The Ghosts of Chamber
Master Anette and I have been here two weeks now, and that has proven to be a boon. I have had the opportunity to study the patterns of movement over the day of these people and pick the best time to approach them for conversation. It turns out that it is after they have been drinking, like everyone else. I was hoping to learn something of their religion, as so much of their art and decorations, especially in the heraldry of the nobles and the glass of the Dome, are reminiscent of some of the religions of the old days. Imagine my surprise to discover that they believe in nothing. No higher power, nothing awaiting their soul, no eternal punishment...except the ghosts of course. It seems that everyone in Chamber has a deep and thorough knowledge that despite the best efforts of the First King and the founders of Chamber, there are still cursed places and dangerous phantasms in the mountains. It also appears that everyone has the knowledge of how to detect, identify, attract, and repel these things. Given the technologies and rituals we use back home...I was anxious to see if anything these people knew would help or hinder us. I was relieved to discover that their beliefs are largely unfounded hearsay built up over time. Even so, their folklore is rich in its own way. To begin, they separate ghosts as being malevolent and spirits as being useful and helpful. This particular text is going to focus on their three major ghost problems and a brief discussion of some of their minor ghosts. The first major ghost I learned of was the Maw. It was described by a particularly inebriated stone worker as an abomination covered in nothing but mouths with lolling tongues and rows of blunt teeth to grind the life of the unfortunate it latches onto. It seems that this ghost is difficult to keep away because they lurk, unseen, in the stone of the mountain until it hooks a person passing by. It then lays dormant as the person pursues the work of the day, and when they bring it into their home at night, it strikes. It slowly drains a persons life force, making them tired and lethargic the next day. It seems that this is a common ghost in Chamber, as anyone who is slow to get going in the morning has the “Maw's Kiss”. Fortunately, the dawning of day is enough to banish this spirit back to the rock, where it will await it's next victim. Interestingly, the people I spoke to said that the presence of this ghost has diminished in past 20 years, and attacks are not nearly as common as they once were. More and more people are sleeping soundly, but those people seem to be slowly changing as well, becoming more angry and depressed. It has led many to believe that a new type of ghost has emerged and is perhaps chasing away the Maws. Only time will tell, they say. The second ghost of note is the Writhe. This ghost is an opportunist, waiting for moments of weakness or inattention to strike. It is an amalgamation of limbs and reaching hands, all broken beyond recognition, and always grasping for the living, causing accidents and sickness. They delight in the pain they cause and derive their sustenance from it, but they are easy to deter from their deeds. One simply has to be vigilant in their work and life, ready to react if you can hear the tell tale sign of their presence, the sound of broken bones rubbing against one another, similar in sound to rocks grinding. The bad news is that Maws and Writhes often come hand in hand, as the Maws make a person less able to focus on work and life, paving the way for Writhes to work their pain on the unsuspecting. Bizarrely, as the proliferation of Maws has decreased over time, it seems that Writhes has become more prevalent, as accidents in the workplace have skyrocketed in the last 20 years. This damage to crops, equipment, and lives has not been enough to hurt the efficiency of the city, but it is becoming a problem that will have to be dealt with soon, before real damage happens. The final major ghost I learned of was the Rocker. These ghosts are dangerous in the simple fact that they directly interact with the physical world, being able to hurl small objects and shake larger ones. These are difficult to defend against since they appear almost randomly, although people have developed a method of knowing when one will appear in an area. One of the commonly appearing talismans that citizens wear is a specially prepared crystal brought from deep within the mountain. It is treated using a secret method that allows it to vibrate harshly when in the presence of a Rocker, allowing a person to move away from the area with the outburst happens. There have been only a few instances in the history of the city where a Rocker has been powerful enough to actually injure someone, and only once when a section of Chamber's extended sections in the mountain was actually brought down by one. True to form, the general occurrence of these ghosts is random and difficult to track over any period of time, so no one seems to know if they have increased or decreased over the years like the other two. There are also a number of minor ghosts that were discussed, though minor is something of a misnomer as some have much darker power than the major ones, but are simply more rare in appearance than the others. There are Windbags, ghosts crushed by the weight of the mountain that seek to be normal again by sucking the air from the lungs of the living, re-inflating themselves. Bloats are ghosts that spread stomach sicknesses and intestinal problems with mushrooms that they poison. Most disturbing are the Stills. They are ghosts that target infants and unborn children, seeking to rob them of their ability to move until they cannot function at all and die. All are gruesome things that cause problems easily explained by statistics and science, but they will not listen to that.