Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Deadlands - Felheimer's Folly

Continuing the write-up of our Deadlands game. It begins on the morning of Tuesday 26th September 1879, the morning after Hellstromme's bombs.
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We awoke, minds and bodies still full of the horrors of the day before, yet what we'd seen and how we'd reacted and brought us closer. We prepared and left Hellstromme's camp as quickly as possible, heading down to the port in Lost Angels with Steve's horse and Tesla's mule in the hope of finding a boat to Shan Fan, hearts in our mouths as we passed the guards but they didn't react. 

We found a dockside cafe run by a young Chinaman named Wen, who told us there were no passenger ferries, but we might find passage on a cargo ferry, or we could charter a ship - people did so to hunt 'maze dragons'. As in, actual dragons from legend, only snake-like and living in the water. He gave us a few leads and suggested coming back later if they led nowhere: captains would be in.

As we wondered round town, picking up supplies and more leads, we realised we couldn't stop eating: we were going through our rations as if they were nothing, and they proved expensive to replace. And we were being followed...

A frustrating day in all - hot and hungry, we discovered we couldn't afford any of the fares being charged by the captains, but finally one - Captain Harrison of the Arms of Angels - took pity on us and suggested waiting until the morning and signing on with Captain Kim of the Grace of the Maze - she would probably let us work our passage. He even let us sleep on his ship to be sure of catching her in the morning. Carson and Steve both muttered concern that we'd wake up conscripted, but the crew enjoyed my singing and waved us off the following morning, as they left with us still ashore.

We found The Grace of the Maze easily enough, and signed on with Captain Kim: she was happy enough to take Steve and Carson as guards, and was delighted with Tesla's knowledge and experience in engineering. I think she only took me along because she realised the others wouldn't come without me, so over the next few days I made a point of working as hard as I could, and of teaching songs and shanties to keep crew morale up. To reduce the impact of my nightmares on the crew, the others took to gagging me at night. I didn't sleep any worse as a result.

We spent the first couple of days helping ferry supplies to mesas and return ghost rock to the ship - Tesla was keen to get his hands on some, but fortunately Carson kept him in check. We obviously made an impression on Captain Kim: on Friday, she prepped one of the small boats and took us sightseeing.

She took us deeper into the maze, to a spike of a mesa. It's known as "Felheimer's Folly", and the man himself could be seen pinned to the rock in the crucifix position. He'd been there around 3 years and was still alive. As I muttered a quick prayer, a rowboat appeared with a single occupant. Kim hailed him and introduced him as Agent Coule. He told us a bit more about Felheimer, that he was a German immigrant who tried to mine the Spike, which had a reputation that it could not be mined. And on 31st October 1877, they'd found him pinned up there. He's pinned up high, with no access for anyone to reach him. Steve took careful aim and tried to put him out of his misery - even I could see this as a merciful death. His shot went wide, and Agent Coule said that happened every time.

Tesla reminded us he's a tourist really, a Brit here on holiday, by setting up his camera. It turned out to be a blessing: the plate revealed an area of rock a different shade to the rest. This was something Coule knew nothing about, so he took the four of us over in his little boat - Kim choosing to watch from hers.

The discoloured area turned out to be an entrance, leading down into the dark. We hadn't gone far in when Tesla screamed. We swung the lanterns back to see spears retracting back into the wall, wrenching themselves out of his body. He zapped himself with that cattle prod of his and the wound closed. We continued, more wary. A glittering symbol spooked Carson; he made us clamber above to get past it. I made a mental note initially in case I saw it again, but as we found more, I took to quickly sketching them instead. Carson made me promise to show no one.

We had to scramble and squirm our way past a few more of those glittering symbols before we reached the bottom of the winding stairway. It ended at a large steel doorway, which we opened...

I...

I don't know if I can describe the scene within. Not, not in the detail you need. It was ok for the song, but for this...

I'll try.

Start with the simple. It was hard to see: pitch black in the stairway, we only had waving lanterns to give any light. The room, a small study, was lit by a single candle on the floor, at the centre of a circle inscribed with a five-pointed star, and...

The study had a few bookshelves and a desk. Behind the desk, a skinny man cackled.

And in the circle was a Demon, summoned from the deepest pits of Hell to God's own Earth.

I froze and wept as the others started to fight it, but when I realised their attacks were doing nothing (how could they?), I recovered myself enough to work my way into the room, past that Horror intending to trash some of the potions and books in the study to distract the wizard. It didn't work well, but Carson noticed the Demon never left the circle and it was only the wizard fighting back, so he shot out the candle.

Blackness.

Screams.

Silence.

The scritch of a match as Steve relit his lantern. The Demon was gone; the wizard a bloody, stinking smear. 

Carson found a large book on the desk, in German giving the name 'Gerhardt Stroessner'. We couldn't read it, but it seemed to be a diary starting 5 years ago; Felheimer's name started appearing about 2 years ago. It seems Stroessner was somehow using his lifeforce. That's when we realised Agent Coule wasn't with us, so Carson tucked the large book away and we went to leave.

The traps had all vanished with the death of Stroessner, except that first mechanical one, and we found Coule cowering on the stairs. As we stepped into the blessed sunlight, we saw Felheimer's body disintegrate and fall. Coule set dynamite to blow the cavern as we left the island and returned to Captain Kim. With relief, I picked up my guitar and started to write the Ballad of Felheimer's Folly. You may have heard it. It became very popular with the crew of the Grace of the Maze, and things felt calmer back on the boat. 

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