Sunday, 4 October 2020

PARIAH ACTUAL PLAY — DISCORD VOICE SESSION 012 [the (un)giving tree]

A summary of the TWELFTH session of the discord live voice-chat game of PARIAH. This is a continuation of events in the eleventh session (the beach episode).

To find out more about PARIAH please read this post https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/p/pariah-proto-neolithc-psychedelic.html or trawl through the many, many posts tagged pariah at this link https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/search/label/Pariah.

Image of Maggot by JenFurious (Undecided over-the-Yellow One's player)

SESSION 12: DAY 14 CROW MOON (continued)

(This session took place on Saturday 29th August)

A badly wounded Rides-the-Grave lies next to the corpse of his assailant on the beach after midnight. A few feet away Little-is-the-Gazelle catches his breath after a bruising encounter, his opponent lies a few feet away though his face is nowhere to be seen. Undecided-over-the-Yellow One divides her attention between her fallen comrade and the mysterious possibly undead girl whom she has just witnessed eating the rotting flesh of her curiously decomposed friend, Quick-Quick.

UotYO asks the girl short questions as she cleans Rides' wounds with water from the cured bladder she picked up in Etau's settlement (traded for a femur and several shots of rice wine). Aside from a few scratches, Gazelle is mostly okay, but Rides will need more attention...

Eat This

While tending to Rides, Undecided-over-the-Yellow One takes care to ask the girl some questions. She can feel Gazelle's unease, but is determined that the girl is innocent, in spite of eating the flesh of her fallen friend Quick-Quick.

"What's your name?"

She does not reply straight away, looking somewhat thoughtful.

"They call me Maggot."

"Okay... Maggot... where are your family?"

"I don't remember."

She turns and looks at Rides-the-Grave, writhing in agony on the ground.

"I can help your friend... the way they helped me..."

Maggot crawls over to the body of Quick-Quick, a rotting mass of pale human flesh, and thrusts her hands into his chest. There is a horrid crack as she pierces his rib cage, and a pool black ichor begins to form around the corpse.

Maggot removes her hands from the cavity, clutching a very fresh looking human heart.

"He should eat this," she says to Undecided-over-the-Yellow One, "or he will die."

 Both Gazelle and Rides-the-Grave experience a weird sensation of hunger at the sight of the bleeding organ, red-raw and freshly ripped from the chest-cavity of deceased ghoul.. but they shake off the urge. Rides expresses his unwillingness to eat human flesh.

"Well we need to move him. We can't stay here."

"Why not?"

"Because of the others? Others like you"

"Yes, the others... but not like me. Worse."

Gazelle rolls his eyes for the fifteen millionth time.

"Of course... why would it be easy?"

Rides decides he can probably come, but he's going to need help...

"Where can we go that's safe, Maggot?"

"The dead tree in the sand."

The pariahs exchange war glances.

"Are there others there, others like you?"

"There's one like you... then there's Blind Mei... and there's one that never moves. Blind Mei is okay, as long as she's not hungry. She's old and slow. I'll talk to her... but we have to leave soon..."

Despite Gazelle's protests, the group decide that it is their best option. They leave camp with their smoked fish and squid, but leave the fires burning — perhaps hoping to distract any other ghouls that might be lurking out in the darkness.

Meanwhile...

If only they'd known that lurking out in the darkness was a friendly face. Witheringly Footed-in-the-Point had not been pleased to hear that Rides-the-Grave had been sent away upon a mission across the haunted beach. He had not personally visited the stretch of coast before, but had overheard unpleasant stories about what was supposed to go on their... tales of blood-drinkers and flesh-tearers abounded. He gathered Worm to assist him, and the two of them began their pursuit some time in the afternoon.

Night fell and though they had arrived at the beach, they had not yet caught up with Rides' party. A great fire was lit and they hunkered down for the night. Wither took the first watch, followed by Worm.

A screeching cry awakens Worm, who had apparently drifted off to sleep. It sounded like a bird. In the distance he spies a fire burning on the horizon.

He raises Wither from his slumber, and the two decide to put out their fire and venture towards the orange light in the distance by the light of the gibbous moon. There is no sign of the source of the curious sound.

As they draw closer they realise that two fires have been lit, and there are two... bodies(?) remaining on site. The corpses prove unresponsive to their calls. Closer investigation reveals one as had its face torn off and the second appears to be a corpse several weeks old, exhumed from its grave. Multiple sets of footsteps lead away from the fire towards the treeline, barely visible in the distance.

The Ungiving Tree

Not really like this but sort of? Nabbed from http://400billionsuns.blogspot.com/
At the edge of the, the sun rose a little, like a miniature cliff face, but rarely exceeding a few feet in height. On top of this bluff perched a great, dead tree, it's once might roots erupting from the ground here and there, and between two such roots a great opening presented itself, leading into an underground chamber.

It was here that Maggot wanted them to spend the night. The air is thick with the stench of rotting meat.

Maggot calls out in darkness. Faintly, the voice of a man calls back: "hello?" but Maggot does not reply to it. Instead, she takes UotYO by the hand and they venture into the darkness. Gazelle places a hand upon her shoulder, while he continues to keep Rides-the-Grave on his feet.

They are led into the damp interior: the further they go, the greater the stench.

The more intense the buzzing of flies.

There are whispers in the dark from Maggot and an unidentified voice, which then steps forward and sniffs intently about Rides... he exchanges thinly veiled threats with the hoarse old-woman's voice (presumably blind Mei) as the party debates what to do.

Gazelle leaves the ghoul-nest, fearful for what might pass while they attempt to rest, and takes his chances up top. He digs out a void in the sand in the roots of the dead tree, closing his eyes to try and get some sleep.

Aerial Assault

Meanwhile, not too far away, Wither and Worm have been following their comrades tracks towards the Tree of Death. However, the creature that had initially woken Worm with its hawk-like screams returned. A giant winged shape manifested in the sky in front of the moon, swooping down to catch them on the beach.

Worm was injured by its raking claws in its swooping attack, and as it hovered briefly before making a second sortie Wither set his spear against his foot and braced for impact.

The creature was badly wounded and rolled off onto the ground. In the faint light of the moon they see that this great eagle appears to possess the body... of a lion? The pair back up slowly towards the tree line, before they make an incredible din in the hope of scaring it off...

The creature, wounded, retreats: from not too far away UotYO is drawn to the sound of Worm and  Wither's cries and the two groups of pariahs are reunited... of course, she left Rides-the-Grave alone in the dark with the Blind Mei.

Blind Mei

Almost as soon as UotYO leaves Blind Mei takes advantage of wounded Rides, scratches his arm deeply, almost tearing it off. Flailing wildly in the darkness, he invokes a spirit to destroy his assailant: 
in the flash of mauve light that follows he can see Maggot trying to stop an emaciated and grotesquely twisted old woman from attacking him... the invoked spirit scratches at Blind Mei's throat, but it starts to dissipate and doesn't slay her.

As darkness consumes him, he catches sight of Blind Mei retreat into a small opening in the far wall.
Worm, Wither and UotYO enter to see Maggot tending to a wounded Rides.

Flea refuses to enter. His low growling causes Gazelle to stir in his slumber.

Worm build a fire at the far exit to block it, but Wither and UotYO follow another path around after hearing the sounds of an old man crying for help. They carry simple bundles of burning brunches as torches to light their way.

The Pit

Soon they find a deep pit, the bottom of which is occupied by a single old man and the rotting corpse of another human. Using her enormous wooden pole, UotYO scrambles down into the pit while Wither stands guard.

Wither is jumped by Blind Mei, enduring an agonising sensation as she tears into the flesh on his left arm with her raking claws. Hearing the melee, UotYO tears an arm off the rotting corpse and launches it over the top. 

Wither is knocked to the ground, parlaysed by an agonising pain as Blnd Mei attempts to rend his flesh from the bone, but  Mei is then distracted by the nicely rotten arm that UotYO has thrown up, giving UotYO enough time to escape the pit and run the Old Woman through. 

The old man asks for help, and continues to cry out until UotYO tells him to be quiet. First UotYO wants to make sure the ghoul-burrow is completely secured... she remembered talk from Maggot of "one who doesn't move..." she promises to return to him shortly.

The One Who Never Moves (Is one who shouldn't be)

Worm sits with Maggot and Rides. They hear a sound issue from the adjoining chamber, beyond the fire Worm made to secure the doorway. He takes a look, staying on the safe side of the flames.

An inhumanly tall, dark figure looms on the edges of the firelight.

Maggot is afraid and with Worm they back away to the centre of the room.

"Is that the One..." begins Worm, but the entity is distracted by a noise behind it, and it disappears from view.

Unbeknownst to Maggot and Worm, that noise was UotYO, arriving from the other side to see the figure. It advances towards her.

In the flickering light of her torch UotYO catches sight of its contorted visage: smooth like carved and polished wood, one half its face resembled a wooden skull, the other a sleeping face.

It stands nearly nine feet in height.

UotYO attempts to reason with it. It cocks its head.

Myriad roots grow from teh earthen walls of the burrow. A stiff root begins to scratch a message on the ground, in the curious picture-grams of the settled peoples. Undecided over-the-Yellow One has enough knowledge to decipher what it is trying to tell her:

<< Burn the tree >>

Inferno

Rushing to surface, UotYO begins to burn tree sitting atop the great burrow of death. The dead wood catches alight quickly, and soon the smell of smoke has once again awoken Gazelle, who was sleeping in a little nook beneath the roots. He scolds her, much to UotYO's chagrin.

Smoke fills the chamber below, and the tall wooden figure has turned its attention back towards the chamber where Rides, Worm and Maggot were ensconced. Aggressively, it careens through the defensive fire Worm lit earlier... but it is already aflame, and lurches a great raking claw like the branches of an old tree towards worm. The pariah takes a step backwards, and the wooden ghoul crashes to the ground, crumbling to ash.

Worm and Maggot do their best to drag Rides clear of the smoking burrow, as UotYO runs back in to save Wither from the flames. Flea is already dragging the paralysed Witheringly-Footed-in-the-Point clear of rapidly intensifying inferno.

After moments after they emerge from the chamber, the whole structure collapses in on itself, a flaming pit of ash and hot sand.

Only Undecided-over-the-Yellow One remembers the old man they left in the pit, now buried among the remains of the Ungiving Tree with Blind Mei and the twisted tree-ghoul.

* * *
Follow up session was played on September 5th... full write-up is available here
https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/2020/09/pariah-discord-session-13-settlement-by.html

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