Dungeon Situational – Ten Ghosts (pt 2)
More ghosts, here’s part one.
… And One for the Man in the Corner
In the Ox and Puncheon there’s a table with a candle that’s never lit, a cup that never empties but is regularly refreshed, and chairs that are never moved and never sat in except by those approaching the end of their tether. The old barflies know to get one for the man in the corner, the publican and her staff invite all new patrons to add an extra cup to their order, with a furtive nod to the dark table where no one sits and nurses pint after pint of Pig Iron stout.
When there’s nothing left, nowhere left to turn, the desperate and the destitute take a fresh pint to the table and take a seat facing the corner, keeping the light to their back and their eyes on the old stained surface. Some who look say they can see the drinker as a deeper shadow sitting opposite, but if you look you’ll never know what he can offer. Pig Iron is 1 silver, a person who takes two pints to the table and spends an hour there must make a Wisdom save (DC 13) to resist the urge to look. If they succeed there is a 50% chance that they will gain the benefits of a Commune spell, and only if no one has attempted this in the last week.
When Wipnil Fallclimber read Ora’Skelli’s Mythologue she was fascinated by the chapter on the old cairns in the Rowan Empire territories. She was never one for treasure hunting, but a good and fascinating bit of history was worth the risks involved, a nice bas relief, a stone tablet, old and musty tapestries, all of them worth more than any heap of gold, right up until they got her killed.
If you should read the words of Ora’Skelli’s Mythologue do so quietly and in a well lit room, and count yourself lucky that you found a copy that has not yet burst into flames or been devoured by rats that burst from the very cover. Apparently Fallclimber put some information together in the barrows and crypts and in the works of Ora’Skelli that could lead some other historian to a fate so awful that it leads you to haunt, not just a book, but every copy of that book in the world.
Life has never been better for Sodan Mellial since the day it ended, no more rotting carcass holding him back, his limp is gone for a start, he looks like he did when he was a younger man, like the man he always felt he could be even when things started going wrong. One lousy back alley mugging cost him every penny he ever owned and all the blood in his veins but he has gained so much in return. Now, Sodan runs a support group for the undead… he thinks he read something similar in a book once.
Embracing the power to slip between worlds, pass through walls, the freedom from needs and wants like food and sleep, oh, and invisibility? Invisibility is so useful, honestly afterlife is better than life in just so many ways, the problem is every time he manages to convince someone else how great things can be… they have this weird tendency to dissolve into a beautiful sparkling light. It makes it hard to keep friends, the living are so petty and fragile, the dead are either too miserable or too… “vanishy”. And he can’t drink to drown his problems.
The Witch of Wirewood Lives!
If you go down to the woods today, things are less friendly than some pleasant little rhyme would have you believe. Some thoughtful soul carved a warning into trees every few dozen feet, but that must have been a good century or more back, while the carvings are still clear as day, they’re far above eye-height, and no longer on the border of the Wirewood, close enough to the daylight, but a definite shadow passes over the words “The Witch Lives.”
Wandering deeper into the Wirewood is dangerous work, a traveller will be lost quickly, forced off the old, thin paths by sudden obstacles, savage animals, flood or even fire. The stars are hidden by trees that all look the same, making navigation impossible, and the difference between night and day is little more than a change in colour. The pollen-heavy air grows toxic, the beasts grow ever-more aggressive, and slowly but surely the traveller finds their way to a destination, the one she wanted them to reach all along, the fallen walls of a village that surround a circle of scorched ground, and an ever-growing pile of skeletons with arms outstretched, fingerbones dug deep into the blackened soil.
Once the King of Broken Bones, Kinikut died in obscurity, long after his days of violent glory in the fighting pits, decades after the strength left him, but even as he sat by a fire made for him by a caring soul the fight was still deep in his gut, and he riled against the chair that confined him wishing it could raise a fist to strike him down. He tried to spit at the fire, wishing it would spit back, and more than anything he wished that the shambling outline who made him meals and prepared a fire for him every day was someone he could fight.
Rage and uselessness left behind an angry old soul, more savage than the King who Ruled the Pit, and his house is now a haunted wreck of a shack. Children dare each other to spend one night under the half-fallen roof, where adults warn them to stay back on cold nights, for fear that they may not return. In truth no one who enters dies, oh they may hear some frightful sounds, maybe take a bad fall, but the only one who ever truly felt the wrath of Kinikut Grace was the kindly old soul found broken and bloody by the fireplace next to the corpse of a frail old man who’d died in his chair the night before.
That calls a brief end to the Dungeon Situational articles, no doubt I’ll resurrect them some time in the near future, for now I have other thoughts to excise.