Fiction Friday: Dark Eras Companion

Chronicles of Darkness, Geist: The Sin-Eaters

This week we descend into the Dark Eras Companion for a look at Foreboding Lands:

Explorers called the lands west of the Atlantic by many names. They called it the New World and God’s Promised Land — but they were wrong. Those were bold words, the proclamations of the greedy ignorant, the desires of kings and queens who rule over kingdoms of dust and bone. They were wrong, and I was wrong.

Now, I am paying the price.

From the minute I stepped foot on a galleon bound for the Americas, I thought my path was clear and worry-free. I believed Sin-Eaters were only born in Europe, and I was one of the precious few charged with a sacred duty, to help ease the passage of ghosts around the world. I believed the new lands would bring me peace unlike anything I had known before. Why did I not know that ghosts could travel across the vast and treacherous seas? Or that ghosts could be anywhere, in any land, at any time? And worse, that I was not chosen by God to become a Sin-Eater after all?

On my journey, I tried to put the ghost of a mournful sister to rest at sea, but she resisted and clung to the side of her fading brother. I then tried to pass the time by learning what I could from my fellow passengers, but I could not for I was interrupted by an eerie wail that came not from above or beside me, but from below. Far, far below deck a haunted cry called out to me, so I peered over the side of the ship into the dark oceanic depths, and a ghastly vision passed before my eyes, a thin veil of soggy twilight. As I looked closer, I spotted a pair of slimy green claws, wretched and gnarled, parting the froth-covered waves, showing me the watery kingdom of the Deep God and the ghosts eternally trapped by his side. So many! Too many ghosts begging for safe passage, too many bonds to break. Too many for me alone. I was impotent. Instead, I begged to return home, but my pleas fell on deaf ears.

The ship kept sailing, despite my petitions to the contrary, and days afterward we landed on a shoreline so vast I could not see its end or beginning. I pretended to be excited. While I feigned interest in my fellow passengers’ so-called “New World”, I worried what awaited me as I stepped foot onto a sandy beach. Every step I took with dread, unrealistic and terrible, and I knew fear like I had never felt before, all the while suspecting I was not alone. How could I be? How could I be the only one to give passage to the spirits of the dead? How could these shores — these vast, fertile lands — be uninhabited? Or, if I was alone, what good works could I do by myself? There would always be another ghost, another place in the Underworld, another abmortal I must face, and that brought me no satisfaction. Only a pain deep and throbbing unlike anything I’d ever felt before.

My mind was a?ame with questions, and my every burning query challenged the world I knew by revealing how much I did not. I spent many days and nights wandering among the cypress trees outside of our encampment, searching for answers. Soon, however, I discovered the truth of my existence, that I was not alone as I so foolishly believed. I met my kind here on these foreign shores, while gathering berries out in the woods. These people are di?erent from myself. They wear animal skins and shells instead of cotton dresses and pearls, they call themselves Ghost-Talkers, and even though we worship di?erent gods, we share the same fate.

The Ghost-Talkers spoke English well enough, gleaned from the visitors who had come to their shores months earlier. After our introductions, they told me their stories; of Kerberoi so old they go by many names, and a Crooked Man who divines the future by reading the entrails of the dead. And then they asked where the others rest their heads at night, and when I told them Roanoke, they fell silent. Then, they told me to gather as many of my kind as I could, to encourage them to make the journey across the seas to be by my side. At first I did not understand their strange request. Were these Ghost-Talkers weaker than I? Were they afraid?

Until they showed me the truth of my folly, I did not know the extent of my arrogance and my naïveté. Until they brought me to the center of Roanoke Island, where hundreds of ghosts were gathering in that accursed, tainted place, I had no idea that they were not asking for my help.

The Ghost-Talkers were o?ering me theirs.

The “Foreboding Lands” chapter of the Dark Eras Companion covers the New World colonies during 1585-1590, and is an era for Geist: The Sin-Eaters. The chapter will be included as a standalone PDF as part of an upcoming stretch goal on the Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition Kickstarter! Only 10 days remaining…