Wednesday 10 January 2018

Deadlands - the Junker Gien

We make it back to the Necessity Alliance's mesa and followeBorn in a Bowl as she goes to see Stalks the Night, who'd taken charge in her absence. The two have a heated confrontation in a language none of us understood. It ends with him storming out, taking half the warriors with him. 

She explains to us that she'd accused him of being in league with Papa Rattlesnake; the fact they're leaving suggests they were. She tells us we won't understand what's happening with Papa Rattlesnake - maybe one day, but not yet. He is very dangerous, though, so she performs a ritual that, she says, will help protect us from him, and gives each of us a small bag that means he can't hurt us from the Hunting Ground. Exhausted, she retires.

I seek Weematai: despite our differences, I like the young woman, and her silence has worried me. She breaks it now, explaining she's Born in a Bowl's apprentice and doesn't speak in her presence. I ask how she knew Eyes Like Fire was a traitor and why she didn't warn us sooner - she says she only found out because Born in a Bowl told her then. She smiles at me, and offers the hospitality of her tribe, extending the invitation to all of us.

We leave in the morning, following the finger south to find Sees Far Ahead, or his remains. It leads us quickly and safely to Lost Angels (though we manage to salvage a rowboat en route).

Even when we eat a full meal, it doesn't fill us.

We arrive by Lost Angels on the 5th December 1879. Chin doesn't trust the moorings there, thinking our boat may be recognised and taken off us before we're ready to return it, so hides it in a small cave to the north. We visit Perdition, which hasn't changed much. The fires of Ghost Town still burn. The finger points south, in the direction of Lost Angels, but it's late so we take a room here instead.

We clean up and eat as much as we can in the morning. The paper has a "Good Intentions" message in it, telling us of rumours of the wreck of a Chinese Junker in these parts - it washes up in different places and is never found by the same people twice. 

We follow the finger into Lost Angels, hoping to find more about the junker at the same time. It continues to point south, but we stop to try and learn more. From what we learn, we think the ship is the 'Gien', a junker that arrived shortly after the Quake and was washed out (presumably sunk) a few months later during a storm. Sometime later, a shipwreck was found with journals saying that the crew of this ship had found the wreck of the Gien and gone to salvage it, only it had vanished when they got there. This was dismissed until it happened again... and again... a fourth ship spotted the wrecked junker and decided not to go after it. They returned safely. It was a hard decision, because the captain of the Gien was believed to be very wealthy, with a lot of that wealth on the ship. This sounds like something we can help with, especially with our limited funds and depleted supply of ghost rock.

We also hear about Jehosaphat Valley, a mass grave for "unbelievers, paupers and babies" to the south of Lost Angels, with a mourners chapel. Sounds to us like a good place to hide eaten bodies, especially as we learn there are guards there, 24 hours a day and armed with cannon (2-6 gun nests), and flights of the intimidating Guardian Angels. The story is that the guards are there to protect against beasts and weirdos.

It's Saturday and getting late, so we decide to investigate the junker first, not wanting to be in Lost Angels on a Sunday.

We spend the Sunday travelling the Maze, until Chin realises he's taken us too far west and we're nearly at the ocean. We're too late to head back now, so have an uneasy night in the water. As we head back in the morning, we spot wreckage on a shore. It looks like sails rather than steam, and there seems to be a heat haze around it. Carson cocks his head and declares there's definitely something arcane about it - there's a fair few spirits there, and one is huge and hungry. I take my spirit camera to shore with us, and Tesla and I set up carefully to take photos. 

That done, we move closer to the wreck, where the bodies start to rise and then charge at us. From the sea, a 12ft tall corpse comes for it: its chest houses a second face, wreathed in tentacles. Its scream is hideous as it races for Tesla after he's shot two of the crew with his lightning, so I slam a driftwood plank against the chest maw. It doesn't seem hurt by my action, but is distracted from Tesla, until he fires his lightning at it. Crew come for the two of us: Carson throws fireballs at them - 2 fall as burnt crisps, and I manage to nip past the third to gather up what I can of the wreck, thinking to burn it: I trust the boys to handle the fight. Carson aims his next fireballs at the giant - bits explode from it, but seconds later it looks fine again. It keeps screaming, and each scream seems to pull the very life from me. It must be showing, because Tesla zaps me with two of his devices - one to speed me up, and the other I recognise as his healing wand - as though filling me with electricity will fill my empty stomach. They keep fighting, but it screams again and I collapse.

The others eventually take it and the ragged crew down. When they bring me round, they've learnt it was a Chinese hunger spirit. Those with it had been sucked dry by its presence, died and brought back to eat the dead. That would have been my fate, if they hadn't managed to get some gruel into me before they let me sleep the experience off. Tesla was apparently nearly as bad, so Chin and Carson left him with me while they found the cash. We're lucky they did: in the morning, the wreck and bodies are all gone. Tesla remembered to take another photo with my spirit camera after the fight, and developed that and my photo in time. The first photo has a fuzzy, out of focus background, with a vortex of colour in the region the hunger spirit rose from, while the other looks like a normal black adn white photo, no different to the one taken with his camera.

We get a bit lost coming back and don't make it to Perdition until the 10th. Charlie Buckner trades the loot for refined ghost rock. We do manage to tell people of our experience with the junker and defeating the spirit's corporeal form - though if it manages to find anothe body it might come back. I write my first journalistic piece and send it to Lacey O'Malley via the Tombstone Epitaph, then start work on a song about our victory.

Carson and I pool our resources to buy a spyglass, as all the shared funds have gone on food, rooms and ghost rock. It seems like a good idea, if we're to scout Jehosaphat Valley.

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