Tam can't do the special good not-evil healing magic and I guess Bit probably can't do whatever Bit does
so maybe we will go in or maybe we will rest and wait because soon it will be morning
daylight we must wait for the sunrise we must think of a new life and we mustn't give in
when the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too and a new day will begin
I just wanna go home. I don't belong here. Nobody does. This is not a place for people.
The dream was bad enough, but I've had nightmares before. Waking up was worse. For one thing, the bandage-faced giant in the dream cried for help all the while he was pursuing me. Could be he was a victim of the situation just like I was. And at least it was over quickly.
I wish the asylum were a dream too, but we've been here for a while now and it's not going away. I suppose this is where I really am.
So many things don't add up. I must have lost several years. Last thing I remember, I was still living at the River House, earning a modest coin with my penmanship. Now apparently I own a suit of armor? And a sword?! I have a sword. Let that sink in for a moment. I didn't pick up the brawn or the courage to go with it, unfortunately. I've mostly hidden behind my shield and flailed around with the blade so far. Good thing Mrriaál knows how to fight.
What is even stranger: Everytime we fight, I keep having bouts of... some kind of possession? Another man's words pour out of me, fell words that have no meaning to me but that boil with an ominous power that touches those around me. My fellow survivors don't seem to mind. Is someone — something? — using me as a conduit into the world? Am I some demon's hapless pawn? Or did I even willingly sell my soul to a dark power my past life? Either way, I dread the answer.
Sometimes, these words conjure an eldritch glow from my palms, red like a sunset and laced with black tendrils, and it appears to heal wounds. The others seem convinced that this is some kind of priestly magic that I work, but surely that's preposterous. I don't know the first thing about magic, and only enough about gods to mumble a prayer to Desna or Pharasma when the need arises. Wouldn't I at least have to know which god I serve? And even if it were true — what if it turns out I serve an archdevil, or some unspeakable horror from beyond the veil? My sword is rather wicked-looking, almost like a sickle, and my amulet bears a stern-looking eye. I am afraid to ask.
Perhaps this place is so truly gods-forsaken that even the gods themselves don't know were are here. Then we are truly lost.
- Tam, an osiriani cleric (evangelist) of Horus
For the record, Tamuil "Tam" Rivers is of Varisian blood and grew up in an orphanage right here in Ustalav (the River House). However, he spend his recent formative years on an expedition in Osirion, of which he remembers absolutely nothing for the time being.Oh, and it's ridiculously difficult to find a decent avatar image for him in this forum, but this is what he looks like: Image
|Bit and Nat|
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Logbook of Bit - Entry 001
A very peculiar incident happened. Having pondered on the causes and implications for an appropriate amount of time, I have decided to approach this curiosity as I would handle any difficult problem: I will write down every aspect I encounter as well as my thoughts upon these matters for later study. In so doing I will be able to rearrange these observations into a coherent picture allowing me to find a solution and remedy insofar as possible.
But first things first. I seem to have lost my memory. Well, technically most of my memory. What is left over is blurred and only appears in incoherent figments. I have attempted to order them chronologically as well as possible:
… an enormous hill made of metal … fire and lightning … wandering through vast plains … a group of humans in hide clothing and massive swords … they attack … a bright flash … the large man falls down with smoking a hole in his chest … the warriors flee … more people but with fine cloth and strange weapons … ‘come with us’ … a cage on a wagon … freezing and hungering … travelling through hills and mountains … flapping wings ... … a market in a town … acid and mist … a mansion … the master makes creatures appear … we study his book … a construction workshop … the master is angry - must flee … reappear in another place … and then - blackness ...
In this blackness I was wandering for what seemed like a lifetime. My last memory - was it real? - is that a yellow fog appeared. I was running away, but the fog crept closer. Interestingly, elongated structures - what turned out to be tentacles - materialised from it, but I was somehow able to evade them. Then a crossroad - should I follow the path downhill or rather climb the hill? From the fog a voice emerged - ‘up’ or was it ‘up me’? From a rough estimate of the fog density and pressure I decided the wiser path leads uphill, but my calculations were wrong as the fog ascended much faster than anticipated. A creature appeared through the fog - a leathery humanoid - and uttered another word - ‘save’. I could not make sense of this incoherent babel and instead decided to stop the creature. Turning around I held my hands up and a strange liquid formed on them - only to disappear in an instant. Before I could run away further, the creature mumbled ‘WAKE’ and slashed at me. As it slit my throat, the words rearranged and I heard a shrieking voice screaming ‘Wake up! Save me!’ - And then I woke…
As I opened my eyes I saw what had become my fate. I was locked in a cell. Inside, a creature unlike any I ever had seen or read about - as if a human and a cat had mixed their essences - was I save from her? Outside, a man strapped on a table, obviously the source of the shrieking voice. A woman with a scalpel cutting into his flesh. I quickly decided that staying in the cell with the cat lady (Mrriaál, as I later learned) was 78 per cent less likely to result in fatality than dealing with the scalpel lady - so I remained silent. There was no clear indication on whether the man deserved his treatment anyway. At this point, however, the cat lady started to quite strongly hammer at the cell bars. Was she trying to distract the lady or cheering for her? Or was she hungry and demanded food? It is awkwardly hard for me to read the intention of others.
No matter her intentions - the result of her action was the scalpel lady coming at us and shouting ‘You’re next!’ to the cat lady. Before I could reassess the situation, the cat lady grabbed her through the bars and started to strangle her. Given my apparent association with the cat lady and the scalpel lady’s obvious intentions, I recalculated the likelihood of fatality and determined that leaving the cell and trying to kill the lady before she kills me was arguably the better option. I thought the bars would be an impossible obstacle, but while thinking ‘I would be rather on the opposite side’ I suddenly disappeared and reappeared five feet away from my cell. I have a theory on what happened, but I need more data to verify it.
As the scalpel woman was held tightly by Mrriaál (i.e. the cat lady), I took my chances and calculated the appropriate vectors to snatch the keys from her belt (it turns out that choosing spherical coordinates simplifies this considerably). The number of unknown variables was low enough for me to succeed, so I held the cell keys in my hands. Quickly I opened the cell door so that Mrriaál could escape, but she would not loosen her grapple. So I took a scalpel from the table and slashed at the woman. However, while my attack vectors were appropriate, I lack the necessary strength to harm her. From the opposite side of the room I heard another voice - a cowering man - or should I say boy? - also in a cell. He waved at me pointing at my hands. What did he want? Discuss my attack vectors or was was he excited by something? Would he hurt me? I couldn’t tell. Anyway, I did not take any risk and continued to slash at the vile woman. From the other side a small creature approached us. I could not see much of it as it was engulfed in shadows, but it was obviously on our side trying to chain up the evil woman.
Then she broke free of Mrriaál grasp, who in turn left the cell to attack her again. My suspicion that the woman was not human solidified when her hands turned into claws. A fierce battle erupted between the two beasts until both seemed to drop to the ground at any moment. As the man/boy in the other cell cast a soothing magic on me, he revealed himself to be on our side, so I went over and handed him the keys. Sadly, I miscalculated my relative safety, since the clawed monster jumped and stabbed at me. My last thought was ‘Has my blood always been blue?’. Darkness followed.
When I woke up again the fight was over and the beast had been slain (so had the man on the table - but I digress). My companions in misfortune had saved and healed me. The man/boy is called Tam and seems to be a priest of some sort. The little creature actually is a halfling woman named Lorena, and she has magical powers. Still, she is constantly moving in the shadows, so I have not been able yet to study her closer. Time will tell. As I was investigating the room, suddenly, a bird appeared on my shoulder. Strangely, I seem to have a connection with it - as if… His name is Nat, and he is a fine example of an ara ararauna - remarkable bird, lovely plumage! He seems to put talking before thinking though - this might suit me well.
We searched to room somewhat more and found interesting items - I took a crossbow, a pen with some ink, some candles, a pouch with odd contents, and a magnificent book - a spell book! Some memories came back! My spell book! I used it to cast arcane spells. This required some study! While the others climbed up the vents of a furnaces (or whatever else these people did), I devoured my spell book (not literally - obviously). Lorena pulled me back into reality and suggested to follow the others. I didn’t see why, but staying down here alone did not seem wise either. Climbing up was easier than what a simple cylindrical model would have implied.
On the upper floor there was a bit of a mess - Mrriaál had played with some mice - but there were some left, so the consensus was to leave the room as fast as possible. Outside some people were barricading in a hallway - were they monsters, too? I couldn’t tell. But they would not let us join them anyway unless we bring them three monster corpses. Was this some exotic form of mating ritual? I couldn’t tell. Our group was very undecided on how to handle this, so in the meanwhile we followed the hallway in the other direction. At least the other people told us were we are - an asylum. This does seem to be the most logical explanation. You lose your memory - you end up in an asylum. So there’s that.
Opening doors only led to big omnipedes attacking us. At the end of the hallway a massacre had happened - the only survivor, an elderly woman - or was she? I couldn’t tell. But the others told me to stay behind (maybe I smell strange). As if they had know - had they? - the woman transformed into a vile monster and attacked. Luckily the individuals in my group know how to deal with these situations. They slaughtered the old lady. She probably deserved it - Nat (suddenly in the form of a corvus corax) confirmed this. Exploring the asylum further only revealed more monsters - a dislodged head and hands - and a ghoul. I wonder when we will meet civilised people?
I shall see how I can escape this unpleasant situation. It is hard to concentrate in here - it is as if I sometimes heard some mumbling - but when I turn around there is nothing. And it triggers … feelings? Is it anger or joy? I cannot tell… yet…
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Zvezda? Is that you? How did you get into this asylum all the way from Irrisen? But I thought your companion was named Fritzwick, not Mr. Bear....
(This is entirely too awesome, we have a Black Cat Monk in our Reign of Winter campaign who... well, has a most interesting personality and I swear somehow Mrriaál is her spirit-sister!)
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Also, even more amusingly, the previous time I ran Reign of Winter my group included a Black Catfolk Brawler. Though she was more angry than confused and somewhat innocent like Zvezda is (and was also run by a different player). So yeah. This makes the third Catfolkesque melee type that I've come across now.
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so we decided not to open the door yet because we were very hurt and very very tired so we went back to a broom closet to sleep but before we slept we talked to the guards and we asked why they hadn't run away from all the terrible things and they said look outside so we looked through a door into a courtyard
and the yellow fog from our dreams was hovering overhead and it was raining blood from a lacerated sky bleeding its horror the sky was turning red falling into me the sky's crimson tears abolishing the rules made of stone
then we went back inside and went to bed
and I had a terrible dream again I was back in the alley with the fog and I closed my eyes and ran and ran but didn't get anywhere and the big creature was there in the fog so I attacked it kill it kill it and it reached down and gently stroked my face
and I woke up screaming
after that we went back to the door we didn't open with the man outside still screaming Zandalus Sees and we opened the door and there were bodies an a pile and one on a table and a thing in a basin saying I'm hungry and a face-changing thing behind a curtain but when we pulled the curtain aside it was gone
but the woman on the table turned out to be alive and I was worried about face-changers so I held her down and later tied her up and we searched her and found a healing vial and a key and we gave her the healing vial and then we talked to her and she said she didn't remember much but she worked there and there had been an earthquake and a riot and strange monsters took her to the room
and she seemed all right but I knocked her out for safety which the others didn't like and we talked about what to do about the thing in the basin which wanted to eat us and eventually we decided it was better to kill it although Bit's bird disagreed that bird is really very annoying
and while we were leaving I asked if the key we found on the woman fit the manacles outside and the others tried them and they did
and I thought why would a helpless woman on a table have the keys to the manacles that were holding a dead body and a hungry monster and a crazy person and I thought I don't think she's a woman I think she's a face-changer
but I knew I only thought that because I am very stupid and the others are all very smart and I knew that if I told them I thought the woman was a face-changer they would come up with all sorts of clever arguments I couldn't think of about why she might have the key even if she wasn't a face-changer and they would probably change my mind so I killed her while she was helpless and tied up before they could say anything
and Tam raced in to stop me but he was too late and the woman was dead and turned out to be a face-changer she turned into one when she died
but that was the third face-changer we killed so we went back to the guards and said Hey let us in and they said no at first and we were very mad because they promised but eventually they said they would let us in if we left our weapons outside so we did
and inside there was a place where a whole lot of people were staying and a woman named Winter was taking care of them and she was mad at us for coming so I got upset and she said help out if you want to stay so I chopped some firewood and Tam made some food and Bit knocked a poor old man unconscious and I think Bit has a Problem
and then while we were explaining that Bit had a Problem Lorena tried to destroy a statue of a pretty woman with wings but we stopped her
I don't think we made a very good first impression
but anyway we talked to Winter about what happened and she said they didn't know there was a riot and things got strange and the fog came and it had something to do with the Zandalus person who the crazy person was talking about and they couldn't look for a way to solve it because the way out had been blocked by an eye wall fungus thing
so we spent hours and hours and hours trying to figure out how to get past the eye wall fungus thing which was VERY ANNOYING and finally Tam and Winter used their Good Not-Evil Magic to get rid of it
we went past and through a room into another room which had nothing interesting only a lot of books and there were RATS and I hissed at the RATS and the RATS summoned more RATS who attacked us and there were lots of them so we had to retreat
but we went back the next day with a plan on how to fight the RATS and this time we were better at it so we defeated the RATS and Lorena went through a little tunnel and said there are more RATS back there so we went through a door and are going to fight them and that's where things are now
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A place, a time, Carcosa
Fatigue, exhaustion, despair. They barricade themselves in a side room. Nightmares, yellow mist, screams. The Tatterman, stroking Mrriaál's face. Shudders. Barely any rest.
The final room in this wing of the Asylum. A laundry room. A torture room. Cadavers. A living cadaver, hungry; mangled legs, immobilized in a washing bassin. A surviving doctor, still alive. Tortured. Or was she. They almost save her, back to the barricade. Still, suspicion. Paranoia. She held the key to the manacles to the crazed man, the body, and the ghoul attached to the wall. Paranoia. Mrriaál slits her throat before Tam can stop her. Horrified companions. The cacophony of Bit's pet talking bird. Already, the body of the woman changed to that of a dead shapeshifter. Survival. Paranoia. Paranoia has its virtue. But leaves you all alone.
At the barricade, they let them through. Without their weapons. A large group of survivors. Patients. Doctors. Visitors. Kids. Winter Klazcka is doing her best to keep them alive. And sane. She prays to the Lady of Graves, the Mother of Souls. The chapel is safe. The Great Dreamer protects their sleep.
It started with riots. Prisoner Zandalus, crazed, leading hordes of former patients. Transformed residents, violent. A plague of shapeshifters born of the residents. It all started that way. But the chapel is a harbor. Only Lorena, furious, attempts to destroy the statue of Desna. Confusion. Hesitation. What is happening to her? What is she becoming? What is she already?
An eye eating a wall. The only way to the rest of the Asylum. No way out. The eye fights back. Eventually destroyed by healing magic. The way through is open!
But outside, the yellow fog. Tendrils of mist curling. Shapes in the haze. Rain. A warm rain. An oily rain. A warm oily rain the color of blood. No way but further in. Searching for answers to questions. Searching for questions to answers. Searching for a way out. Searching for a way in.
The library; scattering rat-people. More rats and even more rats. Skittering, scrambling, climbing. On the books, on the shelves, on them. Biting, gnawing, scratching. Rats all over. Rats in the books. Rats in the walls. Forced to retreat to the chapel.
They rest, worn out. Bit connects what she sees. Tam's holy symbol. N… She knows, recoils, stays away from the scribe, no closer, sense of danger. Yet his magic is helpful, heals. How is it possible. The Black Pharaoh. How?
The library again. Fire, weapons arcing under the lantern light. Books flying and rats skewered. And rat-people. But more still ahead. They know. Lorena went and saw, unseen.
Still forward, halls and hallways, corridors. A path of mucus between doors…
And R.I.P. one doppleganger who demonstrated real commitment to her role, sticking to the script of being a helpless innocent while being grappled, pinned, bound, "healed", "knocked unconscious", and eventually killed, in a show of dedication to method acting that deserved all of the awards.
Hurrah for method acting! =^-^= And dumb monsters! =^-^=
I must say, I am truly impressed though that you thought through the encounter, went "this is a shapeshifter pretending to be a prisoner," and took it out. Well played! Very much well played. :)
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I need to get my thoughts straight. Writing usually helps.
The good news is that we've found a refuge promising as much safety as can be hoped for under the circumstances. Even just entering the chapel soothes my soul, and unlike last night, I slept well. Bit apparently refused to sleep in the chapel and paid for it in nightmares. I find it reassuring that the numen of the gods still counts for something in this place — it can't be quite as godsforsaken as I had feared. Winter is a godssend; she's single-handedly keeping the peace among our sorry band, and she appears to be a more competent healer than I am. A more competent anything, for that matter.
Some limits to the chapel's safety have already become obvious. A good part of the refugees are crazy, to begin with. There's also a fair number of wounded, and our food will run out in a couple of weeks or so. The rest of the asylum appears to be overrun with monstrous creatures. Perhaps most disconcertingly, Lorena committed an act of vandalism against a statue of Desna — Desna! — in a fit of rage, later claiming she had found her too pretty. I fear the forces of madness are seeking to infiltrate the sanctity of the chapel and to sow discord among us. What if the next bout of insanity will lead to murder?
Bit also used a powerful magic spell to overwhelm a raving patient in need of soothing, which proved very counterproductive when the spell didn't wear off gently. I don't think that was madness, though, just extraordinarily poor judgement. I'm having a hard time making sense of Bit, to be honest. Even her bird seems exasperated with her at times. Mrriaál says it's because Bit's on the speck drum. I don't know what that means, but Mrriaál seems sympathetic about it, so I guess it can't be a big deal.
As for the bad news? Let's start with the fact that I was overwhelmed by a swarm of rats and bitten to within an inch of my life. The horror of our situation was bad enough before I suffered grievous bodily harm; now that I know first-hand just how vulnerable I am, it is that much worse. Yet we must continue on our sortie, and no doubt face more merciless violence. Whatever I did in my past few years, it clearly didn't include much battle hardening.
What is perhaps worse: I also dealt my share of merciless violence, and in a manner so honorless it would make any Paladin blush and blanch at the same time. I cut down a ratling with my sword while it was stunned by Bit's magic. Even so, it took me two strokes. I doubt I would have been its match, had it had its senses. Cutting down centipedes is one thing, but this was clearly a sort of person, even if monstrous in appearance. It certainly did attack us with deadly force earlier, so I suppose it can be construed as self-defense, but still. I murdered a helpless person, and don't feel all that bad about it.
Earlier, when Mrriaál slit that false orderly's throat, I was going to stop her. The results proved her choice correct, but still I feel worse about that death than about the ratling's. Is a human face the only thing that separates my compassion from cold blood? What does that say about me?
Mrriaál said that since I don't remember my past sins, my current self is innocent of them. I'm not sure that's how it works. I am continuous with my former self; who is to say that I would make any different choices, were I in the same situations again? Will all the guilt and corruption that my past may hold crash down on me when I regain my memory?
The bloody rain outside the asylum marked my arms with stains that won't wash off. I am afraid that's also what my soul may look like.
As for my possible religious allegiance: Winter didn't recognize the symbol on my amulet, and it certainly doesn't match any of the holy symbols on display in the chapel. On the other hand, Bit stared at it a while ago, blatantly lied about her conclusions, and then rushed off. She won't tell me more. The dread is killing me.
I suppose I should end this on a positive note. Alright then: Winter is really hot. Eyes of two different colors, chiseled face, black leathers, really pulling off that badass inquisitor look. Perhaps a bit on the thin side, but hey, who am I to judge? It's not like I have a chance with her — she must think me a mere boy — but somehow I find my attraction oddly reassuring. Our situation can't be that bad if my mind still has room for this sort of thing.
By the way, I might not remember my last few years, but I'm nonetheless very sure that I'm still a virgin. I mean, I'd have to know, right? I'd have to feel different somehow.
Well, so much for that positive note.