Saturday 13 January 2018

Deadlands - Jehosaphat Valley

We reach sight of Jehosaphat Valley in the afternoon. It's in a gorge so deep and steep it looks like twilight within. We find a spot to hunker down so we can spy on the place, by which time it's evening. I'm looking through the telescope as the sun sets, as the valley turns as dark as a cave. Except for these bright white eyes, that look straight at me. Fly towards me.

The others realise something's wrong when I've not spoken, not moved for a few minutes. A streak of my jet black hair has gone white. Carson wrenches the telescope from my hand and shakes me. I tell them: it's a Deadland, and its denizens know we're coming.

Chin thinks we should go rightaway, but we talk him out of it. People are easier to sneak past. Or kill, Carson adds. I hope it doesn't come to that.

We sleep fitfully as the cannons fire throughout the night.

As we get closer in the morning, it becomes clear that the pallisade fence isn't to keep animals out, but a fortified wall to keep... something in. Tesla's not great at sneaking - he tends to mutter and mumble without noticing, and often trips and stumbles. Besides, he's still weak from the attack from Eyes Like Fire. So he lends me his taser-gun, the one he got from the Explorers, and we leave him with the spyglass to keep watch while we scale the wall into the graveyard, leaving the rope and grapple to make it easy to escape. I said the valley itself was darker than the time of day, but inside that wall is darker again. For me, the worst part is the smell. Images from the Cave of the Wailing Horror rise again and again in my mind, but I mutter a prayer and manage to keep the memories under control. 

There's not too many bodies at the end we've entered, but as we travel through we find more and more and I find it harder to cope. We stay by the edge, but Born in a Bowl's finger directs us towards the centre, where a huge pile of bones lies unburied. Carson takes the finger and fades from view. Chin and I pause, scarce breathing, as (we assume) he follows its lead. The bone pile swells and explodes outward, then reforms into a giant skeleton made of all the bones. In its chest sits an obsidian skull with the white, white eyes of the creature I saw last night. I run in to do... something. I try Tesla's taser, but it does nothing, even though it seems to connect solidly. Maybe I distracts it enough for Carson to do his thing and destroy it. It disintegrates and we scrabble through the pile until we find a skull. We know it's the one; as soon as Born in a Bowl's finger touches it, the finger catches fire that consumes it until only ash remains.

We're standing in a pile of bones and bodies. The smell overwhelms: I can almost hear the screech of the Wailing Horror.

One too many memories. I turn and run.

 Chin and Carson manage to catch and calm me, help bring me to the wall, were we find the rope missing. We work together to get back to the otherside, where I roll to my back and realise I don't remember anything that happened inside.

All the same, I'm grateful once we're back on the boat, travelling north to return to Born in a Bowl.

No comments:

Post a Comment