Thousand Year Old Vampire, Part Three

Part Two

Thousand Year Old Vampire can be purchased in physical form and PDF on Indie Press Revolution and digital form on itch.io, if you wish to purchase this amazing game. Tim Hutchings, the creator of this experience, can be found on Twitter.

*You begin a fantastic construction that puzzles the mortals around you. Give just a hint as to it’s purpose. Lose a Resource and gain the Skill Visionary.*

The men were not enough. He realized they were poor constructions of that haunting face. He needed a bigger tapestry. It wasn’t long before he decided to use a nearby cliff for his newest project. Using nothing but claws and muscle, he began molding the rock and dirt in a reflection of the one he could not escape. The local townsfolk begin to visit the site during the day. They see no tools so view this as a miracle of God. So long as they did not touch it, he would stave off destroying them all.

*Your knowledge of old things becomes a strength. Based on a checked Skill, what knowledge do you share with contemporary mortals? Check a Skill. Create a Resource.*

He returns to the group of hunters whenever they stay on trips to the forest. On their latest journey, he taught them more unique and effective traps using natural resources. They thanked him, and again praised the good fortune of his visit. Before they parted ways, he was gifted with a golden coin. It was beautifully decorated with symbols and carvings. They told him it was one of their organization’s oldest traditions to gift it to any new members of their club.

*Your strange accent and old ways always reveal you as an outsider, mocked and cheated at best or hated at worst. Smother these useless traits by converting an old Memory to a new Skill for blending in.*

The few mortals he comes into contact with always seem off-put by the way he speaks and behaves. Deciding it was time to leave the forest, he steals clothes hung to dry, dons a torn dirty hat to cover his horns, and slips into the nearest town as a beggar. Feeding off of the other vagabonds and vagrants passing through, he begins a slow process of shaking off the wilds that even now called to him. He hides away the small amounts of handouts he gets, steals from those he kills, and breaks into shops in the dead of night to steal from their tills and safes. Soon he will amass enough to purchase a place to live.

*A mortal discovers the journals of a long dead Character, or your own lost Diary, and approaches you. What do they seek? Gain a Skill or a Resource. Create a mortal Character.*

Not long after finally reestablishing himself into society, even if it was on the lower end, he had a visitor one hot summer evening. She introduced herself as Wendy Suvall and said she was a local historian and fascinated with the occult and paranormal. She also knew of his secret. She gifted him a worn leather diary that was owned by a man named Christopher. Apparently, this man was his familiar well over a century ago. Inside, the pages read of the man’s life growing up as a servant of a vampire. He spoke of the betrayal he felt at being abandoned in prison. He let Wendy leave, as something about her made him believe he could trust her with the knowledge of what he was. At least, for now.

*The mortal harms, shames or exposes you. Check a Skill as you fruitlessly pursue them. Lose a Resource.*

One evening he was greeted to the day’s paper on his front doorstep. Curious, as he did not read the news, he flipped through the pages and within found a long editorial by Wendy revealing the true nature of his condition. It wasn’t long before an angry mob began to form. He searched the house for any treasured items he wished to flee with and only found the hunting coin. Wendy must have broken in and stole back the diary. He snuck out the back of his home as crowds formed in the front. He headed to Wendy’s home and searched for her and the diary. Neither was there, so he set a fire to it and watched it burn to the ground before leaving the town.

*Vast numbers of humans are migrating around the world. What group becomes easy to feed upon? How do you capitalize on their helplessness? Create a Resource.*

War has broken out within the country. Thousands of men, women, and children flee the chaos and destruction. Taking advantage of the situation, he converts an abandoned cottage in the woods near the border of the engagement for a safe haven. He pays a local printer to create cards with a simple logo and cryptic directions to this hidden home. Half of the travelers he feasts upon and the other half he lets pass. Aid workers who are trying to help the refugees continue to hand out his cards to those running from the destruction. It is nearly a perfect system.

*Language itself leaves you behind. People discuss concepts you cannot grasp using tools you cannot understand. How is this problem dramatically made manifest? Create a Character who will teach you a Skill to help you offset this disadvantage.*

It didn’t happen suddenly. It was a slow progression over the centuries of his existence that eroded the understanding of what the mortals around him were saying. He no longer understood the words spoken by the humans he came into contact with. They spoke quickly, in brief words and letters that took full sentences and broke them completely down in a mutter. They carried electronic devices their faces stayed glued to and tapped the small machine to speak to those far away. It was from the kindness of a young vampire, Balazar, who taught him how to read minds. Once he fully fed, he could sit upon a bench and listen to the idle chatter of those passing quickly by.

*An antiquity has surfaced which is directly tied to your mortal life. Check a Skill or lose a Resource and gain the antiquity as a Resource, then regain one of your earliest Memories. Record an Experience about acquiring the antique.*

It was in a museum exhibit, that he sees a sword on display he recognizes from a long time ago. Dodging, parrying, swinging it down upon his enemies, a kind old man teaching him how to fight, and a proud smile as the old man gifts him this sword. He left the museum and easily broke in the following night reading the mind’s of the guards on patrol. Once he held it in his hands, glass shattered around him and sirens blaring, the memories of his grandfather came flooding back. A smile on his lips, tears falling from his eyes, he cut down the men and women who tried to stop him. He escaped into the night, feeling, for the first time in as long as he could remember, a sense of peace and happiness.

*You bond with an ancient enemy Character over your shared past, finding in it something more comprehensible than this modern world. Check a Skill. You become friends. Share a Resource and gain a Resource that is shared with you.*

He hunts below the surface, as he is not as powerful as he once was. Amongst the vermin crawling throughout the tunnels, he finds a beautiful vampire called Gaius. Gaius pledged his immortal life to him, calling him Marus. It was his name, he was told. Not remembering his mortal life, beyond the sword of his grandfather, he trusted Gaius and reclaimed it. Gaius remained by his side and the two became inseparable hunting partners and close friends. Gaius claimed to also be responsible for Marus’ undead life, and gifted him a peculiar silver locket he said Marus cherished centuries ago. Marus felt compelled to match the kind gesture and offered his grandfather’s sword. He had no memory of this immortal, but he could not deny the strong bond he felt with him.

*You are caught outside and destroyed. What happened? The game is over.*

Marus and Gaius gave each other a strength they did not possess apart. The millennium was not kind to their physical shells and as another several decades passed it became increasingly difficult for them to hunt and feed. They found shelter in an industrial park and continued to live out their lives the best they could. It was mice, squirrels, birds, and anything they could manage to grab that kept them fed. One night, close to dawn, they stumbled across a photographer taking pictures of dilapidated buildings and the surrounding factories. Lost in the ecstasy of human blood, the two drained the man, but did not pay attention to the creeping light. They couldn’t dig, as the ground was concrete for hundreds of yards in all directions. They had no structures to hide in, as the buildings were shells of their former self. The two looked at one another, blood dripping from their mouths, and realized their fates were sealed. Embracing one another, the sun flooded the area. A small breeze blew a cloud of dust and ash across the empty space and all that remained was the dried husk of a young man. It was the last meal of Marus, a thousand year old vampire.

The End

Thousand Year Old Vampire, Part Two

Part One

Thousand Year Old Vampire can be purchased in physical form and PDF on Indie Press Revolution and digital form on itch.io, if you wish to purchase this amazing game. Tim Hutchings, the creator of this experience, can be found on Twitter.

*Erase the first sentence of any two Memories. You’re not quite sure why. Do not create an Experience about this.*

Will not add an entry here, as the prompt says not to create an experience. For the sake of telling the V story, I will list the two erased sentences below.

  1. While skinning a wolf that was plaguing my family’s land, I found an old Roman coin in the beast’s stomach.
  2. A wealthy young man named Gaius passed through the village and was seduced with a secret rendezvous in the forest. Gaius turned me into a vampire to enslave me as an eternal concubine, but had to flee when I fiercely fought back.

*Create a mortal Character. You have shaped them from infancy to be exactly what you want. Lose a Resource.*

One night, William feasted upon a married couple while they slept soundly in their bed. It wasn’t long after a baby began to cry in the next room. William took in the child and named him Christopher, instead of destroying it. He raised him into a fine young man who serves William obediently and without question. He is only one, but is a far better servant than the entire flock he left behind.

*You are trapped outside when the sun rises and take shelter some place you are not supposed to be. A child discovers and befriends you. Create a mortal child Character and record a humanizing Experience.*

William wandered too far from his lair one evening and lost track of time. As the sky turned from black to a dull gray, he took shelter in a barn. A young child named Lucy found him hiding in a dark and shadowy corner and tried to help William by bringing him food and a book to read. This touched William, so he did not act as impulsively as his mind wished him too. When the sun set, he left Lucy and the barn.

*Your methods for acquiring victims are no longer effective. What has changed? Lose a Resource and create a Skill which describes your new feeding techniques.*

When William awoke to fire and screams, he instinctively leaped through a window and ran. When he circled back around, he watched the guards take Christopher away for the crime of arson. With his food source in prison and his home ashes, William retreats to the forest where he feeds upon the animals for sustenance.

*You keep a prisoner. Why this particular person? Why don’t you feed upon them? Create a Character and a Skill related to keeping them captive.*

In a desperate move to rescue Christopher, William kidnaps the Captain of the Guard’s son Richard Benton. The boy is easily manipulated to follow William with promises of wealth and power in a far off land. He has no plans to feed upon his captive, but only adds to the lie when Richard begins questioning his captor. It is William’s hope the search for Richard will distract the guards enough to let him break into the heavily defended prison and release his familiar.

*What social mores have you forgotten? Lose a checked Skill.*

William’s plan for Christopher did not go the way he thought it would as nobody went to search for Richard. Unfortunately, for the son of the Captain of the Guard, William’s new feral nature took hold and he forgot who his captive even was. While his prisoner slept, William drained the young man of his blood and went off into the woods with no memory of the corpse, the plan, or the familiar sitting in the nearby prison.

*You fall into a deep slumber for a hundred years. Strike out any mortal Characters.*

William became one with the forest. He shook off his connections with civilization and became a wild thing out amongst nature. He feasted upon animals and the occasional lost man or woman, he dug deep into the earth at night to sleep, and the locals soon spoke of the demon that lived out in the darkness. One night, the hunger for blood was nearly unquenchable. He came across a wolf den amongst some boulders and entered. After draining everything inside with a heartbeat, William dug deep into the ground within the burrow and fell into a deep slumber for a full century.

*Your whole being becomes centered in your senses and your hunger. Create a Skill that demonstrates your feral vampire nature and lose an existing Memory.*

When he awoke, the hunger called to him. Every fiber of his being yearned for blood and he could smell the richness of it around him. He could not remember who he was, though other memories flitted in the periphery of his consciousness. He feasted upon rats, squirrels, deer, and another entire den of wolves. The smaller animals he ate nearly whole. He came across a group of hunters camping next to a small river and tore them to pieces. He washed himself in the rushing water and felt just a small bit of relief in his cravings.

*Age has damaged your Diary. Strike out three nouns from the Memories in your Diary, starting from the oldest entry. If you have no Diary, do this to the first three nouns in a Memory of middling age.*

Having decided to forgo a Diary this playthrough, here is the Memory that was changed.

I awoke one evening to find a young man sleeping by my side. I could not say why he was there, but his blood was intoxicating and a rare treat out in the dark forest I called home.

*You destroy something important to you in a purposeless rage. Lose a precious Memory or a destroy Resource.*

The anger for what he has become consumes him. He awakens one night, his body yearning for blood, but he does not answer. Rage drives him into the night and he slaughters any living creature he can find. He forgoes any consumption and just kills. As the sky begins to lighten, he washes himself in a cool stream and retires to a nearby cave. As sleep begins to take him, he realizes he no longer remembers how he became this thing that hunts and feeds on life. He can not recall those responsible or if the transformation was anyone’s fault but his own.

*Things fall to dust. Lose a Resource for which you have no corresponding Memory. Do not create a new Experience for this Prompt, it simply happens as you stare in silence.*

Truth be told, I lost my last Resource a LONG time ago and have been unable to create a new one. The rules state that if you have no available resources, you are able to Check a Skill which means you can no longer use that Skill in a prompt. I find it fitting, given the description above, to check Swordsmanship.

*You make a new copy of your crumbling Diary. In your most recent Diary Memory, swap two verbs each for the other. If you have no Diary strike out three verbs in your most recent Memories.*

As mentioned above, I am not using the Diary feature in this playthrough, so here is the affected memory.

I hate what I am and the animal I have become. I spend an entire evening killing everything I can find in the forest but do not drink a drop of blood. I can no longer remember how I got this way or those responsible for this.

*Your body is undergoing further corruption and change. When do you first notice these new changes? Create a Mark.*

He awoke one evening with his head pulsing and pain searing his scalp. Hoping it would fade after feeding, he went into the night and hunted. After consuming a fair share of blood, the pain did not reside. To his horror, two horns began to break through his scalp. It was not a quick transformation, but it only took three nights for the black growths to curve backwards down his head and nearly rest upon his shoulders. He did not know why this happened and fell into a deep depression as his animalistic nature now mirrored his physical being.

*What simple, practical skill proves invaluable in your strange existence? How did you learn it? Create a Skill.*

Purely by accident, he had started a fire. It was not intentional, but not long after the flames were crackling and the warm light filled the small clearing, a man approached. He had gotten separated from his friends while hunting and was completely lost. A young woman picking berries had gotten turned around when the sun went down. He drained them both, burying the bodies in the nearby brush. He now utilized this skill by lighting a couple small inviting fires and waiting.

*How did you come to be in a place of common laborers? What previously checked Skill convinced them to accept you? What was that night of camaraderie like? Create a mortal Character. Check a Skill.*

The young man is almost on top of him, as he lay hidden amongst leaves and mud. A wolf pack had surrounded the young man and was ready to charge. He springs forth, saving the life of the young man and fighting with the wolves until they are either dead or run off. He shows him back to the main camp he had wandered from and he meets the entire party of hunters. They are taking a few days to reconnect with nature and found it good fortune to meet one such as the young man’s savior. The young man, Edward Dartan, intrigues him. He destroys none in the group, and shows them some tips for using the earth itself to hide amongst the living things.

*Timeless introspection becomes manifest in creative acts. Choose a creative Skill based on a lost Memory.*

A beautiful face stares back at him. He was a young man who had stumbled too close to the outskirts of the town. He slices and molds the skin on the face to resemble someone he could no longer remember. A visage that took shape in his dreams but vanished when the last rays of light dipped below the horizon. It had been a man, and these victims were to look like him to the best of his crude attempts. He waited until the transformation was complete before feeding. When done, he found himself lying next to the dead person, stroking their hair. It was an obsession to the craft and the unseeable muse.

Part Three

Thousand Year Old Vampire, Part One

Thousand Year Old Vampire can be purchased in physical form and PDF on Indie Press Revolution and digital form on itch.io, if you wish to purchase this amazing game. Tim Hutchings, the creator of this experience, can be found on Twitter.

This is the story of the vampire who was born Marus Taelon.

Marus was the son of Byron and Malinda. Byron, his father, was a terrible drunk that made a living cleaning stables. Nearly everything he earned was spent in a local tavern. Marus’ mother, Malinda, lived a hard life. She was raised by a fiercely religious father who mentally and physically abused her. Her husband also took his alcoholism-infused rages out upon her. She spent her life doting on her son in search of the affection she had been denied all her years. Marus was taught how to fight and use a sword from his father’s father. When Marus became a soldier for the King, his grandfather gifted him with his own sword. 

Marus was fascinated with the forest and all that lived in it. He also enjoyed hunting and could skin even the largest of beasts in minutes. When he took it upon himself to hunt a wolf that was terrorizing their small patch of land, Marus found an old Roman coin in the wolf’s stomach and kept it for luck. When he wasn’t out in the forest looking for his family’s next meal, Marus also had a weakness for consumption. He often met his friend Thomas Brower at the inn and they usually drank until closing time or were thrown out for instigating fights. One night, a passing merchant agreed to a drinking challenge from Marus. The wager was his own sword versus a beautiful silver locket owned by the merchant. That necklace was now one of Marus’ most prized possessions.

A mysterious figure began appearing in town night after night and drew the attention of Marus almost immediately. He was tall, broad shouldered, and was intoxicatingly beautiful. Soon the two began to meet regularly. Marus felt a strong connection to the man who called himself Gaius. One night, Gaius talked Marus into a midnight stroll through the forest. When they found a clearing, far from town, they joined together in a passionate embrace. Marus, drunk on ale and lost to the man’s kisses, could not have known of Gaius’ true intentions and barely stirred when fangs were pushed deep into his neck. The rest was a blur to Marus, but bits and pieces stood out above the rest. He vaguely remembers Gaius whispering into his ear while Marus from his own wrist. Gaius, not expecting Marus to recover so quickly, could not predict the fight his newly turned companion would put up. The two battled violently and finally Gaius had to retreat, but not before raking sharp claws across Marus’ face destroying his right eye and leaving a long jagged scar.

And, with that, Marus had become a vampire.

*In your blood-hunger you destroy someone close to you. Kill a mortal Character. Create a mortal if none are available. Take the skill Bloodthirsty.*

Marus stumbled home and managed to get through the door just as his father was in the process of slapping his mother across the room. His father turned sharply and began shouting expletives at Marus. He screamed and cursed, spittle dotting the pale face of his son. Marus caught an incoming blow and twisted just enough for his father’s bones to rip through the flesh of his arm. As Byron screamed, he told his mother to leave and not come back until the following morning. When the door closed, he grabbed a nearby cutting knife and cut deeply into his father’s neck. Marus moaned as he drank from the pulsing artery and lapped up nearly all the blood that gushed from the wound.

*Your body manifests some trait related to the vampire that created you. How do you become more like them? Create a Skill that reflects this.*

As the days and nights passed, Marus’ physical form began to change. Having peaked at five-and-a-half-feet early in life, he rises almost an additional foot. He widens and the muscles in his body become stronger and visually prominent. He notices that his looks also changed. While not an unattractive man, his face became nearly as beautiful as Gaius. Even the scar, while not fading, softened and was less repulsive and more alluring. His mother did not speak of the transformation. She, for the first time in her life, seemed happy.

*People see a horror in you that you cannot perceive in yourself. What Mark do you possess that you do not know about? Create a Mark and a suspicious mortal who has seen it. What name do the people call you when your back is turned?*

In addition to his physical changes, something in Marus was corrupted. Instead of tears in his eyes, everyone saw blood. Having felt bonded to Gaius, he could not forget the betrayal he suffered at the hands of his creator and dwelt upon it constantly. His fascination with the vampire bordered obsession. His crimson weepiness was first noticed by the town mayor, Charles Weller, upon questioning of his father’s whereabouts. After some gossiping chatter, the people of the town began to call him The Demon behind his back.

*You are recognized for what you are by another creature like yourself. Create an immortal Character, lose a Resource and gain a Skill. What did you lose to them?*

One evening, Marus felt a powerful presence hunting him through the forest while he himself was tracking down a pack of wolves terrorizing the countryside. The hunter turned out to be a vampire named Lucius from the time of ancient Rome. He claimed Marus had something of his and attacked. Marus tried to escape, as he was no match for this being, but could not lose him. It wasn’t until Marus threw the Roman coin he had always carried on him away into a nearby pond and buried himself into mud did Lucius veer off and leave him be.

*Generations of the same family serve you. This line starts from any living mortal Character, or from the descendants of a dead mortal Character. What bizarre rituals do they tie to their servitude? Lose a Resource and create a Servitors of the Lineage Resource.*

Nearly a century had passed, when Marus was approached by a group of men and women claiming to be the descendants of his old friend Thomas Brower. How they found him and knew of his secret, Marus did not know. They pledged themselves to serve him. On the nights when the moon was full, they used a replica sword of the one Marus’ grandfather had gifted him and sliced open the neck of a virgin for his consumption. It made Marus reminisce of the sword he lost some time ago in his travels and the man who was like a second father to him.

*Some mortals have banded together to hunt you, well-armed and wise to your tricks. How do you defeat or evade them? Create a mortal hunter related to one of your checked Skills. Check a Skill.*

Marus was awoken early one evening to the sounds of shouting and fighting. His quarters were breached and an angry mob of townspeople led by Greggory Brower, a former familiar from his servants, charged in to destroy him. They swarmed Marus, swinging crude farm tools and clubs down upon him. Marus barely escapes with his life, as he dives out the window and plummets to the road below. In the commotion, he loses his treasured silver locket he won from a merchant long ago. Greggory now wears it around his neck as a symbol of victory.

*While traveling you come into conflict with another immortal. Gain a Mark. Who are they? What trick did you play upon them? Create a new immortal Character.*

Marus flees his home and sets out into the countryside. He comes across a traveling band of entertainers camping. Still in a fowl mood, he kills them all. Stumbling amongst the trees, intoxicated on the copious amount of blood he ingested, he finds a young pale woman with fangs in a struggling fawn. Still feeling wicked, he makes the young vampire, Gwenith, believe she can have the home he just abandoned. She kisses his left hand in kindness, which forever would leave a bloody impression upon it.

*You master a strange new science or field of knowledge. How does your vampire nature give you special insight into these studies? Create an appropriate Skill based on a Memory.*

Marus finds a new home in a bustling city where he begins experiments on the human body. Trying to find a way to sate his appetite for blood, he takes his victims to a deep cellar in his new home and takes them completely apart. He eats their organs, the fluids within any of them there is to consume, and eventually makes a breakthrough with bone marrow. He discovers a way to cultivate it in good quantities and that it actually curbs the hunger that calls to his body and mind.

*You are forced to adopt a new name. Why?*

Stumbling home after draining an entire theater troupe, a soldier stops the vampire and asks him his name. He also asked him why he was covered in blood. He said he lost a fight, but he truly could not remember his own name. It had somehow completely vanished from his memory. Racking his mind, he said his name was William Tanner. The soldier let him go but told him to head straight home. William thanked the man, and went on his way. He didn’t know why he couldn’t remember his name. It was William. It’s always been William.

Part Two

Alone in the Dungeon – Bartok Wylon

You can purchase and download Alone in the Dungeon here. The developers, Azukail Games, has a website that can be found here.

Bartok Wylon approached the gates of the mausoleum. He took a deep breath and stepped through a large door which was partially opened due to a broken rusted hinge. Feeling in his pocket for the map he received that night, Bartok was sure he would not get lost in the maze of corridors and crypts below. He searched the small room he stepped into for a lever that would open the entrance. He peeked at the map and saw one of the unlit sconces was illustrated sideways. Bartok stepped over, and turned the black iron bracket. There was a low rumble below his feet and soon one of the main stone floor pieces slid back to reveal a sickly green glow emanating from the depths below. Bartok clutched his shield and let his fingers lie upon the hilt of his longsword.

D6 = 4, drew 4 cards

D6 = 3, turned over 5 of Spades

Once Bartok descended the staircase that took shape as the main stone block continued sliding back, he pulled the map out again. He caught the familiar logo of a goblin giving a thumbs up in the top left corner. Goblin Gary’s Goodwill Maps were always guaranteed to help you through local dungeons, crypts, and more. He used it to find his way into a small chamber just off the main entrance he had arrived in. His foot pushed down upon a loose stone and Bartok heard a clicking sound. He dropped the map and reached for his shield as three acrid arrows sailed out of a slit in a nearby wall and were stopped by quick reflexes and his trusty shield.

D6 = 1, turned over 2 of Hearts

Quickly deciding to leave the room, Bartok slowly crept down the hallway he had found himself in at the bottom of the stairs. As he inched forward, Bartok caught movement from a dark corner. There was a low melancholy groan and an armored skeleton began shambling towards him. It raised a dusty sword, it’s head cocking sideways with hollowed out eye sockets crawling with dozens of insects. Bartok immediately drew his own weapon and slashed across the dent and rusted chainmail. The groans stopped, and the threat was now lying in a pile of dust.

D6 = 6, turned over Queen of Hearts

Bartok followed more moaning into a smaller side chamber. Within resided rows and rows of coffins. If he remembered the map right, and he was hoping he did, this was the final resting place for several dozen of the King’s personal guard. The distressed calls only increased as Bartok took a step into the room. Several lids began to open, so he immediately backed up and tried to distance himself for what could very well be the awakening of an undead army. He moved further into the underground structure, keeping an ear out for shuffling feet behind him.

D6 = 2, turned over 10 of Clubs

The path wound in a semicircle and opened at a larger chamber. Inside, the walls were lined with more unlit sconces. A small dias rose in the opposite end with a large throne. Upon the throne sat a skeleton draped in flowing purple robes. As Bartok approached, the skeleton twitched and turned its attention to Bartok. It’s left hand rose slowly, a finger pointed at him. As the temperature dropped, blue light began to coalesce around the outstretched arm and collect in the pointing finger. Bartok charged, raising his shield as a cold blast of energy erupted. The shield was enveloped in ice and he shook it free. As he cleared the distance, Bartok let out a shout as he spun in place and swung his sword across the ancient neck. The body collapsed, as the head rolled across the room.

D6 = 3, drew 3 cards

D6 = 1, turned over 7 of Diamonds

Bartok found a hidden stairwell at the rear of the throne hidden behind a fake wall. It circled down some ways and it opened in a servant’s quarters. Bartok searched the room, opening a small chest and a broken wardrobe. Just about to give up, he checked under the bed. The mattress jingled, as he lifted. Running his sword across the thin mattress, leaving a black stain across the fabric from the recently vanquished undead lord, coins began to spill from the split. Bartok chuckled as he pulled over a hundred of the gold pieces from their hiding place.

D6 = 6, turned over 8 of Hearts

The room had one exit that led down seemingly endless halls that broke in different directions. The paths were rough and unfinished. Eventually Bartok could hear the sound of shuffling feet. He froze in his tracks and tried to listen. The sound bounced around the paths and he could not pinpoint which direction it came from. He continued on and found a very roughly cut chamber filled with heavy equipment. Large abandoned machines used to dig into the earth were crumbling apart in this ancient tomb. As Bartok stared at the scene, wondering perhaps if any valuables had been found, a skeleton approached from behind. Bartok heard too late, as the undead creature drove a sword through his back and out his chest. He spun, his sword cleaving the monster and dropping the enchanted bones into a heap at his feet. He too dropped as the weapon that impaled him slid back out and clattered to the floor.

D6 = 5, turned over 6 of Clubs

Bartok shakily rose to his feet and shuffled back the way he came. He didn’t look at the wound, but he could feel the blood running down his body and imagined the gruesome trail he was leaving behind. The tunnel twisted and turned and more than once he had to stop and lean against the wall. A new sound pulled him forward as he heard running water around a corner. Bartok entered a small chamber with a stream running across the back. Placed over the fast moving brook was a white fountain that pulled the water up and offered a small spout to drink from. Bartok stumbled forth and sipped the cold liquid deeply. He soon collapsed onto his back, an otherworldly chill enveloping his body. He blacked out for some unknown amount of time and when he came to the undead lord he had decapitated earlier stood over him. It cocked its head from side to side and let out a rattled chuckle. Bartok’s vision faded as an icy chill gripped his heart. The otherworldly laugh echoed against the small room and inside his head. Bartok’s life was over, but an eternity of wandering these halls was just beginning.

Artefact – The Staff, Part Two

Part One

This post is based upon my playthrough of Jack Harrison’s Artefact. It is a story game designed for one player. If you like would like to purchase and download a copy, you can find it here. A quick note on a couple things. One, you are supposed to draw the Artefact you choose to play as, and I did, but I did not save or take pictures of my drawings until it was too late, so I will not be sharing those in these posts. Two, in between experiences, it is suggested you take a moment and reflect upon the time that passes for your item. Close your eyes, set a timer, but I recommend using the music prompts the game suggests. Written by Christopher Michael Roberts, they are a perfect accompaniment to the experience and can be found here, when playing through your own story. I understand most won’t be able to listen to the embedded music in between each part of the tale, but I included them nonetheless. They are beautiful and add such a wonderful immersion to you and the Artefact you have chosen to play as. Thanks again, I hope you enjoy.

Malcolm Waddleston, a fighter for an adventuring guild, was deep below the surface hunting a cave troll. The party had started as five, but now only Malcolm remained. The troll was completely invisible, and it’s massive bulk could be heard crawling along the cavernous ceiling above. The staff, not wishing to be found by the monstrous creature, willed Malcolm to hide amongst some boulders. He listened to the ethereal whispers and took refuge in the rocky shelter. His foot caught the stave and he nearly broke his neck tripping into a jagged wall. When he freed it, his eyes glistened as the visage of a bear twisted and became that of his guild’s sigil. The staff hummed a blessed tune and with a whisper the surrounding boulders and rocks exploded outward throughout the cavern. Malcolm could feel the troll’s presence as it dropped from it’s high perch and creeped towards him. Vicious fangs and claws would have glistened in the wavering torchlight, if not for the troll’s ability to be unseen. Malcolm, thanks to an enchantment by the staff, dodged and parried the incoming blows, and soon took the offensive. With each hit of the now gleaming weapon, a burst of light exploded and sapped the troll’s life little by little. Malcolm finally brought the newly formed sigil down upon the creature’s head and ended it. As the years passed, and the story retold, Malcolm would embellish little by little until one day it was told he kneeled within a faint ray of sunlight and prayed. The Gods spoke to him and within that thin shaft of light dropped the staff that now lay encased in a glass chest for all the guild to see. Pride and blind faith was not enough to protect the guild or the kingdom as a mighty dragon razed the land, killed nearly all the people, and claimed the ruins of the castle as it’s new home.

Mallow Barbosa, a leader and prophet to the religious group The Worms of Visyer, had found the staff deep in the castle’s foundation. Age and the elements stripped away much of the lair of Visyer, the dragon who had made this his home for centuries, but there was enough to work with. It called to Mallow, as it had to so many before, and the unfamiliar symbol atop the white stave creaked and groaned as it slowly changed into the head of a dragon. Something was different now, though, and the staff was uneasy as the robed figure inspected the mysterious item. Whether through time or Visyer’s constant rages that sent sections of the castle tumbling or coins to be melted to molten pools, it could no longer create illusions. Mallow did not need the temptation. Only seeing the dragon’s head, he knew that this magical artifact would be the key in bringing the dead dragon back to this world and began preparing the ritual at once. It was a fortnight before the staff was brought into a clearing. A dozen figures circled around Mallow as he began chanting an ancient spell. As the muffled cries of a pale woman rang out with the piercing of an obsidian blade, the staff knew something was wrong. It pictured a hairline crack inside itself and it knew it wasn’t strong enough for this ceremony. It became fearful as the whispers quickened. Before it could send out a warning to the cult leader, a shockwave that could be seen nearly across the entire world flashed and decimated everything within a hundred miles. The staff was shattered and the dragon head was sent soaring away and landing in a swamp a continent away. It sank to the bottom of a bog where it lay alone and scared.

Desmond Talwyrn turned the wooden dragon head over in his hands and handed it back to the squirmy and sweaty individual. The man frowned and jerked it back demanding to be paid. Desmond sighed, giving in to the man with eyes drifting to every passing figure with unease. Placing the object into a satchel, he headed back to his home. The dragon was silent. It listened to the merchants and shoppers in darkness but unable to call out and connect to anyone including this man who was now in his possession. The dragon saw light again as it was lifted from the bag. Desmond stared intently at it. He cocked his head from side to side and continued to study. The dragon desperately tried to bend him to it’s will but could not. It’s new owner sighed and carefully set it on a soft purple pillow and then placed a glass covering over it. The dragon could sense others like it. If there was one thing that it actually could feel was the power in this room. Remnants of ancient and powerful artifacts. A sword hilt that screamed in rage, a pendant with a golden eye that tried to sing a song no one on this realm had ever heard, and even a cracked glass slipper that yearned to turn scullery maids into princesses. The dragon could hear the man talking to himself. Flipping through thick and dusty tombs and saying familiar names the dragon had heard before. A King from an almost forgotten civilization, a barbarian who would conquer the known world, and a dangerous group of cultists who would bring back an ancient evil to bring about the end of time with scales and fire. Desmond cast a sideway glance at the dragon and smiled. He put the pieces together and let out a chuckle. Stifling a yawn, the man stood from his desk and said goodnight to the silent room. Silent to him, but deafeningly loud to the items within it.

The End

Artefact – The Staff, Part One

This post is based upon my playthrough of Jack Harrison’s Artefact. It is a story game designed for one player. If you like would like to purchase and download a copy, you can find it here. A quick note on a couple things. One, you are supposed to draw the Artefact you choose to play as, and I did, but I did not save or take pictures of my drawings until it was too late, so I will not be sharing those in these posts. Two, in between experiences, it is suggested you take a moment and reflect upon the time that passes for your item. Close your eyes, set a timer, but I recommend using the music prompts the game suggests. Written by Christopher Michael Roberts, they are a perfect accompaniment to the experience and can be found here, when playing through your own story. I understand most won’t be able to listen to the embedded music in between each part of the tale, but I included them nonetheless. They are beautiful and add such a wonderful immersion to you and the Artefact you have chosen to play as. Thanks again, I hope you enjoy.

Gallus Blacklung was a powerful conjurer that made a deal with a lesser demon of the Underworld. Knowing his days were numbered from old age and a lifetime of pipe smoking, Gallus agreed to help the demon escape while also ensuring everlasting life. Or, so he thought. Gallus had made many enemies amongst the monsters and imps for pulling their spirits into his world to perform his bidding. When the ritual was finished, Gallus’ essence had been infused into a tall elegant white staff with a golden cap at the base and a gnarled and twisted top. It radiated anger, while conjuring minor illusions even at rest with no one holding it.

Fredrick Faller is a young prince whose home Gallus resides as a court wizard. His father, King Harold, rules the land in a time of peace and prosperity. Frederick, a pompous brat whose short lifetime has been spent being spoiled by his parents, wandered into the Wizard’s chamber after hearing strange noises and whispers. Against a far wall, Frederick spotted a tall staff that seemed to radiate energy. Flashing lights sparkled, the ocean could be heard from it’s base, and it seemed birds the size of flies landed atop it only to shortly disappear. When Fredrick’s fingers clutched the staff, the gnarled top unwove and sprouted outwards in a dozen sharpened points. The staff responded to Fredrick with whispers of power and usurping the fool upon the throne. When Fredrick brought the staff before his father, already emboldened to overthrow the King, it fell silent. Frederick shrieked and shouted at the man who usually bowed to his wishes. He told him he would cut off his head and mount it on the highest tower. When he brought the staff forth to smite the now enraged King, it did not respond. It fell mute, and silently chuckled as it and Fredrick were taken away. The deceptive staff was tossed into a storeroom and Fredrick was thrown into the dungeon. The staff, now collecting dust in a forgotten room of the castle, had been referred to as Fredrick’s Folly.

Calvin Troyer, a soldier in King Harold’s army, deserted once they began to slaughter the people of the land as alleged conspirators. The act of executing his son drove Harold mad and he now blamed all around him as schemers. The Queen, his own wife, was put to the block, as her mourning for their son showed her true alignment. Calvin and others formed a rebellion and stormed the castle to finally put an end to the King’s madness. When searching for the hiding ruler, Calvin stumbled across the staff in a storeroom. Lights twinkled around it, flames licked the barbed top, and an ethereal voice called to him and promised victory. As Calvin lifted the staff, the top creaked and groaned as spiky limbs came together and formed an eagle with wings spread outwards. He took it as a sign, as the eagle was a symbol of virtue and kinship. With the help of the staff, they found the King and publicly executed him as he had done to so many others. The mischievous staff, feeling that these wielders of its power were merely tools, began to corrupt Calvin almost immediately. Crowned the new ruler, he was nearly identical to King Harold. With whispers in his dreams and from its mount atop the throne room, the staff twisted King Troyer. It was poison that finally killed him, Frederick’s Folly again chuckled inwardly as events continued to take shape around it. At least I’m out of that storeroom, it laughed.

Kahgosh, chieftain of a local tribe, has restless dreams of a dying city and a white staff that will help him rule the world. His people had been chased from their lands, and soon this brought the wandering clans together. With the kingdom internally collapsing and the news of the King dying, he rose to power within the combined might of the tribes and razed the weakened land. Kahgosh found the staff in the throne room and pulled it down without needing whispers of power or promises of wealth. He knew it to be true, and he watched in awe as the eagle atop the staff collapsed and formed the head of a bear. This now mighty artefact would be Kahgosh’s weapon against the interlopers who stole this land from its people. One by one, armies fell to his mighty horde and the powerful staff he held at his side. Merely pointing it at a fortified structure caused the bricks and mortar to explode and allow his soldiers to enter and kill all within. There was only one inhospitable stronghold that did not fall to his wish. Atop the center of a dormant volcano a crooked and charred castle stood. Something within called to Kahgoash’s weapon. The staff chose not to help destroy this stronghold and misfortune fell upon those who would try to attack it. Kahgosh abandoned the location, but did not leave behind the staff as it had wished he would. As the armies marched across a treacherous mountain pass, Kahgosh’s horse lost its footing and he and the staff tumbled into a dark chasm. Death claimed the ruler almost immediately, but the staff slid downwards and would soon stop deep in a cave system partially buried in rocks and gravel.

Part Two

The Pocketwatch

He stood on the wooded path, eyes closed. The breeze lightly tousled his hair. The insects buzzed and the birds chirped lazy songs. He could feel warm rays of sunshine splashing across his face as they poked their way through the dense canopy. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small metal object.

He felt the tiny chain slip through his fingers as his hand slowly rotated the circular object. After a few minutes his thumb caught the clasp and the device clicked open.

“I’m proud of you, son,” a gentle voice said.

He opened his eyes, squinting as a thin ray of light chose that moment to dance across his face. Before him stood his father. Time was kind to him. Jet black hair was barely peppered and only a few lines were etched across his face.

“Thanks, Dad,” he replied. A few moments passed. “I miss you.”

The older man kept the same smiling face. A small tremor spread across his features but it fizzled away just as quickly. He sighed heavily with the immersion now broken.

He closed the projector and the hologram vanished. He held it by the tiny chain and let it slowly dangle and spin. He had received his father’s prized possession right before he was deployed on his current tour and only days after the funeral. It was a long trip to the Andromeda galaxy so he had taken that time to convert it into its current form and function. It was a good start but it needed more a lot more work.

“End simulation,” he sighed. The trees, the birds, the bugs, and the warm rays of the sun slowly dissipated. He never took his eyes off the watch as the forest finished changing back to cold empty metal walls.

“See ya soon,” he whispered to the watch.

Alone Amongst the Ruins, Part Three

Part Two

You can purchase and download Alone Amongst the Ruins here. The developers, Azukail Games, has a website that can be found here.

The dawn was gray and cold. Having tucked myself into a corner of the townhouse, I listened to every bone in my body crack in protest as I rose from the hardwood floor. I pulled a few pieces of jerky from a small backpack I had collected to hold my dwindling supplies. I washed the salty breakfast down with a bottle of water and thought about how I should proceed. The phones did eventually stop ringing, but not right away. It took hours before the last one faded off, or I eventually just passed out from exhaustion. Throughout the night, a solitary ringing would wake me, but it usually stopped as quickly as it started and I dozed back off to sleep. As I headed to the front door, the phone I had pulled from the wall that should have been dead began to ring. I stared at it for some time and decided I wasn’t going to answer any more phones. I took a deep breath, and headed back out onto the street.

D6 = 1, so 1 card pulled

D6 = 2, drew 9 of Spades

Right down the street there was a coffee shop. The windows were smashed and the logo, though recognizable by anyone in the country who enjoys their variety of caffeinated drinks, was partially torn and flapped in the small morning breeze. Thinking I could maybe salvage something from inside, I tried the front door. It was jammed. I went around to one of the larger openings and was going to climb through when I spotted two small brown bear cubs huddled in the back. One looked directly at me and the other was snoring softly. I didn’t see the mom, but she couldn’t be too far. I didn’t even know if there was one. I backed away slowly and took a look around the deserted street before continuing on.

D6 = 6, so 6 cards pulled

D6 = 1, drew 4 of Diamonds

A mile from the townhouse I came across a traffic jam. Cars, vans, and delivery trucks were lined up bumper to bumper for nearly two full blocks in all directions. All the vehicles, most rusted out with the interiors torn up with what looked like scratches, were empty. There was a lot of blood, faded and chipping from the exposure to the sun, and I could not even imagine what had happened. At the epicenter of all this was a station wagon and an SUV that had collided. They too were empty and seemed to be one of the only vehicles spared of messy interiors. On a nearby building a large banner with cautionary symbols repeated what the signs earlier at the driving range had warned. Everyone should completely avoid eye contact and only to speak in whispered tones. There was also a line about wearing a mask and it’s help, but it was struck out with black spray paint. Below the sign, written by what I assume was the same person who crossed off that warning as the last letter drifted almost unbroken downwards, MASKS NOT SAVE YOU! THEY GET IN WITH MASKS TOO! DON’T TALK! DON’T LOOK!

D6 = 2, drew 8 of Hearts

As I continued towards what I hoped was water, more signs of violence could be seen. Just outside a laundromat and a diner, heaps of clothes and broken glassware and china littered the street. The plates were mostly broken with a rare few lying whole to the side of the road. There was massive amounts of blood here as well. On the ground, the walls, the sharp broken edges of plates, and soaked in the mounds of clothing. More signs littered the walls and inside the nearby shops. All warning of an unknowable threat with some having sections blacked out and others marked up with sharpies correcting the apparently incorrect information.

D6 = 2, drew 3 of Clubs

With the skyscrapers behind me and even some of the larger apartments, stores, and restaurants becoming less frequent, I came across a street lined with shotgun houses. The long rectangular dwellings seemed just as abandoned as the rest of the city, but these even more so. If I had to guess, this neighborhood was already seeing troubled times even before the incident which caused most of the population to vanish. Having finished off the food I had on me, I did scavenge a few granola bars and more bottled water from a couple houses that seemed to have been nearly blown apart from the inside. Nothing still made sense, but I was glad to find something to eat for later.

D6 = 1, drew 9 of Diamonds

I stumbled across another diner, but this one wasn’t as dilapidated as the others. There were a few broken windows, but the place was mostly intact. I pushed through the front door and headed back to the walk-in cooler in search of food. The smell of rotting meat overwhelmed my senses and I immediately realized it wasn’t spoiled beef but decomposing human flesh. I backed away from the death stuffed neatly into the cold space and sprinted to the bathroom. I never made it to a toilet and was washing the sink out when the door opened behind me and I saw a man step through. Disheveled, filthy, and covered in what I could only hope was dried maroon paint, he smiled. There was a familiarity about him and it sent shivers up my body. He frowned and then looked again into my eyes. “Look at me!” he screamed, and I did. This only infuriated him. “Turn around! Look at me!” Something clicked from the signs I had been reading and I remained frozen. The warnings had said not to make eye contact and this mirror was somehow not creating the connection this man was looking for. My hand was clenching the gun I had pulled from the crushed police officer in anticipation. The man’s face twisted in fury and he charged me. I spun, closing my eyes and fired the gun in three quick successions. I heard a grunt and sprinted out the door, opening my eyes so I would not crash into a wall. I ran as fast as I could away from that place with nobody seemingly following me.

D6 = 3, drew Jack of Clubs

The sound of seagulls filled me with renewed hope. I could hear waves cresting against the shoreline and I could smell the briny scent of the water in the air. As I approached the coast, I spotted a parking garage adjacent to a ferry terminal. Wanting to find out why I was being called to this place was still driving me, but it had been some time since I drank any water and I desperately needed something if I was going to keep going. I found a small office that a security guard would have used in between patrolling the parked cars. Inside was a small refrigerator with two bottles of sparkling water. I drank half of one and shoved them both into my backpack. I took a moment to sit on a worn office chair that had, despite breaking all laws of physics, been squeezed into the small space.

D6 = 5, drew Jack of Diamonds

I didn’t know there was a copy machine in the room, but it chirped to life and began attempting to print something. It beeped, clicked, whirred, beeped, and tried all over again. The beep was familiar. I heard it before. Just then the seagulls became boisterous and began screeching and squawking. The phone, an old black and bulky thing hung crookedly on the wall began to ring. I wanted to vomit. I felt bile and spit fill my mouth and my hand shakingly reached for the receiver. I didn’t want it to but I could not stop it. There was silence on the other end. I knew there would be. “The truth will set you free,” I said unable to suppress the chuckle that escaped my lips. The line went dead, as I knew it would. It then began to ring again and it seemed to somehow ring as if it was calling a hundred different phones at once. I placed it gently back on the receiver and, after replacing one of the sparkling water bottles back into the fridge, I left. I headed back towards the diner. I went slow so as not to be seen and waited in a burnt out car where I could see the building. It didn’t take long before I saw a figure enter the front so I headed over. I left the backpack behind and made it inside just as I heard the retching in the sink. I stopped at the door, waiting to hear for the water and closed my eyes. I didn’t understand the purpose of what was happening and it didn’t nag at me even so close to the end. Knowing it was almost over was almost a whole other level of peace. I heard the sink faucet turn off and walked in.

THE END

Alone Amongst the Ruins, Part Two

Part One

You can purchase and download Alone Amongst the Ruins here. The developers, Azukail Games, has a website that can be found here.

I answer the phone immediately. There is a noise on the other line. A low beeping that held a steady pattern. I began shouting. I asked if anyone could hear me. I pleaded for answers. I weeped for a voice that did not answer. In the background, in between the beeps, I caught a sound. It was faint, but I could hear it. Seagulls…it sounded like hundreds. Just then the phone went dead. I looked at it forlornly and slid the powerless device into my pocket. Just as the pain of defeat began to gnaw at my stomach, I caught something from my vantage point. It was a glimmer of light. Sparkling in the distance, I could make out water. A vast body of water just out of sight, but reflecting the sun off its surface like a beacon of hope. I carefully climbed down the tower and headed towards the hulking shells of skyscrapers.

D6 = 5, so 5 cards pulled

D6 = 1, Drew 8 of Spades

The outskirts of the city were easily traversable. The roads were open with little debris clogging the streets. A few abandoned cars here and there, but nothing I couldn’t walk around and avoid coming in contact with in case something or someone lurked inside waiting to attack a passing victim. An hour into my journey, I turned down one of the main roads and was stopped in my tracks. Before me, completely engulfing the two-lane streets, were thick jungle vines. They seemed to be coming from every direction. Turning back and finding another route would cause me to lose time, and I did not want to be out wandering this strange city at night in the dark. With a heavy sigh, I began working my way through this natural obstacle course.

D6 = 6, Drew 5 of Hearts

After some time, and considerable effort, I saw dim light through the choking vines. It became brighter and brighter before I pushed through and almost collapsed to the ground as the last of the heavy foliage snapped away. Finding a curb to sit down on, I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths. When I opened them, a white banner caught my eye. It was high up dangling from the side of a skyscraper. The wind buffeted it around and every once in a while I caught letters. Finally, a strong gust billowed it out and it unfurled with the word HELP written in a large black font. The building it was attached to was mostly decimated by something. Huge gashes across its surface with thousands of broken windows and twisted metal beams. There was surely nobody in there left to help.

D6 = 3, Drew 10 of Hearts

I continued to walk, free from the unrelenting vines now behind me. As I continued down what I assume was one of the main roads, I heard a phone ringing. I immediately froze, unsure of where it was coming from. I haphazardly guessed it was forward and began to run. I was glad to hear it get louder as I ran in the chosen direction. An indoor badminton facility seemed to be the only logical place, as it was the only recognizable structure that wasn’t burnt out or destroyed. The phone at the receptionist desk was loudly screaming to be answered and I picked it up yelling in return. Nobody answered my calls and instead I was met with the same beeping I heard earlier. The seagulls were much more prominent and unmistakable. But, what did these calls mean?

D6 = 6, Drew 5 of Spades

When I returned to the street, I continued in the direction I had been heading before this recent distraction. I took a moment and sat down on a bench a block away. Just long enough to rest a few minutes. I didn’t want to slow down, but I couldn’t keep going at this pace forever. There was a low creaking and groaning noise above me and I looked up to see the HELP sign flutter away in the wind. What was once a broken and ruined building just moments before was now choked and entwined with massive vines. As I watched, long green stalks broke through sheer metal and twisted up and around the broken building. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.

D6 = 3, Drew 3 of Hearts

I was not conceivably any closer to my destination and it was approaching nightfall when I decided it best to find shelter for the night. The mighty skyscrapers were behind me now and I stumbled across a street of townhouses. They were all identical in their layout and design which told me this must have been a recent addition. After some searching, I found one that was in relatively good condition and got inside without any trouble. I locked all the doors and slid the heaviest furniture I could drag to brace the entrance and exit. As I found a quiet corner, the phone in the kitchen began to ring. I jumped to my feet, heart racing, and answered it. I didn’t speak this time. I just listened. The beeping was there. Seagulls calling in the distance, but something new. Someone was breathing. It was raspy and wet. I was paralyzed with fear. “I’m waiting for you,” a deep male voice said with a chuckle. I slammed the phone down, tearing it from the wall and throwing it across the room. I then heard the phone in the adjacent unit ring, followed by the one in the opposite end. With the silence of the dead city, and hundreds of broken windows, I heard every phone in every townhouse ringing. I huddled on the ground, my hands clamped over my ears, trying to block out the sound.

Part Three

Alone Amongst the Ruins, Part One

You can purchase and download Alone Amongst the Ruins here. The developers, Azukail Games, has a website that can be found here.

The hospital seemed long abandoned. The halls were empty of living souls and littered with debris. After waking in a bed in a too revealing medical gown, I searched for anyone who could tell me what had happened. I managed to find clothes that fit a little tight in a locker with shoes that uncomfortably squeezed my feet. I see the broken fragments of a cityscape through dirty windows but no defining features that tell me where I am. My only choice, it seems, is to leave this place and search out the answers elsewhere.

D6 = 5, so 5 cards pulled

D6 = 3, Drew 6 of Clubs

As I headed towards the hospital lobby, I found a small gift shop in the main entrance that still held some vital supplies. The porcelain figurines had been smashed, congratulatory balloons barely floating off the ground, and stuffed animals ripped and tossed about. I managed to find an unopened box full of trail mix packages that never got stocked on the shelves and a working flashlight in a back office.

D6 = 3, Drew Ace of Clubs

Just outside the hospital there was a small outdoor mall. I crossed the street, old habits causing me to look both ways, and began walking the once-decorative-now-weeded path winding before shops and cafes. After some searching, I was able to procure some beef jerky, dried fruit, and a few bottles of water somehow untouched by the looted store.

D6 = 1, Drew 10 of Diamonds

The mall ended abruptly and I found myself in a parking lot for a driving range. I made my way to the shop in search of anyone who could tell me what was happening. Just like all my previous excursions, I was alone. I spotted a few signs posted on the door reminding customers one of no direct eye contact and to speak in hushed tones.

D6 = 3, Queen of Hearts

I left and continued on in search of answers. I eventually found myself approaching a post office. A mail truck was tipped over, a breeze catching the occasional envelope and sending it spinning into the air and away from the crash. Several torn and discarded packages lay strewn about the entrance and just inside the vestibule. I tried the front doors but they were locked tight.

D6 = 4, 8 of Clubs

As I walked around the building, I turned down a side street littered with dozens of white, gray, and yellowing envelopes. I tried to see addresses, but water and mud had infiltrated the creases and everything was too damaged to read. Only one box remained untouched by the elements and within it, packed in those white styrofoam peanuts, was a first-aid kit.

D6 = 4, so 4 cards pulled

D6 = 6, 2 of Clubs

I had wandered further and found a park bench covered in wet leaves and mud. I cleaned a small spot and rested. As I scanned the area, a gleam caught my eye from a nearby park. I wandered over, observing a large tree that had fallen across the brightly colored children’s equipment. The source of the flash was the badge of a police officer that had been crushed under the fallen tree. After mustering up the courage, and choking back the small amount of food I had scavenged, I secured the gun from his holster. I silently prayed I wouldn’t need it.

D6 = 6, 4 of Hearts

Having sat down after removing the firearm from the fallen cop, I noticed the parked squad car amongst other vehicles in the parking lot. Some looked in worse shape than others. Rust had creeped up from the dings and dents across the frames. The cruiser, one single blue light spinning endlessly with the red one in silent vigil, seemed untouched by the elements. All of the tires, at least from where he sat, were flat.

D6 = 2, 10 of Clubs

I decided to circle back to the driving range to get another look through the offices, having only done a preliminary search of the shop. I looked through each drawer, closet, and filing cabinet. I was about to give up when I found a smartphone. The battery life was only 4%, but I thanked whoever was listening above that the previous owner did not lock it behind a password. Racing outside I tried to find a signal to call someone…anyone.

D6 = 5, King of Spades

After walking around with the phone raised in the air, watching the percentage drop to three, and no bars popping up, I raced towards an abandoned church I had seen by the playground. I smiled as the vine-covered steeple rose from the horizon. The front doors opened after a few shoulder slams which jarred me slightly. I carefully trekked up the rickety stairs, watching for rotten floorboards as I wound up the tower. Once I made it to the top the phone picked up a single bar. Before I could dial a number, it vibrated weakly and began to ring.

Part Two