WARNING: This session report includes potential spoilers from the PnP demo product released by Serious Poulp. Because of the exploratory nature of the game there's really no way to do this without spoiling some of the cards. Please don't continue if you have not yet had a chance to try the PnP for yourself and wish to enjoy the surprises it offered unspoiled.
Waves crashed, and a chill wind blew across the beach.
Ferdinand opened his eyes to a brilliant blue sky, and starting awake, sat upright. Nearby, his companion Keelan lay prone on one side. Reaching over, he gently roused her. Groaning, she slowly rolled over and opened her eyes, a confused look on her face. Slowly rising, the pair looked at their surroundings. They found themselves on a small rocky islet, nearly numb with cold. A brisk wind and the sound of waves all around gave them little idea of where they were or how they arrived there.
"Where..." Keelan started, but the thought trailed off mid sentence.
"I remember the Boar's Head," Ferdinand ventured, rubbing his temple. "And the hotel, after. There was the gentleman at the bar... Hester? Hessling? But nothing else. Keel, how long do you suppose we've been asleep?"
She groaned, stretching. "I honestly don't know, Ferd. Let's look around a bit." Keelan began picking her way across the rocky area towards the closest beach.
Following her, Ferdinand began to look around the the immediate area. A moment later, he spied off to one side what seemed to be a crudely marked grave. An curious feature, the rough wooden cross was marked with the initials "JWM" and assembled from a few planks and some cord. Already thoroughly confused by the mysterious events of their awakening in a strange land, such a portent was unsettling to say the least.
Keelan stepped near, and Ferdinand considered the grave quietly. "That's ominous," observed Keelan. Immediately, an old motto of his grandfather's popped into Ferdinand's mind. "Forewarned is forearmed" he murmured almost to himself. He felt comforted somewhat reciting the words the old man would often tell him, speaking often of the importance of being prepared for unexpected eventualities. In such a curious place, with little to no idea of what was happening, it seemed prudent to gather as much information as possible. Unearthing this grave for clues might be one way to do that.
Dragging a heel across the dirt, Keelan observed that the grave was not ancient, but also not recent either, ever keen in her powers of observation. It would be hard digging without some sort of tool on hand.
Deciding instead to spend their energy elsewhere for the time being, they strolled northward a little hands in pockets. Soon the pair arrived at a choppy shore. The waves crashed against the rocks, and all manner of things seemed to have been caught up in the rocks here. Seaweed, and other vegetation, some small pieces of driftwood... and catching a ray of sunlight, Ferdinand spotted a glint.
Kneeling, Keelan reached in between several rocks and retrieved a clear glass bottle of of amber liquid. Stunned, she stood and examined it. Removing the stopper she breathed in the aroma and smiled, closing her eyes. "Whiskey..." she almost whispered. The smell reminded her of her father. Examining the label, she said "This is... twenty years old, Ferdinand. What on Earth could it be doing here?"
"A curious bit of detritus, indeed" he replied. "Best stopper it for now though, my dear. And hello! What's this?" Ferdinand poked around further among the stones in the area and observed an empty metal can wedged under a larger rock. He tried to retrieve it, but it hung on a small outcropping. "A pole would come in useful for this sort of thing..." he muttered mostly to himself, and levered the rock out of the way to retrieve the can. Pulling it loose, he could barely read the label "Octopus Meat"
"Quite a treasure!" Keenan joked with a sly grin, and motioned to the East. "Let's look over this way."
"I'd just as soon follow the beach than wander off willy nilly..." began Ferdinand. "But you know this islet seems small enough. Let's split up, shall we? You head that way, and just call out if you run into any trouble, I'm sure I'll hear you."
"Suit yourself," she said smiling and slipping the whiskey into her back pocket. "My bottle and I will be fine, I think."
Heading East, Keenan eagerly scanned the area with a scholar's eye looking for anything worth further investigation. However, as soon as Ferdinand was out of eyesight, anxiety descended like a cloud blocking the sun. The island seemed oppressively, unbearably quiet, almost no sounds of life, and they'd not seen a single bird or insect. She began to feel consumed almost immediately with an irrational fear of being alone here.
Leaning against a small tree, Keelan tried desperately to compose herself. Falling back on an old habit, she attempted to identify nearby plants by taxonomy as a distraction. She observed a fern, which at first she thought she recognized, but to her astonishment, she realized she could not name it. Either having either never seen it before in her life, or having lost the ability to do so she could not tell. This served only to further pitch Keelan into a heightened emotional state reinforcing the foreign nature of their strange surroundings. "Everything here is wrong... Just wrong... It looks like a normal island, but tiny differences betray the facade..." she muttered to herself, heart racing she began to sweat. Unable to calm herself, she started breathing heavily - hyperventilating - until she collapsed against the tree and slumped to the ground in a panic.
Having followed the rocky coast west, and slightly to the south, Ferdinand looked out towards the ocean. The waves breaking here seemed quite choppy and rough. But despite that, a number of sea turtles seemed to be swimming with ease in the area about fifty yards off coast, the sun glinting off their massive shells. Thinking more on the mysterious grave, Ferdinand began to form the idea of a crude digging device. Turning his glance inland, he spotted a jutting piece of shale stone. The sedimentation has caused it to form into large slates, some of which could be easily broken off with the right tool...
Having calmed herself at last, and somewhat exhausted, Keelan rose to her feet and haltingly continued. She was startled by sudden movement and let out a tiny yelp, as what she thought to be a large stone shifted nearby - revealing itself to be a large sea turtle. A possible source of food, and a welcome distraction from her anxiety. Keelan observed it coolly. It blinked back at her, sedately, seemingly unaware of any threat and shuffled onward. Keelan approached. One step closer... then a second... she crept nearer to the turtle. From about two feet away, she lunged at it, and with remarkable speed, the little beast scooted away, causing Keelan to plop into the sand empty handed. Moving far more quickly than she would have expected for a creature its size, it was soon gone from sight.
Using the empty can, Ferdinand began hammering away at the rock formation, attempting to remove a chunk large enough for a shovel. Soon, a piece broke loose, and using some other nearby materials, the shovel was completed quickly. Feeling very satisfied with himself, Ferdinand hauled the new tool back to the grave site.
Topping a small rise, Keelan reached the Eastern shore of the islet. The waves here lapped gently along the shore. The sea was calm, soothing, even, and while still somewhat shaken by the panic attack earlier, Keenen enjoyed the crisp sea air, despite the chill if just for a moment. Just a bit to the north, the area was mostly dominated by large stone formation.
From the shore, Keelan turned north, and observed a large stone statue, an idol of some kind. Its shape somewhat resembling a body of sorts, with a grotesque maw opening up to the sky. It seemed both otherworldly, and oddly familiar at the same time. Its presence was immediately disturbing.
Keelan's mind raced: "Such a small islet... who would go to the trouble to build such a thing here, with no one around to see it? It appears quite ancient, having fallen apart with time, and something else... An almost sinister presence seems attached to it." A silly notion, to be sure, especially for someone educated as herself, but still - the feeling remained.
Armed with his new tool, Ferdinand began to dig up the grave. Carelessly knocking down the wooden post, he was able to quickly move large amounts of earth. The makeshift shovel worked surprisingly well, and the grave was not deep. Wrapped in an old shroud of some sort, he found what was left of a body. "Well." he said to himself, stroking his mustache reflectively. "This is expected in a grave, after all." Searching the corpse, Ferdinand found only a small scrap of paper. The hastily written message identified the occupant of the grave as Professor James W Mitchum. Written by someone named Sanders, the note also rambled about gulls and turtles and served only to confuse Ferdinand further. "Where the blazes are we, anyway?" he thought to himself.
Even though it made her feel quite uneasy, Keelan felt compelled to study it further. Kneeling near it, she leaned close, and carefully examined the markings. Despite the cold, Keelan wiped her brow as she crouched, riveted to her work. Her eyes traced the markings slowly up one side of the stone edifice when suddenly, from the periphery of her vision, she was startled.
Jerking away, and falling backwards with a scream, Keelan scuttled away from the stones. Unsure of what she'd seen, possible explanations bubbled to her mind: a trick of the light, a distortion from the sweat, a shadow or sunlight playing on the stones... ANY other explanation would do except the one that pounded now in her brain - that the statue had moved. Her academic curiosity forgotten, Keelan backed away from the stature - terrified and exhausted - and turned back West to find Ferdinand.
Having found nothing of use at the grave after all, Ferdinand returned to the northern shore, and attempted once more to look for anything else useful that may have collected among the stones. Turning over multiple rocks and probing several holes, and searching in vain, Ferdinand finally resolved himself to defeat when his shovel broke. He collapsed exhausted and breathing heavily from the effort. After a short rest, he stood, and brushing himself off, struck out eastward, hoping to find Keelan.
A moment later, Ferdinand crested the small rise, and Keelan running the opposite direction crashed into him wild eyed and panicked.
"I say, Keel, are you all right?" Ferdinand said. "You look as though you've seen a ghost."
"We need to leave here." She replied, panting and leaning over with hands on her knees. "Immediately."
"Yes..." ventured Ferdinand. "Well I hadn't really considered settling in, you see. But I'm at a bit of a loss as to how we will actually leave. Though... Well, I thought... I thought we might be able to build a raft somehow."
"A raft..." murmured Keelan. "Of what, though? We haven't any wood."
"There was the grave marker," started Ferdinand "Only, I think I've buried it..." he finished with a sheepish grin.
"Was there anything in the grave?" asked Keelan.
"Not surprisingly, a body." said Ferdinand cheerily. "And a rambling note about chasing turtles for all the good it will do us. I saw quite a few of them swimming to the West. Quite the little troopers."
"I've seen one as well. At least..." she hesitated, doubting herself. "I think I did."
"Really? On land?" said Ferdinand, looking around. "Well that's something. We might catch ourselves a meal. Where?"
"It ran off," she gestured to the south "That way."
The duo walked carefully along the beach and came at last to a group of small dunes, and scattered among them a clutch of turtle eggs. Ferdinand's stomach rumbled audibly.
"I don't see any turtles, but these will do nicely." Ferdinand said, striding towards the prize, a hungry look in his eye.
"Wait!" said Keelan. "Gently. They're very delicate. Here, let me show you." She knelt and scraped the sand away in small strokes, revealing many eggs half buried. "The shells are soft, but we can eat them here." Together, they harvested a dozen or so eggs.
With slightly fuller bellies, the duo sat content on the sand for a moment together.
"Are you sure you're all right?" Ferdinand asked. "You seem quite shaken up back there Keel."
"I think I know where we are." she replied, quietly. "And I think you do too."
He sat silent for a moment and then . "Yes. I didn't want to consider it before, but then there's no use beating around the bush, is there?" He handed her the note he'd retrieved from the grave. "This was buried with the body. The name, Keel, at the bottom..."
She scanned it quickly, and whispered "Sanders. But Ferdinand, it simply can't be him! That grave was old, decades old, at least!"
"It doesn't make any sense to me either. But then, nothing about the expedition last year makes sense any more. I don't think we're back on the 7th Continent, but it's close. I can feel it." At the name, Keelan shuddered and huddled close.
Putting his arm around her he said "We'll find a way, Keelan. You'll see." Picking up a stick and drawing lightly in the sand he said "Here, let me show you this idea I have for a raft..."