Woke up to the sound of a portal opening. Must have been one of those spaceholes Ryll was talking about, one of those holes we sent Gary through. I feel a little bad. It wasn’t pleasant.
Woke up to a dark forest with a yellow sky. Two suns, two moons. Whole place smelled like rot. A lot of prisoners chained up to the trees, left for dead. All of them branded. Asked one of them where we were, who had done this to them. Mentioned Hunters. I traded him an arrow for his time.
Didn’t take long for one of these Hunters to show up. Rough, ashy skin, human-sized. Had a brand on his chest, little different from ours. Found a tree to hide in while he plucked one of the gibberers and dragged her out to a cliffside. I waited until he’d split her and started sorting out her innards before I started putting holes in him. Another portal popped open while I was putting the Hunter down; spat out a halfling brandbearer named Yvette. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one new in town.
She was handy with a sword, but not handy enough to put up against the hounds and Hunters hot on our heels. I spiked a couple of ropes down the cliff, cutting ties before they could get to us. Problem was, only way down was into a lake. Wasn’t pleasant. Thick. Smelled like mold and a rat, three days dead in a sunny swamp. We made it across, just barely. The halfling pulled me through at the end.
We took the time to rest up before setting into the city. Odd place. Didn’t feel right. Lots of tall towers with flying ships up above. Lots of vultures circling the joint. Not a lot of action in the streets, just bodies. Old bodies, fresh bodies, more with the brand than I could count. Yvette and I, we stuck to the shadows, picking our way through, looking for answers. Or maybe just a way to get the hell out.
We found an elf instead. Chained up around a bunch of bodies, skin split right off ‘em. Locks were easy enough to pick. Said she’d been taken by vulturemen. One of them came after us, so I guess she was telling the truth. Took his spear after we poked a few holes in him.
Tatiana had the Touch, so she was our best bet at finding a way out of this sulfur-smelling bonepile. We posted up for a few hours in the baseline of one of the spires, resting up for what was bound to be a hard climb. The elf said the place was named Carcosa, that she’d been stuck here a couple of months. She was branded, just like us. Hunted, just like us. Wanted out, just like us.
The three of us made it to the central tower well enough. Had to sneak around some giant reptile thing and a bunch of vulturemen to get there, but between me knowing how to keep a head down and a little darkness on the elf’s part, we made it to the door. Halfling stumbled a little, but I pulled her through. We were even. Ring of corpses kept the birdmen out. Seems like corpsemeat’s the running currency on magic ’round these parts.
Meat and blood. Took a little smear of mine to get the door open (having a magicker around’s handy for all this eldritch shit), and in we rolled to the tallest spire in Carcosa. Bunch of glowing runes in the wall, some familiar, some not. Brand started itching. Levitator worked just fine, though.
Caught some skull-headed knight on the way to the top. Seen a lot of things on the road since we left Sen’s Rest, but they all seem to go down if you hit ’em enough times. Tin Can was no different.
Brand started bleeding once we got to the top. Lots of whispers, lots of crazy. Yvette couldn’t handle it for a minute, needed Tatiana to talk her down. Couldn’t really go back now, so we climbed some stairs and got to the roof.
Found out what’s been causing all these wormholes. Big mad-looking god chained up at the top. Looked like a turtle bird. Didn’t have long to admire the view before the elf turned on us. Took me longer than I wanted to get clear of her blindspot, and when I did, she was elbow deep in Yvette’s face.
Needed us for a ritual, she said. Going to summon a tombship and travel home, she said. She was sorry, she said.
Poked a couple holes, she stopped trying to get up. This one was a good one. Felt that hotness at the back of the neck, the ringing in my ears. Skin popped right off her at the end, something funny this toothpick does when it offs someone. Made it easy to trim off her face and finish her ritual. Big floaty ship swung in, door started screaming at me, and poof, here I am.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. What’s been up with you? And who’s the new robe?