Journal of an adventurer


There's been some debate about the RP value of Exanima, I thought I'd post my journal here so people can see what sort of narrative you can come up with in this setting. Hopefully some of you will enjoy it.

Some notes:
- It's insanely long, you may want to grab a drink and/or plan some breaks o_O
- It makes a few assumptions about the game world that may prove to be totally wrong, such as just how frequent and accepted Thaumaturgy is in the Overworld.
- No one's reviewed it yet, and English is not my native language, so it may be full of typos and errors, especially the last few entries
- And finally it was my first game, prior to many dozen hours in the arena, I kinda sucked, so don't throw rocks at me I swear I'm nice! XD

Also very important, all credit for the story really goes to BM, I'm just narrating it, they came up with it!

Anyhow, here goes! <wall of text>

As it turns out I'll have to post this one entry at a time so as to not explode the forum's database o_O It's also going to take some time because of anti-spammer security.


A rude awakening

[The small, unmarked, leather-bound journal is packed with loose notes on papers and parchments. It is covered in filth, blood stains and is overall pretty battered. For the most part, it is written in high quality script by an expert hand using black ink]

I awaken in a dark, damp storeroom with nothing but the cloth on my back and a bit of light from a nearby torch. I'm not quite sure how I got here, or where here is for that matter. Come to think of it, I don't recall much of anything about myself besides my name. Clearly something is not right, I'd best start writing accounts of my deeds lest I forget again.

Come to think of it, this is, pardon the language, downright messed up. I can't feel any signs of head trauma on me, nothing bleeding or bruised anyhow. How does one forget everything short of major, life threatening head trauma?

Then there's this letter I found in my trouser pocket: I'm missing the beginning of it, but it suggests I was sent here by someone, to help someone else or get some information from him. That's not much to go on...

I notice now the smell. The putrid, acrid smell of decomposing flesh. Where the hell am I? The smell of death warns me I best find some means to defend myself. Perhaps some wild beast made this building it's home, or maybe it's a bandit lair!

The top of one of these barrels will make a nice substitute for a shield, and perhaps I can use one of the metal stakes I found tucked away in a box as a makeshift weapon. Anyhow, can't stay in here forever, and I don't dare call for help... Best open that door over there and try to get some more information about my situation.
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Visions of terror

The door turned out to lead to a dark corridor with a pair of locked doors, and a third door leading to yet another empty and dark corridor. When I first opened one of the adjoining room's door, a figure stood there in the darkness. I froze, wondering if he was going to knock me out and take me back to the store room. Before I came to my senses it walked right past me and into the corridor without saying a word. He wasn't looking well, but it was hard to tell what sort of affliction he might have to cause him to look so and behave as he did. That said, I decided it might be best to keep moving. Surely there must a way out of here nearby.

Wandering what now appears to be a vast network of corridors, I came upon a lit area. There was no windows however, only these eerie, bluish lamps that appeared to create light from thin air. While that was a disconcerting thought, it rapidly ceded place to great panic. My heart threatened to explode through my rib cage when I saw, standing at the other end of the corridor in the light of one such lamp, a dead man. Standing!

At that moment I realized the thing I had bumped into while wandering in the dark was another such creature. That vision is now carved into my mind. Understand reader, should anyone ever find this journal, that while I've heard the stories of ancient thaumaturges,(how strange that I recall such tales, but not where I came from! Best not think too hard about it just now...) I've never believed in all that sorcery talk. Standing face to face with the undead forced a new perspective on me. Violently. Permanently.

While I was in shock, the monster seemed barely interested in me. He looked at me for a second, then turned around and marched through a stone arch, presumably to another corridor. I took this opportunity to run around a corner myself and hide in the nearest room I could find. I locked the door behind me and collected my thoughts. Was that thing really dead? The advanced decomposition and apparent lack of higher functions certainly support the old stories. As I recall though, in the stories,the undead were not generally on friendly terms with us mortals beyond the necromancers who summoned or created them.

I must steel myself, both physically and mentally. Should one of the inhabitants of this place decide to re-enact some stories from ancient times, I must be armored and properly armed. Speaking of which, I see a sharp-looking machete on a shelf over there, it will make a fine weapon to hack away at deceased flesh.

While I'll never forget this encounter, next time will be different. I'm ready should I need to face the monsters.
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Not Friendly

I went about exploring, moving carefully and trying not to appear threatening. I still kept my machete in hand just in case. It looks like this entire area is dedicated to storage and manufacturing. Everything in the storerooms appears old, rusty and/or decomposed beyond recognition. This is an ancient location. It seems clear the creatures I encountered are not the original inhabitants of this place. They do not possess the skills required to use all the equipment in here. In fact, they don't even appear to be aware enough to work a simple door handle, something I've used to my advantage to help trap the zombie I encountered earlier in the storeroom from which I wrote my previous entry.

I backtracked a bit to go see if I could similarly trap the first one I met in the dark, I opened the wrong door and was immediately set upon by a very angry looking walking corpse. They are definitely not friendly! This time WAS different however. Some instinct or half buried memory took hold of me and I hacked the monstrosity right in the head with my machete, sending it straight to the ground. With adrenaline still surging, I capitalized immediately by striking it repeatedly while it was on the floor. When I was satisfied it's head was sufficiently disintegrated, I closed the door and took a quick breather.

I'm currently exploring with my trusty torch. It's dark in here, and I should mind what I do with my flame because this was clearly a wood storage and carpentry area. Old logs are stacked pretty high, along with long stakes for making barricades. I'll finish writing this entry and continue exploring. I feel emboldened by my success. Even now I see the twice-dead corpse over there in the corner, and I can't help but think "not so scary now huh!"

There is also no more doubt that these creatures are not merely sick. Examining my victim up close revealed that he already had physical degradation that no man could survive. Thankfully, it seems they still have a limit to how much damage they can sustain before the reanimation is ended. Look at me, talking re-animation! I know in my heart I was a skeptic before this memory affliction but, well, the evidence speaks for itself...


Storerooms, more storerooms...

I set about exploring the area. While most of the undead seem content to ignore me, I've had to kill a few more. Turns out you do not need to obliterate the head, a few well placed hacks to the torso does the trick just fine too. If only I had time to study these monsters I might locate some weakness, some organ they still require to function, but there's no time. I must find a way out before some other horrors from time immemorial come out of the shadows to destroy me.

I seem to have found myself in quite the vast complex. I can now confirm, this entire area is indeed dedicated to storage and production. I've found workshops for making barrels, carriages, and perhaps a bit troubling, man-sized cages. The smithies were a good source of leather apparel, which should give me some protection from the locals.

I've also found quite a few workshops assembling barricades. Was this a military installation? Many of these barrels look like they once held food and alcohol,certainly enough to feed an army. Perhaps a staging ground of some sort?

The notion of this being a military installation is sort of a mixed blessing: while it would imply I should be able to find suitable weapons and armor, the zombies still seem nimble and smart enough to wield weapons themselves judging from the crude pieces of wood and steel bars I saw them swing at me. They might get scarier if they start swinging halberds...

I've yet to see a window. This would suggest I am currently underground. Yet another reason to assume this place is very old: It would take a very long time to excavate all this, and yet it feels like whoever was using this complex was well settled in. They are clearly not around anymore. Or perhaps this wing was lost to the monsters, hence the locked doors near that room where I first woke up, but living people still live further in? Only way to find out is to keep exploring. Hopefully I'll find some living people barricaded somewhere that can tell me what's happening here.

Enough writing for now, I should continue on.


Familiar sights

I found my way to yet another storeroom. This one had something peculiar: a dead person, as in really dead. Not that far decomposed either, indicating that there are probably still some live folks down here somewhere. He had a letter and a key at the desk where I found him. The letter suggests he was here investigating a disappearance. Could this be why I was sent here? Perhaps he was the man I was supposed to help.

Anyhow, I tucked the key and letter away and kept moving. In another nearby storeroom, I found yet another recently deceased body, next to a de-animated zombie. It appears he defeated the creature but succumbed to his wounds shortly thereafter. The scene appeared very familiar to me somehow. Perhaps I was a soldier? It would certainly explain how easily I handle my weapon and shield with no memory of ever practicing.

The dead man's hand was stretching towards a key that unlocked a small adjoining room where I found another body. A woman this time, well dressed too. Perhaps the man locked her in here to protect her and she subsequently died of thirst when he could not return to unlock the door again? Whatever happened here, it offers no insight in my situation...

What did offer insight though was that the other door leading out of the room where I found the letter and key was barricaded. With good reason too: when I returned to the room and removed the barricades, two of the creatures came flying through the door and assaulted me! I dispatched them but not without taking a few hits. Fortunately, thanks to my growing assortment of leather armor, it doesn't seem I've received any cuts or serious bruises save from a nasty gash on my shield arm. It should be fine as long as I don't spend a week down here.

After I caught my breath and examined my wounds, I checked the now empty room. There was a ladder leading up, but the trap door above could not be opened, dashing any hopes that I might escape immediately.

Right now I'm writing this entry from one of the smithies I visited earlier. I felt emboldened by my multiple victories and decided to hunt down the remaining monsters in the area before they wised up and attacked me first. I'm growing much more comfortable using this machete, and while I would have thought that killing would not come so easily, these monstrosities inspire no pity or mercy in me.

I'm going to take a short break and resume my exploration. I suspect this key I found may unlock the way out of this storage area. My plan is to go back to where I first woke up and test my key on those locked doors from earlier. This might be a good time to add: If you find this journal, then you are in grave peril! If I'm dispatching these undead with such ease, I think it is safe to say a trained military force would have no issues with them. There must be other dark secrets here to explain why I've only found corpses down here, shambling or otherwise...


The dungeon

[Parts of this page have been torn, but there's nothing to suggest any of the writing was lost]

I was right! My key opened one of the doors I wanted to test it on. It led me to a dungeon of some sort. It was strange to me that, besides the increasingly aggressive zombies, I found no bodies in here whatsoever. Only a pair of very ancient, inanimate skeletons, one of which belonged to some large beast, a large dog or a small horse maybe. Perhaps this area was abandoned long before the installation fell to the undead menace? At any rate, I did not find much of interest in there besides an old, rusted short sword tucked away in a barrel. It's still sharper and better balanced than my machete, so I'll be using this from now on. It feels familiar - right - in my hand, somehow.

While I did not see any torture instruments, this place was not meant to keep petty thieves in check: heavy restraining irons and wall mounted chains and inch thick lined the walls of the cells. Perhaps it once held prisoners of war or violent criminals? There also appear to be a carved log in each cell, the kind one would use to feed cattle. Perhaps this was in fact a kennel for war dogs? If so it appears the beasts were treated quite poorly... I did find some baths, but it's just as likely they were used to waterboard the prisoners. At any rate, I've found no clues as to my situation and no signs of an exit anywhere, best backtrack and try my key on that other door.
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The common area

The second locked door took me to what appeared to be a dining room large enough to accommodate many dozen people. It's furniture arrangement is reminiscent of a tavern, with a proper dining room adjoining. This is all the proof I needed to say for sure this used to be some sort of military installation meant for the living. The undead clearly have no interest in food, even less in the chess set and playing cards abandoned here. A great many humans have come and gone here in ages lost.

While I had originally hoped I would find people barricaded beyond the door I was instead greeted by a trio of angry dead. I gladly bloodied my "new" sword but combat was a little bit awkward in such a cluttered environment. I stepped back into tables and chairs quite a few time, but it seems my opponents were having an even worst time navigating the dining room's clutter while trying to cave in my skull. I used this to my advantage to fend them off one at a time.

After dispatching the first two, the last on exhibited very interesting behavior: he ran for his unlife! This would suggest while the creature's intellect is vastly diminished, their sense of self preservation is still present. Perhaps there are ways to exploit this weakness. It didn't get very far before I cornered it and finished it off with a quick stab to the chest.

While I have so far managed to escape any major wounds I must say I got a few good scares when I was assaulted by a 2-handed axe wielding monster! My leather armor would not have done much for me should that blade, old and rusted as it was, have made contact with me at any decent velocity. I'll need to locate an armory sooner rather than later and get me some proper chain-mail and plate...

At any rate, this common area, presumably for the local garrison, seems to have been abandoned in a hurry. dirty dining plates, abandoned gambling games, etc... Someone even left his pipe behind, and while I can't recall knowing any smokers I do know none would leave their pipe behind unless forced to. Nearby closets have some overwear and weapons hung on racks, but nothing I could put to good use unfortunately.

Near the dining hall I found a small office/living quarter that likely belonged to the quartermaster. All the eerie blue lamps in the room appear broken and yet there is light... what sort of sorcery is at work here? If only I could understand how these light-sources work I could make my exploration so much simpler! The undead may not scare me, but the darkness still does: they don't seem to mind it at all and strike just as accurately in pitch darkness as in broad daylight.

I found an interesting book in there too. It suggested that in addition to the zombies wandering the halls, there may be such a thing as ghosts. More troubling: according to this writing, certain ghost would have the ability to summon objects and "powers" into reality by simply wishing so, much like a person dreaming would in the dream world! While this is very disconcerting, it's also likely just a work of fiction. I best hope so, an enemy with such powerful abilities could make my life miserable indeed.

There was also a scroll that seemed to confirm a well organized group of people lived here, with relief forces organized from the outside. Those who built this complex were certainly not mere bandits.

I'm not an architect, but it stands to reason the common area would be near the exit: would a military commander not want all his soldiers close by should an enemy suddenly storm the gates? I'll press further forward an see if I can locate such an exit, but I must admit I'm starting to doubt weither or not I should leave this place before uncovering all it's mysteries. I've developed a sort of grim fascination for all this, and I do not feel all that threatened by these zombies anymore. I may change my mind if it turns out theses reality altering ghost are fact after all, but there's no way to find out short of pushing forward.



I was right! Down the long, barricade lined corridor leading away from the commons, I found a large room with a massive, heavily barricaded gate. It appears in their final hour the garrison was preparing for an assault coming from outside. Seeing as the gate is still tightly shut, it's fair to say the undead menace came from within, perhaps somewhere deeper inside the facility.

With time and effort, I could unbarricade the door and find a way to open it, but my morbid fascination with this installation won't let me consider it for more than a second. I need to know what happened here! Besides, if any monsters were to find me after toiling at all these barricades, I may be hard pressed to defend myself with strained muscles and loss of energy. I'll keep my eyes open for another exit, a peak outside would at least give me some idea of where this complex is located.

Not far from here I spotted a sign posted with a skull and bones symbol on it... I'll proceed with caution, whatever danger this was meant to warn me of may be long gone, or, well, maybe it isn't... There's also a long, dark corridor on the north end of this room. I think I'll start that way.


The real dungeon

What I thought to be a dungeon earlier was in fact a kennel. How do I know for sure? I found the real dungeon, and it speaks volumes as to what kind of men were stationed here before the dead. Inhuman looking restraining irons, putrid smelling, tiny cells with wall mounted chains, and a very disturbing torture chamber. Not only was it laden with the usual tools of the trade, but also measuring instruments. Were they performing experiments on their prisoners? Whatever foul business was happening down here, it's creeping me out. At least the zombies look like they'd just crush my head and be done with it, but the surgically removed bones I see standing next to the restraining tables tell me these people had different ideas in mind.

I best not tarry. I found an old 2 handed sword in one of the cells and a new pair of padded trousers, and I suspect both will see use before long.


Meeting hall and the armory

I backtracked to the entrance so I could go look at the 3 corridors branching off near the skull sign I saw earlier. The right corridor led me to some sort of an assembly hall, with a small adjoining store room packed with weapons! Unfortunately, like everything else down here apparently, most of them were rusted through. I'll keep my short sword for now, it has been bathed in so much zombie blood it now has sentimental value! While the storeroom was disappointing, the key to it was in a small, carry-format strongbox. I'll use it to hold this journal along with all the scrolls and books I found so they don't get ruined by blood spatter. Very practical!

The real treasure was found down the middle corridor however. It was in fact a long succession of corridors, which had contraptions designed to keep unwanted personnel out such as pitfalls and locking doors. As far as I can tell, when this place was occupied by the living, the contraptions could simply be disabled by having multiple men stand at multiple levers and pull them in unison, but I'm alone down here so I had to rig the switches and jam a few doors with debris. Nothing too complicated, but still took some tinkering to prop debris in just the right way so the lever wouldn't toss it off when resetting. Anyhow, I eventually came to a small labyrinth in which I must admit I was lost for a bit of time, but I mapped it out carefully on the back of one of my parchments and made it through.

A final door blocked my way, with some foul fire breathing invention nearby. And also, a room with instructions on how to defeat said invention! I suppose when there were guards around I might not have gotten to it so easily but anyhow, I followed the instructions, opened the gate, and stumbled right into the armory I'd been looking for! I knew there was bound to be one somewhere around! While most of the gear had succumbed to the ages here too, but I did find a masterfully well crafted and perfectly preserved breastplate and an old chain coif. This should keep all my vital bits out of harms way, but is somewhat cumbersome. I'll need to get used to it I suppose, protection comes at a price.

Pressing forward, I ended up locating a door that appears to go downwards, but before I go further underground I wish to finish exploring this area. There might be more clues as to my purpose or what great evil transpired here. At the end of the corridor I managed to open a locked gate that led me back to the storage area of the facility, so I'm back in what I previously assumed to be the quartermaster's office to write this entry with relative comfort and some proper light (although I'm still a bit creeped out by these apparently magical light sources that outlived their makers).

There's a few more areas I need to look into but I feel like I've covered a lot of ground since I first woke up. Sadly, still no clue as to why I was sent here aside from the incomplete note I found on myself.
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Thaumaturgic compound

The last corridor branching off from the skull sign led me to what I believe to be an infirmary front office. A strange blue glow, not all that dissimilar from the one emitted by the lamps, was radiating through a stack of crates. Upon closer inspection, it's source was a jar with an unknown blue mixture in it. Is this the same stuff that's causing the lamps to glow, apparently forever? Or maybe it's some sort of healing salve, seeing as I found it in an infirmary... I put it in my strongbox for safekeeping, glass jars have a short lifespan when engaging in combat.

While I still can't remember my own past, I KNOW I've never seen anything like this before. Hopefully I'll find some book or parchment to tell me what it's purpose is.


The medical ward

Pushing past the office I entered a large room with many beds, some rudimentary prosthetics and crutches, stretchers, bedpans... Clearly a medical ward, and a large one at that. The local garrison was likely expecting many causalities judging from the number of beds and prosthetics around. Interestingly enough, I've found no bodies here, only the undead. It's almost clean here, even the operating tables don't have a drop of blood on them. It's a sharp contrast to the hastily abandoned common area I visited twice already.

I was able to observe more interesting behavior from the zombies: They do not seem to mind each other as a general rule, but while I was engaging a pair that came flying out of a small office (this seems to be a recurring theme, I should make a habit of dropping my torch and pulling my shield before opening any doors) one accidentally hit the other, formerly a woman in life. She turned to it and beat it silly with a bedpan!

It seems the creatures are quick to anger and do not identify one another as allies. In fact, up to now, I'd never seen them interacting with one another. I'll need to remember this next time I'm attacked by multiple hostiles.

Anyhow, based on records I found around here it seems the healers were at one point dealing with pretty mundane wounds, bites and lacerations. But then in some other corner I found a book about dissecting human beings, with additional hand-written notes in the parts regarding the brain. Disturbing to say the least...

I also found two more letters, one appeared to be written by a patient here who spoke of some disease of the mind that was causing him to become more aggressive, less like himself. The other letter suggested the prisoners of the dungeon were not the only ones being experimented on... Something about "losing the will to live without their bodies". Could the author have been performing necromantic experiments, attempting to create incorporeal beings? Thankfully, it appears his experiments had not come to fruition when he wrote the letter. There's also evidence to suggest he may have the same mental affliction as the patient.

This office is starting to feel a bit cramped, and I can hear another shambler outside the door. Must have missed him when I first walked in, or maybe he stumbled in from another area. Best go handle him now, I'll write some more later.
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The mortuary

Well I found an explanation for the lack of bodies: the former inhabitants bothered to setup a proper crematorium and had a significant casket storage. More signs they were expecting heavy casualties. Certainly a sign they were well organized and ready for war.

It's tempting to start burning the de-animated zombies to make sure they won't get a second wind, but I have better things to do.

The absence of measurement tools also tells me this area was meant for disposal of bodies only. No twisted experiments in here, which is fine by me, morgues are already creepy enough.


Disconcerting finds

Further down the halls of the medical ward I stumbled into another, smaller dining room with adjoining luxury quarters. Perhaps the garrison commander lived here? There's literature here suggesting the owner was obsessed with immortality, and also a person of means judging by the quality of the furniture and clothing found here. This room appears to have seen use much more recent than what I'll now refer to as the "garrison days".

Among interesting finds, I located a chain shirt in one of the desks. Combined with my coif, breastplate and what has slowly evolved into a full set of leather armor, I'm starting to feel very well protected. Just need to get used to the weight and encumbrance of it all.

Another good find was a letter speaking of one Thaven, apparently a figure of authority around here, who brought danger upon the inhabitants of this complex through single minded pursuit of some unnamed goal. Could he have been researching necromancy? That would certainly explain a lot, and the book's I've found nearby show an interest for such thing. The author mentions feelings of violence that he or she thinks are unusual. Could the author have suffered from the affliction described in the letters I found in the medical ward?

I feel like I'm getting closer to some answers, but each piece of the puzzle just raises more questions...

I'll remember this room, it's a comfy place to write and get a bit of rest.


Reasons for madness

Next door to the luxurious quarters that I'm currently writing from (and the previous entry for that matter) I found a laboratory. There is no doubt it was used for foul thaumaturgic experiments. A body, stripped naked and with apparent, invasive surgical cuts. Measuring tools all kinds. Many blades and butcher knifes. Heavy, wall mounted restraints near surgery tables. Alchemical tools and compounds. A blood soaked book who's title suggests it contained the necromantic research of Linus Fendrick, famous Thaumaturge and would-be necromancer who's misguided and failed experiments made him a legend.

I do not wish to remain here any longer than I have to, I suspect I may have found the source of the zombies I've been hunting down through these halls. I do not wish for some residual power or ghost to decide I'd make a good snack!

On the research bench in a corner of the room I found a scholarly work on memory and a strange letter, more of a personal research log really, that suggested the experiments being conducted in this room had only limited success. If I was to speculate, I'd say the researcher managed to raise the dead in the barely functional state I've become accustomed to see in the corridors, but failed to restore their memories of life and other higher mental functions, hence his choice of reading material.

I went through the book myself, but at a glance it did not look like it might contain any clues as to how to jog my own memory. I wonder if it will ever come back now... Again, best not think too hard about it.

I wonder if this would-be necromancer was the person I was charged to come and assist. Another letter I found suggested that someone was sending a steady stream of test subject down here. Was I meant to become a monster myself? This Hamon person was apparently giving them bogus quests with promises of reward, but the letter's tone suggests none of them would return top-side again. The author is clearly the person responsible for the locked doors near the common area. This leaves little hope that there are still remains of the garrison that was once stationed here hiding deeper in the facility. Perhaps I can get my hands on the author though, I'd like to ask him a few questions at sword-point...

I should get out of here before I lose my own mind. Time to go visit that staircase I found near the armory, if I'm correct about this, the passageway's other end should connect not too far from here.


Delving deeper

I made my way down the staircase and emerged in a very unremarkable room. It occurs to me now I have only found 3 recently dead bodies, and not a single living soul on the entire first level. This does not bode well for me... Seems this place really is abandoned to the dead.

I'll go looking for more clues as to the whereabouts of the would-be necromancer - no, clearly he has succeeded, the black blood on my blade is evidence of that - but I'm starting to get a better picture of what happened here: A long time ago some military organization excavated these halls, but sooner or later it fell into disrepair. It is probably around such time that the researchers of the medical ward first started experimenting on whoever was left guarding the place. When they ran out of soldiers to torment, they struck a deal with this Hamon person so that he would keep sending test subjects, but Hamon proved to be unreliable. The experiments did function, creating the abominations I've been fighting, but not the the extent the necromancer wanted. It seems he was attempting to create life eternal through necromancy. While he's not the first to attempt such a feat, I'm fair sure it's never going to work. Men die, they always have, and they always will.

I'll start exploring this 2nd level, see if I can confirm my theory and perhaps find more information about myself in the process.


Lost and found

I was exploring what appeared to be barracks. Beds and bedside trunk, a cloths washing area, etc... It seems the undead presence is even thicker down here, and they are better equipped too. Most are wearing Gambesons and using actual weapons, as opposed to the sticks and improvised weaponry they were swinging at me earlier.

One of them made a run for his unlife, and, somewhat stupidly, I decided to chase him through multiple corridors. I barely noticed myself, but some of his "friends" had also joined in the chase. When I finally cornered it I now had to fight off three! My new armor proved invaluable during this fight, I came close to falling unconscious when I was struck a hard blow with the broad side of a spear, but nothing pierced my shiny new breastplate on this day! Still, somewhere in the back of my mind I could hear an unidentified voice saying "Dammit Thurin, why you always have to act so reckless? You're supposed to be the smart one... One of these days you gonna get it!". I doubt this fragment will help me restore my memories, best ignore it...

Anyhow, after checking the bodies for any hint of where they came from or why they are here now (I found none), I figured I'd check the door I ended up next to. It lead to another downwards staircase! It seems I chased that thing across the entire level. Was it trying to retreat deeper into the facility?

I barely got a glimpse of this place during the mad chase, I best backtrack and go explore a bit.


The tavern

I started backtracking, checking all doors as I usually do. The first door I found led me to an old brewery. All the alcohol seems to have gone bad ages ago and the smell is overwhelming, I won't be tarrying here long. Past the brewery there was a small room where a game and some drinks appeared to have been abandoned in a hurry. Through that room, I found a proper tavern.

All the food and drinks here also went bad long before I got here - those that did not simply turn to dust. On one of the tables, I found a parchment that appeared to be part of a journal much like mine. While it is unsigned, the author made many similar observations to myself, including the ever-lit lamp. Seems I'm not the only one they creep out! He also speaks of a "far reaching presence", perhaps the gloom I've felt ever since I woke up. He attributes it to either something called "the mythical Guardian" or "Thaven's spellgiver". The notion of a guardian is troubling, but his tone suggests he doubts it's very existence. Fine by me. "Thaven's spellgiver" may refer to one of the research fellows, or perhaps someone feeding them secrets to assist in their experiments.

I'll have to see if I can locate more pages of this person's journal, it seems we were asking the same questions, he or she may have uncovered information I have yet to find. If I'm lucky, he or she may still be alive somewhere within these halls, in which case I could certainly use a partner when fighting off the undead. Or just another mind to bounce ideas off of.

The tavern itself is quite large, perhaps large enough to accommodate all military personnel not on duty all at once. I have not found signs of an inn (yet), so I doubt this was built with visitors and travelers in mind.

I'm writing this from the small backroom between the tavern and brewery. The stench of vinegar and death are assaulting me every minute I spend here, but I'll gladly trade in comfort for safety so I can have time to properly document my journey.

A thought occurs to me now as I write this: For all I know, I might be the author of the note I found, prior to losing all my memories. We seem to have a similar narrative style after all. I hope I am wrong about this, seeing a friendly, or just living face that is not my own, down here would certainly lift my spirits.


Combat training

After visiting the tavern I found my way to a small training area. It included a somewhat short archery range and many training dummies, along with 2 live dummies for me to practice on. After dispatching them (one cloven head, one lacerated torso!), I looked around, hoping for better weapons and armor, but came up mostly dry. I found some plate spaulders, they won't offer me much protection but I suppose a broken clavicle or shoulder would seriously impact my combat abilities, so there's that.

I also found a bardiche and a spear, but I've become accustomed to fighting with sword and shield. I don't think I'll be using them, these corridors get so tight a long weapon may actually be a burden, but I strapped them both to my back anyhow. Sometimes you just need reach.

No signs of my fellow explorer in here either, if he came through here he left no notes. At the other end of the combat training area I found 2 doors, one locked, the other heavily barricaded. I tried to remove the barricades but one of the sandbags was stuck and I don't have the time to deal with it. I'll just find another way into that room.

[There's a hastily written note added, a bit crooked and likely in freehand, at the bottom of the page]

barricade against the corridor, can't think why anyone bothered


Close call and haunting discoveries

[These pages have a lot of illegible notes scribbled in the margins or on pieces of parchment that have been glued on, it seems the author was pondering many dark possibilities]

Still backtracking towards the entrance to this 2nd level, I found my way to a room that seemed to serve for apothecary research. Many a jar and tools of the trade I found a main research bench consisting of multiple tables, desks and reading podiums, along with a smaller, sequestered research bench with similar tools, perhaps for an apprentice? If so, it appears the apprentice (Papin?) had to live in here too, judging from the small bed and trunk I found.

I spotted a book entitled "the Guardian's Wrath" and opened it , but before I could read the first word I felt something moving behind me. I skillfully dodged to the left what might have been a deadly blow: a zombie had stumbled in the room behind me and tried to crack my skull from above with (apparently my bane) a rusty 2 handed axe! It was a close call, a real person would have killed me right then and there without me ever realizing what had happened. Thankfully, these creatures are too aggressive to approach me unnoticed. I returned to favor by cleaving his head in two with my blood-soaked short sword. I then closed the door and made sure it was tightly shut before gathering my wits returning to my reading.
Turning back to the documents and books on the master's research tables, I have found evidence that the researchers here might have been part of a cult worshiping "The Guardian of the Underworld".

"The Guardian's Wrath" seemed to be a very generic book detailing the lore of the Guardian. It seems in times immemorial, men dug deep into the earth in search of power. Instead they breached the "Underworld", and the Guardian sent demons to destroy the men. They fled and sealed the entrance behind them.

This is disturbing news indeed. I am currently in an underground complex filled with demons and with a sealed entrance... Could I be at the gates of the underworld? Is this Guardian watching me now, preparing to unleash terrible horrors upon me? Only way to find out is to keep pressing on, but I feel uneasy now. These zombies aren't much, but could I stand my grounds against demons? Or maybe I'm just letting my imagination run wild, it's just a book after all...

Anyhow, the other book in here seemed to belong to some sort of Guardian worshiping cult. It is simply called "The Guardian of the Underworld". The book exposes a belief system wherein the cultists would bury their dead so that they may join the Guardian in some sort of afterlife. They believed him to be a "giver of life", which is a sharp contrast to the tone of the previous book. The cultists also seemed to believe the dead would rise to aid them in their time of need. While I understand mortal men's obsession with immortality, it appears to me these people were willingly giving their souls away to what is essentially a demon so they may, perhaps, have eternal life beyond this one...

I wonder now if this was simply used as reference material by the researchers or if they themselves belonged to this vile cult. While I have doubts about the existence of this Guardian, it seems my fellow explorer did not. Re-reading his letter, he was under the impression the uneasy presence we both felt was in fact the Guardian, watching his every step.

I also found a pair of scrolls here that provided more insight: The first informed me regarding the strange blue compound I found in the medical ward's front office. It appears it is in fact a healing salve. The note's author, like me, also thought it was the same stuff that's in the lamps, but according to his experiment they are clearly of different making. Interestingly, he did not know of the origin of the lamps or the substance himself, so it is safe to say they were not crafted by the researchers. Maybe the original dwellers of this place in the garrison days had access to advanced knowledge of imbuing thaumaturgic energy into objects and substances? If so it was clearly lost to time as despite my memory loss I know such things are not found above ground.

He also states that while it did heal his wounds, it did nothing for his "illness", which I believe references the affliction of the mind many a scroll has mentioned so far. I did well in sealing that jar in my strongbox, it will most certainly come in handy. I've been accumulating scrapes and bruises quite rapidly from fighting the increasingly numerous undead. At some point I'll have to tend to those wounds...

The last parchment seems to have been written by the same person who wrote the note I found in the laboratory upstairs. It's unclear what happened, but the tone of the letter suggests that his apprentice, Papin, did not die or leave: he became an experiment subject. The note also suggests that the necromancer was alone down here with his creations after he turned poor Papin into a monster. He says he could no longer impart knowledge or exchange ideas with his apprentice, but still treasured his presence and friendship... Did he consider these monstrosities to be his friends? Was he perhaps deliberately experimenting on loved ones at first? I do not believe him to have been an evil person, probably just a very misguided one or under influence of this mysterious illness that caused behavioral alterations in the people living down here.

While the decorum was not as disconcerting as that of the laboratory, the reading material I found in here as left me profoundly disturbed. I need to take a short break to collect my thoughts and gather my resolve. If truly I am standing at the gates of the underworld, I must be prepared to face much greater threats than zombies as I delve deeper into the facility... I'm also beginning to worry the illness may be affecting me too. Why else would I want to stay here? It seems anyone in his right mind would seek to escape this dreadful place as fast as possible, especially considering what I've just read, and yet... I can't bring myself to even really consider it. I must keep going, even at the cost of my life and sanity. If I had my memories at least I'd be able to tell if I always was brave, or perhaps foolhardy, or if this is new behavior, but I cannot recall.

I found a key in the main work area, probably unlocking the door in the combat training area. I'll have to go test it after I've rested a bit.

[a barely legible note stands out at the very bottom of the last page, dripping with too much ink and smudged by sweat and blood]



Another close call

[This entry is written with an unusually unsteady hand]

I was exploring the corridors and opened a door. As I've come to expect, a zombie came flying out with a crutch for a weapon. It's my fault really, did I not mention I should keep my shield in hand before opening doors? Anyhow, I must be getting sloppy because I allowed it to give me a solid hit to the head and I passed out. I do not know how long I was out, but when I came to, I was surprised to still be alive. It could have finished me off right then and there. The blow doesn't seem to have left that big a bruise thanks to my chain coif and leather cap, but I can't allow this to happen again. I tracked it down like a beast and found it hanging around the tavern. The fighting was a bit wild, it seems that last hit severely impacted my balance, but I struck it down nonetheless without taking any further wounds.

I'm sitting in the tavern's backroom right now, taking another break. The healing salve is tempting, but these are only bruises, perhaps I should let my body heal them. In a week or two I won't remember this pain. I'll barricade the doors and see if I can get a bit of shut eye in here. The stench is overwhelming, but I'm not feeling very good, I'll just have to deal with it...


Officer's Quarters

I could not sleep after all, but a bit of rest did me some good. I feel confident once again.

I found a new area that appears to be the officer's quarters. There's a very large kitchen and dining area and most of the quarters are fairly large. The locals are also wearing some actual armor and wielding proper weapons for the most part.

I found two more scrolls, one indicated that while Hamon was still sending too many new subjects for the necromancer to properly handle, he also was getting increasingly clever with how he manipulated the victims into coming down here.

The other scroll I believe dates back to the garrison days based on its level of degradation. According to it, the garrison had been infiltrated by a group called "the conservers" but the author of the note did not believe them to be a real threat. In fact, he clearly states than a manhunt for the spies would be more of a threat than allowing the spies to operate.

The room I picked to write this entry appears to have been thoroughly trashed. Hard to tell if it happened when the garrison evacuated or if it's just the work of the mindless shamblers. They can get pretty aggressive.

I'm not done looking around this area, but I already found a chain shirt. While it does not offer better protection than my current vest, it does cover a slightly larger portion of my body, so I'll be trading this in. Hopefully I'll keep finding improvements to my makeshift armor. Better get back to it!



[There are smudged bloodstains all over these pages, making some part barely legible]

I've been fighting quite sloppy since I got bashed in the head. Now I have a second head wound to prove it, more than just a bruise. It's bleeding profusely... I'm once again contemplating the salve, but what if I get a truly crippling injury? This head wound is pretty severe, but in no way fatal. No, I should conserve this miracle cure for later, there isn't much of it, I must make it count.

On the one hand, all this armor is making combat moves much more difficult, but on the other, without it, I'd be dead right now. I'm becoming accustomed to the weight now, perhaps I just need a little bit more practice.

I received this wound while exploring what appears to be a secondary medical ward. I had hoped to find more of that blue compound, but no such luck yet. I also found what appears to be the war room. A map with scribbling in an unknown language was spread on a large table, and their was a locked door in the back for which I did not have the key (yet). This was indeed a military installation at one point, and they appeared to be making plans for war. Against whom I do not know.

My fellow explorer also had thoughts on the matter; I found another one of his notes where he confirms we've both been thinking the same thing about the original purpose for this place. He says whatever conflict was fought by the men garrisoned here did not make it into the history books. He goes on to mention he was sent here by Thaven to find the "true source of (their) power"... It appears likely this explorer was in league with Thaven by his use of the words "our power". Either that, or Thaven was hiding some more sinister goal and the explorer was simply another pawn of his.

His theory was that the garrison was fighting the explorer's people, and that the explorer's ancestor won in the end. More hints pointing to this explorer being a Guardian worshiper... I attribute these notes to another person but perhaps the necromancer and the explorer are one and the same.

Then there's this Thaven character. Everything I've read about him suggests he is a master manipulator, and I still think he may be responsible for my own presence here, maybe through Hamon. What's more, the specific choice of words has me believing that Thaven must have been a leader among Guardian cultists or a necromancer in his own right. This explorer probably is not a "fellow" of mine one way or another...

Another scroll I picked up (I cannot recall where... must be this head wound) says that Thaven was making many a wild claim, but the author had come to believe there was truth to them, that Thaven was changing the world somehow. If I'm right about him being a necromancer, and the author of the note is right about him changing the world, I fear I may return topside to find the world overrun with these monstrosities... But then again, if I'm successful down here who's to say I won't come out with powers of my own? If Thaumaturgy is real, then who says I cannot use it's power to defeat the dead just as the necromancer is using it to raise them? The answer to my questions lie deeper within this complex, of that much I am certain.

In light of all this, speculative as it may be, If I come to find out this "other" explorer is indeed me prior to losing my memory, I feel I may have been involved in terrible things. If that is the case then losing my memory will have been a blessing, reversing whatever twisted brainwashing I might have endured.

Another good reason to continue my exploration: If I was somehow in league with this Thaven or some weird demon-worshiping cult, I feel I should atone for that, and what better way than by slaying demons and other unholy creatures? If I die down here, it will have been for a good cause at least, and perhaps my efforts and this journal can light the way for another adventurer to complete my quest. Already dozens of the animated corpses wandering the halls have been returned to rest, felled by my blade!

I'll try to get some rest again before venturing forth once more. Since I won't be using the salve I'll need a bit of time to recover and bandage this wound. I fear if I leave it exposed it may fester in such a filthy environment.

[A folded piece of parchment is glued at the bottom. Most of it is incomprehensible, but one passage is written in larger print and echos the notes found earlier in the journal]

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The study

I got a bit lost in these apparently endless halls and ended up near the officer's quarters again. I stumbled on a key I had missed earlier, which opened the door at the back of the war room. It looked like the garrison commander's personal study, but here's isn't a single book on the shelves, only an old scroll too far decomposed to read...

Perhaps the commander was able to evacuate before all hell broke loose? Regardless, I'll now be using this study so I can start drawing a map, I'm tired of going around in circles...


Rusted armor

I found another armory, much better stocked than the one I found on the first floor, but everything here also suffers from a bad case of rust. Still, I picked up a helmet, rusted plate is better than nothing. I also found some high quality leather vambraces. My old lamelar ones were falling apart, I'd rather trust these. Last but not least, a new weapon and shield! I tossed aside that barrel top I'd been using in favor of a proper heat shield, and I also picked up a war-hammer: I'll need it if I encounter any heavily armored opposition.

On my way here I also found some sort of a courtroom and a small dungeon. It seems this was were the garrison would serve justice to it's more unruly member. Looking through their records, it looks to me like they were getting quite paranoid of intruders. Perhaps the conservers were a threat after all.

Another interesting find was some classrooms. More evidence that people had permanently settled this compound. Weither they were teaching combat, thaumaturgy or more general classes, I can't tell.


Signs of struggle

I completed my exploration of the Western wing in the troop's barracks. The place was so thoroughly trashed I can only assume combat took place in there. Still, no bodies, no blood. No notes either. Only writing I found was an old book that told the tale of a turncoat, in short.

I finally got used to all this armor, but it's still weighting me down. More practice aught to take care of that.

Anyhow, on to the East wing.


Deeper and deeper...

I've finished mapping the East wing, it appears I had already been pretty thorough but had no way of knowing for sure without a map. Before continuing on, I've made sure to ditch any extra weapons I was carrying, my arsenal was getting a bit out of control, contributing to my combat problems. I've kept only my shiny new sword, the war-hammer, along with a spear and 2 handed sword strapped to my back.

I'm writing this from the staircase room, and I think it's time for me to head deeper into this facility's 3rd level. Here goes...
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