Strange Aeons

Going Hungry

The hunger inside me continues to grow.  I’m doing my best to suppress the urges but I’m not sure how much longer I can control myself.  I don’t even want anybody to touch me.  Even the slightest contact with flesh may unleash my insatiable hunger.  The other day Cassandra touched my newly formed wings and it took all my self-control to not remove flesh from bone.  Instead the smell of her arm in such close proximity was just enough to hold me back.  Thank Pharasma.

It has been six days since I last felt satisfied.  This has been the longest I’ve gone, since this affliction has corrupted me, without sentient flesh.  Thankfully the fort we recently cleared out has a set of cells one of which can be used to confine me has Winter does her best to help rid me of this corruption.  Even as we eat this delicious breakfast and cinnamon; it does nothing to curb my hunger.

As we walk thru town I can feel my desire to feast grow even stronger every passerby is a potential meal as disgusting as it is it was what I need to continue living.  The sight of simple foods is becoming repulsive and is now a chore more than anything to keep up appearances which mine are admittedly not that great.  Probably doesn't help that I have a set of wings hidden under the lent to me by the sleepless agency but I don’t care as they will prove to be quite useful.  Why throw bombs when I can simply drop them.

Upon reaching the fort Wynzo goes about cleaning my cell which I am quite grateful for as Winter has told me that it will be my home/prison for an extended period of time.  She says she has no idea how long it could take but has advised that it would be many moons.  I pray to Pharasma that this cell will not become my permanent residence if I’m lost to the corruption.  I do not know what will become of me in these trying days but I pray that Winter and Pharasma are able to guide me through it.

I am stripped of everything as my body lay bare chained to the wall inside of this cell deep within this fort in this miserable dreary town.  I have no sight to the outside but if I had to guess it’s probably raining as that seems to be the only consistent thing in this place…fucking rain.

Free me! Feed me!  Look it is bringing food perhaps I will rip the flesh from his bones layer by layer first the skin although his seems rather tough.  I will simply peel it away with my teeth revealing the soft rich tissue underneath.  He doesn’t seem to speak so I’m curious if he’ll scream as I remove the skin from his body.  If he does his throat will be the first part of my meal.  I will lick his bones clean.  There will be nothing left but a mask and a pile of bones when I am done with him.

Fuck these chains and fuck this muzzle.  I must feed.  I’ve changed my mind about the masked one.  I’m much more interested in this priestess.  She will not shut the fuck up.  Prayer after prayer. Day after day.  It never stops.  I must stop this I must feed.  If I kill her I the prayers will stop and my hunger will grow less.

The days are growing long the nights even longer.  Or the nights are growing long and the days are even longer.  I can no longer tell the difference.  It is all just one long unrelenting nightmare.  I thought the nightmares were over once we left the asylum.  The hunger is unbelievable words cannot even begin to describe it.  The only thing that is keeping me connected to humanity is Winter and her prayers.  I do my best to repeat them as often as I am able to but I seem to be slipping in and out.  At times I am able to maintain control but there are periods that I lose out to the corruption and feel more like a passenger within my own my mind and body.  It is a ride I desperately want to get off.

I must escape I must feed.  I must get this muzzle off.  I can only lick the salt from my own flesh for so long.  Biting my own lips does nothing it is not enough to even qualify as a snack. Why won’t they feed me?  I am literally starving.

I can feel the corruption subsiding but it is becoming desperate and is violently trying to retake my mind.  I must not let it take control I must stay true.

 I will eat this priestess.  I will make her regret every word she has ever uttered in my presence.  I will leave her eyes intact so she can watch as I tear apart her insides and then stare directly into her eyes as I eat bite after bite of her intestines. Perhaps I’ll feed her her own flesh.  Yes I will tear apart her chest cavity and feed her bits of her own self.  And then as she shallows piece after piece will pull apart her stomach and re-feed her the same pieces over and over again.

As I awake I feel weak but oddly better.  I no longer feel the desire to eat flesh.  I run my tongue over my teeth and feel that they are no longer razor sharp but in fact have returned to normal and my tongue is longer long enough to choke myself.  I also feel the cold harsh metal of my bonds rubbing against my skin, a sensation that I did not feel when initially chained up.  My skin seems to be breathing with life.  It appears as though Pharasma has bestowed a platinum holy symbol upon me.  I will forever cherish it as not to forget what I have done and how Pharasma helped me through to the other side.  I am forever grateful.

Storming the Fort

We awake like any other morning.  Yusei heads to the herbalist to help for the day, Andrea buries herself in her room, Argo continues to do research, while Theron and Drago continue their training.  I didn't have much to do during the day so I watched the others train.  I am still trying to figure out why I am here.  What brought me back, why do I feel so different.  I did pick up my cane from the woodworker in town.  Wrapping my hand around the skull feels right.  We wait until night to storm the fort. Our plan is a simple one, Drago will approach and use warp wood, if it works we go in, if it doesn't then we come back another day with a new plan.

We stop by the church and collect Winter to join us.  Her holy power will shine in a place of undead, Pharasma's greatest enemy.  Drago shifts into a cat similar to Shade and approaches.  Quickly he howls to signal, it worked, let it begin.  We all quickly rush the front gate and are met by a collection of juju zombies.  As the the fight is unfolding more begin to come in from the sides.  Right when the fight began to look like it was going our way, they showed up again.  The masked assassin that attacked me in town.  They stabbed Andrea directly in the throat dropping her to the ground. All eyes were on the assassin.  We quickly made chase, but the masked man was quick.  After a bit of healing Andrea stood, the darkness taking her over, she placed the assassin in to the mindscape.  If the assassin saw what I saw in there I don't know if I should rejoice or feel bad for him.  I find myself being drawn more to the dark powers that Andrea wields.  Before, it worried me and now I can't help but smile.  With the assassin stilled, it was only a few moments before she was slain.  SHE was slain, I could not make out all the details but it looked like an innocent girl.  I don't think she was working with the people in the fort.  We will have to investigate this further later on.

We dispatch the group of juju zombies in the foyer and press on.  Within a couple of rooms there was a gathering of skum.  None particularly strong and none of which appeared to have the amulet I saw on the roof.  Their flesh tore to pieces quickly.  The blood pouring from their wounds still haunts me and sends a shiver down my spine.  But what is this feeling I get when I see it now.  Thirst? What a strange feeling.  I am afraid of it, yet I feel pulled to it.  I'll have to figure that out later.  We continue forward to find another group of skum in wait.  They are torn to pieces nearly as quick as the first.  They aren't worth my spells.  We will rid this place of it's evil and take it as a new home.  

We have only faced the peons of this place.  Where is the constable? What is the mirror upstairs?  We will find out more as we press forward.


The Fort
Killing Ourselves

The place was built to be well-guarded.  Its stone was strong, wood thick, and walls smooth.  I could barely find my footing the one time I tried to climb.  We tried to get in using magic, but failed.  With arrow slits along the walls it was clear to me they would always have eyes on us… unless they couldn't…

A rose without color?

I made no sound, and there was no me.  I drank the potion of invisibility.  It was strange knowing where I was, and yet not being able to see myself.  But after the utter failure at communicating with the woman at the gate, our plans made obvious as a result, we headed around the fort to a corner where the ballista would not be able to hit us quite so easily.

The longer I'm near my friends when they argue, the more likely it is they'll get me killed.

Drago laid down a rope for us to climb up at a corner, a wise move, after shifting back into a man from his bird-form.  I climbed with ease, and waited til some of the others were on the wall before moving to the ballista at the far side.  Still invisible, it was all too easy to sneak in the door and surprise the "man" operating the ballista.  Undead don't bleed, but they still have vulnerable parts, and it only took me a few hits to destroy him. 

What is dead may never die.

Still silent, but now visible, I fired the ballista at one of the creatures attacking the others on the wall.  My shot went wide, barely, but I was glad to have tried.  By that point the others were already climbing down and running away into the trees.  I did not see much of their confrontation, but I heard later just how poorly it had been going.

Running downhill through a city brings back thoughts of the island…

For all the talking they do, Wynzo having been killed for his constant (though pleasant) chatter, I feel like they rarely decide anything useful.  As evidenced by our time at the gate, those who speak must also listen.  Only if you listen can you understand; my choices have made me an expert at both.

If I can hear you and you are my enemy, you are standing in your grave.

We retreated to the Sleepless Agency to discuss our failure with the others.  I am not certain what the initial discussion was, for my trainer beckoned me away.  But a while later, they came to find me so we could discuss things as a group.  And while it brings me some semblance of joy for them to value my thoughts, I must admit a degree of guilt.  I can deal with their impatience as I mime my words; soon enough we will be  communicate with the sign language the Sleepless Agency described.  But when we're in battle and I'm wielding my blades, I won't be able to sign.  I won't be able to share my knowledge with them, just like the fort.  So it made me wonder… while my silence helps ensure my survival, could it cause the others to die? 

Will my silence get them killed?  Milani, help me, please.

We discussed more strategies and I think our next plan will work much more favorably, though it still requires magical success.  We decided it would also help to have Winter join us, and as a natural enemy of undead I don't think she can say no.  I never communicated it, but chances are if we can't cleanse this town of its plagues, soon enough they will find their way to the chapel and those she protects.  Without us, the town cannot be saved. 

I want to save something; I don't always want to kill.  I've spilled enough blood, now where are the roses?

During our strategy conversation I made my desire to speak with Winter known, so after dinner the group of us went to the chapel to see her.  She agreed to help us, but I had more to "say".  I asked her about the conflict going on inside me, about my silence causing death.  Her words were wise, and her advice genuine.  I was foolish to think she would tell me "right" answer, so maybe it's time for me to stop being such a coward.

Help me find my place in this nightmare.  Help me see…

Before we dispersed for the evening, I made my intentions known regarding the demon's eye.  After a great deal of prayer and thought, I decided to swallow it.  Similar to the conflict I still have regarding my silence, I believe the eye was left behind to help us see the things trying to get us.  There has been several times I've missed something Drago has seen, and several other times none of us has seen something until it was too late.  Hopefully with the magic of this eye, my kin, those times would happen less and less.

The Account of Dragoslav Lazarus Randici: When plans go awry

Arodus 27. Early afternoon.

We spoke to the Sleepless Agency about combat training. Both Theron and I needed to train for the challenges to come. The fight with the barbarians proved that.

Most of us went off on our own for the rest of the day. I prayed at the chapel, to Desna mainly, but also to Pharasma. I wish doing so brought comfort, but alas.

After returning my key to Deena at the inn, I decided to eat dinner there. I felt bad for the events that happened and for the lack of income for us not staying there. Also, the food wasn't bad. Yusei was there as well. He went to clean the rooms.

Toward the end of the meal, Theron and Argo showed up concerned that we would be out after dark. It wasn't dark yet, of course, but I understand the concern. The worst case of sticking together would be foiling an assassin that wasn't coming. The awkwardness from the other patrons had worn thin on me so I finished eating and Theron and I headed back to Sleepless.

We slept.

Arodus 28. Morning.

Breakfast was served. Hassock had already arrived, clearly shaken. He said Wynzo was back though I found that hard to believe. He was reduced to two organs in an urn and we already knew of multiple creatures that could take on our likenesses if they wanted to. But he brought Meg back and Sleepless was all too happy to welcome their comrade, if horrified by the missing fingers and ear.

Hassock's House. Morning.

Wynzo was there. An imposter would probably not go through the trouble of bringing Meg back, but we grilled him anyway, producing multiple questions only he should know. We settled on accepting the impossible. With all the horrors and evils surrounding us, it's nice to know there are forces of good to assist us as well. The sheer terror of what we've seen may even outweigh the miracles of our returned friends, particularly if they come back with a price.

Wynzo looked different. Like he was struck with consumption or some other ailment. His face was sunken, skin a bit more pale. Maybe his experience aged him. We brought him back to Sleepless so we could all have some comfort from food and company.

The discussion quickly turned to fighting the creatures of the cave. I wasn't quite sure how to feel about it, but with the roads all but impassable due to these monsters, it seemed like it might be necessary. Plus, vengeance is a strong desire to ignore.

Church House. Morning.

Theron suggested we talk to Meg before seeking the cave. She was in rough shape. She told us there were three hags, each different from the other. This complicated things. One monster would be a challenge. Three might lead to death for us all. The strength of our foes makes it all the more important to defeat them, but—I'm not sure we can. We decide to let them be. For now.

Argo then asked Winter to have a word alone. He's never been the best in conversation so we all accepted his unusual request. We should have been wary. He was asking if she could stop him from turning into a ghoul. Apparently, whatever evil force rested in the asylum got to him and was slowly turning him undead. On top of that, he'd been feasting on the flesh of our enemies. Any time he took samples for his alchemy, he was really gathering food.

I felt deja vu, from when I found I could trust nobody. Argo was one of the least trustworthy at the time. Maybe I was right to doubt my companions. Could this happen to others? I hope not and I hope even more if never happens to me. We spoke for a time and none of us could come with a way to fix Argo. Not yet anyway.

The rest of the day was mostly uneventful. We discussed our next steps. With the cave being ruled out, that led back to our previous target: the fort. We knew it contained numerous undead and an ooze monster. Judging back their control of the parapets and the layout of the fort, I suspected they had control of a good portion of it, if not all of it.

Yusei was convinced the Constable was not in on it. He hoped she was a normal person caught in an unfortunate circumstance. He suggested she could be fighting against the monsters within, doing her best to help the town and not letting any innocents within. The rest of us disagreed. We couldn't imagine a circumstance where she wasn't in it. We didn't even know for sure it was the constable. Not with kelpies and doppelgangers and who-knows-what lurking around this town. Still, we relented to the idea of speaking to her before making any rash decisions. She suggested we come back to see if she needed supplies after three days and tomorrow marked that day.

Arodus 29. Morning.

After a brief chat with Winter, we decided to go to the fort. I felt nervous. I prepared spells I thought would be helpful, but my magic feels all too limited with the dangers we face.

The fort appeared the same as always. The undead weren't out, at least not that we could see from the ground. We approached the door, still discussing exactly how things should go. Yusei knocked and spoke to the Constable. Things went south quickly.

She not only kept the door closed, but didn't even open the hatch to see us. She said they didn't need supplies and told us to go away. Yusei then made a gesture at Wynzo suggested it was his turn. Wynzo just shrugged. We all anticipated Yusei was going to speak to the Constable about the undead and the ooze and he suggested the night before. Instead, we stood awkwardly and I had to try to talk to her.

There was no response. Not with words. Arrows began coming out of the port holes and I immediately regretted coming to the door in the first place. We tried bashing down the door and burning it but it's the heavily reinforced door of a fort and unlikely we could do any real damage while being fired upon. We also heard ballistae being put into positions above.

With things going sideways, we took a turn for the side of the fort that is least dangerous, all the while being fired upon by crossbow and ballista bolts. I turned into a bird and dropped a rope down for the others to climb up. It shouldn't have been too hard, but it was raining. I didn't know for sure if everyone would be able to make the climb. I also found myself flanked by a skeleton warrior and an ooze. It was not an ideal situation.

Another Day Another Tragedy

The fight at the estate was draining for all of us. If these are the people that were kept at the outer properties of the estate I shudder to think what may be going on at the main house. He had left the bodies of our foes in the building and “cleaned” up. As terrible as Theron’s death was it did serve as a great barometer for our group as to what the limit of our abilities are or were, I’m still trying to figure that out, am I relearning stuff I had forgotten or am I growing new skills. I think for the sake of my sanity I will simply tell myself I am growing and learning new things. After the fight many of us were fairly depleted on resources so we decided it would be best to head back to the inn. It may have been a short day of adventuring but it was as taxing as a full day’s work. Sometimes we need a break which we admittedly haven’t taken since awakening. Even if it comes in the form of a half day I very much welcome it. My relationship with the inn keeper seems to have gotten better; then again, I did set the bar pretty low and by bar I am talking about the metaphorical one not the physical one that I supposedly damaged or blew up depends on who you ask.

Once we got back to the inn our group seem to go its separate ways and do their own thing, which is nice considering we don’t get much time away from each other. I believe Yusei went off to help the apothecary. It was a nice gesture by him for sure and anything that help build / repair our public image can only help. My biggest fear is that something horrific may come out about us from our past that nobody knew before and all the goodwill we have been trying to build will be for not. Supposedly we have worked for the count together in some capacity in our past. Yet with our new moral compass guiding what we do I wonder what I or the group would think if we discovered the true extent of some of the atrocities we committed. Can we really just hand wave everything and use or amnesia as our excuse… oh that part of my life I don’t remember and I have decided to become a better person so I’m no longer beholden to the punishment of the crimes I committed before. As group we forgive each other’s prior actions fairly quickly. But what if one us…no its not healthy to speculate these kinds of what ifs.

Anyways once we got back to the inn people went off and did their own thing with their free time. For me I decide a nice afternoon meal and drink followed by a little nap was exactly what I needed, my body was craving for the time off and I can happily say that the nap truly helped me reset and could now focus more clearly on the tasks ahead. I made my way back down for dinner despite still being a little full from my meal this afternoon considering we don’t typically eat lunch but dinner is dinner so I shall eat, be social, have a good time (hard to come by), and listen to another tale from Wynzo.

This was all interrupted by a lady by the name of Melison, yes, the same lady from the notes in the cave. She came barging in shouting about how we murdered her guest and just left the bodies out to rot. Everybody was listening but the volume of the conversation didn’t allow them to do much else. It is clear she was trying to discredit us, why I do not know. If she was going to ty and discredit us I figured now was as good a time as any to bring up the fact she trafficking and distributing illicit drugs. Yusei did what he could to try and diffuse the situation. Wynzo tried to calm the crowd with a spell but from the looks of the patrons faces it seemed to have hurt our standing with them rather than help. For a brief second, I thought Theron was going to do what he does best and cut her down right in front of everyone but instead blocked her exit and then “allowed” her to pass. Then walked back to the table mocking the lady which I found quite humorous. Maybe our trained silent killer has lighter more fun side I’m sure the town would welcome more of that humor I know I would.

After the exchange I went up to the bar and donated some money for the troubles and said to buy everyone a round of drinks with it. Drago did the same. I then decided I would welcome some more sleep and retired to my room. The next day I woke up to some disturbing news. Wynzo was eaten last night by some creature who pretending to be the gnome we had met on our way out to the cave. It is quiet saddening and unnerving. Not so much that he was eaten but that it happened in the safety of the inn. A place we actually felt safe but it does not seem like that anymore. Evil will find us where ever we are. Apparently, the creature was communicating with Wynzo mentally during the night so he, Theron, and Drago all went out in the middle of the night to go investigate. On night time trip they invited the creature back to the inn; were attacked by the witch, which we now know is very much real, and the assassin that made an attempt on his life the first came back and tried to kill Wynzo’s life again. It seems like fated wanted him dead tonight one way or another. The creature spent the night in Wynzo’s room and I guess killed him and then proceeded to eat him leaving behind only a couple organs. So much for the time off yesterday and the fresh start this morning.

Despite Wynzo’s death there is no time to mourn we must continue on with our investigations and help this town become safe again. We went back up to the Fort to present our evidence to the constable who refuses to open the door and let us in. While we were present our evidence Drago had turned into a bird and was flying overhead scouting the fort from above. Afterwards we made our way down the hill and out of sight of the fort where met back up with Drago who gave us his report. Apparently, the guards we saw walking along the tops of the wall are undead so that’s just great. As much as the estate may be a problem a fort in town is filled with undead with the entire town completely unaware seems like a much more pressing issue. Also, it probably wouldn’t help our image if we went and took care of the lady who just had a public confrontation with us the night before. We are going to have to discuss our findings with the Sleepless detective agency and put together an action plan on how to deal with these two serious situations.

If You are reading this then I would like to apologize for my past transgressions.



Rebirth and Renewal

25. Erodas

Wearily we made our way back to the inn.  Algregor has resumed his post warning everyone of the impending doom coming.  We had our meal in silence.  Whether it was in reverence of our fallen comrade, frustration, exhaustion, it's hard to say.  I sent myself to my room shortly after and buried my face in the book we brought back with us from the asylum.  Did I want to learn something? Perhaps gain some clarity or understanding?  Maybe just torture myself a bit for not being able to act quicker?  Again, hard to say.  It was enlightening at least.  I drifted to sleep soon after I finished the final pages.

(The following happened while I was asleep.)

Andrea took Wynn to her room to psychic duel him and scared the shit out of him.  Elgregor woke up Wynn telling him there is blood at the chapel.  Wynn wakes up Drago to check it out. 

The ground around the chapel and near by houses is tinted red and plants are starting to grow out of the ground which eventually becomes a thorny rose garden.  The building Theron is in is covered in roses.  Drago and Wynn go to the building and Drago is able to open the door unhampered because of wilderness whatever.   They approach the blanket and Theron wakes up.  Wynn uses mage hand to move the blanket and seeing that Theron is moving, Drago uses cure light wounds to try to damage him, to no avail.  Drago and Wynn run away and Wynn faceplants into the thorns when he gets outside.  Drago gets Wynter from the chapel and she attempts to detect undead when Theron comes out.  He's alive.  They return to the inn

(end sleep)

I was startled awake by a knock on my door and groggily open it to see an alive Theron.  Internally, I was startled to no end, but considered quickly something miraculous must have happened for Wynn and Drago to have escorted him here.  I requested that we wait until morning to fill everyone in since I wasn't entirely convinced I wasn't dreaming.  However, they insisted I look over Theron since he was apparently quite alive but had a wound that would not be healed.  I quickly realized there was not much I could do to fix this.  I figured he was cursed.  We adjourned until morning.

We decided to better prepare in the event we would encounter more undead at the wailing house again.  We went to Wynter and the sleepless agency to bargain for some holy water, which worked out fairly well.  Wynter agreed to cast the spell to create it for free. Shortly thereafter we went to the Apothecary and met Sentalar, an angry little halfling that was convinced we were the reason people were disappearing.  After some back and forth,  which included him trying to bribe use to not get disappeared, I told him that when I had some free time, I would come help him to make up for past transgressions.  We then went to the high market to look around briefly before making our way to the Wailing House to hopefully finish what we started.  

Rather than deal with the first room and the haunted tree that was almost fully restored, we climbed in through a window on the side.  On the ground level, we proceeded to go room by room.  The first door we opened triggered the walls around us to bleed, which sent Wynn and I into a brief bout of fear.  A few of us heard a man crying from somewhere but it was difficult to pinpoint.  Inside that first room, the windows exploded inward and cut a Wynn and Drago a bit.  The following room had a couch in it that was polluted with some kind of disease, but also had a magical coin that represented the sin of glutony, which Argo held onto.  I figured consolidating sin to a single person would be for the best.  The following room was filled with broken and empty shelves, which led to the last room that had a desk with the journal of Cyrus Vaunt, which apparently was the family that founded the town.  In this room, a trap door to the basement was uncovered, and we went down there to find that it looked as though someone (4 someones) had set up camp here.  In the corner there were some crates and casks of wine.  In one of the crates were the skeletal remains of who we suspected was Cyrus and that this house was being used for smuggling.  It's likely those undead creatures were the reincarnation of the people who were using the house.   We took the remains with us to lay them to rest.  

The only other place we didn't inspect turned out to be the kitchen, which had several swarms of bats, which, while annoying, did not pose much of a threat.  We left shortly thereafter.

We took the remains to the chapel and proceeded to give a proper burial and Wynter provided a prayer to lay him to rest.  Going back to the house, it was clear that the curse had been lifted.  Things seemed a little brighter.  We made our way back to town and decided to stop in the smoke house for some inquiry.

Stepping through the Veil
The Deathly Rose

Deathly rose whose wilting is grace,
Leave marks of blood with each thorn embraced.

I remember Her.  The roses that fill my vision, the words that play over and over again in my head… they are Her.  And I can remember her gathering place just outside Cheliax, where we would gather among Her roses; it's the same place we would take the gnomes and halflings.

Flower blooming as the drum beats,
A ruby red, yet so discreet…

Murderer, that's what I am.  The revenant's existence and motivation confirms it.  I killed this man and he has risen from the grave to seek revenge upon me.  If not for the invisibility I believe he would have succeeded, though it was important to me to get him away from the others.  "Over here" I tried to shout, though it came out as a raspy, dust-ridden whisper.  It turned to find me and knew the instant it passed me.  But in a few moments, it was destroyed, another nightmare from my old life come to haunt me.

An urgent remark then was said,
So the ruby rose turned scarlet instead…

My companions thought the Wailing House might provide us some information, or at least clues, regarding the goings-on in the town.  Any place with "wailing" in the name is exactly the kind of place I seek to avoid.  Its very name indicates the lack of quiet we will find there, and noise brings punishment.  Sometimes it brings death.

Am I a thorn?  A petal?  The stem?
Surely my sounds will not condemn.

Our great welcome, upon noticing the unnatural darkness in the area, was a haunted tree, or enchanted tree… I don't know.  It attacked us.  It hit like you would expect something of that size to hit – very hard.  Even trees, however, can be flanked, and Wynzo positioned himself perfectly as I attacked and Argo burned it to the ground.

Piercing, slashing, maybe the thorn?
Even roses take time to mourn.

The entrance room should have been the sign.  Ghostly faces moved through the room, shouting and screaming as if death had not already found them.  Or maybe because it had and the afterlife is the only safe place to scream?

Velvety smooth, maybe the petal?
Chances are slim to show your mettle.

While I explored upstairs in the mostly ruined second floor, I suddenly heard some fighting from down below.  I hopped down and helped the others dispatch some zombies that were ravaged by nature.  The sweet smell of roses should come from death, not the stench these things gave off.

The stem, the base, from which a rose blooms,
Held like a blade, will only spell doom.

Together, upstairs, we found an enchanted, magical dagger.  First it found us by attacking on its own, with no one wielding it, not even a ghost so far as we could tell.  It glowed a disturbing green color until we destroyed whatever was enchanting it.  The others found it was a magical dagger that could deliver a magical poison, so I kept it when no one asked for it.

Not one but all – it's what I prayed,
I am the rose; I am Her blade.

In the next room we found a ghost of some kind, whose hits felt like having my physical strength, my mind, and my soul all sapped from me at once.  The first hit signaled the danger to me, but if it could hit me the others were done for, so I stayed in hopes it would fall to my blades or Drago's bomb.  And then I saw Her in a field of flowers, watching a single rose wilt until the last petal hit the ground.

Deathly rose whose wilting is grace,
Now comes repose, now ends the chase.

The Fallen Star

We can't seem to figure anything out about this town.  Each place we search only opens more doors.  We've heard rumors about the Wailing house so we decide to check it out.  As we approach it is clear there is some evil present.  It even seems darker and darker as we approach.  True to it's rumor it looks like it is a haunted house.  As we approach the door heading up the stairs the massive tree in front comes alive and begins swinging.  I don't think I've ever been hit by a tree before but I would be ok with it not happening again.  It hurt.  Luckily for us and what the tree didn't know is we have an expert in explosives and fire in our ranks.  We quickly burned the tree down.  What a strange occurrence though.  It must have been created or enchanted by some magic user.  

We head in to the house and quickly learn why it has the name the name it does.  Ghosts came pouring from the walls and began screaming the sounds of their death.  If it wasn't for the fact that I have seen a haunt poor a tsunami of blood down a hall, then this probably would have felt worse.  We quickly move on out of this screaming room.  

The house was in poor condition.  Overgrown with plants and not very structurally sound.  The next room must have been some type of waiting room, but it's tough to tell with the roof having collapsed.  We begin to check it out while Theron heads upstairs to explore more.  As we're looking around from the mounds of the dirt erupt Draugr.  What the fuck are Draugr doing sitting in dirt piles in the middle of this house.  They didn't put up too much of a fight, but it was definitely an odd place for them to be.  This house makes little sense.  It might be just a haunted house as we have found nothing that gives us any answers to what is happening in this town, just more questions.

As we make our way up the shaky stairs a glowing dagger begins to attack us.  Really…a dagger.  Nothing invisible carrying it that we could tell.  We had to attack the dagger itself.  when we, put it down upon further inspection it turns out it was a magically dagger.  It must have been haunted or something.  The upstairs for the most part was empty of any more answers.  As I was looking around a Spectre appeared from no where.  This was easily the toughest battle we ever had.  All I could do was watch as he sucked the life force from Theron.  My silent partner was gone and there was nothing I could do about it.  I tried to save him, but I was helpless.

We carry his back to Winter to see if anything can be done.  While we wait we discuss what everyone has remembered recently.  Argo recalls his lab getting raided; Yusei remembered his last name, Lutharen; Andrea remembers that her shadow is of a creature that mind swaps; Drago remembered his cats name, Shade.  What did Theron remember, we will never find out.  Maybe he remembered people he had killed and that is why he stayed to fight instead of saving his own life.  If he had, I would have died and I'm sure he knew that.  When we recount what happened with Winter and she looks at the body she lets us know there's nothing she can do that is powerful enough to bring him back.  The Sleepless Agency might have something available though.

The agency obviously does not like us, the only way to open this relationship up is to be honest with them.  We have nothing to hide and if we are going to make a new name for ourselves we must start now.  We go through the events of the last few days without leaving out many details.  I think it is starting to work and they are warming up to us.  they ask for daily updates on what we find out.  After a long day it is time to go back to the Inn and rest.  With one star fallen, we must continue our new journey.

Glimpses of the Past

This journal, nameless and singularly empty, lurks in my mind. She can feel that it was not always so. Its time-worn binding betrays a frequent usage. But the pages have told all their secrets and whatever remains was stripped clean. She will recount her thoughts here in a naive hope that once written cannot be erased. Some never learn.


The terror at the Asylum has passed. Although the island remains haunted we will do our best to return those here to sanity and safety. Or should I say, others will do that. I just wanted to get off the island. And I'm happy to help the rest do the same. But beyond that, we must all look after ourselves. Winter's aid has saved our lives I'm sure. But we've already repaid that debt. We are even. Perhaps we owe more to Desna and Pharasma. If they feel they are still owed they may try to collect. 


Her surety was growing. An identity was being developed. The poor thing. The more she tried to fill in the gap the more she opened the door. And once the door was opened a crack, many things could push through. Power would come first. But then she would realize the door should have stayed shut. It is the key and the gate. Ignorance could have been a refuge.


I've come to know my companions more now. Their names, their intentions, perhaps a glimmer into their pasts. Wynzobit has woven many tales. Now he is the yarn. Yusei was a physician or so he says. His connection to an otherworldly power is pure. It is reassuring that we can rely on it. Theron, I think, will not wish to remember his past. He hides behind a mask. This amnesia is just another mask for him. If he takes one off he may find he must remove them all. Argo I can't quite read. He is brash and disregards all social norms. Perhaps in the past he had a similar disregard for constraints on his research. He's already blended the mundane and the eldritch in his fires. What else lays just beyond his reach? Drago and his beast, tenacious to the end. His powers are growing faster than any of ours. Whatever malign influence held back Cat has been lifted. He is healthy and growing. I wonder how much larger he will get now that he is free.


And me? I remember. I remember the doorway into the mind. I remember how to open it, come through.


I am the key.


We've made it to Thrushmoor. The town is sparse and yet somehow inviting. At least this town is alive. I want to go, to feel, to let the emotions of the past and the future wash over me. And yet my so-called friends are apprehensive. I've never seen them more unified with a singular purpose than when they shunned me. This hurts. They don't care of my feelings. I can feel. Even if I everything had been blunted and gray. Maybe parting ways after we finish here will be a good idea. 


And I am the gate!


It may be a better idea than I realized initially. For it seems that we know this town. We used to be local toughs, working for the Count. Everyone treats us with fear and trepidation. It was for good reason. We regularly abused the people of this town. Well, my "friends" certainly did. Argo may have blown up a bar. Wynzobit extorted merchants for protection money. Unpleasant accidents may have befallen competing artists. Theron probably murdered someone. Maybe the people here have more to fear from them than me. A part of me is enjoying their surprise when they find out that inside they worse than what they think they saw in me.

The feeling passes. The people here need help as well. And since we wronged them we should fix it. We have a debt to repay and may never be able to repay it. We try to help a lost traveler with her cart but it goes poorly. She may have gone missing. Many others in the town have gone missing as well. We have a number of leads to follow. The local fort seems to have shut down. The Count has gone missing and his manor may be empty. A local painter is drawing murals of an endless cyclopean city. And the detective agency should be able to provide us with some more information. Our first stop will be the painter. And then I think the agency and meeting up with Winter. We may need her help to convince the agency to help us.

Rocking Chairs

More horrors of undead waited for us; they're everywhere, like a constant reminder that here death is not a finite experience.  You linger on as a mockery of life.  We destroyed them quickly, and looked to the somewhat stable stairs that would take us toward our goal.  The others kept talking, always making noise, so I climbed up and checked the hallway beyond.

The further I climbed, the more obvious it became someone damaged them intentionally.  They want to keep us out.  We will not be denied; She will plant roses in the path of blood I make.

Sneaking forward about 20 feet up, I find yellow fog in a room filled with crates.  It looks like a storage room someone has used to hide, and then I see a man staring forward, aware unlike the woman, with fog billowing from his mouth.  He doesn't see me as I watch, studying him.  He looks like a man, but there is something strange about his chest and the way it moves.  His breathing is off.

I head back, tie a rope to the stairs for the others to climb.  They do, but make so much noise.  If they could see my face they would see the winces I make every time they make a sound.  Unsurprisingly when we reach the room as a group, the man is hiding.  Luckily, the cat finds the scent of something and finds the man.  We dispatch him, but he has a lasting effect on the others.

Whenever the others are close to the man, they fall asleep and see more visions of that thing and the events surrounding it.  It is their punishment for making so much noise, a prison of the mind meant to afflict you with madness when you should be resting at ease.  It is a cruel punishment.

The dream discussion is interrupted by angry barking and terrified screams.  I immediately jump down the stairs and head toward the dog and man we left alone in the dark.  The others follow, most of them slowly.

Drago sent his cat forward with me, telling it to follow and guard me.  At the other end of the hallway beyond a pair of double doors we found more ghouls standing in or around what used to be the washroom.  In the center of the room was a pool, or bath, or stew, of acrid water filled with dead people.  It is nightmare made manifest, like everything else in this place.  One ghoul talks like he's in charge, gesturing to the others and barking orders.

We fought them and won, but not without some lasting scars.  I almost died in the drink, drowning as the life drained out of me.  But the man?  He should have died.  After having his neck ripped open and arm torn off, he should have died.  He started drowning in the pool, too, but they saved him.  Drago healed him just enough to be scarred mentally, so much so, that now he won't talk.  It shouldn't take so much torment for people to learn to be quiet.

I stayed with the man and the dog as the others ventured back upstairs to question the hollowed out man; apparently we did not injure him enough for him to be truly dead.  They used the magical incense to communicate with his mind and did not share a great deal with me.  That's okay, I don't need to hear it… and I don't want to.

The others decided we needed to head back to the shrine to rest and regain their magic.  To avoid the man we now know is an imposter, a patient pretending to be a doctor, we went outside the asylum to the visitor's center instead of traveling through the asylum.


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