Wherein we shall detail the grim and sobering fate of the House of McDonnell as they seek to suppress their tainted inheritance (with names drawn recklessly from Facebook)
Father is gone. I hadn’t seen him in decades, since he sent me to the seminary and I began my ministry in the city. But I must return, that house, that place, must be cleansed, expunged from creation itself. I can hear it calling me. Calling me home.
I will not be able to do it alone, I have sent out missives to friend and family, asking them to join me in this endeavour. I fear it is an act of utmost selfishness, one wich they will in time damn me for. But I have no more time to waste on idle recrimination. I must return and the stage is ready.
Even the journey home was cursed by fate. Luckily I was accompanied by my youngest brothers who helped me out of the wreckage of our coach and bested the bandits that barred our way home.
Like myself both had been blighted by their youth in that house. Simon’s proud crusade ended by his light-fingered ways and even among the scum Sean associated with a cheat is unwelcome. Best they seek redemption here with me.
This first week will be one of carefully sounding out the foul blight that has gripped this locale. As well as family and friends I have chosen to rely upon more mercenary aid. Bought and paid for I will spend them to the very last drop.
The initial foray into the ruins of my “new” estate went well. In that all members of the party returned, though their encounter’s with the abominable undead have forever scarred the first two mercenary’s in my employ. Her time in the convent did not prepare Trelli to see the dead walk and while the plague doctor Paschal may have seen horror it was only of the mundane human kind.
Flush with success, perhaps to the point of mania, Trelli and Paschal called their companions and swelled the ranks of those I shall use to cleanse this blight. Still, they are untested and these initial explorations are of great importance. I sent the more experienced members back into to the ruins. Though perhaps I underestimated how much the stress was affecting them. I was saddened when Sean reported that Simon had once more fallen prey to his kleptomaniac urges. Sadly the news spread beyond that and Simon is now banned from the inn’s games of chance.
News of my endeavour continues to spread, bringing those seeking knowledge and those seeking challenge. Neither realising that only ruin awaits them. These last two weeks have been well used and despite the mental scarring the more veteran members of the expedition have honed their skills. Will their confidence condemn them? Sean and Trelli lead the new recruits on their first mission. After provisioning them I see that my already meager funds are running low. A dark thought grows and I worry that its germination is due to my own inner failings rather than the malevolent influence of this blighted hamlet.
While they learned little new Adeline’s keen antiquarian eye made the exploration a profitable one. So for the moment gold holds my dark thoughts at bay. However I fear that she may be letting her skill go to her head. The week starts pleasantly enough. My old friend Billy has arrived, his hound in tow. I’ve always hated that dog so it’s inevitable fate will provide me some additional joy.
With my gentle urging, and financial backing, the old sanitarium has opened once more. I worry much more about the dangers to my adventurers mind than I do any physical risk they take. This should help gird them for the struggle ahead, or at least provide some support if they stumble. With the growing number’s available to me I decided it was time to move beyond the ruins. The villagers have long complained of the debased fishmen rumoured to haunt the bay. So to the cove I sent the party to investigate exactly what foulness lay hidden beneath the dark tide waters.
As it transpires the party was oddly familiar with coastal caves and quickly scouted the initial area. Unfortunately they were not quite so familiar with what lurked within. Foul fishmen and fouler undead barred their path, the putrescent bodies of drowned sailors turned into explosive weapons by dark fishmen magic. The ordeal proved too much for Adeline to bear and so for the moment she has retreated to quite meditation in the abbey. The other members were also shaken, in ways that wont soon heal. Sean is taking a sabbatical in the sanitarium.
No new travelers have arrived and I fear the same bandits that interrupted my journey may have interrupted theirs. Under Kirsten’s leadership I sent a party into the forest, into the weald, to deal with these thankfully all too human foes.
The bandits were driven back. Though Billy had little taste for the bloodshed and seems to have sought solace in drink. No matter, in the days ahead any kind of solace will be welcome. The locals seemed to appreciate our punitive raid against the bandits and have rewarded us accordingly.
Sean, Trelli and Adeline have recovered from their various mental mis-haps and seem eager to return to the cove. I think they underestimate what ancient horrors the sea may have given birth to. But we need to know more. And so I send them forth.
Hubris, I have succumbed to my families hereditary folly. The party returned battered and partly broken from the dank caves of the nearby cove. Trelli even suffered the indignity of contracting a particularly potent form of diarrhea. Her dignity as a Vestal is as stained as her garments. Adeline’s antiquarian acumen continues to prove useful, sadly this efficiency is paid for with her increasing dementia.
Seekers after dark wisdom have gathered here to perform their own profane rituals, and well they might. Among then I spotted an old friend. Dave had long since lost himself in forgotten knowledge and forbidden deeds. But human rules and human morals have no place in the things that must be done here. Nyami, a skilled arbalest also joined our ranks, lured by the promise of coin and flesh.
Worried that more members of my far-flung family had not arrived to aid in dealing with our grim inheritance I sent the party into the weald once more. I hope they can strike a lasting blow against the bandits lurking there.
The party found few bandits. Though the stress of tracking them through those dark woods had some unintended effects. Perhaps it was the constant expectation of leadership or the cruel taunts of the sharper tongued doxies but Sean’s usual fastidiousness took a harmful turn into bulimia. I sent him to the sanitarium hoping a course of short sharp shocks could solve his body image issues. Luckily Adeline had returned from her meditation, newly enlightened, to take his place.
It was time I felt to descend into the labyrinth beneath the estate, into the foul mass of tunnels we called the Warrens.
Whatever the party experienced there it changed them, Dave’s nervousness became habitual and Simon seems constantly on edge. It must have been some small solace to them on their return to town to see The Sisters of St. Martha’s had sent a pilgrimage. With them came Sharon, an old friend and staunch follower of St. Martha’s creed. It was just as well as Trelli still suffered from the dysentery she’d contracted at the cove. The wagon brought more friends and family to join this damned crusade. My brother Patrick, who had long since abandoned home and hearth to track wanted men. Adam, who had lost an eye but none of his ferocity or tenacity and Tracey, whose unwholesome trade would make her unwelcome in any place other than here. The camp was grown crowded and our supplies of necessary materials was growing scarce.
It was time to enact the dark plan I’d pondered these long weeks. I would gather the weaker, more expendable mercenaries and send them into the ruins with no light or provisions. They would hopefully emerge victorious, or not emerge at all, either way space would be made. I chose not to share this plan with my friends or family. Telling those selected for it that it was a secret mission I could only entrust to them. I’d pray for my soul’s salvation if I were not already aware that it is indelibly stained.
In the end I couldn’t go through with it and gave the party the provisions they needed. They returned “successful” and I cursed myself for weakness even as I welcomed them back. My guilt made it to hard to face them and so I ended their contracts and sent them packing. They left sullenly. Fools, they should be thanking me for sparing them.
I had planned to send the more recent recruits out on a “safe” scouting mission but the villagers sent word that even the bandits were wary about entering the forest due to the stirring of some greater threat. A concentrated threat growing in the weald would make our position untenable. I sent my most veteran members after it. Well I wished to, but Sean felt himself “above” such things so I sent Simon in his place. Sean would soon have the chance to test his self claimed prowess on more deadly challenges.
The target, a monstrous hag the villagers said, lurked deep in the weald. Deep enough that I had to supply the party with the means to make camp before reaching her.
The monstrous hag is dead. Despite coming upon her unaware I am all too happy to say that my friends won the day. Though Simon did spent most of the battle in her monstrous cooking pot and has since seemed overly suspicious of soup. Not wanting to waste the opportunity the party decided to camp after defeating her. But that moment of laxity proved costly as foes fell upon them in the night. Still, buoyed by their victory they quickly finished off their foes and the rest served to quite their nerves. Though as it turned out in death the Hag had cursed Kirsten to be haunted by vampiric spirits which drained her vigor. In tandem with the rabies she had contracted from one of the weald’s wild dogs she had no choice but to recover under the gentle ministrations of the sanitariums staff. She was joined by Dave and Sean who needed some…adjustments to better deal with their quirks.
Steve has arrived in town. His disease and the fanatical faith it engendered in him have transformed him. Perhaps he would have been better succumbing rather than attempting to overcome. I find his mask disconcerting but it is better than the alternative.
With the more experienced members recuperating I sent our newest recruits into the Warrens to scout out any possible avenues into its deeper recesses.
All the party discovered in the Warrens was their susceptibility to its filth and disease. Adam contracted the Black Plague, Patrick developed vertigo while Sharon collapsed in ennui. On top of these maladies each of them developed negative quirks of spirit that would haunt them unless the sanitarium…helped..them over it.
Adam and Patrick attended the sanitariums medical ward to get cured while Kirsten and Adeline attempted a symposium in the treatment ward designed to solidify positive personality quirks. All this treatment has drained my coffers though. I sent a party to the Weald in the hopes of claiming some of the bandits ill-gotten gains for our own.
The thirteenth week, luck for some, but none of them are here. What the party found in gold they paid for in sanity. Both Steve and Nyami broke during the outing, nearly bringing the party to ruin. Simon and Billy managed to lead them back to town, though Billy contracted the ague in doing so. I sent Steve and Nyami to the church, to pray and hopefully regain their nerve. Billy was sent to the much used sanitarium where Sharon joined him in an attempt to shake off her ennui. The local nomads were having a seasonal sale but even with their steep discount I couldn’t afford their potent gewgaws. These costs mean I barely broke even on the last outing. Something needed to be done.
My will was stronger or weaker now. Whichever it was I was ready to make use of some sacrificial pawns. The latest stagecoach’s worth of mercenaries would do. I sent them to the Weald, with no equipment, not even the crudest torch. Yes, I sent them out to die.
I sent them to die and die they did. My guilt would have consumed me if there were anything left of me for it to eat. Steve returned from the abbey changed, where once he loved god now he feared him. He was right to. Brian joined us, clad in his motley, more madman than musician.
I needed something to distract me from the blood on my hands and luckily something arose. In the ruins of my ancestral home a shadowy figure had been spotted raising the dead. A necromancer. With him dead perhaps the dead could rest easier. I tasked Adam, Billy, Dave and Patrick with his extermination. It would be a longer mission than most and our supplies barely covered it.
Bent but unbroken the party put the necromancer in his grave. Though sore tested some stood tall and some fell low. Billy found a moment of clarity in his battle with the monster while Patrick fell to rage in the moments after the battle was done. Luckily the abbey’s seasonal cleaning gave him a chance to quietly contemplate his outburst.
To my surprise Matthew staggered off the stage-coach. I had thought him dead and in some ways the man I knew was dead. Dressed in tattered rags he loaded himself down with chains, terrified of the abomination that lurked within him. Still, where we were going we would have need of his eldritch strength.
While some of our number now considered themselves too skilled to deal with basic scouting journeys they found deeper delves stymied by their lack of any experienced support personnel. With rectifying this deficiency in mind I sent a party the Warrens, hoping to harden for the horrors to come. Hopefully the find some gold while they’re at it as the expedition is broke.
In the warrens Adam and Steve fell to separate psychotic episodes, Sharon contracted the Red Plague and Dave was caught cheating at cards. Adam also contracted a wasting disease from a beast-man vomiting on him. However Dave has mastered more occult knowledge and his spells ability to meld flesh will be essential now that he can join his more experienced brethren. Back in town Patrick maintains he has seen the face of god and remains cloistered in prayer.
It matters little anyway, at this point I cannot afford to heal, train, equip or provision anyone. But still, send them forth I must. An entrance into the deeper parts of the Cove has been discovered and so the veterans set off to see what new pelagic monstrosities lurk within.
Disaster. The mission was a disaster and now the blood of friend and family is on my hands. Dave, Kirsten and Sean all lost their minds in those caves. Kirsten managed to hold onto her life but Dave and Sean were not so lucky. Billy in theory remains unscathed but survivors guilt haunts him and he is forever changed. My best men dead. My friend dead. My brother dead. Father’s folly reaps its foul cost.
As if to mock Dave’s death, or to keep me tied to them, the wyrd council has reconvened. Shane, an old friend from my seminary days who fell to darkness, has joined me. I try not to think of him as Dave’s replacement. I try not to think of him dying too.
Week’s 18 to 20
Dave and Sean’s death drove me into a deep depression. But that hardly excuses my behaviour over the last two weeks. Though only one lost their life many lost their minds. Unequipped and unprepared I sent hapless new mercenaries into the ruins in search of trinkets and gold to aid in the future survival of the handful of humans I still cared for. My hands are no longer stained with blood, they are slick with it, black with it. But I no longer care, I am simply numb to the atrocities I commit in the name of good. No, not in the name of good, in the name of revenge, against my father, my family, my name. Tracey left in disgust, I don’t blame her, she’s better of this way.
Alan, Martin and Colin have joined me. Thankfully I have no more lodging available for the strangers I was turning into simple sacrifices. At the same time a broken adventurer came staggering out of the warrens raving about a beast-man so unspeakable the others call it Lord. This creature cannot be allowed to marshal its forces. We must intervene.
As if to mock the last month of misery the mission to exterminate the Swine Prince was conducted flawlessly. It’s foul body lies rotting among the filth of the Warrens while those who slayed it returned to the hamlet largely unharmed in either body or spirit. Perhaps this is a positive omen of things to come? We have been here five months now and have barely scratched the surface of the foulness that permeates every inch of my ancestral estate.
I need to take better care of those who remain. So though it hurts my purse full sore I’ve started a rigorous round of treatments at the sanitarium. First up are Patrick and Matthew’s, who’s quirks had grown so bad they were being physically affected by them. In this downtime I intend to have the newer recruits garner some experience. We are short on supplies and those beast men must be growing fat on something so I will send them on a lengthy mission to the Warrens.
Though all were on the verge of death the mission was a success and we secured the beast men’s grain supplies. All were tested in the mission, as with every mission we run. As always those who stand firm and those who crumble seems left to the whims of chance. Our supplies are doubly bolstered as the local farmers have had a bumper crop. Time to celebrate perhaps, Adam has also joined the ranks of veterans.
I decided on another week of “training” for the newer recruits. This time in the cove, which so far the expedition has had a rather disastrous history with.
Finally a wholly successful mission to the cove. The party suppressed the pelagic monstrosities within, returned unscathed and turned their experience into useful knowledge. They even took Matthew’s hideous transformations in stride, though I was somewhat less sanguine about that situation. Martin’s time in the brothel also seems to have left him with a clearer more likeable disposition, though it also resulted in him being banned from said brothel.
Well the town’s prostitutes need worry no more. Martin succumbed to a stress induced heart attack. I know I should be sad but he had already strayed so far from what was right that perhaps death was a relief. At least I think mine will be, until I meet the men and women I sent before me. As if to match my mood a storm blew most of the week, sending ships crashing into and against the bays walls. The bodies of the drowned men will likely swell the ranks of the undead in the cove but for the moment we can repurpose their ruined cargo for our own needs. To calm her shattered nerves Nyami heads to the bar while Brian refuses any kind of treatment and sits mumbling and shivering in the town square. Steve sees the sanitariums doctors to see if they can do something about the yips.
I think this will be the last week of training for a while, parties full of new recruits are too vulnerable to the evils of this place.
The last of the training missions ended quite successfully. No casualty’s, no madness and considerable spoils hauled out of the Cove’s stinking caves. The only slight hitch was that Sharon contracted tapeworm from eating some questionably cooked fish. Patrick join’s the veterans and Sharon goes to have her stomach purified at the sanitarium. Meanwhile at the treatment ward Nyami and Alan have their quirks “adjusted”.
It has been half a year since I have returned home. I celebrate my birthday alone, with a bottle of cheap wine and my father’s journal. I have nothing to celebrate. Though surviving these last six months could be seen as a victory I often question if the dead (the ones that stay that way at least) are the lucky ones. While we have achieved some good in these last six months I can see no clear end in sight. While we have scoured the outskirts of the contagion we have had little luck in digging deeper, in reaching the eldritch tumour that grows in the heart of these lands. Perhaps six months is too little time to have accomplished better. Perhaps I should be more realistic. The wine is strong at least. Perhaps tonight I’ll be able to sleep.