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Changeling: Malibu Dream House (Actual Play)

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  • The Motley goes exploring an Abandoned Sanatorium outside Santa Barbra. I am sure it will be quiet and nothing exciting will happen.

    Session CXXXIX

    Lorelei’s Diary

    That was terrifying… one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I’m not sure if it was intrinsically more frightening than the Bulgarian facility, but due to… certain circumstances, that place had me far closer to the edge of terror than I’ve been since… well, since we went back to Arcadia, I guess.

    So following my last entry, the nine of us got dressed and packed for urban exploring and piled into the van together. It was me, Maria, Marguerite, Julia, Calamity, Jacob, Luna, Becky, and Stasia (who Calamity insisted must come along, and who frankly would have just followed us on her own anyway if we’d tried to make her stay behind). The ride out there took almost two hours, most of it spent driving along the Pacific Coast Highway. Calamity and I swapped stories about racing along that street (though in my case it was more of a high-speed chase than a race), and I spent a lot of the trip singing along with the radio. I even got to do that thing where we went into a tunnel and lost the radio station for a minute, and I kept pace with the song so that we were still synced up when we exited the tunnel.

    It was edging on toward late afternoon when we arrived on the outskirts of Santa Barbara. We were not in the city itself, and as such we did not experience any supernatural feelings of being watched or anything like that… but the place was creepy enough without any help. We parked around the back of the building, on the opposite side from the security guard’s post. The whole complex was surrounded by a high chain link fence, but it was obvious that the guards weren’t the most vigilant of sentries.

    Most of my companions clambered over the fence without much trouble, though Luna and I opted to fly over instead. I also took pity on Julia. She’s never been the most athletic of ladies, and even though she’d consented to wear pants on this expedition instead of one of her typical long skirts I could tell that the fence was going to give her trouble. So I carried her over in my arms. As we began to descend, I thought I heard her whisper “can you read my mind?” Not sure what that was about.

    We circled carefully around the outside of the building, scoping out the possible points of ingress. One window was open, and a power cord dangled out of it, though none of us were particularly optimistic about it supporting our weight. I flew up to scope things out, and found that the cord was attached to a surge protector, which in turn was connected to an old-model television (though none of this was actually connected to any power source that I could see). The room also contained a bed with associated linens… and the bed was made. The room looked like it had seen recent use.

    We opted to enter at a different window; one that overlooked a large storage bin (there were no windows on the ground floor, which I suppose makes sense for an asylum). It wasn’t difficult to climb on top of the bin, climb up a short distance along the wall (a single foothold had been helpfully gouged out of the masonry) and slip in through an open second-story window. Of course, once again Luna and I just flew up there as per usual and slipped in behind the rest of the party.

    Here’s where things start getting a little weird. So as soon as we were all in the room, we started noticing things flickering and flashing on the edges of our peripheral vision. It was distracting, and the temptation to try to track the movement was insidious. Several of us (namely myself, Calamity, and Jacob) gave in to the temptation and turned toward the strange will-o-the-wisp lights.

    We immediately found ourselves in the same hospital, and yet not the same. It was lit, and inhabited, and clearly still in operation. Though we could see and communicate with each other, there was no sign of our other friends. A nurse approached us, told us that visiting hours were over, and asked to see our visitor’s badges, but I managed to talk her down, and she walked away pushing an orderly’s cart as she went.

    It soon became clear to us that we were still physically in the abandoned asylum; we could feel gentle taps and tugs on our clothing as our friends tried to communicate with us. Eventually I realized that someone was using Morse code and started jotting down a series of dots and dashes. Calamity remembered how to translate it… well, she remembered enough in any case; she and Stasia had learned it as kids so they could communicate in secret. She translated a brief message communicating our friends’ anxiety about our state. They could hear us when we spoke, but stated that we were for the most part just standing around gazing blankly at whatever was in front of us.

    After a few minutes of this Calamity suggested that we try using meditation techniques to focus our perception on reality. It wasn’t easy; that hallucination was pretty damned persistent, but after a few moments of closing my eyes and regulating my breathing I found myself back with my friends in the present. Most of them expressed relief that we had returned to them. After a moment I noticed that Julia was holding Maria’s wrist. My wife was silent and subdued, but gave my hand a squeeze when we returned to ourselves. She was obviously reverting at least a little bit, but her pupils hadn’t dilated, she wasn’t skulking in the shadows, and she didn’t try to shy away from me. Maria had come to the surface, but D was still there. And I smiled, kissed her, and let her know that I loved both aspects of her.

    Once we’d regrouped we decided to head for the stairs and make our way down to the ground floor. We passed an orderly’s cart as we approached the stairs… and it was moving back and forth with the wind, mimicking the motions of the cart in our shared hallucination. The sparks and flashes on the edges of our vision intensified as we entered the lobby, and those among us who had not already succumbed to the otherworldly visions found themselves driven to distraction by the visual pyrotechnics. Calamity suggested that they try a few meditation techniques, and that seemed to reduce their irritation to manageable levels.

    Unfortunately we weren’t given a lot of time to look around. There was an unearthly scream, and Calamity – who had used her contract to be able to see and hear ghosts, and had inadvertently included Stasia in the effect – told us that a spectral girl rushed past us and fled up the stairs. Reevaluating our strategy, we decided to pursue her upstairs and see if we could learn anything from her.

    Luna had brought a walkie-talkie, and managed to find the frequency used by the security guards. The guard on duty noted the disturbance in the asylum, but apparently strange sights and sounds aren’t unusual in that building, and he indicated that he wasn’t going to enter the building to investigate it.

    We followed the sound of the ghost girl’s yells until we found her, though only Stasia and Calamity could actually see her. With a bit of patience and an effort to reassure the ghost girl that we meant her no harm we were able to glean a bit more about the asylum itself and its tragic history. She said that her name was Holly, and that she had been committed to the hospital while she was still alive. Her information was incomplete (and possibly not terribly reliable), but it was still more than we’d had before we spoke with her.

    Holly told us that there were bad things on “the lower levels,” implying that there was more than one basement or sub-basement. She also told us that “something bad” had happened upstairs, on either the third floor or in the attic. She didn’t know exactly what this “something bad” was, but she told us that it had something to do with a woman who had magma for eyes. Her description of this woman bore a striking resemblance to the strange thin woman we’d seen on Stasia’s video footage. Holly offered the opinion that whatever the “something bad” was, it was what was keeping her spirit tied to the hospital. She was unable to do anything about it herself, however. Most of us took pity on the poor girl, and we unanimously decided to head upstairs to see if we could do anything to help her find the rest she’s earned.

    Holly either wouldn’t or couldn’t join us upstairs, but told us that whatever “something bad” had happened up there had happened in a secret chamber of some sort. Stasia looked at the maps she’d brought along and found two possible locations for such a chamber. We found a door into the first space in the back of a closet. The room inside didn’t tell us much; everything inside it had been burned to a charred, blackened mess. Though we have no way to be certain, it seemed likely that someone had set the fire specifically to conceal evidence of some past misdeeds.

    The second secret room provided a bit more fuel for our speculation. We found the remains of a young man… presumably the urban explorer who had been lost in the hospital, as the body was only a year or two old. He looked like he had hanged himself, though he may have had help with that. Though I found no evidence of defensive wounds on the body, it was obvious that his hands had been bound at the time of death.

    The ceiling of this room had partially collapsed, allowing access to the attic space above. Maria became very agitated as we entered this room, and began gently trying to pull away from me… not like she was attempting to escape my grasp, but more like she had spotted something and was eager to investigate it. “Maria,” I said softly, and she turned to regard me seriously. “I’m going to let you go, because I trust your instincts in this place. But please don’t go far… I need you. Okay?”

    She nodded. I released her hand, and she scampered up into the attic. The rest of us followed. We found the remnants of a large ritual circle up there along with several more bodies, though these had obviously been dead for much longer. We also found a large number of bullet holes in the walls of the chamber, implying that those bodies had died through violence rather than as part of some magical ritual. While we were looking around, Maria found the source of her agitation, and tackled someone that the rest of us could not see.

    Our unseen observer turned out to be one Cara, a vampire who believed that she was a mouse. Once we’d convinced her that we did not mean her any harm, she was friendly enough. She was able to fill in a few of the blanks about what had happened back in the 70s and 80s. She remembered the “bad people” doing a ritual back then, and whatever they did was indeed responsible for converting the area’s kindred to that strange hive-mind cult. She was not affected by the ritual because the hospital itself was apparently warded against supernatural influences of that sort. As she had only left the hospital for brief feeding periods in all of the intervening time, she wasn’t certain what had happened to the area since… though she speculated that something had gone wrong with the ritual, as the original perpetrators no longer seemed to be around.

    When we asked about the woman with the magma eyes, Cara confirmed that she had been a part of the rituals in the hospital, though she had never perceived the woman to have lava for eyes. She also confirmed that the basement levels were incredibly dangerous, though she expressed those dangers in terms of “cats.” But she told us that not everything in the basement was dangerous... apparently the Crawler – which she called “Nathan” – is merely mischievous and likes scaring people. She also mentioned a friend named Dave, who is apparently a cockroach. I asked if he was a real cockroach or a metaphorical one, but she didn’t seem to understand the question.

    So while we were questioning Cara, a few of us detected the sound of someone coming up the stairs. I kept Maria with me while Marguerite went to check the noise out. A few moments later I caught sight of Marguerite’s arm beckoning me from around the corner. My heart dropped like a stone, but of course I headed for the stairwell like a shot. I had a horrible feeling that I knew what I would find there.

    “Dad?” I asked incredulously. Sure enough, there he was, wearing his cassock-and-body-armor ensemble, wielding a shotgun with a flashlight taped to the barrel.

    “Hello, Juliette,” he said with a slight smile.

    “What the f…” I began, then had the presence of mind to self-censor. “What are you doing here?”

    “Come now, Juliette,” he said with maddening calm, “surely you did not expect me to sit at home and do nothing when I knew you were venturing into a dangerous supernatural hotspot such as this?”

    “Uh, yeah,” I said, inexplicably fifteen again. “Kinda did, Dad. I’m a grown woman; protecting me isn’t your job anymore. Technically it’s Becky’s, and she’s here doing that job. You… don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re not a young man anymore, and I can’t lose you… not again.”

    “I might say the same thing about you, Juliette,” he replied softly. “And besides, I am your father. It will always be my job to protect you.” He turned and began walking down the hallway with the air of someone who had concluded his conversation beyond the shadow of a doubt. I had no choice but to follow him. I honestly did not know that he still had the capacity to infuriate me like that. It reminded me of my teenage years in Defiance… which was paradoxically kind of nice.

    In any case, back with Cara the others had managed to put together a few more things. The warding spell that protected the asylum from whatever the big ritual was had required a human sacrifice, and based on what Cara told us about the process it seemed logical to assume that Holly had been that sacrifice. She was bound to the premises by the magic, and Julia thought that if we managed to free her spirit the protection spell would fail.

    That being the case… we offered to take Cara with us when we left. It seemed like the only decent thing to do. The poor girl has been relying upon the protection offered by the spell for more than thirty years, and her isolation has clearly taken its toll upon her (well… maybe… we don’t actually know how crazy she was before the isolation). We discussed a few options, including using Dad’s contacts to find her a new safe haven and handing her over to our kindred contacts in L.A. Pretty much anything would be better than leaving her there.

    So there was nothing for it after that but to venture down into the basement at last. It was pitch black down there, and most of us opted to wear glow-sticks around our necks so that we could find each other easily if we got incapacitated and separated (Marguerite demurred, and as she was our forward scout and stealth expert, it was hard to argue with her reasoning on that point). It wasn’t hard to find the records room… but I don’t think any of us had fully appreciated the difficulty of the task set before us until we saw it for ourselves. The room was a shambles, with papers strewn all over the floor with no rhyme or reason to their location.

    We were in that room for several hours total. After about an hour I’d managed to locate Holly’s file, and Jacob had found Cara’s. Both suffered from some form of paranoid delusions according to the attending psychiatrists, though we posited that in Holly’s case it was possible that she was actually seeing supernatural creatures that others simply couldn’t recognize. The file also recorded the fact that she’d had a child while in the asylum and recorded the details of the girl’s later adoption. Dad posited that reuniting Holly with her lost daughter might help to resolve whatever issues are binding her spirit to the mortal plane, so we kept the file for later reference.

    It took more than an hour more to sort the pile of files by date of admission, but we eventually managed to find what we had originally come for… a week in early 1979 in which almost a dozen new patients were admitted with similar symptoms, diagnosed for the most part as schizophrenia. Their files had addresses and the details of the incidents which led to them being committed, so we have a few more avenues of investigation open to us now. Hopefully this will help us track down some residue or remnant of the ritual that caused all of this madness.

    The whole time that we were going through the files nothing happened… but as we were making our way back to the stairs, Maria became very agitated. She took hold of my arm and started pulling me urgently toward the stairs… not like she was trying to get away from me, but more like she really wanted me to get out of that basement as quickly as possible. After a few seconds of this we heard a rushing sound, which got louder and louder as whatever it was approached us. Finally the rushing resolved into a series of overlapping babbling voices. Only Calamity and Stasia could see the creature due to her earlier use of contracts… and I’m not sorry about that even a little bit. Calamity described it as a sort of conglomeration of spirits bound together by unearthly forces… but spared us any further details. Since we already had what we had come for we fled before it and retreated back up the stairs.

    So all that was left after that was to gather up Cara and head out of the facility. Before we left, Dad had Calamity use her contracts again so that he could speak directly with Holly. He promised to do what he could for the poor girl, and begged her to be patient for a few more days while he looked into the matter. A short climb down from the second story later and we were ready to depart.

    Maria and I opted to ride back to the Dream House in Dad’s car, partly so that Cara wouldn’t be too crowded in the van but mostly so that we’d have the chance to talk. And as we got further and further from Santa Barbara, two things happened.

    First, Maria came back to herself and became more talkative. I think this little excursion was good for the two of us. I think she was able to get in touch with the dark parts of herself that she keeps hidden from the world, and she realized that those parts have their place within her. She used the gifts the Hospital had given her to keep us safe and to help us reach our goals. And this time I wasn’t afraid of her… and I wasn’t even afraid for her. I was glad when she started talking to me again… but I never doubted that she would even for a second.

    Second, my irritation at Dad faded as we got further from the danger that the asylum represented. I started to really think about what he had done and why he had done it, and I found it hard to stay mad at him. I mean… my Dad cares enough about me to put himself in that sort of a situation just to make sure that I’m safe. And while I’d still prefer that he not place himself in jeopardy on my account… I’d do exactly the same thing for him, and it’s heartwarming to realize that we have that sort of relationship.

    So as we sped along the dark Pacific Coast Highway getting closer to home, I gently pulled away from my wife’s arms, leaned forward, and placed a hand on Dad’s shoulder. “Dad?” I said quietly.

    “Yes, Juliette?” he responded, sounding tired but resolute.

    “Thanks for looking out for me,” I said, giving his shoulder a squeeze. “I may not approve of you taking on risks like this, but… thanks. I love you.”

    “I love you too, Juliette,” he replied, reaching back with his own hand and giving mine a pat. I leaned back after a moment and allowed a smiling Maria to kiss my happy tears away.

    And honestly, I can’t think of anything else that needs to be said.

    Lorelei de la Rocha


    Jacob’s Journal

    Well today was one hell of a day as it turns out. We went to the abandoned hospital to explore. It was me, Luna, Lori, De la Rocha, Insincere Marguerite, Julia, Calamity, Becky and Stasia. We all piled into the van and headed out. Before that though we packed for the upcoming adventure. We made sure to pack flashlights, glowsticks, chalk and markers, rope and water. Marguerite also brought along a mirror big enough for each of us to climb through should the need arise. Thankfully it didn’t, but it was a near thing.

    So, we got to the hospital and parked around back, opposite of where the security guard was stationed. We then looked for a way in. In the process we found an outdoor extension cord hanging out of an open window. Lori flew up to find out what was up and discovered that the power cord was plugged into a power strip and a television. The end on the ground wasn’t plugged into anything so I’m not sure where or if the person that was staying there got power. Yeah, there was someone staying in the room. There was a bed all made up and the place was relatively clean. Lori flew back down. We couldn’t go in that way, so we found another way in through a second story window. We climbed up on an adjacent shed to get in. It looked like others had used the same entrance over the years, so we followed suit. Once inside we noticed that there was a sort of light just at the edges of our vision. Everyone saw this except Stasia so we figured it was a Changeling thing. We also heard wheels moving down the hall outside the room we found ourselves in. At the same time Calamity, Lori and I gave into temptation and concentrated on the light. We then found ourselves in a well-lit, clean and in use hospital. There was a nurse in front of us asking for our visitor passes. It was as if we’d been transported back in time. I let Lori and Calamity do the talking. If we had actually found ourselves in the 1980’s it would not look good for one of our number to be speaking with a Russian accent. Calamity eventually convinced the nurse that we were with the government and she left us alone.

    Not long after that Lori said that she felt someone gently pulling on her hair and we figured it was probably the others trying to get our attention. This put to rest the idea that we’d actually been transported in time. Lori noticed that there were taps coming in patterns and figured out that it was Morse code. Stasia and Calamity apparently knew Morse code when they were younger. We translated most of the message and discovered that we hadn’t gone anywhere. They said that we were just standing around, though they could hear us when we talked. Calamity suggested that we all meditate to bring ourselves back to reality, and a few minutes later we had all centered ourselves enough to do just that. We investigated the sound that we’d heard from the hallway and discovered that there was a cart moving of its own accord back and forth in the hall. Stasia insisted that it was the wind, but we had seen the nurse also pushing a cart. Calamity then decided to see if there was a ghost pushing it and activated her ghost sight. She accidentally included Stasia in the power and neither of them saw anything pushing the cart. So, apparently it was just the wind. How mundane.

    Just to be complete we checked the room that had the power cord coming out of it and found just what Lori had seen. A relatively clean room with a made-up bed and a TV. We continued down to the first floor and were in the process of looking for a way down to the basement to find the records when Calamity opened a door and a screaming female ghost literally ran through her and up the stairs. We all heard the screaming, but only Calamity and Stasia had seen the ghost. And as it turned out Luna had found the guard’s frequency on her walkie-talkie and had tuned to it to listen in on their conversations. Apparently, the guard had heard the screaming too and was letting someone know that the strange stuff that didn’t happen was happening again. So, it seems that the lady ghost had a habit of screaming and it wasn’t just our presence that caused the disturbance. Good to know.

    We briefly investigated the front desk but didn’t find much that was useful. While we were there Julia suggested that some of us, or at least she, let herself give in to the strange light we all kept seeing at the corners of our vision to see what we could find out from the past. The rest of us, mostly me, Calamity and Lori all said that it might be a bad idea to try and go there again. It might be too hard to get back from. The light was getting more annoying for some, so they tried the meditation exercises that Calamity had shown us and they said that the light retreated a little bit. So that was good. After that Calamity said that she wanted to go upstairs and talk to the ghost. So, she and Stasia made their way upstairs. The rest of us followed a moment later. De la Rocha was quiet like she seems to get in institutional situations, but she held Lori’s wrist and followed where her wife led. A short while later Calamity found the ghost and got some answers. We ended up with more questions but we did find some stuff out. We got her name, Holly, and that she’d been in the hospital for a while before she died. She did not remember what caused her death. In fact she had a lot of gaps in her memory. She did remember a very tall, thin woman that would come to the hospital, but she was not a nurse or doctor. She wore civilian clothes. The distinct thing about her from Holly’s perspective was her eyes. The ghost said that the woman’s eyes looked like they were full of lava. We weren’t sure exactly what was going on with that, but it seemed to us that the ghost might have in life seen supernatural individuals as they actually are. We found evidence later in her file that corroborated that, but I’ll get to that in a bit. First thing’s first. We asked Holly about the rest of the hospital and she said that there was something in the basement but it wasn’t a ghost. She did say that it could hide. All she would say about the upstairs was that it was bad. Bad things happened up there. We mentioned the ritual and she said that she knew that a ritual of some kind had taken place up there but didn’t know specifics.

    After that we checked Stasia’s map of the place and went upstairs. Insincere Marguerite managed to find a very well hidden door in the back of a closet. It led to a very small room that showed evidence of having contained a fire at some point. There were burn marks on the floor and walls and it looks like some furniture and books were burned in the middle of the floor. From what was left of the pages it seems like it could have been handwritten journals. We couldn’t really make anything more out about them. That discovery prompted us to look at the room’s mirror image on the other side of the hall. There’s something to be said about symmetrical architecture. Anyway, we found another hidden door in the back of another closet. This one also led to a small room, but this one was not empty. It contained the body of a young man. It appeared to be the young man that went missing and was never found a year or so ago. He was lying on the floor but there was evidence that he’d been hanged. A rope was around his neck. A chair had been kicked across the floor, and part of a rope hung from the rafters. The thing that was odd about the scene was the fact that his hands were tied behind his back. Lori took a closer look and couldn’t find any signs of a struggle, so if he was hanged by someone else then they didn’t leave a mark. It could be that the teen stood on a chair with a rope around his neck and intentionally tied his own hands behind his back so he couldn’t save himself if he changed his mind mid-hanging. Unless we find his ghost however that is likely to be a mystery that we won’t be able to solve.

    We did see that some of the ceiling tiles had been disturbed in the small room so Insincere Marguerite went up to take a look, since she can see in the dark. As she was doing so De la Rocha was kind of freaking out. She really wanted us to follow her. Marguerite came down a minute later with news that there were several bodies up there but they had been dead longer than the young man. They were mostly skeletonized. De la Rocha climbed up through the ceiling and pretty soon we all followed suit. We found eight skeletons in the attic and bullet holes in the walls. We did not find any guns so it was not likely a suicide pact. Whoever did the killing, or at least some of it, survived and took all the guns with them. While we were looking at the bodies De la Rocha was following something in the attic. We didn’t see anything, but in this particular situation we figured that she was on to something. Her durance molded her into a consummate hunter, and now she was stalking something. Suddenly she pounced and whoever she’d tackled let out a cry and became visible. Lori kenned the woman and found out that she is a vampire. We knew that they could turn invisible, but we hadn’t figured that there would be any vampires living in an abandoned hospital. She is tall and gaunt and has no hair. She is also not the prettiest woman out there, but I believe there are extenuating circumstances at work here. She said that her name was Cara and that she’d been a patient at this hospital long before she had been turned, and long before it had been shut down. She kept referring to herself as a mouse. She also confirmed that the made-up room downstairs was hers.

    Cara also mentioned that whenever she leaves the hospital to go into town the other vampires in the city try to kill her. She is not affected by whatever caused them all to go crazy and join that cult and they seem to want to kill her because she won’t submit. She always runs back to the hospital and they chase her until she crosses the fence. They won’t follow her that far. They won’t cross the fence. We’re not sure why but we surmised that it was because there was some sort of protection that had been put up around this place. Cara said that there had been some ritual done in town and then those same people took over the hospital. She said that they were in conflict with another group, and eventually it seems like the other group won. If the bodies upstairs are any indication anyway. I think there was a second ritual here that might have been putting up some sort of protection from the town. Not that it did much good in the long run.

    We also asked about the crawler in the basement and she said that it was actually a “he” and that he was a nice guy. His name is Nathan. He creeps around in the dark lower levels and tries to scare anyone that he sees go down there away. Cara said that there were bad things in the basement. That there were cats in the basement. And given that she keeps likening herself to a mouse, we figured cat equaled something dangerous. We also asked Cara if she knew Holly. Cara asked if we meant Holly Dare, and we assumed we did. We didn’t know Holly’s last name. I don’t even think Holly knows her last name. Cara said that the bad people killed Holly to power their sacrifice. She also said that Holly had been able to tell that she was a vampire. She had apparently seen something off about the people that came to the hospital and kept telling the doctors that something was wrong, but they couldn’t see it. The other people decided to do something about the problem that was Holly and they killed her in a ritual. Still not exactly sure what the ritual did and if there was more than one that happened. Holly did not look like the woman from the video tape, so there must have been more than one woman killed to power a spell of some sort. Half of me understands using the inconvenient problem people to solve another problem, but the other half of me balks at the needless death. I used to kill people frequently in my line of work. You’d think I’d be less affected by it, but maybe the fact that I am bothered by it is a good thing. Maybe it means I’m thawing out from who I was when I served The Lady?

    At that point I heard someone or something coming up the stairs, so Marguerite went to check it out. She came back a moment later with Lori’s father in tow. It turns out that the good Reverend knew that his daughter was coming here and decided that she shouldn’t investigate such a dangerous place by herself. We assured him that his daughter was fine in our company but he elected to stay anyway so we caught him up on what we had discovered so far. This included Cara and Holly. The Reverend Wells elected to talk to Holly to see if there was anything he could do to help her move on. But more on that later. After catching him up on our activities so far we decided to go to the basement as per our original plan. Because there were no windows down there it was very dark and we took precautions. We all carried our flashlights and wore glowsticks around our necks or on our belts so others could easily see where we were. The exception to that was Insincere Marguerite. She elected to not wear a glowstick since she was our literally invisible eyes and ears. Cara stayed on the lit floors waiting for us to return. She refused to go to the dark lower levels due to the “cats.” We also promised to take her with us when we left so she wouldn’t be here alone and starving in the hospital.

    We found the file room in short order and started looking for files on Molly Dare to start with. We found her records and discovered that she’d been in the hospital for several years before supposedly attacking a guard and being killed in the fight. She had supposedly been delusional and was considered borderline psychotic. It is likely that she was just seeing supernatural people for who and what they were and others thought she was crazy for it. The fight in question took place in 1984, right around the time the hospital was closed down for good. It also turns out that she had a child some three years after getting here. The child was adopted by a family in L.A. and given the name Molly Hart.

    We also found records for Cara Teague, who had been in the hospital since she was eleven years old. She came from a troubled home and honestly seemed to think that she was a mouse. This delusion has continued over the years. She was considered a well-behaved patient though she kept finding ways to get out of her cell and wander the halls. This was apparently not allowed. I assume that she lived up to the animal that she thinks she is and slipped out of her room to do what she wanted to. She seems the curious if a bit cautious type to me. The only thing she did when we showed up was try to hide and I can’t fault her for that. People in this place have not been exactly nice all around.

    After looking for a while longer we found records from around the time that we were looking for. We found eleven new patients all admitted within the same week. All with psychotic breaks, and all from the downtown area at the time of their break. They were all also talking about the same things. The ocean, waves, and the full moon. We’re not sure what this means but we think that it might have to do with a possible ritual that was performed downtown, or near enough. We decided to take the files for the staff that worked in the hospital at this time as well as the eleven folks that had been admitted within a week of one another. We also discovered that the Chaplain from this place killed himself in 1987. Interesting if you ask me. Perhaps he felt guilty for what happened there? We’ll never know.

    At that point De la Rocha was desperately pulling on Lori’s arm trying to get her to go back upstairs. It took us all a minute to respond. Eventually we all started hearing something coming down the hallway. It sounded like whispering and it was getting louder and louder. I will admit that I was getting a bit freaked out. Calamity I think saw something and she stood transfixed by the sight. I pulled on her arm and got her to move and follow us out of the basement. She later said that she saw a group of ghosts that seemed to be fused together and coming down the hall towards us. We all scrambled up the stairs and out of its reach. Revered Wells helped Calamity compose herself and we all made our way back up. The Reverend Wells wanted to talk to Holly one last time before we left. He was able to determine that if he was able to talk to Holly’s child and possibly get the two together it might be possible to resolve Holly’s ties to this world and she could finally pass on. It’s definitely something worth looking into. After that we made our way to our cars back out the way that we’d all come in. Lori and De la Rocha all rode with the Revered, while the rest of us, including Cara, went back to the Dream House in the van. We had promised that we wouldn’t leave her behind and we didn’t.

    End Session CXXXIX

    Fun fact: We figured out Insincere Marguerite had enough Willpower to get everyone out via Contracts of Reflections…but only if she spent absolutely no Willpower at all. Fun!

    So I anticipated a lot more transition between the two versions of the hospital. It’s fine the PCs stayed in their lane, understandable and frankly safer. But they explored the real (?) version of the hospital and just got clues from there. Which…was a lot. Because they will certainly be back in the hospital (though may or may not visit the other hospital) I don’t want to give away precisely what it is. Yet. There is much left to find.

    Cara is obviously a Nosferatu. She is not associated with any Covenant or Bloodline.

    But those answers come later. Comments and Questions welcome.


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    • Upon returning from the Sanitarium, the PCs find the world did not stop without them

      Session CXL

      Lorelei’s Diary

      If it’s not one thing, it’s another. While for the most part the last day or so has been pretty tame compared to other recent events, it definitely feels like we’re building to something. At least my motley’s not smack in the middle of the new crisis that seems to be building in the Freehold… though of course we’ve still got our hands full with the Santa Barbara situation.

      So we got back Thursday night about an hour before the show ended. We’d all stopped at a McDonald’s on the way back so that Calamity could pick up enough Big Macs to feed a boy scout troop, so that she could replenish her reserves after letting Cara feed on her blood. It was a light crowd; White Maria was really the only changeling there, and Kimberly had posted online and at the entrance that I’d be out, so a lot of our mortal regulars chose to stay home. Which is honestly too bad for them, since Missy and Jane were headlining, and as always they were spectacular!

      Dad left us with handshakes and hugs (for me and Maria and Marguerite and Julia), stating that it was late and that he needed his sleep if he was going to begin his search for Molly Hart (the ghost Holly’s daughter) the next day. Kimberly met us as we entered and caught us up on a bit of gossip… apparently there had been several sightings of a sea serpent in the ocean nearby. Rowan and Neon spotted it first off the coast of Venice Beach and reported it to John, but a few others (including Veronica) had also reported seeing it… some of them much closer to home.

      Calamity got Cara situated in the basement and made sure she had some fresh clean clothes from our wardrobe. Since she had recently fed, she felt no compulsion to join the company in the theater, and we were able to secret her away to avoid potential complications. Calamity contacted Viktor in L.A., and he told her he’d drop by the following evening to take her under his wing.

      I settled in with my girls – including Missy and Jane – and we started chatting about this and that. At one point Jane joked that if she was ever strapped for cash, she and Missy could take up a life of crime, as her fetch’s history indicated that she’d have an aptitude for it. I felt compelled to point out how that story had ended, and Jane expressed regret that she couldn’t find out more about how it had all happened, and what was going through her fetch’s mind.

      I knew I couldn’t justify putting it off any longer; Jane had more than proven herself over the past few weeks. She and Missy have both come so far… even though I know that they’re not completely comfortable in this modern world of ours, I’m no longer afraid that they’ll run back to Arcadia. “Jane,” I said softly, “can I talk to you for a minute?”

      She looked a little confused, but nodded. “Sure Jules,” she said as she rose. “What’s up?”

      Missy got up to join us, but I put a hand softly on her shoulder. “Sorry Missy,” I said, “but this is something I need to tell Jane alone. Okay?” Though she looked a little troubled by the situation, she agreed that would be okay.

      A minute later I closed the door to my bedroom behind us. “I have to show you something, Jane,” I said when she looked at me quizzically. “It’s something I’ve had for a while now, but I… didn’t think you were ready to see it. But I don’t have the right to keep it from you any longer.” I rooted around in one of my desk drawers until I found the folded photocopies Dad had given me after we got back from Arcadia. “This is a letter your fetch wrote, just before the end,” I said, handing the papers to her.

      She spent a few minutes reading the letters, and her expression was hard to interpret. “I could have written this,” she said at last. “I mean, I know I didn’t but… it sounds just like something I would have written. She was so much like me. I… I feel sorry for her. I wish we could have merged, like Trinh’s trying to do…”

      I sat down next to her and put an arm around her shoulders, deftly avoiding her wings with practiced ease. “You okay, Jane?” I asked.

      She nodded. “I’ll be fine, Jules,” she said, though her voice was still a little distant. “I just… I need a little time to process this. Can I be alone for a few minutes?”

      “Of course,” I said. “I’ll head back downstairs and let the others know that you need some time. If you’re not back with us by the time we come up, I’ll steer the group toward the Oldacres’ room and you can meet us there when you’re ready.”

      “Thanks,” she said. “Tell Missy that I’m okay, and I’ll see her soon. She’ll worry otherwise, but she trusts you… we both do.”

      It went down pretty much like that, actually. I headed back downstairs, reassured Missy that Jane would be back in her arms shortly, and rejoined a spirited debate between Julia and Maria regarding pants vs. skirts. Julia had changed back into one of her customary skirts as soon as we got back home, whereas D was extolling the many virtues of trousers so far as utility and durability go. Julia maintained that skirts and dresses were preferable, going so far as to hail them as proof of the female gender’s superiority. “Girls can wear pants and nobody thinks it’s strange,” she explained, “but if boys wear dresses they get made fun of, because they’re acting above their station.”

      I dunno about that… I can see advantages to both sets of garments, personally. But I did see a way to turn the conversation to my advantage. “You don’t like me in these pants?” I pouted to Julia, standing up to display my tight leather pants – and the ass they contained – to the best effect.

      Julia backpedaled like a shot. “I didn’t say that,” she said, “they look amazing on you…”

      I grinned to show I was teasing her. “They are pretty hot,” I continued, “but they’re really hard to get on… and off. I might need a few people to help me…”

      Thus our time in the theater ended, and the five of us headed up to Marguerite and Julia’s room, where wanton carnality ensued. Jane did join us a little later, and seemed no worse for wear, though she was maybe a little uncharacteristically pensive. She privately thanked me for sharing the letter with her when circumstances allowed, but also confided that she didn’t think Missy was quite ready to read it yet.

      I’ve been thinking about those two a lot lately, and how they fit into this crazy family I’ve formed with my Maria and the Oldacres. I know that Marguerite and Julia are very fond of my best friends, and I know that Maria has grown very fond of them as well. So last night I was looking at the group of them and trying to assess whether it might be possible to add Missy and Jane to our pledge. I… don’t think we’re quite there yet. Obviously I’d be willing to do so, and I think Missy and Jane would do it if it was just me, but the others don’t know them well enough yet.

      There’s clearly a bit of a romantic spark between Missy and Julia. That’s probably the strongest connection I see between my best friends and the rest of my family. It’s not strong enough to make Jane jealous, but it’s obvious that the two of them get along really well. Conversely – and kind of surprisingly considering the rocky start they got – Jane and Maria are becoming pretty good friends, and I think there’s something of a spark there as well.

      Maybe with time these friendships and crushes will develop into something more. Maybe eventually we can all be a family. Until then, I’ll take what I can get.

      I got up early the next morning as per usual and tried not to disturb the others as I prepared for my online classes. I must have made some noise, though, because Calamity heard me from the hallway as she passed on her way out to White Maria’s house for meditation. She tapped lightly on the door and called out “Candygram” as I moved to answer it, referencing that old Saturday Night Live skit about the land shark. I guess she thought it was topical, considering the sea monster and all… at the time I was just glad that it was a reference I could understand.

      D was not so accommodating. “You’re a fucking riot, Calamity,” she muttered from the bed, “now get the hell out and let us sleep.” I gave my wife a gentle kiss on the lips to pacify her, whispered that I’d see her at breakfast, and made my way to the media room.

      Classes were okay for the most part. My biggest challenge remains Calculus, and… fuck Calculus. Just fuck it. I mean, I’m going to give it my all to try to maintain a good GPA, but I’m only taking that stupid class for a general education math requirement in the first place. I know that it’s important for doctors to have a good grounding in a lot of different disciplines, and to develop their problem solving skills with a variety of challenges, but… fuck Calculus. It’s a stupid subject, and it’s evil, and it should feel bad about itself for the pain that it has wrought upon the world. Newton and Leibnitz can collectively kiss my shapely ass.

      I was nearly finished with my classes when my phone rang. I was going to ignore it, but the caller ID told me that it was John calling. Not wanting to put off what might be an important message from the sitting monarch, I paused my lecture and answered his call. “Good morning, John,” I said brightly as we connected.

      “Good morning Lorelei,” he replied. “It’s nice to finally be the one calling you with ‘interesting’ news.”

      I chuckled at that. “Does this have anything to do with the sea serpent Dark Kimberly was talking about last night?” I asked.

      “It does,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be too much of a problem… my information indicates that it’s staying out of the harbor and keeping its distance from ships for the most part. How much do you know already?”

      “Kimberly just said that Neon and Rowan spotted it while they were out on Rowan’s boat the other day, and that Veronica saw it following them back to their dock from a distance,” I told him.

      “Yes, well… I’m not sure how reliable Veronica’s testimony is,” he said mysteriously. “She’s the only person who claims to have seen the beast in the harbor. Everything else I know indicates that the creature has stayed pretty far out to sea and avoided shipping lanes fastidiously.”

      That was a little troubling, and I didn’t mind saying so. “Seems like a strange thing to lie about,” I said, letting a hint of disapproval creep into my tone.

      “I agree,” John said, trying to mollify me, “and for what it’s worth I don’t think she means the Freehold any harm. I think she just wanted to make sure that we were aware of the creature’s presence. Still, she’s hiding something… I’d stake my reputation on it. Be careful around her, Lorelei.” He adopted an almost fatherly tone of concern for this last bit of advice, which I’m sure was calculated to capitalize on my feelings for my own dad. It worked.

      We concluded our conversation a few minutes later. John’s official position for now is to do nothing, but he’s exploring other options in case Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent becomes a problem. The Summer Court wants to send a bunch of fighters out there to take care of the problem permanently, but John doesn’t think that will be necessary. I asked if it might be possible to either drive or lure the serpent back into the Hedge through the underwater gate we know is out there, and John said he’d look into the possibilities. He did say that if we needed to act he’d probably want to consult with Jolie about the best way to proceed (I think he wanted me to know so that I wouldn’t think he was side-stepping my authority or anything). I told him I’d give her a heads-up on the situation so she’d be expecting his call.

      Jolie seems to be doing well. She was vaguely familiar with the Cecil situation already, and was more than willing to offer her expertise as a water fae to the Freehold if it becomes necessary. She told me that she’d head out to the open ocean to assess the situation if John wanted her to, but that she’d want some protection if she did. I promised to pass on her offer and her condition the next time I spoke with John. She also told me that she would probably be the best person to use as ‘bait’ if we decided to try to lure Cecil back into the Hedge. I hope it doesn’t come to that… but better that than a senseless fight which might get a lot of good people killed.

      So I was about fifteen minutes later than usual finishing my classes, and Sex Breakfast was already in progress when I made my way to the kitchen. The usual banter was somewhat derailed when Julia strode in, looking mildly panicked. “My parents are coming here,” she said faintly. “Dad thinks he found something in the video. They’re about half an hour out.” After repeated admonitions that nobody was to flirt with or – God forbid – sleep with either of them, she seemed to calm down a bit.

      John and Linda Oldacre showed up right on schedule, excited to be able to help us with our supernatural investigations. Calamity had called Stasia (and apparently woke her up), so she was present and accounted for when the Oldacres shared their new information with us. John had experienced a brainstorm on the previous evening… one which would prove to be the key to deciphering the clues of the video. Those Theban runes hidden in many of the shots were concealing a message. The reason that he hadn’t been able to decipher the message was that it wasn’t in English. It was in Greek.

      Neither John nor Linda was fluent in Greek, so they contacted another member of their coven and enlisted their aid in deciphering the message. It was a set of instructions or descriptions of the ritual they were performing… it seems like the cultists or whatever they were wanted to make sure that people could tell what they were trying to accomplish, but only wanted that information disseminated to those who worked hard for the privilege.

      The ritual seems to have been designed to bring someone or something out of the Underworld. And since the ritual involved a human sacrifice, whatever they were calling must have been of a value equivalent to a human life on a metaphysical level. The ritual would have created a large amount of “death energy” in the area… apparently that’s not necessarily evil, as death is an important and necessary part of life. But it is potent… and reductive. Death energy can’t be used to build up or create, only to break down or destroy.

      There was more. If this ritual is indeed the cause of the strange phenomena in the Santa Barbara area, then there must be something maintaining the effect. John said that it would probably be a bottle or bag; something capable of containing a powder or liquid. If destroyed or removed from the area, the ongoing effect would fade. He also posited that this fetish would likely be located in a large subterranean area beneath a particular building; one which had featured prominently in the ritual itself.

      So that gave us a lot to think about. John was gung-ho to join us when we eventually venture into the underground passages, but none of us thought that was a good idea. Julia assured him that she had been studying up on Wiccan ceremonies and symbology, and that if we needed his further expertise we would contact him (presumably after we exit the tunnels, as we almost certainly won’t have cell service down there).

      As Julia had predicted, her parents were enthusiastically flirty. This was the first time they had met Missy and Jane, and those two were not exempt from the fun either. Much like myself, they found that they had a lot in common with the Oldacres; the sort of shared cultural experience that we don’t often see in people who appear to be our own age in this strange new millennium.

      In any case, we were eventually able to usher John and Linda out the door. I gave them each a hug and kiss on the cheek; they are practically my in-laws after all, and I’m unlikely to meet Maria’s parents any time soon. Julia breathed a sigh of relief when they left, which was perhaps a bit premature, as the rest of us immediately started discussing how strangely attractive and compelling the older couple was.

      “Dibs on Linda,” Jane said with a smirk at one point.

      “Hey, I saw her first,” I shot back with a grin.

      Then Julia pointed a weapons-grade pout in my direction, and I decided to have mercy on her.

      Stasia’s going to try to use her contacts in the Urban Exploring community to see if anyone has a map of the Santa Barbara underground so that we’ll have a better idea of what we’re getting into. She’s not particularly hopeful, though, since those groups tend to be pretty protective of their information, and only distribute it among their own members. If she opens the conversation by asking about the maps, she’s unlikely to be offered membership. I offered to accompany her if she needs to meet with any of these groups in person, as I have access to contracts that might be helpful in such a meeting.

      This led to us discussing the possibility of setting up a fashion shoot for her portfolio. It’s something we’ve spoken about a few times in the past, but for some reason it has never yet materialized. She looked me up and down at one point and got a familiar look on her face, and then closed her eyes and whispered something urgently to herself. I’m guessing she was reminding herself that she’s now in a monogamous relationship.

      “Oh, why don’t you just both sleep with her; that would solve the problem, wouldn’t it?” Jane offered helpfully.

      I turned to her and put a hand on her shoulder gently. “I don’t think Jacob would be particularly happy with that solution,” I reminded her quietly, “and I will never do anything to intentionally hurt or upset anyone in this motley… certainly not just for self-gratification.”

      She turned a little red and hung her head. “Oh… right. Sorry Jacob, I forgot.”

      I don’t think Jacob was really mad about the slip – in fact, I think he appreciated the way I handled it, though it can be hard to tell where he’s concerned – but regardless he and Luna chose to spend the rest of the afternoon together at her cabin, cleaning up and doing minor repairs on the structure. The rest of us busied ourselves getting ready for the Friday night show as usual.

      My own number was Madonna’s “Open Your Heart,” which seemed appropriate both to my position as Spring Queen and to my aspirations to become a surgeon. As usual, Missy and Jane backed me up, and the three of us on-stage together once more brought the house down. Sometimes I wonder if we could get up there wearing burlap sacks and recite passages from “The Canterbury Tales” and get a similar response… but I don’t think I’ll be testing that hypothesis any time soon.

      Missy and Jane also backed up Calamity for a rendition of “Tragedy” by the Bee Gees. They were never my favorite group, and that song was released almost a full year after I was Taken, so I was almost wholly unfamiliar with it. Honestly, it did nothing to change my opinion of the group, though the three of them performed it very well. Marguerite went for more of a classic feel with Marlene Dietrich’s “Lili Marlene,” for a wonder performing the song in its original German instead of Frenchifying it up, and it was also very well-received. And Missy and Jane performed a duet of Tegan and Sara’s “Closer,” which I think may be one of Jane’s favorite songs of the new millennium.

      There were a few changelings in the audience that night. My eyes were immediately drawn to the bar, where Tamara Chance sat speaking with Molly Nuit. We don’t often see Tamara in the Dream House, so I figured it was incumbent upon me to speak with her. She seems to be doing okay; perhaps a little lonely and maybe feeling just a smidge sorry for herself over the state of her love life, but other than that she was okay. She was actually there advising Molly on her upcoming date… she’s going to be spending a weekend with Chalcedony at a romantic getaway, and wanted to know if it would be the right time to bring up the “girlfriend” question. It’s a question Chalcedony has studiously avoided for some time.

      Tamara seemed to be at a bit of a loss, and turned to me for advice. I did the best I could, though I have difficulty reading Chalcedony at the best of times, and it was hard for me to gauge her feelings on the subject when she wasn’t even present for the conversation. Still, she seems to be very fond of Molly, so I recommended that Molly bring the subject up but not push it. I hope that will open the door for further romantic possibilities without ruining what the two of them already have.

      I tried to subtly flirt with Tamara a bit, but I kept things very understated. The last thing I want to do is pressure John Lowjack’s surrogate daughter into anything… but I wanted her to know that I found her attractive, since her self-image seemed to be at something of a low point (at least regarding her romantic life). We kept things platonic during that conversation, however… with her quipping about how John dreads hearing from me since I always seem to give him bad news. I started to apologize for that, but she assured me that John considered it more of a running gag than anything particularly serious.

      “I can’t always tell exactly what he’s thinking,” she admitted, “but my take on it is that he likes you a lot, Lorelei. Certainly more than he likes either of the other monarchs.” So that was nice to hear.

      After that I came to the rescue of one of my fair ladies… I’d noticed that Gloria and Trinh were involved in a spirited argument across the room. It didn’t look like they were really upset or anything, and Calamity was already there in case things went south, but I still felt like I should see what the deal was, so I ambled up and butted in as per usual.

      “Lori,” Trinh said as I approached, “which song by Warrant was better: ‘Cherry Pie’ or ‘Heaven?’ Gloria here claims to be a true fan of 80s metal, but she insists that ‘Cherry Pie’ is the better song! Can you believe it?”

      Oh, it was going to be one of those nights. Okay, I decided I could deal with it.

      “Let me put it this way, Trinh,” I said as I settled in next to my girlfriend, “I missed the 80s entirely while I was in Arcadia, so I have no bias when it comes to this question. I’ve tried to catch up on all the pop culture I missed since I got back, but obviously I’ve only had so much time. And when you asked me that question, I immediately recognized ‘Cherry Pie.’ The other song… I’d have to hear it.”

      Gloria turned triumphantly upon her faux-foe. “See?” she almost shouted, “I told you so!”

      Calamity came down on our side too, but of course Trinh wasn’t ready to concede the point just yet. The songs’ origins came into play, as did the fact that the band apparently hated ‘Cherry Pie’ because they only wrote it to fill space on an album at the insistence of the record company, and they resented its instant success. Doesn’t make it a bad song if you ask me, it just adds interesting details to discussions like that one.

      It also came up that Hollywood has set a reward for information leading to Gloria’s capture, still persisting in the lie that she killed her old motley and her boyfriend. A five thousand dollar reward. She’s bummed about it, of course, but I think a tiny part of her is almost flattered by the fact that they find her that threatening. Rather than dwelling on it, I tried to keep the conversation turning back to her argument with Trinh.

      Unfortunately a much more serious argument was unfolding across the theater, and it was unfolding between two of my Courtiers. Something had happened between White Maria and Dark Kimberly, and considering how the banter between those two usually goes it looked like it must have been something really serious. Kimberly was storming off, and White Maria actually looked a little chagrinned beneath her haughty exterior. I glanced at Calamity, who was already heading toward the table to speak with White Maria, so I made a beeline toward Kimberly’s retreating form and drew her out of the theater when I caught up with her.

      She was spitting mad; nearly in tears. “Kimberly, honey, what happened?” I asked.

      “We were verbally sparring like usual and that… that bitch brought up Annika’s drinking. And she knows it’s a problem and Annika’s working so hard on it. She had no right to go there. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about…”

      I pulled her into a hug. “I’m sorry, Kimberly,” I said. “You’re right, addiction is nothing to joke about, and White Maria took things too far. What did she say?”

      That brought her up short. “Well,” she admitted, “she didn’t actually say it. She started to, though. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was obvious what she was talking about. And then she kind of cut herself off…”

      I breathed a sigh of relief. “So she probably realized that she was taking things too far, and self-censored. I’m sure she didn’t mean to really upset you, or to let her jibes get that cruel. I’m asking you to give it a day, try to cool off, and give her the chance to apologize. Can you do that?”

      She sighed, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “Yes, my Queen,” she said after a moment. “I… shouldn’t go back in there right now. Do you guys still have that punching bag in the basement?”

      I allowed as how we did, and spent the next half hour or so holding the bag while she worked out some frustrations. Calamity joined us in the basement after a while, and let us know that White Maria had left the theater to join Marguerite for the evening and was suitably contrite about her earlier words. Well… she got kind of quiet about it and told Calamity that she would “consider” apologizing the next time she saw Dark Kimberly, but coming from White Maria that’s pretty much the equivalent of breaking down into sobs and scourging herself as penance.

      Once both of my quarrelling courtiers had departed I rejoined the company, and eventually found myself slipping into a seat next to Gloria, who had settled herself into Maria’s lap. Calamity had handed Cara off to Viktor and Serena by that point, so there was nothing else that required my official attention. The discussion about the relative merits of various Warrant songs had petered out in the interim, and a far more interesting discussion had begun. Trinh was planning to spend the evening with Marguerite and White Maria, and it looked like Gloria had plans with my wife. I was invited to join in either of those parties (Missy and Jane were heading off to the pier for a private romantic getaway, and as such were unavailable for group fun), so I had plenty of options.

      Knowing that things with Marguerite, White Maria and Trinh were likely to devolve into games of dominance and controlled strangulation, I turned toward my wife and our girlfriend and told them that I’d like to enjoy their company that evening. I have no problem with the other girls’ kinks as long as they’re safe, but I really don’t like any part of my body to be constrained in that way… even my throat. The mere thought of it is enough to make me edgy, so I don’t think I’ll be trying it out any time soon.

      So I surrendered my body to the two strongest girls in the room and allowed them to prove just how strong they are, and just how much they love me. Such biceps I kissed last night… it’s enough to make me want to start hitting the gym regularly again!

      Lorelei de la Rocha



      Jacob’s Journal

      The car ride back to the house was not very eventful. Not that I was expecting it to be. Calamity offered to feed Cara, who took her up on the offer. We had to stop at a fast food place and get a goodly quantity of food after that so Calamity could use a certain contract to heal the blood loss. Fae magic is certainly interesting in that regard. All Calamity had to do was eat enough food for 8-10 people in one sitting and she was right as rain. Most of my contracts have to do with cold in some way, either the weather or temperature meaning or the emotional one. I haven’t had much cause to use those contracts. It was fun to make it snow during our camping trip though. I think Elena enjoyed it at least. The others might have grumbled a bit, but they got to snuggle with their loved ones in their tents and be warm so I’ll count it as a success.

      So, we all met back at the Dream House parking lot. Reverend Wells said that he was going to look for Molly Hart tomorrow and see if there was some way he could resolve her mother’s chains to this world. I hope that he is able to help her. It seems sad to have a young lady be tied to the place of her death for so long without resolution. I would hope that if I came back as a ghost that someone would make it a priority to help me pass on. I don’t know if Changelings leave ghosts behind though. I’ve never seen a ghost of one before, and I’ve killed a lot of Changelings in my time.

      When we got back to the House the show was almost over but we caught the last bit of Jane and Missy’s number. They are really growing as far as their confidence goes. They were really good. It was heartening to see them, especially Missy, come out of her shell a bit, and for Jane to take an interest in this world. Before the show was over though, Dark Kimberly came over to our table and told us a whale of a tale. Okay, it didn’t actually involve a whale but it did have a sea serpent in it. She said that a sea serpent had been spotted off Venice Beach. Rowan and Neon had spotted it while they were out on Rowan’s boat. Dark Kimberly also said that Veronica had seen it in the harbor, which was closer than I think any of us were comfortable with.

      After that Lori took Jane upstairs to have a private talk, and Calamity helped Cara find some clean clothes that she could change into and showed her where the shower was. I did the little things like put out a towel and soap for her in the bathroom while they were looking through the wardrobe. I think Calamity was going to call Viktor tomorrow and let him know about our new guest and see if he could perhaps help. Presumably he and his friends have more ready access to “food” than we do. It was very nice of Calamity to volunteer to feed Cara, but it’s not something that can be done that frequently. It takes time to get over blood loss no matter what contracts you use. I mean, the Lady healed me on several occasions after I’d come back wounded, but I was always somewhat lightheaded afterwards. She healed the wounds so they didn’t bleed anymore, but it didn’t put the blood back in me or anything like that. She even healed me the last time that Rook brought me back. After I’d left Claire Falls. It was of course a prelude to worse to come, but she did heal me. She healed me in between sessions as well, but that was mainly to keep me in the land of the living, rather than due to any altruistic intentions of hers. But I don’t want to dwell on those memories right now. Time to cram them back into their little boxes.

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

      This morning Lowjack called to officially warn Lori about the sea monster off the coast, that Lori herself has taken to calling Cecil. I’m sure there is a reference there that I’m just not getting. Anyway, they discussed its habits so far, which do not include coming into the harbor despite what Veronica said. No one is sure why she would lie about something like that, but no one else has seen it in the harbor and its patterns so far keep it out to sea. It just seems to be curious about boats passing by, though it does keep a healthy distance. Apparently, the Summer court is all about sending fighters after the sea monster and hunting it down with the intention of killing it. Lowjack doesn’t seem to think that approach is necessary. He thought that we might be able to get it to go home of its own accord. It is known that there is a gate to the Hedge out there underwater, and it’s thought that the sea monster came through that and into our world. Too bad it’s not more like a dog. We could throw a stick back through the Gate and have Cecil go chase it. I guess the problem would be if he decided to fetch it back to us.

      A little while after that Julia came into the room all upset. She said that her parents had just called and that they were currently on their way over to talk to us. It seems that she doesn’t like surprise visits from her parents. Or maybe it’s just she doesn’t like surprise visits to the Dream House. Her parents are awfully flirty, and so is our crew. I know it drives Julia crazy when her parents flirt with her lovers and friends. So, Calamity figured that Stasia should be in on whatever was discussed, since it was likely going to be about the ritual and called her. Staisa was not happy to be woken up but came over to the Dream House a short while later anyway. She arrived shortly after Julia’s parents did. It seems that John, Julia’s dad, had translated some of the runes that they had spotted in the video. He had an epiphany and discovered that the reason he hadn’t been able to translate the runes at first was because he was trying to translate them into English. It was apparently written in Greek. So they had some friends from their coven who are more familiar with Greek come over and translate what he had discovered.

      It turns out that the ritual was to summon something from the Underworld, something valuable, into ‘the world.’ Something that was equal in value to a human life. So, maybe someone’s dead lover or relative. We don’t know for sure who or what they were summoning. Just that they completed the ritual and in the end released a lot of necrotic energy into the surrounding area. This “death” energy can only be used to break things down or weaken something. It cannot be used to create something or do anything positive in the world. It’s not necessarily evil, it’s just the opposite of “life” energy. John also guessed that there was something left behind at the scene to continue the effect. A bag or small jar with powder or liquid inside. He said that it was likely buried underground somewhere, maybe underneath a building that was a key component in the ritual itself. Stasia said that she would check with her urban exploring friends and see if any of them have maps to the underground in Santa Barbara. Apparently there is an extensive underground network of tunnels and passages but it is labyrinthine down there. Lori offered her help in the search for maps. She said that she has contracts that allow her to interact favorably with closed groups. I didn’t know that there was a contract out there that did that, but hey, sounds cool to me. It would be our Lori that had it too. She is really good with people. It makes sense that she could sweet talk her way into private clubs or parties if she really wanted to.

      John offered to help us explore the underground in Santa Barbara but Julia kept insisting that she had been studying up on her Wiccan rituals and stuff and that she’d be able to translate anything that needed translating or help us in other mystical ways. I think she just didn’t want her dad to tag along on our adventure. I can see the argument. I don’t think I’d want my dad tagging along with me on my adventures. For one, there could be untold dangers and he’d be a liability. He has no experience doing this kind of stuff. He did imply that he’d seen his share of danger in his life, which is why we moved to the United States, but somehow I don’t think it extended to magic rituals and underground tunnels beneath Santa Barbara.

      Once Julia’s parents had left the conversation turned back to Cecil the sea monster and Lori decided to call Jolie and talk to her about it. Maybe get her input on the matter. It seems that Jolie offered to swim down there and lure Cecil back through the Gate, but only if she had some strong back up in case things went pear shaped. My words not hers. After that everyone went their separate ways before the show. Luna and I went back to her cabin to do any necessary repairs and just do some general cleaning. We haven’t spent much time in her cabin lately and I figured we’d neglected it enough. She used to live there all the time before she and I became involved. Now she spends a lot of time at the Dream House. She has given up her home for me. The least I can do is help her keep up her own house. It has to have some sort of meaning for her and I don’t want that to be neglected. So I spent the afternoon cleaning and making minor repairs. It was actually kind of fun since I got to do it with my Luna.

      The show itself went really well, as has been usual for us. After the show was interesting as well, which has also become usual for us. It seems that Tamara had joined Molly at the bar talking about Molly’s upcoming romantic getaway with Chalcedony. Molly wanted to know if it was the right time to bring up the question of whether they were girlfriends or not. I kind of figured that they were but it seems that Chalcedony gets cagey when it comes to that term. Tamara wasn’t sure what to say but Lori came by and had some advice. She said that Molly should bring up the question but not press Chalcedony on it, just bring it up. Makes sense. It seems that one has to treat Chalcedony with kid gloves and give her plenty of space. I still don’t trust her as far as I can throw her, but I know that Molly can take care of herself, physically anyway. Emotionally might be a different story. Lori also flirted lightly with Tamara throughout the conversation. She didn’t push anything. I think her intention was mainly to make the lonely Tamara feel like she was attractive to people.

      After that the night wrapped up with the usual drama. I’m not sure what happened but White Maria and Dark Kimberly seemed to have an argument or something in their conversation soured because Dark Kimberly stormed off making for the door. Meanwhile White Maria stayed at her table looking chagrined. Calamity stayed with Maria to talk to her while Lori went after Dark Kimberly to see if she could help. Again, not sure what happened there, but it didn’t look pretty. And here they had been doing so well together of late. I guess everything breaks down eventually. Isn’t there some saying about chaos and entropy? The center cannot hold. Something like that.

      End Session CXL

      So I actually totally fucked up my timeline. So I improv a LOT of dialogue from NPCs, like 99.9% of it, 4 hours. So occasionally I may mess something up. In this case, it was my timeline of Warrant songs. I am not a fan of hair metal. So it is natural I might make a small mistake now and then. In this case, it was suggested “Heaven” came out after “Cherry Pie” in implying that the former came out before Gloria was taken in 89. This is…not the case, as it turned out. In my defense, I hate both songs and no one corrected me. I am educating people on music, goth culture, witchcraft, polyamory, and who knows what else. I’m gonna make a mistake or two.

      So…what was I talking about the Sea Monster was apparently from the Hedge. Ah, implied of course in the entries.

      Okay so I think that covers it. Comments and Questions welcome.


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      • I have been sleep deprived for several days, so I just now have the spoons to put the last journals up. They demand some comments, as this session will have aftershocks for some time. I will do what I can.

        Session CXLI

        Lorelei’s Diary

        I don’t know what’s happening in my life anymore; I really don’t. Nothing I’ve ever been through has prepared me for what happened today, and if I’m being entirely honest with myself there’s a large part of me that just wants to lie down and cry right now… but the show starts in a few minutes, and we always have a pretty big crowd on Saturdays. I can’t cancel with no notice; it’s not fair to our regulars. And besides that, I can’t let my constituents see their Queen fall apart. They need to know that things are stable in the Freehold (and for what it’s worth, they mostly are… sea serpents notwithstanding).

        Of course, the day didn’t start out quite so fraught. It’s Saturday, so I stayed in bed late, luxuriating in D and Gloria’s respective embraces and enjoying the fact that I didn’t have to get up for classes for once. Eventually the smell of sizzling sausages wafted up from below, and the three of us remembered that Trinh had stayed over the previous night. That revelation was enough to finally get us out of bed. I threw on an oversized t-shirt and a clean pair of panties, the other two dressed more sedately, and the three of us descended together.

        It turns out Trinh was trying something new… she’d gotten her hands on a type of pepper she called a ‘Carolina Reaper.’ She’d put one small pepper in a sauce and then used it to glaze three sausages, and was offering them to anyone who was brave enough to give them a try. Since she claimed the pepper was hotter than anything she’d ever served us before, I demurred as politely as I could. Calamity was braver, and though I don’t think she was seriously hurt or inconvenienced by the experience, the pepper’s effects on her were comical to observe.

        Conversation at Sex Breakfast was typically outrageous. Somehow talk turned to comic book characters… specifically which cross-company same-sex pairing we’d find the most enticing. There were several interesting couples proposed. Captain America and Superman had its share of supporters due to the ‘boy scout’ factor. I thought the Batman/Iron Man pairing had definite possibilities (but then I’ve always been a fan of the Dark Knight’s lantern jaw). On the other side of the gender divide, Julia and Maria championed the Question (Renee Montoya version) and Black Cat pairing, while I spoke up in favor of Black Widow and Black Canary… though of course I wouldn’t say no to witnessing (or participating in) any of those scenarios.

        (Note to self, by the way… Julia has a thing for the classic Felicia Hardy Black Cat look. I need to get online and see if I can find a decent version of that costume that will fit me, if I can do so without Julia figuring out what I’m doing. It might be a nice surprise for her one of these nights).

        In any case, after we’d exhausted the possibilities inherent in the discussion of gay cross-company superhero sex, we began to disperse for the day. Gloria, Trinh, and White Maria departed first, though the latter asked Calamity to look into something for her before she left. It seems that White Maria works as a mystic and a seer for some of the area’s Chinese population… generally older, more traditional people, as they tend to be the ones who still believe in the old ways. One of her clients has a grandson who seems concerned that White Maria is merely playing on his grandmother’s naiveté, and wants her to withdraw her services. He has even threatened to out her as a lesbian if she doesn’t go willingly… something that would likely spell the end of her business endeavors with the area’s conservative older Chinese demographic. White Maria denied being a lesbian, claiming that she doesn’t particularly feel love toward either gender… though I know from personal experience that on a purely physical level she’s at least bi.

        Calamity has agreed to look into the matter and see if she can resolve it… peacefully. White Maria didn’t want the young man to come to any harm, and in fact first asked Calamity if she knew of anyone else who engaged in her variety of problem-solving in a less violent way. And even Calamity admits that while the young man in question sounds like a real jerk, he’s doing what he’s doing out of a genuine concern for his grandmother’s well-being, and doesn’t deserve to come to harm over it. I confess that I didn’t ask too many follow-up questions about how she planned to handle it. Plausible deniability is definitely my new watchword when it comes to Calamity.

        So that’s when we made the fateful decision to head out to the pier for a bit of relaxation. Since we were largely arranged in couples – me and Maria, Marguerite and Julia, Missy and Jane, Becky and Calamity – we decided to make it a light-hearted, romantic activity. The only downside to this was that it left Jacob out, as Luna had retreated to her cabin in the woods to avoid the weekend crowds. Becky asked Calamity if she wanted to join us. I told her that I’d be perfectly safe in Maria’s company, but she does take her responsibilities seriously. Luckily – or perhaps unluckily, as it turned out – Calamity was perfectly willing to come along and make a date of it.

        The pier is always a popular destination on weekends, and we weren’t the only changelings there. We quickly spotted a few other small groups, presumably meeting there to take advantage of the free-flowing glamour from all of the mortals gathered. Desiree and Marie-Hélène were there performing; the former singing and the latter playing her guitar. Felicity and Dominika were chatting a short distance away, with T.J. of all people standing nearby… though he made his way away from the two of them as soon as he spotted us for some reason. I also spotted Leanne and Siobhan holding a hushed conversation in a secluded corner (well… as secluded as anything ever is at the pier in any case), and quickly asked Marguerite if she would mind slipping over to listen in on their discussion.

        In the end she didn’t learn much. The two of them seemed to be having a perfectly innocent conversation, though to hear Marguerite tell it Leanne was more than a little annoyed with Siobhan for some reason. Marguerite also stole both of their phones and made copies with her contracts before planting the originals back on them. I don’t know if she succeeded in breaking into either of the phones; I’ve been pretty distracted by other matters. The copies will only last until sundown though, so I guess I’d better ask her.

        I was doing my usual thing; turning on the charm and flirting with pretty much the world in general so I could soak up the adoration. I was pretty flush with glamour already; really just doing it to keep in practice (and because of that naughty little thrill I get whenever I can tell how badly people want me). I wasn’t looking to stir up trouble today, so whenever I turned my charm toward someone specific I mostly targeted pretty girls. Girls get jealous when I flirt with their boyfriends; guys mostly just get turned on when I flirt with their girlfriends.

        D ambled off to try to intercept T.J. for a little trash-talk, but never made it that far. When she was about fifty feet away from me, I saw her veer off in another direction suddenly. It’s lucky I happened to be looking at her, because she didn’t say anything; she just changed her heading and went off like a shot. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I saw recognition dawn on the faces of a middle-aged Hispanic couple, and I broke into a run when D started beating the crap out of the man.

        I put a hand on Maria’s shoulder and said her name sharply, and she stopped punching the older man. I heard the man’s wife say something in Spanish that sounded suspiciously like she was calling my wife a ‘dyke whore,’ but I pushed down the surge of resentment that caused in me. “Maria,” I said again. “Don’t do this. Not here. Not like this.” She pulled away from me fuming, but managed to hold herself in check.

        Then I knelt over the man and began examining his injuries. He was badly beaten and had a couple of broken bones. I let the healing energy flow through me and fixed the worst of the damage, though he’s still going to look pretty rough for a couple of days.

        So that was how my first meeting with my in-laws began.

        “Señor, Señora,” I said as politely as I could, “I think the four of us need to talk. But not here. Will you come with us to somewhere more private, please? I swear that no further harm will come to you…”

        “What is there for us to say?” the woman said. There was anger in her voice, but I think there was at least a hint of sadness in it too. “Our daughter turned her back on us long ago.”

        “Please, Señora,” I said softly, “I understand why you feel that way. But from Maria’s perspective, it was her family who turned their backs on her. I think we need to talk about this… for all of our sakes.”

        The man nodded slowly, gingerly touching his arm where I’d healed it. “I think you are right,” he said after a moment, turning to give his wife a significant look. “We will come with you, and say our piece, and listen to what you have to say as well.” He addressed this to me, but cut his eyes toward Maria for a moment as he said it.

        I felt a soft tap on my shoulder. “Whatever we’re going to do, we need to do it fast,” Becky whispered. “A lot of people saw that, and I’m sure some of them called the cops. I need to get you two out of here as quickly as possible.”

        We walked quickly toward the parking lot, and Becky sent out a group text asking the others to gather at the van as quickly as they could. Most of them responded within a few seconds, with only Calamity stating that she was going to hang around the pier for a while and find her own ride back to the Dream House. I figured it wouldn’t make the best of impressions to take the de la Rochas to a burlesque house for our little chat, so I speed-dialed Dad.

        He could tell immediately that I was really upset about something. “What is it, Juliette? Do you require assistance? Are you being followed?”

        I had to giggle nervously at his distress. “No, Dad, it’s nothing like that,” I reassured him. “Maria and I were visiting the pier this afternoon and we… ran into her parents. You know how Maria feels about them. Things got violent. I managed to calm everybody down, but we need a neutral, private place to talk this out, and I was wondering…”

        “I’ll put the kettle on,” he said after a moment.

        “Thank you,” I said fervently. “We’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.” I hung up and continued leading my in-laws to the van. Along the way we caught sight of T.J. again; this time looking very pleased with himself as he stood smirking near a car which was completely blocked in by other vehicles… some of which I’m certain he’d placed there himself. By hand.

        Maria was silent during the drive, and I kept one arm around her at all times. When we arrived at Dad’s house, he met us at the door, greeting us all in passable if not perfect Spanish. He led us into his dining room and offered us seats around the table. He offered us tea and water, and waited patiently while we all tried to find a way to begin. The rest of our group – all except Becky – opted to give us our privacy and waited in the living room.

        “Thank you for agreeing to speak with us,” I said after a moment. “It’s important to… to Maria that we try to settle this.”

        “If our feelings were truly important to her,” my mother-in-law said bitterly, “she would not have left. She would not act the way she does.”

        “I act like me,” Maria said, moving forward aggressively. “If you can’t see that… if that’s not good enough for you, then maybe…”

        “I will not abide violence in this house,” Dad said, his hand suddenly on her shoulder. “Take a moment to calm yourself, Maria.”

        It was like watching a balloon deflate. The tension just sort of drained out of her body, and she slumped back down into her chair. She still looked upset, but the rage, the sudden urge to violent action was gone. I glanced at Dad (who smiled beatifically) and mouthed ‘thank you.’

        I looked back at my in-laws. “I’m sorry,” I said softly. “I haven’t introduced myself yet. My name is Lorelei. Lorelei Grace de la Rocha.” I didn’t hold out my hand; I figured that would have been pushing my luck. I saw the shock written on both of their faces for an instant, but neither one offered a comment.

        What followed was a tense yet peaceful discussion between the four of us. I hope we’ve taken the first steps toward reconciliation with D’s family… but even if that’s the case, there are a lot more steps to go. Tomás and Estella de la Rocha are very traditional people, and they absolutely do not approve of Maria’s life choices. But deep within them, I think they do love their daughter. And unless I read things very wrongly… they miss her too.

        “She walked away from us,” Tomás said at one point. “We have not seen our daughter in more than a decade!”

        “She was afraid to return to you,” I explained. Maria didn’t comment on this, though she tensed up when I phrased it that way. “She didn’t want to risk coming back to you only to be rejected.”

        “She does not act like a young lady should,” Estella elaborated. “She dresses like a boy. She goes out with girls like a boy. And she is violent like a boy! She is with the gangs…”

        “She isn’t,” I said, interrupting quietly. “Not anymore. She got out of the gangs many years ago. When I met her she already had a good job, working as an X-ray technician at a hospital. She has moved on to another job now, but she always makes sure to keep her certification current. She’s proud of it…”

        They glanced at each other; I could tell that this was new information to them. I decided to press my advantage. “Please,” I said softly, “just think about it. I… I can’t promise you that you’ll get the daughter you want back. That girl doesn’t exist anymore… I’m not sure that she ever did. But Maria is such a wonderful person… she’s kind, and caring, and generous, and loyal, and fiercely protective. Doesn’t that sound like the kind of woman you could be proud to call your daughter?”

        “I don’t know,” Tomás said heavily. “It has been so long. Maybe we have grown too far apart over the years…”

        “It’s never too late,” I replied. “I was estranged from my own father for many years, and we managed to reconcile not long ago. Now, I can’t even picture my life without him in it.” Dad threw me a warm smile from behind them; we hadn’t revealed our relationship to the de la Rochas yet, so he didn’t actually say anything but I could tell that he was touched by my words.

        The two of them spoke quietly to each other in Spanish for a while. After a moment, Tomás rose. “We… need time to process all of this,” he said. “We need to talk about what it means. I will give you our telephone number so that we can maybe continue this conversation another time.”

        I handed him a business card – one of my modeling cards, not one associated with the Dream House – and Dad provided them with a slip of paper on which they wrote their names and contact information. Tomás even shook my hand as they made ready to depart. “You seem like a good woman, Ms.… Lorelei,” he said awkwardly after a moment.

        “Thank you,” I said, clasping his hand firmly. “And Señor, Señora… I am so sorry that our meeting happened the way it did, but… I’m glad I’ve finally met both of you.”

        Dad offered to drive them back to their car, and I took a moment to thank him for his assistance. He told me there was no reason to wait for his return as long as we locked up when we left, but I took a few minutes to speak with Maria alone. “You okay, sweetie?” I asked, leaning in close.

        She nodded. “That was weird, though. I don’t think I’ve felt that calm around my parents since… I don’t think I’ve ever felt that calm around my parents.”

        “That was Dad,” I said. “He used whatever mojo he has to stop you from doing something you’d regret all over his dining room. I hope you don’t mind…”

        She shook her head. “Nah, it’s cool,” she said. “It’s just… that’s some powerful shit he’s got going for him.”

        I know my love well enough to tell when she doesn’t want to talk about something, and I figured I’d give her a little time to sort out her own feelings about the meeting with her parents before I pressed her on it. Marguerite drove the lot of us back to the Dream House. I kept one arm around Maria the entire time. She was quiet for the whole trip, and when she got home she gently extricated herself from my embrace and told me that she was going to go take a long hot bath to relax.

        So my first meeting with D’s parents went about as well as she always said it would. My mother-in-law called my wife a ‘dyke whore,’ and my wife in turn beat the shit out of my father-in-law. It’s enough to make a lesbian burlesque-dancing bird-girl despair. But amid the sniping and recrimination, I think I might have detected the tiniest glimmer of hope. I know D wants to reconcile with her family, no matter what she might have to say on the subject… but she’ll never be able to unless they can accept her for who she is. And I think – I hope – that the de la Rochas want to make things right too… they just don’t know how at the moment.

        I understand that D wants to be alone with her thoughts right now. That’s a big part of who she is, and therefore a big part of the woman I love. But I wish she’d come to me and let me help her through this. If someone was trying to hurt me physically, you can bet that she’d leap right in and protect me, and I wouldn’t think of trying to stop her. Well, now she’s hurting emotionally, and I want her to afford me that same courtesy. The human heart is my preferred arena, after all.

        To make matters worse, Calamity still hasn’t made it home yet. She called me about fifteen minutes ago and told me that she wouldn’t be able to perform tonight. Now, Calamity has a stubborn streak a mile wide, and a history of trying to perform when everyone and their mother tells her that she shouldn’t, so this immediately set off alarm bells in my head. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that she wasn’t feeling up to it. I asked her where she was, and she said that she was at the Children’s Library.

        She started to tell me that she would catch an Uber home or something like that, but putting two and two together I figured she needed to be with friends, so I told her to hang tight while I sent someone to pick her up. D was in no state, Marguerite and I couldn’t be spared so close to showtime, and Missy and Jane had a couple of numbers of their own to prep, so I asked Jacob to go get her. They’re not back yet. I really hope she’s okay.

        I really hope Maria’s okay, too.

        Lorelei de la Rocha


        Calamity’s Little Black Book

        “Miss? Miss you seem to have dozed off...”

        I jerk in the seat. The woman takes a step back and frowns. I’m… alive. Of course I am. That would be too easy. But everything is jumbled and hazy.

        Where am I? I blink and look around and see that I’m in the Children’s Library. Okay. She put me out here after… I gasp and reach to bring my hands to my throat but everything seems normal. Nothing there. All as it should be. The woman, I’m guessing one of the librarians, seems uncomfortable as she watches me.

        “What time is it?”

        “It’s almost eight. We’re about to close. Are you missing a child?”

        “No. No I’m alone.”

        She seems relieved but a bit uncertain. She’s worried but also has clearly worked here long enough to know that she doesn’t want to get involved. I can see the struggle on her face. I push up from the chair, half expecting my legs to not work but everything seems fine.

        “Thank you. I’ll be going now.”

        She looks relieved. Still worried. Looks like she wants to say something else but she doesn’t as I walk away. I don’t blame her. She wouldn’t survive the horrors.

        Outside I blink and make my way to a bench. Everything is jumbled in my head. I want to be somewhere else… anywhere else. Home? The show. I need to call Lori.

        I tell her I can’t perform tonight. She assures me she can juggle some acts. She’s worried. I can hear it in her voice. I mumble about getting an Uber. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing but that’s how I got here… I think. She tells me Jacob will come pick me up. I thank her.

        I’m not ready to see Jacob. Not like this. Not ready to face any of them. Not Lori… Oh fuck… Beautiful. I can’t let her see me like this. I have to get my shit together before Jacob gets here… before I have to face the rest of them. Before she sees me a shambles.

        I wrap my arms around myself and hug tightly to try and steady my spiraling thoughts.

        “Are… Are you okay?”

        It’s the librarian. She looks uncomfortable. She knows I’m not and she can’t bring herself to just walk away like she knows she should. Poor little fly. Poor compassionate little fly. She’s going to end up broken and screaming some day.

        “I’m just waiting for my friend to come pick me up.”

        I find a smile for her. It’s hardly my best effort but she she’s eager to be absolved so she takes it and nods and gives me one of her own. It’s guilty and grateful both and then she walks briskly away. Poor little fly…

        I shudder. I can hear those words in my ear. Maybe it’s just my imagination. Maybe She’s left something inside me. I reach to touch my ear with my fingers. Feels normal. I check my throat again. Smooth. I feel something but it’s just in my mind. I hope.

        It feels like remembering a dream is supposed to feel if you’re human.

        I’m not. I’m a little fly…

        I hug myself tighter and rock slowly on the bench. I look like a crazy person but there is no one left to see me. Just Her. I know She sees me here. Pleased with Herself no doubt. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe She doesn’t care that She reduced me to this. Why should She care? I’m just a little fly…

        I… I have to get myself together. Jacob is on his way. I can’t let him see me like this. Weak… Broken… A victim…

        But I am. I am all of those things. I thought I’d escaped. I thought I’d beaten Them and left that behind. Said I’d die before I was a victim again.

        I was wrong. Just a stupid little girl. Just a little fly… In Her webs helpless and weak and afraid. Hanging there with Her eggs in my throat… twitching and squirming and crawling about to devour me from the inside slowly… just a stupid little fly… I want to scream but I can’t… I can’t breathe… I can’t move...

        Stop it.

        I need to… I need… I don’t know…

        I have no idea what I need right now.

        I need to get a hold of myself. I can’t let Jacob see me like this… Can’t let the rest of them see me like this…

        “Calamity?”

        I look up at Jacob through the open door of his Jeep. How long has he been waiting there? I force myself to uncurl and climb in, huddling into the seat.

        “Are you okay?”

        I turn to look at him. I don’t have it in me to lie. I don’t have it in me to hide it. I just look at him sadly and shake my head.

        “No. No I’m not.”

        End Session CXLI

        So…Calamity, in a fit of anger over Spidertoes intervening in her relationship with Leanne Sheets, went to the children’s library and had an argument with Madame Spidertoes. In which she lashed out verbally, angering a creature which put a high value on politeness.

        So she dissolved into spiders, suffocated her into unconsciousness and leaving large eggs in her throat, and left her stuck to the ceiling in the basement, where she awoke in the darkness, hearing what sounded like an enormous spider moving in the dark. This put Calamity into an altered state of consciousness, where the spider stroked her, and they spoke of the need for politeness and respect. Calamity (still out of it) apologized, and Spidertoes left her in the library where Jacob picked her up.

        The next session (slightly shorter due to sleep dep) largely dealt with the repercussions of this and Maria’s clash with her parents. Feel free to join us then. Comments and Questions welcome, though I will not be revealing the precise nature of Spidertoes till it happens in game.


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        • Wait, she's not just a old, high-Wyrd Changeling with that Vizier Entitlement? Has this been brought up before. Also, Leanne Sheets. That's one of her Leechfinger crushes right? I'm assuming the spooky Madame told Leanne that Calamity was under her protection as a Malibu Freehold Darkling and she had better step off? I feel like I'm missing things


          A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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          • Evidence suggests she is not just an old high-Wyrd Changeling with the Vizier Entitlement. The truth is in question.
            Leanne is one of her Leechfinger crushes, yes. A redheaded Leechfinger from Hollywood with an alleged body count
            Pretty much yes, that is correct

            Does that help?


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            • Yes. That is very helpful. Thank you


              A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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              • The shockwaves of the previous session continue, as the Motley works to get past it.

                Session CXLII

                Lorelei’s Diary

                Okay, so I’ve hopefully been able to salvage the motley from that particular shit-storm, but it’s not an experience I relished or would in any wise like to repeat.

                So the Saturday night show went on as all shows must, despite my own rather lamentable first meeting with my in-laws and Calamity’s most recent attempt to punch her own mortality in the nose. As I should have expected, these incidents came crashing together just prior to the show when Maria approached me and asked for a private conversation.

                “Whatever Calamity said to Gladys has her really upset,” she explained apologetically. “If it’s okay with you, I need to go to her and make sure she’s… grounded. T.J. can take my place on the door tonight if you’re okay with it.”

                I nodded. “That sounds like a very good idea to me,” I said seriously. “Go on, make sure she’s okay. But… I think tonight…”

                She nodded her understanding. “I won’t stay at her place tonight,” she promised. “I’ll be back before final curtain.” And then she was gone, back into the arms of her former lover. It only stings a little these days.

                So T.J. showed up as promised wearing the equivalent of a small black circus tent with the word “SECURITY” emblazoned across it in white block letters (it was still an improvement over what he had been wearing earlier; a shirt which proudly proclaimed “I Beat Anorexia”). He was good about doing the favor, and I told Jacob’s stand-in to comp his drinks for the evening.

                I only had one number that night, and it wasn’t anything particularly memorable from my point of view, so I won’t pad this journal entry out with a critique. Once I could get away for a few moments, I went upstairs to talk to Calamity. Jacob was with her, giving her a steady stream of alcoholic beverages but keeping things well short of toxic levels.

                It was hard to see her like that. Calamity is usually so brash and headstrong, so sure of herself and everything that she does. This was like a totally different person… a broken person. Madame Spidertoes showed her a glimpse of the monster beneath her skin, and… no, I’m not going to describe the things she told me here. Suffice to say that Calamity firmly believes that Madame Spidertoes is not a changeling in the normal sense of the word. What she thinks Gladys actually is she only confided with her Whisperwisp ability, and I’m not going to commit it to writing here.

                When I was relatively sure that Calamity was in no further danger, I made my way back downstairs to join the company again. My first stop was to speak with Becky, who was understandably still hopping mad about how Calamity had ditched her at the pier earlier to seek out Leanne Sheets. I quietly explained the situation to her, and when asked I opined that Calamity needed her support more than her “tough love” at the moment. I assured my faithful Claviger that I would be safe enough in the Dream House, and she hurried upstairs to be with her love.

                I stopped to chat with a few others before I made my way to the Girlfriend Table to wait for Maria to return. Desiree and Veronica were there as per usual, and we passed the time with idle conversation and light flirting. I also stopped by the bar to say hello to Tamara (and continue my slow, subtle seduction on that front as well). But for the most part it was pretty quiet for a Saturday night.

                I should note that pretty much everyone I spoke to seemed to know that something had gone down between Calamity and Madame Spidertoes. I tried to convey to anyone who asked that there had been a misunderstanding, and that it had already been cleared up… but I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that further action might be required to put the matter to rest permanently.

                Maria got back near the end of the show as promised, practically seething with rage… but I was expecting that. She filled me in on the situation. Calamity had indeed defied Gladys’ wishes, but that wasn’t the issue. Apparently Calamity was “rude” to Spidertoes, and that sent her over the edge. To hear Maria describe it, the two parts of Gladys’ nature are constantly at war with each other, and the trappings of polite society are one of the defenses she uses to keep her less human aspect at bay. Calamity’s actions threatened her control, and she lashed out.

                I thought it best to keep Maria and Calamity separated for the time being, and with a sigh I asked my wife to set up a meeting between Spidertoes and myself for the following afternoon so that I could set the matter straight between us. “You want me to be there, babe?” she asked nonchalantly, and I nodded fervently. I would have begged her to come along if I’d thought it necessary.

                The two of us gave our regrets to Oleander and Gloria, promising each of them that we’d see them on the following evening. Oleander was great about me putting off our regular date night. “We set that up to make things easier for you, Angel, not to shackle you to a rigid schedule,” she said, leaning in for a kiss. I’ve said it before and I’m not ashamed to say it again: I have the best lovers in the world.

                Maria and I settled in for a quiet evening together as the crowds thinned. “So,” I said hesitantly, “now that the thing between Calamity and Spidertoes is stable, do you want to talk about the other thing that happened today?”

                She sighed and closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Not really,” she said heavily, “but I guess we probably should.”

                D explained her point of view to me, and I have to admit that it makes a lot of sense. The last time she saw her parents, she left in a fury in the middle of a fist fight with her father. She hated the way that they made her feel… the way that they tried to dictate everything that she should and shouldn’t be. Seeing them again brought back all of that resentment, all of that rage. Even thinking about them brings her emotions to a boil.

                “Might be best if we just let them go,” she said after a moment, “except I know that this is important to you, babe. If you want me to reconnect with them, I’ll try.”

                Of course she had to put the decision on me. What’s a lover/girlfriend/wife/best friend/soulmate/monarch for, if not to make the hard choices, right?

                That’s not fair. If you’re reading this, mi amor, I don’t blame you for wanting help with this one. It’s a tough, huge decision, and it’s only natural that you would want to share it with your wife. I’m sorry. It’s just sometimes it feels like there’s just so damn much on my plate…

                Anyway, I opined that if Maria can change as much as she obviously has, it’s only fair to assume that her parents are capable of change as well. They may have a long way to go, but with help from me and Dad, I have to believe that Maria and her parents can find their way back to each other… to being a family again.

                We’re going to give it a little while before we try to reconnect, though. Let them have the time to figure out what they want and what’s really important to them.

                I let Maria sleep in when I got up for church the next morning. After the day she’d had, I figured she deserved her rest. The service was lovely, and as usual I felt my troubles melt away for a while as I sat in the choir loft listening to my father preach about love, acceptance, and living in harmony with one’s fellow man. I lingered as the congregation left the sanctuary so that I could have a brief private word with him… mostly so that I could ask for his continued help in reconnecting Maria with her parents. Of course he agreed to do whatever he could, and I gave him their contact information just in case.

                I swung back by the Dream House for Sex Breakfast, stopped to heal Calamity and Jacob’s boo-boos (they had apparently been working out their respective frustrations by sparring once again), and watched in silent wonder as my various brides and best friends braided each other’s hair into Pippi Longstocking style pigtails. I declined to participate myself… though I could totally fucking rock that look if I wanted to. Then I picked up Maria and headed out to a much less pleasant meeting. Well… that’s not entirely true, to be fair. Tea with Gladys was pleasant; especially considering that all three of us were certain to observe all of the rules of polite society for obvious reasons.

                On Maria’s advice, I first asked leave to call her by her given name, as that tends to make her feel more human. She gave her consent with a nod and a smile and proceeded to pour the tea (Earl Grey). We sat discussing nothing much for a while as I worked up the courage to broach the really important subject.

                “Gladys,” I said after a moment, “I thought I should come by here personally as a representative of the Last Dance motley. I know that there was an… incident between you and Calamity yesterday.”

                She nodded. “She objected to my efforts to keep her safe. I do not require that she always agree with my decisions. I do not object to her rebelling against my authority. But she was rude. There was no call for that sort of behavior or speech. We live in a polite society of rules. This is what separates humanity from the beasts…”

                I nodded my understanding. “I agree,” I said, “and I think Calamity has learned her lesson. She’s just so proud… when she heard what you had done, she felt like her capabilities were in doubt, and that caused her to act imprudently.”

                Gladys nodded sagely. “She must learn to rein those wild impulses in,” she opined.

                I gave her a serious look. “I don’t think you’ll need to worry about Calamity showing you disrespect again any time soon,” I said with gravity. “And I’d just like to state for the record that we of the Last Dance bear you no ill will over this incident, and we’d like to consider the matter closed.”

                “Agreed,” Gladys said with a Mona Lisa smile. “I thank you for taking the time to reassure me personally. I have always liked you, my dear, and remain firm in the belief that you shall make a fine monarch.”

                I rose and shook her hand daintily. “Thank you, Madam. I can’t tell you how honored I am by your confidence. And once again, I’d like to assure you that you have the friendship of myself, my family, my motley, and my Court. Now and always.”

                She seemed to like that. “Thank you again, my dear,” she said softly. And that was that. We took our leave and I let out the breath I had been metaphorically holding since the tea began.

                When we got back to the Dream House we found that Marguerite, Julia, Missy and Jane were stalking each other through the halls with super-soaker water guns. They asked if we wanted to join them. Maria demurred, but I thought what the hell… I could use a little fun in my life. After briefly considering a tight white t-shirt, I instead changed into a bikini, grabbed a weapon, and joined the fray.

                No, I have no idea who won. How do you even keep score in a water gun fight like that? Plus, Julia made us stop after the first close call with one of her paintings.

                The show was pretty good for a Sunday, though we didn’t play to a huge crowd or anything like that. Possibly to demonstrate to herself and everyone else exactly how “fine” she was feeling, Calamity did two new numbers… and she chose John Cougar’s “Authority Song” and Sonny Curtis’ “I Fought the Law” (though her take on the latter owed more to a 1979 remake by the Clash). She nailed both acts, of course, as did the rest of my family, friends, and co-workers, and the audience ate it up.

                I did a little bit of schmoozing, a little bit of hob-nobbing, and some light socializing… but for the most part I just made the rounds quickly so that I could plant myself in Oleander’s lap and give her the attention she deserves from me. I felt a little pang when I saw D and Gloria settle into a similar position… not jealousy this time, I promise. I just begrudge any missed opportunity to spend time with any of my girlfriends… my wife most of all. But the two of them haven’t had a lot of alone time since Gloria and I started dating, and Oleander has been so patient.

                So now I’m sitting here writing in this diary and looking at Oleander’s slender back as she breathes softly on my bed. Why aren’t I joining her there? Because this is how I cope. This book has become my therapy. So when people that I care about are threatened by a sea monster from the Hedge, when someone that I love is struggling to reconnect with the parents who never wanted her to be who she is, when someone else that I love is threatened by an unstable being with godlike powers… of course I can’t sleep. So I write out my fears, my concerns, and my frustrations, and then I zap myself with Spring Court contracts to hide how truly exhausting this job is.

                Thank God I have my family.

                Lorelei de la Rocha


                Calamity’s Little Black Book
                Jacob’s Journal

                Calamity just had to go and get herself in trouble on one of the days that Luna is away. I’m sure that my love would have been a more stabilizing presence for Calamity but I did my best. I’ll admit that things happened so fast that I didn’t think about calling Luna until much later. Lori had asked me to go and pick up Calamity from the Children’s Library. She didn’t really explain what was going on, just that our motley mate needed a lift. So, I went to the library and picked up a very subdued and rather traumatized Calamity. My friend climbed into the passenger seat of my jeep and I asked if she was okay. She said that she wasn’t. She obviously didn’t look okay, but I had to ask. I had to see how bad it was. And it was pretty bad if Calamity was admitting that she was not alright. I asked her what happened, and she told me. She told me exactly what had happened. Apparently she said something or did something that Madame Spidertoes didn’t like. Something she found rude. And that led to a respected member of our freehold torturing a friend of mine. Something I am not happy with. Spidertoes always puts on an air of geniality and politeness, but what lies underneath that exterior surprised me. I knew that she was old, and I knew that she was powerful, but I didn’t know that she was practically a gentry. I suppose that I should have guessed it given how long she has been around. We all get more powerful as our connection to the Wyrd grows. My motley has grown rather strong if I’m being honest, but none of us lose control the way Spidertoes did with Calamity. Never.

                That woman tortured my friend by hanging her upside down and putting writhing egg sacks in her neck. Calamity said that she could feel the baby spiders moving and her hand strayed to her throat as she described it, as if reassuring herself that there were in fact no egg sacks still there. She used her whisperwisp ability to tell me what she thought Spidertoes had turned into so no one else could hear. I think she was afraid that the Autumn courtier might overhear her and do something worse. I have never seen Calamity so out of it, so quiet, so subdued. It was disturbing. I got Calamity back to the Dream House and we snuck in the back door, grabbed a bottle of my friend’s favorite alcohol, a couple of shot glasses and then went upstairs. We went to Calamity’s room and I poured us both a drink. My friend filled in some of the details as she drank, but she was mainly quiet. At some point Lori came upstairs to make sure that Calamity was okay. She stayed for a few minutes before going back downstairs to get Becky. When Becky came in I excused myself and took the Captain Morgan with me. We had both had a respectable number of drinks and I decided to cut us both off. Alcohol is probably not the best thing to drink when someone is in shock, and Calamity was definitely in shock, but I didn’t have any better ideas. Besides, that’s what I use when I suffer traumatizing events. At least when I flashback to them. It seems to work in the short run.

                I know what Gentry are like. I worked in one’s employ for a long time. I know how their moods can change. How reasonable they can seem sometimes, but how dangerous they really are. It scares me more than a little bit to find out that Madame Spidertoes could be just like that. Only she seems to keep up the veneer of civility for longer periods of time than the Gentry I’ve encountered do. It makes me wonder what it would take to make Spidertoes forget her manners and devolve into the monster for good. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to find out, now or ever, but I do wonder. How strong is her hold on her mask? How long will she be able to stay on our side and what happens if and when that changes? Is this why Hollywood has the Grand Maw? Do they fear Spidertoes so much that they would employ such a method to keep her in check? I will just ask that the goddess gives her the strength to keep up the face of humanity for a while longer because I don’t know what I’ll do if she doesn’t.
                I went back to my room secure in the thought that Calamity was in good hands for the rest of the night. I may have had a shot or two extra just to top off the evening, but I think I was justified. I think I’d be justified if I drank a bit more and decided to disappear from this freehold altogether. Fuck. What are we going to do? What do we do if Spidertoes decides that we aren’t worth her consideration anymore? What if she decides that being polite is a waste of time? I don’t know what I’d do. I just know that my life got infinitely more complicated than it had been before. Fuck.

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

                The day didn’t start off better than it had ended really. It just started off bright and sunny like it always does in California. I went downstairs to find that Calamity was already out back doing katas. I figured that she needed something to occupy her mind. She is likely thinking of ways to get back at Spidertoes for making her relive something so horrific. I know that Calamity has talked about the Whispers in Snowglobe. She doesn’t mention them often, but it sounds like what Madame Spidertoes did might have triggered that particular trauma in Calamity. So, I went outside and asked Calamity if she wanted to spar. She was up to it, so I brought out my knives and we sparred with live steel. The strange thing was that Calamity seemed to be running on automatic. I tried to get her to respond with actual emotions but I’m not sure how successful I actually was. I ramped up the intensity of the fight and she responded, but it was still as if I was fighting an automaton. I think we have fought together too often for anything I do to take her off guard and make her think. She ramped up the intensity with me, but it wasn’t the same as getting a genuine emotion out of her.

                After a while Lori came out back and asked if either of us needed healing. We both declined since neither of us had suffered anything more than a scratch or two. Okay, more than a scratch or two, but I was pushing in order to get a response out of my friend. So, we both ended up with a few scratches, but nothing that needed healing. The scratches were pretty much already scabbed over by the time Lori came around. After that we decided to call it and we both went into the house. I figured that Calamity would go upstairs to grab a shower, but I was wrong. She ended up going downstairs and working out with the heavy bag. I went and grabbed a shower and brought some Gatorade down to Calamity as she worked out. I figured that there was no real way that I was going to stop Calamity from working out and training, for lack of a better word. If I was her I would be training to get better so that I could take on whatever had fucked with me and bring it down. That is my guess as to where Calamity’s head is right now. That might not be the smartest place for her to be but that is where I think she is.

                Meanwhile the girls were having fun of their own. Jane, Missy, Insincere Marguerite and Julia were chasing each other through the house with water guns and firing on each other. It was making a big mess but I don’t think that they cared. One of them briefly suggested that I could join their fun and I told them that if they fired on me then I would freeze the water in their guns and stop it altogether. I got “hummfed” at and they continued on their way. After Lori made sure that Calamity and I were fine she went upstairs and changed into a bikini so she could join in the fun. I was temped to freeze the puddles of water on the floor but figured that it would lead to accidental slippage. I was still tempted, but I stayed my hand.

                Later the ladies got ready for their respective acts. The ones that I seemed to pay the most attention to where Calamity’s. She chose to do the “Authority Song” and “I Fought the Law.” You can see where that is leading, I’m sure. Things are about to get a lot more interesting in the Freehold whether we want them to or not. Fuck.

                End Session CXLII

                I am away from my usual posting location, so don’t have a lot to add. Comments and Questions are welcome, however.


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                • I had meant to post this last update (apologies for the lack of them) but it’s interesting at how Spidertoes is so potent. With her excursion from politeness, I would have seriously looked at her as a Beast (as in the Children/Primordial) but the game started well before Beast was a thing, and Spidertoes before that. Still, it makes sense a Changeling of Spidertoes’ age, power and having to live through both a durance and several cultural and technological revolutions would have some... triggers like that.

                  It’s also interesting in how Lori has turned her journal into a self admitted therapy, which makes sense for how long it has run in universe.

                  I wish I had more to add but I am currently not in a great head place and I wanted to write this after so long periods procrastination. I hope everyone involved with the game is doing well, and thanks so much for writing and posting these accounts.

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                  • I hope things improve Taidragon. Best to you.


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                    • Movies, Pagan Rituals, and Rollerskating.

                      Session CXLIII

                      Lorelei’s Diary

                      As things begin to settle back into whatever passes for normal around here, I’m confronted with more mundane matters of the heart. Sometimes I’m forced to wonder if a nice sea serpent attack might actually be easier to deal with.

                      No, bite your tongue Lori. You’re better suited to deal with social crises any day of the week, and they’re less likely to result in one of your friends getting hurt or killed. So count your blessings like a good girl.

                      So I slipped out of Oleander’s sleepy embrace on Monday morning, threw some clothes on, and took my laptop into the media room to attend my online classes. Nothing much to write about there; my general education courses continue to proceed apace.

                      I don’t think Calamity slept Sunday night. I’m not sure if she’s slept since the incident with Madame Spidertoes, to be honest. I know she’s using Spring contracts to keep herself going, and that’ll work for a while… but she’s going to need some good old-fashioned R.E.M. before too long, or she’s going to start slipping. Even more than most people, changelings need to dream.

                      Conversation at Sex Breakfast was largely concerned with deciding which movies to watch that evening. We all agreed pretty early on that we wanted something light-hearted and funny, so we settled on a couple of comedy films by Mel Brooks. This (somehow) led to the usual sex talk, and since we were discussing blowjobs, it sent Julia scurrying out of the room like an embarrassed squirrel.

                      With no matters of earth-shaking import on my plate, and no pressing curtain deadline looming in the future, I decided to press my advantage and see if any of the others wanted to go roller-skating. Missy and Jane were never as into it as I was, but the three of us used to have a lot of fun with it, and they were immediately on-board with the idea. After spinning it for a while, I managed to convince Calamity, Becky, Jacob, Luna, Marguerite, Julia, and Maria to join us. Needless to say, we had to take a couple of cars.

                      The afternoon was a lot of fun. Everybody got their balance pretty quickly, and I think most of us used the activity as a sort of method of coping with our problems. Calamity claimed the outside lane of the rink and took to speed-skating. I suppose it was dangerous – what with the shards of jagged glass sticking out all over her body and everything – but she was careful enough when it mattered, and nobody was even scratched. Marguerite took to showing off, leaping into the air to the point that the attendants had to politely ask her to stop touching the ceiling because their insurance wouldn’t cover stunts like that.

                      After a while Missy, Jane, and I started dancing whenever they played a song we all knew, and we drew a lot of attention to ourselves. As usual it gave me pleasant tingles to have all of those eyes on me… but for the most part I contented myself with just slowing down and skating with D. Arm-in-arm, or with her arm around my waist… it was nice to be close to her while we were having fun. It felt… intimate, I suppose.

                      But all things must end, and our time at Northridge Skateland was no exception. We drove back to the Dream House early enough that we didn’t have to fight crowds in the parking lot to get our vehicles into the garage and made our way up to the media room to commence movie night.

                      First up was Young Frankenstein, a personal favorite of mine. Just about everyone had seen it before, of course, but that just meant that we could relax and have fun with it. After that came another movie by Mel Brooks, but one that came out after Missy, Jane and I had been Taken. It was called Spaceballs, and it was a direct send-up of the Star Wars films. It was pretty funny, with more than its share of laugh-out-loud moments, though it dipped more into the lowbrow humor than some of Brooks’ earlier efforts.

                      After the movies, Julia took us all outside to participate in something she called an Imbolc ceremony… a sort of Celtic neo-pagan rite of Spring. It was a lovely ceremony… sort of a reminder that Winter can’t last forever and that better days are coming. As a Christian, I didn’t feel comfortable actually participating in the ritual itself (Missy and Jane took part after a bit of soul-searching), but as the local Spring Queen, I found the whole event rather touching. And I think it made Julia happy to know that I was at least willing to witness and learn about her religious practices, even if she’s not particularly devout.

                      Silly girl. Of course I’m willing to be there when something’s important to her. Marguerite may be her soul mate, but I am still in love with the girl.

                      When the ceremony had concluded we headed off to bed as usual… the six of us together while the couples (Jacob & Luna and Calamity & Becky) paired off. And while yes, we did get up to the usual shenanigans, I think we all drifted off pretty quickly (yes, even me this time), luxuriating in the shared love and affection.

                      Once again the alarm got me out of bed earlier than the others and I began getting ready to make the drive into LA for my classes. I met Calamity (who still hadn’t slept) in the kitchen, and we chatted for a bit over coffee. She actually asked me for a favor. She was hoping to surprise Becky with a personalized number at the show that night as a way of apologizing for ditching her at the pier on Saturday, and she wanted me to delay our return to the Dream House by an hour or so to give her time to rehearse it. It seemed like a simple enough request, so I agreed with a will.

                      Classes were fine. I chose to focus more intently upon my studies today, and I’m sure that my classmates noticed that I wasn’t as flirty as usual… but they’ll get over it. When the professor released us from my Organic Chem lab, I found Becky waiting for me at the front stairs as usual, and asked her if she’d like to get lunch, my treat. She agreed, and the two of us found a nice quiet little restaurant where we could chat over soup and salads.

                      We commiserated about our respective problems a bit over lunch, and ended up having a serious conversation. I’ve never been as close to Becky as I have to some other members of the Spring Court, and I’m starting to realize that I’ve missed out on a very insightful, devoted friend because of that. When I talked about Maria’s increasingly violent attitude toward the very mention of her parents, Becky offered some very interesting observations.

                      “I don’t know de la Rocha very well,” she admitted, “but I’ve known people in similar situations. It’s like there’s something – some specific event or facet of her relationship with her parents – that’s blocking her ability to move on. Do you know if her father ever beat her?”

                      That brought me up a little short. “If so, she’s never mentioned it to me,” I admitted. “But then… the word means something different these days than it did when I was growing up. I mean, I’d say that my father used to beat me… by which I mean he took his belt to my ass when I misbehaved. I know that’s not common these days, but back in the 70s…”

                      Becky nodded. “Talk to her,” she advised. “De la Rocha will talk to you when she won’t talk to anyone else. If you can figure out what the root of her trauma is, the two of you can work through it together, and she might be able to get past it and start building a relationship with them again. Otherwise, the whole exercise is probably doomed to fail.”

                      So then we talked about her current headache… namely Calamity. “It’s not that she got into this mess with Madame Spidertoes,” she commented wearily. “Or at least it’s not just that. It’s that she slipped away at a time that she knew I would be distracted and did something she knew was monumentally stupid on her own. And now she’s probably going to make some big gesture to apologize for making me worry. It’s kind of a pattern with her…”

                      I sighed, and quickly came to a decision. “Well, you’re not wrong,” I said softly. “Calamity asked me to keep you out of the house for a bit today so that she could rehearse a new number she’s preparing especially for you. Don’t get me wrong… I was glad to do it. We ought to have lunch like this more often, actually. But I thought I’d let you know that it was coming so that you wouldn’t be blindsided and react emotionally.”

                      Becky nodded. “Thanks,” she said simply. “The problem is that there’s only one way to know if her apology is sincere: wait and see if her behavior actually changes.”

                      “You will talk with her before you make any big decisions, won’t you?” I asked nervously.

                      She nodded again. “It’s the first time it’s come up since the two of us got serious,” she explained. “I haven’t had the chance to explain my viewpoint to her yet. It wouldn’t be fair to end things with her over a situation she might not even fully understand. But I don’t want to come at her with this while she’s already feeling vulnerable… I don’t want her to think she’s under some sort of personal attack. I figure I should probably give it a few days first.”

                      I saw the wisdom in that. “Just… don’t tell Calamity that I told you about her act. She trusted me to keep it a secret, and I hate betraying that trust… I just didn’t want it to do more harm than good.”

                      “I understand, Lori,” she said. “Mum’s the word.”

                      So we got back to the Dream House an hour or so later than usual, and Calamity must have finished prepping her new number because she was nowhere near the stage by that point. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon practicing my own acts.

                      When showtime rolled around we played to a decent crowd for a Tuesday. I had Missy and Jane back me up on Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” a glorious celebration of hedonism and excess (which I suppose was very Spring Court of me), and the crowds ate it up. Marguerite stunned with a French-accented version of the Marlene Dietrich classic “Falling In Love Again,” while Calamity got the opportunity to make her apology to Becky in style with “We’re All Alone,” which I know is one of my claviger’s favorites. She even seemed a little misty-eyed when she welcomed her lover to the girlfriend table with a hug.

                      The real show-stopper though was the full-cast ensemble number we ran at the end of the night. It started with me on a dark stage lit only by a single spot. “Dearly beloved,” I began in a somber minor key, “we are gathered her to say our goodbyes…” After the intro we brought up the rest of the stage lights gradually, revealing each of our regular performers in turn as they began celebrating life outside of the mainstream with “La Vie Bohème” from Rent. Pretty much everyone had a line or two, and it was such a remarkably good fit for our motley, our club, and out community that I’m sure we’ll perform it again at some point.

                      I made the rounds as usual after the show, stopping to continue my slow-burn flirting with Tamara at the bar and to tentatively set up a dinner date with Joan and Andromeda later in the week before zeroing in on the table where Jolie, Desiree, and Veronica sat, occasionally throwing me smoldering looks. I’d been trying to set something up with the three of them for weeks, and I didn’t have any prior commitments, so I swooped in as soon as I could do so without being impolite to my other guests. Trinh and Tanner were at their table too, which seemed like a pretty good bonus to me at the time.

                      “Why ladies,” I said without preamble as I took a seat, “are you trying to seduce me?”

                      They exchanged looks that quickly went from befuddlement to amusement. “We… could be,” Jolie admitted with a smile. “We don’t have any other firm plans tonight…”

                      “I do,” Trinh said sadly, “I’m meeting Insincere Marguerite.” Sure enough, a few minutes later Marguerite walked up imperiously and snapped a leash onto the choker Trinh was wearing, leading her off with a hungry gleam in her eye. Not my scene, but I hope they had fun with it.

                      Tanner also demurred, which I’d been expecting, though she didn’t seem nearly as uncomfortable in my presence as she had previously, and seemed to indicate that further trysts might be a possibility in the future, once she’d properly gotten her bearings. So I’ve got that to look forward to, maybe.

                      Turns out that once the ladies decided that yes, they were trying to seduce me, they didn’t want to do it half-assed. As in, Jolie and Veronica snuggled in close on each side of me, Desiree slipped under the table and began working her magic. In no time flat I was well and truly seduced… and probably would have been even if I’d been trying to resist their wicked wiles.

                      The four of us swung by the doors as the club emptied out so that I could say goodnight to Maria. “You gonna be okay without me tonight honey? These fine and classy ladies would like to, umm…” I struggled to find the right words before settling on the obvious, “…fuck me. Or maybe you’d like to join us…?”

                      She gave me a cocky grin and shook her head. “Have fun tonight babe. I’ll hang out with Gloria.”

                      I nodded sort of wistfully at that. “You know, it used to bum me out a little when you said that because I was still a little jealous of her. Now I just wish I could be with both of you.”

                      She quirked an eyebrow at me. “Tomorrow night, maybe?” she suggested.

                      “I’d love that,” I replied. So that’s a thing.

                      The four of us went up to my room and slowly began undressing each other. As per usual, I won’t go into details here… suffice it to say that even I picked up a few new tricks from those three (and I flatter myself to think that each of them might have learned something from me as well). We started slow but it didn’t take long for us to give into our passions, and before long hot smooth soft flesh was everywhere I turned. We arranged ourselves in all sorts of positions, each of us eager to sample the pleasures of the other three… whether separately or all at once. As God only knows how long it’ll be until our schedules coincide like that again, none of us wanted to waste even a single minute of that opportunity.

                      So I’ve got roughly an hour before I need to sign into my online classes now, and the others have finally drifted off to sleep. I figured I’d need a shower before starting my day, even though I’ll just be wearing sweats and a t-shirt and sitting in front of a computer. I got quite the workout last night. So I used Spring contracts to pep myself up, and I’ve been writing in this diary ever since… when I can tear my gaze away from Jolie’s amazing ass peeking out from under the covers, that is.

                      To paraphrase a Mel Brooks movie that we didn’t watch on Monday night… it’s good to be the Queen.

                      Lorelei de la Rocha


                      Jacob’s Journal

                      I guess today was a day for more sex talk (shocking I know), funny movies and Spring rituals. We started talking about movies that we wanted to watch for movie night and came up with the idea of watching comedies to keep the mood light. I suggested Spaceballs. I figured it was Mel Brooks. It’s funny and I thought it was a movie that required little to no thought to watch it, so it might be good for Calamity. I know that she’s got enough on her mind right now. I didn’t want to add to the thoughts swirling around in her head. Someone else suggested Young Frankenstein since it was also really funny and also a Mel Brooks movie. Of course, just the name Spaceballs brought up talk about sex, which derailed the whole movie conversation. It came out that Julia had watched her parent’s porn movies when she was younger, with their permission. They never said that she couldn’t watch sex, they just barred her from watching anything violent. Most parents hide the idea of sex from their kids until it’s too late. I think kids find out about sexual things much earlier than parents believe and treating it like it’s not a valid topic does more harm than good. Kids need to learn about that stuff before they start experimenting on their own if you ask me.

                      Anyway, Julia had gotten embarrassed about the blatant sex talk and left the room for a bit. She came back in a little while later and asked if anyone would like to participate in an Imbolc ceremony. It’s against my cold nature, but I agreed to participate. I like the idea of welcoming Spring even though it is too warm for my tastes. California in general is too warm for my tastes. I like the Winters in Oregon, or in Russia, though I do believe that a Russian Winter would be too much for my friends. They are definitely the “fair weather” sort. Maybe I can get the others to go on a trip with me to Oregon and we can go hiking on the trails that my sister and I would travel as children. It is a bit of a drive to get up there though, so we would need a decent reason to make the trip I suppose. More than just I want to go home. I’m sure that Elena would like to go too. Well, maybe. Going there might be painful for her since it would take her close to our parents. I’m not happy with them right now, but I’ve been away from them for so long now that it seems like a distant relationship. The relationship between Elena and our parents is much closer to her heart than it is for me. It is much more painful too. Their rejection hurt her a lot. I can ignore their proximity if we were to go to Oregon, but I don’t know if Elena could. Stasia would probably want to come along and I know that she isn’t really fond of my parents right now either. She tends to react with anger a little easier than my sister does and things might get out of hand if we were to run into my parents or brother while we were up there.

                      So, Imbolc. I said that I would participate in her ceremony at midnight after we watched the movies. Lori declined but said that she’d like to watch. In fact most people declined but said that they’d like to watch. Insincere Marguerite said that she’d participate with us too. She was all for being a bad Catholic. De la Rocha declined saying that she was trying to be a better Catholic. No one said anything against those that declined though. I mean, I used to be Russian Orthodox, but haven’t followed that religion in a long time. When I was in Arcadia I prayed and prayed but never got an answer. I guess I decided that the older stories had more validity and converted. I’m not a great pagan either I suppose. I just know that I lost faith in God and found it again in the Goddess and the Lady. Just the Goddess now though. You could say that I lost faith in the Lady too.

                      After Calamity got back from training with White Maria we caught her up on all that we had discussed. She had been gone a little longer than usual, but I didn’t push it. I figured that she had her reasons and if she needed space that was fine. After we’d caught up, Lori brought up the idea of going roller-skating. Apparently she used to go frequently with Jane and Missy before they were taken. Then came the conversation about traditional skates vs in-line skates. I like in-line skates because they remind me more of ice skating. Lori and her fellow Iowans like traditional skates better. We eventually got the whole group to go. Lori and her oldest friends danced across the floor so gracefully it was hard not to watch. Insincere Marguerite did tricks and complicated moves across the rink. She was showing off so much that the management told her to tone it down after she had actually touched the ceiling a couple of times. Calamity spent the whole time going around the outer edge of the rink, essentially speed skating as fast as she could go without hitting anyone or being told to slow down. I know that she has some issues to work out and for her, physical activity is how she does that. I do the same thing I suppose. Some things I just cram into little boxes in my mind and try and push them out of the way. Not healthy I know, at least Sullivan has mentioned that it’s not healthy to compartmentalize things like that. I’m working on that though. I’ve talked through several things with Sullivan, but there are still some things that I haven’t brought up with him. There are some things I don’t want to face, especially not with a therapist. He would probably have a field day and say that I was traumatized or something. Okay…I have been traumatized in the past. I admit that. Getting tortured can’t really be described as something else, but I still don’t want to talk about it. I also don’t want to open the can of worms that would come out if I mentioned that a lot of memories with Rook are good ones. I shouldn’t have good memories of doing bad things like that, but I do. Like I said. He’d have a field day with me.

                      So, we watched two Mel Brooks movies last night. Young Frankenstein was definitely the better movie, but Spaceballs was still fun. It seemed like everyone involved had a good time, including Calamity. At least she didn’t leave the room or sit by herself and brood. She sat with Becky. I don’t know if Lori was as fond of some of the baser humor as some of us, but she did laugh, so I call that a success. After the movies we went outside, lit some candles and Julia had us focus on our hopes, or a particular hope that we had in mind. So, I focused on my hope that my parents will accept Elena as she is and welcome her back home. There should not be conditions on being let back into the house and I hope that they will realize that and do something about it. Overall it was a nice sedate kind of ceremony. It celebrates the ending of the Winter and the upcoming Spring and our hopes for that season. In California the Winter is not such a big deal because it stays so warm all the time. In other parts of the world though Winter is long and cold and hard. It is in Russia, and the beginning of Spring was definitely something that we looked forward to.

                      After that we all went our own ways or paired up, I should say. No one left alone. I went back to my bedroom with Luna and we talked. I told her about what happened with Calamity and Spidertoes and she told me a story about Lucian Torres. Apparently, there is a reason why the man makes sure that he is never in charge of the Summer court, and that reason is Madame Spidertoes. He is terrified of her, and it seems like he has good reason to. Years back he was trying to gather power and he didn’t mind who he offended or pissed off in the process. Unfortunately for him he made the elder Autumn courtier angry and he disappeared for three days. No one knows what happened during those three days, but afterwards Lucien made sure that he was never in the running for Summer King, and he donates yearly to the Children’s Museum. Luna admitted that Madame Spidertoes may not be “good,” but she is on our side, which is the important thing. She protects this freehold, its inhabitants and especially her courtiers. So, she may not be good per se but she is nice and she may be right. Luna also said that Spidertoes is very old. No one knows exactly how old she is, only that she remembers the Terror in France and she wasn’t young then either.

                      After we all had a chance to sleep, or in Calamity’s case distract herself, we got up and made breakfast. Calamity actually came up to me after I had distributed coffee to everyone and she thanked me for being there for her. I told her that of course I was going to be there. She was my friend and my motley mate. She did tell me a bit about what she’d been doing the past few days. Avoiding sleep, avoiding thinking about it, etc… I did suggest that she get some real sleep instead of just pepping herself up with Spring Court contracts. She admitted that she probably should do that, but she wasn’t ready to face her subconscious yet. I can understand that and said as much. I told her that if I had access to those contracts I would have had several nights where I just didn’t sleep. It is probably healthier to dream and deal with the nightmares that come but sometimes I like to be an escapist. While we were talking De la Rocha came up to us and reminded us both that we had therapy that morning. Calamity admitted that she was not going to go to her session with her therapist. She said that she couldn’t tell her therapist what had happened so there was no point in going. She reminded me that our therapists are not Changelings and are not members of the freehold. Admitting to them that someone in our freehold is liken to a Gentry may not be a wise idea. I can see that. I still think that she could talk around the issue, or just bring up other things to talk about. That’s what I do.

                      On the way to therapy De la Rocha said something about wanting to punch her parents. I admitted that I kind of wanted to hit mine too. So we commiserated for a bit over the fact that we both want to do violence to our parents, but know we shouldn’t. De la Rocha never had a fetch and her parents don’t know what happened to her. They just know that they don’t approve of her lifestyle. So, she technically can hit them I suppose. I mean legally she shouldn’t, but practically she can. They would know it’s her doing it. I can’t do that with my parents. They think that they have their son living at home, so if I come by and hit them, they won’t know it’s actually me doing it. They won’t know why I’m hitting them. They will only know that a strange man has assaulted them and then I will arrested and go to jail for beating the shit out of them. I have no qualms about killing my fetch. Not really. I don’t really want to hurt my parents in that way though. I know what if feels like to lose someone that close to you. I also don’t want Elena to see me as the monster I am underneath my “mask.”

                      After therapy we got back to the Dream House and Calamity was waiting in the backyard for me to spar. So, I quickly changed my clothes, grabbed Rook’s knives and went out back. I was determined to get Calamity to react to things actively, not just go through the motions, so I used Rook’s style almost exclusively. It did keep her on her toes, which was my aim. I haven’t only used Rook’s style in a long while so she had to actually watch where my attacks were coming from instead of seeing them come long in advance because I always do the same move the same way. I suppose it does get us into a bit of a rut, but it also allows us to go all out and use live steel. We know how the other fights and can react in an instant to any move. My goal was to get her mind off her trauma and instead occupy her thoughts with blocks, parries and in general not getting hit. I think it worked. I’m not absolutely sure though. I just hope that I was able to help my friend in some small way get over what happened to her.

                      End Session CXLIII

                      Not a lot to add this time. People rolled to show off at the rink and Marguerite obviously used her birthright for complicated positions. And Parkour.

                      The rest, obligatory rolls for the show aside, was RP, and pretty fun. No rolls were done for the ritual.

                      See you next time, Comments and Questions welcome


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