Social Anxiety Barbarian Part 3: Lullaby
This is a copy/paste of a fun little RPG game my friends and I are playing together on a bulletin board on tilde.town. Read along as our hero journeys to Lullaby, city of the dead!
Interlude: Festival of Remembering
Each year on the day of the eighth moon is the Festival of Remembering. It starts with a noontime feast in the village green with food for everybody and then some. Then everybody dresses up in old timey costume so they look like one ancestor or another. They recite the names of their dead, and remember them through story and dance and song and poetry and plays.
With night comes games and drinking and revelry until the witching hour, when everybody puts out blankets by their front doors for the forgotten dead. And then they wait inside by the fire with warm cider and wine. They wait for the forgotten dead grow restless and rise naked from the cold ground and start to wander the dark forest.
The forgotten dead flock to the village and take the blankets to clothe themselves and keep themselves warm. And the villagers bring them into their homes to care for them, warming them by the fire and telling them stories until they feel soothed, warm, and human enough to leave and go back to sleep for another year.
78 ~dozens @ 12:12 2021/10/06 [edited]
BBJ QUEST: PART II
You successfully return to the village with the bundle of stolen costumes and blankets. The grandmas shower you with kisses, the children cheer and pelt you with small candies, the emotionally reserved adults nod stoically in approval, and the village elders, as promised, give you a small cash reward, which you humbly refuse but then graciously accept. (You surreptitiously sneak out at the first opportune moment to pay off your debt to the Weavers Guild, leaving you with just a little bit of coin to spend.)
Everybody jumps into their costumes and the festivities begin. Folks recite the names of as many dead family members as they know. There are songs and ballads of heroes of yore. There are stage reenactments of comedies, tragedies, and follies. As much remembering as possible takes place.
When night comes, there is food and drink, singing and dancing, merry making and revelry. And everybody congratulates you and thanks you for saving the festival.
You smile to yourself and decide to enjoy the festival.
79 ~bx @ 07:49 2021/10/09
I KICK BACK AND ENJOY THE FESTIVAL WITH MY NEW PEBBLE AND SWORD FRIENDS
80 ~dozens @ 13:39 2021/10/11 [edited]
You have a dope ass time with Pebbles and Igor (pronounced “Eye Gore”, which is what you named your new sword friend because it has an eye, and it is a sword. So, there's going to be gore.)
You do some sack races and wrestle a pig, and bob for apples and play a kind of blindfolded game of tag. (Pebbles and Igor both seem to have fun during this game in particular which is interesting because Pebbles technically doesn't have eyes, and Igor is basically all eyes, so you're not sure how it actually works mechanically for them, but they seem to be having fun which is all that matters.) It's all super fun, and you're soon exhausted.
Just as well. Now it's the witching hour, when the Forgotten Dead are scheduled to rise.
Everybody is making their way home, setting out blankets for the dead, and resting inside by the fireplace. As time goes on though, it becomes clear that something is amiss. Villagers peek out their windows and doors, looking up and down the empty streets. Usually there are dozens upon dozens of Forgotten Dead roaming the streets by now, wrapping themselves in blankets and rapping on doors to be let in. Now there are probably 3 – 5 to be seen in the entire village.
The dead that have arrived pull themselves forward, dragging petrified limbs. They knock with arms stiff and fossilized, large chunks of their bodies crystalized. The villagers shudder to see them in such an unnatural state. The dead are supposed to be made of bones and leathery skin. Not inorganic stone.
What is going on? What has happened to the dead? Why are they turning to stone? Where are the missing Forgotten Dead?
Maybe you only /thought/ you saved the Festival of Remembering. Something else is obviously afoot.
81 ~bx @ 13:43 2021/10/12
I LOOK CLOSER AT ONE OF THE DEAD TO SEE WHATS WRONG
82 ~dozens @ 12:43 2021/10/14
You catch up to one of the forgotten dead as it stumbles down the road. You catch it by the arm and pull it to the side. It allows itself to be pulled off the road and under the eaves of one of the nearby houses.
You inspect the dead more closely and notice two things.
One, there's a strange mold growing on it that seems to be digesting and breaking down the leathery skin that clings to its bones. Pieces of it slough off
Two, its bones are in the process of slowly being turned into stone. It's pretty: the stone sparkles with small crystals. But it looks lethal. As lethal as something can be to someone who is already dead. This one drags it fossilized leg like it is dead weight.
Soon this poor creature will be nothing but a human shaped hunk of rock.
It looks at you pitifully and works its jaws, though it has long since lost the ability to speak. It clutches a finely woven blanket in its hand, which it holds out to you. You take the blanket, a fine product of the Weavers Guild but with a pattern you don't recognize.
Then the dead stoops down and scratches a few circles and lines in the dirt, drawing a crude owl. It straightens up and looks at you for a moment, then turns and starts to limp away toward the nearest house where it grabs another blanket to wrap around itself.
You're not sure what the message is here, but if the Weavers are involved, you can head over to the Loominary to ask them.
You know you could also head straight to the Lullaby, the crypt where the dead sleep, to look for clues and see if it's been disturbed.
And what's with the owl? The Cave Lads said someone or something called “the owl” convinced them to steal all the blankets and costumes in the first place!
83 ~bx @ 13:19 2021/10/14
GO TO LULLABY TO SEE WHATS GOING ON, MAYBE SOME OF THE DEAD CAN GIVE ME MORE DRAWINGS
84 ~dozens @ 18:03 2021/10/14
It's prime witching hour now and shadows everywhere are as deep and dark as the ocean as you and Pebbles and Igor leave the comforts of town for the beckoning woods where Lullaby lies.
It is a fair walk from town, deep in the forest. The path is overgrown, but worn enough that you can find your way even in the dark.
Soon you're walking along the tall piled stone wall of Lullaby toward the black iron gates, one of which hangs lifelessly on its hinge, and the other of which has been pushed open by the forgotten dead on their pilgrimage to town. A ground keeper's cottage huddles just inside the entrance like a scared animal, long vacant and abandoned: only the dead live here. The walls of the cottage still look sturdy but the windows have long since been broken.
In the middle of Lullaby is an overgrown sunken garden with a dry fountain covered with creeping vines.
A triple row of mausoleums lines the walls of Lullaby, the first one with its back to the wall, and the second facing the first one, forming a claustrophobic little path. And the third one sits back to back with the second one so that it looks out on the garden.
A couple of the mausoleums stand open from when their inhabitants decided to go for a stroll.
It's a dark, moonless night, and it's as quiet as a grave.
85 ~bx @ 16:16 2021/10/15
I LOOK FOR CRYSTALS AND OR SHRROMS
86 ~dozens @ 14:24 2021/10/19
You decide to start investigating a mausoleum that overlooks the sunken garden of Lullaby, the city of the dead.
You skulk across the courtyard trying to stick to the shadows, for one feels obligated to sneak here so as not to disturb the sleep of the dead. Your steps are dampened by the soft decomposing leaves and grasses. The night of the new moon is deeply dark. The air is still and there is a sickly sweet smell of too old flowers.
The heavy stone door of the crypt stands ajar. No family name adorns the mausoleum, for this is not just the city of the dead, but of the forgotten dead.
You slip inside. It is small and claustrophobic, roughly 12 by 12 feet, cramped with coffins and tables and urns and a neglected shrine. The floor is carpeted with a thick layer of dust, disturbed only by a fresh set of footprints leading from the door into the building, between narrow shelves of coffins to a small, open trapdoor, where a metal ladder affixed to the stone wall leads down into the catacomb.
The footprints end here at the top of the ladder. A faint glow can be seen emanating from somewhere below. When you peer down you can see a dancing shadow as something scuttles around. And you can hear soft mumbling and muttering, and faint scratching and scraping.
87 ~bx @ 15:36 2021/10/19
MAKE SURE I HAVE A LIGHT SOURCE
88 ~dozens @ 19:36 2021/10/19
You were sure to grab a couple of self-inflating glow orbs before leaving town, so you should be all set on light sources.
89 ~Gaffen @ 01:13 2021/10/20
I CAREFULLY INVESTIGATE THE SOURCE OF THE SHADOW
90 ~dozens @ 09:12 2021/10/20
You carefully, quietly climb down the ladder and step into the catacomb.
There is one short hall lined with recesses, most filled with vertical coffins. The hall terminates a short distance from you in a wider room where the light and the shadow and the noises are coming from.
The room contains a wide altar atop which is a body, one of the forgotten dead. You can tell even from here that its bones seem to be fully crystalized based on how they sparkle and reflect the light. Everywhere flesh still clings to its body, it is covered in fruiting, moth-gray fanned mushrooms.
A humanoid figure hunches over the altar with its back to you. A glow orb hovers on the far side of the altar, backlighting the figure so that it is an inky black shadow: you can't make out any features. It bends over the body, mumbling and hissing to itself, and seems to be scraping at it or roughly scrubbing at it.
It has not noticed you.
91 ~cymen @ 14:25 2021/10/20
Creep closer to figure out what it's doing!
92 ~dozens @ 14:43 2021/10/20
You edge your way into the room and creep a little closer to the figure. It is now a mere couple arms' lengths away from you, but you can see them more clearly, and you notice two things.
Firstly, it is definitely human.
Secondly, a long Fighting Needle dangles from their belt. And, even more forboding, they wear a brightly colored sash draped across their torso from shoulder to hip.
This is unmistakenly a member of the Weavers Guild.
Some Weavers are actually handy with a Fighting Needle. But the thin blade is mostly for show as a warning to outsiders who don't understand the real threat of a master Weaver: the sash.
Weavers are highly trained in the deadly art of sarong-fu and can easily overpower a much stronger foe with a simple sash, blanket, rope, or any other soft weapon. It is well-known that any Weaver who is clothed is formidible opponent.
This one is hunched over the body of the forgotten dead, cursing under their breath. One hand full of crystals and mushrooms, and the other hand frantically scraping at flesh and bone with what looks like a small metal flat-headed spoon.
93 ~cymen @ 08:28 2021/10/21
Help pepples up to the main chamber and tell him to cause a distraction after you have hidden in one of the coffins.
94 ~dozens @ 10:56 2021/10/21
You slink out of the chamber and back into the shadows of the hall, and pluck your stone necklace from your neck. In the palm of your hand, the stones assemble themselves into Pebbles, your good friend the pebble golem.
You tell them to count to ten and then cause a distraction. Pebbles nods resolutely, and you set them down on the ground and hide yourself in one of the coffins, leaving the lid open just a crack so that you can peek through it.
You wait for a couple beats and then hear a loud clatter of stones as though Pebbles managed to jump off of a high platform somewhere and scatter across the ground.
The Weaver gasps and stops their incessant muttering. You hear Pebbles tumbling quickly toward the ladder, and the sound of stone against metal as they start to climb up. And then the Weaver cursing and stepping out of the chamber and into the hallway, past your hiding spot. After a couple seconds, you hear them start to climb the ladder up to the entrance of the mausoleum.
You crack the coffin lid open and peer into the empty hallway.
95 ~Gaffen @ 13:20 2021/10/21
I EXAMINE THE BODY – WHAT WAS THAT WEAVER DOING?
96 ~dozens @ 15:46 2021/10/21
You sneak out of your coffin and into the chamber, listening to the clatter of pebbles and the footsteps above. It is dark, so you get out one of your self-inflating glow orbs, and yank on the tab. In a matter of seconds it has fully inflated and is bobbing up and down in the air at your elbow, shedding a soft orange sulphuric light.
The forgotten dead is laid out on the altar. Like you could see before, its bones are fossilized, made of solid stone, flecked with small glittering crystals. What little remains of its flesh, formerly dried and leather-like where it clings to the bones, is being devoured by a moldy fungus. This is no longer a former human. It is now merely stone and slime.
Next to the body on the altar is the scraping tool the Weaver was using: a small metal spoon with a sharp, flat head. And also a handful of mushroom caps and crystal shards that have been scraped off the body. You can see some scratches and gouges from where the Weaver was working.
Finally, you find a scrap of paper on the ground, its edges tattered as though it was torn from a book. The Weaver must have dropped it when they left.
The script is mostly unintelligible but you can pick out the words Sporeshard and owl. There is a sketch of the strange fungus next to a hoopnet and nicstaff, powerful artifacts used by the Weavers only safely within the walls of the Loominary to Travel.
You suddenly notice that Igor has been rolling its eye and blinking frantically at you, and you realize that you haven't heard any footsteps from upstairs in a while.
You whirl around and see the Weaver standing in the entrance to the chamber staring at you. Their Fighting Needle lies discarded on the ground. They have removed their bright red sash and have looped their long slender hands through it. Their glare flickers from your eyes to the paper you hold in your hand and back again. And they take another soundless step forward.
97 ~Gaffen @ 04:45 2021/10/22
I MAKE A VIBES CHECK AND ASK HOW THE WEAVER IS DOING
98 ~dozens @ 07:00 2021/10/22 [edited]
“Heyy, buddy. How's it going there, champ?”
The Weaver halts their advance and regards you cooly. They say low and quiet, “You shouldn't be here.”
“Well you probably shouldn't be ... doing whatever it was you were doing to him,” you cleverly retort, gesturing toward the body on the altar behind you.
The Weaver scoffs, “I'm collecting samples. We're trying to stop whatever this is. Do you know what the Weavers are known for around here? Making blankets for the forgotten dead. We do much more than that of course. But if they disappear, then so will we eventually.”
“Well I'm trying to stop this too!” You take an eager step forward, and wave the page excitedly in the air. “I don't know what all this stuff is, but I know about the owl!” The Weaver's eyebrows lift slightly. “Maybe if we compare notes, we can fill in some gaps for each other, help each other out. What do you say?”
The Weaver seems to consider it but continues to hesitate, hands still looped through their sash.
Convince the Weaver?
99 ~dozens @ 12:33 2021/10/25
The Weaver nods, and the two of you trade notes.
You tell them about how the Cave Lads said the owl told them to steal all the blankets. And how you saw mushrooms and crystals growing together in the caves.
The Weaver tells you a couple things:
The disease is caused by an agent they're calling a sporeshard: a small geode-like stone with a hard rock casing surrounding prismatic crystals and mushroom spores. When the sporeshard is introduced to the dead, the crystals and the spores infect it and work together to fossilize the bones and remove the flesh. It doesn't seem to have any direct effect on the living. They've recovered one intact sporeshard from a lone groll found outside Lullaby.
The Weaver Somnambulists have taken special interest in the mushrooms left behind by the sporeshard: they seem to be similar to the psychedelic mushroom that they use to enter the Dreaming, but it drops the Traveller into memories of the final moments of the dead instead of into a benign dreamscape. They have been too scared to explore the “Deadscape” further, but the final moments of the dead may hold some clues were you to seek out the Somnabulists in the Loominary, headquarters of the Weavers.
100 ~bx @ 13:26 2021/10/26
I VOLUNTEIR TO TRY THE DEAD SHROOMS
The end! Stay tuned for the next installment of Social Anxiety Barbarian: Deadspace and Beyond!