Skulls, Crosses, and Bones

Shadows in Quiet Valley part 3
Filth . . . and Chairs

The story picked up a night later as Andrew’s car rumbled off the highway and down a path that could hardly be called a road. The forest had nearly reclaimed the road and deep ruts helped ward off interlopers from the reclamation.

During the intervening day, while not sleeping, Joey had done a bit of research into Centrelia while Andrew introduced Sam and Ethan to “Just” Joey Cogniti and Jack Malone, fellows interested in a formal krewe founding.

Joey Cavanough found that Centrelia had been a Mennonite community founded in the early 1800’s. Due to their religious heritage and relative independence from the rest of the state, the community was granted immunity to the civil war draft, and remained strong into the later half of the century. In 1874 a coal vein was discovered under the town. A company named Foundation Mining opened a mine in cooperation with the locals, allowing the Mennonites to work the mine and profit from it, while still largely maintaining their independence.

One day in November 1908, the town was discovered completely devoid of residents, with the underground coal vein blazing hot below the community. The bodies were never found, and the town was officially abandoned by the commonwealth.

Once Andrew’s car began bottoming out, the group decided to move in on foot, grabbing flashlights as the evening overtook them. The sun had fully set by the time the krewe came upon a curious sight. The road apparently had been nicely laid brick at some point, but a century had passed and the bricks lay intermingled with plain earth. A point in the path was found where the ground between the bricks was glowing orange and giving off heat. After the krewe simply gave the glowing patch a wide berth, they found on the other side a plume of smoke rising into the air, and apparently trailing on toward the town. The most curious thing about it was that the smoke seemed not to be physical, but of twilight.

The smoke had completely dissipated by the time the Bound made it to the village. Centrelia was still largely standing, though the forest had begun reclamation here as well. Many houses had windows partially smashed out, and animals seemed to freely come and go through the buildings. Sam dashed into the first home they came to, with the rest trying to keep up. The group searched the house and found the remains of a decently furnished home for the period, with furniture largely left where it was likely used a century ago, and cupboards full of dishes. An old bible was found in the first home, but left due to its size.

As the krewe explored more of the town they found in the middle a church, a school, and a sort of town hall. The church was devoid of anything save for benches, an alter, and some dust. The church seemed to have been largely left alone by nature, with the windows still in tact, and no evidence of animals entering. No sort of religious emblems or markings were found, though the group decided that seemed characteristic of the faith in question.

The town hall had four roll top desks that were probably very magnificent in their day, and a floor that seemed ready to give way in a moments notice, along with smoke constantly rolling out of the building. Andrew unlocked the Phantasmal Marionette to allow the Siren’s ghostly visage safe entry to the building. Andrew as the Siren checked the desks, finding three had become animal nests, but the fourth had remained relatively untouched.

As the krewe prepared to enter the remnants of the school, they heard several brief bursts of gun fire from the south, the opposite end of town from where they had entered, and the only known other way to a highway. The krewe quickly ducked into the school to discuss further plans. The group searched the school while discussing possibilities for the source of the gunfire. The group found the usual filth, along with a few dozen slats and random chalks pieces strewn about. Before anyone had reached a concrete conclusion about a course of action, Ethan noticed some sort of orange flash dash past the window, heading away from the sounds . . . and toward Ward’s car.

Joey unlocked the Stillness Shroud and sneaked outside for a look. He found a familiar trail of smoke that was indeed heading north. Joey headed back inside and the group deliberated quickly on a course of action, deciding to check the source of the gunfire first. The four quietly made their way down the road and out of town, in search of the sounds of violence. What they found was the group of four suits they had encountered the night prior, arguing among themselves. Girl was scolding Goggles (who did, indeed have his goggles on) for doing something brashly, while Goggles defended his position by claiming it was a matter of survival. Meanwhile Glasses and Goatee were trying to figure out how to get the corner of their van out of a hole leading directly to some orange-hot earth.

Sam immediately dashed out in an attempt to scare Girl, but was quickly thwarted by Goggles’ apparently heightened senses (or night vision). Sam briefly confronted the group alone, before Andrew stepped in to try to smooth things over, while Ethan and Joey remained hidden and observing (Ethan via Gravedirt Boneyard, and Ethan maintaining his shroud). Both sides tried to probe the other for information, neither gaining anything but lies. Sam grew increasingly frustrated with the tension of the situation, and as any 12 year old with a gun would do, pointed it at Goggles in anger. Thinking quickly, Andrew stepped in and proposed an alliance between the groups. Girl asked for a moment to mull it over in privacy, so Andrew and Sam stepped aside to let the group discuss.

Ethan easily overheard the other group’s discussion on the topic. Goatee and Goggles in favor, for this could be ‘their chance’, while Girl cautioning that just waiting and watching may be wiser. The entire group agreed that working together would let them keep an eye on the others. The suits agreed to work with the krewe on the condition that they all stop pointing guns at each other, which Sam reluctantly stopped objecting to eventually. As the six began walking toward the town, Wards tried to play a little get-to-know-you, which quickly prompted Girl to come up with (and quickly disregard) rule 2, “lay off the questions”. Rule 3, “Don’t fuck with my car” was established quickly after that.

When the group made it back to town, Glasses noticed Ethan and Joey following, which prompted all in attendance to give out a name, though it is suspected the suits’ names were patently false. The 8 searched through more of the towns’ homes, with the Krewe splitting up, while the suits all stuck together. Andrew discovered a silver Zippo lighter with a cartoon devil on the side in a desk drawer, which he quickly (and quietly) pocketed. Meanwhile, Ethan saw the orange flash again, and immediately began pursuit while calling for the others.

This time he got a good look at the figure. It was in the shape of a man, perhaps wearing overalls, but completely made of burnt out charcoal. The eyes were burning embers, while the beard was like hanging fire, and he had a hat of wide-brimmed smoke, apparently the source of the trails. Immediately the figure ran away from his shouting pursuer. The Krewe and Goggles gave chase, until Andrew faked feinting (as the krewe maintain that they are amateurs ghost seekers) so he could take control of the Siren once more, who’s flight speed easily overcame the fleeing figure. Ward immobilized the strange burning twilight man, so that Joey could try to grant cognizance to him. The Asphalt Lady interjected, warning Joey not to waste his blood and Plasm. Joey tried anyway, meeting with no result. The drop of blood merely dripped through him, while a small spot of Plasm stained his surface. The Asphalt Lady told Joey that this creature was never alive, to the confusion of the krewe. The group resolved that the thing needed destroyed, so Andrew released it, and Joey, Sam, The Siren, and Goggles all savagely attacked the fleeing creature. The man with the flaming beard opened a smoldering hole straight into the earth and dove into it in an attempt to escape the massacre. Andrew proved more tenacious as he braved the heat to destroy and consume the creature, not gaining nearly the nourishment that a ghost should provide.

In the wake of the encounter, the Siren vanished so Andrew could return, and the group reassembled, with many angry, nervous, and confused questions flying about. Eventually calmer heads and rule 2 prevailed without the Bound giving much information away. The groups eventually decided that it was best if they all head their separate ways for the night, and the group uneasily preparing for the chance that their paths cross again. The krewe helped the others get their van out of the hole and saw them off, before turning around to head into the mine . . .

XP:4

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Shadows in Quiet Valley part 2

The Krewe reacted with curiosity to the incoming headlights. Ethan unlocked another phantasmal boneyard which encompassed most of Quiet Valley, but not far enough to perceive the source of the lights. Andrew unlocked the phantasmal marionette then, and sent the ghostly visage of the Siren of Sorrow to investigate.

The siren found a black van parked next to Ward’s car, with four people outside discussing the situation. Each was dressed in a dark business suit, and was putting on knee waders. The group consisted of a woman and three men, one of which was wearing a large helmet/goggle contraption that covered most of his face. The group came to be known as Girl, Glasses, Goatee, and Goggles, as their names have yet to be learned.

When Andrew came upon them they were complaining that it was probably just kids again, and that they were sick of “playing in the water”. Glasses walked off into the woods briefly, but returned shortly, his task unnoticed. The group headed towards the remnants of the village, while Glasses watched something on his phone rather intently, and Ward followed silently in the sky. When the four made it about halfway through the village, Glasses noted that camera three had picked up something big, and the group promptly diverted toward the tunnel heading up the dam.

Ward rejoined the group as they discussed what to do with the interlopers. The group decided silent observation would be the best plan until more knowledge was gained. Ethan used his boneyard to mask the krewe’s presence in the upper floors of the plant, while the four quietly made their way into the dam. Ethan’s boneyard allowed him to observe the other group’s investigation, while they moved into the control rooms, and then down toward the turbines. The four suits made a quick but thorough sweep of the turbine room, then reconvened up in a control room to watch the camera footage on Glasses’ pocket pc.

After viewing the entire confrontation that had just happened minutes before (and the krewe’s brief appearance by the hockey puck thing), the group seemed to be at a total loss for words. Girl (who had been making clear since they arrived that she was likely their leader) decided that they should probably make a bigger sweep of the dam and village and try to find these strange people.

At this, Ethan indicated that someone in the krewe should knock him out of his boneyard so that he could easily share his information. Samantha volunteered to try to talk to the strangers for two reasons, because she’s just a 12 year old girl and because there was little visible in the earlier confrontation that she did. Andrew also followed her as the Siren, just in case.

The two groups met on the stairs, with Andrew staying out of sight, and the four g’s taken a little aback by the young girl’s presence. Girl and Sam spoke for a bit, Sam trying to play the innocent card and get information from the others, Girl claiming they were dam inspectors. Sam, showing all the restraint and forethought that 12 year olds do, decided that she was sick of the two lying to each other, and in vague terms managed to both explain that they help ghosts, and that the situation was under control, thank you very much. This approach actually seemed to work, as Girl seemed visibly unnerved, and merely asked the younger girl to move aside so they could leave. Sam did this, but as they passed Goggles pulled something out of his jacket that looked like an 80’s cell phone at almost the exact second that Sam felt something rather akin to a bug bite in her stomach. This prompted Sam into another confrontation with the group, this time with guns drawn (as Sam’s Keystone is a handgun). Cooler heads prevailed shortly, as Sam couldn’t actually pin the feeling on them, and the four were allowed to ascend the stairs.

On the way out, Andrew decided to stand, dematerialized in the open, on the way out, just to test the capabilities of the group. He was shocked as all four of them were able to clearly see the Siren of Sorrow, and there was long awkward moment before either party regained composure. The suits simply moved past Ward, visibly very unnerved. The four were allowed to leave the village unmolested.

The Krewe decided that the small puck object now warranted further attention, so they made their way down the tunnel and across the canal. Sam destroyed the puck with a few shots, and the Krewe headed toward the church. There they found the Ghostly Preacher alone on the alter, apparently waiting the arrival of the krewe. He thanked them for destroying the tormentor, who had apparently been poor Merle. The krewe had assumed that having destroyed Merle would be enough to move on the preacher and his flock, but it was not so, for Merle had only been tormenting them since they had all died, and what kept them here was an older tormentor.

The preacher revealed that the man who had destroyed the dam supposedly had a secret to eternal life, and that he was set to reveal it to the preacher, before the man killed the preacher. The preacher knew the man only as Father Hackett, but suspected it was merely a pseudonym. The preacher revealed that Father Hackett rarely visited the village, and instead relied on the preacher as his contact inside the town. The krewe asked if the preacher knew where Hackett had gone, but the preacher did not know since he had been betrayed. He did however claim to know where Hackett had been, and that something similar had transpired in a town in Pennsylvania called Centrelia. Despite some antagonism from Sam, the krewe left the preacher on slightly better terms than they had met him with. The krewe headed back to the car to hear that the others’ van had departed just before they arrived at the car, and long after they left the village. The krewe also discovered that one tire had been slashed, while another tire had just had the air let out through the valve (and the cap was missing). The chapter concluded with the krewe contemplating how to get home, and cementing a relationship between the city boys and their new found companions. Together, they decided, they would investigate Centrelia.

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Shadows in Quiet Valley part 1

Andrew Ward and Joey Cavanaugh, following a tip on the Twilight Network and a little bit of reasearch, decided to check out Quiet Valley. Quiet Valley was a company town for a hydroelectric plant that burst back in ‘63. The whole town was located at the base of the dam, and basically lived to serve the plant, which fed power to a good chunk of New York State. The question was asked on the Network was why no sin-eaters had any information on the place, despite its obvious connection to death. The nascent krewe, looking to expand, couldn’t pass an opportunity to make a name for themselves conquering the area first.

Of course, the newly forming krewe weren’t the only ones on the Network, and word of the place spread quickly, and others were already en route to the site. Ethan Treadwell and Samantha Johnson were already walking from the last bus stop toward the site when Ward’s car approached, and the pair were able to follow stealthily until the car reached the literal end of the road. Where the DOT had finally blocked the road to the defunct community, Joey and Andrew emerged from the car, as the other pair attempted to approach and observe. The city boys spotter the voyers, and a brief verbal confrontation ensued.

In the end, the two pairs agreed to assist each other on this matter, with Andrew and Joey’s eyes on expansion, while the other two merely preferred to keep an eye on the others. The Siren of Sorrow and Lion Who Eats Christians both showed minor approval at the alliance, and the group moved toward the town’s remains.

The remainder of the road passed straight into a small river flowing through the woods. The river eventually lead through an archway that must have been over a road at some point, welcoming the krewe to Quiet Valley.

Aside from the massive remains of the dam on either side of the canyon, the majority of the landscape had become a featureless and cloudy lake only a few inches deep, with only two visible structures remaining: a statue and the hull of an old church, both several hundred yards apart. The closest structure was the statue, so the krewe headed for it.

It was found to actually be the top of a large fountain, made of bronze or brass (the years of tarnish made it hard to tell), and bearing an abstract design. The only other feature of note is a plaque simply stating, “Fountain thanks to Support Electric”. The krewe then made for the church, finding along the way, the old canal leading through the middle of town, that carried the water away before the dam burst. This left the entire group soaking wet as they had no choice but to swim.

Back on wet land on the other side of the canal, the krewe found the remains of a church, only the stone shell, with all wood and plaster long gone. Inside were two to three dozen ghosts, standing attentively, watching one shade at the alter. The ghostly preacher ranted for a bit about the lord shackling them until they slip their chains, and of a tormentor who had already slipped his chains. He also spoke of “finding a flock”. The krewe decided to make their presence known, and the preacher reacted with hostility, but only in word. He commanded the group to leave, which they did. The group got little information before the figure departed for the basement with his fellows. Andrew unlocked the tear-stained caul to follow below the water level, only to find the group circled, with heads bowed, and the preacher losing himself in their number. The only other thing of note in the basement were 6 large old wooden wine kegs.

The krewe detected ghostly activity by the dam, and headed up to investigate. Stuck to the wall, they found a metal object, roughly the size and shape of a hockey puck, stuck to the side of the dam, and a very small camera several feet up the wall watching it. After a little deliberation, it was decided that the best place to be was away from the camera.

The group headed towards a tunnel that wound it’s way through the canyon wall to the top of the dam. The road was in bad shape, but the tunnel may be sturdy enough to get a car up still, not that the krewe had one handy.

After Ethan scouted the place with his boneyard, the group descended into the plant inside the dam. The krewe first found a series of control rooms, which seemed to have had a few visitors who were careful to disturb very little when they were through.

Below, the crew entered the main turbine room. The floor was filled with turbines, and the ceilings were crossed by catwalks. Andrew and Joey checked the catwalks, while Ethan and Sam went straight to the floor. Andrew and Joey weren’t on the catwalks for long, when the section they were on gave way, crashing to the floor. A figure was spotted dashing into the nearest turbine, just before said turbine started to run. The old turbine kicked on just as a pieces of the old metal panels that lined the room began flying at the sin-eaters. Ward projected his phantasmal marionette while Ethan set up a grave-dirt boneyard. The other two, set about dealing with Merle more directly with stillness and stigmata rage. After the krewe had a brief struggle with the turbines, the room itself, and what turned out to be the ghost of a plant foreman (with a name tag reading, “Merle”) who seemed convinced the krewe were here to finish destroying his dam, the group managed to restrain Merle Juspeczyk, and deduce that the rebuilding of the dam would set him free. This of course was next to impossible, but Treadwell unlocked the phantasmal boneyard in order to create the illusion that the dam had been recreated. Merle looked around in amazement at his paradise regained, and faded into nothing as he moved on, though to where is even less certain, given the odd circumstances of his untethering.

The closing song (Pushit by Tool) began playing as the krewe emerged atop the dam to see a pair of headlights closing from off in the distance.

XP: 5

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