Session Recap: The Wake House, Pickman's Pit, and the Shining Trapezohedron

The next morning, Thomas seemed to be in his early 30s, holed up in the study, surrounded by books. Asenath went to talk to him, and told him that she fears that if he keeps aging the way he does, he'll be dead before the week is out. Thomas told her that he has the same worry, and that he's been trying to research anything that might help him. Asenath told him that she'd heard rumours of an artifact rumoured to be in the Old Wake Homestead out in the swamp that could possibly help - a shining ten-sided gem that allegedly contained a spirit that could work miracles. Thomas told her that he thought a miracle was all that could help, and Asenath cooked breakfast for her family and friends. Isidor Wake warned Asenath and Co. about the poisonous water in the swamp, begging Asenath to be careful. Asenath promised him she would.

After breakfast, Asenath, Faye, and Araxie set out for the Old Wake Homestead. They skirted around the mountain and found their way into the swamp through a stone arch decorated with skulls, carved with runes that had long-since been worn away to near-incomprehensibility. The mud of the swamp ran thick like blood, and the air smelled of burnt motor oil. They found a path through the swamp - boards laid down, supported below the surface, surrounded on all sides by mushrooms growing from the water. A narrow rickety path through. Walking single file, they navigated jagged pathways, dwarfed by ruined chunks of the balustrades of a massive ancient castle. In the distance, they spotted an island with a massive tree, where sat an idol of some sort, about man-high, made of mud and sticks and zines in the shape of something that looked somewhat like a grizzly bear. As they advanced, Asenath took point, while Faye and Araxie followed her, keeping a close look-out for approaching threats. 

Araxie noticed that the mushrooms were growing from countless corpses that floated in the water. The corpses of women, split from below their breasts to their vulvas, colorful mushrooms growing from their desiccated uteruses. They felt a humming drone from beneath the earth, constant and slowly growing louder, that vibrated the boards beneath their feet lightly. Ahead, they found a veritable mushroom garden of rotting corpses. They rested for a moment and tried to get their bearings, but they spotted shapes moving rapidly through the mushroom garden, messing with the ankles of the corpses. They drew their weapons and prepared for a fight. 

Six monks with Uncle Fester-type looks and body shapes revealed themselves. Dirty brown robes with rope belts, filthy bare feet. Bald heads, sunken eyes. Asenath shouted for them to stay back, but one of the monks approached and began sniffing her. The others spread out and examined Araxie and Faye from a distance. Asenath tried to question the monks, but they wouldn't speak to her until they'd completed their examination. The monk sniffing Asenath concluded that she's holy, because she has the 'Old Wake Look', and that Araxie is safe because she has the 'Telltale Yol'nlgul Look', and that Faye must be acceptable because she's travelling with two women who are so deeply holy. 

The monks backed off a little, and Asenath started asking questions. Speaking in turn - like, one monk saying one sentence, another saying another, etc, etc. - the monks told her that they're representatives of the Cult of Y'ha'nthlei, an ancient cult founded by Asenath's several-times-great-grandfather, Abstimus Wake, who they referred to as 'the Great Wizard Wake'. Asenath told them that they were looking for the Old Wake Homestead because they needed to find something that had been lost there. She told the monks the legends she'd heard and they told her that they'd seen an artifact like that - which they called the Shining Trapezohedron - beneath the old homestead, that it's surrounded by elder darkness and that there's a serpent that lives inside it that's afraid of the light. The monks promised to aid Asenath in whatever way they could in her quest, and then the party split up a little to explore the mushroom garden. 

Araxie noticed that some of the corpses in the water were moving their limbs, like they were trying to crawl up out of the water. Faye found a path to the north - more rotten boards laid atop the water - and spotted in the distance a crumbling old bridge fifty feet from the path. Asenath found a boat dock on the edge of the garden, a boat moored there, and a path of lanterns hanging across the water that led to a ruined village on the other side. Asenath called Araxie over to check it out with her enhanced inhuman senses and Araxie spotted a sign above the door of a house near the opposite shore that said 'Wake'. 

Asenath confirmed with the monks the house across the water really was the old Wake house while Araxie checked to see if the boat was seaworthy. The monks confirmed that they were going in the right direction, and told Asenath about a brutal tribe of cannibals who lived in the swamp called the Reavers - men driven mad by the terrors of the swamp, who wore strange ornate masks made of stone. Asenath asked the monks how long they'd been located in the swamp, and they told her they'd been there since the late 1200s, multiple generations of cultists. Asenath asked them if there were women in the cult, since she didn't understand how they could sustain multiple generations, and the cultists told her that they reproduced with the corpses of the mushroom women in a way that they couldn't explain, even to someone as holy as Asenath.

Meanwhile, Araxie climbed into the boat and checked it for leaks. She found some standing rainwater in the bottom of the boat, mushrooms beginning to grow in it, but found no leaks, and it held her wait. 
She called for Faye - the next lightest - and the boat held her weight as well. Asenath asked the monks if one of them could accompany them as a guide, and they sent one of their number into the boat with her. Asenath manned the oars because she's the strongest. The monk sat behind her and meditated. Faye sat in the front of the boat and kept a lookout ahead, and Araxie sat in the back and watched behind. Rowing was difficult because of the thick mud and the corpses, but Asenath managed to ease the boat slowly through the swamp, following the lanterns. 

It grew colder the further out into the water they got. Faye watched one of the lanterns ahead of them burst into flame. The lantern began to melt, spitting green sputtering oil all over the place, and large bits of metal dropped off into the marsh. Before she could alert the others, she blinked and the lantern was back to the way it had been - sitting on its pole in the marsh, not on fire, just spitting little bits of oil like a bug zapper. She asked Asenath if she'd seen the burning lantern, but she hadn't.

Behind the boat, Araxie spotted a gray-skinned, corpse-like woman floating just above the surface of the lake. She wore a tattered, half-rotted dress, and lengths of rope dangled from her wrists and ankles. The ends of the ropes looked as if they'd broken from weight. Araxie drew her gun and kept it trained on the woman, then had Faye look to make sure she hadn't hallucinated it. Faye saw the woman too, following thirty paces behind the boat, keeping speed with it. Araxie called out to the woman but the woman didn't respond. Spooked, Asenath pushed herself to try to get the boat moving faster. She managed it, but the floating woman sped up as well, still keeping pace with the boat a little behind. 

Two-thirds of the way across, something heavy landed in the boat in front of Asenath. A massive pitch-black humanoid shape with antlers like an elk. It leaned down close to Asenath, meeting her eyes with its glowing red eyes that were 'like they eyes of the devil himself'. The thing picked up the monk with its long arms and jumped up into the treetops. Screams echoed through the swamp, and blood rained down all over Asenath and Faye. A bit of intestine dropped onto what had been the monk's seat. Asenath fell into a panicked stupor and could barely pilot the boat properly. The speed dropped, and it was all she could do to keep the boat on track at all. Faye panicked about the fact that they could have been exposed to the plague, and when Araxie looked back again to see if the floating woman was still following them, she found the floating woman three inches from her face, worms dancing in her empty eyesockets, her mouth a gaping dark hole. Araxie kicked the floating woman away and pushed back, further into the boat. Kicking the floating woman, Araxie felt like her foot was passing through nothing but also making contact with something solid. She jumped back onto the monk's seat, nearly slipping on his intestine and falling out of the boat, but she managed to catch herself and knock the intestine into the water. The floating woman returned to her post, thirty paces out, and Asenath tried to pick up the pace again, but she felt a deep physical exhaustion setting in and couldn't push herself to row any faster. Everyone was absolutely panicked, but they reached the opposite shore. 

Araxie hopped out of the boat like it was on fire and tied it off on the dock, then helped the others up onto the dock. They climbed some steps up to a deck behind the old Wake house, and took a moment to rest. Asenath caught her breath watching the horizon, and Araxie and Faye shared a pipe of tobacco to calm their nerves. They all saw the corpses in the water moving slowly but surely though, advancing inch-by-inch towards the house by flailing their limbs wildly. Asenath, Araxie, and Faye entered the house, lighting their lanterns to cut through the gloom, while discussing the possibility that Araxie ought to stay away from them in case they were infected, since she hadn't come in contact with the monk's blood that had fallen from the treetops. 

They found themselves in a strangely-shaped sitting room, comprised largely of jagged angles. The walls were covered in bookshelves, and next to an armchair, a strange metal cylinder and a machine with a pair of receiver shaped like brass binoculars and a speaker of some sort sat on a table. Faye examined the bookshelves, finding the tomes mostly destroyed by water damage. Asenath searched the room thoroughly, finding a locked door to the west, an unlocked door to the east, and a key hole in a wall between bookshelves with no apparent door. Araxie sat down in the armchair and started fiddling with the strange device. The cylinder was about the size of a human head, made of smooth metal that was unusually light. She picked the cylinder up and something inside of it sloshed like liquid. She found two cables that she used to connect the binoculars and the speaker to the cylinder. The eyepieces of the binoculars lit up and a man's voice echoed from the speaker, asking who had come into his home after all these years of silence. 

Faye and Asenath looked up, but Araxie told them that she thought she could handle it, as long as she could find a language that the voice spoke. She tried speaking to it in Aklo, which worked. She explained the situation, and the man identified himself as Abstimus Wake. He asked Araxie what year it was, and when she told him that it was 1631, he told her that it had been even longer than he thought, at least 290 or 300 years. He told her that he had been dying but the Fungi from Yuggoth had transferred his consciousness into the cylinder to keep him alive. Araxie questioned him about the Fungi, realizing over time that he was talking about the creatures they had encountered in the woods. He asked her about what was going on in the world, and she told him all about the war that was going on, and other recent events. Faye and Asenath took this opportunity to slip away so they could enforce their quarantine while Araxie was distracted.

They entered a long, oddly-shaped hall where paintings hung all over the walls. At one end, they found two doors, and at the other end an open dining room. They opened one of the doors and found an entryway - the front door of the house. A possible escape route if shit went down, to their eyes. They found three hyper-realistic painting of monstrous dog-men killing in the streets, which Faye recognized as the work of a famous artist named Alice Pickman who in her later years had gone mad and been institutionalized. She recognized that the painting were valuable, so she and Asenath pried the backs off the paintings and rolled up the canvasses, stashed them in Asenath's backpack. 

Faye wanted to check out the other closed door, but Asenath convinced her to check out the dining room before they moved on. As soon as they entered the dingy rotting dining room, a whispering filled their ears. A voice, begging them to let them out. A glass bottle in a glass-fronted cabinet started glowing. Asenath moved to check it out, and Faye pilfered two silver candlesticks with a tentacle motif that she found on the half-collapsed table. 

As Asenath drew closer to the cabinet, the voice called to her by name. "Asenath Wake, please let me out. I've been trapped in her for so long." Asenath opened the cabinet and took the glowing bottle out. While the bottle was in her hand, the voice spoke directly and only to her. Asenath answered out loud, so from Faye's perception, Asenath was talking to the empty air. The spirit in the bottle told Asenath that she was Abstimus' secret wife, who had been imprisoned in the bottle by the monks after Abstimus' 'death'. The spirit identified herself as Y'ha'nthlei, the princess of Yol'ngul, who had been given to Abstimus as a bride. She told Asenath that she was scared and lonely trapped there so long, and that she just wanted to someone to let her travel with them so she wouldn't be trapped in the house. She told Asenath that she knew many things, and Asenath agreed to take her with her when she left the house in exchange for information. 

Meanwhile, Araxie told Abstimus that she was interested in the Old Ways, and Abstimus regailed her with stories of his cult and their worship of E'lehten'kehrena, the Swirling Chaos. He told her of their ritual binding of a pit of shoggoths that they used to kill their enemies, and about their encounter with Sarkan-Osoth, the Weaver of Webs, in a cave in the Far East. Araxie told him that she'd never encountered these types of cults, with the exception of the sect led by Lavinia Vernebova that she'd had brief contact with. Abstimus bemoaned how far the cults of the Old Ways had fallen since his age, when they were common and spread across the world. He told her that he'd known a Vernebova who worshipped E'lehten'kehrena, and that he suspected Lavinia was the old Wizard Vernebova's descendant.

In the dining room, Asenath asked Y'ha'nthlei about the Shining Trapezohedron. Y'ha'nthlei told her that it was in the basement, but that her people had told her to stay away from the Trapezohedron because it was deeply dangerous and one's soul could easily be lost through tampering with it. She also said though that she'd heard of people using the Trapezohedron and surviving, gaining their heart's desire in the process, so she suspected that maybe there was a safe way to use it. Satisfied with her answer, Asenath was prepared to continue exploring, but Faye wanted to talk to Y'ha'nthlei. Asenath passed the bottle off to her then leaned against the cabinet and waited impatiently.

As soon as Faye held the bottle, Y'ha'nthlei identified her as Dobromila Friedrichs (Faye being a fake name). Faye got defensive and asked her how she'd known that name, and Y'ha'nthlei explained that she'd looked into Faye's memories. This calmed Faye down, and she asked Y'ha'nthlei a series of questions she'd had about the world. Y'ha'nthlei was only able to answer in part, explaining that despite being the princess of Yol'ngul, she hadn't gotten to leave their undersea caves very often. She told Faye about a blight that had destroyed the swamp, poisoned it, and caused this plague of mushrooms from women's uteruses. Faye asked her about the Red Death, and Y'ha'nthlei told her about an outbreak 400 or so years ago, where the plague had risen from deep beneath the earth and the rivers and oceans had run red with blood, when she was young. Faye asked about the Fungi from Yuggoth, and Y'ha'nthlei seemed terrified and refused to tell her much. Satisfied, Faye and Asenath moved into the next unlocked room - a small library. 

The dissected brain of a fungoid creature sat in a glass case near the door, and further in they found samples of the mushrooms and spores from the swamp under glass, still growing. They split up and searched the library. Faye found a rack of scrolls. Maps to imaginary places. Directions for strange black rituals. Instructions on how to read a set of ancient runes that popped up in many of the texts. She stashed the scrolls for further inspection. Asenath found a hollowed-out book on the desk, inside it a small brass key. She pocketed it, and found a lumpy bit of rug beside the dissected brain. Faye moved the brain case and Asenath lifted the rug, finding a heavy trapdoor hidden beneath it. Asenath opened the trap door and the two ventured down a set of creaky, wobbling stairs into the darkness below. The cellar was cold, made of solid brick rather than the wooden panelling the house had been built of above. Asenath took point, and they ventured into the darkness. Catching sight of something glittering in the darkness, Asenath moved forward, finding a smooth reflective ten-sided stone about the size of a fist sitting near the wall. Asenath moved to pick it up, and Faye reached for the spirit bottle in Asenath's pack to ask Y'ha'nthlei if it really was the trapezohedron. As Asenath closed her fist around the trapezohedron, they both spotted a gaggle of dog-like humanoid creatures in a semicircle before them in the darkness, revealed by the dim light of Asenath's lantern. Asenath grabbed the stone and she and Faye took off running for the door screaming, the creatures hot on their heels. 

Meanwhile, Araxie heard a sound that she mistook for the settling of the house. Abstimus made offhand mention of the Deep Ones of Yol'ngul. Hearing that phrase that the monks had used to describe her, Araxie questioned Abstimus about the Deep Ones and Yol'ngul. He told her about the fish-men who had once populated the waters of the swamp, before the blight came, and of their ancestral home at Yol'ngul. He told her about the time he'd spent beneath the water with the Deep Ones, the grasses they'd had him chew that allowed him to breathe the water, and his experiences mating with various Deep One women. He told her about a voyage he'd taken to Yol'ngul - known in the common tongue as 'Devil's Reef' - where he had lived among the Deep Ones for years, had helped them summon a shoggoth that they used to terrorize the locals of Innsmouth who had disrespected the Deep Ones, and how he had eventually brought back a Deep One bride who he had kept secret from his human wife. He told her about the children that had come from human unions with the Deep Ones, and how some had the same sort of more aquatic look like Araxie - those that took more after the Deep Ones - and some that looked more human but with strange fishy features that intensified with age - the sort of look that had come to be associated with the Wake family over time. He told her that Asenath and her family were likely descendants of the children he'd sired with his Deep One wife rather than his human wife, since his Deep One children were much more multitudinous. Awed by the revelation of her strange heritage, Araxie and Abstimus chatted for a while about Yol'ngul and the history of the strange deep sea people who lived there.

Meanwhile, Asenath and Faye fled the cellar. They started up the stairs, running full-tilt, and the stairs gave way, collapsing altogether from the stress. Asenath and Faye fell through, their fall cushioned by a support beam they landed on and fell from, down to the basement floor below. The dog-creatures rushed at them, and Asenath drew her sword to fend them off while Faye retrieved her grappling hook from her backpack to try to get them out of there. One of the creatures landed a deep bite in Asenath's shoulder, but she managed to push them back, clearing a bit of space for Faye to throw the grappling hook up, catch it on the support beam eight feet up, and climb. Asenath fended off the creatures to cover Faye's escape, then climbed up the rope herself. Once they were both on top of the rickety beam, Faye unhooked the grapple and tossed it over to the door out, catching it on the door frame. In her panic though, she dropped the rope, and it fell slack against the wall, eight feet away. Countless creatures roaring beneath them, Asenath and Faye hatched a plan. Asenath, being of prodigious strength, would throw Faye across the gap and Faye would throw her the rope so that she could climb across herself, since Faye couldn't possibly make the jump alone. 

Asenath picked Faye up and flung her, but she misjudged the distance and Faye flew across the gap and slammed into the lip of the doorway face-first, breaking her jaw. Dazed by pain, she fell to the floor, breaking her back on impact, and the creatures tore her apart, feasting on her paralyzed body. Asenath leapt across the gap and barely made it, catching the lip with her fingertips and pulling herself up and out into the library. Panicked and bleeding heavily, she slammed the trap door shut, pulled the rug back over it, overturned a bookcase onto it to hold it shut, and then slumped down against the wall and bandaged up her shoulder, stopping the bleeding with herbs from her backpack. 

Hearing the loud crash, Araxie pulled herself away from a conversation with Abstimus about the ghouls he'd found in the cemetaries near the city and rounded up in his basement to study them. She drew her gun and ran to the library, where she found Asenath and the wreckage of the bookshelf. Faye missing, and Asenath and Araxie unable to communicate because they don't share a language. Araxie put her hand on Asenath's good shoulder to try to calm her down, and Asenath calmed down slowly. She showed Araxie the Trapezohedron, and tried her best (which didn't work well) to explain through hand gestures about what had happened to Faye. They returned to the sitting room and Asenath rested for a few minutes while Araxie told Abstimus that she had to go but would bring his cylinder and the machine with her so that they could talk in the future. She disconnected Abstimus, and then just sat in the near-darkness with Asenath for a while while they considered how to proceed.

Before either of them could reach a conclusion, they were interrupted by a knock on the front door, and a woman's voice telling them to open up because she was the Minister of Quarantine and this house had long ago been condemned because of the plague. Asenath went to the door, and saw a short woman in a plague doctor mask and snakeskin coat waiting outside the door, asking to be let in. Confused, Asenath let her in, and the woman lied horribly, trying to pass herself off as the Minister of Quarantine, which Asenath reminded her doesn't exist in Vohlespil. Caving under the slightest pressure, the woman identified herself as an art thief named Felicity Van Ooms, the bastard daughter of Joop Van Ooms and Duchess Maslinka Goltisyn (the recently-deposed-and-murdered queen of Staroznka). Felicity bemoaned her struggles as a noblewoman on the run, and rambled incoherently about peasants and revolutionaries. Completely bemused by this absolute weirdo, and seeing a bit of the naive young girl she herself had been just a handful of days ago, Asenath told Felicity that she shouldn't lay all her cards on the table like that, that she should have lied more convincingly instead of telling her everything. Felicity babbled about her friend Saskia - who Asenath couldn't see, and Felicity couldn't see her either but was certain she was there. Asenath tried to convince Felicity to lie more convincingly in the future, since laying everything out like this would likely get her killed one day, but Felicity would have none of it. She told Asenath that she was looking for a series of Alice Pickman paintings that her father had sent her to retrieve from the house. Asenath showed Felicity the paintings she'd retrieved - which Felicity identified as the paintings she was looking for. Felicity was shocked when Asenath rolled the paintings back up and put them back in her backpack, telling Felicity that she wouldn't give them to her unless she helped them explore the rest of the house, and that even then, she'd just consider giving them to her. She told Felicity that she had a key that went to one of the locked doors, and that she wanted backup. Felicity agreed (in the most condescending way imaginable), and Asenath took her to meet Araxie (who should probably be referred to as Irnessa moving forward because no one in the party currently knows that her name is Araxie. Asenath knows her as Irnessa, and that's how she introduced her to Felicity). 

Realizing that Irnessa clearly didn't speak any of the common languages (Czech, Slovak, etc.), she fumbled around, saying 'Hello' in several different languages. They stumbled on a language in common with Polish, and Felicity began fumblingly repeating her entire life story to Irnessa. Irnessa pretended to be able to see Felicity's 'invisible friend', then drew one of her guns and put it to Felicity's forehead, telling her that it would be that easy for her to have just killed her, no effort required. She tried to convince Felicity to be more careful, but just like when Asenath tried to say the same thing, Felicity would have nothing of it. She was offended that Irnessa had put a gun in her face and threatened to report her to her father's 'military police' (which, unbeknownst to Felicity, doesn't actually exist). Irnessa laughed in her face, and Felicity babbled a strange explanation about her name was actually Rebecca Goltisyn, and how the name 'Felicity Van Ooms' was a false name that she liked using because it made her feel closer to her father. Irnessa told her that she doesn't care, and Felicity went back to babbling at Asenath. She told Asenath about how she was also looking for her ex-girlfriend Porphyria Zome, and told her about how Faye was actually an assassin from Argenti who wanted to kill Irnessa and Asenath. 

Deeply baffled by all of this, Asenath tried the brass key in the keyhole in the wall, but it didn't fit in the lock. She tried it in the only other locked door they'd found and it worked. They entered Wizard Wake's bedroom, accompanied by great gouts of dust they'd kicked up by entering this long-lost sanctum. Splitting up to explore the room, Asenath found a silver idol of E'lehten'kehrena that she pocketed, then moved on to the wizard's desk. Araxie poked around in the bookshelves, finding ruined books. Felicity stood around, confused, and Asenath found a book open on the desk with the title Cults of Antiquity. The book covered the history of various cults of the Old Ways throughout history, accompanied by colorful annotations from Abstimus himself, complaining about the way that the Wake cult had been represented in the book. She searched the book for any references to the Trapezohedron, and finding a few put the book in her backpack. A silver key fell out of the back of the book, and Asenath pocketed it. Felicity tried to pick the lock of a locked drawer in the desk, with no luck. Irnessa chastized her for not taking proper precautions, and examining the lock herself, found some sort of chemical vial inside the lock that would drop if the lock was forced open without the key.

Asenath picked up a yellow book that sat on the bedside table and sat down on the bed to flip through it. The moldly floor partially gave way under her weight and one corner of the bed fell through the floor, disturbing the rats that lived beneath the floorboards. Laughing, Asenath stood up and leafed through the book. A played called The King In Yellow, written by Joop Van Ooms. Asenath talked about how she's never liked Oom's work, and handed the book off to Felicity, saying that it might interest her. Seeing the book, Felicity got deeply confused, because to her knowledge, her father had never published a play called The King In Yellow, and had only recently started writing it. Asenath told Felicity that she was probably just confused, or that it was a play he hadn't talked about, but Felicity insisted that if her father had written a play with that title in the past, he'd have told her about it, because he tells her about everything. She leafed through the book. The first few acts were a basic comedy of errors about people living in an alien city called Carcosa, on the shores of Lake Hali, but then a sudden out-of-place scene appeared about halfway through, describing the room that they were in. Asenath giving the book to Felicity and telling her that she's never liked Oom's work but that it might interest her. Felicity getting confused about the play not existing. The entire conversation up until the present point, when a stage direction described an 'unknown entity' that 'whispers incoherently to itself and disappears'. Freaked out, she scanned the room but saw nothing. The cosmic emptiness washed over her, and she fell back onto the bed, clutching the play and laughing uncontrollably at the top of her lungs, nearly caving in the entire section of floor as the other three legs of the bed broke through the moldy boards. Climbing onto the bed, Asenath wrestled the book out of Felicity's hands and burned it, which finally stopped Felicity's daemoniacal laughter. 

Confused by what had happened, Felicity chastized Asenath for taking her book away, but Asenath refused to listen. She left the room, accompanied by Irnessa, with Felicity at their heels, complaining. Asenath unlocked the keyhole in the wall. With a click, a bookcase opened outwards, revealing a room made of smooth black stone. Two long-burned-out braziers sat by the doors, and the whole place smelled faintly of long-dried blood. Moving further into the room, they found what had been a secret stronghold of the Wake cult. An ampitheatre cut into the earth, bloodstained sand on the floor of the carved-out section. Half-rotted torture implements hanging from the walls. Deep green curtains on the other walls. An altar with a book and a golden knife resting on it. Irnessa started batting at the walls to see if there was a room behind the curtains (which there wasn't). Felicity examined the torture implements, and spotted a betentacled idol of the Old Ones, made of pure obsidian, that was tucked away behind a battered mallet. 

On the altar, Asenath found a copy of The Black Rites of E'lehten'kehrena that had been printed in the late 1200s that had been perfectly preserved by the way the room had been sealed. Flipping through it, she found a section on the Shining Trapezohedron. Finding what she'd come to this room for, Asenath put the book in her backpack and told the others that it was time to leave. Afraid that there was something magical afoot with it, Irnessa and Felicity ignored the golden knife on the altar and left the room with Asenath. They rested for a while out on the deck, and just before they were making preparations to leave, Felicity remembered that they hadn't locked the door to the cult's stronghold behind them, explaining that only commoners leave doors unlocked like that. She took the key from Asenath and went back inside to lock the door, while Asenath and Irenessa rested and took some time away from her ridiculous bullshit. Through the afternoon fog, they spotted a boat sailing towards the dock, six men in baggy clothes and stone masks riding in it. Remembering the monks' warning, Asenath shouted for Felicity to come back, and she and Irnessa took defensive positions. 

The Reavers docked, and Irnessa fired her pistol, shooting a Reaver through the chest. They fell from the boat and landed in the water, bleeding. Asenath fired a few arrows, but missed, and Irnessa fired with her second gun, missing as well. Felicity ran to the deck, and the Reavers piled out of their boat. Five Reavers stormed towards the house with mad berserker yells, and one stayed back at the boat with a rifle. The Reaver on the boat fired, blasting a hole through Irnessa's chest. She fell, bleeding and unconscious, and Asenath and Felicity started to panic. Felicity hit the deck, trying to line up a good shot on the seemingly-leader as he reloaded his rifle. Asenath raced for the stairs, creating a chokepoint so she could face the Reavers one-on-one. She killed three easily. The fourth scored a shallow cut on Asenath's arm with the flat of axe blade, and Asenath decapitated him. Felicity fired, shooting the Reaver captain in the shoulder, but it didn't seem to faze him. He just kept reloading. They considered for a moment rushing the Reaver with swords, but realized he could probably shoot them before they could get drawn and to him, so instead they decided to flip the boat. Asenath and Felicity raced down the stairs and flipped the Reaver's boat over. Asenath lept out onto the hull of the boat and held the boat down, trapping the Reaver under the boat for one minute, two, three, until long after bubbles had stopped coming up. She climbed off the boat carefully and lifted it. The waterlogged Reaver floated dead on the surface. Asenath went through the pockets of the dead Reavers on the shore, finding only incoherent woods-y bullshit. Felicity searched the shoreline for herbs to help Irnessa, and wound up nearly picking some poisonous mushrooms before Asenath stopped her. 

Climbing the steps, Asenath checked Irnessa's vitals, examined her injuries, and found that the bullet had missed all major organs in a massive stroke of luck. The wound would be extremely painful, but as long as they could stop the bleeding quickly, Irnessa would be fine. Asenath and Felicity searched the shore for medicinal herbs, and found some. Asenath bandaged Irnessa's wound with healing herbs, then tied Irnessa to her back so she could carry her out of the swamp. After considering for a moment taking the boat back across the swamp, Asenath decided to explore the burned-out town a little instead, after Felicity told her that she'd come through the swamp in a roundabout way around the edge that had been fairly safe. Further through the ruins, Asenath and Felicity found a tunnel leading down into the earth and then straight across. Felicity babbled incoherently about all kinds of things, half of which nearly offended Asenath. Asenath asked Felicity to scout the tunnel. Exasperated and exhausted, she told Felicity that her life doesn't matter to her as much as her own or Irnessa's. Felicity told Asenath that since she and Irnessa are commoners, that actually her own life is more important in the grand scheme of things. Asenath then threatened to throw Felicity into the tunnel if she wouldn't go in of her own accord. This convinced Felicity, and she dropped down into the tunnel. The walls were sticky and white-ish, almost silky, and further down, she found that the tunnel opened up to sunlight. Not the filtered greenish light of the swamp, but honest-to-god daylight. She returned to where Asenath was resting and told her about the way through.

Asenath and Felicity set off into the tunnel, only to realize halfway through, as they stumbled upon dessicated corpses wreathed in webbing, that they'd walked into a spider's lair. They took off running, and near the end of the tunnel, passed by the corpse of a massive spider, sucked dry by something larger and more awful. On the other side of the tunnel, they found themselves on a steppe, near a lake. They took shelter by a large rock and Felicity helped Asenath get the map out of Irnessa's pack so that Asenath could get her bearings and figure out how to get home. Asenath studied the map, and Felicity rambled about how her father is an inveterate sex freak who hires prostitutes of both genders constantly, and who tried to seduce her when they first met. She then talked about how she's actually a virgin despite being the daughter of a total sex freak, and how she nearly had sex with Porphyria once but was interrupted by Faye coming into Porphyria's shop in Staroznka. She talked about how she believes Porphyria is still very much in love with her and has been waiting all this time for her to come back and sweep her off her feet. This offended Asenath, and she told Felicity not to talk about Porphyria like that, that Porphyria would never love someone as annoying and unpleasant as Felicity. This turned into basically a small argument over being into the same girl, which ended with Asenath holding it over Felicity's head that unlike Felicity, she'd actually had sex with Porphyria. This shut Felicity up, and Asenath got her bearings and figured out a simple route home.

They set off, and on the walk back, Felicity absolutely wouldn't shut up, talking about everything from her own frequent hallucinations to fine dining establishments in Staroznka to the inherent superiority of nobles over peasants, and how upset she was at not being quite as rich as she'd been before she left Staroznka. Asenath asked Felicity what a little bit of money is to her, to which Felicity said 100 gold coins. Asenath told her that she's never even seen that much money in one place before, and that to her, a single gold coin is a lot of money, given the level of income of her family. This sobered Felicity for a moment, but before long, she was back to rambling incoherently about her father's sex life, her own failed attempts at flirting with women, famous paintings, and pasta. Asenath asked her if she ever shuts up, and Felicity said that she probably doesn't. Felicity rambled about her own anxiety, and then realized that she'd potentially been exposed to the Red Death (which she hadn't even totally understood what it was until Asenath explained it to her) because she touched Asenath's hand at one point, which was covered in dried blood. Asenath tried to calm her down and suggested that she should probably quarantine for three days when they got back to town. Felicity then tried to turn this into an incoherent attempt at flirting, claiming that she'd been exposed when Asenath held her hand. Disgusted by pretty much everything about Felicity, Asenath told Felicity that she's shocked that Felicity is a couple of years older than her (Felicity is 21, and Asenath is 18), since by the way she acts, Felicity seems like she's about 15 years old. They entered the town, and Asenath told Felicity that she'd take her by the house to see Porphyria, and would maybe make her lunch to thank her for her help, but that after that, she needed to leave. Felicity responded by trying to convince Asenath to be her date to the upcoming harvest festival, which upset Asenath so much that she hauled off and slugged Felicity in the face, nearly knocking her out. Felicity stumbled around the street for a moment, dazed and rambling about hallucinations. She tried to call for the nonexistent magistrates but no one came to help her. Felicity kept yelling, and the only thing that happened was an old man who wandered past asked Asenath if Felicity was bothering her, if she needed help. Asenath explained the way life is in small towns, and how even if Felicity managed to get the guards or the like to come, they'd be on her side since they've been friends of her family for years, most of them grew up with her father, and half of them had rocked her cradle when she was a baby. This sobered Felicity. She refused to acknowledge outright that she'd probably deserved to be hit, despite kinda heavily implying it. 

Back at the Wake house, Asenath took Felicity upstairs to talk to Porphyria. Asenath left her alone to talk, and took Irnessa to one of the spare bedrooms where she tended to her wounds and made her comfortable. Felicity tried to act all flirty, but Poprhyria was upset that Felicity had run off, and told her that she didn't want to see her again, especially after she'd told her that she was afraid of sex and ran away just when things were heating up. Felicity was baffled why Porphyria wasn't happy to see her, and tried (incoherently) to flirt, but Porphyria was just pissed and told her to leave, that she'd scream for Asenath if Felicity wouldn't leave the house, and that if she wasn't laid up in bed, she'd give Felicity a second punch to the face to match Asenath's. Felicity left the house in a hurry, but in the street, she realized that she had no idea how to get back home. She waited in the yard while Asenath went to Thomas' study and told him that she had a way to save him, and explained that she'd potentially been exposed to the Red Death and needed to quarantine, but that survival would be her last gift to him if she died. Thomas thanked her, and then Asenath explained the situation to her father, then went out to get Felicity out of the yard. 

Felicity begged Asenath to help her find her way home, and Asenath agreed to. On the way back, Felicity apologized for the way she'd been, and said that she'd like to turn over a new leaf with her and try to start over their potential friendship. She told Asenath that if they both survived until the harvest festival, they should hang out there, not even romantically, just as friends, and that she wouldn't act like such an ass. Asenath begrudgingly agreed. She dropped Felicity off at her house, then walked back to the Wake house alone. She returned to her room to quarantine, and pored over the books she'd brought back from the old homestead, trying to find any information she could about the Trapezohedron and how to work it. She found an Aklo chant to invoke the spirit of the stone, and found writings on how the serpent in the stone fears light and must be contained with light, perhaps a circle of candles. Announcing her presence before she got near anyone, Asenath grabbed all the excess candles she could find around the house and took them back to her room. She set them up and lit them, chanted holding the idol of E'lehten'kehrena and meditating on the Trapezohedron. 

A serpent of pure inky blackness crawled out of the Trapezohedron and called to Asenath by name, asking her why she had summoned it. All light but the candles in the room was subsumed by bleak darkness, with tiny pinpricks of stars far out in all directions. Asenath told the serpent about her plan to save her brother, and that she had been told that it could give her the knowledge she needed to do it. The serpent agreed to help her, explaining that it would teach her the secret song to cure Thomas on the next night, as long as she would dim the light, maybe only having half the candles she'd had. She told the serpent that she'd do anything if it meant that she could save Thomas, and the serpent receded, promising to help her again. Asenath found that half of the candles had burned out, snuffed out at some point that she hadn't noticed by the serpent. Asenath went to sleep, and her dreams were plagued by visions of a cyclopean alien landscape that she wandered naked, freezing, a place of absolute darkness and pain.

We covered the three days of quarantine rather quickly, mostly focused on Asenath's rituals. It'd probably be easiest to describe all of Felicity's quarantine at once and then switch back to Asenath's to finish things out, so I think I'll do that. Felicity's time in quarantine really highlighted how lonely she is, and how meaningless and loveless her life is. She wandered around the house depressed and hallucinating while her father had loud orgies upstairs. She talked at the mute chef without knowing if he was even listening to her. She unsuccessfully propositioned sex from her imaginary friend. She hallucinated a ball of inky darkness that rolled all over the walls and ceilings and followed her around the house, then disappeared into nothingness when she tried to touch it. She argued with her father after he claimed to have had sex with her imaginary friend. She hallucinated that the empty cupboards were filled with food. She argued with herself. She passed out half-crazed in a bowl of spaghetti. She listened to her father ramble about little men who lived in the walls who she couldn't see. The whole time for her was very disconcerting and depressing, and filled with this overarching feeling of 'Are my last days on earth really going to be spent with this shit?'

After the first ritual, Asenath woke up with a ball of shadow the size of her fist lodged in her vagina. She fished it out - quite painfully - and it melted into the shadows of her room, making the whole place a little darker. 

Asenath spent a lot of time studying. She watched her father work out in the fields and tried not to cry over the idea that she might never get to talk to him again. She sat in the study 10 feet from a rapidly aging Thomas who was passed out drunk in his chair and tried to justify that to herself as human contact. Thomas's degeneration was rapid, too. One day he was in his early 30s, then he was 40, then he was nearing 50. Asenath found that the serpent from the Trapezohedron wanted to gain a foothold in the human world by possessing a human vessel, which it could do if all the lights went out and the ritualist was trapped in the dark with it.

The second night, Asenath masturbated with the E'lehten'kehrena idol as part of the ritual, surrounded by half as many candles as she'd used the first night. The serpent came to her and taught her the first half of a song, but then it couldn't go on, weakened by the candles. It told her that it needed her to use less candles, maybe only one. Asenath agreed, but by the time the ritual concluded, the serpent had extinguished all but one of the candles without Asenath noticing. 

Asenath dreamed of the serpent forcing her to the ground in this lightless alien vista and fucking her senseless - until she felt like she was about to split in two - with some phallic part of its impossibly long tail. She woke with the E'lehten'kehrena idol lodged in her vagina, her labia and the inside of her vagina cut up pretty badly. The irises of her eyes had turned from bright blue to slate-black overnight. The internal damage was painful but would heal with time. In one of her tomes, Asenath found that when the serpent marked someone as its own, their eyes turned black, and after, other things would change as well. The other changes weren't explained in the book.

On the third night - Thomas had just turned 50 - Asenath whispered to the stone in the darkness with just a single candle lit. When the serpent rose from the stone, it lunged for the candle to extinguish it, but Asenath held it close to her chest, burning herself badly to protect the candle from the serpent. It sang to her and tried to crush her with its weight, but Asenath held tight to the candle. A serious burn on her chest where she held the candle pressed to her body. The serpent taught her the rest of the song and told her to invoke it on the third night while in the room with Thomas. Asenath agreed. She dreamed of being raped to death by the serpent, and when she woke up, her brown hair had turned jet black. 

After a day of study and meditation, Asenath went to Thomas's study after nightfall with her ritual supplies. The Trapezohedron, the Black Rites, the E'lehten'kehrena idol. Thomas was passed out drunk in his chair, grey-bearded and sickly looking, 58 years old, when less than a week ago, he had been an 8 year old boy. She whispered to Thomas that no matter how old he is, she's still always going to be his big sister, then invoked the serpent, silently begging God for forgiveness for what she's done. The serpent struck immediately at the light, but she protected it with her hand and drove the serpent back with the light. They sung together, and the serpent struck again. Asenath held the candle close to her chest again to protect it. She screamed that the serpent would never have her. They sang and the serpent fell on her, pushing her to the ground, the candle lighting Asenath's shirt on fire, but she kept on fighting. She pushed the serpent off of her and finished the last few words of the song. And then she was left in the dark with her one tiny candle, her shirt on fire, with the realization that she didn't know a way to banish the serpent now that it was here. The serpent tried to get at the candle but was driven away by the flames from Asenath's shirt, the flames that were burning her pretty horrifically. She flipped through the Black Rites tome, desperately looking for an sort of incantation to banish the serpent, fumbling in the dark, through the pain. Burning wax dripped from the candle and caught the book on fire, but before it burned entirely, Asenath found a spell and chanted it at the top of her voice, sending the serpent spiralling back into the Trapezohedron. She tore off her shirt and threw it on the ground, stamped out the fire with her boot. She then turned to the book, slammed it shut, put out the fire, but not quick enough to prevent the contents from burning to ash. 

Thomas stirred in his sleep, started to wake up, and groggily, saw his sister, topless and fairly badly burned, standing triumphant in his study in the moonlight. He rose and she told him that it was over, that he was safe. He tried to go in for a hug but Asenath pushed him away, stumbled and fell and couldn't get up again to run. She shouted to him that she'd been exposed to the plague and crawled into the hallway, bleeding from the burns all over her torso. Thomas started after her but stopped in the doorway as he saw her crawling, crying, pulling herself along. She kicked the door shut and finally managed to stand up, then raced to the bedroom and tended to her wounds, fell into bed.

Irnessa awoke from unsettling dreams, and - luckily - her, Asenath, and Felicity all survived the night. The incubation period for the disease had passed and they all still showed no symptoms. They were safe.


  1. What a true hellish ride! I loved it bits. Thanks so much for sharing this. The creepy ritual with the serpent - godess you so nailed it.

    1. I'm really glad you liked it! I hadn't really planned for the serpent ritual stuff so I was winging it entirely on that. My players were really into it and I'm glad that people reading are too.


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