Black Altar in Raised Moss and Skull Man

by Thorin Klosowski

Mojiferous’ art

June 23, 2xxx

After leaving the the Dipty Mountains, we’ve arrived at the western most side of the mapped regions of the RNN. It’s different here. Where the mountains swung between a frosty wonderland and a barren bombed out wasteland, it’s perpetual spring on the west.

It hasn’t stopped raining since we arrived. I’m not even sure I can say when the rain started. At one point coming down the mountain there was rain, and we’ve been wet ever since. At least it’s a warm rain.

We’ve set up camp in a small clearing. We have enough tarps from crossing the mountain that we can cover the crew long enough to get dry and cook some food. This morning was our first real, cooked meal in a while, as the mountains were too cold to stay still for long. As some of the crew cleans up, the rest get ready to map the area. I’m looking forward to seeing what lays ahead.

June 24, 2xxx

We’ve met a local. Or rather, “met” is perhaps the wrong word. We’ve observed a local. Actually, I’m not even clear I can say “we,” as my crew has either blocked out today’s experience or they just never had it.

As my men and I hacked through the thick jungle, we came across a large altar covered in moss. A man, or rather, a man-shaped creature, stood behind the altar wearing a purple robe that looked religious in nature. In place of his head was what appeared to be a floating skull.

The skull was, I’ll admit freely here, rather creepy. It was also much more expressive than I’d thought possible. As we approached the altar, the man (I’m just going to call it a man, though I do recognize that’s not something we know. Frankly, it’s just easier to say man), noticed us, and, gave us a warm, genuine smile.

“Hello!” I said, “I’m Percy Humboldt,” I waved, meekly, then extended my hand to offer a handshake.

The skull man didn’t return the handshake. Instead, he tilted his head, like a thinking dog, and shook some dust off his robes.

We sat like that for what felt like a very long time. My hand, extended. The skull man’s head, tilted. My men, behind me, all half-turned away, thinking about running.

“Hmm,” the skull man said. And a wave of electricity opened up around us. In an instant, the world felt frozen and I felt empty inside. Everything went black, with small, floating bits of purple electricity falling around us like snowflakes. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t see if my men were behind me. I couldn’t feel the presence of anything at all. Not even myself.

The skull man still moved. He still smiled. At the time I wasn’t sure if moments or years had past.

The skull man walked up to me, and leaned in. Its face next to mine, I could see nothing but darkness, but still felt warmth from his body.

“Continue to the sea,” he said. I couldn’t reply. The skull man smiled warmly again. How was he so expressive?

With that, everything snapped back to normal. The skull man was gone. I turned around to see my men all staring at me. “Are you okay, sir?” One asked, “you shut down there.”

“I’m fine.” I said, “There’s nothing here for us, let’s keep moving.”

I’ve already told the men to pack up tomorrow. They gave me a collectively curious look, but didn’t object. We’re paid to map out a route, but we’ll have plenty of time to come back here later on. First we need to figure out where we’re going.

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