Tuesday 6 February 2018

Deadlands - Death of a Sin Eater

We return to the Rabbi in the morning of Christmas Eve. Our Blessed Blade is ready. We go over the plan again, and decide to find graves on Angelfish Island. It's nearer the Isle of Ghost Tears than Shan Fan is, meaning we'll have more time to get everything done before sunrise, and it's abandoned, which means we can head over now and prepare the graves. The Rabbi comes with us, helps us select our sites and dig. We nap on the boat until the evening; he stays on Angelfish and we head to Ghost Tears.

We land at the same beach as before; no sign of the old man Ginjaya this time. We head to the centre, to the pagoda. As we pass that grove of trees, the one with the spirits that scared us so much last time, Carson spots a raven that reminds him of the bird we saw on the beach last time, the one Ginjaya scared off and told us not to listen to. As we points at it, it flies off to the centre. Straight as the crow flies. We follow.

As we get closer, we can hear a woman's voice singing in Chinese. Chin and I aren't familiar with the dialect, but Carson translates. It's a folk song, full of sorrow. When we reach the pagoda, we see her: pale, as if seen through mist. Her dress is more elegant than we've seen in Shan Fan, an idealised form of traditional Chinese dress. She and Carson talk - I can't follow the conversation but she sounds really sad. As their conversation ends, ghosts surround us, then disperse and she returns to her song. Carson turns to us and explains: she doesn't know the old man, nor where the "wolf" is; she does know where the glyph is, and will help us get to it if we get rid of the wolf (which we assume is the Sin Eater). She also promises the ghosts won't hurt us if we don't hurt them. As if realising where we are in our conversation, she stops singing and looks east - towards Shan Fan. We walk that way. From time to time, we hear the raven but don't see it again.

At the eastern beach, we see an old man walking into a cave. We follow. Around the mouth of the cave are warnings in Chinese - "fear the wolf, set us free" - and in English "God help us". It's a few hours to Jesus' birthday, so I offer Him a prayer as we enter. There's a firepit and some wood ready for it. We go in deeper, lighting our way with wavering lanterns. There's no light ahead, but Ginjaya's voice calls out, asking why we're in his cave. He doesn't know anything about a wolf and sets about lighting his fire to cook a seagull for his dinner. He doesn't seem to react as we sing Meng's song, but becomes frustrated with our presence and hurries us out of his cave.

We stand on the sand outside, whisper-debating our next steps. I spot Carson sneaking back in and follow. Ginjaya's building up the fire, and the dancing shadows remind me that Carson said the Sin Eater's deformities include shadows under the skin. I raise my lantern, shine it into the old man's face. Carson does the same, and as our beams swing into line we see he really is an old man - but the shadow behind him rises and engulfs us. All the lights blink out. It feels like my soul, my very essence is being sucked out. The next thing I know, I'm falling onto the sand outside, held by Carson. He'd teleported us to safety. 

"Sin Eater!" We scream. Chin leaps forward with the sword as Carson throws fireballs at the shadow-creature emerging from the cave. The blade can do nothing against the shadows, so Carson shouts at Chin to go into the cave and find the body. I'm blinded as one of Tesla's devices explodes; I follow where I hope Chin's gone as the shadow sucks at us again and feel Carson throw some kind of spell at me. 

Back in the cave, the shadows suck back into Ginjaya. He fires a shotgun, and we realise we can see again. Carson and Tesla follow behind us. We fight hard, three of us distracting the Sin Eater while Chin does the real damage with the blade.

Once it's over, Carson and I look at each other, thinking of the glyph. Carson wants to go by himself, but I point out he'll need someone to watch his back. Tesla and Chin agree to deal with the disposal of the Sin Eater on Angelfish Island and return for us in the morning.

We find Meng at her pagoda. She nods, and leads us to a cliff edge. It's a long walk, several hours, and it seems every step another silent ghost joins us. She points to a cave entrance in the surf: it'll be underwater by dawn, but our glyph's in there. We scrabble down the treacherous surface to find the cave dry, a winding passage with the glyph at the end. I take a defensive stance, mimicking Chin as best I can, but this time nothing rises as Carson bleeds. He looks pale beneath his tan, weakened but hiding it well. He reckons it's worked. 

We reach the cave entrance to find the sea lapping already. The climb back up the cliff is harder than the descent; we're both exhausted by the time we reach the top. I want to head back to the other beach immediately, but Carson makes me wait a few minutes while we recover. The delay doesn't matter: by the time we reach them, the others have been waiting hours, their task successful.

We're all exhausted from the night's work. Chin pilots us wearily back to Shan Fan, where the Rabbi leaves us and I find a shrine to offer thanks, it being Christmas Day. Then I return to the boat and sleep until St Solomon's Day.


  1. What? The ghosts totally didn't help you out? Jerks.

    1. Hehehe, well, they also didn't try and kill us, which makes them less jerky than the other ghosts we've met so far!