Friday, March 25, 2016

Voodoo Island

The crew: 
Jon Mark (Mr. Pendleton), Bill (Mr. Harrison), Terry (Capt. Beefheart) and Tommy (Isabelle).  My wife graciously made multiple batches of Crack Corn and we divvied the spoils of black licorice and a package of Peanut Butter Patties (it's a given that the fridge was full of libations).  Time to game!

The game:
Much like any other time, Captain Beefheart sent an away team to the island.  It consisted of the Bosun, Mr. Stevens and a couple of stolid crewmen.  When they returned, they had an awful tale to tell.  The Bosun, terrified, delivered the following story:

"The group came across a clearing deep in the jungle.  After passing some ancient ruins, we encountered a tall palisade of worn wood.  A hut stood outside one of its walls.  Not hearing or seeing anything amiss, we investigated.  Inside was a straw sleeping mat and some rough shelving.  On one of these shelves was a shabby journal.  I, always looking for interesting things, pocketed it.  That's when things got...interesting. 

"Noises were heard outside the hut.  Mr Stevens, standing guard against possible dangers, yelled at me and the crewmen to come quick-like.  Out of the jungle emerged humans...or were they?  They looked like people, but they looked emaciated and their skin color was like looking at a withered corpse.  They shambled toward Stevens, who opened fire with both pistols.  His aim was true, as his shots visibly hit their targets.  However, other than knocking them back a step or two, they neither registered pain nor ceased their relentless approach. 

"Tophat drew his sword and hacked at the nearest creature.  He was quickly surrounded, as even more shuffled from the foliage.  He began screaming as they tore into his flesh.  Mr. Stevens drew his own blade and charged in to help Tophat, but was stopped by an impossibly large creature that erupted from the jungle.  It took a swipe at him, knocking him to the ground. 

"We fled, I'm ashamed to say, but we were terrified by the sight of these monsters."  The Bosun handed Captain Beefheart the journal and added "Maybe this will give you some help, Cap'n."

Mr. Stevens is stuck like Chuck!

Beefheart quickly read the following excerpts from the journal of Abbé Francis du Lyon, Catholic missionary (translated from his native French).

23 July, 1697
The Fingers has lived up to its name.  My flock and I were driven before a foul wind that shifted unnaturally and with much force.  It dashed our poor vessel upon a reef and the swirling tide washed us ashore.  Of my flock, a mere 20 survived.  All I now possess is my Bible and rosary, this journal and my flock.  Jesus started with less, so I shan’t complain.  Tis time to take stock, set up a camp and discuss our next step.

31 July, 1697
The Lord provides.  The island is uninhabited, but was evidently populated at some point.  There are ancient ruins hidden amongst the trees.  We’ve cleared out an area around these ruins and started a settlement of sorts.  There is fresh water, game and fruit, so God has provided us with the means to survive.  Something of note:  We discovered an idol, gruesome in nature.  Some of my flock is from the West Indies, where superstition lies thick as a morning fog.  They crossed themselves upon seeing the idol, muttering something about ‘Baron Samedi’.  Not wanting to further upset them, I made our ‘chapel’, little more than a lean-to built against a ruin, on the other side of the ruins.

8 August, 1697
Something is...wrong.  I can’t put my finger on it quite yet, but some of my flock is behaving aggressively towards their brethren.  At first I credited it to our situation, but we are actually doing quite well, considering.  I find myself growing irritable as well and work to maintain my composure.  I have been having dreams that wake me several times per night.  They leave me perpetually tired.  I cannot remember why they are so disturbing, but my flock keeps muttering about Samedi and evil.  Their patois grows thick when they talk about this subject, so I cannot be sure I understand them correctly.  My sermons deal more frequently on the Book of Revelations, perhaps as a response to this anger.

13 August, 1697
Murder.  One of my flock, Jaray, argued and murdered another man, Dieuri.  They are both usually very affable men who have gotten along very well until this incident’s occurrence.  Even worse, Jaray appears to have eaten part of Dieuri’s liver.  When asked why he would resor t to such barbarous acts, Jaray swears that he was following the orders of “Baron Samedi”, as told to him in a dream.  I am at a loss with what to do with Jaray.  As spiritual leader, I feel ill-equipped to mete out punishment.  Worse yet, I am beginning to remember pieces of my nightmares.  They all feature the face of a native painted to look like a skull, laughing.  May the Lord help me!

27 August, 1697
I awoke last night to chanting.  As I approached the sound, I was shocked into silence.  My flock was dancing around the idol!  I watched in silence for a while, mesmerized by the rhythm of the ceremony.  I finally stole back to my hut.  The idol would have to go.

29 August, 1697
A few of my flock and I managed to lever the idol down an embankment, breaking it into pieces.  This seems to have both terrified and angered those I’d seen cavorting in ceremony the previous night.  Whispers of the “revenge of Samedi” filtered through the camp the rest of the day.  We shall see. The Lord provides.

30 August, 1697
I am undone.  I slept not one whit last night.  The face was in my dreams…mocking me…telling me to do utterly horrible things…whispering evil enchantments in my ear.  To make things worse, my Bible and rosary have disappeared and replaced with island fetishes.  My flock tells me these are charms used in voodoo ceremonies.  They look at me strangely, like I’m not quite sane.  I tried to assuage their fears, but the voice is still whispering…

4 September, 1697
Baron Samedi has me in his grip.  I hear his voice constantly, asleep or awake.  My flock loyal to God has fled into the jungle.  All that remain are subjects to Samedi’s whims.  God has forsaken me, or perhaps I was too weak to resist.  The result is the same.  Samedi says I should capture my escaped flock.  He says they are…useful.  I’ve ordered my servants to do Samedi’s will.

6 September, 1697
We have begun building a tall palisade.  The voice in my head assures me that behind the safety of these walls, anything is possible.  My only question is whether it is to keep us in or others out.

7 September, 1697
Samedi says that I should “convert” my flock into loyal subjects to him.  He says that Death is but a skin that can be sloughed off like a snake’s.  He laughs as he tells me how I can help my flock “cheat death” and still be able to do his bidding…forever.  I will do his will.  His voice is strong in my head.  The words are easy, even if they are in Carib.

The journal ended with an interesting drawing.  It was of obvious importance to Lyon, but Beefheart had no idea as to what it meant.

Captain Beefheart hurriedly formed a new party consisting of himself, Mr. Harrison, Mr.
Pendleton and Isabelle.   They quickly made their way to the clearing described by the Bosun and cautiously worked toward the palisade's gate.  

Initial exploration of the area was quick.  Enemies were seen standing idly by the palisade, but they were inattentive to the crew's advance.

Here we go...

Advancing past the hut

They don't see us...look!
Carefully advancing to within striking distance, our fearless crew attacked!  That's when the Bosun's words hit home.  These creatures, while looking like humans, weren't.  The crew delivered mighty blows that would fell almost anyone, but the creature merely took the damage and knocked them all to the ground.  Only Isabelle was able to dispatch the monster.

Isabelle to the rescue!
Ironically, the creature standing literally a few feet from the action never seemed to notice!  The crew didn't make the same mistake twice and dispatched it with impunity.

Gang up on it!
As they headed toward the gate, they heard chanting.  This stopped as the gunfire began.  From out of the gate poured more creatures.  The battle was joined!

More zeds!
 A large creature emerged, intent on felling the captain.  He calmly dispatched the beast.  It wasn't like the others...wonder what it was?

Amassing the troops
Still battling the growing press of creatures, a horrific sight was beheld:  One of the original crewmen sent ashore, a fellow called Tophat, exited the gate.  He was obviously dead, yet he shambled forward like  a marionette on flaccid strings.  Isabelle froze, but Mr. Harrison merely shrugged and started firing.  Evidently Tophat owed Harrison some money!

Look!  Tophat!

In the ensuing battle, the crew were almost overwhelmed by the creatures.  Many times they fell, but the slowness of the monsters gave them time to recover their composure.  Mr. Pendleton, however, wasn't so lucky.  He was apparently dispatched, but the group closed rank in time to save him.

Note - In game terms, Pendleton was put out of action, but the crew (warband) has the ability Tough as Nails, which allows one character to recoil instead of get killed per game.

Ready for action again, Mr. Pendleton joined his mates for more fighting!  Around this time, the leader of the monster herd strode through the gate, directing his minions to the fight.  Out of sight of the crew, the voice of Mr. Stevens could be heard bellowing in fear, asking who's out there and what was occurring.

Then the next startling thing occurred:  A streaking islander dashed through the gate, eyes as big as saucers with fear.  He paused upon seeing the evil-looking leader and then loped into the jungle, gibbering in fright.  The leader closed on the captain, who dropped him like a bad habit.

The islander says "I'm outta here!"
Finally, Stevens slowly poked his head around the gate.  He was obviously too terrified to advance further.  This unfortunately gave a creature time to waylay him.  Stevens's killer instincts kicked in as he snapped the monster's neck in a violent, barehanded maneuver.  He then bolted around the far side of the palisade, shouting something about heading toward the ship.

Knowing the reason they were ashore was on his way to safety, the captain had a choice:  Finish the fight or leave.  There were only four creatures for each mate.  He decided to carry on the fight, to dire consequences.  

The first three creatures were killed easily.

The last one?  Not so much.  Perhaps it was because it was half a monster or maybe because it was harder to hit...whatever the reason, it knocked down both the captain and Mr. Pendleton in melee and neither Mr. Harrison nor Isabelle could dispose of it.  It reared up on its forearms, lunged at a fallen Pendleton and tore a chunk out of his throat before anyone could stop it. 

 Isabelle, shocked and horrified in equal measures, launched herself at the beast, but she soon found herself on the ground by the captain.   

Finally, Mr. Harrison was able to kill the creature.  With that, the mission was won, but at a heavy cost as Mr. Pendleton succumbed to his wound.

After looting the complex, some gold was found behind an idol...perhaps the same idol from the Abbot's journal?  Amongst the ruins was also found a well.  Mr. Harrison had the idea that it was a wishing well, so several gold pieces were thrown in for luck.  As he placed a foot upon an edging stone, Captain Beefheart felt it shift.  Upon closer inspection, he realized that the stone was covering a hollowed out section that contained a small locket.  A swirling stone, reminiscent of opal, was set inside a gold filigree setting.  He pocketed it for later analysis.

A scrap of paper was also found in the hole.  Dirty and almost illegible from exposure to the elements, it appeared to be written by one of the Abbot's Catholic followers.  It simply said the following:

“I will be dead soon.  I write this note in the hopes that someone will stop this evil.  Abbot Francis is possessed, I’m sure.  I thought we’d escaped the wickedness of Baron Samedi, but his evil is here.  I’ve watched the Abbot talk to no one, but he speaks as if he sees someone there.  I know what happens next.  We all do, those of us who ran from Samedi’s voodoo.  If you read this, know I am the one wearing a purple shirt.  Put me to rest, please. I will not be alive, but instead a zombie under Samedi’s control.  My soul will be trapped and only true death will free me.  This locket is charmed.  It will protect you once from possible harm.  Use it wisely.  Free me and my brethren in Christ so our souls can lift to Heaven.”

___ FIN ___

It was a fun night, even if Jon Mark's character was killed.  He will come back with a new crewman, I'm sure!