Sunday, April 10, 2016

Darkest, Darkest Dungeon - The Hamlet, The Ruins

The Hamlet

Much work to do. Once a bustling hive of activity, the hamlet offered little in service. It, too, had felt the harsh sting of my lineage’s demise. Boarded up and left to time’s grasp. Rising above the rooftops our mansion silhouetted the sky with exposed beams like festering claws. No place to stay anymore.

We need fresh souls to infuse life into this dilapidated estate, and for that, a restoration of the stagecoach network is my first priority. With deeds and crests of sovereignty, the veins of commerce were once again revived.

Canouville was the first to alight into our bleak domain, an aspiring Vestal with judgemental vigor. Raoullin also made the journey, but his proclivity to plague made for an awkward commute. Our assembly is enough to embark upward into the ruinous remains of my bloodline.

The Ruins

With limited provisions we set out to my ancestral home. Gothic architecture rising above once demanded respect, now webbed in neglect it portrayed a more sinister abode. Leading the way through the grandiose entrance, I halted at the sight of candles bracing a raised altar beneath a muralled monk. Lit candles. Apprehensive we scanned the foyer, but skeletal remains adorning the windows only indicated a prior, more murderous occasion.

Ever east through creaking door to a corridor festooned with derelict shelves of vellum and decaying plaster. Still nothing, but the tension eats into Dismas and I as we exchange nervous glances. Of note, an unburned torch held aloft, poised for a task long forgotten. We will give it purpose again.

Up ahead, a strongbox placed proudly in the vaulted chamber drew our gaze while a rabble of bones lurched toward us in animated fits. “To Arms!”

Raullin, silent as ever, reacted first with a puff of emboldening vapours to break my shocked condition and keen the senses. Dismas drew and fired forcefully, splintering bone and exploding whatever foul mastery held its frame together. “Back to the Pit!” He raged. I followed with my own critical smite to blanket the floor with unholy remains. They CAN be fought, they CAN be beaten!

Our attention turned to the reinforced chest. Surely no sober logic leaves this prize so openly on display? A trap? Dismas dared the lock with well-seasoned expertise and proffered up coin, scriven records of land grants and an unlikely shovel. “We’ll be needing that” announced Canouville, scouting the upcoming passageway. True enough, a crude jumble of stones and debris stood tall, defying our advance. Protruding corpses of unknown labourers mocked our attempts to clear the rubble, but with grim determination and spaded steel we overcame the obstacle.

Lying in wait, a brace of skeletons lumbered toward us, backed by a masked cultist. Grapeshot peppered them all as Dismas took command, urging us into the fray. Raoullin let loose a blinding flask of fireworks toward the surprised acolyte while I zealously accused the leading skeletons; “Destroy. Them. All!” My words ripped through what fabric of control bound the bones together, leaving one in a clattering heap and the other wavering. Delivering holy judgement upon the stunned cultist, Canouville’s call boomed bright to rip clear the mask and expire the eyes behind it. The remaining soldier of bone took a grave slash toward our group, catching Canouville off guard. Dismas closed with knife in hand, but skilled execution in bloodletting offered no assistance in felling the calcified corpse, leaving the fatal blow to my own hand. A faint hope blossoms.These creatures seem poorly constructed and easily overpowered by zealous might.

Through the portico into another ruined expanse. No ambush or assault, but a choice of paths for consideration. We head East, more through comforting routine than strategic merit.

The torch, our lifeblood of sanity. Slowly ebbing into shadowy cocoon.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Darkest, Darkest Dungeon - Reynauld the Crusader

Reynauld the Crusader

As the stagecoach wheels clattered along the cobblestones leading to our venerable house, I held the note loosely, hoping that the pored-over words would shake into a more enlightening alignment. The lanterns held back the darkness, but offered little comfort to my wandering mind. Memories of playing in the cavernous halls of that old house flooded back.

An unearthly howl pierced the night and broke me from my reverie. The startled horses bucked out and couldn’t be contained by the driver’s whip. We left the road to an even bumpier excursion before clattering to a halt minus a wheel and our means of locomotion. Dismas and I were unscathed, but alone as the coach driver scurried after the fleeing mares, a torrent of cursing that trailed into the blackness.

“I guess this means we are on foot?” Queried Dismas. 

We left the luggage for a future return and headed East. Ever East. The hamlet is just ahead.

A grizzled thug stepped out to block our path, but we were in no mood to talk. Dismas, good with a knife, opened his veins while I landed a pommel strike to daze him for a moment. He recovered quickly though and still managed a slashing uppercut that caught my brow. Move quicker or die. Dismas dispatched him with ruthless efficiency to bring the tempo back to an eerie night’s walk. The gold will help, if only to make the tavern that much more enticing upon arrival.

Ever East.

A disheveled tent came into view, but no movement betrayed its owner. Possibly the lowlife bleeding out back on the road? Dismas wasted no time in claiming the additional gold and misappropriated onyx. 

Another ambush! We’ll send them a message that the rightful owner has returned and there is no place for these vermin. Dismas was quick to shoot, but the grapeshot missed both the larger, whip-wielding brigand or the fusiler toward the back. I landed a stunning blow to curtail the bloodletter’s flaying, but couldn’t escape the blanket fire that erupted into the night. Back to the knives for Dismas as we focused on the heavy-set villian to drop him quickly. The whip was our concern, but a point blank shot drove me away before returning with my own justified strike. Prodigious size alone does not dissuade the sharpened blade. 

Pelted with blanket fire, Dismas and I took shelter behind the fallen mass, but the rain of shrapnel didn’t cease. Exploding through the bloodied carcass, we set upon the rifle-clad bandit with steel. As the fiend fell, a faint hope blossomed. 

Portraits, deeds and crests of my heritage lay with the fallen, but I will make something of them in time. More gold to be relieved too, but the hard-won chest held nothing but blight. 

My return was not met with adulation. These squalid lands, these corrupted hovels are mine to rebuild, but the populace remain ambivalent. I, too, fear they may be right. Stress rises when I see their downcast husks.

Darkest, Darkest Dungeon - An Unwelcome Letter

An Unwelcome Letter

“Ruin has come to our family. “
“You remember our venerable house? Opulent and imperial, gazing proudly from its stoic perch above the moor. I lived all my years in that ancient, rumour-shadowed manor, fattened on decadence and luxury”
“And yet I began to tire of conventional extravagance. Singular, unsettling tales suggested the mansion itself was a gateway to some fabulous and unnameable power.”
“With relic and ritual, I bent every effort towards the excavation and recovery of those long buried secrets, exhausting what remained of our family fortune on sworly workmen and sturdy shovels.”   
“At last, in those salt-soaked crags beneath the lowest foundations, we unearthed that damnable portal and a deluded evil. Our every step unsettled the ancient earth, but we were in a realm of death and madness.”
“In the end, I, alone, fled laughing and wailing through those blackened arcades of antiquity until consciousness failed me.”
“You remember our venerable house? Opulent and imperial.”
“It is a festering abomination!”
“I beg you, return home! Claim your birthright and deliver our family from the ravenous, clutching shadows of the darkest dungeon!”