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Chronicle Report: Keepers of the Wyck

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  • #76
    My imaginary character joins the fray! Lol. I'm still trying to sell my current group on a mage game.

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    • #77
      Session 23

      I'm a little behind on my records. We've already had the 24th session last weekend, but I've only just finished typing up what happened today. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up before too long.

      Cast List
      Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
      Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
      Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
      Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
      Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

      Notable NPCs Include:

      Keepers:
      Gwyn: Gate Keeper
      Camellia: Coven Maiden

      Edwin: Our Marauder

      ---CHAPTER 23: INSIDE THE MIND OF MADNESS---

      Sean, Hanson, Alfred, and Helen were all stood in the room within the keeper’s chantry. Edwin sat asleep, face on a desk. Though he still seemed safe, none of them really felt at ease as long as he was still there. The idea that he could wake up at any moment hung over them like a lead weight.

      That plan was to enter into his mind in order to find out exactly what had happened to him, how the breaches started, and if there was any way they might be able to cure him. To enter into his mind would require a great ritual in order to create and then maintain a mental link with Edwin. Alfred, having done this sort of thing before, proposed that he would fashion the illusion of a library and allow Edwin’s mind to populate it with books and other accoutrements in order for them to get a better idea. Hanson and Helen would contribute to the building of the effect while Sean, having no understanding of Mind, would be brought in with the others effect.

      Helen had very particular ideas on how the ritual should be carried out.

      Helen: Here’s what we need to do. We will have to draw a seal on the ground with chalk, then we need to place three mirrors at three equidistance points of the circle, forming a triangle. We have to stands outside of these mirrors with Edwin in the centre.
      Hanson: Mirrors?
      Helen: It’s to enhance our power so we can make the connection. I will try to stand as the bridge, linking our mental patterns together so that we can have a clear look into Edwin’s mind.
      Alfred: I… right. Well, if rather than pure lines, I was able to write in runes in chalk on the floor, I could do that. As long as there’s a narrative thread I can draw from, this should work.
      Hanson: Narrative I can get behind, but these mirrors…
      Helen: They are necessary.

      At this point, Aaron arrived and was brought up to speed on what they were planning to do.

      Aaron: So, you’re going to hack into Edwin’s mind?
      Alfred: Not hack, we’re trying to pass through his mental defences, aligning our conscious energies together so we may explore his mental landscape.
      Aaron: Yeah. Hacking.
      Hanson: You could call it that, yeah.
      Aaron: Cool, so how are we doing this?
      Alfred: Helen needs some mirros so we can, amplify shape energy or something. Then we can work our way into part of Edwin’s narrative, aligning our conscious minds into similar flow.
      Aaron: That made absolutely no sense to me…

      Explanations continued like this, but Aaron just had no idea what it was they were trying to do. After a while, he just agreed to come along for the ride but wouldn’t be able to help. The next problem was where to get the mirrors Helen demanded. Aaron went out looking for mirrors around the chantry, bumping into Camellia.

      Camellia: Oh, hello.
      Aaron: Hi, I was wondering. Do you happen to have any mirrors around?
      Camellia: I think so. Do you need them?
      Aaron: Yeah…
      Camellia: What for?
      Aaron: It’s a… ritual.
      Camellia: Does Vivian know about this?
      Aaron: Uhh…
      Camellia: Oh well… We’ll tell her when she gets back. I’m sure she won’t mind.

      Camellia took Aaron down to the undergrove and into a side room where she looked around for a number of mirrors, just as Gwyn arrived.

      Gwyn: Hello?
      Aaron: Uh… hi? Who are you?
      Gwyn: Gwyn Green… And, who are you?
      Aaron: Aaron.
      Gwyn: Are you a new initiate?
      Aaron: No, I’m just staying here.
      Gwyn: I see. And what are you doing here?
      Camellia: We’re getting mirrors so his can perform a ritual.
      Gwyn: What?
      Aaron: Uh. It’s not my ritual. It’s Alfred’s.
      Gwyn: Alfred… What would he want our mirrors for?
      Aaron: Beats me, It’s all mystic mumbo jumbo to me.
      Gwyn: Probably wants to scry and speak with this grandfather.
      Aaron: Sure. That’s probably it.
      Gwyn: Ok… Well, make sure nothing happens to them.
      Aaron: We’ll be careful.

      Gwyn helped them take the mirrors out of the cupboard for Aaron to take back upstairs. He was quite relieved he didn’t have to explain the Edwin situation to them.

      Aaron: Ok, got the mirrors.
      Helen: Good, now we need to place Edwin in the centre of the room.
      Hanson: Wait what?
      Helen: He needs to be in the middle of the ritual space.
      Hanson: I don’t think we should move him. What if he wakes up?
      Alfred: He has a point… If Edwin wakes up while we’re setting up the ritual, or even during it, may be quite dangerous
      Hanson: Geometrically placed mirrors and chalked up runes, he’d be convinced we were cultists.
      Helen: But he needs to be in the centre.
      Alfred: Wouldn’t we be able to draw the marking around him?
      Helen: Around him? He’s up against the wall.
      Hanson: So? Just draw your circle on the wall.
      Helen: It has to be a closed circle, any gaps and the geometry will be lost.
      Alfred: Aaron, would you be able to, err… reorganise the space between the wall and the floor to make it a continuous plane?
      Aaron: You mean reformat space?
      Alfred: Just so Helen can draw an unbroken circle between the floor and the wall.
      Aaron: That’s master level shit you’re asking for, not really something I can do.
      Alfred: Damn.
      Hanson: Ok… I don’t think this is going to work. If we can’t do this.
      Helen: If we just moved him to the bed, maybe by levitation.
      Hanson: Nobody’s moving Edwin. Helen, I don’t think we’ll be able to do this your way. You might have to sit this one out.

      There was a bit more back and forth, but eventually it was decided that Hanson and Alfred would lead the ritual and Helen would just observe along with Sean, taken along with them into Edwin’s mind, but not as part of the caster. Hanson and Alfred reorganises the ritual to be based more around language and narrative design.

      Aaron: You’re chanting at him now?
      Alfred: So we may insert ourselves into the flow of his narrative by use of language.
      Aaron: Huh… that’s sort of like code.
      Alfred: Perhaps.
      Aaron: Maybe I can help out, all I need to do is lower the defences, getting rid of those security barriers between minds.
      Hanson: Yeah, that can work.

      And so, they started their ritual. For about an hour, Alfred began chanting various forms of ancient and current poetry while Hanson focused meaning out of this chaos. Aaron got to work looking for backdoor entries around Edwin’s mind. Together they were able to create a bridge of sorts between the five of them, passing through Alfred and Hanson, and on to the others, so that each may share in the same illusion, created by Alfred, and populated by Edwin.

      They started out in the Earth house, that familiar rustic building where Alfred makes his mental home, but already something was slightly off. A pillar was bent at a strange angle, and cracks were forming around the walls. For a moment, Alfred felt a presence, as though something were inside his hut. This was not supposed to happen. They needed to hurry up before things got even stranger.
      They stepped through the door and into an incredibly chaotic library. Shelves stood strewn in bizarre arangements, some lay on the ground, some were just books floating in the air. There was a dark atmosphere to the place, with a faint smell of decaying fungus.

      Alfred: This… isn’t what usually happens. Though we’re not in a normal mind, are we.
      Hanson: I don’t think we should hang about here.
      Aaron: Yeah… there was something crawling around in that house. I think that means you we might get his madness.

      Aaron looked about at some of the books flying around and could make out titles like “The Rats in the Walls” and “A Shadow out of Time”. Alfred and Hanson recognised what these titles were with little surprise. Sean grabbed out at another book he sees, feeling strangely drawn to it. Emblazoned on what felt like a leather cover was a words “Necronomicon”. From behind him a figure approached asking for the book. The figure was tall and gangly, standing with an awkward gait, with a voice as deep and concerning as the dark. Sean was about to hand the book over, when Alfred and Aaron intervened, grabbing hold of it. Whatever happened, they did not want whatever this guy was to have a book so potent. They each grabbed at it and wrestled it away. Hanson imagined up a gun for himself and shot at him. He fell to the ground revealing a hideous body more monster than man before dissolving into the ground. Alfred recognised the character as Wilbur Wately, straight out from the Dunwich Horror.

      Alfred: None of this should be happening.
      Aaron: Yeah… We’re in way over our head here.
      Hanson: We have to keep looking. There’s got to be something here.

      A familiar sounds came from somewhere, one that Hanson knew too well. A swarm of Mi-go were on their way. In Edwin’s mind, who knew what they would do if they arrived. Before they had a chance to see them, The group ran through between the shelves and away, until the found themselves in an unfamiliar landscape, a crimson red sky against a foreboding stretch of obsidian. Before they even had a chance to catch their breath, a hole opened up beneath them. Helen stumbled through it. Hanson made to grab for her along with Alfred, but the two of them only fell into the void. Aaron and Sean stood and watched as the three of them were swallowed up into what looked like oblivion.

      In the darkness, neither one could see the other, their presence only vaguely felt over the great mass of activity which at once felt so close and loud, yet distant as though only barely peering from the corner of their periphery. Helen tried to grow herself some dragon wings in order to fly, but her body modification seemed to amplify beyond her control, giving her several extra eyes. Around the three of them, the darkness filled with glimpses of strange undulating forms, with tentacles and pulsating lobes throbbing about their bodies. It wasn’t long before they realised they were not in a void, but underwater, surrounded by hideous fear inducing creatures. Alfred recognised them as starspwan from his research into Lovecraft’s creatures.
      In the depths, Hanson spotted the wreckage of a car. As they drew closer to it, the car start to rise. Time began to flow backwards and the car lifted above the surface, Hanson saw two figures in the front seat he recognised. Sarah and Edwin. In a flash, Hanson, Helen, and Alfred found themselves inhabiting the same body and looking through the same eyes on the passenger seat of a car. They looked around and saw Sarah, someone they knew to be their sister, driving the car. She was talking, saying something intelligible. Alfred turned their head and looked out the window, he recognised the area as Glastonbury. Suddenly the car swerved out of control, they couldn’t tell what happened as tires skid and metal scraped. Before they knew it, they were in the water. The three of them looked down, they had somehow slipped out of the car, but Sarah was still in there. The water now seemed impossibly cast, the surface so far away. Around them the starspawn began to gather. Hanson urged to help Sarah while Alfred battled to evade the starspawn and head towards the car. But it was Helen who won out, forcing the body to swim towards the surface. A brief look down and they saw this hideous creatures dismember Sarah’s body. The three of them now found themselves in separate bodies again, but Hanson knew there was no longer anyone to save. He resigned to following the misshapen Helen to the surface.

      Aaron and Sean look down into the hole, but something else catches Sean’s attention, a shrill cry of “tekelili” coming from somewhere near. He called out to Aaron, and the two of them scarpered back into the tunnel they thought they came from, though it did not lead to familiarity. Before long the pair found themselves in a strange plaza with bizarre monolithic buildings all around them. In the distance, the spied alien creatures, conical in shape with four protruding limbs. Aaron recognised from what little Lovecraft knowledge he had that this was likely the Great Race of Yith. Relatively speaking, this was not bad. He knew they were not an outright hostile group, but were very protective about their information. They elected to sneak around the buildings and evade detection.
      It didn’t take long for the landscape to shift, however. As they walked deeper into the city, the tall alien structures began to morph together into more recognisable architecture. The two of them stand on a street. Aaron recognises it as somewhere in Birmingham.
      Before them, a great tare in space splits apart before them. Sean avert his gaze, but Aaron looks within and sees the tendrils of yog-sothoth peering back at him. Aaron can feel the edges of is mind being hit by something trying to get in, so he backed away and refused to look again.
      Soon, they noticed men in suits, all of whom looked the same, appearing out from everywhere. They were watching them, following them. Aaron and Sean sped up their walk, slowly turning it into a run.

      Hanson, Alfred, and Helen emerge to an eerie sky. The horizon is great as though they had somehow found themselves within the ocean. Their time to ponder this is cut short as the water drains, presenting them is a great black landscape of featureless rock going on for as far as the eye could see. With little option before them, the three of them began to walk along it, and bump into a running Aaron and Sean.

      Aaron: What the… How did you guys get here?
      Alfred: Edwin’s mind must have looped around.
      Hanson: We’re in the same space… what did you see?

      They discussed what they had encountered. Hanson recalled what Sarah had told him, that Edwin hadn’t been the same since the crash.

      Hanson: Perhaps that was the crash we witnessed. That’s what started it all.
      Aaron: Then we saw the first breach, the one up in Birmingham.
      Hanson: Sarah managed to calm him down after that, but it happened again… But why?
      Alfred: He came to London.
      Hanson: Sarah said they had friends here.
      Aaron: The nephandi ones right?
      Alfred: We don’t know that.
      Hanson: It’s likely though. They would have met him in Birmingham and tried to get him to London.

      Alfred tried to focus his mind and enforce Edwin’s to do the same. He wanted to know what happened to Edwin to set him off in London. He cast his effect, and suddenly everything went dark. Around them they could make up the dim outline of trains and platforms.

      Aaron: Is this… Euston station?
      Hanson: Looks like it.
      Alfred: What are we doing here?

      A great scream of movement could be heard, rats within the walls, followed by the machinations of a terrifying machine. On first glance, Alfred thought it was a pattern spider, a large one, but it looked different. It moved much more fluidly, and had a human face upon its back.

      Alfred: Is this how he saw the spider?
      Sean: I think we should go now.

      The eldritch pattern spider started swiping at them. They ran towards the entrance of the station, but it proved to be too nimble to outrun. In desperation, Hanson turned his gun to it and fired. As the bullet hit, everything slowed down, the image shattered as though shooting a pane of glass. The shards broke up in every colour and soon the whole image cracked around them, breaking up into millions of pieces. Each one held an image too small to make out. They had returned to the broken library.

      Aaron: Ok, I think we can all agree that this was a terrible idea.
      Helen: We need to get out of here.
      Aaron: Yeah, it’s too dangerous to keep going.
      Alfred: …agreed.

      Alfred lead them back to the Earth house and dismissed his effect. Each one awoke back in the room with Edwin still gently sleeping on the desk. Less than a minute had passed.

      Alfred: Everyone alright?
      Aaron: I could have done with that.
      Alfred: Sorry… this didn’t go to plan.
      Aaron: Didn’t seem like you had any kind of plan at all. We just jumped into a marauders mind, one of the most unstable places around, without any idea of what we’re doing.
      Alfred: Yes, in retrospect, we could have thought it out a bit better.
      Hanson: We did what we had to. I’m not sure what we’ve learned from it though.
      Alfred: We’ve seen what the world looks like to him… poor bastard.
      Aaron: I think we can agree, though, that Edwin is much more dangerous than any of us realised.
      Hanson: I’m not sure if he can be cured… And if he can’t, then there may only be on option for him.
      Alfred: One thing’s for certain. Bringing him to the technocracy can only be a bad thing.

      They started to put the mirrors away. Helen swore she saw something move in them, a shadow of some kind, but couldn’t be certain. She began to question her sanity, and wonder if perhaps linking minds with Edwin may have some yet unknown repercussions.
      Everyone felt this fear, and lamented the fact that, in her absence, Lydia may have defaulted to the sanest member of the group.

      ---NOTES---
      Oh yes, there will be repercussions. I made everyone do willpower roles periodically while inside Edwin’s mind, with the worst rollers having more adverse effects. I’ll be starting up a tally on Quiet. What happens to them now will determine just how badly things become.

      So, this session didn’t have the greatest of outcomes. I’m not sure what they expected traveling into the mind of a marauder, but there was a real sense that they had failed in some way. I had to talk to them for a while afterwards to make them feel a bit better about it all. Changing the mental landscape of the insane is a downright godlike feat, and if Masters had trouble with it, how could they put such expectations upon themselves?
      This little episode did nothing to quell Hanson’s player’s frustration. He came away from this feeling as though they had learned nothing, and that he was being railroaded into killing Edwin, or at least in helping instigate his death. I’ll admit, I created this scenario without thinking up golden “way out” as it were, but that doesn’t mean death is the only answer, it’s just the most apparent one.
      Still though, I’ll have to do something to make this endeavour not feel like a total waste of time and sanity. Hopelessness seems to be a growing theme in this story. The challenge now is trying to prevent my players from giving up because of this and dismissing any form of agency.

      I find that when players feel they have no agency, they tend to stop caring about their character and allow them to do careless things, becoming apathetic to the consequences. This kind of attitude is a death sentence for any game, and while it’s not that bad yet, I can see it developing if I don’t do something to curb it soon.


      Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

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      • #78
        Session 24

        Since people's schedules and locations have changed somewhat, I have not been able to do catch up sessions or alternative sessions like I had done previously. I'm not sure what impact this will have on the game or its story.

        Cast List
        Lydia: Moon Witch
        Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
        Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
        Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
        Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

        Notable NPCs Include:

        Keepers:
        Vivian: High Priestess

        Edwin: Our Marauder

        ---CHAPTER 24: FINAL PLANS---

        The cool air blew around her hair as she stood on the grass. The dark of night gone, bathed in glorious moonlight the starlight with the intense cosmos around her. Lydia made a tentative step and felt Luna’s presence guide her feet. It wasn’t long before she came face to face with a pale women in a silver sheet.

        Lydia: Luna?
        Luna: Hello Lydia. I sense that you are concerned.
        Lydia: I’m worried about my vision. I want everyone to be able to work together, to move beyond the barriers of their belief, but everyone seems determined to work against each other.
        Luna: Don’t give up. With such adversity, your vision is needed more than ever.
        Lydia: But how can I get them to hear when they refuse to listen?
        Luna: That is a very good question.
        Lydia: I see…
        Luna: I also notice that you worry for the battle to come.
        Lydia: Yes. What can I do to prepare myself for this?
        Luna: It will be a difficult time, but it will be a pivotal time for yourself and the coven.
        Lydia: What should I do?
        Luna: You should fight to keep alive that which you hold dear.
        Lydia: I see…
        Luna: There is one more concern I sense in you, that about your family.
        Lydia: Well… I suspect my uncle Michael is actually my father. He seems to act that way. But why should I worry about that?
        Luna: To know one’s lineage is to better understand one’s roots.
        Lydia: It’s never been that important to me before.
        Luna: But it may be of benefit to know where you and your powers come from.
        Lydia: How can I do this?
        Luna: The Green Fairy of Ireland. She will help you find the way.
        Lydia: Thank you Luna.

        Lydia awoke to the bright of day, with a slight chill. Vivian stood over her.

        Vivian: Ah, you’re awake.
        Lydia: Uh… Where is everyone?
        Vivian: They already left. They woke up in the morning.
        Lydia: Did you just wake up as well?
        Vivian: I never slept.
        Lydia: Are you ok?
        Vivian: I am fine. I do not need to sleep.
        Lydia: I’m not sure that’s healthy.
        Vivian: With Melonie about, we cannot risk an attack by her fomori. But we cannot allow this to ruin our ceremonies. If I must stay up and keep watch then so be it.
        Lydia: What are we going to do about her?

        Vivian recanted the plan to Lydia, to bring the open circle to the heath, lead them in a ritual to cleanse it while going to the spirit world to rid the site of banes and protect the acolytes from harm. After this, they return to the chantry together.

        Vivian: Tonight we will be properly inducting you and Alfred into the Keepers. But first, there is one last rite you have yet to pass.
        Lydia: What is it?
        Vivian: To meditate at our node.
        Lydia: I did that.
        Vivian: But did you speak with the spirit that resides within?
        Lydia: No, not really.
        Vivian: Then you must, while the spirit still has strength to speak.

        [ST NOTE: So, by this point, Lydia’s Player has missed about 3 or so weeks of Mage, and we have no time to do a catch up session since she’s no longer living in the same city as the rest of us. This little bit at the beginning was an attempt to reintroduce her to her character, as well as recap what’s going on in the story.]

        The group stand in Edwin’s room, still recovering from Edwin’s madness. None of them quite expected just how potent the imagery and emotion actually was. Alfred had left in a hurry to meet with Lance, and had already gone. Sean too decided to leave, go for a walk to clear his head, leaving Hanson, Aaron, and Helen alone with Edwin, who quietly slept.

        Helen: I don’t think he should stay here.
        Hanson: For now there’s not much choice.
        Aaron: Guys… I have something I need to say. But I don’t want to risk him hearing it. Could we do this in another room?

        Aaron led them to his own room, closing the door before they began to talk.

        Aaron: Ok, so I think we can all agree that Edwin is way more dangerous than any of us actually thought, and far too dangerous to ignore.
        Hanson: I can’t really deny that.
        Aaron: Right, so… I don’t want this to come across harsh, but it might be that we’ll need to think of some kind of backup plan in case we have no other choice.
        Helen: Back up plan?
        Hanson: As much as I hate to consider it, but Violet might have a point.
        Aaron: Euthanatos lady?
        Hanson: Yeah.
        Aaron: Right.
        Helen: Are you saying we need to kill Edwin?
        Aaron: We need a contingency plan. The alternatives aren’t really that much better.
        Hanson: The blackout was enough to trigger him, anything could set him off.
        Aaron: Right. Even if we get this sorted now, it’s going to happen again, and when it does who do you think are going to be after him? The technocracy, and I can’t think of anyone worse to hand over a marauder to then them.
        Hanson: Leaving it to Sarah, she would just take him to her friends.
        Aaron: And we’re pretty certain her “friends” are just Malady and Zandros, aren’t we.
        Hanson: We don’t know that.
        Aaron: It’s pretty likely. So, really the only one left is the euthanatos.
        Hanson: Hmm…
        Aaron: And since killing is pretty much their thing, she’d be the most capable person for the job.
        Hanson: She would…
        Helen: I don’t like this.
        Aaron: Helen.
        Helen: It reminds me of what happened to my parents.
        Hanson: We don’t want to kill him.
        Aaron: Yeah, this is just a contingency plan. If all else fails. Just to be safe.
        Hanson: Violet would need something of his in order to reach him.
        Aaron: If only we had that book.
        Hanson: Helen, do you still have that page?
        Helen: Yes.
        Aaron: Why did you rip out a page?
        Helen: I didn’t, Edwin did.
        Hanson: We could give it to her, and she might be able to use it to kill him from a distance. If we need to.
        Aaron: Right, that’s settled.

        Aaron jumps to his computer and starts coding, wanting to increase his own mental attributes. He looks up and notices they are still standing there.

        Aaron: Oh… meeting adjourned. Bye.

        Hanson leaves and returns to Edwin, wanting to check on him and see if he’s still asleep. Edwin stirs slightly, lifting his head and eventually opening his eyes. Hanson braces himself, but decides to try speaking with him first.

        Hanson: Hello, Edwin?
        Edwin: Uh…
        Hanson: You ok there?
        Edwin: Uh… You… I remember you.
        Hanson: Yes, we’ve met.
        Edwin: I had a dream… You shot at this terrible monster. Part spider.
        Hanson: Yes, that was a dream.
        Edwin: It felt so real. Just like that time on the boat.
        Hanson: That wasn’t real…

        Once again, Hanson tried his luck at convincing Edwin that his delusions were not real, but as ever he was getting little more than resistance.

        Edwin: What are you talking about? I know it happened, I was there. I saw it.
        Hanson: You think you saw it, but you didn’t. You know Lovecraft right?
        Edwin: Of course I do. He wrote about all the things he saw outside our world. The horrible things, as warnings.
        Hanson: No, it’s fiction.
        Edwin: You might think it’s fiction. But that’s only to preserve your own sanity. I don’t expect anyone to understand and know the things I’ve seen, the monsters that lurk in the corners of our reality, but they are there. They are coming, we must protect ourselves.

        Edwin starts to draw his symbol down, the five pronged twig.

        Hanson: You trying to go somewhere?
        Edwin: What?
        Hanson: Your symbol.
        Edwin: This… It’s for protection. I don’t know they reason behind it, but the elder sign keeps the horrors at bay. Wards them away.
        Hanson: Is this how you do your magic?
        Edwin: It is not magic. These are ancient symbols of power, a holdover from a time long lost to human memory, or delivered from distant worlds.
        Hanson: That’s how you do your magic.
        Edwin: You don’t know what you’re talking about. But perhaps that is safer…
        Hanson: Edwin, it’s not real.
        Edwin: I can tell you. I’ve been there. I’ve seen the other worlds, I’ve seen where they live. There is much more to this world than what humans can see.
        Hanson: That’s true, but not in the way that you think…

        Hanson started to explain his view of Magic and the way it can be manipulated. How there is no meaning in the world except for what you put into it.

        Hanson: you put meaning into these books, so it becomes important, it becomes real. That is how you do your magic.
        Edwin: This is not magic. This is different. Did you not hear me explain it to you?

        Hanson decides to take out his lighter and perform a blatant vulgar feat of magic, creating a fireball in the air and allowing it to fly about. He created it so not a shred of doubt could explain it away. Edwin was left stunned.

        Edwin: What…
        Hanson: Magic. That’s all it is.
        Edwin: What are you?
        Hanson: I’m the same as you. We’re awakened.
        Edwin: I don’t…
        Hanson: You are right, there is more to this world. But you are looking at it from the lens of lovecraft. It helps you better describe it, better understand what is inherently lacking meaning. But it’s just a lens, and not real. You’re belief makes it real to you, and then to everyone else. But it’s only because of you that it exists.
        Edwin: You speak like… some kind of warlock… Why have you come here…

        Hanson noticed his clothes begin to change, his coat became darker, and started to flow like a robe. Edwin’s face grew from confusion to fear, and Hanson was not about to let this continue. He took out his flask and took a very long drink, putting as much energy as he could into causing Edwin to fall sleepy before he could change anything. Within a minute, Edwin began to calm and rest, and Hanson’s clothes faded back to normal.

        Edwin: The crash…

        Edwin murmurs as he starts to fall asleep.

        Hanson: It’s ok Edwin.

        Edwin: I dreamt… I dreamt about the crash… I have to get back… Back to the first time I fell…
        Hanson: Rest.
        Edwin: The crash… I have to get back… Back home.
        Hanson: You are home. Sarah is waiting for you. Remember her.
        Edwin: Sarah… died… died in…
        Hanson: She didn’t Edwin. She’s ok.

        Hanson helped him to the bed just as Edwin fell asleep. Hanson sighed, hopefully he was able to get through to him at least a little.

        After about 30 minutes of coding, Aaron looks up and noticed Helen is still there.

        Aaron: Uh….hi?
        Helen: Hi, I wanted to ask you something.

        Aaron froze. He wasn’t accustomed to people waiting for him like this, especially women.

        Aaron: Uh… ok?
        Helen: You’re going to talk to the Technocrats, right?
        Aaron: …why?
        Helen: I was wondering if you could help me find someone.
        Aaron: Why do you want to find them? And what does the technocracy have to do with this?
        Helen: Personal reasons. I can’t explain it.
        Aaron: Ah… I can understand that. So who are they?
        Helen: Peter.
        Aaron: Peter…
        Helen: Yes, Peter.
        Aaron: That’s all you’re going to give me?
        Helen: Can you help?
        Aaron: …Maybe?
        Helen: Thank you.
        Aaron: Right… well… I have to get ready to go and meet with people.
        Helen: Are you going to the technocracy? Can I come with you?
        Aaron: Ah… This is not quite that. It’s VA stuff, I don’t think they’d appreciate you tagging along.
        Helen: Oh… I understand.
        Aaron: Ok… well… bye.

        Helen leaves slightly dejected. Aaron breathes out. “Girls…” he thought, “They’re really weird!”

        Lydia arrives at the Chantry, she shortly meets up with Hanson and Helen.

        Hanson: Ah, Lydia. You’re back.
        Lydia: Yes. Are you still on your case?
        Hanson: Things with Edwin are… well, they’re getting complicated.
        Lydia: I see.
        Hanson: I was going to go to Granny Elm, see if she had any advice on the matter.
        Lydia: That’s a good idea. I was thinking of speaking with her too.
        Helen: I’ll come too.
        Lydia: Oh, You’re still here.
        Helen: Yes, I am still here.
        Lydia: Wouldn’t you prefer to be with your scholar friends?
        Helen: I have to help this coven.
        Lydia: Yes. I’ve seen how you help. Perhaps you’ll turn us all over to the technocracy.
        Hanson: Ladies… Please.

        Mica walks in looking as though she hates the sun.

        Mica: Uhhh…
        Hanson: Mica. Good thing you’re here.
        Mica: Don’t talk with loud voices, thank you.
        Hanson: Could you let us into the undergrove?
        Mica: Why?
        Hanson: We were going to consult with Granny Elm.
        Lydia: Are you ok Mica?
        Mica: Yeah… I think. Genevieve and I went a bit overboard last night…
        Hanson: Ah, I know how that feels. Want to try some hair of the dog?
        Mica: We did. That’s why we’re still like this.
        Hanson: Oh.
        Lydia: Can’t you just focus on Life to cure yourselves? That’s what I did.
        Mica: I don’t know… Can’t concentrate. I could try it… Wait, you guys wanted to go downstairs right?
        Hanson: Yes.
        Mica: Ok.

        Mica opened the door for them with her necklace and slowly dragged herself to her room to rest. The three slowly approached Granny Elm’s room and knocked on the door. There was no answer. They knocked again and called but still not a sign of her presence was found.
        Hanson pressed open the door and they entered slowly. The room was no without its eerie feel, strong as ever even in her absence. A darkness hung around them, like a dark billow of smoke hanging like mist.

        GE: I see you have come for guidance.
        Hanson: Granny Elm?
        Lydia: Where are you?
        GE: I am speaking from beyond.
        Lydia: You’re dead?
        GE: No, not dead, but not in this world. I have matters to tend to in preparation for the coming battle.
        Lydia: I see.
        GE: While you are in this room, I may speak and hear you as normal. I sense you have questions.
        Hanson: Yes, I want to know what we can do to help Edwin.
        GE: The marauder… Though help may be difficult, I sense he will have a role to play in this battle yet.
        Hanson: And what of Sarah?
        GE: You are right to be suspicious of her friends. Perhaps you should check on them.
        Lydia: I’m starting to wonder about my family.
        GE: You question your lineage. This is good. The mysteries of your past will only open themselves to you if you search. It may be worth your time to search.
        Lydia: Where should I search?
        GE: Consult your spirit guide.
        Lydia: With Luna? I did, she told me to search for the Green Fairy.
        GE: Then perhaps you already know your path.
        Helen: Where can I find someone named Peter?
        Hanson: I really think you need to give people more to go on that just “Peter”.
        GE: The one you search for… He may be closer to what you call the enemy than you believe.
        Helen: You see him?
        GE: Almost… If I had something of theirs then it would be easier… For now, this is all I can offer.
        Hanson: Thank you, Granny Elm.
        GE: I am always happy to offer to you advice.

        The presence faded, providing a cue for the three to leave. Hanson left to find Aaron, showed him his Technocractic gun asking for more information on it. As Aaron checked it out, Hanson gave a quick call to his contact to ask about any info on a Peter Walters.

        Lydia went to the node room and meditated, the tree itself looked just as weakened as it had done the last time she saw it. Her concern grew as she noticed a few leaves fall as she approached. As she concentrated, the spirit pressed against her mind, and she let it in. She could see a field, untouched and wild, filled with primal energy and a great full moon. Day turned to night, and back to day, faster and faster. She saw a tree grow from the ground slowly rising into might. The surroundings changed around it with buildings appearing, being destroyed, and reappearing around. The moon was ever bright as the tree grew, until darkness surrounded all. The tree cut off from light.

        Lydia: That was awesome.

        The tree barely whispers in response

        Lydia: Are you ok?
        Tree: I can feel… my grip loosen.
        Lydia: Is it the nodes?
        Tree: Their energy fades… As do I.
        Lydia: We will help you. We’re going to fight and cleanse the nodes.

        While Hanson went upstairs to speak with Aaron, and Lydia was in a trance downstairs, Helen started hearing a strange noise. She followed the noise and soon it grew into frantic whispers. Something big was happening from beyond the door, something that drew here ever closer to it.

        Sean is sat in a church quite a long walk from the chantry. He is having a moment of spiritual uncertainty and prays for guidance, the peaceful building allows for a clear voice to be heard.

        Voice: What is it that troubles you?
        Sean: My Lord. I wonder about how long I must keep up this work.
        Voice: The path is long, and ideals must be maintained.
        Sean: But if I keep on this path, there may be no going back.
        Voice: You must not deviate from your values.
        Sean: But what if my actions lead to further problems?
        Voice: Act not because of what may be. Act for it is good to act.
        Sean: I see… Thank you.

        Sean makes a prayer in order to feel out the presence of other nodes around him. He feels the faint sensation of quintessence all around him, but not in any large quantities. It serves as a reminder of how all things hold essence of the One within them, a reminder which brings him a moment of solace.

        Just as he’s about to leave, however, someone stops him.

        Knight: Hey, I know you.
        Sean: Hello?
        Knight: You were getting chewed out a few days ago, weren’t you?
        Sean: Uh… yes.
        Knight: You’ve not been back at the chapter house for a while.
        Sean: Well… I still have my work to do.
        Knight: Where exactly have you been?

        Sean does not mention his dealings in the spirit realm in case they think he started dealing in the demonic.

        Sean: I’ve… been investigating the verbena.
        Knight: Oh yes, those pagan lot. The ones who were on trial because of the nephandi they have.
        Sean: Yes…
        Knight: You think they’re the ones carrying out the breaches?
        Sean: No, I don’t think they were.
        Knight: You know who is actually was then?
        Sean: I believe it was stated to be caused by a marauder.
        Knight: Oh Yeah, well if you learn more about where this marauder is, let us know.
        Sean: ….of course.
        Knight: There were talks about finding where these pagans keep their chantry and liberating it. You know, in case they were causing those demonic creatures to run around the city.
        Sean: Liberate it?
        Knight: You weren’t told? Oh right, you’ve been reprimanded haven’t you. Probably not given the info yet…
        Sean: I’m not sure that would be necessary.
        Knight: No?
        Sean: I’ve been watching them, I really don’t think they are involved.
        Knight: So you know better then, do you?
        Sean: I… can’t say that I do.
        Knight: Right, probably best to just finish up your report, then we can get things started.
        Sean: I shall.
        Knight: Lord Preserve us.
        Sean: Yes, may the Lord Preserve us.

        Sean leaves the chapel as casually as he can muster before speeding away. This marauder needed to be dealt with soon or he would no longer be able to protect the verbena.

        ---NOTES---
        This session had to perform a lot of connective roles at once. I had to make sure Lydia’s player still knew what was going on after being away for three weeks; I had to give Hanson’s player a bit more time with Edwin so that he remembered why he mattered to him in the first place; and I had to give the players a chance to discuss what it is they were going to do in the run up to the big battle.
        Originally I planned that Alfred and Aaron would have their technocracy meetings simultaneously while Hanson, Lydia, and Helen did their discussing, but that didn’t quite happen. Perhaps next session.
        One thing you might notice is that neither Helen nor Sean has been doing much for the last few sessions now. I spoke with Sean’s player and he told me this was intentional, he wanted to Sean to lay low and not attract any more attention to himself, while also resting up in preparation for the big battle. Helen’s player was a bit more at a loss. Now that the tribunal had taken Boris away, she wasn’t as certain what she wanted Helen to do. I think she was waiting for me to throw plot at her and have her deal with it. Except that I had already done this with the mystery of her father. I’m not sure she realised just how “open world” the concept of this game was, though she seems a bit more receptive to the idea of going out to find answers for herself rather than waiting for them to fall into her lap.

        I swear, players sometimes want you to do all the work for them…


        Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

        Comment


        • #79
          Originally posted by Saikou View Post
          Session 24
          I swear, players sometimes want you to do all the work for them…
          Lol. A few of my players tend to be everywhere but where I thought they would be.

          I once ran a game where I described the landscape and then had a toucan fly to the PCs boat, do its toucan squawk, and then fly off simply as a way to emphasize that they were on a river that was in a tropical forest where animals had little contact with humanity. Thanks to one player's brilliant idea, that session and the next one were devoted to finding and catching the "magical toucan" and discovering its mystical significance.
          Last edited by Spacecat; 04-07-2017, 10:08 AM.

          Comment


          • #80

            Session 25

            I've been really slow at writing these up. Hopefully I'll be up to date if I can finish writing up last weeks session before Sunday.

            Cast List
            Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
            Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy

            Notable NPCs Include:

            Technocrats
            Lance Armstrong: R&E Engineer
            Mr Steed: NWO operative

            ---CHAPTER 25: GOING DOWN ---

            Having just finished dealing with Edwin’s mind, Alfred hurriedly went to the node in the undergrove. Soon he would need to meet with Lance and who knows who else in the heart of a known technocratic base. He was also worried about whatever Edwin had done to his mind, and whether there was some measure of insanity which bread within him. He spent a several minutes in the presence of the ancient tree putting up mental defences, both to keep prying Technocrats out, and trace insanity within. He also made a few prayers to ancient Norse gods, pressing him within the background of other people’s stories, the Narrative shift. Hopefully he may be able to pass by unnoticed as he travels.

            Upon leaving, Alfred notices Lydia and Vivian returning, neither of whom notice him. As Lydia steps beyond the threshold, Alfred approaches the High Priestess, wishing to seek a short consultation with her.

            Alfred: High Priestess.
            Vivian: Alfred? Did you just arrive?
            Alfred: I was leaving, actually.
            Vivian: I see. I hope last night offered you some relief.
            Alfred: And you as well. Is everything ok?
            Vivian: I have a lot on my mind. Preparations need to be made.
            Alfred: Of course
            Vivian: Tonight, I will properly induct both you and Lydia into the coven.
            Alfred: High priestess…
            Vivian: You will fight with us while holding our name.
            Alfred: It would be an honour.
            Vivian: Once everyone arrives, we will do our ceremony.
            Alfred: Yes, about that. I’m about to go off to meet with people regarding our unexpected guest.
            Vivian: I see…
            Alfred: They are the people I told you about.
            Vivian: Be careful, and do not trust what they tell you.
            Alfred: I will.
            Vivian: Be careful, and return before the night is out. We have much to prepare.
            Alfred: Of course. And thank you.

            Alfred takes an unconventional route in order to reach Guy’s Hospital, not wanting to be followed or tracked, and especially wishing to make it difficult to guess exactly where he was coming from in order to keep the Keeper’s chantry a secret. He arrives at the hospital and asks front desk where the meeting is, then heads to the cafeteria to buy some oatmeal. Alfred had left a number of his materials with the Keepers, and so had to improvise for foci, the seeds should be good enough. He went into the bathroom and tried to grind up the seeds into a paste which he intended to put upon his face to change it, not wanting to be recognised by anyone. However, the effect botched. Alfred concentrated hard and kept the paradox within him, a total of 16 points hung over him, his skin felt as though it were peeling away.

            Quietly, he went on the lift and found a number of men in suits who lead him to a small room with a number of tables and chairs. Lance sat at the other end. A number of suited men stood behind him, their bowler hats casting shadow over their face making it hard to distinguish between them.

            Lance: Alfred, glad to see you’re ok.
            Alfred: Quite… So, it won’t be just us then?
            Lance: Unfortunately not.
            Alfred: Figures.
            Lance: Hold on. (to the suited men) Would you mind giving us a bit of space?

            The men speak to each other quietly before leaving the room. Lance and Alfred are alone for a moment.

            Lance: So, you remember us talking about Aaron?
            Alfred: I do.
            Lance: Is there anything you can tell us about him? Do you know where he is right now, for instance?
            Alfred: I do not know where he is, sorry.
            Lance: Or how we can find him?
            Alfred: I honestly could not say.
            Lance: Here (handing Alfred Aaron’s phone) Give this to him, we need to contact him as soon as possible.
            Alfred: What is all this about?
            Lance: I suspect he might have something we need, a file. There’s only one of it, and we need to get it back as soon as we can.
            Alfred: I’m not sure if I can promise anything.
            Lance: It would be a great help to us.

            The door opens, and the room fills with a heavy sense of tension. The tall imposing figure of Mr Steed enters.

            Steed: Is this the one?
            Lance: Yes, sir.
            Steed: Alfred Camlan. I understand you know the whereabouts of the deviants.
            Alfred: The marauder?
            Steed: Where are they?
            Alfred: They?
            Steed: The marauder.
            Alfred: What will you do with them?
            Steed: They are a threat to the masses, a danger to all. We merely wish to contain this threat.
            Alfred: How will you go about this?
            Steed: I assure you, they will be contained. Now, I recall reading that you had an agreement with us.
            Alfred: I was speaking with Lance about a handover.
            Steed: So you know where they are.
            Alfred: As I said, I was discussing with Lance, and I would prefer to speak with him about it.
            Steed: Very well… (to lance) be seeing you.

            Mr steed steps up and leaves with a number of men following behind him. Lance breaths out.

            Lance: I’m sorry about this.
            Alfred: You never told me Steed would be here.
            Lance: I can’t get out of this. The moment he found out we were meeting, that was it.
            Alfred: This is not ideal.
            Lance: I’m not sure what else can be done. They’re always there, breathing down your neck, it’s what they do.
            Alfred: Never mind. It’s done, and we can’t exactly evade him now, can we.

            The begin to discuss a plan. Alfred offers to bring Edwin to a meeting point for the technocracy to get to him. At first he tries to make is somewhere outside of London, but realises he needs to remain close by to Hampstead Heath in order to aid in the ritual and battle. He decides then to make the hand off point on a different side of the heath itself. This may always allow the progenitors to get caught up in things, allowing for more diversion.

            Lance: And that’s where you’ll give us the marauder then?
            Alfred: Edwin, yes.
            Lance: And what of Hanson?
            Alfred: Hanson? I didn’t say anything about Hanson.
            Lance: We have him listed as a Marauder.
            Alfred: Hanson is a lot of things, but he isn’t a marauder.
            Lance: The NWO are looking for him, they believe he’s connected with the breaches as much as Edwin. He’s been at almost every breach sight, and he’s on record of attacking one of our own.
            Alfred: Hanson is a good man. He may have acted rash, but he has nothing to do with the breaches. He is not a danger.
            Lance: They don’t see it that way. They see him as a threat.
            Alfred: Well take my word for it, he’s-

            The door opens and Mr Steed returns with two men filing in behind him, both in suits, difficult to distinguish between. They stand by the door.

            Steed: So, Mr Armstrong. As a decision been made.
            Lance: Yes sir. We’ve decided to have the handover be during the night at Hampstead Heath tomorrow.
            Steed: Hampstead Heath… Interesting choice.
            Alfred: It was the sight of one of Edwin’s…moments. I figured he’d be more likely to show up there.
            Steed: And what of Hanson?
            Alfred: I have told you where Edwin will be.
            Steed: We intend to take them both.
            Alfred: I agreed to cooperate with giving you the man who caused the breaches, that is Edwin.
            Steed: Yes, Mr Camlan, and you have been very cooperative with us. Perhaps there is something we can do to extend this agreement.
            Alfred: What do you mean?
            Steed: The Union provides, Mr Camlan. Perhaps there is something we can make easier for you, give you less to worry about in your normal life. Trouble at work perhaps?
            Alfred: Actually… There was something I was hoping to ask about. Something happened.
            Steed: The police at your door?
            Alfred: Uh… yes. I stole something from work, something I intend to return, mind you.
            Steed: Say no more. We can very easily have that dealt with.
            Alfred: I think they might have seen me take it.
            Steed: That should not be a problem. Allow us to take care of it and you can go to work the next day without any concerns.
            Alfred: Really?
            Steed: The Union provides, and we look after those who help us.

            Alfred thought for a moment. It pained him to admit it, but it seemed like the only real solution he had before him. Alfred really did not want to lose this job, and especially didn’t want to be placed in jail, though he knew making such agreements with the technocracy were dangerous and felt in some way like a betrayal of sorts. However, he conceded, and agreed for them to help him. Mr Steed smiles and leaves, the men in suits following behind him.

            Alfred turns to Lance and started talking. He knew that Lance’s field partner Hector really didn’t like NWO pushing in on their work, and he had seen first-hand how uncomfortable Mr Steed made Lance. Now that the man had left them, he decided to construct a plan with Lance.

            Alfred: What do you think they will do to Edwin when they get him?
            Lance: I couldn’t say. Those kinds of answers are beyond my clearance.
            Alfred: What would you do if they weren’t involved?
            Lance: Well, we’d want to learn more about this ability he has, see what changes he causes to create these extradimensional rifts, perhaps even use this for further technological development.
            Alfred: So you’d probably want to find him first.
            Lance: Now that Mr Steed’s involved, I don’t think we have a say in this.
            Alfred: I think you might. If you get him away before Steed and co can, you could argue you have priority.
            Lance: Perhaps…

            Alfred started laying out a plan, the idea would be they could use Hanson as a distraction, leading the NWO on a wild goose chase while Lance and other Void Engineers would come to gather Edwin, even positing that Hector could assist, providing he made peace with the vendetta he held against Hanson.

            Lance: That could work… Though it would be tricky. Perhaps we should meet up ahead of time to prepare.
            Alfred: Yes, That would be a good idea.
            Lance: I’ll need to talk to Hector about this first. If you’ll excuse me.

            Lance gets up and walks into the corridor to make a phone call. Alfred creeps towards the door and listens.

            The strange sounds of voices brings Helen to look out of the window. She sees a man in a suit walking by. It was only a glimpse, but she had the feeling she had seen this person from somewhere before. A surge of energy shot through her as she realised that this may be her father, and she ran out the door. At least, she would if she could open it. Having lost the right to a necklace, she had no choice but to awkwardly try and prise her way out of a window before trying to find out where this suited man was. She followed who she believed to be his father down the underground and towards London Bridge station. Her bracelet felt a momentary blip of heat as the underground train railed past.

            Emerging from the station, a group of suited men walked from the shard and towards Guy’s Hospital. She had a feeling that this group might lead her where she needed to go, and so followed them from a distance, watching as they entered one of the buildings, and then an elevator. Helen did her best to follow in a non-suspicious manner, but on reaching the floor these men arrived at, she was immediately halted by another.

            Man: Excuse me miss, you can’t enter here, this is a restricted area.
            Helen: Oh, sorry, I didn’t realise.

            Helen went back down in the elevator, got out and went back up the stairs, but the man was still there.

            Man: I said you can’t be here. Do you need help finding your way back?
            Helen: Sorry, I thought this was a public area. What’s happening here?
            Man: I can’t tell you that miss, please leave and do not try to enter here again.

            Helen obliges, returning to the lift, and then climbing up the stairs. She puts up a silencing effect around her and sneaks into the floor again. Down the corridor, she sees a man in a bowler hat on the phone, she listens in to his side of the conversation.

            Lance: Yes Hector. He says that Hanson will be there… I don’t know, but I think it’s worth a try... I trust him, he hasn’t lied to us yet has he?... I don’t like it either, but if we can get this guy before the agents do, we’ll be able to get back to our research, and this little distraction will be behind us… We’ll just have to see it through. We’re meeting Alfred tomorrow on the Heath…. I’ll go over the details in person….

            Lance looks down and notices Helen hiding there, her effect did nothing for how easily visible she was.

            Lance: Who are you?

            Helen tried to speak, but remembered her effect, and promptly dismissed it.

            Man: Hey, I thought I told you this was a restricted area!

            Alfred opened the door, wondering what all this commotion was and stared in stunned silence at Helen. He knew he had to do something.

            Alfred: She’s with me.
            Lance: You know here?
            Alfred: Yes, but she isn’t here because of us. She’s looking for her father.
            Helen: I’m a patient at this hospital!
            Alfred: …what?
            Man: Right, we’re escorting you out.
            Steed: What’s going on here?

            Mr Steed emerges from around a corner and everything gets quiet. He walks straight towards Helen. She looks up at his face and gives up any more attempts at lying.

            Helen: My father is Peter Walters, I am looking for him, I think he might be a technocrat.

            For a moment there was silence. Mr Steed spoke quietly to one of his entourage before speaking to Helen.

            Steed: Come with us, and we’ll get this matter sorted out quickly.

            Helen was stood up by two men who encouraged her to follow Mr Steed as they walked back to the elevators. Alfred considered acting but thought against it. He needed to stay out of trouble with the technocracy if his plan was to be of any use. Helen came here to search for a technocrat, so perhaps these men where in fact the right people to speak to about it.

            As the elevator doors closed, Helen started to panic. She was in a small room with three of these people, one of whom was the terrifying Mr Steed. She was likely being taken away to a technocratic base, and the chances of getting out were far too uncertain to count on. She needed to get out and get away as soon as possible. She started drawing shapes on her arms discreetly, playing it off as a nervous attempt to scratch. The shapes she drew were designed to augment her life pattern, and form sharp spikes as a means of defence. She built the effect and released it just before the elevator reached ground level.

            The doors opened to screams of people as blood pooled on the floor. Helen glanced back and saw that all three men were on the ground, puncture wounds on their body…

            [ST NOTE: Helen had intended to make spikes on her body to make herself more difficult to touch. I think she originally intended they be some kind of deterrent so they would let go of her, but instead she described the effect as spikes spontaneously slashing out of her body not unlike X-men’s Wolverine’s claws. She managed to roll about 6 successes. With 3 to target and 3 into damage (6 points lethal), it turned out to be an incredibly deadly bit of magic within in the confined space of an elevator room. The lesson here is if you want your effects to be non-lethal, you better make that clear before you start rolling dice.]

            A code was called over the intercom.

            Lance: That’s… strange
            Alfred: What’s going on?
            Lance: The hospital’s going on lockdown. That code means there’s a shooter at large…
            Alfred: What?
            Lance: Something might have happened with that friend of yours.
            Alfred: I better go down and check, would you be able to get me to her.
            Lance: I can try.

            The two of them headed down the stairwell towards the ground floor. Meanwhile, A crowd of people had gathered around the lift with official looking security personnel ushering them away. Helen’s clothes were bloodstained and horrible torn where the spikes burst out. They assumed her a survivor of the shooting and tried to get her away. Alfred arrived, with Lance giving the two of themselves access to approach. Alfred looked bloody mess seeing three bodies on the floor. “What did you do Helen” was the first thought that flew across his mind, though before he had a chance to articulate this question when Mr Steed stood up. He was the only one of the three to move, and his suit was uncannily immaculate.

            Steed: Get that girl!

            He pointed while addressing one of the guards. Helen backed away while slowly with drawing her wand and tracing out her shapes. Alfred could see what she was doing and started some magic of his own. He needed to stop her, or at least make a show of stopping her if Lance and Mr Steed were to trust him long enough for his plan to work. He tried to enter her mind and cause her to be too distracted to concentrate on her own spell, but Helen’s iron will won out and her effect was cast. She increased her speed significantly, allowing her the means to escape.

            Her escape was cut short, however, as she ran head long into a suited agent. The two of them fell to the ground where the guard tried to hold her down, a guard stood over the two with a taser pointed at her. Helen struggled but even with her speed increased, was not strong enough to push away and unable to perform the gestures required of tracing new shapes.

            Alfred looked on, feeling conflicted as to how best to approach. The voice of Excalibur echoed in his head. “Coward! Help those you are allied with, do not allow their demise at the hands of the enemy!”. With deep reservation, Alfred started muttering rhymes and poetic verse in prayer to create an illusion for both the guard, the agent, and Mr Steed, in order to have them no longer able to see Helen.

            Guard: Hold still.
            Agent: Stay on the ground.
            Guard: Hey… where’d she go?
            Agent: What do you mean, she’s… what?
            Guard: Wasn’t she right there?
            Agent: She must has slipped off. Did you see where she went?

            Helen was freed, she looked around and saw Alfred’s stern face. He mouthed the words “go!”, and she ran off the hospital grounds.

            Steed: What are you doing!? After her!
            Agent: Where did she go?
            Steed: She ran of that way! Get her! She’s a Deviant!
            Alfred: Mr Steed… Sir, those men in the lift. I might be able to heal them.
            Steed: There’s no need.
            Alfred: I understand we’re in a hospital, but I might be able to-
            Steed: They can be easily replaced.
            Alfred: …oh.
            Steed: You said she was with you?
            Alfred: I might have…
            Steed: See if you can hand her over along with the others. She’s proved herself to be rather dangerous.

            ---NOTES---
            We’ve had our first lethal dose of magic! Our first killer of (arguably) human kind is Helen! Ok, so it could be argued that she didn’t actually intend to kill anyone with this effect, but the Technocrats aren’t exactly going to split those kinds of hairs, are they.
            Paradox wise, things are getting rather interesting for Alfred. His vulgar use of “make person you are looking at suddenly not visible to you” pushed it up to 19, and the roll gave us a grand total of 3… Alfred’s player was none too impressed by this since he still has 16 points hanging over his head. The bright side is that the backlash effect he got was a really minor one, he saw Helen’s face flash across his eyes for a few minutes. Also, I impose a threshold on small backlashes over 10 accumulated points. This means he’ll need to get over 19 points total before I roll for backlash again. I do this because otherwise it’s very easy to go from 20 to 8 with a series 3 points backlashes in a row, turning high paradox into something much less scary than I want it to be. If Alfred’s player’s reaction to having to wait until 20 before I roll backlash is any indication, this rule is doing its job pretty well.


            Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

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            • #81
              Session 26

              So funny story. I actually finished writing up these notes last week but put off submitting them until just now... My discipline has just been taking a bath or something.

              Cast List
              Lydia: Moon Witch XXX
              Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
              Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
              Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
              Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
              Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

              Notable NPCs Include:

              Technocrats
              Lance Armstrong: R&E Engineer
              Mr Steed: NWO operative

              ---CHAPTER 26 TOWER OF GLASS ---

              Aaron looks over the gun that Hanson handed him, examined the shape and checked the rounds it held.

              Aaron: What you got here is an X-5 Protector. Standard for black hats and the like. These things are pretty good as far as guns go, and by the looks of it, you’ve got a few rounds of custom ammunition. Lighting style.
              Hanson: I see.
              Aaron: Yeah, not bad, though you might want to be careful. The technocracy might have a trace on these kinds of things.
              Hanson: A trace? But I’ve brought it here!
              Aaron: Yeah… You should probably through that thing in the river… but it is a neat gun so… your call. Anyway, I got to get going. Plans are in the works.

              Aaron heads off to Be4kers place. He arrives and hears that things are already getting underway. Rubrix and Eskim0e are plugged in, all Aaron needs to do is head to the Shard, the tallest building in London an Technocrat stronghold, call a meeting with Jason Stavero, plug in a USB into his computer for them to get access.

              Be4ker: The idea is if they can get in this way, they’ll be able to bypass all the security that usually ties us up.
              Aaron: Right. So any ideas on the escape plan?
              Be4ker: Yes, actually. Now, these technocrats make good wards on their turf, but here’s the thing, they built the thing too high for their cover. Climb to the top and you should be able to warp yourself out of there.
              Aaron: And what if things go south? Any way to signal?
              Be4ker: Just plug in the USB to your own computer.
              Aaron: Isn’t that dangerous if the other guys are in here?
              Be4ker: They won’t actually be in there, they’ll be here with me watching them. Their icons are going in the USB, and if it gets transferred to you, they’ll see it, log out, and we’ll know.
              Aaron: Right. Well then… I best get going.
              Be4ker: Yeah, also, Don’t screw up.

              Hanson sets out to a bookie with the idea of enhancing the money Sarah gave him through a bit of Entropy laced gambling. Sean decided to keep an eye on him, fully aware of how much trouble an unattended Hanson can get in. Hanson chooses a fairly clean betting place, one of a chain with tv screens displaying races and newspapers pinned to the wall. He takes out his notepad and starts drawing the names down along with the odds, tracing rings around the ones he starts to get a feeling for, and then betting an appropriate amount.

              [ST NOTE: He did this as an Entropy 1 effect, meaning he’d get an idea as to which horses were likely to win. The effect lasted for a scene and he made a series of bets. The way we played it out is by having the successes equal dice I would roll to see how well the gamble went, increasing the difficulty with each race.]

              Sean stood there. Though he did not approve of Hanson’s activity, he didn’t see much need to stop him. Hanson, he figured, was on a self-destructive path and would need help far beyond his ability to get away from it. As long as he, and everyone around him, was safe, that would be enough.
              Hanson ended up breaking even by the 5th race, and decided to call it off and find a new bookies to attempt business, since this one wasn’t working out.

              Aaron arrived at the Shard, the tallest building in all of London. This was a meeting he’d been resisting for a long time now. He stepped through the glass doors and approached the front desk. He gave the person at the desk a false name (I am having a lot of trouble keeping track of all the false names this guy uses, but I think this one ended in Wight).

              Reception: And what can I do for you?
              Aaron: I have an appointment with Jason Stavero
              Reception: What time is he expecting you?
              Aaron: Tell him it’s about the Esther Project.

              The reception makes a phone call, and then returns to Aaron.

              Reception: Take the lift to the 55th floor.

              Aaron enters the elevator, which quickly speeds upwards. The elevator itself is glass and allows an easy view of things outside. For a moment he notices what he thinks is Helen walking away from London Bridge station and towards Guy’s Hospital. He starts to wonder what exactly she was doing there, when the room comes to a stop at the 32nd floor. A man in a suit steps in, a cold expression on his face. Aaron watches the man out of the corner of his eye and notices him take out a phone and speak quietly into it the words “Subject found”. Aaron tries to peek over to see what is written on the phone and spies a phone number which he tries to commit to memory while acting uninterested. The elevator continues to rise and the man does not react. Once the 55th floor arrives, Aaron waits for a moment, then steps out. He walks ahead to another desk. Behind him the man steps out and stands by the elevator door, speaking something else into his phone. Aaron is wary but thinks it best not to draw any more attention. Instead he approaches the desk and is directed to a waiting area further up the corridor where he sits. Aaron glances back quickly and sure enough the man still stands by the elevator door.
              Trying to distract himself, he roots around the reading material and finds a few day old newspaper with a headline that grabs his attention. “Blackout Terrorist Investigated”. It speaks of what the police suspect is the cause of the black out only two weeks ago, and tying it to the recent “bomb threats” that have been springing up around London. Aaron recognises the locations to be exactly where Edwin’s portals had been. The article went on to state that, while Police were not ready to disclose details, there was suspicions that the blackout and the bomb threats were linked and that the same terrorist group may be behind them.


              At a different bookie, Hanson decides he needs something a little more certain. He knew that constantly winning would only draw suspicion. What he needed instead was a single big win from something that would be difficult to implicate him in. In the corner of the room was a number of fruit machines. In front of one was a man putting endless amounts of coins into it. Hanson decided to stand aside and wait for him to leave. The man hit the machine in anger and then walked to the bathroom. Hanson got out his notepad and clear a space in the chaotic maelstrom around, forcing machine to give him a jackpot the moment he pressed the button. He pressed, waited, and sure enough a stream of 7’s followed with a flow of coins. He had managed to win around £400.
              As Hanson gathered up the change and took it to the desk, the man returned.

              Man: Hey! What are you doing? You just win on that machine?
              Hanson: Yeah, lucky day.
              Man: I’ve been on that machine all day. That’s my money.
              Hanson: What can I say? You left it.
              Man: You can give me back what I paid for. It’s mine.
              Hanson: You left, I pushed the button. I won it.
              Man: Oh did you! Come over here and say that!
              Sean: Is there a problem here?
              Man: Who the fuck are you?

              Aaron is called in, informed that Mr Stavero will see him now. The office is big with a glass wall overlooking the London city skyline. Ahead of him is Jason Stavero sitting confidently and gesturing at the chair apposite him.

              Stavero: Please, take a seat.
              Aaron: …ok.
              Stavero: We Mr Gibson, you are a difficult man to find.
              Aaron: I’ll take that as a compliment.
              Stavero: Let’s get right to this shall we? You have something which belongs to us, and I’d like to get it back.
              Aaron: And what is it you want?
              Stavero: Please Mr Gibson, we’re well past that. We both know what you have taken from us.
              Aaron: …The Esther file.
              Stavero: Yes, where is it?
              Aaron: I’m not going to give it to you.
              Stavero: Do you even know what this file is?
              Aaron: …
              Stavero: You are dealing with things far beyond your reach.
              Aaron: I don’t care. I know you want it, and that’s enough.
              Stavero: Perhaps there can be some sort of arrangement made. I understand that you’ve been having money problems recently.
              Aaron: Yes, I bet you know why.
              Stavero: I can sort that out for you, just a few calls and it’ll be done. I could even add a few zeros on to the end of it.
              Aaron: You’re bribing me?
              Stavero: Please, Mr Gibson, we’re negotiating. You have somethingthat I’m willing to reward you for returning.
              Aaron: Something which you probably stole in the first place.
              Stavero: I don’t think you’re in much position to take the high road here Mr Gibson. Not with your activities.
              Aaron: My activities?
              Stavero: I’m sure you’ve read in the news about the recent terrorism activity that’s been going on. The black out a few weeks back, an act of cyberterrorism if I remember correctly. If we were to run a few checks, how easily do you think it would be to tie these events to you?
              Aaron: Are you threatening me?
              Stavero: Merely stating a few facts. Are you aware how difficult life can be when under suspicion of terrorism? I don’t think you’d want to find out.
              Aaron: You really don’t want to be threatening me, because if I get cornered, if I have no other options, I turn pretty nasty in an instant. Don’t push me!
              Stavero: Then let’s return to negotiation. Your equipment must be quite costly.
              Aaron: You’ll need more than money get me to help you.
              Stavero: Then perhaps something else. I’ve heard about some activity at Hampstead Heath. Some friends of yours seem really eager to prevent some work I’m overseeing.
              Aaron: Friends of mine?
              Stavero: Yes, people on the ground have said as much, wanting to prevent the wheels of progress as it were. Already we’re experiencing delays. However, if I had something else to occupy my time, it’s likely these delays will be extended indefinitely.
              Aaron: Construction would stop on the Heath?
              Stavero: For as long as I had my hands tied with more important matters.
              Aaron: I see… Well, it certainly sounds like a good deal. But it just doesn’t seem sweet enough to me.
              Stavero: You have something specific in mind?
              Aaron: I want to know what the Esther file is! What does it do?
              Stavero: Well, that level of information comes only at a need-to-know basis.
              Aaron: I need to know!
              Stavero: Secrets like that can only really be afforded to the most senior of workers, but perhaps arrangements can be made.
              Aaron: Arrangements? What kind?
              Stavero: If you were to become an employee of mine, I could see to it that your journey through the ranks will allow you the position needed to learn.
              Aaron: You mean, come work for you?
              Stavero: For the company, for the union. A man of your apparent talent would be highly valued in this day and age. It would of course come with a very good salary and, subject to performance, a number of other benefits.
              Aaron: Hmm… very tempting. I’ll need a moment to think it over.

              The phone rings, Stavero picks it up and speaks.

              Stavero: Hello… I’m in the middle of a meeting right now- When? …Right here? …Are you sure? …No, this needs to be dealt with!... (looking up at Aaron) Excuse me.

              Jason Stavero hurriedly gets up and leaves his office. Aaron sits for a few moments in silence before getting to work. He rushes behind the desk and immediately plugs the USB into the computer. He tries to look through the machine himself, but a screensaver password stops him. Not wishing to waste any time, he takes out his own computer and starts running a password cracking algorithm on it. While this runs Aaron takes a quick glance out the window onto the streets below and notices something unexpected. On the ground running towards the shard is Helen with bloodstained tattered clothes. Whatever she was doing, looks like it bought him some time.

              Alfred looks out of the hospital with Lance behind him.

              Alfred: I’m sorry about this. I honestly didn’t know she was here.
              Lance: Hopefully this won’t put too much of a dent in our plan.
              Alfred: I’ll have to speak with Hanson, but otherwise, nothing should change.

              Mr Steed approaches quickly.

              Steed: Lance, you should get going and prepare for tomorrows handover.
              Lance: Yes Mr Steed.
              Steed: And Mr Camlan.
              Alfred: Uh… yes?
              Steed: Have a safe journey home.
              Alfred: …
              Steed: Be seeing you.

              Alfred watched for a moment as Mr Steed walked nonchalantly away. He then turned and ran in the direction he saw Helen go. He later found her in a charity shop trying to buy some clothes to cover up her somewhat ruined ones. Quickly thinking, he rushed inside and pushed her into the changing room saying “Darling! You’re not wearing that shirt correctly, here let me help you with it”.
              In the changing room, he spoke quietly with a serious tone.

              Alfred: What are you doing!?
              Helen: I was trying to find my father.
              Alfred: In there!?!?
              Helen: I thought he would be there. I saw him.
              Alfred: You know you might have ruined a plan I was setting up with them?
              Helen: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that.
              Alfred: You also might have killed someone.
              Helen: What? No! I didn’t want to do that.
              Alfred: They might have been clones, but either way. We have to get out of here now. Technocrats will be swarming the place looking for you.
              Helen: I’m sorry, really.

              Alfred starts his chanting to evoke the narrative shift upon himself and Helen, and the two of them slip out of the charity shop and towards the station. Helen sees the shard and stares at it. It glows in her mind as a place with answers, answers about her father, answers about what happened to him. As they walk by, Helen stops.

              Alfred: Come on, we have to be quick.
              Helen: Alfred… I understand what you’re saying, but I’m really sorry for this.

              She runs to the Shard. Alfred stares in stunned silence as Helen runs straight into the maw of a technocratic stronghold.
              Helen dashes to the front lobby, ignoring the person at the desk. She gets an intuition that there is something on floor 55 for her to see. She makes a dash for the elevator and calls it down, looking behind her a number of men in suits and bowler hats enter the door, speak with the front desk, and are pointed straight towards her. Desperately pressing the buttons within the elevator, she them walk towards her just as the doors close.
              Aaron follows this men, cloaked by his narrative shift from their sights, and watches the doors close. Alfred walks towards the stairs when a message announced on the intercom. “Richard Davenport to floor 55. Richard Davenport to floor 55.”
              One of the bowler hat wearing men starts to head up the stairs. Alfred follows him cautiously, making sure he stays at least half a floor behind him.

              The cracking complete, Aaron starts to delve into the many files within the computer, searching for anything that might be of interest to him. He notices a number of emails between Jason Stavero as a Mr Steed regarding the Esther file, it seems the two of them are sharing information in order to find it. More curious is a large database that Aaron finds in Jason’s own documents. A small list of about 200 people with numbers and values attached to them along with their activity, times, dates, and other factors, along with a confusing array of numbers and codes. Aaron got to work, taking out his own hard drive and transferring the entire document over.
              It takes a while to transfer over, the document is much bigger than he expected. While waiting, Aaron anxiously starts to look around for anything else that might be of interest. He tries the drawers, by they are locked. Unwilling to waste any time with opening them, he takes his weaponised stylus out and shoots at the keyhole, and the draw slides out. A great number of files lie within, far too many to take, so he skims them and one catches his eye. It is labelled Peter Walter, the same man Helen was looking for? He grabbed the file and placed it in his bag. Glancing back at the progress bar, 95%... Aaron did not feel good waiting for this.

              Helen heard the announcement, Richard Davenport to floor 55, and assumed it must be referring to her. She took out a pen and began drawing shapes and patterns on her skin to change its colour to a much darker tone, hoping this would throw people off, and then got off on the 35th floor, waited a while, and slowly climbed up the stairs.
              Alfred had arrived on the 55th floor, slowly slipping past the man who stood guard by the stair well. Not knowing where she went, he decides to sit in the waiting area where he overhears a man’s phone conversation.

              Stavero: Yes… They’re here now….Where do you suspect the reality deviant is… my office?

              Aaron looks back at the screen, finally, 100%. He pulled the Harddrive out and put it away. Rubrix and co have probably had plenty of time to look around, Aaron thought, so he unplugged the USB and put it into his own laptop to signal the need of retreat. He decided he needed to do something to slow the technocrats down. He tried to take the entire computer terminal, but was unable to lift it, and dropped it on his foot. Stifling a yell he tried again only to get the same result.

              The sound of Aaron’s clumsy computer antics where heard by Alfred, who recognised his voice. He slowly walked towards the door, opening to find a swearing Aaron.

              Alfred: Aaron? What are you doing here?
              Aaron: I’m on a mission. What are you doing here!?
              Alfred: I’m looking for Helen.
              Aaron: What’s she doing here!!?
              Alfred: She’s looking for her father.
              Aaron: What’s he doing here?
              Alfred: She thinks her father’s a technocrat.
              Aaron: He’s a WHAT!?

              Helen climbs to the 55th floor and is stopped by the man waiting for her.

              Man: Excuse me ma’am, do you have your badge?
              Helen: Badge?
              Man: ID Bage
              Helen: Uh… no.
              Man: (into a mic) We’ve found her.

              Helen tried to run but the man grabbed a hold of her.


              Alfred: We have to get out of here.
              Aaron: Couldn’t agree more, now this may sound a bit crazy, but the fastest way out will be up.
              Alfred: Up?
              Aaron: Trust me, I know what I’m… what the heck?

              Aaron and Alfred looked through the doorway at the man trying to keep a hold of Helen, but couldn’t recognise her with her new skin colour. They watched as Helen manages to wrestle herself free. She runs to the threshold of the room where the other three stand stock still as two men pull out guns on them. Jason Stavero returned on the scene and spoke.

              Stavero: Well Mr Gibson? Is this your idea of an escape?
              Aaron: No. This is!

              Without hesitation, Aaron aimed his stylus at the glass wall behind them and fired. The glass cracked with a tiny hold in the centre. Aaron ran to the glass in an effort to break through it, but the glass held firm. Alfred panicked. His narrative shift would not help with so many onlookers. He called on for the strength of Woden and charged at the window, smashing through it and falling. Aaron quickly jumped after him screaming “Sic Semper Tyrannis Techoncucks!” with two fingers in full display. Helen, on seeing no other alternative, followed the two in their fall.
              Glass shards flayed in every direction as the three of them plummeted at speed, the ground getting ever closer by the second. Helen and Aaron worked up their Forces, Helen trying to reduce the speed of her decent, and Aaron lowering his kinetic value. Alfred, unable to perform such feets, attempted instead to strengthen his skin, but was in no frame of mind for prayer and concentration as the effect failed. Seeing this, Aaron tried to extend his programme to Alfred’s code, executing the function just in time. The two of them gently touched down to the ground while Helen landed a bump, made painful by the shards of glass.

              Aaron: What the heck was that all about?
              Helen: I didn’t know…
              Alfred: There’s no time for this. They’ll be looking for us. We have to leave now, I suggest we take the sewer.
              Aaron: No.
              Alfred: It’s the easiest way to get by unnoticed.
              Aaron: We are not going in the sewer.
              Alfred: Why not?
              Aaron: We’re just not, ok?
              Alfred: Where do we go then?
              Aaron: We need to get away from this building, find a place to hide. Hopefully someone’s looking out for us.

              The three of them dart away, dangerous looking agents file out of the building in all directions. They find a remote alleyway to sneak in when Aaron starts to feel the pixels around him flicker.

              Aaron: Ok, it’s happening, grab on to me!

              They hold tight as the world around them begins to flicker and shake, compressing all around them until they are left with nothing but a dark room with a screen.

              The man swung a punch at Hanson, who backed away in pain. Sean stepped in and directed the mans attention, deftly avoiding his shambling hits while Hanson alerted the staff. Soon the manager approached.

              Manager: Right you two, get out.
              Sean: Me?
              Manager: Both of you, before I call the police.

              The man protested, calling Hanson a thief before being shown the door. Hanson went to convert the coins into notes while receiving profuse apology from the staff. Outside, the man hit at the windows in anger before turning to Sean.

              Guy: You got me kicked out!
              Sean: Sir?
              Guy: Yeah, this is your fault!
              Sean: You do not want to fight me.
              Guy: Wanna bet? Eh? Think your tough do you?

              Sean refuses to engage but this guy just doesn’t back down. As the guy approaches, Hanson exits the bookies, takes a swig, and endorses a mind effect on him, calming him down, removing the edge of his aggression.

              Hanson: Look buddy, I get it. You’ve probably been putting cash into that thing all day. And yeah, it sucks you didn’t get the payout. That happens sometimes, it’s luck.
              Guy: …what am I gonna do now…
              Hanson: Here.

              Hanson hands the guy £30 of his winnings. The guy slinks off muttering “How am I going to explain this to her…”

              Hanson: You ok?
              Sean: Yes, he wasn’t much of a threat.
              Hanson: Better avoid the attention though.

              Helen: Where are we?
              Aaron: Someplace safe.

              Aaron walks up to the screen, upon which are the words “Who dese guys?
              Aaron: They’re fine, I know them, they’re safe.

              A door opens and Rubrix steps in.

              Rubrix: Theseus! Nice one.
              Aaron: You get what you needed?
              Rubrix: Found out some things, that’s for sure. Might have a better idea of what we’re dealing with.
              Aaron: You know what the Esther file is?
              Rubrix: Maybe. But anyway, what happened to you? I thought you were going to teleport from the top of the building.
              Aaron: The plan changed suddenly, had to bust out of a window during a hail of gunfire.
              Rubrix: Woah… That’s dramatic.
              Aaron: I know. I’m going to get so much Rep for this!
              Rubrix: So what happened?
              Aaron: Helen happened. (pointing at Helen)
              Alfred: Yes, Helen, about that. What in the world were you trying to achieve with this?
              Helen: I had to find him, I knew there’d be something.
              Alfred: Did you really though? You have jeopardised a great deal of trust building and planning all for this single minded pursuit of yours. Your actions were reckless and completely without thought of consequence.

              Aaron and Rubrix slink away, watching the action from a computer terminal

              Helen: I admit that… I’m sorry.
              Alfred: You have a good life as a Hermetic mage. Why risk that? Why throw it away just because of a guess?
              Helen: My family is important to me!
              Alfred: He isn’t look for you is he? Seems to me like he’s forgotten all about you and moved on!

              Helen slaps Alfred across the face.

              Helen: How dare you say that! My father is not that kind of man!
              Alfred: How do you know that Helen? Did you know he was a technocrat? Maybe you don’t actually know him at all.
              Aaron: That’s enough Alfred. She was acting reckless, but that’s no reason to start being a jerk.

              Rubrix shows the group where their first aid box is, and Helen heals herself and Aaron while Alfred heals himself.

              Aaron: So, your father, you said his name was Peter right?
              Helen: Yes.
              Aaron: Well, I think I might have found something.

              Aaron gives Helen the file on Peter Walter, and immediately disappears reading it.

              Voice: You have much to do Utred

              Alfred looked around, the voice of Excalibur sounded different. Not as internal as it usually does. He looked down and noticed a sword sheathed in his belt.

              Alfred: Excalibur? Have you manifest?
              Excalibur: You have still much to do.

              Whether a reward from his avatar, or some kind of strange quirk of paradox, Alfred could not say.

              Aaron: So, what did you find?
              Rubrix: Well, we didn’t have a great deal of time before you called for help, but we did manage to find something. Turns out this Esther file is about condensing humans into numbers, or attaching a value to them.
              Aaron: A value?
              Rubrix: Yeah, not easy to tell, but from the emails we sifted through, and the documents written about it, it’s about modelling human behaviour, knowing what people will want and do at each decision they make, and the Syndicate are trying to use it to work out how to sell people more stuff.
              Aaron: That’s surprisingly mundane.
              Rubrix: There’s probably more to it. Even so, being able to condense people down to a predictable number and know exactly what they’ll do and where they’ll go, that isn’t something you’d want the Technocrats to get too comfortable with.
              Aaron: That’s for sure. So, you say that it’s about making people into numbers?
              Rubrix: Yeah, probably an algorithm for creating databases.
              Aaron: Right, because I think I might have found the database for that.
              Rubrix: Nice one!

              Hanson and Sean sit in a café. The battle would be the following day, and Hanson was intent on finding out who Sarah’s “friends” were before then, but knew it was unlikely they’d let him meet them if they were in fact who they thought they were.

              He receives a skype call from Aaron who brings him up to date on what’s just happened, specifically mentioning he found a file on Peter Walter that Hanson was looking for. He hadn’t finished the call for a moment when he got another one from his technocratic informant. [Can’t recall the name]

              Call: Hanson.
              Hanson: Everything alright?
              Call: It’s been madness here. The building is on lockdown, there are rumours that someone snuck into an office, stole some documents, and tried to break through a window.
              Hanson: Sounds rather hectic.
              Call: Yeah, though I doubt it’ll ever make it to press. Anyway, I’ve done some digging on this Walter guy you were asking about.
              Hanson: What did you find?
              Call: Definitely an agent in the union, his name has been linked with some pretty serious missions, really dangerous ones from what I can make out.
              Hanson: So an field agent.
              Call: Here’s the weird thing. I’ve been checking the accounts, and his name vanishes from the payroll about three years ago.
              Hanson: He stopped working?
              Call: That’s the weird part, it goes quiet, but then a year or so ago, suddenly his name pops up in all kinds of places. Missions, reports, memos, and still nothing on the payroll.
              Hanson: That is interesting…
              Call: If you ask me, his name is being used far more than if it was just one person. I suspect it’s some kind of codeword.
              Hanson: Something to consider. Thanks, as always you’ve been very helpful.
              Call: Sure, I’ll see what else I can find, though security is probably going to slow me down for a while.


              ---NOTES---
              I think we can all agree that Helen is an absolutely terrible spy. Even Helen’s player has admitted as much. Speaking of Helen, her player recently started asking me about her Avatar, and why her avatar hasn’t tried to communicate with her. I’m guessing she’s forgotten all the times Helen’s heard voices calling her, flames that only she could see, and the general feeling of answers lying just a bit further ahead. Either that or I’ve been successfully subtle enough about it.

              I don’t think Jason Stavero is going to be doing much negotiating with Aaron anymore. The next chance he gets, it’s going to be a much more forceful approach. After all, he broke his window. I'll just add this to the list of "stuff that will bite the players sooner or later".

              If I was to produce that list now it would look like this:

              Alfred: Norns, Stealing from work, indebted to crows, Making deals with the Technocracy, Traumatising a progenitor, Quiet,
              Helen: Disobeying her mentor, Betraying the coven (still paying for that), Quiet
              Hanson: Violet, Sarah, Edwin, Hector, Quiet
              Sean: Stealing from the Chorus, Norns, Receiving orders, Quiet
              Aaron: Officially pissed off a Syndicate manager, Cyber terrorism, Paying rent for a trashed room, Rats, Quiet
              Lydia: Unicorn promises, Still wanted by the police, possibly the last sane member of the party.

              Let me know if I've forgotten anything. (I have not forgotten the fox).

              This has probably been the most action packed sessions for a while, with major development for almost everyon arc wise. Aaron got info on the Esther file, Alfred tried to further his plan with the Technocrats, Helen managed to cause a bunch of trouble but inadvertently enabled Aaron to get info for her.
              Hanson and Sean, however, were a bit more isolated from the action. Sean’s player let me know he still enjoyed watching everyone else though. I’m thinking of making the next session a bit more Hanson centric to make up for this imbalance.


              Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

              Comment


              • #82
                Session 27

                I am about a full week behind on writing up these sessions. Session 28 has already come and gone, and I have only just begun to look at my notes for Session 27. This is mostly my fault for not prioritising the writing of these things over other freetime type activities.

                This session (27) was actually fairly uneventful, and mostly consisted of the players recapping the journey so far to each other and roleplaying their various character’s responses.
                Rather than give my usual scattershot blow-by-blow for this, I thought I’d instead give a brief overview of what happened, only focus in on the parts that weren’t recap, and hopefully finish all of this in one sitting so I can get started on the most recent session (28) which turned out to be much more exciting.

                Cast List

                Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                Joe Hanson: Noir Detective

                Notable NPCs Include:

                Eve: Helen’s Mentor
                Gwyn: Gater keepers of the Keepers
                Vivian: High priestess of the Keepers
                Sarah Phillips: Edwin’s sister.

                ---CHAPTER 27 TAKING A MOMENT ---

                Following the drama in the Virtual Adepts place, Helen left to meet with Hanson and Sean, and proceeds to explain pretty much everything that happened in the last few sessions from her sneaking around a hospital to the eventual jump out the window.

                What interested Hanson especially was what Helen had overheard of Lance’s conversation with Alfred, especially the parts where Alfred started plotting a plan which involved him as a bargaining chip with the New World Order. Helen also shows Hanson the file on her father, Peter Walter, which says the following.

                Subject: CLN165332/E-series
                Prior Name: Peter Walter
                Status: Mutual
                Gene Quality: Good
                Source Background: Agent part of subdivision: CHARLIE. Showed great promise in training and demonstrated firm mutuality though all proceedings. Main achievements detailed in missions: MX_B34-3, MX_C43-5, MX_C02-6, XXXXXXXXXX, MX_D11-6.
                Upon attaining 2nd degree loyalty, agent was afforded several privileges including 4th band salary, Grade 3 lodgings, Marital Partnership, and 3 weeks holiday (monitored).
                Retrieval: 17/08/2013 01:16;North Wales. Agent was at campground with partner (Dr Elizabeth Ball S-code:3146593)when ambushed in the night by Reality Deviants intent on harm. Full recording transmitted from Dr Ball’s Optical V-DAS implant. Operatives arrived on site and neutralised the threat, but were too late to preserve either member. While Agent Walter was successfully retrieved, Dr Ball could not be recovered. Her V-DAS transmission ended abruptly with little evidence to demonstrate a cause.
                Properties:
                * Determined attitude
                * Good Marksmanship
                * Excellent Loyalty rating
                * Complete Cognitive Function
                * Low Fear Response
                Equipment:
                Standard issue X-5 Protector Model R issuing Standard and Electric rounds.
                Standard issue HGR-Suit, Black
                Notes: Subject is recommended for ventures of extreme peril. Living memory of Reality Deviants provides the perfect model for paranormal fieldwork.
                For technical specifications of the E-Series, refer to Page 146 of the manual provided.
                Hanson does not have much time to concentrate on it before they notice a number of suited agents heading towards the café they were in. Putting up a strong perception filter, The three of them make an exit towards the back of the building and head towards the Keepers undetected.


                Alfred knew he had to get back to the keepers to attend his induction ceremony if nothing else, he spoke with Be4ker.

                Alfred: Excuse me?
                Be4ker: yeah?
                Alfred: Where exactly are we?
                Be4ker: You’re in a room.
                Alfred: Yes, but where?
                Be4ker: Oh, around Clapham.
                Alfred: Is there any way I can get to Wimbledon?
                Be4ker: Sure, I can find that on the map for you.
                Alfred: Thank you.
                Be4ker: Take a look.

                Alfred stared into the monitor at the grassy image which shown from it. As he stared he felt the world around him shift, the image becoming more vivid, as though reaching an ever higher resolution. Breaking his gaze, he looked around. He was now in Wimbledon common.
                He made his way towards the rotting node of Cesear’s Well. Mr Steed wishing him a safe journey home made him far too paranoid to take a conventional rout home, and wished instead to travel via the pathways. After breaking his phone and discarded it, Alfred stepped over the threshold and onto the Old Roads. He noticed the dark feel around the penumbra here, as though a great presence still loomed over it. Beyond the mists he could feel red eyes staring out, but chose not to spend too much time on it and went on. Arriving at the Keepers within an hours travel, and a large bout of paradox. Alfred looked down, but could no longer see the sword by his side, he realised he could not feel Excalibur within his mind either, a moment of fear gripped him as he suspected his avatar may have been left behind in the spirit world.

                Once Alfred arrives, Hanson confronts him about this plan and Alfred explains his position. He originally intended to work with the Void Engineers, Lance and Hector, and have Hanson lead the NWO on a wild goose chase while giving them Edwin, in order to keep them far away from the cleansing ritual for the Node on the Heath. Returning the quintessence cannot be interrupted. However, Alfred is starting to change his mind about this, that working with the Technocracy may no longer be possible after what Helen did.

                Hanson: What did Helen do exactly?
                Helen: I didn’t do anything!
                Alfred: She killed two people.
                Hanson: What!?
                Helen: It was self-defence!
                Alfred: You snuck into their space, agreed to follow them out, and ended up killing them in the lift.
                Helen: I was scared! I didn’t want to kill them though.
                Hanson: But… they’re still dead.
                Alfred: They might have been clones…
                Helen: I didn’t mean it.
                Alfred: I have half a mind to meet with your mentor and let her know exactly what you’ve been up to.

                Hanson gets a call

                Hanson: Hello?
                Sarah: Hanson?
                Hanson: Ms Phillips, is everything alright?
                Sarah: Yes… everything’s fine.
                Hanson: Are you sure? No one following you?
                Sarah: I’ve spoken with my friends… They’ve agreed to meet with you.
                Hanson: Oh… When?
                Sarah: Tomorrow.
                Hanson: And where are they?
                Sarah: I’ll take you to them, we can meet at 3.
                Hanson: So who are they?
                Sarah: …Do you still have Edwin.
                Hanson: Yes.
                Sarah: Is he ok?
                Hanson: Last I checked, he was still… safe.
                Sarah: Could you bring him with you?
                Hanson: …certainly Ms Philips.

                Alfred goes downstairs and meets with Vivian who informs him they are getting ready for the ceremony. Alfred quickly consults with Granny Elm, who is still absent, only speaking via a plume of black mist. He tells him that The Marauder may have an important part to play at the Heath yet. This leads Alfred to believe that it may be important to ensure Edwin is present at the Heath at the time of the battle, something Hanson is much less happy about.

                Helen returns to her mentor, sitting in her office within the hermetic chantry. She approaches the desk with the file in her hand.

                Helen: I have something to show you.
                Eve: Helen, I’ve heard you’ve missed a few of your lessons.
                Helen: Oh… Sorry.
                Eve: This isn’t good. I know you have been given work to do, but you cannot neglect your studies.
                Helen: Eve, I’ve found something. Take a look at it. It’s about my father.
                Eve: How many times must we go over this.
                Helen: He’s alive! Look at this file.

                Helen places the file on the desk, but Eve continued to stare sternly at Helen.

                Eve: I will not look at this, and neither should you.
                Helen: Please.
                Eve: Where exactly did you find it?
                Helen: I… uh… I found it in the Shard…
                Eve: In the- ! Is this what you have been doing instead of your studies?
                Helen: I’m sorry.
                Eve: I thought you wanted to learn about the basics of Ars Conjunctionis. Has this interest faded?
                Helen: No! It hasn’t. Please, Just look at it, please.
                Eve: It’s been over three years Helen. You couldn’t find them, no one could find them. How can you expect to move forward if you keep looking behind?
                Helen: I know he’s here though, that he’s a techno-
                Eve: We shouldn’t even be talking about this. People talk, Helen. People talk about these kinds of things. You do not want the wrong people overhearing them. I can’t know about this file, and you can’t continue searching. Your reputation is too valuable to waste. Do you understand?
                Helen: …yes.
                Eve: Go to bed. You have an early start tomorrow. Much lost time to make up for.

                Alfred attended his induction ceremony in the undergrove. Hanson attended to watch, though Sean felt it better to distance himself a bit from the coven. Alfred attained the title of Priest within the Keepers, as well as a proper golden tree necklace for him to use, allowing him entry and exit of the chantry as he needed.

                After a few drinks where poured to celebrate, the more serious matter was breached of planning.

                [ST NOTE: A lot of recapping here. The plan on the Heath is pretty much the same. Having the acolytes help perform a cleansing ritual as the quintessence is restored to the node, While this is done, one group will need to enter the spirit world and fight off the spirits prolonging the corruption, as well as the fomori who may harm any who try to undo Malady’s work. Another will have to keep an eye on the progenitors and keep them busy. It was discussed that Helen may be able to distract the NWO enough to keep them at bay, since they will definitely be looking for her now. Edwin’s role was discussed, but ultimately unknown outside of the fact that Granny Elm could see it.]

                The meeting concluded, Hanson returned to his room checking on Edwin to ensure he was still asleep. Alfred too returned, but on his bed was met with a bizarre sight. A majestic image of a man in glorious clothing sat upon his bed, his face a similar shape and tone to Alfred’s own. As he stared at the man’s face, he soon realised exactly who he was looking at.

                Arthur: Hello Alfred.

                Alfred collapsed into a bow.

                Alfred: My King!
                Arthur: I believe you have lost something.

                Alfred looked up and saw the sword Excalibur lying in his lap.

                Alfred: Forgive me, it is not mine to bare.
                Arthur: I believe it is.
                Alfred: I was only holding it, awaiting your arrival, my liege.
                Arthur: Then, on my behalf, I ask you to wield it.

                The king presented the sword to Alfred.

                Alfred: Forgive me my King, I do not believe myself worthy to wield this sword.
                Arthur: There is not need, the sword is but a tool to be used.
                Alfred: And what must I use it for?
                Arthur: To protect the weak, those that have no means to protect themselves.
                Alfred: I see.

                Alfred allows himself to take the sword and in the blink of an eye, he is gone. Alfred is alone in his room, somehow the sword sits at his hip without his moving it.

                Alfred: You hear that? You’re a tool for me to use.
                Excalibur: Only for work worthy of my use.

                The next morning, Helen learned more about the sphere of Correspondence with her mentor.

                Hanson took his morning coffee, and while smoking, slipped into a dream. He concentrated on what would happen if he went to meet Sarah’s friends. The smoke twisted into the shape of a large gun, barrel pointed straight down at Hanson. He stared at it as it hovered there menacingly before dissipating into the room.
                Hanson took Sean to a gun seller he knew and used his slot machine winnings on a new gun for Sean, several rounds of ammunition, and a good bullet proof vest.
                Alfred wondered downstairs into the undergrove. He noticed Lydia still sitting in a trance by the node. Camellia sat next to her but whether in meditation or simply relaxed, he was not able to tell.
                He needed to talk to someone about what had happened last night. Gwyn used to be with his father as a part of the Glastonbury circle, he would understand his family’s quest.

                Alfred: Gwyn! Something happened.
                Gwyn: What is it?
                Alfred: I saw him. I saw the King. He was in my room.
                Gwyn: The King? You don’t mean.
                Alfred: Our quest, yes. Him! He was there.
                Gwyn: Are you sure?
                Alfred: It may have been a spirit, but a spirit of our King can only be a good omen.
                Gwyn: Alfred… Perhaps you have been spending too much time with the marauder.
                Alfred: I saw him, he was there.
                Gwyn: We have been waiting for his return for centuries, how likely is it he would just appear at your bedside?
                Alfred: That’s a point… But surely this could be a place to start?
                Gwyn: If this is true, then it certainly would. But we can’t be certain that it was. Marauders can lead to terrible affects like this, you must be careful.

                Alfred was left uncertain as to exactly what he had experienced. He was so certain it was him, it just felt right, exactly as it should. But the idea that Edwin’s influence had caused some kind of mild Quiet was too intrusive to let alone. He looked down, and Excalibur was nowhere to be seen.

                Thursday had arrived. This evening, the battle to save Hampstead Heath would commence, and preparations finalised.

                ---NOTES---
                I’m not entirely certain why this session became so recap heavy. It could be because a number of players where now in the same place for the first time in a few weeks, allowing them to get on the same page. It could also be because the story has become so involved recently that the players needed a bit of time to set things straight.
                Weird thing to keep in mind, while the game started last September, about seven months ago, in game we have only reached the end of the second week.
                I would have preferred things to happen a bit more quickly. Ideally, this battle should have happened five or six sessions ago, but circumstances keep making it delay. I originally wanted to wait until everyone was around before the battle happened, but that’s becoming much less likely. Similarly a lot of these sessions I wanted to have in one go, such as the Hospital meeting and the Shard meeting, but as the players couldn’t make the same days, I had to split it across.

                Today, I had a plan for Hanson’s character, he would have gone to meet Sarah’s friends in this session, but Hanson’s player decided against this, not wanting to go without Aaron around to keep an eye on him. Another case of player schedules dictating the story. Shame, because the bulk of the action was planned for that particular event.
                Maybe next time.


                Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

                Comment


                • #83
                  Two small moments I forgot to mention that happened in the previous session. Remember when Helen changed her skin colour to be harder to recognise? That started a whole conversation as it was being recapped about whether or not this counted as blackface and whether Helen was aware of this.

                  The second was a small exchange between Alfred and Sean which went something like this:

                  Alfred: Sam, I know we have different points of views, but the fate of these ancient spirits runs deeper than any lord you know.
                  Sean: Well, not all of us can put faith in Thor or Captain America.

                  Ok, now on with the Session proper.

                  Session 28

                  Finally! I’m up to date on these write ups. Let’s see how long this lasts.

                  Cast List
                  Lydia: Moon Witch
                  Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                  Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                  Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                  Joe Hanson: Noir Detective

                  Notable NPCs Include:

                  Gwyn: Gater keepers of the Keepers
                  Vivian: High priestess of the Keepers
                  Genevieve: Recently returned Member of the Keepers

                  Edwin Phillips: Our Marauder

                  ---CHAPTER 28: CLOSING IN---

                  Lydia looked around. An ancient world stretched out before her with air so pure that every breath filled her lungs with the midnight sky. She explored the landscape, first on foot, but slowly began to drift upwards at each step took her closer to the stars. Ahead of her she sees a green flicker, so inviting and tantalisingly near. It feels almost as though she could reach out and pluck it straight out of the sky. It’s colour flickers in her mind as she recalls something Luna told her. The Green Fairy of Ireland!
                  The spirit of the tree lingers within her as she explores feeding her answers to her unspoken questions. She thinks of her uncle and asks if he truly is her father, and the scene brightens with a stunning radiance, she knows in her heart it is true. She then wonders on who the Green Fairy is. She knows her father may be aware of him, but is could he perhaps be the Fairy? As she wonders this the scene starts to fade away, getting ever more engrossed in the darkness around. The more she questions, the darker it fades until all light is lost.

                  Hanson and Sean plan for the meeting with Sarah in the afternoon. He wasn’t comfortable with going in on his own, especially if there was a chance he might get attacked. If Sean followed without being seen, he’d be safer, but perhaps another pair of eyes would do well. He called up Helen.

                  Hanson: Helen, you busy right now?
                  Helen: No, I should be free.

                  Helen had just finished her lessons. It was a long morning starting from 7 and continuing for almost four and a half relentless hours of study. She welcomed Hanson’s interruption as she walked towards her room.

                  Hanson: Good. We’re going to need some help, you good at stealth, right?
                  Helen: Yes, I can be good at stealth.

                  Hanson explained the plan to meet with Sarah, and then told her to meet him at a park not far from either of them before hanging up and setting of.
                  It was the middle of the day, and Helen sat in front of the Swan fountain node thinking about how she could help herself remain hard to see. She considered her usual surrounding of darkness, but in such a bright day that would only make her more noticeable, she needed to make herself invisible somehow, but knew that the sphere of Forces would render her blind. She then considered the sphere of Life. Camouflage! All she need do is change her skin to appear like whatever it was she stood beside, like the skin of a chameleon, or more accurately, of an octopus. But the illusion would only work from a specific angle. So she decided instead to try and make her entire body transparent, like a jellyfish.

                  [ST NOTE: This is pretty much how Helen’s player’s thought process developed. Although strictly speaking this kind of effect is a Life 4 thing, I decided that getting a tonne of successes in a proper ritual via Life 3 would be enough to allow her body to become transparent. I mentioned that without Matter they would be unable to change their clothes, but then it wouldn’t be the first time people stripped off in this game.]

                  Helen brought out her wand and started drawing a great number of spirals in the air, spinning herself around to face different angles as she went about transforming her body bit by bit to transparency; but something went wrong. As she spun, she misplaced her footing and caused the entire effect to collapse around her. Paradox set in and her body began to shift and malform. Her hands and feet morphed to tentacles, and her head changed to a more bulbous shape around her face. Her entire body gained a luminous white translucency.
                  Still determined to meet with Hanson, she covered her tentacles with gloves and wrapped a scarf around her head before setting out on the London Underground where nobody really noticed how odd she looked.

                  She approached Hanson and Sean who took one look at her and stared in disbelief.

                  Hanson: Helen?
                  Helen: …hi
                  Hanson: Why are you a squid?
                  Helen: I tried to make myself invisible like a jellyfish.
                  Hanson: Paradox… right?
                  Helen: uhh… just a little.

                  Hanson quickly to a few drinks and brought up a perception filter around the two of them, not wanting anyone to catch sight of Helen.

                  Hanson: Right… I’m not sure this is going to work. We need to be stealthy on this mission, so I think you might have a bit of trouble.
                  Helen: I still want to help.
                  Hanson: I appreciate the enthusiasm and all… but really, you’re not going to be much help like this. You should go home.

                  Before Helen could move, Hanson noticed a van approach the park, with a number of men in suits and bowler hats stepping out towards them, Agents. Hanson couldn’t tell if they saw him or not, but became restless nonetheless. “We gotta go, now!” He ushered Helen away, keeping close to her so she stayed in range of his perception filter. Sean, thinking the agents were after Hanson stepped away from him and tried to get lost in the crowd.

                  Hanson lead Helen, grabbing his notebook and trying to force some order in the chaos of the world, a clear path for escape. As he scribbled, the crowd of people around them began to walk away. Sean could feel himself compelled to walk along with the crowd away from the streets, dividing down the middle leaving Helen and Hanson in the centre of the clearing, three technocrats closing in. Hanson cued Helen to run, and of they went, the technocrats chasing after them.
                  Hanson leads them down a side road, Helen barely able to keep up with her tentacle feet. She tries to push out a quick spell to speed them away, but botches it yet again, the paradox hovering over her like a hot cloud of smoke. The men follow them down, call out for them to stop, and then shoot. The shot ricochets off the wall and against a fire-escape which collapses along with a number of crates making a barricade between them. Hanson takes this opportunity to speed himself and Helen up in ease before disappearing away from them and towards the Keepers.
                  As they arrive in Churchill Gardens, Helen starts to find it harder and harder to move, she looks back and realises she slipped out of her shoes. Paradox had descended over Helen’s body, flattening her legs, thinning out her arms, and shrinking her stature by about a foot. Hanson could see that Helen had transformed further into a jellyfish.

                  Lydia looks up, the tree of the Undergrove stands over her, its yellowing leaves holding firm upon its gently lowered branches. Noticing Vivian she calls out to her.

                  Vivian: Ah, you’re awake.
                  Lydia: How long has it been?
                  Vivian: You were in that trance for about three days.
                  Lydia: Did I miss the Heath?
                  Vivian: No, the battle starts tonight, and there is still much to prepare.
                  Lydia: I see.
                  Vivian: What did you see during you trance?
                  Lydia: Well, I was with the tree spirit, then a lot of stars. I asked if my uncle who’s also my dad was the green fairy of Ireland, and I think my avatar laughed at me.
                  Vivian: Oh…
                  Lydia: Yeah, it was a bit weird.

                  Vivian filled her in on the plan, and that after the Heath was restored, they would carry out her induction, presenting her with a gold leaf necklace. Lydia went upstairs to the kitchen, not having eaten for a few days left her with quite a strong appetite. She sat there for a while, looking out just as Helen and Hanson approached.

                  Lydia: Uh… Hanson? What’s that?
                  Hanson: This is Helen.
                  Helen: Hello…
                  Lydia: Helen? What are you an octopus?
                  Helen: Jellyfish, actually.
                  Hanson: Paradox, hit her pretty hard.
                  Lydia: Oh… are you ok?
                  Helen: Uh… I don’t know.

                  Sean looks about the crowd, and decides he better get himself away too. He makes his way back to the Keepers, completely unaware of the men who watch, and the cameras that follow him. He gets back to the keepers in what he believes was a quick and cautious manner. They resume talk of the meeting with Sarah.

                  Hanson: Right, I’m going to get Edwin, I’ll need to meet Sarah soon.
                  Lydia: Shouldn’t we be preparing for the Heath?
                  Hanson: This is sort of part of it… I’m meeting with her friends, who I’m pretty sure are Alex and Melonie.
                  Lydia: Oh cool, I’ll come with you then.
                  Hanson: No offence… but I think it might be better if I just have one person follow me this time. Sam, if you go out the front door and stay quiet, I can get Edwin and put you under a perception filter. You can stay close while I speak with Sarah.
                  Sean: Ok.
                  Helen: What should I do?
                  Hanson: Stay away from Edwin. I mean it! If he sees you looking like squidgirl, well, I don’t think it’s what he needs right now.
                  Helen: Oh…
                  Lydia: Right, I’ll go help Vivian then.

                  Lydia leaves, as does Hanson. Sean stays in the room with jellyfish Helen with a look of disgust on his face. An awkward couple of minutes pass before he speaks.

                  Sean: You really should be more careful.
                  Helen: More careful?
                  Sean: That magic you use is a gift, the lords power should not be abused.
                  Helen: I was not abusing anything, it’s just paradox.
                  Sean: You were transformed as punishment for what your misuse of the lords power.
                  Helen: Is that how you see it.
                  Sean: Yes.
                  Helen: I see…

                  Hanson treads lightly up the stairs and finds Edwin quietly looking over a number of newspapers.

                  Hanson: Edwin, how you doing there? You ok?
                  Edwin: I’ve been looking at these articles… A black out. Two weeks ago there was a blackout. That’s when things started. Do you think?
                  Hanson: Maybe… maybe yeah.
                  Edwin: That’s when the tears from the other worlds began. Those terrible creatures, the ones that live in the walls between reality…
                  Hanson: Edwin, calm down.
                  Edwin: See this, there were symbols drawn at the station, cultists. It has to be.
                  Hanson: We need to go. We’re going to meet with Sarah.
                  Edwin: Sarah?
                  Hanson: Do you remember her? Sarah, your sister.
                  Edwin: But… she’s dead.
                  Hanson: No, she isn’t.
                  Edwin: I saw her die.
                  Hanson: Edwin, you were with her a few days ago, remember? I was with you.
                  Edwin: yes… No yes, of course. Yes. She …yes.
                  Hanson: We’re going to go see her. Are you ready?
                  Edwin: Let me just gather some things.

                  Sean stepped outside, waiting for Hanson, but as he stepped he noticed a glint of light from across the way. He walked a little further curiously, but was stopped by the sound of a gun cocking.

                  Agent: Stay still.

                  Hanson returns downstairs to ensure Helen is hidden.

                  Hanson: Helen, don’t let Edwin see you. I mean it.
                  Helen: Ok.

                  Lydia and Alfred enter.

                  Alfred: What’s going on.
                  Hanson: Sean and I are going to meet up with Sarah with Edwin.
                  Alfred: Are you sure that’s a good idea?
                  Hanson: Not at all, but it’s the best idea I have right now.
                  Alfred: Why is Helen a squid?
                  Hanson: Paradox.
                  Alfred: Of course… She really should learn some degree of caution.
                  Helen: Guys… I think something’s happening.

                  The group look out the window and see Sean with his hands in the air and a man in a suit holding a gun behind him.

                  Sean: What is going on?
                  Agent: You will need to answer my questions.
                  Sean: What is this about?
                  Agent: We are investigating a suspected terrorist group, one who goes by the name of Joe Hanson you may be associating with, however inadvertently.
                  Sean: That sounds rather important, do you have any identification on you. Who are you working with?
                  Agent: MI5, now answer my questions, how many people are in the house.
                  Sean: I need to see identification first.

                  The agent shows him an MI5 identity card. Sean starts to lose his composure.

                  Agent: How many people in the house.
                  Sean: Which house?
                  Agent: The house you just left!
                  Sean: Oh… About four to my knowledge.
                  Agent: Names!
                  Sean: What?
                  Agent: Tell me their names.
                  Sean: Granny Elm

                  The Agent pulls the gun close to his neck.

                  Agent: Don’t try getting funny here.
                  Sean: That’s what they call her!
                  Agent: There are two ways this can go down.
                  Sean: I’ll comply, there’s no need for this.
                  Agent: Will you?
                  Sean: Yes.
                  Agent: Then come with me. Don’t turn around.

                  The group look through the window as the Agent starts to slowly lead Sean towards a black van. Alfred and Lydia rush downstairs to warn Vivian. Hanson and Helen looks out the window and sees two men exit the van and approach the door of the chantry. Hanson runs back upstairs and finds a fire exit to escape down with Edwin. His main priority was to keep Edwin out of their reach. Helen looks about the kitchen for a place to hide, settling for a cupboard underneath the sink.

                  Alfred: High Priestess! The technocrats are here.
                  Vivian: What?
                  Alfred: They’re here, they must have followed one of us.

                  Vivian quickly calls the coven together and instructs Gwyn to prepare. Gwyn walks up to the door leading out the undergrove and starts to draw a pentagram on it with chalk. As he draws, he begins to chant prayers of safety to the goddess. He is aided by Genevieve and Camellia. Alfred and Lydia can feel the something shift around them, and ancient sound echoes around the staircase and in the space of minute, the chantry shifts into place.

                  Lydia: What just happened?
                  Gwyn: We’ve moved the Chantry.
                  Lydia: All of it?
                  Gwyn: No, just this part. If you step out of this door, you will find yourself in a different part of Churchill Gardens.
                  Alfred: But Helen was in the kitchen. She would still be there, won’t she?
                  Gwyn: Yes, She will not be on the other side of this door anymore.
                  Alfred: Well, we have to go help her.
                  Genevieve: I don’t see why we do.
                  Alfred: She might be captured by the technocrats!
                  Genevieve: So? I don’t know much about this person, but everyone’s saying that she’s the one that got Boris captured by the Hermetics.
                  Alfred: She’s a mage!
                  Vivian: She betrayed our trust.
                  Alfred: I treat her as kin! We all should.
                  Lydia: Surely we can’t just leave her to be captured by the technocrats.
                  Genevieve: She’s probably the one who led them here in the first place.
                  Alfred: Vivian please. We need to help her.
                  Vivian: It’s too dangerous. We cannot risk revealing the location of our node.
                  Alfred: Then I’ll go.
                  Lydia: As will I.
                  Gwyn: High Priestess, I think you should let him. He is right, we can’t possibly allow these men in black to take away one of our own, even if she wronged us in the past.
                  Vivian: ….No, I do see. She still needs her chance to atone.

                  Gwyn tells Lydia and Alfred exactly where they are and how to get to where they used to be. Alfred considers leaving his necklace behind to avoid being identified but Vivian insists he keep it, that he would not be able to find his way back to the chantry if he discarded it.
                  Before leaving, Lydia prepared by writing a number of runes to increase the chance their travel will be successfully undetected by the technocrats. Alfred ran down to the node and brought out his Feather from the Talons of Horus and through this spiritual Tass called upon them to provide favour against the men who wish them harm, to aid in the fight. Nothing seemed to happen, but Alfred had faith. Before they left, Alfred instructed Gwyn that he would signal to them if they needed a quick exit plan. He would throw down the wooden rune linked with Vivian’s.

                  Sean was at the back of the van, he went as slowly as possible while he planned a means of escape. Whatever happened he was not going in that van. As the doors opened he stood there and tried to recall his training, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Suddenly, he heard a scream, the agent who held him at gunpoint had fallen, and over him stood Alfred with sharp claws growing from his hand. He could feel the energy of the One keeping its form. While the agent grabbed for his gun, Alfred continued to stab at him, but was almost shot by the driver. Sean did not hesitate as he ran around the front and tried to wrestle the gun of him.

                  Helen sat in the cupboard and listened, she heard the door open and a number of men walk in talking about searching the premises for anything untoward. She heard the sound of cupboards being opened and began to panic. She was in a far too cramped a position to do magic, barely able to move her tentacles let alone her wand, and even then her new form made such fine movement difficult enough. She decided to play squid, pretend that she was just a creature. She quickly wriggled out of her clothes and lay there unmoving just as her cupboard was opened. The man stared at this strange jellyfish like thing, trying to figure out if it was alive or not, but was distracted by a gunshot. Helen could see him look away from the cupboard and out the window above the sink, then run out.

                  The struggle continued with a number of rounds getting fired off in the process. Sean’s armoured shirt absorbing some, but not of the impact, leaving him wounded when he finally got a hold of the weapon. The agent desperately made a call for backup on a transmission device. Alfred left the man he attacked unconscious, smacking him in the head with the back of his hand, but noticed another approaching, gun held out and aiming straight at Alfred. He jumps to avoid the shot and before the third agent gest a chance to shoot again, Lydia causes a tree to whomp is to the ground. In this moment, Alfred tried to harden his own skin into something of an otherworldly carapace.
                  Helen looks up from the window and see the chaos, she knows she has to help, grabs a tentacle around her gun and shakily aims at the recently whomped agent and fired. The man collapses to the ground.

                  Sean, gun in hand, tries to shoot at the driver, but he uses the armoured van’s door as an effective shield, that and his suit provides a surprising amount of resistance. Alfred runs around the van and tries to attack him from the inside, but the driver throws something small and mechanical at him, it latches on and starts to shock him. The pain is incredible, but Alfred grits his teeth and bears through it. Helen continues making shots at the van, but her tentacles make it very difficult to shoot straight. She misses every shot. Alfred, however, effectively puts an end to the fight, bearing through the pain and striking at the driver, who falls. Alfred grabs the communication device the driver held and speaks into it “Tell Mr Steed that we will deliver him Edwin and Hanson at the agreed upon time and place. Not a moment earlier!” He then smashes the device. Suddenly, the gun in Sean’s hand exploded, as did the gun the other member carried. With their agent’s compromised, their weapons had self-destructed. Sean staggered, more surprised than hurt.

                  Lydia saw that the fight had effectively been won and leaves, returning to the now vacated chantry. She goes upstairs when she hears Alfred’s voice talking to Mr Steed from one of the rooms. Startled, she runs downstairs to warn them.

                  Alfred: You ok?
                  Sean: I have a couple of wounds, but I’ll live.
                  Alfred: Right, I have a slave ready, come over here and I’ll heal you.

                  Alfred proceeds to heal, dispelling his carapace in the process. This is when Lydia rushes out.

                  Lydia: There are more upstairs! I heard you talking to them.
                  Alfred: Ah… That’s not good! All our stuff is still there…
                  Sean: I have a feeling all of that is going to be seized by them.
                  Alfred: The Cross!! We can’t let them get that!

                  Alfred notices a window open up.

                  Alfred: Quick! Insides before they snipe us!

                  They rush inside and meet with Helen, who is having a hard time standing up. The wind starts to pick up, and storm clouds gather. “Took them long enough” thinks Alfred. They proceed upstairs to the room. The winds become very strong. They listen in through the door and hear the sound of breaking glass. Sean and Alfred burst through and see a broken window. Alfred runs and looks down, two men in suits were on the ground, trying to help up one of their wounded men. The wind was now in full force, prompting the agents to flee. Alfred lunged after them with claws outstretched, but only just missed them.
                  Helen peered out and for a moment thought she recognises her father among those escaping. Shocked, she ran downstairs as fast as her tentacles would allow her.
                  As Alfred continued to attack, they shot at him, keeping him at bay long enough for them to get to the van. The van moved round, picked up another, and then veered away as the storm built on.

                  Helen arrived in time to see the van pull away. They threw a glance at the bodies that were left behind, but not a trace was to be seen, as though no fight had taken place.

                  ---NOTES---
                  Originally, I planned this session to go completely differently. I was prepared for it to be split between Hanson and Edwin going to meet Sarah along with whoever accompanied him, and the rest of the group who would assist the Keepers in their preparations, including going to the Heath and encountering whatever or whoever would be there. As you can see, this did not happen. That entire battle was completely improvised. Sean failed both Stealth and Alertness rolls and so was followed back. But even then, I had a different idea on how it would go. I predicted that they would successfully ambush Hanson and Edwin as they emerged, and then Edwin’s imagination would kick in leading to all manners of confusing hellscapes breaking out, giving Hanson a chance to use Edwin’s reality warping effects to his advantage, but Hanson was much more cautious this time around.
                  So this entire fight, the five agents, totally improvised, but utterly satisfying to all involved.

                  The next session, a lot of people are going to be away, so it’s just going to be Aaron and Hanson. This is good, Hanson’s arc has been somewhat side lined in favour of the Verbena stuff recently, and Aaron’s player has already missed two weeks’ worth of sessions so focusing on them for a while should even things out.

                  By the way, if Thursday isn’t finished with by the end of this Month, I’m probably going to shoot myself. How much longer can this arc get?


                  Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

                  Comment


                  • #84
                    Mini-session

                    This one’s short but impactful.

                    Cast List
                    Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                    Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

                    Notable NPCs Include:

                    Sarah Phillips: Edwin’s sister.
                    Edwin Phillips: Our Marauder
                    Hector: Cyborg Void Engineer

                    ---CHAPTER 28b: RAT TRAP---

                    Wednesday evening in the Virtual Adept’s hideout in Clapham. Helen has just left and Alfred has been teleported away. Only Aaron remains with the other Adepts. He speaks with Rubrix, laptop in hand.

                    Rubrix: Did you really bust out of the window?
                    Aaron: Yeah. I was going to go to the roof, but then this lot dropped by and we were surrounded by about four or five different guys with guns. So yeah, the jumping out a window seemed like the better plan.
                    Rubrix: Awesome.
                    Aaron: Oh yeah! The Rep I’m going to get for this.
                    Rubrix: It’s not a bad way to go.
                    Aaron: I don’t know what those guys were doing there by the way. They just…appeared. I didn’t ask them to come along.
                    Rubrix: Yeah, well thanks to them we’ll probably want to lay low for a while. Me and the others will jump on-line and see what we can do about turning down the heat.
                    Aaron: Stavero did threaten he’d find something to pin the blackout on us.
                    Rubrix: Well… it was us, so that’s another thing we’ll have to be careful about.
                    Aaron: Hmm. So, you didn’t get anything extra on the Esther file?
                    Rubrix: Other than what I told you, no.
                    Aaron: Well, it can’t be good. If it’s about predicting human behaviour, it has to be something to do with control. And that doesn’t sit well with me.
                    Rubrix: Sooner we figure out what’s going on, the better.

                    Aaron went upstairs, Be4ker allowing him to crash for the night in a small, damp room upstairs. He got the feeling this place was not set up for prolonged accommodation.
                    He cracked open his Laptop, accessed the drop box, pulled the Esther file out and started looking through it for anything he missed.
                    Hours passed as he stared over the screen when something occurred to him. He knew the Esther file seemed to be split into an algorithm component, and a coordinate component, but he could see that these areas were not as separate as they first appeared. He brought up the database of names obtained from Stavero’s computer and looked at them. The algorithm had a number of Inputs for Outputs, and these inputs seemed to correspond with a lot of the information on the database. He checked through the names to test it out. He first searched for Peter Walter but found nothing, he checked for Helen Walter, but she too wasn’t on there. But for some reason, Hanson was on there.
                    Aaron got to work creating a simple command screen which would use the Esther file to convert Hanson’s database details into whatever.
                    After about 30 minutes of compiling, a table was set stating a number of parameters. He was given a very low value of 24 out of 120, whatever that meant. But other information included what he was doing, where he was going, and what he was planning to do next. In this case, go to a gun dealer to buy ammunition and weapons. It even listed his most likely brand of ammunition to purchase, along with the brand of cigarettes he was likely to buy thereafter. “How the heck does it know what he’s about to do? How is this getting its information?”.
                    Aaron took a closer look at the code and made the following discoveries. First the Ester file’s code was incomplete. He looked back at a those moments in the code which seemed like junk information. Empty references and directory to things that lead nowhere, with several go to links bypassing a large number of segments. This was designed to be built upon. He couldn’t tell exactly what, but one thing he noted was the lack of a real-time function. As it stood, the Esther file needed to be used manually and compiled with one request at a time before information could be received. Perhaps that was what was missing. A real-time function would in theory allow for a constant monitoring of a person’s intended actions.
                    Aaron was still getting bugged by these coordinates though. He could see they were an integral part of how the Esther file got its information, but he couldn’t see why these coordinates would reveal this information. The coordinates themselves were a complicated array of mathematical formulae which referred to something in constant motion. Aaron tried to locate exactly where it was, but it wasn’t anywhere on earth. He tried again, this time looking further out. It took a great deal of time, but then he found something, a point in the middle of space somewhere between Neptune and Saturn’s orbit paths. He tried to get a visual and for a moment saw what he thought was a spaceship. He focused in and got a momentary view of a fantastic point of green light. Aaron stared at the pixels on his screen wondering what in the world he was staring at. He tried to get a screenshot, but the loss of movement made the pixels difficult to distinguish. It had just turned 3am so he called it a night and went to sleep.

                    Hanson runs as far as he can from Churchil Gardens, ensuring that Edwin is always in his sight. He has about an hour to get themselves to meet with Sarah in North London, and for some reason Edwin seemed too agitated to go on the underground claiming there were strange monsters down there. Not wanting to make these monsters real, he went on the bus but Edwin was already rather agitated recounting the story of Pickmin’s model. Hanson notice the bus around him begin to change, turning a subtle shade of 1920s American. He took a few swigs form his hipflask and tried to calm him down, make him feel more relaxed. The bus faded back to normal. Hanson felt a short moment of relief.

                    Voice: He has to die, you know.

                    Hanson looked around, for a moment he swore he could hear Dubois talking to him, clear in his head. But he couldn’t see her.

                    Hanson: Dubois? Are you spying on me…
                    Voice: He’s too dangerous to keep around.

                    Again, he hears her speak, but could not feel her presence, not even her rending resonance. Hanson spoke back unsure in what direction to address.

                    Hanson: There’s a chance we can save him.
                    Voice: There’s no saving those who are already lost.
                    Hanson: You saved me.
                    Voice: Are you really saved?

                    The last voice was different, not Dubois’s, but not recognisably anyone else’s. It felt familiar to Hanson though, almost like an internal voice. As their stop arrived, Hanson pulled his thoughts away and lead Edwin off by the arm.

                    Hector: HANSON!!!

                    No sooner had the bus pull away did a man in a suit and bowler hat come raging towards the pair of them. Hanson didn’t have any time to react before he was already at their necks, gun pointed straight at the pair of them.

                    Hector: Well, two deviants at once.
                    Hanson: Hold on a moment. Hector, right?
                    Hector: Quiet! The only reason I haven’t shot you on sight is that your strange tricks could be very useful to us.
                    Hanson: I think an associate of ours spoke to you, Alfred.
                    Hector: A plan to hand you over, but why bother when you’re already here for us to take.
                    Hanson: Who exactly is “us”? You mean you and the New World Order?
                    Hector: I’m taking you in! Not them!!

                    Hector’s rage was rising with every passing moment, though only half of his face showed emotion, the other half being much stiffer. As Hanson tried to argue, he noticed Edwin becoming more and more agitated.

                    Edwin: What’s happening?
                    Hanson: It’s ok Edwin, I’m handling it.
                    Edwin: What is this…this monster?
                    Hanson: No Edwin. Not a monster.
                    Edwin: I can see it in its lifeless stare!
                    Hanson: He’s a human Edwin, like either of us.
                    Edwin: No, I can see what it is!

                    Hector grabbed both Hanson and Edwin and was preparing to restrain them. But as he did, something changed. Hectors arms began to flail wildly as they lost their form and become much more insect like.

                    Hector: Hanson! What are you doing!?
                    Hanson: This isn’t me! You really don’t know what you’re handling here, do you?

                    As hector mutated beyond recognition, Edwin made a run for it. Hanson was quick to chase after him and attempted to calm him down.

                    Edwin: Where is it!?
                    Hanson: What are you looking for?
                    Edwin: Something to write with, a piece of chalk. Here
                    Hanson: Edwin stop.
                    Edwin: I have to draw the Elder Sign, it’s the only way to keep the monsters at bay.
                    Hanson: It makes them stronger, Edwin.
                    Edwin: How little you know of this power.
                    Hanson: I know it Edwin. Every time you draw this sign, you reinforce their being, you make them more real. You’re giving them power.
                    Edwin: No, the sign drives them away! They don’t dare come near it!
                    Hanson: Edwin! Focus! We need to find Sarah, remember? The sign won’t help you find her.
                    Edwin: Sarah… But… No of course… Of course.

                    [ST NOTE: Having an NPC (Edwin) pull the player out of a situation brought about by another NPC (Hector) is something I have somewhat mixed feelings about. Unless the second NPC’s involvement is brought about by the player’s actions in some way, it removes agency from the player and turns the whole encounter into little more than an interactive cut scene. As much as possible, I prefer to give the players the most amount of control in any given scenario. However, apart background or exposition, these “cut scenes” can be incredibly useful for a number of reasons. One is that it makes the NPCs seem more self-reliant, less useless, and makes the game seem less “game” and more “alive”. Another thing it can do is give the players less things to worry about when deciding on their next action. I often find my players get a bit overwhelmed with choice on how to approach certain things, and removing a few obstacles with the NPC’s they happened to bring along can really help them focus more deeply on the other problems ahead of them.
                    In this case, Edwin’s getting Hanson out of Hector’s grasp was more about prioritising time than anything else. The main focus of this session was going to be what Hanson found when meeting with Sarah’s friends, and combat scenes tend to drain time like nothing else. So why have Hector present in the first place? To remind Hanson’s player that he’s not been dealt with yet.]

                    They arrived nearby the meeting point at a few minutes past 3pm. Before approaching, Hanson sends a few texts to Aaron, informing him of what he was doing, and the gun he saw in a Dream, and asked that someone keep an eye on him. Aaron was awoken by this text, having slept longer than he realised. He opened up his laptop and starting keying in Hanson’s phone number, using his Correspondence software to get a visual on him. It was difficult to get a clear view on him while Hanson had his perception filter up, but had faith his software was pointed vaguely in his direction.

                    On meeting, Sarah runs to hug Edwin, telling him they would be safe soon, that she knows people who can help, and they set off further up the north of London. In time, she took the two of them down a number of roads, each one increasing in how disused and ill maintained they were. The sky seemed to darken somewhat as she approached a side road in a quiet unseen alleyway, on the side of which a well-hidden door stood with a foreboding atmosphere around it.

                    Sarah: Wait here with Edwin, I need to let them know we’re here.

                    Sarah opened the door and disappeared inside, Hanson felt out the area for any resonance though couldn’t find much from where he stood.

                    Edwin: This place… There’s something dark about it.
                    Hanson: No kidding.
                    Edwin: It reminds me of something I read. A dark street in France, one that once left was hard to find again, it lead up a steep hill from which it was impossible to see beyond.
                    Hanson: Yeah, I read a book too about a guy who didn’t like eating eggs and ham because they were green, but in the end, when he ate them, it turned out he really did like it.
                    Edwin: The street… It was called Rue d’Auseil… That’s what this place is, It’s Rue d’Auseil.
                    Hanson: That’s just a story Edwin, just like green eggs and ham, it’s a story.
                    Edwin: No… This is Rue d’Auseil, I’m sure of it.
                    Hanson: But that’s not possible, we’re not in France.
                    Edwin: I’ve been here before. This is where I live. Just a few floors up, bellow a man who keeps playing the most striking music.
                    Hanson: Edwin! Listen to me. This is not Rue d’Auseil.
                    Edwin: Then how do you explain that?

                    Edwin pointed at a street sign nearby which, sure enough, read Rue d’Auseil. Glancing around, Hanson saw the street began to shift towards an incline, as though the entire road was on a hill which only got steeper as it climbed.

                    Hanson: Edwin. We’re not in France. We’re not speaking French, are we? If we were in France, then why would we be speaking English?
                    Edwin: Maybe we are speaking French, and this is just what French sounds like to French speakers.
                    Hanson: Think, Edwin. Where were we just a moment before?
                    Edwin: We were… Where were we?
                    Hanson: Do you remember me? You remember who I am?
                    Edwin: You’re Hanson, Yeah, and FBI Agent.
                    Hanson: We’re in London. Remember that?
                    Edwin: I… yes. I do.

                    Hanson kept going, calming him down as best he could, but it wasn’t until Sarah returned that the street came back to its prior darkened state, free from any incline or strange musical playing from the windows above.

                    Sarah: They said they wanted to speak with you. I’ll take Edwin upstairs.

                    Aaron did a quick resonance scan with his software and could determine high values of Hatred, Loss, Anger, and Rot. He sent a text.

                    Aaron: This place looks like bad news, You better get them out of here.
                    Sarah: Was that your phone?
                    Hanson: Yes.
                    Sarah: They won’t like that…
                    Hanson: I can put it on silent.
                    Sarah: It would be better if I took it for now.
                    Hanson: …ok then.

                    Hanson handed his phone to her and stood in a decrepit corridor, a trully horrible smell suffocating the air. Sarah took Edwin through a door and into a darkness Hanson’s eyes had not yet adjusted to. Ahead of him the corridor stretched towards a candlelit room with a dull flickering glow. He stepped in and saw a standing figure in a yellow robe, face obscured by a hood. In the shadows a number of similarly robed and hooded figures sat or stood around the room. The darkness made it difficult to tell exactly how many.

                    Figure: Detective.

                    The figure spoke with a strange scratchy voice, as though it was spoken with many tiny breaths.

                    Yellow: You wished to meet with us.
                    Hanson: Sarah says you are friends with her.
                    Yellow: Yes…

                    There’s a slight murmuring from the others in the room, Hanson pays them little attention.

                    Hanson: When did you first meet Sarah?
                    Yellow: We were there when the Marauder was brought back.
                    Hanson: Edwin? What happened to him?
                    Yellow: The marauder fell into the Umbra, the other worlds, the mirror worlds, found a realm between realms where fiction is revealed as truth, and where reality is but another’s fiction. This is where the marauder gained an insight to the world, a powerful insight that we wish to learn. This insight pushed them to the limits of sanity.
                    Hanson: And what do you want him for?
                    Aaron: Ooh, this is getting interesting (Starts recording his screen).

                    Another one speaks from the darkness

                    Hooded: We wish to learn from the marauder’s insight, help the marauder realise they do not need to fear it.
                    Hanson: And how exactly do you plan to “help” him?
                    Yellow: We will show them how to use their understanding as a powerful strength! That the realities the marauder has seen are closer than ever.
                    Robed: Close enough to reach.
                    Hanson: Who even are you?
                    Robed: We as the Spirals of Madness, we search to understand what seperates borders of realities.

                    Hanson was starting to get freaked out by this. He could tell that something was deeply wrong with this picture. He felt they regarded Edwin with a strange fascination, almost like awe, and intended to use him for some nefarious purpose. He suspected they are some kind of Nephandi group, perhaps a combination of the Malfeans and the K’lashaa who wanted to use Edwin to tear at the boundaries between realities. Getting wary of them, Hanson put his hands in his pockets to reach for his gun and lighter. A figure in a dark cloak raised a withered hand to stop him.

                    Withered: I wouldn’t, detective.

                    They spoke in a deep rasp of a whisper. Hanson slowly placed his hands out of his pocket and kept them held open palmed by his side.

                    Withered: Good. No hasty actions, detective. You wouldn’t want to make any more mistakes.
                    Hanson: What do you mean?
                    Withered: We’ve been watching you for a while, keeping an eye on you… and you.

                    The robed person turned to face Aaron, pointing directly at him through the screen. Aaron stared in terror as he was being addressed.

                    Withered: We know exactly what you have been doing, who you’ve been helping. We know.
                    Hanson: You know someone called Melonie?
                    Yellow: Melonie… Yes… I certainly know her.
                    Hanson: How do you know her?
                    Yellow: We go back quite a way…
                    Hanson: And what about Alex?
                    Yellow: Alex?
                    Hanson: Zandros.
                    Yellow: Ah.

                    Another wave of silent laughter flowed through the room.

                    Yellow: Zandros… very useful.
                    Hanson: So, what do you plan to do now?
                    Yellow: We have business at the Heath.
                    Hanson: Oh. Something to do with the Keepers?

                    A mummer of laughter floats about the room.

                    Yellow: The Keepers are of no concern to us.
                    Hanson: What are you going to do there then?
                    Hooded: We have much work to do.
                    Hanson: Work you need Edwin for?
                    Hooded: The marauder needs our help.
                    Hanson: Is this “help” something Sarah is aware off?
                    Hooded: She has asked us to help him, and we shall.
                    Hanson: Right… I think I’ll go and ask her about this then.

                    Hanson turns to leave the room but the door slams shut before he has a chance to get near it. He stops and slowly turns around to face the faceless crowd that sat in the flickering darkness.

                    Yellow: You asked about Melonie earlier, did you not? You seemed interested in our connection.
                    Hanson: I did… yes.
                    Yellow: I was her father.

                    Hanson stood stock still as he spoke. Had he anything in his hands at the time it would have been dropped in astonishment.

                    Hanson: What is your name?
                    Yellow: Mervin.
                    Hanson: And you’re Melonie’s father.
                    Mervin: …I was; yes.

                    Both Hanson and Aaron could sense a great deal of loathing in his voice, as though hearing his voice was enough to drive home a very painful memory.

                    Mervin: Shall I show you exactly what she did to me?

                    Mervin raised his hands to his hood and invited Hanson to step closer. Hanson took a few steps, keeping vigilant as he stepped, watching to see what the room would do and prepared to respond to any kind of movement. As Hanson drew nearer, Mervin slowly grabbed a hold of his hood and pulled it back down, revealing a dry, pale face with dark but greying hair, reflecting the dull light of the candle. His cheeks held a number of pulsating boils that continued down his neck. But it was his eyes that struck a chord of pure disgust in the pit of Hanson’s stomach, for no eyes could be seen. In their absence were two gaping holes within which a flurry of movement could be viewed. What at first seemed a trick of the light turned out to be movement, a flash of fur, of paws, a glimpse of teeth and whiskers, the momentary flicker of long worm-like tail. All of which was confirmed when a small head paused and stared out from the socket of the eye, its tail dangling out of Mervin’s mouth, before returning inside. Listening carefully, Hanson could hear the writing within, the swarming of many tens of rats within a suit of skin. The smell of the creatures was more than Hanson could take. He turned away to vomit, a chorus of laughter meeting his discomfort. Aaron was spared of this imagery, as the lighting proved too dark for his screen to make out.

                    Hanson: That’s…. That’s you?
                    Mervin: That is me. Every moment I feel them clawing, scratching, biting, and they remind me of the curse that The Malady placed upon me. What she made me become. This terrible shell. What is in me, what she put within me repulses me to no end. I must carry it inside me forever now as I am denied death. I hate and am disgusted by what I have become! And yet without what lies within, I would not be able to exist.

                    Having heard quite enough, Hanson makes a run to the door, opening the handle and yanking it open staring straight down the barrel of his own gun held by Sarah Phillips.
                    Seeing this, Aaron starts getting to work coding up a remote Forces effect on the gun.

                    Hanson: Ms Philips
                    Sarah: I’m sorry, Detective. I told you not to see them.
                    Hanson: They’ve been lying to you Ms Philips.
                    Sarah: They’re my friends.
                    Hanson: Look at them! They practically scream “Evil!”
                    Sarah: They’ve been on the run, like me! They can only wear what they have!
                    Hanson: Listen to me! They do not want to help Edwin.
                    Sarah: Yes they do.
                    Hanson: No. They want to use him for some strange cult ritual. They want to make the lovecraft world real, and Edwin is their key.
                    Sarah: What are you talking about?
                    Hanson: They don’t see him as a person, only as a tool, a thing.
                    Withered: You’re one to talk, detective. Do you not have ties with a Euthanatos that wishes to kill the Marauder?
                    Hanson: She gets herself involved with me, I do not work with her.
                    Withered: Don’t you?

                    The hooded figure raises their withered arm and a cracked mirror on the wall behind them glows with light. It replays a scene of Hanson speaking with Violet Dubois moments after she teleported the two of them away from approaching technocrats.

                    ~ Violet: Marauders are never stable for long. This isn’t the first time this has happened, has it?
                    Hanson: …no.
                    Violet: It will happen again, unless I stop it. If you have anything that connects to him, something or someone familiar to him, anything, the closer the better, give it to me, then I won’t need to come near him to provide the Good Death.
                    Hanson: I’ll keep it in mind.
                    Violet: Good…

                    Violet walks away, before turning around for a moment.

                    Violet: Oh, and detective.
                    Hanson: hmm?
                    Violet: Get in my way again, and I won’t hold back. Understood?
                    Hanson: Understood
                    .~


                    Aaron had built his effect but was holding on to it to see if Hanson could talk his way out of it, but he could tell by Sarah’s face this wasn’t going to happen. A flicker of hurt and betrayal flashed across her eyes. Aaron set of his effect. Having added momentum to the gun, it flew backwards and straight into Sarah’s forehead, her hands still clasping it. Sarah fell to the floor unconscious.

                    Hooded: SOMEONE IS WATCHING US!!!!

                    A cacophony of sound as the hooded figures started chanting and calling in every direction. Aaron saw the figure with a withered hand raise their palms straight towards him. He raced to turn his laptop off, but too late. The hands fingers snapped and the entire screen went black, a thin blue smoke rising from the keyboard.

                    The sounds of scratching and crawling could be heard from every corner, Hanson ran to the door, sparing no time he shot at the lock. That’s when he saw them, a hoard of rats crawling up from the darkness and swarming over him. He tried to run through the corridor but the rats began to climb up his legs. He pulled down his shades and focused on increasing his speed by finding slips in the maelstrom, but the darkness made it hard to move effectively, each step giving the rats a change to climb higher. They bit and scratched as they climbed, though Hanson did his best to fight through the pain. He ran to what he thought was a window pushing through an increasing torrent of rats to get there. At least 30 or 40 were climbing above him and around him, pressing him to the ground, forcing him to drag himself to what turned out to be a mirror. He tried to turn back, but too late. Hanson fell to the ground, the pain of the bites too much to bear.
                    In his last moments of consciousness, the only thing he could feel was a familiar rending resonance.

                    ---NOTES---
                    I’ve had this encounter more or less planned for about 4 sessions ago, and I’m so glad I was finally able to get it out. This was the next big plot point in Hanson’s story, and having to delay it for a few weeks was the main reason behind the lull in his Hanson’s arc. Hopefully this will keep Hanson’s player more engaged in the goings on and a bit more enthusiastic about playing his character until the break at least.

                    The moment when the robed figure with a withered hand said “I’ve been watching you for a while”. Aaron’s player said “Oh god, It’s Granny Elm! She was the traitor this whole time!” This time it wasn’t a joke, it was an actual proclamation, making Aaron the first character to figure out Granny Elm’s true allegiance. Not wanting to meta-game, I decided to obfuscate this little insight by telling him that this was an assumption, and could lead to problems if he didn’t have more to go on than that. Always keep them feeling uncertain until they’re certain. I’ll be interested to see whether he tells anyone else about his theory.


                    Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      Slight clarification from the previous session. Hanson’s character was adamant that Hanson didn’t give his phone to Sarah, but instead kept it on his person. I don’t know which of us might have remembered it wrong, so I’m just going to say Hanson still has his phone.

                      29th Session

                      Cast List

                      Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                      Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                      Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                      Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                      Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

                      Notable NPCs Include:

                      Violet Dubois: Assassin from afar
                      Lance: R&E Scientist

                      Keepers:
                      Gwyn: Gatekeeper
                      Vivian: High Priestess
                      Mica: Techno Witch

                      ---CHAPTER 29: THE CALM---

                      Aaron sits on the bed of the damp short stay room, blue smoke slowly drifting out of his laptop. Uncertain whether or not any of the recording could be salvaged, he got up to get to the others, he had to warn them about what had happened to Hanson. Aaron got to the door and opened, but found the floor had become the ceiling. Cautiously, he stepped on it and tried to make his way to the stairs, which was now tipped on its side as a sort of slide. Paradox had amassed on Aaron, and now the world around him spun with each movement he made, as though he were walking in the land of M.C. Escher.
                      After some slipping about on the slide stairs, Aaron fell and landed on the front door, where he stood up. The hallway rose above him. Looking up her could see Be4ker standing on what to Aaron seemed like the floor, but to Be4ker was still very much the floor.

                      Be4ker: You need me to open the door for you?
                      Aaron: NO! Don’t, I might fall of the earth.
                      Be4ker: What happened?
                      Aaron: I got doxed, it’s some weird gravity thing…
                      Be4ker: Oh… ok then.
                      Aaron: My laptops busted by the way.
                      Be4ker: What happened to it?
                      Aaron: Someone did something to it. Something magic.
                      Be4ker: You want me to take a look at it?
                      Aaron: If you can.

                      Aaron held the laptop over his head, allowing Be4ker to simply take it from him.

                      Be4ker: I’ll let you know what I find.
                      Aaron: Thanks.
                      Be4ker: See you round, Escher.
                      Aaron: Escher? Damn, that would have been a cool screen name.

                      As Be4ker walks off, Aaron tried to orientate himself. As he moved, the world rotated around him, though not in any consistent way. Eventually he sat down on the kitchen ceiling, giving up on getting back to the ground any time soon. He took out his phone and tried to text Hanson, asking what happened to him.

                      The wind was picking up in Churchill gardens, and the technocrats had only just fled the battle. Helen, Sean, and Alfred run inside, away from the wind. The door opened without resistance.

                      Alfred: Probably could have used the Talons of Horus’s favour a bit better than that… Did you check the cross?
                      Sean: Last I saw it, it was still upstairs.
                      Alfred: Do you think you should check that it’s still there?
                      Sean: Probably a good idea.

                      Helen, still getting used to her jellyfish body wiggled her way over to the kitchen cabinet to try and put her clothes back on. She wasn’t sure when this effect would end, but she certainly didn’t want to be left with nothing when it did.

                      Once Sean had retrieved the cross, Alfred threw the rune to the ground and grabbed both Helen and Sean close. A circle opened up between them, an in a flash of light the three of them appeared back in the under grove with Gwyn standing by them.

                      Vivian: Are you safe?
                      Alfred: Yes, the technocrats left in short order.
                      Vivian: And the marauder?
                      Sean: Hanson took him, I believe.
                      Alfred: I’m not sure where he is now…

                      Helen receives a call, it takes her a while but has trouble answering her phone with her tentacle hands. Seeing her struggling, Alfred helps her out.

                      Aaron: Helen?
                      Alfred: Almost.
                      Aaron: Alfred?
                      Alfred: She’s having a bit of trouble with her phone. She’s a jellyfish.
                      Aaron: …ok. Anyway. Hanson’s in trouble. Last I saw him, he went to meet Sarah’s “Friends”, this group of pretty blatant nephandi.
                      Alfred: Were they involved with Melonie?
                      Aaron: Yes and no, Melonie’s father is their leader, I think, and they seemed to be pretty angry with her, they probably want to kill her.
                      Alfred: Oh…
                      Aaron: Yeah, either they’re the nephandi that worship elder gods, or they are the victims of whatever Melonie did to her village, but either way, they have Edwin now, I don’t think we can try to help him any longer. We may need to kill him before they do whatever they plan.
                      Alfred: I see…
                      Helen: Where did you say Hanson was?
                      Aaron: Not sure, they broke my laptop before I could see, but from what I can tell it involved a lot of rats.
                      Alfred: Didn’t Hanson know of a euthanatos who was looking for Edwin?
                      Sean: Yes, he did.
                      Helen: Violet, she needed something to get near enough to kill him.
                      Alfred: A page… from the book he kept. Helen, do you still have it?
                      Helen: Yes.
                      Alfred: Then maybe you should go talk to her.

                      The call ended, Aaron looked up (or down as the case may be) Be4ker was standing there with his laptop.

                      Be4ker: It should be running, though I’d move everything from the disc as soon as you can, it probably won’t last too much longer as it is.

                      Aaron tentatively placed the laptop on the ceiling and slowly moved his hand away. After assuring the machine did not fall, he placed it on his lap and turned it on. Everything seemed to be running smoothly, so he went straight into his programmes and tried to figure out where Hanson was, though had trouble getting a precise location. All he could determine was that he wasn’t in North London anymore, but was still somewhere in London.

                      Vivian: We have little time, I am going to gather the acolytes and make our way to the Heath. I will need someone to go to the Heath now and ensure it is still safe.
                      Alfred: I have a meeting with Lance, so I will have to go. And I’d prefer it if you accompanied me Sam, in case anything happens.
                      Sean: Certainly.
                      Helen: I could go too.
                      Alfred: But didn’t you say you would be going to find Dubois?
                      Helen: Yes… But I’m not sure I should go alone, I’m still a Jellyfish.
                      Alfred: Which is why you can’t be with us at the Heath. The Technocracy must have followed you to us. We can’t risk it with this.
                      Helen: I’ll put a spell on myself, Turn into a background pattern, the same sort of thing you and Hanson do.
                      Alfred: We need someone to speak to Dubois
                      Helen: ok…

                      As she speaks, Alfred notices her face becoming rounder, and her stature taller, as though her body were beginning to revert. She still hand tentacles for hands and feet and a bulbous head, though her torso and face seemed human again. While Alfred continued speaking with the rest of the keepers, Helen went to the node tree and started casting her spell, changing the shapes of her patterns to those less noticeable to the human eye.

                      Vivian: Who would you wish to come with you?
                      Alfred: Good question… Kael and Genevieve would have to go to the tribunal.
                      Sean: Yes, they haven’t been there yet. And we would want to keep the Exarch busy for as long as we can.
                      Vivian: Genevieve is very good at talking, she’ll slow things down for them.
                      Sean: Good.
                      Alfred: We’ll need Gwyn, certainly, if we are to cleanse the node from both sides of the gauntlet. I think Mica should come with us too.
                      Mica: Me?
                      Alfred: You need to keep guard over the cross.
                      Mica: What? Really? Why me?
                      Alfred: You have experience with Prime, and the periapts which hold such quintessence.
                      Mica: Are you sure you want to leave something this important with me?
                      Alfred: I am. Yes. And I want you with us.
                      Vivian: Very well, then the rest will come with me.

                      The light was harsh. A blinding surge of molten energy searing itself into the cracks of his eyes. Hanson stared at what he assumed was the wall. All he knew was he had a sharp headache, and was lying down. Steadying himself he recalled what happened before it all went dark, and the brief resonance he felt before it all went black. “Dubois!?” He called out. The light was far too bright, but putting his glasses on made things much too dark. He assumed paradox was messing with his senses. Getting to his feet he sees what looks like an unfinished painting depicting Hanson on the floor surrounded by rats. “Dubois? Are you here?”

                      Violet: You’re awake. (Offering a cigarette)
                      Hanson: Yes… And thank you.
                      Violet: What was going on there?
                      Hanson: I… was wrong.
                      Violet: Yes?
                      Hanson: Edwin… He’s a danger, and now the nephandi have him…
                      Violet: …What were you doing in that house?
                      Hanson: I was following him and his Sister, did you see where they went?
                      Violet: No… I only saw you.
                      Hanson: What about the rats?
                      Violet: Are you sure it wasn’t the marauder’s influence? Perhaps you’ve been with him too long.
                      Hanson: I know I have, but no. This guy, he couldn’t have been an illusion, he knew things neither I or Edwin would.
                      Violet: Then they must have escaped before I could find them.
                      Hanson: You think you’ll be able to catch them? They’re planning something at the Heath.
                      Violet: If nephandi are involved, then they must be dealt with, but right now the marauder is more my concern. I just need something to connect him.
                      Hanson: Like the book he holds?
                      Violet: Yes, or a piece of it.
                      Hanson: We have a page of it.
                      Violet: That could work. Where is it?
                      Hanson: Helen has it.

                      There was a knock as Violet’s door, she left Hanson to answer. She checked the window and saw a strange creature knocking with a tentacle arm. She opened the door swiftly and held her knife at it’s face.

                      Violet: Who are you?
                      Helen: It’s Helen! Please don’t.
                      Violet: Are you some kind of monster?
                      Helen: No! I’m not! I’m not a monster!
                      Violet: What have you come here for? Hmmm? Why!? (Pressing the dagger closer)
                      Helen: It’s Hanson! I’m looking for him! It’s also Edwin! We need help.
                      Violet: You one of the marauder’s tricks? Some creature he’s created?
                      Helen: No! Stop!

                      Hanson appeared by the hallway and saw Violet holding a knife against Helen’s neck.

                      Hanson: Oh God Helen, you’re still a jellyfish? What are you doing!?
                      Helen: It’s ok, I’m a background pattern, like your effect.

                      Hanson calmed Violet down and convinced her to let Helen enter. Violet reluctantly brought down her knife and let her in. After calming down, they asked Helen for the page who then takes it to another room and begins a ritual. She takes the page and begins to focus on the forces of creation and destruction. She takes a paint brush and begins to paint part upon the page, to learn of all things connected with it. Hanson and Helen watch silently for a while before leaving her to continue.

                      Hanson: Where’s everyone else?
                      Helen: They’ve left for the Heath.
                      Hanson: The Heath… funny. That’s where the group who took Edwin will be…
                      Helen: I’m going to go there too, I promised I’d help them.
                      Hanson: I think I’ll be going with you.

                      Violet emerged with three pictures painted upon the page. The first and largest Hanson recognised as the Exarch with an innumerable number of people around him.

                      Violet: The chorus must have the book now. If Edwin does not then I’m not sure I can use it to connect with him.
                      Hanson: Figures.

                      The second picture was simply of the ground, Violet supposed a single page had been discarded somewhere.

                      Hanson: No unlikely, that’s how Edwin does his magic.

                      The last picture caused concern. It showed a shadowy figure in a dark robe and hood with a single withered arm.

                      Hanson: I think… I think I might know this one. They were at the house earlier today.
                      Violet: Seems one of these has a page of the book…but why?
                      Hanson: Good question…
                      Violet: Either way, it is of little use for me. We’ll have to find another way to get through to him. Perhaps his sister.
                      Hanson: Sarah?
                      Violet: Yes, that would work. If you find her, I’ll be able to use their connection to get to him. I can give the good death to him through her.
                      Hanson: What do I have to do.
                      Violet: Find her, find her and restrain her in some way. I’ll know when it’s happened.
                      Hanson: Ok.

                      Alfred, Gwyn, Mica, and Sean arrive at the Heath, teleporting themselves straight to the node, the five of them contained in a Narrative Shift effect contained By Alfred. While walking the field that used to hold a wild resonance, Alfred could feel something strange. The node was weak, but he was already aware of that, rather it felt as though something else was present. Alfred peaked across the gauntlet with a quick prayer for insight and saw a large number of H’rugglings around the node. Alfred suspected they were absorbing what remained of the nodes energy while polluting the land. He could not tell how many there were as their disgusting bodies fused into one another.

                      Alfred: Gwyn! The Heath is getting overrun. You must have felt it.
                      Gwyn: Bane’s in the penumbra, yes. Without the node’s power the spirits have become too weak to fend them off.
                      Alfred: They are draining the node of what little is left.
                      Gwyn: Then we’ll have to deal with them before we restore it.
                      Sean: Guys…

                      Sean whispered to the rest and pointed at the other side of the field. A lone figure in a white coat emerged from the trees. Everyone quickly tried to find somewhere to hide and waited for them to go. They saw them walk towards the centre of the node, hold up a strange device, and then walk away.

                      Alfred: Progenitors!
                      Gwyn: What are they doing here?
                      Alfred: They were here last time, trying to drain the lakes. Looks like they’re going to move on to the Heath.
                      Gwyn: Mica and I will scout them out, see what they’re planning.
                      Alfred: That’s fine, we’ll stay here and watch the Heath.

                      Sean and Alfred stayed by the trees as they left. They waited in silence for a short while.
                      Helen and Hanson arrive on the Heath. Over the time it took to arrive, Helen managed to shake off the last parts of the Jellyfish paradox that still hung around her. Her body now back to its normal humanoid self, hands and all. They arrived under Hanson’s Perception Filter and Helen’s own Background Pattern variant. This combined with Alfred’s own Narrative shift made it really complicated for the groups to actually meet up with one another.

                      [ST NOTE: These rotes are all essentially the same Mind 3 effect cast under different paradigms, and they all have essentially the same design. Make people notice us less/not even know we’re here. It’s become a surprisingly popular alternative to proper Force based invisibility. I guess that’s what happens when you have lots of Mind mages who really don’t want to be seen.]

                      They reconcile and discuss what each other has seen, catching themselves up on both Violet and the Keepers. The only thing Hanson mentions about Mervin is his relation to Melonie before Alfred spots another familiar face looking about. Lance. He instructs everyone to stay quiet and hidden, and steps out, walking towards him.

                      Alfred: Hello Lance
                      Lance: Alfred! There you are! I haven’t been able to get through to your phone.
                      Alfred: Yes, that’s because I threw it away.
                      Lance: You threw it away? Why?
                      Alfred: Your friend Mr Steed.
                      Lance: I see. Well, is the plan still going ahead?
                      Alfred: Yes, It should be.
                      Lance: Good… So where are they?
                      Alfred: They?
                      Lance: The marauders. Edwin and Hanson.
                      Alfred: I already explained that Hanson was not a marauder.
                      Lance: But you said he’d be here. I’ve got a small army waiting to take hold of them.
                      Alfred: They’re going to have to wait a bit longer.
                      Lance: Do you have Edwin?
                      Alfred: He’s coming. Just wait a bit.
                      Lance: Hector’s told me he had an encounter with the two of them earlier. He say’s Hanson did something to him.
                      Alfred: What?
                      Lance: Turned him into some creature.
                      Alfred: That was probably Edwin. Hanson is trying to keep him calm.
                      Lance: Well, when he gets here, we will need a moment to clear the air.
                      Alfred: Yes, we can arrange that, for now just hold tight with your guys.
                      Lance: I’ll see what I can do. If all goes well I’m sure there will be a number of benefits in it for you.
                      Alfred: That won’t be necessary, I’d prefer to return to my life and be taken off the record.
                      Lance: Taken off the record? What do you mean?
                      Alfred: I can’t keep associating with the Union. I’m a “Reality Deviant”, aren’t I? Mine is a different world from yours. I must stay loyal to my roots.
                      Lance: No… of course. I understand… Then, here’s hoping this is the last time we must meet.

                      Lance turns away and heads back. Alfred waits until he is out of view before returning to where he knows the others are hidden.

                      Aaron finally finishes his code after almost three hours of hard work. On his screen are a number of windows, each one a clear and broad image of Hanson, Alfred, and Helen. Or at least they would be if he could actually see them. All these Mind effects were making it difficult to spot exactly where they were, though a bit of triangulating managed to help with that. In his constant shifting of the image, something else caught his eye. A lone figure marching steadfast towards the group. He zoomed in on the figure and saw a number of tell-tale characteristics letting him know exactly what the group were about to encounter. With a look of dread he grabbed his phone and quickly texted Hanson and Helen. –Guys! There’s a HITmark Behind you!—

                      Before they had a chance to gasp in panic, a hail of bullets stung from the sky, sprayed across the four of them. Those with bulletproof clothing on fared better than those without. Everyone could now see this great humanoid HITmark slowly walking towards them. They ran, sparing no second glance. Helen and Hanson ran off and away from the node. Alfred called Sean to follow him as he ran up to the node and frantically tried to press themselves through to the old roads, away from the oncoming bullets. The two of them disappeared beyond the gauntlet and onto the pathways of the Wyck. The HITmark continued undeterred, forging another volley of bullets as it marched.

                      Aaron frantically typed away at his keyboard, trying to build an effect of electrical chaos on it, but was having a great deal of trouble getting anything to stick. Primium has that property. Trying a different strategy, he started examining his Entropy algorithms to figure what Hanson and Helen could do for the greatest chance of escape. HITmark continued its measured pace towards Hanson, Running up to him and slashing him hard in the back. Helen stopped and looked back, seeing the HITmark standing over him, she took out her gun and fired at it, hoping this would distract it for a moment while she pulled out her wand and started tracing spirals. Hanson got up and ran just before another slash hit and began to run again. Hanson and Helen got a text from Aaron, which they checked while running. –Go to into the woods, hide amongst the trees!—. Hanson obliged, limping as far as he could while Helen continued casting her spirals.

                      Seeing how dire the situation was, Aaron doubled down on his efforts to build up electrical chaos, doing everything he could to overcome the primium that repelled. Hanson darted to the woods and hid as best he could, he was terribly injured, and the only thing keeping him from instant death was that bullet proof vest. The HITmark stopped for a moment, and turned its attention to Helen and aimed its gun as Helen finalised her spell, setting it off to Hanson just as the machine shot at her. Hanson felt his wounds darken slightly as they healed. Helen ran towards the forest, just in time to avoid another volley of shots, all except one which caught her in the arm.

                      Aaron let of his effect, the HITmark stood there for a moment tense as it began to short, a surge of electrical energy pulsing through it. Though damaged and smoking, it remained standing and now marched to shoot at Helen while she desperately tried to avoid it. Just before the shot was fired, out from the undergrowth a fox ran into the action, growling at jumping at the mechanical soldier and barking. Though distracted, it stilled shot, harming Helen enough to knock her down for the count. The fox did not give up, but was pushed away long enough to get a clear shot at the defenceless Helen. But stopped, unable to move. A loud bang preceded this with the sound of discharging electricity. Standing just a little bit away was Hanson pointing his X-5 protector at the machine’s head. His last electrical round was fired. The HITmark stumbled for a moment, each step more frantic than the last until the entire thing self-destructed, shrapnel flung into the air. Hanson stood by the carnage, casually blowing the smoke from his gun.

                      A limping fox made its way towards the unconscious Helen, placing its muzzle down on her and whining quietly. Hanson approached cautiously. “Eve? Is that you?” The Fox did not respond, only growling if Hanson got too close to Helen.

                      Aaron punched the air triumphantly, when he looked up towards the ground and noticed a Rat sitting on the counter, staring up at him. For a moment they stayed like this, staring at one another, until the Rat ran into a drawer and vanished.

                      ---NOTES---
                      The Fox is back.

                      Generally speaking, I try to avoid dishing out HITmarks on my players. They are terribly destructive and can very easily kill a character outright before they even have a chance to respond. Heck, one bad die roll could be enough to eviscerate a player. You may have noticed I tend to limit battles to one adversary at a time if they are obviously more powerful than the mages for this very reason. The players are now more than aware of how HITmarks are no joke. It took three of them to take down a single one without getting slaughtered, and it only worked because one of them was far enough to have time to build an effect that could overcome the primium.

                      In other news, this game now has a definite end date. I have an MRes starting this September, which means this game will need to stop by August at the absolute latest. I anticipate this Final Battle lasting for only two more sessions, and after that there will be approximately 9 real life weeks left, so maybe 9 more sessions, for the players to tackle any loose ends they wish to address. After which point this chronicle will be officially over.


                      Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

                      Comment


                      • #86
                        I really should stop saying things like “this should only take a few more sessions”, because IT NEVER TAKES ONLY A FEW MORE SESSIONS!

                        Stuff keeps happening, and it always takes much more time than I anticipate.

                        30th Session

                        Full house!

                        Cast List
                        Lydia: Moon Witch
                        Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                        Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                        Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                        Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                        Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

                        Notable NPCs Include:

                        Keepers:
                        Camellia: Coven Maiden
                        Gwyn: Gatekeeper
                        Vivian: High Priestess
                        Mica: Techno Witch

                        Be4ker: Cyberspace Engineer

                        ---CHAPTER 30: THE STORM---

                        While everyone else was dealing with HITmarks on the Heath, Lydia was with the Keepers. She had headed off to assist Vivian in gathering the open circle group, the acolytes, and helping them reach the Heath. Though she knew the importance of the task ahead of her, her vision still played in her mind. She needed to find the Green Fairy and learn what it was her avatar wished her to discover about her origins.

                        Lydia: Vivian… Do you know where I can find Green Fairy of Ireland?
                        Vivian: Uh… I’m not sure now is the time for this. We have a ritual to perform, and potentially a number of technocrats to avoid.
                        Lydia: I see…

                        Lydia left the High Priestess to return to leading the group, keeping her musings to herself, when Camellia, with a carefree smile on her face, started speaking to her.

                        Camellia: You were asking about the Green Fairy?
                        Lydia: Yes.
                        Camellia: You mean the Green Fairy of Ireland right?
                        Lydia: I do, have you heard of her?
                        Camellia: Of course, it’s a legendary story. I’ve heard all sorts of things about her.
                        Lydia: Luna wants me to find her.
                        Camellia: Oh, ok. I’m not sure how easy that will be though.
                        Lydia: Why’s that?
                        Camellia: Well, some stories say she’s really a spirit who visits the physical realm only every few decades, others say she’s some kind of archmage who became too powerful to remain in our world.
                        Lydia: Oh.
                        Camellia: But it’ll be fine, you’ll find her if you find her.

                        Hanson stands over Helen, the injured fox lying on top of her. Any attempt to come near Helen causes the fox to growl, bearing its teeth in warning. Hanson was very unsure what to make of this, was this Helen’s mentor coming to care for her? But then why did it act so hostile when he moved towards it? Was it just an ordinary fox? Not wanting to provoke the creature further, Hanson brought out his flask and concentrated on a mind effect to calm the creature down, allowing him to approach it long enough to stop it from bleeding. Helen continues to lie unconscious, only coming to for mere moments at a time.

                        As Hanson starts to examine Helen, Gwyn arrives.

                        Gwyn: What has happened?
                        Hanson: HITmark ambush. We only just got away. Would you be able to heal Helen up?
                        Gwyn: I might be able to take a look, but healing is beyond my skill.
                        Hanson: Ah…

                        As Gwyn tends to Helen, Hanson takes a glance at the complexity of the fox’s mind, to determine exactly what it was once and for all. Though he had limited experience with foxes, he could tell that its mind was not nearly as complex as what he had seen in a human’s. Perhaps this really was just a fox after all.

                        Aaron, still safely watching from his laptop screen while sitting on the ceiling, searches the battle ground for remnants of machine parts or any other kinds of tech he could salvage and repurpose, but unfortunately the self-destruction had done its job too well to find little more than high quality scrap metal. He had just concluded this when something else brought up his attention. The ceiling was starting to turn. He clambered to his feet as the entire room started to spin slowly around him, bringing the floor back to his feet, and the world once again was oriented correctly. He sat down on a chair and got back to his co-located windows.

                        Within the penumbra, upon the old pathways, Alfred and Sean stood in the node of the heath, surrounded by a great many horrendous creatures or formless sludge. The H’rugglings circles the once wild field spreading their malice and absorbing what little energy the node still held within it. Alfred steadied himself and prepared for battle. Even though Sean had just prayed for his clothing to be strengthened, Alfred stripped bare for the fight, wishing to be properly at one with nature while in this sacred realm.
                        The fight, however, was short. Alfred grew his nails into claws and prepared to cut against the undulating sludge, but in response they formed together and flooded over him like a tidal wave, covering him in the most unpleasant of substances. Their toxic rage alone was enough to put him down. Only the blessed ammunition from Sean’s gun could hold them back long enough for Sean to retrieve him and bring him back to the end of the pathway where, once conscious, Alfred could push them back to the mundane realm.

                        Vivian along with everyone had made their way to the entrance of the Heath. The early evening air starting to prickle as they approached.

                        Vivian: Lydia, I need you to find Gwyn.
                        Lydia: What would you like me to tell him?
                        Vivian: That we need him to bring us in. I’ve been told the progenitors are not far, and I cannot risk them seeing us enter in such numbers. The ritual must go ahead uninterrupted if it is to be a success.
                        Lydia: I understand, I shall tell him.

                        She quickly scribbled out some runes in order to allow the force of fate to guide her to where Gwyn could be found. As she walked she noticed the white tent and the many who walked about it adorned in white coats. Lydia walked on quickly, not wishing to catch their attention. In time she found wooded area with scraps of metal lying about in places. She then noticed Hanson, his perception filter ever difficult to pierce.

                        Hanson: Lydia! You’re here!
                        Lydia: What happened?
                        Hanson: Ambushed by the Terminator.
                        Lydia: What happened to Alfred?
                        Hanson: Him and Sam just disappeared, I have no idea where they are.
                        Gwyn: I suspect he has travelled to the penumbra.
                        Lydia: Gwyn! Vivian’s here!
                        Gwyn: Good. We haven’t a moment to waste.
                        Lydia: What do we need to do?
                        Gwyn: I will find Vivian and we shall find somewhere hidden to warp from, going directly to the node without being detected. There may be Bane around the node, they must be warded away if the ritual is to succeed. Go to the node and see if you can assist Alfred with this. The Heath must remain guarded from anything wishing to do it harm, be they technocratic or otherwise.

                        As Gwyn leaves, Lydia goes to heal Helen, bringing her back to consciousness. The fox whimpers slightly as it places its head on Helen’s lap.

                        Lydia: What’s with the fox?
                        Hanson: Honestly? We have no idea.

                        Lydia uses Entropy, consulting with Luna’s wisdom to learn whether this fox has any significance, and reveals that, indeed, this fox has a great deal of importance. She heals the fox, who simply stays close to a very confused Helen. Hanson puts on his shades and starts up “Run” effect, increasing the kinetic energy about them. The three of them set forth towards the node on the Heath in breakneck speed.
                        Moments after arriving, Lydia feels something pushing against the sides of the gauntlet, she feels the call of the Old Roads as Sean steps through the path and onto the ground, carrying a naked Alfred covered in what both looks and smells like raw sewage.

                        Hanson: …Do I even want to know?
                        Alfred: H’rugglings.
                        Hanson: Those shit monsters we saw at the station?
                        Sean: Yes. (placing Alfred down)
                        Hanson: Oh…
                        Lydia: That’s disgusting!
                        Helen: Where are your clothes?
                        Alfred: I must have left them on the other side… Oh no, they’re probably covered in… Well.
                        Hanson: I take it you’re going to take us through to deal with them then?
                        Alfred: Yes, but we should be properly prepared, they managed to take me out in a single shot last time.
                        Lydia: Please don’t tell me they smothered you.
                        Alfred: They are spirits of corruption, it’s what they do.

                        After another round of healing, Alfred and Lydia prepare a short ritual to push themselves and the others on to the Pathways of the Wyck, where the formless mass of banes would move around the heath. As they stared on, the putrid smell caused a number of them to suppress the urge to gag. It was impossible to tell how many there were as they all seemed to blend and morph into one another.

                        Alfred remade his claws and prepared to slash against them as Sean enchanted his gun once more. While these mindless sludge creatures stewed around their own filth, Hanson and Helen prepared to do as they had done two weeks prior, and emotion burst of pure, clean thoughts to disrupt their toxic nature.
                        As Alfred jumped into the fray, the creatures took notice and surrounded the group, but now had too many to fight. Alfred kept them busy with enhanced dexterity, avoiding any sludge that jumped at him. The fight went on like this for a while, with Alfred and Sean fending the sludge off best they could while Helen and Hanson built their effects. Lydia watched and noticed the futility of their actions, how neither bullet nor claw did much lasting damage. Instead, she called out for help, called for some kind of spirit to aid them. In moments, a wind spirit arrived.

                        Wind: Did you call?
                        Lydia: I did, oh spirit, we need your help.
                        Wind: Do you really?
                        Lydia: I know only you can help us with your great power.
                        Wind: Go on.
                        Lydia: We need to purify this place from these spirits of corruption.
                        Wind: And what should I do this for you?

                        Lydia knew these spirits to be quite proud, and so chose to flatter it.

                        Lydia: To watch you cleanse this place would be amazing to watch, you are you powerful and great, oh spirit of the wind, please to bless us with your gracious breeze, so cool and pleasant.
                        Wind: Very well.

                        All at once, the wind picked up, and the H’ruggling hoard began to shrink, their essence literally flung to the winds. With their forces weakened, Helena and Hanson unleased their emotion burst which helped to finish them off, their combined effort brought the beasts away.

                        Lydia: Thank you spirit, this would not have happened without your help.
                        Wind: And what is my payment?
                        Lydia: Payment?
                        Wind: Yes, what may I receive for this favour?
                        Lydia: I… I don’t know, what do you want?
                        Wind: You’re a mage right? Perhaps some of that energy you always carry around?

                        The group talked a bit, and Sean helped Lydia transfer the only point of quintessence she heald.

                        Lydia: Is that enough?
                        Wind: …It’s a start, I suppose.

                        While looking about the space, Alfred noticed movement beyond pathways. Dark figures with red eyes.

                        Alfred: The formor.
                        Lydia: Spirit, would you be able to help us cleanse the Heath?
                        Wind: That’s not really my problem, is it?
                        Lydia: Wait.

                        Too late, the wind had blown away.

                        Meanwhile, Aaron was scanning around the Heath wondering where the heck everybody went. One moment they were at the node, the next they had vanished. He saw instead a number of people gathering at the Heath lead by Camellia, Gwyn, and Mica. He watched Mica hand the cross to Camellia, and the group form a circle around the node. He could also make out Gwyn speaking to Mica

                        Mica: No, I can’t. I really can’t!
                        Gwyn: They need you in there Mica, I have to keep the gateway guarded.
                        Mica: But it’s umbra. I don’t do umbra well, I’m no good there.
                        Gwyn: You’re better than you think you are.

                        Getting bored, Aaron moved over to see what Vivian was doing. She was actively engaging the Progenitors who were focussing on the ponds. A great storm was forming above her as she spoke in a language he could not understand. Lighting striking down upon them. Aaron saw they had quite a large amount of equipment about the ponds and an idea formed. He quickly brought out his force builder programme and worked on amplifying the storms electrical energy to fire down to the lakes. The blast shot down, a great white ball of lightning which blasted every machine the progenitors had both monitoring and treating the lakes, anyone standing by was electrocuted and let unconscious, the blast carried through the water and erupted at all points along its bank. The light was blinding, and Aaron loved it… until he noticed a similar build of electricity emanating from his own fingers, the forces of paradox were coming undone.

                        As electricity began to arc between his fingers, he got up and backed away from his laptop as the his hands began to surge and tingle. He could feel a discharge was imminent. He slowly walked towards the front door and touching the handle was enough for an arc of electricity to jump through him, the light was far too bright for him to stare at. He opened the door a crack and saw his field was growing, the street lamps began to flicker wildly. The energy build up was beginning to hurt a great deal. Panicking, Aaron grounded himself but pressing both his palms flat on the floor. A horrible sound erupted from beneath him just after the energy discharged. Be4ker emerged with a peeved tone in his voice.

                        Be4ker: What the hell did you do?
                        Aaron: I didn’t do anything.
                        Be4ker: I can see the electricity in your hands. Your little stunt just overloaded my machines! I got guys in there! Live ones, or at least they were. Their link’s been severed, so I’m going to have to find that, and that’s if I can get everything running again.
                        Aaron: I’m sorry! I got doxed.
                        Be4ker: What were you even trying to do? Where were you sending lightning?
                        Aaron: Hampstead Heath, it’s a whole thing.
                        Be4ker: Right, well go do it there yourself. You can’t stay here.
                        Aaron: I don’t want to touch my computer like this
                        Be4ker: You’re going.
                        Aaron: Can you at least hand me some rubber gloves or something.
                        Be4ker: Not my problem.

                        As Be4ker turns to leave, Aaron grabs a hold of him. A sudden burst of energy flings both of them to opposite sides of the room, singeing their skin at the point of contact. Without missing a beat, Be4ker rushed downstairs. Not knowing where else to go, Aaron waivered for a moment, and watched as the world around him began to reformat, decompiling into a new scene outdoors by the setting sun. He was in a tree on Hampstead Heath, his computer on a branch to his left, and a pair of marigolds hanging just within reach. With blue arcs rising between his fingers, Aaron hastily put on the gloves before carefully placing his laptop into his bag. He could feel the energy build up, ready to discharge as he inched his way off the tree. This had certainly not been a good day for him. He began to wonder if he might have killed whoever it was using Be4ker’s equipment, and for one gruesome moment considered he may have inadvertently killed Rubrix. Either way, returning to them seemed out of the question.
                        As he contemplated how few bridges remained unburnt, he saw two men in the distance, except he could tell they weren’t men, they were other HITmarks, most likely sent in to finish of the job of the first. Aaron took of his gloves and clenches his fists, slowly opening them as great surges of energy arced about him. He ran straight towars them, ready to engage them head on.
                        They notice him and point two guns straight at him before he has a chance to get any closer.

                        HIT: Halt! Identify yourself.
                        Aaron: Rusty Shackleford!!
                        HIT: Drop to the ground.

                        With two guns pointed at him, Aaron slowly lowered his body, keeping his hands spread out. He wasn’t near enough to grab them…yet.

                        HIT: Subject identified, XJ97420. Come with us.
                        Aaron: You’re going to have to take me!

                        Aaron kept still as he waited for the HIT Mark’s response.

                        Standing on the old roads, the group heard a voice flowing to them.

                        Vivian: Alfred? Lydia?
                        Lydia: High Priestess?
                        Hanson: Is Vivian here?
                        Vivian: I am, but on the other side of the gauntlet.
                        Alfred: High Priestess, the banes has been dealt with.
                        Vivian: Good, the ritual is already under way.
                        Lydia: Is everything alright?
                        Vivian: For now. I managed to fend off a number of progenitors. The lightning was much greater than I had anticipated, but it should keep them unable to fight for a good while.
                        Alfred: We have seen formor on this side of the gauntlet.
                        Vivian: Then they must not be allowed to harm the ritual, or the open circle. We will need protection on both sides of the gauntlet.

                        They discussed amongst themselves the best course of action, and decided that Hanson, Helen, and Sean should return to the mundane world, while Lydia and Alfred, the only ones proficient with the sphere of Spirit, would fare better on this side. After helping them step off the Pathways, Alfred and Sean made the journey off the path and through the avatar storm.

                        On the otherside, they were surprised to see Mica was there.

                        Alfred: Mica?
                        Mica: Uhhh

                        Mica seemed to still be recovering from the effects of the storm herself.

                        Alfred: When did you cross?
                        Gwyn: Just now.

                        They looked up and saw Gwyn standing beyond a strange shimmering oval.

                        Gwyn: The gateway will hold for as long as we need it to. It will allow you a quick escape if necessary. Do not allow the formor near it.
                        Alfred: Will you join us in the fight?
                        Gwyn: I shall guard the gate from this side, Mica shall aid you.
                        Alfred: If the formor are here, Melonie may not be far behind, what shall we do in case we find her.
                        Vivian: You shall call for me.
                        Alfred: Understood. High Priestess.

                        Alfred and Lydia began their rituals, asking favours from their gods to become battle read. Lydia transformed her body to resemble a dragon, with great thick skin, sharp claws, and a pair of large wings. Alfred, adorned already with his own otherworldly claws, improved his reflexes and prepared to defend the Heath with all he had. As they stared out into the umbral mists, the sound of growling beasts drew ever closer.

                        Hanson, Helen, and Sean arrived at the node in the mundane world, all around them were a number of people stood around in a circle joining in a collection of chants and prayers, lead slowly by Camellia. Not wishing to disturb them, they walked away. Helen noticed the Fox had been waiting not long away. She had little time to think about the fox though, as Hanson pulled her over. He noticed, not too far away, that two figures were standing over what looked like Aaron. He focused up his Run effect, quickly explained what he saw, and instructed the others to follow.

                        As they approach, the HITMarks ready their guns and begin to aim. Helen stays back to protect herself, thickening her skin to make it bullet proof. Sean opens fire, as to the machines, one towards Hanson who jumps and dives as best he can, letting his clothing take most of the damage. With neither gun pointed at Aaron, he starts to crawl closer towards one of them, his wounds from the prior electrical burst slowing him somewhat.
                        One Hitmark keeps shooting at Hanson and Sean, while another attacks Helen. This was the moment Aaron seized, his hands throbbing and itching with power. Unleashed a great surge of electrical power forced itself into the body of one of the HITMarks, who began flailing its arms wildly shooting bullets in all directions. Aaron held on as best he could, but the power proved too painful, damaging his arms severely as he fell back to the ground. The Machine did not stop shooting, for it no longer hand control.

                        Bullets flew in every direction as everyone ran and ducked to avoid them. Hanson ran off, when a thought occurred. He had still his Run ability up and a bullet proof jacket on. While Sean continued firing shots and Helen avoided the hail of random bullets, Hanson put on his knuckle dusters, winded up his fist, and ran at incredible speeds with a punch straight into the body of the still functioning robot.
                        The machine’s balance faltered, but it stood firm. Hanson continued running, putting another few punches in. Aaron carefully crawled towards it in order to touch this one and hopefully put it out, but the machine noticed and promptly kicked him away, knocking him out cold. Suddenly, the fire of the malfunctioning Mark ceased. It’s gun still flailed wildly, but it had ran out of ammunition. Helen tried to get close to Aaron to heal him, but was having a hard time getting past the functional one. All the while, Sean stood, carefully aiming, waiting for the right shot.
                        Another punch, another hit, and another shot, and the machine began to self-destruct. As the flailing HITMark regained control, Hanson wasted no time, blowing fire from his lighter straight into its face.

                        Alfred stood staring into the mists as a dark creature emerged, prowling slowly. He could feel their presence. Lydia, in her makeshift dragon body marched ahead, trying to intimidate them with her greater size. She remembered these creatures used to be people, and wanted to avoid their deaths. Alfred was much less concerned of this, considering them too far gone. Little more than beasts that needed to be dealt with. As one of them drew near to him, he pounced, scratching his claws deep into their bodies as they did the same. One kept away from Lydia and tried to run towards the gate, though Alfred jumped to divert them. The two of them squared off against each other, trading swipes against their tough skin. Another drew closer to Lydia, and though she tried again to scare it off, this time it did not react. It lunged at her with sharp teeth, her tough hide the only thing protecting her. She staggered, but the creature did not relent. She had no choice but to retaliate, and so gave a few bites of her own.
                        Meanwhile, the beast Alfred was engaging with was getting desperate. Alfred had wounded it a great deal. To try and scare him off, it stretched itself, growing about 3 times in size, towering over Alfred just before delivering an almighty roar. Undeterred, Alfred went straight for its leg, which snapped like a twig. The creature fell to the ground unable to move. Alfred looked to Lydia. She was attempting to fly away from her combatant, but was unable to get away before it bit down on her. Alfred ran up and wrestled the creatures away from her, killing it shortly after. Lydia and Alfred stood on the umbral ground breathing heavily for a moment. Lydia took a moment to heal the two of them, when they realised neither of them knew where Mica was. In the confusion of battle, they had both lost sight of her.
                        Alfred and Lydia went looking for her, when Alfred thought he spied her surrounded by dark creatures with red eyes. She was sitting on the ground, looking hurt. A familiar voice greeted them like daggers over ice.

                        Malady: Aww… Did they hurt you?

                        Helen healed up the team. Both Hanson and Sean had suffered a lot of blows, but it was Aaron who suffered the most. His arms ran black with electrical burns, his veins sitting almost on tom of this skin. This aggravated damage was too much for Helen to deal with, but she did what she could.

                        Aaron: Think that was all of them?
                        Hanson: I don’t know. Not sure how we’d find that out. You just teleport in?
                        Aaron: Long story, I think I might have killed my chantry…
                        Hanson: Something you want to talk about?
                        Aaron: Not really, no.

                        Aaron tested out his hands, the electrical build up seemed to have dissipated entirely. He reached into his pocket to grab his phone and felt a small static shock.

                        Helen: I wonder where that fox went.
                        Hanson: It was following you, wasn’t it?
                        Helen: Not since we left the node…

                        The conversation was undercut by a cold air. They looked up and noticed a number of men in black suits, sunglasses, and bowler hats approach, guns in hand pointed straight at the group. Before they had any time to react, a wave of fear passed over them as one particular gentleman approached. Mr Steed.

                        Steed: Take that man and the girl. (pointing at Hanson and Helen) And you (pointing directly to Aaron) You have something which belongs to us.

                        ---NOTES---
                        Sorry about the delay.
                        I am horrendously behind on writing these things up. At the end of each session, I try to write the short notes almost immediately while it’s all still fresh. These add up to bullet points of all the things that happened as well as a few memorable lines, all to help jog my memory when writing up the longs notes, which are what you’ve been reading up to now.
                        I’ve had about two smaller sessions since this session ended, and we’ll be having another session tomorrow, so yeah, behind. I attribute this to preparations for moving house.

                        By the way, forget everything I said about finishing this fight before June. All plans have proved to be completely and utterly wrong. My new goal is to finish up before July, but then we’ll have to see how that goes. I’m very doubtful that all of loose ends we’ll have a chance to wind up, though I may have a chance to simplify them somewhat.
                        One of the reasons this session took a lot longer than I anticipated is that it was quite combat heavy. I keep forgetting how long combat takes when there are 5 players to juggle and multiple NPCs. To try and shorten for Fomori fight, I decided to forego their healing properties. Perhaps these formor were particularly prone to death. It’s not unheard of.
                        In game, I had both battles take place simultaneously, and I found this worked much better for making sure every player had something to do during the fight. Rather than have one group sit out while the other fought their battle. The only downsides were that it was a lot of work for me to keep everything straight and remember who was where, but also because players often had to wait quite a long time to declare their actions.
                        Still though, they all seemed to be engaged with it, so that’s good.

                        As a side note, Aaron's player was really disheartened by the end of the session, convinced his character had now burnt every bridge available to him. I had to tell his player directly that it wasn't as bad as it had seemed, and although Aaron may think so, he hadn't actually killed his entire base.
                        I usually don't like to tell the players things like this as it affects decision making which could have lead to interesting scenarios, but then if the fear of having monumentally failed is so great that the player is no longer having a good time with their character, it's just not worth it.
                        Last edited by Saikou; 06-13-2017, 04:39 AM.


                        Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

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                        • #87
                          31st Session

                          What's this? Two updates within the span of a week? I might actually catch up before sessions resume!

                          Cast List
                          Lydia: Moon Witch
                          Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                          Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                          Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                          Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                          Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

                          Notable NPCs Include:

                          Mr Steed: NWO Operative

                          ---CHAPTER 31a: RECOIL---

                          Helen, Sean, Hanson and Aaron were surrounded. Four agents in total surrounded them, each pointing a gun straight at them. A wave of fear poured over them as the terrifying Mr Steed drew close.

                          Steed: You
                          Aaron: Me?
                          Steed: Take out your computer.
                          Aaron: Uhh… no.
                          Steed: Take it from him.
                          Aaron: Wait wait wait wait wait! Hold on a moment….
                          Steed: …Yes?

                          Aaron runs.

                          Literally no one was expecting this, not even the other mages, who scrambled to either run or defend. The Agents held up their guns and attempted to shoot anyone who tried to escape, opening fire on Sean who quickly fell unconscious at their feet.
                          The others run without looking back, tailed by three agents in hot pursuit, occasionally trying to shoot them as the distance shortened. Hanson still had his run ability active and managed to break away from the group at great speed, leaving Helen and Aaron behind as the agents drew closer. Drawing back, Hanson pulled down his shades and tried to put up a friction curse effect on one of the agents. At this point, Helen had two people pursuing and shooting at her, while Aaron only had the one. Hanson focused his energy on Aaron’s pursuer as he was still in a bad state from the paradox lightning. For a moment the agent’s body rose with smoke, forcing him to slow his pace long enough for Aaron to run towards the trees. Helen, on the other hand, was left to fend for herself. While running, she whipped out her wand and started tracing spirals in the air, wishing to create around her a number of trees to serve as a wall. What grew were three black, gnarled rooted contortions which sprung up around her, their branches bent and twisted in an otherworldly spasm of movement, the likes of which these agents had not seen before. Helen sat in the space and healed herself, drawing from the blood of her bullet wounds.
                          She could hear them calling to her. “Surrender yourself, and we will not shoot”. Tentatively she climbed up the branches to get a better look at them. Three agents all in bowler hats, sunglasses, and dark suits stood around the trees, she noted their positions almost created a perfect equilateral triangle. Had she more time and a greater presence of mind she may have been able to make use of this, but as it stood, they were not going to wait for her.
                          A few several yards away, Hanson stood by the trees watching as the agents took aim at her and waited. Hanson put on his shades again and tried again with his friction curse, concentrating hard on the chaotic forces of combustion of two of the men.
                          “Get down now, this is your final warning!”
                          There was something about that voice, Helen realised, something that sounded bizarrely familiar. She felt as though she hadn’t heard that voice for many years. She looked down at the man that spoke and, for a second, could recognise something in the folds of his face… “Father?” The very words brought a chill through her body.
                          In a blur of confusion, Hanson jumped into action, running by and smacking one of them with his fist as he passed. The one who spoke chased after in pursuit and immediately caught fire, burning him as he screamed.
                          Helen took this moment to jump down on the last agent standing, punching him down as she desperately try to see what had happened to the man she thought she knew. She calls out things like “I’m Helen! Don’t you remember?” while avoiding the hits of another agent. A fire started to burn, and headed towards the tree. Hanson quickly tried to limit it, preventing the entire Heath from burning in a blaze.

                          Aaron had finally found a moment to rest and regain himself. He put on his rubber gloves and brought out his laptop. He brought up his co-location software to get a visual on Hanson and Helen and saw the tree, the fire, and the burning technocrats. He clicked on his ForceBuilder program, and started to code in variables to both Helen’s pattern values; his aim to build a kinetic barrier which would deflect or bounce back any incoming kinetic energies.

                          Hanson was running by the tree, trying to entise one of them to chase him again, but is shot in the leg. Now badly injured, he can no longer build up the speed to run. Helen too has trouble as the agent she tried to hit pushes her to the ground and points a gun silently. Another fire starts as one of the agents rushes towards Hanson. Hanson sits and watches, unable to move away, all the while a sensation of dread and terror falls upon the landscape as Mr Steed approaches accompanied by an armed agent.

                          Steed: Detective Hanson.
                          Hanson: Look, you don’t know what’s going on here. We have to stop it.
                          Steed: I assure you, whatever it is, we are more than equipped to handle it. We may have even already taken care of it.
                          Hanson: You know about the Spirals of Madness?
                          Steed: Whatever delusions you are suffering, the Union is here to help, just let us help you.
                          Hanson: Right… you must have talked with those Engineers. I’m not the marauder. I’ve been looking for him.
                          Steed: We can discuss this at a later time…

                          Hanson looks over at the sitting Helen, a point blank shot from her captor.

                          Hanson: Look, I’ll come quietly, but please, let the others go. They have nothing to do with this.
                          Steed: The others?
                          Hanson: Sam, the guy you shot, and Helena and Aaron, you were chasing them. Just let them go and you can take me.
                          Steed: You expect us to leave a known murderer?
                          Hanson: …you have a point.

                          Steed looked at the fire. One of the agents was already dead in the blaze.

                          Steed: Her handywork I take it.
                          Hanson: No….mine.
                          Steed: Hmmm.
                          Hanson: Sorry about that.

                          Seeing that Helen was going to be a tough sell, Hanson rephrased his offer, to take the two of them in exchange for letting Aaron and Sean go free. Steed considered this for a moment and then agreed. He ordered his agent to take Helen while he saw to Hanson personally. Hanson held out his arms and allowed him to put them in cuffs.
                          Hanson looked on as Helen struggled.

                          Hanson: I’m sorry Helen… You did kill two people…

                          She refused to go quietly, and instead manages to push her captor away and escape. Steed ordered his accompaniment to chase after her.

                          Steed: They’ll find her.
                          Hanson: …I’m sure they will.

                          Steed took Hanson by the arm and walked him back down the field towards a black van parked atop the grass. Beside it, Sean was seen, with a technocratic medic injecting some kind of fluid into him, allowing him to wake up without much pain. He saw Hanson walking back in handcuffs with Steed.

                          Hanson: They’re letting you go.
                          Sean: And the others?
                          Hanson: I tried, but Helen was a bit of a hard sell…
                          Sean: I see…
                          Hanson: Don’t worry about me. Find Aaron.

                          As Hanson is taken into the back of the van, Sean barely supresses a great urge to help him. Though the detective was in a compromising position, others needed his aid more. He did a quick prayer for guidance and could sense an area in the woods were correspondence magic as being performed, with Aaron’s signature coding resonance at the helm. He headed in this direction.

                          Helen ran full pelt into an open field, but without Hanson’s Run effect, she did little to get away from the agent in pursuit, who managed to wrestle her to the ground. She struggled, trying to get free but the man just held her more firmly. Pressing down on her with all his weight. Helen screamed, flailing wildly as she pulled herself out from under him, the man made a grab for his arm. Panicing, Helen grabbed at it in a vain attempt to wrestle it off him. Helen closed her eyes and pulled as hard as she could. She could feel the nuzzle of the gun press against her chest as she pulled. A loud noise, and a sputter of red. Helen held her breath for a moment as she tried to register what happened when she felt the blood flowing from her. She saw the smoke rising two inches away from her face
                          Except, it wasn’t actually from her, it was from him. The bullet had bounced off of Aaron’s kinetic shield and reversed straight into the agent, who slumped on the grass in shock and pain.

                          [ST NOTE: Helen’s player had completely forgotten about Aaron’s kinetic barrier by this point and was almost certain she had been killed by this point-blank shot. The relief on her face was genuine and it made for one of the most dramatic moments of the evening. I love it when that happens.]


                          Aaron, seeing all of this, grabbed his laptop and ran to her aid. Throwing off the gloves as he went.

                          The agent gasped in pain, his hat and glasses fallen to the ground. For the first time, Helen saw clearly his face in the dwindling twilight, and she was shocked to see that, this man also had his father’s face. Stunned and confused, she sat motionless as the man got to his feet and started searching for his gun.

                          Just before he reaches Helen, Aaron arrives with a completely failed attempt at a punch. The agent reached into his pocket and pulled out a number of electrical mines, threw them straight at Aaron where they bounced off his shield and on to the ground between them, shocking them both.

                          Aaron: Nice throw Technocuck! You wanna try aiming away from your feet next time!?

                          Aaron tried to fight him, but he was barely a challenge in his incredibly weakened state, the agent easily able to avoid every hit that came. However, it kept him busy enough for Helen to snap out of her trance and trip him to the ground where he fell.

                          Helen: Do you remember!? I’m Helen, Your name is Peter!
                          Aaron: Forget it Helen, He’s not your father!
                          Helen: Please, tell me you remember!

                          For a brief second, Helen thought she saw something in his eyes, a brief shine of recognition. Helen saw him place his hand into his pocket. Then a gun went off, and the agent fell to the ground. Behind him Sean stood with a gun pointed straight at him. He had arrived moments ago and aimed, waiting until just the right moment to strike.

                          Black vapour started to drift from the air as the agent vaporised before their very eyes, his gun exploding before Aaron had a chance to claim it.

                          Helen: What… What just happened…
                          Aaron: That was a clone.
                          Helen: Clone…
                          Aaron: Whatever that was, it wasn’t your father. The report said they retrieved something of him, probably DNA to clone him with.
                          Sean: Helen… Your father is gone.
                          Helen: I see…

                          Helen’s heart sank as what little hope she had that he was still alive faded into the air like black mist. She stared into the distance when the sound of small yip brought her back. The fox had returned, nuzzling against her.

                          Helen took this chance to try and heal some of Aaron’s electrical burns, though only had a little bit of power to spare. Sean took the time to examine the fox, asking for divine favour. He noticed while nothing particularly magical stood out in the fox, there was something strange about its eye. Something made of matter lay behind it, something small but very obviously there. A tracking device, perhaps? But then why put it behind the eye? Sean wondered as the fox rested its head on Helen’s lap. He noted how it seemed so strangely attached to her.

                          ---NOTES---
                          Fight scenes take up so much real time, yet make up such a short amount of in-game time. And yes, it’s still Thursday.
                          The players have become very interested in this Fox now. I assure you its importance will come to light very soon, but by all means have a guess. Something which amused me was that Helen’s character, upon seeing the fox blurted out “Where were you during the battle!?” Almost as though she expected to be saved by a fox any time things go hairy. All I can say is: One Deus Ex Machina per Person, ok?
                          Paradox has been accumulating, but only backlashing in small amounts. For example, Helen had a leaf grow on her hand because of her tree effect. I may have neglected to include this due to how inconsequential they turned out to be. Right now the only character with a clean bill of Paradox is Aaron, and that’s only because he already had a pretty nasty backlash.

                          Next session will be focused on the other half of the party, and what exactly went on with Malady in the Umbra.


                          Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

                          Comment


                          • #88
                            The other 31st Session

                            Lydia’s player was planning to be at this session, but took on too many responsibilities at work and so was unable to make the trip. However, Helen’s player was able to join us as an audience member. I’m glad too, since this session was particularly climactic.

                            Cast List
                            Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                            Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy

                            Notable NPCs Include:

                            Keepers:
                            Gwyn: Gatekeeper
                            Vivian: High Priestess
                            Mica: Techno Witch

                            Malfeans
                            Malady aka Melonie
                            Zandros aka Alex

                            ---CHAPTER 31b: REMOVED---

                            Alfred looked around; the umbral mist had descended into a thick fog, obscuring any and all points of navigation around him. The only point of reference, a sly, shrill laugh from someone very dangerous. “Aww, did they hurt you?” Melonie’s voice echoed about the penumbra. Alfred tried to listen out and figure out where she was, and by extension, where she might be harming Mica. His searches took him towards the a large black shadow with glowing red eyes. Alfred had unwittingly walked right into a waiting formor. He could hear it breathing heavily as prepared to battle it head on.
                            Alfred sprung at it before the creature and the two of them clashed claws, holding out against one another was they fought tooth and nail quite literally, Alfred’s hardened skin absorbing as many lethal blows as the beast’s own hide. Though the beast was stronger, it was no match for Alfred’s sheer determination as he ploughed at its chest. It backed away and let out a great howl, the full fury of the wyrm exploding from its lungs, but Alfred steeled himself away from its effects and ran up to cast a slash against its neck. The creature fell, battered to the threshold of death. Alfred stands over the creature, ready to end its miserable life, when the shadow lifts and he catches sight of a face rising up from the fur. He stops in bewilderment as he recognises her features.

                            Alfred: Helen!?
                            Helen: ow….
                            Alfred: I’m so sorry! What are… How…
                            Helen: Why did you hurt me?
                            Alfred: I didn’t…. I didn’t know it was you…
                            Helen: It hurts so much.
                            Alfred: I’m sorry! Here, I can help.

                            Alfred hurriedly dug out one of his salves and applied it to her wounds, healing them quickly.

                            Alfred: I must have suffered a bought of quiet. Ever since entering Edwin’s mind…. Please forgive me.
                            Helen: It’s fine… Just don’t hurt me again.
                            Alfred: Of course. Helen, if you don’t mind me asking, how did you get here?
                            Helen: …I don’t know.
                            Alfred: Some quirk of fate perhaps… Never mind, I’ll look after you here.

                            Alfred, thoroughly confused heads off with Helen in search of Melonie, when he notices someone running not too far away. Alfred steps closer and realises he’s found Mica, running with a limp.

                            Alfred: Mica!
                            Mica: Who’s there?
                            Alfred: It’s us! It’s Helen and Alfred!
                            Mica: Alfred! Help! It’s not safe.
                            Alfred: We’re here to help you.
                            Mica: Malady is here!
                            Alfred: I know, I heard her earlier.
                            Mica: How did you get to the Umbra?
                            Alfred: Through the gate Gwyn made for us.
                            Mica: Gwyn’s here?
                            Alfred: Yes…. You came here with him…
                            Mica: We have to get back to that gate, do you know the way?
                            Alfred: Yes, stay close.

                            Alfred lead both Mica and Helen over the penumbra, backtracking as best he could towards the spot not far from the node. Before them lay the portal between the gauntlet. It hung like a silken sheet and shimmered like the surface of the pond. Only visible from a specific angle, Alfred could just about see the mundane world beyond it, and the Keepers preparing their ritual on the Heath.

                            Mica: Is this it?
                            Alfred: Yes… but didn’t you come through here?
                            Mica: Who else is here?
                            Alfred: Everyone… They came with you. You were with them… Weren’t you?
                            Mica: Even Vivian?
                            Alfred: Yes… Mica? What’s going on?
                            Mica: I told you. Malady’s here!

                            Alfred stood bewildered as he saw Mica’s face twist into a malicious grin. Before he had a chance to register what just happened, a great swirl of teeth met his face. Alfred fell to the ground and realised what had happened. Malady had tricked him, Helen had never been in the penumbra.

                            [ST NOTE: I actually got Helen’s player to contribute in this little deception, slipping them a note which read “You are not the real Helen, you are an illusion, make up a reason why you are here.” It worked incredibly well. Alfred’s player was just as dumbfounded as his character during the entire ordeal, and when Helen was revealed to have been the formor he fought earlier, everything finally clicked into place. The look on his face was wonderful. Helen's player absolutely loved playing an illusion. I've learned she really gets a kick out of deceiving the other players.]

                            Malady: Thank you for healing my pet for me.
                            Alfred: Melonie! You Cur!

                            The formor stood over Alfred, pinning him to the ground and Malady, fully shed from her disguise, stood above him in triumph.

                            Malady: You’ve been very helpful. It would have taken me ages to find this on my own.
                            Alfred: I didn’t not help you, you whore!
                            Malady: Either way, I must be off.

                            Malady was about step through the portal before Alfred called out to her again.

                            Alfred: You coward! Can’t you finish me off on your own? Are you so weak?
                            Malady: What was that?
                            Alfred: I said you were a pathetic coward! Face me now! One on one!

                            Alfred could see her stop, standing by the threshold, a look of anger on her face. She waved her hand, signalling to the formor to back off. As Alfred got to his feet, Malady took out her rusted dagger.

                            Malady: Alright! Let’s do this then!

                            The two of them go at it, but Alfred is having a hard time getting near her. Every attempt he makes to hit seems to have been misjudged. He recalls a similar problem the last time they had a spat with her. Malady’s Entropy effect was still as active as ever. In his mad flails, Malady was able to strike him with her blade, with little ability to retaliate, though it rarely managed to penetrate his skin. As they fought, Alfred made several quips such as “They call you the Malady, but you’re little more than a light cold”, which only fuelled her anger, making her more violent. Alfred staggered backwards, having been stabbed in the chest. He reached down for his salves to heal and noticed a sword hanging from his side. Excalibur had manifest itself for him. Alfred took the hilt and raised the sword.

                            Malady: What do you think you’re doing?
                            Alfred: Arrogant cur! Know the true power of the once great King!

                            Alfred ran towards her with the sword and quickly fumbled, and slipped. Alfred had never trained with a sword, and it showed. He flailed wildly, but couldn’t land so much as a scratch against her, continuing to miss as Fate would have it. Malady laughed at his failure as she sliced at his arm. Alfred made another effort to stab her, but misplaced his steps and fell to her feet. Malady looked down on him, a cheerless smirk growing across her face.

                            Malady: Well, you’ve shown me, haven’t you!

                            Malady kicked Alfred in the face causing him to cry out in pain.

                            Malady: Now who’s pathetic!

                            Alfred, badly wounded, tried to get to his feet, but was stopped by thick black vines curling up from the ground, binding him in place.

                            Malady: We can’t have you getting up. I’ve got dinner plans with your high Priestess.
                            Alfred: Melonie! I won’t let you harm her?
                            Malady: Then I better finish you off.

                            Malady grabbed her dagger firmly as she spoke, slowly dropping herself down to Alfred, and lifted the dagger above his neck. And in one swift motion thrust it down onto him.

                            Then something changed. Alfred could hear a strange high pitched chime as the air grew still around him. Malady had stopped, her dagger centimetres away from his neck. Faint colours flashed in front of his eyes as Malady’s dagger started to go away from his face, and he body slowly stood up. Alfred twisted and saw Mica standing a short distance away, holding one of her machines, crystals glowing.

                            Mica: Alfred! Get up!
                            Alfred: What’s happening? Are you ok?
                            Mica: I’ve paused her, get up.
                            Alfred: What happened to you?
                            Mica: I saw you leading Melonie and her wolf thing towards the portal.
                            Alfred: It was a trick.
                            Mica: Alex was following you too!
                            Alfred: It must have been his illusion then.

                            The vines retracted as Malady began to walk backwards, her time stream reversed.

                            Alfred: You’re rewinding her?
                            Mica: It’s not easy, I won’t be able to hold it for long.
                            Alfred: I have an idea, make her go back just a little more.

                            Mica complied, brining Malady back a full 12 seconds. Alfred readied his blade, preparing to strike her exactly where he knew she would be.

                            Alfred: Ok, Now!

                            Mica let her go. Malady walked forwards, and stopped. Alfred’s sword dug straight into her chest. Without missing a beat, Alfred grabbed one of his poisoned salves and pressed it against her, preparing the Rip The Man Body effect. Alfred slashed his sword sideways and Malady fell to the ground, blood spurting in every direction. As she falls, Alfred starts to feel a great pain in his side, as though each muscle were trying to pull against itself; a burning fire struck through him, the pain almost unbearable.

                            Zandros: Not so fun when it’s done to you, is it?
                            Alfred: Alex! Do you know how much your coven gave up for you?
                            Zandros: Gave up for me?
                            Alfred: Your mentor, The High priest, he sacrificed everything to keep you safe. And this is how you thank him?
                            Zandros: And what of her? What have they done for her?
                            Alfred: You are not her personal whipping boy.
                            Zandros: Do you know what they did to her? What our Dear Leader was willing to do?
                            Alfred: Tell me.
                            Zandros: She had a village lynch her! Can you imagine what that’s like? Having an entire village hunt you down? Screaming for your death?
                            Alfred: That’s not the whole story, is it?
                            Zandros: It’s enough! She spent her whole life in fear, and how do they treat her? Like she’s the one to be feared of. How is that right?
                            Alfred: She’s a widderslainte!
                            Zandros: She never asked for this! And they made it worse, Vivian and the lot!
                            Alfred: Even if she couldn’t help what she is, she’s dangerous.
                            Zandros: She needs help, and everyone else failed her.
                            Malady: Zandros.
                            Zandros: M’lady?
                            Malady: Shut up!

                            Malady struck Alfred on the side of the head. He fell to the ground, rolling. Alfred realised that, while distracted with Zandros, Malady had time to heal herself. She jumps down at him, and the two of them wrestle for a moment. Alfred calls out to Zandros.

                            Alfred: Alex! You are your own person. Don’t let them use you. You can chose who you serve.
                            Zandros: Then I choose.

                            Zandros cut his hand and pressed it on the ground beneath him. Beneath Alfred and Malady, the ground begins to shake and give way, the two of them falling into the great pit opening beneath them.

                            Malady: Nice Aim!

                            Alfred struggled to gain his barrings, looking up he saw Malady was already part way climbing back out. Realising that Zandros might burry him there, he raced up, climbing frantically with his nails digging into the umbral soil. He struggles to pull himself out and look about. He sees Malady and Zandros run towards the portal with her formor, but also noticed Mica, lying down motionlessly. He ran towards her and made a quick prayer for insight, to see whether she was still alive. What he saw alarmed him. While she was still a life pattern, it was very weak. Instead, she was showing vibrations Alfred associated as that of a spirit, than the rhythm of life he was accustomed to.
                            He realised what was happening. Mica had been hit by paradox, and it was accelerating her disembodiment by an alarming rate. If she was to be left here, she would soon become a spirit, forever trapped on this side of the gauntlet.

                            Alfred: Mica? Mica are you awake?
                            Mica: Uhh…. Did I… Did I do ok?
                            Alfred: You did fine! Better than fine. You saved my life.
                            Mica: Good…

                            As she let her head drop, Alfred picked her up and attempted to carry her out of the portal himself. He was alarmed to discover just how light she had become.

                            Mica: I feel strange…
                            Alfred: Try to focus on your body. Think about how it feels to walk, to eat, think about how your arms lift things.
                            Mica: You know… it’s funny… I never really got on with the umbra before… but now… It just looks so pretty… I never realise how beautiful it is out … here…

                            As she drifted further and further, Alfred ran harder, eventually diving through the gateway and back to the physical realm.
                            Alfred collapsed. The storm had been harsh on him this time around. He tried to stand and was relieved. Mica suddenly weight a tonne. Alfred smiled and bid thanks to the gods for this kind favour. Alfred looked about. Several yards away, Alfred could see Camellia with the acolytes. They were performing a ritual, calling on the spirits of nature to purify the Heath. Pleased to see they weren’t disturbed, he returned his focus to Mica.

                            Mica: Where am I?
                            Alfred: You’re back on the Heath. How do you feel?
                            Mica: …heavy.
                            Alfred: Can you stand?
                            Mica: I… think so…

                            Mica slowly pulled herself to her feet, wobbling slightly.

                            Mica: You’re hurt.
                            Alfred: The storm. You don’t happen to have a periapt on you?
                            Mica: Yeah… Gwyn gave it to me.

                            Mica handed Alfred a periapt.

                            Alfred: Thanks. After a heal up, I have to go find Vivian, warn her.
                            Mica: Ok… I’ll just go… over there then.
                            Alfred: Do you need help?
                            Mica: I’ll be fine… Go.

                            Alfred quickly healed himself, almost draining the periapt in the process. He watches as Mica slowly makes her way towards the ritual. He worried about her for a moment. Alfred recalled that Gwyn was supposed to be guarding the gateway, but now he was nowhere to be seen. He looked about the entrance and noticed a number of tracks in the ground. Preparing himself for an encounter with the malfeans, Alfred followed the tracks away from the node.

                            Alfred hears a loud crash somewhere in the woodland. He follows it and soon hears the sound of Vivian calling out at Malady. As he approaches what could be the sight of the battle, he notices Gwyn, bloodied and unconscious on the ground. He dropped down to check on him, and then applied his salves to try and bring him back to consciousness.

                            Alfred: Gwyn! What happened?
                            Gwyn: It’s Melonie! I saw her… I tried to catch her but… she blindsighted me.
                            Alfred: Where is the High-priestess?
                            Gwyn: She’s with her now. You have to help her.
                            Alfred: Are you alright?
                            Gwyn: I can tend to myself. Go! She can’t do this without support.
                            Alfred: Will you support her?
                            Gwyn: I must search for Alex. He was with her.

                            Alfred left and observed his high priestess in battle with her former maiden. He could tell she was determined, and threw her entire body into each strike, though as before could not connect the blows. Alfred snuck closely towards them, but Vivian notices.

                            Vivian: Stay back Alfred.
                            Alfred: I wish to aid you.
                            Vivian: Do not interfere.
                            Alfred: Thinking you had to do this alone was what brought us into this in the first place.
                            Vivian: Not doing it properly is what brought us here. Not finishing what needed to be finished.
                            Alfred: Then allow me to support you in finishing it.

                            Vivian smiled for a moment, all the while keeping Malady occupied. Alfred joined in the two of them jumped at Malady, her Entropy effect beginning to wear thin as they continued their onslaught.

                            Malady: Didn’t you already lose against me?
                            Alfred: If you recall, your boyfriend interfered somewhat. Hardly a loss against you.
                            Malady: Was that before or after your girlfriend butted in to our fight?

                            While distracted, Vivian conjured up thick grass which grew and entangled Malady. Alfred followed her chants and added to the effect, increasing the thickness of the grass and adding thorns to it. Blood started to trickle from her arms as the weeds constricted her, digging deep gashes through her limbs. Alfred watched and recalled the progenitor he mangled in a similar way and recoiled.

                            Vivian: What’s the matter? Did she do something to you?
                            Alfred: No… It’s just… a memory. Something I did earlier.
                            Vivian: Now is not the time for unease. We have her where we want her. And I intend to see this through.
                            Alfred: Are you sure, High priestess?
                            Malady: …do it.

                            She spoke weakly. Alfred was taken aback by her tone. It was the first time she had ever sounded so vulnerable.

                            Malady: Kill me! Hurry up! I’ve had it with this body. This putrid life!
                            Alfred: High Priestess, wait! She is a widderslainte. Her avatar will return if she isn’t dealt with properly.
                            Vivian: What do you suggest?
                            Alfred: We should take her to the tribunal where they can perform the gilgul rite.
                            Vivian: The Tribunal!?
                            Alfred: They might let you remain as high priestess after this, perhaps even let Boris back.
                            Vivian: You put too much trust in the Hermetics. They care little for us. No, better she is destroyed before she has a chance to escape.
                            Malady: Then get on with it!
                            Alfred: Vivian, please. Think about this.

                            Growing impatient with their inaction, Malady uses the time to wriggle out from the thorns, reach her dagger and rot the tangleweed to nothing. Now free, she jumps against Vivian and wrestles her to the ground. Without missing a beat, Alfred joins in, trying to restrain her, pressing her arm down leaving her unable to swing her dagger.

                            Vivian looks down upon her and stares, her own knife so very close to her throat.

                            Alfred: Do what you think is best.

                            Vivian hesitates for a moment.

                            Malady: Let me die.

                            A great burst of sound is heard from where the ritual was performed, and before them a great tare in space ruptured. A breach in the gauntlet, but much worse, Alfred peered within and saw the depths of space within. The void began to suck them in. Struggling, Malady started to divert herself towards the portal. Alfred kept a steady hold of her, and Vivian kept him tethered to the ground. The three of them formed a chain flailing as they were sucked into the space beyond.

                            Malady: Let go!

                            Malady swung her knife, stabbing Alfred in the arm several times. But his arms were too strong, and her strength too weak to cause any damage.

                            Vivian: Alfred, I have to close the breach.
                            Alfred: We can close it together.
                            Vivian: Let go of Melonie, I can chase her in and close it from the inside.
                            Alfred: And what will happen to you?
                            Vivian: I will make sure The Malady is dealt with.
                            Alfred: I’ll go with you.
                            Vivian: No Alfred. You must stay here.
                            Alfred: Why?
                            Vivian: Our coven needs a leader.

                            Alfred was slightly taken aback by this assertion. Through the breach, strange creatures start to draw near, beings from other worlds taking an interest in this knew gateway.

                            Vivian: There isn’t time to wait! Let her go!

                            Alfred hesitated at the choice put down before him, but ultimately decided to follow his High Priestesses command.

                            Alfred: wyrd bið ful aræd

                            He loosened his grip and let Malady fall through the breach. Vivian threw Alfred behind her and jumped into the breach herself. Alfred got to his feet, but in moments, the breach began to fold in on itself. A great cackle of noise curled up into a strange and eerie silence.

                            Alfred stood alone. The weight of what had just happened slowly accumulating above him.

                            Above him, a storm was brewing, a great roar of noise, a rise of wind, and a green tint of clouds swirled and spiralled ominously above the Heath’s node.

                            ---NOTES---
                            As mentioned above, I previously expected Lydia’s player to be able to attend. It’s a shame she wasn’t as Alfred’s actions would be pretty difficult for Lydia to accept, considering she’s more interested in preventing fights from breaking out and keeping peace. It would have served a pretty cool contrast, but then real life comes first.
                            Fun fact, Vivian being flung across space from a breach was something I had planned to happen very early on. The original idea was that the coven would learn of the corruption spread by Malady and Zandros and then go to the Heath to try and cleanse the Heath. During the ritual, Edwin would appear, mistake the coven for cultists and their Book of Shadows as the Necronomicon. Then rush in and try to prevent their “dark summoning” by intentionally using the “Necronomicon” to break open a whole in space to throw Vivian through. What stopped this plan from taking place? The Tribunal. Firstly by removing everyone from the Heath, the secondly by refocusing the narrative away from Edwin and more towards the Keeper’s, Helen, and the whole situation with Malady.
                            To be honest, I kind of prefer the way events unfolded to what I original thought up. This way Vivian had a lot more time to interact with the players, making her disappearance much more significant. Also, this way makes it more a final act of protection, rather than have her be a hapless victim.
                            The only thing I lament is the time. I was hoping her disappearance into the deep umbra (or wherever she turns out to be) would inspire a grand Umbral Search for her, with the players racing against time to find her before she becomes disembodied. But as I’ve only got a small number of sessions left before the game has to end, I’m not sure how viable this will be.

                            Pity, that.


                            Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

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                            • #89
                              32nd Session

                              Once again, no Lydia. I really wanted everyone to be present, but now I’m running out of time.
                              This is the last session of the story.

                              Cast List
                              Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                              Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                              Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                              Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                              Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

                              Notable NPCs Include:

                              Pretty much everyone

                              ---CHAPTER 32: GREEN LIGHT---

                              The van was dark. All that could be heard was the engine, and the rolling sound of tire on tarmac. The van itself was fairly spacious, not quite enough room to stand, but certainly to lie down. The front was separated by think metal mesh, beyond which very little light got through. Hanson peered through the mesh, but couldn’t see a thing beyond it except for the silhouettes of the agents before him. One who drove the vehicle, and the one he knew as Mr Steed.
                              Hanson sat on one of the seats at the side of the van, hands cuffed in front of him. He feels the vehicle turning, but with no real context and no points of reference, finds it impossible to tell where they are going or how far they’ve travelled.

                              Hanson: So. What happens now?
                              Steed: That will depend on how cooperative you are.
                              Hanson: Right… Well, I did hand myself over.
                              Steed: And that will be noted. You know, you have been a very tricky person to find.
                              Hanson: Not that your people have been making it easy. One guy in particular finds me at every turn.
                              Steed: Who’s that?
                              Hanson: Hector, I think his name was.
                              Steed: Oh, the biomod.
                              Hanson: Biomod?
                              Steed: Yes. New experimental treatment for the soldiers, designed to make them incredibly agile with perfect precision in any and all movement. Though it does seem to have a few side effects.
                              Hanson: That why he’s so hot-headed?
                              Steed: Possibly. Something that will have to be ironed out in time, no doubt.

                              Even now Hanson felt a bit uneasy speaking to Mr Steed. Though his manner seemed friendlier than previous encounters, there was still something just a bit unnerving about him.

                              Steed: Detective, earlier on you said something about a group on the Heath.
                              Hanson: The Spirals of Madness?
                              Steed: You said they were on the Heath now?

                              Hanson proceeded to tell Steed what he had discovered. That they were nephandi, and seemed to have a lot of interest in Edwin, for what he wasn’t sure, but he knew it had something to do with merging Lovecraft’s fiction with our reality.

                              Steed: Perhaps it’s better if we go over this properly in a… more controlled environment.
                              Hanson: This isn’t something you want to wait and see about. If you got people looking
                              Steed: Relax, Mr Hanson, whatever concerns you have, we will be able to help you through them.
                              Hanson: I keep telling you, this isn’t a delusion, this is happening, and it’s happening now.
                              Steed: And we will take careful note of every word. Incidentally, detective, there’s something I’d like to ask.
                              Hanson: What is it?
                              Steed: In your investigations, you’ve no doubt come across a file, titled: Esther, yes?
                              Hanson: I… yes.
                              Steed: Well, we have it on good authority that the file is under the possession of one of your associates, an Aaron Gibson.
                              Hanson: I don’t know anything about that.
                              Steed: The Esther file is something which belongs to us, you see. It’s an important part of an experimental sorting algorithm, and we’d quite like it back.
                              Hanson: Sorry, I don’t think I can help you there.
                              Steed: Well, you see, if you were to help us find this man, help us return this, and things may go a lot easier for you. Do you think we have a deal?
                              Hanson: I’ll have to think about it…

                              Steed was interrupted by a phone call. Hanson tried to listen in but wasn’t able to make out what was being said. Then, just as suddenly as the call, Steed turned to the driver.

                              Steed: Head back. Now!

                              Hanson felt the van swerve, turning violently and picking up speed.

                              The fox yawns as it looks up at Helen. Sean looks at the fox with concern, but ultimately isn’t certain how to proceed with it; while Aaron is in too much pain to really worry about Helen’s new animal friend. Instead he focuses his energy on checking out his spy windows on Hanson and Alfred. While he’s able to see Alfred creeping about the woods looking around for…something, Hanson is a complete blur. Try as he might, he couldn’t seem to get his programme to see where Hanson was. Wherever the technocrats were taking him, they were making it very difficult for him to trace.

                              Helen: So, what should we be doing again?
                              Sean: Protection. We should return to the node and make sure nothing else disrupts the ritual.
                              Helen: What about the fox?
                              Sean: I’m not sure what more we can do about it right now.
                              Aaron: Looks like you’ve got an animal companion.

                              Aaron and Helen create very similar deflection effects, with Helen extended hers to the fox. Then the three of them leave, with Aaron sending a quick text to Alfred letting them know. At the node, the Keepers are slowly performing their ritual lead by Camellia. She stands in a circle with the other acolytes, each with a candle which illuminates the darkening scene. The three of them hide in the bushes as they watch, no one wanting to risk disrupting the ritual. From the gaps between the undergrowth, they can see that Camellia carries their book of shadows, from which she recites rites in an ancient language.

                              Helen decided she needed a bit more quintessence, especially after using up her last few bits trying to heal Aaron’s paradox derived electrical burns.

                              Helen: I’m going to meditate.
                              Aaron: Now!?
                              Helen: We’re at a node, aren’t we?
                              Sean: A node that was almost drained. This ritual is supposed to fill the node up once more.
                              Helen: I just need a little.
                              Aaron: Helen. Wait!

                              Helen walked out of the hiding place and into the domain of the node proper. But her attempts to meditate failed and she fell asleep where she stood. Aaron walked up to check on her and she fell to the ground. Aaron tried to wake her with little effect. The fox began licking her ear sympathetically rousing her slightly. She grunted groggily as Sean came to help her to her feet. Sean looked up and noticed that Camellia was leading the ritual group towards them. They chanted softly the words “Air I am, Water I am, Earth and Fire and Spirit I am.” As they chanted, Camellia offered lit candles to the three of them in a gesture of invitation. Sean, Aaron, and Helen decide to accept, take the candles and follow the group as they walk about the Node with their candles, following the chants as best they could, eventually coming to a rest in a ring around the centre of the node.
                              As the ritual proceeded, Sean began to notice something strange happening. The candle light flickered a bizarre green hue which only grew deeper with each passing second. Unsure if this was part of their customs, he kept quiet, but it wasn’t long before he began to notice other changes. Their clothes began to stretch into long robes, hoods grew covering their faces in shadows, and a strange chanting streamed from their mouths in dark unison.

                              “C’ilyaa grah’n gof-nn hupadgh f’fhalma shuggoth f’ganiih Yog-Sothoth kadishtu nilgh’ri!”

                              On and on the chanting repeated. Sean tried to shake Helen and Aaron out of it, for they were as caught up with it as anyone. They snapped back just in time to witness a great whirl of green light spiral towards the sky, illuminating for a second a great and terrible creature, a monster of gigantic proportions.

                              [ST NOTE: At this point, Aarron’s player bust out “Camellia was the traitor all along!” This kind of random guessing has been an ongoing thing for a while now. It’s been a huge amount of fun to listen to, because no matter how many times they guess with assurance, none of them are confident enough in their assumptions to speak with conviction about it in character.]

                              The van moved at great speed. Hanson could feel every turn it made lurched him violently to the other side. He had barely a chance to gain his balance when the entire vehicle tipped and rolled over. Hanson found himself flung to the side, which now lay beneath him. The doors at the back were damaged and Hanson could see a thin horizontal line of light; a gap, outside of which he could see the gates of Hampstead Heath illuminated by street light. He called out but heard nothing. Still cuffed, he made his way to the back of the van and tried pushing on the release. Only one of the doors opened, but it was enough to wriggle his way out.
                              The Van had flipped on its side. At the front, the upwards facing door was open, and the driver sat at the other end. He tried calling out, but they did not respond. With great difficulty, he tried to pull himself into the car to get a better look. Blood trickled down his cheek from somewhere obscured by his hair. Hanson searched his pockets for the key to the cuffs, found it, and got to work trying to unlock them, but fumbled and dropped the key, which then skittered out of sight. Cursing his luck, Hanson tried searching the guy for anything else he had on him, found a phone, and called for an ambulance to the location. He then took a minute or so trying to hoist himself back up and out of the sideways car, returning to his feet and for the first time getting a look at the Heath itself.
                              Somewhere up ahead, a great swirl of green light formed a spiral in the sky, and for a brief second he swore he could see a giant monster flash into view, with countless flailing appendage’s, several eyes and teeth jaggedly flailing about its body, all of which moved eerily for that brief second before it vanished. Hanson grabbed his stolen X-5 protector and held it ahead of him as he ran into the Heath.

                              Alfred looked up at the Heath and saw the creature and recognised it from his readings as the Dunwich Horror. He ran to the ritual as quickly as he could.

                              Helen and Sean manage to break themselves out of the chant and are able to bring Aaron out of it too. They look around at the group of hooded cultists and try to bring them round too, shaking them and calling out to them. They stop for a moment as the ground shakes, and in a flash of light they see the great Dunwich Horror place is tree trunk sized legs across the ground before vanishing from view. Sean does a prayer for vision, to see all things Matter and Prime, in order to see what has happened to the cross. He sees one of these hooded cultists holding it, the gold shining brilliantly by the dark cloth of the robes. The figure also holds a book bound which resonated its own dark power. He informs the others of what he sees and Helen immediately runs to this figure who turns out to be none other than Camellia, chanting along the eldritch words with all the others.
                              Sean runs over and grabs the cross while Helen takes the book. Camellia falls to the ground without so much as a murmur. Helen contemplates shooting the book, thinking it to be the source of all this chaos, but hesitates, deciding instead to keep a hold of it.

                              Further away, Hanson and Alfred bump into each other (literally) on their way to the ritual site.

                              Alfred: What happened to you?
                              Hanson: Technocrats, sold myself to free Sam and Aaron. Helen was a bit too much to bargain for though.
                              Alfred: And you escaped?
                              Hanson: Yeah… What about you?
                              Alfred: Melonie isn’t going to be a problem anymore.
                              Hanson: Oh… you finished her off?
                              Alfred: Not quite… Vivian might sacrificed herself to keep her away. She jumped into a rift across space with her.

                              A vision flashed across hanson’s mind, the words of the prophecy he had spoken just over a week ago.
                              “Their leader will be lost, flung across space when he enters his Garden of Madness. A horror will emerge that will ruin all in its path; only to be stopped when sense is returned.”
                              It all seemed so obvious now.

                              Hanson: Did you see the thing on the Heath? The monster?
                              Alfred: Yes I did.
                              Hanson: It must have been the Spirals of Madness! Nephandic group that Sarah got herself involved with. They’re doing something up there with Edwin!

                              Before they had a chance to plan, the earth began to shake violently around them as a large circular footprint appeared several yards away. Alfred and Hanson ran just in time out of the way of another footprint left by the Dunwich Horror as it continued on its path. After getting a safe distance away, Alfred tried to break Hanson’s cuffs apart with his claws by swiping at it, but the links did not break, pulling as Hanson’s wrists instead.

                              Hanson: Jees! At least put it on a rock first or something!
                              Alfred: I’m not sure I’ll be able to break these even if I did. The metal is far too strong.
                              Hanson: So I’m cuffed, we have a ritual on one side and a monster on the other.
                              Alfred: I think I have a plan for the Monster.

                              Alfred got his (Genevieve’s) phone out and started calling Lance. He let him know about the Dunwich Horror and instructed him to bring as many of the men he had with him to stop it.

                              Lance: What exactly is this thing?
                              Alfred: All you need to know is it’s big, otherworldly, and invisible.
                              Lance: Invisible?
                              Alfred: Yes, just like it was in the book.
                              Lance: The book?
                              Alfred: Do you have some kind of invisibility sense things you can use? That’s stuff you can do right? Sense living things? Sense life?
                              Lance: We’ve got heat vision goggles if that’s what you’re talking about.
                              Alfred: Good, use them.
                              Lance: Whatever’s going on up there…
                              Alfred: Just focus on this. It’s going to keep you busy enough.
                              Lance: Ok… We’ll set out along the perimeter and try to keep it secure.

                              Hanson makes full use of his Run effect to get himself towards the ritual space as quickly as possible while Alfred follows behind.

                              While Helen and Aaron continue to jostle the Open Circle Acolytes out of their lovecraftian trance, Sean notices a number of cloaks approaching from the shadows. Even with his sense of matter, he finds it difficult to tell how many there are, but the green light of the sky shows that one of them is dressed in yellow robes. Helen notices a number of rats running across the ground from all directions towards this yellow figure. Hanson arrives just in time to witness the full scene. Some of the Keeper acolytes have come to the senses and begin to scream or run in terror at the site, others remain in their trance, while the Spirals of Madness draw closer murmuring a soft chant.

                              “Along the shore the cloud waves break,
                              The twin suns sink behind the lake,
                              The shadows lengthen
                              In Carcosa.”
                              Alfred dives to the floor and gathers up as many rat faeces as he can find. With the large number of rats swarming the area, this isn’t hard. He uses this as a material for his salves, to make a powerful repellent against the vermin, applying it to himself and as many of his fellow mages as he can find.

                              [This wasn’t the first time Alfred tried using poop as a spell component. You remember he toughened up his skin for Lethal soaking reasons? I forgot to mention the way he did that was by rubbing H’ruggling juice all over his body. He’s going to be so very sick come tomorrow.]

                              Helen breaks away from the group to try and figure out what has happened to the Dunwich Horror. Running down the Heath, she uses her mirror to spot the spirals of life geometry (life sense) to see exactly where the creature is. She then pulls out her wand and prepares her own variant of the friction curse to convert the monsters momentum into pure cold. In theory, the faster it moves, the colder it will become. She spends a great deal of time on her effect and unleashes it. The ground beneath the creature frosts over but it still remains mobile. Not even freezing temperatures is enough to stop it.

                              Hanson finds Aaron who is trying to wake people up. He throws to him his gun, letting him know he only has two shots left in it. Aaron picks it up and looks about at the yellow robed figure, their apparent leader, Mervin, Malady’s father, surrounded by the black hooded cultists who softly continued their chant.

                              “Strange is the night where black stars rise,
                              And strange moons circle through the skies,
                              But stranger still is
                              Lost Carcosa.”

                              The Rats were swarming in a frenzy, but made way as anyone touched by Alfred’s salve approached. Hanson put on his knuckle dusters and jumps into the crowd ready to punch Mervin. His hand makes contact, but it does not feel like punching flesh, but rather like punching a sack containing smaller creatures running about in all directions. His momentary confusion allows him to be caught off guard as one of the cultists, face obscured by a robe, comes at him with a knife.

                              “Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
                              Where flap the tatters of the King,
                              Must die unheard in
                              Dim Carcosa.”

                              Before Hanson has a chance to react, the cultist drops back, Sean had defended Hanson from his attacker with his prime enchanted gun. They all notice that Mervin is beginning to float above the ground, the cultists surround him ever more closely as the rats swarm about.

                              “Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
                              Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
                              Shall dry and die in
                              Lost Carcosa.”
                              Hanson tries to strengthen his punches with a little Forces work, but the maelstrom of chaos lies beyond his normal grasp. The cuffs are curbing his magic for they are made of premium. Cursing his luck he makes another try at hitting his attacker, Aaron aims for Mervin, Alfred dives into the melee with his own claws as weapons and Sean makes pot shots at the cultists with his enchanted weapon. The only plan being to thin out the cultists and hopefully disrupt whatever they were doing.

                              In the confusion, Hanson accidentally hits someone who falls to the ground. They scream in pain and terror, and Hanson recognises them to be Edwin. One of the hooded cultists walks towards Hanson with intent. Several cultists try to stab Alfred as he makes his way straight to Edwin with intent to end this madness at the source. All the while, Melvin floats higher into the air. Aaron takes the shot and hits him straight in the head. Several rats fall from the yellow cultist’s body and his head goes limp for a short while, but they still remain in the air, green light swirling in the sky, and a great wind picking up about them.

                              With so many knives attempting to stab in to his hardened skin, Alfred find he has no choice but to perform Rip the Man Body upon the lot of them. The smell of the blood and the sight of their painfully stretched limbs is enough to drive him momentarily to despair. He pulls himself out of it however, to bring himself to the real prize. Edwin cowering on the ground. He attempts to perform Rip the Man Body upon Edwin, but the effect fizzles out. Someone within the hoard of cultists is countering his magic.

                              The hooded figure approaching Hanson draws a gun, and even within the dull green light Hanson recognises it as his own.

                              Hanson: Sarah?
                              Sarah: Back away Hanson.
                              Hanson: You’re helping these guys?
                              Sarah: I said back away!
                              Hanson: Look at what’s going on! This is crazy!
                              Sarah: They’re helping Edwin!
                              Hanson: This isn’t helping him Sarah. They’re using him.
                              Sarah: You’ve done your part Hanson, you found him. You don’t have to be involved anymore.
                              Aaron: Ok. How the fuck does summoning an elder god help anyone!?

                              Aaron stands firm pointing his gun at Sarah

                              Sarah: They’re bringing the madness out of him, freeing it from his mind.
                              Hanson: That’s just what they told you.
                              Aaron: Come on! These guys are obviously evil! Look at them!
                              Sarah: They’ve been helping me more than anyone else!
                              Aaron: How stupid are you!?

                              Sarah alternates between pointing at Aaron, and at Hanson, while Aaron keeps his aim going. Mervin, the King in Yellow, surges with power. Power, Sean can see, being drawn and channelled from the cross in his hands. Mervin’s arms begin to change form.

                              At this point, Helen returns to the ritual and stares in stunned silence at the cult, the fighting, and the hoard of racing rats. Overwhelmed by it all, she tries to gain her bearings when a familiar voice speaks to her over all the chaos. Her father calls her.

                              Voice: Helen!
                              Helen: No
                              Voice: Helen, come to us.
                              Helen: You’re not real!
                              Voice: We’ve missed you.

                              The faces around her shift to her father’s face. The face she recalls from the corners of her mind, tainted only by the unfeeling scowls of the clones that wore it.

                              Helen: I don’t believe it. I don’t! You’re not you! You were never back!
                              Voice: Helen…
                              Helen: You were just clones!
                              Voice: Helen!
                              Helen: My father is dead!

                              Helen pulls herself away from this quiet vision and returns to the battle at hand. The King in Yellow rises, the light around them glowing evermore as their arms grow into long streams of purple tentacles, lashing out from under his sleeves. Helen readies her wand and starts tracing shapes for the standard Friction curse upon Mervin. She grits her teeth as she traces out the exact angles required, but in her wish to keep up with the battle miscalculates a few lines, and the effect comes crashing down around her.

                              Having tried and failed to harm Edwin with magic, he decides to lung at him with his claws, but they stop just short of making contact. Although he cannot sense it, there is a correspondence ban placed upon him. Alfred looks up and sees a tall cloaked figure with a withered hand standing over him.

                              “You should know better than that”

                              They speak in a low rasp. The figure raises their hand and with a solitary finger traces the air. Deep cuts open themselves up about Alfred’s body. Blood gushes from his body leaving him vulnerable and unable to defend.
                              Sean was still at work shooting into the crowd of cultists. His shots were accurate and devastating, thinning out the hoard as best he could find. He noticed Alfred collapsed on the ground, and the menacing figure with a withered hand standing over him, and changed targets. While Alfred screamed in pain, Sean settled his sights, steadied his arms, and took the shot.

                              The bullet hit, and in an instant the figure was gone. To Alfred, it looked as though the bullet had hit a thin black cloth, which when struck formed around the bullet, vanishing at a central point. The entire thing took less than a second, but left Alfred staring up at this sudden disappearance for a while longer.

                              Hanson stood, hands still cuffed, waiting until her attention was on Aaron before making his move. He ran at her and tried to wrestle her to the ground, though his primium cuffs made it difficult to get a hold of her. She shoots at both Hanson and Aaron randomly, but Hanson’s bullet proof vest keeps him safe, for the moment. Aaron holds fire, not wanting his last bullet to be wasted.
                              Alfred looks down, and realises Edwin is nowhere to be seen. Looking around him, he notices the number of cultists is much fewer than before, the few who remain are more focuses on the ritual than on him. Capitalising on this lull of attention, Alfred pulls himself away to heal the deep cuts which crippled him moments ago.
                              Helen tries with all her might to hold back the energies of paradox, but has no fight left within her. The forces of reality lash back hard on her, throwing her into another world entirely. She looks around and sees herself in the woods. Familiar chanting echoing about the scene, as did the screams of agony that haunted her dreams for the last several years. She saw the hooded figures chanting around a stake, upon which her parents were tied to, fire burning all about them.
                              Sean, focuses his attention on Mervin, the yellow clad figure, no longer resembling a human, but something much more monstrous. He took aim and fired without restraint. Helen saw fire being thrown at her parents. She turned and saw one of the cloaked mystics was casting balls of fire and launching it upon them. Without hesitating, she brought out her own gun and fired at the culprit. Sean was shot, but refused to ruin his aim, electing instead to moving away, circling around while maintaining he sight. Helen saw the mystic moving, and elected to chase after him, to stop him at any costs.
                              Hanson managed to restrain Sarah, wrestling her to the ground. “Dubois!” He called out, “Any time!”. Sarah struggled to free herself, Hanson’s own gun falling from her grasp. Aaron kept a careful aim on the two of them, never getting a clean shot.
                              Alfred looked up and saw Helen attacking Sean and stared in disbelief. He couldn’t count the number of times this girl has caused trouble for him. He ran to grab her, to pull her away and let Sean continue his attack. As he runs however, he notices his arms begin to swell into tentacles himself. Whether paradox or magic curse he did not have the time to consider. Helen needed to be subdued.
                              Hanson continued holding for as long as he could, and just when he was about to give up felt a rending resonance in the air. She was coming, just a little longer yet.
                              As Alfred grabs a hold of Helen, he feels a strange sense of fear, the unmistakable presence of Mr Steed. He came to the scene with a number of progenitors in toe. Without wasting any time, they saw the threat and opened fire at the monster; the great mass of tentacles which was Hastur, the King in Yellow, above which a great green ball of fire shines brightly from the heavens.
                              Inches away from Hanson, a whole in space is torn, and through it he sees Dubois standing with her knife. Sarah struggles intensifies, but she’s unable to get away before Dubois takes her knife and stabs her in the chest.

                              Dubois: “It’s ok… You can rest now”.

                              Sarah screams wildly as the knife is retracted, and the rip in space is closed. Hanson checks her, but there is no blood. Sarah calms down for a moment as he tells her this, but she can’t shake the feeling that something terrible has happened.

                              Sean, Steed, and the progenitors fire off at the King in yellow, who starts to lose his form. The sky grows darker, the green light fades, and the cultists begin to scatter, much smaller in number than when they started. Mervin, the man in yellow, falls to the ground.
                              Aaron starts to look for a way out, not wanting to be anywhere near Steed. But before he can reach over to his laptop, he begins to pixelate, his own body turned to data as the world reformats around him.

                              With the initial threat gone, the progenitors point their guns towards Alfred, who’s tentacle arms are holding the struggling Helen. Helen herself initiatly saw Alfred as the man with the knife who chased her, but when her quiet began to lift she panicked even more as the tentacles held her firmly.

                              Alfred: Helen! Helen, It’s me! It’s Alfred!
                              Helen: Alfred!?
                              Alfred: It’s just paradox.
                              Helen: What’s going on?
                              Progenitor: Let go of the girl!
                              Alfred: I’m not-
                              Progenitor: I said let go!

                              The three of them where holding guns pointed straight at Alfred and his tentacle arms.

                              Alfred: Steed! It’s me! It’s Alfred.
                              Steed: Lower your weapons!

                              Helen began to squirm even more, but Alfred held even tighter, whispering to her to play along, that he couldn’t release her in front of Steed. Reluctantly, she relented.

                              The progenitors obeyed Steed’s command as Helen calms down.

                              Steed: You have anything to say about what happened tonight?
                              Alfred: This is what we were all trying to prevent.
                              Steed: I see… And these… arms of yours?
                              Alfred: That wasn’t intended. Not part of the ritual.
                              Steed: Hm.

                              He looks towards Hanson, holding a very shaken and confused Sarah.

                              Steed: I see you got out the van alright then.
                              Hanson: You could say that…
                              Steed: So, all of this, it was from these…nephandi.
                              Hanson: Yeah, all of them.
                              Steed: And who is this?
                              Hanson: Sarah, my client.

                              Alfred looked at the progenitors, one of whom looks at him with a face of pure loathing. He recognises her. Dr Zormpa, the woman he almost killed. While her gun was still lowered, he could tell that she would like nothing more than to disobey Steed’s order.

                              Steed: Is that the body?
                              Progenitor: What’s left of it…

                              One of the scientists, someone unknown to Alfred, carried the remains of Mervin. A tattered yellow cloak, inside nothing more than skin.

                              Steed: Dispose of it.
                              Progenitors: Actually, if it’s all the same to you, we’d rather keep a hold of it.
                              Steed: If you must. (He turns to Alfred), so Mr Camlann. What exactly was going on here?
                              Alfred: We came to the Heath to purify it, it had been contaminated by the nephandi, but they took over and started casting their own ritual.
                              Zormpa: We were purifying these Heath as well Actually! If you hadn’t stopped us, it would have been a lot better off!
                              Alfred: I realise that…
                              Steed: That’s enough, Doctor. Mr Camlann, the union thanks you for your assistance.
                              Alfred: So our deal?
                              Steed: Still to be carried out as promised. You held up your end after all.
                              Alfred: As well as the police investigation from my work?
                              Steed: You needn’t worry yourself with that anymore.
                              Alfred: And that’s the end of it? No more being the Technocracy’s lackey?
                              Steed: Our communications can end today. You can return to your normal life for as long as you don’t attract our attention.
                              Alfred: There is one request I’d like to make. Any more money that comes my way from this cooperation, give it to her (pointing at Dr Zormpa)
                              Zormpa: Seriously? You think you can brush aside what you did to me by buying me out!?
                              Steed: We will be able to arrange something.
                              Zormpa: This man almost killed me!
                              Steed: And if he tries again, we will know how to deal with him.

                              Dr Zormpa stopped talking, Mr Steed’s intimidating glower causing her to reduce her anger to silence.

                              In the distance, Sean can see the fine robes of the Celestial Chorus approaching. The Tribunal must have ended, and they were about to return to the heath. Not wanting to be anywhere near them when they arrived, he rushed away, stopping only to pick up a very confused and weak Mica, but due to his injuries, falls as he carries her.

                              Aaron looked around him, the world around him had reassembled, and he was in the familiar dark room in the Clapham house. The door opened.

                              Rubrix: Theseus! What the hell happened?
                              Aaron: I got doxed, and then Be4ker here sent me off to Hampstead heath. There was a battle there, by the way.
                              Rubrix: I was going to say, you look rough.
                              Aaron: Yeah well, it wasn’t a quiet day.
                              Be4ker: You’re just lucky I put failsafes into these things to protect from power surges like that.
                              Aaron: Look, if it makes you feel better, that electricity burned me pretty badly aswell.
                              Be4ker: Actually, it does.
                              Eskim0e: Wait, that was you who shut off the power while we were in the tanks?
                              Aaron: Uh… yeah.
                              Eskim0e: That was Awesome! You need to do that again some time.
                              Aaron: Really?
                              Eskim0e: Never been so…in to… the web before. That was almost full emersion level shit there!
                              Rubrix: Wait, so what’s going on in at the Heath?
                              Aaron: Lovcraftian shit, but that’s only because there’s a Marauder that believes it. Nephandi are acting as cultists, but then again, they are. Oh and the technocracy are also involved, because of course they are. On top of that, there’s this coven of Verbena I’ve been sort of hanging out with. One of their group was a widderslainte who started messing up the Heath, and now they’re here trying to un-mess it up. But then there’s Helen, she’s a Hermetic mage undercover to try and suss out the whole Widderslainte thing, she brought the entire coven in to the London Tribunal, and because of her they lost their High Priest, and I think their High Priestess is gone too now? Either way, their ritual got hijacked by these nephandi who wanted to summon the King in Yellow, or something like that.
                              Rubrix: …..wow.
                              Aaron: Yeah, it’s been a pretty hectic two weeks.
                              Be4ker: Is your life just an anime?
                              Aaron: Honestly, it feels like it sometimes.

                              As Steed consults with one of the progenitor doctors, Hector comes walking in, a limp and lifeless body in his arms.

                              Hector: Sir! I found this one.
                              Steed: This the Deviant you told us about? The Marauder?

                              Hanson looked at the limp and lifeless body of Edwin, blood still dripping from his chest. His face, for the first time since they met, was relaxed.

                              Hanson: That’s him, that’s Edwin.

                              At this, Sarah exploded into tears, moaning loudly with grief and despair.

                              Steed: What’s happened to her?
                              Hanson: Sarah is Edwin’s sister… She hired me to find him.
                              Steed: I see….. My condolences.

                              As Sarah’s sorrow deepens, a number of other Void Engineers march into view, led by Captain Reginald Chen.

                              Chen: Sir, the threat has been contained. However, there was a considerable amount of collateral damage.
                              Alfred: Is this the dunwich horror?
                              Chen: Dunwich horror?
                              Alfred: Invisible monster thing.
                              Chen: Ah. Yes, our heat vision wasn’t too useful as it moved in a cloud of sub-zero temperatures, but in time we were able to contain the threat, preventing from approaching civilian homes.
                              Steed: Good work. We’ll think of a cover story for the damage back at base.
                              Chen: Understood.

                              Hector lingered a moment longer, staring daggers at Hanson before Chen orders him to follow them as they get ready to leave. He turns and carries Edwin’s body away. Sarah screams at them, her words too twisted by anger and sadness to be heard.

                              Steed walks towards Helen, still held in Alfred’s tentacle grip.

                              Steed: (to the progenitors) We’ll be taking her with us.

                              On hearing this, Helen panics and wrestles free of Alfred’s grip. Guns are pulled out as she stands there reading to bolt at the first sign of escape. In a flurry of fur, the Fox jumps into the line of their fire, bullets fly but are deflected literally by magic. The effect Helen placed upon the two of them came to their aid at last. She ran with the fox away from the clearing and the node, and into the night time darkness.

                              Steed: After her! She’s Unregistered Progeny!

                              The progenitors looked at Steed, hesitating, before one of them spoke.

                              Progenitor: We have our own work to get back to. With the threat gone, the pollutants in the ponds can be neutralised.

                              As the progenitors walked away, Steed stood there with quiet rage over his face. He looked towards Hanson.
                              By this time, Alfred had run off from the technocrats, and found Camellia confused on the ground. She picked her up and ran.

                              Camellia: Alfred?
                              Alfred: It’s ok, everything’s ok now.
                              Camellia: Vivian… Where is she?
                              Alfred: She’s…. she’s taken care of Melonie…
                              Camellia: It’s my fault… If I did the ritual quicker…
                              Alfred: It’s not your fault Camellia.
                              Camellia: But it is! I ruined it…. I put us all at danger.
                              Alfred: Don’t think about that now, we have to get away.

                              Steed: (to Hanson) You! You will leave immediately. You will get out of this city, and we will never cross paths again. Do you understand?
                              Hanson: I understand…

                              Mr Steed took a second to calm himself down before speaking again.

                              Steed: However… do you recall my previous request?
                              Hanson: …I do
                              Steed: Help us find both him and the file, and all crimes will be forgotten. A mutual agreement. Do you accept?
                              Hanson: …ok.

                              Mr Steed breathed out, returning to his usual terrifying persona. He leant over to Hanson and unlocked his handcuffs, placing them back in his jacket.

                              Steed: Good to hear. We’ll be in touch. Oh and one more thing. Don’t ever let me discover you impersonating my men again.
                              Hanson: No… I won’t.
                              Steed: Be seeing you detective.

                              Alfred carries Camellia away, runs into Sean, and helps him up to his feet with Mica in his own arms. Mica is still very confused.

                              Mica: Are we… still the umbra?
                              Alfred: No. And we’re getting you home.
                              Sean: The Chorus are coming. We can’t go that way.
                              Alfred: Well we can’t go back, the technocracy might change their mind about us.
                              Sean: Can you call Aaron? Get him to get us out of here.
                              Alfred: With these tentacles?

                              There was some awkward fumbling as Sean reached in to Alfred’s pocket to take out Genevieve’s phone and calling up Aaron.

                              Sean: Aaron, we need you to get us out.
                              Aaron: I know, I’ve been watching.

                              He has, Aaron had his co-location windows on his laptop up this entire time. To help explain this insanity to the other VAs, he brought it up and commented on nearly everything that everyone said.

                              Alfred: Good, there are four of us, would you be able to get us all through?
                              Aaron: Yeah, I should, give me a second.
                              Sean: Have you already started?
                              Aaron: No… why?
                              Sean: Because I can feel something affect correspondence.
                              Alfred: And it’s not you?
                              Aaron: It isn’t.

                              Before they had a chance to think on it further, the world around them started to spin away. A circle opened beneath them and the four of them were transported to somewhere with roots on the ground, leaves like veins on the walls, and the small glow of candles providing illumination. They were brought to the undergrove.
                              Hanson left the Heath and ran into the chorus, a small procession of mages lead by Exarch Timothy Richards. Hanson tried to walk by them without attracting their attention.

                              Exarch: You! Stop.
                              Hanson: What is it…
                              Exarch: I know you… You were at the tribunal, you were defending that pagan cult weren’t you.
                              Hanson: Look buddy, I’m not really in the mood for this.
                              Exarch: Did you have something to do with this (gesturing to the general state of destruction around the area.)
                              Hanson: Actually, I was saving this place, along with that “pagan cult”. While you guys sat around talking, we got things done!

                              Hanson suddenly finds he is unable to speak.

                              Chorus member: How dare you speak to your superior like that!
                              Hanson: (Wildly gestures)
                              Exarch: (smiling slightly) That’s enough, let him go.

                              Hanson stays silent, but is stopped before he turns around.

                              Exarch: Such insolence will not be tolerated in future.
                              Chorus member: If you ever show such disrespect in his presence again. It’ll be more than your voice you’ll lose, you understand?
                              Hanson: I get it.
                              Exarch: Be on your way!

                              Hanson left as the chorus returned to the Heath.

                              Alfred and Sean looked about, before them was Gwyn, Genevieve and Kael.

                              Gwyn: Alfred! What happened?
                              Alfred: The Spirals of Madness. K’llashaa nephandi I suspect. They brought down the ritual!
                              Kael: What happened to mica?
                              Alfred: She fell in the umbra after performing powerful time magic.
                              Kael: I knew she shouldn’t have been taken there. Thank you for saving her!
                              Alfred: Actually, she saved mine. If it weren’t for her time magic, Melonie would have killed me.

                              Sean helps Mica to her feet, she was still very wobbly, not quite used to having a physical body yet. He helped her walk to a chair in the antechamber. Alfred helps Camellia to a chair to rest.

                              Alfred: Gwyn, what happened to you?
                              Gwyn: I left to search for Alex and the rest of Melonie’s formor. Without her to instruct them, they were not much of a threat. I couldn’t find Alex though, he had disappeared. What happened to Vivian?
                              Alfred: Vivian… She is gone. Jumped into the deep umbra with Melonie.
                              Camellia: Gone…

                              Camellia stood up

                              Alfred: Camellia, wait.
                              Camellia: I have to go.
                              Alfred: No, stay here.
                              Camellia: I have to go! I have to go!

                              Alfred grabbed hold of her.

                              Camellia: Let go of me!
                              Alfred: You do not need you tea.
                              Camellia: I do! I… I can’t…

                              She stops pulling, her eyes welling up with tears.

                              Camellia: She gone because of me! I didn’t do the ritual properly! I couldn’t help her catch Melonie! And now she’s gone!!
                              Alfred held her as she fell into his tentacle arms. Alfred cried with her, both in sympathy for Camellia’s guilt, and also for the loss of his high priestess. His arms returned as they embraced in sorrow. The other keepers looked on, their leader’s plight weighing just as heavily on their own hearts.

                              Helen ran to one of the exists of the Heath, the Fox following her with every step. She had no idea whether or not she was being followed, and she didn’t want to find out. Stepping on to the streets, she walked back to the only place she felt was safe, her mentor’s chantry in the centre of London. It took hours to walk, but the fox kept pace with her at every step. She arrived at the gates exhausted, but relieved. As she walked to the gate she looked back at the fox, who sat motionlessly watching her. Helen couldn’t help but feel some kind of connection with the creature, but couldn’t quite state what it was. She continued through the gates and into the chantry proper, leaving the fox behind. Helen looked in her bag and found book she had only seen a few times before; The Keeper’s book of shadows. Curiosity overcame her and she began to leaf through it, when a voice flittered across her mind, telling her to open to a specific page. A page she had seen once before dated on the day of her parent’s disappearance. Now that she could read gaelic, she learned that the ritual was designed to “give unto those what they had given” as a way to “return to nature the perverters of nature”, but more than this she did not have the familiarity of the occult to decipher further, and the precise details of the ritual were written in runes. However, one rune stood apart from the others, as though mentally highlighted as particularly significant to her. She stared at it, trying to sound it out from what little practice she had with the text. Once deciphered, she stared at in in disbelief, turned, and rushed out from the chantry, and back to the gates, but the streets were empty. She looked back at the word, this one word scribbled in an ancient text, the word with the meaning “fox”. This creature may have been her father this entire time. Once again, he was lost to her.

                              After Camellia and Alfred had sufficiently calmed down, Kael approached him, informing him that Granny Elm wished to speak with him. Leaving Camellia with Gwyn, he obliged, and walked to Granny Elm’s room.

                              GE: Alfred… I’ve heard and seen much of your heroism on Hampstead Heath tonight.
                              Alfred: Thank you Granny Elm.
                              GE: The Heath will still need to be purified, but at least now we have time to do it properly, thank in no small part to yourself.
                              Alfred: I could not have done it alone, everyone involved had a part to play.
                              GE: I am away of what happened to our High Priestess.
                              Alfred: You foresaw it?
                              GE: Yes, and she accepted her fate once informed. In her wake, Camellia will become the next High Priestess, but she also instructed me on who should be the next High Priest.
                              Alfred: Certainly either Kael or Gwyn would make a fine High Priest.
                              GE: And in her final act as High Priestess, Vivian decided it should be you.
                              Alfred: Me!?
                              GE: Yes.
                              Alfred: Certainly she can’t have been serious. I don’t think I’m competent enough to lead the coven.
                              GE: She spoke fondly of your skills at planning, and your resilience against monster of this world, and within the umbra.
                              Alfred: But how could I possibly fill the role as well as Boris.
                              GE: You both had the same mentor, did you not?
                              Alfred: Well… Yes.
                              GE: More to the point, his mentor was your grandfather, and so his blood flows through you.
                              Alfred: It does. But I cannot possibly accept the position unless the rest of the coven’s support
                              GE: I can already tell you, this support is already there.

                              Sean retired to bed, making a new room for himself in the chantry. He kept the cross safe, and could tell that, while a portion of its power was removed, it still had a great store of quintessence within it. Flashes of the battle raced through his mind. The cultists he shot and how much damage those enchanted bullets did. He recalled with horror one of them had their pattern partially unweaved by his shots, and though he knew their actions had to be stopped, he couldn’t help but wonder how many of these hooded figures were truly deserving of such suffering. However, one thing he saw caused him the most more unrest than anything else, and it concerned the hooded figure with the withered hand that stood over Alfred. Though the darkness of the night made it difficult for anyone else to see, Sean’s divine sense of Matter allowed him to see that, around their neck, was a necklace made of gold, with a golden pendant in the shape of a tree, identical to the one around Alfred’s own neck.

                              Hanson made his way to Violet’s. He had a lot on his mind and wanted to go over it, but stopped when he noticed the door was ajar. This was not like her. He called out, but heard no response. Tentatively, he pressed the door open, which swung without resistance. He made his way into Violet’s home, and towards her studio where she saw a single painting in the middle. It depicted a great green ball of fire surrounding with spiral of green light. About it stood the dark void of the cosmos with pinpricks of light around the corners. Below it, written in white paint, the words “Esther”.

                              ---NOTES---
                              And thus, we have reached the end of another story, and with it an end to all the content I had planned before the game started. The initial question of this campaign was, “What do you with a Lovecraftian Marauder”, and their answer turned out to be “Get the Euthanatos to sort it out”. Not a bad option considering the circumstances.
                              This session in particular has been an utter beast in how long it took to write up. So many disparate parts to link up, and each one demanded a similar level of attention. I wanted to have this session happen much earlier than when it did, but I wanted to save it until there was a day everyone could attend, but with the time limit for games being the end of August, it became too implausible that we would all be free at the same time. Although it’s a shame that the whole group couldn’t be present for it, in many ways it made thing go by a bit quicker. I could have split the session into two halves, but I’m really glad I didn’t, the entire night felt as epic as a story wrapping encounter should by this point.

                              What happens next? Post-game content, that’s what! Last Sunday we had a Downtime session, where we discussed and handed out exp based on what everyone got up to in that time, and tomorrow will be the first of possibly the last five or six sessions of this chronicle. It’s up to them how much they want to focus on what. Whether that be the fox, the nephandi, Vivian and Malady, the Esther file, the Traitor, or the consequences of this evening.
                              Sean’s player is the only one who knows what Sean saw on the Heath. I wrote it on a bit of card, showing only him before ripping it up and throwing it away. Everyone has their suspicions, but unless he tells people in character, they aren’t going to know.

                              Sorry for the delay in bringing this one out. The session was over three weeks ago, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write it all out until quite recently. On the bright side, you finally know why that fox is so important.


                              Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

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                              • #90
                                33rd Session

                                This was just a downtime session. I had 20 Exp points to hand out depending on what things people did during the three months, and role played any discussions that happened between them. No Aaron or Lydia this week.

                                Cast List
                                Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                                Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                                Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                                Joe Hanson: Noir Detective

                                ---CHAPTER 33: THREE MONTHS PASS---

                                In the months that followed the battle of Hampstead Heath, a number of things happened in and around London. The mainstream media wrote off the noise and damage caused as another terrorist attack, tying it directly to the “bomb scares” that occurred around London in the weeks leading up to the fight, with various witnesses coming forward and mentioning members of a ecoterrorist cult who showed allegiance by wearing golden tree necklaces around their necks. The papers also tied these events to the cyber terrorism event that caused the blackout earlier, and directly named Aaron Gibson as the culprit.
                                Another Tribunal was held for the Keepers, from which the events of the night were explained and recorded. Exarch Timothy Richards did his best to try and lead the verdict against the Coven, and suggested their immediate disbandment and loss of Tass and Node, but was met with opposition in light of the exposure of the real threat, the Spirals of Madness.

                                Alfred met with Helen in order to require the coven’s Book of Shadows, a book which Helen kept secretly away from her mentor’s prying eyes. An intense negotiation ensued, Helen wanted help finding the fox and restoring him back to human form before she’d return the book, Alfred however stated he would only be able to help her if he had the book, and reminded her that she was the reason his coven was in disarray. Eventually, Helen gave in and returned the book in exchange for him agreeing to translate it and help find a method to restore him. Reading the book, Alfred learned of the brutality of the spell, which drew quintessence from one of her parents to power the permanency of the transformation. While he was aware that such transformation was usually an act of mastery, this was an adept level ritual. The subjects body would be contorted slowly into the form of a fox limb by bone by bone, organ by organ. The entire thing would have been exceedingly painful, and from what Alfred could make out, this was all intended.

                                Hanson was able to return to his office. The deal he made with the NWO ensured that it was safe, if still under a level of surveillance. Back in the comfort of his own space, he was able to carry out multiple investigations with greater efficiency. In particular he focused on what happened to Dubois, who did not return home since the battle. He spent many long days searching clues and tracking down various members of the Euthanatos tradition to discover what had become of her. Many of the tradition, he discovered, were avoiding him as Dubois had put a mark on him, claiming him as her own personal target of concern. They left him to her out of mutual respect. While speaking to these mages, Hanson got the impression that they didn’t want to let on just how little they knew about her whereabouts. His searching got him an ever greater understanding of the city, but little in the way of real leads.

                                Helen realised that the Technocracy would be searching for her, so she changed her hair and tried to stay out of public for as long as possible, keeping a low profile and almost exclusively using her Craft name: Aileen Devina Freya. When not dealing with the others, she stayed in the confines of the Hermetic Chantry, studying tirelessly. Exams were coming up after all. Her mentor Eve had gained greater influence for her work in aiding the London Tribunal’s investigation, ascending to the 6th rank of the Hermetic Order. Helen too gained accolades, and within a month stood place in a great ceremony, properly inducting her into the Order as a proper 4th ranked initiate, and with it was able to gain the prestige and safety of a True Name.

                                Alfred and Camellia were named as the appointed High Priest and High Priestess of the Keepers. Camellia’s role came as little surprise; she was the Maiden of the coven after all. Though a number of members, Kael and Gwyn notably, had concerns over whether she was up to the task. Alfred, on the other hand, has a much more divisive addition. On one side, both Gwyn and Camellia thought he would be more than fit to lead the coven, having proved himself time and again at each conflict that presented itself. On the other side were Kael and Genevieve. Having barely met Alfred, Genevieve considered it something of an insult that she was to be led by one who was barely an initiate after she had just returned, while Kael thought Alfred far too inexperienced to live up to the standard Boris had set. In the middle was Mica. Both her mentor and only real friend within the coven drove her one way, but her own respect for Alfred drew her the other. Mica had her own complicated feelings towards Camellia, and thus ultimately sat on the fence. Granny Elm, in her infinite wisdom, would happily take council with anyone who had issues they wished to air, and silently nurtured them. Though she would never publically show allegiance one way or the others, during these private discussions, she would listen and gently encourage each person’s own viewpoint. She would encourage Alfred in his position; the support Camellia and Gwyn had for him, the doubts of Kael and Genevieve, and worked to grow mistrust within the coven as a whole. Mica gained special attention from Granny Elm. She would encourage her to try and abandon her moderate approach, and dismiss her attempts at staying indecisive on the matter. The Coven was fractioning, and it was all Alfred could do to hold everything together.

                                To help Camellia, Alfred asked her to teach him to make her tea, and would then make it for her. Bit by bit, he would start to weaken its potency, so that she grew less dependent on it in time. Eventually Camellia opened up to Alfred about what happened to her. Years ago, she lived with her father, it was just the two of them and they were happy, until he got sick. The hospital said it was cancer, and that his chance at recovery was slim. Camellia held on to hope for as long as she could, but grew ever more impatient with the medical system as more and more doctors told her there was nothing they could do. Desperate, she began looking into alternative forms of treatment, eventually stumbling into Vivian’s open circle. She studied tentatively, showing great aptitude in herblore.
                                Vivian even witnessed her awakening as she struggled to improve her skills. She took her in to the coven as her apprentice, quickly initiating her as she taught her personally. Under her supervision, Camellia quickly became a disciple on the sphere of life, gaining the knowledge to effectively cure ailments and bring back life to the dying. But it was too late. The very day she gained this ability, her father breathed his last death. She arrived at the Hospital a moment too late, she immediately fell into despair. Camellia had been brought in a few months before Malady had left the coven for good. Vivian made Camellia her new Maiden, seeing her as a natural fit, more so than Mica who had been in the coven much longer, yet had less conventional practices. Camellia had battled this great sadness as much as she could, but found it overwhelming. She would often be unable to leave the bed for days on end. This was when she was taught to make her tea, and for the first time in years, she felt free from worry. In this state she felt able to act, able to do the duties that had landed before her as Maiden, forming a dependency on this magical elixir.

                                These days, without her tea, she is met with a wall of intense depression, the combined weight of all of her saddest moments crashing atop her in a single instance. With Alfred’s help, she was able to combat part of these problems, and while off the tea proved to be incredibly capable a mage. Though she had her moments of severe depression, and a note or two of withdrawal, Alfred spent as many weeks as he could helping her combat her demons in all their forms.

                                Sean had become one of the biggest points of contention in the coven. He lived in one of the rooms above the chantry, unwilling to face the Chorus, and especially the knights. He knew that he would have been reported as going AWOL by now, and were most likely searching for him with orders to bring him back to base for proper punishment. He only left to search the city for weak nodes, by which he gathered his Devine Favours. He spent his days studying munitions, to understand their mechanics, and did his best to practice their manufacture. He would only leave the chantry under cover of darkness, which grew longer as the seasons advanced. When out, Sean would meet with the fringed of the weapon trafficking underworld, and make a risky living out of selling to them some of the weapons he had manufactured. While accepting at first, the coven grew more suspicious and warry of his presence with each passing week, afraid that he may draw the Chorus straight to them. Alfred did what he could to placate these worries, but could only do so much. Shortly after Alfred was granted the proper ceremony for becoming the High Priest, Sean decided to tell Alfred something which had been troubling him; the golden necklace worn by the hooded figure with a withered arm. He suspected someone within the coven had been working with the Spirals, and therefore the traitor would be amongst those unaccounted for during the battle: Gwyn, Kael, Genevieve, and Granny elm. Alfred decided he would need to examine his coven closely, but quietly so as to not alert the traitor, nor bring the already fragile group to conflict.

                                Helen elicited the help of both Hanson and Sean to help her find the fox. Sean’s ability to sense out matter at a great distance would come in handy for searching for that matter pattern behind the eye of the fox. It took many months of trying, especially as Sean only moved at night, but eventually they found the fox again. Having read over his notes again and again, Hanson came to the conclusion that this fox may not actually be Helen’s father, but was in fact her mother. While the Technocrats were able to retrieve the DNA of her father and use it for their clones, the note they had clearly stated that Helen’s mother could not be found at all. Helen looked at the creature, who looked up at her with a strange sense of lost familiarity. She hugged the fox.
                                As the November weeks progressed, Alfred prepared to spend the next several weeks going on a spirit walk. He wished to increase his arête so as to become more deserving of the title of High Priest, but also he wished to appease the Norns and gain back their favour, and learn whatever he could of what may have happened to Vivian.

                                Aaron has gone completely off the grid, as did the rest of his associated hackers. No one knows quite what happened to Lydia. She was last seen by Alfred, lost in the umbral fogs.

                                ---NOTES---
                                I asked everyone to think about what their mage did during the 3 months of down time, and Alfred’s player came back with the most detailed account of the four, so if you’re wondering why his story is so much bigger, that’s why.
                                As neither Aaron’s nor Lydia’s player were able to join the downtime session, I’ll just have to do one with them when they are next available. I’m starting to have concerns about whether Lydia’s player will ever be able to return to the game, and what this will mean for the story. To be honest though, I’m more concerned about what to do after she’s back having missed so much, and whether I’ll be creative enough to think of something which will keep her relevant and informed enough to take part and feel like she’s still a protagonist, while still focusing time on the last few sessions I have.
                                Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, Helen’s hair is now short and grey. It used to be mid-length and blue.

                                After this, there will be at most 6 more sessions left before I run out of time. After which point, that which is unresolved will remain unresolved.
                                Last edited by Saikou; 07-04-2017, 09:26 PM.


                                Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

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