Strange Aeons

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.

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