Strange Aeons

You Get What You Pay for

https://youtu.be/dZBAmSFCmQ0

While half of our group of amnesiacs rested up, Taber, Cailyn and Lekovi visited the library, and dug into the wealth of information stored there. Initially looking for information about the standing stones on the northwest of Briarstone Isle, they uncovered some unsettling details about Briarstone Asylum's and Thrushmoor's history, along with several references to The Tatterman and the Briarstone Witch. With some effort, these three also moved a solid table into the chapel, to use in making weapons to fight the Nightgaunt. After rejoining the other two amnesics, River and Lekovi attempted to identify the last few items recovered from Adminiatrator Losandro's office, without success, before setting out again.

After examining their map of the Asylum, the group returned to the front door. Finding the door stuck, most of the group began planning ways to open them. Upon spying Flowing River unshipping an axe, the others quickly decided on a plan involving rope, and the door was yanked open. Those near the door spied several indistinct shapes moving in the mist, and heard what sounded like a giant stomach gurgling. As they tried to make out more detail, what appeared to be a pile of corpulent flesh rolled out of the fog, and lashed out at the group.

Cailyn quickly lobbed a flask of alchemist's fire at the creature, setting it alight. Lekovi, seeing the thing burning, realised he had read of these things before, and identified them as Hungry Flesh. He relayed how these piles of tumorous flesh regenerated and grew larger if they were cut or stabbed, unless they had first been burned. After a quick struggle, the creature dissolved into a disgusting mix of liquidised flesh. Several more creatures were seen approaching the open front doors, and Scorcher slammed and barred them securely closed.

Sensing a relatively easy way to practice their skills, the group resolved to lure the piles of meat in one at a time to destroy them. They readied themselves in a defensive formation, and River rushed forward to open the door. As they concentrated on the foe that moved in, none of the group noticed a lurking shadow elsewhere in the room, and as soon as they were all otherwise engaged, the Spring Heeled Jack they had encountered and imprisoned earlier leapt out, stabbing Cailyn in her kidneys.

Recovering quickly, Cailyn turned to meet this new threat, while her allies continued to deal with the tumescent ooze. Expecting the tumble in, the Jack slashed at Cailyn again, and even the ooze tried to lash out. River, seeing the danger, also moved over to threaten the dark fey creature. The Jack leapt out from between the pair, throwing out a blaze of fire, sending Cailyn crashing to the ground, while the flesh pile grabbed and overran Lekovi.

River stooped to heal Cailyn, while Taber and Scorcher continued to wound the flesh creature. Lekovi was badly wounded, and fell to the ground, just as Taber felled the creature. Concerned for his friend's welfare, Taber used strange magic to staunch the bleeding.

The Jack, sensing an opportunity, leapt in and gleefully retrieved his knife from Cailyn. Holding it to the sky in triumph, the Jack didn't see Scorcher throw a color spray in his direction, and he looked directly at it. Immediately stunned and blinded, the Jack dropped his precious knife. River moved in, and cleaved his skull.

Barring the front doors again, the group retreated once again to the chapel to rest and recover resources. The three spellcasters tried to scavenge scribing supplies, and between them, were able to find enough for a single low power scroll. Cailyn, fearing the Nightgaunt, carved wooden javelins from the table.

Heading back out the next day to the second courtyard, the group found that the fog was a little thinner, partly due to strong winds blowing. Cailyn and Taber spread out, trying to draw the creature out, and sure enough, it swooped down at Taber, grabbing him. Cailyn did not at first detect the creature over the howling winds, but the rush of her allies towards it clued her in. Thanks to a sudden windstorm, the creature was unable to lift its victim aloft, and was trapped on the ground, where River was able to rush in and slice at it. Trying to move past her friends to an open spot of ground, Cailyn was unable to evade the Nightgaunt's talons, and was also held fast in it's grip, although it then quickly released Cailyn, but lost its grip on Taber.  Scorcher sent an Enfeebling Ray towards the creature, but it evaded, only to be smashed down by Taber's staff.

Feeling that the tide had turned, the group spread out into the courtyard to explore, but found nothing of value. They did discover a wooden shed in one corner of the courtyard, and entered it. Inside, they found some garden tools, and stairs down. Curiously, the walls and stairs ended at some sort of gigantic open space. Dropped rubble sounded out that the floor was at least 200 feet down, and sounded leathery rather than stone.

The group then decided to explore new territory, and walked to the formerly dark 'scary room'. On the other side, they found something surprising – another settlement. This large open area contained many makeshift tents that appeared to have been made from many different scraps of cloth and other materials, small fires burning in front of some of them. Corpses, their heads wrapped in cinched bags and pillow cases, adorned the walls, dried blood on the walls beneath them. Large staircases were visible to the upper floor. People sat around the tents and fires, some dressed in yellow robes with chalked flames on their foreheads, all showing at least some small amount of yellow-dyed fabric in their clothing. Taking this in quickly, the group ducked back out of sight, and redressed with some of the yellow robes they had already recovered.

Stepping back into sight, the group was approached by a handful of thuggish-looking people, holing improvised weapons. Before anything could develop further, a blond man dressed in ragged doctor's outfit. Introducing himself as Wren Elbourne, the man quickly ushered the group away from the crowd gathering, into what appeared to be a makeshift hospital, screened off from the rest of the camp. Shooing away a pair of patients with minor injuries, Dr Elbourne began an in-depth conversation with the group. Dr Ellbourne's side of the conversation is just below – after hearing all of this, the group has found several new avenues of action, including the nearby haunted kitchens, and the northwest tower.

Who are you? “I’m Doctor Wren Elbourne. I study and treat diseases of the mind. I only started working at Briarstone a week ago, and was excited for the job… that’s hard to believe now.” 

Who is Ulver Zandalus? “He’s this lot’s leader and the one responsible for all this. I hear he used to be just a quiet artist who had bad dreams. I don’t know how else to explain it, but something let his dreams loose. He convinced a bunch of patients that he’s some sort of prophet and that he can lead them to the land of dreams. That was enough to start a riot. Soon after, those strange mists rose outside and an earthquake caused much of the asylum to fall apart.
We’ve been trapped here ever since.”

Where is Zandalus? “He and his closest followers keep to what remains of the halls upstairs. No one is allowed up there,
though. Zandalus’s thugs stand guard, but worse, that weird mist collects up there like a snake in a hole. Who knows what they do in that fog? But we all hear the chanting and screaming…even though we try not to.”

Who is the Tatterman? “A lot of people are having the same dream of a gaunt thing in yellow rags hunting them. They say if he kills you in your dreams, he reveals what you really are. Sometimes that’s a corpse, sometimes it’s something worse. Regardless, everyone is terrified of sleeping, fearing the nightmares. Worse, they say that the Tatterman works for Zandalus. It’s all the more reason not to defy him, lest he send his dream assassin after you.”

Who are the people wearing yellow? “Zandalus calls them the Apostles in Orpiment. They’re his followers. Some have bought into Zandalus’s creed that dreams are prophecies and that Zandalus’s visions foretell the coming of a great change, but most are just scared, former patients who need treatment.”

What is the fog outside? “Zandalus found some way to breach the border between dreaming and wakefulness. The fog is a result; it’s like spillover from whatever dream realm he’s tapped into. But the fog isn’t the problem, it’s the things that came along with it. Weird things, like from nightmares. The worst seem content to keep to the fog, but I’ve seen strange forms slip into the asylum—figures I can’t rightly describe.”

Why are people having nightmares? “If all that’s happened here wasn’t reason enough? I can’t be sure, but everyone’s suffering from the same bad dreams, me included: mostly visions of bleak skies and empty cities. Some say they’re the dreams Zandalus used to have, that now that they’re free of his head they’re infecting everyone else. Some say the Tatterman brought them, and he’s haunting all of our nightmares. Others think they’re visions of what’s beyond the fog. But who can truly say?”

View
Dancing in the Dark

https://youtu.be/129kuDCQtHs

On their way to explore the last couple of areas on this side of the 'scary room', the group checked in on the two captured men in yellow robes, still restrained in the communal ward they had been left in the previous day. Leaving the ward, the group were attacked by a strange fey creature that Lekovi recognised as a Spring Heeled Jack. The creature leapt around, slashing at members of the group before being knocked unconscious. The Jack was then restrained, and brought around for questioning. All the Jack did was to threaten Cailyn, who was now in possession of his knife. The group locked him inside the cage that had previously held taxidermic birds, in the Visitor's Room, and returned to their other tasks.

They returned to the records room, and unlocked the special records room behind it. Here, they found information relating to any number of supernatural or unexplained cases and patients. Behind a painting of the asylum's entrance, the group found a safe, which held a number of valuable items, including Red Destiny. There was also a cash box, which included a calling card for the services of the Thrushmoor office of the Sleepless Detective Agency. Lastly, the group recovered the patient records relating to Ulver Zandalus, listed in the previous adventure journal (yes, a small retcon…).

Continuing through the Administrator's office, the amnesiacs explored the last set of rooms on this side of the Dark room. They found a strange slimy trail of preservative-smelling liquid leading further down the hall, but stopped to investigate noises in a closer room.

Investigating, they found Ratch Mamby, the ratling sorcerer mentioned earlier by the other ratlings encountered. Ratch seemed incensed, and attacked the group, along with his accompanying Dire Rats, and a summoned rat swarm. In the ensuing struggle, River, Cailyn and Scorcher were all bitten by the rats, but they were eventually put down, and Ratch captured and bound. Ratch was interrogated lightly, before the group continued to investigate the slimy trail.

The trail continued to a partially-collapsed conference room, and ended at a closet. Opening the closet, Cailyn was surprised as a mason jar full of preservative liquid was smashed on her head. Looking up, the group saw the unsettling sight of a pair of undead foetuses. River cut one apart on sight, causing it's remains to splash all over both River and Cailyn. The second one leapt at River, and tried to bite a chunk out of her ankles. Cailyn quickly dispatched the second disturbing creature.

Turning now to the last unexplored area in this half of the asylum (apart from the large courtyard haunted by the nightgaunt), the group faced the room described by the apostles as the 'scary, dark room'. Opening the doors, they again found it supernaturally dark.

River moved into the dark area, and immediately heard children sobbing around him, then was touched by something trying to cause harm. River backed up, just outside of the dark area, and found his voice no longer worked. Cailyn moved forward to also attack the creature, and had difficulty finding it. Scorcher and Lekovi threw magic to little effect, and Taber surprised everyone by using magic to shield himself, before also stepping forward.

Hearing the sobbing voices say mention the name of one of the children in the Chapel, Lekovi pulled the wooden toy knights that had belonged to them from his magical bag, and threw them into the room. Nothing appeared to change. River, focusing on the voices asking to 'relight the Lantern', entered the dark room, trying to find a lantern to relight, but found only rubble in the dark. Taber, thinking the dark was the issue, grabbed hold of the creature, and dragged it into the light. Revealed was a child's skeleton, wrapped in scraps of night clothes and the drawings of children, with a fox's skull. The creature struggled, but was held fast. It tried to bite Taber, but could not.

River continued to explore the dark area, while Taber and Cailyn tried to restrain the creature. Eventually, the creature slipped loose from their grip, and moved quickly away from the group, trying to use another entrance to it's lair. Taber moved to try and cut the creature off again, while Cailyn moved to surround it, and the two arcanists threw more magic at it. Cailyn and Taber surrounded the creature, and finally finished it off, causing the darkness to dissipate from the scary room, now visible as a trashed guard station.

Spent of resources, the amnesiacs pulled back to the chapel again, and rested for another day, throwing off the remaining filth fever and ghoul fever infections.

View
Dreams in the Mist

https://youtu.be/mrZRURcb1cM

After finding one of their number were infected with some affliction, the group asked Winter for assistance, and discovered that not only had Scorcher caught Filth Fever, but Cailyn had somehow been infected with Leprosy. Although Winter was not strong enough to heal either condition, she was able to relieve Scorcher's suffering, and began helping to provide long term care. Winter also reminded the group that the refugee camp was running low on supplies, and would run out in only a few days. She also told the group that Administrator Losandro's office had been situated in the centre of the assylum, and that it may hold further clues to the happenings, or their identities.

The amnesiacs returned to the area they had previously been searching, and continued north along the hallway. They examined each of the small bedrooms along the way. The ceiling in the first had collapsed, but thankfully nobody had been harmed. Three more corpses were in the next room, two in the yellow robes they had seen previously, but the third an old man, holding a fine boot with a bloodstained heel. The pair in yellow appeared to have been beaten to death. The third room contained a pile of pillows and blankets, and the group discovered a pair of toy, carved knights among them. The fourth and last room contained a grisly, human-shaped carnage lying on the bed.

Moving further north, the group spied something strange in the next large open area by the light of Taber's conjured lights – what looked like a river of blood. Not wanting to chance leaving an enemy behind, the group firstly checked a door off the main hall.

Behind the door, the group found a long room, with a row of beds, separated by curtains. All of the beds were also fitted with restraints. The bed in the middle of the row contained a sleeping man, restrained at waist, arms and legs. The man thrashed about, clearly in the grip of some disturbing dream, and began calling out “No! Not again!”, “Keep away!”, “I don’t want anything from you!”, “Get away from me, bastard!”, in an increasingly panicked voice. While Lekovi searched for traces of magic, Cailyn approached the man, and attempted to rouse him, with no success. With a final, piercing shriek, the man stopped struggling, and lay still. River approached, to confirm the man was dead, and to try to discern the cause of his fate. Almost unsurprisingly, as Flowing leant across the man to listen to his hear, his eyes flicked open, and he bit down hard on River's wrist. Rushing into action, the group quickly dispatched the poor, restrained man. Searching the room, the group found a spare straightjacket, and a hoodwink cowl.

Moving back to the hall, the group continued north to a large, open area, with large windows to the east. Before the windows, facing away from the group, was an old woman, sat in a chair. A constant stream of blood seemed to flow from the woman, and then pooled on the floor beneath her, before flowing down a west-running hall, and then forming a vertical pool.

Looking at this, Lekovi recognised it as some form of haunt. Despite this, Scorcher tried to attack the form of the woman with Disrupt Undead, to no effect. Taber and Cailyn approached the woman's body, and looking at the front, discovered she had a gaping hole in her chest, from which the blood was running. Taber attempted to cast a stabilise cantrip on the woman, which seemed to distrupt the blood flow briefly, but had no lasting effect.  Lekovi tried to disrupt the blood with his foot, which caused a large wave of blood to sweep him down towards the pool, but he was able to struggle out of the flow. Cailyn tried making a bandage from a sheet, and stuffing it into the wound, but the blood rushed up and swept Cailyn across the room as well, but she was also able to struggle free from the flow. River moved to the woman, and applied a cure spell, and the corpse's wound closed up, and the flow of blood diminished, showing a door further down the hall.

Once again not wanting to leave unexplored areas, the group investigated a serving hatch further north. Cailyn climbed in silently, and crept ahead. Behind the hatch was another dark room, containing three more people in stained, yellow robes. Reacting quickly, the group turned the tables on the men, and subdued them. The group awoke one, and questioned him, finding out about the 'scary, dark room' leading north through double doors, and that Ulver Zandalus was leading the forces of the cult. They also asked about the kitchens, finding out they were futher north as well. The group then dragged their three prisoners back to the ward, and left them restrained on the beds.

The group opened the double doors to the north, and found an area that not even darkvision could penetrate. Thinking better of exploring this area for the moment, the group closed the doors, and checked the next door north.

This door led to a storage room, containing clean and dirty linen, cleaning supplies, and a corpse on the ground. Not taking any more chances, River took the corpse's head off before examining it. He discovered the man had been stabbed to death. Lekovi checked for magic, and found several items of note, including a cloak, which Taber claimed.

Continuing east, through the door that had been covered by the vertical pool of blood, the group found another hallway, with several doors leading north and south. Cailyn moved quietly in, and heard sounds of activity to the south west. The group prepared to rush in, and were able to surprise two more men in yellow, and quickly dispatched them. The room also contained many records, which the men had been in the process of searching, and were now strewn all over the floor. Once again not wanting to risk leaving enemies behind, Cailyn moved to the doors across the hall before they examined the records, and found a third yellow-robed assailant, who was also quickly disabled.

The northern room turned out to be some sort of storage room, containing all sorts of personal items and junk, although they were able to discover several magical vials, containing silversheen and an oil of align weapon.

Back in the southern room, the group were able to find some records that seemed to pertain to them – they contained no names or much in the way of personal details, but the descriptions matched the amnesiacs. The files indicated that the group had all been in a catatonic state, and had all been committed on the same day, almost two weeks prior.

While searching amongst the patient records strewn on the floor, the group also discovered a record for Ulver Zandalus, shown below.

Moving to the last door in the hallway, the group opened it, revealing an enormous, expensively-appointed, two-story office. Apart from a wrought iron gallery wrapping around the top floor, the most striking feature was the kneeling Garundi woman, surrounded by a large pool of blood. Her head was bent to the sky, her mouth open in silent scream. At irregular intervals, rainbow-coloured mists spurted forth from her open mouth, before dissipating into a gritty residue. 

The group explored the room, and discovered several curios, including a wooden box carved into the likeness of a brain, bookends depicting twin screaming and crying figures, and a brass sculpture of an Osirion pyramid. Several valuable books were also to be found amongst the large collection in the office. On top of the desk were six framed charcoal sketches, showing vistas of a familliar, deserted city. Copper plates at the bottom of the frames revealed the artist to be Ulver Zandalus, and showed dated the sketches over a period of seven years, the most recent being about 12 months prior. Searching the desk revealed a locked drawer, which Cailyn was able to open. A number of enchanted items were in the drawer, and several alchemical items, but nothing of immediate use, along with Administrator Losandro's journal.

Over a long period of investigation and experimentation, the group were able to determine that the kneeling woman was unresponsive, and unbreathing, despite appearing quite alive. Examination of her throat revealed some sort of opening inside the woman's body, which appeared to be the source of the mists spurting from her mouth. The amnesiacs were also able to detemine that the puddle of blood was not actually blood, but some sort of planar energy field that caused anyone spending time in it to fall asleep. While asleep, the group members dreamed of several different experiences within the deserted city they had dreamed of before. River also dreamed of meeting an ancient Keleshite woman in a room in the city, who advised destroying the sources of the mist.

Unsure of what further action they could take, the group turned to divine inspiration – they each tried using the phylactery of faithfulness they had found earlier to determine if killing the woman would be against their alignment or religion. They also checked if leaving her alive would be so antithetical, and Taber determined that leaving her alive would be against Desna's teachings. Unhappy but resigned, the group ended the woman's life. The mist stopped, and the pool of planar energy dispersed. The group took their findings, and retreated again to the chapel to rest, taking with them

The contents of the journal are largely mundane – filled with notes from staff meetings
and interviews with the families of would-be patients - but in entries written during the last year, the names Haserton Lowls and Count Lowls appear with increasing regularity. The most recent contents of the journal are shown below.


 

View
Living the Dream

https://youtu.be/Yam5uK6e-bQ

After an exhausting first venture, our amnesiacs had rested for a full 24 hours. During that time, the man they had rescued from the surgical table has joined the party in their haven. At the end of the third rest shift, the poor man awoke screaming from a nightmare, changing form before the group's eyes. His skin became grey and wrinkled, and he grew claws and fangs. Immediately, he started lashing out at the group, paralysing several of the group members. Scorcher tried to put him to sleep, but he was not affected. Lekovi, realising the man was now a ghoul, finally tried the same trick, but using his own special version that affects undead creatures. It worked, and they took the poor, sleeping man, and locked him into one of the storage rooms.

After recovering from this fresh horror, the group returned to their explorations north of the barrier. They discovered a room where three men were chained by their wrists to overhead pipes…one of the men was dead (with the flesh chewed almost entirely off his left arm), one was a ghoul, and the third was dressed in dirty yellow robes, with a chalked yellow flame on his forehead. Taking advantage of the ghoul's incapacitated state, they destroyed it, and freed the man in the robes. This man appeared unwilling or incapable of saying more than a few phrases – 'Zandalus Sees', 'Praise' and 'Words fail'.

After being freed, the man walked back down the corridor towards the barrier, and began attempting to climb over it, heedless of the warnings given by the guards. After a short scuffle, the man was overpowered, and locked into the second storage room.

Continuing their progress again, the group found a large laundry room, with curtains hung across the middle of the room, a lantern shining out from behind it. Bodies were haphazardly strewn in the corners, and a table piled high with body parts was in the middle of the visible area. While Lekovi started detecting magic, the warpriest charged forward at an image behind the curtain, but found nothing. Clearing away the rest of the curtain, a makeshift surgery was revealed, with a woman's body on a table, and a set of surgical tools and a lantern on a footstool beside her.

Lekovi confirmed the woman was covered in a magical aura. Immediately suspicious, the warpriest charged and attacked her as she lay on the bed, after which she vanished. The rest of the group prepared an attack, and as expected, she reappeared behind the warpries, slashing him with a dagger. Her true form had been revealed, that of a doppleganger dressed in a filthy, bloodstained nurse's uniform. After a quick struggle, the creature was overcome, and restrained in manacles. The group paraded the creature before the guards at the barricade, and ended its life. Assured that the party were not doppelgangers, Captin York led the group into their sanctuary.

A short distance from the barricade, a set of doors led into a large, multi-denominational chapel, which had been converted into a refugee camp. Almost two dozen survivors, in a mix of patient smocks and staff uniforms lay on pallets around the large room, some resting, some sobbing quietly, some preparing a meal. Captain York introduced the group to Winter, and she briefly spoke about where they all were. Winter made it clear the group needed to earn her trust before speaking more, so the party split up to take on a number of jobs. Lekovi helped out with the cooking, and was able to whip up the best stew anyone had eaten since coming to the camp. Flowing River and Cailyn helped a pair of wounded people as best they could, applying long term care, while Taber chopped some firewood. Scorcher helped calm down one a man who had been a patient, and convinced him to take his medicine before he became overwrought.

Seeing that the group were sincere about helping, and at least somewhat trustworthy, she sat down with them while they all ate, and spoke at length about their situation. She told the group about how she came to be in Briarstone Asylum, and spoke of the patient revolt that had occurred almost a full week ago, supposedly led by a man named Ulver Zandalus. The group recognised having heard the name from the manacled man they had rescued earlier. Winter also outlined how the camp's supplies were relatively low, and that they needed a way out, as well as more supplies. What they had left was likely only going to last a few more days. Winter also told the group that the entrance to the Asylum was just on the other side of a strange phenomenon at the end of a hall.

The group explored the other rooms around the chapel, and discovered there were also a pair of children, being kept amused by one of the former nurses. In another area, they discovered an archive of older patient records, but nothing relevant to them. They also recovered some magical remedies. Moving to the end of the hall described by Winter, they found a makeshift curtain had been hung, concealing the end from sight. A soft whimpering, sobbing could be heard. Parting the curtains revealed a very strange sight – a wagon-wheel-sized eye, embedded in some strange sort of fungal growth, closing off the end of the corridor. After one of the group attempted to shoot the eye, it began screaming in a strange, triple-threaded voice, and then began sobbing over and over, saying 'What am I become?' Thinking quickly, Taber fetched a mirror, and showed the abomination a reflection of itself. After letting out one last sob, it withered and faded to nothing.

Revealed behind the giant eye was a door, which led to the entrance of the Asylum, as promised by Winter. Outside the front windows, the strange yellow fog could be seen blanketing everything, and churning away. The group found a staircase to the upper floors collapsed, much like other areas they had already explored. Several other exits led fromt his area – a wide corridor to the east, a double door north, and a regular door also east. Taking the northern route first, the group discovered a large, well-stocked library.

Immediately on entering, the group spied small, rat-like humanoids on top of a bookshelf to the north, who started spellcasting. Cailyn, Taber and River approached them, while Lekovi and Scorcher threw magic at them. Two of the three ratlings were disabled in their first turn, but the third summoned a swarm of rats. While most of the group moved to counter this threat, Taber continued to move to engage the ratlings. After a short scuffle, and the killing of the swarm, the ratlings surrendered. Talking to them revealed they had only recently entered the asylum, from their own warrens beneath the ground it is built on due to the tremors collpasing parts of them, and cutting them off from their den. The survivors also told the group another of their number was exploring further into the asylum, and they had not had contact for some time.

Having used some resources, the group pulled back, and explored in a different direction. They found the single door leading east from the entry hall had been barricaded, but were able to force it open. Inside, they found one of the walls had collapsed, giving access from the another room. Laying on the floor were 6 corpses, all with their heads wrapped in sheets or bags and cinched tight. Leaving this grisly scene and returning to the hall, the group found another set of double doors leading south, and several other doors besides in various directions.

Opening the southern doors revealed a large comfortably decorated room, flanked by large, open windows. The bay window to the east showed a path also leading off to another part of the asylum from a door in the same wall. At the southern end of the room, though, was a grisly sight – a body impaled on the horns of a stuffed elk head. Upon exploring, the group triggered another haunt – stuffed birds in a birdcage began making a chirping noise, that quickly began rising in volume and intensity. The quick-thinking monk, in the process of forcing open the doors of the cage, damaged the birds, and the noise stopped. The body on the antlers was recovered, along with a second body found behind the cage. Both were dressed in yellow-stained robes, and with yellow flames chalked on their foreheads. Several items of some use were recovered.

Deciding they did not wish to move outside, the group moved back to the hall, and around to the next door, beghind a partial collapse. Inside, they found a large room, again divided by hanging curtains, with another long hallway leading north. Lantern light was visible behind the curtains, but strangely not flickering. As the group approached, from a discarded pile of dirty bandages came a pair of hideous sights – mobile, pus-filled wounds, crawling along on what looked like hairs. The group quickly defended themselves, only to find that when destroyed, these creatures exploded in a wet mess of acidic filth.

After recovering from this encounter, the group tried the next door around in the first hall, which turned out to lead out into a large courtyard, only lightly shrouded in the yellow fog, apparently due to it's more sheltered nature. Spreading out to explore this open area, a faceless, black, winged horror swooped down, and grabbed Lekovi in long, rubbery fingers, flying back up almost to the fog. The group reacted quickly, and attempted to disable the creature, while they decided to pull back into the hall and away. Dropping Lekovi, the creature wheeled up into the fog again, and then swooped back down. Injuring another member of the group heavily, the group disentangled itself from the fight, and retreated back to the chapel to rest once again.

View
These Dreams Go On When I Close My Eyes

https://youtu.be/41P8UxneDJE

A disparate group of characters became aware of each other, as they fled ahead of a wave of rolling yellow fog, through grey city streets. The group turned to face the threat…and one of their number, a Warpriest with a Battleaxe, was sliced to ribbons by an invisible foe.

The spray of blood on the wall seemed to spell out the word 'Up', so the group started trying to climb out of the way. The two physically capable warriors climbed their way up, but the two spellcasters were unable to make any progress, the Psychic of falling to the ground, only to be sliced to death by an invisible foe, his lifeblood seeming to spell out the word 'Me' on the ground.

The brave sorcerer unleashed a torrent of flame, and saw the outline of his foe. The unholy creature stepped forward, wrapped in what seem to be interchangeable strips of rag and skin, carrying a jaggedly sharp strip of metal, and sliced apart the poor Ifrit. Again, a word was spelled out by the gore – 'Save'.

The Changeling, unable to keep his grip with the horrible events unfolding beneath him fell, but was able to land well. He then took off into the mists. Behind him, he heard his last human companion bravely attempt to fight the foe, but heard him scream his last. As he did, he heard a faraway voice, scream a whispered word…'Wake'.

The disparate group awoke from their shared nightmare, to the sound of a man screaming 'Wake up, damn it, sand save me!'. Imprisoned in cells, surrounding a doctor tending to a patient restrained on a splintered wooden table…with half of what appeared to be garden shears. A bench held many other implements, including twisted scraps of metal, kitchen knives, and shards of glass.

The poor patient screamed as the doctor sliced into his thigh, adding to number of existing wounds – she had clearly been working on him for some time. Thinking fast, the sorceror cast a sleep spell at the doctor. Puzzlingly, the poor man on the table fell asleep, leaving the doctor apparently unaffected. The doctor stalked over to Scorcher, and pulling down her facemask, ordered him to be quiet. For a moment, the doctor's face flowed into a different shape, and looked just like Scorcher's, then returned to the previous form. The doctor turned back to her patient.

Across the way, Cailyn frantically began attempting to pick the lock on her cell. Taking advantage of the doctor's proximity to the cell he shared with Scorcher, Taber tried to punch the doctor through the bars, but failed to connect, the arms of his straight jacket catching on the bars of the cell. Flowing River attempted to force open the cell door, but it proved too well constructed. Lekovi psychically flung one of the blades at the doctor, but she dodged it.

As Cailyn continued working on her lock, Scorcher threw another blast of fire at the doctor. In response, she stormed over and thrust her claw into his stomach, and he fell to the ground, trying to stop his entrails from spilling out.  Taber punched the doctor in response, but she seemed to hardly feel it. While Flowing River continued trying to break the cell door open, Lekovi threw a pure blast of magical force at the doctor, and she clutched her head, dazed.

Cailyn finally unlocked her cell door, and threw the it open, and rushed over to give Flowing River the other half of the garden shears. Recovered, the doctor charged at Cailyn, slicing into her with claws. Taber unlocked and opened his cell door, while Cailyn sprouted claws of her own, and slashed at the doctor. The doctor retaliated, opening great gashes across poor Cailyn. Lekovi calmly flung another blade at the doctor, hitting her squarely in the head, but with the flat of the blade. Cailyn swayed unsteadily on her feet, Flowing River looking on helplessly. Taber  rushed out of his cell, thumping the doctor in the back, while deftly flicking the keys into Flowing River's cell. 

The doctor turned to face the new threat, and slashed Taber with her claws. Taber responded by knocking the doctor to the ground, unconscious. Flowing River, finally free of the cell, finished the doctor off with the garden shear. Before their eyes, the doctor changed shape, revealing herself to actually be some form of strange, humanoid creature. Cailyn identified the doctor as a doppelganger.

While most of the group searched for exits and gear, Flowing River did what he could to repair his companion's wounds. In a cold furnace adjacent to the cells, Cailyn makes a grisly discovery – the remains of many humanoids, burned. Behind a door, the group find another terrible sight – a pile of dozens of corpses. The corpses wear a mix of normal clothing, and what seem to be white uniforms. Recovering their gear, the group then decided to climb up through the furnace vents.

Taber emerged in a stone building with a wooden door. The rest of the group soon followed. Cailyn opened the door, to find a gardened courtyard, with heavy rain falling. Above, the same yellow fog the group had seen in their shared nightmare roiled around.

Stepping into the courtyard to look around, Cailyn discovered the rain was actually scalding, and quickly and quietly opened another door, leading into a dark corridor. To her south, she found a barricade manned by a pair of guards with crossbows, and quickly beckoned forth Scorcher to talk to the men.

The men pointed their weapons at the group, and called for their Captain. The Captain showed up, and began talking to the group, indicating he could not trust that they were not shapeshifting nightmares. To prove their intentions, the group needed to go kill some of the creatures roaming the halls, and return the bodies.

The group began exploring, and slew some groups of vermin. At the end of the corridor, they found a ruined office, damaged in some sort of collapse. Lekovi stepped forward to examine bodies in the rubble, and was able to see humans, as well as doppelgangers, and a new type of creature – ghouls! As he relayed this, as feared, one of the bodies attacked from the ground. In a panic, Lekovi tried to use a sleep spell on the presumed undead creature, but it failed to work, despite some additional psychic power. After some effort, the group were able to kill the creature, at which point it returned to it's natural shape, revealing itself to be another doppelganger.

Now badly injured, and with very few magical resources left, the group retreated to a boiler room near the guarded barricade, and rested for 24 hours, sleeping in shifts. Everyone suffered from horrible nightmares of the creature they had earlier seen in their shared dream. Worse, Taber was badly affected by his dreams, waking just as tired as he had been before going to sleep.

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