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?”