The further into the twisting tunnels beneath the manor we venture, the more of the swinefolk there are. If they obey any laws of nature at all, however, we shall be able to slay enough of them to thin them out to nothing. I do not know what else we shall find in this labyrinth, but our probes into its outer edges have so far been safer than efforts to confront the cannibal witch in the weald.
For today’s venture, my goal was principally to test the mettle of our newest recruit. His name is Tourmente. I am not fully convinced this isn’t a joke. His grasp of European seems at least as solid as mine, and I’m certainly confident in my ability to ask “what is your name?” at this point, so I don’t think it is a translation problem.
In any case, the venture into the Warrens was mostly uneventful. As foul as this place is, it has, at least for now, seemingly exhausted its repertoire of new horrors to serve up. I suspect this will not last long.
This week, we largely spent our time recovering from the twin losses of Reynaul and Vesci. Being that cowering within the crumbling walls of the Hamlet for a full week would only be a further blow to morale, a concession that the dark things beyond the walls were too terrible to confront, I persuaded a small team to explore the tunnels beneath the estate so as to determine if there were any truth to the rumors of some clan of warped pig-men had taken up residence down there. The answer to that mystery is yes. Very, very yes.
This past week, my companions and I explored many paths to dealing with our grief at the loss of Reynauld. Dismas lost himself in drink, Busquent in prayer, Beringar retreated to the local clinic to treat the disease he’d been afflicted by in that fetid swamp. I threw myself wholeheartedly into revenge.
I chose my team more carefully this time. Duquesne and Bourassa in the rear, to provide the ranged firepower necessary to slay the wretched hag as fast as possible. Vesci I was forced to place uncomfortably close to the front, having run out of room in the back. Busquent was busy, and I would need healing. Gournai brought up the front, her role to retrieve those trapped in the pot before they were boiled alive. I feared I might not be able to kill the witch before she would kill more of my companions, having sacrificed so much to the ranged firepower necessary to get past her thrice-damned crockery. My worry would ultimately prove misplaced.
Today’s expedition sought to capture or, if I am being honest, more likely slay a cannibal of some sort who hides in the woods to kidnap travelers and boil them alive. I am given to understand that this is not typical in Europe.
I assembled a team that I had thought was my all-stars. Reynauld and Dismas, my oldest friends, Busquent, my healer, and Beringar, my strongest sword arm in a nation curiously lacking in guns. I think it has something to do with Europe’s gun control laws. Laws which the local bandit population seems mostly to abide by, if we assume that black powder weapons are classified as historical curiosities and allowed, rather than being properly banned firearms.
Regardless, the opposition we faced was incessant on the way, and devilishly varied.
Since Bernieres’ death last week, there was a vacancy at the hotel. Not much of one, as we’ve crammed as many people into each room as possible, so really all that’s available is a couch, but still people stream in from the surrounding land. As much as I’d like to believe it’s the spirit of archaeological discovery and thirst for adventure that brings them, after spending the better part of two months here I cannot pretend that such motives receive scarce recognition in this place. What, then, draws them here?
I did not know Bernieres very well. She had a pet snake, which wandered off into the wilderness when she left, had lost her hand in some incident that always seemed impolite to ask about, and fought with a shield strapped to that arm and a spear in the other. Though I did not know her well, I would have said that no one could have replaced such a unique person in our crew.
I would have said that, before meeting the new arrival who stepped off the stage coach today.
I must make note to only venture from the hamlet with clear focus. The consequences of doing otherwise have proven somewhat…macabre.
We continued our exploration of the Weald this week, and found the same fungal zombies, overgrown spiders, and stray cultists as last time. I can confirm now that the mushroom zombies and the variety seen more typically in the estate are of a wholly different sort from one another. There is no trace of any fungal infection in the dessicated remains of the estate zombies. Indeed, there is hardly any flesh left at all.
Neither variety presents significant threat to a well-supplied expedition group when properly managed. Unfortunately, I find that the proper management of such threats has been slipping.
I’ll admit I’ve gotten a bit off-track since arrival. Although investigation of our ancestor’s work remains one of my goals, I’m also doing my best to help pull the Hamlet together. I guess it’s just because I’ve spent a few weeks here, but this place is really starting to feel like home, and I don’t want to neglect it. There’s an old blacksmith in town that we’ve started fixing up. Here in Europe people look at 700 year old buildings that used to be the most vital industry in town but are now totally obsolete, and they say “let’s turn this into a disco,” so I have no idea what this blacksmith shop actually is now, but they still call it the blacksmith. Or “la herreria,” at least, which Dismas tells me means “the blacksmith.”
Speaking of Dismas, he’s been getting drunk all day, and the people at the hotel’s breakfast room keep calling him “kuiristo,” which definitely seems to be some kind of insult or accusation. Dismas just ignores them and keeps drinking. I think he needs some time alone. He was pretty shaken up after the bout with the zombie cult.
We here at the Hamlet have agreed to focus on restoration of the local road networks to make it easier for anyone interested in our excavations to reach us, and I’m happy to say that this has already begun to pay off! We’re receiving so many new arrivals that we’ve had to consider starting some repair work on the hotel instead, just to have enough rooms open to service to house them all. This week’s new arrivals include Maubene, who I understand is also some kind of archaeology expert, Beringar, who is another superhero of some description, and Gournai, who has a halberd. I’m not sure what her actual job is, but she appears to be from Scotland. Unfortunately, she does not appear to speak any English, although she does speak a language that I am mostly sure isn’t European. Maybe she only speaks Scottish and European?
In any case, the local clinic was reopened today, so we held an intervention for Reynauld about Denouncing Venice and managed to convince him to go to rehab there. Good thing, too, because the mayor is still obsessively denouncing at the altar at all times of day and night! I do have to echo some of my concerns about that old torture chamber I found in our family’s estate, though. Specifically, I can understand why a rehab patient might need to be kept in a room that’s equipped for other kinds of treatment, given the current state of the town and the unfortunate fact that we don’t really have a whole lot of room to go around, and any place with four walls and a bed is better than nothing right now. What concerns me is, why does the local clinic even have rooms with manacles and a reinforced steel door?
For a full week now, the Hamlet has been overrun by mosquitos and other insects. Given that, you might be wondering if I’m in the southern parts of Europe where winter doesn’t hit nearly as hard. I am not. It is two (metric) degrees above freezing right now, and there are bugs everywhere. I guess European bugs don’t mind the cold so much? Really, these ones seem to be thriving on it. I guess that one part of Uncharted 3 where the villa in temperate France houses tons of enormous spiders was more plausible than we thought.