Strange Aeons

Crystal Clear
Sometimes Dead is Better

//Starting Sanity Damage 0; Ending 2

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.

It was at the Briarstone Asylum in Ustalav that everything began. Perhaps a furtive hope more than a truth. For it is unclear how much time has passed since I was committed. My possessions, could ownership be implied in my current condition, remained more or less intact. The same could not be said of my memories. Whether the start of my incarceration was of a larger, daemoniac plot or something on the whole mundane I did not know yet, and would not discover for some time.

She found that her condition was maddening. They had likely been only recently transplanted to their quarters. The foetid remains of the prior inhabitants was poor comfort for the newly awakened. A later reflection would deem those in the third cell and the furnace were the most fortunate few they encountered that day.

She was not alone in her plight. Five others seemed to share her fate.

There was the loud one. They called him The Mountain for his protruding personality cast a shadow far longer than his stature would permit. He proclaimed himself the leader and named this band of unfortunates The Rising Stars. Despite his odd countenance his words proved uplifting.

Gray, the one who smelled of niter, was a practitioner of the alchemical arts. That he should remember the nuance and ingredients for the assemblage of explosive tinctures was of undeniable important. He was a talented archer as well. But his alacrity was too easily aimed towards his improbable compatriots. When its shadow appeared around her, Gray was quick to offer a fatal solution to a problem she could not explain.

Edgar possesses the power of effulgence. Whether he generates this himself or bends the dimensions to transfer it from time and place is unknown. What is clear is that without such radiance they would have ended up much the same as the man strapped to that table, hasselbacked or flayed. It's possible the repeated use of these abilities have altered his biological essence. The tinge of it marks his hair.

Kit was a man who seemed to have spent his years traveling to get here. He may be the most recent addition to this group. He formed a fast bond with a panther that was chained up in an adjoining room. Maybe he was a trainer in another life.

Mask. There's not much to say and he would seem to agree.

When we finally escaped the basement cells we found ourselves in the asylum proper. The asylum itself was overrun and partially collapsed in some areas. Eldritch mists clung to the courtyard. The flower beds were beaten down slowly by a humid, misty rain. Lurking in the halls of this time-forgotten campus were dopplegangers; abominations that took the faces of their victims and delighted in charnel pleasures.

Inside one of the more complete structures was a barricaded area. The way was barred. Three women guarded their improvised wall but a man spoke for them with authority. None could pass save they could prove they were not themselves face-shifters. The former keepers of the asylum were now the prisoners of a many-faced horror, barricade or not.

I could not convince those at the barricades that we meant no harm. The face-shifters had taken my face, if it is my face at all. We turned the other way down a dank passage in the shadows. Kit's illumination revealed an aberrant shadow. It sprung from me and danced on the wall, seemingly mocking the frightful contortion of my expression. I could not explain such an indescribable thing.

The dreadful truth was that I wasn't afeared of the tenebrous aberration dancing on the walls. It was the creeping familiarity. The shadow on the wall wasn't a trick of light or magic. It was the shadow that stained my mind and insulated me from going mad in the darkness. And now others could see it too.


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