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Chronicles of Darkness: The Golden Eagle (Actual Play)

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  • Chronicles of Darkness: The Golden Eagle (Actual Play)



    The Golden Eagle.

    Among the artifacts pursued by occultists and treasure hunters in the modern era is the Golden Eagle. There are more rumors and stories than solid facts known about the Golden Eagle. It is said that one of those linked to the Golden Eagle does not remain killed, that their soul would descend into Hell but return to their bodies and arise whole and alive in a few days, at least until the moment The Lord has determined for them to go…then they must have absolved themselves of any tie to it, lest they descend into Hell a final time. Other stories claim the user does not age, or does not fall to death regardless of wounds but, again, must absolve themselves of it before the time chosen for them comes.

    Risky as that may be, some think the gamble is worth it. After all, an assassin’s bullet is no great risk should one be linked to the Eagle. And of course, some do not fear Hell, suggesting such a rumor is simply to frighten the weak minded. Some fear no hell, no Lord, but they know the Golden Eagle will restore them, good as new.

    But where does it come from, the Golden Eagle? Many say the inside is like a clockwork device, places for seven souls to take it’s gamble. Some link it to Mithras, despite the lack of Eagles in his mythology. Other accounts say it was a personal possession of Saladin, built for him. Others say it was an ancient artifact of the Aryan Prussians, typical of the sort of things they could do in ancient times.

    Older stories tie the Golden Eagle to the Crusades, especially those linking it to Saladin. These stories say Christian Crusaders found it in the Levant and smuggled it back to Europe. According to some of these claims the leaders of the Knights Templar were the first Western circle of men to use the Eagle. Later accounts place it at the Court of Louis XIV.

    Recent rumor suggests connections to more recent events in the former Austria-Hungary. Some claimed Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary acquired it after threats to his wife the Empress Elisabeth, to protect her. But they say, she was too pious refused and lost her life. Many who knew Franz Josef say it was foolish, that he was too pious himself to use it. But what risks would even the pious take for love?

    Others say, the Ladies Theosophical Society of Vienna desperately attempted to get the Golden Eagle to Archduke Franz Ferdinand before his fatal ride in Sarajevo. It is true they attempted to meet the Archduke, and that the leader of the society poisoned herself when he was killed before they could meet. But there was never any proof that the Theosophical Society ever had the Golden Eagle, just like it was never shown Franz Josef had it in his possession.

    Still, whatever role it was to play, they say it could have ended the war, or perhaps even started it, if the Society was foiled. But to assume such a thing would be paranoid lunacy.

    Still, the Golden Eagle is out there, and in 1920 it came into the hands of a group of figures from the mists of history. Sought after, searched for, possibly killed over, the artifact had a role to play in events after the embers of the Great War died out and a new order rose in Europe. This is the story of those who used the Golden Eagle, and sought to uncover its secrets.

    This is the story of the Golden Eagle.


    --
    What rises must fall, what has fallen may rise again

    The Golden Eagle is a crossover game set in the Chronicles of Darkness. It is my first crossover campaign, having run Heavy Rain (With Zombies) and Malibu Scream House crossover one shots. The Golden Eagle takes place over a course of nearly 30 years, beginning in 1920 and (hopefully) extending to 1949.

    Our Players had the whole Chronicles of Darkness setting laid before them to select their characters from. Vampire and Werewolf (and of course Demon) use the 2nd edition rules, others the 1st edition. However, all core systems, except XP, use the 2nd edition rules, such as combat and morality for mortals. Of the seven players, five are playing their monster type for the first time, at least in Chronicles of Darkness. All have experience with the Chronicles of Darkness, and The Golden Eagle draws upon players also in Beyond the Sea, Balance of Shadows, Malibu Dream House, and Night Train Detective Agency.

    The cast are drawn together on Walpurgisnacht 1920 by the mysterious Jamal Ruhadze with a proposition; he knows the location of the recently stolen artifact called The Golden Eagle and knows how it works. He is willing to barter that knowledge and knowledge of how to use it if he can receive information from the PCs on exactly what it does and how it works. Then and only then can he get to the bottom of what the Golden Eagle is, and who created it. In a time of fallen empires and rising fascism, something like the Golden Eagle could prove valuable to anyone living in the world of Chronicles of Darkness.

    And new, the roll call:

    Alla Garin of Russia; Daeva of the Invictus, and her Ghoul Fenric. Alla #1, Alla #2, Fenric

    Alla and Fenric were traveling freaks in a sideshow as an unusually tall woman and short man whose skill in showmanship attracted Alla's Sire. Her Sire helped set them up as Russian Nobles, which they lived well as until the Revolution. Fleeing Russia, they got by as Noble Exiles, playing on their showmanship and wit to remain part of the jet set. Alla generally feeds on older women, closer to her actual age, and both are flamboyant seducers.

    Marek Ruzicka of Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic); Irraka of the Bone Shadows Marek Younger, Marek Younger #2, Marek Older

    A former member of the Czechoslovak Legion, Marek and his brother survived being wounded and returned home. Marek because a courier, but his skills as sniper led to him being an assassin on the side. Of course, his brother could never know, so he operates under the alias “Reznick”. His recent transformation into an Uratha has proven helpful in both vocations.

    Tatiana Varchenko of Russia; Rahu of the Iron Masters Tatiana

    Tatiana went to war with her brother, joining the women’s battalion of the Russian army. She sought to protect her brother, but he was killed, not on the front line, but by the revolutionaries as Russia descended into chaos. Now she struggles both with her anger and her becoming Uratha.

    Dearbháil MacGowan of Ireland; Fairest Minstrel/Windwing of the Spring Court Dearbháil Mien, Dearbháil Mask

    Dearbháil was a young Irish woman who was taken by the Gentry and only recently escaped. With her return, she has become a singer of note. While she is Fairest, she yet has the element of songbird to her.

    Dacian Umbră of Romania; Darkling Lurker/Larcenist of the Spring Court Dacian Mien, Dacian Mask

    Dacian was taken from his home in Romania by the Gentry, and returned to a place that had been changed forever by war. Seeking a new identity, he became a gentleman thief. Seeking new knowlage and experience, he became well acquainted with the high life.


    Lizette Étoile of France; Wizened Inventor/Gremlin of the Autumn Court and The Holy Order of the Third Hour Lizette Mien, Lizette Mask

    Lizette was a simple village girl taken by the Gentry, she returned, a meter high and gnomelike to her home, to find it shelled and burned, her family and fetch killed. Soon enough, she turned on the German invaders who fought in the area, guilty or not. By the end, she was green, mischievous, and an expert in destroying technology. Without the war, she lost purpose. Currently she drifts across Paris seeking an outlet for her destructive talents.

    Wolfram Johann Ritter von Klingemann of Germany; Forgotten Advocate Wolfram, The Firebrand Crusader

    Wolfram was a German noble of a newer noble family who became an aviator in the Great War. When his plane was shot down he managed to survive the downing only to fall prey to bad luck. The Firebrand Crusader restored him, however, and now they go forth to provide the dead with what assistance they can, and to fight for what is right.

    It is my intention to have two backgrounds for you Saturday, two more then next Saturday, then in about two weeks from Friday/Sat journals for session 1, then the next two the next weekend. Backgrounds are not due till session 2 for extra points, so we will see what is possible, I have 3 currently. The game will eventually settle into fortnightly updates.

    Comments and Questions are always welcome in this thread.

    Actual Play Starts Here
    Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 12-28-2015, 05:17 AM.


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

  • #2
    First two journals. Generally trying to do a longer and shorter one when possible. We begin with the two Werewolves of the group, Tatiana and Marek.

    Tatiana Varchenko, Rahu of the Iron Masters

    My dearest Elena -

    The others have all finished their letters home. I have as well, at least the one that I will send. The one that I expect them to read, the one saying how we are all working so hard, and learning many things. The one that speaks of family and duty and the daily minutiae of being a soldier. I have written one of these as well, and given it to the sergeant who deals with such things. You will get that one soon, I hope, with any luck perhaps even before we return to you, this war a memory only. I hope you will read it and know that it does not contain my heart. My heart will be here, in these pages, that no one but we two shall ever read.

    God in heaven, how I miss the scent of your hair as I brush it out each evening. The feel of your cool hands on my face as you calm me from one of my rages. The way your eyes gleam when the light hits them just so, and the slight smile on your face when I have done something to amuse you. The sound of your voice singing one of your little malchiks to sleep. The taste of your skin once you have sent them all off to bed and it is just the two of us, alone in my brother’s room. Perhaps it is good for the soul, when ‘should not’ becomes ‘can not’. But the state of my soul is cold comfort, in light of your absence.

    I have wished for you here many times these last few weeks. Some of the women and no few of the officers try my patience, and your soothing hands are all that have ever really cooled my rage. I have maintained control however. I will allow myself to do nothing that will jeopardize our goals. The training helps in this. I am a passable shot, but I am unmatched in the battalion at bare fisted fighting. I have won no few betting pools by besting a man whose friends had not heard of me. Not that you are surprised, I am certain. I do not deceive myself that it was anything other than the strength of my arms as I chopped wood for your family and myself that earned me an invitation to your bed.

    My temper would therefore be of almost no consequence, except that the headaches have returned as well. This time they seem to be accompanied by some sort of sprite. At first I thought someone had designs on me, and was lurking around, but I have no few times seen it out of the corner of my eye, in a place no one could possibly hide, only to find it gone when I turned my gaze towards it. It emphasizes in my mind the idea that somewhere, my brother is in danger. These are just further signs to support your dreams. It spurs me onwards even as it makes me feel anxious.

    I have however found myself exceedingly melancholic, lying on my bunk at night, thinking. I have likely tasted you for the last time. I will return when the war ends, as will my brother. If I return before then, so will he, or I’ll not return. And then the children will have their father back, and you your husband. You will have no need of me, nor does my brother share well. To be fair, neither do I. Do not think that I am faltering in my task. I will find my brother and ensure his safe return, and no melancholy considerations will keep me from this. But I do not know what will become of me after.

    But I will think of that no longer, and turn my thoughts to imagining your joy at our homecoming. Some of the others have attempted to dissuade me, saying that the front is a large place, but I will find him. He is my brother and more, my twin. No distance or cacophony, not even the chaos of war can separate us. The battalion is called to the Palace Square for a review tomorrow. It has been said that there we will be given orders sending us the front. I know that your prayers are with us, and with my brother. I will never ask you who it is that your tender thoughts to turn once your prayers are done. Just know that mine are always of you.

    Tatiana

    ---

    The wolf spirit slunk around the edges of the barricades. The human who was almost-Uratha stood eyes wide, chest heaving. They both shied when another artillery shell slammed into the side of the Palace. The spirit looked at the human, who seemed to notice it and looked back. Their eyes met and there was a moment’s pause, the calm before a storm, and then the prey arrived.

    The fighting was fierce, and the vermin outnumbered her forces, but the soon-to-be-Uratha took her payment in blood for every step of ground she gave. A squad followed her into a room, where she had laid a trap, taking them down one by one until her gun jammed. She pulled her knife, since she did not know about her claws, but by then one of the vermin was on her, and kicked it away.

    Rage filled her face as the human vermin approached her, showing their teeth and laughing. A pair of them moved to shut and barricade the door. Their backs to her, they were the last ones to die, as she found her claws. They sliced cleanly through the vermin here, and her howls shook the building as she hunted for more prey.

    Soldiers and vermin alike, her path left behind a swath of death until she collapsed, exhausted, on the streets behind the rubble the light artillery pieces had become. The wolf spirit danced around her, and howled its joy at the completion of the hunt. This startled the now-Uratha, who shied into her near-wolf form and ran into the night.

    ---

    Elena -

    My heart, I fear... I dread that I will be too late now. I will send this, so that you can steel your heart to accept what may happen. But no matter that and no matter what they order, I will go to the front. So many others will not, can not. If I must walk there myself, and steal this gun they have given me, I will. I will find my brother, wherever he may be. And however I find him, there will be a reckoning.

    They have lied to us, and the ripples from what has happened will never stop. The Bolsheviks, with all their talk of a glorious revolution. The Provisional Government, and its promises to end the war. The generals whose orders to support the front became orders to guard a convoy of fuel trucks which became orders for far too few of us to stand watch over the palace. Far too few to stem the tide of vermin.

    I will not tell you what has happened, not more than that, my little bird. These are things that happen in war, and war is what I have gone to. I intended to write only to say that I am safe, and that I was delayed, and that you must be strong. God willing, I will return to you soon, and my brother with me.

    You fill my heart to bursting.

    Tatiana

    ---

    “Volchonok, why are you following me?”

    “We are hunting. This is good.”

    “You are the sprite that has been plaguing me since I left to find my brother.”

    “Yes. Since we began to hunt. You hunt strangely. You are Uratha.”

    “Is... is that what I am?”

    “Yes. Why have we stopped?”

    “I don’t know. Pyotr, my brother...”

    “The prey?”

    “No! He’s not... well, I guess he is, if this is a ‘hunt’. But I can’t feel him anymore... That is a strange look on a spirit wolf, friend.”

    “You speak strangely. You are Uratha.”

    “I don’t know what that means, but, you see, he is my twin, born at the same time as me. Not that look again, humans don’t come in litters, it’s strange when two of us are born at once. My lov - my brother’s husband had a dream that he was dying but I could always sense him. And now I can’t.”

    “Another has claimed our prey?”

    “Perhaps.”

    “What do we hunt now?”

    “Answers. And then, vengeance.”

    ---

    My sun -

    If I am strong, this will be the next and last time you hear from me. I do not think that I am that strong. As safer as it would be for you, I cannot imagine a strange courier and an unfeeling letter being your only comforts for the news I bear. My brother, your husband, is dead. It is hard to believe even now. But in my heart, I know. There is something missing, like a limb I never knew I had until it has gone. I felt it leave. I was not even a day’s ride from his battalion's position when it happened.

    Those responsible will pay. Not the ones who pulled the trigger. They were soldiers, the same as me and him. No, the Bolsheviks who delayed my arrival and the generals who throw away people’s lives like game pieces and the governments who ensnare us in wars that do not concern us. Those with Causes who let them overwhelm the Codes of behavior that allow us to live like men rather than vermin. They are the ones who I will extract my price in blood.

    That is only part of why I should not return home to you. Or why, if I do, I must leave. The other part, I cannot tell you in full. I cannot explain what has changed. I don’t even really understand it myself. I hope that if you know nothing else in this life, you know that doing this will tear my heart from my chest. I thought I had steeled myself to losing you. But it was a lie. I had steeled myself to loving you from the room over. I never imagined a life without your even your presence in it. Please understand that it is for your safety. For you.

    Tatiana, who will always love you

    ---

    The wolf spirit sat impatiently as the Uratha lay with her mate. At least there were new things to smell here. A pair of human whelps lived here, as well as the Uratha’s mate. The kitchen smelled of herbs and the food the humans had shared with the Uratha earlier. The spirit paced, whining slightly. The small place of human things is not where the spirit belonged. It is not where the Uratha belonged.

    It was past midnight when the Uratha returned to the spirit. She smelled of her mate, and of sadness. She shut the door behind her softly, and leaned her head against it, listening. The spirit whined. The Uratha snarled softly. She left some paper on the table and left the human place, making sure the door was shut securely against the other predators.

    “Now we hunt?”

    “Now we hunt.”

    The Uratha shifted into her near-wolf form and they pair of them ran side by side into the night.


    Marek Ruzicka "Reznick", Irraka of the Bone Shadows

    Journals and letters of Marek Ruzicka

    28 April 1917
    Why have I joined the army? There are probably safer ways to try and win Czech independence, but my brother just had to choose this. So, I followed him. Dear Andel is an idealist. I am a realist. He will get himself killed if I am not there to keep him safe. Mother, God rest her soul, must be looking at us with anger and frustration. Why must her boys always choose the dangerous options? As children we chose to irritate the Austrian soldiers. We did not need to be throwing rocks, but Andel, even then, believed that we should be free. The beating we got were deserved. I did not like it, but it was fair I suppose. It just made Andel angrier. I suppose it was something of his anger towards them that drove him to join the army when it formed in Russia.

    By comparison there are not that many of us here, but our numbers grow. More idealists eager to fight Austria-Hungary and the Germans. There are some other people here, like me, that fight more for others than for our Country. Not that I don’t want us to have our own country. I just don’t want to get shot.

    **** **** ****

    2 July 1917
    I’m not sure how we are still alive! We were deployed near a town called Zborov. There were two divisions of us and four of them. We didn’t have enough supplies to wage a standard battle, so we took what we had, infiltrated the enemy lines and attacked them. Many of us had grenades, some had guns, and we all fought hard. We captured a good number of troops and several officers. I don’t know the totals yet. Andel fought like a man possessed today. I was afraid for his life. At one point he was running forward when I saw an Austrian soldier pop up from his hiding place and shoot at Andel. I pushed my less than observant brother out of the way and got shot in the arm for my troubles. The report from the rifle sounded so loud in my ears and the smell of gunpowder just seemed to linger. Andel didn’t notice the overpowering odor, but maybe because it was not him that got hit. I remember saying before that I did not want to get shot. Now that I have been, I still wish for that sentiment. It hurts and smells.

    **** **** ****

    22 February 1918
    I have been seeing strange things lately. Shadows that move out of the corner of my eye, or things in them. When I investigate there is nothing there. I remember stories that my grandmother used to tell us as children about spirits and such that walked the world. I believed them as a child and thought that I saw things then, but I have not thought of it for many years. Now I find myself seeing things in the shadows and thinking of those old stories. Part of me wonders if I am hallucinating these things, but then another part reminds me that the old stories have to come from somewhere and that perhaps they are based in truth. I am fairly certain that I am not crazy. Perhaps it is just the stress, or Andel’s reminiscing of childhood memories.

    **** **** ****

    9 March 1918
    My brother and I have been attached to one of the Rifle divisions. Both of us have impressed our superiors with our ability with a rifle. I was taken aside separately by our commanding officer to talk about a special assignment he had for me. He noted my skill with a rifle and my unflinching attitude toward fighting the enemy. He said that he was going to have me shoot from further away when possible, but only target specific groups or individuals. Officers, people manning the artillery, that sort of thing. I said I would be honored and left the headquarters to return to my tent. I did not tell Andel about my special assignment. I do not think he would understand. Lately he has started to shy away from taking killing shots, instead just wounding the enemy. Andel is a good man. Normally he is gentle and kind, but he is very patriotic. I think the part of him that does not like violence is coming back. I do not think I have such a piece of myself. I will not go out of my way to fight someone or fight for someone, but if my family is threatened or in danger then I will fight. I will bring the enemy down. If it means shooting an artillery office in the head from a few hundred yards away, then that unsuspecting bastard is going to drop. My poor sweet brother. He still believes in a free Czech republic. He still believes that what we are doing is right. If we win this war, I don’t doubt that things will change for the better, it’s just the seemingly mindless slaughter that I don’t like. Dear Andel, this war will kill him if he’s not careful. Or if I’m not careful.

    **** **** ****

    19 March 1918
    We are being sent home. During the battle near Doch we were both wounded by artillery. A shell landed near us and it was all I could do to try and cover Andel and push us both away. Andel saw it the same time I did and was already moving when it exploded. He was hit in the head by shrapnel. I was hit in the leg by flying metal and my back was burned by the fire. Scarring is inevitable. As long as my back does not become infected it will heal. My leg however is badly broken, though they have assured me that they set the bones while I was unconscious and it should heal. They did say that I will be lucky to walk without a limp. I have never been so lucky, so I am already planning on making a cane when I get home. I would like to say that this hurts no more than the broken arm I had as a child from falling out of that tree, but I would be lying. This hurts so much worse. There is not enough pain medicine to go around, so we must all do with lower dosages. My leg hurts bad enough on its own, but my back is the worst. I am lying here writing in this wretched book just to keep my mind off the pain.

    Andel woke a few minutes ago. He was disoriented and afraid. I had to explain to him that his left eye was gone, but the rest of him was fine. The doctor tried to tell him, but he would not listen. After he calmed down he let the nurses change his bandages and tend to his wounds. He was not happy when I told him that we would be sent home. He wanted to keep fighting, to be there for his friends. I can understand that, to some extent, but I am more than ready to be done with the fighting. I have pulled the bodies of too many friends off the battlefield. I do not want to be here to pull more from the field, or be dragged off of it in pieces myself.

    I will need to write a letter to father to let him know what has happened and that we will be coming home. If he only gets the informal letter the army sends he will worry. That is of course the letter arrives. So, I will send my own letter and hope that it makes its way to him.

    **** **** ****

    20 March 1918

    Dear Father,

    I am writing to inform you that Andel and I will be heading home soon. I am sure that you will receive notice from the army that we have been injured and are being discharged. This is true, but I wanted to assure you that we will be fine and will soon be coming home. We were caught in an explosion near the city of Doch. It was a hard fight, but we won the day. Andel was unfortunately blinded in one eye. I was wounded in the leg and will likely limp even after it is healed. I only tell you this in so blunt a manner so you will not be surprised. Andel is self-conscious and it will do him good to be greeted like nothing was amiss.

    I have done what I promised you I would. I am bringing Andel home safe and mostly sound. I have done my best to protect him and keep him safe. Part of him is not happy to be leaving his fellows, but he knows that he needs time to heal and recover, in mind as well as body. Our compatriots will continue on to Vladivostock amid ongoing problems with the Bolsheviks. They hamper our army’s progress at every turn. They will be surprised I think to discover the stubbornness of our men. It is almost as legendary as the stubbornness of your sons. We however have decided that the medics are right and that our time in the war is over.

    We will see you soon.

    Faithfully yours,
    Marek

    **** **** ****

    30 March 1918
    We have arrived home. Father heeded my suggestion and did not make a big deal out of Andel’s injury. Andel is still self-conscious about the wound. He is not the only one with war injuries in our town, so he does not stand out all that much. He is not vain. I do not believe he is overly aware of his injury for that reason, but people do look and some wonder what happened. He does not like to talk about that day. I think he feels like he is bringing the war back home with him if he talks about it or acknowledges it overly much. In my opinion there is no way to get away from the war. Its impact can be felt everywhere. From the political jockeying of power to the children left without fathers or mothers. People come back maimed or shell shocked. I can understand somewhat what Andel is doing. He has bad dreams about what happened and does not wish to speak of it. He mourns for the dead on both sides. It is a failing on my part, but I do not. I mourn those that I was close to. Those in my unit that died, I miss and will remember, but the others do not affect me. I do not see their faces in his dreams as Andel does.

    **** **** ****

    6 June 1918
    It is good to be working again. I found a job as a courier. It is good work so far and I have gotten to travel to different places. Traveling between countries will be difficult, but I’ve been told that there are ways around that. Certain passes that one can have that will allow them passage. I have only been working for a couple of weeks, so I have not traveled all that far as of yet. Andel of course is worried about me travelling, but I reassured him that I would be fine. I have even sent home part of my pay to help him and father pay the bills.

    I think the dreams are still bothering Andel, and I have told him that he must talk to someone about them. Someone he trusts implicitly. Normally that would be me, but I find it hard to empathize with him and know that I might cause more harm than good. I will keep encouraging him and see what happens. Perhaps cousin Josef would be a good choice?

    **** **** ****

    21 July 1918
    I just met a very interesting man. His name is Jamal. At least that is the only name that I have ever been given, which is fine. It was revealed by accident the other day by someone in his employ that the package I had just delivered had some items of questionable legality inside. It is not my business if what I deliver is illegal or not, as long as I am not arrested for that items theft. Jamal seemed interested in my reaction, or lack of reaction and asked if I’d be interested in doing some side jobs for him and his associates. I thought it over for a moment and asked how much it paid. The rate was more than adequate. I agreed and will be leaving for Russia in the morning. My understanding of the language is a boon to this trip as the other men that I will be traveling with do not speak it. This should be interesting.

    **** **** ****

    16 August 1918
    Today was an interesting day. Dangerous, but interesting. I was delivering a package to Hans (no surname given and I have never asked) when the men I was traveling with and I were attacked. They were not ordinary bandits. They attacked with the intent to kill, not just wound and run off with the goods. Something about that package was enough for them to murder three men over. Well, I don’t take kindly to people trying to kill me. It rubs me the wrong way. So I retaliated. I used my training and my surroundings to my advantage and made short work of three of them. Two would not get back up, the third was only knocked out. I don’t really know what came over me at that moment, but I was so angry that this man thought he could take what was mine that I knelt down and wrenched his head to the side until I heard his vertebrae snap.

    I was a bit apprehensive after I stood up and came back to myself what my fellows would think of me. I turned to look and saw that they had taken out the other two men with the same lethal force that I had. They seemed to appraise me for a moment, but then offered me their heartfelt thanks on saving their lives. We were a short distance from the house that Hans told us to meet him at and continued on our way after pulling the bodies of the would-be bandits off the road. Hans greeted us and his men started talking to him in rapid fire German. I am not fluent in that language, but am good enough to get by. Not that Hans or his men knew that. I found to my amusement that my traveling companions were telling Hans what had happened and about my capabilities in a fight.

    Shortly after that Hans dismissed his men and asked to speak to me in his office. I think he assumed that I would be flustered by the sudden attention and he commented on my composure. I admitted that I had seen war enough to not be bothered by certain things. Hans, it seems, was also not overly concerned with the deaths of the bandits. He even went so far as to ask my opinion on what happened and if I would do it again. He was very blunt. So, I was equally blunt back. I told him that I have no problems killing people. I will not harm children, and prefer that there be a reason for their death, but other than that I did not have any issues with it. He then proceeded to offer me a side job “removing bad people from this world.” I told him that I would pick which targets to go after, and he agreed. Odd that in such a short time I have gone from being a solider and sniper, to being a courier and assassin. I do not think mother would be pleased with my choices. She knew from the beginning that there was something different about me and did her best to instill what virtues she could. I know the difference between right and wrong. There are just some circumstances that I don’t really mind crossing that line. No one takes what is mine. And when it comes to family there is no right and wrong. No one harms my family and gets away with it. Even cousin Josef, whom I don’t really get along with, is protected. He may be an ass, but he is family.

    **** **** ****

    2 October 1918
    I killed a man today that had been selling secrets to the Central powers. He was not a good man, political leanings aside. He was a hateful man that delighted a bit too much in the misfortune of others. He enjoyed the rewards he got for his information. He always had clothes and food and a warm, dry place to live. His neighbors went hungry so they could feed their children, their houses cold because they could not afford the wood to heat it, and he prospered off of their suffering. That all ended today. I waited until he left to meet his contact. They always met in the woods, so I just followed him and set up position. He only waited for five or so minutes before my bullet found his brain. Herr Alder will harm no one else with his activities.

    I have not really stopped seeing the spirits on occasion. Not since that day when I was in the army. Today though was different. I saw the shadow of a hairy man, almost wolfish in his features with amber eyes. He smiled at me and melted back into the shadows. I will admit that I was a little startled by his appearance, but I did not feel threatened by his presence. It was reassuring in a way. I will keep my eyes open for him in the future.

    **** **** ****

    16 December 1918
    I have seen the shadow spirit several more times since that day back in October. He has not appeared everytime I have killed someone. Sometimes I have seen him after I did what my mother would call a good deed. The other day a child had fallen into a well. The planks surrounding it had rotted through and she leaned too far. If it was an adult I might have just left them. I’m not sure honestly. But it was a child, and children are sacred no matter of nationality or family. So, I got a rope and tied it to a nearby tree and made my way down the well. It was a somewhat tight fit, but I have never been a brawny man. I made it to the bottom and noticed that the girl’s leg was broken. Before the shock wore off I set the bone and splinted it with pieces of wood that had fallen in with her. She was upset, but I confided that I had broken my same leg and it healed just fine. I did not mention my limp, or the cane I use on rainy days, but it was not important for her to know that. I helped her to grab a hold around my neck and I climbed back up, using the stone sides and rope to pull us.

    After I had delivered the girl to her parents I saw the shadow spirit standing mostly behind the tree I’d used as an anchor. He smiled at me and nodded once before disappearing. It wasn’t until the girl’s father came over that I noticed the uniform. I had just rescued the daughter of an Austrian officer. I did not have charitable thoughts towards the man, but I found that I could not blame the little girl. Despite her family she was still a child, and in my mind an innocent. I did not accept any reward that the man thought to offer me. I took only the thanks of the little girl and went on my way.

    **** **** ****

    February 1919
    I’m not sure what day it is. It is sometime after the 5th, but I have lost track of the days. On the 5th I was traveling. I had just finished a job in this small German town and was traveling back home. Well, what I’ve been calling home for the past few months. I had been seeing shadows moving all day and my senses were acting strangely. I thought I could hear things from a greater distance and the smells. Wet vegetation and the smell of rot. I could even tell that it was a smaller animal that I was smelling. Something about how strong the odor was told me the size of the animal. Perhaps whatever was left of a dead animal that was not eaten already by predators.

    I should have stopped earlier in the day. I knew that a storm was coming but I kept walking. I was distracted and to be honest didn’t relish the idea of being close to other people. I’ve had instances in the past where my sense of smell would be especially strong, and humans always seem to smell worse than animals. So, I kept walking until it was nearing dark and the snow was already falling. I was about to pass a farm house when I tripped over a fallen branch and landed quite solidly on my face. My leg had been aching all day, so I knew it was going to snow. And that evening I guess a combination of the ache and the cold made me sluggish. The man of the house came up to me as I was wiping the blood off of my chin and asked if I was alright. I assured him that I was, but he insisted that I come in and get checked out by his wife. She had been a nurse apparently. So, I finally agreed.

    The house was small but warm and the farmer and his wife were very kind and friendly. I could tell that they were a bit wary of me, but I thought that was just a healthy attitude to have. They still treated me like a guest and offered me a place to stay for the night. The wife, Alice was her name, made sure nothing was broken and brought me a warm damp cloth to clean my face. Alec offered me a beer and we talked about safe subjects. After dinner Alice went up to bed and I stayed up with Alec and talked. It wasn’t until he let it slip that he did not support what his government had done that I mentioned that I had been in the Czech army. I know he had noticed my limp earlier, and how it was likely to have come about, but he did not ask about it until I mentioned my service. We talked for a bit longer and enjoyed good German beer, when I noticed that there was a feeling of tension filling the room and the shadows seemed to swarm. That was the only way I could describe it.

    Something came out of the shadows then and attacked. Something big and not even remotely human. I have been told it was a spirit of violence. There were other things in the shadows too. In that instant something happened. I became angry that something would attack the old farmer and I shifted. I changed shape. My arms got larger and hairier and I grew claws. My bones screamed as they lengthened and changed shape. My leg, the one I’d broken, hurt the worst, but after it was done shifting it felt right in a way it hadn’t for a long time. Instinct called for me to attack the things swarming the house and so I did. I don’t remember specifics. It was all a haze of anger and blood lust. I woke the next morning to someone nudging my leg. I woke with a start and saw a young woman sitting on the edge of a chair watching me. She introduced herself as Alyssa and told me that her and her pack had heard the fight last night and come to help. She promised to explain more later. I looked around and saw what was left of the old farmer and I felt…something. I asked if I had done that to him. Alyssa must have thought I looked upset and told me that from his injuries it was not me, rather it was the spirit. She used a different word for it though.

    So, I have been with Alyssa and her pack for a few days now I think, and they have explained what happened to me. Apparently I am a werewolf! The shadows I’ve seen throughout my life demonstrated my connection to the spiritual side of the world though I didn’t know it at the time. The others that I have meet so far are Dietrich Gerber and Alexej Pelan. There are two others, but they are out hunting. Alyssa has been very understanding and trying to put me at ease. I will admit that I was quite startled at the change itself, and was not happy to find Alec and Alice dead, but it hadn’t felt wrong while it was happening. I think she assumed that I would be more upset than I am. I pride myself on mimicking the reactions of those around me to things that happen, but I didn’t feel the need to pretend with these people. Alexej greeted me in Czech when he heard my name and laughed about Alyssa being a “mother hen.” Dietrich was more stand offish but not unkind. They have been understanding and did not react badly to my actual demeanor. People usually find me cold if I don’t try to act more like them. These people have not. It has been rather a unique experience. I look forward to meeting the other members of the pack and learning more about what we are and what that entails.

    **** **** ****

    17 March 1919
    I have joined a tribe called the Bone Shadows. Alexej is of that tribe as well. Apparently we are the ones that protect our territory from harmful spirits and ghosts. I asked about benevolent ones and he said that they were fine. There had to be a balance in the world and I could understand that. I told Alexej about the shadow man, as I’ve taken to calling him. Alexej said that he sounds like a benign entity and to just watch that he/it does not pull me so far that I lose myself. I agreed.

    One other thing that I failed to mention before is that my leg is healed, completely. No more limp, no more cane. Somehow when I changed for the first time it reset my bones as they should have been. I will just need to be careful when I go home to visit father and Andel that I limp like they expect me to.

    **** **** ****

    23 May 1919
    I was amused today to hear some of Hans’ new employees speaking. They had heard tales of an assassin that worked for Hans named Reznick that was especially brutal in his work. I almost laughed. Hans gave me that nickname the first time I killed a man after my change. He of course does not know why my tactics have changed a bit, but he does not complain. He decided he wanted to call me Reznick, which means ‘butcher.’ I did not mind. I could not dispute that I was somewhat violent in my work, and thought that having a separate name to use while doing that kind of work would help in keeping it separate from my birth name. My earnings as Marek are all above board and I send my usual stipend home to father to help with the bills. My earnings as Reznick are kept off the books and cannot be traced to me or my family. It all works out. I was still amused at the reaction of those two to my alter ego though. I had not realized that word of “his” deeds has spread.

    **** **** ****

    Got word that Jamal wanted to meet and sent me a train ticket. He said that he had an artifact that he thought I’d be interested in discussing. I’m to meet him, and some other interested parties at his place in Malta. I will admit to some curiosity, so I will go and see what he has gotten himself into.

    --

    Session one took place tonight and went very well. It was entirely social, with the PCs assembling and meeting one another. The journals for it will go up in two weeks.

    In a week two more backgrounds. Some non Werewolves that time, obviously. Most players are reading the thread, and any comments and questions are welcome. More posting soon.
    Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 04-04-2015, 05:45 AM.


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

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    • #3
      Time for two more backgrounds. Backgrounds are “due” start of session two, so given the other three are working this is a background for one of the Changelings and essentially a character pitch/capsule Background for our resident Kindred.

      Alla Garin, Daeva of the Invictus

      Alla and Fenric were both "freaks" in a traveling sideshow in the late 1800s, traveling all over Europe. They learned the art of showmanship, with Fenric becoming especially good at being a barker. Alla was the "tallest woman in the world" and Fenric was her counterpart, the "smallest man in the world" and they would do shows together as that act. They both made lots of money, and like modern day actors, enjoyed the night life as regular people after the show was over.

      One day, Alla's sire met her at a nightclub and saw a lot of potential for her and Fenric in a different business: discovering and selling secrets. Their side is a flamboyant man sort of Allan Cummings character good at seducing both genders. The sire will be the one to teach Alla and Fenric the arts of seduction, how to sell secrets once you have them, how to cover your tracks, etc.

      The sire will also be the one to set up and begin their new identities in Russia as nobles -- Russia is so huge, it's fairly simple in the days before the internet to claim that you came from a wealthy family in one of the farthest corners of the country (and as long as you are very adamant that the town existed, people don't usually question). Both Fenric and Alla are sometimes noble equals, sometimes Fenric is Alla's servant -- all depending on what was best at the time. They spent many years in Russia, building a network of spies and contacts, and even owned a beautiful mansion right outside of Moscow -- when they found out about the coming revolution, and how this time, it was going to happen. With the warning, they were able to sell the house and most of their possessions, and be safely in France when the revolution rocked the country.

      Now, they are trying to charm their way into good standing with the various nobles of Europe, and are looking for a new home. I'm not sure if they are still interested in spying and selling secrets -- that was fun for a while, but it can also get you killed. But all of those social and subterfuge skills can come in very handy for the PCs.

      Fenric decided to be a ghoul instead of a full vampire because he's never wanted to give up sunlight, and with Alla being a vampire, he has a ready source of vampire blood. And Alla likes to drink from the little old ladies she seduces.

      The strong perfume on Alla is part of her "act" as the Russian noble lady, and she can shed the smell if she needs to be incognito.

      Pair of characters: Alla (vampire) and Fenric (ghoul)

      Sort of characters: con men

      Traits: both very social characters, very high subterfuge and performance skills, lots of knowledge in Russian nobility politics and secrets (not as much for other countries)

      Concept: they are known as Russian nobles as they have escaped Russia before the revolution happened (which is true), but their nobility is a lie. Their real back ground is sideshow freak performers, but that was many decades ago (when they were still human). They have a lot of money from selling Russian noble secrets (before the revolution), and from selling their mansion (again, days before the revolution).

      Alla likes feeding off and sleeping with wealthy old ladies (60 years or older). Fenric has no age preference when it comes to the ladies -- all are equal in his eyes, though he does tend to gravitate towards dominant women. They sometimes claim to be spouses, sometimes siblings, sometimes just friends - depending on their mood at the time - but they always show up to parties together.


      Lizette Étoile, Wizened Inventor and Gremlin of the Autumn Court and The Holy Order of the Third Hour


      January 1st, 1917

      Children.

      The French are using children to fight us. Not at the front lines, but our scouts spotted at least one youngster, possibly a girl, moving among the supplies. Given the speed at which our supply line is being attacked, they must have at least a dozen.

      The children are trained. They are quiet. They are focused. Were it not so despicable to be sending them in, I would even be impressed. As it stands now, however, I am not sure we can continue feeding our forces in Verdun if this keeps up. They are clearly working with adults, hitting our forces where they are most vulnerable. Automobiles ruined. Bombs planted beneath them. It’s despicable to see, but the French seem willing to send even their hopes for the future in. I hope this means they are afraid.

      Hauptmann Richter Eigner


      February 8th, 1917

      The Children are killing. Their pranks are getting deadlier. Their bombs destroy our machines, but seem as much aimed at soldiers as machinery. The little Frenchies are getting more efficient too. Sabotaging breaks on cars. Overheating furnaces. Frankly, things are igniting which should not even be igniting. It’s as if every machine we bring here is content to backfire.

      Worse, no children have been captured. I cannot imagine they are that cleaver.

      Hauptmann Richter Eigner


      May 19th, 1917

      My god. They are not children we are fighting. We must leave. This place is cursed. If you will not withdraw us, Sir, I will leave myself, and take every man I can get to follow me.

      Last evening, the last of our planes were returning just ahead of some storms that blew in with frightening speed, casting us in darkness. It was then I got a good look at what we were fighting. As a plane prepared to land, it took a sudden swerve, and aimed for the tanks. I saw movement from the cockpit and put on my binoculars just as a crash of lighting lit the darkening sky, and on the wing I saw it.

      I swear it looked back at me. And it smiled.

      I leave with the dawn.

      Hauptmann Richter Eigner


      I wasn’t always a city girl.

      I was born in a piece of figurative nowhere there is now literal nowhere: Beaumont-en-Verdunois in France, the Autumn of 1900. A child of the new century. It’s in the northeast…was in the northeast. I was same as any other girl there…not a lot to differentiate you besides the size of your nose and the size of your breasts, along with, perhaps which boy you fancied. I had a decent sized nose but no breasts just yet, when I was taken.

      It is, they like to say, the lot of our kind that we are taken at random, without meaning. Sure the Fairest are picked because they are pretty, and the Darklings because they could not leave well enough alone. But us? We are servants they say, could be anyone. I saw no reason I should be taken, not long after my 13th birthday, in November of 1913. I was walking home alone in the evening wishing there was a boy to walk me home with…not that I would have really known what to do with a boy at the time…when an old man in an automotive stopped to ask directions. He has the thickest glasses I had ever seen, and dressed like he was British. He was asking for directions to the oddest places which I had never heard of before.

      You will forgive me if I don’t say the names out loud.

      Anyway, I had no idea but said my town was very close and he could ask there. He offered me a ride to town so I could guide him there. Stupid in retrospect, but there you go. That was me. Thirteen years old and knew everything. Besides, I was pretty sure I could take him.

      The Hedge realm we wound up in was bizarre. I was on some sort of huge flying craft with a veritable press gang of pasty people, men and women, who kept the contraption going. Captain was not the Stranger himself, the Captain reported to him on some ridiculous device that did not even resemble a proper telephone. The Captain was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Long blonde hair, crisp uniform, goggles, a Fairest in every sense. She instilled a loyalty in her underlings of any sex. She commanded while we repaired the ship, steered the ship, and manned the guns, fighting every bizarre thing imaginable. Other airships, dirigibles, clockwork dragons. Things I haven’t even the name for.

      My Captain steered us through all sorts of battles, and we fought for her. Occasionally, my Keeper would visit and stride across the ship, barely acknowledging anything but the Captain. But even so, we knew he was in charge, that he was our Keeper; The Skyfleet Admiral.

      Once, however, as we fought a Clockwork Dragon, our ship took major damage. I was among those manning the cannons for awhile, but even with that we were badly damaged. We were given rendezvous coordinates and put in some lifeboat like things with propellers. Being in such danger, though, despite the Captain’s steps to ensure we thought of her…my thoughts were of home. Of the food I missed. Rather than going to the rendezvous, my ship I guided down into the Hedge. I don’t really recall the trip back, only my arrival.

      I emerged from the Hedge, back home…and found a smoking ruin. Beaumont-en-Verdunois was a shelled husk. My house was mostly gone, but in the no man’s land I found my family’s remains, including my own. Well, my fetch’s. Poor bitch never had a chance, a shell hit the house. It was Autumn again, 1916. I had been gone about a month shy of three years. Everything changed.

      I discovered that not only had the Boche wrecked by village, but they were still there. Of course, I also discovered that their goal was not to kill everyone in the village….the destruction just happened in the course of war. Still, I decided, they were due some accidents.

      You would not have known me then. A pale creature, I often worked below decks on the airship, and my complexion was just awful. No wonder the Captain did not pay me attention. By the spring of 1917 however, I had changed.

      One accident lead to another, and over and over the Huns found their vehicles failing, their electrical appliances exploding, and fires starting in their supply line to Verdun. I did not go near the front line, I am not that brave, and my Countrymen were turning the battle around at last. Instead, I kept them weak, but as time went on I took down more and more of the Boche as I worked.

      Airplanes are fascinating. They were my favorite thing to destroy. And build, of course. The tanks too, are impressive. I can make a better one though. Better than any Hun can.

      Thanks to the heroism of my Countrymen and my own sabotage, the Boche found themselves quite uncomfortable in Verdun. By then, I had revealed myself a couple times with my Mask down. I always had a flair for the dramatic, and terrorizing the invaders was so much more rewarding than using it to get a boy to look at me. At first I traveled into Germany to continue, and was quite the terror of a village for about three months but…terrorizing Germans simply for being German did not prove…rewarding. I returned to France, and traveled to Paris, I had always wanted to see Paris.

      There I discovered your little organization, and that it allowed Gremlins for entry. I was an Inventor, still am I suppose, but it has been overshadowed. Destruction is what I am really good at. But without the Huns providing me an appropriate target, I find myself adrift. Still, I believe your organization will provide me with opportunities many, non?

      Lizette Étoile, April 18th 1919

      Biographical essay for application to The Holy Order of the Third Hour received, Membership approved.

      Jean-Marc of the Scales, April 21st 1919

      Personal Note:

      Best watch this one, nonetheless.


      --

      I have Journal entries from Tatiana and Lizette, and may be getting 2-3 more as players are working on them. May depend in part on getting backgrounds out.

      Regardless, comments and questions are welcome. In a week the journals of session one, and a week after that 2 of the last 3 backgrounds remaining.


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

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      • #4
        Another show pitch for HBO? I'm curious to see where it goes.

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        • #5
          It's good to have you aboard Omenseer.

          This "show" is going to have a slightly different format then the others, but hopefully something you can enjoy. We will be moving around the location it is set, but the stories won't be too episodic...I plan for them to visit a number of cities like Paris, Vienna, Prague or London several times over the campaign and see how they advance over the time and how the cast reacts. Rather then a single sandbox, it will be several moving sandbox to sandbox. A bit more focused than the others in theory but still should be chronicling the lives of our heroes and their triumphs and tragedies. Honestly, it will probably be the next couple sessions where we work out if and where there will be a "central base". Regardless, it hopefully will be fun for us and a good read.

          If you have any questions on the format or characters let me know.


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

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          • #6
            Good to be had and try and stop me *Vigorously points finger in the air*

            Sandbox-ception.

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            • #7
              Session 1 kicked off a couple weeks ago. The first session was the first meeting of the characters, it got off to a late start as we just got our custom character sheets and a few people had points to lay down. So there was no action (but some rolls) and a lot of conversation as our protagonists met and got a feel for each other. Note Alla’s player wrote her journal from Alla’s ghoul’s perspective

              Session I

              Fenric’s Notes for Alla

              Daylight

              -Setup candles for Madame's grand entrance. no resistance from house staff, they are all very polite and surprisingly understanding -- must have dealt with performers before.

              -Met Wolfram, "sin-eater": ghost inside him, can see ghosts and talk to them. Wears around his neck the metal piece that killed him (the first time) from his plane's engine exploding. Good pilot, likes machines and metal. I like him, Madame is curious.

              -Ate dinner with rest of party before Madame woke up.

              -Dacian, changeling, mysterious past, thief, very good looking. I like him, Madame is curious.

              -Dervala, changeling, famous singer, beautiful, likes me. I like her, Madame likes her.

              -Lizette, changeling, pet teapot creature (kind of Fae), builds and fixes and destroys machines, likes metal things, beautiful, neutral towards me. I like her, Madame likes her.

              -Marek, werewolf, courier of standard goods that he never looks at, very good looking. I like him, Madame is curious.

              -Tatiana, werewolf, Russian soldier, hates Bolsheviks, very growly, need to prompt her for response, good looking for someone who likes tough soldier women. She scares and fascinates me, Madame is cautious and curious.


              Nightfall

              -Madame's entrance into the dining room: electric lanterns turned off, candles lit all around outside of the table for a dim lighting effect, smoke from Madame's cigarette sent into the room before her entrance. Reaction: no applause (tough audience).

              -Tatiana knows we are from Russia, and does not attack us because we are not Bolsheviks.

              -Jamal joins the party, reveals he is a vampire to the party, everyone else reveals themselves.

              -Jamal's request: find the Golden Eagle: magical machine, makes person live forever (if they don't already) and the person still dies but they magically return to life the same as when they used the thing - until it is their "time to die" and the machine will stop working, needs blood to work, currently possessed by British man named Gaspar, cannot remember mention of material made of or appearance of object so I assume it really is an eagle shaped machine/statue made of gold or golden in color.

              -Plan for getting Golden Eagle: ride same train as Gaspar's minion - Ewan Brandon, avoid obvious trap by Gaspar, steal Golden Eagle from Ewan before train stops (if he has it), return to Jamal. I am in a sleeper car with Dacian, Madame is in a sleeper car with Tatiana, Dervala in sleeper car with Lizette, Wolfram in sleeper car with Marek.


              Marek’s Thoughts

              30 April 1920

              Today has been interesting. I took the ferry to get to Jamal’s house and met a couple of interesting people. I should say, I saw a couple of interesting people. We did not speak much. When I arrived on the island I made my way to the house. I was shown the hallway with the men’s quarters and chose a room. It was the closest I could find to any nearby exits. After dropping off my stuff I wandered through the house, curious about my host. The house is laid out strangely. The architecture, decorations, even the placement on the grounds makes this place ideal to summoning spirits and perhaps holding them. I looked to my shadow companion, but he did not seem overly concerned so I guess it is not a threat to him.

              While looking around outside I met another uratha. She acknowledged me and kept going on toward the house. She was wearing a Russian military uniform, with the insignia torn off. It is tailored for a woman so I’m guessing she served in the women’s legion. I can respect that.

              Later all of us invited by Jamal gathered in a large comfortable room. There were several others there. Lizette is a young French woman. The first time I saw her she was wearing men’s clothes cut down to accommodate her short stature. She is very short. The next time I saw her she was dressed for dinner in a fancy dress. Later when we talked she mentioned that she is a mechanic of sorts. She even brought out a mechanical servant in the shape of a teapot to show us.

              Dervala was dressed nice, but conservative. She carried herself like someone accustomed to these kinds of surroundings and seemed at ease. I found out later that she is a fairly well known singer. She looks the type. She seemed pleasant and a bit curious about the First Tongue that Tatiana and I spoke. We spoke quietly, but she heard us and commented on it. She said that it was interesting and sounded so animalistic. I smiled. She is Irish from what I can tell. I am also not sure if I am spelling her name correctly. The Irish and Welsh have interesting ways of spelling things.

              Dacian is a quiet person. Very quiet. He moves with almost no sound. He is rather well practiced in it. I found out later to no surprise that he is a thief and breaks into people’s homes with some amount of skill. He was also quiet in that he did not talk much. The way he carried himself I would guess that he comes from a well to do family. He also commented on the First Tongue and said that he’d not heard it before. The way he said it made me thing that he is fluent in a number of languages already. His accent is Eastern European, but I could not place it. So, I know he speaks English, French and his native language. I wonder what else he speaks. As for where he was from, he was very vague on that. Only that it did not exist anymore. My guess is that it was destroyed in the war. When speaking of it, his voice held traces of sadness.

              Tatiana is a fellow uratha from Russia. She was quiet and reserved. She watched the rest of the guests closely. She did not seemed overly trustful of anyone until she asked Alla, another Russian, where she fell when it came to Bolsheviks. Alla responded that she was against them and Tatiana warmed considerably. I now have a good idea of what might have happened to Tatiana. We both have problems with Bolsheviks, though I think hers is more personal. I will ask for details later. She does not know me yet, though she did defer to me when it came time for the second round of introductions. I’ll explain shortly.
              Alla is a former Russian noble. Her attitude, clothes and servants all point to a noble background. Alla is also rather tall for a woman, almost my height. She made a grand entrance at the end of dinner and sat at the foot of the table opposite Tatiana. She was also quiet for a good bit of the evening though it seemed she was more curious than suspicious. She travels with a man name Fenric. He is rather short compared to his mistresses’ height. He is overly friendly with the ladies.

              Wolfram is a former German pilot. He was well dressed and looked like an ordinary nobleman aside from the fact that he wore a piece of twisted metal as a medallion around his neck. It was definitely not a fashion statement piece. It is something personal to him. He came across as friendly and did most of the talking. He freely admitted that he was involved in supernatural studies. He said this very openly and seemed unconcerned that he might get a strange reaction out of those assembled. I found it interesting.
              Sometime after dinner our host, Jamal, arrived and ushered the lot of us into a meeting room. During the course of his discourse with us he admitted to being a Vampire, what he called Kindred, and that he was looking for a magical device called the Golden Eagle. No one reacted too strongly to his announcement and I gathered early on that everyone there was “special” in some way. As it turns out Alla is also a vampire and Fenric is her ghoul. A servant in both mundane and supernatural meanings.

              Wolfram is a Claimed. He called himself a Sin-eater, but what he described is what it is to be claimed by a spirit. He will count himself lucky that neither Tatiana nor I hunt the Claimed. I hunt spirits. I’m not sure what she hunts, but given that she admitted to lately killing Bolsheviks I’d say her preferred prey are humans. The metal that he wears around his neck is the piece of his crashed plane that killed him. He was then brought back to life by a spirit that he called a Geist. He said that since that day he has made it his life’s goal to find and help or eliminate ghosts. He specifically deals with the spirits of dead humans. I will have to question him more about this spirit to determine its motivations and whether or not it needs to be put down.
              Dacian, Dervala and Lizette are some sort of Fae. They called themselves Changelings. After hearing Jamal out and we all agreed to look for this Golden Eagle we made a deal with each other. After the deal was done I could see those three as they actually are. Dacian is covered in shadows. Dervala reminds me of a brightly colored song bird, including the wings, and Lizette is still short, but has pointed ears and is green. They all have an otherworldly look to them, but retain fragments of the “mask” that they wear for the rest of humanity. They are not spirits themselves, I am fairly certain of that. Dervala was rather interested when I mentioned that I deal with troublesome sprits. She thought I meant ghosts and I had to explain the difference. She is very inquisitive. The others listened as well, curious in their own right.

              So, as I mentioned, Jamal told us that he was hunting an artifact called the Golden Eagle. It is supposed to render its users effectively immortal. But only a select few can actually use the device. Jamal said that he chose us because he knew that we were able to use the machine. I am not sure how he knew. If he collected something of ours or if it is some gift he possesses due to being Kindred.

              Apparently whoever uses the Eagle can be killed but will then return to life at the same health as when they first activated it with their blood. This will work until it is the person’s time to die and then it will not bring them back. I’m not sure how you are to know that it is your time to die, so I will just assume that any death will be final and do my best to avoid it. I do not know the reason why the others were keen on using the device, but everyone seemed to have a motive of some kind. I am curious to find out what is so important to the others that they would use such a device.

              Jamal mentioned several times that he wants only to study the device and to not make us feel indebted to him. He seemed sincere, but I suppose time will tell on that. He said that he would help as much or as little as we wanted, he only asked that we let him know how the machine works and if it does anything interesting.

              Right now the device is in the possession of an Englishman named Mr. Brandon. Or something like that. Someone name Gaspar took the device from another group and is having it transported to Istanbul from Vienna. Jamal is paying for four sleeper cars on the train and we will have just over two days to find the Englishman on the train and acquire the Eagle. Seems too convenient if you ask me. Jamal expressed his concern that it could be a trap. I am not sure how Gaspar or anyone else would know that we are after the Eagle, but he might suspect that someone is. I will keep on guard and make sure the others take the threat seriously. Some of them may think I am being overly cautious, but I have not survived this long by being too relaxed.

              Not all of our number are fighters, but if this is a trap they will become targets and thus must be prepared. Perhaps some of the Fae, and our Lady Kindred can be taught to use a pistol. I must ask if Jamal has any weapons that they may use. I am certain Wolfram knows his way around a gun, and there is of course no need to worry about Tatiana. Even if she wasn’t uratha, she served in the Russian army. She can take care of herself.


              Tatiana’s Conversations

              Hello, volchonok. Ah, stop that! You are too excitable. No, these are not pack.

              Do not whine at me that way. I have told you why we are here. Not for a pack, for money.

              Yes, that is a human thing. It is for my human family, after all. But this Ruhadze has promised more than enough to care for them and even treat them somewhat.

              Ruhadze? He is the tall dark one. Yes, the one which smells of death. Do not hackle so, he has promised us safety. He is something called Kindred, a vampire. The tall woman also.

              No, not the short man with her, called Fenric. He is a... ghoul, I believe they called him. He is also excitable, like you, volchonok. Heh, no you do not smell of death, it is true. But you are small and nosey and prone to grand gestures when excited. His mistress Alla kept such a cloud of smoke - that is a human thing I more than agree with you on. But at least she is no Bolshevik. A czarist, probably, given her apparent noble background, but that is tolerable, I suppose.

              I am sorry, did I bore you with my human things again? Silly volchonok. There is a Uratha... oh stop! Yes, that means we could make a pack. You want me tied to so many ‘humans’? Just him? Perhaps, once we have acquired this Eagle. Marek is a courier by profession, which could mean many things in this time. He is also Czech, so he most likely has reason to strike against the Bolsheviks. He is not bad to look at, for a man, and knows many things. He seemed to understand all this nonsense about the Eagle even.

              Not a flying eagle. A statue, or machine, or some such. I know, much less interesting. Still, those who have it seem to be trying to make the hunt interesting at least. I have no desire to live forever, but if it ensures my family’s care, I will link with the thing and speak with Ruhadze as he wishes.

              Yes, yes, volchonok, the others. So impatient. I wonder, do you see the fairies as they are, as I do now, or as I used to? The gracious singer, the short woman, and the prickly thief. Surely he did not expect anyone to take ‘retrieval of antiques’ for anything but theft. I suppose politeness says I should not have called him such aloud, but bah... Anyway, the way the shadows cling to the skin of this Dacian is surely helpful to his line of work.

              You like the singer as well? Dearbhail is a pretty little song bird, isn’t she? You are not to chase her! We have made promises to work together, and she is to keep all her feathers, you hear me volchonok? I might chase her though, for all of the little green inventor. She is quite beautiful and intrigued by the First Tongue.

              Because I am not a silly volchonok, that is why.

              I say it is fair. Do you challenge me?

              Ah, volchonok, you must grow a little yet. Still, well fought.

              Oh, now it is forgotten and I must continue my story, hm? I see how it is. Very well, who have I not told you of... There is the small woman, Lizette.

              No, she is not a servant like the small man. She has one instead, a large teapot that moves as it wills. She builds such things, strange machines. She is quite excited about this Eagle because of this. Her delight in chasing birds is as cat-like as her eyes. This will be an interesting hunt.

              Yes, there is another. Wolfram. I am... not sure of him.

              He has died once, and came back. That is why he smells of death. He seemed nice enough over dinner, even if he was a German pilot. It was not his fault, the war. But when he came back, it was because a powerful spirit of the dead Claimed him. I do not know many things - I would not have recognized what he described without Marek naming it. But I do know that Claimed are bad. Perhaps it is different, since it was a ‘geist’, a spirit of the dead, and not a normal spirit. Or perhaps I will have to watch our backs.

              Yes, I would be doing so regardless, but it would be a different back. It will be hard enough protecting the 6 of them with only 2 Uratha. The train might help, restricting the lanes of attack. It will restrict ours as well of course.

              Ah, we will be riding on one. It is how our prey travels, in secret. You can keep up, is it not so?

              Of course you can run as fast as any human thing, now I am the silly volchitsa.

              Yes, silly volchitsi and volchata should run together. But not tonight. Not tonight.


              Dacian’s Book of Shadows

              29 April 1920 - Night

              The ferry to the island was uneventful, though I did not seem to be a tourist and so stuck out. I enjoyed the wind in my hair nevertheless.

              The rooms are very well appointed. I don’t believe anyone has been in this one before except for the intriguing maid. Her scent lingers even as she passes in the hallway.

              30 April 1920 - Afternoon

              I have never been to Malta before. Most of the shipping lines are British but carry little in the way of relics. The honey made here, on the other hand, is lovely. I must remember such things when gifts are in order.

              Jamal’s home is lovely, though I have tried not to look too carefully at anything. My services have been sought and thus I do not wish to poison the well, as it were.

              Others are to arrive today, though I have no idea what to expect. But I will keep my curtains pulled tight and try to be prepared for anything should dinner prove exciting.

              30 April 1920 - Evening

              There are two other men here. One smells of cigarettes and blood, the other of the wilderness and something I cannot place. If there are women here, they have not been down our hallway. Pity.

              30 April 1920 - Night

              There are women here and they are all quite interesting. I stayed in my room until a half hour before dinner. I wanted to avoid as much light as I could for best effect. This turned out to be an unnecessary precaution.

              I was first greeted by a very small man in a tuxedo. He introduced himself rather vigorously to all that entered the drawing room. His accent was Russian, but it seemed off somehow. Perhaps it is an older noble family. If there was a single word for Fenric, it would be: gauche. He was the one that smelled of cigarettes and blood. It seemed odd to me until later.

              Two other Lost entered, both women of unusual description, even for us. Lizette was a small French Wizened, if I had to guess. The gown she wore was most complimentary to her figure, her stature, and her complexion. She is some sort of inventor and repair specialist. I have yet to learn Irish, but Dervala is as close to spelling the Fairest’s name as I can come. She was truly a skylark, as her profession is her voice. While Lizette accentuated herself well, Dervala was beautiful no matter what she may have worn. Her dazzling emerald wings made her appear at once exotic and regal.

              I recognized the scent of the other man as well. Merak was an imposing man, but not due to his size. Something about him seemed feral and dangerous. He spoke with what I took to be a Czech accent, though he knows other, stranger tongues. He is a courier, though I suspected he was something more given Jamal invited him here. His eyes moved like a soldier and scanned everything around him for danger. A woman named Tatiana joined him. She dressed like a Russian soldier, and the way she carried herself I had to assume she lived the part. She had a similarly unidentifiable scent to Marek, but she was much more direct and coarse.

              Finally, there was a handsome man in the back named Wolfram. He was a former German pilot, noble if I had to guess. He was quite personable, so I felt no need to bring up politics. He oddly smelled of metal and death. Or perhaps it was simply the piece of his airplane he wears as a keepsake.

              Just after dinner was completed, Fenric darted around dousing the electric lamps while a maid, who was obviously not from Malta, arranged and lit candles around the room. With some flourish, Fenric introduced Alla, his mistress. Alla is quite tall and Russian. She lacked much smell other than cigarettes and blood. That too seemed odd. When no one reacted to the grand entrance, the maid put out the candles and left the house staff to relight the electrics.

              Jamal made his entrance at the point and, after moving the group into a proper meeting room, explained our actual reason for being assembled. Jamal, a vampire by admission, had located a relic of some power called the Golden Eagle. I had possibly heard of it spoken in rumor, but there were no contracts involved, so I paid little attention before. With more description from Jamal, I was quite interested. It seems that while all the guests were somewhat more than ordinary, we each possessed something in our family that made us compatible for these odd device. I grew immediately tense and excited simultaneously. Could Jamal somehow know of my family? The legacy I believed I had lost could still be made real? I know nothing of “giens,” but if they can link me to a relic, perhaps they can do more as well. But I wander off topic. The relic is said to be able to note the state one is in at the time it is used, and should one die before their time, they will spend a short time in Hell before returning to the previous state. If it is one’s time, then they will be trapped in Hell for using the device.

              Our host wished for us to retrieve the Golden Eagle and use it, so that he could study any effects it may have. For this, we would be compensated and guaranteed no interference to test the more frightening powers associated with the relic. We all agreed for reasons all our own, before making her true selves known. Alla, like Jamal, was a Kindred, as they say. Fenric was her ghoul. Ghouls mean something very different to me, but he did not seem to be such a monster. Merak and Tatiana were Uratha, or what legends call werewolves. Wolfram called himself Bound, but also referenced something called a Geist, which made him a Sin-Eater. The German word for ghost did little to explain how he had died and returned, but he did not seem like a demon. Tatiana called him a Claimed, but I equally do not understand these things. We settled on pledging to assist and not harm one another. Lizette sealed the oath, and the others could finally see the Lost as we truly are. There were a few strange looks, but it passed quickly enough.

              As a group, we are to travel to Vienna where we will board a train to Istanbul. I am certain, based solely on Jamal’s information, that this situation is a trap. I said as much and the others agreed. Though the Uratha seemed pleased by this premise. I know I enjoy slipping from the jaws of a trap, but they seemed eager to spring said trap. Either way, we are to relieve a Mr. Brandon of the Eagle before the two day journal is complete and return with our prize.

              I should be more suspicious of this, but the opportunity to work with such interesting people (outside of Arcadia) is too compelling. Hopefully I will live to tell these tales to others in the Spring and Autumn Courts.


              Lizette’s Plans

              Mischief! Mayhem! Finally! Let the mayhem…well, I am getting ahead of myself.

              I am going to be getting involved in some mayhem. I may be able to wreck a train. If I am lucky. May.

              I am part of a team assembled by a Vampire, Monsieur Ruhadze, to rob a train. Mayhem!

              Stay on task.

              I am part of a team assembled by Monsieur Ruhadze in order to acquire an artifact, the Golden Eagle, I can study [strike]for mayhem[/strike] to understand its workings. And so Monsieur Ruhadze can study it of course. It’s on a train. We will rob. Mayhem!

              It’s a scary thing, being invited to a country house and discovering your host is a Vampire. But he did not seem intent on biting us and there was a lot of interesting stuff I want to do, so I will mostly have Mademoiselle Théière lean against the door when I go to sleep. I have to plan a heist and acquire a mechanical bird. Mischief! Mayhem…ahem.

              My team is interesting.

              There are two Spring Courtiers, the first, Dearbháil MacGowan, is a very lovely winged Fairest. Seeing her wings I at first expected her to be beast, but no…she is a very beautiful Fairest. She reminds me of my Captain a bit, which makes me shy and keep trying to impress her when I talk. I need to stop that. I doubt she has any time for Wizened, much less Wizened that are aren’t even navel height. She seems nice enough and sings well.

              The other, Dacian Umbră, is from somewhere in Eastern Europe. He replied cryptically when Fenric asked him from where. He is a thief apparently, who steals artifacts and cats. It seems like an odd combination but Darklings are, as a Seeming, odd people. Maybe he just has a soft spot for cats, and has a big house full of them. And artifacts. He did act sort of like a noble. Maybe he is a noble wherever he is from. Maybe cats are status symbol there. I am not sure.

              There was another Vampire, Alla, who is the tallest woman I have ever seen. She seemed graceful and elegant, but vampires seem really scary so I am not sure how I feel about her. I mean, she also seems nice, but Vampires would seem nice, wouldn’t they? That’s how they get you. I am pledged of course so she won’t try and hurt me. I am not sure what her weaknesses are. I mean it seems hard to ask. “How do I kill you, Mademoiselle?” No, best just go on. Alla is Russian.

              She has a ghoul named Fenric. He is still alive.

              Wolfram von Klingemann is a German therefore flammable. But he seems like a nice sort of person I don’t want to set on fire, German or no. He is a Sin-Eater, or someone who comes back from the dead. He talks to ghosts. Seems a useful talent. He is a pilot, or was a pilot. I neglected to mention how much I like crashing planes. Given our backgrounds, it seems unnecessary when we are trying to form common bonds. Wolfram was very keen on building bonds between us so I am not terribly worried about getting along.

              Tatiana is one of the two Werewolves. I don’t know her last name. She spoke little, other than to ask Alla if she was a Bolshevik. I suppose that is important to know when Russians meet these days. She mostly talked to Marek, the other Werewolf. I should have suspected something; she ate like an animal. She mostly kept to herself, and paced a lot. She generally seemed unhappy about something. Maybe about being a Werewolf.

              Marek is the other Werewolf. I don’t know his last name either. He is mostly very very quiet, but Tatiana seemed to defer to him, so maybe they knew each other, or maybe it was because he is a man, I am not sure. He mentioned being a courier but otherwise listened very much and said very little. I am sure he will get along with Dacian the Darkling then. I must say I did not expect Werewolves to be so quiet. I am not sure what I would have expected, though.

              I wonder if I can ride one of the Werewolves into battle? In like wolf form. I could make a chain lance! No! Give the werewolf a helmet with rotating saw blades, I just need a power source. Maybe something on the sides..,

              Focus.

              Most Darklings are sneaky types, so I assume Dacian is, also because of the whole thief thing. Most Fairest are talky types, so I assume Dearbháil is. Or failing that a singy type. Is that a type? Werewolves are generally good at hurting people, so I guess that is their job. Vampires mind control maybe? So Alla can mind control people Dearbháil can’t talk into things. Well, that should make this easy. Wolfram…can come back from the dead I guess? Without going to hell? He seems a planning type. Sounds good, Germans are always good at such things.

              I am just glad he is not giving my Gremlin self the evil eye for, well, being a Gremlin since he is a pilot. Probably my overwhelming charm!

              So this team is going to attempt to steal the Golden Eagle from some Brit on the train. We have a ride of roughly 62 hours and 48 minutes to get it. We are being assigned some sleeper car, I will be sharing one with Dearbháil and I will behave like a lady. Maybe I should make her a personal defense item, like a fan, but a fan with a rotating sawblade she can activate and grind up people who don’t treat her like a lady. No, no she would probably not like something that sprays gore everywhere. Maybe something with fire.

              Regardless, tomorrow we will make some plans, then Sunday travel to Vienna. I have never been there, but I hear it is pretty. Monday night we board the train. I am sure things will work out well. I will stay focused.

              Mayhem!

              End Session I

              We got a slightly late start as everyone was filling the dots on their new custom character sheets and in some cases making doing some last minute stating. The session was social and largely player driven.

              As a note, this is the party of pretty people, apparently. Of the PCs, only Tatiana lacks Striking Looks (Fenric also, but he is a Ghoul retainer)

              Those who come here having read my other Actual Plays may know Jamal Ruhadze. He has appeared in my Geist game Balance of Shadows using the alias of Dantaine Ruhadze, a name he has used for the past several decades. He also played a role in a storyline in my Demon game Night Train Detective Agency though he has not actually appeared. Ruhadze (by either name) is represented by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in pictures. He is a Khaibit Mekhet, who over time has developed talents as both scholar and warrior.

              Well, that mostly covers session one. Next week we have two backgrounds (probably Wolfram and Dearbháil) then in two weeks session two. In the meantime, comments and questions are welcome.
              Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 05-01-2015, 04:34 PM.


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

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              • #8
                I can't wait for the Train Heist, and all the delicious ways it will go so totally wrong!

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                • #9
                  It will be interesting. Last session get on on the train and met some personalities, but not major moves just yet. They have now met the target.


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

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                  • #10
                    The train heist will go flawlessly. Strong tactical planning will be carried out with skill and efficiency to insure victory.

                    Or... we may just roll in blindly and stumblebumble our way through it until Lizette blows up the train and we all end up fleeing into another dimension for safety.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Amberghylles View Post
                      The train heist will go flawlessly. Strong tactical planning will be carried out with skill and efficiency to insure victory.

                      Or... we may just roll in blindly and stumblebumble our way through it until Lizette blows up the train and we all end up fleeing into another dimension for safety.
                      One or the other.


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

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                      • #12
                        This week we finish the Changeling backgrounds. First Dearbháil MacGowan, then Dacian Umbră. Note Dacian has, compared to the other PCs, a very long background, so the bulk of this post will be his.

                        Dearbháil MacGowan, Fairest Minstrel and Windwing of the Spring Court

                        Dearbháil was one of the lucky ones. Her father was a successful tailor in Limerick. Her older brothers were the rough and tumble type, but they were terrified of their mother’s stern gaze and wicked aim with a wooden spoon. When they were charged with Dearbháil’s care they took that charge very seriously. From the time she could walk they taught her how to run, jump, and play just like a lad. They made sure she learned her numbers and letters when they returned home from school. And they made sure there was an audience whenever she wished to put on a show.

                        It was said Dearbháil came out of the womb singing. She was always willing to share a tune and she was known to cheer even the most dour of her father’s customers. Her voice was clear as a bell but with an ethereal quality that some said was not natural. Still, her songs brought joy to herself & others so her brothers kept an eye out for any that might do her harm due to their ignorant superstitions.

                        While Jamie MacGowen, Dearbháil’s father, was successful and fully entrenched in the upper-middle class, he was also the product of displaced crofters due to the famine of the mid-1840s. He stayed with an uncle to learn a trade when the rest of his family immigrated to America and wanted to make sure his children were firmly rooted in their heritage. He taught them Irish despite the fact the language was falling into disuse. He taught his children the legends and history of the Irish Kings and instilled in them a strong pride in their homeland.

                        Though she loved to perform for her family and friends, Dearbháil dreamed of traveling the world and sharing her joy in song with people in the great theaters and opera houses. It was well known that her down to earth mother would never consider such flights of fancy. Callous though it may seem, when she passed away in 1896, Dearbháil had the chance to achieve her dream. Her father found he couldn’t bear the thought of staying in their home any longer. The whole family was shattered by the death of her mother, and each found solace in their own pursuits. Jamie chose to focus on Dearbháil and her desire to be on the stage. He spoke with some of his longtime clients and managed to get her invited to several parties among the gentry to sing. Her reputation grew in Ireland and visiting nobles from England also learned of her talent. Soon she was touring England and Scotland before they moved on to the continent.

                        In 1898, Michael, Dearbháil’s oldest brother left to work with what would become the United Irish League and push for home rule. He had spoken of it so often and in such detail Dearbháil picked up many nuances of the political landscape, whether she wanted to or not. She hated to lose him, but understood his need to return home and be a part of something larger than his little sister’s traveling lifestyle.

                        Dearbháil’s fame spread and she soon had a coveted invitation to the Frankfurt Opera House, where she performed to a full audience in 1899. She felt as if her life was a dream and one she couldn’t wait to continue as she had admirers among the gentry throughout Europe. Jamie felt Dearbháil needed a companion, a young woman that could keep her company and also act as an unofficial chaperone, should she attend a gathering without him. Her companion was found among her patrons and soon Helena Ulrich joined their small traveling party. It wasn’t long until Dearbháil’s remaining brother, Patrick, fell in love with Helena and the two decided to settle down. Jamie decided it was time to find a long term contract for Dearbháil rather than continue traveling. When a request for a long visit to a chateau in France made its way to the MacGowans, Jamie immediately accepted.

                        The first night Dearbháil performed she felt as if eyes were upon her from every angle rather than just from the audience in front of her. It unnerved her and took every ounce of her will to give a worthy performance. She escaped to her quarters as quickly as she could, feeling out of sorts and more than a little off balance. During the following day she still felt as if she were being watched but not in the same almost remote way. However, when she performed that evening the feeling returned and she ended the performance early with the excuse of feeling ill. She hurried to her room and shut herself in as she tried to consider what she might down. She paced the room, prayed for guidance, and asked for her father’s opinion but he could not understand how she felt. After several hours she convinced him to speak to their hosts and request permission to leave the next morning. When Jamie left to do as she asked, Dearbháil fell into bed feeling relief that they wouldn’t stay much longer. She heard the door open and sat up as it seemed far too quickly for her father to return. When she found herself looking into her own eyes she screamed just as elongated fingers wrapped around her upper arms and pulled her off the bed and out the window.





                        She woke to darkness, the sound of a tin whistle and the rhythmic pounding of a bodhran in the air. Beneath her felt like a combination of satin and feathers. A cloyingly sweet scent replaced the smell of fresh turned earth and she felt a haze come over her. She was asked to sing. Her heart racing, she wanted to shout, to push the hands that tore at her away, but a finger that felt more like a talon caressed her cheek as the sweet smell grew stronger. When she opened her mouth the most ethereal sound came out. It was her own voice but somehow more. It made her think of magic and distracted her as she experienced what felt like thousands of needles sliding into the skin of her arms and back. She never moved from the satin pallet she lay on, but she felt movement underneath her pushing those dreadful needles into her.

                        She continued to sing and felt as if she didn’t stop until she found herself in a dark forest. Her clothing in tatters, her shoes long missing, Dearbháil was completely disoriented. She could still smell the sweet scent and it made her stomach flip - somehow with dread as well as delightful anticipation. As she tried to remember what was going on and what had happened all she could remember were the needles that still clung to her skin. Looking down at her body she saw they weren’t needles at all but feathers. Green, slightly iridescent, some blue, some purple and red for accent...she had a cloak of feathers that responded to her involuntary thoughts and unfurled into majestic wings.

                        Stumbling out of the forest into a nearby village she learned several years had passed since she’d performed at the chateau. She was in Germany after the Great War - a war that hadn’t even been a potential threat that she could recall. The world had changed and she didn’t quite know what to do. She’d always relied on her brothers to guide her and now she was forced to take control. She’d never been a shrinking violet nor one to meekly accept something unpleasant. Without her brothers she’d have to make due and hopefully find her family before too much more time passed.

                        She sang for room and board finding her voice still her greatest asset and after a few weeks she made her way to Stuttgart, the closest city to the village. There she met a large imposing figure who wasn’t quite like most people, much like herself. He called himself The Smith. He explained that he was an Ogre and knew people like her that would be able to help her adapt to returning from the Hedge. There was much for her to learn but The Smith and the Spring Court welcomed her and helped her regain her footing.

                        She still misses her family and after learning they had no idea she went missing she was torn between being happy they were spared the pain of worrying about her and hurt that some fae creation could take her place so seamlessly. While she tried very hard to be positive and find joy in her surroundings, Dearbháil sometimes felt a great sense of envy for her doppelganger. When that feeling comes over her she can’t help but think of all the wicked things that could be done to get the pale imitation out of her family’s life. Such thoughts do not make her happy though so she tries to focus on the positive and greet the world with a song in her heart and a smile on her face.


                        Dacian Umbră, Darkling Lurker and Larcenist of the Spring Court

                        In 1880, I was born into a Wallachian family of fading prestige. That stopped no one from trying to vie for positions of power in Muntenia and other principalities of Romania. Prominence, my father would say, is what we are destined to achieve. As soon as I could talk, I was tutored on how to act and carry myself. I was taught that there was nothing more valuable than our family name. How foolish it seems now, but pride in our heritage was truly all we had left. The tutors found me too excitable a child and had little patience for my need to explore. I often escaped their frankly lacking supervision to go and “travel my kingdom.” I was also often sent to my room without supper.

                        One such night, I crept from my room into the darkness. I was five and the hunger in my belly drove me to find a tender morsel. I was nibbling on a bit of stale bread like a mouse in the cupboard when I noticed a strange silence outside. It was as if all the sounds of nature fled the garden. My curiosity piqued, I opened the servants’ door and ventured out. The air was still and my bare feet left tracks in the dewy grass. Realizing I could be followed, I stopped and turned. But then I froze. It is always bad luck to turn back to your home when leaving. I looked back towards the darkened forest path to find a shadowed figure standing before me. My blood turned to ice as I instantly knew I had somehow summoned a vampire or the Devil himself! It was as if the moonlight avoided him. He took a single step that seemed to cross the grounds before he was on me. I was too terrified to run, even as his shadowed features drew close.

                        “Good evening, little prince. And what are you escaping from within your own family’s home?”

                        His ... its voice was like wrought iron being bent slowly. The darkness seemed to flow from where its eyes should have been down to the grass then struck like serpents toward me. I could barely force myself to look up in response to the question. My throat went dry, my jaw quivered, and I could not bring myself to speak.

                        “Ah. You have lost your voice. Do not worry, little prince. Where I will take you, you will find it again. But you may lose other things.”

                        The words rumbled in my mind like rocks crashing from the Carpathians. I could sense the malice, but I had no idea of their meaning. It took my arm and I was confused to feel nothing. There was no pressure, no texture, no temperature. I could not feel the air stirring and then I realized that I could feel nothing at all where it touched me. It pulled me along down the path, which now led into a forest I had never seen before. The moonlight faded away until only darkness was left. It spoke again when I had lost all track of what direction we were moving.

                        “Forget your family, as they have forgotten you. You will serve my Master as I do now.”

                        I wept for a time before I noticed the shadows seemed to become something ...different. There was no mere absence of light here. The existence of Darkness itself surrounded me. Muffled sounds of movement came from all around, yet I could witness nothing. It was as if I was struck blind. I closed my useless eyes and strained to hear everything. As more and larger sounds came to me, I began to feel things again for the first time in what seemed like weeks. Those feelings were not comforting however. Huge shapes too bizarre to be hands grasped at me. But my captor must have been incredibly strong. The shapes would be thrust away with a stifled groan as if being thrown far into the sky. Finally I came to realize I was setting on a solid surface. The sounds were almost familiar here before a huge and terrible command tore through the nothing.

                        “BOW! You shall bow before your Master!”

                        The voice exploded like Carpathian thunderheads from ahead of me and I scrambled backward from the sudden force of the sound. It was then that I realized why the sounds were familiar. I was in some form of royal court. Though I could not see them, I knew I must be addressing a ruler. With that realization, I rose to my feet. Gasps and shrieks like nothing I’d heard before came from all around as I made my next foolish mistake. With a mental clarity which surprised even myself, I recited my dynastic lineage all the way back to our family’s most famous and feared voivode. When I had finished, I waited blindly for an acknowledgement of my sovereignty. Instead I heard only a cruel chuckle from the unyielding blackness before me.

                        “So you are the heir to a dragon, little one?”

                        A shrill voice asked, coming closer to me from the right. The mocking tone infuriated me but I assumed my best regal stance and nodded without gracing the voice with any further acknowledgement. A chorus of laughter erupted from everywhere around me; taunting, jeering, scoffing laughter. I could feel the heat in my cheeks rise, but before I could shout down the beasts around me, the rightful ruler of this realm roared once again.

                        “Silence!”

                        The laughter ceased and I cowered, not being as brave as I was foolish. My ears strained to replace my eyes and I realized that not only had the laughing stopped, but so too had all other sound. Much like my encounter while still on my family’s grounds, there was no sound of nature or movement to be heard.

                        “You insult my court with your assertion of rights. And you insult me with your claim to the throne. Were you one of my subjects for longer than a moment, you would be punished severely. But as I am a just and merciful ruler, you will simply have to swear an oath to me.”

                        The now distant and muted sounds of awe rose slightly among the courtiers present. I realized I had little choice, but swearing an oath was no punishment. I had often relished the thought of swearing my oath of fealty when I was old enough. Here I was given the option even though I had transgressed. Eagerly, I accepted the offer. Such a foolish child I was.

                        Caligin, The Sable Scales of the Aphotic Reaches carefully recited the oath I was to take. I was instantly more horrified than when I was first taken. For my petulance within the Court of Sable Scales, I would serve faithfully at the will of my liege until such time as I was released or death should take me. To consummate the oath, I had to swear on my name. I was told, to reinforce both my horror and the gravity of my commitment, that should I break my oath, my name would be taken from me. I had no idea how such a catastrophic debt could be collected, but given my surroundings, I had no desire to learn.

                        * * *

                        My servitude was not made easier by my blindness. After countless times stumbling over what I can only guess was furniture or spilling unseen, foul-smelling beverages and enduring the phantasmal mockery, I began to learn the exact placement of objects in the court. I also began to trust my ears to help me notice changes, as the courtiers sometimes entertained themselves through me. Once I knew where I was, I found where best to stay unseen until I was summoned. My adjustment to my surroundings did not go unnoticed as my liege praised my silent arrivals. I cannot say how long I had been his servant, but I was apparently getting taller. I did not have to lift my burdens as high to be received.

                        My voice, though rarely used, had deepened into that of a man when the court received its first emissary since my arrival. My liege claimed I was trying to mimic his own rumbling tenor as the visitor was announced. I noticed they were given far more respect than I received upon entering the court. Our visitor smelled of leather, steel, and pelts. There was something else about our visitor’s scent. I could not place it, but I was sure I had smelled it before. The cadence of foot falls and odd shifting of cloth suggested someone smaller than me, but one who wore more fitted clothing. However it was the voice which captivated me.

                        “The Skyfleet Admiral sends his greetings and I, his humble servant, to speak of common interests.”

                        Her voice was unrestrained, though still slightly muffled here, and free of any fear. I was distracted as I had not heard a voice so nearly human as hers in ...years? The shrill shrieks, thunderous roars, and gravelly moans of my court had become the average for me. But her voice, coupled with her scent, was magnificent. My liege commanded that I see to our guest and sent me scurrying to her side.

                        Nervously, I introduced myself with as much title as I could claim. That being servant, I did not expect any better treatment from our guest than from the other courtiers. That said, my situation had improved in my time serving the Court of the Sable Scales. I had become a favored servant. A slave can only attain so much but with my only hope of returning home dependent upon being released, I strove to please my liege. But again our guest shocked me.

                        She greeted me warmly and called me by my name as though I deserved to be treated as her equal. She even shook my hand as my father had done with others of his standing. Her hand was soft, but not like I expected. The scent of pelts was actually my guest’s fur. Everest was a beast but unlike many of the crude brutes in my court. Though she was certainly not what I expected. I led her to the guest chambers, which had never been used that I knew of. She moved with exceptional grace and I was jealous at how easily she seemed to navigate the lightless palace.

                        I became Everest’s guide during her stay in the court, though it was quickly obvious to me that she had little need of my assistance. Still, she walked with me and spoke of realms outside of the Aphotic Reaches which inspired my forgotten sense of wonder. I looked forward to my time spent with her. As she met with my liege, they spoke of an increasing number of attacks on the Gentry by some rogue elements. It sounded very serious and my liege devoured every detail. After many briefings, Everest suggested my liege send a force mustered to work with those of the Skyfleet Admiral, The Lady of the Winter Winds, and other Gentry which were banding together. She was captain of but one of the Skyfleet Admiral’s ground forces and they sought additional might from the Court of Sable Scales. My liege required time to confer with his generals, a group I strongly disliked for their utter disregard for me. Everest and I returned to her chambers to await the decision.

                        “You could come with us, you know?”

                        Her offer left me speechless. How I wished it could be so, but I knew my liege would never allow me to leave the court. When I could speak I explained, half-heartedly, that my place was here with my liege. Her sigh was filled with sadness and I begged her forgiveness as it was not my place to cause discontent. She placed her soft hand against my cheek and assured me I had done nothing for which to be forgiven. Her tender words, gentle touch, and enticing scent made my head swirl. I closed my eyes and concentrated so that I could always remember the moment in every detail.

                        “Open your eyes, my Shadow.”

                        My eyes flew open in reaction, though I still could not see her. How had she known? I stammered my apologies and took a step back. Everest rose and advanced.

                        “Wait! I should have told you before. I can see in this realm, though not well. The Darkness here is difficult to penetrate, much like Caligin’s scales, but I can do it. And I can take you away from this place.”

                        Her voice was filled with emotion and my eyes filled with tears. I did not have the words to say how much I wanted to leave with her, nor the ability to convince my liege to allow it. I wiped my face quickly as I heard the predictable tlap tlap tlap drag of the chatelain approaching. Unlike me, most of the courtiers announced their presence long before they arrived. The warbling of its voice reminded me yet again of the cries of a drowning animal.

                        “Emissary, your presence is required in the Map Chamber. The Master will join you there.”

                        As the tlap tlap tlap drag faded down the passage, I turned away so Everest could not see the pain on my face. Then I asked her to accompany me to the Map Chamber. I knew that my Oath could be exploited and learned long ago never to speak of it. Now I wished with all my heart that I had never made such an agreement. Quietly, Everest fell in step behind me as we moved to receive my liege’s answer.

                        Thankfully our arrival was announced so I could hear where the generals were assembled. They did not suffer my blindness as anything but weakness. However Everest surprised me once again and delicately took my arm as if I would lead her. This deception worked as she carefully guided me by pushing and pulling my arm as we moved. We came to rest to the right of my liege before the huge table which held an unknowable map of the realm. When I first came into the room as a boy, I ran into the leg with my head. Now somewhat older, the tabletop still came to my chest. The generals’ displeasure with giving up units under their command was evident as each one languidly recited what forces they would contribute. When it was completed, I was impressed at the sizable army they had established to represent the Aphotic Reaches. Everest remained silent until my liege addressed her directly.

                        “Well Captain, you have your answer. We simply need the rendezvous point for our forces to join.”

                        Everest indicated that her forces were on the outskirts of the realm from which she had entered. The places she named and locales she described were unlike anything I had ever imagined. The armies of the Gentry were equally impressive, though I did note that the Army of the Sable Scales seemed more robust than others mentioned. My liege gloated quietly as his military might was glorified. The army would leave immediately upon word from Everest returned from the front. Because I could not see the maps or any other part of the realm, the mention of weeks to their rendezvous point seemed incredible.

                        * * *

                        Time is a strange thing, at least it is in Arcadia. I spent most of my free moments thinking of Everest and the many splendored lands she had travelled. With only unending night, rest could come at any time of day, leaving me with no context for time. Eventually, a message came from the outskirts of our realm that one of the Light Touched had delivered confirmation of our armies forming an alliance. Safe passage into the Bright Lands was secured and the generosity of The Court of the Sable Scales was exalted. Soldiers hulking and swift marched out of the court in an assemblage that even this blind fool found impressive.

                        When not needed, I wandered the palace imagining all the wonders and realms which Everest must witness. I strained with all my senses to see as my lovely Captain had. This did not lead where I thought it might, though it did curiously help me find things thought hidden in the Darkness. There were an impressive number of items hidden throughout the various chambers to which no one ever ventured. I mentally cataloged those items, many of which seemed to surge with unknown power at my touch. After what I could roughly approximate as a month, I had the location of quite a treasure trove of alien relics filed away in my mind. That was also the day the attack came.

                        I had just left the court when the explosions rocked the palace walls. My liege roared his rage at the insolent attackers, thinking he had the advantage of Darkness. There was an odd sound, almost like a large stone dropped into a pool, before the sound of courtiers howling and shrieking in pain and terror. I could instantly smell scorched meat and dead flesh. Then it seemed there was movement everywhere around me. More people than I could discern, some familiar, others unknown, fought and fled as I froze. The sensations of sound, smell, movement, vibration; it was all too much. As if sinking into an unseen pond, I suddenly realized I was falling unconscious, overwhelmed as I was by stimuli. Just before I went under, something closed around me.

                        When I awoke, I was inside a container of some form as I could feel the walls pressing against my limbs. The sounds from outside were nearly cut off and I was absently grateful. I could tell I was being carried based on the movement of my prison, however the box was oddly padded for such uses. The darkness was at least comforting as I awaited my fate. At length, my cage was dropped unceremoniously upon a hewn stone surface. Hands heavy and clumsy fumbled with what I assumed was the lock until a second set of smaller, more graceful hands disabled the lock without issue. I prepared myself for the end before the box was thrown open.

                        Searing pain. Agonized howling.

                        The sound of unimaginable pain echoed off the chamber walls and vibrated the floor. It occasionally wavered but never stopped. I was told I stopped screaming roughly an hour after they put out the lights.

                        Light. It was so much a part of my memories of home, and yet I had given so little thought to it since coming to the Aphotic Reaches. Blindness has a way of changing your perceptions but Light has very little to do with those changes. The dimmed lantern my captors used to illuminate my cell hung on the wall by the door. I could hear it wobble back and forth each time the heavy wooden door closed. I could smell the ancient stone and feel the cool surface around me.

                        Eventually I dared open my eyes again. I was not blind! I was in a darkened cell, with everything exactly where I determined it to be, though the details of each piece was slightly different. I took a moment to revel in that I could see for the first time in... Impossible!!

                        I was taken as a child at five, but there was a beard attached to my face. The chest under my chin was broad and lean. My arms and legs were long and tone. How long had I been gone and where had I been taken? Images of myself and memories of home flooded my mind. When I found myself taller in the Reaches, I assumed I’d turned ten. When my voice deepened, fifteen. Now I had to know everything! Rushing over, I pounded on the thick, gnarled door and called for my jailor. What opened the door took my breath away even as the single, flickering candle pulled bloody tears from my eyes.
                        I knew the scent immediately but the vision before me was astounding. Her skin was covered in the orange and black striped fur of a great cat. Her keen and piercing eyes were the color of the lavender fields outside of Bucharest. It seemed they could peer directly into a man’s soul, if not beyond. In my mind, a thousand praises of her beauty, twice as many questions as to how she found me, and the most burning of all, why? My mouth opened, but no words made it past my lips.

                        “What’s wrong, Shadow? Cat got your tongue?”

                        Everest’s jovial voice startled me back to the present. I spoke softly not wanting to alert any guards of her presence.

                        “How did you find me? And how do we escape?”

                        The slight tilt of her head and pitying smile told me I was somehow mistaken. I started to ask more questions but she pressed her finger to my lips with a soft shhh. Everest turned and led me down a stone corridor that smelled of dank barrels and what I later learned was gunpowder. While I noticed all this, I was distracted by the intoxicating scent of Everest’s pelt. At last, we came to a more reasonable door when Everest stopped short.

                        “You should prepare yourself, my Shadow. This might not be what you were expecting.”

                        With that, she tossed open the door and took my hand before striding into the room as though she were a queen. There were creatures here unlike anything I had ever dreamed. Three figures seemed to be comprised entirely of melting rocks? Another seemed to be light in the shape of a person. I could not look upon her for more than a moment, even as she covered herself in sackcloth at my approach. I shielded my face as I heard a soft voice apologize. The room was darker now and I realized that there few other sources of light. A bronze statue turned to look at me but simply grunted and turned away again. Other figures that looked like life sized porcelain dolls, living monoliths of granite, and still more that defied my ability of description wandered the great hall. Each one deferred to Everest as we drew near, though she never spoke. Finally we came to a large table with detailed maps of incredible lands. I had never learned to read so I had no idea what the markings in each location meant. However I knew the section of total Darkness. There were markers at different points around what had to be the palace. Points where the attacks began.

                        “What have you done?”

                        My voice had never raised before that moment and the barbed question rumbled past my lips like thunder. All the inhabitants of the great hall turned to look at me as I stared in wide eyed horror at Everest. She had no idea why I could not leave Caligin’s court, nor why it was so important never to break my oath.

                        “I have weakened Caligin, The Sable Scales of the Aphotic Reaches by sending roughly a third of his forces to the slaughter of the so called Bright Lands, penetrated his palace, attacked his court, ...and stolen his most prized servant. And in so doing, I have granted you your freedom. That overconfident dragon still believes he was betrayed by the Skyfleet Admiral. By the time their battles end, we will be engineering more wars between the Gentry in a realm still unheard of.”

                        Everest purred as her army cheered her on. I shook my head to clear the shock and disbelief.
                        Finally I walked past them, looking desperately for an exit. My heart broke as Everest’s smile faded into disappointment.

                        “Why are you not celebrating, my dear Shadow? You are free. Your Keeper is both vulnerable and missing his prize. I could not have struck such a lucky blow without you.”

                        I stopped short. It was if Caligin and I realized exactly what had happened at once. I heard him scream my name just before feeling him rip it from me. I fell to my knees in anguish as I could no longer remember my family’s name, nor any part of my own. I scrambled around in a blind panic on the stone floor until Everest rushed to fight against whatever malady had obviously overtaken me. She lifted my chin and started to call my name as she had in the palace when she too realized it was gone. My Captain blinked for several moments trying to understand before one of the living dolls approached. Her voice was somehow wrong, as though it should be normal but was made by something far more sinister than the workings of her throat.

                        “His oath is broken, Captain. I felt it as he flailed.”

                        I frantically looked to the assembled creatures expecting to be struck down at any moment. Instead, all I saw were eyes filled with sadness and faces heavy with pity. Another of the dolls approached, the first falling into lock step. They bent in unison and offered a hand. With their assistance, I shakily stood to looked upon these people who looked back at me with compassion instead of judgement. My own first impressions of them sent a wave of shame through my belly. Solemnly I walked back to Everest and knelt before her.

                        “Forgive me Captain. I am your nameless servant.”

                        There were a few gasps from behind me before I suddenly felt a massive hand clap down over my shoulder. I assumed I was finished after all when I was ripped into the air. The bronze man held me before his face. His voice seemed to echo from within his chest with a metallic ring like a cathedral bell.

                        “Where do your people call home, little shadow?”

                        I tried to explain Romania to someone I learned was actually from the time of Rome. Ahenobarbus knew of none of my regional names, until I mentioned the Carpathian Mountains. His eyes widened then and laughed.

                        “You hail from Dacia. A strong and proud people. The Legions were not prepared for their first encounters there.”

                        I had never heard of these people. That they came from a time before the boyers and voivode seemed like madness to me. I could only stare blankly.

                        “Your forefathers turned back the Roman Legions, boy. Were I to find myself in need of a name, I think I would reclaim that noble history, if I were you.”

                        With that, Ahenobarbus, the bronze man, sat me back down next to Everest. My Captain looked expectantly at me until I had made my decision.

                        “So be it. You shall know me as Dacian Umbră, for I am but a Shadow of Dacia.”

                        Everest smiled hungrily and bowed.

                        “Then let me be the first to welcome you to the Rogues’ Gallery.”

                        Cheers tore through the great hall. Everest leaned in close and whispered conspiratorially to me that I was still her Shadow. I was showered with well wishes and congratulations for the rest of the night.

                        * * *

                        My affinity for silent movement and skill at finding hidden artifacts made me the perfect addition to the “Acquisitions” arm of the Rogues’ Gallery. I was paired with another creature of darkness to perform what could only be described as acrobatic burglary. Arach provided rope of incredible strength and held fast as I descended into whatever display the Gentry placed their magic trinkets. Other times I was paired with Everest to serve as diplomat to the more established courts.

                        ...Until we were finally found out.

                        Solora and Everest hid themselves away as I entered the realm of some collector Gentry. My mission was to determine weak points in the defenses as well as locate any slaves to rescue. As I was intimately familiar with the drawbacks of this operation, I was also prepared to learn if any possible targets would not benefit from our assistance. Arach would rendezvous with me once I signaled I had gathered enough information to begin the operation. We would liberate any relics or slaves we could while the fighting distracted the Gentry.

                        I was led through corridors lined with what could only be described as well appointed prison cells. Crystalline walls too thick to be glass and too clear to be ice held various creatures sentenced to be on display within. The situation turned my stomach, but I continued on with my mission. I already knew I would need to find a way to open these cells. The chaos some of these prisoners could cause guaranteed a smooth escape route for Arach and myself. I was lost in these thoughts when I felt an oddly familiar twinge. A relic I had once held was nearby. I turned the last corner to find the Gentry of the realm meeting with one of the remaining (and scarred) diplomats of The Court of Sable Scales. While I had never seen the Draconic before, I recognized his scent and his habitual sneering chuckle.

                        “...So I beseech you not to listen to these vermin.”

                        Calidon. It was my liege’s “heir.” His pride knew no bounds and his contempt for me was blatant before I was taken. Now he looked at me with such malicious intent that the Collector of Bones and Blood uttered an earthshaking growl.

                        “Do you dare decide who lives and dies in my kingdom, worm?”

                        The Collector stood from his terrible throne and the entirety of the Ossuarium trembled at his rage. Bones fell from the walls and clattered from their place in the floor. Soon, the bones assembled into skeletons with glowing red orbs where once eyes were held. Surrounded by this unexpected undead uprising, I swept into a deep bow to our host before locking my gaze with my former courtier.

                        “Greetings to the Collector of Bones and Blood and those guests esteemed enough to be granted audience. I am but a nameless vagrant, travelling Arcadia with warnings about the Rogues’ Gallery.”

                        Calidon scoffed then looked to one of his bodyguards, who raised a shadow pata in my direction. Before he could take a step, the skeletal horde set upon the guard. They left only enough for a more shadowed member of their number to join. The rest of the ossuarian army darkened almost imperceptibly as if the essence of the Apothic guard flowed through each of them. This Gentry was a collector indeed.

                        “The emissary from The Court of the Sable Scales has warned me of your duplicity. I have fortified our defenses against your coming associates with soldiers from your former liege. Your presence here is surprising however, as it was explained to me that you were merely a prize of Caligin. Do you have words with which to defend yourself?”

                        My mind whirled. Being a prize of Caligin’s. Calidon and forces from the Aphotic Reaches stationed here was strange. Something was definitely not right. I studied Calidon before responding.

                        “Forgive me, Collector. I am distracted by the unusual military presence of The Court of the Sable Scales. Calidon does not normally lead a column of soldiers when he greets diplomatic appointments. As a matter of fact, I am unsure of any time he has ever led military into another realm.”

                        Calidon’s rage obviously building, I scanned the menagerie and found several Aphotic units in what seemed like strategic corridors. The Collector may have spotted them as well, given he seemed somewhat nullified. The Aphotic Prince spoke again, his intentions bleeding into his voice.

                        “Impressive memory for a slave. But it will serve you no longer. It seems your Captain has kept her end of the deal after all. Now it’s my ...”

                        Calidon’s obviously practiced speech was interrupted by an earthquake or impact unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was as though the Ossuarium was tipping over. And yet the Collector of Bones and Blood remained not only serene, but unaffected by the sudden lurch of the building. Portals opened in the crystal prisons next to the Aphotic forces. Screams and roars of unknowable horrors issued forth in all directions as I focused on Calidon. The skeletal army had already removed the remainder of his honor guard but seemed to clear a path between us. It seemed obvious to me that the Collector was still very much in control of his realm until a bone spear pierced his chest from behind. The Gentry collapsed to his knees then wordlessly fell forward. The army of bone fell into a million clattering pieces across the floor. Calidon could apparently step through shadows. He looked to me with a sadistic smile and began removing his armor.

                        “I have suffered under my father’s ignorance and apathy since Time was young. Never was there a chance for my reign. And yet, a pitiful human boy bumbled his way into our court and became my father’s favorite. YOU ARE NOTHING! No human will ever be equal to the Fae. But I will rise to power, just as my father will fall. And as my first coronation gift, I will watch you die.”

                        Ceremonial armor removed, Calidon wore the easy flowing robes of the court. His talons curled in morbid anticipation when the howl of some entity best left unnamed echoed from behind the chamber. I used the opportunity to dive for one of the pata his honor guard left behind. I was only vaguely trained with a blade, but it was better than giving the spoiled prince his wish without a fight.

                        Knowing Calidon could step through shadows gave me enough of a warning that I stayed in the lit circle before the Collector’s throne. Any advantages I could take away would serve to keep me alive that much longer. I was fortunate in that Calidon was not a very accomplished swordsman, though it was still better than me. The lack of sound from my movements made it harder for him to pinpoint my destination and he over extended his reach on several occasions. The beatings I took from his talons for crossing his sword were taking their toll on me however. Finally, a well place backhand sent me sprawling and dislodged the weapon from my grip. I came to rest on one knee kneeling over the body of the Collector. My face, already covered in sweat now trickled with a heavier stream.

                        A single drop of my blood fell on the Collector’s cowl when the body vanished. Calidon looked around frantically as a disembodied voice boomed through the corridors.

                        “You have paid my price. You may leave this place...intact.”

                        Just then, I was struck with a line of heavy silk rope. I immediately knew what to do just as the throne room began to close into a crystal cell. I jumped as high as I could to climb the rope and made it just in time to see a ceiling close before Calidon could climb out. Arach pulled me into the odd catacombs above the cells. He explained that The Army of the Sable Scales attacked the Gallery just after I entered the Ossuarium. Everest believed he was also inside, as she knocked Solora unconscious when the Light Touched turned to help our peers. Arach could not say how the Gallery faired in battle.

                        Coming to the end of the catacombs, Arach helped me climb around the outer edges of the structure. There were no signs of battle in sight or in my own notable hearing so our only assumption was that the battle had ended, one way or another. We descended the huge columns at the entrance to the Ossuarium, noting they seemed to be hewn from a single massive bone. The moment my feet hit the sand of that desolate place, I sensed ...something. I turned to warn Arach as much when I found my savior and only remaining friend staring helplessly from within a crystal cell. Then I heard the same disembodied voice rumbling in like a storm from the desert.

                        “None may leave that have not paid my price.”

                        I threw myself at the unfeeling window, smashing my fists into the unyielding surface with every ounce of strength I could summon. For my trouble, a shard of the alien crystal thrust forth like a glass cutlass. I narrowly avoided the crystalline blade before it dropped to the sand. The cell seemed to sink into the sands until the only proof that it had ever been there was the damnable blade. I fell to my knees in the sand, unable to do anything but weep.

                        I was aroused from my anguish by the sounds and scents of those surviving members of the Rogues’ Gallery. Our numbers were decimated and all were wounded. I rose and ran to my compatriots to warn them of our predicament. But before I could finish my tale, Everest lept from the sands, sword drawn. She claimed that I had betrayed them to my Keeper in an attempt to regain my name. The injured Rogues looked wary but doubtful. I recounted my story to clear my name until Everest cut me off with her own blade. Her actions seemed to cement the legitimacy of one story over the other, but she was between me and the safety of the Rogues. She backed me to the entrance of the Ossuarium before I realized she intended to use me as a sacrifice.
                        When my foot nudged the crystalline blade, I snatched it up and drove it straight into Everest’s frozen heart. Her body fell back against the steps where the sand, blown by an invisible wind, covered and pulled her down.

                        We recovered Solora from the dunes and managed to wake her with some difficulty. With most of our ranks gone, I had no delusions of an assault, but as I knew Arach was still alive, I petitioned for us to get him back. There was no consensus but because he had not bleed for his freedom already, most were not inclined to risk further abuse at the hands of a Gentry that knew we were in his realm. As he had unknowingly sacrificed himself for me, I went back to the Ossuarium alone.

                        Or at least, that was my plan. The desert had changed in the time we were gone from the Gentry’s collection. There was no sign of anything we found before, only the way out immediately behind me each time I looked back. I searched for Arach and the Ossuarium until my supplies ran out. Then with tears of regret and shame streaming down my face, I left the Desert of Cold Sands.

                        Alone in Arcadia for the first time in what I knew to be decades, I found wanted my family. I had lost everything that resembled that to the Fae and now I needed to see my mother and father again. Nevermind that they wouldn’t know me, I could at least see them. Perhaps find a reason to speak with them. Depending on how he was, I might even interact with my Fetch if I had one. With that decision made, my mind was flooded with a thousand memories I had forgotten. The smell of bread baking, the sound of birds, the rustling of paper when the wind blew the pages of a book. Home. It drove me like nothing I had experienced before.

                        * * *

                        I realized sometime afterwards that I had started walking while lost in thought. I was in a completely unknown part of Arcadia, which was terrifying. I could see horrifying castles lit by red lightning, jutting out from twisted and rocky mountains in the distance. Something too horrible to describe flew out of one of the towers and started heading in my direction, so I ran into a massive bramble to hide. It was hard to move through the prickly mass at first, as I kept getting caught by jagged spike-like thorns. Then as I pulled myself free, I stopped and looked around. I could smell bread just like when I was home, coming from someone in the distance. The flying creature was forgotten as I ran through the Hedge, desperate to find the source of that smell. Finally I can to a more manicured hedge line, with moonlight streaming through a latticed doorway. There I spotted a small bakery on a street. It must have been very early as no one was about. I crept through the doorway and into the street, still following the magnificent smell. I realized I had no idea where I was and turned to see the portal I had just stepped through no longer led to the Hedge. It now opened into a garden in the city.

                        I learned later that day that I had emerged in Bucharest. It was different than I imaged as a boy, but then everything is different after a war. While I was in Arcadia, Europe had exploded into The Great War and everything had changed. After losing thirty three years of my life, I had changed. I got by stealing food and clothing while I traveled back to my family’s home. It was harder, not being able to utter my family’s name but eventually I could describe them well enough to get directions.

                        I stood at the edge of the wooded drive, where I had been taken to Arcadia as a boy, and stared at the devastation. My family, their home, and all their possessions were gone. All that was left was crumbling stone around the crater from the Hungarian artillery used to attack the area. When I asked the few local people about them, they could only say that they were happy. They apparently never realized I was gone and were happy without me. Whatever remaining shred of the boy I was, died that night. I decided that Dacian Umbră would take what he needed and make his own way in the world.

                        I began travelling and learning as much as I could about everything. America is a very odd place. I was called Russian, Arabian, even German. Many times I was asked if I came with the circus. It was very strange. I returned to Europe and toured the West a bit, before working with the Courts. My skills interested the Autumn Court, but ultimately I chose the Spring Court. After all, it was my lust for life that allowed me to find my way back in the first place. Though I made myself useful to the Autumn Court as they could help me learn many things of which I had never dreamed. Once I made a name for myself with the Lost, I began focusing on stealing magic items, usually for others, as the pay was rather nice.

                        --

                        Session two journals in a week. Currently have one from Lizette and Tatiana, I know a Marek one at least is in progress. See you then.


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                        • #13
                          A question if you don't mind:
                          While it seems a sure thing that the werewolf book would have more information on spirits than GMC, does it have more information on the Claimed?

                          Also, how would a claimed play as compared to a full template supernatural? I haven't asked this kind of thing before have I?

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                          • #14
                            It does have more information on the Claimed, from a Werewolf perspective.

                            Since their powers are broken down into Dread Powers, the short answer is not as well. I would not absolutely disallow them, but would be disinclined to allow them.


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

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                            • #15
                              Thanks

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