Sunday, October 28, 2018

Crypt Cities Encounters: Forsaken Flesh.

As fleeting and meaningless as it is in the face of an eternity of Need or waking oblivion, many of the Awakened try to resist the draw toward the Crypt Cities for as long as they possibly can. This is easiest for your kind to do when there is something to cling to, and to pour yourselves into entirely. For some it's a craft or art, or revenge, or faith. Vices are difficult to come by when the senses are so deadened, but you'd be surprised at what desperate souls have been able to find.

Surprised, and horrified.

Hedonism is a rare but particularly cruel poison to the Awakened. The absence of physical pleasure should mean that the pursuit of it is pointless, and this is mostly true. But that doesn't dull the ferocity of a few acolytes desperate to indulge in any feeling. Tucked away in the moldering warrens of cities, deep forest glades, and abandoned mountain crags, these secluded groups--hidden for no other reason than the lingering ghost of their own shame--attempt to sate their artificial fixations. To call it sadomasochism would be inaccurate, for that tame little novelty of the living is outstripped by what they do to one another and to themselves.

Still, at least those groups tend to disband within a few years, their members finding that nothing dulls the Need for long, or the unlucky becoming addled and lost.

At least they don't succeed.

Once upon a time, several centuries ago by now, there had been plans to develop a new Crypt City closer to the seas. This distant annex was probably fated to fail anyway, or at best reach overpopulation within a scant few years. But it never got that far along in its construction. The workers began to be attacked or driven off, and more than one masked priest was hacked to pieces and bled of all of their smoke before the site was abandoned. A massive structure still stood there from what work had been completed, lonesome and stark against the wasteland around it. All the interlopers had to do was move in.

Within the failed crypt, the halls were gutted of their sarcophagus alcoves, and the central chamber was enlarged massively. A deep pit was dug in the center, and an amphitheater was built which would house them and everyone drawn to their cause. In the embrace of withered arms, hundreds found love and searing agony. But instead of petering out into another forgotten old distraction, some terrible threshold was breached.

Maybe one among them had been a truly gifted user of the astral or arcane in life. Perhaps some thing beyond our ken had been watching and waiting for an opportunity. It isn't clear exactly how, and perhaps that is best.

What good could come from learning how their flesh separated from their bones in one final, debauched orgy of decay?

Ounce by ounce, their beings sloughed apart, leaving slick skeletons rattling through the corridors or around the edges of the pit, mindlessly repeating the last actions which their former owners had been performing when the Embrace happened. It started as a pool, and then grew hideously in size, piling up on itself, moving, breathing with the life of everyone who had gone into it. Like a shuddering, mewling tumor it grew to fill almost the entire amphitheater.

And there, centuries after it should have rotted away to nothing, that mound of Forsaken Flesh still churns upon itself. It calls out with hundreds of voices, begging for others to come and join their embrace, to feel their piteous love, and to add their human dregs to the mass.

Sometimes its calls are answered, either by those seeking to add their voice to it, or those who would silence it for good.

In either case, they tend not to be heard from again.

Domicile of the Forsaken Flesh

This unfurnished basalt edifice was once meant to be the core of a new Crypt City. From its domed center extend four wings, each one oriented toward the cardinal directions, but slightly skewed to one way or the other. It is entirely windowless in the traditional Crypt style, though the interior may occasionally be lit by a hole in the roof or walls caused by the slow dilapidation of the entire structure. Hallways extend in all directions within, mimicking spiderweb patterns meant to maximize the "living" space of the death priests who would have presided over the City and its occupants. All paths which remain intact lead toward the central chamber.


Stripped of all skin, muscle, and sinew, even hollowed of all their marrow, the bones of the old celebrants still walk the halls of the Domicile. It is unclear if they now serve the Flesh, or if they are still possessed of enough of their old selves to recognize the vile thing they contributed to, and wish not for it to be seen or added to. In either case, they will attack intruders without hesitation, breaking their otherwise mindless routines to attack with whatever is at hand- including the discarded bits of their fellows.

Free the Imprisoned: If a Forsaker succeeds in grabbing a hold of its target, it will proceed to tear at any flesh left on it, dealing unarmed damage. If its target is incapacitated--or more rarely, the target is a genuinely dead corpse--the Forsaker will strip it to the bone in an attempt to free the skeleton within. It is not clear if they are aware that this does not have the desired result of animating the skeleton most of the time. But rarely, a skeleton so flensed will stand back up, and appreciatively join its new kin in rattling vigil. It is seemingly random whether the Forsakers discard any resulting meat, carry it back out of the Domicile to rot at the doorway, or leave it at the edge of the Amphitheater to be absorbed.

Reassemble: The Forsakers do not stay down for very long. As soon as a day after its destruction, a shattered Forsaker will reassemble itself to be more-or-less as functional as it previously was, barring the loss of any bones which it cannot retrieve or replace. The oldest Forsakers are little more than swirling jumbles of fragments and bone meal.

The Amphitheater of Flesh

This massive, vaulted chamber holds up a weathered old dome which overlooks the central pit. Better sheltered from the elements here, trappings of the old coven can still be spotted amid the ruin. Stone carvings, fragments of pottery, and implements of unclear but probably unpleasant purpose abound. The flat stone floor is entirely bare around the edge of the pit, which is about one hundred feet in diameter and twenty feet deep. The floors and walls here are covered in a sheen of grease and flecks like what is leftover on a cutting board after preparing meat. Most of the pit is occupied by the Flesh.

The Covetous Singer, Forsaken Flesh

Massive, pungent, and possessed of both solid and liquid qualities, the Flesh is constantly moving. Sometimes its surface only churns or ripples, while at others it erupts into selfsame geysers which nearly reach the domed ceiling before raining back down upon the area and reuniting with the central mass. Vague suggestions of organs, vacant faces, or throbbing veins occasionally break the surface of its otherwise uniform melange of tissues. It sings with hundreds of different voices, each at an unsettling midpoint between bliss and agony. If attacked, it lashes out with countless ephemeral limbs, smashing and grabbing at anything within its considerable reach. It is not known for certain what could damage or kill it, but fire or exposure to the elements is as good a bet as any.

Seething & Slippery: The area around the Forsaken Flesh is difficult to navigate and maintain one's balance upon, being perpetually slick with all manner of bodily fluids. Yes, all manner.

Acquaint Thyself: A target which is touching the Flesh, or which is struck by one of its many pseudopods, must resist a sudden wave of dreadful nostalgia which comes over them. Failure causes the target to be lulled into inactivity, taking no actions and becoming incapable of moving or defending itself.

Come into the Fold: An acquainted target, if not removed from proximity to the Flesh, will be enveloped and held within its central mass for a full minute. If the target fails to shake off its addling nostalgia or is not removed with outside assistance before that time, it will be assimilated into the Forsaken Flesh. The target's voice joins the chorus, and a very scandalized-looking skeleton climbs up out of the pit and leaves after being unceremoniously spat out.

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