Darkest Dungeon 18

Matron Thessia,

I hope this letter finds you well. I apologize for the delay in responding- the clergy here are barely literate, and I have been preoccupied with assisting them in their clerical work while I recovered and waited for the group to return from the Weald. It has been nearly two weeks and they are finally back in the hamlet, though with only half their number. While I am happy to see that they still live, the news they have brought with them is disquieting.

I have been recovering well from my wounds, enough that I may walk to the tavern with only a little stiffness. I have been taking my morning meals there, rather than the church, to converse with the other travelers and perhaps learn some news, for there is not much else to do while we wait. There had been awful rumors amongst the hamlet that the bodies of those in the Weald had already been found, flayed and left outside the trees, and that Clarke had wanted to hide us from the fact. It was always difficult to believe, and I suspect that the fool who wears that grotesque mask was the originator of it. It proved to be false, however, when the physician and Clarke’s man at arms walked into the tavern during breakfast, both looking like Death herself.  Their faces were covered in dirt, blood, and grime and they looked as if they could barely stand. I could almost feel the exhaustion and pain rolling off of them, their spirits were in such turmoil. They did not speak to the few of us gathered there, and in fact they scarcely glanced at us. Rather, they took a seat and began to devour any food that happened to be within arm’s reach, only speaking when calling out for more. I had half a mind to ask them of the missing travelers, but it was not difficult to hazard a guess as to what their fates were if they were not present.

The physician, Morgan, eventually had her fill and stumbled upstairs to her quarters, leaving the man Cole by his lonesome. He continued to eat while imbibing an incredible amount of whiskey until he had enough of both, departing to seek out Clarke. After they had left, the travelers and I conversed in hushed tones on their appearance, speculating on what may have happened to the two who were missing. Unable to do much else at the time, I returned to the church to pray for their souls and commence with the business of the day. Surprisingly, however, Morgan sought me there a few hours after her return.

She had cleaned herself, removing the blood and dirt from her face, though I cannot say if she had slept at all. She had a distant look in her eye and her voice trembled as she spoke. She approached me under the guise of wanting to know how I was recovering after the injuries I had inflicted upon me in the ruins. I appreciated the concern, but it was clearly not her true purpose and it did not take long for her to tell me the story of what had occurred in the Weald.

Things are worse than you feared, Matron. It seems that whatever power Clarke’s father had pulled into the world is calling out to those the Order has suppressed for centuries. A coven of witches  have begun their ancient practices once more inside the Weald, and a satyr now walks upon the earth despite their kind being banished long ago. Between this news, and the necromancers that have taken refuge in the ruins of the Clarke manor, I can only imagine what other abominations exist upon the estate. It is not only the things she witnessed that concerns me, however- she told me of the deaths their missing had experienced, with the houndmaster and his mastiff being slain by the satyr and the crusader’s fall from grace. The crusader’s death seems to weigh heavily on her conscience and she holds herself accountable, though it seems to me that his faith wavered and he received his punishment for it.

She spoke at length of the monkey’s paw, the infernal artefact whose retrieval was their purpose for exploring the Weald. She told me of the hag they had slain and how she had used the paw before her death, and how Cole seem to become dangerously fascinated with the object during their escape. Particularly, she spoke of a time after Blacksmith’s death, when they were in the midst of those insects and lost amongst the trees, still fearing the satyr’s pursuit. In the throes of hunger and exhaustion, wanting nothing more than a way out, she planned to kill Cole for the paw and use its dark power to wish for her safe return. She described the scene to me in great detail as her memory returned her to the very spot, remembering how she had drawn her dagger and was raising it to slash at Cole’s neck.  She professed to knowing she had to be quick, or else Cole would simply break her wrists and leave her to die amongst those twisted trees.  The specter of that was far from her mind, however, for she could not bear spending another moment in that dark place.

In the moment before she lunged, a beam of sunlight shone through the trees onto the two of them, scattering the insects and providing them a moment of blessed silence. She smiled faintly as she described feeling the warmth of it upon her skin and how her mind became clear for the first time since entering that unholy place. She realized what she had planned and felt shame and disgust, quickly sheathing her dagger before Cole could notice.  The light grew faint but remained bright enough that the two could follow it, and they were eventually led beyond the Weald and into the safety of daylight.  As she told me her tale, a great weight seemed lifted from her shoulders, and I could feel her spirit calm itself. Mere moments after she had finished telling me her tale, exhaustion overcame her and she fell asleep in her chair.  I have since moved her to my cot, though I hope she awakens before night falls.

This is a dark place, festering with unholy things and the old magic, but I believe the light of the Goddess shines even here and that She has chosen Morgan and Cole to serve Her. I cannot speculate why they were spared and the other two were not, but the Goddess often chooses Her servants for mysterious reasons. There is no doubt that Morgan had saved my life after I came back from the ruins of the Clarke manor, so perhaps she has been serving the Goddess unknowingly since she arrived.

The paw is in Clarke’s possession now and I know not what his designs on it are. I would prefer it if he would hand it to the Order to be destroyed, though it seems far more likely he will sell it and burden another man with its dark power. I do not believe he will use it- he speaks of his father only in loathsome terms, and will not allow the old magic to tempt him. With the group returned from the woods, he has arranged to meet with the travelers tonight, presumably to arrange another expedition.  The location of his father’s excavation is known to him, though he seems unwilling to commit lives to exploring that dark dungeon until he fully understands what foul thing his father brought into the world and how best to close the portal that leads to the Beyond.  I shudder to think of what things exist in that place, what unspeakable things have lurched their way back into the world, but I trust that the Goddess will look over us as we champion her Holy cause.

May the Light of the Goddess shine upon you always.

Sister Catherine

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Darkest Dungeon 17

JOURNAL 17

Two turns of the hourglass is how long I must hold my vigil after foolishly taking the first watch. The two men of our party, those petty and weak willed men, are taking their rest while I stand watch for any sign of that abominable satyr.

We have found ourselves in the midst of those mysterious insects once more. We have established a camp in the middle of their swarm. After marching for an untold number of hours. It is impossible to say how long it has been since the satyr first made itself known to us and forced us to flee amongst the trees. It has been two days, or perhaps three. The darkness of this place makes it impossible to know for sure. All attempts at rest have been interrupted by that Unnatural monster and we have been pushed past the limits of exhaustion and hunger. My feet have become numb and my eyes feel as if daggers are being slowly pressed upon them, so it is that I can scarcely keep them open. We have marched dutifully through the Weald with Cole leading us along the same path we had entered upon. I cannot be sure that he is not leading us in circles like fools. The trees all look the same to me. I am the least skilled tracker of our party, however, and bickering with the drunk would only keep me in this place longer.

We have made our camp with the dim hope that even the satyr will be deterred by the swarm that gathers just outside our small circle of light. The purpose that the insects serve is unknown, but it is undoubtedly nefarious. Perhaps it is enough to keep the monster from pursuing us further. It still bears the scars of the few times we have foolishly stood against it, and it seems unlikely to be stopped now. I will cling to any hope, however slight, as long as I am afforded my sleep. Both my mind and my body cannot bear travelling much further.

The buzzing and the clicking from the swarm is awful. It reverberates through my bones and rattles the teeth. It pushes all thought from the mind and it is impossible to focus. It is only bearable in believing that it affords us some manner of grim protection from our hunter, though that may be little more than an illusion we have crafted for our benefit.

I am thankful that Blacksmith has fallen silent, however. The fool has eaten through the entirety of his rations and seems to believe that he is destined to starve to death amongst the trees. I have reluctantly shared what is left of my own diminished food in an attempt to buy his silence. It has worked to some effect. If we have found these insects again we must be close to the exit. I hope that he will be able to steel his resolve enough to bear it in silence until we return to the hamlet.

Cole is becoming steadily more enraptured by the monkey’s paw. Where once he would only steal surreptitious glances he now has been openly admiring it while we marched. I have seen Blacksmith himself staring longingly upon the paw as well. Its three gnarled fingers still remained closed upon the palm. I do not believe it has selected a new owner, and if those two fools were granted access to its dark power they would doom us all. Its potential would be wasted upon them in the event they were allowed to use it. Perhaps I should wrest it away from their greedy hands, if only to keep myself safe from their blundering ways.

The hourglass mocks me. I have been watching it and the sand inside has become some manner of honey, or something equally viscous. When one grain falls, it is entire minutes before the next grain follows. Some manner of dreadful witchcraft is at work I suspect, slowing time to crawl. I am being tormented for having a hand in slaying the Hag, for dispatching of her in such a cruel manner. She was a young girl once and perhaps was innocent in whatever foul things had overtaken her. The elder Clarke must have orchestrated her corruption much like
orchestrated the corruption
of the estate and the
the corruption

 

I fell asleep during my watch, and that damnable fool Blacksmith took advantage of it. I cannot say how long I had slept for, but Blacksmith awoke while I slumbered. Presumably driven by hunger, for I cannot imagine what else could have compelled him, the fool rifled through my belongings in search of food. I was awoken by accusations and prayers being hurled at me as if they were weapons, and found Blacksmith holding the effigy of the satyr I had taken. He held me at the point of his sword with terror in his eyes, accusing me of being an agent of the monster that hunts us. His sword was shaking as he retreated from me, threatening to cut me down as I attempted to explain why it was in my possession. It was to no avail, however, and he continued to retreat from me until the fool stepped outside the light cast by our diminishing campfire.

He screamed and howled in pain as those insects swarmed over his armored leg. They appeared to be willing to brave the light for a meal, and I recoiled in terror as I saw what malformed creatures they were. I caught glimpses of crooked and hairy legs, mismatched snapping jaws, fire reflected in the light of thousands of eyes. The horrific insects devoured his armor, the plate revealing the tender flesh underneath, but that quickly became little more than a red and pulpy mass. Blacksmith continued to scream as he fell backwards, falling completely into the darkness. I stared on in horror, though Cole had awoken and lit a torch, running to where Blacksmith had fallen. His screaming had already stopped, and as Cole cast light over his body the insects retreated into the darkness. What remained of Blacksmith was a grisly sight, one I wish to purge from my mind. As we looked upon his remains, the insects continued to buzz in agitation, as if their appetite had merely been whetted, and Cole quickly took the torch away. They swarmed back over their prize, not allowing what remained to go to waste.

Cole has questioned me on the events that preceded his death, and I have lied about what I know. I have insisted that he was overtaken by a fit of madness to try and escape this place on his own. The effigy is lost amongst the swarm, and I have no desire to explain the circumstances to him. I do not know if he believes me, but it does not matter, since mine is the only word that is left to believe. Regardless of what he is told, the guilt is mine to live with. The terror in his eyes still haunts me, and it as if I can still hear is screaming under the angry sound of the swarm. I cannot help but feel that my curiosity is what drove him to his death.

The shock of losing another man has rattled Cole, who has forsaken sleep for drink. His whisky is nearly depleted, and he has stated that once his bottle is empty, he will not rest until we exit this foul place. I am still exhausted, though Blacksmith’s death has had a sobering effect. I can only hope that Cole’s confidence is not misplaced, and that we are as close to the exit as he believes us to be.

Perhaps I will ask the sister for a prayer once we return.

Darkest Dungeon 16

JOURNAL 16
The satyr is a relentless foe.

Our rest has been interrupted thrice now by the monster, each time shortly after we had settled ourselves in. Each time we had barely winked before the watch awoke those sleeping, hearing the dreadful sound of the satyr’s approach. The Weald is unusually quiet, not filled with the sounds of Nature as it once was, but an otherworldly silence seems to fill the air when it is near. Its every step, every crack of a twig is audible when it approaches, giving us a moment to gather our belongings together before fleeing.

The first was after I had finished writing previously. That same silence slowly sapped any other sounds from the air, leaving only the sounds of its heavy hooves as it closed in on our camp. I roused Cole and Blacksmith just in time to see the horrific abomination come into the small circle of light cast by our campfire. The wound that Anselm had inflicted on it glistened in the firelight, viscera and sinew visible, a stark reminder of what it was capable of. In an act of feeble defense, I squandered a corrosive grenade in an attempt to ward it from our camp. I watched the potion eat away at the flesh of its arm until bone peeked through the withering skin. The monster did not seem to notice, its grip on its scimitar never loosened. It simply stared at me with those obsidian eyes, those eternal pits of black, and whatever defiance against the Unnatural horror I had mustered withered away. I fled with the others, away from the creature.

We ran, exhausted and starving, until we felt we could go no further. We no longer know what the time of a day is outside of these trees. It’s impossible to know if the sun shines upon the canopy of trees above us, the canopy that does not allow Natural light within, or if the moon currently looks upon the ground. Perhaps it does not matter. Perhaps this whole estate is rotting and beyond the redemption of Nature. Perhaps we are all tainted by the darkness of this place, condemning us to the dark of the Weald until it sees fit to claim us as its prize.

We rested after we fled. When we do stop, Cole allows us one turn of the hourglass to rest before we continue to move on, though it makes no difference. We slept twice after I had foolishly attacked the creature, and twice more the satyr approached, driving us away. My eyes burn in my head and as I walk, my focus fades as I stare at the torch held by Blacksmith, and the spectre of exhaustion seeps into every fiber of my being. The others are resting now as I write, for it is only the writing that allows me to stay awake. I hold no great love for my remaining two companions, and it is only out of concern for myself that I care to stay awake. I have seen Blacksmith eyeing my rations jealously, the small number of berries I have left, for the fool has already eaten through his own. I guard my possessions carefully to keep them away from his untrustworthy hands. And Cole, the drunk, is running low on his drink. I have seen him, when he believes no one to be looking, pull the monkey’s paw from his pouch and stare longingly upon it. He is a weak man and warrants watching, to be sure that he does not give into dark temptation and bring doom upon us all. I will not allow a man such as him to squander my hard earned survival, bringing death upon me to save his own worthless skin. Both men see fit to ruin me to save themselves, and I will not fall to their wicked conspiracy.

The Weald grows silent!

Darkest Dungeon 15

JOURNAL 15

We have been attacked by a satyr, a creature long thought gone from the Natural world, and two of our number have been slain. It fell upon us as we slept, though Anselm, always the faithful beast, awoke us and provided us a moment to fortify ourselves for an attack, though it made no difference. We watched the dreadful monster amble into our camp from the trees, its wicked scimitars glittering in the light of our campfire. It had the torso of a man and the legs of a goat, though its face was a cruel mixture of both. Its eyes were as black as obsidian, the eyes of a creature not of the Natural world. Upon its cloven hooves it stood not much taller than Blacksmith, though in my mind’s eye it towers over all, and its fur was the same hellish color as whatever fires it sprang from.

Anselm was the first to attack, fearlessly lunging at the monster and clamping onto its arm with his massive jaws. For a brief moment I believed the monster to be crippled, but with horrific strength the satyr ripped the hound from its arm, paying no mind to the flesh taken by Anselm’s bite. The monster threw him aside and he collided against a tree with a sickening crack, falling to the ground in a limp heap, silent and unmoving. The quickness in which it happened was astounding, and the loss of his companion drove Maxwell into a blind rage. With an unearthly scream he charged the satyr, wildly swinging his club, but the foul monster effortlessly avoided his blows and decapitated him in one swift motion. I can still feel the warmth of his blood where it splashed upon my face as I stood there, watching on uselessly, until our collective courage broke and we three survivors fled from the red satyr.

We ran for an untold amount of hours, and we only stopped when our hunger and exhaustion would not allow us to go any further. We are down to mere subsistence, with not much more than dry berries to eat, though perhaps our food will go longer

My mind is still reeling from the brutal manner in which our companions were slain, and it pains me that we were forced to leave them to the machinations of the Weald. Anselm was a kind and loyal beast, and deserved a better end than one at the hands of a cruel mockery of Nature. Maxwell was a good man, a trustworthy man, more so than my two remaining companions. Cole is a soldier and a drunk, good for a battle but not much else, and whatever righteousness that had filled Blacksmith previously is gone. All that is left is the husk of a wild eyed man who repeats prayers to the Goddess hour after hour and is just as likely to run from his shadow as the satyr.

It was a mistake to believe that our task was done upon slaying the Hag and retrieving that damned artefact! We should have known that we had not yet seen all of the horrors hidden away in this place, we have only seen a small portion of the awful things crawling through these trees. Satyrs have long been thought banished from the world, though I have heard that dark tribes still worship them in the corners of the world they are shunned to. Even the pagans consider it to be blasphemous, those barbarians that worship the sun and the moon. I believe that the witches who have come to call this place home belong to those dark tribes, and they have brought that worship with them to this accursed place.  The effigies are evidence of this blasphemous worship, idols crafted by witchcraft. Perhaps they have found a way to use the foul energies of this place to bring a satyr into the world. Or, perhaps, the Hag had wished for it be so. It does not matter, for we are in mortal danger all the same.

We are resting a few scant hours before setting out again. The satyr is still among the trees, and we have no reason to believe that it will give us up as quarry. Cole realizes this and is taking no chance of being caught unawares once more. We have moved a considerable distance already, finding ourselves on the outskirts of the cemetery, and if we can keep the same harsh pace it will only be a day and half of another before we find ourselves in the light of the sun once more.