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Chronicle Report: Keepers of the Wyck

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  • Saikou
    started a topic Chronicle Report: Keepers of the Wyck

    Chronicle Report: Keepers of the Wyck

    So, we've just played our first session for the game and I thought I'd record it for all to read.
    This is also the first time in about 6 or 7 years that I've Played/Storytold a Mage game, so I've had to do quite a bit of reviewing.

    Just a quick note before I start. If any of my players are reading this then I ask you, please don't.
    EVERYTHING BELLOW MAY CONTAINS SPOILERS (and you wouldn't want to ruin the surprise for yourself, would you?)

    Right, let's begin.

    ----BACKGROUND----

    I'm using a hybrid of Mage Revised and M20 rules. We're using Revised Character sheets (so Resonance is a thing) and using the Rev rules for Combat, Actions, Magic, and the Sphere mechanics. We're going with M20 regarding Paradox, the updated histories for the Traditions, Conventions, and Crafts, the continuing Meta-Narrative, and also for M20's rules of Quiet since is makes a heck of a lot more sense. Also, Reality Zones will be very much a thing.

    - The Paradox Storm happened and is still a thing, however it has calmed down a bit over the years and may deal Agg, Lethal, or Bashing damage depending on the role.
    - The Spirit Nuke in the Dark Umbra happened. The 6th Maelstrom has calmed down too, though visiting is just as treacherous as ever.
    - The Rouge Council stuff happened, but since the initial events things have become rather quiet. There are rumours or a new Council of Nine establishing a chantry in New Zealand, but it's not very well publicised.
    - The Technocracy is somewhat divided but not at the point of civil war. As much as they hate to admit it, NWO and Syndicate are aware of just how much they need each other and just how bad turning them into an enemy would be. It's sort of like the situation between China and Japan. They are at each other's throats, but they'll be damned if that stops them doing business with one another.

    As an aside, I've decided that Brexit came about through a power challenge between NWO and the Syndicate. NWO supported Remain while the Syndicate backed Leave. Neither side really expected the UK to leave. The only reason the Syndicate backed Leave was out of response to NWO lording over them how much more control they had over the masses. Their choosing to back the opposing campaign was more flippant display of one-upmanship than anything else, while in the middle where the other three conventions, not knowing exactly who to support.
    In the end, the Syndicate managed to prove their point a little too well.

    This is fairly relevant as this Chronicle is taking place in London

    ----STORY----

    Details of the first draft of my story can be seen on this Reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/WhiteWolfRP..._idea_for_mta/

    Here's the short version:

    There's a Marauder who believes that the works of H.P. Lovecraft are real and he's living in them. When he gets particularly agitated, he'll start to see people, animals, objects, and places as Lovecraftian monsters or Other Worldly Locations. His very presence also has an effect on the Gauntlet around him, twisting and tareing it apart allowing all manor of Spirits through the tares (this, as you can imagine feeds into his delusions quite effectively).

    - He has a sister who is looking for him.
    - There are some Malfeans who wish to exploit him for his Gauntlet rending powers
    - Two Void Engineers, a R&E Scientist, and a NSC Cyborg/Boimoded Soldier, are investigating the sudden disturbances in the Dimensional Barrier.
    - A Euthantos mage begins to take notice of the Marauders effects and will try to hunt him down to give him the good death.

    Since then, my Players have finished building up their characters, and so I've had to make a number of additions, the biggest one being the Titular Keepers of the Wyck.

    The Keepers are a coven of Verbena Mages (obviously) who stay in their Chantry in London with the main goal of keeping the ways of the Verbena and the legend of the Wyck alive within the heart of the city. They do this by hosting Open Circles for Sleepers interested in Wicca and Paganism; providing a safe place for other Verbena to stay and practice, while also keeping an eye on the ever shrinking Glens in the various parks around London.
    They have also been infiltrated by a Nephandus. They are a trusted member of the Coven, and they use their influence to bring out the more negative side of this group. Aversion to outsiders, Stubborn adherence to old customs, Internal division, and Secrecy. They also use the groups contact with sleepers to start spreading undertones of destruction within their teachings, setting up the groundwork for something nefarious.
    None of the other Keepers suspect a thing.

    ----PLAYERS----

    This will be a list of my Player's character's, their Sphere rankings, and a brief bit on their Backstory. All of them have Arete 3.

    Aaron Gibson: Virtual Adept Hacker
    Corr. 3, Entropy 1, Forces 2, Mind 1

    A punk hacker who thinks he knows it all. Accidentally hacked into the SchreckNET (don't ask me how) and was promptly kidnapped by Nosferatu Vamps, triggering his awakening. He was eventually rescued by a group of Virtual Adept Cyberpunks, one of whom became his Mentor.
    To this day, he's not very comfortable in enclosed spaces.

    Alfred Pendragon: Verbena Archivist
    Life 2, Mind 3, Spirit 2

    Having grown up in a coven family, his awakening came as no real shock to anyone. His grandfather took him under his wing and trained him in their ancient arts. A distant descendant of King Arthur, his family are part of a group who study the bloodline in the hopes that one day the king will return and unite England once more. He left his family for London. Mostly because he craved a greater access to genealogical records in order to better fulfil the family quest, but also so he could get away from his somewhat smothering family.
    His avatar contains a Primordial Essence, embodied as the spirit of Excalibur.

    Lydia: Verbena Moon Mage
    Entropy 2, Life 2, Spirit 2

    She lived most of her life in a small village by the west coast of Ireland. When she awakened to the magic that the moon allowed her to perform, she eventually found her way to an old witch who taught her how to cultivate her powers. But unfortunately, her studies were cut short by the dementia which slowly rotted her mentors mind, and eventually claimed her soul. Lydia had no option but to take to a nomadic life, travelling both to teach and to learn, with Luna as her guide.
    Her powers wax and wane along with the phases of the moon, and indeed her Avatar's essence contains a primordial piece of Luna herself.
    Also, probably because of this, Lydia is a bit mad. Think (appropriately enough) Luna Lovegood but with fewer reservations for hitting people.

    Sean Heath: Templar Knight and Former Soldier
    Corr. 1, Matter 3, Prime 3

    A corporal in the British Armed Forces. While touring Afghanistan, his platoon was ambushed by the Taliban. The Army Chaplin assigned to them conjured up a barrier of prime to fend them off while the soldiers gathered their barrings in time to retaliate. That moment stuck in his mind and, years after leaving the army, sought out the Chaplin, who started to train him as a Knight. He is now stationed at a Chapter house in London as a Brother, ready to do his duty.
    He is the oldest character in the group.

    Joe Hanson: Hollow One, Film Noir Detective (not a goth)
    Entropy 2, Forces 2, Mind 3

    He started out as a cop in America (State not specified, though most likely somewhere on the east coast). An investigation of a series of murders lead him to London where he came face to face with a Jhor heavy Euthanatos mage. He shot him dead just as his ex-colleague arrived to witness the scene. Although relieved that his killing would stop, she resented Hanson for denying him the good death. Since then, she's been keeping an eye on him, and is always eager to remind him what will happen if killing becomes a habit.
    He spends his days in London solving cases as a private detective.

    Helen: Order of Hermes Spy/Psychology Student
    Forces 2, Life 2, Mind 2

    Many years ago she went on a camping trip with her parents. A loud scream during the night awoke her, and she found herself alone in the tent. She started searching for her parents in the night, and found their torn up clothes discarded in the bush. Eventually she came across what seemed to be a cultist ritual with her parents tied to a stake in the centre, surrounded by hooded figures all chanting and dancing. She screamed, alerting the attention of one of the cultists who, brandishing a knife, started running towards her. She ran away and the cultist gave chase. She was almost clear of the forest until she tripped and fell. As the cultist drew near she screamed, and accidentally conjured a ring of fire around her. The light from the flames illuminated his face. It was a man with a long scar cut across his face. He disappeared into the forest. She never heard from him or her parents again, and no trace of the ritual was ever found.
    Through a family friend, she was accepted as an apprentice in the Order of Hermes, and has been studying her arts ever since.
    Due to her promise as a pupil, the Order saw fit to start training her as a spy.


    That's a total of 6 players. Out of whom, none of them have ever played Mage before, only one of them has even played Vampire. And that's not all, for two of them, this will be their first ever Tabletop Role-Playing Experience.
    What a way to return to Mage!

    As you may have noticed, none of the party have any points in Time. I'm somewhat relieved by this as I used to play a Time mage quite frequently, so I know first hand just how many headaches Time mages can cause for the ST.

    That's all for now, I'll detail the events of our first session in the next post.

  • Saikou
    replied
    It's been a few months now, and I thought I'd share a few lost plot threads that have been rattling around.

    The Bracelet

    You might recall ages ago there was a bracelet that Alfred stole from the museum he worked at. He was originally planning to use it to summon the spirit of Queen Boudicca to help them defend the Heath. Alfred's player made a great deal of assumptions with this, namely that the bracelet was in any way connected to her, and that Queen Bouddicca had a spirit willing to be summoned. Had he gone through with the summoning, I had a plan of what of what would happen. The bracelet would have summoned the presence of a Wraith. A fairly young Roman woman living in Londinium long after Queen Boudicca fell in battle. I hadn't ironed out all of the details of her backstory as her character never actually entered the story properly, but I knew that she died waiting for her lover to return from Roam, and this Bracelet was his final gift to her, an important fetter that she had lost track of over the millennia.

    When the bracelet was lost, it was effectively destroyed, along with all the other fetters in her life, and she had become confined to the tempest/stygia/ and was working towards achieving transcendence, but when her home was excavated by archaeologists only decades ago, they found the bracelet and worked to restore it, and as it restored so too did her connection to the shadowlands, locking her into this world. However, as they kept it within a museum under glass and surrounded by technology far beyond her understanding, the fetter was permenently locked away from her, the veil was simply too strong for her to interact with it.

    Had this event occurred, I would have had this Roman lady stalk Alfred trying to get the fetter destroyed so that she may pass on, but her shadow would be fighting in full fury trying to play up the sentiment of it all to keep the object in tact. If they struck a deal then perhaps she could use her influences with the Stygian Legion to help defend the Heath, If they showed any sign of hostility though, a fight would likely ensue, and if her shadow was let out, it would do its worst as it knew its chances were few.


    The Noises Underground

    Ever wonder what happened to that giant pattern spider they ran away from at the beginning of that adventure? It never left London. It's been hiding about in the London Underground, building its web and trying to communicate wit the rest of its brood. This was the reason behind all the sudden stops and strange feelings of danger while underground. I imagined a scenario where the group would be chasing Edwin underground, where they would be set upon by Pickman's Model ghouls. Depending on how the fight went, I could imagine the big pattern spider stepping in to do its part in defending reality from the marauder's influence. How that fight would have gone, and what it would have led to is anyone's guess.


    The Three Nodes

    Originally I was planning on playing up the relationship of the three nodes a lot more, tying it into the metaphysical trinity. The idea was there would been the Dynamic node at Hampstead Heath, the Entropic node at Wimbledon Common, and the Static node at Greenwich. There would be some kind of monster at each of these nodes that would need to be dealt with in order to prevent the Spiral's ritual from being complete. Hampstead Heath would get the Dunwhich Horror, Wimbledon would get a formori made by Mellonie and Zandros, possibly the other parent. while either the Technocracy or the Pattern Spider would be getting in the way of the Greenwich node.This was an idea I dropped very early on as it became far too ambitious to implement as the game proceeded. With Hampstead Heath getting the bulk of the attention, there was no real way I'd be able to give the same level of attention to the other two nodes without losing focus of what was going on.


    The Technocracy's Hunt

    This was something cut for time more than anything. I wanted the Spiral of Death to be a much longer affair, something which would be building up slowly, and at first without much incident. The party might encounter a dead body from time to time, but it would be up to them to consider a connection, rather than me telling Hanson that there was a connection from the start. But the big thing this condensing of time removed was the Technocractic investigation. Sure it happened in the background, but I wanted to make much more of it than I had the time to do so. Steed would have been grilling Hanson much more extensively, and there would have been a greater search for the Aaron and the Esther File.


    Aaron's Enemy

    There's no excuse for this one, I just didn't invest as much time into this as I should have done. Aaron's enemy flaw described a Nosferatu vampire that was as technically competent with a computer as he was. What I really wanted to do was wait until Aaron was doing something really important with this computer, hacking into Technocratic files against the clock for something he desperately needed or to save someone's life, when the screen would freeze up and the words "Message from SpitzMcNasty" would flash across, by which point Aaron would enter in dialogue with them. Depending on what they talked about, he might reveal that it was his rats which had been causing him so much trouble, and that he had been ferreting away information to send to some interested bodies. I imagined that the vamp would either keep them talking long enough for it to be too late to escape while the Technocrats busted down his door (especially since his computer was frozen), or to toy with him, threatening to have all his files uploaded to the teachnocracy's servers. Another idea was to make his first entrance be via a virus or some such like, but annoyingly it never really happened. I simply left it too late. Aaron's player missed a few sessions by the end, so when I finally thought about setting it up, I couldn't follow it through, and then time had all but gone.


    Helen's Father

    An alternative way things could have gone had Helen decided to get a bit more chummy with the technocracy. Somewhere in one of the underground tunnels leading away from Guy's Hospital would be a facility storage unit specifically designed to store information on primary tissue for use in cloning, and from there it would be possible, if difficult, to access the location of her Father's primary tissue bank. This would have revealed the location of her father's intact yet damaged body. Whether or not it would be possible to revive him I hadn't properly sussed out. But I did think that the promise of reviving him would be used by the Technocracy to get Helen to switch sides and help them towards their ends. It's also very possible that if she had brought her fox mother to them, they would be able to begin restoring her form. They would promise her back the family that the Reality Deviants so callously torn away from her. Had the game gone on a little longer, there may have been some information in her mother's V-DAS eye implant that would have lead her down this path a little more.


    The Race to Save Vivian

    I may have briefly mentioned his early in the story, but I had originally envisioned Vivian being cast across the umbra much earlier than it actually happened. I think I already said I imagined that they might have ended up trying to get to the Eppiphanies in the Astral Realm where they'd come across the Continuum Orrery and learn not only where Vivian was, but also about the Esther File. A condensed version of the latter happened in Galileo's Observatory. However, had they gone to the eppiphanie, they would also have learned that Vivian and Mellonie had ended up on the Shard Realm of Life, beyond the gauntlet of Venus. Without that, they'd have to hunt her down in space using other methods, either by trying to feel out her resonance, or using whatever magic they had at their disposal. Granny Elm might be quite happy to help them as it might mean getting Malady back. The two main methods I could see of them reaching the shard realm of Venus was either a) by getting there via the Ethereal Reaches, Werewolf style, or b) by getting Lance to help them reach it the Technocratic way. I might have made up an option c) find some Etherites, but honestly I didn't have much time to work on this plotline with all the other stuff going on.

    On Venus, they would have found both Malady and Vivian within the Shard Realm of Life, battling to suppress each other's forces, Vivian would be working to prevent Malady's corrupting force rotting parts of the realm, while Malady would be attempting to hunt down and destroy her one time mentor. They'd be transformed into bizarre creatures to match the environment, and may even be chasing one another across the lost Verbena Seasonal Realms.


    Umbral Events

    There were a number of little events within the Umbra I had an idea of doing, but never really jumped into. I initially thought that, while Alfred and Sean were traversing the umbra with Vivian, that they would enter a Mirror zone, and Sean would kill Vivian and then try to attack Alfred, representing the uneasy feeling of whether or not Alfred could trust him. I even set up a codeword to initiate the event with Sean's character. But too much stuff happened while in the Umbra, and this would have only made things too convoluted. I also had in mind greater use for the Digital Web. I kinda hoped that Aaron would try to traverse it on his own and see where he would end up, finding his own contacts, and perhaps even hacking things while in the machine himself. But I suppose he didn't really feel comfortable diving in without a guide, so it never really happened. I toyed around with the idea that Mica may have been a Netizen herself. While exploring the Web, they would have encountered her in her icon where she would look like a powerful druidic warrior, the kind she could never really be in meatspace, but again, didn't really come to be.

    King Arthur

    It would have been possible for Alfred to have found King Arthur, or at least, an aspect of him. When Edwin fell into the lake at Glastonbury, he slipped through a shallowing and into the umbra, and from there his decent into awakened madness was all but assured. Had Alfred the initiative to seek out this lake, he would have witnessed this shallowing which would only occur on the full moon and if one where to let their body fall to the bottom. Alfred's seeking would have given him the clue to attempt this had he sought out the lake at all. At the bottom of the lake, he would come close to death, and awaken on the shores of an island rich in apples. The umbra reflection of Avalon. There he would have met the King, an amalgamation of all notions of King Arthur. At once with memories of a roman warrior, a pagan defender, and a christian soldier. In this state, the king is but a shadow of the legend that makes him, and thus his greatness diluted what could be interpreted as dementia.
    Had Alfred went to the Astral Realm and searched for Camelot, he would have found exactly what he was looking for, and little else. I have not really considered how things would have turned out, but suffice to say that the Astral Realm probably contains many different kinds of King Arthur depending on which aesthetic he was searching for.

    Ok, that's all I can think up right now. If I've left something out that you want to ask about, go ahead. Otherwise, enjoy these could-have-beens.
    Last edited by Saikou; 11-26-2017, 09:15 AM.

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  • Saikou
    replied
    [Continued from above]

    Helen and Aaron arrive at Westminster Cathedral. Sarah was being carried by Sean and Hanson, Sean stopped as Violet approached them, and gently put Sarah to the ground. Hanson stared at Violet.

    Hanson: Why did you do that?!
    Violet: You’re asking why I killed a nephandi who was about to sacrifice me on an alter?
    Hanson: This was part of their plan! It didn’t mattered who died, as long as someone died in here.
    Violet: Well no one told me that!
    Aaron: Hanson! Sarah’s somewhere in… oh…
    Hanson: Yeah, I think it’s a little late.
    Aaron: That is not good.
    Sean: We need to go find the Keepers.

    A great booming sound echoes throughout the space as the doors to the cathedral shut them inside. The group turns to them and try to open them up again, but they remain fast.

    Violet: Can someone explain to me what the hell is going on here?

    Sean decided to reach into his jacket, and aportate his rifle.

    Lydia stood as the women before her returned to her star gazing and humming.

    Lydia: Uh… hello?
    Fairy: Hello… did you require another wish?
    Lydia: …do you really not know who I am?
    Fairy: you?
    Lydia: You’re my mother! You left me on an island to grow up alone! Do you not care?
    Fairy: Mother…. I as a mother… My child, do you see yourself inside me?
    Lydia: I do… but… you’re so much more…. Extreme.

    [ST NOTE: Somewhere during this conversation, we had slipped into Lydia’s Seeking. The moon was currently in a waning crecent, and so Luna’s current phase was that of reflection. In order to pass the seeking, all Lydia needed to do was reflect on her actions and beliefs, and come to the conclusion that she does not have all the answers, and that she was just as in need of learning as the people she taught. It carried out as a long back and forth between the Green Fairy and Lydia, with Luna stepping in at one point to push her in the right direction.
    This was the only chance Lydia had to pass the Seeking, so I gave her several chances to find her way out of this mental labyrinth of sorts, but at the same time I didn’t want it to be easy. If she answered questions like “do you think you might be wrong” with things like “Of course I might be, everyone is” or “I might be wrong, but I have to believe I’m right”, that would not be enough. It wasn’t until she answered “I don’t know…” and genuinely admitted that she could not answer the question at hand and not just because it was unanswerable, but because her intuition and understanding had limits. The Green Fairy represented in this instance what limitless vision might look like.
    It later turned out that Lydia’s player didn’t even know she was having a seeking, despite Luna’s involvement. Looks like that’s something I need to get better at.]

    Hanson and Helen tried to pull at the doors, but they did not budge. Being in a cathedral, Sean decided to take this moment to pray for assistance. He took out his bible but stopped when something dripped onto the pages. He looked up and saw a strange black goo seeping through the roof.

    Sean: Everyone… Something’s happening.
    Helen: What is that!?
    Aaron: Whatever it is, I don’t think we should touch it.

    The black sludge began to slowly descend down the walls of the building, a foul smell enveloping the space.

    Hanson: We need to get out of here. Dubois, can you… Dubois?

    Violet had completely vanished.

    Hanson: Shit!
    Aaron: Guys, look at the windows.
    Helen: Are those… stars?

    Beyond the unstained windows, a great darkness could be seen. Much darker than even a Winter’s day should show. Some of the windows had cracks and chips growing, causing parts to shatter revealing a night sky with stars in numbers much greater than London light could ever allow. Beyond the window, a faint silver light is seen coming closer and closer, until it passes through the windows and descends, a human figure, Lydia, slowly to the floor.

    Hanson: Lydia?
    Lydia: Hi… I just, I just met my mother.
    Aaron: Green Fairy?
    Lydia: Yeah… She seemed disinterested in me… Didn’t really care that I was her daughter. She only cared about granting wishes… What’s going on here?

    The black sludge had started to drip on the floor, forming dark puddles which bubbled ominously. From the far side of the cavernous room, a figure with a hooded cloak and a withered hand emerged. The spoke in a low rasp to the group.

    Cloak: You have been a great help to our cause. As payment, you may watch the destruction first hand.
    Hanson: We aren’t here to help you.
    Sean: Show yourself, demonic villain!

    With a low laughter, the figure placed their hands over their hood and pulled in back, revealing Granny Elm before them. Lydia stared in shock.

    Aaron: I thought it was her.
    Lydia: No. She must be under some kind of trance. Mind controlled or something.
    Aaron: Or, she could just be evil.

    Granny Elm spoke in her normal voice, though its soft tone was missing, and no longer felt reassuring.

    GE: I hope you enjoyed my little puzzle.
    Hanson: Puzzles… God dammit!
    GE: Kept you busy didn’t it, kept you long enough to finalised a few things, prepare for the final death.
    Lydia: Let her go! Whatever evil spirit is possessing her body, we will get rid of you.
    GE: It won’t matter for long… The Green Fairy is far too near to ignore us now.

    While she spoke with Hanson, Sean crept behind one of the pews and started setting up his rifle. Lydia took this chance to try and cross the gauntlet, thinking she’d be able to attack the spirit possessing her in the umbra. But the storm harmed her greatly and she fell to the floor. Someone approached her.

    Violet: Aren’t you one of Hanson’s friends?
    Lydia: What…?
    Violet: He just vanished, If you’re looking for him. I’m trying to figure out where, but I can’t pick up the trace.

    Lydia glanced about and realised she hadn’t stepped into the umbra, she had just stepped out of it.

    Lydia: Hanson is trapped in the umbra, as are the others. There’s something really bad happening there. Get help, I’m going back.

    Before going back, she attempted to heal herself, but the effect botched causing her entire body to seize up with pain, leaving her limp. She fell unconscious to the ground of the cathedral, just meters away from the body of Sarah.

    Granny Elm starts to chant something no one present could understand. Getting nervous, everyone pulled out whatever fire arm they had on them and took aim. Helen began to have her wand, hoping to increase the kinetics of her gun, while Aaron and Sean simply steadied their arms. Hanson, on the other hand, had another idea. He brought out his shades and began to focus on converting her movement into heat. Sean took the first shot, hitting the cloak, but causing no recoil. It was as if the shot had been absorbed. Granny Elm sunk further into her cloak, becoming more difficult to see. Helen took her shot, but once again it seemed to absorb into her cloak. Aaron steadied his aim and waited.
    Hanson finished his effect, and attempted to shoot. This time, the bullet impacted, and all hell broke loose. Erupting from her cloak, a great mass of black, slimy limbs burst forth. This formless stretch of flesh, filled almost the entirety of the floor, forming long tentacles at the edges. The flesh was black and more closely resembled the sludge which dripped from the walls than anything human, embedded within the many folds were a large assortment of mouths with sharp jagged teeth. The Friction curse Hanson had put upon her now permeated the entire room, and it was all anyone could do to avoid catching fire. They could hear her distorted laugh echo out of many mouths. Hanson quickly dispelled his effect.
    The tentacles lashed out, flailing madly hitting anything and everything they could reach. Sean had to duck out of the way, dragging his riffle as far out of range of them as he could. Aaron ran his programmes to find out exactly what he was looking at, and saw a large amount of quintessence within the robes at the centre of the spiral.

    Aaron: She’s still in there!

    Helen brought out her wand and tried to set the robe on fire while Hanson just shot at it, deftly avoiding a tentacle swiping at him. Things took a turn, however, when the mouths began to spew out a purple mist, it carried the stench of petrification. Helen lost concentration as she tried to hold her breath, while Hanson succumbed to the mist, falling to his knees, heaving. Sean looked towards the cloak and called upon his lord to try and shrink the material, but had to abandon his effect as a large tendril made his way towards him and almost caught his foot. Aaron, however, managed to burn the robe causing a great deal of screaming from the many mouths around them.
    Helen looked at everyone, the mist was steadily thining out, but its effects had already taken place. Everyone was close to the brink of death, including herself. She focused her efforts on healing. Sean brought himself back to his feet, and fired a volley of shots towards the cloak. Aaron was about to join him, but then an idea struck him. He brought up the Esther file, and tried to type into to it “I wish…” before he could continue, however, a great limb filled with teeth aimed to hit him. Protecting his laptop, he jumped out of the way, but just a tiny bit too late.
    Hanson got to his feet and tried to shoot at the cloak, but a large tentacle grabbed at him, constricting him and causing him to fall. He struggled with the limb, but was unable to get free. Just as he was about to fall unconscious, Helen finished her effect, and made it large enough to restore everyone back to health. With their newfound vigour, everyone opened fire of the smouldering cloak, and a great scream was heard to echo throughout the cathedral.

    The tentacles fall to the ground, and the group have a moment to gather.

    Sean: Is everyone ok?
    Hanson: Yeah… Helen really pulled through with that spell.
    Helen: I didn’t want anyone to die.
    Aaron: Just hold on, we don’t know what she’s planning.

    The cathedral shuddered. Above them, rubble and dust began to fall as the entire roof began to crack, shatter, and float away revealing the great void of space. A deep rasp of a voice spoke from a number of the mouths.

    GE: You’re too late! …The Wyrm is already here.

    No sooner had she spoken, a great spiralling shadow appeared across the furthest reaches of space. The spiral grew greater and greater as it drew ever closer, a terrible serpentine shape with rippling millipede like legs, and long flows of something black dripping out of every pour. Even light itself seemed to break down around it as it travelled closer, masking the features of its face from all, if it even had a face to begin with. As the party looked up at this, they realised that any hope of stopping lay beyond them. They braced themselves for what seemed to be their final moments, gazing up into the spirit of corruption. The Wyrm had arrived.

    Lydia woke up. She tried to get up but couldn’t feel the ground beneath her. She opened her eyes and found herself surrounded by stars. She looked at her hands, but could only see a pale translucent light. Below her she saw the cathedral. It’s roof had come away revealing a strange black sludge within. Some way off, she saw what looked to her like a coiled serpent spinning in a spiral, as though swimming through space. Behind her, she saw a great green glow of light.

    Lydia: Mother?
    Fairy: Do you have a wish?
    Lydia: I thought I already wished that you won’t destroy anything.
    Fairy: And it is granted. But I must also grant the wishes of all my other children.
    Lydia: But if they asked you to destroy the world, that goes against my wish.
    Fairy: And they did not. They merely asked me to open the gateway between worlds to allow a great spirit through.
    Lydia: Oh ok… never mind then.

    [ST NOTE: Lydia’s player actually said something along the lines of “Oh that’s fine, you can do that I don’t care”. To which Hanson’s player responded “Noooo!!! That’s exactly what we’re trying to Prevent!!” Lydia’s player had sat out of the action for quite a while, and so probably didn’t realise exactly what was going on by this point.]

    Lydia: Actually, could you not open the gauntlet just yet?
    Fairy: It is the wish of my children. I must grant it.
    Lydia: They’re not your children though! I am!
    Fairy: If you have a wish, I may grant it for you.
    Lydia: Then I wish you would stop the Wyrm!
    Fairy: ….It shall be granted.

    The great green ball of light zoomed straight towards the spiralling black cloud, blinding everyone in a flash of brilliant Green. Lydia lost view and sense as everything went white.

    The group within the cathedral only had time to witness the great green flash before the world around them began to warp, twist and break around them. They felt the ferocity of the Avatar Storm as they were forcibly dragged beyond the gauntlet by unseen hands.

    A green light, a horrible black spiral, a great clash of powers fighting long and hard… These are the things Lydia saw before she opened her eyes. Her vision was blurred but she could make out the sounds of chatter. Around her a number of people seemed to me moving, talking, trying to work things out. She tried to stand, and to her surprise was able to move without difficulty, as though something had removed her wounds. Around her a number of Mages from various Traditions were looking about the place. She could recognise a few from House Quaesitor, and a number from the Celestial Chorus, but there were a great many more she did not know. As she moved about, she saw Hanson, Helen, Sean, and Aaron all being tended to by other mages.

    Hanson: Lydia! What happened to you?
    Lydia: I got pardoxed after leaving the umbra, what happened to you?
    Hanson: I’m not sure…
    Sean: We were pulled out by someone here.
    Lydia: What happened to Granny Elm.
    Aaron: We took care of her.
    Sean: Perhaps… We didn’t see what actually became of her.
    Aaron: But we mostly took care of her.
    Lydia: I had a strange dream
    Hanson: Stranger than what we normally deal with?
    Lydia: It was my mother… She was fighting the Wyrm, That’s what I wished her to do, but I think… I think I saw her lose.
    Aaron: Isn’t the Wyrm meant to be this big thing in the umbra that existed before existence or something? I don’t think anyone would be able to beat it.
    Lydia: Does that mean I just sent my mother to die?
    Aaron: Hold on… Let me try something.

    Aaron brought out his laptop and opened the Esther file and typed Sarah’s phone number. It calculated for less than a second before returning a loop of “Sarah is Sarah is Sarah is Sarah is Sarah is Sarah is Sarah is…”. Concerned, he tried again with his own name, but only got another unending message “Aaron is Aaron is Aaron is Aaron is Aaron is…”
    He checked the coordinates, and was very surprised to see all of them had values of zero.

    Aaron: Hmm… The file seems to be busted. Well, at least I can return it to the technocrats without any worries… assuming they don’t think I tampered with it. I guess without this Green Fairy, there is no file.
    Lydia: So she’s really gone.
    Aaron: This really has been a bad day for mothers.
    Hanson: You ok Lydia?
    Lydia: I don’t know… I think I need to find Alfred. Find out what’s happened to the Coven.

    Sean noticed a number of Choristers tending to the cathedral, cleaning up the blood from the floor. As he observed, one of the younger members sheepishly approached him.

    Chorister: Uh… hi. I heard about all the stuff you did for the Chorus… how you stayed undercover with the pagans trying to find nephandi… I heard they captured the guy because of your work… And I know that the opinion is really divided on you, but personally, I think you were very brave.
    Sean: Thank you… I think I better go check on this prisoner.
    Chorister: Sorry if I interrupted you.

    Sean rushed out of the chantry and rushed as fast as he could towards the Chapter House. He had to fix a terrible blunder of judgement.

    Eve: Helen!

    Eve ran across the room to Helen and hugged her tightly. Helen hugged her back.

    Eve: We are getting you to Brazil tonight!
    Helen: Good.
    Aaron: Hey… do you mind if I tag along too? I could do with a fresh start free from Technocrats.
    Eve: If you’re ok to provide your own transport.
    Aaron: Don’t worry, transport has never been an issue for me. Hey Hanson.
    Hanson: Yeah?
    Aaron: Helen and I are going to Brazil. You want to come along too? Think of the zany adventures we could get up to?
    Hanson: I’ll think about it… Might be a plan though.

    Sean arrived at the chapter house and demanded to speak with Preceptor Joseph Kent immediately, but was informed he was out on mission at the moment. Sean pushed forwards anyway and was able to get access to a direct line to him.

    Sean: Preceptor.
    Kent: Brother Sean?
    Sean: I have news regarding the nephandic infiltration of the Veberena coven.
    Kent: There’s no need to worry about that. We’ve already captured the culprit you informed us about.
    Sean: Where are you keeping him?
    Kent: In a secure location awaiting judgement.
    Sean: Preceptor, I’m sorry to inform you that this may have been premature. I have new information which shows this man is not the infiltrator.
    Kent: Then we should best continue with the raid of their chantry, occupy it, confiscate their tools and tass, and ensure it cannot be used for anymore evil.
    Sean: Please sir, this will not be necessary.
    Kent: Why? Do you know the identity of the traitor?
    Sean: Yes, and they have been neutralised already. All four members have been accounted for, I believe the coven is safe.
    Kent: Brother Sean, we’ve already got men around the perimeter of the chantry on watch, waiting for the word to go.
    Sean: There is no need to disrupt them any further. I assure you the threat has been neutralised.
    Kent: So you advise against liberation?
    Sean: Yes, and request that we allow the accused Gwyn to return.

    [Sean made one of the most tense Leadership rolls of his life.]

    Kent: We can call off the raid, but we can’t be certain that the threat is completely gone without further proof, so I’ll be imposing round the clock watches on the base and any member activities, working closely with the chorus.
    Sean: Thank you Preceptor. And what of Gwyn?
    Kent: I’m sorry, Brother Heath, but until we understand his role in all of this, we cannot release him. He will remain in our hold until such a time as we see fit to release him.
    Sean: I see…
    Kent: I expect to see a full report on the incident, and a formally written request detailing what we have just discussed. And make sure nothing is left out.
    Sean: Yes sir.
    Kent: Oh and Heath… Welcome back.
    Sean: Thank you sir.
    Kent: May the Lord Preserve us.

    Hanson returned to his office, brought a suitcase out of his closet and starting to pack his things. When he got to his desk he stopped and looked. Amongst the filled ashtray, empty bottles, and scattered newspapers and notepads, he saw a knife with a helical hilt… He picked it up and thought about everything he’d be leaving behind. Remembered when he left America. Part of him was apprehensive about leaving with the Hermetics, he could trust the Euthanatos much more than he could trust them, but was also unsure how he’d go about forging stronger ties with them, if that was even a good idea.
    With his suitcase in the corner of the room, only half packed, he put the knife down, grabbed a glass, and helped himself to whatever remained in his cabinet. Settling down he called out into the busy silence.

    “Dubois?”

    ---NOTES---
    And so the session ends with certain character more on more ambiguous terms than others. Helen and Aaron would be going to Brazil. Eve has contacts with a chantry there who would help them get settled. Lydia would meet up with Alfred, who would have to then decide whether he would continue to be the High Priest of the coven. Either way, with the Templars breathing down their neck, and the loss of Gwyn, they will need to work hard to both free him, and rebuild their numbers to ensure the Coven can return to a more stable place. Sean would return to his life as a Templar knight.

    Considering that Lydia’s player had missed pretty much the entirety of this plot, she managed to slot in right at the end very well and still provide a meaningful contribution to the story. Had she been here throughout, I would have properly roleplayed the conversation with her father, with what he divulged dependant on what she asked him. I also would have made her attempts to reach the Green Fairy a bit more arduous, and perhaps even require a trip to the Astral Realm, or even into space itself.
    One thing that really took me by surprise was Lydia wishing for the Green Fairy to fight the Wyrm. I don’t know why, but that threw me completely off guard as a solution. Oh, and to any Werewolf fans out there, this isn’t actually the Wyrm that they fought against, but aspect of the Wyrm, an Incarna. Though in terms of how boned they would have been without intervention, the distinction is pretty irrelevant.

    ---REFLECTION---
    So that’s it then. An entire year’s worth of Mage campaign, completed, and fully written up. I’m really happy with how it all turned out, and incredibly impressed with my players. This system is incredibly difficult to get your head around, but they approached it amicably and ended up very comfortable with it all, flinging of spells and triggering paradox with the best of them. One of my players even suggested interest in running their own game. It’s a bit of a shame I won’t be able to play it since I’ll be in a different city, but it’s such an amazing feeling to know you’ve inspired someone to tell a story.

    There have been so many times during this chronicle that I’ve been certain I’ve destroyed the story. Even in the last few days I was convinced I’d given myself too little time to resolved anything properly. I’m still rather amazed that this thing managed to stick the landing. I guess that’s what happens when you have players that care about storytelling as much as the Story teller.

    Anyway, feel free to leave comments and questions. It’s going to be a while before I can get this stuff out of my head, so I’ll be happy to go over any plot details that were lost, or didn’t quite make sense, as well as clear up some of the more ambiguous parts of the story. Whatever it is you guys are interested in knowing more about.

    Thank you for reading.

    Leave a comment:


  • Saikou
    replied
    Session 39

    This is the final session. As previously noted, the only absentee was Alfred.

    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:

    Granny Elm: Nephandic Crone.
    Joseph Kent: Preceptor
    Eve: Helen’s mentor
    Violet Dubois: Assassin from afar.


    --- CHAPTER 39: GREEN FAIRY---

    It was the middle of autumn, during the battle for Hampstead Heath. Lydia had crossed the Gauntlet with Alfred in an effort to confront Malady when she got separated, lost in the penumbral fog and unable to find her way back. She stumbled about, calling out for Alfred, keeping her eyes alert for Malady, but only found herself getting ever more confused. Just when the fog was at its thickest, almost instantly it started to clear. She found herself on the streets of London, except that everything was in disarray. Many building had collapsed, and those that still stood exhibited great marks of damage. The road had large cracks along the surface. Road signs, street lamps, and all things similar where either fallen, bent, snapped, or simply broken. But most noticeable was this ever-present green flame which bathed the entire city. Just as Lydia got over the shock of this sight, she began to notice the great number of human remains. Some trapped in upturned vehicles, some crushed under collapsed buildings, some simply discarded on the side of the road, but all seemingly caught by surprise. She walked about the remains of the once great city until she came across a unicorn.

    Lydia: Hello?
    Unicorn: What are you doing here?
    Lydia: I don’t know. What happened?
    Unicorn: Nothing… yet.
    Lydia: What do you mean?
    Unicorn: You have stumbled upon a Vista, an echo of time which shows those who enter it a vision of the end of the world.
    Lydia: So I’m still in the umbra.
    Unicorn: Indeed.
    Lydia: Is this the future then?
    Unicorn: It is a warning.
    Lydia: So it can be stopped?
    Unicorn: Yes, if the warning is headed.

    Overhead, Lydia notices a great green ball of fire hangs above them.

    Lydia: And that’s what caused it… this looks like something out of revelations. Is the Green Fairy involved with this?
    Unicorn: I can’t say I’m familiar with the myths of man.
    Lydia: But you’re a unicorn, you’re one of our myths.
    Unicorn: Perhaps that’s why you think of me, but that is not important right now.
    Lydia: I need to get back home. I have to stop this.
    Unicorn: Followers of the Wyrm are at work. I will do what I can to aid you.
    Lydia: First I need to get out of the umbra.
    Unicorn: I may be able to take you part of the way, but the rest you will have to make on your own.

    The unicorn spirit allowed her on to its back as it rid away from the damaged mirror of London. The Unicorn’s route brought her through a strange scene where flicked images played about her. She saw Alfred confront Malady, Vivian throw herself into the portal, the nephandic ritual atop the node of the Heath, the death of the King in Yellow and its many rats, and the brief glimpse of a ball of green fire. She could tell these were glimpses into the present, into a battle she was missing, or perhaps the past had she been in the Umbra longer than she realised.

    Over the next few months, Lydia stumbled about the umbra trying to learn of a way to pass through the gauntlet. The Lunes provided her with some guidance, but in the end it was her own study of Spirit, the development of her skills, which allowed her passage once more. Once she learned to step sideways, she immediately found herself back on her old island of the coast of Ireland. Weary from her time away from the mortal realm, she stayed there to recuperate, but did not lose sight of what was important. She would have to speak with Uncle/Father Michael to find out what he knew about the Green Fairy.

    When they spoke, the Chorister was somewhat guarded about the affair, and tried to change the subject multiple times. But Lydia’s insistence wore him down, he admitted he knew the Green Fairy, but long before she became the Green Fairy, and in the end told the entirety of his story.

    Years ago, when he was still a part of the Verbena, he was enthralled by tales of the fabled River of Time. Many mages spoke about finding it deep in the umbra. A great stream of events which would flow at a constant rate, branching off into various deltas where possibility came into play, and fate dictated the current. It was said that to journey along the river’s banks was to see the mysteries of the past, or the answers of the future, while diving in would bring you to these places. He had searched long and hard with his fellow cabal mates, but never found the river itself. Almost all of his cabal had given up the search to pursue other things. However, one of them returned to him excited. They had found the River of Time and learned a great deal from it. He could tell that she had gained a great deal of power far surpassing any Mage he had known. She showed him parts of the umbra he had never realised, and demonstrated a level of control beyond mastery, into Arch-magick. At first he was amazed, even encouraged. Their time even blossomed into relationship which he stilled recalled with fondness. But he soon learned her powers had a more sinister edge. She began to think of herself as more than a Mage, but as a spirit, a great creature put on this world to provide for all who wish for her. One particular experience which shook him to his core was when she answered the wish to end the suffering of those in Ireland, and responded by destroying the people there, killing all life and thus any chance of suffering. Though her purge allowed the island to reform anew, such a callous attitude towards life went completely counter to his own views. She disappeared into the umbra, perhaps towards the River of Time and he had not seen her since. What he saw was enough to shake his beliefs. He left the Verbena in favour of joining the Chorus for what he thought was a more tender view of Magick. Before he left the Island he had stayed in with his sister, a child had washed up on the shore. He instantly knew it was hers, as well as his own. Lydia had learned that the woman, a Powerful Arch-mage who believed herself to be a fairy, was her mother. He had never seen her since her dissaperence, and due to what little he understood of the River of Time, it was impossible to find her as long as she could travel it. He had to leave the island because. He left the island for a variety of reasons. Partially to be closer to the Church, but also because staying on that island was becoming unbearable. He regarded the unawakened sorcerers there as morons, ill-equipped to handle the gifts they had stumbled into, but also because staying with Lydia was just too difficult for him.

    Lydia returned to her island to celebrate Yule with the family she had known all her life, but soon she heard the call on the Lunes requesting her to return to the capital. That without her intervention, the horrible vista she had witnessed was soon to come to pass “The Green Fairy Is Coming”.

    [ST NOTE: This little bit with Lydia was done in a private session the day before the last one, and it served a few purposes. First it allowed Lydia’s player a chance to be reintroduced to this world and to her character, since she has been absent now for several months. Second it allowed me to fill her in on enough detail of the current threat to keep her invested without overwhelming her with information. Lastly, by giving her information that none of the other players had, it would shift the dynamics from being a player who’s missed out a lot, to a player who has a different perspective to provide.]

    Helen had a very rough night. When she returned she went straight to the Hermetic chantry and tried to rest, but was overcome with wave after wave of emotion. She felt rather unsure of herself, slightly untethered, as though the one thing that was guiding all her decisions was now lost. She looked at the table, the eye, magically preserved, looked back at her. After getting what little rest her troubled mind would allow, she made her way to her own little chantry node, and drained it. It was only a small node anyway. Eve had been spending the night making preparations for her transfer to Brazil and so probably wouldn’t notice.

    Hanson sat in his office during the dark sunless morning, coffee slowly brewing, cigarette gently burning. He could tell that something big was going down today. The spiral of suicides was almost at its end, and he still had no idea what this actually meant. However, something else was troubling his thoughts, Aaron and his deal with the technocracy to find him. He had no intention of going through with it of course, but the moment they found out, it would be putting a big target on his back and he’d be on the run once more. He breathed deeply, slipping into a dream, wondering exactly what would help Aaron. The smoke filled the air and formed into a shape, a laptop… The machine opened up, hung in the air, and dissipated. Hanson couldn’t say for certain, but he had a feeling this meant the Esther file was involved.

    Sean is at the Keepers, waiting for the knights to carry out their arrest of Gwyn, while Aaron went back into hiding in Helsinki. He was taking a break from a few online espionage work when he got a phone call.

    Aaron: Hello?
    Helen: Hi, I need some help.
    Aaron: What is it?
    Helen: I have something technological that I need help understanding.
    Aaron: Cool, what is it?
    Helen: It’s an eye.
    Aaron: …like a bionic eye?
    Helen: Sort of, it’s got something attached to it.
    Aaron: Could you send me a picture or something?
    Helen: Sure.

    Helen quickly snaps a picture and sends it over to his computer. Aaron looks at it, but isn’t really able to get anything too concrete.

    Aaron: I’ll have to look at it in person. Where did you get this?
    Helen: From my mother.
    Aaron: The fox you mean?
    Helen: Yeah, except she was turned back into a human… Then killed.
    Aaron: Killed!?
    Helen: Alfred’s grandfather…
    Aaron: Oh… uh… I’m sorry….. Hey, at least that’s one fewer parent to look for, right?
    [gotta love failed Charisma rolls for condolences].

    They agree to meet at the Helen’s Chantry, one of the few places in London Aaron could think of where technocratic eyes couldn’t follow. He set up his computer, got the coordinates ready and coded space around him to place him by the front gate. Helen was nearby and led him to her room. Daylight had only just started to show as the stone walls and faux marble pillars of the chantry illuminated the surrounding stone. Once arrived, Aaron began to set up his computer.

    Aaron: Right, so let’s look at this eye then.
    Helen: Here (handing him the eye)
    Aaron: (a bit disgusted) Err… That’s actually an eye…
    Helen: Yes.
    Aaron: Where did you get this?
    Helen: It was my mother’s…
    Aaron: You plucked out her eye!?
    Helen: She asked me to!
    Aaron: Ok… ok, sorry, don’t get upset… Well, if this is a real eye, then it’s definitely Progenitor tech we’re dealing with.

    He runs an analysis on the eye and learns that there is a circuit board attached to the optic nerve. Any information that passes through the nerve is received, stored, and transmitted. There is also a number of other features to receive and output information as well.
    Aaron quickly points the eye away before speaking to Helen.

    Aaron: This seems to be some kind of V-DAS. It’s what technocrats use to provide and access information out of the cloud. Ready for the bad news? There’s a chance it’s been recording and sending everything it’s been seeing off to some Technocratic base.
    Helen: What!? But it’s been with me for over a month!
    Aaron: Then I suggest you pack your bags.
    Helen: My mentor it taking me to Brazil.
    Aaron: Oh wait… hold on. According to the timestamps, the last thing that was transmitted was over three years ago. Guess we’re safe.

    Aaron goes on to look into the files and notices a small amount of inbuilt storage containing a number of files that were never transmitted. Clicking through them, it turns out to be every instance of Helen’s life as seen through the eyes of her mother, any trace of her living was kept from being transmitted, and saved. Helen looked at it with a mixture of solemn delight and longing. Her last gift from her mother was a catalogue of memories. Aaron put everything onto an external hard drive for Helen to go through at her leisure.

    Aaron: So… Going to Brazil then?
    Helen: Yeah, so the Technocrats don’t find me.
    Aaron: Can I come too? I could do with a little extra security in my hiding.
    Helen: I think so.
    Aaron: Nice.

    Shortly after the file transfer is complete, Aaron shows Helen the Esther file, and quickly explains what it’s capable of doing. How with just a little bit of personal information to fill in the parameters, it can tell you precisely what a person is going to do and where they will do it. As he explained it, a thought occurred to him. He got to his phone.

    Hanson: Hello?
    Aaron: Hanson, hey. Do you still have Sarah’s phone number?
    Hanson: I do, why?
    Aaron: And you haven’t heard from her in a while, I’m guessing.
    Hanson: Not since what happened to Edwin…
    Aaron: Well if you could give me the number, I can try and find out where she is and what she’s doing.
    Hanson: Sure.

    He enters in Sarah’s number into the Esther file, and runs the executable. The programme stirs and starts it calculations. Aaron knows this is going to take some time. To pass it, he opens another window and watches it with Helen. The Hanson show, the colocation perception effect that provides entertainment for all the family. The two of them spied on him, watching as he approached Churchill Gardens.

    Hanson arrived at the Keeper’s chantry, finding Sean there.

    Hanson: Everything ok?
    Sean: Yes, most of the coven are out, searching to protect the rest of their followers for committing suicide.
    Hanson: I’ve been wondering about that… There’s something we’re missing here, some key part of this situation that’s gone right over our heads. It’s gotta be Sarah… I think she might still be associated with the Spirals.
    Sean: Perhaps…

    Sean stops as he sees someone approaching the coven’s entrance. Lydia has returned.

    Hanson: Lydia! You’re back.
    Lydia: Hello Hanson… Everything ok?
    Hanson: Sort of… The coven is falling apart. Hold on, where have you been?
    Lydia: Trapped in the umbra.
    Hanson: Oh…
    Lydia: Don’t worry, I got out.
    Hanson: I see that… How exactly?
    Lydia: I just learned how to get out.
    Hanson: Right… Anyway, so we think the Spirals of Madness are conducting a ritual by killing off members of the coven in the shape of a spiral on the face of London. They want to summon the Green Fairy who will come and destroy the world.
    Lydia: Oh really? The Green Fairy is my mother.

    The disbelief of Hanson’s face is palpable.

    Hanson: …I… Uh… What!?
    Lydia: I asked my Uncle/dad, that’s what he’s told me anyway.
    Hanson: …well, I hope you’re ready for a family reunion.
    Lydia: Do you know when she’s arriving here.
    Hanson: Not a clue…
    Lydia: Have you tried asking Granny Elm?
    Sean: That might be a good idea actually.
    Hanson: … might as well.

    The three of them entered the chantry, and Mica allowed them into the undergrove. Mica, as it turned out, was getting entirely overwhelmed by everything that was happening, from the suicides to the nephandic plot, being torn between whether or not Alfred made a good leader or not, the loss of Vivian, and the whole “traitor amongst the keepers” thing. She had entirely withdrawn into her room, wanting as little to do with the outside world as possible.

    Hanson, Lydia, and Sean left Mica to her room and ventured towards Granny Elm’s door. On the way, Lydia scribbled several runes down to try and determine where the person responsible for all this death was located… All she could determine was that the culprit was outside the chantry.

    Hanson: So that rules out Mica at least.
    Sean: As well as all of us, and Granny Elm, if she’s in there.

    The door to her room is ajar, and a cold atmosphere starts to grow as they approach. Peering inside they see a low glow of candlelight on the desk. They call out for her but there is no response. Slowly, they edge their way inside. On the table are four piles of cards. At the top of the piles a single card lies face up. The piles are:

    THE KNIGHT OF DYNAMISM with it’s terrifying dragon.
    THE PAGE IF QUESTING, a lost women amid a field of bones
    THE TOWER, a great building struck down by power from afar
    THE STAR, a mysterious woman who holds both water and blood.

    [ST NOTE: I knew this session would be my last chance to use the Mage tarot cards for a very long time, so I set up this little puzzle for them to enjoy. They were able to choose each pile and muse over the cards beneath it, trying to figure out its meaning and what insight it may offer on their predicament. I allowed enigma or occult rolls to give them hints about what certain cards might be referring to, as well as the general meaning that the card holds in tarot. I will tell you the intended meaning bellow]

    Sean was most interested in the Knight of Dynamism card as it is one that came up multiple times in his readings. As he touched it, the cards automatically unfolded beneath it, showing:
    KNIGHT OF DYNAMISM (The Cataclysm about to unfold)
    THE HERMIT (referring to Hanson)
    THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE (referring to Violet Dubois as a Euthanatos)
    NINE OF DYNAMISM (referring to the ever troubled Sarah)
    QUEEN OF PRIMORDIALISM (To Granny Elm herself).
    The general theme of this card was about the events to come.

    None of them got Granny Elm as the Queen, but Hanson did pick out Sarah. Interestingly, both Hanson, Sean, and Aaron assumed themselves as the Hermit.

    They next chose the Page of Questing which had:
    PAGE OF QUESTING (Helen)
    ACE OF DYNAMISM (Alfred)
    THE EMPRESS (Vivian)
    FIVE OF PATTERN (Boris)
    QUEEN OF PATTERN (Helen’s Mother)
    The general theme of this was a the blood feud between Helen’s and Alfred’s families.

    Lydia considered herself the Page of Questing, while Hanson wondered if the blade in the Ace was that of the Spirals. The prisoner in Pattern was more of a concern. Helen eventually saw herself in the Page, recalling that it was in her personal reading… In the end they came to the conclusion that this group of cards was about events that had already past, and thus was no longer relevant.

    Next, Lydia chose the Tower. It held:
    THE TOWER (The Keeper’s Chantry on the brink of collapse)
    THE HIEROPHANT (The Celestial Chorus/Templar Knights)
    KNIGHT OF QUESTING (Sean)
    THE HANGED MAN (Gwyn)
    The theme of this was how the coven would come to fall. That Sean’s intervention would be the final nail in their coffin.

    Pretty much everyone said something to the effect of “Guys! I think this one’s about me!” It was actually hilarious how convinced they were that each card was about their own specific situation. Sean was the only one who stayed quiet as he knew exactly what these cards referred to, and had no desire to out himself.
    Eventually they figured out that it was about the chantry and the Chorus, but we unable to really get further than that.

    The final cards unfolded on their own.

    THE STAR (Esther/The Green Fairy)
    THE DEVIL (The Wyrm/ The Nephandic Plot)
    JUDGEMENT (The beginning of the end of days)
    LUNA (Lydia)
    THE MAGE (Aaron)
    The general theme here was the plan coming to fruition. The green star would approach and bring about the end, while only Lydia and Aaron would have the power to communicate with the star and influence the outcome.

    Pretty much everyone recognised the spiralling Wyrm in the Devil card as the Spiral’s handiwork. It surprised me how long it took them to think of the Esther file when they saw the Star. Lydia did not see herself in Luna this time, but did after a bit of prompting. Though even they I don’t think they fully realised that it meant they were the ones who might have influence over these events… at least not right away.

    The Esther file finishes its analysis. Aaron moves over to look through it and learns that Sarah is currently at Westminister Cathedral and holding a number of knives. Aaron and Helen head off. Meanwhile, in the undergrove, Sean notices a Rat spirit climbing up his sholder.

    Rat: Hey, you said you wanted to be told when something suspicious was happening?
    Sean: Yes…?
    Rat: Well, there’s stuff happening in the big stripy building not far from here.
    Sean: Big stripy building?
    Rat: Yeah, one with all the long tower, and all the domed bits.
    Sean: You don’t mean Westminster Cathedral do you?
    Rat: That’s the one, as I said, something strange happening there. See ya.
    Lydia: Was that a rat spirit?
    Sean: Yes, we need to go to Westminster Cathedral.

    Before they set off, however, Lydia heard something calling her from the node room.

    Voice: Lydia…
    Lydia: What is it?
    Hanson: What’s what?
    Lydia: Something’s calling me.
    Voice: Lydia… you are needed

    Lydia is lead to the node room, unsure of how to react, Hanson and Sean follow her.

    Hanson: I don’t think now is a good time to follow any unknown voices.

    Lydia: It’s coming from beyond the gauntlet… I think I need to cross over.
    Hanson: Don’t listen to it!
    Lydia: It sounds familiar… I think I know what this is for.
    Hanson: Are you sure about this?
    Lydia: Yes, I’ll join you later.
    Hanson: I really don’t think you should be trusting this voice.
    Lydia: But I do trust it, and I’m going.
    Hanson: Ok… Good luck.

    Hanson and Sean quickly exit the chantry as Lydia prepares her ritual to cross over into the umbra. Although it has only just turned afternoon, the sky had grown cold and dark, as though the light around it had been absorbed by some malevolent force. Not a single soul was about except for them, an eerie sight in and of itself in the usually bustling city.

    Sean: I’ve been thinking. You remember the other day you said you saw four figures involved in the Spirals of Madness?
    Hanson: I did?
    Sean: Yes. One with a withered arm, one overlooking, one cutting their hand, and one with a gun?
    Hanson: Maybe… Could have been a dreamstate, I get like that in the morning sometimes…
    Sean: Well, I’ve been thinking. We already know the withered arm. The one overlooking everything could be Alex, while the one cutting could have been the woman who jumped in the river after we stopped Camellia.
    Hanson: Sounds reasonable.
    Sean: You think Sarah still has your gun?
    Hanson: She never gave it back.
    Sean: Then I think the fourth figure is her.
    Hanson: Sarah... what in the world have you gotten yourself into…

    Cautiously, they approached the doors of the cathedral and entered. The inside was dimly lit, unnaturally so. Life from the windows came through but it barely made a difference, as though the whole room was enveloped within a tinted fog.

    Hanson: See anything?
    Sean: Not much… We must be careful though. This feels like a trap.
    Hanson: Don’t I know it…

    They edge further inside before Hanson can make out a figure tired down to the alter struggling to free themselves. Hanson creeps closer while Sean hangs back and prays for aid, allowing him to see matter at a distance. As Hanson gets closer he realises it’s Violet who has been tied down. Before he can get any closer, something strikes him causing him to fall to the ground.

    Hanson: Ah! Violet?
    Violet: Who’s there!?
    Sean: Hanson! Watch out.

    Just as he was getting up, he is struck again by some unseen force.

    Voice: You shouldn’t have come Hanson.
    Hanson: Sarah?
    Voice: You should have stayed away.
    Hanson: And let you kill them all? Would that bring your brother back?
    Voice: Don’t you dare talk about him!
    Sean: She has a gun!

    Hanson dives out of the way just before the shot is heard. Sean looks ahead at a pile of floating hooded robes, with various pieces of metal stands ahead of Hanson, aiming at him with a very metallic gun. Sean gets to work, holding his crucifix close to this heart as he causes the gun to transform into wood. Hanson quickly puts on his shades and readies some Heat vision.

    Hanson: So this is what you’ve chosen then? How many people have you hurt for this revenge?
    Voice: How can you stand there and be so sanctimonious? You killed him! I trusted you and you sent her after him!
    Hanson: I know… I know, but you saw what was happening.
    Voice: Just like the rest of them. You could have helped him! You could have seen him as more than a threat.
    Hanson: No one could have helped him… Edwin was a marauder… There’s no coming back from that.
    Voice: I should never have trusted you!

    Hanson sees this humanoid heat pattern rushing straight towards him holding something very cold. Hanson is ready, and blocks the attack, pushing the figure to the ground and the gun out of their hand.

    Hanson: You joined them then. The spirals.
    Voice: They are the only ones I can trust anymore.
    Hanson: They are nephandi, Sarah, they want to harm people.

    Violet: She has my knife! Hanson! Get my knife!

    Hanson is picking up the discarded weapon, the gun which was once his own, and loses sight of exactly where she ran to. Sean is making his way towards Violet when he is assaulted by Sarah from behind, a sharp stab going straight into his armoured clothing. Hanson wastes no time, and prepares his Run ability and knuckle dusters to do some fly-by punches, no longer using any restraint against his onetime client.
    She runs at him and the two of them end up grappling each other to the ground in a tense pull. But Hanson is able to overpower her and she drops the weapon in her hand. Sean runs, takes it and heads to Violet.

    Sarah snaps back, pushing Hanson who falls to the ground. As Sarah approaches with another knife, Hanson runs back to charge into her, when suddenly she stops running. Whatever spell she used to keep herself concealed is gone. Before Hanson stands a scared woman in dark but tattered robes, falling sharply to their knees, drops of blood leaking from her chest. From the alter, Violet stands, untied, her knife returned and dripping with fresh blood.

    Hanson: Quick! Sam! We have to get her out of here before she dies!
    Sean: On it!

    Sean and Hanson run to the heavily bleeding Sarah and try to drag her out.

    Hanson: Is this really your goal? Killing all these people?
    Sarah: I’m tired of running… I’m tired of hiding, of being the one in constant danger… I’ve had enough of this uncaring world.
    Hanson: We could have protected you.
    Sarah: And Edwin? Where was his protection? If we can’t protect those with the greatest need of protection, then what right does anyone else have?

    Her voice slowed as she spoke these last few words and her body fell limp only a few meters away from the door.

    Lydia stood upon the hill with the tree, the ancient spirit they Keepers protected. The penumbral shadows seemed much darker than she was accustomed to, as though even the air could feel the oncoming danger. Not far from her, the unicorn looked up to her.

    Unicorn: You have come.
    Lydia: Yes, I said I would.
    Unicorn: The star approaches.
    Lydia: I want to try and talk to her. The Green Fairy.
    Unicorn: Then we must go.

    The unicorn bent down and allowed Lydia onto its back, and road into the sky upon a sky bridge. The closer they got to the umbral sky, the darker and greener everything became. Ahead of them, traveling very fast, a single point of green light was slowly growing. As Lydia got closer and closer, she began to wonder exactly what would happen when she met her. Would she recognise her? Would she tell her why she abandoned her? Minutes passed as the giant green ball came into view, the light so intense it blinded her. She closed her eyes reflexively and lost all sensation in her body.

    When she opened her eyes, she was standing on a green meadow. Large rocks embedded in the rolling hills, and above her a rich and incredible night sky, filled with stars, shown with a clarity she had never thought possible. There was a gentle breeze which carried a midnight scent. Ahead of her, on top of the hill stood the most beautiful woman Lydia had ever seen. She glowed slightly in a green dress and wore on her back great transparent wings. Lydia could hear her gently humming a tune she only remembered in dreams. Slowly, she approached the Green Fairy of Ireland.

    Lydia: Hello?
    Fairy: Hello…
    Lydia: I’m… do you know me?
    Fairy: Another child from the sky… come to see me, a wish to grant perhaps?
    Lydia: Well… yes, but.. I’m your daughter.
    Fairy: Yes, my children. So many of them all who need my help.
    Lydia: You have more children?
    Fairy: All the stars, every single star is a child of mine.
    Lydia: So… you gave birth to stars?
    Fairy: Look about you, and see the cosmic landscape of my children.
    Lydia: ok… so what about flesh and blood children?
    Fairy: When my children live as people, they come from stars, and return to the stars in their death. The stars are where all my children reside, for they are them.
    Lydia: What about me? Do you remember me?
    Fairy: I remember all my children. For each has its own light.
    Lydia: What about a man? A man named Michael, do you remember him?
    Fairy: Michael…

    The Green Fairy stopped gazing up at the stars and, for the first time, looked down at the grass.

    Fairy: That name… somewhere distant…
    Lydia: He was a verbena, you had a relationship with him. I am the child you had.
    Fairy: I remember… long ago. I held many forms as I travelled this cosmic garden. Sometimes as a being of ice, sometimes as a star. I recall one instance when I was even a flying hippo.
    Lydia: Space hippo? I thought I made that up.
    Fairy: Perhaps the memory is deep in you, and came up from our connection.
    Lydia: So you know me! Right? That I’m your child?
    Fairy: My child… but of course, the entire world is of my children…
    Lydia: But I’m actually your child, like your daughter.
    Fairy: Yes, you and all the beings of this universe.
    Lydia: Do you not remember giving birth or anything like that?
    Fairy: My dear child, I have created and nurtured since the birth of time, guiding each star to its brightest point. Granting each wish that they have of me to fulfil what they need.
    Lydia: So you’re like the Blue Fairy form Pinocchio?
    Fairy: I once met the Blue Fairy, she’s very kind, but a little sanctimonious for my liking. Her wishes are only to those that she deems suitable. I, the Green Fairy, will grant to all who ask, for all are my children.
    Lydia: Even if they ask you to destroy things and kill people?
    Fairy: I cannot destroy.
    Lydia: So what did you do in Ireland all those years ago?
    Fairy: I was asked to help the land, to purify it of all wrong.
    Lydia: And kill everyone?
    Fairy: They did not die forever, they returned to the stars where they came from, and where they were destined to return from anyway.
    Lydia: I don’t think that’s right though.
    Fairy: All my children are of the stars, even while in flesh, they cannot be destroyed. Their spirit will always return. Do you not believe this?
    Lydia: Of course I believe that. The spirit will return. But not everyone does, and it’s not fair to enforce your beliefs on to others.
    Fairy: But if your belief is true, why do you worry what they think?
    Lydia: Because it might not be. We could be wrong. And even if we were right, why should we decide if someone should be made into a spirit.
    Fairy: They will return to flesh in time.
    Lydia: But they might prefer the flesh they had before.
    Fairy: It is the wishes that I grant. And if they prefer to remain, then that can be granted as long as it’s wished for.
    Lydia: Then grant this. I wish that you do not destroy anyone. Ok?
    Fairy: Yes my child. It shall be granted.


    [story too long, continued down bellow].

    Leave a comment:


  • Saikou
    replied
    Session 38.1

    Getting really close to the end now. Aaron’s player had a sudden appointment that not even he knew about until the day of, so it’s just four players present today. Suits me fine, four is an easier number to manage.

    Cast List

    Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
    Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy

    Notable NPCs Include:

    Camellia: Young High Priestess
    Eve Mackenzie: Helen's Mentor
    Beranabus Camlan: Alfred's Grandfather
    The Fox


    --- MINI CHAPTER: LOST MOTHER ---

    The air was cold when Helen came to. Alfred had led them through the old road and they had now emerged in the thick of the forest. Helen got up slowly, still tired from her extreme loss of blood. In the darkness, it was hard to make out the blackened veins. She knew this place. She couldn’t tell exactly where it was by looking, but she felt in the pit of her stomach the fear of that night. This was the site where it all happened.

    Eve: Helen, are you ok.
    Helen: I’m… yes.
    Alfred: Stay here, my Grandfather should be about soon.
    Eve: He is the one who will assist us with the ritual?
    Alfred: Yes. He should be here.

    Alfred went off into the darkness, feeling his way around by listening to the rhythms of the trees about him. It wasn’t long before he found him, or rather, before he was found by him.

    Beranabus: Hello Alfred.
    Alfred: Grandfather.
    Beranabus: It’s been a very long time, hasn’t it.
    Alfred: I want to apologise for the tone of my letter.
    Beranabus: Apologise? For stubbornly refusing my plea, the pleas of your family?
    Alfred: I know you’re only trying to look out for me.
    Beranabus: Yes. So I expect you’ll be returning home with me then.
    Alfred: Tonight?
    Beranabus: Of course.
    Alfred: I can’t do that.
    Beranabus: Alfred.
    Alfred: I can’t. People are relying on me.
    Beranabus: They can rely on other people. They survived this long without your assistance, I’m sure there are plenty of mages there capable of handling these things.
    Alfred: I’m not leaving the people I care about.
    Beranabus: Don’t be so insolent!
    Alfred: I have to help them Grandfather. I have to. They helped me, they are my kin.
    Beranabus: …I see… Then I’m not sure what good my being here is.
    Alfred: As I said in my letter, I need your help.
    Beranabus: Do you now?
    Alfred: Yes. With Helen.
    Beranabus: I honestly don’t know why you spend so much effort on her. Did she not betray your entire coven? Imprison your High Priest?
    Alfred: In revenge for what you and he had done to her parents. Which itself was also an act of revenge. This blood feud between the two of you must stop.
    Beranabus: What has she done to earn such favour from you.
    Alfred: It’s not about what she has done, it’s about what you did to her, and what you are going to make right.
    Beranabus: What exactly are you asking of me.
    Alfred: Talk to her.
    Beranabus: Certainly not. She is the child of the Technocracy!
    Alfred: She is a Hermetic Mage, and the Technocracy are against her as much as you are against them.
    Beranabus: She is still of their blood. You can’t change that.
    Alfred: Please, this is all I ask of you. Talk to her, listen to her. See how she has dealt with the revenge you took.
    Beranabus: …On one condition. I talk to this girl, hear her out, and in return you come back home where you belong.
    Alfred: Grandfather! I told you, there’s too much happening in London right now. I have to be there to help the fight.
    Beranabus: Fight? With the nephandi? You expect me to allow such a thing to someone as young as yourself?
    Alfred: I am the High Priest of the coven. I must be there to aid them.
    Beranabus: Well I’m sorry Alfred. If those are your terms…
    Alfred: Two days. Just give me two days. Two days to make sure everyone can take care of themselves, then I’ll come home.
    Beranabus: You’ll come straight home?
    Alfred: Yes, I promise. In two days, if you speak with Helen Walter, hear her out, I will come back to the family.
    Beranabus: …Fine. Where is this girl?

    Camellia sat on her own. She had a lot of things going on in her mind. Eve waited patinently with a pen in her hand, writing down various things into an open manuscript on her lap. The fox, now fully visible, was lying down next to her. Helen was thinking about the vision she just witnessed, and whether it was some kind of omen. Every now and again she looked at her fox, quietly hopeful that she could be restored. During this silence, Alfred and his grandfather return.

    Eve: Hello. I am Adeptus Olivia Georgiana Raphanell bani Jerbiton
    Alfred: This is High Priests Beranabus Camlan.
    Eve: A pleasure to make your acquaintance.
    Beranabus: Likewise.
    Eve: And this is Initiate Aileen Davina Freya bani Jerbiton, my student. I take it that this is your Mentor, High Priest Alfred?
    Alfred: Yes.
    Eve: Very good, I was informed you would help us teach my student some form of Life magic.
    Beranabus: You where, where you? (looking snidely at Alfred)
    Eve: Something to do with this fox.

    The fox looks up and sees Beranabus looming over her. Looking into this looming face causes the fox a great deal of panic. In her frenzy, she runs off, the leash slipping from Helen’s grasp as she disappears into the forest.

    Helen: No!
    Alfred: Adeptus Olivia! We need to get this fox! After it! Helen, stay behind with Grandfather.

    Alfred and Eve run into the forest after the animal. A chilled wind blows as the two sit in tense silence.

    Beranabus: So, Aileen, if I’m not mistaken, you go by another name, yes?
    Helen: I do.
    Beranabus: What would that name be?
    Helen: Helen.
    Beranabus: Helen?
    Helen: Helen Walter.
    Beranabus: …My grandson seems to be quite fond of you.
    Helen: Really?
    Beranabus: Or at least believes himself to be in debt to you.
    Helen: Oh…
    Beranabus: What is it you want of me?
    Helen: Yes. You turned my mother into a fox. I want her turned back.
    Beranabus: What do you know about your mother?
    Helen: I know she did some terrible things. And I know she hurt the Verbena people a great deal.
    Beranabus: “Hurt” does not begin to describe it. But anyway, knowing this, why would you want her turned back?
    Helen: I want closure.
    Beranabus: Closure?
    Helen: Yes. I’ve been searching for her, for both of them, for a long time. I want to see her again.
    Beranabus: When she returns, she might not remember who you are.
    Helen: Yes, I’m aware of that. She spent three years with a fox’s brain. But there may still be something of herself in there. I have to find it.
    Beranabus: And what if she remembers everything and tries to bring you in to their experiments?
    Helen: I don’t know…
    Beranabus: She destroyed a great many people, some of them I knew personally.
    Helen: I’ve heard. That’s why she’s been cursed, yes?
    Beranabus: So you understand what you’re asking of me? What undoing this curse would mean?
    Helen: I’m sorry. I know she did something horrible. But I need to see her again. I need her back.

    Though angered at the prospect of freeing her, he stood silently as he watched the pleading student.

    Beranabus: Closure is all you are looking for then?
    Helen: Yes, that is all I want.
    Beranabus: …Very well. I shall help you get your closure.

    Alfred tried desperately to keep up the pace with the animal, dashing between the trees, and under branches; his Life sense providing the only reliable sense of where it was moving. While chasing the creature through a straight path, he began to mutter calm poems in the hopes of accessing its mind and calming it down directly. It worked, and just in time as he stumbled on a rock and landed face first onto the mud inches away from where the fox decided to rest. He got up slowly just as Eve had caught up with them.

    Eve: Are you quite all right?
    Alfred: Yes. Managed to stop the fox as well.

    The two of them headed back to the site, Alfred lead the fox as they walked.

    Eve: Could we not have found another fox?
    Alfred: No, it had to be this one.
    Eve: Is there a reason for this?
    Alfred: Yes, but I cannot say. I swore an oath not to say anything that would get Helen in trouble with other Hermetics.
    Eve: Right. Well, that puts us rather at odds then.
    Alfred: I do apologise.
    Eve: But you’re absolutely certain we need this specific fox.
    Alfred: Yes, no other fox will do.
    Eve: Then there must be something special about this fox, but what…
    Beranabus: Well, this fox is your student’s mother.
    Alfred: Grandfather!

    They had only just arrived at the old ritual sight. Upon hearing this, Eve stood still in shock.

    Beranabus: She has a right to know what her apprentice is getting up to, doesn’t she Alfred?
    Eve: Helen… Is this true?
    Helen: Uh…
    Eve: Helen!
    Helen: Yes! Yes… this is my mother!
    Eve: Why didn’t you tell me earlier!?
    Helen: I didn’t want to upset you!
    Eve: …. You know what. I’m not even surprised anymore.
    Alfred: Secrets and lies are common with this one.
    Helen: I’m so sorry.
    Eve: At this stage, I don’t know what to say anymore. Is there anything else you’re keeping from me?
    Helen: No, that’s everything.
    Eve: Really?
    Helen: Yes, Really, this time really.
    Eve: …you’re lucky I wasn’t the most honest student to my mentor either.
    Helen: Really? What secrets did you keep?
    Eve: Now is not the time for such stories!
    Beranabus: The fox is ready?
    Alfred: I think so.
    Eve: So this ritual is to turn her back into a human?
    Beranabus: Begrudgingly, yes.
    Eve: You know how this happened?
    Alfred: She was a technocrat, who was involved in the genocide of a number of Verbena, including the family of our previous High Priest.
    Beranabus: You lost family to this woman too Alfred.
    Alfred: I did?
    Beranabus: Yes.
    Alfred: Wait… When you said that Grandmother died during the Ascension War… did you mean…
    Beranabus: Please…

    The look upon his face was enough to confirm his suspicions.

    Alfred: Grandfather…
    Beranabus: We still have time to leave things as they are.
    Alfred: I swore an oath, Grandfather.
    Beranabus: …then we must continue.
    Helen: What do we need to do?
    Alfred: Well, from what I read in the Book of Shadows, the Ritual required a sacrifice to work.
    Helen: My father…
    Alfred: This is going to be a problem…
    Eve: Is that why you brought her along?

    She gestured silently towards Camellia who still sat silently, unwilling to take part in any of this.

    Alfred: No! Definitely not.
    Helen: I… I guess that means I’ll have to be the sacrifice.
    Eve: Don’t be ridiculous.
    Helen: It’s the only way to save my mother!
    Alfred: Helen, thing about this. The whole point we’re doing this is for you two to be together…
    Helen: Then who could we.
    Alfred: I think it’s clear… It will have to be me.
    Beranabus: Do you really think I would allow that?
    Alfred: I have an Oath to live up to Grandfather. And unless you suggest finding a random innocent.
    Beranabus: Honestly, why must you be so dramatic? There is another way. It will take some time though.
    Alfred: What is it?
    Beranabus: We will each draw blood, take part a small but crucial part of the burden.

    They gather around in a circle, Camellia continues to sit this out, unwilling to do anything to assist Helen.

    Beranabus lead them in the ritual. They stood in a circle around the fox. A knife was passed round, with each member making a cut into their hand. He began a complicated series of chants which Alfred recognised as requests to the spirits and respect to the old gods. An hour passed before the fox began to react. It stretched out its arms and legs wide and held them there as the blood dripped from their hands in a circle around the creature. Alfred saw his Grandfather speak a request for the gods to remove the curse upon her, and return them from beast to man. He could hear the reluctance in his voice.
    Before them all, the fox’s limbs began to shift, bending in directions more unnatural for a fox. It’s fur began to shed, its claws shrink, its muzzle flatten, its entire body grow and breath. Each shift in movement followed a crack as its very bones broke back into shape, what started as a cry ended in a scream, a human scream through a disused voice. She lay there, a woman.
    Helen stared in disbelief at the face just before her, the heavily breathing face with an expression of confusion, fear, and hesitance.

    Helen: Mum?

    Her eyes flickered towards her. Though she did not speak, perhaps could not speak, Helen could feel her eyes remember. Alfred had never seen the often stoic and sorrowful Helen like this before. Her face read like a stormladen ship finally making rest to port, no longer cast out on the harsh seas. He was surprised by how much her journey’s end resonated with him. When he looked at his Grandfather, however, a very different portrait was painted, one of seething contempt.

    Beranabus: Is this the closure you sought?
    Helen: Yes! Yes! Thank you!

    Alfred noticed that something was up.

    Beranabus: Then my Grandson’s oath is fulfilled.

    In one swift motion, he pulled out a knife and cut a deep gash into the throat of Helen’s mother. Blood erupted from her as she began to choke. Helen Screamed, Alfred leapt to try and heal her with his salve, Helen too desperately tried to assist, but Beranabus actively dispelled their attempts, what little healing they could muster would only prolong her death.

    Alfred: No!
    Beranabus: Get away from her Alfred
    Alfred: Why have you done this!?
    Beranabus: She was a Progenitor Alfred.
    Alfred: Stop this now!
    Beranabus: Don’t you dare command me.
    Alfred: You don’t need to do this Grandfather.
    Beranabus: For the lives lost, I do.

    Eve stood in stunned silence as the face of her old friend, once thought long dead to her, came back only to be taken away so quickly. She marched forwards and readied her wand.

    Eve: You Monster!
    Beranabus: There’s no helping her now.
    Eve: Nor helping you!

    The two of them began to fight each other. Fire was thrown and vines were grown. Helen tried hastily to heal her mother mundanely, and though the blood did slow, it did not stop. She felt so close, but not close enough.
    The space around her darkened, a fire grew around her. Helen looked about, she was standing at a crossroad, on one side she saw Eve, the other, her Mother. The fire grew greater, both women where running as though time had slowed to a crawl. The fire grew with each passing second. She had to choose a path.

    [ST NOTE: This was Helen’s second attempt at a seeking, and she was fully aware of what was going on. The choice between her blood mother and her adopted mother, which one to save and stay with. There were no third options, there were no retries, just a single painful binary choice, and Helen’s player felt this pain intensely.]

    She chose Eve. Helen stood up and walked forwards and held up her hands.

    Helen: No more fighting! Stop! This has to end.
    Alfred: Grandfather! Leave her alone!

    The two mentors pause for a moment as their students speak.

    Alfred: Do you see what’s happening? You are allowing revenge to beget more revenge. Later generations are paying for the crimes of their parents.
    Helen: I want this blood feud to end! I accept that my mother was a murderer… She has to pay for what she did. I don’t want her death to cause more suffering, and I don’t want Alfred’s Grandfather to suffer for this.

    [ST NOTE: Helen had passed her seeking, she was letting go of something which had been haunting her for the past several years. She was choosing to look forward instead of looking back.]

    Helen returned to her mother, Camellia was standing over her.

    Helen: Mum? Can you hear me?

    She moved her head to face her, and tried to speak, though could only muster a few growls, as though words were beyond her.

    Eve: Helen… if she’s been a fox for the last three years…
    Helen: She has to remember me though, right?

    She returns to face her.

    Helen: I’ve missed you so much…
    Camellia: She missed you too.

    Helen looked up at her in surprise.

    Camellia: I can hear her thoughts. Her mind is mixed up, but I can tell she’s thinking about you.

    Helen rapidly drew shapes upon her mother’s head in order to gain a direct link, to hear what she can no longer say. A mix of thoughts flowed through their connection. All at once, Helen could feel a desperate search for a lost cub, an urge to protect, years of suffering as a fox, confusion as to what is happening right now, the feeling of her own life slowly slipping away and the relief that it would all be over soon. But most strongly of all those thoughts was love. This strong emotional pull bound and intertwined all others like points of a star. Through this love Helen saw her own face. Her mother was proud of her daughter.

    Helen: I love you…

    Helen could tell her understanding of human words was greatly impaired, but she could feel her react to what she said, as though she understood the meaning beyond the sound. Her mother tried to speak, but was unable to produce more than a slight growl. Helen could tell her understanding of human words was greatly impaired. In the ever dwindling presence of her mind, Helen could hear two concepts louder than all the rest. “Take” and “Eye”. “Take” she thought as she grasped to hold on to Helen’s hand. “Eye”. The last thought before breathed out. Helen kept hold of her hand, feeling all strength dissolve into the night. Helen began to cry over her. Embracing her mother for the final time.

    Camellia: I was wrong about you… You’re more like me than I thought.
    Helen: She’s gone…
    Camellia: Yes, but at least you had the chance to say goodbye. I wish I had that chance.

    Both Eve and Camellia stayed with Helen as she cried.

    Alfred retreated to his Grandfather, deciding it was best to give her some space.

    Alfred: There was another way.
    Beranabus: No, my Grandson, there was not. Not when we have lost so much to them already, not after what they did. To let them live would be an insult to all we swore to avenge.
    Alfred: I plead that you don’t harm Helen. She is a Hermetic mage with no ties to the Technocracy.
    Beranabus: While her blood may have the taint of her parents, this Hermetic mage, Olivia, seems to have quelled it to some degree. Perhaps she even killed that side of her much better than I ever could.
    Alfred: The fates laugh at us.
    Beranabus: They laugh at us indeed.

    A cold breeze blows, whistling through the trees as their naked branches sway. Their sound does little to cover the cries of loss.

    Beranabus: Well then, if you won’t be going home tonight, I should make my leave.
    Alfred: Actually, Grandfather, there was something I would like to speak to you about. The Green Fairy of Ireland is coming to London.
    Beranabus: What nonsense is this?
    Alfred: It’s true. I know you’ve been searching for her. Gwyn told me.
    Beranabus: There was a time years ago, but that search proved fruitless, what makes you think she would appear in London of all places?
    Alfred: The nephandi are summoning her as part of a plan to destroy the city. This is why I need to get back to London.
    Beranabus: Nephandi planning to destroy the world seems like a very good reason not to return.
    Alfred: And let them carry out their plan?
    Beranabus: And what do you think you could do that any other Mage in the city couldn’t?
    Alfred: Then come with me, come and help the fight.
    Beranabus: To London? Never.
    Alfred: You may even be able to meet the Green Fairy.
    Beranabus: You know very well I would never set foot in this city.
    Alfred: Not even to save it?
    Beranabus: That city is lost. It has been lost for centuries. Anything you stop the nephandi from doing would only be done by the teachnocrats.
    Alfred: But it might not just be London, it might be the entire world we have to save.
    Beranabus: Save the world… You really are very young. When you get to my age, you understand that saving the world is a task to great for anyone. You can only hope to save a small part of it. Sometimes the diseased branches can’t be healed. You have to know when to prune, Alfred. Know when to prune and focus instead on saving what may still flourish.
    Alfred: …I see. Thank you.
    Camellia: Alfred? I think we may need to return soon.
    Alfred: Just a second. Grandfather? There is someone I’d like to introduce you to. This is Camellia, our High Priestess.
    Camellia: Oh… hello.
    Beranabus: Then nice to meet you. If this your full name?
    Camellia: No… actually, it’s not my real name either. I chose this one when I joined the Keepers.
    Beranabus: So what if your true name?
    Camellia: Gwen Jones.
    Alfred: Gwen? As in short for Guinevere?
    Camellia: Yeah… And yeah, I know. It’s really similar to both Gwyn and Genevieve, that’s why I chose to rename myself.

    Alfred started to grow quite red at the realisation, it was almost too perfect. He looked up and saw his grandfather looking right back, a knowing smile perched across his face.

    Beranabus: Well, High Priestess Guinevere, I am sure we’ll have plenty of time to properly get acquainted.

    He takes Alfred aside to say a few words before departing.

    Beranabus: I see now why you are so intent to save this Coven.
    Alfred: She’s not the only reason.
    Beranabus: I’m sure she isn’t… and I hope you never suffer the same loss as I.

    These words strike a chord in Alfred, never before had he seen the old man open up to him this much. He gave the poor guy hug.

    Alfred: Are you sure you can’t stay with us.
    Beranabus: Even if it wasn’t London, I have my own to look after, your family if you don’t recall. And I hope to tell them that you will be returning within the next two days.
    Alfred: Tell them I will. And I promise you, I will.
    Beranabus: You’d better. And don’t you dare be late.

    His Grandfather smiled as he turned, though Alfred returned to Helen, who was taking a picture of her mother before the life left her eyes.

    Alfred: He’s gone. And we had better leave to.
    Eve: High Priest Alfred. I must apologise for attacking your mentor like that.
    Alfred: You were trying to protect Helen. Grandfather can be very difficult at times.
    Eve: Pardon me for asking, but are you as young as you look? I find it difficult to tell with Verbena.
    Alfred: I am, yes.
    Eve: And already so much responsibility piled upon you.
    Alfred: Helen… Would you like to bury the body here?
    Helen: She wanted to tell me something… Something about her eye.
    Alfred: Her eye?
    Helen: She wanted me to take it?
    Alfred: Hold on. Didn’t Sam say something about her having a matter pattern in her eye?
    Helen: Do you think that’s what she meant.
    Eve: Technocrats are known to put all kinds of tech implanted in them. It would not surprise me if your mother was required to have at least one of these.
    Helen: Alfred?…Will you help me take out her eye before we burry her?
    Alfred: Certainly.

    Alfred and Helen began to construct a ritual to widen the eye sockets around the eye, augmenting it just enough to have her mother’s eye move out of her head and into their hands easily. Camellia joined in the preparations while Eve stood by and supervised. Before long, Helen had in her hand an eye with a strange metallic component grafted to the stem. She would need someone familiar with this kind of tech to examine it for her. Camellia assisted in burying Helen’s mother, using Life to cause the plants to grow about her. Helen gave one final glance at the Welsh forest and recalled the day just before their disappearance when they hiked through the woods and ate food roasted over a campfire. Even now, it was one of her fondest memories.

    “Goodbye”

    ---NOTES---
    This turned out to be the most emotionally heavy session of the entire story, and I am so glad we had the chance to do it justice.
    By the end of her seeking, Helen’s player was in tears, completely absorbed within the internal struggle of her player, and Alfred’s player was also having trouble keeping it together. She had having an unbelievable tough time choosing between Helen’s Mother and Helen’s Mentor, and I am so pleased by how seriously she took this decision, and impressed by how much she allowed it to affect her.

    This was Alfred’s final session. His player offered to let me use Alfred as an NPC, but I never like doing that. Instead he’s going to be in London, but off screen, doing something away from the other players. He was so invested in this story and this character that he even wrote a bit of dialogue between Camellia and Alfred and a large amount of pros on Alfred’s return to his family. If you’re interested in reading this let me know and I’ll ask if Alfred’s player is ok with me posting this up here.

    The next session write up will be the last one. While a number of mysteries and plot hooks had to be disregarded, it will answer a large number of questions such as What has Lydia been doing all this time, What happened to Violet, What the Green Fairy is, as well as what the Spiral’s plan is.

    Thank you for your patience so far, hopefully I will finish writing this last session up within the next two weeks. After which point I’ll be happy to answer any questions and delve into any cut content you guys wish to hear more about.

    Leave a comment:


  • Saikou
    replied
    38th Session

    Getting really close to the end now. Aaron’s player had a sudden appointment that not even he knew about until the day of, so it’s just four players present today. Suits me fine, four is an easier number to manage.

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


    Notable NPCs Include:

    Keepers
    Camellia: Young High Priestess
    Genevieve: Recent Returning member
    Mica: Techno Witch
    Kael: Talisman Crafter
    Gwyn: Spirit Walker
    Rowan: Lydia’s Pupil.
    Granny Elm: Nephandic Crone.

    Knights
    Joseph Kent: Preceptor
    Davenport: Preceptor


    --- CHAPTER 38: BLACK CHRISTMAS---

    It was Christmas Eve, and the sky had long grown dark. Alfred stood by the entrance of what was once the Shadow Coven’s meeting spot. Alex’s body lay still within. Before leaving, Hanson dispelled mind effect, telling the four acolytes to Stop, but not until Alfred placed a mind command of his own, to Live. He did not want to let his followers leave without that desire to live, to avoid the suicides written into them by nefarious sources.
    Alfred waited for a long time that evening for Granny Elm and Camellia to arrive as agreed, but as the hours ticked by, and neither woman appeared, Alfred began to grow ever more worried. The idea that he had just allowed Camellia to be alone with a possible nephandi was too much for him to bear. He decided to run straight back to the chantry, to see whether or not Camellia had returned here, and if so then to learn what happened.
    In the undergrove, he found Granny Elm.

    GE: Hello High Priest
    Alfred: What happened? You and Camellia were meant to meet with me tonight.
    GE: Yes, unfortunately the High Priestess had a change of heart along the way.
    Alfred: What exactly do you mean?
    GE: She seemed to be too overwhelmed with everything that was going on, so I thought it was best if we returned to the chantry for her to rest.
    Alfred: Where is she now?
    GE: She’s upstairs in her room.
    Alfred: …thank you.

    Alfred rushed upstairs and tried to open the door to Camellia’s room, but it was locked. Frantically he started throwing out poems left and right in order to gain some kind of feel on her presence, her life pattern, her mind. Though difficult, he was able to sense a living, breathing, person on the other side of that door, unconscious as they were. Camellia was likely asleep in her room. He dared not to read her thoughts, but was relieved none the less that she was, at the very least, safe.

    It was half past eleven, and though a cold wind was picking up, Sean was determined to observe the holiest of days in the appropriate fashion. This meant he would have to leave the safety of the coven’s doors and attend midnight mass. He set off into the night towards a small Methodist church, but not before giving a prayer for occlusion. Paradox had fell upon him just after the fight, making his form much more vivid and seemingly important that someone living in hiding would otherwise prefer.
    The church is filled, as one would expect, with worshipers taking their seats, some waiting eagerly to hear the sermon, others already waiting for the entire thing to be over with. As he passed the threshold, Sean felt something unusual. He hoped that it was just his own paranoia choosing to put his faith in the lord to keep him concealed. As the sermon proceeded, however, he grew more concerned. He could feel that something was sensing out, possibly searching for his pattern specifically by use of prime, and Paradox may have nullified his attempts at staying hidden. He knew staying was a great risk, but also knew that leaving would be far too disrespectful. Throughout the night he kept his eyes forward, trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible.
    The sermon ended, and the organ began to play as worshipers began to file out of the room eager to get back to bed. Sean sits for a moment and scopes out the situation. While members of the congregation leave, there were two men who waited by the door. Sean had a pretty good idea who they were waiting for. He sat still on the pew and made as though he was reading his bible. As the church empties out, Sean prays to god to bestow around himself a greater correspondence ward than before so as to slip out unnoticed. But as he approaches the door with the last of the crowd, the men stand before it, doors closed.
    Before these men speak, Sean turns around, pretending that he had forgotten something, walks slowly to the middle of the church, and then makes a run for an emergency exit. One of the men calls out a phrase in Latin, jamming the exit door completely. Sean knew he couldn’t bring out his weapon in a house of God, and so saw only one other option available. He waited as the men approached, and clambered on to the pews and jumped right over them, and towards the door. He charged through it before they had a chance to react, making it out to the London streets, and face to face with Preceptor Joseph Kent.

    Kent: Brother Sean… It’s been a while.
    Sean: Yes…
    Kent: We have a car waiting for you, I do hope you will come quietly.
    Sean: I’m not sure I have much of a choice.
    Kent: Very good.

    Joseph Kent lead Sean into the back seat of the car. Seeing no alternatives available, Sean stepped inside and waited. He was joined by the preceptor a few moments before the car began to move.

    Kent: So, what do you have to say for yourself?
    Sean: Preceptor, there is a source of evil within the coven of the Keepers that I have been trying to root out.
    Kent: A source of evil, you say.
    Sean: Yes.
    Kent: I see… And you have been there for the last few months trying to learn about it yes?
    Sean: I have. In an undercover capacity. Their High Priest trusts me a great deal.
    Kent: You are aware of what would normally happen to Brothers who have gone AWOL? They are expelled from the Order immediately and removed to a life of penitence. There’s probably a monastery in Rural France with your name being written into the ledgers as we speak… However, if you have actually been doing the work of the Order this entire time, I think we can overlook a few months missed reports.
    Sean: That’s very kind sir.
    Kent: However, We would require a full report on the group, the chantry, and the nature of this evil.
    Sean: Nephandi, potentially the same group who were present on Hampstead Heath. I will need more time to assess the level of the threat.
    Kent: Then you have until before the day is out to return to the chapter house and provide a thorough report. If you don’t turn up, we won’t be so lenient with you.
    Sean: Understood.

    The car dropped him off at Pimlico, where he walked back to the Chantry to sleep.

    Hanson woke up early and followed his morning routine of coffee, a smoke, and a quick slip into a dream as he stared at the frost on his windows. This time he turned his mind towards the Spirals, specifically, how one would go about beating them. In the smoke he saw a strange creature, a spiral forming with a great many limbs and claws. Then a green light shining from above, dissipating this terrible monster into mist.
    Unsure what to make of it, he spent the rest of his morning going through papers and articles to see if he could find any new suicides, but was not successful.

    Helen gets up quietly, patting her fox on the head before creeping out of her room. It was early, and about the chantry she noted a number of decorations put up the night before were shinning with merriment. A reminder that today was Christmas. However, she had other things on her mind. Today was the day Alfred agreed to help her turn her fox back into a human. She sat at her node and tried to relax, drawing from it the power that dwelt within. As she brought herself out of her meditation, she realised someone was standing behind her.

    Eve: Good morning Helen.

    She spoke with quiet anger and indignation.

    Helen: Eve!
    Eve: And where have you been last night?
    Helen: I was… out.
    Eve: You were out. Because last night I bumped into Magistar Scholae Armando Sinclair before. It seems you had made an agreement to meet him before his departure.
    Helen: Yes… well.
    Eve: What’s more is he seemed to expect myself to be there with you. Part of your agreement.
    Helen: That’s… true.
    Eve: And yet, not only have you left me out of this, but as I understand it you also did not come back to the chantry until long after his departure.
    Helen: I’m sorry.
    Eve: It’s a bit late for sorry. Do you know how hard I worked to get the two of you in the same room?
    Helen: I’m really sorry.
    Eve: What is going on Helen? What are you keeping from me?
    Helen: It’s… well.
    Eve: Come out with it. You’ve been keeping things from me for a long time now, and I won’t stand for it a moment longer.
    Helen: Ok… I’ve been planning a ritual with some…allies.
    Eve: A ritual? With who?
    Helen: Do you remember the Keepers of the Wyck? It’s with the new High Priest
    Eve: And what exactly does this ritual include?
    Helen: It will be in Wales, and involves a fox, which I’ve been keeping in my room.
    Eve: You’d been keeping a fox!?
    Helen: …yes.

    Helen sheepishly lead her to her room and opened the door, the fox lay resting on her bed.

    Eve: How long has this been here!?
    Helen: The last few months.
    Eve: The last few months!?

    Eve was getting more and more livid as each layer of deceit was peeled away. Helen explained where the ritual was to take place, and that she had been in communications with the coven since the tribunal, but stopped short of even mentioning her parents. Certain details she felt were best left as secrets.

    Eve: I wish to speak to this High Priest.
    Helen: Uh… are you sure.
    Eve: No more secrets Helen. I’ve had enough of this. Do you have a way to contact him?
    Helen: Yes…

    Helen dialled his phone number, and waited for him to answer.

    When Alfred awoke, he immediately went down to the undergrove to check on his coven. Only Granny Elm was awake.

    GE: Good morning High Priest.
    Alfred: Good Morning. Where is everyone?
    GE: I’d guess they were still sleeping of yesterday’s festivities.
    Alfred: And Gwyn?
    GE: I have not seen him since yesterday.
    Alfred: So he hasn’t returned… Do you know when he will return?
    GE: Let me see.

    As Granny Elm took out her tarot cards and began flicking through them. Alfred muttered a small prayer for insight. He wished to see the state of Granny elm’s arm. Though his lack of understanding in the magics of decay make this an inexact search, his understanding of Life was enough for him to know harm and damage when it was present, and sure enough there was heavy damage on her arm. This insight troubled him significantly.

    GE: I sense he will return soon.
    Alfred: …Thank you.

    Alfred quickly made his way upstairs to the communal kitchen area and found Sean putting a chicken in the oven.

    Alfred: Sam? What are you doing?
    Sean: Just preparing a meal.
    Alfred: Is that a chicken?
    Sean: Money is tight.
    Alfred: You haven’t even stuffed it.
    Sean: Do you need to?
    Alfred: Take it out! You’ll burn the whole thing…

    Alfred started assisting/taking over the preparations of Sean’s attempt at a festive meal.

    Alfred: So, this is all for Christmas?
    Sean: Yes, it is an important date. It cannot go by unremarked.
    Alfred: I heard you left the chantry last night. Midnight Mass?
    Sean: Yes.
    Alfred: How did it go?
    Sean: …it went well.
    Alfred: Are you sure…?
    Sean: Quite.

    Alfred could hear the faltering tone in Sean’s words, one he was all too familiar with at this point.

    Alfred: Sean. What actually happened? Were the Chorus looking for you?
    Sean: …in a manner of speaking.
    Alfred: Were you found?
    Sean: …I was.
    Alfred: You’ve been hiding from them for a while now.
    Sean: Three months…
    Alfred: Is everything ok?
    Sean: It was a tense encounter. But in the end it went pretty well.
    Alfred: They just let you off? Just like that?
    Sean: More or less.

    Alfred was concerned, he couldn’t tell whether or not there was more to this story than Sean was letting on. He had little time to think it over. The moment he closed the oven door on the properly prepared chicken, his phone rang.

    Helen: Hello Alfred?
    Alfred: Helen?
    Helen: You agreed to help us get to Whales for the ritual, yes?
    Alfred: I agreed to help decode the ritual, you’ll have to get there on your own.
    Helen: How?
    Alfred: By train?
    Helen: It’s Christmas, the trains won’t be running.
    Alfred: ah…. Didn’t think of that.
    Helen: Yes, so if I take the fox, how will we get there?
    Alfred: I suppose I would have to take you across the pathways… but you’d need to be discreet. If the coven sees I’m still helping you, it won’t go down well.
    Helen: There’s one more thing.
    Alfred: What is it?
    Helen: My mentor is coming too.
    Alfred: …What!?
    Helen: She wants to see what we’re doing.
    Alfred: Exactly how much does she know?
    Helen: Well… she knows that it’s in Whales… And that it involves a fox.
    Eve: Helen, may I speak with him.
    Helen: Uh… I guess so.
    Alfred: Helen? What’s going on?
    Eve: Hello? This is the High Priest of the Keeper of the Wyck?
    Alfred: … yes, it is.
    Eve: I am Olivia Georgiana Raphanael bani Jerbiton. I thank you for being so kind as to guide my student in this ritual.
    Alfred: That’s… ok. How much has she told you?
    Eve: Only that it involves a fox and takes place in a specific forest in Whales… I suspect it has something to do with her parents as these are the woods they were last seen in. Most likely some kind of memory track or a search. Either way, she’s been doing things behind my back long enough, and if it of no inconvenience to you, I would like to be present from this point forward.
    Alfred: Well, I’m glad to hear she’s being honest with you for once.
    Eve: Quite. She has been keeping a fox in her room. It cannot stay here, otherwise her reputation may be affected if it’s discovered by anyone else.

    Alfred and Eve discuss the arrangements. They will meet at the Keeper’s chantry in the afternoon, at which time Alfred will take them on the Pathways to Whales. Eve left to prepare the fox for transport and instructed Helen to properly clean up her room. With all this decided, Alfred took Sean away from the kitchen, to a collection of bins outside for a clandestine conversation.

    Alfred: Sam, you still have a correspondence ward about you?
    Sean: The lord if protecting me, yes.
    Alfred: Good. Because I don’t want either Gwyn or Granny Elm to hear this.
    Sean: What’s happened?
    Alfred: I saw Granny Elm’s arm was hurt, I suspect she might be the Withered Arm.
    Sean: Is that all you are going on?
    Alfred: For now… It’s all we have.
    Sean: And what about Gwyn? Did you check his arm?
    Alfred: I forgot to check… I will do the moment he returns. Anyway, wait here a moment. I have some friends who owe me a favour.

    Sean stood back as he saw Alfred engage in some strange sequence of chanting. He had seen these chants before, and knew enough to know he was attempting to cause a shift in the barrier between worlds in order to converse with the spirits, but could not but help wonder what kind of spirit would be lurking here.

    Rat: Alfred! Legend!
    Alfred: Hello. I’m glad you recall.
    Rat: Another booze up round yours?
    Alfred: Not quite, I have an important favour to ask.
    Rat: Yeah? What is it?
    Alfred: I need you and your kin to be my eyes and ears about London.
    Rat: Oh really?
    Alfred: Yes. A number of my followers have been tricked by dark magic, forcing themselves into suicide. I need you to look about and tell me if you’ve seen anything suspicious or anything which suggests a suicide taking place.
    Rat: Oh… That’s quite a big task you got there.
    Alfred: (To Sean) Go into my room, there should be a large case filled with bottles of mead.

    Sean, confused as ever watching Alfred talk in tongues to the bins, decided to just go with it. He had seen much weirder stuff anyway.

    Rat: That the stuff you had at the last party?
    Alfred: The very same.
    Rat: Ooh, that’s going to go down a treat!
    Alfred: You can have one now. The rest I will offer on completion of the deal. That is, if we have a deal.
    Rat: You got yourself a deal, course you do.
    Alfred: Then here (placing one bottle out of the case and on the ground.)
    Rat: Alright lads! Have at it!

    A small swarm of rat Gafflings rushed over the bottle and dragged it away. From Sean’s perspective, it looked as though it fell over and rolled under the bins, beyond his sight.

    Rat: So, report to you?
    Alfred: No, to my friend here, as I’ll be in whales this evening.
    Rat: Who, him?

    The rat climbs up Sean and starts waving his paws in front of Sean’s eyes. Alfred begins to see a fatal flaw in his plan.

    Alfred: Sam, could you come here a moment please.

    He took the wooden rune passed down from the High Priest, imbued it with the power of the old world and pressed it hard against Sean’s forehead. It’s mark glowed gently upon.

    Rat: You ok?
    Sean: ... what?
    Rat: Oh good, he can hear me now. That’ll make things go a lot easier.
    Sean: Did you do this?
    Alfred: Yes, it’s a rat spirit. They’ll be our lookouts.
    Rat: Nice to meet you.

    The Rat jumps away, eager to get back to the mead. Sean looks at his shoulder where the rat once stood and quickly tries to brush it clean.

    Sean: What did you just do to me?
    Alfred: I gave you my spirit sight. It will last for as long as the rune is imprinted upon you.
    Sean: So I’m going to be walking around with this hellish symbol on my head?
    Alfred: Just for the rest of the day or so.
    Sean: …I guess I’ll get my hat.

    Returning to the undergrove, Alfred finds Mica awake and asks her to bring the entire coven to the meeting hall for an important announcement. Alfred noticed that Gwyn was one of the many who joined him, but noticed with some concern that Camellia was still absent.

    Alfred: Everyone. I’m pleased that you all have enjoyed the festivities of last night, but I have difficult news to share. Our coven is being targeted by attacks.
    Genevieve: We already knew that.
    Alfred: Yes, but our accolytes now are more vulnerable than ever. I fear that forces are driving them to harm themselves. Nephandic influences are at play.
    Sean: Last night, we raided an area they had been active in, and killed one of the members responsible.
    Alfred: Alex is dead, we killed him just as he finished a ritual to distort the minds of our followers to harm themselves.

    There is an uneasy silence in the air at this news. No one quite knows how to take this.

    Mica: Alex….
    Alfred: I’m sorry. I know some of you were very close to him.
    Genevieve: He turned?
    Alfred: Yes.
    Kael: Where is the High Priestess?
    Alfred: …that’s a good question.
    GE: The High Priestess retired to her room last night. The recent news left her distraught for the remainder of the night. I have not seen sign of her since.
    Alfred: I should check on her.

    Before he had a chance to move, Alfred felt a spiritual presence in the area. Switching his sight over, he noticed to rat spirits hanging about.

    Alfred: What’s happened?
    Rat: There’s something suspicious nearby. People with knives and that wondering about the park.
    Alfred: Which park?
    Rat: The one near that big building what has all the really nice stuff.
    Rat: Yeah, even got a queen and everything.
    Alfred: Bukingham palace?
    Rat: Yeah. Probably want to check it out.

    Alfred turned his attention back to the group.

    Alfred: Everyone, our followers may be in serious danger, we need to move out and help them before it is too late. Sam here will stay and act as sentinel.
    Kael: Him? As sentinel?
    Alfred: Do you have a problem with this?
    Kael: Weren’t his lot the ones crowing for our downfall?
    Alfred: Sam here has more than proved his loyalty to us. Though we may have different ideas on the nature of spirit and the gods, we agree where it counts, on defending the weak and protecting that which is in danger.
    Gwyn: And what of the High Priestess?
    Alfred: I shall check on her.

    The coven split into groups to leave and search the areas around Green Park and St James Park. Before Gwyn left, however, Alfred stopped him.

    Alfred: Gwyn, you got back ok?
    Gwyn: Yes… the Vikings fought hard, I was lucky to get away with both my arms intact.

    While he spoke, Alfred quickly did the same check on his arm’s health. Curiously there was damage there, but without knowledge of Time nor Entropy, determining how fresh the wound might be was beyond his capabilities.

    Dissatisfied but with few other options, he let him go with Kael. If he turned out to be the traitor, at least he was sure Kael would be able to handle him. As everyone left the chantry, Alfred returned up the stairs to Camellia’s bedroom door. He tried to knock, but once again there was no answer. He tried to open the door, and to his surprise it opened without resistance. He peered inside uncertainly, but couldn’t see any sign of her. Worried now, he called out for her, searching about the room for any sign of what might have happened. All he sees is a small note left on the bed with words baring her handwriting. “I’m Sorry”.
    Staring at the words, he began to panic, searching every corner of the room for any trace of her. Finding nothing, he raced down to the ground level door of the Chantry where Hanson had just arrived.

    Alfred: Hanson! Camellia is gone!
    Hanson: What’s happened?
    Alfred: She’s gone! She was with Granny Elm last night, she came back and went straight to bed. Now she’s gone and has left this note.
    Hanson: (After reading the note) …Fuck!

    [ST NOTE: At this point in the game, I started a 10 minute timer. The player’s panic was palpable].

    The two of them rushed out of the door and looked about. The other coven members were already away, and they didn’t have the time to search for Sean as well. As they anxiously left Churchil Gardens, Alfred spied Eve standing with a leash in her hand.

    Alfred: …oh no. Not now!

    Eve, having noticed him, walked in his direction. Seeing no way to back out of this, he tried to make this meeting go as quickly as possible.

    Eve: High Priest Alfred, I hope you are well.
    Alfred: Yes… Olivia? Olivia.
    Eve: Ailene will be with us shortly.
    Alfred: Yes… wait, do you not have the fox?
    Eve: Right here.

    She gestured to the end of the leash, which seemed to fade away into nothing.

    Alfred: Invisibility?
    Eve: Well you can’t be discrete walking around London with a fox on a leash.
    Alfred: I see.
    Eve: So, are you ready to prepare?
    Alfred: Actually, Miss-
    Eve: Adeptus
    Alfred: Adeptus Olivia….
    Eve: Adeptus Olivia Georgiana Raphanel bani Jerbiton. But Adeptus Olivia will suffice.
    Alfred: Well, Adeptus Olivia, there’s something I need to attend to right now. Quite urgent actually. Would you mind waiting in our chantry for a while.
    Eve: It’s not a problem at all.

    Alfred quickly lead her back to the chantry. In the meantime, Hanson brought out his notebook and started sketching things down, trying to figure out more or less where Camellia might have gotten to. Taking out the map, he began to feel the shape of the spiral of his map, it somehow felt relevant. Focusing on the curvature, the path made within the storm, he started writing down a place name on his pad.
    “Vauxhal Bridge”

    Hanson: Alfred! She’s at Vauxhal Bridge!
    Alfred: That’s not far. Quick!

    They run, Hanson puts on his shades to invoke his Run effect while Alfred enhances his own muscles for speedy sprinting. In seconds they make it to the river. In the fading light, Alfred thinks he can see Camellia floating in the river, and jumps in after her without delay. The river is cold and painful but he fights through it to get close to what turns out to be a floating cardboard box.
    Hanson instead can see her standing on top of the bridge itself, close to the edge with a horrible look of resolve upon her. He rushed to the bridge and ran to her, tackling her away from the edge and holding her tightly.

    [ST NOTE: I stopped the clock now, the timer read 9:55. There was a huge cheer].

    Camellia: Let me go!
    Hanson: You do not need to do this.
    Camellia: Please, let me go.
    Hanson: I know it’s hard. It’s difficult. But that doesn’t mean we can run away from it.
    Camellia: I’m a failure! I’ve let them all die!
    Hanson: I’ve let people die too. People I was asked to protect. It’s hard, and it never gets easier, but you have to keep going, even if it’s one day at a time.

    Alfred was in trouble. He was still wearing his ceremonial robes and they weighed him down as he struggled in the icy water. However, seeing Camellia tackled away from the edge of the bridge brought him a slight comfort.
    Camellia struggled against Hanson, but he put everything he could into keeping her down and away from the edge, constantly echoing that she didn’t need to do this, and that it would all be ok.
    Alfred gasped as he reached the edge of the river, but was far too wet to grab hold of the walls and hoist himself up. Each attempt brought him crashing back down into the icy cold water.
    Helen, having finished her cleaning, arrived in time to see Alfred as he fought against drowning. Thinking quickly, she brought out her wand and traced out a parabola, pulling Alfred out of the water and on to the side of the bank in a heap.

    Helen: What happened?

    Alfred quickly scrambled to his feet, shouting out “Camellia!” before running to the bridge.

    Hanson was losing his grip as the girl continued to struggle.

    Hanson: It’s ok, you can make things better, but you need to still be here to do that.
    Camellia: No I can’t! I’m not Vivian!
    Hanson: Vivian made mistakes too. You could even say it was her that lead to this big mess in the first place. You’re their leader now, their high priestess.
    Camellia: But I’m not a High Priestess! I’m not a leader! I’m just a failure. Just a disappointment!
    Alfred: You’re not a disappointment to me.

    Camellia looked up as the sopping wet Alfred spoke to her.

    Alfred: We’ve made a lot of mistakes. I as High Priest have put my own values above the needs of the coven. I have been responsible for the safety of our followers and I have failed them just as badly as you blame yourself. I don’t think I am cut out for this job at all, and I would have given it to Gwyn a long time ago if you had not been there to make it all worthwhile.
    Camellia: Me?
    Alfred: Every day, knowing you were there, fighting for us all, dealing with the mess Vivian and Boris inadvertently left for us. I stayed to support you, even if I couldn’t support the others, I knew I had to stay because… I have feelings for you… And it hurts so much to see you like this.

    Hanson’s hold on her slips, allowing Camellia to break away from his hold. But instead of run back to the edge, she stayed still, fell to her knees, and began to cry. Alfred held her as she fell and the two of them embraced in sorrow. Alfred was at once distraught and relieved. Hanson breathed out, and almost cracked a smile seeing the girl give up her attempt at death. Helen stood and watched from a distance, unsure on how welcome she would be. As she walked along the bridge, she failed to notice the hooded figure walking behind her until she felt the knife’s cold edge pierce her skin.
    Hanson heard Helen scream and turned around, saw the assailant, and ran straight into them at incredible speed. Helen lay bleeding on the bridge, catching the attention of a small group of onlookers. Hanson held down the would-be attacker, pinning down their arm and dislodging their hood. He recognised her as the woman he saw last night, the woman who was disguised as Vivian.
    She stared at him, a small smile curling across her face as she pulled herself free and tried to stab him in the chest. Alfred ran to push her back and did so, but only for so long. Helen tried desperately to heal herself, she pulled out whatever she could find to trace as many shapes as she could on her back. But her panic, the disbelieving eyes of the onlookers about her, and the difficulty of drawing on her own back conspired to make her effect all but impossible. Paradox backlashed hard upon her.

    [ST NOTE: At 12 points, this was the biggest Paradox Backlash roll I had all game.]

    The bleeding on her back began to worsen, from a trickle to a stream, and then a full on jet. Blood began to leak from old wounds, slow at first, but rapidly intensifying until she resembled a shooting fountain of blood. The more blood she lost, the darker it became. It wasn’t long before it became completely black.
    Helen’s backlash distracted Hanson and Alfred long enough to lose the grasp of the hooded woman, who took the opportunity to dash to the edge of the bridge. Hanson tried to grab at her, but was too late. She had already jumped over the side into the frigid waters below.
    Camellia sat dumbfounded, covered in the blacked blood.

    Helen’s fountain soon slowed in intensity as she collapsed to the ground. Her skin had become very pale.

    Hanson: Alfred, we have to get her out of here. This was far too public.
    Alfred: You think you can carry her?
    Hanson: I’ve carried her before.
    Alfred: Then I’ll meet you at the chantry.

    Hanson pulled her over his shoulder and ran at full speed as far as he could, taking as complicated a path as he could to ensure no one was following. He arrived at the chantry moments after Alfred had done so with Camellia.

    Eve: Hello High Priest, are we ready to depart now?
    Alfred: Almost, there’s something we might need to take care of first.
    Eve: What is it now?
    Hanson: It’s her.

    Hanson put the barely conscious Helen on the table before them, her dark black veins standing in stark contrast with her new complexion. Eve wasted no time, and began to instruct the other two to bring her tools, mostly mirrors, in order to help resuscitate her student. She constructed the mirrors at perfect geometric angles before shining a light into them. The wounds on helen’s body began to close. Her eyes opened slightly, lifting her head in a very lost and confused manner.

    Helen: Eve?
    Eve: It’s ok Helen, we’ve got you. Get up slowly ok? You’re going to be just fine.
    Hanson: What happened to her?
    Eve: Paradox, by the looks of it. Reckless use of magic has always been a problem with her. Though it’s never been quite this bad.
    Alfred: Is she going to be ok?
    Eve: With any luck, though it might take a while before she feels it.

    As they spoke, they noticed a bit of colour returned to her cheeks. Her veins however remained as dark as ever.

    Alfred made the decision to bring Camellia along with them to Whales. He knew Granny Elm had done something or said something to drive Camellia to do what she just did and wasn’t willing to allow her a second chance. Once Helen was ok to walk, Alfred lead them towards a little known node detailed in the book of shadows, and onto an Old Road, a direct path to the forest in Whales.

    Helen slowly came too. It was pitch dark, and covered in trees. She look down at her hands and noticed her clothing had changed. She looked about her. The trees seemed much bigger than the should be, and the weather seemed much too warm for a typical winter’s night. Just a bit away, she heard the cries of familiar voices, calling out for her name.

    [ST NOTE: This was Helen’s seeking. I triggered it mid game due to time restrictions and as I’ll get into later, this may have proved to be a mistake. During the Seeking, she would be led by the voices of her parents and the glow of fire to an all too familiar clearing, the site of the ritual burned into her memory. She would try to free her slowly burning parents but be stopped by a black clad figure in a hood. Helen’s player made Helen free her parents who then ran off into the woods. Helen then grabbed a hold of the figure who would turn out to share her face. Any words she said to her would be echoed back in the exact same tone. The fire began to burn around them. Helen found she had a knife in her hand. Her choice was to let the black clad cultist go and run to safety with her parents, or to kill the cultist where they stood. They chose to kill the cultist with a stab in the chest. Helen’s own chest began to rip apart with a self-inflicted wound, and she fell to the ground dying, consumed by fire.
    Helen had failed her seeking. Her player was having none of it though. She felt a bit deceived, saying she didn’t realise she was having a seeking, that she thought it might have been a Mind trick (despite her not attempting any Mind magic to resolve it) or perhaps a bought of Quiet, and stated quite definitively that had she known, she would have chosen to let her go. This put me in a rather awkward situation. I couldn’t exactly allow her to repeat the seeking, it would be unfair to the other players who failed their first attempt. But she was so distraught by what happened that she risked disrupting the entire game.
    To be fair, it was true that the seeking was more of a surprise than the others, who had a solo session specifically for it. There was more I could have done to make it clearer. I decided to call a break, let people go get something to eat while I spoke privately with Helen’s player to try and calm her down. It turned out the thing that upset her most was that idea that this was her only chance, and now she’d never get Arete 4 before the game ended.
    In the end, we scheduled a mini-session with Alfred and Helen to conclude the happenings in the Woods, and let Helen’s player know that her second seeking would happen at some point during this session.]

    While Alfred and Hanson were trying to find Camellia, Sean was still in the undergrove. Although Alfred had left him in charge of guarding the chantry, he was somewhat stuck where he was without someone to open the door for him. He toyed with the idea of decorating their tree to be a bit more festive, but ultimately went against this and read his bible in silence. He notices, meditating at the tree was Granny Elm. Sean still wasn’t too sure what to make of her, but considered if she really was so dangerous, she might have attacked him by now. As he thinks this, Granny Elm turns towards him and speaks.

    GE: I thank you for aiding us for so long.
    Sean: I’m only doing the Lord’s work.

    She pauses for a moment, staring straight at Sean before speaking.

    GE: There is conflict within you. Isn’t there.
    Sean: Excuse me?
    GE: I can see it with you, a shadow of doubt which follows you where you go.
    Sean: I… perhaps.
    GE: It is difficult isn’t it. When those who we serve are often at odds with our own ideals.
    Sean: What do you know of this?
    GE:. Would you mind if I helped you with this?
    Sean: …Please.

    She led him in to her room and offered him a chair. She sat down shuffling her cards carefully before placing a number of them about.

    GE: There is a choice before you. One which you have been aware of for some time now. On one side, [KNIGHT OF DYNAMISM] you have destruction, on the other [TWO OF PRIMORDIALISM] Treachery. To betray those you have become loyal to is something which goes against that you hold most important. [THE SUN] your ideals. But to keep hold of those ideals risks destruction for all.
    Sean: This card, the dragon. I have seen it before.
    GE: It seems that destruction is something which follows you about. Or at least that cataclysm is unavoidable no matter which path you take. At least you may do what you can to limit those suffering.
    Sean: And if that suffering involved yourself?
    GE: I do not advise for my sake, but for yours. I only wish to provide perspective.
    Sean: What perspective do you have for this choice?
    GE: You are a man of action [THE CHARIOT] and as such, you will forge ahead down one of these two paths. It is your nature. Whether that be to follow the path of your superiors [THE HIEROPHANT] or go it alone on that path of your choosing [EIGHT OF PRIMORDIALISM]. Either action has its consequences, but one thing is certain. [JUDGEMENT] A decision must be reached.
    Sean: I have been made aware that there may still be a nephandi influence within the Keepers. Though I am not certain yet where it is, I have been asked to inform my superiors about it.
    GE: Then if this is what you think you must do, it must be done.
    Sean: This might lead to the downfall of your coven, and of yourself.
    GE: My role is not to advise to preserve myself, but to allow those I advise to make a free choice knowing as much as they can about what awaits them.
    Sean: That’s… rather noble of you. Have you been able to see what these Nephandi are planning.
    GE: It is difficult. The nephandi have ways of obfuscating insights with falshoods and deadends. Had I been able to see what they had done so far, perhaps I would have been able to keep Vivian with us today.
    Sean: So even your sight has limitation.
    GE: As do all things. What I have been able to see is that their plan involves the summoning of a great power [THE STAR] which will call down upon this earth an ancient spirit [THE DEVIL] which will bring with it the beginning of the end.
    Sean: I see… and that’s if they are not stopped.
    GE: Certainly. As long as one of their ilk remain, their work will not be stopped.
    Sean: You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.
    GE: Be careful not to give in to indecision. [TEN OF DYNAMISM] Inaction will leave you trapped within the fires of your own making.

    Granny elm gathered up the cards, shuffling them back into a deck. She stood up, and as she did so, the door opened ajar slightly.

    Sean: Thank you… I think I understand what I must do now.
    GE: I am pleased to have aided you.

    Sean returned upstairs, with Granny Elm opening the door for him. He could smell his chicken cooking in the oven and went to check on it. The only person in the room is Hanson.

    Sean: Everything ok?
    Hanson: It’s been one of those days. One of those, “stop someone from committing suicide” days.
    Sean: Did you succeed?
    Hanson: Yes. Sort of. That your chicken?
    Sean: It will be for everyone. Oh, that reminds me.

    Sean quickly ran upstairs to get the gift he bought for Hanson.

    Sean: Merry Christmas.
    Hanson: Merry Christmas. Sorry, I didn’t think to get you anything.
    Sean: Not at all.

    Hanson opened the gift and found a box of Nicotine Patches.

    Hanson: Anyway… you know Correspondence magic, yeah?
    Sean: Of course. The Lord connects us to all things.
    Hanson: Yeah, so would you be able to do something for me? Camellia was led to that bridge, and we stopped her. But there was someone watching her from the shadows. The moment she didn’t kill herself, this person, one of the Spirals we met last night, tried to kill one of us before jumping into the river themselves. I managed to grab their knife of them. Can you see where they are?

    Hanson handed the helix hilted knife to Hanson who examined it carefully. He held his crucifix and said a prayer asking for insight. In a flash, his perspective changed. He could see little more than water all around him, murky water with vague lights overhead.

    Sean: Under water.
    Hanson: So she’s alive?
    Sean: Maybe, swimming somewhere?

    Sean looked down and saw the ground bellow. His perspective did not shift from the bottom of the river, nor was there any movement about the ground.

    Sean: No, no swimming. They aren’t moving at all.
    Hanson: Dead then. Which means their Death Spiral has not been interrupted yet.
    Sean: That is very troubling.
    Hanson: Well, at least we know that’s one more dead nephandi.

    It was getting dark outside.

    Sean: Sorry, I have to go. I have a meeting with someone.

    Sean left in a hurry. Hanson stayed behind, slowly drinking from his hipflask. Rowan appears not to far away.

    Rowan: Is that your food in the oven?
    Hanson: Sam’s. Wanted to do a Christmas thing.

    Rowan tended to the chicken, ensuring it wouldn’t burn.

    Rowan: Do you know where everyone else has gone?
    Hanson: Did Alfred tell you about what’s happening?
    Rowan: No… Something to do with that shadow coven?
    Hanson: Something like that.
    Rowan: They never really tell me anything.
    Hanson: They’re probably just trying to keep you safe.
    Rowan: I don’t need to be kept safe. I can help.
    Hanson: Are you even awakened?
    Rowan: What?
    Hanson: Like, can you do magic.
    Rowan: Yeah. I mean, I can do those rites they were teaching.
    Hanson: Then it’s probably best you stay safe kid.
    Rowan: I swear… I’m not even a real member of this coven. I haven’t even been to the umbra yet.
    Hanson: That’s not a place you’d want to go to too frequently you know.
    Rowan: Lydia’s always telling me what an important realm it is… I miss her.
    Hanson: Oh yeah… she’s your teacher isn’t she.

    Hanson has to physically stop himself from grimacing at the thought of Lydia as an educator.

    Rowan: If only Vivian was still around. Honsetly, the new High Priestess isn’t all that good.
    Hanson: She’s doing the best she can given everything that’s happening.
    Rowan: But she doesn’t do anything.
    Hanson: She does a lot more than you’d think.
    Rowan: I still think Lydia would have made a better High Priestess. She’s more experienced anyway. And she’d have a lot to teach everyone.
    Hanson: Yeah… like what exactly?
    Rowan: Like the secrets of the umbra not even Vivian has learned, like that giant space hippo.
    Hanson: ….I … I have nothing to say to that.
    Rowan: You know where she might be?
    Hanson: Hasn’t contacted you once then?
    Rowan: No.
    Hanson: Who could say. It’s Lydia. She could be anywhere doing anything at this point.

    Sean arrived at the Chapter House with apprehension. He was unsure exactly how this meeting would go down. He entered the doors and went straight to Preceptor Joseph Kent’s office. At the desk was not only Preceptor Kent, but also Preceptor Davenport of the South West London Chapterhouse.

    Kent: Ah, Brother Heath. So nice of you to finally return to us.
    Sean: As instructed Preceptor.
    Davenport: So, your Preceptor here has told me you’ve been on a secret mission then. Staying with the Keepers, gaining their trust and the such while investigating a possible nephandic insurgence.
    Sean: Yes sir.
    Davenport: And what can you tell us?
    Sean: I can tell you that there are a number of nephandi who are involved with the group. You remember the Tribunal talked of the apprentice to the precious High Priest? Alex?
    Kent: Yes, we have heard.
    Sean: He is one of four, and has been eliminated as of yesterday. I believe one of the others is secretly working as a member of the coven.
    Kent: Any idea towards their identity?
    Sean: Yes. His name is Gwyn, and they refer to him as an experienced Spirit Walker. He possesses the necessary skills which match what I have seen when fighting the nephandi on the Heath.
    Kent: Excellent. We will send up to restrain this one immediately.
    Davenport: We should also set up a perimeter around the Chantry itself, watch it in case there’s any attempt at a retreat.
    Sean: I’m not sure that’s necessary sir.
    Davenport: On the contrary, it’s absolutely necessary. We can’t risk another one of them running off to spread their demonic ways with yet more unsuspecting innocents.
    Kent: Quite right, best we purge their chantry, and properly cease any and all items which may be aiding the Fallen.
    Sean: Only if this is absolutely necessary. I believe with the capture of this individual, there should only be one other member unaccounted for. Besides, they seem able to move their chantry from location to location.
    Kent: Didn’t you say their chantry possessed a powerful node within it?
    Sean: Yes, it was in one of my reports
    Kent: A mobile node… How very odd. I wasn’t aware such a thing could be.
    Davenport: Quite, nodes are sacred areas where the Lord has bestowed a fraction of his power. If I had to guess, the node is probably stationary, but the doorway too it is what’s being moved.
    Sean: That’s quite possible. Yes.
    Kent: Would you be able to locate precisely where the node is situated? Somewhere underground perhaps?
    Sean: Yes. I should be able to.
    Kent: Very good. Now, be on your way. And I expect a fully written up report on the last three months if you wish to avoid a Court Marshal.
    Sean: Yes Preceptor. Of course.
    Kent: May the Lord Preserve us.
    Sean: May the Lord Preserve us.
    Kent: And Merry Christmas.
    Sean: Merry Christmas.

    ---NOTES---
    I was really surprised that Sean decided on Gwyn as the traitor. At this point, almost everyone else was heavily suspicious of Granny Elm, though I guess that last meeting with her and her final tarot reading on Sean pushed him over to the other side. If you ask me, it’s too perfect, and just the sort of thing she would do.
    This session is the reason it’s been taking me such a long time to finish writing up these notes. It was meant to be Alfred’s player’s last session, but then he had plans in the afternoon and would have to cut everything short. To get around that I had the “brilliant” idea of having him come a few hours early and give everyone else the choice of either coming just as early or coming at a normal time. This basically meant that I had session that lasted a total of 9 hours, not including the little break in between. That’s a lot of stuff to write up, but add on top of that the mini-session to finish of Helen and Alfred’s bit in the woods, and then the time organising for the final session of the chronicle, and I’ve had no time to write anything but some shorthand notes until after everything was over.

    So, next mini-session will be Alfred’s last. His player was probably the most heavily invested in the game, so it’s a shame he won’t be around to witness the grand finale. On the bright side, Lydia will be returning, so that’s good.
    Aaron’s absence came as a surprise to all of us. He’ll be around in the last game, but unfortunately anything regarding his own character beats will have to be downplayed somewhat. This session would have been the time to set a few of those up, but as it was, it didn’t happen.
    There has been a lot of cut content for this game. Maybe I’ll tell you all about it if anyone’s interested.

    Leave a comment:


  • Saikou
    replied
    ((Continued from the post above))

    Hanson: Vivian!

    Unfortunately his perception filter left his voice completely unheard. He tried a more direct strategy, walking right up to this Vivian.

    Hanson: Hey Vivian! Where have you been for the past three months?

    Some of the seated members step forward to restrain him.

    Hanson: Vivian, don’t you recognise me?
    Vivian: You are part of the shadow coven, they follow the new High Priest who wishes to put us in danger.
    Hanson: Is getting people to commit suicide not dangerous?

    Sean quickly drops the rune while this happens, but while it is too dark to see it directly, his matter sense tells him it isn’t vibrating. He stands up gun aimed straight at Vivian. Vivian sees him and says something none of them can understand. Sean’s fingers start to pull away. It is a struggle to even hold the gun let alone aim it.

    The people Hanson press knives against his throat as they see all this.

    Vivian: They are attackers, they mean us all nothing but harm.
    Hanson: What? I’m the one advocating that you NOT kill yourselves here!

    The chanting continues, each member of the circle reciting the same unknown phrases.
    Helen quietly takes out her wand and traces her shapes in the air to turn all noise around this Vivian into extreme cold. Once set, this Vivian goes quiet. Every attempt to speak is met with a terrifying choking sound.
    Hanson stands still while Sean recovers his gun. Helen runs to the woman in the centre and pulls down her hood revealing someone that neither of them had never seen before. This woman was not Vivian. Seeing this Hanson imidiately looks around for any signs of a mind effect, as Sean does with Prime. They notice something above the group, a figure hidden on the ceiling casting a great mind effect upon the entire group. The acolytes chanting grows stronger even with this fake Vivian’s absence.

    Sean realises that this figure must be the real cause of the suicide impulse. He aims his gun, but it stabbed in the back before a clean shot can be made. The bullet riccochettes and hits Helen. She tries to cry in pain, but her words freeze in her mouth, almost literally. As the chanting grows stronger, the pressure of the knives on Hanson’s throat gets lesser and lesser. Feeling this, he pulls himself free and steps out to fire his own gun at the figure, who falls to the ground in a slump.

    However, it is all a bit too late, the ritual is concluded and already people are starting to file out of the building, as though compelled to find a place to carry out their task. Hanson takes more than a couple of sips in order to build an effect strong enough to override it all. A simple message to stop. But he knew it would have to be powerful enough to overcome the influence the poor souls were already under. Sean shoots the man who now lies slumped on the floor who smiles back at him.

    Man: I am exactly where I need to be…

    Helen looks at the man as he says his last words, pulling down the bloodstained hood to find Alex’s face, drained of life.
    Sean rushes ahead to try and stop as many people as he can from filing up the stairs and out of the room, but the knife in his back caused too much pain for him to be effective. He fell to the ground. By the time Hanson finished his effect, no more than 4 people were left in the room, and they were now stood stock still, unable to move any further towards the door. Helen rushed to heal the fallen knight, tracing shapes of his own blood over and around the knife until it came out of a healed wound.

    Aaron: Huh… interesting.
    Galileo: What exactly does that prove?
    Aaron: Well, that’s all the stuff that a friend of my will do… or is doing… One of those.
    Galileo: You’ll have to verify it on something I can actually see. How about the name of your colleague there.
    Aaron: Ok.

    Aaron puts into the Esther file algorithm Alfred’s details.

    Alfred had taken a break from sorting through the files, data. Gwyn continued for him while he attempted to consult with Excalibur. As he did so, the sword itself appeared in his very hands.

    Alfred: Excalibur?
    Excalibur: Utred.
    Alfred: How do we get out of this.
    Excalibur: You have duties to hold to.
    Alfred: Yes, I know. But while I’m here I can’t really carry them out.
    Excalibur: You have made a promise to aid, then you must aid.

    Aaron: Says here… he’s talking to a sword?
    Galileo: No, that can’t be right.

    Galileo looks over at Alred who is indeed talking to a sword. He quickly dismisses the sword before he approaches.

    Galileo: Do you know how delicate my instruments are? What do you think you are doing waving a sword around here?
    Alfred: Sorry.. It’s gone.
    Galileo: And how have you been getting on with the sorting? Are you finished yet?
    Alfred: It’s not really my subject… though it would be easier if the shelves didn’t move so frequently.
    Galileo: The shelves are a part of the wall. That’s where shelves go.
    Alfred: Perhaps you could ask Da Vinci to build you a more robust system.
    Galileo: I’ve tried talking with him, but he’s been preoccupied with these flying contraptions of his.

    Alfred was just being sarcastic, it didn’t occur to him that there actually was a Da Vinci up here, though now it seemed rather obvious.

    Galileo got distracted from Alfred when he saw Gwyn writing symbols on the ground. Aaron used this chance to confer.

    Alfred: So, how are we getting out of here?
    Aaron: I don’t know. That’s the thing! He won’t budge unless I give him the Esther file. But if I give him that, we lose access to it.
    Alfred: We can’t stay here, ever minute that passes could be an hour or something out there.
    Aaron: …Alright, I’ll set something up.

    Aaron went over to the Windows 3 computer and set up link to the Drop Box with the Esther File.

    Aaron: Mr Galileo, This is where the data is.
    Galileo: I’m glad you’re finally seeing ense.
    Aaron: Now, I have to ask that you don’t remove it from the dropbox, you can access it, but don’t move it.
    Galileo: Don’t worry, I’ll call some IT technicians to deal with that.
    Aaron: Well, you have the data, may we go now?
    Galileo: Yes, you better be off. I have much work to do.

    The scholar opens up the gate for them and lets the three of them out into the dark night streets of the vulgate.

    Gwyn: I apologise for this. I should have warned you earlier. The Vulgate night has a profound effect on the denizens of this realm. During the day they will act and behave as you would hope them to do so, being the epitome of whatever idea they represent. During the night, they reflect the other qualities of these ideas, that which people cynically expect.
    Aaron: Yeah, would have been more useful to know before then.
    Gwyn: I didn’t realise how long we would be staying here.
    Alfred: May I ask, what were you doing on the floor?
    Gwyn: I was preparing a spell to get us out, a gateway, just in case the spirit would hold us captive indefinitely.
    Alfred: So where to now?
    Gwyn: We will need to find a portal back, I suggest we follow the river upstream for as far as we can.

    At night, the canal looked far grimier than it had done prior. They started walking, but Aaron got distracted by something along the way. A series of pipes traveled from the canal and off to places unseen. Aaron could hear water moving around through them as he passed, and spared a moment to listen in. He heard a single word: “Cuck”.

    Aaron: Oh… that must be where internet speak flows.

    Just ahead, he saw a little girl with green hair parted four ways with a large smile. Aaron looked at her, vaguely recognising her. She smiled and waved at him before skipping off into the night. Persuing her was a horrible slimy creature which had exactly 34 tentacles. Aaron wasn’t sure how he knew the exact number, but he did just by looking.

    Aaron: Huh… I did not expect there to be memes up here…

    As the night grew, they followed the canal to a brook, and then a long stream. The architecture shifted into many different styles the further they went, but something caused them to stop, the sky above them started to clear up, the clouds of the eppiphamies offering a rare hole to the great cosmos above them. The most prominent object in the sky being the bright green star.

    Aaron: That does not look good.
    Alfred: Esther might be closer than we realise.
    Gwyn: We’ll have to get you two back quickly. It’s too dangerous with three, but for two I can build a short gateway back through the gauntlet from here.
    Alfred: I’ll stay with you.
    Gwyn: If that’s what you wish, high Priest.
    Aaron: Well, I’d like to get going at least.

    One the river ahead, a long ship with a great number of loud men inside approached.

    Alfred: Are those?
    Gwyn: They might very well be.
    Aaron: What?
    Alfred: If I’m not mistaken… Vikings?
    Gwyn: Not just Vikings, but the worst sterotypes of Vikings there are.

    As the ship drew nearer, they began to see flames being lit. The ship turned in their directs, and a small volley of flaming arrows lit up the sky.

    Gwyn: There’s no time, you must go now. I’ll try to fend them off as best I can.
    Alfred: I said I’m staying with you.
    Gwyn: You must protect the coven. If that green star is any indication, we do not have long.
    Aaron: Yeah… I don’t think you should stay here either. Let’s just go.

    As the ship drew closer, Gwyn quickly drew his elaborate symbols with many a chant to the old gods for swift aid. Just as the ship hit the bank, Aaron and Alfred saw the world beyond the circle warp and shake, shimmering around them like a disturbed pool. They looked around in the darkness and realised they were back in the Keepers Chantry, in one of the unused rooms.

    Aaron: So, any clearer on Gwyn being the traitor or not?
    Alfred: …no.
    Aaron: If he wanted us out of the way, getting us lost in the Astral Realm would be a pretty good way to do it.
    Alfred: But then separating us from him just as Esther was starting to show…
    Aaron: Do you know if he has a withered arm?
    Alfred: No, and damn it, I forgot to check.

    Alfred receives a text from Hanson, and the immediately call back.

    Alfred: Hanson?
    Hanson: Hey… mission successful, sort of.
    Alfred: What happened?
    Hanson: We killed Alex.
    Alfred: Alex!
    Hanson: Yeah, guess he was full blown Nephandi in the end.
    The news came as a shock to him. A part of him was still thinking he could be saved.

    Hanson: Two problems, first is that when he died, he said “this is where I need to be”… This place is in the right place to keep this spiral over London.
    Alfred: Their ritual is still going ahead.
    Hanson: Also a bunch of your sleepers have been mind controlled to go off and go to the right places to die. I managed to stop about four of them, but it’s not looking good.
    Alfred: What about Vivian? Is it her?
    Hanson: No. It wasn’t.
    Alfred: Who was it then?
    Hanson: An illusion of sorts cooked up by Alex we think. The woman who stood in her place seemed like a random puppet, probably one of your open circle. She seemed genuinely terrified of everything that happened and ran off. I don’t think you could fake that much fear.
    Alfred: And the rest of the group?
    Hanson: Walking off into the night. We’re trying to round them up, but it’s slow going.
    Alfred: I’ll get the coven involved. We must stop this before it gets any worse.

    Alfred hung up the phone.

    Alfred: You ok being in London?
    Aaron: It’s dark, as long as I don’t draw attention to myself, things should be fine. I’ll have my computer on standby though.

    Alfred and Aaron left via the pathways to the Regent’s Park node, the small island in the pond. To Alfred’s immediate concern, there was no one there. Before he went into full on panic mode, however, he heard the sounds of a feast from beneath the ground. After some rooting around they discovered an entryway with stairs made of dirt leading underground. Aaron decided to wait outside while Alfred went deeper.
    The space was much larger than he expected it to be, lit by candle light and surprisingly solid. At the table where Kael, Rowan, Mica, Genevieve, Camellia, Granny Elm, and about six or so open circle acolytes. As Alfred entered, he was greeted by a great cheer. Although the feast had been going on for what must have been a number of hours, there was still plenty of untouched food.

    Mica: Alfred!... uh, High Priest. Do you like what we’ve done with the place?
    Kael: It took a lot of work, but I think it’s not bad for a makeshift banquet hall.
    Alfred: You have really outdown yourselves. And the banquette itself looks amazing.
    Kael: We were expecting more people…
    GE: But are grateful for those who could arrive.
    Alfred: Yes, about that… I need to speak to Camellia for a while.

    Alfred pulls her aside and explains to her what has just transpired regarding the shadow coven, the true nature of this fake Vivian, and the nephandic plot which seems reliant of the mass suicide of all who followed in their path. Camellia is on the verge of a breakdown, but Alfred tries to calm her.

    Alfred: Camellia, there is still time to save this. We need to get to their meeting spot immediately
    Camellia: We can’t interrupt the feast. If we break our own rituals, have they not already won?
    Alfred: We won’t have to. I just need yourself and Granny Elm, the rest can finish the ritual.
    Camellia: ..ok.

    The four of them quietly excused themselves from the festivities and headed upstairs back to Aaron who tried his best to locate the place and teleport them all there, but was meeting with a great deal of interference. After 15 solid minutes of coding, he finally found the place he wanted, but was still having difficulty aligning everyone else’s patterns.

    Aaron: Look guys, this is becoming much more difficult than I thought. I can bring only myself and one other person.
    Alfred: Granny Elm, would you be ok to walk?
    GE: It would be no trouble to me.
    Alfred: (pulling Camellia aside) If you notice anything strange, find me and tell me imidiately.
    Camellia: Strange? Like what?
    Alfred: Anything strange, anything.
    Camellia: Ok, I’ll try.

    The code of the space unravelled between the two of them, reforming their values at the place Hanson described.

    Sean: What did you find out?
    Aaron: Green thing in the sky, that’s definetly Esther, and it’s not really a star. Not sure what it is, a person maybe?
    Alfred: The Green Fairy of Ireland.
    Hanson: Take a look at this. You know how they’ve been killing people in a spiral pattern? I think I can see where they’re going to die next.

    Hanson shows a map he’s been working on. With the powers of Entropy, he was able to determine roughly the continuation of the spiral, and where the likely endpoint would be.

    Alfred: Wait, Churchil Gardens is not at the centre of it all?
    Hanson: No, though it does follow the river round. The centre looks like it’s somewhere in Westminster.
    Alfred: This is good. We can set up a patrol of some kind on these areas, look out for any kind of suspicious activity, prevent the suicides, save their lives and stop the Death Spiral before it concludes.

    Alfred looked at the dead body and confirmed it was definitely Alex. He took the golden necklace around his neck and pocketed it. It hurt to think the old High Priest would be the last to learn of his apprentice’s death.

    ---NOTES---
    Time is running short. This was the only session I had a chance to introduce the Astral Realm. Originally I was hoping they would be able to spend much more time there. I’d have liked a chance for Sean to meet with Angels, Alfred to converse with Thor, and even get Aaron surrounded by memes before one of them choses a spire to climb in order to reach the eppiphamies. The reward would have been a great deal of insight on Esther and the Green Fairly, as well as the chance of a very difficult seeking, the success of which would give them 1 free Arete point for their troubles. One of the eppithamies would have been the Continuum Orrey, for example, allowing them to see exactly where the Green Star was, where it came from, and what would happen if it arrived, leading swiftly into the Apex of History, followed by whatever else I would have had in my head at the time.

    I don’t know too much about Galileo biographically, so I instead decided to make this guy the stereotypes of a scholar, by day he is welcoming of new insight, and encouraging of people with an interest in his field, but by night is much more possessive of his data, and requires everything to be done to his standard and with him at the helm.

    There will be only two sessions after this… Two and a half at most.

    Leave a comment:


  • Saikou
    replied
    37th Session

    As of posting, the campaign has concluded with this and a few other sessions rounding everything off. For a while now, I’ve been trying to write these up immediately after each session, but things have conspired to get in the way of that. So now I’m back to being a few weeks behind. Since things were coming to an end anyway, I decided to devote the time I had towards developing the last few sessions, making writing them up much less of a priority.

    Sorry for the delay, now the campaign is fully concluded, I will be focussing much more on writing up their events. Thank you for your patience.

    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
    Camellia: Young High Priestess
    Genevieve: Recent Returning member
    Mica: Techno Witch
    Kael: Talisman Crafter
    Gwyn: Spirit Walker
    Rowan: Lydia’s Pupil.
    Granny Elm: Nephandic Crone.

    --- CHAPTER 37: THE SHADOW COVEN---

    Helen got up in the early morning. Although tired, she was determined not to be late for the Magister Scholae’s private session. Eve had told her that, for the duration of his stay, he would be taking temporary residence in the chantry with an office set up to hold all the things he would require. It was this office that Helen now stood before. She stared at the door nervously before knocking. It opened gently with a slight creek. Uncertain on exactly how to proceed, she cautiously entered. The room was not too large, but had a decent amount of space. On the desk a great array of papers lay strewn around. On the shelf were a number of cages with animals the likes of which Helen had never seen before. One of which had a confusing number of features including rabbit ears, a carapace, long spider like legs, and a lizards tale. Above the door, an owl stood perched on the frame, but no sign of the Master, and it definitely was the correct time.
    The door closed behind her, and she waited for a few minutes before curiosity got the better of her. Her attention was drawn to the strange creature in the cage. For a master of life, this creature could be absolutely anything, perhaps even a person. She decided to create a mental link with it using her mirror to learn more about what this thing could be. “Strange…. I didn’t have a tail yesterday… I wonder how long this one will stay.” She noticed a page on the desk. Curious, she checked it, but tried to do so in such a way that she could quickly snap back in case the door opened. The page read “Metamorphic transformations, and the preparations required for the preservation of the mind”. She thought about her mother. Had her mind been properly preserved in all the years she was a fox? Before she could read in greater depth, a voice boomed around the office.

    Armando: A curious student! Very good!

    Helen had only a moment to look up before the owl swooped down and burst into flames, leaving behind the shape of the master, Armando Sinclair.

    Helen: Master Sinclair!
    Armando: I apologise for the surprise, but I wished to learn how you would react to the empty room of a master.
    Helen: Oh.
    Armando: I have spoken with your mentor, the Adeptus Olivia. She had told me you deal in mystic geometry.
    Helen: Yes. I make shapes.
    Armando: Shapes, so simple, yet so endlessly complex. Though I deal with energy, fire, and most importantly the Passion that creates life, there are a great many patterns that might be of interest to you. Is there anything particularly of interest to you within Ars Vita?
    Helen: Oh! Thank you. I really want to know more about transformation. Like how someone would become an animal, or turn someone who was once an animal back…
    Armando: The passion within you. I can feel it glowing intensely! But before we continue, I must learn of your skills.

    The Master went to the shelf and brought out the caged creature. Helen could hear it think “Oh, here we go again.”

    Armando: Show me what you can do
    Helen: What I can do?
    Armando: Yes. Before I teach a student, I must know if they can handle my lessons. Demonstrate your skills before me.

    Helen looked at the creature, and slowly reached for her wand. Whatever magical feat she would perform would have to be both impressive and powerful in order to impress. She took a few moments to consider her options.

    Hanson was awake and in the middle of his morning routine. With coffee brewing and a cigarette in one hand, he studied the map he had drawn for himself, with each suicide marked on every location. He looked through the papers and sure enough, new ones started cropping up. He did some work looking through his records and notes to work out the exact timing of each one. Sure enough, if he joined the dots from earliest to latest, they formed a giant spiral over the centre of London. This was more than just a mass suicide, the spirals were up to something sinister.
    He leaned back in his chair and watched the smoke flutter around his office. The question in his mind fixated to who exactly was behind these suicides.
    The smoke formed spirals in the air, and within these spirals the shape of four figures emerged. One with a knife used to cut their hand, one with a gun held out ready to fire, one who stood above them watching over the two, and one in the shadows with a withered arm.

    It is the fourth day of Yule, Christmas Eve in the Christian calendar, and Sean is awake in his room. While he has been in hiding for a number of months, the most holiest of days is approaching and it would be unthinkable not to observe it. While it was still dark, he stepped out into the cold to do a little last minute Christmas shopping, obtaining for himself a number of items by which he intended to properly celebrate the day.
    Alfred, however, had other concerns on his mind. He needed to speak to Camellia immediately to tell her exactly what he learned the previous night. However, on his way to the undergrove, he was stopped by Genevieve.

    Genevieve: Oh, you’re back… And where were you for yesterday’s ceremony?
    Alfred: I wasn’t needed, it was the matriarchal prayers.
    Genevieve: Still would have been better to have the High Priest present. Don’t you think?
    Alfred: I suppose, but I had other matters to attend to.
    Genevieve: Yeah, well while you had your other matters, we had to avoid another attack.
    Alfred: Oh no. What happened?
    Genevieve: Nothing. I was able to stop it before it started.
    Alfred: Stop what exactly?
    Genevieve: An attack. A group of guys were watching us, looking at us as though they thought we were up to something. So I got them to leave.
    Alfred: What exactly did you do?
    Genevieve: Just scared them off. Got them to leave us and our kind alone.
    Alfred: Were these people sleepers by any chance?
    Genevieve: Probably, I didn’t spend that long watching them. Wanted to act before they did.
    Alfred: You do realise that they might have been completely innocent.
    Genevieve: Well, someone has to protect our sorcerers.
    Alfred: If you just go attacking random people, you’ll only play in to the technocracy’s hand. They say we’re dangerous, and we’re proving them right!
    Genevieve: Well maybe if you were around, we wouldn’t need to protect ourselves.

    Alfred got himself away from the angry Genevieve, and found Camellia with the other members of the coven, discussing preparations for tonight’s feast. He pulled her away from the group to speak with her.

    Alfred: I’m afraid I have bad news to report, my High Priestess.
    Camellia: It can’t be any worse than what’s been happening so far.
    Alfred: It’s about Vivian…
    Camellia: Vivian!?
    Alfred: I’ve learned from our acolytes that some of them have decided to split off and join a shadow coven of sorts. This shadow coven is run by someone who claims to be Vivian.
    Camellia: So it’s not actually her?
    Alfred: I don’t know yet. I believe she is encouraging our followers to commit acts of suicide?
    Mica: WHAT!?

    Mica was just passing by when she overheard this. Alfred tried to calm her down before requesting she gather up the entire group of mages for a meeting. It was time to address the matter openly. Sean arrives in time to whitness the proceedings. His inclusion in the meeting make a few members uneasy, notably Kael, Genevieve, and even Gwyn to some small degree, on account of him not being a Verbena, but Alfred assures them all that he is not only trustworthy, but a vital asset to their cause.

    Alfred: Everyone. It has come to my attention that our followers within the open circle are not safe.
    Genevieve: Yeah, you think?
    Alfred: People are targeting our group, but in more ways than you may be aware. You may have heard about the recent suicides that have been going on around London. They are members of our own group who have split away from us and have joined a shadow coven which may be under the influence of the Spirals of Madness.

    The entire room fell silent in shock. Apart from Camellia and Sean, none of the members present seemed quite prepared for this.

    Gwyn: What do you propose we do?
    Alfred: I’m not sure yet.
    Mica: Why are people leaving us?
    Genevieve: Maybe they don’t like the leadership.
    Alfred: Perhaps… I know I’m not the most accomplished of leaders.
    Kael: If only Vivian could see this.
    Rowan: She would know what to do,
    Camellia: She would…
    Granny Elm: Now… We cannot dwell on what do not have. Our young leaders are doing what they can with the situation that has befallen them. You must support them and follow their advice. They remain our high priestess and high priest.

    The growing voice of dissonance fell after Granny Elm spoke. Alfred thanked her, and the conversation soon returned to

    Mica: Are we going to cancel the feast?
    Camellia: No. We cannot, it’s too important.
    Alfred: Right. But we’ll have to have it somewhere safe. Because of the… “incident” that occurred yesterday, I don’t think having it in the Open Circle’s class room is a good idea.
    Genevieve: I was protecting them!
    Alfred: Either it was a legitimate threat and the room is now compromised, or it was not and your actions would provoke retaliation. Each way means the same thing, we cannot risk taking them there. The Heath too is far too dangerous, as would be Epping Forrest…
    Kael: There may be other nodes within London that are appropriate…
    Alfred: Camellia, the node you first took us to, the one in Regents Park.
    Camellia: On the island?
    Alfred: That would be a good place. It’s quiet and secluded.
    Camellia: I’m not sure if it would be big enough.
    Kael: We will manage.

    Alfred assigned his coven to go off in pairs. Kael and Mica would go to the node in Regent’s Park to prepare the space. Camellia and Genevieve would gather the acolytes and help them reach the site, while Rowan and Granny Elm would bring the required components for the feast. As for Gwyn, Alfred had a special request for him.

    [ST NOTE: None of these decisions were made lightly. Alfred’s player was actually agonising over whether or not leaving Granny Elm with Rowan was a sensible idea or not. Other players started pitching in what they thought, and so to avoid meta gaming, they canonised it as a phone call between Hanson and Alfred. Their reasoning was that, Mica and Kael being Prime users, would be needed at the node in order to prepare it for the ceremony. The High Priestess had to meet with the acolytes to lead them, but they couldn’t risk bringing Granny Elm to them in case she was in fact the traitor.]

    Alfred: Gwyn. We need your help.
    Gwyn: Yes?
    Alfred: We require entrance to the Astral Realm. I’m told you are familiar with it.
    Gwyn: Not as familiar as I am with the spirit wilds, but certainly I would be able to guide you around.
    Alfred: I and another have reason to enter there, it may have something to do with the Green Fairy I know you and my grandfather spent time searching for.
    Gwyn: I doubt you’ll find her in a single afternoon.
    Alfred: There is a prophecy I’m working on with an allie of mine. Would you be able to guide us while there?
    Gwyn: I should do, yes.
    Alfred: Sean, would you be able to accompany us?
    Sean: I could, but I think I should stay here and investigate this shadow coven. The guy did say there was a final meeting today.
    Alfred: Good idea. You and Hanson better got check that out while we examine the Astral Realm for whatever traces of Esther we can find.
    Sean: Good, I’ll get in contact with him.
    Alfred: Oh, and take this. (hands Sean the wooden rune) Through this on the ground when you see Vivian, if it vibrates then you know it’s her, and unfortunately it means she’s gone rogue…
    Sean: I will do what needs to be done. If she’s gone nephandic, then there’s only one real solution.
    Alfred: I understand.

    Helen stood in the office, wand at the ready. She had a plan to supplement what she lacked in the Life sphere, with the Forces sphere. She would cause the creature to breath a constant stream of fire. However, perhaps being a bit too ambitious in her construction, she miscalculated an angle and botched the entire thing.

    [ST NOTE: Helen’s player took a very long time deliberating to figure out what kind of impressive magic she would do for the Master, and while she was thinking up ideas, all the other players were getting increasingly nervous, and at one point were all walking about the room, hands on their heads of necks, nervously awaiting what terrible effect Helen would unleash next, and how it would bite her back. When it turned out to botch, one of our players went so far as to hide behind the sofa until the inevitable backlash set in. Helen has gained quite the reputation for herself.]

    The creature stood there, unchanging. But Helen felt a great deal of warmth within her own body, a burning sensation moving from her stomach, and up to her throat. Before she could react, a great torrent of fire erupted from her stomach, vomited fourth from her mouth. Fire from the back of her throat in a constant stream, ever spewing on to the office of the Flambeu Mage. Recognising a botched effect for what it was, Armando did what he could to help Helen into a corner as she struggled and failed to hold in the fire. The entire office was on fire, but nothing seemed to burn. Even the animal on the desk thought only “The fire’s awfully warm today…”. Of course, a Mage from House Falmbeu would be amiss not to protect their things from fire.

    An hour had passed before the worst of the flames had passed. Helen sat in the corner of the room, clothes singed and thought aching. She could barely look at the Master, the shame of her failure too much to face.

    Armando: I think, perhaps, Olivia may have been a bit too optimistic… This may have been a mistake.
    Helen: …I’m sorry. I really want to learn more Life magic.
    Armando: I’m sure you do, but I think my lessons may be beyond your abilities at this time. Perhaps in a few years, but for now you should return to your studies.
    Helen: I see…

    Helen hesitated at the door, she knew that if she walked out now there would be no chance to ask for his favour.

    Armando: Is something the matter?
    Helen: I…
    Armando: Was there another reason you came to see me, perhaps?
    Helen: Well… yes. But…
    Armando: What would it be?
    Helen: I need help with a transformation. I have a fox that was once… someone close to me.
    Armando: Surely your mentor Olivia would be able to help you with that.
    Helen: She doesn’t know. She thinks this person is dead, and it would be a big shock to her to learn she isn’t.
    Armando: … You are keeping secrets from your mentor?

    Helen stood silently, she could feel her chances of gaining favour slipping further and further away.

    Armando: …I must assume you have your reasons. I had many secrets as an initiate when I was your age.
    Helen: You won’t tell her then?
    Armando: I believe these matters as best left between the mentor and the student. I shall remain separate and uninvolved.
    Helen: But I still need your help. A Master such as yourself to transform my fox back to human.
    Armando: As you have been so gracious, I shall do you a deal. I shall be leaving before tomorrow’s morning, but will have a little time this evening to perform such a ritual, but out of respect for Olivia, I must ask that she be present as well. Talk to her, tell her of this secret, and I’ll meet the two of you tonight.

    Helen left feeling very uneasy. She had been keeping her fox a secret for so long, she had no idea how Eve would react, or if she’d even allow the ritual at all. Especially if her mother’s technocratic nature was ever brought to light. With little other idea of who to go to for help, she called Alfred.

    Helen: Alfred?
    Alfred: What do you need Helen?
    Helen: Would you be able to pretend to be my mentor?
    Alfred: …what?
    Helen: There is a Master of Life here who can help transform my fox back into my mother. But he wants Eve to be there.
    Alfred: And you want me to pretend to be Eve?
    Helen: You have life magic, you can transform yourself.
    Alfred: So, while I have been trying to sort out a way to reverse the ritual curse placed on your mother, you went behind my back, outside of our blood oath, in order to find your own way to deal with it. And now that it might not be working, you want me to come in and pretend to me your mentor and trick a Master of Life with Life magic into thinking I’m someone he’s no doubt already met? No.
    Helen: But, you promised you’d help me!
    Alfred: The Blood Oath I made was for two things only, to help you transform your mother back to her original form, and to ensure I did nothing which would get you in trouble with the Hermetics. In truth, this stunt you propose would break the second part of this oath.
    Helen: Oh…
    Alfred: I already made arrangements for my Grandfather and myself to meet you and your fox in Wales. I am risking a great deal helping you with this. My coven is wary of you since you almost destroyed them with your inquest.
    Helen: I’m sorry…
    Alfred: Yes, well we still have to deal with the fallout from that.
    Helen: Is there anything I can do to help?
    Alfred: Talk to Hanson. He and Sean will be going to investigate what we think might be the Spirals base.
    Helen: Ok, I will.

    Aaron got in touch with Alfred and they organised to meet at the old chantry building. Somewhere familiar to Aaron with little chance of Technocratic eyes. He quickly keyed in the coordinates and reformatted space around him, coding in the new place.

    Alfred: It’s good to see you after so long.
    Aaron: Yea, likewise, let’s keep this quick.

    Gwyn drew a circle on the ground and made a few prayers to the old gods, and before they knew it, the world around them started to shift and swirl. The avatar storm made its presence known, and the penumbra flowed around them.

    Aaron: Ahh… Why does it hurt so much!?
    Alfred: You get used to it. So Gwyn, where do we go from here.
    Gwyn: If it was the middle umbra, we would just keep walking. But the Astral Realm is a bit trickier for us to find. There are portals to it around, but those with the videre spiritum might find it harder to see.
    Aaron: Videre what?
    Alfred: Spirit sight, those who see the spirit realm for what it is rather than what they expect.
    Aaron: Oh… weird.
    Gwyn: If one had the Astral Videre, they might find these portals with greater ease.
    Aaron: How do we get that.
    Gwyn: It’s usually how people view the spirit realm when not tainted by death on in tune with the spirits.
    Aaron: Oh… so maybe that’s what I see. It’s a good thing I came along.

    Aaron looked about, the penumbra looked bright and active. He could see the networks of the city circulating the air around him, the radiowaves, wifi signals, and all matter of telecommunications spinning and flowing about the sky like a great river of information. He could see areas of intense light which Gwyn advised him may be a way in, so long as they anticipate reaching the Vulgate, the base of the Astral Realm. With this instruction, Aaron guided them to the brightest point he could find.

    The landscape was vast and empty. The sky as featureless as the ground beneath them.

    Aaron: Where are we now?
    Gwyn: This is the path along the Astral Realm. We must move quickly. Time here flows as fast or as slow as we feel it. Time spent dawdling about, confused and undirected will quickly slip us by. If we walk with purpose and intent, very little time will pass at all.
    Alfred: Then I suppose we better start walking.

    Alfred lead the charge with Gwyn and Aaron not far behind. He wasn’t really certain where he was going, but he tried not to think about that. Before long, Alfred had brought them to a big field with a large number of trees around them, each with leaves of glass. Aaron looked upon the leaves out of curiosity and saw words flitter across them. He peered closer to read one.
    “I hope I get that job interview…”
    Aaron: Oh… these leaves have thoughts on them.
    Gwyn: I’d say they would have every thought that was ever had.
    Aaron: Oh really? So I could look through these and eventually find thoughts of people I knew?
    Gwyn: If you spent the time searching, I suppose so.
    Alfred: We really shouldn’t spend too much time here.
    Aaron: Right. I wasn’t going to anyway.

    As they walked across the field, before them images of sprawling cities began to emerge in the distance. Great mountains, a huge ocean, and a great many buildings dotted the horizon. All about were many towering structures which went high into the sky, beyond the ever shifting clouds that filled the sky above them. These clouds seemed to shimmer in every colour possible as they constantly reformed themselves in illusionary ways.

    Gwyn: These clouds are the Epiphamies, where ideas flow and gather. Had we more time, it would be worthwhile to see them as a visit there can give unparalleled perspective.
    Alfred: Another time perhaps.
    Gwyn: Yes, getting up there is not a quick endeavour, but there are numerous paths. In some of these spires you may even find the gods. Though I have rarely seen it, there is a branch of Yggdrasil which passes through here.
    Alfred: I don’t doubt that. The world tree is massive and passes through everything.
    Gwyn: There is even a bar which one might even find Thor himself frequenting.
    Alfred: That does not surprise me.

    They continued walking forward. Both Aaron and Alfred thinking intensely about a way to understand Esther, and whatever this green star happens to be. With such thoughts in mind, they very quickly found an observatory. It’s construction was very strange. As though several centuries of technology were built upon it at once. It had an old wooden frame with a brick build over it. Large metal shutters over a clay dome, and a modern door. They saw this from what felt like several miles away. Between them and the observatory itself, was a great canal. Aaron looked at the water in the canal, and could hear something peculiar as he drew near.

    Aaron: I think I hear… words… Is the river whispering?
    Gwyn: It’s probably a part of the river of language. It flows throughout the vulgate.
    Aaron: River of language… hmm.

    Aaron decided to cup the water in his hands and drink. All at once a torrent of information flowed through his mind. Words involved with astrophysics, astronomy, and the complex terminology require for astronomical observations, all of these terms he now understood. What’s more, he realised, that his mathematical understanding grew as well, as mathematics was the language of physics.

    Alfred: Are you alright?
    Aaron: Better than alright. I know so much stuff!! How are we going to get across this canal?
    Alfred: Gwyn?
    Gwyn: We’ll have to get a ride on the ferry. It’s usually the quickest way.

    Just as he spoke, a small boat passed by with Vulgate Boatman sailing it.

    Alfred: Gwyn, is that a spirit?
    Gwyn: I’d say so, yes. You’ll find a lot of spirits here.
    Alfred: What kind of spirit is it?
    Gwyn: A stereotype.

    The ferry docked nearby, and the boatman stepped out.

    Boatman: You looking to get across?
    Aaron: Yes.
    Boatman: You able to pay?
    Aaron: Pay? What do you take?
    Gwyn: They’ll take information. It’s the currency around here.
    Aaron: Oh ok. Have you ever heard of the Esther file prophecy?

    Aaron told the Boatman about bits and pieces of the Esther file, enough to intrigue, but not enough to give away what they were doing here. The Boatman listened intently, and then allowed them on to cross. During their passage, Alfred noticed from somewhere else upstream of the river, a great castle which held a crest he knew all too well. The crest of Camelot. Alfred was amazed that such a place would be found here, and so wished he may go to visit it, and perhaps speak with whatever astral incarnations there may be for clues to King Arthur’s true whereabouts, but he knew time was short. “Perhaps another day” he told himself. Within minutes the three of them were right in front of the observatory. They stepped forward and knocked on the door. And old man in strange clothing greeted them.

    Man: Hello?
    Aaron: Hi… is this your telescope?
    Man: Yes. Would you like to come in?

    Inside the room, a great telescope stood made of brass and high precision glass, placed upon a wooden frame which could be rotated upon an elaborate system of gears. It was as though a History of Technology book had exploded. The walls of the room were entirely made up of book shelves, some were empty and some laden with books, manuscripts, papers, charts, and all mater of instruments, meters, and charting equipment. In the centre lay a large orrery, a model solar system which run on clockwork, rotating at the same rate as the observable solar system.

    Aaron: wow… that’s quite the impressive set up you have there mr…
    Man: There are those who call me… Galileo.
    Aaron: Galileo? The Galileo?
    Alfred: Is it really him?
    Gwyn: I don’t know. The Astral realm is vast, I have yet to see even part of it.
    Aaron: Mr Galileo, it would be a privilege to be allowed use of your equipment.
    Galileo: Of course! Anything to help educate those on the celestial bodies. However, I would like to ask a favour in return.
    Aaron: Yes?
    Galileo: Do you see that pile of data there?

    The spirit gestured towards a large pile of papers strewn around the sides of the circular room.

    Galileo: I would need help sorting them in order and placing them on the shelves.

    Alfred stepped forward, cracking his knuckles.

    Alfred: I’m an archivist. This is my thing.
    Galileo: Wonderful. So, do you know how to use this equipment.
    Aaron: I do now!

    With his new found knowledge of astronomy, Aaron is taken to the telescope, where he can key in the coordinates within the Esther file. As the telescope rotated, so did the entire room, bookshelves and all. A number of papers fell from making Alfred’s task all the more difficult. After some searching he can find it. The green star shining just as brightly as he recalled it.

    Aaron: There it is…
    Galileo: It looks quite close, if these coordinates are right.
    Aaron: Last I checked it should be near Neptune.
    Galileo: Really?

    Galileo went to a mechanical orrery and turned a few cranks corresponding to the telescopes current positioning. From the floor, a green lightbulb rose and joined the apparatus, the light was situated between mars and Earth.

    Aaron: Is that model accurate?
    Galileo: It should be.
    Aaron: That means it’s moved since the last time I saw it…
    Alfred: Looks like it’s moved quite considerably.
    Aaron: Mr Galileo, would it be ok if I keep looking at this for a while?
    Galileo: Certainly.

    While Alfred continued to shift the papers, records, and data about into some semblance of order, Aaron examined the Green Star more closely. He could tell there was something… odd about it. It wasn’t nearly as big as he thought it was for one. While staring at it he took out his laptop and tried to get a sense of its unique pattern resonance. The green orb twinkled as it travelled, making it a little challenging for his computer to read properly. In time he determined that the star had a whimsical resonance to it.

    Aaron: That’s… strange.

    Trying to magnify the image further, Aaron was able to make out a vague human silhouette.

    Alfred was having a very hard time organising all of Galileo’s notes. History was more his area of expertise, but he did with it what best he could. Through the gaps in the viewing window, night was taking hold of the vulgate.

    Galileo: Are you quite finished with my apparatus?
    Aaron: Yes, Mr Galileo, you’ve been very generous.
    Galileo: And the data?
    Aaron: The data?
    Galileo: You will provide me the data won’t you?
    Aaron: How do you mean?
    Galileo: The coordinates, the mathematics you used to track this new discovery.
    Aaron: Oh… No, I wouldn’t be able to part with those.
    Galileo: But you must. We need to publish our findings.
    Aaron: Why?
    Galileo: I let you use my equipment, I should at least have access to the data.
    Alfred: That was not part of the deal. All we had to do was sort your papers.
    Galileo: That was before a momentous discovery was made. We need to publish this.
    Aaron: We really don’t, let’s go Alfred.

    Galileo pulled a lever and a great metal gate descended over the door.

    Galileo: I cannot let you leave without the data.
    Aaron: What exactly are you going to do with it?
    Galileo: As I said, I will have it published. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to include you in a footnote once my discovery becomes known.
    Aaron: How long would that take?
    Galileo: Well, first I’d have to write up my findings, then submit them to be peer reviewed, that process would take several months, maybe a year depending on the revisions that need to be made before publishing.
    Aaron: We don’t have that long!
    Alfred: How about this, we take the data and we’ll publish it ourselves.
    Aaron: Yes, we can have it read by our peers, and then include you in the footnote.
    Galileo: Then start writing.
    Alfred: We’ll have to leave first.
    Galileo: Well I’m sorry, but I can’t let you go until this discovery is properly published. By rights it should be my discovery as it was my equipment that found it, but if you insist on writing the paper yourselves, I have no choice but to ensure it is written up to my standards.
    Alfred: Spirits…
    Aaron: What do we do?
    Alfred: I think you’ll have to show him the Esther file.
    Aaron: Is that even possible?
    Alfred: I don’t know.
    Aaron: Uh, Mr Galileo, do you happen to have a computer in here?
    Galileo: Of course I have a computer!

    Galileo led Aaron to a rather old looking machine which ran Windows 3. He knew the Esther file could not be copied, but perhaps he’d be able to access the Dropbox link from here.

    Aaron: Ok, here it is. It’s called the Esther file.
    Galileo: You’ve been tracking the movement of this star?
    Aaron: Not exactly, but this is what I used to find it now.
    Galileo: I see… But what is the rest of this?
    Aaron: Oh, that’s an algorithm which allows us to see exactly what someone is doing and is about to do.
    Galileo: Really? Would you be able to show me?
    Aaron: I could try…

    Aaron scrolled down the file, and with a little work managed to run the algorithm with Hanson’s details within it.

    Hanson was with Sean and Helen. The three of them had met at the address of the shadow covens meeting spot as described the James. Not one of them had any idea exactly what to expect. Hanson had his perception filter up and active while Sean did prayers for insight so the lord may provide him the layout of the room, and the matter patterns therein. He could sense that beyond the door, stairs went down into a wider area, where a corridor leads to a number or rooms. One room in particular was bigger than the rest with a great number of chairs in a ring. It seemed the perfect size to accommodate a small group of 20 or so people. They noticed someone approaching, clad in a cloak with a small glint of metal around their neck. They went into the room and quickly out of sight.

    Sean: This is definitely the place.
    Hanson: Alright, Is everyone ready?
    Helen: Maybe.
    Sean: What do you plan to do?
    Hanson: We go down there and see what’s going on. If Vivian is actually down there, then she should recognise us. Otherwise it’s most likely an illusion.
    Sean: I’ll have my gun at the ready.

    Before going in, both Helen and Hanson prepared mind effects, allowing them to more easily detect the presence of mind magic. Helen by drawing complex shapes upon herself so that her senses were more attune to the shapes and patterns mind magic leaves behind, and Hanson by drinking until he felt inebriated enough to pick up on that kind of trickery. Cautiously, the group followed after another person entering ahead of them, making their way to the large room and its circle of chairs.
    The room was filled with people, some of whom Sean had seen at the Keeper’s chantry before, members of the open circle. Hanson waited by the door, unseen behind his perception filter. Sean sat beside two followers who were talking about the Keepers, he overheard their conversation.

    1: The classes were never the same since the old High Priestess left.
    2: I know, the one they got to replace her is rubbish. Barely does a thing.
    1: She’s a child isn’t she?
    2: Yeah, and that guy they got to replace the High Priest… He’s hardly around.
    1: I didn’t know we had someone replace Boris.
    2: That’s exactly my point.
    1: It’s a shame, I liked going there, but they just don’t have a clue anymore.
    2: Can’t even keep us safe, did you hear about the attacks?

    Helen sat next to a woman who almost immediately took an interest in her.

    Woman: Hey, haven’t I seen you before?
    Helen: uhhh… I don’t know.
    Woman: You were with the wicca group. Weren’t you?
    Helen: Maybe.
    Woman: Yeah! I remember now, you were joining them are a priestess weren’t you.
    Helen: I…
    Woman: Gosh, it must have been maybe a few months since I last saw you. What happened? Where did you go?
    Helen: Uh… Holiday. I was on a holiday.
    Woman: That must have been nice… You been here before yet?
    Helen: No.
    Woman: You’ll love it, it’s just like it was before she left. The High Priestess that is.

    In time the lights began to lessen and the audience started to get quiet. Sean noticed that via matter sense that every person in the room seemed to carry with them a metal weapon of sorts, perhaps a knife. In the centre of the room, a woman appeared as if out of nowhere. Hanson realised the mind magic had been used to conceal her until this point, similar to his own effect.

    Vivian?: Welcome back, to this our last meeting.

    The woman reminded them all of Vivian, the way she carried herself, and tone of her voice, and the gestures of her arms. But the lighting was too low to properly see her face.

    For too long our kind have been hunted, persecuted, and blamed for the wrongdoing of others. They have shown us their anger, their fear, and their capacity to harm. Today we say no more, for we shall live among the spirits in the worlds beyond. Today we take the last steps towards our final journey.

    This Vivian started to lead the group in a chant in a language none of the three recognised, yet held a sinister sharpness. Hanson and Helen could tell that mind magic was happening right before them. The complicit chanting was putting commands into their minds. Although unaware of the mind magic taking place, this unholy spectacle was reason enough for Sean to say his own prayers and enchant his gun.
    Having seen enough, Hanson tried to interrupt it all.

    ((Too many words! Continued in the post below))

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  • Saikou
    replied
    I am two sessions behind in my reports. There sessions have been getting very dense, and as such there has just been a much larger amount of things to cover. I’ll do my best to have everything written up before the end of August.

    36th 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:

    Eve: Helen’s Mentor
    Belladonna: Aided Euthanatos

    Keepers
    Boris: The previous High Priest
    Camellia: Young High Priestess
    Genevieve: Recent Returning member
    Rowan: Lydia’s Pupil.


    --- CHAPTER 36: VISITING---

    The last three months for Aaron have been a time of perseverance. The very night after the Heath, he was awoken by other Virtual Adepts. There was a raid planned on them, and they needed to disappear now. Within moments he and anyone within the safe house was taken to the dark room and teleported to a quiet room far away in Helsinki. This city was to be Aaron’s new residence. They kept careful track of the news and learned of his new found infamy as a cyber terrorist. With help from other Virtual Adepts, they were able to find a place for him, with a landlord who dealt exclusively in BitCoin. Of course, getting your name all over the news as a cyberterrorist comes with its upsides. The Rep was huge, and for a while his was the most sought after name on the Digital Web. Aaron was able to use this to find some work doing some covert hacking for hire, which helped pay the rent and keep him in relatively good standing. Though he couldn’t speak a word of Finnish, he found very little reason to leave his room as long as he had a steady internet connection.
    Other the last few months, he focused most of his attention on three areas. Learning from contacts of his mentor the secrets of Prime (He now has Prime 2), working on understanding the Esther file as best he could, and spying on people.
    Hanson was the easiest to get his sights on, the man hadn’t changed his phone or habits at all. Alfred has a little more complicated, but as long as Hanson kept calling him, there was always a tangential link. Helen, however, was causing him the most trouble; every attempt to narrow in on her lead to a great deal of buffering, and a number of random geometric patterns flashing across the screen. Unbeknownst to him, Helen was guarded from scrying courtesy of the Hermetic True Name. Aaron just assumed she didn’t want to be spied on, and left it at that.
    Aaron could see more or less what was happening in London, from Alfred’s rather heavy handed speeches to Hanson’s troublesome investigations on behalf of the NWO. Though we wasn’t watching all the time, he felt he knew the important details, and waited until the right moment to let them know exactly what he’d been up to.

    December 23rd. Hanson awoke in his office on a particularly cold day. Trying to ignore the cold, he focused on his morning routine of coffee and a cigarette, with the casual attempt at a dream. Today was visiting day. They were to see the previous High Priest Boris in whatever prison the Hermetics had him locked up within. He tried to think about what would be a good thing to ask, but it did not come. Slipping into a monologue or two did little to push his thoughts towards an answer. The smoke dissipated into the air without so much as a single shape.
    Some days they don’t come easy. He resigned himself to the newspapers to search for news of more suicides. And news he found. Another body found in Hyde Park. Certain tabloids start to draw links between these deaths, with one going so far as to dub it the “Suicide Cult”; looks like the NWO’s handle on the media was starting to slip.

    Sean spends his morning by himself, attempting to construct a magazine for his newly conjured sniper rifle out of the quintessence he held within him. Alfred had his own preparations to attend to.

    Alfred: My High Priestess.
    Camellia: Alfred?
    Alfred: Today we shall be meeting with Boris at the Hermetic Prison.
    Camellia: Will you not be attending todays part of Yule?
    Alfred: Today will be the matriarchal celebration. Provided by yourself and the female members of the coven, I will not be needed
    Camellia: We would still like you to be present.
    Alfred: This is necessary. I need to speak with him while we still have the chance.
    Camellia: I see…

    Alfred noticed she was a little vacant.

    Alfred: Camellia… Have you been drinking your tea?
    Camellia: Only a little.
    Alfred: How strong is it?
    Camellia: Not very… It’s been a hard few days.
    Alfred: There is something I need to tell you.
    Camellia: Yes?
    Alfred: Have you read about the suicides that having been happening around London? It seems that they are members of the open circle who have been coerced into committing them. Perhaps something the Spirals are behind.
    Camellia: Oh… Ok.

    Camellia drinks much more of her tea.

    Alfred: I’m sorry, I know this must be a lot to take in.
    Camellia: Our acolytes… the open circle. They are being targeted
    Alfred: It would seem so, yes.
    Camellia: They are no longer safe…
    Alfred: Their safety must be our top concern.
    Camellia: Perhaps we should cancel the festival then…
    Alfred: No. This is not necessary.
    Camellia: What should we do?
    Alfred: Keep the celebration going. We cannot give in to the fear. I’m going to speak with Boris and see what he has to say about this.
    Camellia: Then ask him about Alex, where he might be.
    Alfred: Yes, I will. If he’s still working with the Spirals, he might have some involvement.
    Camellia: I know he is capable of powerful mind magic.
    Alfred: Which could be used to compel the victims…

    Helen spent her morning meditating at the small majestic node in the Hermetic Chantry. She had just finished absorbing a level of quintessence when she was surprised that someone had appeared behind her.

    Alexis: Excuse me? Miss Aileen?
    Helen: Yes?
    Alexis: Are you ready for the prison visit?
    Helen: Not yet. It’s not just me going.
    Alexis: How much time would you need?
    Helen: 30 minutes.
    Alexis: very well. But you must arrive by this time.
    Helen: We will.

    Alfred knocks on Sean’s door.

    Alfred: Will you be joining us in visiting Boris?
    Sean: Yes, I think I will.

    Alfred noticed a lot of soil on Sean’s hands.

    Alfred: Cleaning up?
    Sean: There was a bit of mess I needed to deal with.
    Alfred: Do you mind if I have a look?

    Stepping into the room, Alfred saw the sniper rifle leaning against the wall.

    Alfred: Where did you get that?
    Sean: It was a gift provided by our lord so I may carry out his work.
    Alfred: And that work includes shooting someone?
    Sean: Possibly.
    Alfred: Who exactly are you…
    Sean: Whoever it turns out the traitor is, it would be good to have some distance.
    Alfred: I see…. How exactly will you carry it about.
    Sean: Correspondence means I never need to.
    Alfred: Well, all the same you can’t just leave that lying around in the open.

    Sean placed the rifle in the wardrobe.

    Sean: Shall we be on our way?

    Before leaving, Alfred puts up another narrative shift effect on the two of them, not wishing to risk being recognised or followed. As Hanson has his own perception filter active, it takes a while for Helen to notice either of them as they all convene at the gates of the chantry. At first she only sees Alfred, who is adorned with his own ceremonial robes, suited for the high priest of a coven. Hanson makes himself known by speaking, causing Helen to jump in surprise. Once they finally notice each other, Helen brings everyone to the correct room. Before them was a large gate by which Alexis stands, asking Helen to step through, as they do, the gate starts to hum. Both Aaron and Sean can see this gate is rigged to sense magical effects.

    Alexis: Would you please dispel any and all mind effects that may be hiding your presence.
    Hanson: Sure… that makes sense.
    Alfred: Of course.
    Alexis: So there are in fact four of your present.
    Helen: Yeah… I should have said.
    Alexis: Good. Please pass through again.

    The pass through, the humming shifts yet persists.

    Alexis: It seems someone is scrying on us. Are you aware of this?
    Hanson: …no.
    Sean: That’s… alarming.
    Alexis: I see… Then we’ll have to create a block before continuing further.

    Aaron, watching these effects unfold, quickly shoots Hanson a text telling him he was behind the effect.

    Hanson: …oh no. I… Nevermind, we know who it is.
    Alexis: Shall I give you a moment to converse?
    Hanson: Sure.

    Aaron calls his phone.

    Hanson: …Aaron?
    Aaron: Oh hello Hanson.
    Hanson: God Aaron! You’re back? What’s going on?
    Aaron: I’ve been doing a lot of moving about. You know, keeping out of sight.
    Hanson: I gather. Where are you?
    Aaron: I’m safe. Don’t worry about that. I’m more interested in how you’re selling me out.
    Hanson: Oh… You saw the meeting with Mr Steed?
    Aaron: Yeah. Saw that and a few other things.
    Hanson: I only made a deal with him to get them to back off a bit. I was hoping you wouldn’t contact me just yet.
    Aaron: Sure…
    Hanson: No really. I have no intention on following through with this deal. And actually, I might need your help with something.
    Aaron: What is it?
    Hanson: Well… You managed to disappear pretty well didn’t you? I might need that. To disappear. See, they’re going to be asking me if I’ve had any contact. When that happens, either I vanish, or I’ll have to give them something. And I’m really hopping it’s not going to be the latter.
    Aaron: Hmm… Might be able to help you with that.
    Hanson: Thanks. Anyway, we’re about to visit Boris.
    Aaron: I’ve heard.
    Hanson: Then you know that means you won’t be able to follow.
    Aaron: I can wait. I’ve actually got quite a lot to tell you guys.
    Hanson: No problem. Oh, and one more thing.
    Aaron: Yeah?
    Hanson: It’s really great to hear you again buddy.

    With the ward set, Alexis asks to take any and all foci, for they will not be allowed within the prison. The only one who resists this is Sean, not willing to give up his crucifix, though even he gives in and hands it over with a warning that there better not be a single mark placed upon it. After this, she led the mages into another room with a complicated pattern along the floor. The only exit being the way they came in. The group was instructed to stand within the ring while a number of mages around the room began their ritual. The room around them spun slightly, the pattern on the floor glowing with thick white outlines. When the room stopped, they noticed the passage out was different, as though the lighting had altered. A group of 5 robed mages stepped forward and introduced themselves as their escorts, and lead the way, one ahead, two on either side, and two behind. They walk through a vast corridor, the ceiling of which stretches higher than one may hope to see. The walls and floor are of a thick stone, patterns of squares and rectangles arranged in a complex arrangement. Torches light their way, each one attached to a single stone block. The air tasted different from where they had been moments before. The corridor stretched into a straight passage, leading to a single dead end. One of the guards escorting them spoke something in a language none of them knew, and in a show of geometric contortionism, the stone blocks moved over each other like a puzzle, crafting a doorway through to corridors ahead.
    Beyond this new threshold, Sean and Hanson could hear the cries of mages faintly from behind the walls; some calling out in anguish, others for pleas of mercy or desperate attempts to claim innocence. They chose to ignore these cries, as there was little they could do.
    They stopped at a particular wall, and once again the guard spoke in an unknown language to open up another doorway within the wall. The four of them stepped in as beckoned by the guards.

    Ahead of them was a dimly lit room. On the opposite side sat the old High Priest Boris. His hair had grown messy and knotted, and he wore a simple brown cloth which frayed at the edges. His pale complexion was barely visible in the low light of the room. The guards stand at the back of the room, hidden in shadow yet ever present. A thin black stripe lay across the room, separating the group. As Alfred approached he noticed that the stripe was in truth, a long hole cut into the stone. He dared not think what effects may trigger if he made an attempt to cross it.

    Boris: Alfred?
    Alfred: Hello Boris
    Boris: Those robes… you have become the new High Priest?
    Alfred: It was Vivian’s wish.
    Boris: I see… And who else have you brought?

    Boris looks about the room, his gaze focusses narrowly on Helen.

    Boris: You. You’re the reason I’m here!
    Helen: Your got yourself here.
    Boris: I will not speak with you! Traitor! We brought you in, trusted you, and you thank us by destroying our coven!
    Helen: I only brought the truth to the surface.
    Boris: The truth which best suited your goals.
    Hanson: Helen… I think you should probably sit this one out for a bit.
    Alfred: Yes. Otherwise we’re not going to get anywhere.

    Helen reluctantly exited, one of the guards lead her through the doorway and reconfigured the walls into a seat for her to wait upon.

    Boris: Why is Vivian not here?
    Alfred: Vivian… is gone.
    Boris: Where?
    Hanson: We don’t really know.
    Alfred: She jumped into the deep umbra after Melonie. She did it to keep her away.
    Boris: When was this?
    Alfred: Over three months ago.
    Boris: Then… she really is gone.
    Alfred: We don’t know.

    Boris kneels to the ground, utterly crushed by the news.

    Sean: There are other things we need to discuss. There is a nephandic group at large.
    Hanson: The Spirals of Madness, do you know of them.
    Boris: I don’t. Not by name anyway.
    Alfred: They were the ones responsible for what happened at Hampstead Heath. They attempted to call down an elder god using a marauder. We think Alex might have been a part of them.
    Boris: No. Alex would not join such a group.
    Hanson: Except, he has.
    Boris: No! I know him, he is not capable it.
    Alfred: I saw him working with Melonie myself.
    Boris: He had affection for her yes. But I sent him to keep track on what he was doing. He wouldn’t join her. He simply wouldn’t.
    Alfred: I was there, he made his choice and he chose her.
    Boris: No! No, it can’t be.
    Sean: As much as it hurts, at this point you have to accept it.
    Alfred: Your apprentice is not who you thought.
    Boris: It’s not true!
    Alfred: Think about this. Think about what has happened.
    Boris: I have had a lot of time to think about it here! Every day I go over what has happened. There is nothing else.
    Alfred: Then you must see what has happened. That he was involved and not as innocent as you would prefer to see him.

    Boris stops talking. His protests grew less confident with each counterclaim. In the end, he could do little more than give in.

    Boris: Then I am here for nothing.
    Sean: What can you tell us about his powers?
    Boris: Alex… He was skilled in the spheres of Mind and Life.
    Sean: And who taught him this?
    Boris: Myself and Vivian.
    Alfred: How does he do his magic?
    Boris: He directs life through blood and affects the mind by making eye contact, though Vivian and Granny Elm did teach him a number of chants.

    Alfred: When we were at the Heath, one of the Spirals had disappeared before my eyes. They had a withered arm.
    Sean: I saw they had a golden necklace about their neck. They are likely to be the traitor within the coven.
    Boris: Then you must find them quickly. Though if it was one of ours, why they would have such an injury is strange. We should be able to heal, unless it was some kind of paradox related deformity.
    Hanson: We suspect they might have teleported away, do you know who is the most proficient at Correspondence within the coven?
    Boris: That would be Gwyn
    Sean: It might not have been Correspondence, I didn’t pick anything up when that happened.
    Alfred: Are there other methods to escape into thin air?
    Boris: The only other way I can imagine is by crossing the gauntlet, though it is a very dangerous method of retreat.
    Alfred: Gwyn was a known spirit walker… He should be capable of this.
    Boris: Almost every member of the coven should, apart from Mica, unless she’s learned a bit since I was taken away…

    Boris: Alfred, if you’re the new High Priest, who has become High Priestess?
    Alfred: Camellia.
    Boris: I see… I she ok?
    Alfred: She’s getting better. Do you know who first gave her the tea she drinks?
    Boris: I taught her how to make it on suggestion from Granny Elm and Vivian, to help her. Alex too would help her make it.
    Sean: Do you have any way to communicate with Alex still?
    Boris: Yes, we would meet at the node in Wimbledon Common
    Sean: How would you set up a meeting?
    Boris: The golden necklaces, there were spirits within that allowed us to talk to one another.
    Alfred: Wait. Alex still have a necklace? I though he left the coven.
    Boris: He never truly left. It was only to track Melonie and let me know what she was planning.
    Alfred: So he could enter the undergrove this entire time! Do you realise what you have done! You have let a Nephandi have unrestrained access to everything we hold dear!
    Boris: He was not a threat!
    Alfred: He has turned, Boris, Melonie convinced him to betray us all.
    Boris: There was always a risk, but I knew he was stronger than that.
    Hanson: Evidentially he wasn’t.

    Alfred is furious at this revelation. Hanson takes this moment to ask his own questions.

    Hanson: Do you know a Euthanatos by the name of Belladonna?
    Alfred: Yes. She came to visit me here not too long ago.
    Hanson: What did you talk about?
    Alfred: It seemed she only came to condemn me, to tell me that coven was doomed and that Vivian and myself were to blame.
    Hanson: You knew her before?
    Alfred: Not formally, but she has spoken with Vivian a few times before. I don’t think she was aware of what happened at the time.
    Alfred: I think it’s only right that Helen is given a chance to speak with you.
    Boris: Look at this place Alfred, Look as what she has brought upon me. What good would talking to her do now?
    Alfred: She is a Hermetic mage, you are in a Hermetic prison. You need all the allies you can get.
    Boris: Fine, but on the condition that I may speak with you privately before you leave.

    Alfred looks behind him at the guards, who subtly nod. Helen is let back in.

    Helen: How are you? Having a good time?
    Boris: A good time, being cut off from that which you care about, only drip fed bad news?
    Helen: Isn’t it terrible feeling so helpless, knowing that you brought yourself to it.
    Boris: You have only come to mock me then?
    Helen: I want you to turn my parent back from a fox.
    Boris: You destroyed my coven, prevent me from being able to aid, and taken away everything that I care about.
    Alfred: Boris, can’t you see that the Fates are laughing at you! This blood feud of yours has brought you to ruin.
    Boris: He parents were monsters! We did what needed to be done.
    Helen: They were not!
    Boris: You know nothing. They killed thousands in their time; submitted them to horrible experiments removing them further and further from humanity. My own family!
    Alfred: And Helen should not be held accountable for this.
    Boris: She is of their blood. She too will prove to be just as monsterous.
    Helen: I want my mother back!
    Boris: You wish to bring back a monster! So they may return to harm?
    Sean: Is it possible to turn her mother back from a fox?
    Boris: I couldn’t say, it is not my effect. It’s your grandfathers.

    Helen looks at Alfred with anger, Alfred does what he can to try an subdue this, but right now Helen feels betrayal.

    Boris: He begged for death. After what they did to him, the machines they fused him to. When he found out what he had been turned to, my own brother. He begged me to kill him because of what they did.
    Hanson: Right, I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere now.

    The group leave, while Alfred stays behind to speak. Two of the guards stay and listen, though Boris seems completely unaware of them. For the first time, Alfred realises that perhaps he cannot see them, that in his perspective they are actually alone.

    Boris: Alfred, you are the High Priest now. You hold the role I once did, and I ask that you do not make the same mistakes as I.
    Alfred: I won’t.
    Boris: Then do not ally yourself with this girl. Your responsibilities are to the coven, to look after your own first and foremost.
    Alfred: I will. The coven comes first.
    Boris: And if you can find some way to get me out of here. Please, help. And try to help Alex. I don’t think he realises what he is doing.
    Alfred: I’m not sure what I can do about this.
    Boris: There isn’t a single bit of plantlife in this lifeless place.
    Alfred: Well, a plant in the hands of a life mage as powerful as yourself would be a dangerous thing indeed.
    Boris: I have the feeling that they watch my every move, and listen to anything I might say.
    Alfred: (looking back at the guards) You are not wrong. They listen.
    Boris: …I thought as much.
    Alfred: I don’t know how we may help you leave, but perhaps after we have exposed and stopped the Spirals, the judges of the tribunal will revaluate your case.
    Boris: If I can survive that long…

    As the group are lead away, Sean overhears a few of the guard conversing in French. They agree with one another that as long as Alex is still out there, allowing Boris to leave is far too dangerous as he still holds some level of allegiance to him. They also state that they should inform House Quaesitor to set up patrols about Wimbledon Common in case a meeting is set up.

    They are returned to the gate, and warped back to London where their foci are returned. Sean is relieved to see his crucifix remained untampered. When they got out of the correspondence ward, Aaron once again was able to communicate.

    Hanson: Aaron, what was it you wanted to say?
    Aaron: Go somewhere secluded, this needs to be done right.
    Hanson: Can’t you just tell us over the phone?
    Aaron: No, I’ve got a trick I need to show you all, go somewhere.

    They ended up going to the Keeper’s chantry as it was the only place they could think off to go. Helen was the only one to follow, wanting to meet with her Mentor instead. Once in one of the rooms upstairs, Aaron displayed his effect. A holographic image of Aaron’s icon projected itself from the phone. His icon resembled a cross between a Daft Punk style robot and something out of Tron, with a power sign the only feature on the face part of the head. They stare in disbelief at what they are witnessing.

    [ST NOTE: Aaron learned Prime 2 other his time away, and did a combination of Forces 2, Prime 2, and Correspondence 2 to do this effect. It’s sort of like a body of light, but actually made of light so people can see it, and projected onto something else. By the limits of his paradigm, it has to be through something electronic that can reasonably connect with the device he’s transmitting from. Best part is, depending on the device he transmits to and as long as there are no tech experts present, this can be considered coincidental. He calls the effect “Cyberghost”]

    Aaron: Hey
    Alfred: Aaron… Where have you been?
    Aaron: Away. And that’s all you need to know. How did the Boris meeting go?
    Alfred: Difficult to say. Locking him up hasn’t done him much good.
    Aaron: Any news on the traitor?
    Hanson: Maybe, there are a few people we’re looking at.
    Aaron: Yeah, well my money’s on Granny Elm.
    Alfred: She was one of the Keepers who was not accounted for at the battle, but that’s also true for Kael, Genevieve, Gwyn…
    Hanson: The only people we can really rule out are Mica and Camellia, who we all saw during the battle.
    Aaron: Right. Well, while you’ve been dealing with that, I’ve been doing my own research on Esther, and here’s what I’ve figured out.
    This Esther file is basically a way for the technocracy to make a sanitised version of astrology. They use the stars to predict human behaviour with this complicated algorithm. But here’s the thing, it’s not complete. We got it away from the technocrats before they had a chance to make it work in real time on multiple individuals. If they still had it, they would have a great deal of power on their hands. Now, you remember when I said they were sanitising astrology, that’s because the way this thing does its predictions is by tracking the position of a star, a big green star that, last time I checked, was moving about somewhere near Neptune.
    Hanson: A green star… Like Dubois’s painting.
    Aaron: What happened to her by the way?
    Hanson: I’m trying to find that very thing out.
    Aaron: What about Sarah.
    Hanson: I’m not sure what happened to her…
    Sean: She disappeared with shortly after the battle ended.
    Aaron: I doubt she’d be too happy with you Hanson since you ended up helping her brother die.
    Hanson: Yeah… I’m aware.
    Aaron: Now does everyone remember that prophecy Lydia had? It goes “Three men, profit fear and charting, stand in search of the star for control, utility, or understanding. The bearer may decide on whom the star shall sit. Its secrets must be learnt within the astral realm before the death spiral is complete. These three men are obviously our technocratic “friends”, Steed, Staveros and your guy.
    Alfred: Lance.
    Aaron: Right, and Esther points to this green star. So we will need to head out to the Astral Realm to figure this out, before whatever this death spiral is happens.
    Alfred: Might it have something to do with these suicides?

    Hanson pulls out his phone and starts rapidly checking tabloids and other sources outside the mainstream press for any new suicides, and sure enough he finds a couple more cases, including one at the British Museum. Hanson then takes out a map and quickly tries to chart out their locations.

    Hanson: Hey Alfred, didn’t you used to work at the British museum?
    Alfred: As an archivist, yes.
    Hanson: So now it’s hit your place of work, doesn’t that make it more personal for you?
    Alfred: It was already personal. This time, it’s professional.

    Hanson finishes up his rough placement of locations on the map.

    Hanson: Does this look like it might form a spiral to anyone else?
    Alfred: ….oh no.
    Aaron: So the death spiral is a literal spiral of death.
    Alfred: And they’re using our members for their own ritual.
    Sean: Perhaps to summon whatever this green star is.
    Aaron: Esther… Hastur… Whatever it is, it can’t be good.

    There’s a knock at the door, Hanson puts away his phone, hiding the hologram while Alfred goes to answer the door, Rowan steps in.

    Rowan: High Priest!
    Alfred: What is it.
    Rowan: Did you hear? I just heard.
    Alfred: What? What did you hear?
    Rowan: Vivian is back!

    There was a noticeable elapse of time wherein the room stood in stunned silence. Alfred picked up the wooden rune and threw it to the ground. It did not move. Concerned, he picked it up and addressed Rowan directly.

    Alfred: Where is she?
    Rowan: I don’t know, I just heard the other open circle members talk about her.
    Alfred: What did they say?
    Rowan: That she’s back, and that she has meetings with some of our members.
    Alfred: Write me a list of whoever you know is involved with these meetings, as well as who you heard this from.

    Aaron stops looking at his screen as he heard something he didn’t expect to hear on his side of the world. Scratching and squeaking. Currently his is inside a walk-in closet, a space he rigged up to allow his cyberghost ability, if there was squeaking here, he needed to make sure it wasn’t in the room. He did a quick scan for minds and sure enough saw a number of rats in the walls. He was about to code a barrier against them when they scattered of their own volition. This did not sit well with him.

    Helen sat by the door to her mentor’s office for a while. What Boris had said about her parents shook her and she needed confirmation. Eve had been a family friend for as long as she knew her, and though she was always resistant to talk about them to her, she needed now more than ever to press upon the issue. It had been almost an hour before Eve returned, walking down the corridor laughing with another man who spoke with a Spanish accent.

    Eve: Aileen! What are you doing here?
    Helen: I wanted to see you.
    Eve: Well it’s a good thing you’re here. I have someone to introduce you to.
    Armando: Is this the apprentice you spoke about?
    Eve: Yes, Initiate Aileen Devena Fraya bani Jerbiton. (To helen) And this is Magister Scholae Armando Sinclair, Bani Falmbau.
    Armando: It is a pleasure to finally meet you. (He greets her by kissing her on the back of the hand) Olivia here spoke very highly of you, of how capable a student you were, your exploits on behalf of House Quaesitor, as well as your interests in the depths of Ars Vita.

    Helen, realising she was in the presence of the Master of Life, quickly jumped to respond.

    Helen: Oh yes! I am very interested in Life magic. Life magic can be very useful for healing yourself, as well as transforming yourself and other things.
    Armando: The magic of Life, is the language of Passion. The energy that lives inside all that has will, and the fire that brings belief to life. Aileen, do you feel a passion burning within you?
    Helen: Yes. I really want to learn Life magic.
    Eve: She is deeply interested in the field, and has been studying every night in solitude. A master such as yourself would help propel her talents far and above what I may teach her.
    Armando: Too kind, Olivia, far too kind. But if it is of no trouble to yourselves, Olivia has said you would be interested in a private session tomorrow morning in my office.
    Helen: That would be nice.
    Eve: She means to say that it would be an honour to learn from you, Magister Scholae.
    Armando: My, the ladies of House Jerbiton are very courteous indeed. I must visit this house more often.

    The Master leaves while Eve smiles after him. The moment he turns the corner, however, the face changes ad she turns to Helen.

    Eve: What are you doing Helen? This is a Master, you have to be polite and flattering.
    Helen: I’m sorry.
    Eve: Do you know how hard it was to get his attention during his lecture? If we didn’t use up the last few favours from House Quaesitor before, we certainly have now.
    Helen: There’s something I want to talk to you about.
    Eve: You better be on time for his private session tomorrow. Not doing so would be an insult, and I doubt you’ll have a second chance at this.
    Helen: I want to talk about my parents.
    Eve: … Your parents?
    Helen: Please, Eve. I want to know the truth.
    Eve: … come inside.

    Eve opens the door and beckons Helen in to her office.

    Eve: We can’t speak too loudly where people might hear.
    Helen: Is it that bad?
    Eve: Your parents… they were good people, but they were caught up in something much bigger than I think they anticipated.
    Helen: So they were technocrats.
    Eve: I suppose it’s time I told you what I know. I met your parents by chance while working in Scotland for a time, we developed a friendship naturally, separate from the world of magic and the Ascension war. They had no idea what I was, as far as they knew I was just a psychology teacher. I was just as clueless about them as they were for me, to start with. I did find out about their links to the technocracy, however. This was long after you were born. I was put in a difficult position. They were good people who cared deeply about their loved ones, but I knew that the war would make us enemies if they ever found out my true nature. That’s the most dangerous thing about the Technocracy, their union will always be their first priority, always.
    Helen: Do you know what happened to them?
    Eve: Not entirely, and I never lied to you about what happened that night. But the last thing they said to me was concerning. It’s as if they knew that something terrible was going to happen. They came to me and asked that I look after you, that I take you away from Scotland and make sure no one follows us. They spoke with such finality, as though they knew what would occur during your trip to wales.
    Helen: Maybe that’s why that agent said I was unregistered progeny. Maybe my parents were keeping me secret from the other technocrats.
    Eve: Perhaps… but wait, did you say an agent called you unregistered progeny?
    Helen: …yes.
    Eve: Is that why you’ve been staying here for the last few months rather than your dorm room? Why you didn’t go back home for Christmas? You’ve been hiding from techoncrats?
    Helen: I’m sorry.
    Eve: Never mind that. It’s no longer safe for you to be here. We will have to get you out of the country as quickly as possible.
    Helen: When?
    Eve: I’ll have to talk to people, but I might be able to get you out in the next few days. Until then, be very careful where you go or who you talk to.
    Helen: Ok.
    Eve: When I have something set up, we will get you there immediately. It might be very sudden, perhaps even the middle of the night. Don’t worry about packing though. I’ll have someone send all the things in your room once you’re safe.
    Helen: Oh.

    Helen left the office feeling as though she just made a big mistake revealing this to her mentor. She remembered the fox, and the thought that someone might see it and report it to her. She now had an uncertain time limit to get her mother back to human form.

    Hanson considers investigating some of the newer bodies to confirm whether or not they were indeed members of the Open Circle; except, he really does not want to attract attention to himself, especially if there’s a chance Mr Steed may find him. Instead he asked Aaron to check ahead for him. Aaron keyed in the location Hanson described, another patch of railroad suddenly put under maintenance for unexplained reasons. Aaron saw a great number of people, some in uniforms, some in high-vis jackets and suits. Around part of the track was a large amount of blood. Hanson felt this confirmed the site of a suicide enough, as well as his suspicions that the place would be swarming with technocrats. Investigating this suicide spots first hand had become far too risky.

    One of the names Rowan provided was James, the man they saved a few days before from the thugs with firebombs. As both Alfred and Sean knew where he lived, they decided it would be best to meet with him and learn exactly what was going on about Vivian as soon as possible. They arrived at the door and knocked.

    James: Hello?
    Alfred: Hello.
    James: You’re the High Priest of the wicca group!
    Alfred: Yes. I wanted to make sure you were alright.
    James: Since the ritual you mean? Yeah, I’m not sure what happened. I remember the goat and the prayers, but not much after that until I woke up here with a huge headache.
    Alfred: Probably all the ale we had afterwards, it was quite the celebration…
    James: Yeah… yeah that must have been it.
    Alfred: Well, I’m glad to see you’re alright.
    James: Yeah, I’m fine.
    Sean: We heard that a group of you have been having meetings outside of the normal group.
    James: Yeah, didn’t you know? They’re being run by the old High Preistess. Really recent though. Where’s she been all this time?
    Alfred: She…just came back from a holiday.
    James: Oh right. Wasn’t sure if you two were on speaking terms anymore.
    Alfred: Why is that?
    James: Well, everyone’s saying you had a falling out, so she started running meetings separate from yours. People have been saying things became too dangerous since Viviane left, and though maybe you were to blame, sorry.
    Alfred: I see… James, could I ask you something?
    James: Yes?
    Alfred: I know you’ve had a hard night a while ago, so would you mind if I help you relieve the stress.
    James: Is it going to be like a guided meditation?
    Alfred: Yes. Exactly.
    James: Sure.

    Alfred helped him prepare his breathing to be rhythmic and relaxed, and began to guide him, first by describing the Earthhouse, his normal portal into the minds of those before him. Soon Alfred was in the library of his memories, beginning searching for anything pertaining to Vivian. It was not long before he found exactly what he was looking for in a recently written book within a well-kept shelf. It described an evening with a group of other wiccan enthusiasts sitting in a circle with Vivian in the centre speaking to all of them. The description was unmistakably her. She spoke “The world as grown hateful of our ways and suspicious of our activity. They wish to see us dead as many in the past have done so. There is somewhere we can go to save ourselves and practice as it is our right to do so. Soon, I shall help you all cross over into the spirit world, where we will be free to live.”

    Alfred had read enough. He began to pull himself out of Jame’s mind and return back to the room. While all this was happening, Sean decided to excuse himself to the bathroom and perform a rite that he had never tried before. He performed the Hart’s Blood rote, calling out a prayer as he cutting his hand, offering up the blood to his own crucifix in order to gain a single point of quintessence. The chorus was often known to perform similar rituals, though usually via self-flagellation, fasting, or other forms of suffering. The fact that cutting and bleeding was more a Verbena was something which played in his head a little. Perhaps he was spending too much time with them, but on the other hand, is God would put his power anywhere, the blood wouldn’t be too inconceivable a vessel.

    Alfred returned and brought James out of his trance, asking for some tea in order to get him out of the room to discuss further with Sean. He did not question the slightly red tissue paper Sean now held.

    Alfred: Sam, it’s her.
    Sean: Are you sure? Perhaps it’s an illusion of some sort.
    Alfred: It could be. But there wasn’t a way to tell. I don’t know what this man’s true memories normally look like, so there’s little to compare.
    Sean: But you suspect it is her.
    Alfred: It might be, more likely it is a trick of some kind made by the Spirals. What worries me is what she said. She plans to help them “cross-over” to the spirit world.
    Sean: So she is leading them to commit to their deaths. Did you see someone with a withered hand there?
    Alfred: No. Only Vivian, if it even was her. I have a feeling the nephandi are targeting our acolytes, perhaps in revenge for disrupting their ritual. They are playing on their fears and using it to make them end their own lives.
    Sean: An illusion like that would require considerable Mind magic.

    Hanson returns to his office somewhat dejected. It seems as though there’s a new report of a suicide coming every few hours, but no sign of where they’re coming from. He sits on his chair with a bottle of whisky and pours himself a few fingers. In his experience, it was usually times like this when he expected someone like Dubois or Belladonna to come into his office and tell him what he missed. “Belladonna! If you’re there…”. No response, figures. He leaned back and slowly savoured his drink.

    Voice: Hello Hanson
    Hanson: Who’s this?
    Voice: You know who it is.

    The voice felt close, as though spoken right next to his ear, and familiar, very familiar.

    Hanson: Dubois? Is that you?
    Voice: It might be.
    Hanson: Dubois, where are you?
    Voice: I honestly couldn’t say.
    Hanson: What can we do to help find you?
    Voice: To find me, you must first know where I am.
    Hanson: …

    He started to wonder exactly what was going on here. Was this really Dubois, or another entity playing a trick on him. Perhaps an appearance by his avatar… It all proved too much to deal with right now. He gulped down his glass and swiftly poured himself another one. It wasn’t until his fourth when he heard the door knock.

    Hanson: Violet?
    Belladonna: Hello Hanson.
    Hanson: Belladonna… Are you real?
    Belladonna: Yes… why?
    Hanson: Nothing… I’ve been hearing things today… probably just words in the wind.
    Belladonna: Have you made any progress on your investigation.
    Hanson: Yes and no… I’m pretty sure the spirals are behind this attack, but then I already was. It seems the Keepers have been roped into their scheme this time around.
    Belladonna: Yes, you have contact with their current High Priest, don’t you.
    Hanson: I understand you had contact with their precious High Priest.
    Belladonna: Yes, I went to visit him shortly after the tribunal concluded. Reckless and forever convinced that he did the right thing. Would you be able to summon the High Priest you know.
    Hanson: You mean Alfred?
    Belladonna: I wish to speak with him.
    Hanson: Sure…

    Hanson called Alfred and explained Belladonna wish to see him.

    Alfred: We need to go.
    Sean: I should come too.
    James: Everything alright?
    Alfred: Yes, however I have to ask you quickly. Are there any more meetings with Vivian planned?
    James: Well, yes. As a matter of fact, there’ll be one tomorrow.
    Alfred: I have to urge you to stay away.
    James: What?
    Alfred: It’s not safe. Vivian had changed, and her words will only lead you to harm. You must stay away from this meeting at all costs.
    James: Oh… I see… Thank you…
    Alfred: And thank you for your hospitality, we really must be going now.
    James: No trouble at all…

    Alfred and Sean left, heading to Hanson’s office. The cold night air doing little to calm their nerves.

    Belladonna: Hello High Priest.
    Alfred: I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced.
    Belladonna: I saw you at the tribunal defending your High Priestess. Such a spirited display of devotion.
    Alfred: You spoke with Boris after his incarceration.
    Belladonna: Indeed I did, as have you most recently.
    Alfred: What did you need to see him about?
    Belladonna: What’s more important is what I have to say to you.
    Alfred: And what is this?
    Belladonna: That your coven is in great danger, on the path of destruction. There is a traitor among your kin who is planning great treachery. To allow it to continue would destroy more than the coven.
    Sean: We are aware of this.

    Belladonna looks at Sean quietly, she can sense something off about him.

    Belladonna: And who are you?
    Sean: I am Sam.
    Belladonna: Sam… And you are with Alfred?
    Sean: I have been assisting him.
    Belladonna: And which tradition do you follow?
    Sean: …the celestial chorus.
    Belladonna: Do you really…

    Sean could tell that she was sensing his lies, he was aware of the Euthanatos were capable of sensing such falsehoods and so resigned to stay quiet lest his faction is revealed.

    Alfred: Excuse me. But I thought you wished to speak with me, not with him.
    Belladonna: Yes, to warn against those you may trust. They are not who they say they are, the ones in your coven. When the time comes you must not make the same mistake your predecessors made.
    Hanson: Believe me, we have been trying.

    The conversation continues, going over all the information they have come to at this point. Esther, the green star, Vivian’s fake return, the suicides, and the prophecy which ties it all together.

    Belladonna: The Green Fairy of Ireland….
    Hanson: What was that?
    Belladonna: The story goes that a spirit returned to Ireland at its time of need, transforming the area and bringing back life to a broken world. But the truth may be much less simple. I believe she did exist, but her return was much less peaceful, for not only did she revitalise the land, but purged it of all that was there before. She is said to grant the wish of that which summons her…
    Hanson: Could that be what Violet painted?
    Alfred: I remember a green orb of fire over the scene of the ritual… maybe that’s what they were really doing, calling it down?
    Hanson: So, you narrowed down who could be this withered hand person?
    Alfred: I’m thinking it’s either Gwyn, or Granny Elm. They are the only ones who would fit. The prophecy stated we need to head to the Astral Realm to learn the secrets of the star, and I have a plan to use that. We will ask Gwyn to take us there and see what happens. If we are ambushed then we know for certain he is the traitor.
    Hanson: Just saying, but if it turns out it’s actually Granny Elm, then the coven’s probably doomed.

    By this point, Hanson was rather comfortably drunk. Belladonna gave him her contact details so he may call her if she is needed. The rest of the group bid each other goodnight, getting ready to

    ---NOTES---
    There was so much they figured out today. In essence, they figured out almost the entire nephandic plot. The spiral of suicides, the calling of Esther, and that the Keeper’s acolytes are being used to help their ends. They even started to suspect Granny Elm of her true intentions. I’m really glad that everything being figured out by this point. Usually I’d prefer or things to be a lot slower, but we simply don’t have the time to allow such events the room to gradually accumulate.
    Esentially, this is an entire story’s worth of content, with enough stuff to last pretty much the length of the previous story’s, shrunk into the space of a small number of sessions. But what we’ve lost in intrigue and suspense, we’re making up for in time; time to focus on sorting out the problem at hand and reaching a satisfying conclusion of sorts.

    Aaron’s spheres: Correspondence 3, Entropy 2, Forces 2, Mind 1, Prime 2
    Lydia is still confirmed as returning for the last session. I’ll have her spheres up once that happens.

    There was a moment that I couldn’t quite remember where it fit in, but is very much worth a mention. Just after everyone arrived to meet Hanson and Belladonna, somewhere in the conversation he mentioned that Violet may or may not have contacted him. Their response was “So you heard her voice, but it wasn’t you?” “Was it your avatar? Someone trying to trick you?” His response: “I don’t know! This is why I drink!!”

    Leave a comment:


  • Saikou
    replied
    35th Session

    Lydia’s player has contacted, and it seems that the only session they’ll be able to attend is the very last one. I’m not sure how this will function narratively, but I’m sure we’ll be able to figure out something. I predict she’ll be very confused as to what’s actually going on anymore.

    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
    Mr Steed: NWO Operative

    Keepers
    Camellia: Young High Priestess
    Mica: Techno Witch
    Genevieve: Recent Returning member
    Rowan: Lydia’s Pupil.


    --- CHAPTER 35: RISING TENSIONS---

    Panic struck the coven as many of the acolytes scream in terror. Alfred does his best to calm them down but has trouble. Sean holds his crucifix tightly as he makes a prayer for intervention, transforming the liquid within the bottles into water. Shock of the sudden emergence of vines causes them pause long enough for Sean’s effect to land, just in time for them to throw and inadvertently douse their own flames. The sound of broken glass caused a number of the acolytes to flee, running out from the pit. Kael stood with their ceremonial dagger, keeping the quintessence strored in the ritual in place, preventing the entire ritual from collapsing around them. Camellia attempted to calm as many people as she could, while Mica and Genevieve were just as panicked as the rest of them. Gwyn wasted no words and began drawing up his pentagram on the ground, a quick escape was now desperately needed. Alfred spends a few moments finishing the toasts and encouraging as many as would listen to drink with him before rushing to give both Mica and Geneveieve a job. Keep the quintessence stored in the knife, and prevent more people from escaping the pit. Alfred had no idea how many attackers there were, but did not want to chance a battle.
    Sean watched as four acolytes escaped from the pit. One of the men threw a bottle straight at their head, shattering and knocking them to the ground. The other three ran off into the dark, pursued by their attackers and out of sight. The remaining man ran off to the now unconscious acolyte. Sean chased after him to restrain him, but was too slow on the ground to prevent the man from brutally kicking in the downed acolyte.
    Alfred is about to climb out of the pit to check on the acolytes.

    Mica: Alfred! Wait.
    Alfred: I have to go.
    Mica: Gwyn is almost ready with the portal.
    Alfred: …Go with them, make sure everyone goes with you, I have to help the others.

    Alfred left the remaining acolytes huddle together with his coven. The space around them warped as though the entire group had been placed in a soap bubble seconds before bursting, and they were gone. Alfred dragged himself out of the pit, covered in blood, mud, and glass. All he could see in the fading firelight was Sean on top of one of the attackers, forcing his arms behind him, military training keeping him unable to struggle, and the young acolyte. Alfred quickly ran to check on him and heal the bleeding they suffered. Though unconscious, and no doubt would wake up in a great deal of pain, at least he would wake up.

    Alfred stares into the face of the would-be assailant.

    Alfred: Who sent you?
    Guy: Fuck you on about?
    Alfred: You can’t have been intelligent enough to do this yourself.
    Guy: Fuck off!
    Alfred: What’s your name!
    Guy: Oliver Twist.
    Sean: I don’t think he’s going to cooperate, go to his mind!
    Guy: You what!?
    Alfred: That’s not a bad idea.

    Alfred started chanting his poems and rhymes, flickering narratives in order to reach his own mind palace, the rustic wooden hut which provided him links to other minds. The furniture was just a bit off, the mantelpiece slight crooked and the windows a touch askew. It never did fully recover since linking with that marauders mind. Alfred stepped towards the door, and then threw to this man’s mental library. It was dark, looking through a number of the books revealed little of relevance, school time friends, lost relationships, a number of football matches, but nothing which suggested an instigator. Instead he found in prominence a number of headlines from the news, and a narrative of seeking justice for the city.

    Alfred pulled back out just as Sean’s grip faltered, letting him go. The man backed away slowly, before sprinting away.

    Sean: What did you see?
    Alfred: They worked in isolation. Sleepers who bought in to technocratic propaganda. How many were there?
    Sean: Just three.
    Alfred: And the others?
    Sean: They ran off, chasing after the others who ran away.
    Alfred: I’m not sure what more we could do in this darkness. Perhaps we should just meet back at Churchill Gardens
    Sean: And what about him? (pointing at the unconscious acolyte)
    Alfred: We should probably bring him home.

    Alfred changed from his ceremonial robes back into his street clothes, and Sean went through his pockets, looking for an address of some kind to return them to. Together they helped this man return to his home, laying him on his sofa in the dark room before leaving quietly back to the chantry. As Sean returned to his room, Alfred learned that the acolytes who returned with the Keepers were too scared to leave for the night, and Camellia had allowed them to stay the night in the rooms upstairs. Deciding to wait until the following day to address them, he agreed and returned to bed himself, where he had a horrible nightmare. Fire on the ground, members of his own coven strewn around the battle field like fallen knights, fire roaring around them, his own flesh and blood turning against him in a battle to end his reign.

    Helen wakes up suddenly to the sound of sharp knocking on her bedroom door.

    Eve: Helen! It’s 7:30! I’ve been waiting for you for half an hour to attend your lessons, are you even awake?

    The fox yawns silently at her feet.

    Helen: I’m awake! You don’t have to come in!
    Eve: You have overslept, haven’t you.
    Helen: Yes, I’m sorry. Just give me 10 minutes.
    Eve: Helen…

    The door opens slightly.
    Helen: It’s ok! Just 10 minutes. I promise, I’ll be with you soon.

    The door halts, and then slowly closes.

    Eve: I’ll be waiting.

    Relieved Helen hurriedly got herself ready and fed her fox before running to her tutorage room.

    Eve: What have I told you about sleeping properly?
    Helen: I’m sorry, really.
    Eve: What has been keeping you up at night this last week?
    Helen: I’ve just… been studying so hard. I really want to advance my level.

    Eve stared at her, for a moment Helen thought she had cottoned on to her “pet”. Then her face lowered slightly.

    Eve: That’s admirable, but if you don’t keep to a proper schedule, you only do your studies a disservice.
    Helen: I understand.
    Eve: Oh, and do find the time to tidy your room. It smells as though a wild animals been kept in it.
    Helen: I will.
    Eve: I don’t know what you’re used to back at the student halls, but a chantry room must be treated with respect.
    Helen: Yes, I will do that.
    Eve: Shall we begin?

    Hanson sat in his office. The darkness of the night still cloaked the streets, and Hanson stared at them with coffee in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. He thinks hard about the suicide sites, or perhaps murder sites, that he investigated the day before, of what Belladonna had told him. He contemplated over the who. He knew these killings were not random, that something was ordering it, but he couldn’t be certain exactly who it was. As he leaned back in his chair, he slipped into a dream and saw a gently curling spiral of smoke. Whoever the culprit was, they were tied to the Spirals of Madness.
    Getting up, Hanson launched into papers upon his desk, searching for any single bit of information he might have missed. He spent a good four hours before he came up with a few more leads. A number of rail lines had closures for unspecified reasons. The timing of it would fit in with the suicides, perhaps there was something there worth checking out. He gathered his things and stepped out in the bright day of a chilly winter’s noon. No sooner had he stepped around the corner did he start to feel that something was off. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He started to look about him, checking for any sign of this strange feeling. A few minutes later he saw something red on the ground, something liquid. Following the pool to its source, he turned a corner and saw a woman lying in a shallow pool of blood, hair covering her face. He stepped towards her and saw a knife sticking out of her neck, her hand limply hanging from its handle. Taking a closer look he sees that spiralling helical design on the hilt, identical to the last one he saw. He noticed something else, something which shot a spark through his spine. The woman was still breathing. Immediately he tried to do what he could to resuscitate her, but with limited medical knowledge could only do so much. He called for an ambulance, giving his address to the person answering the phone.

    Phone: And can I take your name please?
    Hanson: It’s Joe, Joe Hanson.
    Phone: May I request that you stay with the body until the ambulance arrives.
    Hanson: Sure… There’s a knife sticking out of her.
    Phone: Sir, as bad as it looks, we must advise that you do not remove it. It could cause more damage to the victim.

    Hanson could see her breathing losing strength.

    Hanson: I think she’s dying, can you hurry up?
    Phone: An ambulance is on its way and will be with you in 5 minutes at the latest.

    Growing impatient, Hanson decides to don his shades and force air in and out of the womans lung’s himself with a quick and dirty effect. The air rushes in with a force so great it threatened to rupture her organs, the shock of with brought her back to consciousness. In a delirious rush of adrenaline, she grabbed the knife in her throat, and quicker than Hanson could stop her, pulled the dagger straight out. Blood began to flower from the open wound. Hanson ripped of a piece of fabric and did what he could to cover the wound. The woman started sputtering, choking on the blood the leaked internally. As Hanson watched her gag, unable to speak, she slowly became limp in his hands. As her body relaxes, Hanson notices a necklace around her neck, upon which is a single brass tree; The symbol of the Keeper’s Open Circle.
    The ambulance arrives within the minute, placing the woman upon a stretcher. Not far behind the ambulance, a police car arrives. The policeman wished to take a statement from Hanson, who decided to oblige. He told them he found her, that he called an ambulance, and that she woke up and pulled the knife out. The officer noted this all down, and was about to let him go when he received a message through radio transmission. He turned again to Hanson.

    Police: Sir, would you mind coming down to the station to give your statement in a more official capacity?

    Hanson wasn’t sure what alternative there was. The body was found a stone’s throw away from his house. The death would lead back to him eventually. Anything he did to resist would only look like guilt.

    Hanson: Sure, I guess I have to.
    Police: Thank you sir. This way please

    Alfred had had a rough night. The nightmare might have woken him up, but images and sounds of the fear and terror from the ritual served to keep him awake the rest of the night. Giving up, he left to the hallway, and then the kitchen where Camellia sat.

    Alfred: Trouble sleeping?
    Camellia: Yes… After what happened, I’m not sure any of us can sleep.
    Alfred: no, quite. Are you ok?
    Camellia: I’m worried. The Open Circle, they can’t defend themselves like we can. They’re vulnerable. And we led them to danger.
    Alfred: You can’t blame yourself for this.
    Camellia: This is not the first attack. While you were in the umbra there were two others. The first a group attacked a number of the circle while leaving, the second one someone tried to ram a van into us.
    Alfred: My goodness…
    Camellia: For a while now, a number of them have stopped attending the open circle meetings. Maybe they are too scared to practice and learn. I don’t know what this means for us.
    Alfred: Maybe the rest of the Yule festival should be conducted but just the awakened among us.
    Camellia: The whole point of doing this with the Open Circle was to keep the traditions alive beyond just us though. We can’t exclude them.
    Alfred: I suppose not, no.

    Alfred notices Camellia is brewing her tea.

    Alfred: How strong is it?
    Camellia: Just a little.
    Alfred: Are you sure?
    Camellia: I need it Alfred. I need it now more than ever. I need it to stay… to stay strong.

    Tears begin to stream down her face as the young High Priestess tries to hide them away.

    Alfred: It’s the news. The media told them we are a threat, and identified us by these necklaces. Perhaps the Open Circle members will be safe if they take them off.
    Camellia: No. I cannot let that happen. These necklaces are a symbol of the old ways, the very thing we are trying to keep alive. If we lose this, we will start to lose everything. They would have won at crushing us out of this city.
    Alfred: No, of course. We mustn’t abandon the symbol, but perhaps they should conceal it in some way.
    Camellia: Making compromises… It feels as though we’ve already lost something.
    Alfred: Our people have suffered prejudice before, we survived that, and we will survive this.
    Camellia: I wish Vivian were still here. She would know how to handle this.
    Alfred: You can handle this, my High Priestess.
    Camellia: It always feels just out of reach… I’m never quite enough, always just a bit too late…

    She held her tears as she returned to her tea. Alfred watched on unsure of how best to help her. A knock at the door caught both their attention.

    Rowan: Hello?
    Alfred: Rowan, is everything ok?
    Rowan: Sort of, High Priest. The Open Circle members are too shaken up to return home.
    Alfred: Then perhaps it’s best if they stay with us for the time being. The second day of the festival is a day of preparation, and the more hands we can have aiding us, the better.
    Rowan: Shall I tell them this?
    Camellia: Yes, let us prepare for the feast.

    Alfred noticed the empty cup on the counter, and the dreamy tone to her voice, and prayed to Woden that she would not relapse.

    Sean spent most of the morning and parts of the arternoon gathering up mud and taking it to his room upstairs. He planned to hold one of the most complicated rituals he had ever attempted, turning a great deal of mud into a military grade sniper rifle. He placed several candles around the gathered mud and said a number of complex prayers and wishes, asking for the tools by which to do the work his holy grace wills him to do. The work being to find out who the traitor is within the Keepers, discover their links with the Spirals of Madness, and snuff out their corrupting influence. The mud, carefully moulded into a block, began to crack and chip away revealing the weapon he required underneath, complete with an uncalibrated scope. Sean smiled and bid thanks to his lord before noticing that his crucifix had changed from metal to clay. The forces of paradox at work yet again, and this particular backlash, though harmless, really irritated him.

    [ST NOTE: Sean was the only character who had so much paradox by the end of the story, they weren’t able to lose any during the time gap. So they’ve been trying to find ways to set it off, but to his great annoyance, only 2 points backlashed.]

    Hanson sat in an empty room at a desk. He had finished providing his statement to the police, who then left him in the room for a considerable length of time. He was unsure exactly how long everything took, but he knew it must have been a couple of hours. Suddenly the door opened, and Hanson was submerged by a great sense of fear. For the first time in months, Mr Steed stood opposite him.

    Steed: Hanson
    Hanson: Steed.
    Steed: Why is it every time something untoward happens in my city, your name always seems to crop up.
    Hanson: Hey, in my defence, it’s been three months since the last time.
    Steed: I take it you’re investigating this as a case?
    Hanson: Here’s what I know. A number of reported suicides happen around the city, and I’ve been looking into it, then this girl stabs herself yards away from my place. Thing is, I’m not convinced they are suicides.
    Steed: Have your lot had something to do with this?
    Hanson: If you mean mages, then perhaps. I have hunch that the Spirals are behind this.
    Steed: And what exactly leads you to this conclusion?
    Hanson: It’s just a hunch right now.
    Steed: I see… Well detective, the Union requires more than just hunches. We need evidence and explanation.
    Hanson: I get that, but I’m still working on it. This last one caught me of guard.
    Steed: It was the eighth reported public suicide within the last few days. We’ve been trying to keep it quiet, but when the media get wind of a story, it’s hard to throw them off; especially if it’s the death of a young woman.
    Hanson: Eight…
    Steed: Incidentally, any progress on our agreement?
    Hanson: With Aaron? No. He’s been hiding. No one has any idea where he is.
    Steed: I see… If you learn anything, be sure to inform us.
    Hanson: You know where to find me.
    Steed: Certainly. Be seeing you, Detective.

    Steed leaves the room, a moment later and a policeman returns to take Hanson’s prints, and then let him out. Hanson left the building, and once he was sure that no one was watching him, he took out his phone and called Alfred.

    Alfred was preparing a speech to rouse his coven after what had been a traumatic experience. He gathered everyone around him, halting the preparations momentarily in order to speak.

    Alfred: Last night’s attack, though brutal and shocking, was carried out by individuals who have digested propaganda of an ignorant system. This is not the first time in the annals of history our kind have been targeted by such, and it will not be the last. Many see our ways as outdated, to be purged from the common consciousness. We must not let them. Our roots run deep. We have been in London longer than any other culture. This is our city, to forget our ways would be to cut out its beating heart. Therefore, do not abandon them in the face of adversity, bury them perhaps, practice in secret as our ancestors did during the burning times. In two days, as the mortals celebrate the now commercial holiday of Christmas, we shall properly celebrate the original festival of Yule under their noses. We will take the utmost care, and your security will be my paramount concern. This evening, I and other members of the coven will happily escort your home if you wish. Go in the light of the Goddess.

    The acolytes sat in silence as Alfred spoke. The looks of uncertainty replaced with a more assured set of features. As Camellia began to discuss with the coven members present to allocate people as escorts, Alfred’s phone rang. He answered it.

    Alfred: Hello?
    Hanson: Alfred, this is Hanson, I’ve got something to tell you. Are you alone?
    Alfred: Give me a second. (Alfred excuses himself and moves to another area of the chantry). What’s happened?
    Hanson: You know those suicides that’ve been on the news recently?
    Alfred: I might have seen that.
    Hanson: I think they might be members of your group. They had tree necklaces and everything.
    Alfred: …oh no. That’s really not good.
    Hanson: Well, I’m not convinced they’re really suicides. The Spirals have to be behind this.
    Alfred: Alex might still be working with them, and he is a very powerful mind mage.
    Hanson: You think he might be leading these people to do what they are doing.
    Alfred: There’s a chance. And if they’re picking of our members, then we need to be very careful of what happens to them.
    Hanson: Yeah, well I met a Euthanatos mage last night. Celtic one. Well, I say met, she appeared in my office.
    Alfred: I see…
    Hanson: She looking into things as well, and then she mentioned something about the Green Fairy of Ireland. You know anything about that?
    Alfred: Isn’t that something Lydia was talking about?
    Hanson: Yeah… She seemed to think this was linked in with it as well.
    Alfred: Perhaps.
    Hanson: I’ll see what more I can dig up. I’ll keep you informed.

    Alfred let the conversation less certain about his speech than the people he sold it to. His meeting with Boris couldn’t come soon enough.

    While this was all happening, Sean was tending to his newly conjured gun, cleaning it from all the excess mud, as well as cleaning up the room in general. Though he still needed ammunition for it, he was quite happy with what he had made. Feeling drained, he decided to go down to the undergrove to gather more quintessence. He walked down to the door before and waited for someone to let him through.

    Mica: You ok?
    Sean: Yes, I just need to get through.
    Mica: Oh… I’m… not sure if you can.
    Sean: I have been through here before.
    Mica: What’s it for?
    Sean: I only wish to gather energy from the node.
    Mica: Yeah…. I mean, usually it’s only members that can go…. But then I do know you… and you have done so much for us… But then Kael doesn’t like you so…. Uh…
    Sean: If it’s too much trouble, then you needn’t worry.
    Mica: ….I am going to get in so much trouble for this… Fine, here. I’ll open it. Just be quick.
    Sean: Thank you. I will try to be discreet.

    Sean made his way downstairs. The Tree had recovered well over the last three months, it’s branches once again filled with glistening green leaves, and new fruit showed began to form in the higher branches. He began his prayers, absorbing a small amount of quintessence. Though the tree was no doubt restored, he did not dare to weaken it too much.

    Genevieve: What are you doing!?
    Sean: I am merely meditating at this node.
    Genevieve: And who let you down here?
    Sean: I came on my own.
    Genevieve: No, someone let you down here.
    Sean: If my presence bothers you, then I am happy to leave.
    Genevieve: I don’t know. I’ve heard a lot of things about you. That you’re a chorister, but also that you’re the one who helped us restore the Heath… So I guess you’re ok.
    Sean: Thank you.
    Genevieve: By the way, sorry about Kael. He has a hard time trusting people with your…background.
    Sean: It’s understandable. I bare him no grudge.
    Genevieve: Even still, I really don’t think you should be allowed down here, since you’re not really a member. Who allowed you down here?
    Granny Elm: I allow him.

    Her voice echoed about the hall from the corridor. Granny Elm has slowly manifest herself. Genevieve began bowing, apologising and backing out of the room in a fit of respect.

    GE: Forgive her, she is young.
    Sean: Thank you.
    GE: You should be heading upstairs anyway, I believe a number of people are looking for you.

    Slinking away as quietly as she entered, Granny Elm leaves Sean to walk up the stairs back to the communal levels of the chantry. As it happened, Camellia was looking for him, explaining the coven’s need for escorts. It was starting to get dark, and though he was still cautious about leaving the chantry, he agreed that the acolytes required more protection than himself at this time. Together with Alfred, the two of them escorted Rowan, as well as another acolyte named Sharon. As they split away from the main group, Alfred began to speak to Sean in confidence, careful not to speak too loudly.

    Alfred: Hanson found the body of an acolyte not far from his office. I fear it may have been one of those who were chased away from the ritual last night.
    Sean: It’s entirely possible.
    Alfred: That really isn’t good.
    Sean: No. It isn’t.
    Alfred: Hanson told me that there were quite a few bodies as well… But also that another Euthanatos is looking into it, said something about the Green Fairy.
    Rowan: Did you say the green fairy?
    Alfred: Yes, why?
    Rowan: It’s just that, I remember Lydia teaching me one of the stories about a spirit called the Green Fairy of Ireland.
    Alfred: What was it?
    Rowan: It was this spirit who saw great in the realm of the spiritual and left the world we know to search for it; but when Ireland was at its lowest point, returned to revitalise the country, and bringing hope back to those who needed it.
    Alfred: Thank you for that.
    Rowan: Do you know what happened to Lydia?
    Alfred: Last I saw her, she was in the umbra.
    Sharon: Do you think she is with Vivian?
    Alfred: It’s possible, but I couldn’t say.
    Sharon: Will they come back?
    Alfred: I don’t know…. I hope so, but they could be anywhere in the spirit world. Assuming they aren’t spirits themselves.

    Alfred heard something, up ahead were men in army uniforms. Fearing the worst, he quickly drew up a Narrative Shift effect upon himself and the three others with him, so as to walk by without arousing any suspicion. Sean stayed very close to Alfred, for he recognised them.

    Sean: We really need to go.
    Alfred: Yes, and keep your necklaces hidden, just in case.

    As they passed, Alfred overheard them talking.

    Army1: You think they’re a bunch of terrorists then?
    Army2: That’s all in the papers isn’t it? I never read those things. All technocratic rubbish anyway.
    Army1: Too right. Though that group, The Keepers of something. Weren’t they the group that one guy was scoping out? The one we were meant to look for?
    Army2: I think so…

    Alfred lingered a little to hear what they were saying. Sean stopped, not willing to step too far away from Alfred in case his effect did not follow.

    Sean: We need to leave, now!
    Alfred: Hang on, This might be important. I think they’re looking for me.
    Sean: No, these men are looking for me, we need to go.
    Alfred: They’re talking about the coven.

    Alfred lingered for a moment to listen.

    Army1: They said he went awol, hasn’t reported back for the last few months.
    Army2: Yeah, I read the reports.
    Army1: Then you know what to do when we find him.

    Sean was able to convince Alfred that they were, in fact, talking about Sean, and that it was better to move away. Though he wished to hear more, Alfred reluctantly agreed. The rest of the night’s walk passed in silence as they arrived at the respective homes of both, only resuming talk when they were both alone.

    Alfred: So, who were those two men?
    Sean: They are people who have a vested interest in my return.
    Alfred: Members of the Chorus? Part of Timothy Richard’s cabal?
    Sean: They have associations, yes.
    Alfred: Sam, these men wore military uniform, not unlike one we’ve seen you wear. I don’t think many chorus members have such clothing. My grandfather thought you might be one of the Guardian Orders, are you?
    Sean: …We protect those in need of protection.
    Alfred: Sean. I see you as a friend. And I hope after these many months you have come to see me in a similar light. Please don’t let this friendship be failed by secrets. Tell me the truth.
    Sean: …You need not worry about these people.
    Alfred: They are looking for you. And we have been keeping you in our chantry. For our safety’s sake at the very least, we should know who we may have to defend ourselves against.
    Sean: I will be returning to these people the moment I find out who among your coven is working with the Spirals.

    Sean, while surprised, was not shaken by hearing his real name spoken by Alfred’s lips. A voice within Alfred’s head spoke clearly “He’s hiding something”.

    Alfred: I don’t think you’re being honest with me. What are you afraid to tell me?
    Sean: …We should return to rest at the chantry. We both have a lot of work to do.

    Giving up, Alfred and Sean made their way back to the chantry in silence.

    Hanson arrives West Brompton Station. As the report had stated, it was closed. If the disruption was one of the suicides as he suspected, he’d find it as long as he followed the track. Taking out his notepad, he started looking around for signs of order while walking the route, coming eventually to a fence with barbed wire atop it, marking the boundaries of the rail. Just beyond the fence, a bit ahead upon the track is where he could sense it, this familiar disturbance of Entropy, of orchestrated events. No sooner had he arrived his phone began to ring.

    Hanson: Hello?
    Helen: Hi, It’s me.
    Hanson: Helen? Is everything alright?
    Helen: I need something to do. I’ve spent the whole day either studying or cleaning after the fox.
    Hanson: I’m not sure what to suggest.
    Helen: Is there something you’re doing I can help you with?
    Hanson: I’m actually on a case right now.
    Helen: Really? I can help!
    Hanson: …Well, having an extra mage on hand could be useful. But you need to disguise yourself.
    Helen: I can wear a coat.
    Hanson: I think you’ll need something a bit more… disguising. And I don’t mean just changing your skin colour.
    Helen: Sure, I’ll see what I can do.

    Hanson told her the address, and looked about the area, sizing it up and seeing how he may sneak in without arousing suspicion.
    Helen found a bathroom in the Chantry, and prepared to change her body into that of a middle aged woman.

    [ST NOTE: Helen’s player’s exact words were “I want to change myself into a middle aged woman.” When I asked her what she wanted this woman to look like, she immediately said “Like Theresa May” (current Prime Minister of Britain for the politically unaware among us). What followed was a google search for what Theresa May looked like in her 30s, an argument about whether or not Helen would have thought to change her clothing, and quite possible the most absurd plan to get past a fence I’ve ever encountered. More on that later.]

    When she arrived, it took a while for either them to find each either. Hanson’s perception filter as ever making him difficult to notice, while Helen’s disguise was just too good for Hanson to peg, though a phone call solved this problem.

    Hanson: Oh good! You’re actually disguised, and not as a jellyfish.
    Helen: That happened months ago!
    Hanson: People almost died because of it! Anyway, I think there’s something over there, on the over side of this fence. But I’m not sure how to get past it. Breaking the fence would be a bad idea, it would just call attention to us, and I’m not sure climbing it is the best idea, what with the barbs and all.
    Helen: What about security cameras?
    Hanson: Yes, there’s one over there.
    Helen: I can probably break that for you. (pulling out wand)
    Hanson: Oh Jesus, you brought your wand! Don’t pull that out! What do you think whoever’s watching is going to think if they see someone pointing a stick at a camera and the camera suddenly stops working, especially if that person’s a Technocrat.
    Helen: I could find a blind spot to break it first.
    Hanson: That’s good, but not yet. That would alert them that something’s up. We don’t want to do that until we know what we’re going to do first.
    Helen: About the fence.
    Hanson: Yes…We could throw a mat or something over the top first.
    Helen: Do you have a mat?
    Hanson: No, do you?
    Hanson: No… Perhaps some magic instead… I could make the gate rust, but not with Entropy alone... Do you know anything about Matter?
    Helen: No… Forces though, I can do that.
    Hanson: Yea, so can I. Not sure how that would help us be discreet though.
    Helen: Hmm… I might be able to make us fly.
    Hanson: Fly? Have you done that before?
    Helen: No…
    Hanson: Then I’m not sure if that would work.
    Helen: hmm… Well. There was one thing I could do, it’s probably going to be really risky though.
    Hanson: Yes?
    Helen: I could turn myself properly into Theresa May, and then have someone let us through, a guard maybe, to see the rail.
    Hanson: …..Ok. I’m just going to tell you everything that is wrong with that plan…

    [ST NOTE: Even though Hanson’s Nature is the Curmudgeon, he was at full WP already. Poor guy never catches a break. They were almost about to give up and leave when I stepped in. I normally don’t like solving problems for the players, but it was getting late, and I just wanted to give them one more detail before we ended the session for the night. Besides, the thought that these mages, who survived a nephandic plot to awaken an elder god, who trudged through a marauder’s mind and came out the other side relatively sane, and who evaded the technocracy’s clutches on multiple occasions, had met their match, defeated by a fence; this was just a bit too much. I basically told them they could use Forces to increase their upwards momentum, and jump the damn thing.]

    Helen hid in the blind spot of the camera are broke it with an electrical surge. Hanson then brought down his shades, and prepared himself to jump over the fence, landing with a bit of a thud.

    Helen: Should I come with you?
    Hanson: No, stay there. Only one person needs to do this.

    He followed his intuition to the centre of this entropic force, to one of the rails. A great amount of blood stained the ground. Though the body was long gone, Hanson could feel that this was the sight of the death. He searched the site for anything else of note, and found a distorted shard of metal. Looking at it in the light, he realised it was a flattened necklace pendant, at though a train had run over it. Dry blood flaked as he picked it up with gloved hands, the tree shape was only barely recognisable.
    With another jump, he was back on the other side. Without telling Helen too much, they both parted. Hanson knew he would need to work more closely with Alfred to find out exactly what was going on.

    Before going to sleep, Alfred decided to write a letter in response to his Grandfather.

    “Grandfather,

    Happy Yuletide to you and the family. I thank you all for your concern It is certainly not misplaced. London is dangerous and volatile, particularly currently, but if our kind abandon the city and the old ways to leave, even though we are a small piece of the supernatural puzzle that makes up the metropolis, the keepers roots run deep, perhaps deeper than any other tradition. To uproot it could cause untold damage to magic. I cannot abandon them at this time.

    Last night I led my first ritual as High Priest to commence the celebration of Yule, it was a joyous occasion that was overshadow by a violent attack by some ignorant sleepers mislead by the technocratic propaganda. There were some minor injuries which I tended to before escorting the members of the coven and open circle to safety. You might call it a trial by fire of my leadership. I had planned for the keepers to celebrate The festival for 6 days rather than the usual 12, due to the current climate and last night’s ritual has caused me to tighten security. However, one member of the open circle has been murdered by the remains of the nephandic cult we battled at hampstead. I must purge this evil from the city before the infection spreads deeper into the coven Did Boris mention to you anything about particular places he and Alex would train or habits of his apprentice?

    Regarding the bad blood of Helen Walter nee Jeribiton. I am helping her to reunite her with her family. She is young and vengeful, but this is because she has inherited the scars of a blood feud that admittedly her parents began. As Boris' successor and your descendant I have resolved to put an end to this. If I can reconcile this feud then there is hope she will walk a path of light as a mage not one of shadow in the technocracy. We discovered a fox who I believe to be the result of the ritual you performed on her parents. On the fifth day of Yule we will return to the site of the ritual to reverse it, you are welcome to attend.

    Finally, in previous letters you have written about your search to find the green faerie of Ireland in your youth. Coincidentally one member of the coven has disappeared into the umbra and before she did so she spoke of wanting to find said spirit. I need to return her safely to this plane soon or she may disembody. Is there information you can give about where you looked for her?
    I realise I have asked a lot of you in this letter and my continued presence in London may be seen as outright defiance of your wishes, but be assured once the spirals are deal with I intend to hand over leadership of the coven to the next most suitable candidate and return home for a time.
    My fondest regards to you and all the family,

    I miss you all dearly,

    Alfred”

    ---NOTES---

    The suicides were something I thought about including for quite a long time. Originally I had a very elaborate nephandic plot in mind which involved all three of the “main” nodes, Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common, and Greenwich, and the suicides would happen in very strategic locations which helped point to these places, all leading to a central point which would be relevant to the Keepers. Leylines on a map and all that. This idea proved to be far too complicated, and I ended up focusing almost exclusively on Hampstead Heath, I filed the suicide part of it in the “for the sequel” folder. I was a bit conflicted about using it here when I have such a short space of time to implement it, but what’s nice is it gives a definite count down. By the end of the last session, the ritual will be complete whether they get there in time or not.
    Also, it provides a good focal point for the other more astringent plot threads to circle around: The Technocracy, Esther, the Spirals, and the Keepers.
    Besides, it’s not like I’m going to have another opportunity to use this plot hook with these characters anytime soon after.

    Four sessions remain.
    Last edited by Saikou; 07-28-2017, 08:25 PM.

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  • Saikou
    replied
    34th Session

    And welcome back to the final branch of the chronicle. The first of (most likely) six sessions which should serve as epilogue to this almost year long chronicle. If you're been keeping up to date with the story so far then well done you! I'm so glad you've been enjoying it. Let's see if we can pull off a graceful finish to things.

    Aaron’s player probably won’t be around until the session after this, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Lydia’s player is gone for good. I’m still keeping her story hooks in the game just in case she sporadically turns up before the end of the game. I’m not counting on it though.

    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
    Belladonna: Celtic Euthanatos


    --- CHAPTER 34: THE FIRST DAY OF YULE---

    [ST NOTE: Alfred’s player put a lot of his downtime points into Arete, so this is how his seeking went. He’d been walking about the umbra for several weeks, searching for the Great Planes to retrieve the Surtur’s sword for the Norns. He came across the Sword in the Stone, his own avatar who would ask if believed he was ready to wield it. Alfred said yes and made to grab it but it disappeared, leaving him in a field with a great lake before him and an encroaching army over the hills. Within the lake was the sword, Excalibur. Alfred would have to dive into the lake and get it. As he went, he would slowly lose health levels until he goes unconscious. It would be impossible to get the sword and stay conscious. If he gave up at any point, he’d return to the surface and face the army head on. The lesson here was resolve, and Alfred had it, reaching out for the hilt just as he got to his health level.
    I then played a little cutscene where he felt himself be raised in the air, hear a woman’s voice speak, saying he had a “warrior’s resolve” and have a vague smell of apples linger until he woke up, sword in hand, at the bottom of a lake. Swimming out of it brought him back to the Great Plains, Surtur sword in hand, once more ablaze.]

    Alfred met with the Norns to uphold his deal, and they revealed to him that Vivian’s fate was sealed by them, they had brought the threads which threw her across the umbra. Alfred bowed and apologised for not returning their favour sooner, and they left. Alfred would return to find the coven as bitterly divided as ever. He began to make plans for the coming Yule festival as acting High Priest, when he saw a letter from his Grandfather.

    “Dear Alfred
    I speak on behalf of all of our family when I say we are worried for you. News of the happenings in London has spread further than you may think, and everyone here agrees that, even more so than normal, this city is not a safe place to remain within. I’ve told you a thousand times that this lifeless city is awash with technocrats obsessed with controlling every aspect whatever they can find, and crushing any form of life or magic of the face of the earth, but each warning was met with disregard. Now you speak of Nephandi, Marauders, as well as Technocrats all in the same breath. What more evidence do you need before you realise this accursed city is no place for out kind to live.
    While we are all impressed to hear you’ve done so well with the Keepers of the Wyck. I must admit I have concerns extra to that I have written about above; concerns about how ready you are for such a demanding position as High Priest. It took me many years of practice before I was ready to take up such a role, yet you have not been with the coven a full season yet, and they have already laid this great responsibility at your feet. Do you not realise what is required? The rites that are to be made and learned, the supplies that one must keep, the knowledge of all things spiritual and medicinal, the great number ancient tongues, the many varied stories of the gods, the exact timing of the stars, the proper way to treat and care for a node, not to mention the duties one must perform with the High Priestess; do you really think you are ready for such a role, especially with the coven in as fragile a form as you claim it to be? There must be someone more experienced available to take up such a demanding position. Gwyn perhaps? I’m sure that Vivian had the best of intentions when she made her decision, but one cannot know another quite like family does, and we simply are not sure if you are ready for such a challenging task, especially in as dangerous a place as this. Think of your High Priestess. Does she not deserve someone more familiar with the expectations of the role to help her adjust? If it was just you under Vivian’s guidance, then perhaps it may have been possible, but with the both of you figuring out how to walk while trying to run a coven, surely you can see that it is a recipe for disaster. Please do not be disheartened. We are only thinking about what is best for you.
    In addition, while it is noble to wish to fight your enemies on their own doorstep, besides the danger of it all, which I cannot emphasise enough, it is also quite a distraction from what you should really be focusing on, the search for the Great and Noble King. Your visions of Excalibur are encouraging, though I think your meeting with The King should be note with caution. In all my years of searching I have never one seen His Majesty appear before me, so I find it highly suspect that this would happen in London of all places. Perhaps once you come home, I’ll have Cousin Meredith pay a visit to examine your mental aura. If all is well, then we’ll see if your visions return, and if so, it is then that we can examine them for insight with greater clarity.
    Alfred, my Grandson, I understand if you need some time to smooth things over with the Keepers before you return to where you belong, but I must advise haste. The longer you stay in this wretched city, the greater the danger you will be. Already a number of us have consulted the stars and can see a great shadow looming over you. Please heed our warnings and return to us. Your return will be a time of much celebration, and I’m sure your experiences will be a great boon to our community.

    Berenabus
    P.S – If you heed nothing else of my warnings, heed this. Beware this Hermetic girl, this Helen Walter you speak of. Blood carries more than simple ancestry, and hers is the blood of a very dangerous and perverse set of technocrats. Already her actions have proved she cannot be trusted. This girl is dangerous, and I suggest you cut all ties with her immediately. Bad blood simply cannot be taught.”

    Alfred shook his head. He knew telling his grandfather the details of his time in London would cause some concern, but he never expected this. Alfred conceded that they did have a point, but then he never thought he would be the High Priest for long, just long enough to keep the coven together and see them through this difficult time.

    Hanson had a lot to consider. First was the case of Helen’s parents. “Fox mum” was with Helen, and he was pretty sure searching for whatever happened to her dad would involve going deep into a technocratic base, so that investigation was on hold for the moment. Second was Dubois, though Hanson hadn’t had any leads for that in months and had exhausted all his contacts, so that too was being put on hold.
    Something else did catch his attention though. The papers over the last few days wrote on a number of suicides, but there was something about them that didn’t seem right. In his experience, suicides tended to be private things, done in the most discrete locations like a bathroom or a garage. But these were out in the open in the middle of the day. Hanson couldn’t help but feel there was more to it than the papers lead on.
    But then there was the matter of his deal with Mr Steed, the reason he got his office back, surveillance free as far as he knew. Aaron had been missing for months, no sign of him since the heath, and if his debut on the news as a terrorist was any indication, he would be very difficult to find. But a deal was a deal, and he at least had to look like he was making an effort, so he decided to head out to Aaron’s old apartment in Shoreditch.

    Helen had a very rough few nights. In order to hide away from any Technocratic eyes, she’d been staying almost exclusively at the Hermetic Chantry in the centre of London. Her room was rather small, but served her well enough. It turned out sneaking her fox in was the easy part, keeping it hidden required a great deal of energy. She spent almost the entire day on highly geometric rituals to create a number of effects, one Mind effect to keep the fox docile and relaxed, and a Forces effect to make its movements and cries as silent as possible. She hoped this would be enough to prevent prying eyes from looking into her room, especially her mentor, though it did mean a bad night’s sleep the following day.
    Today, she planned to speak with Eve. Her new rank came with an extra deal of work keeping her bound to her desk most days, but it also provided an extra degree of influence. Helen had two things to speak with her about, the first was a follow up on a request she had made earlier in the month to visit Boris in his prison cell. This was one of the terms of the agreement made with Alfred, to grant meeting with Boris as soon as possible so Alfred may converse. The second was more of a long shot. Alfred had told her that the understanding of Life required to transform her mother back to human was far above anything either of them were capable, but there was a rumour going around the chantry that a Hermetic Master of Life was providing a guest lecture soon. She wasn’t sure how, but perhaps there was a chance she could gain his favour.

    She enters Eve’s Office.

    Helen: Hello? Eve?
    Eve: Helen? Are you not going back to Scotland for the holidays?
    Helen: No, I’ll be staying here.
    Eve: Ah, very good. Then we can continue our lessons tomorrow.
    Helen: There’s something I’d like to ask.
    Eve: What is it?
    Helen: I wanted to know if everything’s set up for visiting the Keeper’s High Priest.
    Eve: Oh that, yes, you should have your visit in two days. Just arrive at the Tribunal hall and follow their instructions, someone from House Quaesitor will be there to meet you.
    Helen: Good. There’s one more thing. I’ve heard there’s a master of Life coming to visit.
    Eve: Yes. Magister Scholae Armando Sinclair bani Flambeu.
    Helen: Could I meet with them?
    Eve: Magister Scholae don’t tend to meet with initiates.
    Helen: I was just wondering if I could attend his lecture.
    Eve: I don’t think that will be possible, his lectures are only for those who have attained the 6th rank at least. Besides, it would be rather advanced for your level.
    Helen: I just really want to increase my understanding of life.
    Eve: I thought you were more interested in expanding your understanding of the Ars Conjuctionalis. Now you’ve barely began your studies and you’re thinking of switching once again?
    Helen: I just really want to increase my understanding.
    Eve: I appreciate that. And truly I am very impressed with how seriously you’ve been taking your studies since you returned.
    Helen: You would be able to attend the lecture for me.
    Eve: I might, if I could find the time for it.
    Helen: Then could you please speak with him? Perhaps introduce me?
    Eve: I really couldn’t say.
    Helen: Please Eve.
    Eve: Helen. He is from House Flambeu. We are just House Jerbiton, one of the Miscellanea Houses. Do you really think someone of his importance would pay us any attention? Why are you so desperate to speak with them anyway?
    Helen: I just really want to understand the sphere of Life much better, and I really think he can help.
    Eve: …I’ll see what I can do. Now if you please, I need to catch up on my writing.
    Helen: Thank you.
    Eve: And get a proper night’s sleep this time. I expect to see you for your lessons first thing 7am.

    Helen leaves quickly, with plans to rush to Alfred to inform him about the prison visit.

    Alfred was dealing with a slight issue in the coven.

    Kael: I’m not sure it’s a good idea him staying here this long is all.
    Alfred: Kael, this man risked everything to help us. I trust him more than anyone.
    Kael: But for three whole months? Surely he would wish to be with his own kind.
    Alfred: He is in hiding from his “own kind”, for the very things he did to aid us.
    Kael: Then surely that means they are searching for him. The Chorus are likely to be drawn here, and drag us back into another Tribunal for holding him.
    Sean: They do not know I am here.

    Unbeknownst to Kael, Sean had heard every word spoken. He didn’t blame them for his caution, but at the same time didn’t wish to find another place to stay.

    Alfred: Perhaps we should address him directly. Sam, are you in hiding?
    Sean: I am not.
    Kael: And the chorus are not looking for you then?
    Sean: The Chorus, no. I do not believe so.
    Kael: Well then, if you are not in hiding. May I invite you to join us for this Yule ceremony?
    Sean: Certainly.

    Alfred stared at Sean with surprise and joy. He never expected that he would agree to attend one of their rituals.

    Kael: Good, High Priest, if you may? We should start preparations while there is still some light left.

    Alfred had a plan in mind for the days of Yule which started tonight, the night of the winter solstice. They would travel to Epping forest, the location of a fairly weak node as recorded in their book of shadows. There, they will perform the solstice rites which would be proceeded by another 5 days of ceremony. He hoped that such activity would allow him ample opportunity to watch over every member in case they revealed themselves to be linked with the Spirals, but also thought such a ceremony may bring his fractured coven together. He chose Epping forest because of how relatively out of the way it was. Going back to Hampstead Heath would give them too much attention.
    The Coven still consisted of the same remaining members, with one addition. Alfred decided to initiate one of Lydia’s old students, Rowan, who frequently attended the open circle, despite not being an awakened mage.

    The coven gathered their tools and materials and left with Sean in tow towards the exit of Churchil Gardens, where Alfred noticed a girl with silvery short hair running towards him. Realising it was Helen, he quickly ushered his coven to head away before him. He did not want any of them to see him still dealing with the girl who almost destroyed his coven.

    Alfred: Helen, what are you doing here?
    Helen: I have news. The prison visit for Boris will be in two days.
    Alfred: Two days? That’s actually pretty good.
    Helen: There are rules though, we’ll have to leave foci behind, and we’ll need to be watched, two guards to each visitor.
    Alfred: Makes sense… I can imagine how often visitors must have attempted jailbreaks
    Helen: Also, do you have any more ideas on how to bring my mother back?
    Alfred: No, Helen. I have already told you this ritual is far beyond my experience to break.
    Helen: You promised you would help me though.
    Alfred: I have helped you, by translating the ritual.
    Helen: Do you think it would make it easier if we returned to the site the ritual took place?
    Alfred: Perhaps, where was that?
    Helen: A forest in north whales.
    Alfred: No, I couldn’t leave my coven for that long. Even with the pathways it would take a full day to complete a round trip, and that’s assuming we even find the exact spot.
    Helen: So there’s nothing you can do then.
    Alfred: I have already done a considerable amount for you, especially if you factor in what you have done to us.

    Helen left, somewhat dejected to return to her studies. Her only real hopes seemingly lay with this master.

    About 10 acolytes from the Open Circle joined the Keepers as they gathered by the node in Epping Forrest, a number of iron-age forts which held an ancient resonance. Alfred directed the group and together dug a ceremonial pit. Kael and Gwyn passed mead around to those not digging. Mica set up her machines to make the digging much easier for everyone as Kael grumbled about her methods. Sean stood by and watched, not too sure exactly what was going on, but accepted the cup of mead handed to him. The sweet taste surprised him by how pleasant it was. Sean had spent a good deal of time with these pagans, and this was the first of their ceremonies he’d ever attended. With Christmas fast approaching, it gave him a small amount of comfort to see even these pagans held such a strong sense of community. With the pit wide enough to accommodate each of them, Alfred instructed his coven and the open circle to proceed with the ritual, which included a number of prayers to the gods, and a goat sacrifice. Round about the time they began to smear the blood around the ritual site with sticks, Sean decided that this was probably a good time to leave. There was only so much heresy one can take in a day.

    Hanson arrived at Hanson’s old apartment. It had been a while since he looked about here and he wasn’t certain what to expect. He rung the buzzer.

    Voice: Hello?
    Hanson: Hi, is there an Aaron Gibson here?
    Voice: Who’s this?
    Hanson: I’m just looking for an Aaron Gibson, he used to live here.
    Voice: You’re looking for someone in the flat?
    Hanson: Yes… Is he in?
    Voice: I’ll just buzz you up.

    Hanson ascended the stairs and knocked at the door, a rather scruffy looking person answered.

    Guy: Hello?
    Hanson: Hi, I was just outside, asking about someone here.
    Guy: Oh… Who was that again?
    Hanson: Aaron Gibson…
    Guy: Nope, don’t know him.
    Hanson: He used to be a tenant here.
    Guy: So he’s the reason my deposit’s so high.
    Hanson: How do you mean?
    Guy: I was told the last guy before me wrecked the place.
    Hanson: I’m guessing you’re a the new tenant then.
    Guy: Yeah, moved in a few weeks ago. Not bad for London.
    Hanson: Do you by any chance have contact with the landlord?
    Guy: Sure, what’s this for again?
    Hanson: Investigation.
    Guy: Oh, so you’re like with the police then?
    Hanson: Not exactly, I’m a private detective.

    While talking to the man, Hanson peaked into the room and noticed a scrap of fabric attached to the counter, and a pair of shoes still in place stuck to the floor of the kitchen area.
    Walking away from the building, he called the Landlord to ask him what he knew about Aaron’s whereabouts.

    Landlord: Oh you’re looking for him are you? Well, you tell him that he owes me at least two months worth of rent, and and extra £500 on top of that for expenses!
    Hanson: What happened?
    Landlord: The state of this apartment, I’ve never seen anything like it. Furniture piled up, Boots superglued to the floor, Rat droppings everywhere, I distinctly told him no pets. And on top of that, I got a bunch of police looking about because, here’s a shock, the guy turns out to be a cyber terrorist!
    Hanson: Wow.
    Landlord: Yeah, you can never really know someone can you. Anyway, that’s just been a big nightmare to deal with. Police cars make house viewings really difficult you know.
    Hanson: So you have no idea where he is then?
    Landlord: If I did, I tell you, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you.
    Hanson: Ok… thank you.

    A dead end. Aaron certainly knew how to hide. Without a lead, Hanson decided to postpone this investigation and head towards a few of these suicide spots.

    The pit was ready, and properly prepared with the blood of their sacrifice. Though Alfred was saddened by Sean’s sudden departure, he continued on regardless. They all brought their glasses and Alfred prepared to lead them in their toasts. The first would be to Odin, for Victory and Power to the King, the second for the Good Harvests and peace, the third for the king himself, Alfred planned to make this one towards King Arthur but tried to be subtle about it, and the fourth would be for those who were lost, a solemn moment to contemplate their lost leaders, Boris and Vivian.
    Sean was part way across the forest when he overheard a group of rowdy men walking the opposite way. He slowed his pace as he overheard their shouts.

    “I saw them come in here, those satanists off the news”
    “Yeah, show that terrorist scum what we think of that”
    “See how they like it when the bombs put on them!”
    “Get em good.”

    Sean was about to let them go without intervening, knowing the Verbena perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, until he noticed what they were holding, glass jars and bottles filled with transparent liquid. This was not something he could leave up to chance. Sean followed them, trying to stay hidden, but it wasn’t long before they looked in his direction.

    Guy: Hey! What you looking at?
    Sean: Who me?
    Guy: You following us or something?
    Sean: I’m just having a walk.
    Guy: Yeah? Well piss off!
    Other guy: Leave him Harry, he’s not worth it.

    Sean walked away, intending to circle around and follow from a distance. As he walked through the forest he noticed one of these men following behind him.

    OGuy: Hey, sorry about that.
    Sean: Its… alright.
    OGuy: Gotta be careful though, there’s a bunch of satanists like from off the news nearby.
    Sean: I see…
    OGuy: We were going to go drive them out, you seem like a good guy, want to help out?
    Sean: …certainly.

    Sean followed the man who led them on the road to the group, steadily approaching ritual site.
    Alfred had just lead everyone through the second toast. Alfred looked up in time to see what looked like a small stream of fire hurtling towards them, the dim moonlight casting the silhouette of a bottle. With the safety of his people at the forefront of his mind, Alfred interrupted this ritual to cause a great number of vines to shoot up from the ground below, forming a shield of sorts before them. The bottle collided with the vines, and immediately erupted into flames. Fire and broken glass fell from the vines in drops as panic amassed about Alfred’s acolytes.

    Hanson had three places in mind to check out. The first was by the thames on the west, the first recorded suicide, the body was found washed up on the bank at low tide several days ago. Arriving at the bank, he brought out his notepad and started writing down everything he noticed, trying to sense patterns of order in the maelstrom of chaos. He could sense the place the body ended up, but without Time it was difficult to tell how long it was there, or when they died. But he could get the sense of a certain precision to the events, and even the remnants of a kind of compulsion.
    Moving on to the second location, the side of Tower Bridge, the site of a suicide reported just this morning. Here he could feel out a direction, almost a tube of order going down from the side of the bridge to the river below it. The trajectory of a jump; this was where the guy must have fallen. Again he could sense a precision to the events, as though something or someone were orchestrating these events.
    Lastly, we came to the third body in the loading area behind a supermarket. Though it was the most recently found, it’s likely, Hanson thought, that it died quite a bit before the bridge jumper. The site here was still under active investigation, though Hanson was able to slip past the police with his perception filter to get a good look for himself. The body was still on the ground, a pool of dried blood beneath it, their hand tightly grasping strange knife which was deeply embedded within their chest. As with the other sites, he could sense that same feel of precision, of compulsion, and of deliberate intent. It was enough to question whether these were suicides at all. He could feel this knife had a great deal of significance about it. Carefully, he approached the body and pulled out the knife and swiftly walking well away from the scene before anyone noticed he was there. Upon examining it he noticed the hilt had an interesting design to it, a helical curve, culminating in a spiral at the bottom edge.

    Hanson returned to his office, but stops. He can hear someone beyond the door, waiting for him perhaps. He took a quick drink from his flask and concentrated on the mind behind this door, tried to listen to whatever surface thoughts there were. “Come in, detective.” Was all he found. With little else to go on, he opened the door.

    There stood Belladonna. One of the Aided, the celtic euthanatos, the woman he briefly saw at the Tribunal all those months ago.

    Belladonna: Good evening.
    Hanson: To what do I owe this break in?
    Belladonna: I’ve heard you’ve been trying to meet with Euthanatos mages.
    Hanson: For a while, I was.
    Belladonna: Looking for Violet Dubois, yes?
    Hanson: I take it you know her.
    Belladonna: Yes, very sloppy mage if I recall. Arrogant too, puts far too much emphasis on flair rather than focussing on getting the job done.
    Hanson: Do you know what happened to her?
    Belladonna: I believe she has been taken by a group of nephandi.
    Hanson: I thought as much…
    Belladonna: Yes, as I said, sloppy. Had she not been so eager to break holes through space, she may have instead made it easier to keep herself hidden. By all accounts, I believe she has brought this upon herself. But I am concerned about what these nephandi may be planning.
    Hanson: Do you know much about the Spirals of Madness.
    Belladonna: I know that names among the nephandi are fluid. They only last for as long as they are useful for their goals. The legacy of the fallen is in the destruction they cause, not the names and titles they obtain. As such, these things are of little import or value to them.
    Hanson: Well, the nephandi I dealt with called themselves the Spirals of Madness. We managed to stop them summoning an elder god
    Belladonna: Yes, I am aware of them. I was at the tribunal with these Keepers of the Wyck on trial. Their High Priestess was a fool to let their influence grow under her for so long. Had I known about it, had she come to me, I would have done the job for her long ago. But as it stands… What happened to Vivian marks as karmic justice enough.
    Hanson: Be that as it may, I’m not convinced the Spirals are actually gone yet.
    Belladonna: Wise, the nephandi are never truly gone. Even death merely delays them.
    Hanson: Did you happen to see the painting Dubois left behind?
    Belladonna: She had a lot of paintings, not that I took the time to look through them. I never really understood fine art. I prefer the bardic arts myself.
    Hanson: How about these suicides. Know anything about them?
    Belladonna: Death is always on the mind of a Euthanatos mage.
    Hanson: uh… not to be rude, but that doesn’t really answer my question.
    Belladonna: I have. Though I have not been able to learn much.
    Hanson: Well, I found this at one of the victims.

    Hanson showed her the knife he took, and Belladonna stared at it in shock.

    Hanson: Do you know this?
    Belladonna: Yes… I have seen this before.
    Hanson: By the nephandi? The Spirals?
    Belladonna: For their rituals, though they used a different name.
    Hanson: What can you tell me?
    Belladonna: Detective… No… I don’t suppose but. Have you heard the legend of the Green Fairy of Ireland?
    Hanson: Not really…
    Belladonna: I see… Many say it’s just a children’s tale, but there is a darker story behind it, lost in its many retellings.
    Hanson: And how does that tie in to this?
    Belladonna: I would not wish to mislead your investigation. It may be entirely unrelated, I do not know just yet.
    Hanson: It’s just, there was one person I knew who mentioned this Green Fairy. Lydia, said she was looking for her, had something to do with her father.
    Belladonna: Do you know where this person is?
    Hanson: No. I haven’t seen her over the last three months.
    Belladonna: I see… If she does turn up, I would be interested in talking to her.
    Hanson: Should I give you this (holding out the knife)
    Belladonna: Yes. That would make things easier.

    She takes the knife out of his hands and places it in her own robes.

    Hanson: Sure, if it helps you find out where Violet it.
    Belladonna: I understand you may have some affection for her, but in many ways I believe she deserves what’s coming to her. Her attitude made such attacks inevitable. No, I only wish to find out where these nephandi are hiding and what they are planning before it’s too late to stop it.
    Hanson: Understandable.

    Hanson gets up and walks to his drinks cabinet.

    Hanson: So, shall I contact you if I find anything.
    Belladonna: That would be much appreciated detective. Have a good night.
    Hanson: Would you like anything to drink, by the way?

    Hanson turns, but Belladonna is nowhere to be seen. All he could sense of her presence was a subtle shift in mental perception, much like his own filter effect. This deadly mind mage had already made her hidden exit.

    ---NOTES---
    If you’re wondering what happened to Alfred and the coven, that’s covered in the next session. Alfred’s player had to leave early, so we thought we’d just pause that moment and finish it off first thing the following week.
    Incidentally, Here’s everyone’s current spheres:

    Helen: Corr 1, Forces 3, Life 3, Mind 2
    Sean: Corr 2, Matter 4, Prime 3
    Alfred: Life 3, Mind 3, Spirit 3
    Hanson: Entropy 3, Forces 3, Mind 3

    I’ll put up Aaron’s once I go over downtime exp with Aaron’s player.

    Lastly, I thought I’d share with you Helen’s newly appointed Hermetic True Name:
    Aileen Helen Walter Daina Freya, bani Jerbiton, Guardian of the Justice, Whisperer of the Nine Stars, Maiden of the Shapes and Shadows, Fighter of the Will, Reminiscence of the Forgetables, In Caligine Abditus [Um-bra, ac-tene-bras, ah-wa-din, shape-show]
    The bit in square brackets is the pronunciation of four geometric shapes, consisting of a number of dots, circles, triangles, and lines. For someone to possess her true name, they would require these shapes as a part of the written version as well as their associated syllables. All of this was chosen by Helen’s Player, and its gloriously self-aggrandising, like a true Hermetic’s name should be.

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  • Saikou
    replied
    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, 10:26 PM.

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  • Saikou
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Saikou
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Saikou
    replied
    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.

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