Instruments: Block Tower, Deck of Cards, 8 Tokens, 1d6
Carved by the Garden is a folk-horror themed Wretched and Alone game about terrors and pains of a primal forest. You play as a character who, for the player's choice, must enter the forest each day and survive the horror within as it invites you deeper and deeper inside.
Game Content WarningsThese are content warnings that are from the game prompts and are present in all playthroughs.
Playthrough Content WarningsThese are content warnings specific to this playthrough only.
Word Count: 5390 Played: June 6, 2023
Please note, this is an early edition of the game, some prompts have been significantly altered or removed from the final version
What draws you to the woods each day?
There is something calling me, a siren, of some sorts. I can’t hear it, but I feel it deep within my chest like a second pulse. Sometimes I think I see buildings. Sometimes I think I see people or other creatures. I am being called to some place that I cannot quite reach.
Who do you live with?
My sister. She was studying to be a lawyer up in the city, but after our parents died she moved back here. She won’t tell me the reason why, but I suspect she feels the calling too. Her maid servant, Sarah, also lives with us.
Why do they wish you’d stop visiting the woods?
She doesn’t tell me with her words, but I can see in her face all the same that some part of her deep down believes the tales the children still sing.
What would you do if you didn’t go into the woods?
If I didn’t go into the woods it would be because I’m disposed for some emergency, in prison, or dead.
What do you fear in the woods?
I fear… that I will no longer want to return to our home.
I’m writing as you asked, so you’ll stop pestering me. Or maybe because you wanna live vicariously through me since
you’re too much of a coward don’t want to actually enter the woods. I know you said you wouldn’t read it. You also said you wouldn’t come back to the village. I’m going to be safe in those woods, because I know how to respect them and love them. And V, they love me too.
|8 of Hearts||You attempt to take an axe and a dark figure wants you fingers, how do you bargain? Pull from the Tower|
|Ace of Clubs||You have learned the language of the old gods. What knowledge did you gain?|
|Ace of Hearts||How does the forest manifest on your flesh? At the end of the day roll 1d6, on a 4+ add one token, on 8 tokens, get ending CARVED ONE|
|9 of Clubs||You trip, get mud on yourself, and your fingers turn to bark.|
Well if you have found my corpse (unlikely) then you know what I’m about to write is true. I know you won’t believe it until you see it, but this is the reason that I’ve been wearing the gloves lately and I wouldn't tell you along with the larger boots and hat.
I saw a vision V. A dream, or something. I know you had it too. I saw the dark circles under your eyes that you tried to hide and wouldn’t look me in the face. Well, it worked. I did that ritual that called to us, collected the birds and lizards and completed that ritual that would make all your high society friends faint if they even thought about it. And I understand now.
The way the rocks move and the forest. It’s talking. It’s calling and you are just too damn stubborn to listen to it! It loves you too! You know that!
It has given me gifts V! I can feel them squirming along my spine, etching them into my very bones and sprouting out through my veins. The mud has given me roots, their words have given me branches. And their own servants listen to me now!
A shadow tried to take my fingers when I chanced upon its tools and it bowed before the language that I spoke! It knows that I am blessed and you can be too! What is here for you? All you have is me, and I am it’s.
I’ll hope you join us soon,
Token Roll: 1
|8 Spades||A figure with multiple deer’s head tires to speak but you cannot hear because of the large bell|
|King Hearts||You killed someone you loved because they cannot believe you.|
I’m sorry I lied to you about Sarah. I also forged that letter saying she was leaving. I know she was the only servant you could get out here, but you’ll make do.
She followed me into the woods, ranting and raving about how hard I was making it for you and she wouldn’t stop. She just wouldn’t stop, and so I made her stop. All things come to an end, V. She’s a part of the forest now; I can still hear her, and you could too, if you would JUST LISTEN.
I’ll spare you the details on how I buried her, but it was a proper Forest Burial, mind you and she was accepted back into the earth from which we all come. And I know the forest accepted her because as soon as I finished in that sun-soaked field the trees grew taller than any building in your “proper city” could only dream and all of me was cloaked in the cool crisp shadow of the woods.
I could hear the bells chiming like a call to service and its messenger came unto me, parting though the branches like a dove through the clouds. Its visage was a deer blessed with more of itself than a common beast and its horns were a halo around its many heads. And then it spoke unto me but I was too enraptured by the bells to hear its voice, but know dear sister, that I am blessed.
I’ll hope you join us soon,
Token Roll: 5
Tokens: 1/8 Kings: 0/4 Jokers: 0/2
|6 of Hearts||You love a plant that cannot leave, why do you love it, who do you wish could see it|
|3 of Diamonds||You see ruins and meet another human woman who bites you Pull from the Tower|
|Ace of Diamonds||The cost of the woods is blood and suffering. What do you pay to the woods, what is the altar?|
Sister, I have met another member of my congregation--OUR congregation for it is yours too, though you still refuse to accept it! We are waiting for you here! To see the reddened lilies in your hair would be a holy sight as I have woven them into mine.
But as you have not yet joined us I will tell you of the holy sights that I have seen today. It was through the fields of the reddened lilies, the ones that cannot leave this place, the ones that turn to ash upon the sight of your so-called ‘civilization.’ They grow fast and thick as rivers through the deep parts of these woods, they are a path on which we are to walk. An arrow, a guide, a pathway through the blistering light of the sun and into the cool embrace of the darkened woods.
If only you could see it as I do, sister. Please join me. I beg of you.
But of my other member, I have met her deep in the ruins of a once and still holy place. Deep in this ancient grove through crooked roots and broken stone, and into place carved away by the forest itself, there was a story to be told. It tells of those not beast or man but of both and neither and together joined and rejoined of holy consumption.
And so she of teeth had of my blood and skin and we prayed and we sacrificed to our altar and from that wound the lilly grew, reddened like the blood but no longer ashen for I am the forest and when it is in me, it is in the forest.
And sister, please, you can be of us too. I am sorry I am shaking with ecstasy and cannot form the words on the page but..
I love you.
I’ll hope you join us soon,
Token Roll: 5
|3 of Spades||There is a small clearing and large pile of feathers, what is buried in it, why did you keep it?|
|5 of Clubs||There are several people in white robes singing in a pond and then they all descend into the water, Pull from the tower|
|Queen of Spades||You got swept away in the rain in a “baptism” , the forest changes, move the joker to the top of the deck|
|2 of Clubs||A boar chases you and you dive into a for safety, and a leech gets you Pull from the tower|
|7 of Hearts||A pile of dolls as tall as you made of cornhusks and twine, they whisper as you walk, they seem to be getting closer, how do you escape?|
You cannot stray me from my path. I know that you will soon join us. No matter how hard you resist, I know the red around your eyes from your sleepless nights as it calls to you night after night in your dreams. It will not hurt you if you are worthy.
I am worthy. I am loved. You can be too, and I will guide you so that you may know the trials that I have faced in our beloved woods. For today was a day of many trials. It started in the hated sun, when even my reddened lily wilted from the wretched heat.
I have seen the cornhusk dolls as they whisper. Those things that mothers make for children to “protect” them from the woods because their foolish superstitions cannot allow them to see the blessings from the trees.
I know that they are mere toys out here, despite their calls and their approach. This forest will keep me safe from their wicked ways, and should I ignore them they will fall.
I walked, leaving them behind, knowing that there will be something out here for me, and I was rewarded for my faith, for in that clearing, high like piled snow in winter, were feathers larger than even myself. Plucked from wretched beings that would do us harm, they were still fresh with blood from the kill.
I picked through those feathers, and lo there was a fallen being, one rended of flesh and left for me as a gift. And I partook in this feast, making it a part of me as Sarah is of the forest. (And one day we will be too, for even we must come to an end.)
But this was a day of trials as well, sister. For as I feasted upon this being, from the woods a creature came to feast upon me.
A boar, larger than our garden shed, tusks spiraling and twisting like roots, even back into its own skull, piercing its flesh and condemning it to suffering, had taken its notice to me.
I knew this creature was to do me harm if I let it, and so sister, I fled deeper into the embrace of my forest. Through trees and brush, through bramble, foliage, leafmeal, and all that is known to this place.
I ran, knowing that if I had failed this test it would be the end of me and so I flew like the bird that I had consumed.
And the sky cried with my plight, bringing rain in torrents down upon the ground, swelling the dirt into mud and leading me deeper towards its rivers.
And into the rivers I dove, chest deep and hidden from sight as that boar continued to rampage through the trees. I clutched to the nearest root and held for my life as the river swelled in that rain.
And from that root across the river I saw them, robed in white. It was another of our holy congregation but I knew it was not yet time to join them. They sang, loud, strong, clear in the language of the forest, the sound of the leaves on their lips and the rivers and roots from their lungs.
They too descended into the river as it rose higher and higher from the rains. It rose so high that my head sank below its waters and my lungs turned hotter than the fires on the edges but I held fast, knowing that this was but one of many tests.
But when I tried to bring myself to the surface that root had encircled me and held me down beneath the waters. In that moment the world was black and I knew nothing but the sound of my own heartbeat and that second pulse of the forest itself.
But all was not lost, for you know that I am here to write to you. I awoke, the water was gone and I was baptized anew! My skin now thick and cracked with the bark of the forest and that reddened lily grows in a halo from my scalp.
And lo, that lonely leech that had attached itself to me, it too is a part of this forest, and it has received my sacrifice of blood. I have removed it from my skin to be released back into the forest. For are the animals not a part of it? Is the self not an altar?
Is to sacrifice to the creatures of a god, not a sacrifice to the god itself?
I’ll hope you join us soon,
Token Roll: 2
Tokens: 2/8 Kings: 1/4 Jokers: 0/2
|2 of Hearts||Birds peck at you and take everything from you, where do you find their nest made of your hair?|
|9 of Hearts||animals no longer run from you, and the hunters are disgusted by you|
|Jack of Spades||Someone has used human hands to grow a garden, who’s arms and who did this? Pull from the tower|
I am now welcomed amongst the beasts of this place. The foxes and the moles join me in long walks through the darkened woods and down the winding paths of the lily.
The birds too see that I am of this place and seek to rid me of the touch of man. They pull and tug at my vestiges and vestments, begging me to be rid of any sign of the place that I once was.
You cannot live in a world of dead wood, sliced stone, and broken fibers. Be free with us, they say as they remove the last of my hair from the scalp which blossoms the reddened lily. And I was taken to their nest to see the remnants of humanity woven into a home where nature is free to live.
Humans think that we are special. We think we are above all that is around us. We are of nature as it is of us and to deny it is to deny ourselves.
One day I will be free to live fully in these woods. But that day is not today.
I did find signs of human tempering today as well. It was a garden. It has sprouted from the hands of those who care most deeply about this forest. So beautiful and so thick the air itself tastes sweet. Growing are the honeysuckles, the jasmine, the wisteria, but most importantly the reddened lily.
It grows up from those arms buried deep, and blossoming through nourishing veins to holy fingertips.
In this, a contradiction. But what is more human than to be hypocritical? To have a cultivation, wrest control in a place so feral and so free to show a holy purpose, but who’s innate holiness comes from the wild and untameable?
But we are only human, and it is of our nature to control. And to deny our nature is, as I have said, to deny ourselves. And so we honor our nature by controlling nature, and embrace divinity in hypocrisy.
But oh dear sister, how people reject this place, for I have seen others who enter these woods. Hunters, dear sister, not unnatural and not unwelcome, for there is need of those who hunt lest the prey overgraze and the plants wither and die.
I do not know what they see when they look upon me, for as I watched them they spat and cursed to themselves. I do not know them, sister, but perhaps you do? Are they from your city?
I pray the others of my congregation do not meet them. They may not see things as I have.
I’ll hope you join us soon,
Token Roll: 2
|Ace of Spades||There is an old story of a lost village and you found one of the buildings. Why is this place better than your home? You also find your journal, with some of your journal entries burned. Which ones, Cross them out (I’ll turn them red for this journal entry) +2 Tokens if you have Ace of Hearts|
|5 of Diamonds||A shadow being, a perfect mirror of you, turns to stone as you touch it. Next time you are told to pull from the tower, don’t|
|9 of Spades||It rains blood and you see the dead animals impaled on trees.|
|Jack of Hearts||A friend is dead and your knife is in their hand. How did they die? Who were they to you?
|5 of Hearts||There are caves in the forest. Who has warned you about them? who went missing? How do you resist their voice when they call to you? Pull from the tower|
|2 of Diamonds||You drop something and when it hit the ground a rose bush grew, you cannot get the item without hurting yourself. Next time you are asked to pull from the tower, don’t|
Do you remember when we were small? The stories they told us about the woods? The people who lived there? How they were destroyed? How they had tried to tame the forest instead of letting it live as it was?
I have found one such of these homes. Far from the hypocritical garden. Far from the lily path. I cannot remember how I entered. But from the woods I saw it, like a hazy recollection, a dream of a dream of a memory implanted.
Inside I found myself, turning over the furniture. Turning over the bed and the bushes and the leaves that have made homes inside. The spiders were unperturbed, but the rats fled from noise. This place is being reclaimed as I am being reclaimed. And inside there was a hearth. And in that hearth this journal. Was it you? Are you reading as you said you wouldn’t? (As I knew you would?) I’m not mad, Dear Sister. How could I be? You will join us soon.
All of time is cyclical. What once was will be again and then return to the start on the wheel that ever turns. And like myself, returning to nature, and like this building returning to nature, there is but another me, a shadow through a window.
It is me but not myself. Or maybe it will be once again. This shadow through the window turned to stone in an instant when I have come upon it.
It is far too heavy for me to move, but it is myself, what I will be, what I was before. What I can be and yet might not. A literal return to earth. And it reaches out, towards the ground, as if inviting it into itself again. Does it wish to be returned to rubble? That I cannot say, but it bled when I took its finger. I cannot say why I needed it. But to know there is a piece of me, returned to me, is comforting.
More comforting than what else I saw today, dear sister. For this is a day of memories. And do you remember when we were older than children how our dear friend, Delisa, despite all the warnings, traveled through those hills, the ones with so fine a ground and deep caves beneath.
All the adults searched but could not find her. Dear sister how you wept then, and how you would again weep now, for I have found her.
For over these hills I traveled, guided by the reddened lily, as if the forest wished for me to find her. And she was grown. As grown as we are now, but dead, or perhaps something else entirely.
For it was the blood that led me to her. Underneath the trees I stood, holding a piece of me, my shadow, when from above the sky rained blood. And from that blood the lily sprouted in the ground, but it was not the sky that bled but instead the animals.
Small at first, frogs, mice, birds, impaled upon the tree as if it had grown through each creature and partook of them as another sacrifice. And the lilies grew from the blood they formed a path, leading to more sacrifices of larger and larger animals.
The blood has returned to the earth, and are we not clay ourselves? I, covered in red life, followed along until I found these caves, and I heard within.
She called and I answered. Her body was pale, and her own blood drained from her body, but still I recognized her despite never seeing her at this age.
My knife, the one I keep above my desk, was buried deep in her chest, and rusted as though it had been there all this time.
“Take it,” she whispered, and I obliged. But freed from this prison she grasped me and though my skin is of bark I could feel the cold of her rotten fingertips seep the warmth from my skin as she laughed.
She was not of my forest, but of an older god that claimed her. The knife burned in my hand but I could not release it, and so I struck her again with it. We fought, and, having known I lived to write this, you know that I escaped.
She could not leave the hills, as she was of them as I am of the forest, but the knife, still burning in my hand, I took with me into the trees.
I pried my fingers from it, and barely just managed to release it and from the ground when it touched the earth, the forest grew rotten, rusted roses. Their thorns were as sharp as the knife, and I dared not to reach my hand inside.
This forest is protecting me. Think what it will do for you too, sister?
I’ll hope you join us soon,
Token Roll: 5
|King of Spades||You cannot stay at your home at night, but the woods aren’t safe. Why can’t you go back?
|7 of Diamonds||You see a statue that holds an invisible body, that you can see when you wear a flower crown, you can look at the next 5 cards and rearrange them which are: Q♦, 10 ♠, 4♥ , 4 ♠, Q♣|
if you wish for me to return you should not have locked the garden gate. You should not have built the fence taller. You should not have gotten a new dog, so angry.
Have you given up on me? I still love you, you know. It still calls to you. Our congregation is not complete without you. We only wish for you to love these woods are they are by them. By me.
Do you not still love me sister? Though my form has changed it is still me. It is no different as if I had grown older. There is nothing in life that is stagnant. Forests are meant to grow.
I have returned to that small cabin, the one that is returning to the woods as I am. Maybe it was meant for me all along.
On my way back to it I passed a statue, large, strong, and open handed as if holding something heavy--a pieta for no one. And in front of this statue, an offering, a crown of flowers, none of them my lilies, but still I felt compelled to place it upon my head, and let it intertwine with those which have grown from me. And when they conjoined I saw the statue in entirety, for there was something in its arms. A body, a sword, and a warning.
It spoke to me about the future: about a gift, about rejection, about the earth, about threads, about life and death and trees and all there is to do.
THere is so much more in this forest dear sister. Please. It loves you. Come back to us.
I’ll hope you join us soon,
Token Roll: 4
|Queen of Diamonds||You are gifted a heart, what will you do with it? Don’t pull from the tower if you honor the heart in some way|
Our congregation grows and I was given a gift today. It is as the statue told me. The night was dangerous, but I was safe within the reclaimed house, for now. I miss you dearly. You would love it here.
The forest continues to change me, and the flowers grow down my back like a cape of a royal king. They are not crushed and they are not fragile, but I cannot feel them. They are on me but not me. But today was another blessing.
They emerged so suddenly, as if from nothing they sprouted like flowers from the ground. In their hair the reddened lilies, and their clothes the white of the choir.
One man from their group stood forward and told me to hold my arms wide and my eyes closed and accept the gift from them. I obliged as is my nature, and placed upon my palms was the heart of some beast, still bleeding, still bleating.
And the congregation was gone for they should not witness the holy act for which I obliged. And I partook in this feast, making it a part of me as is the bird and as am I of this forest.
Dear sister these gifts are to be yours too.
I’ll hope you join us soon,
Token Roll: 5
|10 of Spades||You dig as far as you can and hit fish scales. Who left the shovel?|
|4 of Hearts||A couple in the creek begs you to witness the wedding, they get naked and pour blood on themselves in the end, Is this holy? Who would you bathe in blood with?|
|4 of Spades||women sitting in a circle, needle point, you can see the future look at the next two cards and read the prompts aloud (Cards: 10 Diamonds, 8 Diamonds) Mud and blood|
|Queen of Clubs||A giant tree w/o leaves, a trunk with scorched symbols, why do you need to get inside?|
|6 of Diamonds||It rains and the rain stops when you enter your home, what does everyone think of you?|
|10 of Hearts||You have a friend you sometimes meet in the woods. They request you to describe the world to them. THey are sad today, who are they and how much do you value your relationship with them?|
Sarah came by today to speak with me today. It has been a while since I have seen her. Has she been doing well? She looks sadder than usual and said she cannot see the forest as well as she once was.
Do you overwork her, sister? We all need time to visit the forest. I sat with her a while today, brushed her long hair, and paced the reddened lilies into it like always. She asked me about the forest, and I told her of its beauty. I told her of the beasts, and the birds, and the flowers. She loves the flowers most of all, and I can see them taking to her nicely. Their roots are digging deeper into her now. I asked her to join the congregation, the one in white, who sings and makes offerings. She is amenable, but she misses you.
Have you turned her away? She was your favorite. She left me soon after, back towards the house. Perhaps to you.
I came upon a hole today, with a shovel, brand new. I felt drawn to it, as though it had been a gift to me and I could not stop. Did not stop. Why would it? Was this hole not for me? Does the forest not provide? The shovel felt like it was made for my claws and I dug, and dug and dug until there was no further to dig.
On the ground there were scales, like that of a fish, to the size of that like a plate. And to the touch it pulsed like a living thing and I understood. Sharp claws in sharp scales and from that fish I wrested the scale. It squirmed and writhed but did not move as I dug my claw into it, and wretched the meat and blood from within. And I partook in this feast, making it a part of me as is the bird, and as is the beast and as am I of this forest.
And in this I am near complete. The congregation knows this to be true as I was invited to one of the most holy ceremonies. A marriage, a bond not to broken. Dear sister you would have wept at how beautiful these brides were. Hand in hand, flowers upon their hair and in their dress.
We gathered upon the creek, in the water, the white-dressed choir, and I dark-bark and red-flower a chosen witness to this ceremony. And in joining each other and this forest a sacrifice of blood upon the couple. Poured from me unto them and they are a part of it and myself and all that is in these woods.
Dear sister, please open your heart to us. We love you.
Ah, but at this wedding two old maids showed me another vision of the future. More of mud and blood, as to be expected of this place. I welcome it to me.
And as a part of nature the sky did cry at the beauty of this wedding, and my congregation dispersed. But here I am, far from the home in the woods, I had to find shelter from the waters.
But the forest provides. And a tree, with smoldering carvings etched inside, made itself known to me and I obliged. I have returned to the earth as all things should, and I feel these roots surround me and enjoin in me and for now, I am safe.
Dear sister, please forgive the state this journal is in when you find it. There isn’t much to protect the paper from the water.
I’ll hope you join us soon
Token Roll: 6
Tokens: 8/8 Gameover
Last tower pull: Success!
Tokens: 8/8 Ending: The Carved One
And from this deep trunk I am asked to finally join the forest. The roots pull closer and find their way inside me through every scrape, every hole, every mouth, and eye, and orifice. I oblige. And I partook in this feast, as I am of the beast, and the bird, and the fish, and of man, and as the forest consumes me I am of it if in my entirety.