Being a Motley Collection of Dangerous Barmies Captured and Held most Securely inside the Criminally and Irretrievably Insane Wing of the Bleakers' Gatehouse
* Jump to: Crolaak * Tollysalmon * Ling * Bloodletter * Malazar * The Hound *
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They Say a Pet Looks Like its Owner...
Listen up, berk! I ain't telling you this 'cause I like you, and I ain't even doing it for the jink. No, that don't mean I won't take it though, leatherhead! I'm telling you this dark 'cause it's got to be told to someone. We've got some of the barmiest and most twisted minds locked away in our Madhouse, and some of 'em maybe don't deserve to be there. It's just that they're prone to fits of...err...violence once in a while, that's all. Wouldn't do to have the Lady a-slashing 'em all up now, would it? Or the Hardheads, for that matter.
Their stories've got to be told though, cutter, they deserve at least that. Many's the visionary blood who only saw what they're preaching 'cause they thought just that little bit 'different' from society. Now there's a concept: sanity. A subjective notion if ever I knew one. Why, compared with some of the barmies I've got locked away, I'd say you were almost rational yourself!
Spread their tales around, berk. See if anyone "normal" like yourself can make head or tail of what they stand for, 'cause if you can, you've got a whole multiverse out there waiting to hear your vision."
Crolaak (Planar / male grey slaad / Guvner / LN)
What was I saying about subjective sanity? Well Crolaak's a case study in it. See, this poor sod's the very model of a good citizen; it knows the laws of the Cage and follows 'em to the letter. Its a fully paid-up member of the Fraternity of Order, and a keener factotum you never did see. Why's the berk in here? It's a sodding slaad!
It's common enough for a slaad not to tow the line for a bit; they're even expected to act in a surprising manner; after all, they're chaotic creatures, right? Well, there's surprising and there's surprising, ain't there, and Crolaak's a bit of both (and it's surprising too). It's a grey slaad with absolutely no sense of the random at all. It's unable to think of anything original, react to a situation it's not encountered before, or do anything spontaneously; the barmy thing makes out a "to do" list every morning, for crying out loud!
Lucky for most sods that's not a hanging offence (otherwise all the Hardheads would've been executed a long time ago), and it's not even a problem for a slaad. True, they're supposed to be the very essence of turmoil, but the saying goes there's also order to be found in chaos. Maybe it's all been condensed into Crolaak, rather than having it spread out through the rest of the slaadi? Who knows? (Who cares, even?)
No, the real problem with Crolaak is he's got the ability to shape chaos-stuff into stable material. That ain't exactly unusual, not for a slaad; well, not if said frog-being's lurking in Limbo, anyway. Thing is, Crolaak can do it anywhere, and it ain't chaos-stuff it's using, neither. Crolaak can gather up any kind of matter, be it ordered as a clock or jumbled as a Xaositect's closet, and shape it into anything it wants. It stays that way too; the slaad doesn't have to concentrate to keep it solid. What's more, Crolaak can do this as often as it likes!
That was a real exciting discovery for the Guvners; it's probably why they let the slaad join their faction. They probably reckoned it'd discovered some dark law it was avoiding to perform its magic tricks. Well, if it was, the Guvners sure didn't find it. As Crolaak got more and more enmeshed in its own abstractions of laws, the barmy thing decided it'd replace the triad of Law-Giving factions by itself. The slaad must've reckoned that it was inefficient to have different factions to apprehend, try and punish knights of the post. If Crolaak knew all the laws (and believe me, it does), was strong enough to capture miscreants (and believe me, it is) and punish those guilty accordingly, then it'd be a logical thing to do.
Do this it did. For three days the Lady's Ward rang with the screams of the guilty, as the Executioner slaad performed the task it was built for: execution (well, what did you think, berk?)
It wasn't long before the Guvners and Hardheads combined had caught Crolaak themselves and dumped it on us to look after (there was no way they'd let it go inside the Prison). Besides, we're good at catering for clients with "special needs", right?
Right now, we've got a contingent of Xaositects trying the teach the slaad how to be random. They're not exactly making much progress, though. For one, Crolaak keeps punishing them for surprising it, and for another, they let it escape every so often, just for a lark. Bloody Xaositects.
Tollysalmon (Planar / female githyanki / knight 7 / Bleak Cabal / CE)
Now this ain't common knowledge berk, so don't go telling anyone I told you, right? True enough, it's well known that Bleakers themselves are prone to fits of melancholia and barminess, and the chant also says that the reason we Bleakers change our factol as often as a Xaositect changes his mind is 'cause they start to lose the plot after a year on the job. What the streets don't know is that most of the ex-factols of the Bleak Cabal are holed up in the Criminally and Irretrievably Insane wing of the Gatehouse.
Darker still (and I doubt even most of the other Bleakers know this) is that one of 'em escaped last week. Tollysalmon, also known as the "Mind Leech" is one of the more barmy ex-factols, and sure enough, she ain't in her cell no more. Least, if she is, then she's discovered a whole new meaning to the word "invisible", berk.
Her brief few years as our illustrious factol (ha!) shattered her mind beyond recognition. Now, she never used to be a barrel of laughs (who is, these days?), but she certainly weren't the emotional black hole that she's become. See, Tollysalmon got so obsessed with the futility of existence that she started drawing others into her torpor. Not just 'cause they sympathised with her, mind; she actually sucked all purpose for their existence out of 'em.
I don't know whether she started doing it on purpose, but it seems she soon began to feed off the essence of other sods' reason for being. She stopped eating the food we put out for her, and one-by-one the barmies in the cells around her became mute and apathetic, unable to scream, howl or cry out to Abyssal powers like they usually do. Well, for a few days it was blissful on the 'Wing, I tell you.
Then the barmy ex-factol began to experiment with her powers a little. She started draining the staff, so as they wouldn't mind letting her roam around a bit. That's when we realised just how frightening she'd become. Anyone she psychically attacked lost all sense of purpose, identity, emotion and motive for existing. Worse, it wasn't just temporary; we've not found any way, magical or otherwise, to put back what she stole from their psyches.
Before we could do anything to stop her (or before her guards could be raised from their apathy enough to react) she'd gone. I don't know where, but it's a cert she's hanging around the Cage somewhere. Why'd she up and leave? Well, get it straight berk, she was hardly living in the lap of luxury on the 'Wing, now was she? I also reckon that most berks've got a lot more vitality and purpose than the average Bleaker. She's probably gone somewhere to find sods who think more of themselves than we do. Maybe she'll pay the Signers a visit.
Come to think of it, I'll call off that search party 'till tomorrow. After all, it's getting dark now ain't it? Besides, it's about time we got our revenge on those berks for what they did to Factol Nobey.
Ling (Planar / male of unknown race / illusionist 11 / Sensate / N)
Ling seems a friendly enough basher at first, at least before you get to know him better. He's not in here so much for being insane, (though there's little question he is) but more because there's nowhere else safe to send him. See, this poor little pike's been hunted down wherever he's gone, but that'll become clearer when I tell you his story...
Ling's a short little berk; about three foot tall, cherub-like, with large hairy feet. Does he sound like a halfling to you, cutter? Thought he might. He ain't though, at least, he ain't if you're believing what he has to say. Listen good, and try not to laugh too hard. Ling claims he is just that: a "ling". Don't look at me like that; I know what you're thinking. See, Ling says he's the father of the race of creatures that call themselves "halflings". He reckons they named themselves after him. "Yeah, right!" I hear you say.
Thing is, berk, no matter what we try, we've not caught him in a lie. Try what we like, no divination spell says he's bobbing us. We've even tried psionics; he really believes he's telling the truth. So before you dismiss the barmy's claim: think about it.
Ling reckons that thousands of years back he and one of the human powers were lovers, and the first halflings were the product of their romantic endeavours. Some time later, Ling happened across Yondalla (who apparently owed him a favour), and told her of these friendly little creatures who could do with some divine guidance. Thus it was that the halfling race was born and found their pantheon. So Ling claims.
In practically the same breath he'll lament the other fruit of his loins: the tieflings. According to Ling, these creatures didn't exist until he'd met and 'got to know' the very first succubus (whose name, it seems, is consigned to the graveyard of history). Even since then, union between mortals and fiends has produced (somehow or other) the tieflings.
As a setter of dangerous precedents (what else could tieflings be called?), Ling seems satisfied. He's entirely cagey about his origin or age, though the wizards're sure he's many many centuries old. It's also apparent that he ain't a power, or else the Lady'd never have let him into the City of Doors. Still the mystery remains.
Like I told you before, Ling ain't in the Asylum 'cause he's dangerously insane (though if he spawned the tieflings on purpose I'd hardly call him rational); it's more for his own protection. See, one of Yondalla's own avatars has been chasing the poor sod around the Planes for some time now. Luckily (for him) the berk escaped her direct wrath by diving into Sigil, where he was safe for a while under the Lady's shadow. Thing is, Yondalla sent proxies after him, and in a bizarre turn of events, the combined halfling temples in the Lady's Ward issued a contract for his assassination. Not very charitable, right? Maybe they've got something to hide after all?
Whatever happens to him, we've got to get rid of him somehow. The berk's costing us a fortune to feed.
Bloodletter (Prime / female vampire / priest 8 / CE)
That ain't her real name, mind. Fact is, we don't know what she's really called, and nor do I volunteer to be the unlucky sod to find out. Aye, there's a story behind this barmy and all. Ain't there always?
Well, the chant goes that Bloodletter's not been in Sigil all that long. She arrived here a year ago or so, fresh faced from the Prime. Back then she was a priestess of Oghma from some world called Toril. (For some strange reason, the Oghma they've got there is different from the Oghma who makes his case just out-of-town in Tir Na Og. And you still reckon there's a point to the multiverse?) Anyway, that ain't important, not now at least.
Like most of the leatherheaded Clueless who blunder their way into the Cage, this one was pretty impressed by our Serene Lady of Pain. Trouble is, once she learned that the Lady don't speak, the barmy priestess decided she'd lend Oghma's helping hand.
Firstly the addle-cove found a way to summon the Lady out from whatever dark corner she hides in. She drew great big symbols and runes bearing the Lady's name in chalk on the walls of buildings and the streets of the Clerk's Ward. Then she stood on a pile of boxes and began to call out prayers to Our Lady. Well, the priestess got the attention she was seeking, sort of.
A great crowd of Cagers gathered, realised what the barmy prime was up to, and dispersed as quick as they could run. Most of 'em, peering out from nearby doorways across the deserted street, couldn't believe their eyes at what they saw next.
The Lady's shadow drifted down from the skies, and her blades swept along the street towards the hapless priestess. As the Lady grew close, the prime let loose her final plan: she cast the 'tongues' spell so the Lady would be able to converse with her.
I'd rather not describe what happened next.
The upshot was the Lady passed by and drifted back into the clouds, while the priestess was left in a hideous, flayed mess in the street. The Collectors, having heard the rather unpleasant noises, arrived rapidly to pick up the pieces, but they found the priestess had already risen. Thing is, she wasn't exactly alive, neither.
The Clerk's Ward was terrorised for a week or so until the Dustmen finally managed to catch the vampire (as we later learned she was). It wasn't just that she was undead; it seemed she was completely unstoppable. She took to draining the lives of mortal, celestial and fiend alike in a fearsome orgy of bloodlust (if fiends have blood, that is), but she was finally tracked down to the cellars of the Mortuary. The Dustmen brought her straight to us. Nice of 'em, eh?
Seems the Lady had a few more tricks up her sleeve. Bloodletter (as we affectionately call her) isn't able to speak any more, though judging by her appetite, there's nothing wrong with her throat. Nor is she able to write, at least, not with a pen or paper. For a former priestess of a power of speech and writing, that's quite an apt punishment. You know, sometimes the Lady really does us proud.
Bloodletter is able to communicate, however. Trouble is, it's in a particularly horrible way. She can only write using the blood of a freshly killed creature, although sometimes she prefers to form words from their entrails. As I said, it's really not worth asking her questions.
At least, we thought it wasn't, until the chant started up that the Lady had actually said something to Bloodletter. Some baatezu high-flyer smuggled several bubbers into the Madhouse, and tried to force the barmy to spill the dark on the Lady's little talk. Well, the vampire obliged, but must've run out of guts, 'cause she tore up the amnizu too. We'd cleaned up the mess before we realised what it could've been. Maybe some darks are best lest unspoken, eh?
Until we decide what to do with her, we're keeping her in the 'Wing along with the rest of the barmies. I can't see her staying there for long; her diet is a bit "special" for the kitchens to cope with. As it is, we feed her on cranium rats, unlucky kobolds, and for a special treat, Signers! No, only jokin' berk! I love 'em really, every bleedin' last one of 'em. (And the more they bleed, the better.)
Malazar the Desecrator (Proxie (?) / male yugoloth [ultroloth] / NE)
You know, it's a laugh a minute on the Criminally and Irretrievably Insane Wing; more, if you count the staff's maniacal chuckling. One barmy who never laughs, however, is Malazar "the Desecrator". He likes it when we call him that, not that he don't deserve it.
Malazar's one of our more powerful inmates, and he don't let us forget it for a moment. In the last few months he's ripped three Bleakers to shreds; and that was after we locked the cell door and threw away the key! Mind you, if you let ultroloths into your house you'd expect trouble, wouldn't you? Especially ones who reckon they're proxies of violated powers.
See, Malazar claims to be the chosen one of some power called Xolotl. Now I'm no priest myself, but I ain't never heard of him. 'Course, that don't mean I don't believe old Malazar (I've seen too many barmies to assume they're all mad), just that I'm healthily sceptical. A blood'd know that yugoloths, as a rule, don't usually have much to do with the powers. Well, it seems Malazar's an exception, though what the other yugoloths think about his dealings with Xolotl's any berk's guess.
From what the yugoloth says, Xolotl was a real mean cuss of a power. He gets the blame for just about everything bad that happened to pretty much everyone for a few aeons. While he's ranting away, Malazar's claimed variously that Xolotl was responsible for starting the Blood War, shattering the once-solid four layers of Acheron, stirring up Limbo and inventing the concept of death. Foremost in Xolotl's duties however, was the assassination and execution of other powers. Quite a string of achievements, no?
The story goes that the other powers got mighty sick of Xolotl stepping on their toes and spoiling their carefully laid-out planes. They banded together and cast the mighty beast-power into the Astral plane. Unfortunately for them, he just bounced right back, madder than ever. The powers had to do something big to stop Xolotl for good.
Turning the proverbial tables on the Great Desecrator, the powers seized him by his dog-paws and deformed, backwards legs, boiled him up in a kettle and cut his body into small pieces. These bits they then scattered across the planes, so far and so wide that the power would never be able to reform. The god's ribcage was dumped in the Outlands, where it became the Gate-Town of the same name, one of his claws was planted near Bedlam, his blood was given to the baatezu to guard (and it's now the River of Blood on Avernus), and his spine was ripped out and sold to the yugoloths. They've made it into Khin-Oin (the Wasting Tower in the Grey Waste).
The largest fragment of Xolotl's brain was hidden deep under the Outlands, where it festered and transformed itself into Ilsensine, the illithid creator power. Even the power's name's been taken away and hidden somewhere; maybe that's why I'd never heard of the cutter until now.
Of course, this might be so much barmy nonsense.
The one worrying part of this story is that Malazar claims to be his proxy. Now, dead powers don't have proxies, right? Malazar's certainly got powers above and beyond your average ultroloth (heavens forbid there should be such a thing!) That'd suggest that Xolotl might not be as dead as the other powers reckon.
Even more disturbing is the small lump of fetid red goo that the ultroloth clutches at all times. Malazar claims it's a fragment of the power's heart, and that it's his mission to plant the shard somewhere safe so as Xolotl can reform. We've been unable to prise the "heart" from the yugoloth (not that we haven't tried), but I don't think it'll doing any harm to let him keep hold of it for the time being.
Unless of course it really IS part of a god's heart...
The Hound (Planar / male Aoskian hound / 4 HD / N[E])
Speaking of dead powers, there's another barmy I reckon you'd be interested in. It's going to have to be the last one though, cutter, 'cause I've got a job to attend to y'know. Can't stand around here rattling me bone box to you all day, even if there isn't any point in the multiverse. Philosophy (or lack thereof) doesn't wash the dishes, does it? Bear with me, okay, it's been a long day.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the Hound. As the name suggests, it's a dog. An Aoskian hound, to be precise. They're the two-headed vicious sods that the Red Death are so bloody fond of. Well, we've got one of them in here too.
Of course, it's more complicated than a mad dog. (The Athar'll pike themselves when they hear this!) See, I reckon that the Hound might be (and I'll emphasise "might") a vessel containing the barmy spirit of Aoskar himself.
Stop that laughing at once, berk, or I'll be on me way now! I get enough of that on the 'Wing. Of course there's reasons why I think that. I might be going barmy, but I ain't gone stupid yet.
Okay, try this for size. Aoskian hounds ain't normally very smart, and they certainly don't talk. I'll swear this one says the word "Aoskar" when it barks, though. Of course, there's more: the dog can open portals by howling. Not just any old portals mind; these are proper ones to and from the Cage. They don't need keys to work 'em, neither. 'Till we discovered that, the sodding dog kept on escaping. We set up magical planar wards to stop the portals, but the damn hound could still open 'em up! We eventually found that an anti-magic shell'd do the trick, but not before we lost the dog another time.
What's more, from its cell on the top floor of the 'Wing the hound just stares out of the barred window. I'll swear it's looking across the Ditch to the Shattered Temple, and I'll go further in saying that it whimpers at it stares. Believe me now?
Perhaps if I told you the dog gets visitors, then you'd consider it? Yeah, visitors. In fact, it's that barmy dabus, Fell (if there's anyone who should be in the 'Wing it's him). 'Course, it's against policy to let a visitor see one of the inmates, so Fell leaves messages with us. No, he don't write 'em, he hands 'em over in bottles. When you uncork the top, the rebus-pictures come billowing out (you've got to be careful not to shake the bottle around though, or they don't make much sense).
Well, we couldn't make head or tail of the messages. No, we didn't give them to the dog; that'd be ridiculous! How could a dog open a bottle (even if it was Aoskar)?
Why a hound, you ask? Good question, berk. Listen, much as I hate to admit it, there's something in the Godsmen's philosophy that strikes a chord with me. They go on about reincarnation and such, and it gets me thinking. When a power dies, does it get reincarnated? Maybe it does. Now, if that power didn't do very well, it might come back as something less powerful like, say, an Aoskian hound? How futile'd that be? You get to the level of a power, only to come back as a lousy dog! Think about it...
For the moment, we're keeping a very tight grip on the dog's collar. I happen to know that some splinter group of Signers calling themselves the Will of the One are very interested in getting their hands on the Hound. Shame that, 'cause they're certainly not getting him; not while I still draw breath, at least. Signers? Make me sick, they do.
Bitter, me? Never! There ain't no point.
Copyright 1997 by Jon Winter