Campaign Diary: Strange Aeons – Session One, Part Two
We are still one session in, and our heroes have managed to escape their cells, defeat the doppelganger in the boiler room, and escaped to the surface. Upon entering the hallway, they have encountered guards, who (for now) do not trust them, especially the Dragonborn, and have them on gun point (crossbow point), until they prove that they are not doppelgangers themselves.
Torashtai went back to the boiler room for proof, while a raven-haired young woman stepped came to the other side of the guard’s barricade, facing Kenaz.
“Look at this Lizard person, Winter!” the guard said. “Surely this is one of the shapeshifters, just look at it!”
“I’m not an it, human!” the Dragonborn Ranger hissed. “And I am no lizard-person! I may have a tail, but I am one of those reptile pests! I am born of Dragons, can you not see my white scales? Although… I do not know if there are others like me… I cannot remember seeing another one. I don’t remember much before being locked up in the cells below, to be honest.”
Winter looked at her and lowered the guards’ crossbow with her hand.
“I do not believe the doppelgangers would use a disguise that would be unfamiliar to us. Tell me, what do you remember?”
Kenaz explained the shared dream, the Tatterman, and the quakes, just in time for Torashtai to return with the severed head of the creature from the boiler room. He tossed it to Winter, and said:
“I see that you have lowered your weapons, good. We are not in conflict. Can you let us pass the barricade, and we will answer any other questions you have. We have questions of our own, as well.”
“Your companion has told me about your situation. It is a shame you do not remember anything before that dream you both had. But dreams haunt the other survivors as well.”
She suddenly took the whirlpool-shaped amulet in her hand, concentrating for a moment, looked back towards Kenaz, and continued: “It seems your fate is not to end your journey by the hands of our crossbows. You may pass.”
A door on the opposite side of our heroes opened and two guards let them pass on the other side of the barricade. Winter let them inside a larger room, which they noticed to be a chapel.
Improvised pallets are clustered beneath sculpted divinities, and cooking fires burn beneath cracked windows in this chapel. Panes of violet and blue stained glass form spiraling patterns between prisonlike bars, while dozens of candles flicker from modest alcove shrines.
They saw more survivors inside chapel, some of them wearing the same robes they found themselves in when in the cells, and Torashtai finally asked:
“What is this place, anyway? Where are we, exactly?”
“Briarstone Asylum. It’s a hospice stuck on a rock sitting in the Danver River in Ustalav — a convenient place to forget inconvenient people.” Winter said with a sigh. “The doctors here endeavored to treat and learn more about diseases of the mind. Briarstone wasn’t a renowned institution, but it was far from the torture pits common folk often make asylums out to be.”
“What happened here?“ Kenaz asked. “Why are there doppelgangers posing as staff here? Why’s the weather so strange, and what’s with all the quakes?”
“I’m not entirely sure, but a patient led an uprising recently, and after that, all went to the Hells. It wasn’t like any riot I’ve ever heard of, though. And then these creatures started to show up. What’s strange is that some of the patients and asylum staff say that, in the nights before the uprising, they had nightmares of exactly the sorts of things that stalk the halls now.” She paused for a bit.
“But the doppelgangers are not the only concern now. Most of the northern halls are now held by robed patients who call themselves Apostles in Orpiment. Those we’ve encountered are fanatically devoted to the leader of the uprising, a patient named Ulver Zandalus.”
“Who’s he?” they asked.
“I’ve never laid eyes on him, but some of the other survivors worked here before the uprising. They say Zandalus was a quiet man who suffered from horrible nightmares—a poet and artist whose art was disturbing, but who always seemed peaceful enough himself. All of that apparently changed, though.”