You are a Beacon By Julian Gunn

Instruments: Deck of Cards

Game Description 

You are the keeper of a lighthouse before a vast and destructive storm. What must you do to prepare and how will the sea prevent you?

Game Content Warnings 

These are content warnings that are from the game prompts and are present in all playthroughs.

Playthrough Content Warnings 

These are content warnings specific to this playthrough only.

Game Playthrough

Word Count: 2,413     Played: April 29, 2023

What brought you to the lighthouse?

King, Diamonds: A Person, Spiritual ties, 

I was a sailor, but on my third shipwreck, when I almost drowned, I saw a vision of someone standing up top of a lighthouse, and I knew that person was me.

What keeps you here? 

Ace of Clubs: A Dream, Physical ties

The quiet, the cold, the smell of the salt, and knowing this is where I need to be. 

What makes this lighthouse special? 

8 of Spades: Historical Event, Skill Craft, institutional ties

It’s one of the few remaining buildings that still stands after the Liram Empire conquered the kingdom of Joford under King Asta, the Glorious. 

What is your greatest gift? 

7 of Clubs: A work of art, physical ties 

The shadow box above the mantel from when I retired from ships. 

In what season do you begin your journey? 

Ace of Hearts: Summer

Day 1 

10 of Diamonds: Personal Matters,  A massive silhouette rising and sinking in the distance
8 of Hearts A wish to stay within the island’s stones

Today I began my preparations for the storm. 

I saw that shape in the distance again, the one I haven’t seen since my first days here. An ill omen. I could hardly think while I was tending to the cats and the drying fish. It rose from the depths and sank back down faster than I could make out its depths. 

The only place I feel safe is in the cellars. Sometimes I’ll take the cats down there with me for a couple hours, to help get them used to holding up for the weather. They spat and fought the first few times, but they’re calmer about it now. 

It’s fortunate this summer is a warm one and the climb to the top to light the beacon isn’t slick. 

I’ve put more fish out to dry. Hoping the cat’s won’t get into this time. 

Day 2

5 of Hearts: Communication, Navigation, overcome with loneliness
10 of Clubs: Sinking ship sending a distress signal

Lost a ship today. I saw it hit the shallow rocks and tear a hole through its hull. It’s the third one this year and there’s nothing I or anyone else can do about it. 

That was the first wreck I was ever on was hitting those rocks. I dream about it sometimes. I got the message over the radio and patched it through to the coast guard. I don’t know how many were lost out there, but I saw many of them get hulled up into the lifeboats. 

It was good to hear Odilia’s voice again, though she’s probably not glad to hear mine. Sometimes I think about sending her a letter, but I don’t know how to not make it feel like I’m not a creep. Maybe I’ll write it to her entire department, even though she’s the only one I’ve ever spoken to. 

I also let her know about the storm. She said she’d keep track and if she doesn’t hear from me for about a week after it passes then she'll send someone up to check on me. 

Didn’t have any trouble with the light. No trouble with the mercury either. 

Day 3 

9 of Clubs: Physical Repair, strange message arrived 
2 of Clubs: A Visitor, A castaway 

Took some time to fortify the windows for the storm. I hate having to put the planks on and off again. Maybe someday I’ll learn how to make proper shutters that I can simply latch when the weather picks up. 

But I have a visitor staying with me tonight! It was one of the sailors from the ship that wrecked yesterday. Ze said zeir name was Lilja and that ze had been thrown too far when the ship struck for the boats to be rescued. 

Ze was too shaken up to be of much help, but ze was willing to sit with the cats in the bunker, to help them accumulate when the time comes. 

I sent Odilia another message (not on the emergency channel) but didn’t get through to any person, so I just left the message on the voice mail. Hopefully they will send someone to come get Lilja tomorrow. I don’t have enough supplies for two people to weather the storm. 

The radio’s acting up again. I thought it was just another odd message from The Forecast but the channels were just skipping around. I thought I heard the phrase “give back, give back” over and over but it wasn’t the same people saying it, so who knows. The light took a couple of tries to get lit. 

Day 4 

3 of Hearts: Communication, A cruise ship or a sailboat
Ace of Diamonds: You discover an unknown area of the island of the lighthouse, what do you find? 

No one came for Lilja today, so ze is with me again. At least the cats seem to like zem, but Lilja says they keep nipping zeir ankles, not malicious, but just little nibbles. Can’t say I’ve ever seen them do this before. 

Sent another message to Odilia, so hopefully tomorrow someone will help out Lilja, especially since the trouble ze’s been getting up to. 

I found zem almost in a trance, down in the bunker, digging with zeir bare hands against the wall. When I snapped zem out of it ze had found a passage, something that had been sealed up long ago. 

I didn’t want to venture into that place, but ze took off running, going down further and further into the depths. We came across old tombs, all labeled with old Joford script, which I can’t read. Eventually ze snapped out of it, and we made our way back up top. I’ll have to seal it up again, or call some historian or something. 

But not until after the storm. I don’t need people out here causing more trouble. 

Only one little sailboat was out today looking at the wreckage. Technically I’m supposed to call in anyone I see since it’s technically piracy, but honestly I can’t be bothered with something so small. 

The lighthouse didn’t seem to want to light tonight. Hope this doesn’t start a pattern. 

Day 5

4 of Clubs: Physical Repairs, Beach Combing, Empty carapace
4 of Spades: Beach combing, something that fell off a boat

Found Lilja down in the tombs again, digging in the deepest spot. Odilia claims she never got my message when I spoke to her, and she said she’d try sending someone out as soon as she could. She sounded tired.  

I had to drag Lilja back. Ze didn’t put up much of a fight, but every time I let go of zem, ze went back down there to start digging again. I tried asking about it but I got nowhere. I don’t think ze is completely lucid. 

Ze looks sick too. Zeir skin is clammy and pale.. The cats keep nipping at zem still. 

I sent zem down to the beach to try and keep zem away from the bunker while I fortified the garden. I trimmed back the branches on the tree. Hopefully the wind won’t knock the whole thing over this time. 

Ze showed me what ze had found: a small crabshell with a crack down the middle and some wood from the ship. I don’t know how ze knew it was from zeir ship, but ze insisted it was. 

Day 6

Jack of Spades: Research, you drop something important into the ocean, what washes back in?
2 of Diamonds: A visitor, a traveling artist, 

Had another artist want to visit the top to see the city. Happens every once and a while, I suspect there’s some teacher that has them do it, since they are mostly young and all come around the same time. I dropped the damn spyglass when I was up there showing him how to use it too. 

This made the bird counting a bit harder. Still don’t know why they have me doing it, but all I can do is trust that the coast guard needs the info for something. 

I told him that there’s a storm coming and not to have anyone else come by for at least another month. I also told him to take Lilja back with him since Odilia still hasn’t sent anyone. (I left another message and at this rate I might just send zem into the city with some supplies.) 

But, we couldn’t find Lilja at all, not even in the tombs. It was like ze disappeared until after the artist left. Then ze was right back there with the cats, swatting them away. 

Ze claimed that ze was down at the beach again and didn’t hear us. But we were down there and I didn’t see zem at all. Ze showed me all the shells ze had found, so ze must have been telling the truth. Ze even found an old locket (empty) on the beach. It looked cheap, but I lied to make zem feel better about it. 

Lighthouse is still giving me trouble when lighting. 

Day 7 

Ace of Clubs: Upkeep, you believe someone is hiding on the island, how do you find out? 
3 of Spades: A distant shipping vessel. 

Someone else is here. I saw them. Lilja knows too, but won’t say anything. Ze has deep bruises on zeir wrists that weren’t there yesterday and ze won’t say anything about it. 

There is someone down in the tombs. It won’t be safe during the storm. We’ll have to hide in the house unless we can suss them out. 

If I can’t find them by tomorrow I’ll call in Odilia as an emergency. I don’t know who or why they would be here. If it were someone else from the wreck they would just need to talk to me. 

No one knows about the tombs except me and Lilja so it can’t be thieves. Unless Lilja told someone, but I don’t know who. I don’t even know if ze knows how to use the radio equipment. I haven’t thought to ask what they were doing on the ship. 

The lighthouse is getting harder and harder to light each day and I’m still seeing distant ships out in the waters. 

Day 8

Queen of Clubs: A Chance to escape, physical repairs
2 of Hearts: 2 of hearts, a visitor, a creature from the deep

It tried to take Lilja today. 

It was in the dark. After the lighthouse refused to light, I spent over an hour fixing and fussing.

I heard the screams when it tried to drag zem back in.

I had refused to leave today as well and I have never regretted a decision so thoroughly. I tried to send zem back with the fisherman, but again, ze was nowhere to be found. 

Ze is looking more and more tired by the day. Something is also wrong with zeir skin. It’s.. like ze is swelling all over. Ze is far more ill than I think. I hope it isn’t contagious. 

But that thing. I couldn’t see it. Not really, its shape was almost that of a person, perhaps whatever I saw in the basement? Maybe it lives in the sea and not the tombs. 

When I heard the screams I ran back down to the beach, and when I shone the light on that thing it fled back into the waters. Lilja is… alright, but zeir leg looks broken. 

I wanted to retch when I touched zeir skin, but I was able to splint it fine. If no one shows up tomorrow to take zem then I’m calling in an emergency. 

PS got the fences fixed in the daylight

Day 9

Queen of Hearts: a chance to escape 
Jack of Diamonds: Unusual precipitation 

I can’t leave. I can’t leave. I can’t leave. I have to stay here, this is where I need to be. I want to leave so bad it makes my chest hurt and my teeth break. 

Tonjan came by, another of the coast guards and offered to relieve me for a couple months. I wanted more than anything to take his offer. 

Instead we spent the entire time looking for Lilja. I do not know where she goes when ze is missing. Again, we could not find zem. We searched the beach and the tombs (which Tonjan thinks will bring many more historians to the area once the storm has cleared.)

I asked him to stay the night and he agreed. I believed that Lilja would show up eventually. (ze didn’t) The rest of the evening was peaceful, except the dread I had that ze had been dragged into the sea by that horrid thing. (“Return it?” “return zem?”) 

Ze has a broken leg. I do not know where they have gone. My mind is a mess. I cannot think of events in the correct order anymore. 

I wrote that letter to Odilia’s office and will have Tonjan take it in the morning. I did not mention Lilja in the letter, though I wonder now if I should. 

The lighthouse had no issues being lit tonight despite the unusual hail. 

Day 10 

Queen of Spades: Research Project, A dream you should leave, and an order you should stay
Joker: A near miss of a whirlwind. 

Recorded some birds, lit the lighthouse. Etc. 

Lilja has returned. 

Ze was up top the lighthouse today and I could see in the clear light exactly what ze is.  

Ze told me not to tell others about zem. Ze did not want to return to the sea despite the fact that it had claimed zem. 

Zeir body was bloated and bruised and bitten (from the cats) and there was nothing I could do. 

I asked zem what ze wanted but ze shook zeir head. 

“Not the sea,” ze repeated, “Not the sea.” 

Ze would not answer when I asked where ze went when there were others. (I start to wonder if this is a hallucination.) 

We will think of something to do tomorrow.

Day 11

Card: 8 of Clubs
Card: King of Clubs

The Storm is Here. I was not prepared. We were not prepared. 

We are down in the tombs with the cats. Ze has retreated far into the depths, to do who knows what. I can only hope that ze is digging a grave that will allow zem to stay.

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