November 20th, 1878
The little psychopath decided that we were going to investigate The Duchess that night. And then she decided to blow the place to hell. And those three demons didn’t take lightly to that at all….
The session begins with a cutscene:
The door to the church slams shut, and for a moment, there’s silence – relatively anyway.There’s the wind. There’s never not the wind. Something wooden outside – maybe the outhouse door or a shutter, is clattering about with every gust. The wind causes a draft as it sucks the warm air out of every tiny crack in the church and replaces it with the bitter cold.The sanctuary is lit dimly by a few dozen votives scattered between the statue of the virgin in her alcove and the altar at the front. The light from the two kerosene lanterns in the room, one held by Holden and the other hanging next to the door to the rectory, provide pools of brilliance relative to the shadows chasing each other around the rest of the large room.You all smell like a bonfire, no one more than Onesimus, who is permeated with it and speckled with ash, char, and small holes burned in his clothes. There’s the scent of lavender, probably from one or more of the candles. And behind it all, almost unnoticeable to your battered senses, is the smell of death, rot, and decay wafting up through the floorboards from the creature in the cellar.You’re beyond exhausted. You began the day at the stockyards, rode fifteen miles, explored the town, fought for your lives against the assassins, encountered the zombie, and then the succubi and the fire.And now this. This dusty, cold, dark church.You’re in here.And they…are out there.Waiting.
The party watches as the succubi wait in the darkness and debate their next move, exhaustion is setting in and they’re not sure they can face the threat in their current state. During the conversation, Beth Farley comes out of the rectory in a robe and kneels in front of the church altar.
As the conversation goes on, they note two townsfolk in their night clothes join the succubi, obviously under their spell. That convinces the majority of the party they must act soon before too many innocents are pulled into the fray.
Ed notices Beth behaving oddly and investigates, finding her naked under the robe, breathing heavy and holding a bowie knife. As Ed moves to bring it to Ahiga’s attention, Beth slits her own throat and falls upon the altar. The whole party feels that some unquantifiable safety net around the church break down at the desecration.
Holden picks the fight, sending blasts across the churchyard and hitting Rita. Amber attacks Holden with a whip, while Chen sprouts wings and attacks Jacob in the bell tower. The civilians are kept at bay by an entanglement from Seri.
The battle is swift but pitched, in the end, the civilians are unconscious, save one man who stumbles back to his home in confusion. Amber is dead, and Chen fled into the night. Rita is unconscious at the edge of the property, but Onesimus beats her to death with the butt of his pistol until her demonic body crumbles to dust.
The party gathers back in the sanctuary, covers Beth’s body, and brings the unconscious townsfolk in from the cold. Ahiga leaves the building to sleep under the covered stable with the horses, and the remainder of the party succumb to sleep.
They were waiting outside. Three of them, at first. Three from that house of women. They were not human, though they did, at the moment, appear as such.
I wanted to leave, though I did not know how we would get past them. But this place of worship was not safe. Though the two dead; one dried, mummified, and one walking in the cellar; had not, most likely, died in this place, they had still been here. And their bodies had been destroyed here, or nearby, so whatever was left of them might still linger here.
And I was half expecting an angry crowd to come after us. Perhaps not then, in the middle of the cold winter night, but when morning came, they might have decided that we, being strangers, and several of us not being belegana, were to blame for the explosions and the fire. And they would have been right, though I suspected they would find a way to blame us anyway.
Then another woman joined the three. Though thinly clad, she seemed different from the others. It seemed she was just a random citizen from the town, one who had been called out by the witches who were waiting outside.
Shortly after, a man walked up to them. He too seemed not to belong, as if he too had been called from his home to aid the witches against us. And still, they waited.
A thought struck me. The cellar was just dug into the earth, and they were clearly waiting for something. I had no idea how many they were; they could be a distraction from something else. So I turned to head towards the cellar, just in case.
One of the women I had seen earlier at this place of worship was kneeling in front of the altar. The Chinaman was heading towards her, when she suddenly moved. She pulled out a knife, and slit her own throat. She fell forward, and the blanket she had around her slid down, and revealed that she was naked underneath. At that moment, I felt something vanish. Their place of worship had had some sort of protection around it, but at the moment the woman died, the protection disappeared.
The Exploding Man threw the doors open and threw his magic across the courtyard, towards the witches standing there. One of them collapsed, and the other two attacked. The witch who had greeted us when we first entered their house grew wings and flew up towards the roof, where one of the other men had gone. The other headed towards the church.
My first arrow bounced off her, doing no harm at all. So I grabbed the waterskin from the Singer Woman. The water had been blessed by a Singer, and seemed to hold some strange powers, so I put some of it on an arrowhead, and that clearly did hurt the witch. Together, we managed to take her down. She died, and then the body dissolved into dust.
Up on the roof, the other witch had clearly been defeated, but she had managed to flee. Still, one was dead, and one was still prone. Clearly not quite dead, she had not turned to dust the way the first one had, but the black man went out to her and, well, beat her to death with his gun.
Finally, that body too turned to dust. One of the townspeople, the man, seemed to come to his senses, looked frightened, and staggered away, probably back to his home. The woman was still unconscious, as was another woman who had been inside the place of worship from the beginning, but who had also attacked us. We brought the woman inside, and people seemed to prepare to go to sleep.
That is the belegana for you. They have no problems sleeping inside a house where someone has died. It was as if they did not fear the spirits at all. Me, I did the sensible thing and went outside to sleep in the shelter where our horses were stabled.