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It Was Written In The Dust - A Promethean Dark Era Actual Play

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  • #16
    Our resident artist has also knocked out character portraits for each of the core cast:

    Abram


    Elsie


    Riley

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    • #17
      Chapter 4 – Reunion under the best of circumstances

      Riley fled town on foot, trekking cross-country to the Lawson farm. They avoided the humans on the property, made their way to the building where Terah was stabled, and curled up in a corner of the horse’s stall.

      Elsie sat quietly in the room as she listened to the Reverend describe his assault at Riley’s hands. The sheriff, an older man with a mane of white hair, listened gravely. She perked up when she realised they were talking about Riley. “Hey, that’s my friend!”

      Abram returned to the house with Al, to find the place turned upside down by Elsie’s cleaning efforts. Al seemed more bemused than upset. When Abram asked permission to leave and track down “the wife”, Al waved him off.

      “Just be back here in the afternoon. We’re going to pay our friend a visit.”

      Abram eventually located Elsie. She was wandering around Main Street, gawping at the different shops. When he asked her where she’d been, the whole story of running into Riley, then meeting the priest, then meeting the sheriff, then the sheriff agreeing to hunt Riley, then her telling him how she was looking for Riley too, then him asking her to leave while he went about his business, then her coming to Main Street to look at the markets, then how she ran into Abram came tumbling out. Abram wasn’t given a chance to interrupt as the words burbled happily over him. When she finally stopped because she’d recounted everything up to the present, he took a deep breath and tried to get as much information as he could out of her. He worked out where she’d seen Riley from the clues Elsie had bothered to remember, and even roughly what direction Riley had been heading in. There didn’t seem to be any chance of finding Riley by searching on foot, but Abram hoped he could at least stop the Sheriff from intervening. He went back to Al’s home, got a pen and paper together, and he and Elsie wrote a letter to the Sheriff asking him to please not hurt their friend.

      On the Lawson farm, Riley’s miserable reverie was slowly intruded on by the sounds of a commotion emanating from the family home. They could hear voices coming from far off and near, all calling out a single name. “Mary! Mary!”

      They shook themselves free of their misery long enough to go outside. Jarred was standing there, looking shocked to see Riley emerge from the stables. He’d been in and out all day, but Riley had kept out of sight. But he was also distracted, and didn’t waste time asking what Riley was doing there. When Riley asked what the commotion was, Jarred explained that his niece, Mary, was missing. Riley joined the search, going off on their own, seeing what tracks they could find.

      It took them a few hours, but they found the young girl’s tracks leading towards town. Riley eventually found her sitting in the lee of a rock, some distance from the road. She was filthy and looked absolutely miserable. Not sure how to approach the situation, Riley stood somewhere where they were plainly visible and waved. When the girl made no effort to come closer, Riley tentatively advanced. The girl stood up, and Riley froze in place. At last, Riley spoke, telling the girl that her parents were worried and looking for her. She stared at her feet at that, and told them that she didn’t want to go back. Her family was cursed. They were poor, their animals and crops kept dying, her parents were never happy, she was never happy. But she was lost and tired and hungry and she wasn’t too hard to persuade to get onto Terah’s back and allow Riley to lead her back to the farm.

      Back in town, Al and Abram got into Al’s car, joined by two local boys who’d agreed to help. They drove north from the town, reaching a farm that looked like it had fallen upon hard times. There was no one in the farmhouse when they knocked, but they could see figures out in the fields. One of those figures came towards them, a lean young man with a worried expression.

      “Time’s up, Jack. Time to pay,” Al said, sounding almost bored.

      The man protested. His daughter was missing. Once he found her he’d be able to get the money together. If Al would just come back in a few days’ time…

      Al gave Abram a look, one Abram knew the meaning of. He stepped forward. Jack clearly recognised the danger. He threw a punch at Abram. Even though the Tammuz made no effort to dodge the blow, the wild swing still went wide. Then Abram slammed his fist into the base of Jack’s jaw. Something crunched. He staggered, slipped to one knee. Half a broken tooth fell from his lips, a thin trail of blood with it. Then Abram was on top of the farmer, bearing him down to the ground, pinning his arms easily.

      Al whistled, and his two helpers came out of the car. He sent them towards one of the barns, and they soon emerged carrying bits and pieces that Abram recognised from a still. Once they had removed everything the car would carry, they went back inside one last time. Abram could hear glass breaking, loud bangs, as whatever else was in there was systematically destroyed. Jack mumbled pleas through his bloody lips. The bank would repossess the farm if they didn’t make the next repayment. His family would be homeless. Al didn’t seem to be listening.

      At last, the men emerged. Al looked down at Jack and sighed. “Sorry about this, Jack,” he said, and kicked the man in the head. Jack went limp. Al walked back towards the car, and Abram dutifully followed. They drove away.

      A horrified Riley slumped against the wall of the main farmhouse. They’d been watching everything, keeping Mary out of sight where she couldn’t see. At last they stepped out, carrying Mary, in time to see Jarred and the woman they assumed was Jarred’s sister, Jack’s wife, come rushing up. The woman, Maureen, was too distracted by her husband’s injury to pay much attention to their return. She made sure Jack was still breathing, then tried to help him up.

      Then Jarred spotted the open barn door. He rushed to it, swung it open. When he saw the destruction inside he threw his head back and howled.

      Riley let Mary run to her mother. They stared at the tableau.

      “Be better,” they said quietly to the stunned family. And then they left.

      Although Riley felt the temptation to seek out the source of their vision from the Athanor, the place of pale leaves and still water, they couldn’t let things with Abram stand like this. They stuck to the outskirts of Joseph’s Cross, wandering until they found the car they’d seen up at the Lawson farm. They saw Al saying goodbye to Abram, and then driving off. Abram went back inside the house.

      Riley approached the building. They checked the windows, spotting Elsie inside as well, but no humans. They went to the front door and knocked.

      The following hour was long, almost excruciatingly so. The throng was wounded, Abram and Riley each felt aggrieved by the other’s actions. Abram felt Riley had no right to criticise the recent violence, when it had been committed so that the throng would have somewhere to stay and look for Riley. He was able to explain, finally, that the pain Riley had suffered was unintended. And when it was clear that Riley was still hurt, he offered to go out and look for someone to care for them. He wanted to help. He had always just wanted to help.

      Riley, for their part, was struggling with guilt at having behaved so much like Malik. They recounted what had happened to them since they had left the group, and described the visions they’d had of the pale leaves. They told Abram to go and look for Iris, since she had been the one who had cared for them originally, and she had mentioned she was a gardener. She might know something.

      Abram went to look, since it wasn’t safe for Riley to be wandering the streets with the Sheriff looking for them. They ask around and are able to find Iris’s house. They pass Sarah Lawson’s dress shop, and see the Sheriff inside speaking to her.

      Iris, for her part, is happy to come. All Abram tells her is that he is from out of town, and that his child is hurt. When they arrive at the house and step inside, she is surprised to see Riley. She starts to care for them, and tells them that they need to stay put for the next few days in order to completely heal.

      As she works, Riley asks her about the plant. As they describe it, Iris begins to look worried. She asks them where they heard of it, and Riley lies and says that the priest spoke of it. This seems to concern Iris even more. She looks at the other two Prometheans, and tells Riley that, although she likes them, she isn’t sure if she can trust their family. Riley persuades her otherwise, telling her how far out of their way their family had come to look for them.

      At last, Iris agrees. “When you are healed, I will take you to the plant you described,” she says.

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      • #18
        A few quick notes I didn't really find a good way to weave into the story:

        Mary Lawson is at Disquiet Level 1, because Riley's player is just so darn good at rolling Disquiet checks.

        Riley completed the Watcher Role when they decided not to get involved in the Abram/Al vs Jack Lawson dispute. They haven't yet settled on a new role or the new Alembics they've unlocked, but I'll make some note of it when they do.

        I glossed over a loooot of the conversation between Riley and Abram, but this was basically the heart of the session. One of the things I most regret about this way of recapping the game is that I can't quite capture that kind of back-and-forth roleplay very well So much drama.

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        • #19
          Chapter 5 – The Root of the Problem

          Riley took a few days before they felt fully recovered from their wounds. Iris visited every day, checking on their progress. She didn't talk much, but she didn't show any visible signs of suffering from Disquiet.

          On the Sunday, Elsie attended the church service out of curiosity. The Reverend seemed pleased to see her there, though a little wary after the revelation that she was friends with Riley, but the two didn't spend much time talking. Afterwards she wandered around town for a while, but all the stores were shut and she ended up back at the house. The following day she picked up the new clothes for Baby.

          Iris had deemed Riley fit earlier that morning. She came back in the evening and led the throng to a hill outside of Joseph's Cross. There were a group of figures, hard to make out in the darkness, waiting for them when they arrived. It wasn't until they were almost face to face that Abram and Elsie recognised the Sheriff. Abram tensed, but Iris hurried to make clear that they meant no harm. The sheriff, and those with him, were locals who knew of the plant the characters had described. She beckoned them to follow her, and parted the long, hanging grass on the hill to reveal a deep passage, tall enough for even Abram to walk down without stooping. Just inside where was a small sign nailed to the wall. "Sioc's Cavern".

          The group descended into the depths of Sioc’s Cavern. Iris spoke to Riley, telling them of how she found this place. She described how Joseph's Cross had been devastated by the onset of the Dust Bowl, the first Black Blizzard several years ago had almost destroyed it. Her own home’s roof caved in. Her husband was shattered and left her in the aftermath. Then she heard the voice one day while trying to coax life back into her garden. The voice, named, Sioc told her what she needed to do to restore the fortunes of the town.

          As the rocky entrance gave way to a maze of slick clay walls and damp air, the sheriff further back in the line mentioned to Elsie and Abram that he had got her letter asking him to show mercy to Riley. Elsie found this enormously gratifying.

          The twists and turns the throng had to follow quickly made it clear that it would have been easy to get lost without Iris as their guide. At last the tunnels gave way to a cavern. The circle of light from their guides' torches didn't illuminate very far, but they could see a large pool of water running almost to the cavern's entrance. It was clear and shallow, hardly more than ankle height. Iris's decision to wear wellingtons became a bit more clear, as she strode forward into the pool. The flickering light of her torch soon illuminated a tangled mass of vines sporting large, pale leaves. The leaves dipped low to the water, as if drinking it.

          Riley opened their eyes to Twilight, and found that the plant existed both there and in the real world. They looked back and saw that their water spirit companion was coiled at the entrance to the cavern, refusing to come closer to the plant. They stepped forward, took a deep breath, and reached out to one of the leaves. When they touched it their muscles locked in place. Though to Abram and Elsie it looked like Riley was just, just barely brushing their fingertips across the leaves, Riley felt utterly paralysed. And then they felt a sibilant voice slide into their mind.

          “What do you wish?”

          Riley's thoughts filled with Malik, their need to find him, their desire to find out where he had gone.

          “And what are you willing to pay?”

          Riley's first thoughts were of their Pyros, but Sioc’s revulsion was immediate and clear. It hissed into their mind about its hatred for such burning, twisting change. Riley's muscles trembled, but they didn't lose contact with the plant. They thought then of their physical possessions, but Sioc gave the mental equivalent of a yawn. It had no interest in such things. Finally, Riley considered the ephemera in their bodies in place of blood, and Sioc was intrigued. It asked for a taste, and in return it would show them what they wanted. Riley asked for a moment to speak to the others, and Sioc generously allowed it.

          It took a few minutes for the Prometheans to come a decision. Abram didn't like the idea of Riley being hurt by this thing. Iris was standing nearby so he couldn't express his true feelings, but he desperately wanted to bring the entire cavern crashing down.

          Riley couldn't be dissuaded. They stepped back to Sioc to let the creature know and found their hand plunging onto one of the thorns and dragging, carving a deep, long furrow in their flesh. No ectoplasm gushed from the wound, every drop was pulled into Sioc.

          In the midst of the sudden loss of essence they saw in their mind's eye a vision of Malik rushing into the church, his right arm smoking. They heard a sound like a pack of hunting dogs. They could dimly hear Sioc’s voice saying that after that night, Malik fled north and beyond Sioc's sight, leaving corruption in his wake. When Riley’s eyes opened they realised from the Vitriol in their veins that the Jovian Athanor has been resolved.

          Iris's eyes clouded and she started to speak with a voice that Riley recognised as having echoes of Sioc's. She told them that their caustic presence would undo the good work Sioc had worked upon Joseph's Cross. They were ordered to leave town in the next 24 hours.

          They are led from the cave and head back to town. Riley wanted to make sure they had investigated the matter of the ghost in the graveyard before they left Joseph's Cross. The throng headed to the graveyard, where they waited until past midnight for the spectre to appear. The young black man appeared in the same place as before, beneath the broken bough of the graveyard's only tree. The rope around his neck trailed behind him as he ran towards the church.

          The Prometheans, who had hidden within the graveyard, rushed in to talk to the ghost. He pushed past them, pausing only when Riley grabbed him. He had materialised physically, but was uninterested in conversation. His only words were cries for mercy. Abram grunted and clasped at his head, feeling a cavalcade of images and sensations fill his mind. He was being beaten, burnt, hung. He choked and gagged. The ghost struggles against Riley who, rather than hold on, chose to release him. Abram staggered upright and the Prometheans followed him into the church. Riley stayed at the door as the others headed inside.

          The ghost rushed to the altar, hands reaching out for it. Just before they made contact his body froze, and Abram and Elsie could see his flesh indent and his clothes bunch in places moments before he was hurled to the ground by invisible hands. He curled into a ball and his body jerked and shuddered as if he was being kicked and beaten. In the midst of it his eyes fix on a place somewhere above him and he pleads, “Please, Sheriff.” Then his eyes went wide and he vanished.

          The three Prometheans stood there in silence for some time. At last Abram told the others that they should go and pack and be ready to leave. When Riley turned to stare at him, he shrugged and said that when they confronted the Sheriff they would probably want to be able to get out of town quickly.

          They arrived at the Sheriff's home a few hours before dawn. Riley attempted to pick the lock, but their fumbling alerted the Sheriff. Riley and Abram hid when the door opened, to reveal the Sheriff with one hand hidden behind the door and obviously grasping a weapon. Elsie was left standing there in front of him. She smiled up at him disarmingly claimed that she just came by to say farewell. She asked him if he wanted to sit down for a cup of tea. The Sheriff stares at her beaming face for a moment, and then lets her inside.

          He was standing in the kitchen with his back turned to her when Elsie burned her Pyros and lashed at him with her Disquiet, forcing it into his mind. She charged him, trying to use that power to force him into submission, but he fended her off and struck her across the face. Elsie staggered, snarled, and leapt on him. The two were struggling when Riley and Abram rushed. Riley was carrying the sheriff’s shotgun, left by the door. Pointing the weapon at him, with Elsie still hanging from his neck, they ordered him to freeze.

          Slowly, carefully, the Sheriff raised his hands.

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          • #20
            Alright. Two questions

            1) are the baby and their donkeys gonna be infected by Disquiet?
            2) what's a Jovian Athanor?


            A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
              Alright. Two questions

              1) are the baby and their donkeys gonna be infected by Disquiet?
              2) what's a Jovian Athanor?
              1) The baby and Terah, the horse, are not immune to Disquiet. Both are True Friends to their respective PCs though, so I've opted not to roll for Disquiet with them in most scenes, and give them a dice bonus when I do feel it's appropriate, but the narrative possibilities of either being infected with Disquiet are too awesome for me to rule that they'll be immune to Disquiet entirely.

              The idea of Baby being infected by Elsie's Disquiet is particularly disturbing, given how she inspires dark lust and possessiveness. So naturally we're going to have fun with that if the Baby ever fails a Disquiet check.

              2) Jovian Athanors are a subset of Athanors made to dump negative persistent Conditions, and are generally tainted and have some kind of negative effect. In this case the Church's collection plate was holding Malik's Broken and Obsession Conditions, and its negative effect was that it leached Pyros from Prometheans on a touch. Taking on those Conditions and resolving them, as Riley did, resolves the Athanor and counts as a Milestone.

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              • #22
                Chapter 6 – Outside the Law

                The Prometheans interrogated the Sheriff at gunpoint. They described the ghost in the graveyard, and said that they knew it was the Sheriff who killed him. It took a while before he even realised what they are talking about, and when he does finally did recognise the description he was more confused than anything. That was decades ago, he protested. How could they know anything about that?

                The Sheriff told them that race riots ripped through Joseph’s Cross back in the 1910s. On this one particular night a mob, incited by the now-mayor, Meyer Kastern, decided to remove “criminal elements” from the town that were a threat to their friends and families. The Sheriff claimed that his execution of the young man in the church was a mercy. If he hadn’t shot him, he’d have been torn limb from limb by the mob. Better a quick death.

                Abram and Riley had a quiet conversation and concluded that the Sheriff’s death would help lay the ghost to rest, something Riley insisted was very important. They bound and gagged the Sheriff, took a few supplies and items from his home that wouldn’t be missed, and hoped that the lack of any sign of struggle or robbery would create some confusion as to what had happened.

                Abram then led the group to Sioc’s Cavern. Elsie stood outside to keep watch, and to mind Terah. Abram carried the bound Sheriff into the cavern, with Riley leading the way. With the route still fresh in their mind from earlier that night, Riley was able to navigate their way through the mine unerringly. They had no torches, but even without light they soon found their feet resting on the edge of the underground lake. Abram strode into the water and almost tripped over Sioc. He knelt down and made contact.

                Sioc seemed generous and willing to honour their proposed trade. He said he would ensure the ghost’s dissolution in return for the Sheriff’s life. Abram stepped away from the communion, double-checked with Riley that the terms were acceptable, and then went to undo the Sheriff’s bonds. They wanted it to look like he had given his life to Sioc of his own free will.

                This gave the Sheriff the opportunity he’d been looking for. He tried to struggle free, but Abram clamped his arms down around him. The two struggled in the cold waters of the cavern, the Sheriff trying to worm his way free, Abram trying to force him to his knees. Riley tried to look for an opening to help, but the Sheriff would duck or push them away or position Abram between the two of them with every try.

                Slowly, inexorably, Abram bore down on the human. He pinned one arm, then the other, pushing down until the Sheriff’s knees gave way. Then, in one smooth movement, he seized the Sheriff bodily and hurled him into Sioc’s twisted mass. There was screaming, thrashing, the sound of water splashing and vegetation crunching. And then everything went quiet.

                Abram spoke again with Sioc, who told them that their wish was granted. The ghost would have moved on. When Abram asked him to keep this meeting secret, however, Sioc said that his gardener would know regardless, for they are bound. Riley wanted to head back into town and see that the Mayor answer for his part in this, but Abram convinced them that they were out of time. They were going to have to flee Joseph’s Cross.

                Leaving the cavern took a little longer than entering it, but it was still dark when they reached the entrance and met up with Elsie. The throng set off north, following the vague directions Riley had been given. They avoided the roads and the few intervening farms, and soon the arid but fertile lands around Joseph’s Cross gave way to dust and devastation.

                The throng saw no signs of pursuit from Joseph's Cross. They walked north for two days, taking infrequent rests. The supplies they had gathered in Joseph's Cross meant they had no problems with food or water for Baby and Terah, let alone themselves. The wind never truly picked up, staying just strong enough to put a haze in the air and occasionally throw grit into the Prometheans' eyes.

                On the evening of the second day they spotted a farmstead ahead of them. After Joseph's Cross it looked decrepit and ruined, but there were still cows and a large number of pigs grazing in its fallow fields. The throng approached, noting a car with its wheels removed and its bonnet open sitting in the shadow of the house, and knocked on the door. It was answered by a wizened nut of a man, old and tanned and wrinkled. He tried to shoo them away and slam the door in their faces, but Elsie jammed her foot in the gap and the throng all but forced their way inside. The man's wife, similarly shrunken, watched without a word from the kitchen where she was washing dishes after what had evidently been an early evening meal.

                The Prometheans introduced themselves and asked if they could stay the night. The man, who reluctantly gave his name as Bertram, excused himself to discuss the matter with his wife. Riley burned Pyros to augment their senses and eavesdrop on the conversation, and distinctly heard Bertram mention the gun out the back. His wife urged him to wait. Riley relayed this to the other Prometheans in a soft whisper before Bertram returned.

                Riley and Abram opted to pretend that they needed to use the toilet, and Bertram showed them to the outhouse. He went back inside rather than watch over them, and they began to circle around the house to Terah and retrieve their weapons. Riley dispatched their spirit companion to check out the barn, and it came rushing back hissing something about a predator. Having seized up their weapons they head back inside to find Bertram pointing a shotgun at Elsie.

                Despite their weapons, Bertram held firm in the face of their attempts to get him to release his gun. He ordered them off his property. Riley mentioned that they know what is in the barn, and Bertram immediately became visibly scared. He turned the gun towards them and ordered them to go to the barn. He claims they have doomed themselves, and that he isn't responsible from this point forward.

                The Prometheans decided that, so long as they have their weapons, they aren't too scared by whatever might be waiting for them. They allowed Bertram to march them to the barn. Riley opened the barn door, and the stench of salt and iron, previously undetectable, washed over them. They stepped across the threshold.

                The barn was more of a slaughterhouse. Carcasses hung from hooks from the ceiling. The oldest, little more than skeletons with some tattered fur, were clearly dogs. The freshest bodies, still dripping blood, were cows. The ground was damp underfoot. There were drying stains on the walls.

                At the far end of the barn was a small, huddled figure in a stained dress, their features hidden by matted hair. It shivered at the sound of their footsteps. Curled around this figure was an enormous black mass. The mass stirred and rose to its feet and the Prometheans could see that it was a bloated black pig somehow grown to the size of a bear. Its head, tiny for its body mass and almost buried among the folds of fat, yawned open and idly clamped down on the shoulder of the huddled child. They could see small rivulets of blood seeping into the dress from where they stood. The pig's jaws worked slowly, then pulled away with a sucking sound. It ambled towards them, taking its time, but when it was about halfway across the barn it stopped and its little eyes narrowed down until they were almost slits.

                And then the pig spoke, its mouth moving in unnatural ways as it slurred out a handful of English words.

                “Is that you, Riley?”

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                • #23
                  Malik...












                  Shit


                  A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                  • #24
                    Haha, we were joking that it'd be pretty funny if someone completed their pilgrimage and turned into a pig or something

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Azahul View Post
                      Haha, we were joking that it'd be pretty funny if someone completed their pilgrimage and turned into a pig or something
                      I was thinking Sublimatus.


                      A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                      • #26
                        And their was that Promethean Raven who became a normal raven when his pilgrimage ended. If some Promethean pulled the Demiurgic ritual with a 🐷, you could have a Promethean who achieved a Porcine New Dawn.


                        A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post

                          I was thinking Sublimatus.
                          That Malik himself was one? Interesting theory.

                          We'll find out next time

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                          • #28
                            Chapter 7 – A Pig in Muck

                            Riley wracked their brain as they stared at the Black Pig. They must have known it when they travelled with Malik, the two of them were always accompanied by a great host of spirits. Malik referred to them as his throng. They recalled that among those spirits had been a creature of indulgence and gluttony, the most likely culprit for the tableau before them. They were sure that they knew the creature, in spite of the fact that it had since Claimed a pig.

                            The Black Pig seemed to have no interest in attacking them. This baffled Abram, as they watched Riley bend down to speak to the creature. That Riley would want to talk with the source of so much horror was disconcerting to him. Riley, meanwhile, found out that the spirit had left Malik when he told it that he was going to the north to seek out the Thing that dwells among the Dead Trees. The Bone Fields. The spirit had no idea what that Thing was, exactly, but it seemed to have an instinctive dread of the place. Riley got the impression that some other spirits had stayed with it, but that it had eaten them all in the weeks since.

                            Abram began creeping closer to the girl as the conversation wound on. Unfortunately, Riley was having a hard time keeping the pig’s sole attention and Abram was not naturally stealthy. The pig turned its head and openly watched his every move. Yet it showed no intention of being hostile, telling Riley that it wouldn't touch any of their friends. When Riley asked what the purpose of the girl was, the pig replied that it made sure the humans would keep it fed rather than it needing to hunt for food. It seemed to feel that its treatment was perfectly normal, given the nature of the universe. Humans did terrible things to livestock, but when the animals were stronger it was only right that humans experience life in the slaughterhouse.

                            Abram’s examination of the girl found that she was covered in filth, gore, and tears. Her dress was irreparably stained. Her hair was matted. Her skin was covered in open wounds, many of them infected. Two fingers from her right hand had been chewed off, the rotten stumps ending just before the knuckle in unsealed wounds. Her skin was cold and clammy, and Abram knew she needed medical attention immediately. She was largely unresponsive to Abram’s attentions and attempts to get her to talk. Her gaze remained distant, staring into space.

                            Abram reported this to Riley, and the two of them talked this over with the Black Pig. The spirit seemed confused by the situation. It seemed to think that eating was the only thing a being had to do to stay well, and it protested that it had been feeding the girl. It then demonstrated that fact by padding over, taking a great bite out of one of the cow carcasses, and then approaching the girl and prodding her with one trotter until she held out her hands. It then deposited the offal and flesh into her hands. She obediently raised her meal to her mouth and began to chew.

                            Struggling to keep control of his temper, Abram told the pig she needed something else. He got her to stop eating, took off his jacket and shirt, and gave the latter to her. Doing so exposed his damaged chest, the vast swathes of missing skin and flesh, and the canary lodged inside his body. Riley and Elsie hadn't seen this sight before, and the sight shocked them. Abram was a little taken aback, he'd assumed such bodily trauma was normal for Prometheans, and for a few moments it seemed like the rest of the throng was on the verge of stripping naked to prove him wrong.

                            Abram didn't want to be distracted from helping the girl, however. Riley persuaded the pig to let them get help, and it graciously told them that it considered the throng its guests, not prisoners. Abram went outside and found Bertram on guard. He told the man that his granddaughter would die unless he brought medical equipment and the contents of Abram’s pillowcase, which was tied to Terah. The pillowcase was where Abram had stored most of the supplies stolen from the sheriff in Joseph's Cross. Bertram was stunned, but he was all too willing to believe in anything that might help his granddaughter. He ran off, and soon he and his wife were back with supplies. He pleaded with Abram not to let Hope die, which Abram entirely misinterpreted as some sort of metaphor.

                            Back inside, Abram attempted to treat Hope’s wounds. She flew into a rage though when he tried to tough her fingers and lashed out, clawing at his face. Riley and Abram were able to hold her down and Elsie began to croon soft, meaningless things to soothe her until she held still. Releasing her slowly, Abram began to wash her wounds. The finger stumps would need to be amputated, but he still lacked a knife or cleaver and felt it would be best to wait.

                            The pig sat by her side through all this, visibly confused. Riley attempted to write a message while it was distracted, telling Abram that they needed to kill the pig, only to find out that Abram was illiterate. Abram, once he had finished and cleaned his hands, responded by drawing an incredible picture of Riley in the muck. He seemed to think that Riley was attempting to communicate via picture. As all attempts at silent communication failed over the next half an hour, they had to wait until the pig fell asleep to concoct a plan. Riley felt the pig would need to be killed, or at least severed from its corporeal existence. Elsie would grab Hope and flee the barn, the two of them would try to end the creature.

                            They slept in shifts. Riley had nightmares of circling crows, a flock so large they filled the air like a storm. They woke to the sun rising, Pyros burning again in their veins. Abram opened the door to the barn and the sunlight spilled in, causing the pig to stir. Riley had prepared their shotgun, and they rushed to fire off a shot. They were too nervous, however, and the shot went wide.

                            The next few seconds were a frenzy of movement. Elsie grabbed Hope and ran for the door. Abram charged the pig and drove his pickaxe into its flank. The pig screamed, the noise almost unbearable. It struggled to its feet and its flesh began to ripple. Abram struck it again, carving another bloody furrow down its side, but now he could see the wound begin to suck close.

                            Then Riley fired their second shot, the blast opening an immense hole in the pig's flank. Gasping, bleeding, the creature looked at them and screamed at the betrayal. As Riley backed up, yelling that they couldn't let it hurt a family. The pig's head swung between Riley and Abram, and they could see its tears.

                            "We were a family!" it bellowed at Riley. Then it charged.

                            Riley burned their Pyros to summon an armoured skin. The pig's teeth skittered across their body, unable to find solid purchase. There was another meaty impact as Abram hooked one of the pig's legs, and in its moment of distraction Riley jammed the shotgun beneath the pig's head and pulled the trigger. With a tremor that shook the ground beneath their feet, it collapsed.

                            Abram wasn't finished. He had seen the way the pig's flesh regenerated from even the most horrendous wounds. He walked up and in two mighty blows severed its head from its body, drenching Riley in gore in the process. The sensation of Vitriol boiling into being in his chest, a validation of his physical prowess, removed him from the horror of his surroundings for one perfect moment.

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                            • #29
                              Ah. So it wasnt a horribly mutated Malik. Thank The Principle!


                              A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                              • #30
                                Chapter 8 – The Bone Fields

                                OOC Note: We had no session last week, one player was out of town and another busy with coursework. We were missing Elsie's player this week sadly.

                                Abram strode from the barn into the light of the new day, shirtless and slick with pig blood. The humans were busy fussing over their granddaughter but they stopped for a moment, stunned and horrified at the sight of him. He caught Elsie’s eye who, clearly surmising that the pig was dealt with and that she wasn’t needed to drag Hope around anymore, happily wandered off to play with Baby.

                                Bertram approached him and stammered out a few questions, but Abram silenced him by declaring that the pig was dead. He then went into the homestead, tracking blood and muck across the floor, until he found a Bible. The previous night’s conversation had given him some ideas he wanted to test. He flipped the book open and stared at it, turning through the pages, staining them with his fingerprints. Then he went outside, collected his pillowcase, and made for the water pump to wash away the night’s toils.

                                He and Riley had made plans to leave soon, once Riley was sure that the spirit hadn’t abandoned its Claimed body and taken up residence nearby, and after Riley had been given a chance to heal from their injuries. Abram busied himself collecting supplies. He asked Bertram what the family was willing to offer, and ended up with some shotgun shells and the Bible.

                                Riley, meanwhile, didn’t feel that they could face the family after what had happened. They lurked in the barn, smoking the more unspoilt sections of the carcasses in the barn to make rations for the Prometheans. When Abram returned, they asked him to ask the humans what they intended to do with the barn. When Abram asked, Bertram’s reply was a simple, “Burn it.”

                                Around midday of the following day Bertram came to Abram and told him that he needed to take his family into town. Hope needed a doctor’s care, since gangrene appeared to be setting in on her wounds. He had disassembled his car on the pig’s orders to make it more difficult for his family to flee, but he still had the pieces. By the end of the day he had reassembled it. He told the Prometheans that they were welcome to anything they wanted from the house, and then he was gone.

                                That night, as the others slept, Abram painted his life’s story on the barn’s walls.

                                One more day passed. Riley was still recovering from their injuries sustained from dealing with Sioc, and the encounter with the pig hadn’t helped. Now though, they felt well enough to leave. They set fire to the barn, made sure it spread, until the entire building was consumed by the inferno. Then the throng moved on, a pillar of smoke at their backs.

                                It was slow going from that point forward. The land became like a desert, their feet sank into the dust with every step. For two days they struggled through the wasteland, until they reached the edge of the region marked on Riley’s map as “the Bone Fields”.

                                There was a permanent haze in the air, making visibility poor enough that seeing beyond fifty feet away became difficult. But they could see the trees. The lone trunks dotted the landscape, here and there, long dead and bleached white.

                                In spite of everything, they found the empty camp quickly. It lay in the lee of a toppled tree trunk, but Riley found it unerringly. They immediately sensed the presence of an Athanor as they drew closer, the beacon of Azoth guiding them to a revolver among the belongings scattered around the campsite. Riley recognised it as a Firestorm Athanor. They checked the gun’s chambers. It had been fired twice.

                                Among the saddlebags spilling their contents into the dust they found strange little odds and ends. Doll’s heads, slivers of bone, a bag of teeth, small totems and other items that Riley recognised. These were Malik’s belongings. There was no sign of the elder Promethean however, and when Riley checked Twilight they saw no sign of the spirit menagerie that accompanied their maker.

                                They kept heading north. They found a copse of dead trees, where wind chimes hung from the branches. There was a small hillock just beyond. As they drew closer they paused to examine the wind chimes, and found them to be a mixture of human and animal bones. And then they sensed the stomach roiling presence of flux, and the hillock began to move.

                                It was a dormant Pandoran, but far larger than the Azothic Memory led them to expect. As it stirred free of its dormancy and the dust fell from its corpulent mass they saw hardened chitin, cracked in places and oozing a clear fluid. The armour gave way to soft flesh around its belly, where a thick umbilical cord trailed down and into the dust. Its head was dominated by immense jaws, ringed with insect-like mandibles bristling with teeth. Drool dripped from its mouth.

                                “Ah, children, how sweet you smell,” it gasped out. It moved faster than they expected, barrelling into Abram and bowling him over. He roared as it buried its face in his guts, ripping enormous chunks away in a feeding frenzy. Then, mouth full, it curled in on itself and began to chew furiously.

                                Riley raced past, keeping control of Terah in spite of the horse’s fear. They reached down and grasped Abram’s hand, hauling him from the dust and onto the back of the horse behind them. Else was already fleeing, and they took off in her direction. As they rode the wind began to build, dust rising with it. They heard a bellow behind them, and then a sound like the crack of a great whip. A tree to their left shattered, and Riley glimpsed the Pandoran’s umbilical cord being hauled back out of sight. Already it was becoming impossible to see, dust whirling around them faster and faster. They were in the centre of a Black Blizzard, springing up out of nowhere.

                                Keeping close together, desperate not to lose each other in the storm, the throng fled into the darkness.

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