Autumn harvest draws towards a close as the heat dies down. A dull wind wraps along the lands, bringing in disquieting eeriness and a spine-chilling cold. The time of phantoms returns, as the bridge between worlds living and dead lowers once again. This is a time when spirits observe our realm, or so the stories say. Those within Darkon are clever enough to document and comment on such things. You would be wise to as well. Beware, for upsetting the souls of the damned is a fool’s task!
Author’s Note: Whispers of secrets always travel the mists, at least as long as I can think of cool characters and places. Also, more Prisoners of the Mists references. Likewise, my homage to the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. On one more note, please pardon the previous post, I was on vacation and was very tired. Hopefully, all of the goodies in here make up for it.
Lucio Macellaio – The Artist Surgeon
A disgraced doctor from Odiare that cuts up and butchers the living to use in disgusting works of profane art. The creations sometimes come to life. In truth, he is a survivor of Maligno’s wrath, later drawn into the Mists from Gothic Earth not too long after his descent into madness. The horror witnessed by the animated puppets drew him to vile places. He saw his medical field as a failing art, and the answer being to pursue a new art. If he could witness puppets brought to life, he too could make his own. The flesh is but a construct, something to utilize. Through corrupted techniques, he began to create art from flesh, puppets of bodies. Profanity drew him into the same demiplane as his home village. However, he did not arrive in Odiare, but found himself in Borca instead. For a time, the Ministry of Faithful Physicians took him in, a religious charity and makeshift hospital funded by the faith of Ezra as a means of good will.
Ivana Boritsi is reluctant to maintain the establishment, as it has miraculously treated victims of poison. Regardless of this, victims often find themselves dead soon after, which Ivana uses to her advantage and paints the hospital as a scapegoat. Lucio is not wholly dedicated to the hospital and sees Ivana as something of a loose ally. Their slight affiliation with the Church of Ezra has earned them some credibility. However, the moment the church tires of the physicians is the moment Boritsi strikes them down. Their current existence is maintained out of convenience, something the darklord can exploit to her gain alongside the rest of the church. But, a shakeup has taken place. The ministry has unearthed a work of Lucio’s disgusting artwork, a hobby he has maintained while within the order. As such, he has been ousted. No longer a spy for the ruler of Borca, he has helped to research the effects of poison while making new heinous creations, both to benefit Ivana. Despite prior misconceptions however, Lucio is not romantically interested in Ivana and instead maintains a distant and helpful business association instead. While Lucio one day seeks to exploit his contact, it is likely that Ivana will instead turn the tables first. In the meantime, a truce continues.
Removed from Levkarest, the butcher doctor continues in deeper outskirts, making gruesome art. His new studio was built hours away from the site of the House of Lament. While not completely familiar, he has used it as a convenient red herring to send snooping wanderers to their doom. His deeper dream is currently unrealized. To make his macabre atrocities isn’t enough for him, he wants to show his “sculptures” as an exhibit to a populace who will appreciate his talents. And should that come to pass, he will help build a community that’s a successor to Odiare in his warped mind. Perhaps the most terrifying thing about his creations is their animated presence. While he is no necromancer, he has a gift that brings his works of the dead to life upon completion. They become new entities, devoid of their original identities. Many work to protect their dark master. The majority just take to whatever task or role fits them best. Often times, they’ll disguise themselves as art installations when visitors appear.
Secret Temple for Tchernobog
Sachmet may have found herself defeated in Nova Vaasa and displaced to the Amber Wastes later, but her vacant tomb was overtaken and expanded by the devout to the Binder of Dimensions. The leader of the mad cult is a woman who escaped from The Clinic for the Mentally Distressed before the Nightmare Court had their way with it. Zenia Penumvic received “strange visions” from attempting to replicate the divining craft of The Vistani. This was caused by countless rituals gone awry, only for one to truly blight her mind. However, the visions gradually became more clear. In time, she learned of the cabal and their mission through the vision shapes and motions in her mind. After fleeing the clinic, she gradually moved towards tunnels in the old quarry, discovering a group of adventurers contending with a strange and out of place tomb. Helping to rid it, she parted ways initially before returning to the tunnels and catacombs below in an effort to dedicate to her new dark god. In the many years to follow, a new evil presence began to haunt the lands below the mines. Workers became even more fearful of the grounds than before, with attempts to investigate thwarted or destroyed.
Unbeknownst to the coven, and the greater cabal, there is no actual Tchernobog within The Mists, save for false history created to give the cult purpose within the lands of the mists. Rather, the true form of the Dark God was defeated upon the planes, with a facsimile taken by the Dark Powers. In reality, the slayer of their savior still travels the planes. The recreation within the Demiplane of Dread exists from a gathered shard of the true entity, shattered by the slayer. However, this truth is unknown to the cult, who fail to realize both the Nightmare Court and the Dark Powers likely make up for their divine icon. However, for all the power that the Nightmare Court proclaims, they couldn’t have recreated the entity all by themselves. More than likely, it’s rebuilt by the Dark Powers, with no small part due to surviving bits of the abomination.
Glensburough Club for the Astute (Cult of the Esoteric)
A former religious Meeting House overlooks an idyllic beach side with gentle waves lapping against bright sand. It is here where some of the elite of the land commune with each other. Topics of philosophy, faith, commerce, social matters and more get brought up in either casual discourse or fierce debate. Those who wish to take a break often find themselves on a gorgeous finished deck overlooking the tranquil waters. These top floors are visited by members who haven’t fully proven themselves. The private meeting rooms and halls of hidden study are for those of far greater worth. As to what transpires here? Well, that’s something that the deeper ranks of the club refuse to share. All that is revealed is that they wish to bring scientific application to all sorts of fields of research and living, far beyond the typical norm.
These sciences intersect and meld with the supernatural, diving into all means of esoteric through rationalized means… and superstition through rational filter. While they accept magic as a reality, they treat it and all creatures associated with it as a science to dissect and understand. “Esoteric Rationality” is their core hidden philosophy involving this. In reality, this social club of erudite scholars was founded for a darker reason. The supernatural horrors related to Weir Sr. has caused many to turn to the occult for answers. Out of fear, many desire to research into forbidden arcana for answers to the curse upon them. Only then, can these wealthy intellectuals combat their strange situation and bring a quiet peace back to their region. Of course, it started as that. In time, the allure of power and morbid fascinations superseded the desire to fight the darkness. Instead, the enticement of the darkness itself became a focus. Those with more noble goals became exploited as the face of the group. And even then, they were sworn to uphold the secretive nature of the organization. Their public appearance had to maintain the appearance of a more socially acceptable research order.
Members seek to extend invitation to prestigious figures in the demiplane. Among their targets is the then-present leadership of the Order of the Crows. The mage, Enryn, was targeted as a means of extending into The Core. As of now, the mage expresses little interest in meeting in the coastal land, which Enryn assumes to be Mordent. Likewise, a secret society of Dementlieu took their attention as well, as a consequence of examining the core. The secret guild, L’Occultiste, likewise look into all sorts of esoteric matters and cater to the upper class. This could be a grab for power, influence or just a network of rich eccentrics unimpeded by the quandaries of researching the void. No matter the truth, some manner of mutual alliance pact is being sought after. This could ultimately be a boon against the darkness or help to spread it. In trying times, such things remain a mystery until the worst comes in the end. But, the Astute are not aware that L’Occultiste is treated far more casually, a decadent amusement for nobility.
The Commonplace Voyage Inn (Pocket Domain within Nova Vaasa)
Cultural Level: Medieval (7)
Darklord: Pyotr Havnik. The owner of the Commonplace Voyage and resident of Egertus in Nova Vaasa. Since boyhood, he had hopes and dreams of fighting back the dreadful nightmares and taking to the sea. In 740 BC, his prayers to the Lawgiver were answered. The Grand Conjunction occurred while Havnik was a 15 year old. In the years to follow, his family’s hospitality business began to flourish once more, after languishing under the border of The Nightmare Lands. For ages before The Mists arose, Egertus was a prominent sea faring port city, ultimately choked off by the neighboring domain. However, Pyotr didn’t care either way, as he only cared about leaving his family for a life on the waves. But, even after the seas were returned and the nightmare was defeated, someone had to tend to the inn stables. Sailors feared venturing too far, even though the shores were now visible, but Pyotr savored a desire to adventure. He saw around them achieve their goals. Eli Medaleff, a childhood friend, eagerly joined the guard to help bring order to the urban depression of the city. Often, he would visit the inn to check up on his dear friend, something Pyotr came to resent. Going against the Nova Vaasan stereotype, Pyotr hated the animals and would curse at them as he was forced to clean up after them. Upon 750 BC, he finally had a taste of the high sails life of adventure. The Nocturnal Sea was revealed to Nova Vaasa and a higher budget for the inn meant staff could takeover for the son’s duties. In 758 BC, his parents were reaching an age of retirement and were imposing ownership upon him. His short adventuring career was over. He was exceedingly reluctant, after embarking on numerous trade expeditions and explorations across the Nocturnal Sea. In fact, his encounters with a Mr. Timothy upon the Musarde River gave him inspiration to take the inn onto the waves as something of a cruising hospitality experience. The idea was quickly shot down, which broke his heart dearly. His dream life was coming to an end and it quickly ate at his mind. His family, unaware of his plights, were planning a party for their retirement and him succeeding them.
Another stereotype speaks of passionate peasants in revolt. This spoke to Pyotr, but not in the usual sense. He whipped up a disguise and spoke with several disgruntled denizens, informing them of a party where many wealthy figures were gathering… and more so, members of the Ezran church, scapegoats from recent bigotry. The plan was simple, staging a riot against the hotel and hopefully destroying it. As the event approached, many entered towards the ports ward of Egertus, to a private gala of sorts. Even representatives of the four houses of Nova Vaasa made their appearance, after the Havnik clan had made their own name in catering to the upper crust, as well as expensive tourist trades. Some hours of greeting guests followed, before Pyotr changed into his disguise to let his new associates know through a window to begin soon. Miscreants, rogues and rioters pushed through entry guard and into the party to stir up violence. Many were quickly cut down, but not before fire bombs were introduced into the bedlam. The ball room was quickly scorched, as party goers either went up in flames or were cut down by blades. The guardsmen did all in their power to stop the mob, after having their lines broken through. Pyotr emerged onto a balcony overlooking the ball floor, as flames licked the walls around him. From a stairway, a panicked Eli emerged and saw what he thought was another raider. He charged in fury, impaling his disguised friend as Pyotr fought back and slashed Eli across the neck. Eli died quickly as Pyotr watched flames catch up to his bleeding body. He cursed the inn, wishing the worst upon all who entered these grounds.
Ultimately, the skeletal frame of the building was salvaged. However, a year later, mists parted from the abandoned property and a restored version of the old inn appeared. The locals were terrified, as clergy of the Lawgiver church entered to exercise it. Instead, screams of anguish and terror echoed to be followed by silence. For a handful of years to follow, no one from Nova Vaasa was foolish enough to enter. However, meddlesome foreigners who didn’t heed the warnings weren’t stopped. At first glance, all seems normal. The inn looked as it did prior, with Pyotr always being the first to greet guests. However, those who check in quickly notice something deeply off. The braziers and lanterns flicker with either a dying fade or aggressive ferocity. Other guests have an unnatural quality to them. Plus, the ballroom seems lifeless, despite holding some sort of party. As victims ready themselves for sleep, that’s when the hauntings truly begin. Reenacted horrors of the murderous riots begin, from the auditory to the directly visual. Following that, ghostly activity worsens. Windows and doors shutter tightly, previous victims wander the halls in search of help that will never come or targets for their undead wrath. Even poor Eli is stuck in an eternal cycle where he will charge and impale a hapless wanderer by the stairs above the ballroom. Pyotr himself is something of a unique ghost. While technically an incorporeal undead, he always retains a fully physical form and looks completely corporeal. Attempts to attack him only temporarily dispel him. As the haunting occurs, a gashing wound revealing entrails becomes visible on his torso. Those who attempt to survive the night are ultimately greeted with the hotel building burning down with them trapped inside. The nefarious sinkhole of evil has claimed many lives through this alone. Its troubling nature has kept the Church of the Lawgiver busy, but they are unsure of how to destroy it, as it keeps coming back.
The Darklord has but one desire for those who check in, that they never leave the same if they leave at all. His misanthropic hatred and frustration over inheriting the business is always challenged and tormented, as he is eternally surrounded with all he cannot stand. To cope, everything is just an instrument of sadistic torture to indulge in. As the night begins to progress, him and other ghosts will entice guests to indulge in vices while trying to turn them against their party. A common one is to lure them into the ballroom or wine cellar, feeding the victim copious amounts of alcohol and pushing them to violence. Should that not be enough, far more brutal haunts will arrive to either terrorize or attack the party in the hopes of slaying all of them. Those who die within the building are ensnared as another phantom used to attack the next guest. As per the darklord’s curse, he is always reminded of the sea he wishes to sail again once more. As such, he takes particular delight in luring sailors into the coastal venue. This malevolence breaths through the halls and stairs, touching all rooms within the darklord’s ghostly clutches. Every room, especially previously haunted ones, exude absolute hatred. However, Pyotr is not the only force at play inside the Voyage. The Nightmare Court has found something of a mistway in this sinkhole of evil. By some twisted warping of logic, the darklord’s own shattered dreams has brought a connection into the Nightmare Lands. While unlikely, entering a particularly cursed part of the hotel can instead yank a wanderer away into this other domain instead. Likewise, strong enough nightmares can equally trap a victim as well. Pyotr is aware of this, which he treats as an annoyance more than anything. In time, he’ll try to learn how to defeat this problem. One fortunate side effect of The Waking Nightmare is that his inn will be spared, at least for a time. Ultimately, Nova Vaasa is doomed and his pocket domain with it, as the Time of Unparalleled Darkness emerges in full strength.
A well of great evil, this former house of education originates in the mountain village of Applegarten, a day’s journal from the edge of the domain. Somehow not a pocket domain of its own, the schoolhouse has been known to deranged students, malicious educators and countless tragedies. In fact, majority of the deaths were of the students themselves. The Schoolhouse was built in the year 741 BC, a year after the Grand Conjunction… and 6 years after this domain was first revealed to The Mists. Of course, in the year 735 BC, Appleklein was completely surrounded by Mists until Glensburough joined nearby several years later. The desire for education came as a response to the conjunction, in which outsiders from beyond the mountains kept finding themselves in domain borders and soon in the Strings Player’s grasp. Their constant judgements and subtle condescension wore down the villagers throughout the time of the realignment. Ultimately, they banished the intruders as the event was coming to a close. Not to mention, the land wanted to try keeping up with a wider world to some extent. And by all means, their creation was considerably progressive for the cluster alone. The people of the land have held a deep connection for Kartakan culture, likely owing their origins to said land. Indeed, it’s a viable dread possibility that the residents of the mountains are ironically colonists who lost their roots. Meanwhile, despite Glensburough being revealed later, they’ve always held animosity for those of Mordentish descent. In the case of the former culture, this has helped foster a great deal of respect for art-based traditions. Ultimately, this helped warm the domain over towards building a house of education.
The first teacher was a strict disciplinarian, deeply principled in harsh punishment for challenging authority. For a time, her grim approach was deeply respected by parents hoping to instill a deep work ethic at a young age. Miss Emilia Weinberg was quick to value absolute obedience, lest the child be battered by either her cane. Over time, she began to fear retaliation of the students, resulting in her preemptively beating them upon arrival to help them submit to her authority. The rush of power began to drive her mad, as she began to turn her focus and fearmongering on other villages. For the better of two years, she gained much in influencing three connected small villages through horrific bullying tactics, when not guiding children in her biased lessons. Ultimately, a coalition formed to overthrow her, literally seizing her and tossing her off a cliff. Even as new educators emerged, her ghost haunted the school and attacked anyone who fails to follow rules.
Others who followed feared the wrath of the parents, growing increasingly reluctant to accept this non-home education idea. One teacher was in actuality a con-woman with a sales agenda. While providing the basic materials left by previous educators, she worked alongside a cruel man who were more interested in scamming and extorting communities for money. The children were subtly conditions to accept wood crafted works related to the teacher’s merchant caravan, as well as “donations” to upkeep the schoolhouse… money that rarely stayed within school coffers. A group of loggers found a nearby merchant encampment with the partner, gleefully musing about how duped the villagers were. The loggers ran them into the mists beyond, before the teacher was confronted and robbed clean of all of her possessions and funds. She too was chased off. For the most part, others before and after were far more reasonable, both men and women who usually fell to diseases, natural disasters or genuinely mysterious disappearances between 741 BC and 759 BC. The strange and increasingly cursed nature of the building caused valid apprehension towards it. Less and less children from the domain would find their way here, especially from close by villages who heard the stories. But, for some reason or another, attempts to shut the place down were overruled. Ultimately, it would close down for good towards the end of the 759 school year, as the cold months drew near.
The last teacher was a former schoolmarm on the outskirt town by Glensburough, who traveled to this remote village in an effort to bring more opportunity to the impoverished land. Her natural talents for painting to lead to portraits of the children. One of the students, late in the year, requested to show off a fascinating artifact that their father dug up in the mines outside of town. It turned out to be some relic of a bygone religion, dedicated to spiritual awakening and energy shifting. No one found that out until the child attuned to its power. Upon the totemic object awakening, the souls of the children and the teacher were sucked out and imprisoned within the portraits around the classroom. For 6 years, the schoolhouse has lied empty after the parents arrived to find soulless but living bodies of everyone collapsed on the floor with only the totemic artifact showing any liveliness upon a student’s desk. Every so often, the trapped soul may become aware and temporarily interact or alter the portrait, before it resets. This can be the image animating as they control it or creating marks or drawings on top. The dark sorcery of the totem ultimately changes the portrait back, until the soul can briefly gain control again. Attacking the totem risks another soul being trapped, this time in one of the many fresh canvases that lay in a more recent storage shed, built in 758 BC, connected to the building. What happens after the remaining canvases are filled? Unknown. However, a meeting shall commence soon on how to destroy the building, as fire has failed and so has using sharp tools and weapons.
IMAGE CREDIT: Mike Corriero – Skeleton Ghost; Professor Aloof – Plague Doctor; Larry Elmore – Deadlock; Me!! – The Empress Bed and Breakfast; KCET – Castle Green (Bodega Bay Inn from Puppet Master); Once Occupied – West Virginia Schoolhouse