This is part 2 of the replay for my Call of Cthulhu / Cthulhu Dark Ages scenario, Branches of Bone.

Branches of Bone Replay Part 3: Call of Cthulhu Viking Age Survival Horror

This is part 3 of my replay for my own Cthulhu Dark Ages scenario, Branches of Bone. You can read the text version on You can purchase Branches of Bone on DriveThruRPG, and as a thank you for listening, the link will take you to a discounted version.

Branches of Bone Trailer – A Cthulhu Dark Ages Viking Age Scenario

Branches of Bone: A Cthulhu Dark Ages Scenario of Viking Age Survival-Horror Out now on DriveThruRPG:–A-Cthulhu-Dark-Ages-Scenario?affiliate_id=3534349 Beleaguered chieftain Askr Yelloweye leads you and your impoverished clansmen to the rocky isle of Skógrbein, off the coast of Northumbria. Askr chases a vision from Freya, claiming she showed him a relic of Yggrdasil held in the heathens’ stone temple sitting upon Skógrbein.

This the third part of my narrative replay for my own Call of Cthulhu / Cthulhu Dark Ages scenario, Branches of Bone. If you haven’t read the second part, you can do so here. If you’re a player, or just don’t want to know everything about the scenario ahead of time, you can read or listen to the first, spoiler-lite section of my overview of Branches of Bone here, and if you want to purchase is, as a thank you for visiting my site, you can get it on 25% discount through this link for $3.95.

And now, on to Branches of Bone, part 3.




Spoilers Call of Cthulhu




In a daze Harald stumbled out of the storesroom, nearly tripping over something that snagged his foot. A branch, gnarled and pitted, growing up between cracked stones. Harald didn’t remember it being there before. With a rising terror, he looked across the floor. Twigs, branches, roots, bark, all splitting the stonework floors and walls, reaching out as if grasping for him, for Revna and Svend in the centre of the hall.

Harald knew then that it stirred awake. Whatever it was, wherever it was, its long slumber ended. If he had spoke with Svend, if he heard of the beating below in the crypt behind the living wood, maybe they would realise where it was. What they were inside of. And maybe if he spoke with Revna, she’d share her theory on the standing stones, their symbols, and the stained glass. And if Harald knew all of Njal’s visions, maybe they would all decide on a path to repeat what those people long in the past had done.

Instead, Harald grabbed a torch from a nearby sconce – notably, the branches did not grow near the fire – and marched to the front door, stomping on branches and roots. Something blopcked his way, though, something rising from the ground. Long, spindly branches like spider legs jutted out of its wretched form, bark crusting its face and arms. What remained of the monk, cut down at the door, smiled, then with a howl like wind through a forest, skittered towards Harald.

With a half-swallowed scream he managed to duck the monk-thing’s grasping appendages, then trust his torch at its face. It screeched and scrambled back, but the flames licked its head, quickly engulfing its body. Hearing the commotion, Njal came sprinting and roaring out of the storesroom, cleaving his axe through the thing, sending burning branches and splinters spinning across the hall. It crumbled in a ball of embers and smoke.

A cry from Svend drew their attention, as the fallen priest also rose on a web of branches and roots. The monk pinned with a spear against the crypt door fumbled at the shaft with hands of bark and twigs. The three monks screamed and huddled in a corner, stomping and kicking at grasping roots snagging their robes.

Harald and Njal rushed forward, as Svend and Revna fought the priest-thing with staff and sword. Their unskilled slashes and swings bounced off the priest’s thick bark hide. It enveloped Svend, pulling him into an embrace, spires of wood jabbing into his skin, spreading their corruption and madness.

Njal’s axe cut the steersman free, and as the priest stumbled back from the fierce attack, Harald shoved the torch into its chest, alighting robes and wood alike. The thing screamed and died in a blaze.

A spear thrust into Njal’s shoulder. His armour caught most of it, and his return swing lopped off the tree-monk’s head.

Breathing deep once all their foes lay dead – again – they started coughing. The fires spread from the burning corpses, flames rolling along the floor and up the walls, catching branches and roots cringing away from the licking blaze. Billowing smoke rapidly filled the hall, and already the ceiling had vanished into darkness.

Eyes and throats stinging, they tried to duck down and keep the smoke out of their lungs. Njal sputtered and took a deep breath, and by the grace of his gods his great wiry beard filtered out most of the soot. Revna’s fortitude and luck proved not as fortunate, and soon she hacked and spat, choking on the smoke. Seeing her falling to her knees, Svend grabbed and pulled her to the crypt’s staircase. The smoke might be thinner further down.

The others followed, and once into the spiral stairway, mercifully largely free of smoke, they shoved the door closed. Wispy tendrils puffed through the edges, but the air in the stone passage was cool and breathable. With lungs and throat raw but functioning, Revna stood on her own shaky power, and the group started down the stairs, wanting to get as far from the fire as possible. Maybe it would burn its way out of the monastery before it consumed the air in the crypt, or maybe they could find another way out. Or dig their way out, if it came down to it.

A five-voiced cry rang out from the crypt. Only one voice spoke in their own tongue, and in a voice they recognised. Askr, roaring in outrage. That they’d ruined everything. That he’d finally awoken, that he still had to find mother again. The ranting chorus, and the clatter of armour and weapons, grew louder, and the Vikings readied their weapons.

Around the curve of the spiral staircase, Askr and his host rounded in all their horrific glory. Branches splitting crusted flesh groped forward, scratching against the stone walls. Root-like fingers clutched at swords and axes, and their mail and leather armour wove through with bark and bone-like spurs. Mouths gaping painfully wide, screeching and cursing, the things scrambled up the stairs, then paused.

Askr’s blank eyes focused on Harald. In a voice like his father’s, but still all wrong, the thing offered Harald an escape. If the others died, left behind to feed it, Harald could leave as a priest, spreading the word of the great return.

In reply, a throwing axe and a javelin sped forward, driving Askr to his knees. Harald’s sword parted whatever was left of his father’s head from its body, spraying yellow goop across the hall.

The three tree-Viking’s screeched as if in pain and rushed forward. Blades screamed and slashed against shield and armour, blood and branches spitting on the stone. Despite their best efforts, Njal, Harald, and Svend were pushed back step by step, until Revna at the rear found herself pressed up against the door, once again breathing burning-hot smoke. Unable to move, she squeezed her eyes shut against the soot and prayed to all her gods.

They answered with a deep rumble.

And then the world started crashing down around them. Stones crumbled from the ceiling, smashing into helmets and shields, crushing the tree-creatures. A chunk of the wall slipped free and bashed into Revna, sending her spinning and bleeding. With a helping hand she found her feet, only barely keeping conscious. The church was falling apart. With nowhere else to go they decided to make a run for it, hoping the entrance way would be clear.

They sprinted across the hall, narrowly dodging falling pieces of the dying monastery. The double doors at the entrance smoldered and buckled, and with a roar Njal smashed through them. The four stumbled out into the courtyard, coughing and hacking, wiping blood and ash from their leaking eyes, then turned to watch the monastery finally perish.

But it didn’t. The stone fell away, revealing a mass of twisted, bulging woody flesh beneath it. A massive trunk, roots as thick as mules slithering out, spindly branches unfurling, and their tips formed the mocking figures of hanged men. Black pits where the church’s entrance and windows had been gaped like a baleful face.

The thing blazed, the fire rising into the sky chasing away the night, and it screamed. But it did not die, not yet. Instead its mop of roots dragged its mass forward. Starting slow, ripping free of the earth and remaining stone foundations, then gathering speed, the great beast towering over the four came closer and closer, branches reaching down, grasping.

They ran.

The copse of ash trees they’d passed through when they first landed on the island now stood as a thick forest. Njal reached the trees first, and without giving thought to where they had come from, began wildly swinging his axe to cut a path. Knowing his companions lacked the strength needed to push through the brush quickly, he widened his attack, scything clear a corridor for the others.

Harald and Svend sprinted through the cleared path, passed the winded Njal, and straight towards the bluff. Revna came up last, winded, weakened from the fire. And on her heel, the great tree slithered after, smashing through the forest.

Njal leaned huffing over his axe, watching Revna plod across the clearing to the bluff, then turned to the forest, hearing their pursuer closing in. It would catch her, and at its pace, Harald and Svend soon enough as well. Smiling and standing straight, Njal tore off his armour. Gnashing his teeth and howling, cutting his flesh and drinking his own blood, he howled like a beast. As the pillar of fire and flailing limbs burst from the forest, Njal laughed and threw himself forward.

His battle axe swung in a blur, lopping off branches and splitting bark. As tendrils shot forward he spun and danced, joyously carving more wood and giggling like a child at the beast’s screams. This was what he had come here for. This is what he lived for. And this is what he would graciously die for. Battle.

Even with his berserker fury, Njal had only two arms, while his opponent had uncountable limbs. They wrapped about his waist, jabbed through his biceps, lifted him into the air. It pulled him into a bone-breaking embrace, dragging him into the mass of bark and thick, yellow-stained flesh. He felt it tearing away his skin, and its madness pierced his mind. And still he laughed, and cut as best he could with his axe, and when he could no longer swing, he bit and tore with his hands.

Svend and Harald carefully picked their way down the slick bluff to the dock. While Svend continued down the dock, then jumped into and started readying the boat, Harald stopped and looked back. Revna came careening over the edge of the bluff. With no hesitancy she ran down the steep cliff trail. Harald watched with eyes wide, ready to see her trip and dash herself on the rocks. But like a billy-goat she hopped from rock to rock, coming to base of the bluff on her feet.

And over the crest, the Bone-Tree, engulfed in a great fireball came tumbling over, spilling down the bluff.

Harald grabbed Revna and bodily carried her to the boat, screaming all the way. The faering sped out of the cove, skipping over waves under the power of Harald and Svend rowing like mad, Revna calling out directions only half-heard over the surf and the roar of the beast smashing, steaming, into the water. They slipped between the rocks, the beast crashing through them recklessly behind them.

The ocean refused to cooperate, and a rogue wave smashed the faering into a craggy rock, spilling Revna over the edge. Harald and Svend held strong though, and the faering sped out into open seas. Choking on salt water, and hearing the waves from the tree boiling on her tail, Revna used what little strength and luck granted by her gods she had left to swim. 

Harald and Svend watched in wonder as Revna sped out from the rocks, and behind her the pillar of flames and screams waded out. And just before it grabbed her, it tumbled forward, slipping over a drop-off beneath. And in the moment before the creature disappeared beneath the ocean, they swore they saw a face among the burning wood, a face smiling and biting and raging.

Njal remembered falling from the heavens. He remembered his mother, summoned to this world, and being forcefully split from her, and tumbling away onto this horrible earth. As he screamed and slammed into the ground that would hold him captive for aeons, his mighty mother disappeared back into the cosmos.

And now, after such a long slumber, he’d been so close to starting his search once again. Only to burn, and drown. Njal could feel the tears inside him, bit and ripped by his own teeth. He had died, or something like him had died, but now that he was something greater, or part of something greater, he died again. Deep beneath the waves, falling into a cold, crushing blackness.

Once a shivering Revna had been pulled up into the faering, they set off for home. Their bodies and minds scarred, flesh twisted with bark and dreams plagued with ancient memories. But, back among their people, they would return with stories of slaying a beast of legends, and blessed with the wood of Yggdrasil in their very flesh. They made their plans, and would return to their land as a great captain, a wise Volur, and a fabled chieftain.

And beneath the sea, they hoped the Bone-Tree drowned. But they would have nightmares of something crossing the endless plains and canyons of the ocean floor, dragging itself ever closer to those who had cast it down. Those who had abandoned it.



Thank you for reading. If you would like to see how Branches of Bone goes for your group, you can purchase it on DriveThruRPG. And as a thank you for reading all the way through, you can get it for 50% off using this link.
Before you go, though, maybe take a look at some more scenario replays?
Seeds of Terror: The Mummy of Pemberley Grange, Endless Light, One Less Grave.
Chasioum: Amidst the Ancient Trees, The Necropolis
Japonism: Do Gods Dream of Digital Drugs?

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