Darkest Dungeon 25

Matron Thessia,

It has been a week since our return from the warrens, and we have not yet been tasked with another exploration. I do not hold hope that Clarke has taken his satisfaction and will spare us from further explorations; rather, it seems that he intends for us to spend the most time yet within those infernal tunnels soon. A self-styled curator of curios has recently joined us in the hamlet, and while he is a rather unpleasant person his skill with a ledger has found him in charge of our stores. I have heard from York that he has set aside triple the usual rations at Cole’s behest, and I can only assume it is meant for us. Raziq has still not recovered from being subject to his own occult magicks, and has been suffering from fits ever since our return. He has been in Morgan’s care who has tried some elixirs of her own creation to heal his ailment, though none have yet worked.

Clarke himself is a rare sight these days. He has been seen less and less by the travelers, choosing to use Cole as his mouthpiece when a need to communicate with the us arises. I have seen him once in the past week, and it was strange to see that he diminished in some way over these past months. When he first arrived upon the estate, he had an emaciated appearance but he spoke with the authority of a man who had returned to claim what was rightfully his. Now though, he looks withdrawn and withered, speaking quietly when he speaks at all. No one save Cole knows where he spends his time when he is not within the hamlet, but there are insidious rumors that he has begun to walk the path that led his father to opening that portal beneath the estate. They are said softly, and never within hearing of Cole, but they are said all the same. For my part, I do not believe it, but I do wonder if perhaps his link to the rotting estate is a burden upon his spirit. If we are to banish whatever his father half-pulled into the world it is important that he maintains his fortitude, for without him the travelers’ sacrifices will be for naught.

York is suffering from spiritual disquiet of a different nature, though he has refused my attempts to help him. He has remained perturbed by the idea that the monster we last slew within the warrens was Benedict, or some perversion of him. York’s time within the leprosarium has rendered him resolute to the most horrific scenes of the warrens, but this lingering thought has proved to be too much for him. I do not believe that York counted Benedict among his friends- I do not believe any of the travelers have friends within the hamlet- but it is grotesque to imagine a fellow compatriot falling foul of the cultist’s horrific experiments. I have repeated that Benedict’s life was ended when the murderous cultist drove his dirk into his throat, but York has a myopic view of the Order and refuses to see the truth. He has demanded that I leave him be and I have acquiesced for now, though I hope he will be free of distraction before we are tasked to venture into the warrens once more.

I believe Wolfswift’s desire for vengeance has been suitably sated by our previous exploration, for she has calmed significantly. I have been looking after her injured leg which still bears open sores, and it is a testament to her fortitude that she is able to stand and fight while enduring such discomfort. It has taken much coaxing, but Wolfswift has relinquished her false limb for a time to Morgan who is working to make it more comfortable for the pagan. Wolfswift has added to the intricate design of the the leg, carving a blooded pig cowering before the wolf’s jaws. While it is a pagan image, I take the meaning clear enough. Of the travelers who have ventured into the warrens, I believe that she has been the least affected by the things we have seen despite bearing the most grievous of wounds.

I have been spending much of my time within the church, fortifying myself for the challenges ahead. I have performed the Mending twice a day, purifying my spirit of any taint the warrens may have left upon me. It has helped me maintain my focus, though I find my thoughts wander towards the bloody scenes we have witnessed within the warrens when I am not preoccupied. I still shudder when I think of my ill-fated venture into the ruins of the manor, as the undead fell upon me with their cruel swords. It is in these moments that I feel weakest, though I know that the Goddess is with me always. I have discovered a veritable library within the cellar of the church, a stack of forgotten and moldy scrolls. I have been perusing them to pass the time when I am not at my duties, and I hope to learn a thing or two about the history of this hamlet. Much of them have been ruined and what is legible is not very revealing, but I hold hope that I may learn more about the Clarke lineage. Perhaps it will reveal the activities of the elder Clarke before he passed, and explain the thing he half-pulled into our world.

I do not know when we will be expected to depart again. I will write to you if I am able, but I cannot promise it. If several weeks pass without a letter, please do not fret. I anticipate that our next exploration will be our longest yet, but I trust that my faith and the Goddess will see me through whatever trials lie ahead. Please send my regards to Acolyte Abigail.

May the light cast away the shadows of our fears.

Sister Catherine

Darkest Dungeon 24

Matron Thessia,

Wolfswift has joined us once more, replacing Benedict after his death during the last exploration. She has recovered quickly from her wound, even more quickly than Morgan had anticipated, and she has fashioned herself a wooden leg to replace her lost appendage. It is an intimidating thing, carved from cedar in the visage of a wolf. Morgan balked at the idea of letting her back into the warrens so quickly after sustaining such a dreadful injury, but Wolfswift’s vengeance would not be denied. As Raziq, York, and I were being given our task by Cole, she angrily burst into the tavern and insisted that she travel with us. Cole was apathetic to her passion and merely reminded her that if she died, we were not privy to her share, which mattered not to her.

Our entrance into the warrens repeated the same familiar pattern as our previous explorations, and we found ourselves quickly set upon by those terrible swine-men and their ragged axes. Wolfswift proved herself in battle once more, her artificial appendage proving to not be a liability. As blood began to be spilled, she lost herself in that primal bloodlust we were familiar with, carving a swath through the monsters in our way. Her thirst for blood seemed insatiable as she cut open the swine-men that stood before us, splashing their foul blood and innards upon the stones of the warrens. It would not be a lie to say that we grew to fear her more than the abominations as she covered herself in their entrails, gleefully cackling at every one slain. It was solely her doing that we delved as deep as we did, deeper than we ever have, and we began to uncover evidence of the cult’s treacherous magicks.

We first came upon the skin of a pig, freshly killed, strung tightly against the rotting stone of the wall. Its entrails were piled beneath it in a strangely organized fashion, almost ritualistically, and our entire party experienced an overwhelming sense of revulsion at the sight. I am no stranger to the work of butchers, but something about the scene caused me great spiritual distress. We did our best to push forward and we moved on from the swine’s corpse, deeper into the tunnel while marking our way all the while. It was not long before we came across another pig, its skin stretched and entrails gathered in a similar manner as the first. We were overcome with that same sense of disgust when Raziq identified that the entrails formed the cultists’ strange sigil, as if it were a ward against trespassers. He pulled a strange yellow powder from a pouch and muttered a few words, coating the bloody entrails in it, and we were suddenly released from its nauseating hold. We discovered two more of these terrible wards as we moved forward, and Raziq was able to neutralize them in the same fashion.

Wolfswift maintained a grueling pace, scarcely allowing us to rest her thirst for vengeance was so great. As we pushed deeper into the tunnel we came across even more revolting scenes, each testing our party’s resolve. We encountered the carcass of one of the cult’s experiments, another swine-man abomination, though this was different than the others we had seen. This creature had the body and legs of a massive boar, much larger than any I have ever seen, but the torso of a man was attached where the head should have been. In the dim light of the tunnels it was impossible to tell what may have killed it, for those strange maggots had taken to feasting upon the body. We did our best to skirt around it, avoiding the attention of the maggots, and push on further into the tunnels.

It was not long after we had come across the carcass that another horror confronted us, the likes of which we had yet to see. It was a strange, gruesome thing that hobbled out of the darkness, its silhouette both familiar and unknown. It was shrouded in the shredded remains of a cloak, though most of its flesh was exposed to the acrid air of the tunnels. Bulbous formations had erupted under its skin, swollen and discolored with blood, deforming any semblance to the man it may have once been. We saw that the monstrosity was unarmed as it approached and we held our ground in confusion, unsure of what to make of the new abomination. Even Wolfswift was stayed by the creature’s approach, cautiously keeping it at the tip of her halberd, when the creature belched and vomited sticky, black blood all over our party.

With a vicious scream, Wolfswift lunged at the creature, though we were all slowed by the fluid. She swiped at the creature, slicing it across its front, but the fleshy monster merely vomited blood all over once more. York struggled against the blood as he rushed to join Talana in the assault, and Raziq began his strange incantations. I muttered a prayer that purified my person of the black blood, freeing myself to join the assault upon the regurgitating monstrosity. Wolfswift and York were struggling against the blood that covered them, weighed down and reeling from the shock of the grotesque assault, and I did what I could to cleanse them of the foul-smelling ichor. They hacked at the creature, spilling its blood and shearing its flesh when I heard Raziq cry out in horror. From the ceiling above him, the shadowy and incorporeal hand he foolishly called forth held his head in its grasp, leaving him wide eyed and whimpering in pain, until the shadow dissipated. He remained standing, shaking in fear, and there was little else I could do except continue to assist York and Wolfswift as they gouged the monster with their weapons.

The creature finally fell to the assault, hacked to pieces and left upon the grimy stone floor. Its vile attack had left us all shaken and disgusted, and it was even more hours before Raziq’s paralysis left him and he was able to move of his own accord. It was with disappointment that we realized the fluids had seeped into our stores and spoiled our rations, forcing our retreat from the tunnels. Even Wolfswift agreed that there was little else we could do but return to the hamlet, her lust for blood sated temporarily.

It seems that the blood cultists’ blasphemous experiments are far more dangerous than previously thought. With the knowledge gained, our goals have become clear, for we must find a way to stop the cultists from continuing their foul art. I know not how we can do this, though perhaps Raziq can discover something within his library of tomes. He has not yet recovered from that strange hand passing through him, however, and has constantly complained of being cold since our return. I suspect the nature of it is derived from his occult art and I have been charged with caring for him in the hopes that my prayers will do what Morgan cannot.

I have spoken at length with York about our experience in the warrens, and he has suggested a dangerous thing. He has suggested that creature we fought may have been Benedict, for the shredded cloak it wore was the same as his. I have insisted that he is in error, for it is not possible that Benedict would have survived his wound. It is too awful a fate to befall one who is working to reverse the wrongs infesting the estate, and She would not allow it.

May the Goddess show us the light when things look darkest.

Sister Catherine