Campaign of the Month: October 2017

Blood and Bourbon

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Story Nine, Emmett IV

“To know the future does not grant power to change it.”
Tante Mignon Lescaut


Date ?

GM: The light recedes. Em looks around. Everything is gray. The pavement beneath him is cracked and littered with garbage. A thick haze of fog blankets the gutted shells of wrecked buildings, but people are still everywhere. Luminous and glowing, like Amelie was, but their features are blurry and indistinct as if Em is looking at them through murky water. Sounds and voices are muffled. The stiflingly humid air smells of rot and mildew.

Don’t say I never did anything for you.

Emmett: That was you, was it? Could have used a character witness at the time.

GM: You’re welcome. Don’t mention it.

Emmett: You want some real gratitude, explain what the fuck that was so I know not to blame you.

GM: Silence.

Ghastly howls echo in the distance. They do not sound even close to human.

Emmett: Fuck.

He gets up, surveying the terrain. He knows this city, and he remembers the damn address for that Tantsy woman.

Where is he?

GM: It’s difficult to make out much through the fog. Sinister shapes swirl and materialize at the edge of his vision, but vanish into the aether when he looks close. Em isn’t how much he’d want to make out.

But Em knows the city, even this moribund reflection of it, and two things are swiftly apparent:

There’s foot traffic, from the glowing shades of people. But Em can’t make out any cars. Low buildings. Cramped streets.

The French Quarter.

Emmett: Close. Very close. He dimly considers stopping by his old place, but… no. Nothing there anymore.

He tries to get his bearings, following the flood of people, looking for the strange concentrations and patterns of behavior that will have to be his landmarks.

If the Tantsy woman’s for real, she’ll be more than a radioactive smudge, right?

GM: There’s a flickering sign he can just make out, past the haze. He remembers the dull red and orange lettering blending in better than it stood out among the Quarter’s neon-lit gaudiness. Now, half the letters are burnt out and the remainder flicker weakly. The somehow duller-seeming neon bleeds out into the fog like crudely-smudged smudged paint.

Kr St L
c iCk n—aN wiChes—bR aKfaS
nTe nEt—aTM—3 ev ls of s at ng—W Fi—oT oFF t e Gr LL


Emmett: He sighs. Krystal. Christ, that feels like a lifetime ago. Which it was.

And Taylor…

No, that’s also buried. He knows where Krystal is, and he can find the woman’s address from here, squinting against the mist as he goes, making sure he’s headed down the right streets.

GM: Em takes his first faltering step. His feet make a faint thumping sound that echoes oddly in the night. The motion seems dissociated, as though he’s wearing heavily padded boots.

Emmett: Are you pulling shit again?

GM: Silence.

Emmett: He grits his teeth and takes another step.

GM: Light from the streetlights lining the road fragments into gauzy blue and purple beams that cast multiple ink-wash shadows across the ground. The night sky (it’s dark enough that it has to be night) hangs close and dense enough that it seems one with the soupy fog. Em catches subtle hints of motion in the shadows as he walks, but whenever he looks directly at them, he can’t see what the cause might be. He presses on, and tries to ignore the increasingly cold, clammy sensation slithering up his back.
Half-legible, rusted-over street signs, some with their corners strangely missing, lead him to his destination:

Emmett: He stands outside the place, making out what he can and peering within for any signs of life.

GM: It’s a multi-story (he can’t make out how many stories) house built in the Quarter’s traditional Creole style, recognizable by its distinctive L-shape and flush position to the sidewalk. It’s also a burned-out ruin. The walls are scorched and blackened as if by fire, and up close it smells faintly of smoke. The glass of the French double doors is broken. The wrought-iron gallery overheard is pitted with rust and sores. Black and withered dead plants litter the space where most houses in the Quarter would have potted ferns and flowers.

An equally blackened, fire-scorched wooden sign hangs from the bricked building’s front entrance. Its crammed-in, faded letters look more like claw marks than paint. They read:

aNte L sA utS o cuLt Cur osIt es, orOsCo Es, & pA mis rY

Em has to squint to make out the two further words below the shop’s name. They are even smaller and their clawed-in lettering even more uneven.

iN e 17 1

Emmett: Yes. He swallows, that clammy feeling all too close, and approaches. Old, old shop. Hopefully a good thing, rather than a bad. He tries the door, first, calling as he does.

“Hello? Madam Tantsy? Restless spirit here…”

GM: Another howl splits the distant air.

No response sounds from the ruined shop.

Emmett: Fuck. He walks quickly inside, eyes roaming for any sign of life, of somebody to contact.

GM: A store’s telltale chiming bell half-sounds, then abruptly cuts off as he pushes the scorched door open. The smell of smoke, old books, incense, decay, and something stranger yet fills his nostrils. The store is a dark, claustrophobic space cramped with overflowing bookshelves, ancient paint-cracked radiators, and occult knick-knacks ranging from pin-stabbed voodoo dolls to coiled, insignia-painted snake skeletons that hungrily stare at Emmett with empty eye sockets. Pentagrams, dream-catchers, and apotropaic talismans dangle from the ceilings.

There’s a figure behind the burnt remnants of the counter, counting money from a dent-scored old register. She’s an old woman, glowing with light like Amelie and all the figures outside did. Even that illumination can’t conceal skin black it has a purple sheen, and hair so grayed and frizzy that it looks like half-worn S.O.S. pads. Her high, sunken cheekbones are struck with rouge and, her upper eyelids are painted with fluorescent shades of pale lilac. She wears a an indistinct moo-moo stitched with hazy symbols and bifurcated librarian glasses that look plucked straight out of the 1960s.

Emmett: He approaches her, pauses, and touches his hand to hers. “Tantsy?”

GM: His hand passes through hers like it isn’t there. The woman frowns, pauses, and starts re-counting some of her bills.

Emmett: Sighing, he starts to wave it through her face repeatedly. “Come on, come on… give me a fucking break here.”

GM: The woman blinks and scratches her face.

Emmett: He leans close to her ear:

“I need help.”

GM: She scratches behind her ear, then continues to count her money.

Emmett: “Dammit…”

What’s your price?

GM: For what?

Emmett: Wouldn’t be ghost stories if there wasn’t a way to make contact.

Not saying I’ll do it. But name your price. Tell me what you want, for some answers.

GM: The shop’s door, which Em hadn’t realized was open, slams abruptly shut.

Emmett: Gasper…

He stares at the old woman.

GM: A low hiss splits the air.

Then another.

And another.

And another.

Dozens of glowing eyes stare out from the shop’s gloom.

Emmett: He steps back, putting the counter between him and them, looking for an exit.

“Easy, folks,” he says, hoping his voice stays steady.

GM: There is the now-closed door out. An open doorway leading to some other portion of the shop.

And dozens of tiny, disembodied eyes, staring at Em from the dark, in places high and low.

Cat-like hisses split the air as some of the eyes start to advance closer.

Emmett: He doesn’t quite sprint, but walks hurriedly towards the open doorway.

“Guess you guys aren’t exactly Casper either.”

GM: Nor is the figure he espies just beyond it.

Tante.jpg Her eyes do not stare through Em—but beyond him. Her gray face might be called beautiful if not for her petite pox-scabs and the cadaverous black voids in place of her eyes. Her dark, pulled-back braided hair and demure, frock-collared dress follow the late colonial style. A rapier’s pommel protrudes sickly from her stomach while its blade bursts and bloodily dangles from her back like an iron witch-tail, dripping ectoplasmic blood over the floor with a ceaseless patter-patter-patter. Her thin hands silently shuffle a tarot deck made of black-etched glass backlit by otherworldly fireflies.

She isn’t glowing like the old woman is.

Emmett: He swallows. She’s like him. Right?

He hopes.

“Hello,” he says, calmly as he can manage. “I don’t suppose I could ask for a reading?”

GM: The figure’s pit-like ‘eyes’ silently stare past him.

She then turns away, striding deeper into the shop.

Low hisses go up from the eyes close to the floor.

Emmett: He follows her, cautiously keeping an eye on the… well, eyes.

GM: The woman walks past several equally ruined-looking rooms stuffed with assorted junk. Em follows her up two flights of blackened, rotting stairs that perilously creak underneath his feet. She strides past an open set of double french doors to the gallery outside. Em has a good look at the surrounding cityscape, such as it is. Everything is a blasted ruin for as far as he can see—which isn’t far under the oppressive fog. There are no moon or stars in the night sky. The closest thing Em can make out to lights are the faintly glowing figures traversing the garbage- and garbage-choked streets below. The sound of flowing water is faintly audible to his ears, but he sees no obvious source.

The woman walks past a profusion of wilted potted plants, tattered dream-catchers, and other dangling apotropaic talismans. There’s a fire-scored wooden table sitting next to the rust-pitted wrought-iron fence and columns that overlook the Vieux Carré. The woman sits down on one of two chairs that are notably lighter-looking than the table: they don’t look like they’ve been through a fire.

The woman coughs, an act that causes droplets of dark blood to fleck from her pox-dry lips. She stares at Em and then speaks in a raggedy, barely audible voice:

“Combien de… oboli as-tu?”

Pairs of slitted eyes continue to silently stare out from the surrounding gloom.

Emmett: He cautiously sits across from the other specter. “English?”

GM: “¿Cuántos… oboli tienes?” she hoarsely asks in a different-sounding language. Another droplet of blood falls from her lips.

Emmett: And here he was thinking he’d worked so hard in high school Spanish just to pick up Latina girls.

She’s asking… ‘how many oboli do you have?’

“Oboli? No entiendo,” he responds.

(“Oboli? I don’t understand.”)

GM: The void-eyed figure silently stares at him, interrupted only by the blood pattering from the sword embedded in her stomach.

The slitted eyes watching from the gloom narrow.

Emmett: “¿Qué son?” he asks, gesturing to them.

(“What are they?”)

GM: The figure just stares.

Drip. Drip.

Drip.

A low hiss sounds from the now-narrowed eyes.

Emmett: “Shit.” He looks at her, desperately. “Por favor. Haré lo que sea.”

(“Please. I’ll do anything.”)

GM: “Un niño. Tu corpus puede… valer algo en… los mercados de esclavos,” the void-eyed figure hoarsely gets out.

(“An enfant. Your corpus may… be worth something… at the thrall markets.”)

Drip. Drip.

The figure looks sideways.

“Su sombra… es muy fuerte.”

(“His shadow… is very strong.”)

Christ. I thought we learned Spanish to pick up girls.

Emmett: Ha! We. Got you.

“Esclavos,” he mutters. What does that mean, again?

Oh, wait.

“¿Dije algo? Me refería a la mayoría de las cosas. Una mujer bonita como tú puede pensar en otro uso para mí, ¿verdad? Quiero decir, tengo que imaginar que ha sido un tiempo para ti. Las necrofílicas ya no son lo que solían ser. "

(“Did I say anything? I meant most things. Pretty woman like yourself can think of another use for me, right? I mean, I have to imagine it’s been a while for you. Necrophiliacs just ain’t what they used to be.”)

I can’t believe I remember the word for necrophilia. God, I wasted high school.

He’s already edging towards the exit, not bothering to speak in Spanish anymore. “You seem busy, though. Don’t mind me, sorry to disturb your afterlife, etc…”

GM: The figure’s pit-like eyes trail after Emmett.

“¿Eres un hombredearena?”

(“You are a sandman?”)

Many more sets of gloom-shrouded eyes follow hers.

Okay. Time to get the fuck out of here. You want an exit, I’ve got one.

Emmett: “More of a green goblin, honestly. Or Spidey, himself. You know, nervous mouth. And this is me swinging away.”

He talks to Gasper as he sprints, putting every obstacle he can between himself and the weirdness.

Share with the class?

GM: There’s a dozen low, undulating hisses as the eyes simultaneously converge upon the gallery’s sole doorway. Emmett finds his path quite blocked.

His other regress is to jump off.

The Spanish-speaking figure regards his English words with that same, void-eyed stare.

“Tejerme… una historia, hombredearena.”

(“Weave me… a story, sandman.”)

Say the word, and we’re out.

Emmett: This is ridiculous. There isn’t even a word for how nightmarishly absurd this is.

But he’s here.

He turns and meets that void-eyed stare, that dead gaze.

What’s one story he can tell blind? A story he loves enough to tell right, the way it should be told, with tears and choking and pauses in the right parts?

“Una historia, entonces. ¿Sabes la del niño que fue mordido por una araña?”

This is probably a bad idea. But he doesn’t have a better one.

(“A story, then. Do you know the one about the boy who was bit by a spider?”)

GM: There’s only that same void-eyed stare.

Emmett: The next few minutes are interesting ones.

Em doesn’t just tell the story. He breathes it. He gives it more life than he ought to have in the first place.

The story, really, is a simple one.

Boy is bullied, downtrodden, has nothing going for him—but he has a good heart, dammit. He’s an orphan, but with people who love him and teach him well, and despite the pains his life holds he perseveres. He pines for the girl next door. He endures petty humiliations and takes his licks. He lives.

Then, tragedy, or so it seems. A spider, enchanted by a wizard, bites him, gives him its power. Silly? Yes, but also amazing.

Em plays that up. It’s so, so stupid, that piece of 1960’s whimsy. And yet, it’s the perfect amount of weird. Boy gets bitten by magic spider, becomes like a spider himself.

God, that was a good movie.

He doesn’t stop. He can’t afford to, with his spectral audience. He plays out every reaction, the horror of the bite, the wonder of his new powers, the sudden realization that he, somebody nobody had ever noticed, had ever appreciated, had power. Had potential.

And the folly that came with that joy. He has a feeling the woman knows that feeling well, the terrible arrogance of everything going too well… for a time. The strife that erupts between the boy and the only people who loved him for who he was, all along.

(“With great ability… comes great accountability.”)

And then, another tragedy. Real tragedy. The kind that’s stupid and senseless and random.

Death.

He pauses there. Half a moment. It’s a sad part of the story.

He doesn’t really get what happens next. It just sort of…. does. The shadows of the room take shape, showing the boy holding his dead guardian, head pointed towards the watching eyes.

Weird? Yeah, but so is his whole day. Whole life. Whole death. He keeps telling the story, and the shadows help him tell it.

The boy tracks down the killer, defeats him in rage—and realizes that had he been more loving, caring, had he been there for his family, he could have prevented this.

But that is not the end of his story. No, his is a story richer and grander than his tragedy. He isn’t broken by his burden, but empowered, and pursues the only goal he can with the powers he has: the protection of those who can’t protect themselves.

GM: The oddest thing happens as Em’s conjured shadows take shape.

They have color.

The boy’s hair and eyes are brown. His jeans are blue. His skin is tan. His girl’s hair is red. It’s like a torch in the depths of this netherworld, the way it sways and shimmers with his telling. Em could get lost staring at it.

His pox-faced audience listens attentively to the tale as it progresses. Translucent, grayish blood drips from the sword embedded in her gut like slow-flowing tears.

Finally, a single wet droplet brims from one of her void-like empty sockets and runs down her cheek.

She murmurs something in that first language Em doesn’t understand.

“Un buen espectáculo, hombrearena,” she finally croaks.

(“A good show, sandman.”)

“¿Qué cobrarías?”

(“What payment would you charge?”)

Emmett: “Respuestas,” he says simply.

(“Answers.”)

I can’t believe that worked.

GM: “¿A?”

(“To?”)

Emmett: “¿Qué significa ser lo que somos? ¿Qué puedo hacer para escapar de este lugar?”

(“What does it mean to be what we are? What can I do to escape this place?”)

GM: There’s that same, vacant stare from the pits that might have once been eyes.

Emmett: He grits his teeth, then forces himself to smile.

“¿Qué hay de tu propia historia? Cuéntame sobre ti y cómo llegaste a estar aquí. ¿Quién eres, señora? ¿Y qué, además de encantar?”

(“What about a story of your own? Tell me about yourself, and how you came to be here. Who are you, madam? And what, besides enchanting?”)

GM: “Un cuento para un cuento,” the pox-faced woman murmurs.

(“A tale for a tale.”)

“Muy bien, hombrearena.”

(“Very well, sandman.”)

Her thin, veined hands begin shuffle a tarot deck made of black-etched glass. Fireflies, glowing and orange, wink and flicker across the cards.

“Soy Tante Mignon Lescaut.”

(“I am Tante Mignon Lescaut.”)

Emmett: Em leans against the wall, watching her and her eyes (all of them), listening intently. She didn’t interrupt him—it’s only fair.

GM: “En mi vida, fui encarcelado en La Salpetrière por el delito de vender mi coño a cualquier hombre con una moneda que pagar”.

(“In my life, I was imprisoned in La Salpetrière for the crime of selling my cunt to any man with coin to pay.”)

She draws a card that shows two wretched-looking figures trudging through snow. One is a man limping by on crutches, the other a woman hunched over under a filthy, raggedy shawl.

The orange-glowing fireflies softly buzz across the card’s surface. The image dissolves. In its place are dozens of rag-clad women in dank stone cells. They scream, wail, and writhe against their chains as malevolent-eyed rats gnaw their fungus-encrusted feet and hungrily bite apart their too-gaunt cheeks.

“Mis carceleros me condenaron a ejecución por deportación.”

(“My gaolers sentenced me to execution by means of deportation.”)

Her gaunt hands withdraw another black-glass card from the deck.

A man stares across seven cups, seemingly overflowing with wealth: coins and jewels, a laurel wreath, a castle. Other cups, however, hold a snake, a gorgon, a dragon, and a shrouded figure.

The fireflies scuttle over the card. The static image transforms into a hulking ship that rocks and groans against stormy waters. Chained, emaciated prisoners are herded aboard the gangplank as they scream and weep. A few struggle. One tries to scratch out a guard’s eyes and is cruelly cut down. Others pray for deliverance. Some even suicidally attempt to leap into the sea’s frigid waters. None wish to brave this journey.

“Los hombres en el Nuevo Mundo querían mi coño. Los hombres en el Viejo Mundo querían darles mi coño.”

(“Men in the New World wanted my cunt. Men in the Old World wanted to give them my cunt.”)

“Si sobreviviera a esta sentencia de muerte, sería la esposa de un colono, protegida por él a cambio de mi coño. Sería un papel que conocía bien.”

(“If I survived this death sentence, I would be a colonist’s wife, protected by him in return for my cunt. It would be a role I knew well.”)

She draws another firefly-lit card.

It shows a massive, wide-belied demonic figure a bat’s wings, goat’s legs, and ram’s horns. A naked man and woman with small horns are chained to the perch the demon rests upon.

The fireflies flicker over that card too. The image transforms into a dank, dark, and foul-smelling ship’s hold. It groans and rocks against the see. A filthy and rag-clad woman moans like a bull in heat as a dark and cruel-looking man holds her fast and sinks his face against her neck. Blood trickles from two puncture-sized wounds that he thirstily laps up.

“Hombres muertos, chuchos, parias y vagabundos entre su propia clase, tan desesperados por huir del Viejo Mundo, a bordo del barco. Saciaron su sed sobre mi sangre.”

(“Dead men, mongrels and outcasts and vagabonds among their own kind, just as desperate to flee the Old World, laired aboard the ship. They slaked their thirst upon my blood.”)

“Podía leer el futuro. Tal vez siempre podría. Tal vez su sangre se abrió en mí. Por siempre maldigo el día en que se manifestó mi Vista, aunque creía que era un regalo en ese momento. Mi domitor estaba contento. Me mantuvo como su cuando nuestro barco llegó a una colonia abandonada en el borde del mundo. Creía que mis augurios salvaron su existencia.”

(“I could read the future. Perhaps I always could. Perhaps his blood unlocked it in me. Forever do I curse the day my Sight manifested, though I believed it a gift at the time. My domitor was pleased. He kept me as his when our ship arrived at a forsaken colony on the edge of the world. He believed my auguries saved his existence.”)

“Estudié muchas artes a su orden. Cartomancia. Astrología. Brujería goética. Quiromancia. Aruspex. Catoptromancia. Sortes sacrae. Ailuromancia. Más. Mi vista era fuerte.”

(“I studied many arts at his behest. Cartomancy. Astrology. Goetic witchraft. Chiromancy. Haruspex. Catoptromancy. Sortes sacrae. Ailuromancy. More. My Sight was strong.”)

“Su sangre me mantuvo joven y sana mucho después de que debería haber muerto. Sin embargo, tales actividades no estaban exentas de peligro, ya que no se puede tener poder sin precio. Busqué la omnisciencia y encontré impotencia. El hilo del destino está predeterminado. Cuanto más miraba, más inmutable me daba cuenta de que era. Cuanto más crecían mis poderes, más inútil me daba cuenta de que eran. Conocía el futuro y no podía cambiarlo. Mis augurios eran sombríos. Solo predije fatalidad y calamidad. Yo conocía la desesperación.”

(“His blood kept me young and hale long after I should have died. Yet such pursuits were not without danger, for no power may be had without price. I sought omniscience and found impotence. Fate’s thread is preordained. The more I beheld, the more immutable I realized it was. The greater my powers grew, the more useless I realized they were. I knew the future and was powerless to change it. My auguries were bleak. I foretold only doom and calamity. I knew despair.”)

“Mi domitor no quiso escuchar estas cosas. Se cansó de mí y rechazó mi consejo.”

(“My domitor did not want to hear these things. He tired of me and spurned my counsel.”)

“Un hombre deseaba mi amor. Al igual que yo, se sostuvo sobre la sangre de los muertos mucho tiempo después de haber muerto. No sufriría por ser su esclavo. Trató de usar mis dones para destruir la sociedad a la que ambos servimos. Yo consulté mis cartas. Observé las estrellas y los planetas. Leí las entrañas del ganado. Leí las líneas de su palma. Todos los augurios predijeron su perdición. Nuestra perdición.”

(“A man desired my love. Like me, he sustained himself upon the blood of dead men long after he should have died. He would not suffer to be their slave. He sought to use my gifts to destroy the society we both served. I consulted my cards. I monitored the stars and planets. I read the entrails of livestock. I read the lines of his palm. All omens foretold his doom. Our doom.”)

“Lo amaba. Traté de salvarlo. Él ignoró mis advertencias, como sabía que lo haría.”

(“I loved him. I sought to save him. He ignored my warnings, as I knew he would.”)

“Mi domitor planificó la rebelión contra otro hombre muerto. Recogió a muchos muertos en su estandarte, incluso en el propio hijo de su enemigo. Hice mis augurios. Solo vi la perdición. Mi domitor ignoró mis advertencias, como sabía que haría.”

(“My domitor plotted rebellion against another dead man. He gathered many dead man to his banner, even his foe’s own son. I cast my auguries. I saw only doom. My domitor ignored my warnings, as I knew he would.”)

“La guerra estalló entre los muertos. Mi domitor lanzó su revuelta. El hombre que amé vio una oportunidad. Atacó mi casa con sus aliados y me exigió que divulgara los planes de mi domitor en el punto de espada. Le dije que para saber el futuro sí. no le doy poder para cambiarlo. Le dije que tal conocimiento solo puede traer locura y desesperación. Le dije que se apartara de este camino antes de que lo condenara.”

(“War broke out among the dead men. My domitor launched his revolt. The man I loved saw opportunity. He attacked my home with his allies and demanded I divulge my domitor’s plans at sword-point. I told him that to know the future does not grant power to change it. I told him such knowledge can only bring madness and despair. I told him to turn from this path before it doomed him.”)

“Él pagó mi sabiduría con el extremo afilado de su colichemarde, como sabía que lo haría. Cuando la sangre brotó de mi estómago, predije mi última profecía como una de las más rápidas: no podría destruir por completo a los hombres muertos. Él compartiría mi destino y enfrentaría su muerte a manos de uno de sus propios discípulos.”

(“He repaid my wisdom with the sharp end of his colichemarde, as I knew he would. As the blood welled from my stomach, I foretold my final prophecy as one of the quick: he would fail utterly to destroy the dead men. He would share my fate, and meet his death at the hand of one of his own disciples.”)

“Mi alma se demoró en las Tierras Sombrías. Vi desde el otro lado de la Sábana Santa cómo la culpa y la paranoia pudrían sus corazones. No confiaba en ninguno de sus amigos. Uno por uno murieron. Algunos a sus manos. Desesperaba de erradicar a los hombres muertos. Él desafió a un gran esclavo de su gobernante a un duelo, y perdió su ojo pero no su vida. La locura se enconó en él. Convocó al loa Sousson-Pannan, para ahogar la ciudad en fiebre amarilla y matar a los hombres muertos matando a sus rebaños.”

(“My soul lingered in the Shadowlands. I watched from across the Shroud as guilt and paranoia rotted their hearts. He trusted none of his friends. One by one they died. Some at his hands. He despaired of ever eradicating the dead men. He challenged their ruler’s greatest slave to a duel, and lost his eye but not his life. Madness festered in him. He summoned the loa Sousson-Pannan, to drown the city in yellow fever and kill the dead men by killing their herds.”)

“Su último y mejor alumno no pudo soportarlo. Lucharon en una batalla desesperada en el asalto. Su alumno lo desarmó y lo mató con su propia espada, el mismo colichemarde con el que terminó mi vida. Su conocimiento previo solo empeoró su agonía. cuando murió, y su sufrimiento fue grande.”

(“His last and greatest student could not abide this. They fought a pitched and desperate battle in the bayous. His student disarmed him and slew him with his own sword—the same colichemarde he ended my life with. His foreknowledge only worsened his agony as he died, and his suffering was great.”)

“La venganza era mía, pero me quedaba poco propósito. Otros buscaron explotar mi vista para sus propios fines. Los destruí Otros buscaron robar de mi casa. Los destruí La muerte no me había robado mis poderes. Destruí a todos los que me harían sufrir en la muerte como lo había hecho en la vida. En cambio, sufrieron cuando envié sus almas gritando a Oblivion.”

(“Vengeance was mine, but little purpose remained for me. Others sought to exploit my Sight for their own ends. I destroyed them. Others sought to steal from my home. I destroyed them. Death had not robbed me of my powers. I destroyed all who would make me suffer in death as I had in life. They suffered instead as I sent their souls screaming to Oblivion.”)

An indelible chill runs up Emmett’s spine at that final world.

“Con el tiempo otros buscaron mi consejo. Vienen a mí por sabiduría. Me pagan por el conocimiento de su propia destrucción. Me dejan en la negación y la desesperación. Conocer el futuro no otorga poder para cambiarlo. Pocos prestan atención a mis advertencias.”

(“In time others sought my counsel. They come to me for wisdom. They pay me for knowledge of their own destruction. They leave me in denial and despair. To know the future does not grant power to change it. Few heed my warnings.”)

“Predije la calamidad que inundaría esta ciudad. Pocos me escucharon. Menos preparado.”

(“I foretold the calamity that would flood this city. Few listened to me. Fewer prepared.”)

“Los buenos tiempos llegaron a su fin, como sabía que lo harían. Los barcos negros zarparon de la Isla de los Dolores, como sabía que lo harían, con cascos de alma empañada y velas cosidas de almas que lloran.”

(“The good times came to an end, as I knew they would. Black ships sailed from the Isle of Sorrows, as I knew they would, with hulls of tarnished soulsteel and sails stitched from wailing souls.”)

“Ahora un gobernador imperial gobierna sobre la necrópolis. Él también ha buscado mi consejo, para que al saber el futuro pueda alterarlo y entregar informes favorables a los Señores de la Muerte. Le he dicho lo que no quiere escuchar, como le digo. todos los que vienen antes que yo. No hay buenas noticias que pasen por mis labios. Solo pronostico miseria y calamidad. Pocos escuchan mis advertencias. Conozco el futuro y soy incapaz de cambiarlo. Esa es mi maldición.”

(“Now an Imperial governor rules over the necropolis. He too has sought my counsel, so that by knowing the future he might alter it and deliver favorable reports to the Deathlords. I have told him what he does not want to hear, as I tell all who come before me. No joyous tidings pass my lips. I foretell only misery and calamity. Few heed my warnings. I know the future and am powerless to change it. That is my curse.”)

The last of the fireflows’ glows die out as Tantsy’s thin hands re-shuffle the black glass cards.

“Esa es mi historia, hombredearena.”

(“That is my tale, sandman.”)

The gaunt figure does not move. She does not weep. She does not startle at the ghastly howl that rings from the ruined cityscape beyond the gallery.

There is only that same vacant stare from the pits that may have once been her eyes—shattered windows to an unknowable soul.

Okay. I stopped listening halfway through that.

But she’s fucking nuts.

Emmett: Shit, and I’m not?

“Una buena historia Es posible que vuelva pronto y tenga más historias cuando sepa las preguntas correctas que debo hacer. ¿Le gustaría eso, señora?”

(“A good story. I may be back, soon, and have more tales when I know the right questions to ask. Would you like that, madam?”)

GM: There is only that same vacant, empty-eyed stare. Blood softly patters from the sword embedded in the shade’s belly.

The slitted eyes in the gloom around the pair slowly blink and shift.

Emmett: He cautiously edges away.

GM: Tante seems unheeding of Emmett’s presence as he departs. The spectral woman neither stops nor calls after him. She simply stares emptily ahead into the ruined cityscape beyond the gallery.

Several of the slit-pupilled eyes follow Emmett as he descends the creaking, blackened stairs to the fire-gutted building’s first floor. Sometimes they blink. Sometimes there are faint hisses. But like Tante Lescaut, they simply watch him go.

Emmett: “Great,” Em mutters.

He saves his shudders until he leaves.


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