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[IC] Mage:The Awakening - Anthology of Power

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  • [IC] Mage:The Awakening - Anthology of Power

    THE BLACK PYRAMID



    CHAPTER ONE
    WHAT WORDS WE HAVENT READ

    Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 8:24p.m.

    The new year was kicking off with the worst snowstorm since 2003. Twenty four inches of snow blanketed the world outside. Most of the commerce had closed down, transforming the ebb and bustle of the city streets into a silent wasteland. The citizens of Boston, normally overflowing with activity, had hidden themselves away from the cold. Not everyone had retreated indoors, of course. Urban children had wrapped themselves in numerous layers, determined to throw snowballs and slide between buildings on the slick white surface. Journalists and stranded tourists had their cameras out, documenting the rare intensity of the blizzard.

    And then of course, the three of you.

    A letter had arrived for Astoria just a hair over a week ago, bearing the mark of the Mysterium. Just beyond the borders of the Boston Consilium, a Mystagogue named Meristoktrix had hermited himself away to conduct research for the Order. Once, his name commanded a degree of respect among his fellows within the city. It was said he often delivered valuable Artifacts and Grimoires to the Academy, when his own research into such things fell short. Yet for years now, his reputation has been sullied by rumors of wild paranoia, and a decreased value in the items procured for the Mysterium. Among Mage's, mental instability held even more stigma than it did for Sleepers. It carried with it the question of Bedlam, and the added danger of contagion.

    The letter to Astoria bore his signature:

    ********************************************
    My esteemed colleague,

    It will no doubt surprise you to learn that we share a common thread of Sympathy. Your mentor Fell and I worked closely together for the Order many years previous. No doubt his recent disappearance has stricken you, as it has me. Most disturbingly, a parcel was recently delivered to me bearing his mark. Wrapped protectively within was a scroll, written in text which was unrecognizable. It has been obscured in a manner that has proven, at least for all my efforts, impenetrable.

    Imagine my surprise when it was brought to my attention, by those within our Order who still answer my correspondences, that you have a talent for Cryptography. Is this coincidence or the province of Fate my dear? Then again, I suppose it makes sense, in an utterly mundane fashion, that a man who spent his life unearthing secrets would pass one down to his apprentice, and that he would have prepared such an apprentice for just such a challenge.


    At Midnight on January the Third of the new year, I will deliver the text, which I shall heretofore refer to as The Cipher Scroll, to the Lower Depths Tap Room on Commonwealth Avenue. Meet me there, but be careful.

    The eyes of Sleepers are upon me.

    Your friend,
    Meristoktrix
    Last edited by Techpriest; 02-04-2015, 03:20 PM.

  • #2
    Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 5:00a.m. Second floor bedroom of the Bates-Meadows apartment.

    *Bip-bip!*

    The alarm clock went once, just once, as a quick hand silenced it with a simple *click* as every morning.

    Marvin woke up inmediately, carefully removing the heavy blankets and leaving the bed without a sound. He looked pleased at his beloved wife still asleep in a curl, he aproached her side of the bed and gave her a single, soft kiss on the forehead. Even in her dream, she smiled.

    He went out of their bedroom on his tiptoes and closed the door behind him veeery slowly. He went to the changing room, as everyday, and put on his jogging clothes. Given the specially cold day he added another pair of socks over the ussual one, a heavy scarf, gloves, a polar jacket and a wool hat to his sport attire. He looked at his watch, it was 5:05.

    He went quickly downstairs still with his slippers on and took the trainers from the shoe cabinet in the hall. He changed his foot wear, leaving the slippers in the cabinet and went out through the door. Despite living in a high floor he went downstairs instead of taking the lift. On one hand it seemed kind of hypocritical to avoid some stairs when going out to get some exercise. On the other, the lift reminded him of the hospital's morgue, all chromed steel and fluorescent white light. It unnerved him.


    Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 5:10a.m. Just outside the Bates-Meadows apartement building.

    Marvin did some warm-up against his building's entrance. It was even more cold than he expected, and the blizzard had covered the street in feets of snow. The entrance of their garage, for instance, was completely blocked, being underground. He took his cellphone and dialed a number.

    -Good Morning! I'm Marvin Bates, may you please send a snowplough to unblock the garage's entrance at...-Marvin gave the neccesary adress to the man at the other side of the line-...yes, yes, thank you, sir. About an hour or so? Perfect! Thanks again and good morning to you too, sir, have a nice day.

    Marvin pocketed the cellphone back inside his jacket and started his morning jog. There were never too many people on the streets at that hour anyway, and even less with such a snowstorm going, but Marvin Bates was a man of customs.


    Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 5:55a.m. Bates-Meadows upperbathroom.

    Marvin took a quick shower after his morning jog. First hot water, then cold, as always. His leg muscles ached for the effort, but the cardiovascular benefits were more than worth such a meager cost. God knows he had been worse.
    When he came out of the shower he went directly in front of the mirror. He took a long look at his face from every angle. His beard was only the glint of a shade. Despite that he took his razor and sarted to apply shaving foam all over his face.


    Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 6:10a.m. Bates-Meadows kitchen.

    -Good morning, dear-he greeted his wife as she entered the kitchen, still clearly half asleep.

    -Morning....-she smiled, sticking her tongue out, mockingly.

    -I've made coffe-he smiled back with his eyes over the newspaper-You seem to need a cup or two-he teased her.

    Gloria Meadows ignored the taunt of her husband and focused herself on getting some orange juice. She drank a full glass in just one gulp and sighted. The vitamins seemed to have an inmediate effect as she woke up completely.
    She sat at the table and both started to sip from their coffee mugs, her with milk and stevia, his black, double and with a couple spoons of brown sugar.

    -Important intervention today, isn't it?-she finally asked.

    -It is just a rutinary heart surgery, but yes, we are going to have some students as public if that was what you we refereing to.-he took a long sip from his coffee and folded the newspaper-How are you doing with all that workload, dear?

    -Meh...-she tried to give it no importance-We probably could do with some more people if you ask me. Anyway, it is a seasonal thing. Soon we will get back to normal levels and I could get some actual sleep.

    Marvin laughed.

    -I love you, dear.-he kissed her and got up, finishing his coffe-I'll check if the garage entrance is clear so we can leave when you are ready.


    Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 12:36 p.m. Massachusetts General Hospital.

    Dr. Bates made the last incision and gave the scalpel to his attendant. Outside the room, looking through the glass, half a dozen medical students took frantic notes in their small laptops and tablets. Another attendant drained the excess liquid from the opening where Bates had indicated...


    Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 01:03 p.m. Massachusetts General Hospital.

    Dr. Bates was washing his hands in the pile when the students aborded him. The intervention had been a sounding success and the eager youth wanted to ask and comment on all kind of things about it.
    All smiles and still wipping his hands dry, he started to ask questions to the students. Why did he performed certain incisions, were another ways to aproach that intervention, which were the risks...
    After a while they left and Dr. Bates was glad to see that there was such a great medical generation in the making.


    Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 07:35 p.m. The Nest.

    Bardo took his only remainig soul jar and examined it. He took the ashes from the small leather bag and smeared over his eyes, taking a deep breath.
    As the magic poured from Stygia into him, he felt like back at the hospital, the artificial asepsis extending all over the ritual room. He opend his eyes to the secrets of the deceased man laying bare before him.

    When he was satisfied with his analysis, he opened the lid of the Jar and let the soul go free to wichever its destination was. He never, ever, kept a soul trapped for more than 24 hours. God knows what could happen, he may very well prevent the cycle of reincarnation to continue as the soul became lost and disoriented. The thought itself provoked a shiver down his spine.

    Bardo took a look at his watch, in an hour or two the three of them should start to prepare for that mysterious meeting.
    Last edited by Thorbes; 02-06-2015, 05:32 PM. Reason: seems we have a Sanctum's name!


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    • #3
      Astoria hated the winter.

      It wasn't an uncommon sentiment, as most people this time of year would say the same thing; the snow was a blight on the city, but the world had to keep turning, and nothing would completely render itself inert for the season other than the river. Sleepers and Mages alike rose in the morning with their shovels, digging out parking spaces and scraping the ice off of their cars, fondly remembering a summer that they all claimed was by far too hot and muggy to be bearable. It was an infinite cycle that had probably been started by the neanderthals themselves, fingers turning blue as they banged rocks together.

      It felt far from removed as she stepped out of the shower, steam rolling across her bathroom ceiling and putting a dense fog over the mirror. It was well past noon by the time she had risen from bed, finding a warmth in the covers that begged her to stay alongside a cat that had been contentedly purring against her ankles. Despite being out of the hot water for less than a minute, she already felt the cold biting at her skin, quickly wrapping an oversized towel around her body to retain the heat her skin had buzzed with.

      After styling her dark brown hair and applying enough makeup to appear as if her complexion were something other than pale, Astoria changed into the gray dress that was more business than formal and worn more for its hefty material than actual fashion. She further layered with boots and a cardigan, adding a scarf before packing the contents of her bag. Unlike the usual requisitions that most women would carry at their side, Astoria opted for a large messenger-style bag, bulging awkwardly at all sides. Along with her usual effects, it also contained three times she had brought home from the Mysterium library and a few scattered items that ebbed with a strange magical resonance.

      Well, those and that letter...

      She had read it several times, trying to squeeze any hidden detail she could from the page. She knew Meristoktrix, as Fell had gone to some lengths of using his isolation as a lessor for what happens when the mind faces oblivion alone. It had been the very reason for her current cabal after his disappearance. While there was an apprehension about making contact with him, the thought of any hint of Fell was greater. Was this a new correspondence? Was he still out there, seeding a trail of crumbs? Is it old work of his that was simply forwarded on to her? More importantly, why would that go to someone other than her?

      Too many questions, and not enough answers. It was best left for later. With a last sigh as she pulled on an orange wool cap and gloves, Astoria headed out her door and down the stairs, leaving the apartment building and beginning the walk down the partially-clear sidewalk. It was a short walk to the Nest, not worth sliding her car all over the road, and she wasn't in a rush; the rest of the Cabal would possibly find their way there in the weather, and if not she would see them at the Lower Depths Tap Room. Until then, she had some minor items that had to be identified before being returned to the Mysterium...

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      • #4
        Phoenix was in a mansion with a family of four. He wasn't part of this family, and he didn't recognize any of them, but he lived with them or something. It seemed like your typical nuclear family with two parents, a daughter, and a son. He played with the children and talking to the parents, but that was all he could remember before he murdered the kids. The parents cried out in agony and hatred of course, and he felt remorse for his actions. But then everything suddenly changed, and the children were now alive and happy. He looked at one of the family photos to find himself in one. He was now a part of this family, even though he remembered last time he killed the children, and it seemed the parents did, too. But instead of hating him, they loved him instead. The, or rather now his, parents showed him to his room. Phoenix asked them why they would do this for him after what he did.

        "I wish I could offer you warmth, but I can only offer you fear," the father replied.

        What the hell was that supposed to mean? He looked back to the family photo that he still had in his hands, but instead of seeing the family, he saw the Rune. No matter what he dreamed, it always ended with that Rune. Knowing that awakening was nigh, he imprinted it into his memory as much as he could, as he always did when he saw it. By now, this was like clockwork for him. He knew this had some Supernal significance, so he needed to remember the whole thing so he could complete it on paper and ask other mages about it.

        The rest of the dream faded, with only the Rune remaining, burned into his sight.


        With that, he woke up, immediately springing out from the covers to snatch a piece of paper. The Rune was so vivid in his mind this time, it was practically in his sight itself, and the paper already had most of the Rune on it. He just had to put in the finishing touches. A little line here, little dot there, and it was all done. He finally finished it after all these months, satisfaction lit on his face and shook his fist. That's when the cold started to bite.

        His little emotional high gone, he glared out the window, seeing all that snow fall. It taunted him. Being in such a dinky apartment, there was no service to plow the snow away from the communal garage, he had to go to work, there was an important meeting tonight over at the Nest, and he didn't have a shovel.

        Fuck, and he just completed the Rune, too.

        He wrote a mental note to buy a shovel soon as he warmed up with his morning exercises, tea, and crappy canned soup he heated up in the microwave. He wrapped himself up with two layers of clothing, topping it off with a black jacket, pants, and boots. He figured he could just jog to work instead of the formal training he usually did before the classes. That would keep him warm in the snow, right?

        Wrong, he ended up a shivering black mass by the time he got there. He just wasn't used to the cold. He had lived in southern Florida most of his life, after all. He didn't feel like teaching any classes today, which was fortunate because most of the students didn't feel like attending today, and he didn't blame them. He just had the few students who did attend do some simple exercises, and that was it.

        He decided to skip his afternoon training for the day, as he was more eager to discuss the Rune with fellow mages instead. And since he already needed to meet up with them anyways, why not start by asking the rest of the cabal over at the Nest.

        Regrettably, it was a rather long jog over there.

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        • #5
          Bardo made quick calcullations in his mind and pocketed the watch. If he had a couple of hours before the rest of his cabal arrived he should at least do something useful with them.

          He went to the "living room" space of the Nest, as Astoria had informally named the sanctum. The name kind of caught on organically as the three of them found themselves thinking and refering to their shared place as such. It actually fitted, thought Bardo looking around. Here there were a couple of comfy sofas set in L that could be converted into improvised beds if the need arose, a low coffee table in the middle and a small kitchen in the corner, including a fridge filled with provission for a couple of weeks. The small bathroom complete with a shower rounded up the place.

          Yes, it had became like a second home indeed.

          It didn't start that way, of course. When Bardo first found the need to experiment with his newfound abilities his prime worry was for the place to be as far from home as posible. Safety was the main concern, the safety of his wife first and the rest of the people, second. He was too aware that sometimes accidents happened, and when sorcery was involved the danger increased exponentially. As such, he had chosen the site of what would later be the Nest for his isolated and unobtrusive location.
          Not using the place for more than a quick test now and then, or to keep subjects of study ready, he didn't saw reason to bother making the place inhabitable besides keeping very strict standards of order and cleaningness as befit any laboratory.

          Astoria changed all that. She and the kid that were now part of this little secret society that was their cabal needed a place to hang out, so Bardo, ever the gentleman, offered his. The three of them did a great job turning the place into what it was now. The Nest.

          Yes, Bardo liked it. It reminded him that he was not alone in this, that he was part of something bigger than himself. What's more, and this was something he had bittersweet feelings about, Phoenix, with all the brass and brabado and unlimited energy of youth had grown on him, like the son he was not sure he could ever have. Ah, how he hated when he used that epithet with him! Son. It was a guilt pleasure for Bardo to taunt the kid that way. Oh, the things we say in jest!

          He discarded those thoughts and focused back into the work he had ahead. He went to the fridge and picked some food, then turned on the little kitchen and started to make dinner. A delicious smell soon filled the place. Satisfied, he also prepared a good amount of coffee, something told him it was going to be a very, very long night.

          With the issue of the food and beberages solved he went back into the ritual room. He took a single chair and put it in the middle of the place. He sat down, relaxed, eyes closed. He chanted in high speech in the form of some breathing exercises and repeated mantras, focusing his will over his weak body. He felt the magic cursing through his veins and arteries, filling him with momentary warmth among a world cold and aseptic.

          He was getting up when he heard unmistakenable sound of the entrance door opening, his friends were home.
          Last edited by Thorbes; 02-06-2015, 08:12 PM.


          I'm So Meta Even This Acronym

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          • #6
            The door opened with a burst of wind and cold air, something Astoria tried to contain as best as possible. She had already been in the sanctum earlier in the day, as she often used the space for research of items that weren't considered so rare that they had to stay within Mysterium walls. The magic stones that leveled cities and scrolls that summoned Eldrich beasts were kept behind closed doors, but there was no need to keep a collar on magnetized arrowheads or buttons that made water taste like wine.

            "Hello, anyone in?" Despite the biting weather, she spoke with enough cheer to her voice to lighten the most somber of tones. Astoria was rarely in a bad mood despite the circumstances, and greeted everyone like a dog wagging its tail. She shoved the door closed behind her, taking a moment to stamp the snow off of her boots, kicking them against the doorframe a few times before shedding the coat.

            She scanned the Nest, seeing the full pot of coffee still on a warm burner. Alright, so the doc is in, at the very least. She didn't even bother with a moment of hesitation, taking a red mug from a cupboard and filling it dangerously close to the brim. Astoria leaned over the mug, letting the steam roll over her pink features, the color slowly returning to normal. After a moment, she took the drink up in both hands, fingers doing the same thing her nose was a moment ago. She hadn't always been a coffee drinker, a habit that Bardo had introduced her to and now she wasn't sure how she lived without. While she found the texture still a bit like chalk, there was an undeniable flavor that tea simply couldn't compete with.

            With the mug in hand, she returned to the couch and set her bag on the coffee table, pulling out a few items wrapped in cloth along with a notebook. Astoria produced her wand from the clasp inside of her arm, setting it on the table as she began to unwrap the small artifacts, most harmless and having pointless function tied to to them. It seemed harmless to get some work done until the doctor finished in back, or at least while waiting for Phoenix to show up.

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            • #7
              Get. A. Shovel. Those words kept repeating over and over in his head as he jogged through the snow. That, and some gloves would be nice as clumps of ice swung from his wrists. After what seemed like eons getting there, he finally arrived at the Nest. His skin felt like it cracked as he opened his hand to grab the door. He swung himself in and closed the door in a fluid motion. In place of wiping his boots, he just jogged on the mat, each step electrifying his feet.

              "Hey Astoria," a tiny face poking out from the enveloping hood greeted as he sat down. "Whatcha got there?" his curiosity chimed in to the little Artifacts on the table, opening his senses to their concepts to answer his inquiry.

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              • #8
                Bardo went into the living room to the sight of Phoenix entering. Poor kid didn't even wear gloves and he could see he hadn't eaten properly today.

                -Ah, Astoria, my dear, welcome, welcome! And you too, son-he greeted his cabal mates.-I hope you are hungry, I've made dinner. Nothing better in this awful weather than a good stew to feed our bodies and warmth our spirits!-he smiled, serving three dishes from the pot on the kitchen.

                He carefully prepared the table, napkins, cutlery and glasses.

                -May I suggest some red wine with it, dear?-he asked Astoria while uncorcking a bottle of ruby red spirit-Would you also want wine? No, you sure prefer a beer, right, son? I think there's a couple of bottles of Guiness still in the fridge, and a six-pack of that Budweisser stuff. Suit yourself.

                With that he took a broom and cleaned up the entrance of the snow both Astoria and Phoenix had left there.


                I'm So Meta Even This Acronym

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                • #9
                  "Phoenix, yes. These are...they’re nothing.” She pushed the items to the edge of the table with a hand as the other two came out, leaning back on the couch and taking the wire-framed glasses off of her face. “Work stuff.”

                  She smiled warmly at Bardo as he began busying himself in the room, finishing the coffee as it approached a more drinkable temperature. “I trust your research is going well. Weather like this was made for staying inside and getting things done.” While eating a meal was the furthest thing in her mind, there was no secret about the fact she was distracted. Instead of protesting, she got off the couch and sat at the table, accepting the wine.

                  "As good as a meal is, let's not eat too slow.I know the subway won't be obscured by the snow, but that means everyone is going to be taking it." She motioned for the other two to sit. "The last thing I intend is to be late tonight."

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                  • #10
                    "Ah," he replied flatly, seeing nothing special about the Artifacts on the table. He faded his greater senses and opened his mundane sight as he loosened away the hood.

                    "Oh, so that's where the smell came from," he discovered as Bardo brought in the bowls of stew, "Thank you very much, this is perfect." He pondered a bit over having beer or wine. Bardo was right in that he preferred beer, but..."Y'know what, pops? I think I just might want the wine instead, actually," he answered, wanting to try something new. He wasn't quite sure why Bardo kept calling him 'son', but he played along with an appropriate nickname for him.

                    That stew really was the perfect thing to have, he couldn't help but wolf it down and flush it with big gulps of wine. Releasing a sigh of satisfaction as further gratitude for the meal, he then reached into his pocket to pull out and unfold a piece of paper to place on the table.

                    "I keep seeing this Rune every night in my dreams, I was wondering if you guys would know anything about it," he asked as he swung the paper around with his finger to orientate it to their view.
                    Last edited by crapcarp; 02-09-2015, 04:00 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Bardo served a glass of wine to the young mage nodding aprovingly. He watched pleased as Phoenix took good care of his bowl, he needed the kid at its peak in case anything sinister were actually going on with that misterious meeting.

                      -My research is going slow but steady, thanks for asking, dear- He answered to Astoria's concern with a warm smile. -I think I may be moving on to the next step soon enough, wich will unfortunately require some research during work hours.

                      As they finished the dinner, he took a look at the picture of the rune. He hadn't seen anything like that before, wich was no surprise. Despite having a good twenty years more under his belt than any other meber of his cabal he was still the less experienced mage of the group, maybe the city.

                      -Couldn't tell, son- He apologised -I may ask around at the next assembly if you want, it may ring a bell to someone. You can also use our library, I doubt you may find something about it there but you never know.- He offered.

                      As they finished eating he started to take the bowls, cuttlery and glasses away, cleaning them and leaving them to dry.

                      He went into the laboratory once more to take his doctor's bag. He revised everything for the third and last time before leaving for the meeting: his first aid kit with extra bandages, hipodermic disposable needles and syringues, two bottles of distilled water, sewing needles and string, some small dosis of drugs (like morphine, adrenaline and other sedatives, coagulants, etc), some tubes for fluid samples, a set of scalpels and other tools for an improvised surgery, disposable gloves and disinfectant.

                      Satisfied he went back into the living room to retrieve his scarf, gloves, hat and coat, wich he wore in preparation for the outside cold over his thick three pieces suit. Taking a look at Phoenix he went to the closet where he always had some spare clothes (including a couple of additional lab coats just in case) and took another pair of gloves just like those he was wearing, leather with soft fur inside.

                      -Take these, son- He droped the gloves on the table in front of the young mage -We don't want your hands to freeze, right? How could you protect this old man and fine lady, then?- He winked.

                      Bardo took his bag and headed to the entrance.

                      -Ok, is everybody ready to go?- He asked, smiling by the door.
                      Last edited by Thorbes; 02-10-2015, 11:31 AM.


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                      • #12
                        "I agree, I haven't seen it either." Astoria spoke with her mouth full, raising a hand to cover it as she responded. "I can do some research on it at the Mysterium if you make me a copy of it. "

                        She took another spoonful, listening to Bardo continue talking as she finished the meal, giving her own thanks as he took the bowls. Astoria went back to her bag, rummaging through to make sure she had everything she needed. After putting the artifacts in a secret lining along the side, she proceeded to attach her silver wand to the leather harness that she wore in her forearm, pulling the long sleeve of the dress back down to keep it concealed. She didn't wear the firearm at her side like she normally would, as the point of meeting in public was to remain concealed; it had a snug place in the bag as well, stuck between two books with the safety on.

                        Astoria quickly put her winter clothing back on, taking a moment to pull the scarf up before leading the others back out to the street. She get her body instantly protest the biting cold that nearly pulled the breath from her lungs, but didn't complain, instead leading the others from their sanctum to the meeting.

                        The snow had stopped most travel across town, but there were enough outlets open to make progress; the Nest wasn't far from a subway stairwell, and despite the snow, they were still running the underground lines. When those were no longer an option, they switched to the last open bus line, luck providing just enough seats (as no one really wanted to be out in this weather if they could help it). She kept her bag close to her side, finger touching where she kept the letter from Meristoktrix. They weren't far, but the lines were running slow, and they would still be lucky to arrive at their destination in time...

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                        • #13
                          "Ah. Well, thanks anyways guys, and thanks for the offer Astoria," Phoenix said with a tinge of disappointment laced in his voice. With dinner finished, it was time to go back in the giant freezer again. He retreated his head back into the hood almost reluctantly as he stood up. At least they're taking the subway instead of jogging out in the open.

                          He chuckled at Bardo's remark as the gloves plopped on the table. "Right, pops. Can't do much with blocks of ice for hands," he replied as he put the gloves on, "Speaking of gloves, that reminds me..." He went to go grab his magnetic gloves on one of the shelves. "My Forces tool, I dedicated them the other day. They're not very warm, but they'll be a mighty help in a scrap," he explained when the others looked at him curiously.

                          He braced himself for the stinging cold as the cabal departed for The Lower Depths Tap Room.

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                          • #14
                            The Lower Depths Tap Room - 476 Commonwealth Ave. 11:57p.m.

                            Andrei Luka was a real stubborn bastard. Despite being in his mid sixties, he was a large muscular man with short, white-grey hair and a thin layer of beard. Twenty four inches of snow wasn't enough for this man to shut down his bar. This was particularly impressive, considering he had to personally shovel out the snow that had collected at the entrance below ground level. A generous amount of salt had been poured on the steps leading down to the doorway. Like most commercial areas of Boston, Commonwealth Avenue was normally overflowing with traffic twenty four hours a day. The blizzard had changed all that. Cars sat motionless against the sidewalk, covered in white. You could feel the crunch of snow beneath your feet with each step as you approached the bar.

                            Inside, things were equally quiet. It didn't really matter to Andrei that he was literally loosing money by staying open. For him, it was the principal of the thing. The red head behind the bar was Hannah Carlyle, Andrei's adopted daughter and the Tap Room's assistant manager and hostess. She pretty much filled every role as needed, transitioning smoothly between manager, bartender, and waitress without missing a beat. The first feature that catches the eye after walking through the door is the enormous painting across from the main bar. It depicted a colorful variety of patrons, most happily drinking or otherwise enjoying themselves. There were a few figures with gruff expressions as well. A series of African style masks decorated the walls, and the bar itself had the customary shelf displaying the various brands of beverage they served.

                            There were only a few people in the establishment tonight, two of which seemed to be a young couple at the bar. One, a dark skinned man in a green sweater and jeans, the other a pale brunette still bundled in her winter clothes. Sitting at one of the black tables against the far wall was an older gentlemen in a dated brown suit, with long white hair and glasses. On the table in front of him was a brown leather briefcase. His attention darted nervously around, but mostly concentrated on the entrance, where his eyes would meet anyone entering. So when Astoria came in out of the cold, he caught sight of her immediately, and waved her over to the table, standing chivalrously until she took her seat.

                            "It's wonderful to see you my dear. I'm grateful that you came out in this awful mess to meet with me, and at such a late hour to boot. I find I have difficulty sleeping these days." Even as he spoke, his attention was constantly moving around, and he continued to watch the doorway. He gave Bardo and Phoneix an intense stare, his nervous expression temporarily replaced by a deep, calculating look. "I see you've brought some companions my dear. I do hope you trust them. You can never be too careful you know." The glare passed, and his expression returned to one of paranoid concern. "Well, given the hour, I think it best we get right into it don't you? Every moment we waste is a risk with these Sleepers after the scroll." He released the locks on his briefcase, and turned perpendicular to the table, so that when he opened it, half of the case was blocking the view for anyone not sitting at the table. Meristoktrix eyed the couple at the bar, who seemed to be chatting happily with Hannah. From within the case, he drew out the scroll, and unraveled it from its wooden rollers. It was somewhat worn, but it certainly didn't appear ancient. As he had mentioned in his letter, the markings appeared unintelligible.

                            "I hope, my dear, that you'll be able to make more out of this than I have."

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                            • #15
                              Bardo was glad to finally get to the meeting place, even with his layers of warm clothes the cold was getting unbearable and he was afraid he might get ill.

                              The bar was far from his usual drinking place, something in him felt attracted to old irish pubs, but as the spot for an unobstrusive meeting... well you could do much worse. There were very few people and they mostly minded their own businesses, but the man couldn't shake the feeling of the place being a trap with its below street level entrance in the middle of a heavy snowstorm.

                              They entered and were greeted (well, Astoria was) by the misterious Merisktokrix after a rigorous and paranoid scrutiny. The poor sod seemed to be fraying at the seams.

                              -If I may ask you a question, good sir, why would Sleepers be interested in that scroll?- Bardo wouldn't ever get accustomed to that way of refering to people, one of many reasons he ended up in the Council rather than the Mysterium.


                              I'm So Meta Even This Acronym

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