Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cthulhu: Bitter End

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Inside the temple, a stairwell leads down into the ground, into the dark and towards screams of pain and fear. At the bottom, everything is bathed in a strange blue light and they find huge empty cages - at least the cages contain nothing they can see. However, there are humans chained to one of the cages and something seems to be feeding on them, judging by the sounds. For the blink of an eye, a white liquid runs out of the bodies.


*down the tunnel*

The group is ignored by the frog monsters and make their way deeper into the temple until a gaunt figure steps into their path. Shane in particular has a moment of fear when the figure pushes back his hood, revealing a face that looks very much like the proverbial devil, horns and all. He says that he is a guard in the temple, but that he admires their courage and is willing to help them. They make a deal: for telling them where the poison is produced, they bring back a vial of it before destroying it with the flower. None of them are comfortable with this, but they don't have much of a choice. Shane wants to know who the guard is: Seamus' brother, who went too far when exploring the occult. Liam shivers, fighting another attack on his mind and Ian starts to hallucinate as well, he sees Seamus gouging Shane's eyes out with a knife.

Their sanity even closer to shattering, they continue on their way. Shane has been given a spearhead by the guard that will hide them from the frog monsters. They have twenty minutes to reach their goal, then the guard needs to let one of the spiders out of the cage. After a few minutes' walk, the light changes to yellow and they see a flight of stairs leading down to a huge cauldron. The cauldron is guarded by frog monsters and Yao Tien is sitting at the far end, filling liquid into vials that are carried off by servants.

A hasty debate later, they decide on a frontal attack and run down the stairs towards the cauldron. The surprise gives Liam the time he needs to fill a vial and to drop the flower into the liquid. Ian attacks Yao Tien with his whip and pulls him into the cauldron. Hunted by the frog monsters, they run for their lives.

Shane is hit by a spear and collapses, mortally wounded. Liam turns to fight, trying to give Ian at least a chance to escape. He is lucky enough to dodge a spear aimed at him and his bullets hit and kill all the monsters. Yao Tien doesn't seem to have died unfortunately, he's climbing out of the cauldron, shouting orders.

Liam has caught up with Ian and they face more frog monsters as well as one of the spiders - only a leg is visible, but it's taller than both of them. Now Liam's desperate enough to use the Elder Sign he's been given by Seamus. He throws it down the tunnel and with a flash of light, their enemies disappear, leaving only an eerie silence.

That silence is broken by the thud of a dagger hitting Liam in the shoulder. He spins around and shoots blindly, hitting Yao Tien, who followed them, badly enough to drop him. When they are halfway out of the temple, Seamus' brother stops them and Liam given him the vial with the poison. For a moment, Liam thinks about asking him what he's going to do with it, he has a thousand questions actually, but he doesn't ask one of them. They find their way to the nearest portal back to the waking world with the help of the fob watch and return.

Ian has kept a hold on his sanity, but it's clear that he's very close to snapping, especially when he sees Shane's body next to him. Liam may be only slightly hurt, but his mind is no longer able to cope, he doesn't react when Seamus tries to speak to him and just curls up, shuddering and moaning. Ian takes Shane's body to the church where he lays him out on the altar and then sits in the front pew, trying to come to terms with what has happened.

Shane has a last moment of consciousness, finding himself in a featureless white room where he is told that he has reach the end of his way and that he's given one last wish. He asks that Ian is told that he's fine and the wish is granted. Things grow dark around him then.

Ian prepares to leave town. When he visits Shane's memorial service, he notices a locket that Shane has never worn before. He picks it up, open it and finds a photo of Shane, with the dedication "To Ian, a brave man"

Liam knew very well that he didn't have a real chance of making it out of the Dreamlands sane and he made preparations. In the afternoon, Seamus receives a letter written by Liam before he left. In the letter, Liam asks Seamus to kill him. He doesn't want to live out the rest of his days in an asylum. Even if there was a chance that he could be sane again, he has seen too much of what is hiding beneath the so-called real world. Liam's just too tired of fighting. Seamus does what Liams asks of him and kills him with a drug overdose.

---------------------------------------------------

I cannot believe I actually made it back from the Dreamlands in one piece. I mean, I did my best to die there without actually committing suicide...not that Liam didn't think about that. The last sanity roll after we came back was a d20 roll and I came up with a 16, reducing Liam's sanity to a total of 16. That was not an unexpected outcome and I had a letter prepared that Liam had written for Seamus because Liam and I agreed that it would suck if he had to spend the rest of his life in an asylum. Especially considering the state of the asylums around here - Liam had had a very close look during his first adventure and he didn't want any part of that, thank you very much.

I miss Liam already. He was incredibly long-lived for a Cthulhu character (two years real time, six months game time) and I grew very fond of him, he's one of my favourite characters ever. I loved every minute of playing him, right down to the very end.

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