Nameless: The Departed Cycle
Dark Fantasy/Romance/Horror/Visual Novel
Something lurks in the Umbral Forest, its wicked tendrils snaking out to reshape the very woods themselves. Is this the beast Israh Almasi seeks to hunt and slay for the sake of his dying son? Or something even darker and more sinister than he ever could have imagined?
Meanwhile, a mysterious man has made himself at home at Israh’s campsite. He calls himself Nameless… and he only comes at night.
Follow the red star to the Umbral Forest and unravel the mysteries within.
Contribution: Narrative design, writing, programming, UX design, voice direction
Night One Game Script - Alternate Paths Included
Night One - Scene Script
The first night we met was a night for lies and introductions.
The man slipped out of the woods like a wraith, all sinew and smiles. He hovered at the edge of the firelight, half-cloaked in the deep night around us both.
Israh: Who goes there?
Nameless: Just a lone traveler, looking for a warm place to spend time with… company.
There were hints of his strangeness even then. I squinted to make out the subtleties of his expression, but the way the firelight caught at the creases in his face left him an enigma.
Like there was something unseen just below his skin.
It made me think of my own body. Aching with travel in a way I had never ached before. A reminder of old prices I'd chosen to pay.
But pay I would... all my tolls without complaint. Yet, in that moment, all I could feel was the bone-deep reminder of how far I had come, and the question of how far I still needed to go.
Israh: Do you have a name, lone traveler?
The word traveler stuck between my teeth and hissed out in a puff of air. I had met many travelers, and this man was not one of them.
Nameless: Call me Nameless. That's what everyone calls me here.
Israh: There are others in the Umbral Forest?
Israh: Then who calls you by this name?
Nameless: Myself. The shadows between the trees. The distant wind... if she's feeling friendly.
Israh: I see. Nameless. Well met.
He laughed, and the sound made me shiver. It was clear and wicked, like the sharp end of a sword hitting a bell.
Nameless: Nobody meets well in the Umbral Forest.
Israh: True enough.
Nameless: And you are?
Israh: Israh Almasi.
Nameless stepped forward gingerly, the light wrapping around him in an ember-soaked curtain.
Bare toes were the first thing I saw clearly before they sunk into the thick covering of the forest floor. His nails were golden red.
His body flowed down, fiery hair bouncing around his thin face as he stepped closer and took a seat across from me. The light caught the shifting movement and made him look as if he wore a halo of flame.
Israh: Did I invite you to share my fire?
I tried to say it sternly, but my desire for company softened the words.
Nameless: Ah, yes, pleasantries. Fair and noble traveler, Sir Almasi of the unnamed lands beyond these woods, would you like to share this fire and my company?
Israh: You speak as if you own my camp.
Nameless didn't answer, instead letting silence hang in the air. He tilted his head to the side in consideration, earrings tinkling softly with the motion. The wicked little curl of his lips didn't falter. How very insolent.
In the old days, I had seen that gaze a thousand times. I knew from the itch between my shoulders that he oozed the confidence of a man who did not know what he toyed with.
Where had he said I was from? The unnamed lands? Now that was interesting.
Israh: I would hardly call the lands beyond unnamed.
Nameless shifted, leaning forward, body taut with the still potential of a wound spring.
Nameless: Then what would you call it?
Israh: Just outside these woods? The Luminous Plains.
Nameless: The Luminous Plains? Do they glow?
An irksome question. I looked at him, unsure if he was toying with me. He was leaning forward, face flushed with boyish excitement.
I felt a surge of irritation. Why should I have to speak of the place I had spent a week traveling across, being bitten by glow bugs and coated in incandescent pollen?
If he wanted to lay claim to the title of traveler, he could travel there himself.
Israh: Just go and look. A day's journey at most and the answer is yours.
Nameless: Maybe I should. I'd rather you told me though, I prefer imagining.
He looked into the fire, the crackling heat sending embers into the air. He was picking at the grass, his lips pushed into a nearly suppressed frown.
I felt as if I had denied a child a bedtime story. Nobody had the right to slip between slyness and innocence like that. To layer guilt on top of the weariness in my bones.
Israh: So where do you go, Nameless of the Umbral Forest, if you do not set foot upon the plains?
Nameless: This place is plenty large for traveling.
Israh: Spare me. A traveler in his own lands is no traveler at all.
He blinked slowly, gaze slipping over to my worn boots. I had pulled them off and placed them near my bedroll.
Nameless: Why don't you tell me a story?
Agree to tell him a story
Refuse to tell him a story
Agree to tell him a story
Refuse to tell him a story
Israh: Very well, I see no reason to reject your company. Maybe you can give me answers...
Nameless: If it's a secret of the Umbral Forest... perhaps I can.
I thought of Bastion, fevered and lost, tucked under sheets that would be his burial cloth if I failed. My boy. If I humored him, maybe he could guide me toward the prize I was seeking.
Israh: Do you know anything of the Burnished Empire?
Nameless: That name is too new for me to know it.
Nameless: But what's a name, really? Nothing I'd miss.
Israh: The empire is over three hundred years old.
He shrugged, and it was too controlled to be anything but feigned.
Nameless: Maybe I forgot it then. It holds no meaning in this forest.
I grunted, tired of his weak attempts to hide his ancientness. If anyone could see it, it would be me.
Israh: What are you?
Nameless: Oh no, Almasi. Not unless you tell me what you are first.
Israh: I am a man.
Nameless: You're as bad a liar as I am. You might smell like one now, but you weren't always. I can smell that too.
Israh: I am a man now, and that's all you need to know.
But I did not push him on his origin. And he did not push me further on mine.
Nameless: Go on then, tell your story.
Israh: Very well...
Israh: I live within the Burnished Empire with my son. On the outskirts of a small village, away from the cities and their filth. I thought that would keep him safe. Keep us safe.
Nameless: You have a son?
Israh: I do. His name is Bastion.
I could see it conjured before me as if by magic. My vision of what happened two weeks ago painfully vivid.
My mouth was dry as I told Nameless of my greatest failure. My greatest shame. How else could I find clues to what I was seeking?
Israh: Bastion! Where are you, boy?
Two hours since he'd run off to play in the underbrush. It wasn't how long he was gone that made me worry, but the silence that permeated everything when I called for his return.
A scream would have been more comforting than that cursed silence.
Then, I found him, a curled and shivering body. It didn't seem possible. He was always smiling, so full of movement and life even when he tried to sit still. This could not be my boy.
But it was.
When I scooped him up, he felt smaller and more fragile than I remembered. Only ten. A child who had escaped one cruel fate on the streets of the capital for another found lurking in a rotten log.
I ran to the shaman as fast as my legs could carry me.
I hit the side of the wall, rattling the ingredients and baubles that hung from the ceiling and sat scattered across her shelves.
Israh: What do you mean? He still breathes.
The shaman hesitated, then pulled up Bastion's sleeve to show me a vicious-looking mark. It was huge and red, but I could see dark tendrils starting to form under the skin where two little pinpricks sat.
Aranea: This is the bite of a Vermillion Wanderer, a spider so named after the venomous beast-king who gifted them with such a deadly touch.
While she spoke, she moved around her hut, pulling ingredients off of shelves and placing them carefully into her mortar and pestle.
Aranea: I can stop the venom from killing him outright, but that is it. I cannot cure him, and it will remain in his body until he withers away and dies.
Israh: There must be something! Tell me, Aranea, what can I do to aid you? I need to help him!
Her grinding stone stopped. With deft and careful fingers, she scooped up a thick paste and smeared it over the bite.
Bastion didn't make a single sound beyond his labored breathing.
Aranea: There is one thing I have heard...
Israh: What? Tell me!
Aranea: Find the first creature whose sting could steal away breath.
Aranea: If you're able to obtain its heart, it can be used to heal your son. It is the only heart strong enough to ward off a bite like this one.
Israh: And where must I go?
Aranea: To the Umbral Forest. Legend has it that the venomous beast-king lives there.
Aranea: There are also whispers of a shadow, and a strange man whose company brings curses and misfortune.
Israh: I've already been cursed once; I see no reason to fear a second one. I will save my boy.
She shook her head and looked at me as if I were a fool. Perhaps I was.
Aranea: I can watch over him but he will not awaken. I advise haste. I would give him a little over a month before he succumbs, even with my aid.
Israh: How do I get to the Umbral Forest?
Aranea: Follow the red star, the tail of the constellation–
Israh: I care nothing for the names of the stars. If the red star will tell me where to go then I will follow it. That is all I need know.
Israh: So tell me, Nameless, have you heard of this king of venom?
Nameless: No. But I have heard of a stranger who brings misfortune.
That wicked look was back.
Israh: I imagine you have.
He turned serious.
Nameless: I also know of the shadow. It is real and present all around us. Ward your dreams, and watch your step, Almasi. He likes tricks even more than I do.
A gust of wind blew across the clearing, violent and forceful. Dust and dead leaves made me squint.
My fire flickered with the strength of the sudden gale and for a moment I saw Nameless' face contort into a glowing mask of rage.
Then he was gone.