Thursday 4 January 2018

Deadlands - The Rescue of Born in a Bowl

Tesla and Chin stay on the boat while Carson, Weematai, Eyes Like Fire and I head into the cave. The entrance had been too narrow to squeeze the boat through, but it leads a long way back. The ground is uneven - tired from not sleeping the night before, I stumble. As I fall, I grab a rotten branch - or maybe a root? - that releases a mouthful of spores. I can't help but breathe them in, and gag. I struggle to catch my breath, but follow the others into a room filled with dolls. A feeling of devilry and witchcraft coats the room: the dolls have sacking for clothes and rotten fruit for heads, explaining the buzzing of thousands of flies. Still gasping from the spores, I manage to breathe in and swallow a mouthful and collapse, choking. Carson races over, gently holds my head as Weematai casts some heathen magics. I manage to cough up enough of the flies and spores to be more comfortable and thank them. 

The next room is filled with corpses - the corpses of the braves of the Necessity Alliance (the wary alliance of tribes made necessary by the circumstances), blood and guts slowly leaking through holes in the floor to feed sharks below. Carson approaches one, and his eyes open. Eyes Like Fire promptly kills them all to end their suffering. As he's finishing, Chin appears. Tesla's stayed with the boat, his injuries preventing him from joining.

We continue to the next room, even more overgrown with tree roots than the previous two. There's someone engulfed by the plants, pierced through with the roots. As Weematai races over, we realise we've found Born in a Bowl. We follow more cautiously, afraid of the shadows that flicker and shift impossibly. 

We're right to be afraid. As we reach her, a figure materialises behind us and throws 3 rattlesnakes at Carson! This is Papa Rattlesnake, the leader of those who attacked the tribes. He seems only half here, a ghost. He looks at the two Natives with us, and they each start accusing the other of being a traitor. Eyes Like Fire then draws his vicious tomahawk and hits Born in a Bowl with it, which makes us think Weematai is more likely telling the truth, though none of us can identify the magic she seems to be preparing. Chin and Carson turn their attention on Eyes Like Fire as I try to defend and free Born in a Bowl. When Chin and Carson defeat Eyes Like Fire, he falls through the rotten ground to fall in that shark-infested water. Papa Rattlesnake, seemingly immune to anything we can do, laughs and vanishes. Weematai, exhausted by whatever spells she's been casting, faints; Carson ties her securely while Chin works to heal Born in a Bowl as I try to cut her free. The ground is deteriorating now Papa Rattlesnake has gone, so Carson carries Weematai as Chin and I help Born in a Bowl.

Back at the boat, she wants to know more about us. Her accent is thick but understandable. We explain about Sees Far Ahead and how we've ended up here. She tells us he's in the 'Hunting Ground' now (Heaven?), then asks us to cut off her little finger. It writhes around before pointing south, and she tells us it will lead us to Sees Far Ahead (or at least his final resting place). She asks us to seek him and return him to her, his skull if he's dead, then places a hand on Weematai (still unconscious) and confirms it was Eyes Like Fire who was in league with Papa Rattlesnake, so we untie the young woman.

Born in a Bowl tells us more about Papa Rattlesnake. He works for Raven, a renegade tribesman she won't talk about. Papa Rattlesnake and his tribe have an affinity with the Hunting Ground; she suspects he was never in the cave with us, but instead was projecting himself from the Hunting Ground. I want to know more about this strange place and she explains it's a spirit realm, a place where time and geography work differently. As a result, the only way we can truly protect ourselves from Papa Rattlesnake (and presumably this Raven he works for) is to kill his physical body, if we can find it. Which would mean a trip to the Hunting Ground.

We take Born in a Bowl and Weematai back to the Necessity Alliance. The journey takes several days; we get attacked by ... fish-men one night, and completely lost the next day. Weematai, never the loudest person, has gone completely silent. She won't even answer a direct question. It makes me nervous. She seems fine otherwise.

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