Darkest Dungeon 22

Matron Thessia,

The pagan has been wounded severely, almost certainly mortally. She has had her leg severed below the knee by some sort of terrible pig-man within the warrens. We were attacked by a pair of them as we patrolled along the sewer, two of the snorting and hulking beasts. They walked like men but had the face of swine, and their appendages terminated in beastly digits. As our torchlight fell upon them, it was easy to see that their skin looked ill fitting- tight in some places, loose in others. They each wielded vicious battle axes and ran at us, weapons raised, though not before Benedict was able to fire with his pistols. I watched the shots tear the flesh off the charging monsters, though it did little more than splash blood upon the stone walls. Wolfswift and York braced themselves against the charge while Benedict reloaded his pistols, and I did what I could to fortify their spirits for the impending assault.

The battle was brutal and bloody, a different manner entirely than slaying mere slugs. As sword and halberd bit into the porcine flesh, blood spilled upon the stone and turned it slick, making the footing treacherous. Wolfswift began to behave similarly as she did when we fought against those awful slugs, howling in revelry at the blood being shed. Those vile pig-men grunted and snorted as they swung their powerful axes, and it was in the course of avoiding such a blow that Wolfswift slipped. As she lay upon the ground, the pig-man swung again and crushed the bone beneath his axe with a revolting crunch, severing her lower leg entirely. She screamed like a wounded animal as blood gushed from her wound while York continued to fight off the pair of pig-men. Benedict fired twice more with his pistols, slaying one of the beastmen, leaving one left for York to duel. I could hear their weapons clash together as I pulled Wolfswift back towards me, mustering every ounce of my faith to heal her wound. Channeling the power of the Goddess, I was able to stop the bleeding and partially mend the flesh, though the bone still remained splintered and broken.

When Benedict saw Wolfswift’s wound, he called for retreat.  As Benedict and I picked up Wolfswift, York found an opening and slid his shattered sword into the throat of the last creature. Blood gushed like fountain all over the beast’s front and it fell to the ground, giving us the opportunity to run. We could hear more snorting throughout the dark of the tunnels as we fled for the surface, and all we could do was hope that we would not be caught out by more of the swine-men.

The pagan was fitful as we carried her to the surface, occasionally rousing herself to consciousness long enough to thrash about and scream before her energy flagged. Her splintered bone was still partially exposed and it is impossible for me to fathom the pain she may have endured, though I suspect that a lesser woman would have been killed by such a wound. We returned her to the hamlet without further incident, where we were able to place her in Morgan’s care. She was pale and clammy when the physician received her, and her entire body was trembling. There is no more my healing can do for her now, though I will continue to check in on her as the days pass to see if I can assist Morgan in any way. I have held Wolfswift in low esteem, but I do sincerely hope that whatever fortitude she derives from her pagan beliefs will give her the strength to survive this.

We have not seen Clarke since we began exploring the warrens, but Benedict has explained to Cole what we encountered while traversing the sewers. I trust that word will reach Clarke, where ever he may be, once Cole has sobered himself. For my part, I have spoken with Raziq who has done his own research while we were away. He has confirmed that the symbol is that of a blood cult, but no more information could be gleaned from his scrolls. I talked at length with him about the swine-men, and he has suggested that perhaps they are the work of the cultists- indeed, he suggested that they may have desecrated their own bodies in the pursuit of their dark manipulation of the flesh, or else they have kidnapped innocents for their nefarious purposes. The members of the church have not mentioned anything of missing persons of the hamlet, but it is not impossible that others have wandered onto the estate and found themselves lost in the dark of the tunnels.

I do hope that now that we know what manner of corruption exists in the warrens, we can stop these aimless explorations. I understand the gravity of the task set ahead of us and I know that little of it will be easy, but I am opposed to throwing my life away fruitlessly for the sake of wandering through some ancient sewer. It is scarcely worth Wolfswift’s leg. I do hope that we are not asked to go back down there so quickly- every trip we make out to the shore, I dread stepping foot into the entrance. It is becoming more difficult to enter that place and be overcome with that hot, putrid air. It feels as if it is penetrates every fiber of my being and infests my lungs with every breath I take while I am in those tunnels. It is a difficult thing to face over and over again, though I know the Goddess is with me always. I have been performing the Mending twice day to keep my spirit pure and my healing abilities sharp- Morgan was able to provide me with a poultice for my wound, so I am free of distraction.

I will write to you once I know more, Matron.  May the Goddess grant me the strength to endure.

Sister Catherine

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Darkest Dungeon 21

Matron Thessia,

I have had some terrible wound inflicted upon me by foul creatures that live within the warrens. These creatures crept upon us while we took a brief rest, and I awoke to find that an awful slug-like creature had attached itself to my arm. It was as long as my forearm and thrice as thick around, and its mottled green skin was covered in the same repugnant slime that covered the walls of the tunnels. As I alerted the rest of the party to its presence, its one globular eye swiveled to meet mine as it feasted upon my person and I felt my entire body shudder with revulsion.

I could not feel the creature’s teeth as it gnawed upon my flesh, though I saw the rivulets of blood as they dripped from my arm. I began to swing at the creature with my cudgel, trying to dislodge it, until Benedict fired his pistol to assist me. It erupted in a fountain of blood, covering myself and the walls in its innards. The rest of the party had begun to attack the dozen or so others that had gathered around us, but none with more enthusiasm than the pagan. As we fought back against the creatures, they exploded in the same gory fashion upon their death, and while we all found it revolting Wolfswift seemed to revel in it. With every death to her credit, she swung her halberd with even more prejudice and howled like a wolf. The slugs proved to be surprisingly nimble, leaping at us with gaping maws encircled in razor-like teeth, clinging to exposed flesh when given a chance. I witnessed several of them attach to Wolfswift, though she ripped the creatures from her flesh while paying no heed to the ragged wound inflicted. The three of us had killed our fair share of the creatures, though Wolfswift’s rampage had destroyed the majority of them. When the last creature was slain and she was doused in blood, she fell to her knees and gave an inhuman, mournful scream. Every muscle of hers trembled with exhaustion, but her strange behavior made us too wary to approach her. It was impossible to tell which blood belonged to her and those of the slugs, though she made no indication she desired healing. With the battle done, she slunk off and began her strange worship of her totems, leaving me to see to the party’s wounds.

The slugs had bitten York, though the illness had ravaged his flesh so much that these attacks were ineffectual. Benedict was unharmed so I saw to my own wound, a ring of dagger-like incisions from the creature’s teeth. This was my first attempt to heal the wound and I was startled to discover that it resisted even my most fervent prayers. I am ashamed to admit that when I saw the flesh remained ragged and broken, I began to despair and believed that I had been forsaken by the Goddess in the dark of those tunnels. I tried over and over to heal my wound, to no effect, and I thought that my healing abilities had been stripped from me for losing faith. It simply continued to weep blood, and all I could do was bandage it so as to protect it from the foul air of those tunnels. Even now, as I write, it continues to soil bandage after bandage. I know now that my faith is strong, for I have performed my penance and even within the church the wound resists healing. I must seek out Morgan and perhaps see if she knows of a poultice that may help the wound, and I now know that there are some wounds I am incapable of healing.

Wolfswift’s wounds are of the same nature of mine, though she elected to rub some strange mud over them  in lieu of healing. Within the tunnels, she refused to clean the foul stuff off of her. Such a practice made it difficult to tolerate her during our moments of rest, and I was not alone in such a sentiment. She has cleaned herself since our return, but such a practice is unnerving to be alone with in that oppressive darkness.

As we left the site of the battle and pushed further into the dark of the sewers, it seemed that they had become much livelier since our last exploration. Strange sounds we could not account for echoed off the stone and throughout the tunnels, making it impossible to know what or where it came from. One sound in particular stood out to us, though, which was a strange swine-like grunting. We also found yet another one of those symbol, painted upon clean stone. As we examined it, Benedict noticed faint footprints pressed upon the mud around it. They were slight, and barely visible to me, but Benedict swore they were not the footprints of men, though they belonged to a creature that walked upon two feet. Morgan’s story of the satyr is still fresh in my mind, and I dread to think on what sort of devilish abominations walk within those foul tunnels.

I do apologize for my previous transgression, Matron. I should have known better than to transcribe such a symbol in a letter to the abbey, lest I draw unwanted eyes towards its location. I have performed my Mending in penance, as you have prescribed, though the bone still feels sore- it has been difficult to focus with my wound, and I worry the Mend may be incomplete. I take comfort in knowing it is not nearly as severe as those visited upon me by the undead, however. Raziq, that student of the occult, does not know what the symbol represents, though Cole of all people has possibly shed some light upon it. He has been in his cups since his return from the weald, and though it is difficult to trust a man who slurs his speech and sways upon his stool, he spoke with such gravity that it caused me to ignore the drunkenness. It is the symbol of a blood cult, he says, dark practitioners that manipulate the living flesh of other beings into their own heretic vision. He began to speak of a time in a far off land where he had dealings with such a cult, though his story was stopped short when he dropped his tankard and fell of his stool chasing it. Raziq is still consulting his scrolls and tomes, though I hope that Cole has perhaps given him enough of a lead to find what he needs within his veritable library.

If he is right, and there is such a group practicing in the tunnels, then it seems that nowhere upon Clarke’s estate has been spared some foul infestation. I trust that it is an act of the Goddess that this hamlet has been spared from such a fate, though these people may not realize it. The bodies of those that reside within the hamlet are twisted as a result of the corruption that grows under the earth, but it is nothing short of a Miracle that something similar has not taken root within the hamlet itself.

I must seek out Morgan, and see if she knows of an alchemical solution for this wound. She seems to have recovered well since her return from the weald though her eyes look colder than they did, as if some part of her soul has hardened as a result of her experiences. She has not spoken much to me since her return, though I hope that she is willing to help me.

Please pass on my greetings to Acolyte Abigail, Matron. May the Goddess grant me the Wisdom to know that I am always within her Light.

Sister Catherine

Darkest Dungeon 20

Matron Thessia,

I have returned from several days spent in those revolting warrens. We did not discover much during our short time down there, though the air has a queer quality to it that led to food spoilage and forced us to leave. I am glad for it, since merely being in those tunnels is an assault upon your senses.

The entrance to the warrens is little more than a stony hole close to the seaside, one that emits the most offensive odor you could ever imagine. The worn stone is covered in some manner of effluvial grime and viscous green fluid trickles out, both of which gave me pause. York, whose sense of smell was destroyed by the illness or lost a fear for such things in the leprosarium, was undeterred and stepped into the entrance without a second thought. Wolfswift and Benedict followed shortly after, and I am not ashamed to admit that I was the last to enter. I needed to say a small prayer to the Goddess and fortify myself before I followed them into that foreboding tunnel.

Entering into that place is difficult to describe, Matron. The way in which natural light vanished, the overwhelming and nearly palpable stench, and that strange humid warmth that emanated from within all mixed together to create this sense of dissonance within me. With every step I took into that place, my feet felt as if they were no longer mine and instead were being propelled by a stranger. I was overcome by a sense of otherworldliness, as if I was witnessing someone else’s horrible dream. I began to cling to the slim hope that I was trapped in a nightmare, and that I would soon awake in my own bed within the abbey surrounded by my sisters. Eventually, however, we found ourselves in the warrens proper. I jumped down from the entryway and landed ankle deep in what can only be described as a puddle of muck, and any hope that I may awake in comfort was dispelled.

We had entered into a tunnel that stretched on far beyond the meagre light of our torch, reaching out in two directions. The same sort of stone that made the entry and the tunnel had been used to create the rest of the waterway, and that same strange grime covered most of the blocks. While some of that disgusting stagnant water was present, it looked as if we could keep ourselves dry as long as we navigated carefully. With little to guide us in our exploration, Benedict picked a direction and began to walk the tunnel as we followed.

I have spent the past several days with my companions and I have come to respect that they are far more capable than I thought, though I still stand by my previous judgments of them. Shortly after our arrival, Wolfswift produced some manner of waxy animal product from her pouches that she was able to break into pieces and place up her nose so as to rid herself of the stench. She offered some to the rest of the group, and while I was hesitant to accept such a gift from a pagan, it seemed that the Goddess would have looked upon pragmatism favourably in such a case. Benedict and I both accepted, and while the sensation of having an object in my nose was uncomfortable, far preferable to the smell of those awful fumes. While this moment of cleverness may have won my begrudging respect, her strange rituals of yowling and worshiping her animal totems made her seem as if she was little more than an animal herself.

Benedict, for his part, proved his worth by taking the impetus to scrape grime off the walls of the tunnel so as to mark our passage. If he had not done such a thing, I fear that we would have surely become lost and doomed to the wander those black tunnels when we turned to take our leave of them. I thought it only polite to remark on such an act but found that he was as surly as ever, rebuffing my courtesies. When we established our camp to take rest, he chose to retreat into the shadows and tend to his weapons rather than sit with us.

The darkness of those tunnels seems to be of the same character as that in the ruined manor, despite their differences in location. It is not the darkness that comes with the night; rather, it is that oppressive darkness that only comes from places where the light of the Goddess has been forsaken. The fact it is allowed to flourish so readily in this place is alarming, to be sure, though I know it to be a symptom of whatever thing the elder Clarke half pulled into our world. As we walked, it oftentimes felt as if the light of our torch was barely holding it at bay and it became impossible to not ascribe some sort of nefarious purpose to it. I will confess to occasionally being overcome by fear as I imagined the undead reaching out for me from the shadows, much like they did in the ruins, but it was only ever my imagination getting the better of me.

The waterways run longer and sprawl further than I ever would have guessed. As we explored those ancient waterways, that awful air began to spoil our food far sooner than we could anticipate. This necessitated we cut our exploration short, though we did find one curious thing before we were forced to take our leave of that place. It was discovered by Benedict in a small nook of the waterway, a place where two men might struggle to stand shoulder to shoulder. We found the grime scraped cleanly away from the stone and in its place was a strange runic symbol, one I am unfamiliar with. As disquieting as it is, I believe the symbol may have been painted with blood for the shade of it could not be anything else. Just looking at it created a deep sense of revulsion within me, though I committed the symbol to memory. I have included a sketch with this letter in the hopes that you may be able to guide me in understanding its meaning. Once I am able to find him, I will also consult with that student of the occult in the hopes that he may recognize it and know of its significance. I do not know what it portends, but perhaps the warrens have not been spared the infestation within the weald and ruins.

I am happy to be out of those tunnels, though the knowledge that I will return so soon weighs heavily on my mind. I still have not rid myself of that horrible stench, and I fear that I may never be able- it lingers within my nose, reminding me of the way the air seems to wrap itself around you. I have washed my robes and performed my ablutions, though that is not enough to banish it. Perhaps I must try again.

I eagerly await your response, Matron. May the Goddess always bless us with the Light of Knowledge.

Sister Catherine

Darkest Dungeon 19

Matron Thessia,

Thank you for your last letter. In these dark times, it is encouraging to hear good news from the temple. I am happy to hear that Acolyte Abigail is performing well in her duties, even in my absence. I always knew that the Goddess had blessed her with ability and I suspect she will prove herself worthy of being a Sister in short order.

I was correct in surmising that Clarke would see fit to send another group out upon the return of Morgan and Cole, and I have been selected as a part of it. I trust that reports of witchcraft have reached Clarke’s ears, for he seemed particularly rattled when meeting with the travelers. I cannot know what he had expected to find upon returning to his ancestral estate, but it seems that the abominations that currently infest it were beyond his imagination. His disgust is beyond measure, but he has paid good coin to the travelers gathered here and has every intention of using their services to finally reclaim his rightful inheritance.

I and three others have been directed to explore the warrens that run under the estate. Clarke has spoken at length of these warrens, ancient aqueducts and endless tunnels that sprawl under the earth. They have existed for eons, built by the harbinger of civilization. No maps exist of it yet Clarke would have us explore that dark maze to discover what awful secrets it may hold. Entrances to it dot the estate, it is said, and we are to explore it section by section and learn what we may of it. If witches have taken refuge within the Weald and necromancers openly practice their accursed art in the ruins of the Clarke manor, I can only imagine what horrors are in store for us among the tunnels. I have faith that the Goddess will bless me so I may be Her sword against the encroaching darkness, whatever form it may take.

I am not so certain that my companions will prove worthy of Her blessing, however. The wildling woman, a surly bandit and a leper are all meant to accompany me as we explore that dark place and root out whatever evil may be lurking within. Initially, it seemed strange that Clarke’s man Cole was not selected to lead our group, though he returned from the Weald a diminished man. It is perhaps best if he is allowed more time to heal and recover from the horrors he had endured within.

You would be astounded by the immodesty of the wildling woman if you were here, Matron. She wears little else other than furs and her massive halberd that she brings with her everywhere. I have tried to discuss the virtues of modesty with her, though she does little more than gaze angrily and grunt in response. I have seen her engage in her primitive pagan worship, muttering prayers to strange totems she carries with her. Even her name, Wolfswift, invokes pagan imagery. She is deaf to the Goddess, though perhaps I can change that for the better.

My other two companions, York and Benedict, are just as strange. The illness has ravaged York’s flesh, leaving it cracked and unfeeling. His eyes are horrifically empty, as if has died yet still stands upon his feet. He claims to have escaped from a leprosarium run by the Order, though the horrors he has described seeing within fills me with doubt. He does seem to hold extensive knowledge of the Order’s rites, particularly for an outsider, though I cannot accept the Order would knowingly do such things. I have heard of Sisters who have strayed from the Goddess and attempted to recreate the Order in their own vision, falsely establishing temples. Perhaps this is such a case.

The last of my companions, Benedict, is a man who warrants watching. He seems to naturally skulk in the shadows, rarely speaking with the other travelers. When I do encounter him in the tavern, he seems to always be polishing his flintlock pistol and sharpening his dagger. It is as if he expects to be set upon by his enemies at all times. He does not speak of his past and no one knows where he came from, though I have always known the pistol to be the mark of a lawman or an outlaw. Even now, as we have prepared ourselves to journey in that winding maze, he has not said a dozen words to me. I may not necessarily approve of my companions, though I know well enough that now is not the time to reject them- I have worked with York and Wolfswift to ensure that we have the equipment needed to navigate that place. Benedict, however, has merely made his own preparations without cooperation from us.

We are to set out at first light tomorrow. I have taken my evening meal within the church and led the clergy in a prayer for all of our safety. Privately, I have performed my Mending so as to strengthen my faith for the trials ahead. I have been reflecting upon the horrors I encountered within the ruins of the manor while preparing to venture into the warrens, and I know that the Goddess was with me then as She surely is now. My heart beats faster and I feel cold when I think back to those legions of undead falling upon me and hacking at my person with their terrible blades, but my faith fills me with warmth and calms my soul. I know that whatever trials may lie ahead, whatever may happen to me or my companions, I must remain resolute in my faith. If my faith falters, the Goddess may no longer shine Her light upon me and leave me to stumble in the darkness.

I shall write to you again up on my return, Matron. May the Goddess grant us the strength to mend what is broken.

Sister Catherine