Strange Aeons

Chronicles of One Luna Teak: Day 7

Soundtrack to Day 7

Rested, I woke up this morning to the sound of singing. A rare event these days. A nurse was holding Bates in her arms and was trying to comfort the boy. He didn't look good. I asked the nurse what's wrong and she said that he's out of meds, Valaxian. The seizures eventually will kill him. We have to find more at the dispensary near the dayroom that was overrun with those yellow-robed cultists.

Brawl Dar was still wearing the yellow robes and had that weird mark still on his head. York had a fit. Brawl Dar had to remove both and convince the idiot that he wasn't a cultist. Ku'uvlin shared his vision – a man with long hair crying out "When I sleep, he walks. When I am awake, he stalks!" No one seems to know what it means. He was able to convince Winter to make the guards give me more ammunition for my crossbow.

Denetta, the orderly that we rescued from the closet the day before informed us the woman with the bleeding chest wound was a patient named Vera Freeling. She was a hypochondriac, suffering from dementia.

Denman approached us. Since Juglan died, he had … changed. The way he played with his knife seemed more … casual than nervous fidgetting. He had a cold look in his eyes as he told us that before the uprising, he had worked in the kitchens. Some of his friends may still be alive and may have bene forced to join the cultisits – they weren't all willing converts. Please don't kill them indiscriminately, he asked us. 

Another patient named Loic claimed he could hear his sister, Canda, out there in the rain.

Winter had bad news. An earthquake had recollapsed the stairwell to the basement, and the only path left was through the chute. DaNae's body had been found in the courtyard, her bones had been crushed. It looked as if she had fallen from a great height. Winter told us more about . what brought her here.

When Mother Thestia, high priestess of Maiden’s Choir Cathedral in Caliphas, personally called for me, I my life was about to change. Well after midnight, before the great statue of Pharasma in the cathedral’s sanctuary, the High Mother introduced me to a severe woman who identified herself only as Omari. This stranger, Mother Thestia explained, was one of the nation’s Royal Accusers, secretive agents who were sworn to Ustalav’s crown and operated outside the country’s baroque hierarchy of titles and privilege. Omari came requesting the service of one of the cathedral’s sisters on an undertaking that would lead them to Thrushmoor in the neighboring county of Versex. The High Mother didn’t deign to reveal the terms of the church’s bargain with the Royal Accusers. Rather, she explained only that I would aid Accuser Omari until the errand’s completion. Dutifully, I promised to serve to the best of her ability andfaithfully represent the church, fully aware that, when it came to twists of fate, Pharasma’s blessings and curses often appeared much the same.

The journey to Versex proved quiet enough. There were no interruptions, and all members of the investigation rode along in silence for much of the trip. Upon arriving, Accuser Omari left to keep some private appointment, a short task from which she returned with errands for each of her aides. Omari handed me a badge deputizing me with the authority of the Royal Accusers, and sent me along with a small contingent to nearby Briarstone Asylum to inquire after a handful of recently committed patients previously in the service of Haserton Lowls, count of Thrushmoor. 

Following the insanity that gripped Briarstone, I became a prisoner within. I had met only briefly with Administrator Losandro and had learned little of the asylum’s workings or those I’d been sent to inquire after, though I had been promised a chance to interview the patients. Even during my brief visit, I inferred something of the strangeness unraveling at the  sanitarium and had been granted leave to explore the grounds. It was during this investigation that the first of the quakes struck and the patient uprising began. In the chaos that followed, my compatriots and I found themselves attacked by ghouls, which overwhelmed my companions. Desperate to escape, I made my way to the asylum’s entry, but found that I wasn’t the first to be trapped by the unnatural mist surrounding the grounds. At my suggestion, a handful of survivors made for the nearby chapel to hide—and pray. My desperate plan saved the lives of several of the asylum’s patients and staff, who still linger in the chapel. I never expected the asylum's chapel to become my new home, but with no options for escape and terrors crawling through the halls beyond, fortifying the holy place and holding out for as long as possible seemed the only choice we had for survival.1

Ku'uvlin shared the Briarstone Asylum patient files and Administrator Losandro's journal with Winter, hoping that maybe they would help explain what was going on. Winter wanted us to locate more patient records especially the recent ones, as she wanted to find out more information about the new group of patients that were admitted right before everything went to hell. She also suggested that the library may hold more information. 

We headed back to the library. Listening at the door from the entrance hall, we heard chittering conversation inside, which I recognized as Aklo. Talendian cautiously opened the door and the chittering suddenly stopped. Fog was billowing in from the broken windows on the second floor. Ku'uvlin and Talendian informed Brawl Dar and myself that the ratling creatures are intelligent and magical. From inside the library, we a voice called out in Aklo "This is ratling territory. You can't pass unless you trade us something! You give us your magic, you can come through!" The little bastard rodents wanted our scrolls. One for each of us to pass through their territory. Ku'uvlin casted a spell, ghost sounds, to bluff the rodents into believing there was a  small army outside. They didn't buy it. Brawl Dar intimidated them to let us pass with 2 scrolls (Fox's Cunning and Cure Light Wounds). We all searched the library and found nothing. 

We made our way to Losandro's office. The weird pool of blood was still there. There was a lofted library in there. I searched the books looking for Chain of Nights. No luck. Only a few rare books that I grabbed. Never know when hell will end and might need some cash. We didn't find anything more in Losandro's office. We exited out another door and found a hall leading to more offices.

We stopped by the first door and heard a crash. Brawl Dar kicked down the door. A couple of apostles were searching though the office. Brawl Dar immediately hit and later killed one. Ku'uvlin hit and killed the other.The room was filled with file cabinets and a pile of records were off to one side. The stack were records of patients who have a connection to Zandalus. We found another group of records of the newest patients to arrive at the asylum. It's us. Crap. Winter was brought here to investigate us. Apparently, we all worked for Count Lowls and were living in Thrushmoor. No one in our group remembered any of this. There was a large painting off to the side. Ku'uvlin immediately took it down and turned it around. We found a tiny locked box that contained a journal with detailed clinical notes on Zandalus for the last 40 years. In the box, there was 40 gold pieces, 6 pearls and a business card for a detective agency in Thrushmoor. Brawl Dar found a new sword, Red Destiny. We decided to stick around and try to determine what some of the mystery magical items were. Talendian and Ku'uvlin couldn't figure out the candle or pearl. The last amulet with a hammer was Warrior's Courage. It can protect against fear. The file cabinet was filled with files documenting all the weird events happening at the asylum.

We left that office and tried another door. It was blocked with a cave-in. We thought it might have been a patient's room at one time. We head to a second door. Talendian casted a spell to open the door. Damn handy spell. Two cultists were inside. One mf-er was teaching to a bunch of dolls. The other was searching through storage items that once belonged to patients. Talendian froze the hand of the teacher and hit him again with the freeze spell. I hit them both with bolts. The teacher wounded me a couple of times with a blade-ruler. Bastard. Ku'uvlin mage-handed the weapon out of the scavenger and hit another with a pick a couple of times. Brawl Dar fatally crit hits one. The teacher was subdued.

From the room search, we found 3 vials (2 magical and 1 not). Ku'uvlin and Talendian found out that one vial can be applied to a weapon to give the weapon the properties of silver. Another vial contained the Oil of Aligned weapon.

There was door at the end of the hall. I did notice there was blood beading on it, but I ignored my instincts. The keys didn't work. Brawl Dar kicked it open and a tidal wave of blood crashed down on us. I got knocked out. The following were the events according to Ku'uvlin, Talendian and Brawl Dar. Brawl Dar made his way to the Losandro's office. Talendian rode the blood to Losandro's office to safety.  Ku'uvlin was hiding in the doorway behind us and escaped the blood wave. He wrapped himself in a sheet and made his way to the room as well. He pulled me into the room with his pick. Ku'uvlin was able to stabilize and heal some of my wounds. 

We head back towards the library. The ratlings demanded more scrolls. Rat bastards! We go back to Losandro's office and notice cobblestone paths outside.

Until next time…

1. Adapted from F. Wesley Schneider's adventure path.

 

 

 

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Chronicles of One Luna Teak: Day 6

In the morning, we learned that Juglan has escaped and that the chaplain (who had been transformed into a ghoul) was strangled. The survivor-guard, Denman Winopress, had fallen asleep, and apologized profusely for doing so during his shift.

Talendian and Ku'uvlin attempt to identify the multiple items in our possession.

  • From Dr. Oathsday: a +1 dagger (carried by Luna), a handy haversack containing 3 platinum and a pearl radiating powerful magic (carried by Kuuvlin), and a Phylactery of Faith in a box with Pharasma engraved on it (carried by Kuuvlin). Brawl Dar claimed a set of well kept surgical tools. A potion, packet powder, and syrup remain a mystery.
  • From the chaplain's office, a restoration wand with 40 charges,  Incense of Open Thought which allow for telepathic communication with animals in the vicinity, and a candle which remains a mystery.
  • From Dr. Losandro's office, three wooden talismans:

    • the first, engraved with a cross, which will automatically provide heading power 4d7+7 HP when the bearer falls below half hp, then crumble to dust;
    • the second, engraved with a set of wings, will automatically cast feather fall when the bearer falls over five feet once per day;
    • the third, engraved with a hammer, remains a mystery.

I tried to get more bolts from from the survivors, but Winter wouldn't allow it.  There were now two barricades in the hallway outside the chapel – the one we originally came across and the one facing the door. The survivor-guards facing the newer one kept the mirror at hand to prevent the Argus Eye from growing back.

Outside the weather continued raining and foggy – all the trees which we had gathered food from had died. There was about a week's supply of food left for the survivors. We decided to head go to the kitchens to search for more more food.

We headed through the front reception hall of the Briarstone Asylum to the eastern wing, where the patient's quarters were. After considering our options, we decided to avoid the library – as it was apparently ratling territory – and we didn't want to risk going outside. As we approached the semi-collapsed areas of the eastern wing, we could make out the Eastern Garden to our left side. Through the sickly yellow fog drifting in from our left, we could hear the screeches and tittering of the winged creature that had thrown me to the ground (after tickling me…). We could see that the stairs to second floor had completely collapsed.

We crawled through the rubble into the intact eastern patient's quarters. It was dark and, other than the sound of the rain from the Eastern Courtyard behind us, the only sound we heard ahead was of something feeding. We approached slowly, and through the dim light, it appeared that whatever was eating was hiding behind a curtain in an alcove, and whatever it was feeding on left a bloody trail of ichor to its hiding place. Brawl-Dar stepped forward and pulled open a curtain to reveal a ghoul feasting on a human femur. Tolendian and I blasted it with spells and bolts, but the creature quickly fled down the hallway into the darkness.

Now that the curtains were drawn, ambient light broke the gloom a bit. I approached the window, commenting on how the rain had stopped and the thick fog was dissipating. As I wiped the condensation from the window to get a clearer view, some … thing … struck the window. A formless mass of flesh covered in eyeballs and mouths smacked onto the window, and slid down, leaving a trail of slime. I jumped back and closed the curtain, not getting a clear view of what the shape was attached. to.

We explored some of the patient rooms past the rubble, to the south. The first room appeared empty and unused. The second room appeared to be Debis and his brother's room, where we collected some chess knights under the beds. The third room had three dead bodies – two were cultists. Tolendian find a very fine pair of boots. The fourth has a chewed up body, missing the femur.

As we continued down the hallway exploring patient rooms, we began to notice an astringent smell. We proceeded to what appeared to be a admitting for new patients, with a strong smell of rubbing alcohol. Curtains drawn across the room divided it in half, and on the other side of the curtains, saw steady light. Tolendian pointed out that it must be magical, as it didn't flicker. He pulled the curtains open with a mage hand, revealing piles of filthy rags and a lantern resting on a chair. The lantern contained a flame, but it didn't flicker. "Strange…" said Tolendian, as Brawl Dar reached out for the lantern. As soon as he touched it, the flame flickered rapidly and the oil drained, and the light went out in seconds. As we stood bewildered by this, we heard sloshing sounds and movement under a pile of rags. Bloated puss-filled pustules crawled slowly toward us.

Boilborn

Tolendian torched the first with burning hands, while I shot the second, causing acidic pus to spray over Brawl Dar and Ku'uvlin. Brawl Dar cleaved at the creature while Ku'uvlin hacked at it with his pick. Tolendian shot a magic missile at the creature and I shot again, hits the same creature with another bolt. Brawl Dar again struck the creature and was splashed with burning goo as it burst.

As we gathered our breath and tended to our wounds, we felt an earthquake. We heard the sound of collapsing rubble and from down the hallway to the north, a cloud of dust wafted towards us. The second floor had fully collapsed, blocking our retreat from the patient's residence. We could see a door leading outside to the south. A stone path led to another door to the west. The fog was thinner and we saw no horrors outside. As we debated whether or not to risk going outside, we heard a sound from behind us. The ghoul had been watching us. As soon as it saw us, it scampered off into the hallway towards kitchens in the north. 

We headed north, past more patient's quarters. A long room with a row of beds separated by curtains‚Äč lay empty, except for a man, manacled to one of the beds. He appeared asleep, but in the midst of a nightmare. He shouted "No, stay away, get away… No!" He stopped thrashing and lay still. His mouth opened and yellow mist poured out. We stood agape as his flesh tightened around his body, claws grew on his hands, and his skin turned a sickly pallor. As he transformed into a ghoul before our eyes, Brawl Dar stepped forward and chopped his heads off. Tolendian read his patient chart:  Jeprin Mears. In a supply cabinet we found a straightjacket and hoodwink cowl.

We continued north into the a large dayroom. Tables, couches, and chairs were haphazardly scattered around the room. In the middle of the room, a woman sat unmoving in a wheelchair, blood dripping from her body. It pooled on the floor and was running in a stream to a hall in the west. At the end of the hall, it pooled up vertically, creating a wall of blood. 

Walking around the blood stream, we came to a window to the north leading to a nursing station. In the station a door stood ajar, from which we heard voices and saw a light. Brawl Dar climbed through window and knocked on door. Three men and women with yellow robes and rags were inside, digging through the cabinets. Empty bottles and syringes littered the floor. The cultists each had a yellow flame painted on his head. One of them looked up at Brawl Dar. "Have you seen the yellow sign?" Brawl Dar answered innocently "Of course …" The cultist emphatically pointed at his forehead "But how can you see the yellow sign?" He reached over to Brawl Dar's forehead and dug his finger in. Brawl Dar, nodded in agreement. "Well, perhaps you can help me see?" One of the other cultists passed over a small vial to the leader, who applied it to Brawl Dar's forhead. "Let me have your robes," Brawldar said, but none give them up. The leader explained that they  been sent  to gather supplies, but were now cut off from the  rest of the Apostles.  The Apostles had taken refuge in the  dining area. However, the area leading into the dining area was now darkened and a thing was guarding it.  

Brawl Dar entered the room, and it was competition dark, snuffing out his lantern light. A complete darkness that was unnatural. He heard dozens of voices of patients and doctors whispering. As he felt his  around  room,  felt something brush his arm,  a sharp prick,  as if a  creature such as  a cat  bit his arm. He tried to call out but, now sound emitted from his throat. He felt enervated and fatigued, stumbling out of the darkness towards me, Ku'uvlin, and Tolendian. Ku'uvlin used the Wand of Restoration to reinvigorate Brawldar.

While Brawldar had been with‚Äč the cultists, Ku'uvlin was trying to deal with the stream of blood. He first built a build a makeshift dam with the furniture to try and block the stream of blood to no avail. The blood forced is way through, breaking the dam after being momentarily diverted. Mean while, I heard sounds emanating from a closet. Exploring, I found an orderly with multiple stab wounds hiding behind some bins. Her name is Denera Hobs. She explained that  was grievously wounded by cultists while she tried to protect some of the patients. She had been hiding in the closet for two days and having nightmares about a figure in tattered rags stalking her. She appeared to be human so Ku'uvlin agreed to heal her. Denera recognized the woman in the wheelchair as Vera Freeling, a sweet but hypochondriac old lady. "She was one of the patients I was trying to protect."

Wounded and running low on energy, we chose, to brave the garden path we noticed earlier. We opened the door,  the fog, while sickly yellow, was thin. Denera walked outside first, and as she made her way along the path, the earth started to boil, as hundreds of tiny snorting worms surged up and onto her legs and. We followed, trying our best to avoid being engulfed by the snorting swarm. 

We made our way through the door at the other end of the path. Bursting into the visitor room that we had explored  day before, everything was as we had left it. The bodies of two cultists remained – one impaled on a set of antlers hanging from the wall, and another crumpled in the fireplace. Brawldar reached for the cultist in the fireplace, overcoming his fear of the corpse. "You won't be needing this anymore, my friend, and Brawldar needs it to join the cult!" As he removed the clothes, taxidermied birds in a cage in the middle of the room, began chirping pleasantly. This was short-lived however, as the chirping became klaxons. We rushed out of the room, but Brawl Dar continued removing the robes. He was lifted bodily into the air and thrown against the wall. He crawled over to the robes and finished removing them before being lifted and thrown again. He fled the room with robes, kicking the cage over on his way out. 

We finally returned to the chapel and reported to Winter. We had been unsuccessful in retrieving food, but she was glad to see we had found another survivor.

Seeing that we were exhausted, she promised to explain more about why she was at Briarstone Asylum in the morning. As Ku'uvlin completed his meditation, he had a vision of a blonde man, Zandalus, who cried out "What can I do? While I stir, he stalks in dreams! While I sleep, he walks again! Please help me!" 

End of Day 6

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Chronicles of One Luna Teak: Day 4 and 5

The possessed body of Administrator Losandro fell sideways into the massive pool of blood with a sickening wet thud. Everything was silent as the rainbow mists slowly dissipated. Outside, we could hear the sound of rain beating against the large windows to the north of her office. To the south, directly in front of Losandro's body and the pool of blood, was a large desk. To our left was a wrought iron spiral staircase leading up to a small loft. Two doors led from the room, one to the southeast, and the other to the southwest, from where we cam.

We made a quick search of the room and found some interesting, morbid curios: a brass sculpture of pyramid, bookends depicting decomposing figures, and a wooden box carved with the shape of a brain. Searching through Losandro's desk, we found a magnifying glass, 2 vials of alchemist's kindness, smelling salts, 4 doses of antitoxin, 2 vials of opium, 3 scrolls, magical incense and candle, and three talismans, the first with a winged figure, the second being a cross on a leather cord, and the third a hammer on a chain. The loft contained a small library, but nothing magical, so we left the books. Searching Losandro's body, we discovered a ring of keys, potions, and Dr. Losandro's journal. As Brawl Dar and Ku'uvlin searched the room, something caught my eye. A number of grotesque paintings were lined against the northern wall, in between the windows facing the north garden. Under each painting was a name plate bearing the name Ulver Zandalus and a date, ranging from 4687 to 4716. I was drawn in, utterly engrossed, feeling as if I were falling through unnatural angles into cyclopean landscapes. Ku'uvlin put his hand on my shoulder, shocking me out of my fugue, before I was drawn in too far, but I felt cold and shaken to the depths of my soul. "It's not good to stare too long at those paintings, Luna. Take it from me…"

Looking outside, we could see the already fog dimmed day was receding into night. We needed to hurry back to the chapel, as we were still nursing our wounds and exhausted. From Administrator Losandro's office, it was a short journey short through the research labs and doctor's offices to the library, and out the second story window. However, we were concerned about being attacked again by monkey-rats in the library. Ku'uvlin pointed down the west hall of the research labs, to a collapsed section of rubble. "There's some kind of trail of slime running down this hall," he muttered. "But look, that collapsed section to the west looks like the northern section of the courtyard near the chapel or the collapsed hallway where we fought with the shapeshifting doppleganger."

Brawl Dar and I began clearing the rocks – noisy work. Ku'uvlin kept watch, continually jumping at the whispered voices, chittering, and skittering sounds coming from down the hallway. "Luna, come here, listen…" I stood near him but didn't hear anything. "You're just jumpy, Ku'uvlin." As he tried to convince me that there was really something in the hallway, we heard a loud exclamation "Brawl Dar is doing it!" As rocks flew back into the hallway from the ruins, a thin yellow mist began seeping into the hallway, and we could hear the sound of the thunderstorm outside, sounding disturbingly like laughter. Brawl Dar let out a belly laugh as he heaved rocks "Ku'uvlin was right! Our little miner!" We redoubled our efforts and the pallid yellow fog poured into the hallway. 

"Uh, Luna, there's definitely something here…" Ku'uvlin shrieked as some … things brushed past him and a horde of rats poured out of the mists, crawling, biting, and clawing at him. Three monkey-rats suddenly blinked into visibility as, as they chanted in Aklo, bursts of energy striking Brawl Dar and I the last thing I remember.

Day 5

I woke up in a dark room, my heart racing and my head cloudy. I fumbled around, feeling for my weapons and a light. My hand touched something wet and slimy on the ground. Ku'uvlin quietly chanted a spell and a crack of light appeared in our lantern. He explained "That's a trail of slime on the ground leading from the hallway into this room," as he adjusted the door of the lantern. He sat, a grim look on his face. "Ku'uvlin, I saw … things … while we slept." He nodded, knowingly. Brawl Dar bolted up, sword in hands. We stared at him, and after a moment he got his bearings. "Brawl Dar had bad dreams!" We all had bad dreams, bad enough that Ku'uvlin was not able to meditate and refresh his spells. 

"Why didn't those rat-monkey's kill us?" I wondered. Brawl Dar and Ku'uvlin were at a loss to explain. After the initial assault they retreated back into to the fog, apparently. I peeked around the crumbling wall of the room into the hallway. I could see about six meters down the hall, into to billowing yellow fog that was now coming through the openings in the pile of rubble. It was still too small to squeeze through. Other than the strong whistling sound of wind outside, I heard only silence. Rather than risk another attack while we attempted to clear rubble, Ku'uvlin, Brawl Dar, and I decided to try to sneak back through the library and out the window.

As we quietly approached the library, we heard no scampering or chittering. We quickly climbed the spiral stairs to the second story and approached the broken window, from which yellow fog was billowing into the library. Ku'uvlin scanned the room while Brawl Dar removed the ladder from the window and placed it outside. As Ku'uvlin started descending the ladder into the western courtyard, a book struck me on the back of my head. The monkey-rats were throwing books at us! I could hear them chittering in Aklo (a very difficulty language to understand) "Leave! Library belong ratling!" As I started climbing down, Ku'uvlin scanned the sky with his crossbow drawn and Brawl Dar continued. "Uhf! Don't throw books little rats! Books for reading!" As Brawl Dar began climbing down, a I attempted to stabilize the ladder against the foetid smelling wind. Brawl Dar nearly tumbled down as the ratlings grabbed the top of the ladder and began pulling it up. The wind blew stronger, and Ku'uvlin cried out "I hear that thing giggling, hurry up!" We ran through the courtyard to the western ward of the asylum as the ratlings pulled the ladder up and continued throwing books at us. 

We made it back to the chapel, where we met the robed elf from our dream with the ragged stalker. He introduced himself as Talendian. He had a similar dreams, in which he was stalked and murdered by the ragged creature with the blade, and awoke with no memory of his past life. He was escorted by guards to the chapel, where he met with Winter and introduced to the group. As he rested in the chapel, he gathered a pen and paper, and began scribbling madly, until he realized he was writing spells. He was a wizard! Talendian used his newly rediscovered magic to find secret doors and magic, but to no avail. He spoke with Juglan Rivercaine in the basement dungeon, but Juglan said very little other than "Zandalas sees!" and "Praise!". 

We finally were able to get some rest. Waking up in the early evening, we discovered that Baisley, our friendly somnambulistic patient was missing. We searched the area near the laundry where we had battle Dr. Oathsday - she had been doing gruesome experiments. Talendian found Baisley curled up on one of the tables asleep, amidst the corpses. She told us that she had a terrible nightmare of being stalked by the ragged figure in tattered yellow robes.

We were now faced with a dilemma – were were stuck in the western hall of the asylum. The gruesome eyeball door was blocking our passageway to the east. The ratlings had blocked our passageway through the library. We pondered what to do and I recalled the nightmare that I had after I was knocked out by the winged creature – I was washing my face, and my eye began itching. As I scratched it, it swole and blistered, gruesome pulsating veins reaching from it into my cheek and forehead. The eye grew bigger and bigger, and a soft weeping filled the air. I resisted the compulsion to turn away, and as I stared at the eye, the weeping grew more intense, as the eye shriveled and the veins retreated, finally returning my eye to normal.

Brawl Dar, inspired, went to the chaplain's office and grabbed a mirror hanging on the wall. He carried it to the hallway and I pulled the curtain back. Before us, the Argus Eye began to dissolve and dissipate into the ether. We propped the mirror nearby and went east through through the door into the foyer of the asylum. This was the area that Ku'uvlin had explored earlier. To the north was the library. To the east was a hallway leading to the patient's quarters. To the south was the front door, leading outside, to the pallid, yellow mist.

In the silence, I opened a storage closet. Cleaning supplies were scattered on the ground; the back wall of the room was collapsed. I stepped over the debris and rubble, crossbow in one hand and lantern in the other, and tripped over something large on the ground. As I focused the light on the object, I gave a cry in panic as I realized what this was. Half a dozen bodies were laid out in a row, cloth bags covering their heads. Brawl Dar, Ku'uvlin, and I cowered in the corner, terrified at what might come out of the bodies if they were disturbed. Talendian chuckled at our fear and examined the bodies. "Interesting. It appears they were all strangled, and the bags placed over their heads after they were killed."

We returned to the cathedral to rest.

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Chronicles of One Luna Teak: Day 4

Newly refreshed, we made our way to the chaplain's office. Children were drawing and playing nearby. Survivors apparently used this space for some quiet time.  We noticed a gated area. In the gated alcove, appearred a cabinet that Ku'uvlin could sense magic emanating from. Brawl Dar took a metal bar and ripped open the doors.

Kuuvlin went through the items with magic while I took the non-magic ones. He found scrolls to Pharasma and magical ones to heal light wounds. There were a couple of scrolls he was unable to figure out at that moment. He found a wand in a wooden box. I found patient files (see file section). Noteworthy was the file on Juglan who apparently improved when able to express himself through art. The file on Zandalas (from the "Zandalas-sees-all fame") also appeared to have artistic skills. The other files gave more info on the survivors as well as a few patients we haven't met yet. I also found a flogger that I decided to keep. Why not?

We see a vent in the room. It was just large enough for Ku'uvlin to fit. I talked to the rat creature in the boiler room to see if i could convince the rat creature to explore the shaft for more food. He refused. Ku'uvlin went down to the cells and gave art supplies gathered near the chaplain's office to Juglan. He drew a horrifying picture that caused Ku'uvlin to lose some sanity.

Kuuvlin went through the shaft and found that it ended in an office area. He removed the grate and lowered himself down. He found a register and pamphlets showing a rough map of the hospital. He grabbed both. He noticed the pictures of the founders and doctors at the hospital. He peered through one door and noticed a library. Through another door he heard crying. Ku'uvlin whispers out a greeting to no response. He decided to climb back up to the vent and return to the group.

The group went out again to find the kitchens. With the map, they realized they could either try to scale one of the walls in the courtyard or go through the area with the curtain that hides a hideous eye-tentacle creature attached to the door. We decided to try to scale but the sheerness of the wall made that impossible. We noticed a third option across the courtyard, which was to climb up to the windows of one of the buildings adjacent to the courtyard that lead to the library Kuuvlin spied. 

Kuuvlin kept watch. Me and Brawl Dar went back to the shed where a usable ladder was found. We brought the ladder out toward the window when the sky began to rumble loudly, deafening the both of us. We got the ladder up and Brawl Dar climbed up first only to be attacked by a gargoyle creature that hits him with its tail wounding him. 

Luna goes up next but was grabbed by the creature, tickled midair and then dropped for damage. I tried shooting at the creature but only managed to graze it with 1 bolt for 2 damage. Kuuvlin tried to distract the gargoyle with a conjured eagle, and I tried again to get up the ladder but was grabbed again and dropped. I went back to the guards and asked for more bolts. He agrees to give me his bolts. I went back out to try again and was grabbed by the creature. This time the drop knocks me out. Kuuvlin ran out and tied a rope around Luna to drag me to safety. Meanwhile, Brawl Dar was exploring the library area, according to Ku'uvlin.

I dreamed that I was grooming myself: brushing teeth, brushing hair, washing my face. My eye itches, and I rub it. It started to swell, and grew a sickly yellow. Veins of unnatural liquid run from my eye along my face, as the infection spread from its source. I couldn't stand it; it's too horrifying. I forced myself to face what i was becoming. I stared in the mirror at the eye, and the writhing veins of putrescent liquid began to shrink and retreat. As I stared at the alien thing my eye has become, I sensed an alien intelligence which screamed and protested at having been seen, as my eye returns to normal. 

I woke up, gasping, as Ku'uvlin poured a healing potion down my throat. I try once more to scurry up the ladder and was able to crawl into the library before the stalking horror swooped in and grabbed me. Kuuvlin went inside to use the vent shaft to get to the library. He met up with Brawl Dar and they explored the rooms nearby. They went towards the room where yellow fog was coming from. They found Dr. Laasandro in a pool of blood kneeling and a weird purple-ish mist emanating from her. 

In my last try to get up the ladder, I made it and went through the window but not before the creature clawed at me for damage. The adventurers regroup and Kuuvlin heals both myself and Brawl Dar. They explored more of the rooms. They found one room was locked and won't budge even with the mighty Brawl Dar kicks. Another room had an antlered beast with the corpse of a priest in yellow robes impaled on the the antlers. The group decided to go back to the library to try to rest for the day. 

Brawl Dar and Kuuvlin pulled the ladder in to cover the window. The group explored the area where books were shredded. I could just catch random words in Akklo from creatures in the tunnels we noticed upon closer inspection of the shredded book area. Our presence had not alerted these creatures but they appeared to be more intelligent than the rat creaturesin the boiler room and more malevolent. The group decided not to rest but to kill Dr. Lassandro.

They entered the room with the doctor. I fired a bolt into her chest for a some damage. Brawl Dar went in for a two-handed strike and hit back by one of the doctors unnaturally strong arms. A second bolt hit the doctor and Brawl Dar went in for another strike. He was hit again by one of the doctor's arms. A third bolt hit the doctor and a final strike from Barwl Dar killed the creature. 

The group uncovered Dr. Losandro's journal, as well as potions, master keys, books, and various items. Kuuvlin discovers that the two mystery scrolls were. The room was filled with morbid paintings by Zandalas. Luna looked a little too long and lost some sanity.

To be continued…

 

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Chronicles of One Luna Teak: Day 2 and 3

Day 2

In the morning we met more of the survivors: Baisley, a friendly woman with a tendency to sleepwalk; a 9 year old boy named Brenton whose brother, Debis was missing; a mute woman playing chess with Brenton named Mura; another boy who suffers from seizures named Bates; and Winter Klazka, the leader of the survivors, a beautiful cleric with porcelain white skin and jet black hair. Winter was chanting a ritual to Pharasma to create water for the survivors.

Winter thanked us for bringing the food we had, but noted that the couple dozen survivors would not make it long without more. Chaplain Setrachian, Dalami Calabar, Jasmine Argade, and Simon Lethbridge had not returned from their search for food. Perhaps he was in trouble and we could go to his aid. Alternately, we could continue gathering food from the trees outside or find the kitchens. Another issue was fuel and hot water – the chapel was cold and the survivors were burning furniture. There was no hot water and morale was low. If we could get the boilers working spirits would be raised. Winter implored us to do something to aid the survivors. 

The chapel itself was a large cross shaped room with stained glass windows. Outside, despite the pounding rain beating down, yellow mist swirled about. Dozens of candles flickered in small alcove shrines dedicated to various deities. Two altars caught my eye in particular. The first, a large stone statue, depicting a woman in a robe like dress holding an hourglass – Pharasma, the Gray Lady. The second, but smaller, was a delicate two foot tall porcelain statue of a woman with butterfly wings – Desna, the Tender of Dreams. 

Guarding the barricade was our old friend Denman – from the previous night – he looked nervously at me, fiddling with a knife. Although the survivors only had a limited amount of ammunition, I convinced him to give me five crossbow bolts. I asked him to cover me while I visited the the boiler room to talk with the Zoog. I was hoping to convince it to nest outside. I explained that there was plenty of food on the trees outside. No luck. There was something out there that the Zoog was terrified of. I returned to the chapel.

Meanwhile, Ku'uvlin explored further down the hallway past the chapel, where he found a floor to ceiling curtain drawn from wall to wall. Behind the curtain he heard a soft sobbing sound, and pulling it back, he began screaming at the sight he behld. Brawl Dar and Captain York ran to him, and by the time they arrived, Ku'uvlin had pulled the curtain back and was backing away, paying for his curiosity with a bit of his sanity. Capt. York calmed Ku'uvlin down. Whatever it was behind the curtain, Captain York was aware of it. It didn't seem dangerous, but it upset the patient-survivors. He thought it best to just leave it alone.

Accepting that the Zoog and its rat swarm were infesting the boiler room and there was no hope of restarting the boiler from there, Brawl Dar and Ku'uvlin decided to brave the basement again. They slid back down the shaft to the furnace room – landing on the pile of rotting bodies. Armed with torches, they loaded the furnace with coal and rags, and got the fire going. However, in the meantime a swarm of strange insects overwhelmed them - hybrid creatures with the bodies of insects but tiny faces of humanoids and animals, once again testing Brawl Dar and Ku'uvlin's sanity. Brawl Dar swung his torch to drive them off, but the nightmare insects crawled on him, driving him made with their insane whispering. He ran forward, striking his head against a wall and fell unconscious. Ku'uvlin continued to hold them off with the torch until finally the swarm dispersed. Ku'uvlin healed Brawl Dar and they returned to the chapel.

In the meantime, Baisley and I went out to the shed to scrounge for anything of use and to pick more fruit from the trees in the garden. Baisley explained that these were enchanted trees and that they produced large amounts of fruit every day. We gathered any tool with wooden shafts and metal ends that could be fashioned into crossbow ammunition as well as pruners and shears for knives. Next we started gathering fruit. I noted that the storm had uprooted some of the trees. The rain had stopped, but the storm was apparently coming back as I could hear thunder in the distance. As we picked I wondered about what it was that the zoog was so frightened of. The storm continued closer and the thunder became louder. A clap of thunder burst overhead – so loud that I was literally deafened – as the rain began pouring again. I looked up at the swirling yellow fog twenty feet above, and saw a large batwing shape float past in the mist, but only for a moment as Baisley pulled me inside with what we had found. I fashioned crossbow bolts until I fell asleep. My hearing didn't return until the morning. 

End of Day 2.

'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'

Day 3

The guards had seen Dr. Oathsday walk down the hall towards them, and out the door to the courtyard. She returned later and went back down the hall. They tried to speak to her but Denman said she had a mad look in her eyes. Ku'uvlin, Brawl Dar and I decided to explore the area to the north, in hope of finding Chaplain Setrachian. Baisley joined us. Past the area where we had encountered Dr. Latchke, the hallway was completely choked with rubble. It appeared that whatever had damaged the building had collapsed the area above and now we were cut off from the north wing of the asylum, where the kitchens lay. Half buried in the rubble, Baisley recognized the body of Dalami Calabar, one of Chaplain Setrachian's companions. She must have been killed when the hallway collapsed.

We began to clear the rubble to bring her body back, when Ku'ublin noticed something squirming inside her. As he stumbled back over the rubble away from Dalami, her corpse exploded, writhing viscera wrapping around Ku'uvlin's body, arms, and legs, constricting him as he struggled to make the proper gestures and words for magic. Dalami's head detached from the body and floated towards me, then swooped in, biting as it passed. On the next pass, I stepped aside and landed a bolt directly between the eyes, sending the thing skittering across the floor. In the meantime, Dalami's two hands crawled onto Brawl Dar as he atttempted to aid Ku'uvlin. Brawl Dar wrestled with the two hands, which possessed the unnatural strength of the dead. He threw one to the ground and crushed it beneath his boots while he  peeled the other off his throat as it choked him. I didn't dare to shoot at it, for fear of hitting Brawl Dar. Finally, whatever was animating the corpse faded, and Ku'uvlin was able to free himself of the tentacle like intestines that had attacked him. The three of us swore never to come near a corpse that we didn't kill, but really we were just hiding our newly developing terror beneath a shell of bravado.

Moving on, we came to a large laundry room. Across from us, past tables with linens scattered across them and spilling onto the floor, were three figures chained to a pipe running across the far wall. The first, a man in yellow robes with a flame painted onto his forehead looked at us as we entered and smiled. "Zandalus sees!" he exclaimed. He looked to his left, past a second figure – the mutilated body of a man wearing bloody patient's rags – towards the third figure, and said mournfully "Words fail…" The source of his dismay was obvious. The third figure, a ghoul, was feasting on the body of the figure between them. As it appeared that the three figures could slide back and forth across the pipe, but not escape, it was only a matter of time before the ghoul turned to the man in yellow. 

I lifted my crossbow to kill the ghoul, when it looked at me, and pitifully begged for its life. "Argade fell asleep and woke up so hungry… so hungry for Simon!" and with that began ravaging the body again. I took a shot at the ghoul and killed it. So, with Argade turned into a ghoul and Simon murdered, that only left the Chaplain as a possible survivor. Baisley recognized the man in yellow as Juglan Rivercaine, a patient. He hadn't been among the survivors and she didn't know how he would have gotten here. We decided to leave Juglan chained. "Words fail!" he yelled, as we continued on. "Zandalus seeeees!"

We continued into the laundry. Peeking through the door, we saw large basins lined the western wall, and a curtain was drawn across the room from west to east. A shadow was silhouetted against the curtain by a light cast from behind the curtain. In front of us, on tables, were the dissected bodies of patients and staff, as well as monsters (ghouls and dopplegangers). More sick experiments by these devilish doctors turned doppleganger. One of the bodies wasn't dead, it was a woman moaning in pain. We gave the woman on the table wide berth, having learned our lesson from our previous encounters with Dr. Scaen. We also gave the corpses wide berth, as we were terrified what might happen if they were disturbed. Ku'uvlin and I put on the uniforms of orderlies, and feigned that Brawl Dar was our prisoner. Approaching the curtain, we could hear scraping sounds. I pulled back the curtain but the room was empty. There was no light and nothing casting a shadow. The scraping sound countinued, coming from one of the large basins.

We debated what to do next. It was obvious that the woman on the table was severely injured, having been tortured. And, it was obvious that one of the shape shifting doctors was in the room. The question was which of the corpses it was disguised as … or was it disguised as the woman on the table. As a precaution, before trying to heal the woman, we attempted to manacle her. As we did this her features began shifting. "Dr. Oathsday!" Baisley exclaimed. The doctor began chanting a spell, and it became hard to think clearly. I began to see that she was my true friend and prepared to aim my crossbow at Brawl Dar and Ku'uvlin to defend her. As I took aim and began firing, my friends beat the former doctor to death, breaking her spell on me.

We turned our attention to the scraping back to the scraping sounds. The basin from which the sounds came from was about eight feet from floor to the top lip, with step ladder that would allow one to easily peer inside. Brawl Dar slowly mounted the ladder. Suddenly, a pair of dirty claws reached over the ledge. The claws appeared to be those of a ghoul, and it appeared that the creature was trapped in the basin and trying to climb out. Brawl Dar sliced off the creature's fingers with a swift blow of his sword, and the ghoul fell back into the basin with a cry of pain and a thud. We all scrambled up the ladder to peer inside, and saw that the ghoul was wearing the filthy outfit of a cleric. On the ground outside the basin, we found a holy symbol of the Gray Lady, a spiraling comet. Chaplain Setrachian had also succumbed to whatever was transforming the patients and staff into monsters. Brawl Dar entered the basin and manacled the creature.

In the end, we brought the chaplain and Juglan Rivercaine back as survivors. However, because they were both dangerous, we took them down to the basement and locked them in separate cells. Exhausted, we turned back to the chapel, and collected as much fruit as possible. The situation was becoming more dire, as we gathered more food from the fruit trees outside we noticed the storm had ripped more of the trees.

Level up!

End of Day 3.

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Chronicles of One Luna Teak: Day 1

Day 1

"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die."

The first thing I remember was sitting in an unfamiliar city at a cafe with a small half-orc wearing bones, feathers, and a skirt, an elf in robes, and a large human in a shirt so tight that it looked like it would cut the circulation to his brain.  I later discovered their names (at least, those that they could remember) – Ku'uvlin and Brawl Dar – as well as that Ku'uvlin was half kobold as well as half orc, an oracle apparently, and that Brawl Dar was some kind of fighter. I also learned that none of this was real. But, at the time, everything was as solid as the page I'm writing on now. The only name I can remember for myself is Luna Teak, and based on my ears (and the way I smell, according to Ku'uvlin), I'm half-elf, half-human. They insist I'm a ranger. Labels…    

We sat at the cafe, drinking and chatting, everything going on around us a haze. Whenever I looked around, it was difficult and disturbing, as if I were staring back at myself through a mirror, and I was the reflection. Thick yellow fog swirled through the street on the other side of the window, and slowly drifted in through the open door. Our waiter approached, and said something about "what we want underneath". I turned to speak and my mouth hung open as I saw myself staring back at me, repeating "Let's find out what's underneath." As the waiter spoke, it turned slowly from me to the others, it's face shifting to copy each of us in turn. As it became Brawl Dar, and began mouthing again "Let's find out what's…" Brawl Dar, apparently a man of action not words, flipped the table towards the waiter and shouted "What foul sorcery is this! Beer and coffee, not tricks!" The waiter's face and body melted into a nearly featureless shape, and it menacingly approached. 

The fog continued to drift in, and more figures approached. Cloaked in mists, their bodies shifted with a praeternatural threat that left no doubt of the peril we faced. There was no question of what to do – we fled through the unfamiliar streets.

What followed next was most singular indeed. Running through the pallid yellow fog, the four of us were separated. Turning a corner, I was surprised to come across my parents, who had been killed many, many years ago. They had a feral, hungry look in their eyes, and approached me, insisting that they wanted to see the "real me". They embraced me, and I was powerless to move or resist as they sniffed and pinched me. I gagged as a foetid smell of rotting flesh filled the air, and as I broke away, I could see the bodies of my adoptive mother and father transforming, their skin becoming a pale greenish-grey, as their muscles all but wasted away, leaving them almost literally skin and bones. As I fled into the swirling mists, the last I saw of them was razor sharp teeth growing from their mouths and filthy claws from their fingers.  

I fled in terror through the strange streets and alleys, as from the mists behind me the sound of something relentlessly pursued me. Exhausted, I turned to face my stalker, and felt my mind shatter as "the yellow fog parted, and a mask of grey rags emerged, strips of something fleshier than fabric worming and constricting across a body that was almost humanlike – mut too lean, and far too flexible. Gauzy grey ribbons reached out like tendrils towards me, each grasping for my less doubtful flesh to claim."1  The creature left no quarter for me to defend myself. It approached with maddening languidness, and suddenly a flicker of metal and a spray of blood and it was over. As I slumped against the wall, my life force draining from my body, I saw the blood spray on the walls had spelled a word "ME". My gaze slumped to the left and I saw the rest of the message "SAVE UP WAKE". I heard the message echoing in my head as everything went black. "Wake up! Save me!"


I woke with a start. Candles flickered behind a barred gate, providing some illumination (thanks to my half elf eyes, this was enough for me to see clearly). I took stock of my situation. I was on some type of cot, in a small cell or cage. Ku'uvlin and Brawl Dar were in the cell with me, also stirring. Through the gate, there was nothing in front of me, but the flickering of the candles to the left, around the corner. From that direction, I heard a wet scrape and the sound of a man moaning. It sounded like someone was in pain. More wet scraping sounds.

Ku'uvlin caught my eye as Brawl Dar sat up, and we both rushed to him, but too late. "Brawl Dar doesn't know where he is!" The wet scraping sounds stopped, and the silence was broken by the sound of something metallic being dropped. Footsteps approached and a figure appeared in front of the cage. She appeared to be a doctor or nurse, from her blood covered outfit. A name tag simply identified her as "Dr. Scaen". She looked in the cage, held her index finger to her mouth, and made a sound, "Shhhhhh…" She went back, out of sight. I rushed to the bars and peered through. Outside our cell was a narrow hallway with a number of cells on either side. To the left, strapped to a table, barely conscious, was a man, covered in cuts, portions of his flesh stripped from his hands and arms and laid on the table before him.

"Doctor" Scaen rummaged through a number of sharp instruments gathered on the table, and selected what appeared to be a garden trowel. As she raised it I cried out "Stop!" She turned, locking eyes with me, and for a moment there was only silence. Suddenly, her face twisted and I was staring into my own visage. "You're next!" she exclaimed, as she lifted the trowel and brought it down to the man's gut. Blood pooled on the table as he moaned in pain. He gazed towards me and silently mouthed a cry for help. 

I backed away from the bars, my heart racing and barely able to breath, terrified beyond words at what I had witnessed. Behind me, Ku'uvlin and Brawl Dar had wasted no time. Brawl Dar was dismantling the bed, and had armed himself with a long metal rod. Ku'uvlin passed me a loose brick that he had pried from the wall then armed himself with our chamber pot. Through the bars, he heaved the bucket at Dr. Scaen, covering her in filth. Infuriated, she raced to our cage and berated us, while Ku'uvlin deftly grabbed her key ring and unlocked the gate. "Ho ho, Brawl Dar is here!" Brawl Dar stepped through the gate and swung the bar at Dr. Scaen with both hands, striking her across the brow. Apparently not wanting to face three foes, Dr. Scaen fled down the dark hallway out of the candlelight. 

Ku'uvlin and I rushed to the man to aid him, but he his wounds were too much. "Everything went mad … patients, staff, doctors…. monsters… find Chaplain Setrachian…" A blood stained name tag identified him as "Orderly Campre". As we searched the hallway and the cells, we discovered that we all had the same disquieting dream, including being having family and friends transform into ghouls and being stalked and killed by the ragged figure in yellow. In a cell across the hallway, we discovered another sleeping figure – the elf from our dream. Unable to rouse him, we continued searching the hallway.   

We came upon a furnace, unlit and cold. Before it were piles of discarded clothes, bloodied and torn. Ku'uvlin and I looked at each other. He sorted through the clothing, and gave a start. "What is this…?" he pondered as he pulled a small violin from the dirty rags. The violin was well made and in perfect shape. Ku'uvlin peered inside and found a little note, with the word "Ausiel". Continuing the other way down the hallway, in the direction that Dr. Scaen fled, we opened a door in the darkness and were assaulted with a foul scent. Ku'uvlin, able to see in the dark with his orc-kobold eyes, was the first to comprehend the horror. "No, no, no…" he muttered. As Brawl Dar came up behind us with a candle, it was clear where the stench came from and who the bloody clothes belonged to.

In this dark stone room, piled up under a chute, lay dozens of corpses, piled on top of each other, limbs askew. They were all naked, with various wounds indicated a violent death by weapon, claw, or bludgeoning. Dozens of bodies that had been casually tossed down a chute.  "C'mon", I said. "We've got to find a way out of here." But, unfortunately there appeared only one way out. A stairwell to our right was buried in rubble, as was the passageway heading to the left. It appeared that the only way out was up, and that involved crawling over the corpses. 

Once I made up my mind do make the climb, I distanced myself from the gruesome task and scrambled up, into the chute. It was an easy climb, and as I carefully approached the top, I lifted a hatch. I was barely able to make out my surroundings in the dim light coming from under the wall to my right, but it was obvious that I was in a small gardening shed. A small shed with shovels, hoes, forks, wheelbarrows… and a chute for disposing of bodies. Outside it was raining. Brawl Dar and Ku'uvlin followed me up the chute. We gathered some supplies (rope, torch, lantern, flint), and exited the shed. We stood under a small overhang, and looked around the walled garden we found ourselves in. There were a number of fruit trees, and swirling amongst them was that same yellowish mist from our dreams. The sky was completely obscured by the yellow fog, and rain beat down in the garden. We felt heat emanating from the rain. To our right, under the eaves of the roof, was a door with a sign that read "West Ward – Chapel – Facilities – Administration". Across from us, to the east, was a large wall with windows running across the top, and to our north and south the walls had collapsed in rubble. Ku'uvlin pointed out that the wall behind us (to the west) was intact and that there was a door heading in. As we were famished, we walked into the storm to gather apples, but were forced back by the scalding rain. 

I listened at the door. Hearing nothing, I slowly opened the door. Inside, a hallway running to the left and right, with a sign  "< Chapel — Facilities / Administration ->" – dimly lit by the pallid daylight and some candlelight from the left. I entered the hallway and immediately felt a sharp pain in my arm. I had been shot by a crossbow bolt. Another flew past me, missing the mark by a wide margin. "C-captain York! Th-there's another!" A voice from the direction of the chapel exclaimed. Huddled behind an improvised barricade of desks and chairs twenty feet from me, a man and a woman, both dressed in uniforms similar to that of poor Campre, aimed crossbows at me. The man was shaking nervously, but the woman's aim was steady and true. "Don't come any closer", she said. Behind the barricade, lanterns lit a hallway which turned to the left, with a number of doors on either side. From a door behind the barricade a man appeared, bearing a crossbow in one hand and a sword on his hip. He wore a scowl on his face and walked with a martial bearing. His uniform confirmed that he was no doctor or orderly. The nervous orderly stood up and whispered to him, his hands shaking violently, as the woman maintained her aim at me. I held up my hands. 

Captain York fixed his eyes on mine. "We've no patience for your kind. Leave now or die." I tried to explain but was interrupted. "Enough of your tricks!" Captain York roared. He turned to the orderlies. "Another one came by recently?" They nodded in confirmation. "I think it was – used to be – Dr. Scaen." Captain York regarded me, he called for assistance, and two more appeared. Now, with five crossbows aimed at me, Captain York said, "Tell your friends to enter, slowly." Ku'uvlin scuttled in, and Brawl Dar sauntered. Both were eating apples. Captain York said "Bring me back a body of one of those dopplegangers, and we can discuss your story." I begged him to give us something to fight them with. York's face twisted with rage and he opened his mouth but was interrupted by the nervous orderly, who whispered something. "Fine, Denman, you're probably right." He turned to me. "How many apples do you have. Give us those and we can give you some cloaks and shields." We had collected a couple dozen apples, and I rolled them towards the barricade. Denman, the nervous orderly, entered a door and a moment later came out another door in front of the barricade. While the York and the other orderlies kept their weapons trained on us, Denman gathered the apples and threw a bundle of cloaks and three shields towards us.

"Now go." York motioned with his crossbow down the dark hallway, towards the facilities. "That's where your friend went. Tell her and the rest of your shape-changing to leave us be." We headed off into the darkness. 


We quietly skulked off into the dark hallway. Brawl Dar holding a candle and armed with a metal bar, and Ku'uvlin and myself armed with gardening tools and pieces of rubble. Ku'uvlin led the way, as he was unhampered by the complete darkness. As we walked down the dark corridor to the north, it was evident that a great deal of destruction had taken place. The stone ceiling, floor, and walls were cracked, and rubble littered the floor at places. Occasionally a draft blew through a crack. With no idea where to go, but knowing we had to confront Dr. Scaen in order to convince Captain York of our good intentions, we began checking each door as we passed.

A sign next to one door indicated "Boiler Room". Ku'uvlin quietly opened the door, and scurrying sounds filled the air – perhaps seeming louder than they really were because of the darkness. In the far corner of the room, two large round water tanks were connected to the wall by a number of pipes. The boilers were apparently not working, as there was no condensation or heat in the room. Rubble lay scattered about – it was apparent that Dr. Scaen was not in here, although rats were in abundance, as evidenced by the continued scurrying as we searched the rubble. I found a chain hanging from the wall, and as I gathered it, I heard "Brawl Dar sees a light under the pipes!" Sure enough, two small beams of light darted quickly around the room from behind the pipes, casting unsettling shadows in the middle of the room. I was surprised to hear from the direction of the lights a few muttered words – "Hungry… home … lonely" – in Aklo, an otherworldly language found in the Darklands, used by aberrations and other unnatural creatures. Ku'uvlin squatted down, reaching behind the pipes. "I think it's a zoog." The creature bit his hands and would not let it go. The rats in the room began swarming, crawling on us and biting. Finally, the rats scattered and the zoog let go of Ku'uvlin once I promised, in broken Aklo, that we would leave it alone.  

We continued our search. In a linen closet, we discovered a pendant. While pondering whether we should grab it, giant centipedes burst out of a crack in the ceiling and chased us away. Continuing into the darkness, the piles of rubble became larger. As we entered the administrative offices, the magnitude of the the destruction became apparent. Entire sections of walls had fallen, making it impossible to move quickly. We carefully balanced as each step caused stone and timber to shift, echoing loudly in the darkness. As we made our way through the offices, we heard a moaning, and came upon an elderly nurse, partially buried in the rubble. I splint her leg, which had been wounded in the cave in. She introduced herself as Grata Rubolia, and slowly followed us as we continued to explore the ruined offices.  

Deeper into the administrative offices, we faced another shock. Muttering and mumbling, a doctor stood with his back to us, dissecting the bodies of patients and monsters. Strips of flesh hung from wires strung between shelves. Nurse Rubolia hobbled forward, "Dr. Latchke, these lovely gentle-beings pulled me out of the rubble. They are in need of treatment." Dr. Latchke turned around, its face a featureless mass of flesh, it's coat soaked in blood, and holding a bloody scalpel in its hand. With the scalpel, it pointed at the table. "Lay down and await your turn please", it said good naturedly. Brawl Dar wasted no time, and swung his metal bar at the back of Dr. Latchke's skull, striking home. Nurse Rubolia's face twisted in rage, mimicking Brawl Dar, then settling on Dr. Scaen's face. The "wound" closed up, but although her leg was not really injured, she was now hobbled by the splint I had luckily fashioned for her. She swung her long, sharp claws at Brawl Dar's back, knocking him to the ground, where he struck his head and fell unconscious. Ku'uvlin and I grabbed surgical tools from Dr. Latchke's table, and battled with it. Dr. Lathke's grip tightened around my throat, and I passed out as I saw Ku'uvlin stab it over and over and over, while Dr. Scaen hobbled away, over the rubble into the darkness. 

I awoke with a sore neck, coughing and hacking. Looking around at the dim light, I saw that this had been no dream, but that I was actually living in a nightmare. As Ku'uvlin chanted over me, a soothing sensation washed over my neck. I saw Brawl Dar, dragging the body of Dr. Latchke, had similarly been healed. Ku'uvlin shrugged "It just came back to me…" If his memories would return, perhaps mine would as well. We brought the body of Dr. Latchke back to the barricade, and, true to his word, Captain York begrudgingly allowed us is. "I've got my eye on you," he warned.

A group of about twenty survivors were gathered behind the barricade in the a chapel of whatever or wherever we were. We were promised that we would be given weapons and armor if we would help protect the survivors and find more food. Ku'uvlin spent the last of his energy helping to heal the wounded survivors before passing out. As I drifted to sleep, I saw Captain York speaking with a beautiful raven haired woman with pale white skin, confirming that we had brought down a doppleganger and that yes, we could probably be trusted to find the missing Chaplain Setrachian. 

1. F. Wesley Schnieder wrote this brilliant description. 

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