Extended Session notes for the 04/16/06 Shackled City group Deadlands session.
I've heard of problems on an electric train line that began running recently. Only a few weeks after the route began, the train stopped running. On the last run, a group was found with their hearts ripped out. I investigate, getting Philip (a minor pencil-pusher) with the company to clue me into the situation. They've paid a group of hired guns to investigate. From their descriptions, I realize they're a group I've worked with before. Once I have things worked out, I ride hard on El Dorado after them. It's not too hard to find their trail, but I have to ride hard through a salt storm in order to catch up with them.
I arrive at the fallen ship, and there are reintroductions with the party.
William - Photographer, Sister Mary - Nun, Horus - Huckster, Emily - Gunbunny, George - Bounty Hunter, Edmund - Reporter
We try the lightning gun, and don't die. Yay!
We decide to enter the ship, walking through a large hole in the bow. The room is a bunkhouse, and it's littered by makeshift crucifixes. The far door is charred, as if by fire. Carved into the door is innumerable crosses, with some silver crosses hanging from nearby bunks. Carved into the ceiling of a bunk is a treasure map, which leads to the 'Treasure of the Savage Captain.'
We enter the next chamber, which is large and has salt dust on the floor. The floor has buckled in places, and it appears that some of the dust has been recently disturbed. There are two passages, leading to the left and right. William thinks the disturbed dust is from a scuffle, and something human-sized was pulled through the door to the left.
The door to the left leads to a further part of the hold. George goes to examine the buckled section of floor, and finds a large pile of bones. No skulls, but there are a number of inhuman-sized bones. Amongst the planks is a huge pelvic bone. They're not human, and George thinks they may be cow bones. Mary points out what might be a horse's jawbone. I snap one of the bones, easily, in an attempt to ascertain the age of the dead creatures. The right passage has broken boards blocking the way, a spikey minefield that looks difficult to pass. William finds a patterned circle stained into the floor, with some sort of arcane symbols. It's stained with a dark 'something'. (the party: BLOOD!) The center has a depiction of a sailing ship with a large wave overtaking it. Beneath the ship is a sort of horned creature. Mary thinks the language and symbology is Atzec ritual magic.
Horus thinks the cirlce is a focus for a powerful curse. It's designed to 'stop something', specifically the horned thing beneath the ship. It's getting dark outside, and we head into the left passage. The room is about 45 feet deep or so, and runs the length of the boat. On the far side of the room is another two passages. There is a ladder leading up from the floor to the underside of the deck. On the far side of the room we can see the salty earth through the decking, with jutting boards sticking up towards us. There are some boxes near us. In some there appears to be stacks of cowhide, and in others there is some pottery. George and William explore the boxes, and find more empty and unadorned pots. As I'm standing taking notes, an emaciated and obviously dead cow steps out from behind a pile of hides, and spots me, and charges. It hooks me in the left arm, wounding and stunning me. It shake myself all over, trying to come to my senses, but don't manage to do so. Sister Mary steps into the path of the charging creature, glowing with a holy light.
Horus shouts something in French and a hand of glowing poker cards appears in his hand. A massive energy blast flies from his fingertips and strikes the bull full-on in the side. A significant portion of the creature's hide is removed, and the disgusting creature's bones are revealed in all their macabre glory. At the sight of the grisly creature, I hear Emily cry out. I myself am made extraordinarily nauseous, and my knees become even weaker than they already were. George fires at the horrid creature twice, hitting it in the legs and bouncing a shot off of its face. The creature's jaw dangles from its face, and she steps behind the box. Mary cries out to her deity and smacks it with her hickory stick, catching it in the leg. I hear a snapping bone, but the creature keeps to its feet. Emily fires and wings it in a rear leg, shattering the kneecap. A second shot collapses the joint where it hooks into the torso. The cow somehow shambles on. William shoots as well, catching it in a vital spot and causing it to stumble. Bones break, and the cow slides to a stop at the feet of the photographer.
I settle my stomach by evacuating my lunch under the stairs. Sister Mary crushes the beast's skull, finding that the skin crumbles under the slightest touch. There is a rotting smell from the far left corridor. The right corridor is splintered and broken. We advance into the next room, which smells as thought something is in the process of rotting. Among the broken barrels and floor, there are more bones scattered about. There's also fruit pits and nuts scattered about, in and among the broken supply boxes. In the back of the room there's a door slightly open. There are some crates pushed up into that area. The center of the room has some broken boards, but no signs of a crate having been broken open. Suddenly, there are cries from around the room as large cockroaches begin climbing legs of some of the party members. In the panic of pushing them off, William and George fall to the floor and are quickly covered with bugs. Mary moves to assist George, and I rush to assist William. George's lantern drops to the ground, but lands base down. William leaps to his feet and tries to brush the creatures off. He manages to kill one of the creatures, splattering himself with gore. Mary manages to kill one of the swiftly darting creatures as it approaches George. Will splats another cockroach. I assist, smashing two bugs that were crawling over my companion. After several minutes crushing the creatures, we are left tired and covered in bug goo. We take a few moments to recover.
Sister Mary examines more of the bones, identifying them as pig remains. We clean ourselves up as best we can. Examining the broken center area, there appears to be a tunnel leading down into the earth. The room at the stern, pushing the door open, is a tangled mess of destroyed boards and furniture. Horus, curious, crawls into the room accompanied by George. The room is a melange of destroyed personal items, but they find a thick leather-bound book amongst the rubble. They suddenly hear rat-sized creatures moving among the rafters all around them. Horus rushes forward, grabbing up the book. There are rats all around, suddenly, tearing at Horus and George's clothes. Reacting quickly, William shoots a rat threatening George. Unseen by the rest of the party, Horus is ripped at by the rats and loses some blood. I manage to pick one out in the darkness, and shoot it dead. Horus throws himself towards the door, the rats falling away and his skin being flayed by the broken planks. Exhausted and bleeding, he collapses outside the door to the broken room. The rats pile out and we unload on the rat horde, killing them as they come into view. Emily in particular gets a great shot, pegging a quickmoving rat heading for George as she leaves the collapsed room. The room crunches and shudders, collapsing in on itself.
We take a breather, regaining our wind in the wake of the tense situation. We read the book, apparently a journal of someone. The writer is a captain, in the jungle somewhere. He's afraid of something. He apparently traded a few gems to a local peasant, for a massive golden bowl in a crate. His next entry explained loading up the ship for a trip to found a new settlement. The ship, the Narvaez, is part of a large voyage with thousands of people. During the voyage slaves were killed with their hearts pulled out. The captain is killing people to sacrifice to a dark god, prompted by the golden bowl. The final entry says he was still hunting a medicine woman, and was alone with hundreds of corpses floating on the high seas.
We hoist our lanterns, and ready ourselves for a trip into the tunnel. We descend into the the salt caverns, darkness and dryness marking our passage. We have to slide a little bit in order to reach the bottom. We're now in a chamber, roughly twenty by fifteen. There are passageways extending left and right from this chamber. George mutters something about 'sensing hearts', and 'it should have been safe in the desert'. She was apparently possessed. Picking a direction randomly, we head left. The passage banks left abruptly. We think that the map is directing us the other direction, so we turn back. We go in the right-ward direction. We appear to be on the correct path on the map. We hear something ahead of us, moving in this direction. We draw our weapons, and point them in the scary direction. Into the light steps a Zombie Conquistador. Ugh!
We all summon up our courage, and keep our wits about us. Horus cries something incomprehensible in French, and cards appear in his hands. He fumbles, and the cards fall from his hands, disappearing. George very calmly snaps off two shots, and the creature breaks apart into a pile of bones. We follow the map, moving through the salt tunnels. We here something running towards us, the clanking metal indicating it's probably another zombiequistador. Horus steps up and pulls his eathereal cards. There's a massive power surge, and Horus is left looking surprised and frustrated. Emily fires into the darkness, and we hear a crack as the bullet slaps into something 'out there'. Two zombquistadors appear from the darkness, and I crack off two quick shots at one of them. Horus summons up some more cards, and a pulse of energy connects the huckster with the zomb that Emily had previously harmed. The animated pile of bones recoils. William follows up with a massive blast from his rifle, cracking it in half. The other zomb rushes up to Horus, and Sister Mary defends the huckster by blasting the creature into confetti.