Wednesday 24 January 2018

Deadlands - Isle of Ghost Tears Initial Recon

As we sail to the island, I think back on what we learnt when we were last in Shan Fan. Tam had declared it off-limits to all except its one resident, an elderly man - hence our careful route now. The ghost tears are those of a lady who followed her husband to Shan Fan, only to find he'd been unfaithful and fallen to cards and drugs - and that was when the Quake struck. He'd shoved her aside in an effort to save himself, but they'd both perished. Her wailing can still be heard, though it doesn't seem to bother the resident.

We moor up on the far side of the island and wade ashore. A crow squawks at our approach - an old man shouts for us not to listen to it. It's mad and tells lies, apparently, and flies off as he waves his stick at it. He approaches us with a friendly smile and introduces himself as Ginjaya. He's hard to talk to, returning to the same topics over and over. The island isn't safe for the living. Meng controls the spirits. Very sad. Many tears. Many ghosts. The spirits protect him. We ask about the glyph, describe it. He says we'll never find it. I ask if Meng is sad because her husband was unfaithful, and he falls silent. We wait a few minutes, but he has become oblivious to us, so we move on to the centre of the island.

We pass a load of small mounds, and remember this had been a pauper's burial site before the Quake turned it into an island. I mutter a quick prayer as we move through. 

At the centre is a broken gazebo. Damaged Chinese characters around it tell the story of Meng, as we'd heard it on the mainland. We don't see anything else there. It's noon already; the island is huge and we want to be back on the boat by sunset. We start walking.

It's warm (and we're hungry), so Tesla and I head into a cool-looking grove of pine trees. It is cooler here, than under the beating California sun beyond the shade; our breath becomes visible. The pine trees susurrate. A mound of leaves moves, rises, reveals translucent, dead people who walk towards us. We flee back to the sunlight.

The other two don't understand why we're so frightened, so we remind how often the dead have nearly killed us over the past few months. All the same, they didn't actually hurt us so we steel ourselves and walk back in: maybe they'll talk to us...

They don't react well when Carson starts trying to cast. I tackle him before they hurt him, and ask for their help. They say the Earth spirites will not help us: the wolf will kill us and devour us, as it eats them all. I ask about Meng, and they say she is the most terrible among them and if she decides to kill us we will die. We can look for her in her home, which we assume means the gazebo, and as she wasn't there earlier we assume we'll need to wait for nightfall. About 3 hours away, now. 

As we return to the sunlight, Chin asks if anything eats ghosts. Carson goes quiet, walks away from us and paces. Eventually, he calls us over. He thinks we're facing a "sin eater". They eat corpses and take on the deformed form of that person, even with their memories. They're very hard to kill: we'll need to find a preacher - and not just any old preacher, but a True Believer. It's a servant of the Reckoners, one he doesn't want us to face, and I don't know we can do without a priest, but I know we need to do something.

We hatch a plan as we return to the boat. Carson explains we need the priest because we need a blessed blade and six consecrated graves. He claims the religion doesn't matter; Chin says there are many graveyards of many different religions in Shan Fan, so we can find the graves. The blade is the way to kill it: we need to sever the head and each limb from the torso and bury each in a separate grave. 

Back in Shan Fan, we contact the Explorer's for help - as subtly as possible, given Tam's ban - then sleep on the boat.

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