From The Hub
In the overnight hours of the 21st Retributus, 33 HR, six of the most notorious inmates of the criminally insane wing of the Gatehouse Asylum escaped from their cells and out into the city through the catacombs below. What follows is the report from Mercykiller bounty hunter Blander Mul and the later additions following the Azrai's trip through the Third Door.
Report of Blander Mul
A day after the break, Blander Mul conducted a detailed investigation for the purpose of tracking down the six dangerous escaped inmates. It can be said with a great deal of certainty, however, that Blander's primary focus was Sougad Lawshredder and The Hound. Everything that follows is written from Blander Mul's point of view.
Only six inmates escaped from the Criminally Insane Wing.
- Eliath of the Doomguard
- The Oldest Barmy
- Trolan the Mad
- Malazar the Desecrated
- The Hound
- Sougad Lawshredder
There are several facts worth noting regarding the inmates, their relationships, and events preceding the evening in question before I can enter a detailed discussion of the escape.
Eliath and Sougad
The first occurred as soon as Sougad, the last of the six to be committed, appeared at the Asylum. Curiously, most of the patients did not realize for many months, who their newest inmate was. The Bleak Cabal tried to keep it a secret that he was even at the Asylum, allowing most of the populace (and most Bleakers) to believe Sougad had been taken to the City Prison for eventual execution. Despite the coverage, most people would not even recognize Sougad if they saw him, so this not at all surprising.
What is surprising is that Eliath, the doddering old man, knew who he was. Of this, I am nearly certain. From the moment Sougad was brought into the Asylum, Eliath grew extremely paranoid and violent, something completely out of character for him. He made a desperate, uncalculated escape attempt, which failed, landing him in the "dangerous and criminally insane" wing of the building. Ironically, he was placed directly across from Sougad's cell. This only increased his already intense hysteria. "He [Eliath] screamed, pleaded, or cried constantly...we were forced to move him away," was all that "His Bleakness" Factol Lhar could muster for comment. Eventually he was moved, interestingly enough, next to Trolan and the Oldest Barmy, where he calmed down considerably. A few weeks later, the escape occurred.
Concerning the Barmy
The Oldest Barmy is known as the longest committed resident of the Gatehouse Asylum. Like many Bleaker favorites, the Oldest Barmy was able to collect many personal effects within his chamber allowing him to live in "relative" style. A later inventory of these personal effects showed crumpled sketches of strange machines drawn by Eliath, arcane seeming, unrecognizable symbols, very accurate, ancient blueprints of the Gatehouse, and a large wooden chest filled with worthless, but treasured knickknacks. The large, oak chest concealed a system of tunnels, that may have taken hundreds of years to complete estimating from the tools and time he had available. The tunnels stretched not just to the easy escape of the catacombs beneath the Asylum, but all over the complex. Further complicating matters are the expert opinions of more than one dwarven engineer I had brought in to examine the tunnel. All agreed that the escape tunnel was "at the very least completed 10 years ago."
The ONLY thing that all of the Bleaker patients and staff completely agreed upon was that none of the escapees seemed to have any kind of relationship with each other, whatsoever. That fact, of course, complicates matters considerably. There were two people, however, that did have "strange" relations with inmates (and thus are primary suspects of a conspiracy).
The case of Derioch Ysarl
The first was Derioch Ysarl. Factol Ambar of the Godsmen went so far as to claim that Derioch was "rather fond" of many of the more dangerous inmates and was "appalled" at their treatment. Ambar hinted that Derioch was involved in a secret "psycho-somatic" drug treatment program with many of the escaped inmates and that she most definitely "developed close ties" and "maternal feelings" for these barmies.
The case of Old Donner
The second is a bit of a stretch, but considering the "seemingly" random events he was caught up in, it may be important. Old Donner, as he was commonly known around the Asylum, was a barmy janitor who was kept in the Bleaker employ, mainly as another act of senseless charity. His body was failing him and his mind likely on a downward spiral with it. However it happened, inmates and staff alike agree that Donner was friends with both Eliath and the Oldest Barmy. Donner would frequently be seen playing chess with Eliath or exchanging memories of the good old days with the Oldest Barmy. Two very strange and significant facts about Donner: 1) Back in the "good old days," Donner was a registered Gatehouse technician--meaning he could operate the very complex machinery that controls the "gates" to every cell. 2) Donner is dead. He threw himself, so it seems, out of the third story window of the Asylum's Dangerous and Criminally Insane wing the very night and approximate time that the six inmates escaped.
Coincidentally or not, the escapees picked an excellent night to pull of their plan. It was one of the largest storms of that year, complete with lightning, howling winds, torrential rains, and thunder. The catacombs flooded that evening making it difficult to determine exactly where everyone fled too.
- (Addendum) Furthermore, it appears that there was a coup attempt that evening as well. Two rival sects within the faction chose this night to violently clash. It seems unlikely that the inmates did not at least have pre-existing knowledge of the deadly clashes between the guards loyal to Factol Lhar (the Gate-watchmen), and those loyal to Factor Karvasi (Sentinels and Plague Doctors). Unfortunately Factol Lhar has been very close-lipped as to the details of this conflict, what sparked it, and what the end results were. He claims it was "faction business", and though I will continue to pursue the truth, the law may be on his side.
- (Addendum) Sometime before anti-peak, massive sections of the Asylum lost Ethereal Power as a result of the massive intra-faction clashes. This caused a lock-down of many of the Asylum's complex gate systems and would have at least temporarily crippled security and communication throughout the building. Though this would have been the opportune time for an escape, it did not happen immediately.
At around two hours after anti-peak the break occurred. All of the cell gates in that wing are rigged according to an elaborate system that allows Bleakers at certain locations to open a single cell or many cells provided they are versed in how it is operated. The actual mechanics of it are quite complicated, but I have been assured that there is no other simple way to bypass a certain cells locking gate. This complicated mechanism is yet another reason why the Bleaker Asylum is called the Gatehouse.
At a casual glance, all six of the escapee's gates seemed to have been opened at the same time, and by "normal" means (i.e. remote access from one of the control centers). There are, however, some minor, almost imperceptible discrepancies in the ways the gates seemed to have been opened. The gates of Eliath, The Oldest Barmy, and Trolan all seemed to have been opened in a completely "natural" manner--no noticeable tampering whatsoever. The others have strange inconsistencies. Around the still opened gates of Malazar and the Hound I found reddish dust that proved to be rusted metal. Upon closer examination of the individual locking mechanisms of those cells, it was noted that the entire inner-workings of both locks had completely rusted to the point of uselessness. Though Sougad's gate also remained open seemingly triggered like the others, the control center did not register that it was ever opened and the lock was never disengaged.
- (Addendum) Most agree that this area was without power during the time in question, so how any of the gates could have been opened without power is beyond my expertise. However, I hesitate to trust the witness testimony of any Sentinel within the Criminally Insane Wing since their are corroborating reports that other dangerous inmates were deliberately set free. Luckily most of these barmies have since been accounted for.
Exodus into the tunnels
It seems that all six escapees used the tunnel dug by The Oldest Barmy. I have come to this conclusion because all exits and entrances from the Asylum are very closely monitored and though they have more than proved their incompetence with this escape, I don't believe they could have all slipped by unnoticed. I also found at least six different sets of tracks in the catacombs below. However, at least one person did not go directly underground and escape. This person (or these people) went to at least one location in the Asylum other than the catacombs (probably using the tunnel network that The Oldest Barmy dug). This person (or these people) went unnoticed in the Great Hall of the Asylum (right inside the main entrance) one of the highest guarded areas in the Asylum. Several security mechanisms leading to the Great Hall were bypassed and disabled quite efficiently and quietly. When this was done, the culprit(s) backtracked back into the tunnels.
The fate of Old Donner
At around the same time, eye-witness reports say that Old Donner, a semi-retired janitor mentioned earlier, went down the hall as a favor to the gate technicians, to investigate "a strange noise." He was later seen running and screaming, heedless of his own safety, away from Sougad Lawshredder's cell. He crashed through the stained glass window, fell three stories, and impaled himself below on a wrought iron fence that surrounds a burial ground for honored members of the Bleak Cabal. Ironically, one of his primary responsibilities was to maintain those grounds.
Testimony: The Inmates
The inmates in that wing claim he was pursued, slowly, by "dark shadows and evil intentions." Not that this investigator gives any credence to those claims. All accounts are very clear, however--Donner jumped and was not thrown. Regardless, most Bleakers truly think it was Sougad who forced his hand. "It is a bloomin' shame really," comments the head of the janitorial staff, "but he was truly losing what little sanity he had left, talking to himself, all jumpy and what not, looking over his shoulder always waiting for an ambush."
Testimony: The Guards
Most Bleaker guards claim they were extremely jumpy that evening, mainly because of the storm and the flooding that it caused within the Gatehouse. Many also claim to have heard strange noises. Captain Morgan reported that several of his more "incompetent" soldiers say they heard "pounding and bashing" noises within the Great Hall. One "soldier" even reported seeing ghostly figures move about the shadows of the Hall, but when he investigated he saw nothing.
I am certain that every one of the six inmates eventually made their way into the catacombs beneath the Asylum in order to escape unseen. Though many of the events that occurred directly underneath the Asylum were obscured by the flooding, it did allow me to see six distinctly different tracks. Almost all of the inmates went separate directions. According to the tracks, at least, I can definitively say that all of the barmies did not escape together. They left in three different waves. This distinction does not necessarily mean that the different "waves" left at the same time or even together--it just means that in order from first to last, they appeared the most interested in escaping.
The First Wave
Eliath, Trolan, and Malazar all disappeared, with very little evidence to go on. Though these three were part of the first "wave," I do not think they were necessarily together. Eliath and Trolan initially left going the exact same direction at the same time. There are also the tracks of a third, more furtive fugitive, who I believe to be The Oldest Barmy (purely by process of elimination). These three apparently escaped going the same route. At a crossroads, they all split off, going separate directions.
HE DOUBLED BACK
However, the Oldest Barmy began going one direction, waited, doubled back and went in the direction he had just come from!
The Second Wave
The second "wave," which includes the Hound and the Oldest Barmy, is even more interesting. As mentioned above, the Oldest Barmy initially went with Eliath and Trolan, but then doubled back as soon as they all split up. I have tracked the Hound for some time now, so I can say with certainty that he began following the trail that I believe is Malazar's. The Hound, very suddenly and quickly, also backtracked to the original cavern underneath the Asylum. They both reached the flooded cavern at approximately the same time. Eye-witness accounts can perhaps help to explain what happened next.
The Bleakers React
By this time, the entire Gatehouse had been alerted to the disappearances. They had already found the tunnel in the Oldest Barmy's room and they were on their way to the catacombs beneath to apprehend them. (Interesting side note: Captain Morgan recalls still seeing Lawshredder in his cell and "breathing a sigh of relief" when the other barmies were noticed missing) Once the guards reached the flooded cavern below they saw the Oldest Barmy looking like he had just been in a scuffle, screaming and splashing helplessly through the water. He supposedly fought off the guards for many minutes, always going back to one spot in the ground that he'd dig at until attacked. The only thing he would scream was "He took my soul," and he'd say it over and over again. Eventually, he snapped out of it and escaped somehow managing to elude his pursuers. He fled the same direction that the Hound went after he backtracked.
The Third Wave
The third wave involved only Sougad Lawshredder. I can also say with some certainty that Sougad Lawshredder was "following" at least one of the inmates. He doubled back several times and his progress was very slow, as if he was more concerned with tracking, than escaping. Though it is difficult to say anything for sure, if I had to make an educated guess, I would say that Sougad was following Malazar.
As you can see above, the flooded cavern that all the catacombs intersect, lies directly beneath the main entryway of the Asylum, and serves as the launching point for everyone's escape. The night they escaped, at least some of the prisoners went to the main entryway above ground before retreating below. It would have been much easier to just go directly below ground rather than stopping in the entryway where many guards would have had a chance to spot them. Though these inmates are barmy, I do not believe they are stupid. I believe there must have been a reason for their stopping above ground.
The routes of all six escapees are above.
- Eliath (blue), Trolan (white), and The Oldest Barmy (red), all left together down the same tunnel.
- They decided to split off in separate directions at the first major intersection of tunnels.
- The Oldest Barmy began to go a different direction and then mysteriously backtracked to the original cavern.
- Both the Hound and Malazar were going down the same tunnel (maybe together, maybe not) when the Hound also backtracked.
- After his encounter with the guards, the Oldest Barmy later followed the new path that the Hound chose.
- Sougad did not arrive on the scene until much later, and as you can see, he followed Malazar.
In order to avoid ruling out possibilities that I may not have considered, I will keep some of my opinions on this case mostly to myself. I will expand on a few things the need more thought.
A Master Plan
First, I believe that this coordinated escape was not the plan of chaotic, incompetent madmen, but calculated and almost perfectly executed. The tunnel out of his cell that the Oldest Barmy had been digging (for decades, maybe centuries) was enough for him to escape but not for the others. The question remains then, why did he need anyone else?
A Lucky Break
In fact, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the escape was not "coordinated" by all the escapee's, but rather, they were seizing a crucial opportunity to escape. I believe that Trolan, Eliath, and the Oldest Barmy did work together to some extent. Though all the gates "appeared" to have been opened "naturally," (i.e. by one of the many Gatehouse controllers) only their three gates were actually completely consistent with that theory. Certainly Eliath's "mechanical aptitude" cannot be overlooked, but neither can the possibility of insiders helping them to escape. But again, to what purpose? Was the janitor, Donner, an inside man? Did that get him killed? Or was Donner really another one of Sougad's random victims?
- (Addendum)We must assume they had fore-knowledge of the coup attempt. A possibility that must be considered is that someone as influential as The Hound could have orchestrated the entire thing. If so, there are likely co-conspirators still alive within the Asylum that could be harboring information on his whereabouts.
Silence from the caretakers and further notes
Factol Lhar, Derioch, and Factol Ambar are all mysteriously silent on the subject (though Ambar has been known to hold a grudge against Lhar--perhaps for letting those wackos escape?) Are they all hiding something? Is it a coincidence that those three were involved in actually bringing Sougad in?
Then there is the question of why they sidetracked before actually escaping. Why did at least one of them travel out of their way to the Asylum entryway? That would make an already dangerous escape, even more so. Were they looking for something, or taking care of one last crucial piece of business?
Why did both the Hound and the Oldest Barmy backtrack after being completely in the clear? I believe that their was an encounter in the flooded cavern between the two of them (a testament to that old bastard that he even lived through such a thing). The Hound fled through a new tunnel, The Oldest Barmy fought several Bleakers off and then made a break for that very same tunnel. Why?
Finally, many eye-witness reports say they checked and were relieved that Sougad was still in his cell after the alarm was raised. But he did escape, maybe after the alarm was raised, and took his time tracking...Malazar?!
I have my theories about many of these things, but they will have to wait until later. I need time.
- - Blander Mul