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Scion: Bohemian Front (Actual Play)

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  • #16
    Back to our Scion group, this session is something of a dungeon crawl, as the group spends as much time on traps and sticky situations as they do fighting. It was fun to see them reach for their thinking caps. Note Phaedra’s player had to miss due to illness, but otherwise had full group.

    Session VII

    We Only Come Out at Night Part IV

    Ji-Woo’s visions

    Berlin

    It seemed like we spent an eternity in the sewers. I felt the narrow walls pressing in on me, and the tunnels we traversed became smaller and narrower the further we went. I feared that we would eventually be crawling through little more than crawlspaces, and I knew that if it came to that, I was doomed. Rajani seemed to know the way, which was good because I was disoriented and scared. And then I couldn’t breathe anymore. The filters on my gas mask were clogged and an awful, suffocating smell crept in. I panicked and was about to tear my gas mask off when Andy flew up beside me and firmly took my arms. He asked me to sing one of my favorite songs with him. I could hardly breathe, much less sing, but I knew he was trying to calm me down, so I did my best. I’ve been listening to a lot of Cibo Matto lately, so we sang “Sci-Fi Wasabi.” It helped. I was able to calm down a little, but I was crying which was awful because I couldn’t wipe my eyes through the lenses of the gas mask, and all I wanted to do was get out of those tunnels.

    Rajani was worried about me. She seemed to understand how horrible claustrophobia can be. And when we found the broken pipes that were releasing the noxious gas, Magnus sealed them with ice using Zane’s flask of water. As the gas dissipated, I was able to breathe a little better.

    But then I noticed that we were lost. We kept going around in circles. I started to panic again, thinking that we would never find our way out of those awful tunnels. But Andy was able to find the way out using some sort of magic, so I didn’t actually freak out.

    And then there was a room criss-crossed with a web of heavy electrical wires, sparking and dangling lightning into the flooded floor of the chamber. Nemi looked around for a way to short out the wires and shut the whole thing down, but couldn’t see any way to do it, so I had to fly everyone through one at a time, all except for Andy, who flew himself, and Zane, who scurried across the walls and ceiling like a gecko. Zane reminds me a little more of a rat, but a cute one. But rats don’t really cling to walls like spiders, and spiders are too creepy to compare to Zane. Geckos are kinda cute, though. Except for the one in those insurance commercials. He creeps me out.

    Rajani admired my wing tattoos as I carried her across. Well, she admired my wings, anyway. They don’t actually look exactly like my tattoos; they are composed of the graceful and slightly abstract brush strokes of an ink painting instead of the precise and detailed work on my tattoos, but I think both are equally beautiful, and so did Rajani. I’d like her to do my next tattoo, when I decide what I want.

    Magnus is so heavy. I thought I would die carrying him across.

    It wasn’t long after that when I heard another party of zombies up ahead in another spacious chamber. I was feeling a bit better, and Andy helped by dip-kissing me (well, knocking the filters of our gas masks together, really) in order to provide me with a bit of a blessing. And then I got a hug from Zane as she bolstered me. The hug helped me feel better. If things go badly with Iris and I decide to leave Berlin, I wonder if Zane will go to Copenhagen or Amsterdam with me?

    During the fight, Nemi took out a zombie with his poisoned spike! And Magnus paid me a big compliment. He was fighting a big bad aptrgangr, but after I took out a zombie, I spiraled through the air behind the creature and shot it dead. When Magnus saw me coming, he just turned away from the aptrgangr, dismissing it be cause he knows how lethal I can be.

    Wow. I never thought of myself as lethal before, but I guess that’s what’s happened. Is this the fate my brother was destined to receive if I hadn’t stolen it from him? Was he supposed to become a stone-cold killer? An two-gun assassin? Poor Yoon-Su! I’ll be sure to use your powers for good, brother.

    I wonder how Yoon-Su is doing. I should consult the fates to see what he’s up to now. I miss him and my father sometimes. Father always loved me, and it was selfish of me to run away without a word of goodbye. Maybe he gets along better with that bitch who calls herself my mother now that I’m gone. My REAL mother is much cooler.

    Speaking of cooler, the next obstacle we ran into was a long series of glacially cold hallways. The walls and floor were slick with ice, and just approaching the place threatened to give me frostbite. The only thing to do was to hurry through. Fortunately, I was still insulated against harm by Zane’s magic. It was a good thing too. If it hadn’t been for that, I probably would have frozen to death before I could fly all the way through. My wings grew brittle as the ink began to freeze and then break, but I managed to make it. The others eventually caught up, only to see me huddling, shivering and miserable on a dry part of the floor.

    Fortunately, we found the exit just beyond the freezing tunnels. There was a big steel door that said “No Entrance” in German and Russian. It was obviously an exit from the sewers into some building beyond. I could barely wait while Zane cleverly picked the lock and Magnus shoved open the door. Beyond was a spacious, open basement filled with machinery. It was still underground, but there was room to breathe! And just the knowledge that the sky awaited me only a few short meters overhead was enough to flood me with relief. I tore off my gas mask and ran into the basement and right into a zombie.

    But there were only two of them, and they were as surprised to see use as we were to see them, so they died very quickly. Andy killed one, so maybe he’s becoming lethal too.

    The noise of all the machinery drowned out the sounds of the fight, so Zane crept upstairs to see what lay above us. There was a factory overhead. Zane couldn’t tell what it was making, but it was full of zombies and aptrgangr. An office overlooked the factory floor, and within it were a few zombies, a couple of aptrgangr, and a terrifying creature that looked like a skeletal corpse with its withered skin frozen blue and wrapped tight around its bones. It had long, pale blonde hair, and seemed quite powerful. I thought it might be a lich. It loomed over a map, upon which were marked the places we had fought against its servants, so Zane, being a mischievous little imp, marked the factory as well since we were about to cause quite a disturbance there.

    None of us wanted to fight a whole factory full of undead, but the cacophony of the industrial symphony that filled the factory would mask the sounds of a fight, even my gun shots, so we agreed to sneak up to the office and defeat the lich and his guards. Perhaps Magnus will send his shrikes to clean out the rest of the factory. Before going, I looked around and asked who was going to dip kiss or hug me this time, since that seems to be the preferred method for blessing me before a fight. Magnus immediately grabbed me and dip-kissed me. That was fun. He’s a great kisser. I’ve kissed all of the guys in the group now, and they are all good kissers, certainly better than most of the lousy boyfriends I’ve had over the past few years. Now I just have to see how the ladies in the group rate. I bet Phaedra is a terrible kisser; she’s too uptight.

    So we sneaked into the office and attacked. Magnus faced the lich alone while the rest of us fought his minions. The lich wielded the powers of winter and the cold that kills, but Magnus is made of frost, so the lich’s magic had little effect on him. Nemi disabled the office speaker system so that no one could broadcast a warning to the rest of the factory. I focused on the aptrgangr, which probably wasn’t the wisest choice for me, since they were able to infect me with crippling illness. I spent much of the fight struggling to stay on my feet due to the feverish chills that wracked my body, but Zane was there for me, and her healing touch kept me from the brink of collapse. I was still able to be lethal, though. I took out both the aptrgangrs and shot the lich in the head after it started wrestling with Magnus. But it didn’t die when it was supposed to. Nemi and I realized that we would have to immolate it.

    Nemi didn’t know that Zane’s pouch of food is not magical, so he was surprised when he asked for an orange and Zane gave him only a look of confusion and a pack of orange jelly. I explained that oranges are the same color as fire, which Zane understood. I tugged a bottle of whiskey from Magnus’ pack, tossed it above the lich’s head and shot it, showering both Magnus and the lich with alcohol. An instant later, Zane lit her half-smoked cigarette and then tossed it onto the lich, who erupted in flames. Magnus sort of ignored the fire and dropped the lich’s burning body. The lich’s frosty blue skull rolled to my feet, barely touched by the flames. I decided to keep it so that I can learn the secrets of the winter’s cold. It is a bit creepy, but it will help if I trim down and braid the singed hair into a pair of pig tails.

    I wish I had my absinthe. I could really use a drink now while we investigate the office to find out what these guys are up to. Just the soothing ritual of preparing a glass would help me shake off the last of my claustrophobic tension.


    Rajani’s Journal

    I really don’t like sewers.

    It’s not because of the cramped spaces, though I think that is Ji-Woo’s main objection (claustrophobia is not funny). It’s more for the fact that it smells and evil undead creatures seem to live in them.

    After taking out the zombie pen, we headed on and found that we were walking in circles. It seemed that whoever or whatever is leading this zombie invasion had a few traps set up so we couldn’t find their lair. Too bad for them that we have people who are way smarter than that.

    After the strange circles, there were some gas mains that were broken and leaking. Ji-Woo was freaking out. I feel really sorry for her. I wish there was something I could do to help. Andy helped, though, by helping her through. I was able to hold my breath most of the way, but Magnus had offered me his whisky soaked rag and that got me all the way through. Magnus then took Zane’s flask of water and sealed the leaks with ice. Rather ingenious that was. I was impressed.

    The next trap was a bunch of live electrical wires in a room with standing water. Ji-Woo flew me over. I took great interest in her wings and how they worked. The tattoos are really well done. I actually wonder if she would let me tattoo her. Her skin is perfect for that. Zane walked across the ceiling to get past. Andy flew and Ji-Woo carried Nemi and Magnus. She seemed a bit tired after getting Magnus over, but he is rather, um, large.

    One more trap, a room full of ice. Andy slid across on his stomach like a penguin. He is absolutely insane sometimes, but I do appreciate his company. To Magnus, this was nothing. But that is the way of the Aesir. Ji-Woo’s wings grew brittle as she flew across. I was worried about her and checked to make sure there were no issues with the tattoos.

    We finally came to a door, a large, steel door. It was locked and I was just going to pull it off, but Zane got in there and unlocked it before I could let anyone know that was my intention. We realized this was quite obviously the end of the line. Ji-Woo looked rather relieved, understandably.

    Zane scouted out the area and found a way to where the mastermind was holed up where we only had to sneak past a few zombies. Amusingly, it had a huge map with pins on it pointing out places they had seen us. There were a couple of aptegangers, some regular zombies and some toughened zombies. Then there was this big, frosty thing.

    We headed out and snuck up to the room. Busting through the door, we attacked as one. Magnus worked on the big guy since his cold wouldn’t affect him. I concentrated on all the zombies first. With combined attacks from all of us, we were able to finally get them all taken down, including the litch. That’s what the big guy was. Never knew those actually existed until now. And it had to be burned in order for it to die. Well, we’re going to take a break, get our acts together and get the hell out of here.


    Zane’s Letters

    (continued)
    Got myself another few ticks to write down what’s been going on. We put right to Mr. Dickhead the Litch. He was the boss of the zombie gang. He’d gone and put a whole bunch of traps in the sewers, to bugger us up. It was specially wrong that he made it all cold in some places. Sewers are supposed to be warm, that’s what makes them nice and all. Well, that and the nice shit that gets tossed down them sometimes. I hope no toshers got caught in anything, though I guess if they were down there, they probably got et by a zombie any road.

    Any road, after we blowed up all the zombies in the big room, Rajani managed to figure out what of the tunnels was most used, seeing as we thought that would take us to the big blokes. It got so the tunnels were smelling bloody weird, and not just like shit and stuff. It was the kinda smell that said something was sick-making, and Ji-Woo said she heard a hissing sound. Turns out the litch had broken some of the gas pipes. Mags grabbed my canteen and froze some water on the pipes to get them to stop spewing bad stuff all over, but there was still plenty hanging about. Me and Mags and Nemi could all hold our breathes for long enough, and Rajani almost could - Mags gave her his whisky mask so’s she could breathe that instead of the bad stuff and so she got through alright. Ji-Woo got hit bad. She wasn’t very hurt, but the not being able to breathe proper thing made the claustrophobia thing get well rough. Andy helped her out though, getting her to sing a bit, one of her happy bouncy songs that she hums sometimes. It’s a really weird song, but it helped her get all calmed down.

    After that it didn’t seem so bad, but we figured out after a bit that we were just going about it circles. Once we’d noticed though, it was no problem. Andy’s got magic that means he can’t get lost if he’s trying not to, so we got through the circle-y stuff. Then we found a bit of tunnel where the litch’d torn up all the wires, and stuck them in the water so it was all electrified and ouchy. Andy could fly, and Ji-Woo flew the rest over, not touching the water. I can walk on ceilings now, so I used Mags’ back to jump up there without touching the electrified part. He was kinda angry with me for that, on account of me walking in the muck and having shit all over my shoes. I didn’t mean to get him dirty or nothing, I just didn’t think about it. So I brushed it off, and washed a bit with my canteen. I don’t think he’s still mad at me, maybe.

    Then we found some actual guards, instead of another nesh trap. There was one of the big blokes, and 4 zombie types. Ji-Woo had been calling her flying folks about ‘hugs’ and since I didn’t get to fly with her, I gave her a hug to boost up her health a bit. I got Nemi and Mags too, and Nemi got the rest of everybody. We finished our usual bits of powering up, and charged the buggers.

    I bounced about like usual, knocking the sad bastards off balance. I actually got in a decent hit on the big guy, for once. Ji-Woo made me a bit dizzy myself, not like that or nothing, but she was spiralling all over the place, since we was in a nice big room to fight them. She actually finished off the big bloke, so Mags came on over and helped finish off the zombie I was working on once I’d knocked the others all skewed. He hit them the same time I did, so it looked a bit like I punched the bugger’s head straight off! Really, it was Mags’ axe though. Rajani dealt with most of the zombies, whirlwinding around with her ace tattoo sword, and Nemi got one too, with his fist spike thing.


    There was one more of the litch’s bloody traps. This next one made the whole tunnel right cold. It’s just wrong, like I said before. Rajani and me ran right through it and we was able to keep balanced and all. Andy didn’t think he could keep his balance so good, so he just slid down on his belly! It looked fun. Nemi thought the same, but he decided to let his boots freeze a bit to the ground and got icy spike things on his boots, what let him walk safe. Mags just didn’t care, on account of him being that badass. Ji-Woo flew across, so didn’t have to worry about balance at all. Her wings did get a little broken though, cause they froze up and got all crackly. They were ok when they thawed out though, and her cold ouchies just hurt her boosted health, so they faded away.

    Then we finally got to the end of things, with a giant metal door, that said “No Entrance” in German and something in funny letters. Mags and Nemi were giving inspirational-type speeches, then I jimmied the lock. I oughta let Mags and Rajani break it down next time. They always seem so sad when I open it all quiet-like. Past the door it was a building, not sewers anymore, so Ji-Woo got all excited and tore off her mask. Before we could do owt else though, a couple of zombies charged at us. We’d kinda surprised them when we opened the door, so they weren’t properly ready or nothing, so we took down one of them almost right away, with Mags tossing his axe at him, and Ji-Woo splitting a bullet past the axe head, and then I slammed a fist into his face. The others went after the second. Rajani got a good hit in, but Andy missed with his gun, and Nemi just kinda flailed around looking daft. It made sense next though, cause he’d turned on his moon power, and so when Andy got another shot, it was a really good one, and the zombie fell down.

    There was nobody else around nearby, and it was kinda noisy, so nobody heard all the guns and things, so we decided to get all boosted up. Ji-Woo had gotten used to how we’d been boosting up for a bit, so asked who was gonna dip-kiss or hug her this time, so Mags did. Dip-kissed her, that is. They’re right silly, they are. So I splashed them with water for their boost, got Nemi and disappeared to go check out the place.

    There was one big room with lots and lots of zombies. Not as many as before, with the grenades, but maybe 30. They were all downstairs though, and there was upstairs, so even Andy and Mags were able to sneak past them. The machines in the place seemed fancy, maybe even kinda like dwarf things, or magic-y type machines. Maybe that’s why they needed the dwarfs and all. I got no idea what they do, and we haven’t had time to have a proper butcher’s at them yet. Also, guarding the door to the outside was 2 aptergangers and 5 zombies.

    Then I found the litch. He was a big, fuck-off skeleton, who was all done up in blue. I didn’t know bones turned blue when they got cold like skin and things do, but it was kinda like that sort of blue. He also had right long hair, all the way down to his knee. He wasn’t happy either. He had a city map on the wall, with pins pushed in where we’d been fighting his zombies. He even had the big room with the grenades on there. He didn’t have his traps, or guards marked though, so I marked them for him. I also put a pin where the office was, and on the guards in the hallway outside, cause I could totally see the future. Ji-Woo said so. With him in the room was 2 more aptergangers, 5 zombies like we been fighting, and 2 different, slow-type zombies.

    We got the two hall guards even quicker than last time. I didn’t even have to hit them, which was good on account of it meant I could stay all invisible. Nemi and Ji-Woo snuck up to peek in at the office before we hit it, which was good on account of they noticed he had some kinda radio thing that might could call up the zombies from the big room, which would be bad. So Nemi’s job was to make it so he couldn’t do that.

    Mr. Litch started up the fight by throwing some kinda frost magic at Mags which was just silly. Mags told him how to properly hurt somebody with frost by slamming him with his axe. Andy copied what it looked like the litch had done to curse him back. And then, Nemi tumbled over a chair and threw it at him. I figured he’d gotten teased enough, so I bounced the two aptergangers heads off each other. Rajani was a blinding boss, taking care of almost all the regular zombies right off. Nemi took care of the last one after the radio, while Ji-Woo did for one of the big blokes, but not before it hit her with the flurgy. She got for-true hurt then, so I ducked over and cooled down her fever with my canteen and healed her all up. One of the slow zombies tried to grab at me while I did, but it wound up on the floor tangled up in the map without me even doing anything, cause I’m too brill for that nonsense.


    After a bit, the litch figured out it couldn’t hurt Mags, so he tried to hold Mags still and called for his blokes to get the Giant Kin, which I figured out meant Mags when they all started hitting him. I guess it makes sense, he is a stonking big bloke, and I’m not just saying it cause I’m a bit on the short side. Mags just grabbed him back though. Ji-Woo got in a good hit now that he weren’t dodging or nothing, and then Nemi, Ji-Woo and me noticed that he was actually dead, proper dead again, or was supposed to be. Nemi and Ji-Woo figured that he had to be burned to really die, so Nemi asked me for an orange from my pouch, on account of it being the same color as fire. That didn’t really make sense at all, and I didn’t have nothing but orange jelly, so Ji-Woo grabbed up one of Mags’s whisky bottles and tossed it up in the air, and shot it up when it was right above the litch’s head. I saw what she was doing so I lit myself a ciggie, took a drag and tossed it at the doused litch. It lit right up, but took a few second to get him proper. Nemi used up the broken glass too, grabbing a piece in between his fingers so’s it was like having two spikes and finishing up a slow zombie that way. Mags finished off the last apterganger almost without thinking, once the litch bloke was dead.

    Mags got hurt a bit, but mostly his boosted stuff, so he’s alright. Ji-Woo was fine once I’d gotten rid of the flurgy from the apterganger, so we’re all doing good. Turns out the litch’s head can work for frost magic type things. I think Ji-Woo’s gonna keep hold of it for now, with its long hair and everything. I’ll finish up later, when we get out of the zombie building.

    End Session VII

    The traps were places where I planned several ways around them, and decided to keep an open mind for ways for the players to figure out how to deal with them as well.

    First trap was poison gas. The requirements were being able to hold one’s breath for 15 min, or make Stamina + Fortitude roll to resist the gas, with one roll per 5 minutes they missed the breath holding mark by. The gas mask had a very large bonus, Magnus’s whisky soaked cloth a very small one. It was mainly an issue for Ji-Woo, who would have automatically passed her roll given the gas mask but had no Fortitude Skill at all so could not apply her Epic success and the penalty for no Skill was crippling for her. Magnus managed to reduce the breath holding time by going in and freezing water over the pipes releasing the gas.

    The second test simply required someone to have Unerring Orientation or Cynosure. Ji-Woo had Stars 1 but had Perfect Timing. Fortunately Andy had Unerring Orientation.

    The third test was electricity. The water did a lot of damage, requiring flight to get over or climbing knacks. The difficulty to fly was low for oneself or high-ish for someone being carried, with Zane being easier and Magnus being harder. Andy was able to fly himself but had no real chance of carrying someone, lacking Epic Dex himself. Zane used her knacks to climb, Ji-Woo made the rolls to carry each person across. Her Dexterity+ Athletics, especially with her Epic Dexterity, made the rolls not bad. It was not impossible to cross the water but difficult without very high Stamina, Epic Stamina and Fortitude, and they elected not to chance it given Ji-Woo was a skilled flyer.

    The forth was a standard “Aptrganger and some buffed Draugr” fight. Nothing they had not dealt with.

    Fifth was the cold hall. They had a few options here. Frost Immunity made it moot, while given it was a straightway unlike the gas high movement speed (via Epic Dexterity, Lighting Sprinter, or Uller’s Stride) could reduce the number of times one took damage. Dressing warmly would also have helped, and 5 uses of Unbarred Entry would allow one to essentially skip the area going through walled areas. Also, setting oneself on fire would remove the damage is fully immolated and give people moving at the same pace a bonus. Magnus had Frost Immunity, and no one had Unbarred Entry. No one was dressed warmly. For the most part though the large number of dexterity oriented people meant they mostly got through OK, though Andy had a really rough time with it. No one had Fire Immunity, so no walking bonfires.

    Between Nemi and Zane everyone was Bolstered, that helped especially with the frost area.

    The last “test” was just the metal door, which could be torn through by high damage people or lockpicked with good Larceny. Tearing through meant immediate normal combat, Larceny meant getting a free round of attacks on the Draugr on the other side by ranged people or meleeists good at sneaking. Zane picked the door, and they got the free round of attacks. The Draugr did not die out of hand, but died in combat rounds before getting an action.

    The Lich was devastating to anyone without Frost. He had a frost aura damaging anyone without Frost in melee (except Undead) and fired high power frost bolts which could freeze one in place, and added frost damage to attacks. He was kept in check as Magnus tanked him. The two “slow type” zombies were standard made-with-death purview zombies, as opposed to the hungry dead as Draugr zombies they had been fighting (through there were five of them too)

    You may notice a lot of rough stuff (frost aura, needing stealth for surprise) for Meleeists this time. It balanced the fact that in the club there was dark penalties for ranged without the right boons, and the chance there and first train fight of hitting innocents if a ranged attack missed.

    That should cover everything, but if you have comments or questions they are welcome.


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    [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]

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    • #17
      Time for Scion journals: The Lich dealt with, our heroes could look for the other puppetmaster, a Troll-Wife. Let’s see how that goes. No Rajani or Nemi journal this time, But Ji-Woo and Zane as per.

      Session VIII

      We Only Come Out at Night Part V

      Ji-Woo’s Visions

      Berlin

      I am apparently a bitch. Ia didn’t mean to be, but in retrospect I agree with everyone else. I was a total bitch to Iris. It was naive of me to think I could break up with her pleasantly. I don’t actually have any real experience with break ups. I’ve never been dumped, and whenever I feel trapped by a relationship, I simply leave and avoid the whole messy business.

      I explained that I thought we were just friends with benefits until I realized she was infatuated with me, and then I started to feel trapped because she became really clingy. She shouted that she wasn’t clingy, and I don’t like it when people shout at me, so I said, “Fine, you aren’t clingy. But you are really jealous.” And she pointed out that she had a right to be since I keep making eyes at Hermione and Aoide, “in that way.”
      It was definitely a mistake for me to tell her that I made eyes like that because I was attracted to her sisters “in that way.”

      And then I got distracted because Iris’ rainbow hair was changing into very fiery colors. I couldn’t help commenting on how amazing it looked, which didn’t help anything at all. In the end, Iris stormed off after I suggested that now that we understood each other, it was all good and we could still be friends. Which was probably the bitchiest part.

      I kind of wish I had avoided the whole encounter. Iris was ignoring me whan we returned to the cave. I thought maybe I should ignore her too, and avoid all the unpleasantness of breaking up with her. I suppose she would have gotten the point. But I tried to do the right thing by being completely honest with her. My heart was in the right place, at least. Not that it mattered. I’m supposed to be maintaining and nurturing my relationships with the sisters now, but I think I’ve fucked that up.
      I also learned that I am almost completely guileless.

      That’s why I’m at Weekend now, chilling out in the open-air rooftop lounge. I love this place: the night sky, the tranced out music, the gentle breeze, the enchanting lights of the club echoing the ocean of Berlin’s city lights. I’m trying to forget how awful I was because I’m really upset about it. I think I’ve learned from the experience, so now I just want to put it behind me. I’m on my third glass of absinthe and I’m really starting to feel the buzz getting the best of me.

      Zane’s here to keep me company though. She wouldn’t let me come alone, which is probably for the best. I’m glad the absinthe gives me the focus I need to write. I should do some I Ching readings. The pale blue light glowing from the small table in front of me will silhouette the coins beautifully, and more than anything I want to get lost in that contrast between light and dark.

      On the situation with Iris - Li (Radiance) transforming into Ding (The Vessel)

      I have no idea how to respond to this. The situation is defined by expanding light and awareness, which probably means I’m supposed to learn and grow from this experience. Also, the imaginative, creative capacity of the vessel must be secured and transformed. That must refer to Iris, because yellow is the color associated with radiance, and yellow was the dominant color of her hair when she fled to her room. Or not? Now that I think about it, if she represents the vessel (or the other way around), then the radiance must refer to me. Either way, that’s where this is going. I need to put aside the imperfection of this event and polish away my faults. That’s the only way I will acquire what I desire. Whatever that is.

      * * * * *

      I’ve been glaring with severe disappointment at the coins for the past few trance tracks while finishing a fourth glass of absinthe. I asked Zane if I really was as much of a bitch as Phaedra said I was. Zane nodded. So I told her that I used to be a colossal bitch when I was a teenager. Korean girls can be so nice, but they can also be the worst bitches. And Korean lends itself really well to being bitchy. I demonstrated for Zane. She seemed impressed.

      On pursuing Aoide - Da You (Great Possessing) transforming into Tai (Peace)

      The I Ching is as clear about Aoide as it is confusing about Iris. If I wish to pursue Aoide, then I should organize all my efforts around doing so. I don’t think I should come on too strong, but I should stop worrying about Hermione and whatever else and just focus my attention on Aoide. She’s so frail and beautiful...

      The transforming lines suggest that a relationship with Aoide might be filled with opposition, but that it is ultimately without fault. Aoide and I are so similar...like a fresh beginning that leads to the expression of new meaning. It will lead to the spread of peace and I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. Neither does Zane. She just nods whenever I say something like she has no clue what I’m talking about.

      * * * * *

      Zane’s eyes are fixed on the moon. She must be lost in a trance of absinthe and sound like I am. Oh, and she’s watching the moon for the swamp creatures. She says they are lavender toads with fur-soaked wings that smell of old soot. Zane must have keen eyes indeed to see their scent or to make out their eyes that blaze like bonfires on the surface of the moon.

      On pursuing Hermione - Ge (Revolution) maintaining

      Sometimes the I Ching is a bitch too. Sometimes it tells you what you already know. Sometimes it tells you that if you want Hermione, you have to radically change the way you present yourself and approach her. But you also have to be sincere. That’s important. I don’t want to be different. I want to be the same. But not the same as Hermione. I know she likes how weird I am. I don’t think she will like me if I conform. But I want to learn from my mistakes. I’m suppose to be a mystic. I know things. I know that the man-crone will come on chicken’s wings, and that the player will beckon us to Bangkok. But that doesn’t help deal with matters of a heart that has been warmed by someone with a marble soul.

      * * * * *

      Hangovers are awful. I hate them.

      I don’t remember everything that happened last night, though I think I might have been talking in Korean all night, which is why Zane seemed to lose her ability to understand English. She got me home well before dawn, and I slept off the rest of the absinthe in the cave. I vaguely remember telling her that she isn’t clingy, which seemed important at the time.

      Now we are getting ready to go back to the swamp. We've acquired SCUBA gear for me and Andy, in case we have to go underwater. Nemi and Phaedra are making sure that we are all up, and Andy hasn’t appeared with his bull horn to make me miserable this morning. Rajani is talking with Hermione and Magnus is still asleep in the van. Nemi has gone to wake him.

      Yesterday, before I became a well-intentioned bitch, I read through the lich’s journal at the factory. His notes were in old Norse, so when I found them I shared with Magnus. They were very informative. He needed the dwarves to help build a device that would start a a new ice age, killing life on earth so that he and his undead minions could reign over everthing like a villain. He made a deal with Ulfa, the troll-wife, to find out where Sari and Bori were, but eventually he started to suspect that Ulfa was working against him and even using him to flush out the dwarves for her own ends. She must want them to help build something too.

      Since we killed the lich, he won’t be starting a new ice age. But Ulfa may still be a problem for Sari and Bori, so we are going back to the swamp to find her.

      * * * * *

      The swamp is quiet until swamp monsters attack. They appear from the mud and brush without warning and are formed from the earth and plants around us. They are not at all like the lavender toads that Zane described last night, but I think I imagined that anyway. Ulfa’s magic creates them as needed, and they have slowed our progress even though we have not had much trouble destroying them when they emerge. Magnus, Phaedra and Rajani are especially brilliant at killing them, but Nemi really has their number — he can just disintegrate them with a hard glare. I’m no good against them, though; my bullets just go right through them.

      I didn’t want to wander endlessly through the swamp, fighting a tireless horde of swamp monsters, so I paused our march and took my time preparing a glass of absinthe. Sipping it down helped my hangover, and I began to receive insights. The omens around me came into focus. A startled white egret took off from some nearby brush and flew north, so I knew that Ulfa’s lair lay to the west, for white is the color associated with the west.

      I flew from tree to tree over the swamp, pausing occasionally to look for more omens. They were sparse and difficult to follow, and even my initial insight was clouded, as though Ulfa were doing something to cloak herself from me. At the same time, she was spying on us. Zane was the first to realize it, and Phaedra kept us moving so that Ulfa could not surround us with swamp things.

      The others were confused by my directions, but I did the best I could to keep us on course. Finally, I saw a tremendous log floating in the waist-deep water and I knew it was supposed to point the way right to Ulfa’s lair, but something wasn’t right. Then I realized that it was pointed the wrong way. Also, it was a humongous Nemean crocodile, not a log. Crocodiles aren’t even remotely native to Germany, but neither are Korean girls, so I suppose I can’t throw stones.

      Andy blessed my aim this time, and I followed two of Phaedra’s shots with a pair of my own as Zane used her mighty strength to heft the crocodile out of the water. Magnus and Rajani finished it off easily, and once its corpse settled into the water again, it was finally pointing the right way, so I led the others in that direction, knowing that Ulfa’s lair was close.


      Zane’s Letters


      (continued)
      Once we’d done for the litch bloke, we poked around his office for a bit. Ji Woo is really good at finding things, and she found some notes right away. She was saying she was wanting to find notes, seeing as they were like a diary, but growed up blokes don’t have diaries. Seems like growed up litchs do though, or maybe he wasn’t growed up and was actually a girl, cause his notes were a bit like a diary, talking all about his plans and his friends and the like. Maybe it was just the way Ji Woo read them out loud. She and Mags were the only ones that could, cause they were in old Viking language or summat.

      See, the litch was trying to take over the world, with some magic-y machine or something like that. Only, he wasn’t able to make the machine work, on account of him not being a dwarf. So he went to visit his friend the trollwife named Ulfa who told him that there was some dwarfs in the city and where they were. He started complaining after a bit, cause he figured out that maybe Ulfa wasn’t really his friend, and just wanted to get the dwarfs for herself, specially since her swamp monsters started attacking him and his zombies. He did figure that it was fair and all, since his magic machine was going ta make it all cold everywhere and so she would die too. I’m glad we killed him, I don’t much like the idea of cold and zombies everywhere.

      He did talk a bit about the trollwife’s underwater hidey-hole, so we started planning on finding it next, to stop the trolls from chasing after our dwarf friends. He didn’t say much about where it was, just the underwater bit, and that there was lots of swamp monster things around. Andy started talking about having to go have sex in the swamp, so’s that the monsters’d come find us, cause that’s how it goes in the movie. Ji Woo did a prophecy thing about it though, and said it was a bad plan. I was glad, cause I didn’t wanna watch nobody having a hump right out in the swamp. Blech.

      I tried to keep an eye on the zombies down below, make sure they weren’t wandering off none. Nemi caught me looking and warned me not to throw anything down at them. I hadn’t even been thinking it! It did sound like fun after he said it though. I coulda thrown something and then ducked down real quick, they wouldn’t even know where it was coming from. But I didn’t, cause we wanted to get out of there sneaky-like - Mags’s nazi ladies were gonna deal with the big group of the zombies, since we did for the big nasty bloke.

      Once we’d all snuck ourselves out of there, we managed to find the van again, then went back to the caves. We stopped off to get some underwater breathing shit for some of the others, once Phaedra looked up where to get it at on her posh phone, since they can’t hold their breathes as long as me and Mags. Even if my lungs are smaller than his, I can still hold my breath as long as him, cause I’m well hard.

      Then after that we were just going to go back to the caves long enough to let the dwarfs know about the litch and the trollwife, but then Ji Woo decided to talk with Iris. It didn’t go so good. There wasn’t really any yelling or nothing, cept maybe a little when Ji Woo said Iris was being clingy. She didn’t like that too much. Ji Woo didn’t mean to be mean or anything, but it was confusing even to me, and I wasn’t the one being talked to. It was a bit of a cock up, any road.

      So she decided she needed to go on the piss for the night. I didn’t want to let her off on her own again. We dealt with the zombie blokes, but trolls might decide to show up next time or something. So I went with her, to this posh club with an open rooftop. We decided to have a bit of a butchers using the moon and all, seeing as we weren’t going to go out there, so I could still do that there and watch out over Ji Woo while she got a bit of a strop on. She asked me if she’d been a bitch, and she kinda had, a little, even if she didn't mean it. Then she told me that it’s pretty easy to be a bitch in Korean. After she told me that, she mostly talked in Korean, and she was kinda right.

      I watched the moon for a bit, and saw a few bunches of them wandering about, kinda even a bit near the caves. I had a goodish idea of where to head though. Ji Woo fell asleep before the club closed, but I managed to poke her awake when it did and we headed on home. It was a pretty brill sight to come home to too, with Mags playing an ace guitar thing, standing up on the walls. He didn’t play for long once we got back though, seeing as he’d been playing since he and Andy had got the van all cleaned of sewer gunk.

      Anyhow, s’about dawn, and that’s when we head out into the swamps. I think they’re about to wake Mags up, and I don’t wanna miss that.

      Zane


      Dad -

      Poor Mags really didn’t wanna be waked up. He even told Nemi to just take a bit of his blood so’s he wouldn’t have to wake up til we got there, but I told him we weren’t going ta have to drive anywhere any road, and Nemi said he didn’t really want to try to take his blood. Sides, I don’t think his blood’d be anything but blood without his magic. So he got up and was grumpy. Ji Woo was feeling better, even if she did have a hangover still. She was really sloshed last night, so I wasn’t surprised. I gave her a nice cuppa water to give her a boost, so maybe that helped. I think I’m going to need to start getting aspirin and carrying it around. It’s probably a good idea anyway, even without the whole hangover thing. I can’t make all the ouchies go away all the time with magic.

      Once we got to the swamp, Ji Woo started flying again, and Mags made his boots be all frosty. I gave him a high five when he did, and gave him a boost too. Cold’s not much fun, but icy swamp muck is tons of fun. I made sure to not stomp it too near anybody though, specially Andy, since he doesn’t like being all dirty. Andy was flying anyways. I guess Rajani doesn’t like being dirty either, cause she has a brill power to make herself clean again that goes ding! I really wanted to give her a swamp hug after she did that, but Ji Woo told me not too. I guess it does take power to do that, so it wouldn’t be nice. But it would be fun.

      The first swamp monsters we found were taking apart an old rusty car, I guess for parts and shit. The monsters were well tough - they were made out of mud and water and sticks and things, so bullets kinda just got blorped in, and my punches didn’t do too much either, even though I got more magic-y strong recently. The notes had said Phaedra’s arrows wouldn’t be too good either, so she was using her sword. I managed to knock them all of balance, right off, even if I couldn’t hurt them much. Then one grabbed me, and then another grabbed Mags, but then Nemi rotted both of them! It was well good, they just fell right into pieces. He was pretty zonked after though. Rajani and Phaedra got one of the others, and Mags got the last one after he skipped a frozen car door at it then hit it with his axe.

      We didn’t want to fight too many more of the buggers, since they were so tough, so Ji Woo did her prophecy type thing to figure out what direction and how far the troll wife was. She was all magiced up, so it was hard, but Ji Woo got an ok idea and started to lead us that way. Before we got much of anywhere though, I noticed somebody was spying on us with magic, and so Andy started dancing, Mags gave them the one-fingered salute and then 5 more swamp monsters popped out of the swamp stuff around us. It looked like they just got made, right there, so it was good Ji Woo asked her questions, seeing as our other option was to try and trace them back to where they came from.

      I figured I’d go about knocking the off balance quick-like again, and started by flipping the two finger salute at the dickhead watching us and turning it into an eyepoke. It didn’t work so great, seeing as they didn’t really have eyes, just kinda sticks and gnarly bits in a face-like thing. But it got knocked off balance anyway, it and his friend that I elbowed. Ji Woo was up in the air, planning on countering their plant magic stuff, seeing as her gun didn’t do a whole lot since she wouldn’t go about bashing people on the head with it. Andy gave Mags a boost by dancing for him, which really just made Mags mad, but then Andy ducked away so Mags had to go be angry at a swamp monster, so it worked out.

      I got a couple more of them looking at me when I knocked them off balance, but they both missed even if I did have to roll around in the mud to get away. I got sticks and thing of my own and made me a swamp monster face for my own self. Then I nutted one. It seemed appropriate at the time. Nemi rotted another one, the one that grabbed Rajani. Phaedra was chopping at one like it was some kinda bush thing, then lopped off its head. Mags got hisself a couple. he unravelled one of them, just kinda getting his axe stuck up in it, and pulling the axe out with all its sticks and things. Ji Woo even finished one off, knocking a branch down one its head, then getting on good shot in to finish off the one Rajani’d been whirlwinding at.

      That’s when Rajani got all messy and had to use her power and Ji Woo told me not to hug her. Andy also got all nervous and said we needed to move, I guess cause the trollwife kept making more of them. He was slower than most of us, so he rode on Rajani’s shoulders to keep up. I offered to carry him piggyback, but he decided I was too muddy. Ji Woo and Mags and Phaedra led us while we were running, since Ji Woo knew where the hidey-hole was, and Mags and Phaedra know about swamp things. Ji Woo was not very good at directions. She and Mags got in an argument while we were running, because she said we should go around the greener tree and we went around the tree that was only a little green. But then she told us to go the direction the log was pointing, then not to get too close to the log. Turned out that the log was a giant fuck-off crocodile. So that was fun.

      Actually, it was a little rough, but only at the start. It was fucking big and scary, but I managed to grab a hold of it around the middle, seeing as I can squeeze well good now. Turns out I didn’t even have to though - Ji Woo shot at Phaedra’s arrows and made them go even deeper, then Phaedra shot at the bullet holes again, and Rajani stabbed it in the mouth and Mags cut it into three pieces, with me holding the middle one. It did manage to slow us down enough so that the trollwife could summon up another two swamp monsters. Rajani, Mags and Phaedra took care of one right handily though, and Nemi got enough magic back from getting hurt a bit by the other that he could make it rot.

      So we got back moving, and made it to the water without much trouble, though Ji Woo was still confusing. She said the crocodile was pointing the right way once we killed it, then went in a different way from what it was pointing. But, we got there, so I can’t really whinge about it.

      End Session VIII


      The swamp monsters were built oddly. They took only a single point of damage from firearms, arrows or daggers, usually Bashing, and only if soak was exceeded. Blunt attacks did bashing and were halved after soak. Blades did normal.

      They had weaknesses though. Electrical attacks (like Sky 3) made Bashing lethal (though did not affect reduction) and Frost 3 allowed bashing damage to do normal damage (and be lethal if it would normally be lethal). Water 3 could slow them (tater to ice) do lethal damage (water to steam) or do aggravated damage (boiling the water directly). None of these tricks were actually used, however. No one had Water or Sky 3, and Magnus with Frost 3 did not really need help hurting them.

      Bless or Blight (Fertility 3) however, could instantly kill one if more successes then their Legend (4) was rolled, and do aggravated equal to successes if less was rolled. Nemi has Fertility, and enough Epic Intelligence he needs roll only a single success to instantly take one down. However, the cost of the attacks is…rather significant at Hero, which prevented him from wiping them all out on his own.

      They had to make survival rolls to get out of the swamp, it was an accumulated successes thing with an “encounter” every time they did not make enough. They only had one “encounter” a pretty standard Nemean.

      Not much else to cover. No real systems in all the drama with the Sisters.

      Comments and Questions welcome, see you in two weeks for the conclusion.


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      • #18
        It’s time to conclude “We Only Come Out At Night” as our heroes search for the Troll-Wife. Let’s roll.

        Session IX

        We Only Come Out At Night Part VI

        Ji-Woo’s Visions

        Berlin

        I finally led the others right to Ulfa’s lair, though on the surface it appeared to be nothing more than a murky pond. It was covered with a haunting mist that lent a sense of somber mystery to the twisted trees that surrounded it like reverent mourners. It was beautiful, and when I said as much, Nemi seemed to disagree, and we had a short discussion about just how picturesque the scenery was, though in the end I had no idea whether he was arguing with me or not. Actually, I rarely have any idea what Nemi is thinking. Not that it bothers me. Besides, the argument was cut short when Nemi had to disintegrate another swamp monster.

        Then we dove in to search for the entrance to Ulfa’s lair. SCUBA gear is uncomfortable, but it was certainly better than drowning. After about ten minutes of swimming around in the murky water, I found an opening in the thick, gnarled roots that grew throughout the bottom of the pond. I was dismayed to see that it led to a very narrow underwater passage.

        As the others swam into the passage one at a time, I froze up. It was really narrow AND underwater. I didn’t think I could go in there. I was petrified with fear. I could imagine my SCUBA gear getting caught on something and being stuck down there, drowning while the tight walls of that dark space pressed in on me from all sides. It was hard enough to breath with oxygen tanks, and I didn’t think I would be able to breath at all even if I actually DID force myself to go in there.

        But then Rajani took my hand and squeezed it. Somehow she gave me the courage to go in. I couldn’t have made without her there, holding my hand and guiding me through the tight, twisting passage while I struggled to avoid a panic attack. But somehow we made it through.

        We emerged from the water into a huge cavern, but it wasn’t really a cavern; it was more like a tremendous, hollow tree that had fallen on its side, forming what felt like a open tunnel. It smelled of rotting wood, but there was a distinct undercurrent of fuel. . . not gasoline, but something else I couldn’t identify. I was the only one who could smell it at first, but as we moved in, it grew stronger, and the others caught it too.

        The entire tree trunk complex split at two different junctions, and in the middle it was filled with barrels of fuel. The fumes saturated the air in that area, making it hard to breath and probably very explosive. Before the fuel storage area, though, we found another cavernous chamber about the side of a large aircraft hangar. Zane disappeared and scouted ahead, then reported that it was filled with a half-finished machine, a couple of generators, and a bunch of trolls. There was also a huge metal container that imprisoned some sort of growling beast, but she couldn’t get a look at what it was.

        We decided that I would sneak in too to figure out what the machine did or what sort of beast was in the container, since I’m more familiar with these things than Zane is. Actually, Nemi would have been the best person to send along, but he’s a bit too flamboyant to be very sneaky, so that was right out.

        Anyway, it turns out the generators were actually nuclear reactors—the kind they use on submarines, though probably a little smaller. And the thing in the container was a dragon. The reactors and the dragon were there to breath power into the unfinished machine, but I couldn’t really figure out what the machine was supposed to do. Parts of it reminded me a little of the teleportation chambers from Cronenberg’s The Fly, but the idea of super-powered fly-trolls made me giggle, which wasn’t good for sneaking around, so I dispelled that idea from my head and it was gone until I just remembered it.

        I also realized that we were in some kind of extra-dimensional realm, because it was impossible for the place to fit underground beneath the pond. It was actually my first time being in a place like that, so I took the time to enjoy it while I was sneaking around. I believe I must have taken too long, because Phaedra was a bit cross when I returned, but it was a good thing I decided to take my time because I happened to notice that the reactors were rigged to melt down and explode at the push of a button from somewhere else in the caverns. Ulfa was ready to blow us all up if we started messing with the trolls. I really don’t know much about electronics and reactors, but I’ve picked up a thing or two, so while I was crouched hidden behind a half-built transmogrification pod, I consulted the I Ching. It advised me to have confidence in myself, so I appropriated some of the trolls’ tools and managed to disarm the triggering devices. They were tricky. The phlegmatic wires were serene and quiet, but that was deceptive, because they were also the most dangerous. The choleric wire had to be calmed in order to sate the wrath of the reactors, and it was only by splicing it with the caution of the melancholic wire that I was able to deactivate the device. I probably would have been better off working through the wires according to the Chinese elements.

        Then Zane and I rejoined the others and we prepared to fight the trolls. It was a little awkward when Nemi took Rajani’s sword to “knight” her in order to bolster her health. I told him that he shouldn’t touch a lady’s tattoo without her permission (since her sword is a tattoo until she summons it), which flustered him a bit. I think Rajani was amused.

        Phaedra and I concentrated on the biggest of the trolls, and Phaedra was really amazing. She burst into sunlight as she leapt at the troll, flooding the chamber with a warm glow that caused the troll’s skin to turn brittle and crack, weakening him against her blows. The rest of the group dealt with other trolls, and after Phaedra finished off the big guy, I turned my attention elsewhere as well. Meanwhile, Magnus tore open the container that held the 4-meter-long dragon. The sinewy, black-scaled creature roared out of its prison, pausing only long enough to share an appreciative look with Magnus before it turned its fiery breath on the remaining trolls. I think Magnus made a friend.
        After the trolls were dead, Nemi told us that the machine was probably meant to fuse trolls with parts of dead scions in order to grant those trolls divine powers. I don’t like that. None of us did, so Magnus and Zane gleefully wrecked the machine. Glee can be very metal when Magnus exhibits it.

        With that done, we ventured further into the complex to find Ulfa. When we reached the fuel-saturated portion of the chamber, Zane got a very bad feeling and cried out a warning just as the entire area exploded. I managed to fly out just ahead of the explosion, but my ink wings were still singed and the shock wave threw me into the ground. I had to flick bits of burning ink from my wings to put them out. Andy and Nemi had it worse than I did, because Magnus and Zane THREW them out. Rajani and Phaedra got a bit burned too, but they made it out okay. Explosions aren’t fun. Movies sure like, them, though.

        Still, we found ourselves at a junction. One path led up to a very groovy beaded curtain, while the other dipped further into the earth. So I flipped a coin to divine the right way to go. But I ignored the coin and pointed the others to the curtain. It sparkled in Phaedra’s sunlight and the orange flames of the burning hallways behind us, so I couldn’t pass that up. Plus, interesting things always lay behind beaded curtains. Unfortunately, a blank wall was all that awaited us. I knew it was a secret passage, but I couldn’t figure out how to get past it, and I didn’t really get a chance to look very hard because Phaedra pushed past me and just walked through the wall. Which might be how Ulfa passed through as well.

        Phaedra reappeared a few moments later and told us that the room beyond was Ulfa’s bedchamber and that there wasn’t anything of interest in there. I’m sure she was lying. I mean, a trollwife has to have some interesting things in her bedroom. I pestered Phaedra until she told me that it was a frilly girl’s room and that yes, there was a very posh vanity with a nice big mirror. I was so busy interrogating Phaedra about the room that I didn’t really pay attention to the fact that we all headed down the other path, and I didn’t really bother to notice the trolls that were guarding it until the others had killed them, but when I asked Phaedra if Ulfa had left any clothes and, if so, what were they like, Phaedra shot me a withering glare that convinced me to shut up.

        Fortunately, we found something else to distract me. The tunnel was a portal into the Dark Forest, a pathway between worlds. It’s a dangerous place, full of ravenous beasts and more trollwives. I’ve also heard that it leads to other mythic forests, like Baba Yaga’s realm. I was intensely curious and desperately wanted to explore the place a bit, but had to agree with the others that it was really too dangerous for us right now. Still, we have a pathway into the Dark Forest whenever we need one.

        Ulfa had escaped us and probably won’t be back any time soon, but Magnus had a chat with the dragon and offered him the rotting wooden caverns as a lair, which he gladly accepted. Magnus is planning to check on him from time to time, and in the meantime, he has plenty of troll-flesh to eat.

        * * * * *

        It has been a few days since we drove Ulfa away. Iris hasn’t screamed at me, so that’s good. But she is quite chilly toward me. I’ve been hanging out with Aoide mostly.
        Nemi had the fantastic idea of moving one of the reactors to the sisters’ cave so that they would have a ready power source for whatever they need. Anemone will probably build some sort of home for them above the caves. But there was no way to get the reactors out of the caverns through the pond, so we had to leave them where they are for now.

        I’m not staying in the sisters’ cave anymore. It’s too awkward to camp out in the main chamber, and I can’t exactly stay with Iris anymore. I could probably crash in Aoide’s room, but she doesn’t have one. At least, not one that just anyone can get to. Magnus bought a small music studio here in Berlin, and that’s where I’m staying now. Magnus is so awesome. It’s fun listening to him create his music.

        * * * * *

        I completed a watercolor painting of Iris that I started working on when we were still together. Being around Magnus is good for my creativity, though not as good as being with Iris. I gave the painting to her even though I was afraid she would tear it to shreds right in front of me. She didn’t. She seemed to appreciate the apology it represented, even if she probably doesn’t want to look at it much right now. She’s still cold to me, but she’s not seething with vengeful rage, so I consider that a win.

        Glykeria has a thing for Magnus! I’ve been seeing a lot of her around the studio lately. He likes to bounce his lyrics off of her. Sometimes she just stands there, petrified by her crippling shyness, and Magnus goes back to the drawing board. But she’s getting used to it, and I think she’s starting to realize that he really values her input. She’s opening up and becoming a little more comfortable around him. It’s terribly sweet.



        Rajani and I were talking about tattoos, and she suggested that I get a tattoo of the Chinese character for “Courage.” She seems to understand and sympathize with my claustrophobia more than anyone else, and she’s being really supportive. She thinks that if I get the tattoo, it will give me something to focus on for strength when I have to deal with my fear.

        So she did a beautiful tattoo of the character on the inside of my left wrist. I already feel braver because of it, but I think that has as much to do with Rajani’s support as it does the tattoo itself.

        * * * * *

        Over the past week, I’ve been hanging out a lot with Aoide and Hermione, mostly going to clubs or other cool places in Berlin, like Museum Island and the Bauhaus Museum of Design. We’ve had a lot of fun, and I’ve been trying to sort out my feelings for the two of them. I’ve never really had to deal with this before. Sure, I’ve had boyfriends and girlfriends before, but I guess those were all just casual relationships, at least on my end. But this is different. I think I’m falling in love with Aoide, and I don’t even know why. We get along famously, and in many ways, we’re so similar that it’s uncanny. When I look in her eyes, I want to see the same depth of feeling reflected back at me, if only to confirm my own passion, but she’s always so distracted that I feel like just another part of the world swirling around her. I desperately want to overcome that distance between us. I mean, we’re close friends, but I keep expecting and wanting there to be MORE. I want to taste her cotton candy kisses and hold her again, soft and fragile, like I did when we were attacked by the aptrgangr and she was scared and vulnerable.

        I’ve realized that must be how everyone I’ve ever dated, including Iris, must have felt with me, and I DO feel bad because of it. Karma’s a bitch, I guess.

        Also something still smolders between Hermione and me. There’s a frustratingly persistent fatal attraction between us, and only my confusion and her caution has kept us from giving in to it. We both know that a relationship between us will only end badly, but I’m not sure I really care. It might be worth it.

        Well, anyway, right now I’m just trying to deepen my friendship with both of them.

        * * * * *

        Oh, I fucked up again.

        I’ve been really inspired, so I painted a beautiful portrait of Aoide. I actually channeled the last of the creative inspiration I soaked up from Iris’ pool, and I think the painting captures Aoide’s soft, airy, ephemeral charm. It flows in ways that imply her perpetual motion, and the colors are sincere and gentle and capricious. But Aoide isn’t quite looking at the viewer, which captures her distraction perfectly but still hurts a bit every time I look at it.

        Aoide loved it. I think I managed to convey the way I feel in the painting— maybe a little too well. I’ve begun to see the my feelings reflected in her bright, expressive eyes, and that would have been fine except that I also painted a gorgeous portrait of Hermione. It’s sensual and passionate, capturing the intense focus I see in her gaze when I catch her looking at me sometimes. I’m proud of the painting, but I think it was a bit much for Hermione, and since I gave it to her last night, she’s barely been able to restrain her desire for me. Which would be fine, except that Aoide’s painting has also stirred Aoide’s heart.

        I didn’t follow the I Ching’s advice. If I wanted Aoide, I should have just focused on her. I shouldn’t have painted the portrait of Hermione, because it conveyed too much of my desire for her. Now I have a chance with both sisters, and if I go for either, I’ll hurt the other one and drive away a close friend like I did with Iris.

        I have no idea what to do and I’m miserable. I suck at relationships.

        So I’ve decided to leave Berlin. I’m going to head to Amsterdam to get away from it all and have fun for awhile. I love Amsterdam, and it’s the perfect destination for escape. Fortunately, I’ll have company. Zane is going with me, and I can’t wait to introduce her to all the attractions. I’m looking forward to hitting up some of the clubs there; Amsterdam has some of the best trance and house clubs in Europe. It’s been awhile since I’ve spent my evenings wandering around the Leidseplein, and it feels like ages since I’ve been to Escape or Club Up. I miss the parties at Club Up. In fact, I miss the whole artsy atmosphere of De Kring. And I’ve heard there’s a new club called AIR that opened recently. The name sounds promising.

        I didn’t say goodbye to the sisters. I probably should have, but I didn’t. I did secretly “borrow” Aoide’s iPod long enough to leave a playlist of awesome music I think she will like. I called it “Ji-Woo XOXO.” I hope it makes her happy.


        Zane’s Letters

        We even got there without much fuss, even if we did get jumped one more time before we got down into the lake bit. There was only three of the swamp monster types though and we roughed them up good. Andy actually boosted me up for once, even though I don’t hurt things too much. It’s ok though, cause he’s all silly about it. He put my hat on backwards and said I was from the hood, or something like that. I used to boost to jump up to one’s back and push off at the other two. Mags took the one I jumped off of down right quick, then nemi copied me to rot one of the others. Then Phaedra did for the last one.

        Once we’d put paid to them buggers, we prepped up to dive down. Andy started talking funny, funnier than usual, a little French-y, maybe a little German-y too. He and Ji-Woo and Phaedra all had air tanks and shit, but the rest of us could hold our breathes for long enough to not fuss with them. Ji-Woo dived in well smart, going from being up in the air and flying to curling up and falling straight down, splooshing into the lake.

        We was looking for the underwater lair thing, and I almost had it, but Ji-Woo found the weird rooty bits first, after about 10 minutes or so. She was looking rough. I guess being underwater with a mask on is like being in a small space. It didn’t help none that the first bit of the tunnel was close and all. Rajani helped out though, and held her hand all the way through it.

        Eventually, we got to come up for air in a giant hollow tree thing. It was like being in an emptied out, falled over tree, but bigger than it should have been, being down below the water and such, so Ji-Woo was alright and got her mask off right quick. Not that the other were too far behind. we started moving down it, all careful and quiet-like, but I was faster and quieter so I ducked on ahead, invisible.

        First exciting thing I found was a great stonking room, with dials and knobs and wires and pointing things all over the place. It was warm and steamy, with small rooms that Mags might have fit in, or maybe a bit bigger, but not much more. Ji-Woo said later it weren’t finished and she and Nemi said it was for changing trolls into better trolls. It nicked power from superheroes like me and gave them over to the sodding bastards. Any road, they had a dragon! I didn’t know it were a dragon then, but it was all trapped in a box and Mags let it out and so now we have a guard dragon! He’s pretty ace, even if he can’t talk none.

        So I went back and told them about the dragon and the machine-stuff and that there was 7 trolls there. One was a big bugger like on the train and the other 6 were big enough, I guess. They asked me what was after and I’d plum forgot to look, so I dodged off down the way to check, iun case fighting the trolls got a bit loud, yeah? There weren’t no other bad guys, just some bit of tunnel that smelled of something like petrol but not quite, and then, a ways away, a split in the path. I figured it was safe enough though and headed on back.

        I didn’t know a whole lot about machines and things, and they all wanted to know what the things did before we fought a bit there. Good thing too, or we’d have been blowed up. But we weren’t, so don’t worry. Any road, Ji-Woo snuck into the machine room and me with her. Nemi knows a bit more about machine things, but he’s not very good at sneaking about and if Ji-Woo got pegged, she could have flown off and I could have started pestering them to follow into Phaedra’s sun trap. But she didn’t, and so she got to poke about the other big boxes, what didn’t have dragons in them, but were nuclear explodey things, so they might have blowed us up. SHe almost blowed us up, poking at it, I think, but then she stopped, went all floaty and cut the blue wire and it was all good. She almost cut the red wire cause it was angry, but then figured out the blue one was sad but was lying about not being dangerous. She’s right strange.

        Once that was all fixed, or broked I guess, we got all buffed up and charged in after the trolls. I got Nemi good, tapping his shoulder then ducking around the other side in front of him. It was cheating a bit, on account of me being still invisible and all, but I buffed with with it, so it was ok. He almost needed it before the fight, when he stole the girls’ swords and knighted them with it - I thought Rajani might kill him there. Phaedra got her sword back and all, since she needed to make it all sun-shiney, to hurt the trolls more. Mags went straight for the dragon’s box to let him out.

        I’m glad I did get Nemi buffed up but good, seeing as he let himself get roughed up quite a bit. Anybody else I’d think was trying to be well hard, but he was looking knackered and getting hurt gives his people magic back. So I guess he had a good reason and all. He mostly played around with the littler trolls, knocked their heads together and such. The others mostly went for the big guy first, and almost had him done for but then he cheated and healed himself up. I even tried to knock him about, knocking his legs from under him, but my leg just kinda stopped at his and didn’t move no more. I still got to put him off-balance about though. Phaedra got him with her glowy sword though. Rajani was right on against the littles. She almost killed one right off, then told it to hold up a bit while she killed a second with one hit, and finished the first all casual-like. Then we worked together to teach them to leave Nemi alone. I punched it in the nose, then she killed it.

        Once we’d done for the trolls, Nemi had his look at the machines and figured it all out, like I said before. We got to smash it up a bit, which made Mags right happy and was pretty fun. We kept the nuclear bits alright and took them home with us, for the ladies to use.

        The dragon was a brill bloke, almost took out one of the trolls by himself right off, once Mags got him out, and came along with us when we went looking for more trolls. He was none too chuffed with them, I guess. We didn’t find no more trolls, well not really. The other two don’t really count. We did find a trap though. I noticed it just in time to grab sleeves and yell to run, then the bit of hall that smelled the most like petrol, but not, lit on fire. It was rough. Andy and Nemi are a bit slow, so Mags throwed Nemi on out, then I throwed Andy out on top of him, by accident. Ji-Woo only got hurt a bit, seeing as she’s so fast, though it made her inky wings go melty. It was a little tiny bit funny when she flicked her wings and some hot ink got on Nemi and burned a bit. Just a tiny bit though. Her wings are right ace. Mags walked out all slow and metal, looking serious. Phaedra and Rajani were pretty fast too, though Phaedra got a bit sad about her clothes getting burned some. Rajani just did her ding magic, but I don’t think she can do that for other people’s clothes.

        When the hall split off, one side went to the trollwife’s bedroom, but she weren’t there. She buggered off when her explodey button didn’t make us all dead, we think. Phaedra was the only one that saw, seeing as there was some posh secret door that would have taken a bit, and she can just walk right through walls. She said it was frilly, but not a whole lot more. Ji-Woo was not very happy with that being it. She wanted to know the colors of the sheets. i think she wound up asking her coins about it later.

        The other side weren’t much more exciting. Ji-Woo was still pestering Phaedra about the room when we found two more. Andy cursed them by shooting blood from his nose at them, then I ran past and gave them both high fives, before they realized what was going on. Phaedra went all glowy on one again, and the Mags and Rajani teamed up on the last one. Mags ice-skated down the ramp and swung up at him, then Rajani jumped on him from above and they cut him to pieces. Behind them was some big posh fuck-off door and through it was a forest. Ji-Woo and Mags was able to suss out that it was some fancy Aesir forest-place, where to find something, you had to go and get lost first, which sounds silly to me. But that had to ahve been where the trollwife buggered off too, and there wasn’t a chance in hell of finding her there. We kicked around a bit how to watch it and all, then we thought to ask out friend the dragon. He was alright with it, since he might get to eat himself a troll or five.

        So we headed on back. Mags used his cold powers and my water bottle to freeze over the fire trap, so that was all good. We took the nuclear jobbie up with us, Ji-Woo using her storm magic to keep it safe under the water, and Mags, Rajani, Phaedra and me taking turns carrying them home, seeing as they were right ehavey and Nemi sin’t as strong as me. Anemone was over-the-moon with them. She and Nemi got to setting them up proper right off.

        So hopefully now the dwarfs are safe and all. Still might stick about here, make sure things settle down and take advantage of the cave. I kinda like it here with these crazy people.

        Zane

        Dad -

        Well, I’m moving about again. I been in Berlin longer then most. Mags, ji-Woo and the ladies are good company, and the others when they’re about. Plus it’s nice having a safe kip that’s not running some other kid off. And new people to tell stories with.

        But Ji-Woo’s getting a bit restless. She painted pictures of Hermione and Iris and Aoide and now Aoide and Hermione are making up to here and hermione’s being a bit priggish to Aoide about it. So Ji-Woo is worried and unhappy. So we’re going to Amsterdam!

        I haven’t never been to Amsterdam, so when Ji-Woo asked if I wanted to come with, I said yes. I dunno where we’ll be staying. Ji-Woo said usually she gets a boyfriend to pay for place to stay. She’s a bit of a slag. Jester says I shouldn’t say things like that, on account of not wanting to make gods and things angry, since loads of them are slags and don’t like being called it. I like Ji-Woo though, so its ok.

        So, we’re headed to Amsterdam first, then I don’t know where after. I might try to get Ji-Woo down to London too. I think she and Jester would get along great.

        Zane

        End Session IX



        Well, that takes care of that story. Again, there was some difficulties for the PCs to deal with in addition to combat, and they did well. The smell in the place would have made things a little tough for those without Epic Stamina, but it was pass/fail and all of them, even Andy, had at least 1 Epic Stamina.

        It should be known Andy used SCUBA gear despite being able to breathe underwater for reasons that could only have been his own.

        The Dragon was a situation that the PCs could choose how to deal with. They elected to try to work with it/use it as a weapon. The Troll-Wife was never intended to be fought, but used to set up an antagonist later.

        This was the last session of the current group as-is. Next week between the usual session recaps I will be going over some cast changes: ¾ of which will be temporary. Two of our team will be sitting out the next story, one temporarily one sadly permanently due to life changes. Next story has two guest stars of two different Pantheons then any of the current group. We will meet them in a week. Join us then. Comments and Questions welcome


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        • #19
          OK explanation between this and next story. In short, there is a lot going on with various members of the group’s lives.

          Zane's player is working on her doctoral dissertation, due in the spring, but does not think she will have to miss any games for it. It may impact her journaling, however…it is hard to say. Hopefully she will continue to not be affected, but she may have to miss a session or two or stop doing journals a bit.

          Nemi and Phaedra’s players are temporarily bowing out due to the fact that Phaedra’s player gave birth last Friday. The plan is for them to sit out then next story and rejoin sometime during the next story after. Currently, the plan is for Phaedra to rejoin the game, and Nemi’s player to take care of their new daughter. However, this could change, as a lot is up in the air; it is possible Nemi or Phaedra (or neither, though I hope one does) will be the one to return. Whoever returns should be returning during "One Night in Bangkok", the last Hero-level story after this next one.

          We will have two guest players for the next story, "Twilight Zone." They are joining only for the extent of this story, though the (tentative) plan is for them to appear again, separately, sometime during Demigod and sometime again at God. They may also play a part in downtime events as they will continue to exist in the game world. The players went along with my request to go with pantheons not playing by the core seven, and I think did interesting things with it.

          The Guest Stars

          Leonid “Leo” Valdes, Scion of Baba Yaga, Rus , Leonid "Leo" Valdes is a true self-made man. After starting life nearly fifty years ago in an orphanage in Havana, he rose through hard work and determination to become the owner of "The Chicken Hut," one of the world's most successful fast food franchises. Of course, the additional income provided by his international drug trafficking empire doesn't hurt.

          Invariably well-dressed and well-mannered, Leo specializes in providing difficult-to-obtain goods and services to his friends. Not a frequent veteran of the battlefields, his slight frame nonetheless hides a supernatural resilience, though he prefers to solve problems with his prodigious intellect. Like his mother Baba Yaga, Leo is also a master of the arcane arts.

          Suleiman Al-Enezi, Scion of Vayu, Yazata A native son of Marrakech, Suleiman is a reluctant Scion of Vayu, the resident bad-boy/rebel son/traitor(?) of the Yazata pantheon. Not to say that Suleiman is reluctant to be a Scion; divine powers are pretty awesome, and he revels in the superhuman mental and physical feats now available to him. No, he's just reluctant about being beholden to Vayu, who he finds completely unreliable and dangerously eccentric... not to mention the fact that Suleiman's entire mortal family was killed in the aftermath of his Visitation, along with the rest of their neighborhood.

          Suleiman has taken his orphaning at the hands of titan-spawn quite personally, and dedicated his life to their annihilation. Thus, his soul has been forged into a weapon to seek out and destroy the enemies of the gods... is what he would like to believe about himself, but he remains a haunted young man struggling against impossible odds. It does not help him that his only allies are a flock of mad crows bequeathed to him by his despised sire, and the lowest dregs of the criminal underworld with whom he must conspire to complete his self-assigned crusade, as his titan-spawn prey are often found among the rich and powerful.

          If you read our previous stories, Leo’s player was the same player as T-Bone Walker, Scion of Kalfu (and he himself missed a story in Petro for the birth of his son). Suleiman ’s player has played Scion before but was not in Rada or Petro.

          Next week we will have part one of "Twilight Zone" (yea, named for the Golden Earring song) and then the next two “off weeks” we will have Leo and Suleiman’s backgrounds. See you in a week, but in the meantime comments and questions welcome.


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          • #20
            It’s time to begin a new tale. We have some temporary cast changes as discussed last post, let’s get into this new tale.

            Session X

            Twilight Zone Part I

            Ji-Woo's Visions

            Amsterdam

            Amsterdam has been tons of fun. Zane has met most of my friends here, and we’ve been crashing with Nico, a photographer friend of mine. I’ve done some modeling for him this week. It isn’t the first time. He has a good eye for light and shadow, and we did a really interesting set about sleeplessness. Speaking of which, we ended up sleeping together after a night of clubbing and Ecstasy, but it wasn’t anything serious. It kinda made me miss Aoide, though.

            Then we stayed in Rien Aldert’s studio apartment for about a week. Rien’s a guy a used to date; he’s a light effects engineer for some of the local clubs and he’s moved into light-based installment art. We aren’t dating anymore, and I kinda left suddenly last time we were together, but I still have the key to his place. Some of his friends were around and they like me, so they didn’t really care, and told me that Rien was away in Copenhagen setting up a piece in a gallery there. Probably for the best he wasn’t around. If I get a chance, I’ll go to Copenhagen to see his art, though. I love what he does with light.

            In fact, I think Amsterdam is a city of light and shadow flowing and blending harmoniously like passionate lovers. The city lights, whether out on the streets, or in the clubs, or even the red lights that shine in De Wallen, are always beautiful. So I guess I like the darkness, if only because of how it lets the lights shine.

            My Amsterdam friends liked Zane. Her music and busking tricks are fun, and we had a good time hanging out when she wasn’t out trying to make friends with the local street kids. But I’m getting bored, so I suggested we move on. Zane wants to show me around her old haunts in London, and it’s been awhile since I’ve been there, so that’s where we’re going next!

            London

            We won’t be in London long. The first thing we did upon arriving was go to see Zane’s friend and mentor, a fae named Jester. He is a ruggedly handsome guy who I think would fit in well with many of my more bohemian friends, and he had some great stories to tell about Zane, so it’s a good thing she doesn’t embarrass easily.

            Jester had a task for Zane. He wants her to go to Zadar, a seaside city in the Dalmatian region of Croatia. A friend of his named Rumpole Wilson is causing trouble there and getting some trouble in return. Jester wants him pulled out, forcibly if necessary, before he comes to harm. He gave Zane a large bag that we can use to haul Rumpole back. If you look inside, anything in it will seem completely mundane and legal, but also very, very off-putting. Zane asked me to check it out, and I was curious, so I looked in it and immediately felt like I was being pulled inside, trapped as it closed in around me. I almost had a claustrophobia panic attack, and probably would have if I didn’t have my Courage tattoo to focus on. The bag definitely works.

            So now we’re off to Zadar. I’ve never been there before, so it should be really interesting. I’m calling Rajani, Andy and Phaedra, and Zane is going to get in touch with Magnus and Nemi to see if they can meet us there.

            Zadar - Jian (Infiltrating) transforming into Jia Ren (Dwelling People)

            Zadar is really nice. The ocean breeze is refreshing and it feels really Mediterranean, with its white buildings topped by orange roofs that complement the soft blue sky and the seas just so. I love the way different cities have different color schemes. It’s like the evolution of human civilizations echoes art, though it’s probably the other way around.

            Zane and I met up with Magnus, Andy and Rajani shortly after arriving, and settled in at a sidewalk cafe to talk about what we were doing. Too bad Phaedra and Nemi couldn’t make it. Poor Magnus didn’t look good, though. He was in a real funk because he’s been having trouble with his music. All artists have creative blocks, and I know from experience how frustrating and demoralizing it can be. I usually deal with it by dropping everything and going somewhere else or doing something different for awhile, but Magnus has a lot more focus than I do, and his creative block is really wearing on him. Maybe taking the time out to kidnap Jester’s friend from Zadar will be just what he needs. He’s not looking for inspiration from Caoimhe, though, and that’s good. She’s nice and all, but the idea of trading a piece of my soul for inspiration is terrifying. I don’t want to burn out like Aristides, and Magnus is fated to burn brightest during the Ragnarok, so his fire can’t be dimmed before then.

            I asked Rajani whether the sisters were angry that I had left so suddenly without saying goodbye. She said that she didn’t stick around Berlin long after I left, but the look in her eyes told me that Aoide and Hermione must have been really upset.

            We didn’t have a clear idea of how to find Rumpole or what sort of trouble he was in, only that he had come to Zadar. Direction usually finds me when it’s ready, so I wasn’t too worried. I ordered a glass of absinthe and then tossed the coins to consult the I Ching. The dream-like focus brought on by the absinthe somehow transformed the words of the song playing in the cafe into the poetry of prophecy. It was a catchy tune and I keep humming it to myself even now.

            Within the eye of spotted dog
            Above the ocean’s swell and surge
            Concealed by thickest nighttime fog
            The darkling rival doth emerge

            Though watery grave awaits their prey
            These men and women of the lake
            The waters here are not their way
            So they hole up elsewhere and take

            Their masters four and then one more
            Two demons of propriety
            Great beast of long forgotten lore
            And one of your society

            Yet this as well is but a ruse
            A mean and cunning little plan
            A plot intended to amuse
            A horrid, vicious little man

            A different man you seek is here
            Lurking deep in haunted wailing
            He seeks the stolen prize so near
            From cagey thief who takes while sailing

            But allies two have you nearby
            Entwined in this immortal’s scheme
            Reclaim the mists with scant ally
            And then to drink and then to dream

            So there are obviously many layers to the schemes we are walking into, and the hexagrams suggest that we must steadily and patiently penetrate the layers of ruse in order to succeed at our goals. The process of doing that will lead to a stronger connection with others, probably the allies mentioned in the prophecy, though perhaps Rumpole Wilson and a few of the other players as well. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

            The first stanza obviously refers to Zadar, but I’m not sure who the “darkling rival” is quite yet. I suspect that the “men and women of the lake” are Rumpole’s Irish companions, and they are apparently out of place here. Their masters sound interesting, though. Whatever they are up to, it’s probably just a front for Rumpole’s “mean and cunning little plan.” At the very least, he’s using them as a smokescreen. I don’t like smoking. Cigarettes, pot, whatever, I don’t like it. A lot of my friends smoke, but I hate the way it clogs the fresh, wonderful air with its choking stench. The only things I do like about it are the ephemeral images inscribed on the smoke at it swirls away into oblivion. Those images are so fragile and precious, existing for only a second before fading away for forever.

            I suppose the “different man,” must be miserable if he’s lurking in haunted wailing. It sounds very sad, though if he is responsible for the wailing, he might deserve it. And the sailing thief sounds interesting. Somehow I know that the thief is a woman, and a pirate, or at least styles herself like one, though perhaps I was simply distracted by the bottle of rum a gypsy at another table ordered while I was enjoying my absinthe daze. Speaking of which, the last line of the song was very enticing. I love drinking and dreaming, and if that’s what we’re after here, them I’m on board.

            Fortunately, we had allies on the way, so I decided that we would get a lead soon enough. And we did. A very handsome man in a very nice suit strode up to our table and introduced himself as Suleiman Al-Enezi. He was a crow-son of Vayu. He is very handsome, but strangely I don’t think he is the “face” of his crew. When I said as much, he said he didn’t run with a crew, but my insight tells me that a crew runs with him. Not that we have seen them yet.

            Suleiman works for the man-crone I foresaw some time ago, a wealthy scion of Baba Yaga named Leonid Valdes. Leonid owns the Chicken Hut restaurant franchise, which is absolutely hilarious. Crows and chickens form an odd partnership, but it was clear to me that these were the allies I predicted, so we allowed Suleiman to take us to see his associate.

            Leonid is a serious man dressed in a frown and an expensive suit, framed by an extraordinarily posh penthouse apartment suite. I knew there was a reason I felt it was important to pick up a Payday candy bar on our way to the cafe. Leonid seemed surprised when I gave it to him, but I could tell he was pleased. Payday candy bars were a rare treat for him in his impoverished childhood, and he still loves them. I’m not sure how I know that. I just do, like a lot of things. I blame the absinthe.

            Leo and Suleiman came to Zadar to look into disruptions in Leo’s operations here, and the two of them have run across stiff opposition, including paramilitary forces of supernaturally enhanced enforcers called Hollow Men. They knew that Rumpole Wilson was involved somehow, and he and his Irish companions had been meeting with a local herd of dirty centaurs. The dirty part is apparently important, since it elicited a good deal of discussion from Magnus, Suleiman, Andy and Zane.

            It was about then that I heard a couple of helicopters approaching, so I asked if they belonged to Leonid. His deepening frown told me that they didn’t, and soon enough a couple of attack helicopters appeared outside the penthouse suite, and a dozen men with guns started swarming in from the roof, some coming down the fire escape, and others from the interior stairwell.

            I flew out to deal with the guys on the fire escape, but they were very good at their job, and if it weren’t for Zane’s distractions, I don’t think I could have handled them. Suleiman was right, Hollow Men are hard to kill. I even wrapped my bullets in wind and lightning as I fired them, but they didn’t seem impressed, probably because they don’t have all of their internal organs are empowered by some sort of magic.

            Zane tossed Magnus onto one, and then she jumped out to me and I grabbed her hands and swung her onto the fire escape, where she made life hard for the Hollow Men. Meanwhile, the helicopter Magnus latched onto tried to crash into the building to crush him, but he simply braced his feet against the wall and threw it ten stories down to the street below, where it exploded magnificently. Suleiman threw a couch at the other helicopter, and when that didn’t knock it out of the sky, he threw Leonid’s alcohol refrigerator. The refrigerator sent the helicopter spinning to the ground in a flaming spiral, but it also burst open, showering the area with broken bottles of expensive alcohol. What a waste…

            One of the falling bottles caught my eye, though. It was a rare 1910 Dornier-Tuller absinthe. It’s an amazingly good vintage, and since fortune had decided that it remain undamaged in the collision with the helicopter, it seemed that it was my fate to save it before it could fall to its doom. I dove after it and managed to catch it, which involved a bit of juggling with my guns. I ended up throwing the bottle to Zane, who kept it safe for me until she went back into the penthouse. I can’t wait to sample that absinthe. It’s supposed to release an amazing aroma of anise fruit and wormwood flowers as you mix the louche, and the wormwood has a perfect floral, citrus taste that remains surprisingly fresh despite the vintage.

            Sadly, the Hollow Men were still shooting at me, so I couldn’t enjoy it then and there. I guess my impatience got the best of me, because I flew right up to one of the Hollow Men and shot him almost point blank in the chest and head. It killed him, but the spray of blood splattered me from the waist up. Magnus killed the fourth and final Hollow Man on the fire escape by swinging his axe through the wall. I slipped through the hole and saw that Rajani and Leonid had taken care of the rest of the attackers. Well, there was one poor soldier left, but I knew the others could handle him. Leonid seemed to shrug off bullets while he attacked with his paired hammer and sickle. Rajani had taken some bad hits, but she’s really good at killing things, so I wasn’t surprised to see her surrounded by the slaughtered corpses of her attackers. Zane was already there to heal her.

            Since everyone else had things in hand, I went to Leo’s wardrobe, got one of his nice button-down shirts, and then locked myself in his posh bathroom to take a shower and clean the blood off. I need to learn Rajani’s trick, the one she uses to clean herself off whenever she likes. I love the way she touches the top of her head and says, “Bing!” when she does it.

            The others were impatient and wanted to leave because the police were on their way, so while I was still drying my hair, they threatened to drink all the Dornier-Tuller absinthe if I didn’t hurry up. So I hurried out wearing Leo’s shirt, and we fled to the roof, where Leo led us into a little shack that was just sitting there, even though it didn’t really fit in with the rest of the architecture. The inside was way bigger than the outside. I’ve had experiences like that before, but usually only when I’m on absinthe and the music makes the room feel bigger than it is supposed to be. The inside of the shack was just as classy as the penthouse, and then the whole place got up and starting running across the rooftops of the Zadar. Leo might be petrified of his mother, but at least he shares her taste in chicken-legged huts!


            Rajani’s Journal

            So, I received a phone call from Ji-Woo. According to the iChing, Zane needs our help. Zane’s looking for this person (which I’m betting is some sort of creature or something) and wishes help from the rest of the group from Berlin. This person she’s looking for is in Zadar, Croatia.

            I booked the next flight to Zadar, which wasn’t too hard since it’s a vacation hotspot. The eight and a half hour flight which only looks like five hours on paper was thankfully peaceful. I spent most of the time sketching out some ideas for new tattoos. Not necessarily for myself. I really think Magnus needs one of his axe somewhere. Granted that would mean I would have to mix up a lot of pale blue ink. The man is massive. He is also very unavailable. Besides, I’ve given up on ever attaining a musician.

            We met at a quaint little café near the water. Everyone seemed to be well, except maybe Magnus. He is having trouble finishing his latest album. I thought about making a suggestion, like maybe an instrumental song, but I didn’t. I kept my mouth closed. Zane had a photo of this person. His name is Rumpole. He is rather odd looking.

            As we were discussing strategy, this man approached saying he thought he could help us and we could help him. I suppose I should get used to such interruptions. He introduced himself as Suleiman and I had a slight idea that he was like us, that he had blood of the gods running through him. He invited us to come with him to see his companion. I am not sure why Zane and Ji-Woo seemed to immediately believe him.

            We went out to his car, which he called a limousine, but it didn’t look like any limo I’ve ever seen. We rode to a very expensive hotel and were taken up to the penthouse suite where we were introduced to another gentleman, Leonid Valdes. Ji-Woo seemed to know his name. He explained to us that Rumpole was involved in dealings that were interfering with his work.

            While I wasn’t entirely convinced this was a good idea, Ji-Woo warned us of two helicopters approaching, as well as probably some others on foot. I looked at Magnus and asked him if he would like to have at one of the helicopters. He agreed and when they chopper was in view, I tossed him out the window and expertly into the vehicle. At that point, things went crazy.

            Bullets were flying everywhere. Ji-Woo had chosen to fly outside to shoot at the ones climbing up the fire escape. Mr. Valdes was blocking the ones coming from inside the hospital. I caught sight of the couch flying towards the other helicopter and saw Suleiman watching its trajectory. I lost sight of Zane but knew she could handle herself. Andy had boosted me, so I chose to hack at one of the intruders.

            I have to admit that was not the brightest idea. I am also rather sick and tired of firearms. Trajectory weapons are a cop out. Really, if you want to fight me, fight me honorably. Though I mean no offense to Ji-Woo. It’s fine for her to use them. It is her only line of defense. And she is not fighting me with them.

            I am very thankful for Zane and her ability to boost our health. If I hadn’t had her help, I probably would have died. If she hadn’t come to my rescue to heal me, I probably would have bled to death. If it hadn’t been for Andy, I probably would have been hurting for quite a while. Today I am thankful to have friends who can heal me.

            Realizing that we’d made quite a mess, we evacuated the suite to the roof where Mr. Valdes had what looked to be a fancy boathouse. Once we stepped inside, however, we realized that is was something magical, because it was very TARDIS-like. No, it really is a time and relative dimension in space. And it smells faintly of fried poultry. Now perhaps we can get down to the real business of figuring out exactly what is going on with Rumpole and his little Irish friends.


            Zane’s Letters

            Dad -

            So, I met some new super hero blokes. Not in Amsterdam or nothing. I did get to meet some of Ji-Woo’s art type friends there. Some were all floaty, like her, and some were real intense, but they were all fun. I think they liked my busking tricks. Any road, Ji-Woo got bored in Amsterdam after a few weeks, so we headed on down to London Town.

            We didn’t stay there much long at all, on account of Jester being worried about a mate of his what was getting himself in trouble. Plus, Jester had a racket in the works that needed this bloke’s help. He said I oughta bring him back however I needed to, without hurting him none, and gave me a magic bag. It wouldn’t trap anybody or nothing, but if I had him all tied up, he wouldn’t be able to make noise and nobody looking in the bag would see him, or owt suspicious. They actually saw scary things, but it doesn’t work on me none, since it’s my bag and all. It made Ji-Woo feel all trapped though. I probably oughtn’t have had her look. But Mags said we ought to try it out, and make sure it worked.

            Jester had a picture, and a name and a city and not much else. The bloke was going by Rumpole Wilson, and was right funny looking. He was in some place called Zadar, last the Jester knew. So Ji-Woo and I headed on over, and we called up the others from Berlin. I gave Mags a bell. He wasn’t sure what day it was, but he was up for kidnapping somebody anyways, so he came along with. Ji-Woo called Rajani and Andy, and they came too. We couldn’t find Phaedra or Nemi. I hope they’re ok.

            We met up in Zadar at a cafe place, and Ji-Woo started doing a prophecy right off. Mags was looking well rough, really tired like, which’d mean he hadn’t slept since we’d been in Berlin. Come to think of it, he didn’t sleep much while we were there either. He was sad too, all frustrated with his new music. I think he was hoping this would be a good break and all. Rajani and Andy looked fine though. Andy was babbling a lot about booberies, or something like that. He said they were some kinda creature thing he was fighting while we were gone, but it sounded like he was just talking about boobs, except they made lots of noise. And had wings, or something.

            Any road, while we were trying to figure out what to do first, seeing as we didn’t know nothing about where Rumpole might be, Ji-Woo’s coins told her we’d find two allies. I got excited, thinking that Phaedra and Nemi might show up after all, but it turns out it was the Crow and the Man-Crone, the new superheroes I told you I met. In fact, one showed up right then - I think the Crow, cause the other bloke’s mom is Baba Yaga, who’s a bit of a crone. The bloke who showed up then was called Suleman, and he had a limousine! I got to ride in it, and stuck my head out of the hole in the top. It was right fun. He also knew stuff about Rumpole and wanted to take us to meet the other guy, so we went with him to a real posh hotel.

            His rooms, or I guess Leonid’s rooms, were even more posh. He even had his own pool, right up there on the roof. He was a serious looking bloke, and knew about all of us. Ji-Woo knew something about him as well, and had a candy bar just for him! She never gave me a candy bar. It was even Leonid’s favorite. But it’s ok, cause Leonid was pretty nice. He said he didn’t know any specific stuff about Rumpole, but he thought we might be able to work together, on account of Rumpole being maybe part of the reason why he and Suleman were in town too. His business was getting roughed up, a bit, by something supernatural-like, and Rumpole was one of the folks they’d had their eyes on.

            He’d showed up in town a bit ago with 4 Irish friends, two blokes and two birds. They was meeting with a local herd of centaurs, who are apparently dirty, according to Suleman. Well, Suleman said all centaurs are dirty, which doesn’t seem fair or nothing, but I never met a centaur, so I can’t say much. Before he could say much more, Ji-Woo interrupted to ask if the helicopters were his. I thought maybe she knew about helicopters from her prophecy for a bit, then I could hear them. Turns out, they wasn’t Leo’s.

            There was two of them, both with stonking great guns on them. There was also people coming up the stairs, and from the fire escape. Suleman started off a quick intro thing. Rajani was well tough - the others kept talking about hitting things, and she said she killed things. When Suleman figured out I had heal-y type magic, he did a thing where I got well hard, more than usual, so’s my health boosts stuff was even better. Which was good, cause Rajani got proper tore up, even with all that. I didn’t have time to boost up everybody, but Mags and Leo did just fine, even without it. Leo was almost as tough as our Mags. He got shot up a whole whole bunch, and was hardly hurt a bit.

            Any road, Suleman got things started off by picking himself up a couch and warning us that the blokes coming at us were damned hard to kill, which was right enough. Before he got a chance to throw the couch though, Rajani hefted Mags and tossed him at one of the helicopters. Leo popped up with a hammer and a sickle thing and then Ji-Woo and me went outside to deal with the blokes on the fire escape. Well, Ji-Woo flew out first, then I jumped over to her and she knew just where to throw me so’s I landed right above the buggers on the ladder. I had fun swinging around on the fire escape thing. The Hollow Men things were right hard to hit, but I managed to get a few proper swings in, and at least made it easier for Ji-Woo to put paid to them.

            Suleman and Mags dealt with the two helicopters right handily. Mags put the fear of gods into the pilot, threatening to break the copter if he didn’t land it somewhere, but then the other bloke in it, the one firing the gun, started fighting with the pilot, trying to get him to ram the building. So Mags braced against the wall, and threw the copter straight down. It was ace. Course, I had to catch him after that, since he didn’t have a copter to stand on no more, but he was reaching out for me and it weren’t no difficulty to toss him up onto the balcony, for all that he’s a big bloke. Suleman threw his couch at the other copter and then, when that didn’t do for it, tossed the booze fridge at it, which did for it but good. It made Ji-Woo sad though, so she dived away to grab the absinthe at least, then tossed it to me, since she needed both hands for shooting things.

            By about then, I’d already knocked all the blokes on the ladder off balance, and they wasn’t able to hit Ji-Woo none anyways, so I left them to her and ducked back inside, going through the window Mags broke again. Mags had gone all berserk, and was grabbing one of the Hollow Men, so I went to mess around with the other two. There was some mortals too, but I didn’t worry about them none. Then I noticed Rajani, who was hurt real bad, so I went and healed her up, turning the gun shots into bruises and such. I thought about trying to fix up the bruises, but I can’t magic somebody twice, and I’m not real good at regular medicine-y type stuff. Andy moved to help fix her up though, so I charged back in at the last Hollow Man inside, and nutted him to death. Suleman was using this brill knife on a string thing, so’s he could throw it and then get it back. He did for most of the mortal types, and helped me out with that last Hollow Man with it.

            There was still one more Hollow Man outside, but Mags took care of it by swinging through the wall with his axe. Leo was not too pleased about that, breaking the wall and all, but I think it might have cheered Mags up a bit, to get to break things. Ji-Woo had gotten blood all over her, sometime after I ducked around inside, so she went right for Leo’s bedroom once that guy was done for and started taking a shower. She didn’t come out til Mags threatened to drink all her absinthe, and then she had borrowed one of Leo’s shirts. She looked nice, not that I said so or anything, but it was kinda floaty like her and all, seeing as it was too big.

            Any road, we figured we needed to get out of there, before the police showed up. Or more Hollow Men, I guess. Leo left a card for the hotel people, and then invited us to the small house that was next to the pool outside. It seemed right strange, since we needed to leave, but I figured maybe it could go invisible or something. Turns out it can move! It started hopping from building to building. Also, it was well posh inside. Way more than the hotel room, even though it didn’t have a pool inside. It was right bigger than it ought have been, kinda like the falled over tree where the trolls were, but posher.

            Well, and so I’ve got myself a new job, and some new friends and a new magic bag. It should be a right fun time.

            Zane


            Suleiman’s Saga

            “Caw!”

            “Hot burning crap! Dammit, Hookbeak, you scared the daylights out of me… how did you get in here, anyway?”

            “Caw!”

            “I’m not insulting your ingenuity, I’m just surprised; you know how Leo feels about you guys being in his home after the Kitchen Affair.”

            “Caw!”

            “Sigh… I’m sorry, I meant to say, ‘You know how Intimidating Kill Rooster feels about you guys being in his home after the Totally Understandable Incident In The Kitchen.’ Anyway, is there something I can help you with? I need to get back to the others before they start to wonder why I’m taking so long in here.”

            “Caw!”

            “Very funny. Ha ha. You are the best at witticisms.”

            “Caw!”

            “That was sarcasm!”

            “Caw!”

            “I’m not… fine, perhaps I’m a little bit wound up. We did just commit multiple acts of large-scale murder and mayhem in a populated city center.”

            “Caw?”

            “Wait, have I not seen you since… no, I guess not. Okay, here’s the rundown. I arrived in Zadar and began investigating some gangsters because IKR had reason to believe they were operatives of some titanspawn. During the course of my investigation, I determined that multiple supernatural agencies were engaged in operations in the city, some of them with significant numbers and resources. IKR traveled to Zadar to join me in the investigation, and as soon as he got here, he told me that some new potential allies were also arriving in town and to go and pick them up for negotiations on how best to address this bubbling cauldron of infamy.”

            “Caw!”

            “That’s just how he talks sometimes. I think he gets it from his mother. Moving on. I went to the address provided by IKR, and sure enough, there I found a gaggle of Scions clustered around a cafe table, bleary-eyed in the late morning light.”

            “Caw!”

            “Well, if you know the correct term of venery for divine offspring, I’d love to hear it.”

            “Caw!”

            “A ‘Slubberdegullion of Scions’? What does that even mean?”

            “Caw!”

            “Ouch. You don’t pull any punches, do you? In any event, I introduced myself to these worthies, and they agreed to meet with me and Leo (sorry, IKR) at some hotel meeting space he had arranged. I was actually a bit surprised… I didn’t have to persuade them hardly at all; I just walked up to their table, introduced myself, and they were more than willing to pile into a rental car bound for an unknown destination with me. I’d say they were remarkably innocent, but I think it had more to do with the faith they have in their seer.”

            “Caw!”

            “Yes, the girl you saw flying on wings of ink and spirit. She’s a seer.”

            “Caw!”

            “You’re incorrigible. Anyway, the car ride was uneventful… I rather had the impression that half of them were nursing epic hangovers, which suggests truly prodigious appetites if their divine constitutions are anything like mine.”

            “Caw!”

            “Well, obviously, no one says a car ride is uneventful if there’s nothing more to the story; that’d be essentially the worst narrative of all time. Like that movie… oh what was it?”

            “Caw!!”

            “Right, Manos: The Hands of Fate! Man, I still can’t understand why you guys like that piece of garbage so much.”

            “Caw! Caw! Caw! Croak! Caw!”

            “I don’t know how to even respond to all of that. And who the hell is Tom Servo? You know what, I don’t care. Returning to our discussion of actual things that are important and really happened, I led our visitors up to IKR’s apartment, and we had just finished making introductions and were starting to get to the subject of an alliance, when some assailants made the discussion superfluous. A couple of attack helicopters and several teams of heavily armed men staged an assault on our meeting.”

            “Caw!”

            “I agree, they’re stepping up their game quite a bit. When I’ve faced these same foes in the past, the worst thing I had to deal with were the Hollow Men, with their enhanced reflexes and dogged resilience. Of course, I historically have gotten the drop on them, and rarely make a point of engaging militaries with access to aerial firepower, but still, the scale of the ambush seemed a bit excessive. Then again, I suppose an overwhelming response is the appropriate course of action when dealing with Scions… their error was in estimating the wrong number of Scions at the gathering. If it had just been me and IKR, they would likely have killed one or both of us, but they were insufficient to deal with seven children of the gods.”

            “Caw?”

            “Oh, it was about what you would expect… berserkers leaping off of the twentieth story to shatter helicopters like children’s toys, blades dancing like leaves on the hurricane wind, epic psychological attack insults, mach furniture… you know, your standard supernatural battle. I will say that these new colleagues of ours seem to be a bit fond of jumping into the void without regard for gravity. Flying is one thing, but only one of them seems to be able to do that. The others just seem to follow their intuition and leap into the unknown, trusting that it will all work out.”

            “Caw!”

            “Yes, I suppose they have faith in their team members to save them in extremis. It’s fascinating how much trust they appear to have in one another. It must be nice…”

            “CAW!”

            “Thank you; I’ve yours, as well. Anyway, to sum up, we repealed the attackers, and then decided to get out of there. I suppose that Leo could have talked his way out of the legal complications associated with several crashed helicopters and numerous corpses strewn across the business district, but frankly, why bother? So we retreated to his villa and it is now moving us to a new location where we can continue coordinating our new alliance. And I really must be getting back to the group, so unless there’s something else?”

            “Caw!”

            “Seriously? I don’t think-”

            “CAW!!”

            “Fine, fine! I’ll tell her, but I rather doubt she’ll reciprocate. You can be so aggressive sometimes; I don’t believe ladies enjoy it the way you claim…”

            End Session X

            More discussion of the Hollow Men coming up. Powers-wise, they have Epic Perception and Dexterity maxed for their Legend, and a level of Epic Stamina (granting Skin Shedding). They have twice mortal health levels, and are immune to direct mental effects and pain, as well as stuns. This makes them pretty dangerous. The humans they fought were, well, just humans.

            Also, seriously what was up with me trying to write a prophecy in quatrains? I do not advise this.

            As noted in the previous, Leo is Rus and Suleiman is Yazata, meaning of the 12 Canon (modern) Pantheons, we have had PCs from 9 of them…all but Pesedjet, Amatsukami, and Loa. Any future guest stars I will try to use from one of those.

            Well hope you enjoyed, comments and questions welcome.


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            • #21
              It's a between sessions week, but here is the first guest star backstory, for Suleiman, since he is being so kind as to act as a correspondent for you.

              Suleiman Al-Enezi, Scion of Vayu, Yazata

              “Are you comfortable? Yeah? Alright, this tea will take a little while to steep, but I always finds it goes faster if you have something to take your mind off of it, so what should we talk about? … Oh, I know, would you like to hear a story? Me, I love telling stories. And I just happen to have one I think you might appreciate. I call it, the Story of the Boy Who Would Ruin Giants.”

              “So once upon a time (because that doesn’t really mean anything at all, but it makes a story sound nice and authentic), there was a boy who was poor, but had a family who loved him very much. Isn’t that always the way of things in these stories? I suppose the other classical option would be a sort of Cinderella or Harry Potter story about child abuse and deprivation, but that’s just depressing, so let’s gloss over the fact that the kid was actually from a solidly middle class family and was about as well-loved as any other exasperating teenager. Anyway, the boy had the privilege to grow up among the fabled souks of Marrakech, running and playing amidst the stalls festooned with lemons, capers, olives, and mint. Oh, the brilliant mounds of turmeric and chili peppers gleaming in the dappled sunlight... Where was I? Right, so the boy was quite normal as these things go; maybe a bit more intelligent than the average teenager, with perhaps a tendency to brood in a way that the young girls found extremely intriguing, but those things aren’t really important to the story (and your narrator may be indulging in a bit of license, to boot). All in all, normal enough. A good place to start a story.”

              “Which would make this a profoundly boring tale if that’s where we left it, no? Who gives a shit about teenagers and their foolish melodramas? What this story needs is CONFLICT! So, enter stage left, the Villain of the piece. In our case, the Villain happens to be a god, which is not unusual for fairy tales, and this particular god is Vayu, the Lord of Chaos. I’m quite sure he has other titles, but that is the one he has earned as well as any other by deed and philosophy, and so we’re going to use it here.”

              “Nobody would describe Marrakech as a sleepy little city, but it is certainly out of character for most suburban neighborhoods to be awakened in the middle of the night by a fleet of helicopters hovering into station over a residential home, and for those helicopters to be blasting out “Gonna Fly Now” (also known as the theme song from Rocky) through massive speakers mounted to their undercarriage. Nor do the suburbs typically see men in track suits festooned with Nike endorsements jump 60 meters from a helicopter to the ground without so much as a guide rope, and then take a victory lap around the block, shaking the hands of confused local residents and kissing babies. But all these things did happen one night about 4 years ago, and by the time this outrageous figure had made a full circuit of the block, he had collected quite a crowd of onlookers, to whom he then gave a rousing political speech, though without really saying anything of even the slightest substance. Waving, shaking hands, and grinning ear to ear, this bizarre entity finally turned to his destination, which was the home of the Al-Enezi family, including Suleiman, their youngest son (and the hero of our tale). Marching through the front door, this larger-than-life person invited himself in, and sat in the family living room, expectantly looking around as he waited to be extended hospitality. Despite their bewilderment at the situation, the Al-Enezi of course offered their guest strong green tea seasoned with mint, like any good host, and then looked to their outrageous intruder to explain himself (the “Eye of the Tiger” raining down from above as a surreal backdrop).”

              “Once satisfied with the tea, the visitor finally introduced himself, saying, “I am Vayu, and I claim this child.” Of course this statement shocked the Al-Enezi family, and so they stared at Vayu in amazement as he looked ready to say more, but in a flash of rapidly changing expressions, he seemed to quickly reconsider his prepared speech and instead elected to end the conversation there, though not without bestowing a wicked grin on Suleiman and ruffling the youth’s hair in a proprietary fashion. With one last cocky salute (the “double guns”, if you’re interested), Vayu strolled out the door, and then amazingly leapt onto the roof of the house and then up to the most ridiculously adorned of the helicopters, before flying off into the night, the brazen cacophony of “Opps!... I Did It Again” blasting through the sky.”

              “I swear to you, every word of what I just said really happened, and it happened that way. The upshot of this is, Vayu is the opposite of subtle, and his gross display of excess and supernatural power captured the attention of the giants who live the Maghreb, who began to flock to the Red City like moths to the flame. Identifying the home of the Al-Enezi family took these supernatural hunters no time at all, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell YOU how cruel and destructive giants can be. So, in the course of the following week, our hero’s life was upended by a psychopathic professional footballer (which is the only thing that the community could figure that madman to be), his family was cast into chaos as the father accused the mother of impropriety and she ineffectively declared her innocence, and then Suleiman’s entire family was murdered by giants as the titanspawn arrived in his neighborhood and tried to track him down.”

              “…”

              “My apologies, that part of the story does not sit well with me, and I prefer not to dwell on the details. If you will allow me a moment to gather my thoughts. So yes, our hero survived this period mostly because he had found himself coming into a new set of abilities, the most concerning of which was the capacity to speak to birds. One might think that the strength to lift a car, or the wits to instantly master any language, would be an enormous upheaval (and they were), but it was the advent of his affinity with the creatures of the air that truly made him believe something supernatural was occurring. Largely, this is because of the specific avian companions who arrived to inform Suleiman of his new position in the world, and their unique way of expressing themselves. Calling themselves the Murder of Reason, a flock of ink black crows began following Suleiman around in his daily life, extolling the virtues of Vayu and informing Suleiman that he must prove himself to be a worthy heir to his divine sire. It was from the Murder that the young scion learned of the true nature of the world, and of the challenges that he would need to overcome if he were to thrive. And it was with the Murder that he was practicing his new abilities when his neighborhood was accosted by giants and razed to the ground. Only later, when he returned to his home did he find the entire population decimated and the buildings collapsed. And it was at this time that his powers became of secondary interest to him, and his primary focus became the extermination of giants.”

              “In some men, rage runs hot, and these berserkers will annihilate all before them until their madness runs its course. In others, rage flows like ice water, allowing for vengeance well-planned and executed with precision. In Suleiman, it was both; he relentlessly turned the table on his pursuers, hunting them down to their lairs and staging elaborate traps to bind them, before laying into them with all the fury of a wild animal, their screams of torment his only goal. If this all sounds rather dark, well, let me just say that it is considered unwise to stoke the wrath of a supernaturally powerful heir to a chaotic, evil god of death. Frankly, most people don’t really have to be told that, but giants aren’t always terribly intelligent. No offense intended, of course. Suleiman was assisted in his quest by his flock of avian followers, who guided him towards his prey and taught him how best to hide away from the sight of man. Thus, Suleiman evolved during his quest into a silent assassin, leaping from rooftop to rooftop in pursuit of his prey. Hhmm… now that I describe it aloud, it sounds rather like that Batman movie I watched on the plane ride here, so you can picture it like that, only with more stabbing and garotting.”

              “Giants are by no means easy prey, but eventually a persistent and industrious scion can find himself in the position of having depopulated a city of their ilk, so Suleiman created a Marrakech at peace with the supernatural world. Unfortunately, by this point, his life had become so consumed with horrors that he no longer knew peace in his own soul, and so he left his beloved homeland in pursuit of more conflict, his thirst for vengeance not yet slaked. What that callow youth could not know, and what you and I know all too well, is that Marrakech is but a minor tributary in the grand river of supernatural strife that is this world, and the titanspawn of massive cities like Casablanca and Cairo had brutal lessons in store for Suleiman. In Casablanca he was nearly destroyed several times by a cabal of sophisticated monsters who were unimpressed with a mere acrobat, and in Cairo he was forced to refine his approach to develop new ways of combatting demons who had the massive power of the state behind them. In each circumstance he invented new strategies, such as theft and character assassination, to whittle away at the core of his enemies’ strength until the were left destitute and without allies, only to finally be extinguished under the black blade of his hatred.”

              “Ahhh, good times. Unfortunately, there is only so much one man can do. For true change, teamwork is required, and sadly, not everyone is willing to ally with an assassin obsessed with pursuing titanspawn. Suleiman collaborated with several scions over the course of his travels, visiting such far-flung destinations as Hyderbad, Manila, and Odesa in his hunts, but most of the god-borne are far too interested in avoiding the risks of struggling with titanspawn more powerful than them, while Suleiman revels in those campaigns. It was not until he began his collaboration with Leonid Valdes that he truly found an ally worthy of his methods... but I see from your expression that you know that name already! Your frantic struggles against the cords binding you to the chair tell me that you now realize why you have been told this story, and that Leo has told me who, and WHAT, you really are. So, Tomislav (or Bonegnawer, if you prefer), you now know that I am not taken in by your extremely convincing act as a ignorant and terrified mortal, and that it is time we had a discussion in earnest about your operations here in Zadar. For this, I have prepared a variety of interesting concoctions, but it will really be faster if you just tell me what I want to know.”

              “No? Then let us begin.”

              --

              Twilight Zone part 2 next week

              (added note) And all caught up with this campaign! two more to go. New readers should know everything to hear was transferred from the old forums, so a lot hit fast. We will have journals for last session in a couple days.


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              • #22
                OK the two groups of Scions have met up. Time for them to put their heads together and decide how to deal with their problems.

                Session XI

                Twilight Zone Part II

                Ji-Woo’s Visions

                Zadar

                Leonid has a very nice gallery of statuary, most of it classical originals salvaged from various corners of the globe. He has a particularly nice Etruscan piece that I took my time admiring as we talked about his interest in sculpture. I love sculpture, personally. I think an exhibit of my sculpture is still up in a gallery in Lyon, though it’s been awhile since I’ve stopped in and they might have taken it down and put the pieces in storage. Or thrown them out. It doesn’t really matter. I was experimenting with fluid transitions between stylized figures and abstract design with an overall Asian motif—bodhisattvas mostly. I wasn’t really satisfied with the sculptures, but the gallery curator was smitten with them.

                Anyway, while Leo has statues, Suleiman has crows. Zane discovered this when she opened one of the windows in the moving chicken hut despite being explicitly told not to, and the crows flew in, much to Suleiman’s dismay. It’s not that he dislikes the crows, he just finds them exasperating at times. But I was right to assume that he ran with a crew of some sort, and I think I’ve worked out that the crow named Shiny!Shiny! is the “Face” of Suleiman’s operation. Apparently the real mastermind of the bunch is Hookbeak, who admires my plumage. I agree that my ink wings are rather fetching, and it’s flattering for him to have noticed. I don’t think I can compete with the crow named Amy, though. She is definitely the prettiest.

                I suppose I should call them a murder of crows instead of a flock, but that sounds so dark and threatening. Though perhaps it’s appropriate for Suleiman’s associates, not that Suleiman has been either of those things. Not towards me, anyway. Our foes would probably disagree.

                We also talked a bit about the men who attacked us. They are part of the Russian mob, and are actively working against Leo’s operations. We don’t know who is calling the shots, but the secret is no doubt within the prophecy that was tangled up in that catchy song I heard (misheard?) at the cafe before we met Suleiman. It seemed like a good time to mention it to the others, so I sang it for them and we mulled over what it all meant. It was too soon to unravel the prophecy’s mysteries, though, so all we really decided was that the Rusalki and Vodyanoi that have been active in the area are connected to Leo’s mobster enemies, and that Rumpole is likely using their activities as cover for his own schemes.
                So we decided to go have a chat with the centaurs Rumpole had been meeting, hoping they might enlighten us a bit more.

                * * * * *

                Reading entrails is not my preferred method of divination, but when a set of perfectly fine entrails shows up because Magnus has chopped a belligerent centaur in half, it would be foolish to ignore them, particularly when they radiate such an aura of significance. Still, I didn’t want to get too close, and poked around in them with a long, broken shaft of a spear. I’d already shot the head off the spear, and it was embedded in another centaur’s skull.

                Apparently, when we said that we planned to “talk” to the centaurs, we really meant “kill” the centaurs. And since the centaurs seemed more than happy to kill us in return, I didn’t really have a problem with that, though I do wonder if they might not have been a bit less violent if Magnus and Suleiman hadn’t been so open about our less-than-chatty intentions. Before going into battle, Suleiman blessed Rajani and me with the powers of his pantheon. For a time, I was able to realize more of my potential than ever before. I was faster, more agile, and more in control of every exquisite motion. It was liberating, and I would have preferred to enjoy it by flying erratically through the sunlit skies instead of fighting a bunch of centaurs, but I reigned in my impulse and stuck around to help my friends. Still, it was fascinating, and I’d love to see what his prayers could do for my insights when I’m on absinthe.

                As usual, we got carried away, but Rajani stayed on task and entranced one of the centaurs with her piercing, beautiful gaze. He stood enthralled until the fight was done, and then Magnus broke the centaur’s legs so that he couldn’t run while Leo and Andy interrogated him. Leo DOES seem dark and threatening. Andy doesn’t, though he probably could if he wanted.

                We learned that Rumpole was trying to get the centaurs to help him rob the pirate woman, who is a scion of the Loa pantheon. Turning her over to the centaurs was part of the deal. Centaurs really ARE horrible creatures, and knowing that they would have happily raped another scion made our brutal attack and interrogation seem more like justice.

                Which brings me back to the entrails. The patterns I saw in them made a lot of things about the prophecy clear to me. I started rattling off my insights. Rumpole is not the viscous little man from the prophecy; that refers to Koschei the Deathless, the famous Russian villain whose soul is hidden in a duck’s egg. Rumpole is playing a different game. He is the one hidden in haunted wailing, and his companions are to blame for that: a banshee, a sluagh, a leprechaun, and a will-o-wisp.

                Also, Aoide is not angry with me for leaving without warning, but Hermione is. Or maybe it’s the other way around, or maybe both are a little angry, and a little not. If my first interpretation is correct, then I don’t know whether to be happy or sad that Aoide isn’t angry. I don’t want her to be angry with me, but does this mean she doesn’t really care, or simply that she understands my need to escape? I wonder if Hermione’s is a passionate anger or a simmering anger? I’d prefer the former, if only because it’s more dramamtic and she can probably get it out of her system more quickly.

                Suleiman had no idea how to handle the fact that I was talking about random things while the others hung on my every s word. Zane, Andy and Magnus tried to explain to him that my insights are usually right, but he didn’t seem to believe it, even after they told him about the Nemean crocodile. But he’ll understand soon enough, once we meet with Rumpole and his people. The centaur told us where they were to meet Rumpole’s people tonight, so we’re going to have a midnight picnic while waiting for them. It sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to sip absinthe under the open stars and let the wisdom of the heavens drift down upon me in a satin haze. Maybe it will be a good time to open that bottle of 1910 Dornier-Tuller.

                * * * * *

                We have a problem on our hands, but the picnic went well. We had a nice chat with Rumpole’s companions over fried chicken, hand-cooked by Leo. He’s an excellent cook, though I enjoyed his paella much more than his fried chicken. And the Dornier-Tuller wouldn’t have gone well with the chicken, so I haven’t opened it yet.

                Rumpole didn’t come; only his four friends showed up. Siobhan is a haughty banshee with exceptionally pretty eyes, and Sean is a jovial leprechaun with exceptionally rosy cheeks. Saorise is a lonely sluagh with exceptionally empty eye-sockets, and Seamus is an evil will-o-wisp with an exceptionally murderous heart. After we explained that we were friends of Jester, they confirmed what we had learned about Rumpole’s plans from the prophecy and the centaur. They don’t have anything to do with Koschei’s people, but they did tell us that Koschei’s forces are working with a scion on Rodina Mat, who must be the “one of our society,” the scion referred to in my prophecy-song.

                Zane was amused to learn that Jester and Rumpole had a falling out over a girl during a scheme they attempted once, something involving a mill. Despite that, it appears that Siobhan and Sean are both betrothed to Rumpole, and even though neither wants to marry him, they are both too proud to back out and let the other “win” his hand. Weird. They should just leave him, because Rumpole sounds like a jerk.

                They agreed to arrange something with Rumpole and get back to us. But Saorise returned to speak with us in private. She seemed so mournful and sad that it took the edge off how creepy she looks. She’s only serving Rumpole because he has bound her to him with a deal; she has to give him her first-born child. She can’t leave him with that hanging over her head, and he isn’t likely to give up on her services easily since she’s so useful to him. But she wants us to help free her from his clutches, so now we have to figure out how to trick him letting Saorise out of her deal.

                Saorise also suggested how we might weaken Rumpole. Getting Siobhan and Sean to turn against him won’t be hard, but it will require one of them to give up on his or her claim to marriage. Zane suggested that I might seduce Siobhan, and she is charming, but I don’t want to end up in a long term relationship with her. Saorise is obviously smitten with the banshee, so I suggested that she should tell Siobhan how she feels, but she acted like an embarrassed schoolgirl when I said so, and besides, if she wants a child, she’s not going to have one with Siobhan. Of course, if she didn’t want a child and was content to hook up with the woman of her dreams, then all of her problems would be solved and she and Siobhan could ride off into the sunset on a white mare with a flowing mane. That’s how fairy tales end, right? We seem to be in one, so we should look for fairy-tale solutions to our problems.

                Not knowing how we could help Saorise didn’t stop up from agreeing to do what we could, and she left with promises to help us out if she was able. Now we just have to figure out how to get the best of Rumpole. Five of us—five to match the five of them —are going to meet Rumpole and his companions today at an Italian restaurant. And I think the rest of us will go visit the pirate scion. I wonder if she knows that one of the fae is plotting against her?


                Zane’s Letters

                Dad

                So, we met some new, new friends. One of them’s called Flibbertigibbet! They’re family of Suleiman, but I think he meant family like me and Jester and the littles maybe, on account of they’re birds. Crows, specifically. I guess they could be like blood family, or summat. We are superheroes and all, someone might have magiced them like that. Whichever, they were pretty brill. Suleiman can talk with them and everything, like I can with rats.

                Leo doesn’t like them none though. He told me not to open the window, but it’s so much fun sticking my head out windows when we go fast and all. We were still in the posh chicken-legged house, see. I did make sure there weren’t no papers or nothing, what would go flying about. Soon as I opened them though, the crow blokes flew in. Leo was pretty cross and glared at me right fierce when I started feeding them, which didn’t seem fair. Leo got a whole Payday bar when we met him. Why couldn’t the crows have a nip of bread?

                Any road, all the others liked them. Mags did this well metal pose, with the crows on his shoulders, summoning his ice guitar. Ji-Woo thought they ought be in his music videos with him. That’d be ace. Hook-beak (that’s one of the crows) said she had wonderful plumage. That was after she got her wings out later, of course.

                We also talked some about the mission. Suleiman is right serious sometimes (I think his crows are good for him about that, they seem fun) and when we finally gathered up to see the crows, he started up talking about the Hollow Men and such. He said they don’t have a brain, nor a heart, and maybe other inside stuff, which is where the name comes from, I guess, and why they’re so tough. They’re working for the mob, maybe with some rusalka and vodyanoy. those are some weird Russian ghost things. Rusalka can come up through the pipes in the loo. I guess the two of them, Leo and Suleiman, got attacked that way.

                Something they said went and reminded Ji-Woo about the prophecy she heard at the cafe, or something like that. Then that reminded the boys about the maybe-pirate ship, some kinda old-timey ship with spooky blokes in rags wandering about. So we thought about having a butchers at the ship, or the centaurs, or some lake what might have the rusalka buggers at it. We decided to go after the centaurs, seeing as Suleiman wanted to beat some up, though we said we were gonna talk. We got all buffed up first though and Leo made us pi-eya, which was bloody brilliant. He made us fried chicken later, which was maybe even better. Maybe.

                When the centaurs showed up, Suleiman started off by calling them filthy bastards and twirling his knife while he said we wanted to talk. And he had the brass ones to act all uppity when I said they wasn’t people. The centaurs I mean. For one, they’re centaurs, not humans anyways. For another, I didn’t like the way they looked at Ji-Woo or Rajani. Or me. I’d have given them a right thrashing just for that. And I don’t think I like Rumpole Wilson very much. He was gonna try to make the pirate lady give over to that bunch of wankers. She’s even a superhero like us maybe. That’s just not on.

                Any road, we had to fight off the centaurs. Rajani was ace and stared and smiled at one of the centaurs, keeping him all froze up the whole fight. She kept fighting though. She didn’t even have to look at them to cut them all up. Mags cut one into its two different pieces and Suleiman almost had one’s head off with his knife on a string. The centaurs were charging around all about the place, with their spears and all, but they focussed alot on Leo, seeing as he made himself look right big and important. He and Mags got hurt a bit, since they can’t dodge much, but nothing real serious.

                Then we had to talk with the frozen centaur. It weren’t very nice, but we did figure out that Rumpole was after something of the pirate lady’s and that Rumpole’s people would be at a certain place at moonrise. Also, there’s a waterfall that the rusalka like that maybe Leo recognizes. So far, I like the ghosts better than the centaurs - the boy ghosts chased off the centaurs but good when they started chatting up the lady ghosts, like is right.

                Once Mags did for the last centaur, Ji-Woo started poking at the halved centaur, with its spear, and seemed to get some answers, in her floaty kinda way. Mostly she realized that Rumpole wasn’t the horrid little man (something from her prophecy) but some bloke named Koeshi the Deathless was. He’s a Russian god-kinda-thing, whose heart’s in a duck egg, or maybe a chicken egg, to keep it safe, which seems a little daft to me. Also, Rumpole’s friends were a banshee, a sluagh, a willow wisp and a leprechaun and he was looking for some Egyptian statues what would come to life and fight. The sluagh told us later they were called ushabti and that the pirate lady was a Loa superhero and she was gonna sell them to some Pesedjet superheros, seeing as they got stolen from them by some titan thing some time. It’s a bit complicated.

                We had a bit of time before moonrise, so we went to get a bit cleaned up at the posh moving house. Leo ripped his skin all the way off to get clean, so he cooked up some right ace chicken for a picnic. We tried to share some with Rumpole’s friends, but they wouldn’t have none. They did take some home though.

                The leprechaun’s name was Sean and the banshee was Siobhan and the sluagh was Saorise and the willow wisp was Seamus. Sean and Siobhan talked mostly at first, bickering a bit. Sean recognized Jester’s name and knew a bit about he and Rumpole. Seems there was something about an old mill, and a fight over a girl. Jester usually isn’t stupid about boy-girl things. I guess he was alot younger then though. Ot maybe the leprechaun was lying. He thought they oughtn’t trust us cause of that and all. Saorise started talking more after that though, cause Sean and Siobhan starting bickering something fierce, about the girl at the mill. According to Saorise, both of them were supposed to marry Rumpole, and so they argued alot. Saorise was helping Rumpole cause he’d get her first kid otherwise. And Seamus was working with him cause he likes killing people. Saorise didn’t like him very much at all.

                They didn’t tell us much all together, but Saorise promised to come with a message after they’d gone and talked it over with Rumpole. So Leo’s people brought us a big fuck-off car what could fit everybody and Andy wangled us more posh rooms in a different hotel using Leo’s money, to try and keep the Hollow Men from finding us too fast. After all that, it was another little bit until Saorise showed up.

                Rumpole was alright to meet with us, but he wanted only four, since he only had four friends. It didn’t quite add up, even to me, seeing as with him that made 5, but Saorise thought that’d be ok. For us to have 5, I mean. She really wanted to help us out though. She thinks he’s a right wanker too, and doesn’t want to have to give over her kid or nothing. So she wants our help to break the deal, which seems fair to me. She told us about the Loa/Pesedjet/Titan thing with the pirate and also that the Russian mod folks with the Hollow Men had their own superheros, who was maybe being forced too. Also that Rumpole’s got magic escaping nighttime powers, so we ought meet him at the daytime. I didn’t mention the sack though, so we’d have a trick or two of our own. Suleiman was really nervous about the bag and he didn’t even look in it. He keep giving me funny looks now. Not that kinda funny though, he’s decent for a bloke, like Andy and Nemi and Mags. Right good too, or he wouldn’t be a friend of mine, even with Ji-Woo’s prophecy.

                She also said we oughta take away Rumpole’s other helpers. She thinks we should just kill Seamus, since he’s bad but that Sean and Siobhan might be convinced away, seeing as they don’t love Rumpole or nothing, so they’re not gonna be stupid about things, we just gotta offer them something better. He’s gotta be offering some powerful protection, or lots and lots of nice things, to be alright with marrying that wanker though. It might be tough. Leo does have lots of money though. Andy agreed, and also said we’d have to make sure they wouldn’t have to admit to being wrong or nothing. Well, for the banshee at least. He didn’t seem to care about the leprechaun as much. He was right angry, maybe more than I’ve seen much before, that the ladies got tricked, since they’re unseely, or something like that, and it seems he’s a Knight of the Unseely. He did say that before I think, at the White Gloves place in Berlin.

                Saorise did get weird about some things. She said something about us thinking she’s a goat, which was just odd. Ji-Woo said she’d explain though. She’s smart and good at explaining things, even if she is drifty. She knew Nemi needed the jelly cause it was the color of fire, back in Berlin. Saorise threw a bit of a wobbly when we started talking about somebody making time with Siobhan to convince her to leave Rumpole, which seems backwards to me. But she buggered off for a bit, and was a bit stroppy when she came back. I think she fancies the banshee, but she really, really wants kids, yeah? So it’s a bit of a problem. We did make plans to talk with her some more at breakfast tomorrow and then get lunch with Rumpole so’s he couldn’t use his escape-y tricks, if we got up to something.

                Zane

                End Session XI

                The Centaurs were, obviously, classic Centaur Horsemen, rather then the Scion motorcycle men. Not that there were a problem with them, just not what I needed. After the fight with the Hollow Men I think they expected a harder fight but it went smoothly.

                Bean Sidhe, Sluagh, and Leprechauns are in the Tuatha book. Will o’ the Wisps are not, so they are custom critter too.

                The crows were quite a hit.

                OK, well, comments and questions welcome.


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                [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]

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                • #23
                  Update between sessions, Leo's background.


                  Leonid “Leo” Valdes, Scion of Baba Yaga, Rus


                  Hello, my friend. As I understand it, your name is Vasily Kasparov. Surely you already know my name. No? Well, allow me to enlighten you: I am Leonid Valdes.

                  Ah, you have heard of me. That is gratifying; everyone likes to be recognized. Are you comfortable? I am very much afraid that things are going to become rather unpleasant for you shortly, but there is no reason we cannot begin this conversation as civilized men.

                  Would you like something to drink? I have vodka, of course, but I also have a Cuban rum which you really should try. It’s distilled on a small sugar plantation which I own, and shipped only to my private stores… and to those of a few close associates. The fermentation and distillation process was developed by an obscure monastic order which has since died out. You will not have the opportunity to try it again.

                  The vodka? It’s merely Stolichnaya, I’m afraid, from their “Elit” line. Passable, but unremarkable.
                  Oh, very well. I suppose there’s something to be said for tradition. Here you are. I assume you take it straight…

                  So, the basic introductions have been made, but of course there’s more to our stories than just our names. I thought that, since I will be asking you a series of very intricate and difficult questions regarding your organization’s recent activities in Zagreb over the next few hours, I would begin by telling you a bit of my story. Oh, I won’t be spilling all of my secrets by any means, but there are a few tidbits I think you might find enlightening, if not outright unbelievable.

                  I was born sometime in early 1965; I am not certain of the exact date or location. I know that I was left on the doorstep of the Casa de Beneficencia orphanage in Havana when I was less than a month old. The nuns there tell me that I was wrapped in a muslin shroud, and that a note accompanied me. The note was not written on paper, but something older and heavier, like parchment or vellum. A single word was scrawled in rusty red-brown ink: Leonid, written in Cyrillic. They took this to be my given name. Since no family name was listed, I was given the surname “Valdes” like all unidentified children at that institution.

                  Stories of my early childhood are neither relevant to your current situation nor particularly interesting. By the time I reached adolescence, I was an intelligent but introspective boy with a thirst to prove myself. I started my first business at the age of thirteen, though of course the idea was not so grand as all that in the beginning. I merely noticed that the omnipresent communist soldiers in Havana would pay well for the services of a trusted courier… particularly a local boy who could slip past the cordons and bring prohibited items to them while they were on duty. In this way I learned two important lessons. The first was that motion is a constant in this world… as long as there are people there will be those who need items transported from place to place. The second lesson was no less valuable: that such people will often pay a premium for silence, and that a reputation for discretion can be worth more than a bag of diamonds in the long run.

                  I developed such a reputation over time. In five years, I never failed to make a delivery on time, and none of my clients’ illicit dealings were ever discovered. I began to attract the notice of others in the same field: shippers, traffickers, and smugglers, mostly. Some were jealous of my success, and wanted to warn me against meddling in their affairs. Others wished to recruit me. They made generous offers, but I was always careful to decline. Eventually the more enterprising saw me as a potential partner, and I discovered my true calling.

                  By the age of eighteen I was working with several longtime associates in Miami. The flood of Cuban refugees into Florida was going strong by that point, and hundreds – perhaps thousands – had already lost their lives attempting to swim the Atlantic, or to make the journey in hastily constructed rafts. There were a few facilitators in Havana who could arrange to move people onto American soil safely, but their services were expensive, and most refugees were unable to meet those prices. I saw an underserved market and decided to throw my hat in, so to speak.

                  Though America has never been particularly enthusiastic in welcoming the Cuban people to its shores, there are certain products from my homeland which are highly desired by rich American collectors. Cigars are the most famous of the embargoed Cuban luxury items, of course, but there are also a number of alcoholic beverages, exotic foodstuffs, and hand-crafted jewelry which were all but impossible to obtain legally in those days. And that is to say nothing of the less wholesome products of the Cuban countryside… marijuana, cocaine, and heroin are all produced in abundance by a population too destitute to support its own market.
                  Suffice to say that I made a good living in those years, though I tucked most of my money away in offshore banking endeavors. Before long I had amassed a fortune large enough to legally relocate to the Southeastern United States. I knew that I needed to create a respectable front for my business endeavors, and after much research I decided to enter the food service industry. In those days there were many Cubans in Miami, but few restaurants serving the type of food to which they were accustomed. I opened a small dine-in restaurant called El Pollo Cabano de Leo, and served traditional Cuban cuisine such as arroz con pollo, pork sandwiches, and dulce de leche.

                  The restaurant was an immediate success. In those days I did most of the cooking myself, though I have since retired from that noble art. At first, almost all of my customers were Cuban immigrants, but word soon spread, and many wealthy locals and curious tourists began to dine there. I made most of my money on repeat customers; no one could get enough of my food.

                  Of course, the small amounts of highly addictive chemicals with which I seasoned my food might have had something to do with that. What’s that? Oh, mostly relatively harmless chemicals like caffeine and nicotine, though I occasionally experimented with less savory substances as well.

                  Though the restaurant itself was doing very well, I admit that most of my early success came from the fact that some of my associates were hiding various illicit drugs in the food shipments I received and distributed from the back room. In any case, after less than a year in the restaurant industry, I was ready to open a second location. I decided to Anglicize the name of the restaurant, and The Chicken Hut was born. Only the original location in Miami is still called El Pollo Cabano de Leo.

                  A few years later I had more than thirty restaurants all over the American Southeast, and I maintained my own production factories and warehouses. This allowed me to cut ties with my former associates and go into business purely for myself. Don’t misunderstand me… in the drug trade I still did business with overseas production and local retailers, but I no longer needed the backing of other transporters when my own network had grown so large. I always constructed my warehouses in shipping hubs like Atlanta, Wilmington, New Orleans, and Miami. More often than not, the trucks which left those warehouses carried cocaine and heroin concealed among the containers of chicken, pork, and vegetable oil. It was a perfect arrangement… everyone in the region lived within an hour of one of my restaurants.

                  You may have heard something about the next decade of my life; there were a few news stories about me during that time. My rise was nothing short of meteoric. By the mid-1990s I had Chicken Huts in all forty-eight of the continental United States, plus a few in Mexico (to make transporting illegal drugs across the border a bit easier) and Canada (as I had foreseen the coming trade in prescription medication).

                  The true beauty of it was that I had more money than I could possibly need by that point, so I could afford to be generous with it. I gave extensively to many charities, including RAIN, the American Cancer Society, and the ASPCA. On the local level, Chicken Hut restaurants became famous for holding charity drives to benefit local orphanages and schools. Our restaurants are often local headquarters for Boy and Girl Scout Troops, and we are active supporters of youth shelters and the 4-H club. So you see, one of the biggest drug lords in the Western world was widely regarded as a saint!

                  A side effect of this fame was the fact that I began to gain a reputation as a man who should not be crossed… in the business world, I mean. I have used my money and influence for the benefit of others, and I have used them for my own personal gain. I have many “friends” in Congress at both the state and federal levels, and the Fraternal Order of Police regards me as one of their most generous benefactors. I have both blocked and introduced legislature from behind the scenes, and have become quite adept at manipulating the voting process. In short, I can make things very difficult for my enemies, whomever and wherever they might be.
                  However, as the millennium turned, I discovered that I was not omnipotent; that there are some forces beyond the reach of even my influence.

                  She first came to me on a moonless night. It was late; I had just completed a business transaction which would most likely result in the deaths of about a dozen people, and I was on my way to bed. She was sitting in my drawing room waiting for me when I arrived home.

                  I know that many orphans often dream – or at least fantasize – about meeting their birth parents. They build up elaborate stories about their attractive, wealthy, powerful families, and are inevitably disappointed when and if they ever learn the truth about their origins. I had never done so. My parents had chosen to take no part in my life, and therefore were of no interest to me. I therefore had no mental image to compare against the reality when my mother came looking for me.

                  The odd thing is that I still cannot describe her. Oh, I remember details, but I cannot piece them together into a cohesive whole in my memory. She gave the impression of great age… she certainly looked older than my mother should have been at that time. Her hair was iron, her long ragged nails were the yellow of aged ivory, and her eyes were fire. Her teeth were snaggled and mossy green, and her lips were incongruously red and full. She leaned against what I took to be a thick cane or walking stick… I later learned that it was a colossal pestle.

                  I see from your incredulous expression that you recognize my descriptions of my dear mother, eh Vasily? Yes, the woman I describe is none other than Baba Yaga, the crone of the forest. You are in the presence of divinity, Vasily, and you did not even know it.
                  I did not believe she was my mother at first, but she demonstrated her power. That night I flew through the air with her in a giant mortar. I watched as she caused a woman to miscarry merely by stomping hard upon her shadow. I saw her place the curse of the evil eye upon an orthodox priest, and remove it from a prostitute who lay bleeding in a gutter. She never explained why she did these things, it was enough that I believe in her.

                  In any case, our conversation lasted for all of that night and through the next day and night as well. What was said was no concern of yours, other than this one simple fact: the gods are at war. Not only the gods of our people, but all of the great figures of legend, from Jove and Minerva to Amaterasu to Quetzalcoatl. Their enemy is a force so dark and terrible that your mind would shatter if you perceived even the least part of it. And the true irony is that you are working for this darkness, fulfilling its every twisted whim, and you haven’t the wit to see it.

                  My mother urged me to continue to expand my personal empire. She told me that my work in this world had pleased her. She told me how useful it could be for the forces of the gods to be able to move people and materiel around the world without attracting the wrong sort of attention, and said with pride that no other scion of the gods had accomplished as much in this area as I. And she gave me three gifts.

                  ‘First,’ she said to me, ‘I give you knowledge of the natural world, that you might exceed all other men in your endeavors.’ With that she handed me a battered old book bound in tough tanned leather and fastened with bone clasps. The cover bore the title Gran’ma Fury’s Old Fashioned Home Cooking, and in its pages I learned much about things that grow in the earth, about the chickens which had provided so much of my fortune, and about… other things. The recipes contained therein are simply divine.

                  ‘Second,’ she continued, ‘I give you protection from the natural world, that you might overcome the hardships this life will certainly place in your path.’ She produced a small silver ornament from the depths of her dress and handed it to me. It was a thin flat spike about two inches long, shaped like an old-fashioned fence post. At the apex of this spike perched the figure of a human skull with tiny sapphire eyes. Here, you can see that I still wear it everywhere as a tie-pin. When I bear it on my person, I do not feel the chill of winter as other men do.

                  ‘Third,’ she finished, ‘I give you majestic transport through the natural world, so that when the time is right for you to be revealed, all men shall look on you and know that I claim you as my own, and shall tremble in fear and despair at your passing.’ And that gift… well, I must keep some things private, even at a time such as this. Suffice to say that no CEO in the world travels as quickly or as comfortably as I.

                  She left me alone then, and I made a few calls. Of course I did as she had asked! I had been initiated into a very different world; recruited into the lower echelons of an army greater than any assembled by man. It was more than my duty to obey her… it was my honor. My pleasure!

                  It has now been more than a decade since my mother visited me. In that time I have expanded my business interests into nearly every developed country in the world. I can send shipments between warring nations with impunity, and my sterling reputation for community activism and generous charity work ensures that my shipments are rarely even searched. Consequently, I can still move illicit substances anywhere in the world with a minimum of fuss. Oh, cocaine and heroin have long since given way to methamphetamines and weapon trafficking, but the principles are the same. And yes, I still do what I can to help refugees from war-torn nations immigrate to more hospitable homes… I suppose I have become a bit sentimental.

                  Baba Yaga has not contacted me directly since that first visit, though she does occasionally send me messages. These messages often contain mysterious instructions, detailing little tasks which I am to complete in her name. Move a single, seemingly mundane item from Albuquerque to Istanbul. Ensure that both sides of a civil conflict in Myanmar are armed equally well. See to it that a certain politician from Milan arrives exactly eleven minutes late to a particular banquet. I have never questioned her orders, and have always seen them followed to the letter.

                  And that brings us to the present day. Your organization, Vasily, is getting in the way of one of my mother’s little tasks in Zagreb, and I really can’t have that.

                  You remember my associate, do you not? Allow me to make formal introductions. Vasily Kasparov, this is Suleiman al-Enezi. I’m certain you remember him; he’s the man who… ehh… ‘invited’ you into my home. Like myself, Suleiman is a soldier in the war I mentioned earlier. Unlike me, however, he’s more of a traditional soldier. I believe he is the equivalent of a Special Forces or Black Ops specialist. And now, since I have been talking so much over the past hour, I’m going to sit back and allow Suleiman to ask you some questions. I do suggest you answer them honestly.

                  What’s that? You don’t feel that you should tell us anything, since it’s obvious that we’re going to kill you regardless. Why, my dear man, I don’t think you yet understand the nature of our negotiation. I will explain things further while Suleiman is getting his tools ready.

                  Yes, you are going to die here, after you have told us everything you know about your employers’ activities here in Zagreb. But what you fail to understand is that your death is not the stick in this negotiation, Vasily.

                  It’s the carrot.

                  --
                  See you next week


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                  • #24
                    The last Scion session was all talk. OK that is unfair. In a situation where Faerie tale logic and tropes were the order of the day, our heroes and their players chose their words carefully. As such, look for a lot of negotiation in the journals this time. Still, it should prove enjoyable.

                    Session XII


                    Twilight Zone Part III

                    Ji-Woo’s Visions

                    Zadar

                    We discussed exactly what to do with Rumpole, but we’re still playing it by ear. The first question was how to get him to release his hold on Saorise, but I suggested that since we are obviously caught in the midst of a fairy tale, we might as well do things the way they are done in fairy tales. Which is to say that once we capture Rumpole in Zane’s bag, we should trade his freedom for the annulment of Saorise’s contract.

                    The others observed that if we did that, we would just have to capture him again to deliver him to Jester, so I pointed out that we didn’t have to say WHERE we would release him. That satisfied everyone, so the group turned their collective intellects toward figuring out how to separate Siobhan and Sean from Rumpole. Since I’d already contributed my part of the plan, I let them talk and began doodling in my sketchbook. It was quickly decided that Magnus would use his ability to speak different words to different people with one voice to secretly plant seeds of dissent in Sean and Siobhan while the others distracted Rumpole.

                    And then Saorise showed up to warn us that Rumpole would bargain information on Leo and Suleiman’s enemies in return for certain items hidden in the enemy hideout. I don’t like the sound of that. The idea of being trapped in some sort of oathbound bargain makes me tense, like the thought of being locked in a closet. If I were to learn Phaedra’s trick of walking through walls, would I feel less claustrophobic, knowing I could always escape?

                    * * * * *

                    I spent the meeting with Rumpole shopping in a fashionable boutique across the street from the Italian restaurant. I was watching the meeting through the windows, of course, but I couldn’t hear anything, and I was really supposed to be keeping an eye out for Koschei’s goons anyway. I did take care to mask my appearance with the veil of nondescript plainness so I wouldn’t stand out. I had suggested that Suleiman and I cold go visit the Loa pirate while they had the meeting, but I think the others wanted to meet her too, so they made excuses about needing us stay on watch for Koschei’s forces. Which I suppose is reasonable, if boring. It was fortuitous that there was a boutique near the restaurant, as it gave me something to do while on watch.

                    Suleiman was with me. He clung to the shadows and concealed himself with displays of elegant clothing, and became cross with me whenever I asked for his opinion on this or that dress. He scolded me for not watching, but I assured him that I was perfectly capable of standing sentry and shopping at the same time. Except for when I was in the dressing room, I suppose, but even then I kept an ear out for trouble. Still, Suleiman seemed to appreciate the dress I bought, and he is handsome. Maybe he’ll ask me out.

                    * * * * *

                    After the meeting, the others updated Suleiman and me on the arrangements. They’ve decided to make a deal with Rumpole to retrieve three items from the headquarters from which Koschei’s vodyanoi, rusalki, and hollow men are making their attacks. In exchange, Rumpole will tell us where the hideout is and provide us with the means to get inside.

                    The items we are to retrieve for Rumpole sound quite interesting but more than a little off-putting. The first is the Rusalka Heart, which can grant a woman the ability to control rusalki, but it will turn her into one when she dies. It also makes her irresistible to vodyanoi. The second is a statue of a crying woman, which gives the ability to read the mind of anyone whose undergarment the owner possesses. Who the hell made an relic like that? The third is an otter skin that can hold various things, and Leo, Magnus and I all suspect that it is the very same otter skin in which Loki hid the Nibelung ring. Which means it might be cursed.

                    Of course, a deal is a deal and Rumpole demanded tasks of each of us should we fail to bring him the items, provided they are there when we arrive at the hideout. So. . . we suspect that he will betray us by removing one or more of the objects after we show up at the hideout in order to catch us in a loop hole. I really hate this sort of two-faced double-talk and trickery. I guess I’m just not that manipulative. Fortunately, we have Andy and Magnus with us, and the two of them are cunning enough to match wits with the best of them.

                    Rumpole miscalculated badly with Magnus, though. He suggested that Magnus’ price for failing would involve performing music of Rumpole’s choosing to a huge crowd, and Magnus will not stand for ANYONE fucking with his music. So he stormed out of the meeting, but not before chatting secretly with Sean and Siobhan. I gather that he planted some serious doubts in Siobhan’s mind, but Sean seems to be far too attached to Rumpole’s influence and gifts to leave him. Which is probably for the best. They deserve one another.

                    Now we have to figure out how to respond to Rumpole’s offer and then go settle with him. I’m sure there were other details too, but they were boring so I wasn’t paying attention. Zane seemed to like my new dress, though.

                    Zadar - Treading (Lu) maintaining

                    I hate being trapped in a deal I didn’t want to make. My distress is alleviated only by the curiosity sparked by Rumpole’s conditions and the fact that the I Ching advises me to carry on step by step, despite any personal sacrifice. Even though every fiber of my being screamed against making the deal with Rumpole, I did it anyway. I hope I interpreted the omens correctly. Even if I didn’t, I couldn’t very well bow out, not when the others need me to help them raid our enemies’ hideout.

                    Yes, we made the deal with Rumpole, and Andy hammered out the twists and turns, so I’m confident we’re okay, but I still don’t like being stuck in a mystically enforced oath like this. It’s like rope around my neck, stifling my freedom and making it hard for me to breath. Figuratively, that is.

                    We’ve agreed to retrieve the items from the enemy hideout and give them to Rumpole, and he has given us the means to access the hideout. Our condition on him was that the items actually be there when we arrive. If they aren’t, he forfeits and must return to London with us. Andy was very clever to include a “in a manner of our choosing clause” on the return to London. If we get the best of Rumpole, we can make him get in Zane’s claustrophobia bag peacefully. It’s no less than the crafty little man deserves.

                    He placed a forfeit on each of us as well, in the event that we don’t meet the demands of the deal exactly as stated. I don’t recall exactly what everyone promised, but I know that Zane must bring Jester somewhere of Rumpole’s choosing, which could be interesting and probably bad. Andy will have to act of Rumpole’s advocate in a matter involving the Unseelie Court. Knowing that Rumpole is on the bad side of the Unseelie is good information. As for me, he wants me to steal a jade dragon statue given to my brother by my father. That is what piqued my curiosity, so I started asking all sorts of questions about it, enough to learn that it was a gift from Fu Xi, not my mortal father, and it’s a jade seal, fashioned a bit like the imperial seal, and it’s a relic and so on until Rumpole became annoyed with me. Zane found it VERY entertaining that I was able to upset Rumpole like that, even though I didn’t mean to.

                    Rumpole renegotiated his conditions for Magnus, who stubbornly argued the point far longer than was really necessary, all in the interest of buying time for Suleiman to hurry to the enemy hideout ahead of us, sneak in, and steal the otter skin. Suleiman knows Phaedra’s trick of going through barriers, so he was able to find a way through the whirlpool that guards the entrance. The beauty of our plan is that Suleiman was not included in the deal, so he wasn’t bound with it, and since he took the otter skin before we arrived, Rumpole will forfeit the deal and be forced to return to London with us. Now we just have to make sure that he doesn’t double-cross US.

                    I really need to learn Phaedra’s trick. If I knew it, I wouldn’t have had to get involved in this deal either. But I wouldn’t have learned about my brother’s statue either. Sometimes fate likes to tease me.

                    In the end, Rumpole told us that we could find the hideout beneath Lake Vrana on the edge of town, and he gave us a large blue pearl which will work as a key to the hideout. It’s about the size of a walnut, though far less craggy. The pearl, not the hideout. In fact, the pearl has a nice satiny surface. It’s a pleasant texture and I can’t help running my finger over it from time to time. The others let me keep it, which is really for the best, because I’ve spent the time waiting for Suleiman attuning my chi to it, a process sped along by a couple of slowly prepared glasses of absinthe. The end result is that I can breath water, which is more a step along my divine growth than along the path of this particular adventure, though it will serve me well when we venture into the submarine caverns of the hideout. I’d rather not have an unwieldy SCUBA tank strapped to my back in the middle of a fight.

                    I suppose this time the I Ching’s message addressed both my immediate needs AND long-term destiny. Maybe it’s always doing that and I’ve just been too short-sighted to see it.

                    Anyway, now that Suleiman is back, we are going to raid the hideout in force. He reports that the place is guarded by plenty of rusalki and vodyanoi. He also says there’s a squid shark down there, which seems a bit ridiculous, but I would like to see it with my own eyes. I’ll probably regret saying that once it happens, but they do say that curiosity killed the cat.


                    Zane’s Letters

                    Dad -

                    I don’t think I like Rumpole very much. Mags doesn’t like him at all. I thought he was gonna bash the bugger, maybe with his axe! But Leo had done some posh magic-y thing, what made it so we wasn’t to go about hitting each other. I think we could, but bad things would happen or summat. Mags was good though, and didn’t hit nobody.

                    That was when we was talking with the little wanker of course. Before, we talked alot more about how to turn his tricksy-ness around and how to get his friends to leave off. Seems the only way to call off a magic-fairy wedding is if the bloke and maybe the bird wants it called off or if one of them’s been married before or if one of them gets caught getting off with someone else. Andy was gonna look for whether Rumpole had been married before, on account of no one wanting to snog Rumpole or Sean. Ji-Woo didn’t even want to snog Siobhan, but I think she was just scared off by all the marrying noise. We also thought about maybe tricking Rumpole into marrying someone else, but that had everybody scared off.

                    For firsties, we decided to try and just talk up Sean and Siobhan, so they’d make a fuss themselves about Rumpole choosing between them and all, then maybe both leave, cause who wants to be married to him? Well maybe Sean, cause he likes presents and Rumpole has lots of brill shit. Any road, Mags was gonna do it all sneaky-like. See, he can talk with people and have everyone hear a different thing, or even nothing at all! So he could get both of them riled up and Rumpole wouldn’t know what was going on, right at his own table.

                    We talked a bit about Saorise too, and getting her free. Ji-Woo thinks it needs to be like a fairy tale, or summat, which she says means we need to catch him up, and only let him out if he lets her go. Mags wanted to just kill him, but we’ve got a plan more like Ji-Woo’s, seeing as I think Jester wants him alive and all, it’s why we have the bag. We did think about using it to put Siobhan in, since she’s the one making a hash of things mostly, on account of her knowing when we planned bad things for Rumpole, but that made Andy sad, even though he brought it up, so we didn’t think about it too much. Any road, it’s not even a real plan, so that we don’t spook Siobhan or anything.

                    We decided to have Ji-Woo and Suleiman guard nearby while we talked with Rumpole, since he only wanted five of us to show up. Leo made some ace egg things for breakfast while we talked with Saorise. She said he was planning to try and make a deal with us, where he would tells us about a secret hiding place for the Russian mob blokes and we would get some things from the base for him. She warned us they was probably going to be easy to lose, or maybe he’d go steal them ahead of time or something, so we’d owe him and all, like he did with her.

                    That was pretty much how it went, once we met Rumpole at the posh Italian place and Leo did his magic-y stuff. The things he wanted were a Rusalka heart, that let a bird control Rusalka and turn into one when she was done for and made vodyanoy want to chat her up, a statue of a crying lady that let you read somebody’s mind if you’ve got their pants, and an otter skin what can hold alot of things at once. The others said the otter skin was maybe cursed, or maybe just had a cursed ring inside it. Rumpole did say we could have whatever was inside too. He’s so nice, isn’t he? He was going to use them to trade for things, he said, which makes sense, on account of he can’t even use the heart thing, not being a bint or nothing.

                    While we was going on about all that, Mags was talking with Sean and Siobhan. Sean made a mini leprechaun on Mags’ shoulder so that he could talk back. Leastwise, that’s what Mags said, I didn’t see it or nothing. It was bad enough seeing Sean, with his bathrobe. He wasn’t wearing pants you see. I could tell he wasn’t whenever he lifted his arms up. Any road, Sean didn’t take the bait much, since he likes all the presents Rumpole gives over and likes making Siobhan mad, being a right git of a lad. Siobhan was reacting and all, kinda like we wanted, but she couldn’t talk back or anything and never got all yell-y. It was a bit odd though. When Mags said he was talking to someone else, she thought it was Saorise and got all funny over it. Seems Siobhan might have a thing for Saorise, but is some kind of fairy toff, and sluagh are just regular people for fairies. Siobhan’s better than Sean or Rumpole, but I don’t think I like her much either.

                    Any road, about that time we got into talking about what kind of thing we’d have to do if we didn’t bring the things back, mostly so Mags could have more time to make them angry and all. That didn’t work so good, on account of that’s when he said Mags’d have to play a song that Rumpole wrote for 2 million people and Mags almost hit him. He did leave, probably so he wouldn’t. Leo’d have to give over some of his restaurants in America, Raj’d have to do a special tattoo, I’d have to bring Jester some place and Andy’d have to be a barrister for him with the Unseely. We’re going to look into why he needs a barrister too, and maybe why he wants some of those other things.

                    I didn’t really like mine no more than Mags did his, but Andy’s clever and started talking with him, all fast and tricksy. He worked it out so that if Rumpole said anything wrong, he’d have to come with us to London-town. Also, Mags would have to do summat else, just in case, so he would come with us and all. Well, that’s what Andy said he worked out. It weren’t even any fun trying to keep up with it after a bit, though I did, cause it was still more fun than paying any sort of attention to Sean and his bathrobe.

                    After all that, we got all together again at a cafe-type place. Ji-Woo changed clothes while she was watching. I think she’d been trying on clothes as a disguise at a shop nearby. Her new dress was a pretty blue and did go with her eyes, like she said, even with them being brown and all. Once we’d gotten Mags back from where he stomped off to, we set up our plan. We were going to meet back up with Rumpole, with Ji-Woo with us and make the deal, so we could get the information and the key relic thing. Suleiman wasn’t to come with, so that he could be all sneaky and get one of the things out of the base before we got there. Then, Rumpole would have said something wrong, and would have to come with us to London-town. I was a little sad to not get to sneak, but I was already at the meeting and all, and it’d look weird if I didn’t show up again, seeing as I was the one who wanted him to come with us. Also, Suleiman can walk through walls, and I can’t. That makes me sad too. Not that he can, that’s just ace.

                    Ji-Woo weren’t too happy about being in some kind of tricksy deal with Rumpole, even if we were all clever about it. She said it made her feel all claustrophobic. She felt better about it later, I think, cause what she would have to do is to steal a jade dragon statue that her dad was going to give her brother and she got all interested in that, asking Rumpole all sorts of questions about what it was and what it did and when he’d give it to him and which dad was going to give it over and how big it was. Rumpole got kinda pissy about it, it was brill.

                    We told Saorise all about out plan, once Ji-Woo asked if she was a double agent or some such. She was going to go with Suleiman, but then we realized it would look right bad if she ducked out as soon as Rumpole mentioned where it was. It worked out alright any road though. Leo had his cell phone on so that Suleiman could hear when Rumpole said it was at Lake Verana, a bit south of town. There was a whirlpool at the bottom, and the stone he gave us would let you through, or being able to go through walls, or just being well strong. Problem was, it was all underwater, and even Mags and me can’t hold our breathes for that long. Rumpole offered some beans that made it so you could breathe water, but we had to make deals for them. Mags asked what his deal was, and I don’t even remember what it was, cause he started throwing a wobbler right off. I don’t even think it was that bad, but he was making time so that Suleiman could get the thing first. Ji-Woo helped by interrupting with more and more questions about her brother’s dragon. It was better than watching a film, though the Italian place didn’t have popcorn or candy. I did have another nosh though. They had some ace pickled onions, with some kind of weird spices on it. And great biscuits for afters. I brought some of them with me.

                    Leo wound up getting one of the beans, cause all he had to do was explode an empty boat. Rumpole wanted to me steal a necklace from a centaur bint, cause the necklace would mean she had to marry whoever had it. That didn’t seem fair at all, even to a centaur, so I got me some air tanks. Suleiman had to get some air tanks too, and Mags. Andy and Ji-Woo can breathe water on their own.

                    On the way there, Leo and Ji-Woo and Andy were telling us some bits about the Russian ghost-types. Rusalka are real, real pretty and are distracting. The vodyanoy are real strong and tough, but usually can’t just duck out of damage like the Hollow Men. Suleiman also ran into a couple of Hollow Men and a stonking huge shark octopus thing. Well, he snuck around them. He also said the heart was guarded, but the others weren’t. The otter skin had been tucked away somewhere hidden, but the statue was easy to find. He took the skin and got out safe, so things seem to be working good so far.

                    We’re almost at the lake now, so I have to stop writing. I’ll let you know how fighting the giant shark-octopus goes when we get back from the water.

                    Zane

                    End Session XII



                    Not a lot of mechanics that need further discussion.

                    For the second time in the campaign so far, the game paused while everyone calculated how long they could hold their breath. We should add it to the sheet next time.

                    It was good to see the social oriented characters really shine. Rolls were made to help with the negotiating, with Saltmarsh Andy and Leo taking point.

                    The relics were weird, but what can you do?

                    Join us next time, where they fight a Nemean sharktapus. Because.

                    Comments and Questions welcome.


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                    [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]

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                    • #25
                      It’s time to check in with our Scion group. Suleiman’s player was sadly under the weather last time so he is not present. We should still however have plenty to enjoy as they face the lake critters.

                      Session XIII

                      Twilight Zone Part IV

                      Ji-Woo's Visions


                      Zadar - Lake Vrana - Swallowing (Yi) maintaining

                      Good news for me. The omens says we should spontaneously pursue what we desire. Within reason, of course, but reason is little more than a labyrinth, and at its center lies justification.

                      The submarine grotto beneath Lake Vrana was too straightforward to be a labyrinth. The satin-blue pearl let us swim down through the whirlpool and into a wide crevasse, and there we were, in the grotto. Sadly, Suleiman remained behind because we were worried that if he participated in the raid, it might trigger some sort of unforeseen clause in our deal with Rumpole. Rajani was looking tres magnifique in her sexy swimsuit, and Magnus was looking tres beau in his cut-off jeans. I started out in a pair of short jean shorts, a tank top, and a light, unbuttoned blouse, but decided the blouse was a bit cumbersome underwater and got rid of it, followed by the tank top at Andy’s suggestion, leaving me in my bra and shorts, which ended up being the most comfortable arrangement for swimming anyway. I sprouted my ink wings, just to see what would happen, and got a bit distracted by the way the ink dispersed into the water, leaving playful trails of smokey black.

                      Then there was a sharktopus, which died very quickly under our focused attacks. Zane slowed it down by grabbing it, which was fairly amusing to watch, and Magnus struck the killing blow. Leo was so impressed that he offered to hire us on the spot, though for some reason he was speaking with hand signs. Andy and I could talk because we can breath water, and I thought that the magic bean Leo got from Rumpole would allow him to talk as well as breath water. But Leo insisted on communicating with signs and gestures.

                      Before we moved on, Zane asked if she should sneak ahead to rescue the other relics before Rumpole’s people got a chance to do so. The rest of us would head in and keep the grotto’s vodyanoi and rusalki guardians busy. I didn’t know what would be wisest, so I tossed the coins a few times, reading them the best I could while they slowly sank in the water. They indicated the unchanging hexagram number 27, which stands for to “jaws” or “swallowing.” Of course, that meant we needed to pursue what we were after in order to receive the symbolic nourishment we needed. At the time, Zane needed a little mischief to nourish her, so I told her to go for it.

                      By the time I’d worked that out and Zane had disappeared, the others interpreted the omen differently, though I suppose their interpretation wasn’t any less legitimate. They decided that “jaws” and “swallowing” meant that Andy should animate the shark as a zombie and we should all pile into it (Magnus left a big enough hole when he killed it) and then use it to take the vodyanoi and rusalka by surprise. I didn’t like this idea. I didn’t want to climb around in shark guts, and I DEFINITELY didn’t want to be closed up inside that thing, but Magnus rolled his eyes and told me to get in or else. It’s not like I can help the anxiety I feel. I don’t roll MY eyes when he gets all macho, do I? It’s really the same thing, just a reaction to feeling threatened. But one cannot see one’s reflection in running water, and our lives, by choice or happenstance, offer little opportunity to gaze upon the still pool. Besides, Mags put me up front so I could see out of its mouth and wouldn’t feel so trapped.

                      The Trojan shark worked, though, and we got the drop on a group of frog-faced vodyanoi and coldly beautiful rusalki. The vodyanoi looked really scary, so I shot them up first, but the rusalki were the dangerous ones, which I realized once they started trying to entrance us with their sad gaze. One of them almost had me drowning in her icy blue eyes, but just before I fell to her charms, I found my way to the center of the labyrinth of reason by reminding myself that I had a commitment to Aoide, which gave me the justification I needed to shake off the rusalka’s wiles. I had to stay there in the middle of that mental labyrinth for the rest of the fight, because the rusalki were intent on enchanting all of us. Magnus didn’t like it at all. He froze a couple of the rusalki in a block of ice, and I finished them off while Rajani took care of the vodyanoi, Andy gave us good fortune,and Leo called the shots.

                      By the time we had finished with those guys, Zane was back, and the rest of the rusalki and vodyanoi were hot on her heels with a few hollow men, which happily meant that she had successfully nourished her need for mischief. I focused on eliminating the hollow men, but Magnus finished them off for me. I was able to shoot the arm off of one just so that the still-twitching limb managed to shoot a rusalka. Magnus was quite annoyed by then because he had briefly fallen slack-jawed and idle under a rusalka’s charms, but I freed him from that by killing the lady in question. Zane, of course, ran interference for us, which made things much easier, especially for Rajani, who had her hands full slaughtering vodyanoi. I think my favorite moment, though, was when Leo evoked a sheet of ice in the water and used it to sketch out a perfectly coordinated plan of attack for us. The plan worked flawlessly and we became the brush strokes of an artist painting the masterpiece of our enemies’ demise. Leo’s appreciation for art was quite evident, and even though I do feel horribly morbid talking about the fight like this, I can’t help but admire the perfect choreography we managed to achieve, if only for an instant. Of course, the best things in life are always fleeting.

                      After the fight, though, Leo was still signing things to us, and my curiosity finally got the best of me (I’m surprised it took that long), so I asked why he wasn’t talking. The perplexed look that crossed his face shifted briefly to embarrassment and then back into his stoic mask, and he admitted that he hadn’t realized the magic bean allowed him to speak as well as breath underwater. I told him it was okay, that things slip by ME all the time. He said they DIDN’T slip by him. I could tell he was irritated with himself, so I asked Zane what she had gotten up to.

                      She told us that she had successfully stolen the relics despite some interference from Seamus the psychotic will-o-wisp, but in order to get the Rusalka Heart, she had to trick a pair of vodyanoi into distracting the sad and gentle rusalka who was guarding the Heart. She accomplished that by kissing the rusalka, prompting the vodyanoi to fight over her. But then they started hurting the poor rusalka, so Zane led them on a merry chase through the grotto that ended with everyone in the place bearing down on us.

                      Everyone, that is, except the poor rusalka Zane kissed. As we were exploring the grotto and looking for other trinkets we could steal for our own benefit, Zane found her again. Her name was Ila, and she only spoke Russian, so I started to talk to her, and had to tell Magnus and Leo not to hurt her. She was different from the other rusalki, so it was obvious that she was a woman who had been transformed into a rusalka by the Heart. She explained that the only reason she was working with Koschei was because she hoped he could help her break the curse, but I doubt he is that altruistic. We let her leave in peace, and she seemed to forlorn and hopeless that even Magnus took pity on her and suggested that she go join the troupe at Weiss Handschuhe. Unfortunately, much like the sisters and their pools, she can’t be away from her lake for long outside of Rusalka week, and that’s the only reason she’s here now. Still, we wished her well and sent her on her way.

                      But not before she told us a bit more about the masters four and then one more (from my prophecy). There’s Bara, a scion of Rodina Mat. A Zmei—a terrible Russian dragon—is the beast of long forgotten lore, and the two demons of propriety are a pair of asura. I have no idea what the asuras’ interest in Koschei is, but it’s very colorful for him to include them.

                      Aside from Ila, we did find a few relics. Rajani claimed a marble tiger statue that grants her the power of a great cat. Zane and Rajani were also fascinated by a large glass scorpion that moves around like a mobile piece of furniture when commanded by its master. It’s not much good for fighting, but its back is covered with the softest, fluffiest cushions I’ve ever felt. Leo found a Vial of Tears that resonates with Water and Death, and Zane snatched up a dagger that echoes with Guardian and Justice. It’s also really good for murdering grown-ups, but only if you are a child.

                      I found the most amazing relic of all, though. It’s an attractive little snow globe, quaint in its simplicity and hardly memorable except that it shows memories of my finest moments amidst the swirls of snow whenever I shake it up. It turns out I’m really badass in a fight, but my favorite moments are the ones where the artistic epiphany takes over and I create something beautiful and meaningful. Those moments are fleeting too, and the art itself rarely satisfies me once it’s done and the perfect moment of creative inspiration has passed, but the globe lets me relive it a little, and that makes me happy.

                      I think we’re going to see the Loa pirate tomorrow. I hope she’s as interesting as I’ve imagined she will be.

                      Maybe I should sample that bottle of Dornier-Tuller tonight . . .


                      Zane’s Letters

                      Dad –

                      Andy is well strange. First off he was in water floaties, but then he realized he couldn’t get down to the bottom of the lake that way. Then, his cozzy had something called Spongebob Square Pants on them (even though he was wearing trousers proper, the sponge thing that is) and Andy sang this song about pineapples under the sea. He did have a bit of a point though, Andy did - I never seen it, and he might even been telling the truth about never having seen an under-the-ocean pineapple without a talking sponge in it. I don’t figure there’s too many pineapples still all put together down there any road. Ji-Woo says we’ll fix that though.

                      To get into the bad guy’s place, we was all in swimming things, though only Andy and Raj and Leo had proper cozzies. Leo’s was this posh all-body swimming costume thing, what looked like a proper toff suit. Mags still had his bracers on, but not his armor and all. Ji-Woo was just wearing normal clothes, but wound up taking off one shirt cause it was hard to move about and one cause Andy said so.

                      Once we got down there, before the giant sharktopus, we all got boosted. Mags froze the water for his axe, so he got a few fishes in it. Later he froze it out of blood and guts water, after he and Ji-Woo and Raj tore the stonking beastie apart. Not before it tried to grab all of us and bite me though. I’m well fast though, so I’m all right, yeah? Leo was right impressed too. He made some kinda hand motions things that Ji-Woo said meant he wanted to hire us, for killing things I guess.

                      Once the big bugger was dealt with, I asked Ji-Woo if I oughta bugger off and get the bits Rumpole wanted. She flipped her coins while I boosted everybody again. The coins floated kinda funny in the water, but they still meant things to Ji-Woo. They said something about swallowing, which gave the boys the idea to hide inside the sharktopus, what Andy had already turned into a zombie. Ji-Woo said that meant I ought go for the bits though, so I ducked around behind the beastie and made off. The statue was easy to find, right enough where Suleiman said it’d be, but I did get distracted a bit by a shiny light in the corner. Turns out it was Seamus, the wanker. He tried to get me to take my air tank off! I just gave him the two though and went along to the Heart. It was guarded, like Suleiman said again, by a rusalka called Ila. I didn’t know she was called Ila then, she told us later. Thinking about it, I guess I could have waited for the others to charge up and make a scene, just to make sure the shiny wanker didn’t grab it or nothing. But I didn’t think of that then.


                      Instead, see, I used one of my new super powers, what lets me know what will make things into a shambles. Not really the best for sneaking about, but I didn’t figure on getting the Heart all sneaky, with her looking and all. So, my power said I ought kiss the rusalka lady. That didn’t sound like much fun at the time, but it did make sense. I mean, a bloke kisses a bint to show she’s his and all, and there was a laddish pair of frog-faced vodyanoy right there who might not like it if I tried to steal their girl, yeah?

                      So, I kissed her. It was alot... nicer than I figured for, soft and sweet, kinda. It was sad too though. She just kinda stood there, a little empty-like, like the whore when she weren’t high or some of the girl littles who weren’t strong enough to make it like me, like this was just the way it had to go. I got all mixed up in everything a bit, until I heard the frog-faces yelling and snapped out of it.

                      When they got closeish, I grabbed the Heart right quick and disappeared again. I’d almost got out of there all sneaky-like again, but after a second Ila started yelling out like she was getting hurt. The two gits were trying to pull her in pieces by her arms. She might have been in her own bad position, but it were my fault she was being hurt right then and all. I couldn’t rightly just bugger off and leave her. Sides, the others could handle it if I brought friends back. I was sneaking to get there before Rumpole’s folks got to the bits, not cause we wasn’t going to deal with the all the wankers in the cave. So I wasn’t ruining the plan or nothing when I gut punched the two of them and led them on a bit of a chase.

                      I managed to join up with the others just before they did for the first batch, right in time to see Mags shatter an ice cube with a rusalka inside. I even got a swing in on the last frog-face, but he ignored it by cheating. Mags finished him off proper though. I had just enough time to wave at everybody and show off the bits before the rest of the party showed up.

                      I got Mags to spin me around to help turning on my interfering power, cause I was a bit knackered from all the going invisible. Then he threw me at the Hollow Men! Flying underwater like that is loads of fun. I knocked the two Hollow Men off balance right up front, seeing as they’re right difficult to hit, then started going for the rusalka, cause they’re well fast in the water too. I didn’t like that much, cause what if they were sad too? But they were attacking us and all and kept trying to make us all well distracted, so it weren’t really the same as hitting Ila or nothing. Mags tried to explode his tank at one of the Hollow Men, and got right angry when it didn’t work. So he cut him in half with his axe. Ji-Woo shot the other one’s arm off, in just the right way so that the arm shot at a rusalka while it was floating off! The ghost lady just shed her skin for it, but still, it was right brill.

                      Leo’d gotten hurt a bit, so that he was almost out of bonus healthiness I gave him. So he got real serious, giving out all sorts of orders using his curved knife thing to make frost designs in the water so we could do for the rusalka. It worked right perfect - Raj got one and Ji-Woo got one and Mags got the other. I helped. Even the zombie sharktopus got a bite in. But then the last one got Mags proper, making him go all stare-y. It did make him easy to hide behind when a vodyanoy came after me. They were still upset at me for going after their girl, and guts punching them. Raj made one of them more angry at her though, which was good, cause they hit hard. I had to trade with my shadow, cause I don’t get bonus healthiness without Nemi. Any road, I weren’t too pleased with the rusalka making Mags all stare-y, so I hit her but hard, seeing as everybody was all off balance but her. She did just shed her skin after that, but that mean Ji-Woo could do for her. Well, I guess they was done for. They just kinda disappear, but they don’t come back, so I guess it’s good enough and all. Then Raj and Mags finished off the 2 vodyanoy and that meant there was nobody about the cave place but us and Ila.

                      We took a bit to get setup again. Mags needed a new airtank since he cut his in half trying to explode it. I’d forgot, so I didn’t understand his flailing about for a bit. Ji-Woo asked Leo why he was flailing about too, seeing as his bean meant he could breath and talk and all. I might have lost it a bit when he said, out loud, that beans don’t let you talk under water, specially since he weren’t trying to make a joke or nothing. Then Andy said Ji-Woo gave him a boo-boo, but she said she weren’t going to kiss it and make it better. It’s ok - he was just fooling, cause Ji-Woo gave him an elbow when he got all close to give her and Mags a boost. He weren’t real hurt, I’d have fixed him. Not by kissing him though.

                      Then we started looting the place. Me and Ji-Woo found Ila first. I tried to get her to keep hiding, but Ji-Woo started up talking to her in Russian, so Leo came over and started being all angry at her. Ila tried to hide behind me, which was kinda funny, seeing as she’s taller than me and all. I stood big and tall and superheroey though and gave Leo a look, and then Mags cause he started making throat cutting motions. But then Ji-Woo explained what they were talking about, since Mags can’t talk Russian either. He thought maybe she could go to White Gloves, since she was nice and all, but she can’t leave her lake, which is sad. She did tell us where her lake is though. Andy can talk Russian too, so he started asking about why she was here and about Koeshi and all. She’d been summoned by Koeshi, but didn’t have to do what he said or nothing, though she had been going to ask him to get rid of her curse. The other superhero that was working with Koeshi was called Bara and she was nice. He also had an old man dragon and a blue skinned bint with lots of arms. She wasn’t nice. This paired up with Ji-Woo’s prophecy thing right nice, except one was missing. Ji-Woo thinks it’s another blue-skinned demon bloke, cause they like working in boy-girl pairs. Ila’d never met him though.

                      After everybody stopped looking angry at Ila, we started looking around to see if there was any actually ace shit down there, instead of the weird bits Rumpole wanted. I looked about a bit for Seamus too, but he’d buggered off. Instead, we found the best not-sad thing in the cave! It was a little glass scorpion, that when we used our powers on it, got big enough to be a proper bed and moved around on its own. Best, it was soft like all the pillows and blankets ever. You could even make it any color you wanted! The others are silly and didn’t care, but Raj thought it was brill too, so we’re sharing it, even though she got a new tiger statue thing that lets her use tiger super powers. Leo got a jar of tears that lets him use water and death-type super powers. Ji-Woo got a snowglobe, what lets you see all the awesome things you’ve done. There was also a dagger that lets somebody use guarding and justice powers, and if a little uses it against some adult by surprise, it hurts like a mother. I can think of a few little what could have used summat like that. We’re just going to hang on to it for now though.

                      End Session XIII

                      The Relics there were, of course, a few rewards to the characters. Leo’s player offered to pass on any since he is not a permanent member of the group but was invited to take what he wished. The tiger was of course for animal tiger. The snow globe was something powerful in some games less so in Scion, it gives a Willpower point back if stared into for a scene. The Scorpion, put there on a lark, was by far what generated the most interest however.

                      Leo’s player actually forgot he could talk due to the bean for most of the session.

                      The ghostly Russalki were all about the Epic Appearance and Epic Dexterity, but little ability to take damage, though they did have skin shedding. The Vodyanoi were mostly focused on Epic Stamina and Strength, and less finesse. Together they were pretty strong. The intention was by doing this they could avoid fighting them mixed with hollow men later, which should help. As for the Zombie Sharktapus, it was mainly a Nemean Shark with tentacles. I stripped it of it’s epics and extra actions when it was a zombie, but its physicals were enough it was no slouch in the fight.

                      Well we continue next time, and hope you will join us. Comments and Questions welcome.


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                      • #26
                        Hey, hope you had a good New Years. Let’s rejoin our team for the next part of the story.

                        Session XIV

                        Twilight Zone Part V

                        Ji-Woo’s Visions

                        Zadar

                        We had a party last night to celebrate life. And our successful mission, I suppose. We took over several rooms on the floor of the hotel that Leo rented out for us. Andy and Magnus invited a bunch of people, but I wasn’t feeling as sociable as usual because I really just wanted to lose myself in a creative haze of absinthe-borne inspiration. So I opened the bottle of 1910 Dornier-Tuller and spent the night tucked away in one of the rooms sipping absinthe, staring into my new magical snowglobe, admiring the town’s lights outside the window, and painting an impressionistic mural on the wall. It started out as a portrait of Zane kissing Ila while riding the animate pink scorpion she acquired. Well, the scorpion isn’t really pink, but it is in my painting, as that seemed to suit the color scheme best. It isn’t a bright pink, more more of a soft, rosy pink, like the flush that sometime appears on Aoide’s pale cheeks when she’s been drinking.

                        As the absinthe opened my senses my brush took on a life of its own, and I just kept painting, so that all manner of fanciful details flowed from the edges of the portrait and across the corner of the room and even over the window, blurring the lights that showed through so that they felt like soft impressions starlight. I mostly shut out the rest of the party. Andy got up to some sort of silliness, somehow convincing our drunken guests to hunt a bear throughout the hotel. He is rather mischievious, though I greatly prefer it when his mischief manifests itself as wise, purposeful, and instructive rather than merely zany. He seems to hide his nobler cause behind so many ridiculous antics that we rarely see him as he really is, and that saddens me.

                        It was while dwelling on sad thoughts like those that I finally fell asleep, curled up around the Dornier-Tuller (of which Magnus, Zane and I had drunken two thirds) on a table in the corner of the room. When I woke late this morning, I had a miserable hangover that did not improved when I accidentally rolled off the table and onto the floor, but Zane was there to look after me and Andy had tucked a precious plush duck toy into my arms. It was so adorable and huggable that I held onto it until we left the hotel (well, aside from when I was in the shower). I think it helped the hangover.

                        Suleiman was busy cleaning up when I returned from the shower, and asked someone to go fetch Magnus, who had left the party early to play some music on the roof for the rest of the night. He’s very moody, and often gets parties started only to leave them halfway through. I don’t blame him. Parties tend to either drag on after awhile or just get completely out of control, which can be fun, but often isn’t. I volunteered to get Magnus and flew off the balcony onto the roof. Suleiman seemed upset that I just grew my wings and flew up there, but I can’t imagine why.

                        Oh that’s right, he likes to keep a low profile. I’m not very good at that.

                        Magnus was telling a wonderful story to some of the hotel employees when I got up there, so I sat down, hugged my duck closer, and listened to the rest of the story. Eventually Suleiman came up and found us. He was annoyed that I hadn’t been quicker about fetching Magnus, but I apologized with the duck and that made it all better. For me, at least. Suleiman has a dark sense of humor, but he’s not very lighthearted. His conversation is scintillating, though. Something about his accent resonates with me when the absinthe has opened my eyes, and his words flow so beautifully around him as he speaks…

                        We decided to meet the Loa pirate captain first, so that’s where we’re heading next. We’ll settle with Rumpole later today.

                        * * * * *

                        The pirate captain was named Devon Darling. She was nice, and apparently has sexual designs on quite a few other gods, particularly among the Loa. There is a set of golden statuettes in her cabin, and I admired them while the others were chatting with her and a making a deal, particularly after Devon told me that they were there to remind her to “stay on task.” Something about their specific placement struck me as an omen. I realized that the statuettes represented the gods she wanted to bed, including Damballa, Urzuli, and others. There was one I didn’t recognize, but I somehow knew she was named Madmoiselle Charlotte, and she seemed more significant than the others, maybe because Devon had already seduced her.

                        The omen implied by the statues had me worried. I got the distinct feeling that while Rumpole had not exactly gotten one over on us, he still had an unpleasant surprise in store. Also, I realized that if the statues had been placed on a map of Zadar instead of a blank table, they would have been guiding our way toward Leonid’s enemies. Madame Charlotte would be in the warehouse district along the docks, so that’s where we would find Koschei’s headquarters.

                        While I was reading omens, the others worked things out with the Loa pirate. Her name is Devon Darling, and her ship is crewed by zombies, including some that are stronger than anything Andy can make. She’s in port waiting for a Pesedjet scionof Anubis named Bata. She is to deliver the ushabti to him, but he was delayed in another port due to foul play. She was concerned about the centaur attacks, so Magnus and the others promised to get rid of Rumpole, sonce he was the one who was directing the centaurs. In exchange, Devon would help us track down the exact location of the enemy hideout.

                        As we left Devon’s galleon, I warned the others that Rumpole might have gotten something over on us after all. So we headed to our meeting with him prepared for the worst.

                        * * * * *

                        The meeting with Rumpole went fairly well, all things considered. Our plan worked, and we outsmarted him. Because one of the objects was not in the grotto when we entered, he failed to uphold his end of the deal and had to return to London with us. Unfortunately, as I had foreseen, he had a trick up his sleeve. He had a deal with Saorise so that she would take his place in the deal. The smug twinkle in his eye when he revealed the switch to us made me want to punch him in the nose, but Magnus took the lead and told him that he was coming with us whether he liked it or not.

                        The next few moments were all a blur, but I was blurring along with them. My divine connection to the stars let me sense the subtle distortion in physical space as Rumpole started to teleport away, and I also realized that no one else would be able to react in time to stop him. So jumped across the table and grabbed him by the collar of his jacket, simultaneuosly summoning my gun and putting it to his head. Saorise, Siobhan and Sean made no move to stop us, so Zane opened her claustrophobia bag and she and Magnus helped me shove a struggling, cursing Rumpole Wilson into it. All the objects we promised him were already in there, so our end of the deal was secure. And Suleiman filled the magical otter skin with trash from the party, so whoever receives it next will have an unpleasant surprise. We had already checked the otter skin for other prizes, of course, and found a helmet made from the bone of a giant’s skull. Magnus spent much of the party last night wearing it, in fact, and I think he’s on the lookout for a matching suit of armor. It’s very metal.

                        Siobhan and Sean seemed completely fine with Rumpole’s distress, and Sean even joined in when Magnus and Zane kicked the bag a few times for good measure. Magnus really hates Rumpole. Siobhan has such nice eyes that I was tempted to flirt with her, but I had to remind myself that I already have enough romantic trouble. Also, she seems like kind of a bitch. And I’m not into bitches. Even if I might, by some accounts, be one myself.

                        We returned to the hotel, where I retrieved my duck. I had missed him while we were out, so I hugged him tightly while we discussed our plans. We decided that the best way to draw out our enemies was to attack one of the Pita Palace restaurants in town. That franchise is run by Koschei and it’s a competitor to Leo’s Chicken Hut, so it seemed like a good way to draw bad attention. There were three locations in town, though, and we had to decide which to hit. Zane closed her eyes and pointed randomly to the map. Her finger ended up on a local courthouse, which didn’t help at all, so I moved it to the Pita Palace closest to the warehouse district and told the others that we should go to that one because it was closest to the headquarters. Then they asked why I didn’t say I knew where the headquarters was in the first place, so I had to explain that I didn’t know EXACTLY where it was, just that it was in the warehouse district.

                        Anyway, since Devon is going to use her pantheon’s Cheval powers to get into an enemy soldier’s head and ride it back to the hideout, distance isn’t really an issue, and Andy decided that we should scout out the restaurants to see which was was the weakest target. We split up, and I dragged Magnus off to the Pita Palace closest to the warehouse district.

                        That Pita Palace was really heavily defended. I guess that’s where the hideout’s reinforcements hang out. The others weren’t so bad, so we’ve decided to hit the one farthest from the docks.

                        * * * * *

                        I’d never actually been shot before today. It’s AWFUL. But as bad as it was, it would have been a lot worse if Zane hadn’t bolstered me against harm. Thanks to that, I’m okay. No lasting injuries or anything, just a little frazzled and bruised.

                        We marched into the Pita Palace and started a fight. In retrospect, I feel kinda bad that we terrified all the poor, innocent customers in the place, but Magnus yelled at them to take cover, so I don’t think anyone was hurt. The place was defended by a few undercover hollow men and mortal enforcers, so when Leo threw open the doors and drew their attention, the guns came out and bullets started to fly.

                        Leo drew most of the enemy fire while the rest of us took out all but one of the enemy soldiers. Suleiman seemed almost delighted to kill a hollow man with his rope and dagger. He’s very handsome, but a little scary and intense. It’s probably for the best that he hasn’t asked me out, though I still wouldn’t turn him down. Magnus made sure to cause as much collateral damage as possible, which is easy when he’s swinging his gigantic axe. Zane ran interference and Andy twisted fate a bit for us. And I got shot. It didn’t keep me from annihilating a couple of the hollow men anyway, but I did get knocked off my feet and ended up in a heap with a table and a couple of chairs.

                        We left one of the mortals alive so that he could flee. Devon caught sight of him on the way out and possessed his mind, riding along to see where he goes. So now we have a bead on the enemy hideout, and I guess the next step is to raid it.


                        Zane’s Letters

                        When we got out, Suleiman had already buggered off, so we met up with him at the main hotel room. Leo had got the whole floor on the top of the place, on account of not wanting to be bothered, but we mostly stayed in one room, so that’s where we met up with Suleiman. Mags and Ji-Woo started planning on drinking all night right off, since the city was boring and all, but Suleiman asked what the story of the bag was, seeing as that’s the bit he picked up, and he didn’t know it. So Mags made this whole ace production of it, and drunk all the tiny liquor bottles. He’s a right brilliant storyteller. We decided to look in the bag too, cause Rumpole said we could have the stuff inside. Mags found a stonking huge skull, that he said was a magic helmet, so he put it on. It had to shrink a bit, so’s it would fit and all, even on Mags. He looked well hard with it on.

                        After we didn’t find nothing more in the otter skin thing, Mags and Suleiman and Andy went out to get things. Mags was getting more bevvies that weren’t so little and Suleiman was getting stuff to make cous-cous, which is fun to say and well ace to eat. Andy was getting people, I think. At least that’s all I noticed him come back with. He found a whole team of people who ice-skate for serious. They even tried ice-skating in the bath when Andy made it freeze over. Andy also made it so that a whole crowd of arseholed berks were hunting a bear dressed like a hotel worker bloke (from a different hotel) that was actually him. That were right fun to watch, seeing as they couldn’t hurt him proper or nothing.

                        Mags brought people back too, anybody cool who weren’t scared off by his bone-face helmet thing. He got bored though and spent half the night playing his guitar and telling stories for the blokes smoking on the roof. Ji-Woo spent most of the evening drinking the special absinthe she saved when Suleiman tossed the fridge at the helicopter. When she was well sloshed, she started up painting on the wall. I think that’s when Leo gave the hotel lots of money (and Mags’s autograph) so they wouldn’t get narked and all. Ji-Woo kept looking at me while I was riding about on the scorpion, so I started pulling faces at her. Turns out it was cause she was painting a picture of me and Ila kissing. It weren’t nothing like that though, except maybe a little. I definitely wasn’t riding the scorpion at the time, like I was in the painting. It were a pretty painting any road, and she kept putting fanciful little things on the edges, even going out on the windows a bit. She wound up falling asleep holding her paintbrush, curled up around her bottle and later the stuffed duck Andy gave her while he was dressed up like the Easter bunny. I nicked the paintbrush away before she painted on herself by accident. I gave it back, when she woke up and all, but she said it was ruined anyway, seeing as she didn’t clean it off and the paint got all stiff.

                        Suleiman was very confused by Andy’s rabbit costume, specially after he started giving out chocolate eggs to drunk people. I think maybe his country doesn’t have Easter? That’s sad, cause I like Easter. Church-y types are nicer sometimes and lots of folks will give the littles some bits of chocolate and cake and buns. Lots of places even throw out buckets of candy a bit after. Andy gave me a couple of chocolates, even though I was good and not drunk, and some smoked jerky sticks. I weren’t hungry, what with the chocolate eggs and the real eggs Leo made, so I stashed the jerky for laters.

                        Ji-Woo was not happy to wake up, even with two kinds of eggs and the painkillers I started keeping about. She was better after she had a shower and listened to Mags tell a story though. Her duck made her feel better too. Suleiman was all worried about the mess, so he started putting all the trash in the otter skin, which was right smart on account of it could fit all kinds of trash in it. He put more trash in it later too. Eventually, we got to go visit the pirate lady though. Ji-Woo left her new duck behind, but she was sad about it.

                        The old ship that was the pirate lady’s had three big blokes guarding it. Two of them were normal like, but one of them was all wrapped up like one of them mummy things. He was the one what talked back, after Suleiman tried a couple of languages on him. I couldn’t understand all the talking, on account of it not being English or French or German, but Ji-Woo helped Suleiman out. I think she might have helped too much from the look on his face though. Ji-Woo and Leo said he was maybe some kinda special zombie bloke, the wrapped up one, when he went off to go get the pirate lady.

                        The pirate lady is very fit, and nice. Leo started off talking in the same language as Suleiman used with the special zombie and Suleiman translated things for me and Mags, but then she noticed and started talking English. She was supposed to meet a superhero kid of Anubis called Bata to give over the fancy stuff what Rumpole wanted, but he had been held over at Crete, probably cause of what Leo did for his bean. He hadn’t knowed it at the time, but we still figured we’d help fix it by dealing with Rumpole, specially since we were going to any road. She didn’t know anything about Rumpole before we told her, and thought his name was silly too. She’d mostly had problems with the centaurs, but they could only screw around with her boat if Rumpole helped them out.

                        We asked her to help with the Russian mob blokes, since we had killed alot of centaurs and were gonna stop Rumpole from helping them out anymore. She said she usually got herself nicked by the bad guys if she needed to find their base, but seeing as they mostly wanted to do Leo in, that wouldn’t work too great. But the pirate lady (her name is Devon) could ride around in bloke’s heads, so we decided to go after one of their places we knew about and scare one of them off and then Devon would ride with them back to their bolthole.

                        First we had to go deal with Rumpole though. He was a right twat but it all turned out alright and Saorse got free too! See, he had a deal with her that she’d have to take his place sometime and then she’d not lose her little. She was probably playing us, or forgot maybe, or wasn’t allowed to say nothing, but Mags got well loud when he tried to bugger off like that and Ji-Woo grabbed him up well fast. She said he was trying to teleport off, but he couldn’t when she had a hold . Then she started shoving him in the bag, and Mags kicked him a bit and everybody else got a hand in, while I had a good hold of the bag and shut it right quick. And that were that. Saorse’s little is safe and Jester will be getting his meet with Rumpole.

                        Since we had that nice big meeting room at the Italian place, we made our plans for hitting the Russian blokes there. Seems their businesses were called Pita Palace, like Leo’s was Chicken Hut, and there was three in town. Leo marked them down on a map and asked Suleiman which was best, so I closed my eyes and pointed somewhere on the map. Then Ji-Woo moved my hand to an actual mark, on account of it being near the docks, where the bolthole was. I was well confused, cause I thought we were looking for the bolthole, but Ji-Woo said she didn’t know exactly where it was, so we still needed to follow summat. The others wanted to check for guards first though, so I went north and Suleiman went downtown and Ji-Woo and Mags went to the docks one. I put the bag with Rumpole up first, in Leo’s chicken hut - the one that’s a house with chicken legs that we rode around in, not the restaurant place. Andy went to get Devon and said he was not going to be making time with her in a way that really meant he was, but I think he wasn’t. He was dressed different when we met up again, kinda pirate-y. Devon was too, she was dressed more like a slag than a pirate. She’s still cool though.

                        We wound up going for the one up north, since it only had 3 Hollow Men not 4 or 8. Also, Leo said maybe they’d send more of the wankers up there after and it would be hard for them to come back again, quick-like at least. I stopped listening after a bit, cause Andy was playing chess with a funny looking set and one of the pieces was a Snickers bar, and I think I saw the horsey piece lick the lady piece, but only when I was just kinda looking out of the corner of my eye.

                        The fight at the Pita Palace was a bit rough on account of me being a bit knackered, super powers wise. I could only boost Andy and Ji-Woo, and I couldn’t knock the baddies as much off balance as usual. So Leo got proper hurt - not bad, but for real, not so’s it will just go away. Ji-Woo also got hit but good. It were really really really good I boosted her, else it would have been bad. She'll be alright though, all the ouchies will just go away after a bit. She managed to do for the one that got her right off, before she even got back up proper, so I didn’t have to show it what for either. I had already gotten it with the fry bucket any road.

                        The ride-along part was easy-peasy though. Mags scared two of the regular human guards well good, by coming through the whole wall instead of the door, wearing his new skull-mask-helmet thing. They buggered right off and one of them gave the funny signal that meant Devon was in his head. After that, Suleiman and I worked on one of the Hollow wankers and Ji-Woo almost had the other, then Mags cut them both in half with one hit, and the other wall! Leo got one of the other humans with a camera cord, and Ji-Woo got the last one. She wasn’t chuffed about it, but he did shoot at her first.

                        End Session XIV


                        The Pita Palace name Leo’s player came up with on the fly.

                        Low combat after the nearly all combat previous session. Devon is a Scion of Agwe, had a great picture for her.

                        There was some chatter from a rules perspective of how much information Ji-Woo’s PC could get from Mystery. I want her to be able to get a reasonable amount of information without being too much, yet without making Mystery useless. I’ve had Mystery used before in previous games but Ji-Woo uses it a lot more often then I have experienced before. Not a problem, mind, nothing wrong with folks using their powers.

                        That’s all for now, comments and questions welcome.


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                        • #27
                          Do you have the picture to share? I am curious.

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                          • #28
                            No problem, it is this one.


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                            [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]

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                            • #29
                              It’s time to finish up the Twilight Zone story. This is Leonid and Suleiman’s last session for awhile, but hopefully each will appear again. But that is getting ahead of ourselves. Here is the last session of the story.

                              Session XV

                              Twilight Zone Part VI

                              Ji-Woo’s Visions

                              Zadar

                              Well this has been one of the worst days ever. I’ve been shot, and blown up, and burned and then shot again, and died. Well, not really died, but close enough. But we beat Koschei and his goons, made a friend out of one of our enemies, and I have a plush duck to hug for comfort, so it’s not all bad. Also, Zane is one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

                              After our successful assault on the Pita Palace, we rejoined Rajani and Devon at the car. Devon was able to ride along inside one of thug’s heads until he arrived at the enemy headquarters, so she guided us right to it. It was a large, two story warehouse the didn’t look any different from the ones around it. We had a look into the front room through some tinted windows, and I noticed all the signs of some traps, so instead of going in the front, we went around to the side of the building and Magnus made us a new door with his axe. My duck stayed in the car.

                              Suleiman doesn’t like it when you shadow box with him. I felt kinda invincible after surviving getting shot at the Pita Palace (once I was over the initial shock, anyway). It helped that Andy cheered me up by quoting a bit of Lemon Jelly’s “Nice Weather for Ducks.” Still, overconfidence doesn’t suit me, but it DOES make me playful. I thought play fighting with Suleiman before we went into the hideout was cute, and it helped me limber up for combat, but he was annoyed and shooed me away like a fly. That was when I figured out that he wasn’t going to ask me out.

                              It didn’t take us long to get our bearings inside the warehouse. There were boxes full of dolls and candles that Suleiman found strangely fascinating, and then a hallway with guards and rocket launchers. THAT got my attention. I can’t dodge explosions! I dove for cover while Leo stomped toward the guards. He took the brunt of the explosions, but he was fine. Zane had bolstered his resilience, and I had improved his mastery of his own legend with Taiyi. Suleiman had awakened Leo’s potential, making him far tougher. So mere explosions were of little concern to him.

                              They were of serious concern to me, though, and even though I took cover, I got hit pretty badly. It was a good thing Zane had reinforced ME too, or I would have been right out. The walls didn’t fare too well either, though they must have been reinforced. Everyone else seemed okay. I’m not sure how Andy managed, though. We didn’t waste any time finishing off the guards before they could do more damage, and Rajani gleefully grabbed their grenades. She likes grenades. I keep having this image of her posing like her mother Kali, only with a necklace of grenades instead of skulls. I suppose she would need more arms to pull off the look, but I suspect it won’t be long before she can grow some.

                              The main floor of the warehouse held little of interest, but there were stairs leading to a second floor and a basement. Leo looked at me for guidance, obviously expecting me to know which way to go. And I did. Down. I must have known because that’s where the four masters from my prophecy were:

                              Their masters four and then one more
                              Two demons of propriety (the asuras)
                              Great beast of long forgotten lore (the Zmei . . . dragon)
                              And one of your society (Bara, a scion daughter of Rodina Mat)

                              Of course, we had to get by a couple more guards before we found the masters, but Suleiman and Rajani teamed up to take them out. Then we found our way into a series of huge basement chambers with a high ceilings. We tried a clever plan to toss a grenade into the room with our foes, but it didn’t really work out and then all hell broke loose. I got burned in dragonfire, but I was really only singed thanks to Zane and Leo. Leo makes really good cover.

                              I wasn’t paying too much attention to the details of the fight, so I don’t really know how it all played out. One of the asura was terrifyingly ugly, and everyone else recoiled in horror from him. I reasoned that his appearance didn’t make him any more dangerous than his beautiful counterpart, so after Leo was snatched up in the dragon’s jaws, depriving me of my cover, I moved in close and shot the asura in the head. Twice. I don’t know if my shots would have hit their target if Andy hadn’t blessed me, though, so yay for teamwork! The spray of blood reminded me of the time I killed the zombie in Berghain, and I was momentarily distracted by the way the red looked in the warehouse fluorescents, which was far less compelling than it was in the flickering, multi-colored lights of the club.

                              The others seemed to have the dragon and the other asura under control. Well, the dragon was trying to eat Leo, but he was fine, really. I had the impression that Bara was not loyal to Koschei, and was only working for him because he had some sort of leverage against her. So I told the others not to kill her. You would think it would have helped, but next thing I know she’s calling out orders and several of her hollow men thugs caught me in a crossfire. I got shot in the back and that’s the last thing I remember until I woke up feeling like my hangover from this morning had returned.

                              Zane was holding me while Andy bandaged by lingering wounds. Zane had healed most of them and brought me back from the dead. She really IS a good friend. Also, she beat the guy who shot me into a bloody pulp. I looked around and saw that all of our enemies were dead. One of them was frozen in a large fish tank with his legs dangling out, and Leo was beginning to skin the dragon and carve meat from its bones for some sort of gourmet dish. Then I noticed that Bara was laying in a pool of her own blood. Rajani must have gotten to her after I was shot down. It made me want to see my own pool of blood, and as Zane helped me to my feet I stared at the marks I’d left on the concrete floor: an irregular pool of bright red blood in between two wide ink splatters where my wings had stained the floor when I slammed into it. It was beautiful . . . so I took a picture and then began to sketch it. I need to recreate the image in watercolor as soon as I can.

                              Magnus was a little miffed that I was more interested in the abstract composition of blood and ink than in his heavy metal pose on the corpse of the defeated dragon, so I sketched him as well, but I still felt awful from being shot. Then I remembered Bara. I didn’t really blame her for ordering my death. After all, we were killing HER allies. We really needed to talk to her. She wasn’t quite dead, so Magnus woke her up, but he must have been really pissed off that she nearly killed me, because he was terrifying. Far more terrifying that the asura. He threatened to destroy her jaw if she tried anything, and then Leo and Andy questioned her.

                              I was right. She WAS only working for Koschei because he has threatened to kill her sister if Bara doesn’t do what he wants. We offered to help Bara if we could, and she was grateful. I got her phone number. But then Koschei’s voice echoed throughout the warehouse. He said he was impressed by our performance and especially by Leo. All of this was a game, a test to see if Leo is a worthy adversary. That’s just MEAN. All these people manipulated and killed just to match wits with Leonid? What a fucking egomaniac! Koschei, that is, not Leo, though I suppose Leo might be one too.

                              Then we felt the ground shudder, and Koschei told Leo that he need not worry about competition from Pita Palace in Zadar. The bastard blew up his own restaurants, and everyone in them, just to make a point! I felt sick after that. Koschei is fucking evil. Devon found us then and told us that the guards outside had just fallen over, dead. We were afraid Koschei might blow up the warehouse next, so we fled the place as quickly as possible.

                              * * * * *

                              So, the raid on Koschei’s headquarters in Zadar was awful. I felt kinda miserable, but we decided to go back to Devon’s ship with her. Her contact (the one who wanted the ushabti) was supposed to arrive, and I think we were all curious to meet him. He was a very handsome African prince named Salien Jalloh. He was also a scion of Anubis. I thought Devon had said his name was Bata before, but when I asked about that, she swore I was mistaken. It’s possible. I may have just dreamed it. I can’t always tell the difference between what I really remember and what I just imagined or dreamed.

                              * * * * *

                              A good night’s rest and a glass or two of absinthe (though not in that order) has left me feeling much better. My back still aches a bit, but thanks to Andy and Zane, the wound is completely gone without even a scar.

                              We all parted ways today. First, we wished Leo and Suleiman goodbye. They were fun to work with. I liked Leonid’s gruff, serious personality—it was like metal, firm and strong but not unbending. Suleiman remains a mystery to me; he kept me at arm’s length more than most guys do. He DID give me his REAL email address, though, not the one he uses for work. I gave him a hug before we parted and waited expectantly afterward, giving him one last chance to ask me out, but he didn’t. It’s for the best, really. I’m supposed to be focusing on Aoide. But focusing is hard for me. I hope Hermione’s not really mad at me anymore.

                              Now Zane, Andy, Saorise and I are off to London with Rumpole safely stowed in the claustrophobia bag.

                              * * * * *

                              London has been lots of fun. I got to meet the urchin kids Zane cares so much about, and helped tell them stories at bed time. I don’t know how things played out with Jester and Rumpole, though; we just handed over the bag. I didn’t really want to be around when Rumpole got out anyway. He’s probably upset with me for shoving him in there in the first place.

                              I caught up with a few friends in London. One of my curator friends, Mary Parsons, is having a hard time with her gallery on Cork Street. A lot of the galleries there are having a hard time. So I donated some pieces of my own art that I had in storage in Soho. They should sell at auction for a good amount, enough to keep Mary’s place afloat awhile longer, anyway.

                              I miss Aoide, Hermione, and the other girls in Berlin, though, so Zane and I are going to head back there tomorrow. I can’t wait to see Aoide. I wonder if she wants to see me as much as I want to see her? And I wonder if Hermione or Iris are still mad, and if they are, I hope I can make it up to them.


                              Zane’s Letters

                              Nobody’d bled their own blood yet, and the ride-along bit worked and all, so we all met up with Rajani and Devon in the car. We drove about a bit, mostly kinda towards the warehouses that Ji-Woo said was the enemy place until Devon woked up and told us exactly where to go. It was good we had her, on account of it weren’t special or nothing on the outside, just another warehouse. Looking a bit, I did find a couple of hidden cameras here and there, but no hiding guards or nothing. Ji-Woo spotted some traps though, gas shooters and guns aimed at the door to the first room. So I told Mags to make us a new door, like he’d done at the Pita Palace place.

                              First though we had to get all boosted up. Suleiman did this right nice prayer thing and made me and Leo well hard, even more than always. Mostly it were so Leo could get shot a bunch and I could boost the others better, but it turned out bloody useful later. Ji-Woo started play-fighting Suleiman after he got done praying, which confused him, so I distracted her by giving her a hug, to boost her and all, yeah? Mags poured out his whiskey and froze it into a guitar, to play a bit while I finished boosting everyone and Leo summoned up his curvy knife and hammer. And Ji-Woo started flying of course.

                              Once we was all set, Mags busted up the wall in one right brill hit. Inside was just a bunch of boxes with candles and dolls in them. Suleiman gave them a bit of a butchers, but decided they weren’t important without much fuss. So we went out into the hallway and found 2 Hollow Men with rocket launchers! Ji-Woo jumped back right quick, but Leo just started walking all slow up to them and caught two rockets with his face! It were right ace and he wasn’t even hurt. The rest of us was kinda guarded by the door, but it still stung me a bit and did something of a number on Ji-Woo. But with my boost she was mostly alright. Andy got blowed to bits, but he got better. And was still floating upside down even. They only had the one rocket each, but then they went for grenades, so we stopped them right quick. Rajani dashed on down there and did for one, so I only had the one to knock off balance, so I nutted him. Then Mags bashed his head in with his own rocket launcher.

                              Ji-Woo was right worried about more rocket launchers. See, she’s right good at dodging things, but there’s nowhere to dodge the big kabooms. Any road, Mags used his sound powers to see where there was people. Turns out there was a stair, just ahead, with four blokes upstairs and four down. None of them had rocket launchers, so that was good. We did decide to go downstairs first, on account of grenades working better that way. Plus, Ji-Woo said to, and she knows things. The first two Hollow wankers had had even more grenades for Rajani to play with, so she and Suleiman each threw one downstairs. They was supposed to come running back after, but seeing as the grenades almost did for all four of them down there, they decided to go ahead and deal with the last one by themselves.

                              Downstairs was a posh sort of office bit. It was probably more posh before two grenades and two people’s worth of inside bits got all over it. There was another door out, so Mags used his echo-whatsis to figure out there was six normal sized blokes and two Mags sized giants over there, with two of the normal sized ones right at the door with guns. Still no rocket launchers.

                              We like kabooms when they hurt the baddies though, so Mags opened the door while Leo tossed in a grenade right quick before Mags shut the door again. After it went all explode-y, the two Mags sized giants got even bigger and got more arms. There was also a dragon and only five normal sized blokes. Well, four really, on account of one of them got exploded when he jumped on top of the grenade. Ji-Woo had just mentioned something about them being the masters from the prophecy when the dragon breathed fire all over our room. Ji-Woo yelled really loud and then was hiding behind Leo, at least until the dragon started eating him.

                              Turns out one of the normal sized blokes wasn’t a bloke at all, she was Bara, the super hero Ila told us about who was nice. There was also two Hollow bastards and one regular bloke. The Mags sized giants was the asura, one a girl and one a boy. The boy one was right proper ugly, almost hard to look at even, and I’ve seen some ugly buggers before. They started cursing Ji-Woo and Suleiman, like the magic-y type curses what Andy uses all the time, so the other figured on taking them out right quick. I didn’t mess with them none though, on account of their reflect-y power. I didn’t want to go off balance, specially not twice. They had it covered though. Rajani almost killed the bint all on her own, then Mags and Suleiman finished her off. Ji-Woo got a super brill shot off that did for the bloke asura all in one.

                              I messed with the Hollow berks to start with, but then two more Hollow clots and two human blokes showed up. Probably from upstairs. I used one of the new ones to hop all the way up to the dragon’s back and balanced up there a bit while Suleiman gave me a high five. Then the dragon spit Leo at him. It were kinda funny, specially when Leo left cracks in the wall.

                              But then it got real bad. Ji-Woo did for a couple of the regular blokes, then the Hollow git I didn’t hit yet shot her in the back in the middle of her spinny flying bit. She was almost close enough to catch, but not quite, so she fell slam to the ground, her ink wings splattering down into just ink patterns on the hard floor. I could tell she wasn’t dead, just knocked out, but I still couldn’t do nothing for her. So I charged down off the dragon and gave the minger what shot her what for. He shed his skin after the first good hit, but I felt the next one hit solid. Suleiman had said to not hit their heads, on account of there not being anything important there, so I caved his hollow chest in instead.

                              In the meantime, Bara was down, probably by Rajani, seeing as she had a big sword cut on her. Suleiman was trapped beneath the dead dragon for a second before he tossed it off and helped me and Leo do for another Hollow plonker. Rajani got another one and Mags helped Andy get the last by freezing it in the fishtank.

                              I rushed over to Ji-Woo and made all the cuts and shots close up so Andy could make her proper better. He also bandaged me up a bit, though I was already not bleeding too much. It was mostly my super-healthiness what got hurt any ways, so after a bit I was almost better, really. Sides, we were done and all, so now I get to rest and get even more better and such. So I'm fine, yeah?

                              Any road, while we was doing all that, Suleiman started gathering up the dragon scales to make a magic cloak. Ji-Woo got out a sketchpad right off, first sketching the ink and blood splatter where she fell down, then sketching Mags posing on the dragon, looking well hard. Once we were all good though, we checked on Bara. She was alright, probably more alright knocked out and all then when she waked up cause Mags went really really scary, saying he was gonna freeze her face off if she did anything bad. I felt bad some, cause Ila said she was nice, but she did tell the Hollow wanker to shoot at Ji-Woo. So I stood well tough and let Ji-Woo hide from scary Mags behind me.

                              Her story was kinda sad though and made me feel more bad. See, her sister was trapped by a deal she made with Koeschi, the Russian guy that’s bothering Leo and Suleiman, so she wouldn’t have to marry some icky lad in Russia. Bara tried to rescue her and all, but wasn’t able to and Koeschi said he kill her sister if Bara didn’t help out here. Apparently this stuff with Leo and all was a game to Koeschi, cause she was supposed to hurt Leo and his organization but not destroy it or nothing (though they were maybe trying to kill Suleiman it sounded like, which is not on).

                              Leo gave Bara his card in case Koeschi didn’t give her sister over and then started cutting up the dragon for steaks. While he was doing that, he and Suleiman, but not us, heard a voice that was probably Koeschi, and then all the Pita Palaces in town exploded. Devon said all the Hollow pillocks fell over dead too, all at once. After Leo got all the meat, and he hurried in case Koeschi decided to blow up the warehouse too, Mags carried Bara out, on account of her still being all hurt, and we got her a car and such.

                              Leo cooked the steaks up good. Most of the other didn’t eat none, so it was mostly for me and Leo and a little for Andy. Leo even smoked some for me, to take in my pouch for later. He also gave everybody credit cards, what could be used at any of his restaurants without paying back! Not at his hotels though, he knows better that that now. Food is better than posh hotels anyhow, though posh hotels do have nice food.

                              Zane

                              Dad -
                              Well, we’re headed back to Berlin for a bit. We did stay some in Zadar, then went to London town for a time. But Ji-Woo wanted to see how the ladies were doing. I kinda did too, on account of us being supposed to protect them and all, so I’m going with.

                              We stayed in Zadar long enough for Devon’s friend to come pick up his statues. Before, I thought she called him Bata, but apparently his name is Prince Salien Jallah. Well, I guess his name’s not Prince, but he is a Prince and a super hero too. Nothing more exciting happened though.

                              It didn’t on the way to London town either. Saorse came with us, since she had to. I did ask her if she wanted to make a kid or just wanted to be a mum, cause it’s a little different and she always just said she wanted kids, yeah? She got all flustered though, so I dunno which one is right. She did say she wanted summat to help her first, which makes sense, seeing as most normal families have two parents and all. Most families are blood-related too though, so maybe it’s better if she made the kid herself if she can figure it out. Maybe that’s why the whore was such a bad mum.

                              Maybe it’ll be better since I share blood in common with most of your family?

                              Any road, the rest of the time in London town were right ace. Ji-Woo got to meet all the littles, and helped me with storytime some. And Jester got his Rumpole-Wilson-in-a-bag, to do whatever with. Berlin should be fun too - hopefully the ladies are alright.

                              Zane

                              End Session XV

                              If you are not familiar with Nice Weather for Ducks it is awesome.

                              Salien is a Scion of Anubis. Originally he was to play a slightly bigger role, but for logistical reasons (relating to guest stars) we wrapped things up a little faster than originally planned, though 98% of the story was still used. I am using Rodinia Mat as a minor Rus goddess rather then using the WWII stuff, much like I am kinda doing with Baba Yaga, so that is what she is doing there. Several of the “Allied” Pantheon I assigned to Pantheons, but not all of them (mostly Soviet into Rus, Britannia into Nemetondevos).

                              Not many new enemies. Asuras were used in the old game several times, multi-armed enemies resembling Hindu statues, with Magic and Samsara as well as Epic Attributes. At Hero, Evil Eye is still quite effective, and they used it a lot, though they were not quite as good at it as Saltmarsh Andy, having 4 rather than 5 Presence. The Zmei was basically a “standard” Dragon.

                              Next time we start up One Night in Bangkok. At this time, things are back to Ji-Woo, Magnus, Rajani, Saltmarsh Andy, and Zane. We will hopefully be bringing back either Phaedra or Nemi this story or next. I will keep you informed.

                              Comments and Questions welcome.


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                              • #30
                                Starting a new story. We are beginning with the original 4 characters, but will be adding a new long term cast member later on. This time we establish the situation and characters, with a prelude in Berlin then moving on to Bangkok.

                                Session XVI

                                One Night in Bangkok Part I

                                Ji-Woo’s Visions

                                Berlin

                                I don’t really know how I feel right now. I mean, I’m happy to be back in Berlin, and it’s really nice to see the sisters again. But I didn’t get the reception I’d hoped for. Not really. And it’s left me feeling a little empty.

                                As soon as Zane and I arrived in Berlin, we headed to the sisters’ cave. I was eager to see Aoide, so I sort of hurried through the beautiful mansion that Nori, Sari and Anemone are building above the cave after giving Anemone a warm hug. Kalypso, Chloris and Glykeria were watching some show on a huge television Andy acquired for them. Glykeria greeted me sweetly but shyly, while Chloris barely turned her attention away from the screen long enough to say “Hi” and to tell me that Aoide and Hermione were out shopping. I asked about Iris as well, and Chloris said she was hanging out at White Gloves. I hope Iris isn’t cozying up to Caoimhe . . . I don’t want her to die the same way Aristides did.

                                Since the sisters weren’t really paying me any attention and Glykeria still wouldn’t share any of her poetry with me, I sat down and consulted the mysteries through the I Ching, enough to learn where Aoide and Hermione were heading, anyway. And then I headed out to meet them there.

                                And that’s when things started to go wrong. Well, maybe things started to go wrong when I left suddenly a month ago. Either way, I expected Aoide to be as happy to see me as I was to see her. And she WAS happy to see me, but no more than she might’ve been if we’d just been hanging out the night before. I didn’t get the sense that she’d missed me like I’d missed her, and I think my heart started to break a little bit then.

                                Hermione, on the other hand, was very excited to see me. She greeted me warmly and I knew that she really HAD missed me. I felt all of the simmering passion and desire I have for her return, warming me from within and taking the edge off of my disappointment over Aoide’s detached reception.

                                I spent the rest of the day with the two of them, enjoying their company and flirting with them both, but mostly with Hermione, since she seemed more receptive. Eventually, we returned to the cave. Iris was there, and she looked wonderful. She was polite, but not very warm, and she mostly avoided me. Which is just as well, though I do hope that someday we can create art together again.

                                On the way to Berlin, I had imagined how this homecoming might go. I imagined the warm look on Aoide’s face when I returned and she opened her heart to me like she almost did before I left. I looked forward to lying in each others arms, to enjoying a closeness that I’ve only rarely shared with my lovers. Instead, I’m lying on a couch by myself in the cave’s main chamber.

                                * * * * *

                                On the surface, the past few days have been fun, and I’ve enjoyed going out on the town with Aoide and Hermione. It’s easy to smile and laugh when I’m around them, but underneath it all, Aoide’s distance makes me feel empty and lonely. She doesn’t mean to hurt me. She’s a dear friend, but she doesn’t feel the way I do, and I don’t think she’s even aware of the difference.
                                Hermione has been a godsend. If she weren’t here, I would probably have left again already. I continue to feel drawn to her, and we flirt constantly. A part of me wants Aoide to be jealous, but I know that she doesn’t really notice, or if she does, she doesn’t really care how much Hermione and I flirt. Which is awfully depressing.
                                But as close as Hermione and I have become, as much as we flirt, and as much as the desire between us simmers, she won’t quite open her heart to me. Whenever our flirting becomes a bit more serious, I can feel her pull away a little. It’s frustrating and depressing and I’m tired of spending my nights alone.

                                * * * * *

                                Berlin - Ascending (Sheng) transforming into Humbling (Qian)

                                I awoke a short while ago from a prophetic dream. The prophecy was . . . more significant than usual. I sense that its effect on me might be very significant, and I’m both excited and anxious about it. I feel that somehow my aimless wandering may soon come to an end. Perhaps not completely, but I feel that new direction might bring an end to my lack of purpose.

                                I was sleeping on a palette in the half-built mansion, enjoying the openness and the night air and comforting stars shining down on me. The stars always remind me that I have a place in the world, even if I don’t know what it is and I feel out of place. I drank a lot of absinthe with Zane before bed. She knows I’m depressed, but she hasn’t asked why, which is probably for the best since I don’t know how to talk about these things. I know I’ve been a pretty distant and uncaring girlfriend to many of my lovers, including Iris, so I guess Aoide’s lukewarm response to my advances serves me right. But seeing it that way doesn’t make it any easier, and I don’t remember if I’ve ever felt this way about someone before.

                                Anyway, the prophecy sobered me up quickly, and I consulted the I Ching to make sense of it all. A Pure Dragon’s virtue is in danger, but not from the Lusty Rake. The Rake risks his freedom, but not from the Dragon. I knew that the Dragon was from my own pantheon, and in the dream, I saw that someone else from the pantheon wanted to see her fall—not to harm her, but to give her a new beginning. The Rake is protective of the Dragon even though he disdains her purity because his honor is not so dead as he pretends. I think he is the corruption to her purity, but like yin and yang, they are not an opposing duality, but a harmonious one. Still, there is imbalance, and in seeking to right that imbalance, we should seek the lips of the Musician. I cannot say whether the delicate fingers and shadowed eyes that pull the strings are those of the Musician, but her words will illuminate the darkness. Yet her lips are dangerous.

                                The I Ching advises me to set a higher goal and work toward it in order to end current cycles and begin new ones, and I think it’s referring to the Dragon, the Rake and the Musician. They are three lovers representing Purity, Corruption and Balance, and they have the potential to change those they join with forever, ending the current cycle of a person’s fate and beginning a new one. They all sound terribly intriguing. The Lusty Rake sounds interesting and fun, but I also dreamt a warning. He has the potential to sire the leader of a new pantheon should the daughter of a god or goddess show him favor, and I don’t want children, much less children with that kind of fate bound to them. It’s WAY too much responsibility. So as far as I’m concerned, the Rake is off limits, no matter how dreamy he might end up being.

                                The only problem is that I don’t know where or when all of this is going to happen. I’m not worried, though. I’m sure something will come up in the next day or so to bring it all into perspective.

                                * * * * *

                                Magnus, Rajani and Andy have arrived in Berlin. I finished the watercolor painting of the scene of my near-death yesterday—a splash of red flanked by the ink-splatter smears of my wings. I like it, but I didn’t know what to do with it. It means a little too much for me to just sell it to an art dealer or gallery, so I asked Zane if she wanted it. After all, she avenged me when it happened. She was delighted to have it, and put it up in the corner of the caves that she has claimed as her own. That brightened my spirits a bit.

                                I think water color and ink painting are my favorite media, though I do enjoy the tactile quality of sculpture. There’s something tenuous about painting with watercolor or ink, a barely controlled chaos that threatens to run wild and free if the brush strokes aren’t just so . . . it’s really quite engaging. I suppose it must resonate with me since I’m plagued by an overabundance of the water element in my own spirit. It makes me intelligent, flexible, pliant, and wise (in my way), but since it’s a bit out of balance with the other elements, I also find it hard to stick with anything for long. Just like watercolor painting, no matter what I do, I always feel like there might be a little too much water on the brush, threatening to run off in new and unexpected directions.

                                What was I talking about? Oh yes, Magnus rolled in this morning, his van damaged by arrows. He had apparently had a run-in with the Swiss Guard, and handed some of their halberds to Anemone to use in one of her inventions. Chloris and Glykeria were thrilled to see him, but Glykeria seemed less excited when she noticed that he was over his creative funk and in much brighter spirits than the last time she saw him. She likes her men broody.

                                Rajani also came by today, and since the gang was all together again, we decided to go out clubbing. We went to Berghain again, since it’s one of our favorite clubs and there’s plenty there for everyone to enjoy. Also, Hermione, Aoide and I hadn’t been there yet this week. The night started out fine, but it didn’t take long for me to notice that Hermione was distracted. All of our flirting during the week meant nothing now that Rajani had entered the picture again. Hermione spent most of the evening dancing with Rajani, and even a blind fool could see that she was trying to seduce her. Rajani barely seemed interested and was almost bored when Hermione led her off to make out, but that didn’t seem to matter to Hermione. After all the attention I’d lavished on Hermione during the week, that really hurt.

                                So I turned my attention back to Aoide. I don’t know why I thought she’d warm up to me, but I desperately wanted her. We danced closely and then sneaked off to a lounge, and I tried to get close and cuddle and make out a little, but she didn’t really seem into it. I realized with even more certainty than before that she simply doesn’t feel the same about me that I do about her. My heart, which had started to crack at the beginning of the week, finished breaking.

                                Yep. Karma’s a bitch.

                                I left the club and Zane tagged along. She was worried about me and wanted to lift my spirits, so we went up to a nice, breezy rooftop and read stories to one another until the pale hours of morning. Zane is an amazing friend. Only she could have made me feel better last night, and for awhile I was able to lose my heartbreak in the threads of the stories. But as the sun rose over the Berlin skyline and chased away the magic of the night, the frustration and loneliness settled on me again.

                                Fuck Berlin.

                                * * * * *

                                Andy’s call this morning was welcome. He had news of a task for us, something that came straight from the ladies at White Gloves. Saorise has joined Caoimhe and Gia there, which is nice. I hadn’t really been by during the week. I wanted to, it’s just that Iris spends a lot of her time there, and I didn’t want to get in her way since she obviously wants to stay out of mine.

                                Anyway, Caoimhe has located another of their lost troupe. Jean, the roguish satyr, is currently in Bangkok, where he owns a stylish night club called Club Tragos. Ooh la la. He sounded like my type of guy, and maybe the perfect thing to help me get over the whole situation with Aoide and Hermione. Or so I thought until I realized that he was the Lusty Rake from my prophecy, which means he is totally off-limits.

                                I mentioned that I’d foreseen all of this and told the others about the Pure Dragon, the Lusty Rake and the Musician. I tried to explain the duality of purity and corruption, but it was a bit abstract and I think I was probably rambling at that point, so I punctuated it by asked when we could leave for Bangkok. Magnus noticed that and started glaring at me until I finally said “What?” He asked “What did you do?” and all the hurt from last night came flooding back in. So I told him things hadn’t worked out like I’d hoped in Berlin, and I was ready to leave.

                                I’d promised Hermione that I wouldn’t leave without warning again, so I had to go to the cave to say goodbye, which was awful. Hermione and Aoide were as cheerful as if nothing had happened last night, and their disappointment when I told them I was leaving seemed empty, even if it really wasn’t. I gave Mr. Duck to Aoide and told her take care of him for me until I return. I don’t know why. I wish I had him with me on the plane. I guess I was still trying to tell her how I feel, but I should really just give up on a lost cause. I don’t think I’ll be going back to Berlin for awhile.

                                Andy chartered a flight for us, and we’re in a plane to Bangkok now. Caoimhe, Gia and Saorise are with us, and Gia is having a hard time flying. I’ve mostly kept to myself, sipping absinthe and reading, aside from a moment when Saorise asked worriedly if I was okay. It was sweet of her to ask, but I just told her what I told Magnus, that things didn’t work out like I’d hoped in Berlin.

                                Now Magnus is strumming some soothing chords on his guitar, and Zane’s accompanying him with her flute. It’s mostly to help Gia calm down, but I like it too. The absinthe makes the music look gentle and soft as it caresses my mind, and the farther we get from Berlin, the more I feel like I’m able to shed my loneliness.

                                * * * * *

                                Bangkok

                                Our first night in Bangkok has already been exciting, and it’s not even over. Coming to a new, exciting place always makes me feel rejuvenated, like stepping from a smoky, stiflingly hot room into the crisp, cool air of autumn. I can put the past behind me and forget about the troubles I’ve left behind. I needed this.

                                We checked into a hotel before heading out to Club Tragos. Caoimhe was nervous about meeting Jean again since they parted on bad terms, but Andy convinced her that he needed to know she wanted him back if we were going to convince him to return to Berlin and rejoin his old troupe.

                                Club Tragos was pretty amazing. It was a bit posh. There were three stories. The first floors held a spacious dance floor that was open to a second story mezzanine, all lit with black-light. The rest of the second floor was filled with a restaurant and casino. The third floor mostly consisted of offices and private rooms. The staff all wore hair bands with little goat horns, making them look a bit like satyrs themselves. The bar was nice, with a good selection of absinthes, but I didn’t get much of a chance to sample them at first because Andy had no trouble arranging a meeting with Jean.

                                We were escorted to the third floor and met with Jean in a stylish, comfortable office. Jean was a roguishly handsome satyr, and if weren’t for the prophecy, I might have shown some interest. He certainly showed interest in ME. Before that, though, he and Caoimhe locked eyes as soon as she stepped in the room, and there was a bit of awkward discussion about his return to Berlin. To summarize, he’s not interested. He left for good reason, and he’s not sure its a good idea for the troupe to get back together. Still, he wasn’t rude about it, and I think Andy, Caoimhe and Magnus might be able to change his mind. He seemed frightened of Gia, but I don’t know if that’s because of their past or because she’s a ghost. I think the latter.

                                Jean did agree to consider our request more seriously if we could help out a friend of his. I asked if his friend was a dragon, and after a moment of mild surprise, he told us she was a Chinese Carp Dragon and an agent of the Celestial Bureaucracy named Laughing Carp. Jean didn’t say as much, but I knew from my prophecy that he was quite protective of her. He might usually be a corrupting influence, but not where she’s concerned. He said she isn’t right for him, and I think that’s probably true.

                                Laughing Carp joined us a few minutes later, and she was completely adorable! She’s so petite, with the cutest little bob haircut and a bright, tiny smile. She looks like a doll! She said she had submitted the proper paperwork to the Bureaucracy requesting help, but knowing the Bureaucracy, I’m sure it’s being shuffled endlessly from one ministry to the next, so I just told her that her paperwork was all in order and that we were there to help. It turns out she’s responsible for a local neighborhood that has become infested with chaos creatures. The creatures are recruiting and empowering martial artists, but she thinks the martial artists are a distraction from their real purpose. The marital artists are obviously infused with chaos, though, because their spiritual forms are mutable and only their eyes are true. I guess that’s where I’ll have to shoot them if it comes to that. And it will.

                                Of course, my prophecy didn’t really say anything about chaos demons, but chaos is often obscure and elusive. It avoids the threads of fate, so my fortune-telling might be of little use this time. However, speaking of chaos (a good kind of chaos), both Jean and Laughing Carp suggested we look around the local clubs for Pipa Jing. As soon as they said her name, I knew I’d found the Musician! She’s an immortal shen, the spirit-demon of a pipa (which is a sort of Chinese lute). I’ve read about her. She’s a dangerous spirit who works with the fox-demon Da Ji to corrupt and undermine the ideals of people who think themselves virtuous, all in an attempt to prove the hubris of those virtues. I’m not sure I completely agree with that, and they DO have a history of tearing down virtue by engineering the deaths of the virtuous people, but I think they’ve probably mellowed out a bit in modern times. If Pipa Jing is in Bangkok, I absolutely HAD to meet her. Besides, my dream said we should seek her dangerous lips for help here.

                                So we left to do just that. Fortunately we ran into her on the way out of Club Tragos. She was not what I expected. She was young and gorgeous, dressed casually for clubbing in a stylish t-shirt and jeans, with her long, silky black hair loose and her dark eyes lightly shadowed in pink make-up. She carried an elegant pipa slung on her back, and I soon as we saw her, I said, “Ah, the Musician. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you!” She apparently knew what I meant, because she simply graced me with a knowing smirk and replied, “You’ve been reading ahead.” I liked her instantly.

                                She suggested we talk at a nearby coffee house, so we chatted over coffee. She was very self-assured and every motion she made was filled with poise and grace, yet she was still casual and completely at ease. She told us that she’s been watching things in Bangkok for Da Ji and Nuwa, and she’s willing to help us resolve the local troubles. She also asked if we wouldn’t help her with a little project of her own.

                                You see, Laughing Carp is unseduceable thanks to an enchanted pearl she keeps under her pillow. It was given to her by her over-protective father. She literally cannot be affected by anything that would play upon her desires, particularly those of a sexual or romantic nature. This also means she can’t fall in love or experience the joys of sex. If you ask me or Magnus, that’s an absolute travesty. Pipa Jing agrees, and feels that Laughing Carp’s virtue is being enforced with too heavy a hand. So, Pipa Jing asked for our help in stealing the Pearl. She has no designs on Laughing Carp, but the poor dragon deserves to have the option to choose for herself how pure she remains and whether or not she wants to fall in love.

                                I think Zane, Rajani, and Andy were uncomfortable with the idea of stealing the pearl. They didn’t quite like the idea of taking away the source of her purity. But Magnus and I agreed that it’s not really purity if it’s not her choice, so we’re definitely interested in helping Pipa Jing. Plus, I’d like to get to know Pipa Jing better, and this is a good way to do that.

                                Speaking of which, I found myself staring at her lips as she talked. She has very attractive lips, and my dream said I should seek the Musician’s lips even though they were dangerous. Even though I know that was just a symbolic way of referring to the information she can give us, I couldn’t help but stare, and she finally called me on it. So I MEANT to say, “Your lips are dangerous,” but instead I said, “Your lips are delicious.” I guess I had a Freudian slip. Then the look in Pipa Jing’s eyes shifted a bit, and with a coy smirk, she said, “As with many things, they are just the tip of the iceberg.”

                                My heart skipped a beat, and suddenly I was glad that Aoide and Hermione were half a world away.

                                So yeah. That happened. Then Pipa Jing left to go talk to some people and find out what she could about the chaos demons. In the mean time, we are hitting some local clubs, waiting for her to find us again to share what she learns. I’m on my second glass of absinthe, the music is good, I’m surrounded by awesome friends, and we’re planning to meet back up with the one and only Pipa Jing later. I love Bangkok.


                                Zane’s Letters

                                Dad -
                                Flying in places is bloody brilliant, specially when you got your own special plane with just us on it. I got to watch the ground get farther and farther away until it was almost like looking down from the moon but different, cause we was moving right fast. It does make me sad I couldn’t put my head out the window like I was in a car or summat, but I got to go back and forth to all the windows and see how it looked different from each. Anemone said she might try to build an airplane to take the pools around with so’s they could go travelling too. Maybe if she does, she’ll make it with roll down windows. But Hermione wasn't well chuffed at the idea of moving the special pools about, so maybe not.

                                Gia was a bit nervy there on the plane. I think she’d never been in one before. But Mags started playing around on his guitar and I played some with him on my flute and Andy sang a bit. Andy told some stories too, so we got Gia all calmed down. Ji-Woo liked the colors of the music too cause absinthe makes things go all funny sometimes. Caoimhe and Rajani and Saorse were all serene and shit, least until we got there and all. Then Caoimhe was the one that got a bit nervy.

                                I guess I ought tell you where we were going, yeah? See, the White Gloves ladies had found somebody from their old family. Jean, a... satyr, I think? Caoimhe was nervous about talking with him, seeing as they had a big row last time she’d seen him. Also, Andy didn’t think they was safe, going off to Bangkok on their own, cause that’s where Jean was. Rajani said something about a chess match there, and I was kinda worried, cause I’m not very good with chess, but Ji-Woo said she was just talking about a film with people like Koeschi and Leo and Bara, but Leo and Bara were snogging and playing chess in Bangkok on their own, cause they were defecting from Russia for democracy. It sounded complicated, but at least I didn’t have to play chess.

                                Any road, we decided to go with, also cause Ji-Woo had a dream about Jean and another dragon! Jean is a rapscallion, which is an awesome word, and he's a lusty rake, and the dragon is a lady and his friend, but probably not his lady-friend (he has lots of those, so he probably has lots of money. Or is well strong). The dragon is a super hero from the same gang of gods that Ji-Woo is from. There was another super hero from the same gang too, that is maybe after the dragon. But since it was a prophet-dream and all, Ji-Woo was quick to want to go. Also, cause she was sad.

                                I don’t think she had as much fun in Berlin. None of the ladies were mad at her, which is good, but she didn’t wind up making time with nobody. She was specially sad last night cause Hermione was right happy to see Rajani and Aoide was just kinda floaty. I didn’t know how to make her less sad, so I asked her if she wanted to read some stories and she did. So we went outside where it was all open and breezy and read stories until Andy called this morning.

                                I had a good time in Berlin though. The two dwarves are building a proper house on top of the caves and all. It was well ace - it’s going to have a elevator that goes sideways and does loopty-loops and up and downs like normal elevators so we can get to the caves and all. Also, there’s going to be water slides with loopty-loops and you can swim in the pipes and shoot up from the fountain! Bori thinks the elevator is silly, but really, he’s silly. I spent lots of time with the dwarves and Anemone who was helping them. She had a brill hat with a torch on it. I don’t know why she needed a torch though, it weren't that dark. But it was brill anyways. The dwarves thought so too. They're both right sweet on her. I hope they don’t get silly about that or nothing, they already yell at each enough for about 5 people.

                                Mags and Rajani had fun too I think. Raj went home for a bit and rested like me. I mean, London-town’s mostly like home. Mags drove all the way back and his van was right beat up. Burn marks and bullet holes all over, and he even had an arrow poking out of it. He even had a whole armful of axe-spear things, what were called halberds. Anemone stole two of them, to put on cars so they could joust just like old-timey knight and things. Mags said he got them off some Swiss guards, but I’m sure they’re much better used for jousting.

                                We’ve landed and all and I think we can get off now, so I’ll tell you all about Bangkok later.

                                Zane


                                Dad -
                                I don’t know about all this. Well, not all this, I guess. Beating up chaos ninjas sounds well ace. But I’m not sure I like one of our new friends much. Least, I’m not sure she’s right. Ji-Woo likes her alot though.

                                Starting at the beginning, we found our missing satyr right quick-like. He has his own whole big club, called Club Tragos. It had three floors and was all lit up with purple-black-y kinda light. But for the very first thing, we got set up in a well posh hotel. Me and Ji-Woo had a room together, right near Caoimhe and Gia, since Gia had to stay near Caoimhe, being a ghost and all, and I could tell fastest if they got in trouble. Andy was right there too, seeing as he was their knight, yeah? Saorse stayed with Rajani, and Mags was on his lonesome, for now. Club Tragos was right nearby too.

                                Once we set stuff down there, we headed right on over and Andy went to pester the workers, what all had little goat horns on, so that he could set up a meeting with Jean. Me and Ji-Woo and Rajani went to get drinks in the downstairs dance part and Mags went and started playing guitar a bit in the corner. He’s doing proper well now - he was sad a bit in Zadar, all broody like, but he’s all calm and happy now, relaxing with his music instead of getting all wrecked about it.

                                Turns out it were right easy to get a meeting with Jean, seeing as he wanted to talk with us anyways. He weren’t chuffed to see Caoimhe though. He’s got lots of bad memories of Berlin and all, and didn’t think it was safe for Caoimhe to settle down or nothing. He got kinda prickly when she said that’s part of why the family was getting together. Seemed strange, cause he’s lots of people’s boyfriend, so he should be good at protecting people. But I think he’s the kind of boyfriend what just gives presents. He does have lots of money. Still, Caoimhe and Gia and the rest are family, yeah?

                                He was being all protect-y for somebody though, and it was a dragon, just like in Ji-Woo’s dream. She was called Laughing Carp, on account of her being a carp dragon, and maybe liking to laugh or summat, and she needed super hero type help and the other super hero in town, Pipa Jina, weren’t helping none. Jean was explaining a bit and trying to make time with Ji-Woo when Gia appeared and scared the piss out of him. He buggered right off to go get Laughing Carp, he was so scared. While he was gone, Ji-Woo told us that Pipa Jing was a spirit of a pipa, which is a music instrument like a guitar-type thing and that she killed people, but that the dream said she was supposed to balance things out with Purity (which was the dragon) and Corruption (which was maybe Jean, even though Ji-Woo says he probably won’t try to shag Laughing Carp even if she doesn’t have magic protection). So I guess the dream kinda says we should steal the pearl...

                                When Jean got back he was all cool again, asking where we was all from and the like. Andy said Canada, cause he’s silly. I said London-town, and kinda France and he said he was kinda French too. His name sounds French and all, but I didn’t ask much cause he was being all flirty again. And Laughing Carp showed up soon too. She was the smallest dragon of all the dragons I’d ever seen. When she looked like a person, she was even shorter than me and Jean said she was that small when she looked like a dragon. She was very nice too, I like her.

                                So, apparently, in Ji-Woo’s god gang, you have to fill in paper work to get help, so Laughing Carp was getting worried cause she did up the paper work and no one came until us. I don’t think we came cause of paper work, but Ji-Woo kinda said we did. Later she said we didn’t though, so maybe she was just trying to make Laughing Carp feel better and all. See, there was some kind of evil chaos creatures mucking up the city. She knew they were helping out some bad martial artist types but she thought there was more going on, just didn’t know what it was, yeah? She did know where we’d find them, and that we needed to hit them in the eyes and they sometimes had demons. She also gave us a card with her house and a picture of a fishy with a dragon’s head on it, so we could find her again.

                                Laughing Carp said Pipa Jing might know things too, so we decided to go find her. We was all set to go around to all kinds of clubs to find her and all, but as soon as we walked out we saw a well fit bird with a guitar thing that I guess was a pipa, cause Ji-Woo recognized her right off. She’d heard we showed up, then Laughing Carp showed up, so she decided to show up too. But since she found us, she took us to a coffee place nearby where she got a back room so’s we can talk and all. I guess they know her there and all, cause the bloke up front just waved her back. She knew about the chaos thing and is finding out more for us right now. She had to go talk with a little fox first though. I guess she’s keeping an eye on things for the god-ladies Da-Ji and Nu-Wa and didn’t like the chaos things either.

                                But then she asked us to do a favor. She’s going to help us anyway, even if we don’t do it, but I think Ji-Woo really wants to. See, Laughing Carp’s dad gave her a pearl when she was first growed up (a long long time ago) that makes it so no one can get her to have a romp with them, even with magic. Pipa Jing said it meant she couldn’t be in love, either, but she also thinks you can't be happy or have fun or live life proper without being a slag. Ji-Wo agreed with her too, about all of it, and thinks we should steal it, like Pipa Jing said.

                                That’s what I don’t know about. Not being able to love people, that’d be right sad, but love and sex-stuff is not the same. The other stuff is dead useful, with people not being able to use magic or super powers on you for that or nothing. It maybe even makes it so that no one can hurt you that way by just being stronger neither. But I guess... even I want to be somebody’s boyfriend when I’m growed up more and maybe the pearl doesn’t let her choose that sort of thing even if no one’s forcing anything, which is kinda like forcing things the other way, which is not really on either.

                                So, I don't know. I think I'm going to go talk with her, though.

                                Zane

                                End Session XVI

                                This was primarily set up. Pipa Jing appears among other places in Investiture of the Gods. Jean appears in no myths (but Satyrs do) but was mentioned during the Tomorrow Belongs to Me storyline.

                                I am short on time, but if you have comments or questions they are welcome.


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